Category Archives: Oz: Children’s Books

Oz Blog: Back-to-School Round Up

(Today in Oz, we have something for your munchkins to read.)
New backpack? Check. A new size in uniforms? Check. While your child might be leaving their summer reading until the last minute (it still FEELS like summer), here’s a list to help your kids, and yourself, get in the back-to-school spirit.

Here’s the rundown:

Pre-school to Kindergarten:
Oliver and his Alligator by Paul Schmid

Oliver has a case of the first-day-of-school jitters, and stops by the swamp to pick up an alligator who helps swallow all of his worries. Great for conquering shyness. Schmid’s ne
west book, Oliver and his Egg, features an Oliver in school whose imagination runs wild when he finds a dragon egg.

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Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt

GREAT book for boys (and even girls) entering Kindergarten. The budding astronaut found in these pages will have soon-to-be kindergarteners excited about starting school. My favorite line in the book? “Then…I remember what they say at NASA: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.” Illustrations by Shane Prigmore are also colorful and exciting.

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First Grade:
Pinkalicious and the New Teacher by Victoria Kann

Our favorite pink-loving heroine is back just in time for school! I’ll admit, my favorite part of this book is the fold out poster that says “Reading is Pinkatastic!” I have to agree with Pinkalicious, as she discovers the joys of a new classroom. Bookmarks with that slogan are also included.

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The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Duncan’s crayons have a bone to pick with him. Yellow thinks he should be the color of the sun…but then again, so does orange. All he wants to do is color! If you do not own this book, or you have not read this book, the biggest favor you can do for yourself and your child is to purchase this hilarious read for anyone who loves to color with crayons. I’ve placed it on this back-to-school list because who doesn’t love to color??

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Rufus Goes to School by Kim T. Griswell, Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev.

With a name like Rufus Leroy Williams III, Rufus is not your average pig. While his friends are busy playing basketball, he wants to learn how to read. The catch? The principal doesn’t allow pigs to enroll in his school. Kids will love Rufus, and will most likely be one to read again and again.

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My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I am Not.) by Peter Brown

You loved Creepy Carrots and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. This book wins the prize for BEST BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOK of 2014! Bobby loves to fly paper airplanes, especially in class. Ms. Kirby is Bobby’s “big problem” at school because she makes him sit out at recess for throwing paper airplanes in class. But then…Bobby runs into Ms. Kirby at the park outside of school. What happens next will make you smile. You can get a signed copy here at the store!

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The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara

The little librarian works all night with her three assistant owls to make sure things run smoothly in the Midnight Library. However, squirrels start to play music, and a wolf begins to cry. The library stays open until the sun rises, and the illustrations and story are charming.

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

While we are on the topic of libraries…this incredible book is about loving stories and books, and the journey they can take you on. Great for any age, and a must have for a personal library.

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Written by Clara

Book love for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is only a few days away! For us, Valentine’s Day art loversis all about sharing books with the one we love. This Thursday from 5-8 at the Art Lovers’ Soiree, Maggie will have a fantastic selection of books perfect for your special someone. Here are a couple of the books she has poems



Love Poems by Pablo Neruda has been published as a gorgeous paperback that can easily fit in one hand. This collection of poetry is absolutely beautiful. With each poem, this collection gives you the translated version on the right and the original Spanish on the left. And these poems definitely sound more romantic when read in Spanish. One of my favorites in this collection is ‘Your Feet.’ It ends with this fantastic sentence: “But I love your feet/only because they walked/upon the earth and upon/the wind and upon the waters,/until they found me.”

William Shakespeare is another poet of love. shakespearePenguin Classics has published a beautiful edition of The Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint by William Shakespeare, befitting of the poetry within. We LOVE the Penguin Classics and any of them would be a great Valentine’s Day gift, but this is our all-time favorite for this occasion. Who wouldn’t swoon over this cover?

And over in Oz, I have pulled together some of our favorite books for your little loves.

What girl doesn’t love vintage illustrations? Vintage Valentines are adorable and a perfect gift/craft way to spend time with your little ones around this holiday. Pete the Cat is a store favorite and he has a new Valentine’s Day story that also includes 12 Valentine’s Day Cards and stickers. Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool is just as cute as the other Pete stories. We will be reading this story at Story Time this Saturday at 11:00!


And finally, for the teenager in your life (or the twenty/thirty/forty-something), Cress by Marissa Meyer is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles. Hannah, Elizabeth, and I all agree it is the BEST book in the series — and a perfect Valentine’s Day book. Hannah talked about Cinder here and I talked about Scarlet here, so if you haven’t read this series, we HIGHLY recommend it!

