Saturday, May 23, 2009

Graduation Books: Beyond "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"

When I graduation from high school, one of my very closest friends gave me a book called Polar Express, beautifully written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. It is no surprise that this book was a New York Times Best Seller and was translated into an equally intriguing movie.

The thing I remember most about this gift, however, was the inscription that Jeannine wrote inside- Never stop believing. Her pithy message was so meaningful given that point in my life 19 years ago. I'm sure I received many other graduation gifts, but I cannot remember a single one of them. And if my friend had not inscribed a note, I may not have remembered this one either.

So if you are unsure of what to give someone graduating from kindergarten through college...stop wondering. Give a picure book but don't forget to personalize it! Here are some other favorite children's picture books that make wonderful graduation gifts.

Forever Young

By Bob Dylan, Illustrated by Paul Rogers

This inspirational book is based on the lyrics and life of Bob Dylan, one of the most beloved songwriters of all time. Brilliant illustrations provide insight into many memorable events older generations will appreciate, while a nifty guide in back brings the younger folks up to speed. But most important of all is the overriding message for all readers, young and old, who are embarking on a new chapter- stay Forever Young.

The Three Questions

By Jon J. Muth and Leo Tolstoy

For graduates striving to be the best that they can be, this intriguing story is one they must read. A little boy wants to make sure he is doing the right thing, so he asks a wise turtle what he believes to be three very important questions. He learns invaluable lessons not through the answers, but in helping someone in need along the way.

Free to Be You and Me
By Marlo Thomas and Friends
Designed by Peter H. Reynolds

The whimsical pictures perfectly complement this collection of poems and stories encouraging children to follow their dreams. The book is as relevant today as it was when first published 35 years ago. Graduates will learn to shun stereotypes, embrace others who are different, and enjoy the freedom to be exactly who they want to be.

Curious You: On Your Way!

By H.A. Rey

Graduates of every age will appreciate this inspiring book about their favorite monkey. A compilation of scenes from the original Curious George books accompanied by words of encouragement make this an endearingly nostalgic gift for graduates from kindergarten through college.

Hooray for You!
By Marianne Richmond

While this may be a “children’s book,” the message is one that appeals to every graduate. Through simple rhyming versus, this touching book celebrates the unique qualities every person possesses. The author communicates the importance of individuality in a way that will resonate with anyone moving on in life.

Send one of these special graduation books to someone very special from The Lollipop Book Club!

Friday, May 22, 2009

John Lithgow- Children's Author Extraordinaire

Let's face it. Celebrity sells. A no-name author with a brilliant book may struggle for years without a nibble of interest from agents or publishers.

And yet an "author" who has already established a reputation in another field (acting, athletics, politics, you name it) can publish a book that is mediocre at best with far less effort. It may not be well-received by the critics, but it sure gets into print, on the shelves, and in our faces with lightning speed (which is, admittedly, a relative term when we're talking about publishing).

There has been a surge of children's books to hit the market in recent years written by all kinds of famous people. Some are forgettable...and others are unforgettable. John Lithgow's books, for the most part, are the latter. A master wordsmith and creative storyteller are descriptives that come to mind when I think of his contributions to children's literature.

Here's a list of his titles to date:

The Remarkable Farkle McBride:
NY Times Bestseller about a boy who can't quench his musical thirst until he finds the one job that allows him to enjoy every instrument at the same time- conductor of an orchestra!

An squirrel with an artistic flair lives above an art museum. He paints by night creating his own collection of brilliant art to rival the masterpieces that are housed below.

Mahalia Mouse Goes to College
A surprising college graduate, Harvard to boot, is the subject of this story sure to inspire anyone pursuing higher education. This book was incorporated into John Lithgow's commencement speech at Harvard in 2005. It comes with a nice CD where you can enjoy listening to the author himself tell the story of his beloved mouse.

I'm a Manatee
Your kids will sound super-smart when they shout Manatee! when all the others are stuck on dolphins, sharks and whales. But the real point in this story is the wondrous imagination of a little boy who goes on an adventure with his sea life friends.

I Got Two Dogs
Calling all dog-lovers! You must add this sweet book to your collection. It even comes with a CD featuring an upbeat song about man's best friend. Based on his own two dogs, this story will appeal to everyone who has experienced the love and loyalty of an ill-behaved, not so bright canine companion.

Other books to check out by John Lithgow: Marsupial Sue, Marsupial Sue Presents "The Runaway Pancake", Carnival of the Animals