Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: Create with Duct Tape series

Here's an argument for the ages: is it "duck tape", or "duct tape"? I have always said duct tape, and held that "Duck" tape is a brand name, but I have had people correct me. Turns out, we are both right, but you'll have to read the introduction to find out why:



If you are a librarian, I do not have to tell you that DUCT tape crafts are very popular, especially with teens. We had a craft night this summer with all sorts of fun possibilities, and all anyone wanted to play with was the duct tape!

You may also know that it can be difficult to find simple, printable tutorials online (huge thanks to the librarians who had made their own and shared them with me!) I would have loved to have these books on hand - most projects are detailed in a two-page spread, making it easy to prop the book open and follow along as you work. The projects are also more diverse than the old duct tape wallets and bookmarks, while not requiring too many out-of-the-ordinary materials, or too much technical skill. And they are cute!

Web sites at the end of each book offer more ideas, a history of DUCK tape, and other related information.

I guess there's only one thing to do now - we'll have to schedule another crafting day so I can make use of these and the other titles in the series (Duct Tape Costumes and Duct Tape Fashion), which of course, we will also be ordering.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review: Too Big or Too Small? by Catherine Leblanc and Eve Tharlet


There seem to be several times in our life when we are either too big or too small for everything we want to do. My Christopher is eleven, just started middle school, and I'm sure feels like he is firmly stuck in that spot. Growing out of toddlerhood, as Little Bear is, is another such time.

Little Bear is clever enough to turn the tables on his parents, though. As Daddy reaches for something up high, Little Bear tells him he is much too small. When Mama snitches frosting, he scolds that she is much too big for that. Both parents realize what he is trying to tell them, and together they come up with some things that he is just the right size for.

A gentle story to share with your little one, to show them you recognize their frustrations, and to turn into a positive discussion.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Review: Even Fairies Fart by Jennifer Stinson and Rebecca Ashdown


Farts, underwear, boogers - they are all in vogue these days - to the point that a librarian might see this title and sigh, <sarcasm font> "Oh goodie, another one." <end sarcasm font>

There is a bit more to this title than just flatulence, however. There's nose-picking, too!

Seriously, though, here is the online description:

Turns out nobody is perfect! Queens and kings; giants and trolls, and yes, even princesses all make mistakes! In this endearing and hilarious picture book by Jennifer Stinson, young readers can take a peek into the marvelous mess-ups and ferocious faux-pas of fairy-tale characters.

The fairy tale creatures described in Stinson's rhyming verse and Ashdown's expressive illustrations sound a lot like any child you know. The mermaids don't want to comb their hair, and the troll (with pacifier necklace) gets put in time out for trying to cook the goat. Well, okay, none of my children have tried to cook a goat YET, but the hair thing is definitely a daily issue.

The paper jacket cover has shiny-smooth letters and sparkly glittery clouds, so between illustrations and title, both your princesses and your roughnecks should be intrigued. A cute read-aloud for a child or class who needs to hear the nobody's perfect message.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Series Review: Space Discovery Guides from Lerner

Fall is weeding time, when we comb through the collections, removing books that are worn, that have stopped circulating, or in the case of nonfiction, books that are too old.

As an old thing myself, I hate to just dismiss somethings worth because of its age. I mean, space for example: okay, so Pluto is not a planet any more, but have black holes really changed?


Black holes are one of the greatest mysteries of outer space. No visible light can escape the strong gravity of a black hole. This makes black holes invisible—and very difficult to study. But scientists make new discoveries and develop new theories about these mysterious objects every day. In 2015, astronomers were able to finally confirm a theory that Einstein had developed one hundred years earlier! And in 2016, scientists found that black holes may form in a different way than they ever thought possible.

Well, that answers that question! Good timing on Lerner's part, then, because that is the section I happen to be on right now.

Other titles in this series include:
Garbage in Space
Mars Missions
Pluto (I'm sorry, it will always be a planet)
Private Space Travel and


Are you tired of me praising Lerner's binding? Too bad. For books that circulate (like those on space or animals), a good binding becomes just as important as copyright date when it comes to weeding time. I have never had to discard a book published by Lerner, however popular, because of its physical condition. Know how this happens to the spines of many books?

Never to Lerner's. Take note, other publishers!

Black Holes begins with a story of the above-mentioned discovery. As a non-sciencey kid, I always appreciated the story approach to getting my attention. The information that follows is easily accessible to this non-sciencey adult. And the Madeleine L'Engle fan in me totally 'got' the illustration of time-space bending!  

While the illustrations often look like photographs, the captions are careful to label them as "this artist's impression", etc - because, of course, no one has photographed a black hole yet! (And when they do we will all have to go out and update our books again.) A poorly illustrated nonfiction book, especially one that is just grainy black and white photographs, simply will not check out, regardless of how interesting the text is. Between illustrations and diagrams (and some old black and white photographs), this title has no worries there.