Written by Emily

February Oz First Editions Club: Sheila Turnage

Mo LoBeau isn’t interested in rumors; she and her best friend Dale are interested in facts. I guess that’s why 3x luckythese two plus an unlikely new friend are itching to get to the truth about the alleged ghost in the old inn. Normally a ghost would be the inn’s problem, not Mo’s, but weirdly enough, Miss Lana has accidentally purchased said inn! Now Mo and Dale have to figure out who the ghost in the fine print is, and how to get her out in time for the town’s centennial party.

tupelo landingSheila Turnage has done it again. When I first met Mo LeBeau in Three Times Lucky I was on a happy book high for at least a week after I finished, and it thrills me to say that The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is possibly one of the best companion novels out there. So that’s good news, right? Wait folks, it gets better: The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is our February pick for Oz First Editions club! That means signed copies for you, signed copies for me, and signed copies for every other person whose hands I can put this book into.


Written by Hannah

January OZ First Editions Club: Maira Kalman

We are all pretty excited about this year’s Oz First Editions Club. We have been looking ahead and scouring the catalogs for the perfect book for every month. About four months ago I started throwing around the idea that we could pick store favorite Maira Kalman, but I thought it was a pretty big long shot, until my fantabulous Penguin rep Doni Kay made it happen!

Kelly and Hannah have been longtime outspoken fans of Maira Kalman’s work in such books as Food Rules by Michael Pollan and And the Pursuit of Happiness. I fell in love with her art in Daniel Handler’s Printz honor winner, Why We Broke Up. But I think the biggest thing we all worried about was — would THIS book be up to snuff.

With all this rolling around in my head, I dove into Kalman’s newest picture booktj, Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything. This nonfiction picture book is longer than your average children’s book. Kalman’s paintings give us a look into Jefferson’s life, starting with his childhood. Monticello makes several appearances, as do many famous people from Jefferson’s life.

Kalman’s writing, however, is what makes this book unique from other nonfiction picture books. While Kalman gives all the historical details of Jefferson’s life, she also humanizes him and those who lived alongside him. She writes that peas were his favorite vegetable, that he could not live without books, and that while he had flaws, he always strived to be the best he could be.

I am not always a fan of this type of book, but if every nonfiction picture book were written like this, I think I would feel differently. Kalman has pulled off what many have struggled to do: she has made history interesting to all readers, regardless of age.

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything is available as a signed first edition here at Lemuria, and is a great way to get started in the Oz First Editions Club (just email for all the deets on how to sign up). Stay tuned for our future picks; we’ve got a great year ahead!

Some more reading for you!

Maira Kalman’s website

The New York Times: a conversation about new biographies for children

Kirkus Review: they gave TJ a star!

Written by Emily

Fancy Nancy Illustrator here tomorrow!

fanLast year, many of you will remember that we hosted the author and creator of the Fancy Nancy series, Jane O’Connor. Tomorrow, we are honored to also host the illustrator of this famed series, Robin Preiss Glasser! Robin has had two successful careers, the first as a ballet dancer and the second as a best-selling children’s book illustrator. She will be here promoting the newest addition to the Fancy Nancy story,

Fancy Nancy and the Fanciest Doll in the Universe.

glasser_robin_preiss3Fancy Nancy’s sister JoJo can really be a pest sometimes …like when she put Easter-egg dye in the kiddie pool and dunked Frenchy in it! But this time she’s done something really bad, and Nancy is livid (that’s fancy for très angry and upset)! JoJo drew a tattoo on Nancy’s precious doll, Marabelle Lavinia Chandelier! Even worse, it’s in permanent marker …that means it will never come out! When Mom suggests a fancy doll party to make Nancy feel better, Nancy is excited to accept. But when Marabelle gets mixed up with another doll, is the doll drama over? Fancy Nancy fans and their très fancy dolls will delight in this sweet story about the love little girls feel for their favorite dolls…and their favorite sisters!

We will have tres fantastic time! So come in your fanciest attire, and bring your own fancy doll for a Fancy Nancy extravaganza! Come as early as 3:30 to our events building to take pictures with the Fancy Nancy tres fancy bus and to enjoy some fancy coloring! Robin will read at 4:00, with a signing to follow. See you there!

Written by Emily

It’ll be a nautical spring, folks.

