Thursday, March 31, 2016

Story Time Guidelines

Our story time attendance has exploded lately - to the point that we are considering adding a third one to the schedule this fall. While that is a good thing, all the new faces means I have had to step back a bit. While, at this time of year, I could normally read longer stories and keep the kids' attention, I am switching back to the shorter, more interactive ones.

And, boy, are these kids interactive! We are struggling with learning when to listen and when to shout things out - both kids and adults. Time to give our beginning-of-the-year handout another go-round. Below is our general text: what would you add or change?


We do not expect small children to sit completely still and silent, in rapt attention, hanging on every word we say (or read). Frankly, that would be a little creepy. We do want everyone to be able to enjoy the stories, though. A few ideas to consider:

Some kids like to sit with their friends, smack dab in the front row, and some want to sit next to a parent, or on their lap. Either one is fine – unless we are too busy talking to our friends to hear the story. In that case, you might come a little early so they can spend a few minutes before story time catching up on all the exciting things that have happened since they last saw each other (yesterday!)

Sometimes a toy or book keeps our hands busy so we can listen better (adults do this, too!), and sometimes the toy can’t behave and makes too much noise. See which works best for you!

NO SNACKS in story time, please, because of all the possible allergies, but drinks with lids are okay.

Feel free to interact with your child during the story, that’s part of the experience! (“That puppy looks just like Grandma’s dog, doesn’t he?”) But, if the reader asks, for example, what kind of noise a pig makes…let’s let the kids try to answer first, okay? If nobody gets it, then go ahead and coach.

Grown-ups need to talk to each other. We totally get that, and that is part of our mission, too. Just wait until the craft time, please, so we can all hear the stories. Many play dates and friendships have come out of story times!

Finally, if nothing seems to work, and your little one is distracting everyone to the point that the reader has to yell the story, please do step out for a bit – but, don’t leave! Play in the children’s room or run around outside for a few minutes, then come back in for the craft, when noise won’t matter. Please don’t feel like you should “wait until he’s ready,” because that will only happen with practice.

We hope you enjoy your time at the library, please tell us if there is anything we can do to make it better!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: Just My Luck, by Cammie McGovern

Just My Luck

The subtitle on this says, "Everyone has bad days." For Benny, that seems to be the understatement of the year! One brother is autistic*, but better than him at riding a bike. The other brother is dating a girl he may be halfway in love with himself. His best friend moved away and he can't seem to find a new one. He got the 'good teacher' at school this year, but the teacher seems to be falling apart. Worst of all, his father's accident may have been his fault. Now Dad is out of work and requiring more care than any of the kids, bills are piling up, and Benny just can't catch a break at school or at home.

All that said, this is not a depressing story! It's an excellent illustration of life - some good, some bad. Some fair, some not so much. Some things you can change, some you can't. And some things you just need to push a little harder on, be a little more creative, and just maybe let a few friends help you out. And cut yourself a break now and then! 

It is nice to see those lessons learned by the adults and the kids alike - never in a heavy-handed way, but realistic, heartwarming (yes, I used that trite old word), and ultimately inspiring. A great addition to any collection!

*This is NOT a My Brother Is Autistic morality type book. George is autistic. Benny likes to make movies. Mom does great accents. Those are all just One Thing About Them that are a small part of their whole, and I loved the author for that alone! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

More Adult Coloring Fun!

Perfect for Spring, Harper Collins just sent us two adult coloring books by Eleri Fowler:

My Mother, My Heart: A Joyful Book to Color

Joyous Blooms to Color

I don't think anyone needs me to explain that adult coloring books in general are very popular right now. What I like about Fowler's two selections here is the variety - while you get a general sense of her style, you do not feel like you are seeing the same pictures over and over again. From flowers to mandalas, a quote inside a pear shape or a teacup to garden gates and butterflies - and the sweetest little birds! 

The drawings are intricate enough to take a little time, but not so tiny you go cross-eyed trying to fill them in. The paper itself is nice and heavy, suitable for framing and presenting as a gift - are you ever too old to give your mother a picture you made for Mother's Day?

