About Allison

The name's Wonderland. Allison Wonderland. While my sense of direction could get me lost in a cardboard box, I DO know my way around a library catalog. I love all things Disney, the beach, telling bad jokes (although I still think they're "punny") the holiday season and the book "Lester's Dreadful Sweaters" by K.G. Campbell.

But Series-ously: Juvenile Historical Fiction

Book cover for With the Might of Angels, a book in the Dear America seriesConfession: One of the most satisfying questions to get from an early reader is something like, “I really liked so-and-so book, do you have any more like that?” when you know that yes, yes, burgeoning reader, you have picked a book in a series! Let’s get as many books as possible into your hot little hands! Read! Read, you young absorbent mind – read like the wind!

While I am a firm believer in the theory that whatever a child is reading, within the parameters of law and reason of course, is good because they are reading, it is such a cherry on top when there is an educational facet to these series. See? Interdisciplinary learning can be recreational fun! Okay, maybe don’t take it that far with your child/student/patron, as you’ll likely send them running from the stacks and your vicinity in general, but hopefully you see my point.

The further good news is that while the classics of juvenile historical fiction, such as the Little House on the Prairie series, are still popular and valuable, this particular genre has really expanded over the past decade or two, especially in series form. And again, that series factor can be crucial if you need to strike while the enthusiasm for reading – I mean, the iron – is hot.

An American Girl bookBesides becoming a mega-doll industry, American Girl has managed to pump out some (and by “some,” I actually mean “oodles of”) pretty good books that cover a wide range of American demographics, periods of time, geographical location, etc., while still retaining a relevance to things girls today experience. Continue reading

Shhh! Stop Saying Libraries Are Dying!

Photo of scolding librarian

There are many, many things that I dearly love about working in a library, about providing children’s services and that absolutely thrill me about my decision to pursue my post-graduate education in library science. But people telling me…

“That’s what Google is for.”

“Nothing relevant is even in print form anymore; even books can be digital.”

“Once everyone owns a Kindle no one will even go to the library.”

“You chose, like, the Latin of professions.”

…are DEFINITELY NOT among those many, many things. (Don’t even get me started on, “You need a degree for that?”)

Because the truth is, libraries are not just giant warehouses full of musty, dated books, just like librarians are not brittle, grumpy ladies who wear ugly cardigans and cat-eye glasses on chains and shush you from on high through lipstick-stained teeth. (We are really more ChapStick people.) Continue reading

Once Upon a Time…

picture of a Lego princess and queenWith rare exceptions like Kate Middleton or Grace Kelly, most little girls with royal professional aims will need a back-up to an “I’m gonna be a princess when I grow up!” career plan. But until that need arises, DBRL has beefed up its Disney Princess Collection by popular request for your little prince or princess to peruse.

While the celebrated Disney Princesses themselves are big attention-grabbers and can easily be enjoyed in their own right, they also have the potential to serve as the (often less gruesome) introduction to the original tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen or even from history itself. These stories can be the doorway to exploring the concept of very old stories, their purposes, different interpretations in different cultures and even how they have changed over time from the original versions.

Wait – fairy tales were originally SCARY? Continue reading

Early Literacy Skills: Dear Diary…

Book cover for Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin ScillianWhen I was little, I hated to go to bed. I think bedtime stories were read every night without fail not just because my parents were big readers, but also because they had calculated I needed approximately 2.25 hours to be tricked into going to sleep. While I have only the fondest memories of “Corduroy” and “Madeline,” my favorite bedtime ritual was actually a kind of game my father and I began to play together.

Dad would ask me what had happened while he had been at work that day. Some nights I was very creative.

“Well, when we all woke up, we decided it would be fun to go to Disney World. So we did. We got on a plane, and Alex was scared, but I was not. Then we met Mickey and rode everything three times! Then we decided we wanted to take a train back to Kirksville because it was time for naps, so we did…”

Some nights I took the job more seriously and regaled my father with a more truthful, (painfully) detailed account. “First, I woke up. I had cereal for breakfast. It was Lucky Charms. I don’t remember what Alex ate. I was still been wearing my pink nightgown…Daddy, you know which pink nightgown! My favorite pink nightgown that I wear when I play ballerina…”

My father is a patient man.

But what I did not realize at the time – especially as I had not yet been on a plane, a train or to Disney World – was that I was learning to tell a story. And what can 3- to 5-year-olds talk about better than themselves, their daily activities and things they want to do? Continue reading