Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
Once when I was young, on a family hike through the ravine, I spotted a man in the bushes with his arms out, a flurry of grey and white, black-capped birds fluttering round him. He put his finger to his lips as we approached. We stopped dead in our tracks, watching the chickadees swoop from nearby branches to peck at seed in the crown of his hat and upturned palms.
I remembered this magical moment when I read That Chickadee Feeling, by Frank Glew, illustrated by the Marna Twins. It begins with a kid who’s really, really bored, so their mom invites them on an outing with some seed and advice to be patient. When a bird lands on the child’s hand, the kid experiences “that chickadee feeling.” It’s the same feeling that comes from riding a bike for the first time, or winning a race (or encountering the Chickadee man in the forest). This tale challenges the reader to find a way out of boredom, with birding as a definite option.
With apologies to Clement Moore.
'Twas the week before Christmas and all 'cross the land
The booksellers were racing, stacks of books clutched in hand.
They doled out some Ravi, Rick Mercer, and Washington Black
And if they couldn’t find it, why, they checked in the back.
They raced up the aisles, they dodged the kids’ wails,
They thrived on the bustle, they rang up the sales.
They walked and they walked, and their blisters brought a tear
Until they heard a faint voice, one they often did hear:
“You’re an indie bookseller, the best of the best.
You work before dawn, you work without rest.
You’ve read all the books, you could pass any test,
Now, could please tell me, which one was the best?”
The booksellers paused, the booksellers stilled
It was an impossible question, one that pricked like a quill.
Who could say what was best, who could even compare,
Not just apple and orange, but mango and pear!
Put two books together, and how do they rank
When one is a novel, the other history frank?
“Impossible,” they said, “that’s not how books work
To say one is the best would make me feel like a jerk.”
“All right,” said the voice, loaded with care,
“Which book is your favourite, that you want to share?”
“Ah,” said the booksellers, “this I can do,
Just give me a coffee, and a moment to stew.”
And the booksellers weighed in, with their picks of the year
It was a list most compelling, and rich with good cheer.
The voice tried to thank them, but they waved it away,
Turning back …