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Book Club for Kids Podcast

Are your kids trapped in the carpool, forced to listen to public radio and desperate to hear about things that interest them? Tune into the Book Club for Kids Podcast featuring children from two D.C. public schools. Students from Jefferson Academy will tackle Civil War history and romance in “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia. D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton serves as the celebrity reader for this *New York Times* best-selling book. Watkins Elementary students will take on Kwame Alexander's 2015 Newbery Award winning novel-in-verse, “The Crossover.” Alexander will even drop by to persuade young listeners that poetry can be magic. The podcasts are great for students, teachers, parents and librarians! Free. The app is available for download on all smartphone devices. You can listen online at


Kids and parents alike will love Renne Stahl's new album, “Simpatico,” with its hushed harmonies and reassuring lyrics about friendship and familial love. Stahl convenes an assortment of musical friends to convey feelings of closeness and good vibrations. Her first track, “Gather Round,” features Lisa Loeb, and envelopes the listener with love and reassurance. Another friend, Maya Rudolph, provides a sensitive and jaunty cover of Prince's hit “Starfish and Coffee.” Molly Shannon, who performed with Stahl in childhood school productions, lends her honest vocals to “Happiness” from the musical, “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” It's a star-studded album you don't want to miss. $14. The album is available for purchase on iTunes.

— Jenny L. Heinbaugh

Book Reviews

By Mary Quattlebaum

babies / tots

Touch the Brightest Star

This lullaby book celebrates night’s quiet beauty with a simple rhyming text and interactive collage illustrations. With each page turn, the light blue and lavender color washes in the illustrations darken into deeper shades of indigo, midnight blue and eggplant. Little ones are invited to “gently press the firefly” and “pat the deer” in the pictures. Careful observers will also spot changes in the vine twining round the solitary tree and the closed poppies as the book moves from night into morning.  The hushed, serene tone and gentle movements both acquaint little ones with the night-time happenings of the natural world and soothe them into sleep.

ages 10 and up

Why’d They Wear That?

Sarah Albee looks at “fashion as the mirror of history” in this intriguing book, and it proves to be a quirky, illuminating mirror, indeed. Period photos, historic paintings and compelling headlines lead into a lively discussion of how and why certain styles emerged. For example, when King Louis XIV began losing his hair, elaborate wigs became the rage in the 17^th^ century French royal court and then evolved in the next hundred years into the simpler style associated with the American Founding Fathers. This book will be a big hit with family members of all ages, as they learn about the rat-skin tunics of the ancient Huns and the 1960s miniskirt.

ages 5 – 9

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

Chris Barton, the author of the acclaimed “The Day-Glo Brothers,” has penned another fascinating picture-book biography. John Roy Lynch was born a slave but found freedom and his first paying job at the age of 16. This smart, hard-working young man turned his hand to increasingly responsible jobs, including cook and photographer’s assistant, and began learning about the law. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in Mississippi and elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  But even as Lynch was speaking out against post-Civil War social ills, the Ku Klux Klan was terrorizing black Americans, trying to keep them from voting.  Democratic gains backslid into Jim Crow laws. With its timeline and engaging mixed-media illustrations by Don Tate, this book helps to fill the big gap for books about the Reconstruction Era.