By Kendal Rautzhan

August 23, 2013

If we only surround ourselves with things familiar, we won’t know much. If we only surround ourselves with things that make us happy, eventually that happiness will diminish because we will not know the opposite — hardship and sorrow. If we only surround ourselves with people, places and events we are comfortable with, we won’t know many people, and the diversity of our life experiences will be fairly nonexistent.

In a word, life will be dull.

Encourage kids to continuously try new things of every kind, to step outside the comfort zone to learn more, experience more and ultimately grow. This includes exposure to all kinds of wonderful books, such as these:

Book to borrow

“Yoko” written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells, Hyperion, 32 pages. Read aloud: age 3-7. Read yourself: age 8.

Yoko goes to school with lots of boys and girls. One day at lunch time, all the children make fun of Yoko’s lunch. They are eating their favorite foods — egg salad, peanut butter and honey, franks and beans. But when they see what Yoko is eating — her favorite, sushi — they tease her, making Yoko quite upset.

“Ick! It’s green! It’s seaweed!” “Don’t tell me that’s raw fish!” “Watch out! It’s moving!” “Yuck-o-rama!”

Yoko’s teacher knows she has to do something to help Yoko and change the other children’s attitude, and her solution proves to be both clever and delicious.

Another book by master author/illustrator Rosemary Wells, this charming little gem carries an important message about tolerance and broadening one’s horizons.

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Librarian’s Choice

Clymer Library, 115 Firehouse Road, Pocono Pines

Choices this week: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss; “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing; “Goodnight Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann


Books to Buy

“The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas” by David Almond, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, Candlewick, 2013, 244 pages, $15.99 hardcover. Read aloud: age 9 and older. Read yourself: age 10-11 and older.

Young Stanley Potts had a bit of a rough start. His parents had passed away, but Stan had come to love his Auntie Annie and his Uncle Ernie, with whom he lived. One day, however, Uncle Ernie went totally bonkers, canning fish in their house. He set up a factory and had Stan helping him almost 24/7. The day Ernie went too far with it all, Stan knew what he had to do — he left.

Stan soon took a job with a traveling carnival, first as a helper to Dostoyevsky and his plastic floating “Hook-a-Duck” stall, then as the “next in line” to legendary Pancho Pirelli — the man who swam with piranhas. Stan trained hard, yet what he needed most was to believe in himself.

“Every Day After” by Laura Golden, Delacorte Press/Random House, 2013, 224 pages, $15.99 hardcover. Read aloud: age 8 and older. Read yourself: age 10-11 and older.

Eleven-year-old Lizzie has a great life — loving and supportive parents who believe in Lizzie’s worth and strength, a terrific best friend, and top grades in school. When the Great Depression strikes, Lizzie’s world quickly starts to unravel — her father loses his job and abandons the family, and her mama is so depressed about her husband leaving she can’t take care of herself, nor Lizzie, the house, and paying the mortgage.

Lizzie is determined to keep everything afloat, but she finds that more difficult to do than she bargained for. With the nasty new girl, Erin, determined to see Lizzie’s mom packed away in a mental institute and Lizzie in an orphanage, and the bank determined to foreclose, Lizzie realizes she must make her bravest move of all — ask for help.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at

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