Friday, March 31, 2017

Toddler STEM - Rainbows (2nd Edition)

Rainbows are such a fun and easy theme, we had to do it again! To see what we did during our first Rainbow STEM, click here.

I skipped the colored spaghetti this time (although that was LOTS of fun!) and went with Jell-O.

I sprinkled some sequins in so we could work on fine motor skills, as well as to hopefully dissuade eating it!

It actually took them a little nudging to really stick their hands in Monday, but then they decided it was pretty cool.

Some more fine motor, as well as colors, sorting, matching, and patterns with bead stringing:

I had the styrofoam blocks saved from some packages received earlier - good thing, that stuff can get expensive!

Perfect for the warm weather we have been having:

I just filled ice cube trays with water and added a few drops of liquid watercolors, which don't stain as badly as food coloring. I set aside paper hoping they would get the idea to put them together in some way.

That was okay, but it needed 'something'. I know: shaving cream!

One little cutie pointed to each ice cube in turn and instructed me to cover "this one. Now this one." They were just melty enough at that point to color the shaving cream when they touched it, then of course we had to mix it all together.

I didn't have time to make more ice cubes before Wednesday, so we went straight to the shaving cream.

I put some shaving cream in before kids arrived, then added coloring and more shaving cream (what happens if I drip it from up high?) when they were there. 

A little reading mixed in with foam letters and colored pet bedding (unused, of course!):

Find the letters to spell your name! Or, you know, jump in it, because that's fun, too.

More pre-reading, fine motor, tactile fun with colored sand (you can also use colored salt - just add a few drops of food coloring to regular salt, and keep stirring.)

Finally, a giant bag of rice and some food coloring/liquid watercolors, toss in some kitchen supplies, and let the cause and effect learning take place:

I started out with different colors of rice in each of three sleds, 

but of course they got mixed pretty quickly. 

I probably could have just had this center, and the kids would have been perfectly happy! We actually went over by almost half an hour both days, because the kids were happily pouring and sifting, transferring from one container to another, seeing what would stack, etc. Very zen-like, as well as educational!

FYI, if you go from the Jell-O to the sand to the shaving cream to the rice, in that order, you end up with quite the spectacular look.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Teen Cafe - Cupcake Wars

I love when we have new faces at Teen Cafe! Funny what the promise of playing with food will do. 

Our Cupcake Wars are pretty simple: each teen gets three cupcakes, and can pick whatever they want from a spread of frostings, fondant, and candies. They have to decide on a theme and decorate accordingly, then we all vote for the best plate. And then we eat them!

Tonight we had:

Snowman Princess Leia, a Skittle, and...Barney?

An M&M

Emojis (love the border - nice presentation!)

Valentine's Day (again, nice presentation)


Generation of Miracles

America (note orange gummy bear. I am not saying a word.)
And, our winners (a tie):

Red and white blood cells, an open wound, and a sutured wound.

 Side view so you can see the gummy bears playing beach volleyball under the palm tree:

So much fun - and so much sugar! Remind me next year that this is NOT a good day to skip lunch. Pardon me now while I go slip into a coma...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review: How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea, by Kate Hosford and Gabi Swiatkowska


Each day when the Queen wakes up, three maids dress her, two more style her hair, and her butler James makes her tea. But when she grows dissatisfied with her brew, the Queen and James set out in search of the perfect cup. 

Now that was a fun surprise! At each stop along the way (Japan, India and Turkey according to the author's note) the queen encounters a different child, who gently challenges her to try something new. "Her Majesty does not dribble," said James. "Well then, it's time she tried," said Sunil. Each child then makes tea a different way, with the queen learning to be a bit less passive each time. The story ends with a newly independent queen hosting a tea party, where she declares that the secret to a perfect cup of tea is to make it yourself and then share it with others.

The illustrations are fun and whimsical, and worth a second look through the book all by themselves (would those be corgis accompanying the nameless queen, perhaps?)

You can NOT read this book without following up with your own tea party. Read through the author's note and do a little internet searching for different ways to make tea. Milk? Honey? Tea bag or loose? Try them all and decide which you like best!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: Yaffa and Fatima Shalom, Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams and Chiara Fedele


Two neighbors—one Jewish, one Muslim—have always been best friends. When they both fall on hard times, can they find a way to help each other?

While the women in this story are of different religions, neither religion is mentioned by name, and great care is taken to show how similar they are. So much so, in fact, that some parents may be uncomfortable with the connotation that all religions are the same.

The main theme, however, is that the two women are friends regardless of any differences, and that friends are concerned about each other's welfare. When hard times come, each thinks only of the other, and takes action to make sure her friend is taken care of (with humorous results). If children can take away that caring attitude, then the story is well worth the read!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: I'm Big Now! by Anthea Simmons and Georgie Birkett


When you are big, you're not the baby anymore, but sometimes you want to do the baby things you used to do before! In this funny journey of discovery, one little girl decides to try out being a baby again, but discovers it is more fun being the big sister of the family.

A good basic read-together for an only child transitioning to the older sibling role. Big sister decides on her own that she likes being able to do things the baby can't, while parents are generally understanding and encouraging. Written in rhyming couplets, after a few reads children will be able to predict/read along - although the rhythm is off in just a couple places, and the word 'nappy' may throw them a bit. Illustrations are bright and eye-catching (love the bunny holding its nose during the diaper change - but it seems to start off stuffed and become real - not quite sure what is going on there.) 

Not a must-have for every library, but if this is a subject your patrons seek out books for, it will fill the need nicely.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: The Hole Story by Paul Bright and Bruce Ingman


When Hamish and Hermione Hole are chased out of the cheese where they live, they search the palace for a new place to call home. But the Holes cause havoc wherever they go—no one wants holes in their underwear, bike tire, or boat! Exhausted, the pair rest in a piece of wood, only to be discovered by the palace carpenter, who knows that holes can be really useful—especially when you are making beautiful musical instruments.

Mmmm, I like my cheese with holes in it...but my socks, not so much, so I can see the problem.

I love the very beginning of the story: "In a land of strange happenings..." What wonderful things might happen there?! I also love that the royal family has a compost heap. Plus, you know, you get to explain what "knickers" are. The whole story is a fun little kid pleaser, and will be showing up in a story time here at some point!

The holes themselves are cute little blobby spots in changing colors. This story just begs for an art and writing extension! Let your kids write or dictate their own story of where the holes might find a new home, then get out the paint and brushes and go to town illustrating!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Review: I Love My Mommy/I Love My Daddy by Sebastien Braun

Every couple years or so I get completely grossed out by my board book collection and decide to burn the entire thing and start over.

Okay, maybe I don't really burn it all, but it's tempting. The board books are right next to the play area, and get plenty of use and abuse. They can get pretty grody after just a short time! This week I did some heavy weeding while a volunteer hit them with the book cleaner, and Miss Becky put covers on the spines of those worth saving. 

Now I have lots of space, so I was pleased to see these two titles arrive in the mail:



Shane happened to be visiting me at work, so we cuddled up and read them together.

Sometimes daddies are loud and playful. Other times they are quiet and compassionate. And they are always loving. Sebastien Braun's appealing text and charming illustrations follow a day in the life of a bear and his bear cub in this celebration of the bond between father and child.

He immediately asked me to read them again, so I'd say they were a hit!

One of the things I weeded the board books for were heavy text. Just because a story makes a great picture book doesn't mean it's right for a board book! These are perfect, just a line of text per page, with sweet, colorful illustrations. The youngsters could easily be boys or girls, and the ways their parents interact with them ("My Mommy cuddles me...My Daddy sits with me") manage to be both specific and general at the same time. 

Charming addition to your personal or public library, and a perfect shower gift!*

*I Love My Mommy is available now, I Love My Daddy will be out May 2.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


About 13 years ago, before I was married, my mother and I shared a home filled with critters, both 2- and 4-legged. One day she was picking up some puppies at Animal Control to transport them for a rescue, and while they finished up paperwork, she went back to visit with the other animals - as one does, of course.

Apparently, there were bets going as to how long it would take her to ask about the poor little puppy with the dangling, obviously broken leg. Because we NEEDED another dog, especially one that had obvious vet bills attached. But what could she do, just leave it to be put down?

Enter Dude.

He had been found out in the desert, leg broken, dumped by someone we can only hope karma has caught up with.

How could anyone hurt this face?

His leg healed up just FINE. If memory serves, this is a much younger version of our now-elderly golden, Emily, who he is chewing on:

When we were sure he was ready, we found him what we THOUGHT was a great home - nice family with six kids who had been clamoring for a dog. A few weeks went by, and one day the mother mentioned to me, off-hand, that Dude had escaped from their yard and hadn't been seen in days. When our heads stopped spinning, we went to the pound and checked - sure enough, there he was. In fact, he had been set to be euthanized the day before - because no one had come looking for him - but they had been too busy.

