Why We Love Libraries

for Red Cap Cards:

Recently, Forbes magazine published an op-ed by economist, Panos Mourdoukoutas, about why we should do away with public libraries as we know them, and replace them with Amazon Bookstores. You heard me correctly! The article detailed the taxes levied toward keeping public libraries afloat, and the opinion that libraries “don’t have the same value they used to.” All of the services provided by libraries (according to Mourdoukoutas) have been replaced: community and wifi are now provided by Starbucks; video rentals by Netflix and Amazon Prime; and books by Amazon.

llustration by Red Cap Cards artist,    CHRISTIAN ROBINSON   , for the    SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY   , courtesy    CHRONICLE BOOKS

llustration by Red Cap Cards artist, CHRISTIAN ROBINSON, for the SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY, courtesy CHRONICLE BOOKS

Needless to say, the article has since been redacted by Forbes, with apologetic comment: “Forbes advocates spirited dialogue on a range of topics, including those that often take a contrarian view,” a Forbes spokesperson says in a statement. “Libraries play an important role in our society. This article was outside of this contributor’s specific area of expertise, and has since been removed.”

Regardless of the disastrous article and subsequent backpedaling by Forbes, the article did it’s due-diligence in getting people talking about libraries again. What are they, why are they? Are they important. The answer, it seemed, was a very loud YES from across the internet and country.

Here is what a library means to us:

• Fosters a love of reading, education, and art in children and adults.
• Provides access to a world of art and illustration materials that teach as well as entertain
• Gives free access to media materials, internet and computers for all citizens regardless of class and pay grade.
• Offers jam-packed programming schedules with classes such as ESL, citizenship, writing, cooking, and more.
• Offers free tickets to museums, zoos, aquariums and other experiences
• Schedules after-school programs for kids and teens
• Archives genealogy and historical materials.
• Acts as a community safe haven for those in need.
• and so, so much more.

In 2016, one of our own beloved artists, CHRISTIAN ROBINSON, partnered with the SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARYand CHRONICLE BOOKS for a program called “SUMMER STRIDE.” Check out that awesome swag (below)!! The program “encouraged all ages and abilities to have fun reading and learning” during the summer. Here are some amazing images from that program:

Illustrations by Christian Robinson, for the San Francisco Public Library, courtesy Chronicle Books

Illustrations by Christian Robinson, for the San Francisco Public Library, courtesy Chronicle Books

Illustration by Red Cap Cards artist, Christian Robinson, for the San Francisco Public Library, courtesy Chronicle Books

This summer, the program is up and running again, this time with work by SHAWN HARRIS. Check out their awesome video, and “stop by a neighborhood library and check out books, comics, eBooks, audiobooks, movies, music and more. Plus, choose from more than 800 programs (all free!) to deepen reading enjoyment, spark STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) passions and learn through active, outside exploration.”

Art by Shawn Harris

We love you, libraries. Don’t ever change…unless you want to start offering free coffee and drinks too. We’re good with that.

And sidenote: if you need ideas, you can check out my handy-dandy hashtag on Instagram: #OVERDUELIBRARYBOOKOFTHEWEEK for the best books that I’m going to end up paying $0.25 a day for.


Arlo's Book Club: Back to School

For Red Cap Cards:

Arlo is at it again, with some fantastic book picks for your kiddos' burgeoning imaginations, in this edition of Arlo's Book Club. If you're gearing up for the start of school too, and are out picking up pencils, notebooks, and five thousand glue sticks, make sure that you swing by the book store or local library to check these out as well. Our theme is Back to School--but we all know that not everything worthwhile is taught in the classroom. Museums, parks, different countries and cultures, or the outside world can offer an education that is just as important as what is taught in school. Read on for more:


School's First Day of School
by Adam Rex, with pictures by Christian Robinson
Roaring Book Press, 2016
Suggested ages: Preschool-Grade 1

We are so proud of our own Red Cap Cards artist, Christian Robinson, for this amazing (and adorable) achievement. School's First Day of School tells the story of Frederick Douglass Elementary, a brand new elementary school who has first-day jitters about having kids attend classes inside of him. Related through conversation with his special friend, the janitor, this creative story is fabulous for any kid who is nervous about starting school, making friends, or expressing their feelings in a group. 


One Thousand Things (Learn with Little Mouse Series)
by Anna Kövecses
Wide Eyed Editions, 2015
Suggested ages: Preschool-Grade 1

This little gem most likely works best for the younger set, but even as adults, we are enamored by the illustration and modern, quirky aesthetic that One Thousand Things displays. Written and illustrated by Hungarian graphic designer, Anna Kövecses, this book teaches children ways to distinguish some common terms, phrases and concepts--one thousand, to be exact. 


There Is a Tribe of Kids
By Lane Smith
Roaring Brook Press, 2016

Suggested Ages: Kindergarten - 3
Winner of the Kate Greenaway award, There Is a Tribe of Kids was written and illustrated by famed illustrator of classic picture books like The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! and The Stinky Cheese Man & other Fairly Stupid Tales. It follows a child on his journey to a "tribe of kids." On the way he learns the terminology for different groups of animals and other natural wonders, through experience and wonder. A beautiful book.


The Teacher's Pet
by Anica Mrose Rissi, with illustration by Zachariah O'Hora
Disney-Hyperion, 2017
Suggested ages: 4-7 years

Zachariah O'Hora lends his bold & bright illustration style to a new story in, The Teacher's Pet, with words by Anica Mrose Rissi. In this story, the children's teacher, Mr. Stricter, is slightly confused about what constitutes the perfect classroom pet. Kids will feel empowered by having a narrative edge over the grown-up character in the book, and the details are laugh-out-loud. Tongue-in-cheek warning: spicy language abounds with terms like "farts" and "snot-rocket." Love this one!  


A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum
By Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books, 2017
Suggested ages: 6-9

We've included one of Cali & Chaud's previous installments of the "A Funny Thing Happened..." series in one of our previous Arlo's Book Clubs (see here) and were excited to find out that another book in the series had been released. A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum picks up with another tall-tale told by extremely unreliable narrator, Henry, about his trip to the museum. The book is over-the-top with wild museum antics and parents can tell kids about certain exhibits as they read through the story. The perfect trickery: kids will learn while laughing!


Children's Book Inspiration: Botanical Worlds

For Red Cap Cards:

"The Wild Flower's Song" by William Blake

As I wander'd the forest,
The green leaves among,
I heard a wild flower
Singing a song.

I slept in the Earth
In the silent night,
I murmur'd my fears
And I felt delight.

In the morning I went
As rosy as morn,
To seek for new joy;
But O! met with scorn.

We are especially fond of all things wild: foliage, botanicals, wildflowers, umbrage. Nothing is more beautiful than nature's palette, and in turn, artistic depictions of it. Today, we are excited to show some love to artists of the botanical--whether they be floral designers, artists, or picture book illustrators. Look below for some of our favorites, and make sure you go for a walk outdoors soon to soak it all in.

First up, Pittsburgh's The Farmer's Daughter Flowers, whose Instagram is a constant source of floral inspiration. We were so inspired by their photos, that we paid homage to them in Carolyn Gavin's Red Cap Cards collection:


by Emily Hughes
Emily Hughes's story about a feral girl who is taken from her "wild" life and placed into modern society is full of glorious landscapes and visual worlds that are brimming with beautiful foliage and woodsy willows. Hughes is a genius at capturing devil-may-care landscapes, and this one takes the cake.


Miss Rumphius
Story and pictures by Barbara Cooney

This classic picture book tells the tale of Alice, who finds her way through travels and life experiences to her life purpose: planting beauty (via purple lupine) wherever she goes. Barbara Cooney is a master illustrator (you can see her Master's Showcase here) and she depicts the North American tundra with colorful precision. 


by Blexbolex
This stunning, modern children's design book offers illustrations on all matter of the seasons, from firefighters to snow, to Spring Fever and torrent. The modern depictions of the natural world are fascinating! Plus, this one allows children' imaginations to grow and connect concepts via a main theme.


The Dead Bird
by Margaret Wise Brown with illustration by our own Red Cap Cards artist, Christian Robinson

This classic M.W. Brown picture book features a story that focuses on the opposite of natural growth: natural death. In the story, children witness nature's ebb and flow, from life, to growth, to death, and to a return to the earth. The children pick flowers to place on the little dead bird's grave, and we learn about the beautiful process of death and dying.


A Child's Garden of Verses
by Robert Louis Stevenson with illustration by Gyo Fujisawa
Another classic, this collection of poems includes sweet stories about childhood, the outdoors, and the magic of the world. The illustrations by Gyo Fujisawa are meticulously curated, with details to rival your own garden.


Over in the Meadow
by John Longstaff with illustration by Feodor Rojankovsky
Over in the Meadow is an illustrative journey through the meadow and the homes of the animals who live there. From foxes to birds, to spiders and chipmunks, the animals and insects of the meadow rely on this botanical wonderland for their livelihood. Gorgeous illustrations by Feodor Rojankovsky detail prose by John Longstaff.


I Can Fly
by Ruth Krauss with illustration by Mary Blair
Another example of modern illustration comes from this classic Golden Book by Ruth Krauss, with illustration by Mary Blair. Mary Blair is a favorite of ours (see her Master's Showcase here), and we love her bold and modern depictions of the lively outdoors. Pastel florals, vibrant meadowscapes, and colorfully simplistic arrangements make I Can Fly come alive.