Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: The Whispering Town, by Jennifer Elvgren

Wow, I'm not sure what I thought this book was about by the title and cover - something silly maybe - 

The Whispering Town

It is 1943 in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son, Carl, in their cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to neutral Sweden. The soldiers patrolling their street are growing suspicious, so Carl and his mama must make their way to the harbor despite a cloudy sky with no moon to guide them. Worried about their safety, Anett devises a clever and unusual plan for their safe passage to the harbor.

Oh, okay, not silly.

First let me say that I absolutely love stories of the Danish resistance. It can be easy to read through history or watch the evening news and despair of humanity, but that's not what we want for our kids, is it? I want mine to always hear of people, particularly kids like them, standing up for what is right and doing what they can to help, in both big things and in small. 

Hiding Jews was, of course, a very big thing, and hard to talk about with young children. Elvgren's careful text and Santomauro's stark pictures manage to convey the sense of danger without getting too graphic - no mention of concentration camps or death, just threats from the soldiers that they will arrest people. Anett's fear - of the dark basement and of the Nazi soldiers - comes across loud and clear. Children will no doubt still ask why the family needs to be hidden, but this enables parents to formulate an age-appropriate answer. Be ready with it!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Deepest Apologies

to all the mothers

of little girls

who will someday

be slain

by this grin.

He learned how to use it by practicing on me, so it will be entirely my fault.

Happy third birthday to my little heart breaker!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review: Cold, Crunchy, Colorful - Using Our Senses, by Jane Brocket

Cold, Crunchy, Colorful: Using Our Senses

I think every elementary science curriculum has a unit on the five senses, and we've done our share of story times with the theme, as well. Why not? So many fun projects you can do! Reading the same books over and over can get old, however. Fortunately, Brocket offers a fresh title to add to the mix. 

While the text follows the basic formula of looking at each of the senses individually, it goes into more detail with them. "Our eyes tell us about colors, patterns, and shapes," for example. The sense of touch is not just limited to hands (one of my pet peeves), but "Our feet also tell us how things feel. If the water is cold. If grass is springy. If socks are cozy." A great springboard for a lesson on adjectives or descriptive writing, as well!

Beautiful, bright photographs complement the text exactly, and make you feel as if you could reach through and touch or taste them for yourself. A great addition to a school or classroom library.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Handle with Care, an Unusual Butterfly Journey - by Loree Griffin Burns

We have hatched butterflies here at the library many times, which is always popular with both kids and adults. Our next hatching display will definitely have to include this book, although I don't think it will stay there for long.

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey

We have many books about butterflies - any children's librarian can tell you bug books are always popular! - but I think our readers will especially enjoy the conversational style, and the fantastic imagery: "If you stood next to this tree with your eyes closed, you would hear the caterpillars chewing!"

A great deal of information is packed into short bits of text, on or around large, bright photographs. I love that when it says, "It begins 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) away, in the country of Costa Rica..." the text is superimposed onto a map of North and Central America - so that kids can get an immediate sense of perspective as to how far away from them that might be.

Wonderfully accessible, painlessly educational. Perfect for either a classroom library or at-home reading. This one will be spending some time at our house before it is catalogued for the library!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Pizza Guy Returneth!

I was actually off Friday when Andy Mason, our favorite summer performer, came, but I had to bring the kids down. Smallish attendance because there were so many other things going on the same day, but we all had fun! Cliff snapped a few pictures for us:

My kids started off shy, but were dancing by the end - including the zombie dance, which had to look a little bizarre to anyone who doesn't know them!

It didn't take him long to get his shoes off, and the kids were happy to follow suit!

...aaaaand, freeze!

Sticky Bubblegum!

Shane was excited when everyone suddenly started to pretend they were chewing There's food here?!

I think my favorite was the Mad Lib song, but of course we also had all the old favorites - Everybody Likes Pizza, How to Make a Burrito, My Hair had a Party Last Night. He had a couple new songs, and I am hoping for a new children's CD in the coming years, with a fresh inspiration due in October. Yes, for a change this summer, I am not the one expecting! Congratulations to Andy and Ann, and thanks for another fun summer morning!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Library Re-carpeting #I forget - On the Home Stretch!

 Just a few areas left! The staff break room and kitchen area are looking pretty bad:

High traffic, decades of spilled food and leaking who-knows-what.

The back reference area (also high traffic):

Oh, look, someone already tried to patch it once. I don't see a difference, do you?

The manager's office fared a little better, although you can definitely tell where decades of people have set and scuffed their feet!

And the circulation area:

pretty much worn everywhere. Originally it was going to be moved out, but I heard they may just be cutting around it - don't quote me on that - at any rate, I'm sure they'll do a better job than the last guys:

Last but not least, the Southwest Room, also known as the Eugene Manlove Rhodes Room, after an author who passed through here 8,462 years ago. (Librarian's note: Should you end up with leftover napkins embossed with the name "Manlove", do not, repeat, do NOT use them for a program involving adolescent boys. #lessonslearned)

The new ceiling (to improve lighting and heating/cooling) is almost done, and does not obscure the special areas of the room - 

The old teller wall,

the stained glass,

or the fireplace.

