Books by Nancy Speir

CHECK IT OUT! by Patricia Hubbell
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2011

This passionate librarian may not possess any actual superpowers, though her limitless energy suggests otherwise. The unnamed professional gaily prowls her shelves to connect the right read with each of her young students. She balances a tower of books, prepares art projects and shelves materials without assistance. The fun of reading is the emphasis in this succinct selection, while research's valuable role receives only a brief nod. There's no conflict or nuance to be found in the upbeat story, but the positive message and its brief rhyming text remain unforced throughout. Short phrases merrily clip along, "books with pictures, books with none, / books about the moon and sun." Smiling youngsters against cheery, solid backgrounds are all sunny smiles. Creative activities encourage classmates to participate; children march along in an exuberant parade with tomes from Harry Potter to Peter Rabbit. There's a glimpse into the school's physical space (the technology appears more prehistoric than cutting edge), but the focus is on the career and not the library's location. While there's no denying the idealism beneath this book, it does shatter the unflattering stereotype haunting librarians ("Shh!") and replaces it with one wonder of a woman. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >
TEACHER! by Patricia Hubbell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

Having spotlighted law enforcement in Police! Hurrying! Helping! Saving! (2008) and firefighting in Firefighters! Speeding! Spraying! Saving! (2007), Hubbell moves on to another community helper. Rhyming couplets introduce a primary-grade teacher who teaches letters and numbers, keeps kids safe on the playground and shares songs and books. Speir's bright acrylics depict a multiethnic classroom full of all the right impedimenta (computer, chalkboard, reading corner) and presided over by a white, bespectacled, pixie-cut woman. All in all, it's a perfectly unexceptional and pretty curriculum-savvy introduction to the genre, and it will likely adapt well to use in preschools. It's too bad, though, that neither author nor illustrator chose to break the stereotype just a teensy bit. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
MY FIRST AIRPLANE RIDE by Patricia Hubbell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

This sparse rhyming text is perfect for the youngest listeners gearing up for their own first ride on an airplane. When Grandma writes to say, "Come visit me," a young boy and his family begin their preparations. First they pack, then they drive to the airport, get the boarding passes and watch the planes through the window. And in a nod to the post 9/11 world: "Security check. Take off each shoe. / Lift our suitcases. Backpacks, too." From the seemingly endless waiting and the flight attendant's safety talk, to specialized plane vocabulary, Hubbell covers the whole journey, up to the joyous reunion with Grandma (baggage claim is skipped). With Speir's acrylic illustrations as a guide, even first-time travelers will be familiar with the interiors of an airport and airplane and the setup of the security checkpoint. The ideas for making the time pass more quickly will be welcomed by both children and parents alike. A solid grounding for those about to leave the ground behind. (Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
ELIZA’S KINDERGARTEN SURPRISE by Alice B. McGinty
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2007

When Eliza begins her first day of kindergarten, her mother lovingly places a special kiss inside her pocket. However, much to her dismay, Eliza discovers that her pocket of kisses feels too empty and is soon awash in homesickness. As she goes through the routine of a typical kindergarten day, the intrepid little girl discovers mundane items that remind her of her mom. By midday, she has collected a pair of blue buttons discovered at circle time, a smooth pebble found at recess and a red napkin salvaged from snack. A touch of creativity at craft time results in a cleverly crafted keepsake for Eliza to assuage her longing for her mother. McGinty's compassionate tale gives anxious readers the inspiration to discover unique ways to handle their own separation anxieties. Speir's acrylic paintings rely on bright bold colors to capture the reader's attention. The simplicity of her illustrations allows readers to connect with Eliza's changing emotions. This encouraging tale emphasizes self-reliance as young readers anticipate their first separation from home. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >