Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Happy Birthday, Readers: We're 5 Today

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Happy Birthday, Readers: We're 5 Today

Article excerpt

Byline: Brandy Hilboldt Allport, Times-Union staff writer

Read All About It is 5 years old today. During National Children's Book Week in 1997, the Times-Union launched this column. Since then, more than 1,500 books have crossed my desk for review.

I have loved every minute of it. Opening the daily shipments from publishers to cull for the innovative, the belly-laugh inducers, the thought-provoking and the negligible. Answering calls and e-mails from readers who want a recommendation for their 8-year-old nephew's birthday or a title to help their preschooler overcome dread about swimming lessons. Advising people in the midst of a bout of nostalgia about how to find an out-of-print book they recall from childhood. Spying, yes, spying, on shoppers in bookstores to see what they pick up, linger over or dismiss quickly.

And then there's my life as Miss Brandy. Miss Brandy is also five years old today. (I don't usually refer to myself in the third person, but Hilboldt was a really hard name for little ones to pronounce. Plus, when I got married, the children didn't have to learn my new last name. I was the same Miss Brandy to them.)

During storytime visits to schools, bookstores and community events, I/Miss Brandy walked with thousands of children into the literary worlds of Arthur, Curious George, Stellaluna and Hedgie. Also on my watch, Harry Potter flew onto the scene, casting a spell that caused millions of people to fall in love with reading.

To commemorate five years of Read All About It, kick off National Children's Book Week 2002 and mark Miss Brandy's 5th birthday, here are five picture books that stand out:

-- The Hat, written and illustrated by Jan Brett (Putnam Publishing Group, $16.95; Sept. 1997). A curious hedgehog puts his head into a fallen stocking. His prickles make him unable to get out, and all the other farm animals make fun of his odd hat, until they realize just how warm he must be. …

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