It’s a double month for Oz First Editions Club, and doubly exciting because by happy accident both books are about the ocean and its many wonders. Putting my irrational (Or VERY rational) fear of sea creatures aside, I’m very very excited about both of our picks this month.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Caldecott winning illustrator Erin Stead (you can read about my love for Erin here) is a beautiful book capturing the imagination and impatience that comes with childhood. In this instructional guide on waiting to spot a whale, Erin Stead creates whimsical images of a little boy and his dog playing pretend and exploring the outdoors. She’s done it again, my friends– yet another book where I want to frame every single page and hang it in my bedroom.



Our other OZ FEC pick this month is Octopus Alone , written and illustrated by Divya Srinivasan, is a sweet story of a shy octopus who just wants to be left alone. Seahorses, jellyfish, and eels are the plague of her existence and keep forcing her to hide in little caves when she just wants to be left alone to eat a few delicious crabs, darn it! Making friends can be hard and scary, but this story quietly explains that it’s good to have friends, even if they are different from you– and in the end, it’s better to be having an ocean dance party with other fish than alone.

Octopus Alone comes out on May 16, and If You Want to See a Whale will be available tomorrow, May 7th. If you’re already a member of Oz FEC, be sure to come by and grab your copies, and if you aren’t a member yet, what a great way to start off your collection! I’ll be reading these at story time here in the store at 11:00 on May 18, so if you need more convincing, come by the store and check them out. We really love these two books, and we’re sure you will too.

Written by Hannah

What Time? Story Time.

Here’s the thing. If I didn’t work on Saturdays, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I would spend my morning sleeping late, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and generally not doing the dishes. If you have kids, I’m sure your schedule varies from that some (like maybe waking up at 4 am) but we have a new Saturday activity for you to keep your precious babies from turning their brains into cat food by watching too many shows on TLC. Story time! Turn off that atrocity named Honey Boo Boo and bring your brood to story time every Saturday morning at 11:00– it’s the absolute best way to spend a weekend morning. Grab a muffin and some coffee from downstairs, herd your babes up the stairs, and enjoy 30 beautifully peaceful minutes of browsing, snoozing, or sipping while I read to your kids.

As a rule, I usually try to pick at least one book that has just come out (usually the week before) to read, along with some favorite classics. Last story time we enjoyed Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen’s new masterpiece The Dark, paired with the David Wiesner’s Caldecott winning book Tuesday, and Molly Idle’s brand spanking new dino-tea party extravaganza called Tea Rex. The kids then drew pictures of what we read about! There were lots of flying frogs and dinosaurs holding teacups, let me tell you, and it was brilliant. To the parents of those kids: frame that stuff. It ruled.

So pack your kids and their friends into the car and doodle on over to Lemuria next Saturday at 11:00 for story time. Who knows? it could be the start of a wonderful new tradition.

Written by Hannah

75 Year of the Caldecott: Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat.

Hannah showed me up in her last and final Caldecott post. She was absolutely right. My trash talk lacked a certain grace and Hannah in her wisdom called me on it. She gave us all an enlightening history in talking trash, and while you can chose to believe her retelling of our great leaders or scoff at it, the fact is that I fell short. Often when such missteps happen, it’s easy to see one’s entire opinion as a misstep. In this instance, my Caldecott choices might have been tainted, but lords and ladies of the court I am here to not only plead their case, but also to show you two more delectable contestants and to choose a victor for team Emily.

When we lost Maurice Sendak last year, the world lost a great visionary. Yes, he was crotchety, and yes, he probably didn’t actually like children, but he saw children as people and his books spoke to them, not at them. Where the Wild Things Are was first published in 1963, but it was still touching children’s lives when my brother came of storybook age in the early 1990′s  I seriously used to have this book memorized, and there are still parts I can recite. This book was definitely an outlet for our family and really spoke to my brother, who was constantly telling us he was going to run away to the forest. The drawings are the perfect mix of whimsical with a touch of fright, and show us how easy it is to say one thing, but even harder to actually live with those consequences.

As we have been having this Caldecott Hunger Games, I have noticed that the books that touch me the most are the ones that are written by the illustrator whose art garners the award. This story is no exception. The art and text fit together in a way that will forever affect children and their parents.

Another superb example of this melding of art and story is Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. Much longer than some of it’s fellow Caldecott books, this magical book was one I poured over for hours as a child. The illustrations are so detailed and the story so imaginative. A board game that actually brought things to life? Incredible. We read this before we saw the movie and while the movie was a good time, it took away one of my favorite parts: Van Allsburg’s art. If you haven’t seen this book yet, please come by the store and just take five minutes and read it. So. Good.

