Books for children - Feb. 24


"The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain" by Peter Sis, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 52 pages

Read aloud: age 9, 10 to adult.

Read yourself: age 10, 11 to adult

In 1948, Peter Sis was born in Czechoslovakia. That same year, the Soviets took control of his country and closed the borders. "I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side - the Communist side - of the Iron Curtain," he says.

In school and outside of his home, young artist Peter was told what to draw and what to think. At first he didn't question what he was being told, but later "he found out there were things he wasn't told. This was the time of brainwashing." There were many people who wanted to be free from Communism, and as Peter grew, he was one of them.

A memoir of the author/artist's life in Communist Czechoslovakia and his ultimate defection is brought forward through his rich art and never-before-seen private photos and journal entries. A cautionary tale, "The Wall" provides deep reflection on freedom and teaches what transpires when freedom is compromised.


Library: Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, 2 Library Lane, Old Lyme

Library Director: Mary Fiorelli

Children's Librarian: Danielle Ward

Choices this week: "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes; "So B. It" by Sarah Weeks; "How Rocket Learned to Read" by Tad Hills


"Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird - A True Story" by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Meilo So, Alfred A. Knopf, 2012, 42 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 8 and older

Read yourself: age 9, 10 and older

There was a time when most people thought animals were not very intelligent, believing the larger the brain, the smarter the creature. In 1977, graduate student Irene Pepperberg wanted to prove this long-held belief wrong, so Irene purchased an African grey parrot, named him Alex, and began teaching him.

While an African grey parrot's brain is about the size of a walnut, Irene felt certain this had nothing to do with intelligence. She was right. Over many years of working together, Alex learned things that astonished both Irene and the world, including counting, adding, subtracting, color-shape-size identification and language. Throughout, Irene and Alex developed a loving friendship that lasted for 30 wonderful years.

A magnificent story perfectly written and illustrated, "Alex the Parrot" is thought-provoking in many ways.

"My First Day: What Animals Do on Day One" by Steve Jenkins, illustrated by Robin Page, Houghton Mifflin, 2013, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 to 6

Read yourself: age 7 and 8

When some animals such as kiwi birds and sea turtles are born, they are immediately on their own with no parent to help them. Others need a parent to help them survive. This delightful book by award-winning team Steve Jenkins and Robin Page introduce readers to 22 animals and what they do on the day they are born.

Engaging, fast-paced text with lovely illustrations combine to make this a fascinating little book.


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