The Skeleton and the Swastika

This morning’s Eleventh Stack post contains images and information readers may find upsetting. History, alas, is hardly ever kind, but the author believes you should decide for yourself whether or not you’re up for that this morning before you read on. 

I know, it’s Monday. You’re not feeling it. On the bright side, at least you didn’t discover a horrible secret in your family’s past while visiting your local library.

If that sounds a bit far-fetched, consider this: it actually happened to Jennifer Teege, who was browsing a library in Munich when suddenly her mother’s name jumped out at her from a book jacket. Curious, Teege took the book down from the shelf and started reading; what she found there changed her life forever.

Photograph by Thorsten Wulff, obtained via CBC Radio. Click through to listen to an interview with Jennifer Teege.

Photograph by Thorsten Wulff, obtained via CBC Radio. Click through to listen to an interview with Jennifer Teege.

Teege is the granddaughter of Nazi concentration camp commander Amon Goeth, known as “the butcher of Płaszów,” who was hanged in 1946 for his war crimes, and whose story you are most likely somewhat familiar with from watching Schindler’s List. This revelation threw her, as you might expect, into a deep depression, but one from which she emerged, determined, to confront her ancestry and write My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past. With the help of co-author Nikola Sellmair and translator Carolin Sommer, Teege uses her family’s story to open up a dialogue on the larger issue of how the children and grandchildren of Nazi party members have–or haven’t–coped with their forefathers’ gruesome legacies.

Teege tells her story in a blunt, no-nonsense fashion, sticking to what she learns and how she learns it, without indulging in self-pity or making apologies for her mother or grandmother (Goeth’s mistress). Like a detective she traces the available resources and interviews the remaining living parties, including her mother Monika. She also visits Płaszów at length, physically walking through the spaces where so many of the facts she learns are set. And while it’s difficult reading, it’s an important effort. As Teege knows all too well, eventually everyone who was alive to bear witness to the atrocities of World War II will be dead, and it’s up to those of us who remain behind to make sure the horrors never fade.

Nikola Sellmair’s contributions to the book enhance the story, not just by giving us a psychological break from Teege’s struggles, but also by discussing the collective post-war psyche of Germany, and describing how other descendants have, or haven’t, coped with their family heritage. Sellmair is also able to describe Teege and her actions in a way Teege herself is too biased to realize, giving the reader a fully-rounded portrait of what’s going on.

Without giving away the ending, I can tell you that what moved me most about Teege’s story was the way that even the most difficult past can, with effort, be met with the hope of grace and reconciliation. That no matter what our ancestors have done, we can always live differently. That family is not just something we’re born into – it’s also something we choose. And that telling our stories is the only way to bring the skeletons out of the closets where they are hiding and expose them to research and the historical record.

Teege and Sellmair also include a list of books and films interested readers may find helpful for further discussion and inquiry. Some of these are available in the library’s collection, including:

In My Brother’s Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS, Uwe Timm.

My Father’s Keeper: Children of Nazi Leaders–an Intimate History of Damage and Denial, Norbert and Stephen Lebert.

The Himmler Brothers: A German Family History, Katrin Himmler.

The Cap: The Price of a Life, Roman Frister.

Hitler’s Children, Chanoch Ze’evi.

Inheritance: A Nazi Legend and the Journey to Change It , James Moll.

Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler’s List Mietek Pemper.

Personally, I like my books the way I like my coffee: bitter, strong, and designed to get me moving and thinking. I highly recommend My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me to those who feel much the same. Here’s to the personal and the political, be they ever so difficult to swallow.

–Leigh Anne


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Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe

© Marvel Disney

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Marvel Studios and Disney will continue to print their own money with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron today. In preparation for the movie, which has already made over $200 million overseas, I’ve been rewatching the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I put more planning into this months-long marathon than I do into what I eat. I usually hope patrons will bring us cookies or something equally tasty.

Anyway, top ten lists are always fun (and it’s been a while since I did a top ten list) so, without further delay, I present my ranking of the films of the MCU.

Warning: These are only the films since, apparently, the television shows, tie-in comics and one-shots only complicate the movies.
Warning: This is only my preference. Save your nerd-rage for something else.
Warning: This list contains spoilers.

10. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I’m probably one of the only people who enjoyed Ang Lee’s 2003 iteration of the big green monster. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but I remember that it at least it tried to be cerebral. Louis Leterrier’s version, on the other hand, is bland; I feel like he only makes horribly average movies for people who hate movies (see Clash of the Titans, The Transporter and Now You See Me). He’s like a French Michael Bay. This film is clearly the black sheep of the MCU as it’s hardly ever referenced, save for the one-shot The Consultant and a line in an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I promised to keep this cinematic. I think it would be incredible (see what I did there?) if the Hulk just stayed in Avengers films or other team-up films in the future.

9. Thor (2011)

I think this is the only film in the MCU that I didn’t see in the theaters. I’ll openly admit that I don’t particularly care for fantasy/mythology stuff. I realize that may seem a bit hypocritical when I’m listing off comic book movies, but let’s move past that. When Kenneth Branagh was announced as the director, I thought it was a match made in heaven. For a time it seemed like Branagh was set on adapting all of Shakespeare’s plays and I’ve always felt the story of Thor is inherently Shakespearean. While the finished product never reaches the Shakespearean epic I had in mind, there are snippets of it bubbling below the surface, specifically when you watch Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston act off each other. You really feel for them as brothers and I’m not just saying that because my brother is blonde and muscular whereas I am dark haired and, well, not (see my earlier comment about eating).

8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Again, knowing that Alan Taylor (someone who’s directed six episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones) was directing this sequel got me excited. I’ve never seen the show–I’m not that kind of nerd–but people really seem to enjoy it and it seems pretty similar in tone to Thor’s mythology. Again, I was disappointed. It’s super-close, but I’m ranking this sequel above Thor because of the Guardians of the Galaxy midcredits tag, the expansion of Thor and Loki’s relationship and because this scene had me cracking up in the theater. I could watch Tom Hiddleston all day.

7. Iron Man 2 (2010)

I know, I know, after I spoke so highly of Robert Downey Jr in my last post, how could I possibly list one of his films so low? Of the three Iron Man films, this is the one I feel like watching the least. It seems there’s a need in sequels to escalate everything so I will give credit to Jon Favreau and company for making the action of the climax less end-of-the-world-threatening than other sequels (see: Thor: The Dark World). Still, the ending was essentially the same as the first Iron Man–people in metal suits fight each other and blow stuff up. Also, Sam Rockwell was wasted in this movie, but  it was a delight to see him pop up in the All Hail the King one-shot (Sorry! I’ll stop venturing from the cinematic part of the MCU).

6. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Let me say this right off the bat: I’ve never really been a fan of Captain America. I like my heroes flawed and Cap’s always seemed too good. An argument could be made that he’s essentially a junkie because he gets his powers from a series of injections, but that is a blog post for another day. Also, I agree with Tocqueville about patriotism; overly showy displays annoy me. That said, I actually do enjoy this film. The World War II setting is great because it forced the writers to deal (to an extent) with technological hindrances of the day. It’s also not a time period we normally see in these types of films and in a market that is quickly becoming saturated with comic book movies, being different is important.

But more on that later …

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

There were many different ways to follow up The First AvengerWhile I would have liked to see a quiet character study about Cap’s struggles reconciling the world of the 1940s with the world of today, the film we ended up with is still pretty great. And it’s clear that Cap’s uncomfortable with what S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing–punishing criminals before they even commit the crime. What I liked most about The Winter Soldier was that it was essentially a political espionage thriller that happened to feature characters from comic books. This film, like Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight, proves you can tell a mature story with comic book characters; that comic book movies aren’t just for kids. This is the film that made me more than a casual fan of Cap and made me excited to see what happens next with the Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, née the Winter Soldier, in Captain America: Civil War.