And with that said, I have presented my five contestants. The first three were debuted here for those of you who didn’t see it. We will be making our final choices here at the store and presenting a winner on Facebook in a week. If you have any opinion you would like to share, please comment here, on our Twitter @lemuriabooks or on our Facebook page. Personally, I am rooting for Where the Wild Things Are, but we shall see!

Written by Emily

75 Years of Caldecott: Hannah’s contestants are squashed

It’s been a while since Hannah paraded her contestants around, making promises of Mirette’s hardhitting high-wire fire, Ox-cart man’s intimidating wife, and Sylvester’s pebble with it’s magic powers. Pish posh, I say. The Caldecott is about the fantastical, the mystical, the mysterious, the profound! Not ox and pebbles! I present, the contenders, or should I say the squashers, and the winners!

We’ll start with the 1992 winner Tuesday by David Wiesner. This was Wiesner’s first Caldecott win, but it wouldn’t be his last. Tuesday doesn’t rely on fancy words: this book is almost completely wordless. The beautiful illustrations of Tuesday were the first thing that drew me to Wiesner’s work. Using his brush strokes alone, Wiesner gives me the watercolored tools to mop up Mirette: Frogs. That’s right, frogs. Flying on lily pads. They come in the night, intriguing and terrorizing the characters within this book and amazing the reader. Mirette may be a high-wire show off, but these frogs show her up. Hannah: 0, Emily: 1.

Continuing with this sparse theme, we have my next prize-wining fighter: My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann. “My friend Rabbit means well. But whatever he does, wherever he goes, trouble follows.” And so begins the tale of an imaginative rabbit who, despite his best efforts, is always in trouble. And while trouble is bad when trying to be good, it’s perfect when trying to beat the competition. Look at this rabbit! He can lift a bear! Take that Ox-Cart Man. We don’t need no cart! Boo yah!

And Hannah, I finish with a 1-2-punch: I give you Flotsam by David Wiesner. This was Wiesner’s third Caldecott win and with it he became only 1 of 2 people who have won the award three times (Marcia Brown was the first). Flotsam tells the story of a camera that has been to unimaginable places. With the same beautiful watercolor style as he showed us in Tuesday, Wiesner blows his audience away with breath-taking scenes such as the one below. So which is better: Sylvester’s magic rock, or starfish with whole islands on their backs. Well, dear reader, I’ll let y’all be the judge of that.

Flotsam 1


Written by Emily

OZ First Editions Club is back and ready for action!

As some of you may know, we have a great service called the OZ First Editions Club. Much like our regular First Editions Club, we bring you a signed first edition every month–except these are the best (signed) picture books and middle grade novels we can get out hands on!

OZ FEC took a little bit of a hiatus recently, (the lovely Adie and Zita have been helping me revamp the club) but we are proud to announce we’re back in action! We made a few changes which I discuss here, but the biggest change is that the authors no longer have to come to the store for their book to be picked. We want our selection to be the best and unhindered by publishers’ touring schedules.

For February, we picked Penny and Her Marble by the amazing Kevin Henkes. Mr Henkes’ has won a Caldecott Medal, a Caldecott Honor, and a Newbery Honor, but I’m pretty sure being a selection in Lemuria’s OZ FEC trumps all of that, right? Ok, fine, maybe the Caldecott was a bigger honor, but still, you catch my drift. Penny joins the ranks of Mr. Henkes’ other well loved mice: Lily and her purple plastic purse, Julius her brother, worried Wemberly, Chrysanthemum, and others that have been favorites here at the store for years. In this installment, Penny finds a marble on her neighbor’s yard. Entranced by it, she takes it home, but she starts to worry. What if she stole this marble? Penny will steal your hearts and be a great addition to any collection.

March’s selection will be Otis and the Puppy by Loren Long. This is Loren’s second time to be inducted into the OZ FEC. He was a big hit in 2011 when we picked Otis and the Tornado, and we were thrilled to be able to bring you the newest installment in the “new classic” Otis series. When creating this series, Loren told us that he really studied other classic children’s books such as Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel and The Story of Ferdinand. The Otis series feels like it could be decades old or just created. Loren is one of our favorites not just here at the store, but in the community as well and we are so glad to have signed copies available again!

If you aren’t a part of the club yet, now is a great time to jump on board. We are working on some really cool stuff, kinda like we did here and you don’t want to miss it! To sign up, email us a!

Written by Emily