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Happy New Year! January is a great time to look ahead, but I also like to revisit the past to remember some highlights. Several blog topics seemed to resonate with readers (using comments as a barometer), and for me that provides guidance about other topics I should write about in the coming year.

New Ambassador for Young People's Literature

I've been scooped!

The New York Times reported earlier today that the new ambassador was to be appointed today — at the Library of Congress. I'm not sour grapes, though. One of the reasons this posting is so late is that I got to attend the program at which Ambassador Jon Scieszka became emeritus and Katherine Paterson began her two-year term.

Making memories

Today is the first official day of winter but on the last weekend of autumn, we got a foot (plus) of snow. It's beautiful and (beyond havoc) creates a picture perfect background for the winter holidays.

I was reminded of the season of giving when I read a recent picture book by Jan Fearnley entitled Milo Armadillo (Candlewick).

So long, Mr. Ambassador

This December marks the last month of Jon Scieszka's tenure as the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. For two years, Mr. Scieszka (the author of several children's books and founder of Guys Read) has worked to promote a love of reading and books. He's been particularly focused on helping parents and teachers reach the reluctant reader, one he describes as "that's the kid who might be a reader, who could be one, but just isn't that interested in reading."

Unconventional, or just a good story?

I recently came across a piece online that suggested that there are more books about more things that we'd never have seen even just a few years ago.

I do suppose that's true. I can't think of many subjects that are off limits for children's books these days.

A list of lists for the holidays

This time of year, there are a zillion lists: to-do, must-do, "can't go to bed until this is done" lists, and then there are those designed to help us wrap up our holiday shopping. Below are some of my favorite lists, maybe there's something here for you too!

Perhaps the most comprehensive collection of book recommendations, our Annual Buying Guide includes books for kids ranging from 0-4 to 8-9 year olds.

Excitement builds!

December is an exciting month. Children of all ages are getting ready for the holidays and a break from school and classes. (I know my son is in countdown mode.)

It also signals the end of a year and the start of a new one.

Thanksgiving continues

I hope everyone had a fine Thanksgiving. Ours was filled with family, friends, food, a bit of football, and lots of conversations.

It was also a time to catch up with young people who were home from college for the long weekend.

One young woman I've known for most of her life is now a freshman at a Virginia university, pursuing her interest in studio art and art history. She's always been introspective and rather quiet, but she and I have always shared an interest in the arts including literary.

Native American Heritage and a dearth of children's books

This morning my son was asking me about a movie he saw ages ago called "Hook" (Sony, 1990). It's a Robin Williams film that involves an adult Peter Pan and Captain Hook.

As I was re-examining books on my shelf, I came across a stunning book with the same title but an all together different subject. Hook by Ed Young (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook) is about an abandoned egg that hatches into an eagle.

The "Mystery Reader" needs a book

My daughter's third-grade teacher does something called The Mystery Reader, which involves a surprise visit by an adult who comes in to read with the class. I'm the Mystery this Friday (shhhh...don't tell Molly!)

I'm looking for funny and engaging picture book read alouds for third graders. I've asked around my neighborhood and my teacher friends, and combed our own bookcases. I have a few ideas, but would love to hear yours!

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"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges