Interview Alert: Children’s Librarians Jenny and Emily

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Children’s Librarians (from left to right) Emily and Jennifer

Two of the busiest staff members at the Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville are the children’s librarians, Jenny Burke and Emily Wormuth. They’re gearing up for the craziest time of the year, summer, when the Library draws in hundreds of kids for the Summer Reading Program. Right now, Jenny and Emily are in the midst of visiting local schools, telling the kids all about the myriad of events and activities the Library has lined up–all summer long–from the end of June until the end of August. School visits are also a great time to introduce the kids to some of the cool things the Library has to offer everyday.

Of course, Jenny and Emily are busy the rest of the year too, presenting daily story times, special themed events, and lots of opportunities for kids to engage in reading, learning, crafting, dancing, and having fun. They also help patrons find just the right books.

Aside from all of that, they make purchasing decisions, choosing books and media that they believe will be good additions to the Library’s children’s collection. Picture books make up a large portion of the items that they order. Lucky for us, Jenny and Emily found some time to answer a few questions about picture books!

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Q. How do you decide whether or not to purchase a particular picture book for the library’s collection? What criteria do you use?

Jenny: I follow my library’s collection development policy in choosing books to purchase for the Children’s Collection. I want to ensure our collection meets the needs of our community, is well rounded, and appeals to a variety of people. I focus on books I know will be popular with kids, whether it’s because of a subject area, popular author or series.

Q. How important are reviews, such as those found in Kirkus Reviews or School Library Journal, in making a purchasing decision?

Jenny: Pretty important. I’d say the majority of my book selections come from reviews in Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal. Like most public libraries, I have a set budget for the year that I need to adhere to, so I want to focus monies on books that are well-reviewed or that I know our patrons will want. But, the review journals are just a guiding point. I will purchase books that kids ask for, or I know are popular series.

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Q. How do you use picture books in story-time settings? And for different age groups?

Jenny: No matter how old they are, kids love being read aloud to! At the library, I do story time for ages 0-5 and one for preschoolers ages 3-5. For these ages, I choose picture books with a rhyming quality, or sing-along books – they love those! Basically, you want less text and engaging illustrations, so you can talk about what is going on in the story. For older age groups, I still use that model, but will pick picture books that may be longer. You can’t lose with a funny story, I’ve found!

Emily: The best picture books for story time are the ones with big, beautiful pictures and an easy-to-follow story. Our story times are organized by age, so we choose books that are appropriate for that particular age. I present the Babies and Books story time, so I’m looking for books with fewer words, bolder pictures and repetitive language. I love it when the kids can read the book along with me.

Q. How do you choose your story-time themes? Do you always have a theme?

Jenny: Themes are a guiding point for me. I pick them based upon the season, what I’ve done in the past that’s successful, or sometimes I’ll find books and base a theme upon the book. I don’t always have a theme, but when I do, it helps me plan my songs, rhymes, and crafts. That being said, I don’t let the theme dictate what I’m doing in story time. Sometimes I find books that I just want to read aloud and I go with it!

Emily: I find it easier to put a story time together if I’m working with a theme. I can then choose books, music and activities that follow that theme. I think it’s easier for the children to actively participate if there’s a theme. “What animal are we going to sing about today?” “Elephants!” shout the toddlers. After doing this for a few years, Jenny and I both have a pretty good idea of what books and materials we have to support a theme, so that helps when we’re choosing themes. It’s best not to get too complicated; animal, trucks and seasonal themes all work well. For example, we always do an Apple Picking story time in the fall because that’s an activity many kids are doing.

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Q. Is there anything you’d like to see more of in picture books published today-either fiction or nonfiction (e.g. subject matter, characters, settings, themes, concepts, etc.)?

Jenny: With the We Need Diverse Books campaign, I’ve seen some great books – both fiction and nonfiction – that have been published in the past couple of years. Keep ‘em coming! We need their stories, now more than ever.

Emily: I love books about girls doing things we (traditionally, unfairly) associate with boys. Bring on the books about women truck drivers and construction workers. And kids love books about misbehaving children, but they’re often too often boys. 

Thank you, Jenny and Emily, for taking time out of your busy schedules to talk picture books! Hooray for children’s librarians and all that they do for kids in our communities!

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Picture Books At The Library 151

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I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Mama and little Toad help their friends who are stranded on the road.

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Caroline is distracted all day at school because her parents are bringing home someone very special for her to meet.

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As Max and Marla set out for the perfect picnic, they learn that getting along isn’t always easy, but best friends can’t stay mad for long. Nice art!

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The bears are enjoying a picnic until a feisty wind swoops their kites away and the little bears too. Adorable addition to this series!

 

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Big Brown Bear’s cave just doesn’t feel like home, so he fills it with stuff–all sorts of stuff.

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Izzy gets frustrated when her inventions fail to work, but when she finds an injured crow, she knows just what to do to help.

 

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Hot Dog is chilling out on his comfy bread with some corn and a couple of fries when disaster strikes. Cute!

Picture Books At The Library 150

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Dogs engage in all sorts of fun activities at the dog park.

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A boy is determined to catch the ball even if it takes a bit of imagination.

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An older brother encourages his younger brother to take a leap of faith.

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A young mouse ventures out on his own to find the most wonderful words.

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Stanley the spider likes to collect things, but he soon finds out that nothing lasts forever.

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Quincy wants to blend in at chameleon school, but his daydreams always make him stand out.

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Greedy Greenbackboy’s got an idea for a game; he wants Snowboy to help him cut down all the trees in the forest.

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A fox is caught burglarizing a house by the owners, the three bears. Fantastic illustrations!

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Follow a group of friends as they go sailing, explore an island, and return home to tell their tale. Cute art!

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Animals love playing sports. Clever concept book!

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When two of Moose’s letters come loose, he vanishes, but his best friend Cow has a plan. Fun!

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A toad is bumped, bounced, and blown along a bustling road. Fun read aloud!

Picture Books At The Library 149

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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When an old fountain in their neighborhood is restored, three siblings decide it’s the perfect place to send their goldfish on vacation.

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Rescue worries that he’s not up to the task of being a service dog, but then he meets Jessica and it’s a perfect match.

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Ruby struggles at ninja school and becomes homesick.

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A family prepares for a day at the food truck festival, while at the same time, the food truck crews get ready for the event.

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A celebration of the similarities and differences in the unique animals that share our world.

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A little boy in the sleeping car of a train counts train cars instead of sheep to go to sleep. Lovely illustrations!

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When the star-making rabbit who lives on the moon decides to visit earth, no one is left to make stars. Beautiful art!

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A young girl tries to persuade her father that he is the one who should sleep in a little bed while she shares the big bed with Mommy. Funny!

Picture Books At The Library 148

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Wendell imagines what it would be like to have a walrus as a pet.

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When a little boy gets a dinosaur costume for his birthday, it opens up a prehistoric world of imagination.

A little elephant gets separated from his mother during a storm and must try to outrun a tiger. Beautiful art!

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Two siblings build jetpacks and fly off for an adventure that includes visiting Nana and outer space.

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A family sees many amazing sights at the park, from bugs and frogs to skaters and fishermen.

After the loss of her grandmother, Mina finds solace in stories told by family and friends.

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God made light to cut through the darkness and bring vision and hope to all. That same light grows inside every child. Sweet!

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As a girl sits alone in her new house, she can hear kids playing outside, but she’s not brave enough to join them. Super imaginative!

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A story about a big bunny gets out of control.

Two kids have fun with their grandfather as he tries to remember the old rhyme about sugar and spice and everything nice. Fun!

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A young girl experiences her first funeral and all of the rituals that go along with it.

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A little girl learns that it’s okay to make mistakes. Cute and colorful!

 

Picture Books At The Library 147

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

 

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A boy misses his bus and watches other very unusual buses go by until he decides to ride one. Fun!

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Scoop the Ice Cream Truck is getting old and fancy new ice cream trucks are moving into the neighborhood. Love the art!

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Nothing will stop Henry from flying, except maybe gravity.

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A dog is called Lazybones because he doesn’t like to go for walks.

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To Phoebe, it seems like everything fun is happening tomorrow, and she doesn’t like to wait.

