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Top Shelf: Best of Julie Booker's Notes From a Children's Librarian

Too often, great blog posts and lists get buried in the web’s relentless tendency to favour the new over the old. That's the reason for Top Shelf, a series that shines a spotlight on the best of 49th Shelf lists and posts, no matter their recency.

For quite some time, Ms. Julie Booker, children's librarian and author of the critically acclaimed Up Up Up, has been knocking out incredible posts for those interested in great kids' and YA books; we call it Notes from a Children's Librarian. Here's a round-up of some of our favourites—click on the text link or book jacket for the full list of books captured in Julie's posts.


Enviro Fiction Picks: Environmental issues can be so vast and complicated that for kids, simple, compelling stories are often the best way to instill a respect for our natural world and a sense of what they can do to be good to it. Julie picks out four books here for different age ranges.


Funny Books for Young Readers: Lest we ever forget, it can be hard work being a kid, especially given the ever-changing social dynamics at play and the cruelty that sometimes seems to be endemic to growing up. Many of the books Julie singles out here provide welcome perspective for kids—a chance to laugh at the ridiculousness of things like bullies and the universality of feeling awkward and inept.


Books About Displacement: Not only are these books helpful in terms of relating the challenge of moving to a new country and having to recreate home, says Julie—they are also great for helping kids learn how to write.


Great Sequels (and Great Cats!): Why do cats make for such great storytelling? Julie marvels at narrative successes such as Zoom at Sea, in which a cat finds nautical adventure via an enigmatic woman named Maria. Sometimes the most unlikely concepts make for the best stories. (It doesn't hurt when illustrations are this beautiful.)


Into the Land of Nod: As much as Julie has enjoyed scaring children with spooky stories, she has come to terms with the need for bedtime calm to send kids happily to sleep. Less fun for adults, perhaps, but fewer nightmares to have to deal with at 3 am. Here are some of her restful favourites.


Books With Sole(s): As Julie notes: "One of the current trends in education is to identify the underlying theme or message, to make connections with other stories and the larger world. Shoes allow for big ideas, relatable to readers as young as age four."


Thank you Julie Booker, for your quiet, always excellent work.

May 8, 2014
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