My favorite item in the room, a book donated to us and personally autographed by Teddy Roosevelt before he was President Roosevelt, is safely tucked away somewhere. And, no, I don't mean somewhere like, my house. Darnit. 

Your cool perspective shot of the day.
The old carpet should be coming up today, with the new in shortly after! What on earth will we do with all our time, then?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Teens and Tweens - French Food and Demolition

Tween Cafe happened to fall on Bastille Day last week, so Mr. Cliff decided to go with a French theme: a viewing of the movie "Ratatouille", and some French-type snacks. After much debating of possibilities and the associated costs and/or palatability, he decided to offer fresh fruit, drizzled in chocolate:

Reportedly there was not a speck left! Never underestimate the power of chocolate (or the capacity of a 12-year-old boy's stomach.)

Our projector system is so much more versatile than the old console TV. Worthy investment!

The teens had a crafty night, loosely titled "Take it Apart and Put it Together". We had old t-shirts, old books, and old appliances, with tons of crafting materials and a few ideas printed off Pinterest to inspire.

I was too lazy to drag everything out of the store room!

The most popular item was easily the old computer, donated by a local repair shop. They couldn't wait to start taking it apart...

...and in approximately 2.4 seconds... looked... this:

Ooh, the possibilities!


or a...

picture frame?

Shield, that's it!

With a handle contributed by the computer. And a photobomb contributed by a friend.

The other items weren't completely neglected. 

We had a wizard's pouch,

a book bag (get it? book...bag)

and a much-improved tee.

The computer was definitely the biggest hit, and there were too many ideas to fit into one hour. We are already making plans to repeat this in the fall, with more computer parts and hopefully a longer time slot. So, if you're trying to unload that old bulky monitor or your broken keyboard, we just might be able to take it off your hands!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Teen Cafe: Zombie Prom!

Like many librarians, I spend much of the year trolling blogs and listserves for ideas to steal borrow, and every once in a while one comes up that makes my eyes pop open with an "Ooooh, let's do that!"

Judging from reactions, the Zombie Prom idea was as big a hit with the teens as it was with me. I started hearing last month from girls who already had their dress picked out - just like any other prom, I guess! I had one stashed away in my closet, so I just needed to add a few finishing touches - a snip here, a bloody handprint there:

Drying in the multipurpose room, because I didn't think dripping red paint blood on the new carpet would make me very popular.


Now, every prom needs a them. Under the Sea? A Night Under the Stars? Or...

Totally stolen from another library.
Next, we need a king and queen. When prom-goers arrived, they each received one pink and one blue brain, to bestow upon the gentleman and lady zombie of their choice.

The winners, i.e. the zombies with the most brains, received these lovely crowns:

and the adulation of their peers:

Aren't they lovely? Our queen had some very nice touches, including one broken heel, and this quaint accessory:

Time to touch up the make-up,

And then, of course a promenade! Just a quick trip around the block, chasing (slowly) the yummy munchies who didn't come in costume:

They got too far ahead of us to make it into the picture. We did pass some random citizen, and I had to remind our zombie king rather sharply that we were NOT munching on pedestrians this evening.

Strange thing: I often hear people complain that NM drivers are distracted. Nearly every car that passed us, however, the driver was staring straight ahead, hands gripping the wheel, focused entirely on the road in front of them. 

I see nothink!

The promenade ended with a spontaneous group picture that I think needs to be the new masthead on the city's web site:

All that promenading made us hungry, so back into the room for snacks befitting a zombie horde:

Grey Matter Cupcakes topped with Bloody Chunks of Flesh

With tthe new fiscal year and no purchase order, I had to be creative with what was on hand.

Mmmm, brains!

Of course, everyone who goes to prom wants their picture taken with their friends and/or date - zombies are no exception.

Jakayla's "I'm a zombie too" ruse is discovered when her friends come close for the group shot and discover her flesh is still warm.

The evening does not end well for Jakayla.

Aww, just kidding, we wouldn't really eat you! 

Zombie selfie! I love this picture so much, I almost used it as my profile picture on Facebook. I settled on this one, though:

46 'likes' so far, and one comment directed at my husband that perhaps I am in need of a rest.

Now, I know you have probably been wondering, "What do zombies do for fun?" I know it's something I've thought about often. What exactly do these denizens of the undead, these wild, night-stalking flesh-eaters, do when they get together to party?

Do you want to know? 

Are you sure?

Can you handle it?

Cover the children's eyes!



Yes, there was music blasting, but relatively little dancing. Most of our zombies sat down to make some little feltie friends:

Aww, it's a baby zombie! His head, anyway. The body did come later, but I didn't get a picture.

Apparently, zombies like glitter glue.

And unicorns. Who knew?


Now, remember boys and girls, keep reading books! Books make your brain grow nice and big, and...

...we're hungry.