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Sixteen poems celebrate the ages and stages of being a robin. Cute!

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A playful cat follows a courageous fish to the moon and then to the ocean. (wordless)

Picture Books At The Library 146

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Russell and his dad build a tree fort in their new backyard.

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While shopping with her two dads, Harriet, who is wearing her penguin costume, gets carried away by a waddle of penguins.

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When a girl spills grape juice all over her new dress, a classmate wants to make her feel better by being kind. Sweet!

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Ruby and Violet Mutch have always collected things in pairs, but when their house will no longer hold everything, Ruby decides to move out.

Blue Monster loves new things, but things don’t stay new forever, and soon Blue Monster wants something newer. Will he ever be satisfied?

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A girl becomes pen pals with a Komodo dragon who tells her all about himself and dangers to his species.

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Sakura moves to America with her parents and misses her grandmother and the cherry blossom trees back in Japan.

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When Grandma says she’s seen a tiger in the garden, Nora doesn’t believe her–everyone knows tigers live in jungles, not gardens.

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A boy and his cat have a magical adventure on the night of the blue moon. Love all the blue!

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In a city filled with people and wonders, Adelaide feels lonely. Gorgeous art!

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While reading a book, a child is carried beyond the repetitive sameness of an urban skyscape into an untamed natural landscape. Wonderfully whimsical!

Picture Books At The Library 145

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Since the author is asleep, the illustrator decides to take over writing the story, but she may need some help.

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Neighbors and community workers alike work together when Big Tree, their favorite local landmark, is downed during a lightning storm.

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When something sad happens to Taylor, all the animals think they know how to help.

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Bob doesn’t like the chaos of New York City, so he decides to build a tree house in the cool, green calm of Central Park.

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After visiting the aquarium, Oliver decides to be an otter and tries to copy otter behavior at meals, while playing, and at bath time.

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A young girl joyfully creates art from everyday objects.

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Murray Bear is afraid to visit the waterfall, so with the help of his big sister, he makes a worry box and puts his worries inside.

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A little girl imagines all the things she can be and defies the negative voice inside that says she can’t succeed.

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Follow a boy through a day filled with the noisy joy of imaginative play. Fun!

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A girl is determined to express herself–no matter what. Lovely lyrical ode to creativity!

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Raccoon doesn’t want to be alone on a stormy night, but his neighbors each tell him they have no room to spare. Nice art!

Picture Books At The Library 144

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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When Morgan has bad dreams and is afraid to go to sleep at night, Nana brings him a plush lion to help him be brave.

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While Mr. Noah is building the ark, Mrs. Noah is busy making a very special coat.

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Marlo the dog sets off on an adventure among the dinosaurs.

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When Mae’s family moves to the city, she misses her garden.

A celebration of the special bond between best friends.

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Because Neither is different from the rabbits and birds in the land of This and That, it sets out to find a place where everyone is welcome. Love the message! Love the colors!

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After a bumpy start, the pig family’s picnic turns out just right. Super cute!

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Determined to be more than just a pebble, Rocky sets off to help his famous relatives. A clever book about rocks!

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A girl is disappointed when she receives a chicken as a birthday gift, until she realizes the chicken is planning a big surprise. Fun!

Picture Books At The Library 143

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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A young girl explores the woods behind her house in search of elusive fairies.

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An energetic girl’s activities mimic those of animals, as she stretches like a cat, hangs like a bat, hops like a hare, and etc.

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Four rabbit siblings use their unique talents to devise a way to cross the stream and make friends with the squirrels who just moved there.

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Peep must find a way to convince Egg to use the potty.

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Blip is always plugged into her computer–until one day a blackout forces her to play outdoors. I like the contrast between the black and white of “indoors” and the colorfulness of “outdoors”!

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The Lago family’s new couch lands in Llama’s field, and just as he’s begun to love it, the family returns. Hilarious! Just look at that cover!

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Sapphire the dragon tries to make friends with the other animals, but they don’t want her around. Nice art!

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When her father leaves her at her grandmother’s house, a girl feels abandoned and lonely until she meets some animal friends. Sweet in both text and pictures!

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Marigold doesn’t like that her new little sister Daisy is getting so much attention. Funny!