Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Recent Rescue

Zoom! by Diane Adams, illustrated by Kevin Luthardt. 2005 (reprinted in 2013). Peachtree Publishers, 32 pages.  Ages 3-7.

The little boy in this story is finally tall enough to ride the "Dino-coaster", but he's a little apprehensive about it.  While they get their tickets and wait in line, his father reassures him that it will be fine.  As the ride starts, the boy closes his eyes and presses back into his seat, but after the ride gets going he finds himself squealing in glee.  By the end it is the father who has had enough and decides to sit it out while the boy gets in line for another ride.

I came across this little gem one day when I was working at the children's desk, withdrawing a cartful of picture books that one of the children's librarians had selected for weeding.  The cover caught my eye as earlier in the summer I had the idea of doing a storytime about "summer fun", things like swimming, baseball, vacations, amusement parks, etc., but I had ended up scrapping it and doing something else as I couldn't find books I liked.  So when I saw this book, I thought, "Hmm, this might have been just what I needed for my summer fun theme earlier." 

As I read through it, I became more convinced this would be a great read-aloud!  It does not have too many pages or too much text, cute illustrations that are not too busy with clear facial expressions to show what the characters are feeling, and rhyming couplets that give a nice rhythm and cadence (I have found stories with rhyme seem to draw kids in and hold their attention better).  Also, the text is very descriptive and lends itself to be being read with lots of expression and excitement, with physical movements to act it out:

"Lurching, tilting up again.
Jerking, rumbling round the bend.
Backward, forward,
Upside down.
Crashing, splashing,
Twisting round."  

Plus it's a dinosaur-themed roller coaster, so that's an added bonus.  The kids can relate to how the boy is excited he's finally big enough to go on the ride, as well as feeling a little scared.  And I love the humorous twist at the end, when it turns out that Dad is the one who can't handle the ride, while Junior excitedly gets in line for another go.  This book is definitely my style and I could easily imagine myself using it for storytime.  So I decided to rescue it from the discard bin and give it a second chance with a new life in the Outreach collection for the Storytime Bus and  I look forward to seeing if it works as well as I *think* it will.  Now to decide what other books to use along with it.....

I always feel kind of bad for picture books that get weeded.  Some of them are just old and outdated, in bad condition or are just real stinkers.  But many of them are decent books, some even pretty good, but they just get overlooked.  There are so many new picture books published every year (especially now that every celebrity thinks they need to have their name on a children's book) that it is really hard for one to get noticed if they are not by an established author or illustrator, or have the marketing department of a big name publishing house behind them. 

It is tough competition and library shelves can only hold so many books, so every year some must go to make way for the new books, and circulation stats is the primary factor in deciding what stays and what goes.  I'm not sure of the specific reasons this book was selected for withdrawal; the clear cover was dirty and torn, but that can be replaced, and otherwise the book was in decent condition.  I didn't think to take a look at the circulation on it, but I can only guess it must have been low.  The author is not a well-established children's author (though she has published several Christian romances) and though the illustrator has written and illustrated a few other children's books, they are not well known, either.  I imagine it simply got overlooked and didn't get checked out much, though I did find that it had been re-printed in 2013.

At any rate, I'm glad I got the chance to rescue it and think it will be a great addition to my storytime collection, and I'd encourage you to give it a try, too, and to always keep an eye at for those undiscovered gems!

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