4. Iron Man 3 (2013)

This one and the next one could switch places, depending on my mood. This is just a fun film and was, in my opinion, the perfect follow-up to The Avengers.  It was great seeing Tony Stark stripped of his suit and still being able to save (part of) the day. It’s everything I loved about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (also helmed by Shane Black) with a whole mess of Iron Man suits thrown into it.  I’ve noticed that fanboys tend to hate on this film and while I can appreciate their anger with the twist of the Mandarin actually being an inept actor hired by the film’s real villain, Aldrich Killian, I think it works for the film. Some things in comics (or the source material for any adaptation, really) don’t always work in film and with a character with such a racially insensitive history as the Mandarin, I think what we got was fine.

3. Iron Man (2008)

I have to give the edge to this one because it launched the MCU. I can still remember being in the theaters, my butt numb from sitting through the end credits, when Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury swaggers into frame and states that he wants to talk to Tony about the Avenger Initiative. I remember that the Internet lost its collective mind. A shared universe, while not unheard of (see: Universal’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Toho’s King Kong vs. Godzilla and New Line’s Freddy vs. Jason), was never before attempted in this massive medium-spanning scale. It seemed that with that thirty-second tag, anything was possible and here we are, seven years later, seeing that it’s true. To this day, Iron Man still holds up not only as a good comic book origin story movie, but as a parallel to Robert Downey Jr’s life and career (Please don’t walk out on me for bringing up your past, RDJ!). Without this film, I’d probably be biking around the city today instead of readying myself for nearly two and a half hours of Avengers awesomeness.

2. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

I feel like I’d be cyber-bullied into oblivion if I listed this one any lower and, to be honest, I almost ranked it third. This is what we’d been building to since 2008 and it did not let us down. While some argue that certain characters didn’t get enough screen time, I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to write a script that juggles almost ten major characters, so that gets a pass from me. The best part of this film is seeing these larger-than-life characters, that we already know from their solo films, put aside their differences and egos and come together to, well, avenge. It’s a comic book come to life and its success has prompted other studios to attempt to create their own shared universes. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say this film has changed modern cinema.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Before the midcredits tease in The Dark World, I had no idea what to expect from this movie. I’d never even heard of them before it was announced. That barely ninety-second clip, however, sold me completely on the premise. The movie was everything I could have hoped for. I watched it just a few days ago and it really hits all the right notes.  It’s funny, action-packed and, I’ll admit, I tear up a little bit at the end every time. It borrows from everything we love as a pop culture-consuming society (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars just to name a few), adds a dash of 70s rock and makes it its own. It’s weird, it’s funky and it embraces what makes it so different. That’s why it gets the number one spot for me.

All the reasons I rank Guardians so highly are the same reasons I’m ANTicipating (see what I did there?) July’s Ant-Man just a tad bit more than I am Age of Ultron. Ant-Man just looks different, it’s the first origin story and non-sequel since Guardians and Ant-Man’s powers are something we’ve never seen before on screen (well, except for the grammatically incorrect Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, I guess). Plus, I have a feeling that Paul Rudd Scott Lang/Ant-Man will have just as much charisma as RDJ’s Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Pratt‘s Peter Quill/Star-Lord, if not more.

Now, I’ve got to run; the movie is about to start and I think the ticket taker can tell I’m smuggling in chocolate-covered raisins!

What about you? How would you rank the MCU? Sound off in the comments below!



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8 Ways to Recover From a Book Slump

I’m emerging – slowly – from that horrible affliction known to avid readers everywhere as …

The Book Slump.

You’ve probably been there, too, in some form or another.

It’s the reader’s version of an endless streak of gray, gloomy days in February. You have hundreds, if not (ahem) thousands of books on your “want-to-read” list, and yet nothing strikes your fancy. You may work in a library with a collection of five million items, yet you’re overwhelmed at the notion of choosing one book to read. Or, maybe you’re staring at an overflowing coffee table or nightstand with no less than your library’s maximum number of books that can be checked out and nothing is grabbing your attention.

Story of my life for the past few weeks and then some.

So, what can a reader do when The Book Slump strikes? Allow me to share some of my tried-and-true ways of getting unstuck, so you can be prepared next time you find yourself in the abyss.

1. Read a really, really short book. The shorter, the better. During my recent book slump, I read We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Acorn, by Yoko Ono. In less than an hour, my reading mojo was rejuvenated and I was powered up for something longer.

2. Find out if one of your favorite authors has a collection of short stories. (Hint: ask a librarian if you’re not sure.)

3. Switch genres. If fiction isn’t striking your fancy, try nonfiction. Or a graphic novel. Or romance. Or horror. Or ….

4. Switch formats.  Can’t seem to finish a print book? Try audio.

5. Read a magazine or a journal.

6. Ask for recommendations!  Here at the Library, we love to match readers up with the perfect book – or even a book that’s pretty darn good. It’s kind of what we do.

7. Take a break from reading. Watch a movie. Listen to some music. Go to a literary event.

8. Ask a friend for the name of a book s/he hasn’t read yet (but wants to) and read the book together. Then, meet for coffee or lunch to discuss it.

Have you ever experienced The Book Slump?  If so, what are some ways that helped you regain your love for reading? 

~ Melissa F., who is currently reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and cannot put it down (so very good!)


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The Stolen Life

I have just finished reading Jane Green’s book, Saving Grace. Jane used to write bubbly, funny, reasonably sophisticated “chick lit” type stories, but increasingly over the past several years her novels have tackled serious topics and she would be considered now as writing in the “women’s fiction” genre.

Saving Grace details what happens to Grace Chapman when her renowned author husband, Ted, hires a new assistant, Beth, who ingratiates herself to her boss, the job, and their family life. Slowly but surely Beth absorbs Grace’s roles in the community, in the literary world as Ted’s trusted partner, and finally, personally with her husband and within her home. She does that by “gaslighting” Grace and leading everyone into thinking Grace has a serious mental condition, a type of bipolar disorder.

The more drugs Grace is prescribed the more docile she becomes, gaining weight and becoming lethargic. Grace is at a loss, given her passive state, to assert her misgivings about her diagnosis and about Beth. In literary conventions, “gaslighting” comes from the 1940 play/film Gaslight in which a husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is irrational by deviously affecting the small details of their life and convincing her and others that she is incorrect or her memory is wrong and that she is indeed going crazy. Here, through her manipulations, Beth sets a clear path to supplanting Grace in her happy life.

Here’s the official trailer for Gaslight, just to give you the idea:

But back to the novel: I got about this far in the story and almost quit! Honestly, Grace seemed like such a patsy. I just wanted to scream at her – “wake up!” And then the story shifts. In a shocking revelation Grace finds the courage to act, to find herself, and to reclaim her life. The process of reawakening saves Grace, and makes for a most entertaining story of redemption.

“The stolen life,” per se, is a theme found in all types of stories. Here are a few more that I thought of:

In Lisa Scottoline’s Think Twice, Philadelphia attorney Bennie Rosato’s evil identical twin sister, Alice Connelly, drugs her and leaves her to die, buried alive in a remote farm. Alice takes advantage of her physical resemblance to Bennie to assume her identity and to gain access to her job, her wealth and, eventually, her ex-boyfriend. Bennie’s survival depends on her own cunning and her ability to outwit a master-manipulator, her own flesh and blood.

Having a life to be envied, Jo Slater, is married to a billionaire, with multiple homes, an enviable art collection and a respected place in New York society. Then it is all gone in a flash with her husband’s sudden death and the revelation that his will designates a pretty young protégé of Jo’s as his beneficiary, leaving Jo with nothing. By hook and by crook, Jo uses her smarts and her connections to get her revenge and restore her life. A clever, cynical tale, Social Crimes, by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, is a page-turner.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith gives us Tom Ripley, a young American who is commissioned by a wealthy industrialist to get his jet-setting son, Dickie Greenleaf to return home from his wastrel life in Europe. However, Ripley finds himself very fond of Dickie and especially of Dickie’s lifestyle. Indeed, he wants to be like him–exactly like him. So, Ripley, a sociopath, stops at nothing, including murder, to succeed.

Finally, there’s the whole basis of the TV series Mad Men, in which Korean War soldier, Dick Whitman takes over the life of fellow soldier, Don Draper, who was killed in battle, to put his abusive childhood behind him, reinvent himself, and to become one of the top creative advertising executives on Madison Avenue in the 1960’s.