Astronauts, of course, had plenty of photographs available. From the cover's iconic floating-in-space image, we go on to a garden at the International Space Station - well, that's new, too! Readers learn about the history of astronauts, requirements, training, missions, and job hazards. Did you know astronauts have to go through wilderness survival training, in case they land somewhere unexpected? I didn't! And did you know the lack of gravity can cause a stuffy nose, so you can't taste your food as well? Me neither!

Overall, a highly entertaining and informative series.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review: Little Kitchen of Horrors series, by Ali Vega



I love Halloween, and I love cookbooks, so really, what more is there to say?

Whether you want inspiration for holiday treats, or need to encourage a picky eater, this series has plenty to offer. My kids might turn their noses up at a spinach smoothie, but what self-respecting child wouldn't at least try a snot smoothie? Daddy thinks oatmeal is gross, but might he try a bowl of brains? And what dinner guests wouldn't be intrigued enough to try your bacon-wrapped worm? (It has bacon! It has to be good!)

While there are plenty of Halloween recipes out on Pinterest and elsewhere, they tend to lean towards the junk food category. These are healthier recipes that actually sound good on their own - calzones and pork loin for example. Things you can really...sink your fangs into. #sorrynotsorry

Instructions are clear, well-illustrated, and thorough (I chuckled at the reminder to sanitize your forceps and dismembered body parts). Glossary, web sites, and index are included, as well as a reminder to clean up - and what exactly that entails! We will definitely be ordering the rest of the titles in this series asap:
Cat Litter Cake and Other Horrifying Desserts
Mummy Dogs and Other Horrifying Snacks
Tombstone Sandwiches and Other Horrifying Lunches
Witches' Brew and Other Horrifying Party Foods

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Review: Mini Makers series by Rebecca Felix



This is a series with Medium Guy written all over it! He LOVES tiny things, from bugs to miniature spools of thread, storing them on shelves and in similarly tiny containers all over his room.

The introduction to Mini Decorating invokes elves and pixies, imagining what their tiny houses might look like. I immediately thought of pairing this with a family read-aloud of any of the Littles books by John Peterson (many of which are, annoyingly, out of print). Tiny tool suggestions are also covered at the beginning, as is the need for PATIENCE.

Some teeny crafts go back to the good old days (miniature teapot and cups from acorns), while others (mini lamps that really light up) bring a more modern flair to your fairy's abode. I can see the mini terrariums being a popular library program!

Mini Wearables is just what it says. Ideas range from the clip-on creatures figured on the cover, to painting your own beads, to a paper-folding domino bracelet (remember folding gum wrappers into chains? I never could get the hang of that! I was not one of the cool kids.) Jewelry is featured heavily, but the tiny book keychains are a bit different, and another possible program craft that could appeal to a wider range of patrons.

The crafts are all doable and fairly unique, instructions are clear and appropriately illustrated with photographs. Other titles in the series include Mini Holiday Crafts and Mini Science Fun, both of which we have ordered. A solid addition anywhere you have crafty kids!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Christopher's Day

Christopher asked to be the last to get his special day with me, and it was nice to spend the last full day of my vacation with him. After six years at a school where all the kids of every grade hang out together, everyone goes to everyone's houses (including the staff), middle school is a big change, and as my worrier he  had more than a little anxiety about it! Fortunately I have awesome friends who totally get that anxiety, and after a quick breakfast, we were able to meet one at his new school and get a private tour of all his classes, meeting most of his teachers. Thanks again M!!! (And, as expected, he is absolutely loving middle school now.)

Not too many pictures, because:11-year-old boy. 'Nuff said.

From the school we went to get his hair cut - he wanted long, I wanted out of his eyes, so we settled on a Zac-Efron-sort-of style that requires a bit of gel and combing (I give that a week). From there we had just enough time to make the early showing of the latest Spiderman movie. Not exactly quality talking time, but the littles aren't quite ready to sit through movies at the theatre, so this was a rare treat. He often doesn't get to see things until they are on DVD, so it was nice for him to know what everyone else is talking about!

Then back to the mall for Chinese, his choice, where I was able to snap a picture, finally.

Sort of.

Then school supply shopping - dang this is getting expensive! Especially when you have to add multiple pairs of shoes. Which are now in my size. Yeesh.

He wanted to try Alamo Jump like the other kids, and I was able to get a few more shots in.

I had to be sneaky, though!

He had fun, but as I suspected, there weren't many kids his age, so we didn't stay too long. If you are local, btw, Alamo Jump is a great deal - $5 for kids, adults are free, and you can come back the same day with a hand stamp. They have several events and classes at no extra charge!

While the day was a bit rushed at times, we had fun. I am very proud of how grown-up and independent he has become, while still considerate and caring and the peace-maker (except among his siblings - oy vey!) I am really enjoying watching the process of him turning into an amazing adult some day!