By Connie Sutton


Keyser-Mineral County Library

The Keyser Library held their first Lego Club night last Tuesday. It was a night of light snow, some ice, strong winds and bitter cold. As we walked over to the Trinity Lutheran Church hall, where the club was to meet, we wondered if anyone would show up. Well, four children met us as the door and of the 15 children signed up 13 children came having carefully walked or been carefully driven by their parents to Lego night. If you want to see a group of kids having fun, just set them all up at a table and put bins of Legos out for everyone to use. Thanks are due to the J. Norman and Margaret J Reeves Private Foundation which provided the grant funds the library used to purchase the Legos. You can see the Lego creations made that night at the Keyser Library in our display case.

Thanks to a generous donation from library patron Betsy Cox, the Keyser Library has added to its shelves the New York TimesBest Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015. Since 1952, the NY Times has selected ten illustrated children’s books every year that demonstrate the best artistry, and the Keyser Library is delighted to recommend them all to our younger patrons.

The list includes books that address the popular “opposites” theme that appeals to very young readers, several illustrated gems that highlight true stories, fables, and humorous tales that children of all ages will appreciate.

Big Bear, Little Chair by Lizi Boyd takes the “opposites” theme and adds size into the mix. “Delightful cut paper compositions juxtapose the large and the small in unexpected ways: a “big meadow” is big because it’s full of small flowers; a “big seal” towers over a “tiny castle” that’s made of sand” (NY Times).

The iconic Eiffel Tower features in two of the selected books. In Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower by Alice Brière-Haquet, readers will delight in the intricate illustrations and charming story of the inspiration behind the Eiffel Tower. “The effect is romantic and utterly charming, inviting you to look and look at the pages” (NY Times). A witty and educational biography of the conman who once sold the Eiffel Tower as scrap metal makes an enjoyable read for both parents and children in Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli. “This is an intriguing account, and through sidebars, the book  offers some effective avenues for discussing related historical events, people, and places, such as Al Capone, Prohibition, counterfeiting, and Alcatraz” (School Library Journal).

The Only Child by Chinese artist Guojing is a hauntingly beautiful book that tells the story of a young girl who gets left behind when she falls asleep on a bus and is transported to a magical forest where she makes friends with a variety of fantasy creatures. Adults and children will be “enchanted by this dreamy, wordless debut, lovingly illustrated with smoky, mystical-looking pencil drawings” (NY Times).

Young readers who are fans of whimsy will appreciate Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Bennett, which tells the tale of young ghost Leo, who no longer likes the house he haunts. As he journeys to city he makes friends with a young girl and even stops a robbery from taking place. “This is a tender, touching story of friendship and the power of imagination…and it is sure to warm hearts” (Booklist).

Other books on the list include A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins which tells the tale of how the dessert blackberry fool originated. Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the DeadCalveras by Duncan Tonatiuh gives readers an inside look at the Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada. The adorable picture book The Skunk by Mac Barnett features “clever visual motifs, sly storytelling, and tight pacing” (Library Journal). Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson is “something to treasure” (NY Times) “A quiet, graceful book about the perspective-changing wonder of humble, everyday pleasures” as it follows a thoughtful young girl who shows kindness to strangers (Booklist). Readers who remember the famous fable by James Thurber about a power hungry tiger will love illustrator JooHee Yoon’s reinvention in The Tiger Who Would Be King. “A perfect picture book for older readers that serves as a powerful lesson about war and great fodder for discussion” (School Library Journal).