Midwest Book Review

The Easy Reader Shelf

Little America
Helen Foster James, author
Jeannie Brett, Michael Glenn Monroe, and Helle Urban, illustrators
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200
315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585361793 $9.95 www.sleepingbearpress.com

Little America is a board book for beginning readers, written in the format of ten rhyming riddles about American treasures. For example, riddle five is "Baked in the oven, round and sweet, try a slice for a tasty treat," and the answer is "Apple Pie," naturally. Bright, colorful illustrations add the perfect touch to this delightful addition to the "Little" board book series for the very young.

Showering a Baby with Books

Recently it was my pleasure to attend a baby shower for a longtime friend who had just become a first-time grandma. She was delighted to have a new little one in her life and her friends rallied around her in celebration.

I had never heard of a baby shower for grandmas, but I’m always happy to celebrate with a friend. I googled around and found that grandma showers are a new and very up-and-coming tradition. They’re trendy. They’re unique and, if you ask me, they’re here to stay.

Don’t get me wrong, showers are usually “not my thing,” but this was different in many ways. One of the best parts of the shower was that every one of the dozen attendees was to bring a baby book for little Elliot so grandma would always have baby books handy for his visits. Now, that’s an idea I can back! This simple idea started Elliot’s personal library of books.

The attendees investigated what book (or books) we should gift grandma and Elliot. Without consulting each other, there was not a single duplication. The assorted books ranged from long-time favorites to fresh-off-the-press releases. From board books to plastic books for the tub and almost every type of book in between!

If you are looking for help finding great shower books, visit the National Parenting Publications Awards website (www.nappaawards.parenthood.com) for a list of this year’s winners and previous winners.

If you want more help, visit your local children’s bookstore and ask them for assistance. They are sure to be able to put the right book in your hands. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a children’s bookstore in your neighborhood, try your local independent brick-and-mortar store. They’ll give you great advice. A visit to your local public library might put you in touch with a librarian with a host of favorite book ideas, and don’t forget to recall all the books you or your child loved as a little one.

I hope the next time you have a shower to attend (or give!), you’ll consider a shower of books. And, if you have a new grandmother in your life, I hope you’ll give her a book shower.

I'm the author of two board books that would make excellent shower gifts: Little California and Little America (Sleeping Bear Press, 2011). To learn more about Helen, visit her website at www.helenfosterjames.com.

Juliette Gordon Lowe's 100th annivesary

"Come right over! I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!"

—Juliette Gordon Low phoning her cousin Nina Anderson Pape in 1912

With those words, the Girl Scouts were started and 2012 marks its 100th anniversary. What better way to celebrate the Girl Scouts than to celebrate with one of their creations: S'mores!

My book has a double-page spread celebrating Juliette Low and another environmentalist, John Muir. Check it out.

Is your Girl Scout group celebrating this 100th anniversary? If so, consider inviting me to the celebration. We can make some s'mores together!