BOTH of these titles will be given away as door prizes at our library's Family Coloring Day this Saturday, so if you are in the area, stop by for some relaxing fun and your chance to win!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: Dill and Bizzy - an Odd Duck and a Strange Bird, by Nora and Lisa Ericson

Dill & Bizzy: An Odd Duck and a Strange Bird

Dill is a duck. A perfectly ordinary duck. At least that’s what he thinks. Then he meets Bizzy, a strange bird. Bizzy seems to think that Dill is actually an odd duck! Together, they find that they’re even more extra-ordinary than they could have imagined.
Perfect for anyone who has ever felt a little odd or a tad strange, this delightfully offbeat picture book celebrates the joy of finding a friend who lets you march (or waddle!) to the beat of your own drum.

Yep, Dill is a perfectly ordinary duck. Who can't swim. But who can ride a unicycle and juggle peanuts. Ordinary peanuts, of course. In fact, everything Bizzy invites Dill to do, he does with an extra flair - all the while proclaiming how ordinary he is. Young readers will see what he doesn't, and hopefully internalize the message that we are all a little bit odd, and that's a great thing to be!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Review: Duck Duck Dinosaur, by Kallie George and Oriol Vidal

Duck, Duck, Dinosaur

Three eggs in a nest begin to wiggle and wobble, until CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! 
It’s a duck . . . duck . . . DINOSAUR! 
Meet Feather, Flap, and Spike. They’re three unlikely siblings who each want to stand out. But together, they make the biggest splash! Perfect for families of all kinds, this playful, clever story has a dino-sized heart.

Nothing makes a librarian quite as happy as finding the perfect book to fit a request. Someone was just asking me for a book about showing off to get attention, and here came this one! These three siblings are continually trying to show they are the sweetest, the funniest, etc. - with some over-the-top results on the largest sibling's part. Fortunately, Mama Duck doesn't single anyone out, but is delighted with all her offspring. In the end they decide "They were all the best. The best family." 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: Goose Goes to the Zoo, by Laura Wall

I said back in June that I thought we would be seeing more of Goose and Sophie, and here they are!

Goose Goes to the Zoo

Join Sophie and Goose in an all-new adventure! Sophie and Goose are best friends. But Sophie is worried that Goose gets lonely while she's at school. What if Sophie found Goose another friend to play with?

Add these illustrations to pictures I would love to see on a nursery wall. Are they too sweet, or what?! Sophie reminds me of my Logan, thinking about how someone else might be feeling, and willing to give something up himself to make someone else happy. Fortunately, even though Duck eventually finds some wonderful new friends, it doesn't take away from his special friendship with Sophie! Another must-have for your library!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: Girl an Gorilla Out and About, by Rick Walton and Joe Berger

Girl & Gorilla: Out and About

Girl and Gorilla are best friends. Girl and Gorilla want to play at the park. But how will they get there? They can . . . Hopscotch! Or jump rope! Maybe they can just close their eyes and wish they were there! But when they open their eyes . . . they are not at the park. Will Girl and Gorilla ever get to play at the park?

You can never go wrong with goofiness in a children's book, and there is plenty of goofiness here. Girl would be the straight man in this comedic routine, while Gorilla is every silly toddler in the world. My mind immediately went to extensions like having kids come up with other ways (realistic and not-so-much) to get to the park. Or, to the moon - the other play option given - or any other places you can dream up. Maybe a keep-em-busy in the car or in the check-out line activity?

Then again, if your kids are like mine, they will likely just glom onto the recurring line, "You don't have a tail," and run around shrieking that instead. Either way, the goofy story and expressive pictures (by the gentleman who illustrated Dot - I thought the girl looked familiar!) will require more than one reading!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Review: Ella and the Penguin Stick Together by Megan Maynor and Rosalinde Bonnet

Ella and Penguin Stick Together

Ella has a surprise for Penguin—glow-in-the-dark stickers! But to see the stickers glow, Ella and Penguin must be in the dark. And the dark is so . . . dark! If only they could see the stickers glow in the light—but that won't work. Soon Ella and Penguin find out that if they stick together, they can face anything.

Don't you love when you open a new book, and meet someone you like instantly? In this case it is two someones! Ella and Penguin are adorable both in picture and in text, and the way they work together and encourage each other reminds me of my kids when they are at their sweetest (as opposed to when they are trying to drive each other up the wall). Any child (or adult-who-used-to-collect-stickers-and-trade-them-with-pen-pals) will immediately understand the draw of glow-in-the-dark stickers - and possibly dilemma of the scary closet as well!

Now, normally I detest gimmicky books, but how can they NOT publish this with a page of glow-in-the-dark stickers inside?! Make sure to grab some at the store before you bring this home - and possibly your very own stuffed penguin to have adventures with!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: Frankencrayon by Michael Hall


This picture book has been canceled.
How can we be on the front flap of a canceled book?
Good question.

Okay, I have to admit, I never quite jumped on the The Day the Crayons Came Back, etc., bandwagon. I mean, they are cute stories, but just didn't grab me as being great read-alouds or anything. So, when this came in the mail, my brain put it in the same category, and it languished in my TBR pile.

Pay attention to authors, Ami!
This is Michael Hall, of It's an Orange Aardvark, one of my favorite story time go-tos, and Red: a Crayon's Story, another fun title!

Frankencrayon may be his funniest yet. A pencil narrates a cast of crayons (with three crayons together playing the title role - at points we see them sitting around in separate parts of the costume, much like every old movie with two people in an animal costume). Their story of 'what happened' will elicit plenty of giggles from young and old alike, with Frankencrayon providing the simple solution to their problem.

It is also perfectly set up to introduce your elementary school students to reader's theatre. Wouldn't this be better than some of those awful end-of-year programs? Can't you just see the kids dressed as different color crayons (easy to do with a pair of sweatpants, t-shirt, and electrical tape!) The visuals in the book themselves are sure to capture any reader's attention. 

A must-have book, and my deepest apologies to Mr. Hall for taking so long to review it! 

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: I Love You Already! by Jory John and Benji Davies

I Love You Already!

Bear can't wait to spend a pleasant day by himself. His persistent next-door neighbor, Duck, wants to take a morning stroll . . . with Bear. He just wants Bear to like him already. . . .

I got a huge kick out of John's earlier book, Goodnight Already, so I was happy to see poor old Bear and irrepressible Duck were back again. Moms everywhere can probably identify with Bear's desire for just a LITTLE time all to himself. Duck is not a Mom.

"Take a look around, Bear! Who wants to be alone on a day like this?"

I will be waiting for one where Bear tries to use the bathroom alone. Or eat something quietly over the sink after bedtime so Duck doesn't see him and want some, too.

You don't have to be a parent, though, to enjoy the combination of Duck's exuberance and Bear's monosyllabic responses - as well as Davies' illustrations (Bear's FACE!) A great addition to any children's collection.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Worm Loves Worm, by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato

Worm Loves Worm

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm . . . and a worm.
When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux?
The answer is: It doesn't matter. Because Worm loves worm.

"Let's be married," says Worm to Worm.
"Yes," answers Worm. "Let's be married!" 

Ah, but if it were only that simple, entire industries would go out of business! There must be cake, and flowers, and bridesmaids brides-bees. Everything must be done the way it has always been done...right?

The ambiguity of genders could make this a book about non-traditional marriage. Or, it could be a book about breaking out of the mold and going down your own path. Or, it could be a book about creative problem solving and staying positive. Or, it could be a book about responding to societal pressures. could just be a cute little story about two worms getting married, surrounded by their friends. Your choice! But I do recommend picking up a copy either way.