Can name some other stories where the grass is greener?



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Four Times OverDrive Saved the Day


Star Wars Heir to the JediI was waiting in line to see Carrie Fisher’s panel at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015 (remember how I’m a big Star Wars geek?). I did not have a book with me, because I didn’t want the extra weight in my backpack, which I knew I would slowly fill with merchandise over the course of the day. Longingly I thought of the book sitting in my hotel room.

Then I remembered I had also put an eBook copy of that book–Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi–on hold through OverDrive. And it had come in, and been automatically checked out.

I whipped out my phone, opened the OverDrive app, and downloaded the book. In about ten seconds, it loaded, and all I had to do was find my place and start reading.

(Unfortunately, Heir to the Jedi was a disappointment. It’s written in first person from Luke Skywalker’s perspective, and mostly he runs from planet to planet and almost gets eaten by monsters. It was also horribly predictable. I don’t mind a bit of predictability in books like this, but I’d like to at least pretend I don’t know what’s going to happen. With Heir to the Jedi, that was impossible.)


Fifty Shades of GreyDuring the height of the Fifty Shades of Grey mania, my husband and I were eating breakfast for dinner at a diner. He told me about his coworker’s obsession with the book, and how she said it had changed her life and opened her eyes.

Giggling, I pulled out my phone and found an eBook copy on OverDrive. When it finished downloading (again, in about ten seconds), I read out loud in my best fake serious narrator voice.

For the next few days we read segments out loud to each other, making toilet sounds every time the main character “flushes” (which is about every other sentence).

All right, all right, that last example wasn’t exactly a “pinch.” But thanks for the fun, OverDrive!

(It’s not the kink that I find funny, but the repetitive writing style. I recommend Leigh Anne’s post “Fifty Shades Better” for well-written kinky romance recommendations.)


The Non NonprofitAn actual pinch came after the time I found this awesome book in the Nonprofit Resource Center called The Non Nonprofit. It is full of fantastically challenging exercises that get you to think about your nonprofit’s mission, goals, and strategies. I was working through them when the book’s due date reared up, and of course someone had a hold on it.

But not to worry! The ebook copy was available, and before I even returned the print book I had the ebook on my tablet, ready to guide me through the world of effective nonprofit leadership.


On Becoming an ArtistThat same thing happened to me with On Becoming an Artist, which I didn’t start reading until it was overdue, because I forgot to return it and wasn’t about to make an extra trip to the Library just to avoid a thirty-cent fine.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it), I fell in love with the book and the author before I had finished the first chapter. Once again, OverDrive came to the rescue–there was a long line of holds on the print copy, but the ebook copy was there, waiting for me to download it.

I’m not a die-hard ebook fan, but I do love having another option for finding a book, especially when it means I don’t have to wait. The next time the book you want RIGHT NOW isn’t available, check OverDrive (and/or our eBook collection through Ebsco), because it just might be sitting there, waiting for you to love it.



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Gallery Crawling

Part of HC Gilje’s “The World Revolves Around You” at the Wood Street Gallery.

A City Without Guns, by Jennifer Nagle Myers, part of the Unloaded exhibit at Space.

This past Friday, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosted their quarterly gallery crawl in the cultural district downtown. The library had a buttons-and-fliers booth there, as we do at a lot of downtown events. I just went as a citizen; I love these. I wasn’t always an art fan, but I met a few local artists when I first moved to Pittsburgh, and discovered that these events were a great introduction to the community.

The gallery crawl is a relatively simple event: multiple venues open, often with special exhibits or live performances, and the public is invited to visit and witness art. The downtown Pittsburgh events sprawl throughout about ten square blocks, at twenty to thirty separate venues. Some venues, usually the ones that are actually galleries, showcase traditional art (i.e. art you can hang on a wall or put on a literal pedestal). Others show films, offer dance lessons or yoga classes, present improv comedy, host artist talks, demo cooking techniques, etc. A night market allows local artisans and small businesses to display wares for purchase, and is generally accompanied by food booths from local restaurants. If you missed this one, the next one will be happening July 10.

