November is Picture Book Month! Celebrate and appreciate fantastic picture books. What are your favorite picture books, whether from your own childhood or from reading aloud to your children?

One of my favorites growing up was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (first published in 1942!); I credit that book in planting the seed for my interest in urban planning. In high school, a close friend gifted me Jon Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, which reignited my love for children's literature. It also reminded me that "kids' books" can be smart and funny, and the picture book format is sometimes the perfect way to convey wittiness for all age ranges. Some of my current favorites are the Scaredy Squirrel books by Melanie Watt, anything by Mo Willems and Peter Brown, and books illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Peter Sis, and Shaun Tan.

Lately, I've also been interested in picture book biographies. There are so many fantastic ones published in the last few years: What to Do About Alice: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!, Queen of the Falls, Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend), Bottle Houses: The Creative World of Grandma Prisbrey, and Grandfather's Journey are a few that come to mind. (We have all of these books in the Robinson Library collection, FYI.)

When my son was younger, we often read Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell because he shared his small stature with Molly Lou. For my daughter, who is currently learning to read, picture books are the perfect medium for her to be an independent reader. Like many other children her age, books by Dr. Seuss, P.D. Eastman, and  are particularly helpful and enjoyable.

Children's book author and expert, Anita Silvey, recently wrote an essay for School Library Journal about why she thinks the picture book market is the way it is now; she has experience in writing and publishing (and reading, of course). I find that her point about the author needing to be half the equation is incredibly valid: let the author write, don't restrict them on word count, let them tell a story. (By the way, Anita's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac is an amazing resource for teachers, librarians, parents, and book lovers.)

And in the tradition of November being National Novel Writing Month, there's also Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). This probably ties in really well with giving authors a bigger voice to develop their stories. The concept behind PiBoIdMo is to come up with an idea a day for a picture book during November, and to use the rest of the year to develop those ideas into a manuscript.

And lastly, I leave you with the  Picture Book Manifesto, created by a group of picture book authors and illustrators. As readers, it doesn't hurt to remember some of these points:
We had such a FANTASTIC visit with Jonathan Auxier last Friday! His presentation about his book Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes was so entertaining and engaging; the kids got a kick out of his yo-yo tricks, his "experiment" about using all of your senses, and his wonderful way of talking about reading and writing. He's truly dynamic, theatrical, and oh-so-likeable!

Thank you to our fourth and fifth graders for being an attentive and enthusiastic audience. A special thanks to the teachers for allowing me to take time out of their busy schedules to have our first library-hosted author visit. And I can't forget to thank our volunteers (students and teachers) who were good sports and volunteered to be "guinea pigs" for Jonathan's demonstration about using our senses.

Jonathan extends his thanks to those students who went out and purchased his book. He and his wife also said this was the one of the best school visits they've had! We were lucky enough to be his last school visit in Southern California before he and his wife moved to Pittsburgh.

All of the pictures from the day are posted at Ms. Yukari's flickr site. Here are some pictures from the 4th grade presentation:

After the 5th grade presentation Jonathan visited the students in Mrs. Lindsay's class to talk about the writing and editing process. It took him four years to write the book and he went through 20 drafts before the book was published! We also got news that he's currently working on two news books, one of which is a sequel of sorts about Peter and Sir Tode's adventures post-Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.
And some other pictures from Jonathan's day at Robinson, our short visit to {pages: a bookstore}, and his signing at Mysterious Galaxy after school (that kid is my son, who was dressed up as Sherlock Holmes for Halloween):
Sorry the following video is sideways; I'm still trying to figure out how to rotate it. In the meantime, please turn your head to the left to watch Jonathan doing one of his amazing yo-yo tricks (I think it was called the Jedi Mind Trick). His, "See, they like it!" comment at the end is directed at his wife, who isn't impressed with this trick for some reason!
If you don't know anything about Peter Nimble, I suggest you check out the book trailer:
October was a busy month in the cataloging and processing department here in the library. With the help of volunteers Mrs. Theodore and Ms. Lepper I was able to process 90 new books this month alone! You can always see what new books are in the library on the New Books page of the library's google website.

I wasn't the only busy one during October -- so were our Riptide readers! The library circulated 2,141 books (up from 1,693 from the same period last year) and placed 96 holds (many were for the 2012 Guinness World Records (031.02 GUI) and for Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (FIC AUX)). Harry Potter continues to be a popular book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone clenched the top two spots as the most checked-out books for October (12 times and 11 times, respectively).

I've noticed that, by grade level, third grade seems to check out the most books. They're allowed to check out three books at a time and they're at an age where they read a multitude of book formats (picture books, chapter books (both short and long), graphic novels, joke books, magazines, etc.) that they can finish reading in a week. In contrast, fourth and fifth graders, although they're allowed to check out more books, take longer to finish reading a book because of the book's length (and probably because they don't have as much free time); they're also more likely to concentrate on one book at a time, instead of checking out many books. I think these reasons explain why the top three homerooms in terms of circulation statistics are all third grade classes: Mrs. Tanita (234 books, 9.75 books/student), Ms. Whalley (232 books, 9.28 books/student), and Ms. Whitt-Stopp (176 books, 7.33 books/student).