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review: Big Chickie, Little Chickie, by Janee Trasler

Big Chickie, Little Chickie: A Book of Opposites

In the newest addition to the hilarious series, the Chickies say cheese, while young readers learn their opposites. With rhyming words and great illustrations, the Chickies help babies and toddlers have fun while learning the fundamentals in this padded paper-over-board perfect for little hands.

Hooray, another Chickie book! I still love the sturdy but squishy covers - all of which have held up wonderfully in our library - and the simple but adorable illustrations. The chickies are so adorable, in fact, that it makes perfect sense for them to have their own photo shoot. In addition to opposites, the rollicking text has funny rhymes...and underwear! No silly children's book is quite complete without underwear. Bright colors, goofy faces, and just enough text for the board book audience. Another hit from Trasler!

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Review: How to Put Your Parents to Bed, by Mylisa Larsen, illustrated by Babette Cole

How to Put Your Parents to Bed

No one likes going to bed. And you're not even tired. You want to stay up and have all sorts of fun adventures! But take a look at your parents. They're really tired. They're exhausted. But they just won't go to bed! Help them put down the cell phones, turn off the TV, stop cleaning the dishes, and go to bed! You might be small, but you can handle this task. Follow the instructions in this book and you'll have them snoring in no time.

Those darn parents take a lot of training, don't they? Children will get a giggle out of the idea that they have to be in charge of their parents, while parents may recognize themselves in places (just ONE more e-mail...). Playful parents and kids might have fun trying out this role reversal, with parents trying out their kids' usual stalling tactics. Either way, it's a fun read-aloud, and the illustrations by Cole (also known for the Princess Smartypants books) are a perfect match.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review: The Perfect Place by Teresa E. Harris

The Perfect Place

Treasure’s dad has disappeared and her mom sets out to track him down, leaving twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister, Tiffany, in small-town Virginia with their eccentric, dictatorial Great-Aunt Grace. GAG (as the girls refer to her) is a terrible cook, she sets off Treasure’s asthma with her cat and her chain smoking, and her neighbors suspect her in the recent jewel thefts. As the hope of finding their dad fades, the girls and their great-aunt begin to understand and accommodate one another. When a final dash to their dad’s last known address proves unsuccessful, Treasure has to accept that he’s gone for good. When she goes back to Great-Aunt Grace’s, it is the first time she has returned to a place instead of just moving on. Convincing, fully realized characters, a snarky narrative voice, and laugh-aloud funny dialogue make The Perfect Place a standout among stories of adjustment and reconfigured families.

I have a dilemma here. For some reason I have not been able to decipher, books with African Americans on the cover do not check out at my library. Asian, Native American, white - no problem. This is a problem, because it means some really great books end up on my 'weed' list, and this one is a REALLY great book! I have had it on face-out display for two months now, with no takers, so I am hoping a blog post will spur a little interest.

Treasure is a fantastic character. Tired of moving around and being hurt, she has rules about new places to keep that from happening: Don't make friends. Avoid extended eye contact and turn down all invitations for play dates. Try not to smile. Don't waste words, which means no small talk. Try not to speak unless your life - or grades - depends on it. She is bright and curious and caring, however, and has a hard time keeping those rules. GAG isn't about to let her hide at home, anyways, and that pesky boy Terrence seems determined to be her friend. The dialog between those two, as well as some of Treasure's internal dialog, is pretty snarky and fun.

Little sister Tiffany is a very real seven-year-old, upbeat and opinionated most of the time, but struggling to understand what the deal is with the grown-ups in her life. GAG (think Grandma Dowdel in A Year Down Yonder) and her...friend, Moon, avoid the possible stereotypes. I absolutely loved one scene towards the end where GAG is puttering around her room, rearranging things as she and the girls have a difficult conversation, because it is just such a normal thing for someone to do. The mean girl and some of the townspeople are not terribly fleshed out, but they just put in brief appearances.

There are many stories weaving together that make this a great coming of age story for any child, not just one with a family in transition. PLEASE come check it out if you are local, and if not, go find it at your local library!