From Tamara Natalie Madden’s exhibit “Out of Many, One People” at 709 Penn Gallery.

This kind of event is one of the things I love about Pittsburgh. I went to this event as part of a foursome, hoping to see one artist and one musical group that I recognize from previous events around town.  I encountered a handful of unexpected familiar faces, including a few of you I know from the library. I got into conversations about love and pain and funk music and ephemera and and and….

A lot of the artists are new enough or working on a small enough scale that the library doesn’t yet have them in our collection. And let me tell you, we are missing out. Some were beautiful, some were perplexing, and some just felt like they reached in and grabbed the heart out of your chest. To learn more about some of the themes and events, try these from our catalog:

August Wilson’s Fences, currently in rehearsal by the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company.

The Early Mays self-titled second album, songs from which were performed during the “crawl after dark.”

A collection from a National Poetry Month podcast, an event coming to an end in just a few days that was being celebrated at a downtown public school.

Several books in honor of National Jazz Appreciation month, which has been associated with performances downtown throughout April.

To learn more about cool things to see and do around Pittsburgh, look at these:

Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine

Whirlwind Walk: Architecture and Urban Spaces in Downtown Pittsburgh

Food Lovers’ Guide to Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Bucket List

Pittsburgh (travel guide)

Finally, to get more art in your own life, try borrowing materials from the Braddock Library’s Art Lending Collection.

-Bonnie T.


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Children’s Books that Won’t Make You Crazy

Years before I had children of my own, I was given the following advice about buying books for parents: Make sure that the book will not make the parent lose their mind after reading it for the 1,000th time. At the time this sounded kind of funny, but having spent a few years with the full text of Good Night Moon and the entire Sandra Boynton oeuvre running through my head like an ear worm, I now know what that advice was all about.

Now that I consider myself something of an expert on these things, I thought I’d share a few books that can be read to kids as many times as requested, without making you feel like you’re being slowly tortured

Timothy and the Strong Pajamas: This book was recommended to me by one of our very own children’s librarians when I was searching for a superhero book appropriate for a 4-year old. This one delighted both me and my kids: Timothy, who tries very hard to be strong, suddenly gets super strength after his mother mends his favorite pajamas (to make them strong). He and his pal, a stuffed monkey, decide to use his strength for good and he spends his day finding good deeds to do. The comic book-style illustrations and lettering are wonderful, and the comments from monkey are funny enough to keep this book from being too saccharine.

Extra YarnA girl in a drab and snowy town discovers a box full of colorful yarn, from which she knits sweater after sweater and never runs out of yarn, until an envious archduke who covets her yarn steals the box. This story has lovely illustrations and is whimsical in a way that appeals to both children and the reader. This is mostly just a fun, fanciful story, with the subtle message that we control our own happiness.

Anything by Eric Carle: I gained afresh appreciation for the work of Eric Carle after a recent visit to the Children’s Museum. In June they will be having an Eric Carle exhibit, and one day in their art area they had an Eric Carle-inspired activity, in which we painted textures onto paper, cut it up, and used those bits to make collages. Actually playing around with the paper and textures and thinking about ways to put them back together gave a whole new dimension to his wonderful illustrations. He’s a perennial favorite for a reason.

Can You Find It? and Can You Find It, Too?: If you’re tired of looking for Waldo, these books are a great substitute. Featuring paintings, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you and your little ones will look for anything from cats to books to eyes (think Ancient Egyptian art). It’s a nice way to share a love of art with young children, while sneakily teaching them how to look at paintings.

Trucks: Byron Barton is another one of those ubiquitous children’s authors. Yes, his books may drive parents a little crazy after reading nothing else for a month at a time, but your kids will love the simple text and basic illustrations. Trucks was a favorite in our household (I love the finality of the last line: “Trucks on the road. They work hard.”), but I also really like the book Airport for preparing a child for their first time on a plane.

The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit: A mole gets poop on his head and sets out to find out which animal pooped on his head, examining each animal’s droppings as he goes. Kids find this hilarious, and it’s a funny change from your typical children’s book.

What are some books (children’s or otherwise!) that you don’t mind reading over and over?



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