WELCOME! Once a month, usually on a Thursday evening, a group of writers, illustrators, teachers and librarians meets in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles to discuss children's books. Usually we talk about one picture book and one middle grade or YA novel. After the meeting, Sandy Schuckett, a retired LAUSD librarian, summarizes our discussion. Here are her reports of our thoughts about the books we have read. We'd love to have your comments too!
Thanks to Nancy Hayashi for our wonderful title art! Our group has been meeting since 2007. It was organized under the auspices of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California (CLCSC).

Thursday, December 5, 2013


After enjoying our annual holiday repast, with Ann's delicious lasagna, excellent salads and sides and dessert, we started our discussion with the picture book, The Christmas Crocodile. We almost all agreed that it was a fun holiday story, although not an example of the absolutely best in children's literature, but we loved the illustrations, including the expressions on the little dog's face throughout the story, and other elements that brought the story to life. Some people felt it was a bit too 'wordy' for a picture book, and noted that picture books today tend to have much less text. (This one was published in 1998.) One of our members was not so happy with it. She felt that the idea of a crocodile in the house at Christmas who ate everything in sight was really scary.
As for the novel, Breaking Stalin's Nose, we all agreed that it was a good story that could keep a reader engaged. But some wondered if kids today would have the knowledge or the background to even be interested in reading it. We felt that a parent or a teacher or a librarian could introduce this book to a kid, and that maybe the kid might enjoy it and might learn something about the period in Russia under Stalin that it describes. We felt there were some universal elements in it related to the kinds of things kids sometimes have to deal with: telling the truth about an incident, keeping confidences, being concerned about a parent, and standing up for what's right. It raised many questions, which is probably always a good idea with a book for young readers.
For your information, I thought you might be interested in seeing the 'Notable Children's Books of 2013' list from the New York Times Book Review. Here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/08/books/review/notable-childrens-books-of-2013.html?ref=review&_r=0