February 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Bedtime Bunnies, Western Railroad Waitresses, and Typhoid Mary Populate Boyds Mills | 2015 Spring Preview


During the 2015 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, Boyds Mills Press took the opportunity to share its Spring 2015 list with librarians.

Every parent is familiar with the hassle of getting a reluctant child to go to bed. While Boyds Mills may not have anything as edgy as Adam Mansbach’s Go the F**k to Sleep (Akashic, 2011), readers will enjoy Julie Sternberg’s Bedtime at Bessie and Lil’s (2015), illustrated by Adam Gudeon, the story of two excited young bunnies whose mother attempts to soothe them to sleep with a bedtime story. For those who want to use bedtime as an opportunity for learning, Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi Stemple have teamed up with illustrator Melissa Sweet for You Nest Here With Me (2015), a fascinating and enlightening work about the nesting habits of different species of birds. The lyrical text and gentle refrain “You nest here with me” will settle restless young folks.

SpaceboyandhisdogThere were plenty of other informational picture books, including Leaflets Three, Let It Be!: The Story of Poison Ivy (April). Poison Ivy may be the bane of many an outdoorsman, but this new title by Anita Sanchez and illustrated by Robin Brickman demonstrates the important role this itch-inducing plant plays in nature. Those curious about marine life will enjoy exploring the world of cephalopoda (members of the molluscan class) with Laurence Pringle’s Octopuses!: Strange and Wonderful (April), illustrated by Meryl Henderson. Children will learn about the creature’s life cycle, anatomical details, and behavioral quirks.

City and country readers who are interested in machines will find Nathan Clement’s Big Tractor (2015) a strong addition for its use of cinematic perspective to explain the role and working of this farm vehicle.

Kathy Cannon Wiechman Photo courtesy of Rocco Staino

Author Kathy Cannon Wiechman holding her book ‘Like a River.’ Photo courtesy of Rocco Staino

Is there anything worse than an annoying younger sibling? In Dian Curtis Regan’s Space Boy and His Dog (April), illustrated by Robert Neubecker, a young boy named Niko copes with his troublesome little sister, who’s intent on joining his imaginary space exploration.

Guest speakers Gail Jarrow and Kathy Cannon Wiechman also attended the event to speak about their latest books. In her debut, Wiechman uses the tragedy of the Sultana, a steamboat that exploded the day before Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, as the backdrop for Like a River (April), her story about two Civil War Union soldiers. Jarrow combines science and history in Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary (March). She told audiences how she became interested in Mary Mallon (aka “Typhoid Mary,” who unknowingly transmitted the disease to many), when she discovered that in 1903, 29 Cornell students in her hometown of Ithaca, NY, died of typhoid. Her research led to the discovery that the epidemiologist who tracked down Typhoid Mary began his search in her hometown.

Finally, readers hungry for more nonfiction will enjoy Carolyn Meyer’s Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl (April), the story of a girl working in one of Fred Harvey’s restaurants, which ran along the Western rail links in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

Diversity and Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA

Do you want to ensure that your library’s collections are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and well-read?

Do you want to become a more culturally literate librarian and a more effective advocate for your community?

We've developed a foundational online course—with live sessions on February 28 & March 14—that will explore key concepts essential to cultivating and promoting inclusive and equitable collections.


  1. Actually, the Sultana disaster occurred nearly 2 weeks after the Lincoln assassination, but I appreciate the mention. I thoroughly enjoyed being there.