Okay, he's our dog now! 

He was...A PAIN IN THE BUTT! This poor puppy with the broken leg could scale a 6-foot cinder block wall like it was nothing. And man, could he run! The kids and I chased him literally for miles some days, in cars and on foot. He would dance around just out of reach, zig-zagging and sprinting ahead while we flopped onto our faces trying to grab at him. It was a wonderful game! We spent a stupid amount of money adding angled sections to the tops of our walls, so they resembled a prison of some sort.

He also liked to dig just a bit.

On the plus side, he showed his nursemaid tendencies early on. Sitting with the old dogs to keep them company,

and treating the little ones gently.

He was very protective of 'his' babies - that's him a bit bigger now, on the far right (and Christopher, a lot smaller, in the green sleeper!)

Very early on, any time foster babies - puppies, kittens, or humans - came into the house, they became Dude's babies. He took his duties very seriously, immediately inspecting, cleaning,

guarding, and babysitting.

Somewhere along the way he got the nickname "Bubeleh", a Yiddish term of endearment. I am not Jewish, I have no idea where the nickname came from, but it stuck.

As he got older, he finally slowed down a bit, letting the younger dogs make the great escapes. He was happy to run around in the yard and go for walks. Or, after a while, to just lay around in the yard and let the others go for walks. But he always, always kept to his duties as the resident nanny.

A bit more grey in the face,

not quite as fleshy.

Now it was crazy young Scarlet's turn to keep him company.

A couple weeks ago, I brought in the latest batch of puppies to be fostered, and Dude struggled to his feet to do his mandatory inspection. That was the last time I saw him stand up.

We all told him it was okay, he had more than done his duty, and he could rest. He got lots of pats and hugs, and then Saturday, two days before what was to be his final vet appointment, he slipped away quietly. 

We have said goodbye to many animals, but Dude was definitely a special one, to countless orphaned puppies and kittens (and on more than one occasion, rabbits), as well as to us. He will be greatly missed, but we are thankful to have so many memories with him. All because Mom had to go back and just say hello to those other dogs...

Thursday, March 9, 2017


So, since I got to work today I have received 3 phone calls:

#1 - someone wanting to give me money (for the library, but still)

#2 - the hotel we had booked for spring break has been sold and closes next week

#3 - would I like to donate a kidney to a man in Colorado?

Should I keep answering the phone, yay or nay? And could someone please tell me where the cameras are aimed, so I don't do something embarrassing on them?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Review: Opposite Surprise by Agnese Baruzzi


Is that a thin pencil...or a wide bridge? A straight caterpillar, or a curvy one? Cybils finalist Agnese Baruzzi is back with another fun fold-out board book, this one teaching opposites.

As in Look, Look Again, Baruzzi uses bold colors and shapes on a white background, making it clear to children what they are looking at while challenging them to look at those things in a different way. The fold-out design appears sturdy, and we have had no repair issues with her first title here at the library so far.

A clever concept, well-executed. We will be putting two copies in our collection!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: How Many Babies by Guido van Genechten


All the mommies in this book are about to have babies. But how many little ones will they bring into this world?

A counting book as well as an introduction to how various baby animals are born. While I wasn't crazy about the choice of the word 'swimming' (as in, the piglets are swimming around in the mama's belly), I was pleased with the accuracy in pink hairless mice - although, some of the other babies are obviously not newborns. If you are ready to pop in with a discussion of how animals change in their first few weeks, you'll be fine. Split pages offer the fun of lift-the-flaps without the fragility. Fun, happy illustrations! 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Toddler STEM: Five Senses

This was definitely a popular theme! We had seven stations:

I hung around a bit to talk about refraction - the bending of light, which causes us to see things differently. When kids had glasses on, I talked about how the eye doctor measures that when he is seeing what kind of glasses they need.

I used various baking oils and spices. 

Afterward I emptied them out in the trash can next to my desk. Lemon and peppermint seem to be vying for most potent. It's an interesting combination.

I didn't want to take chances with allergies, so "taste" was just an art project.

This one took some demonstrating, but it's fun to watch people's faces when they do it!

Basically, we normally hear sound waves as they travel through air (a gas), but in this experiment the sound waves are travelling along the string (a solid), and they sound quite different!

Wednesday's group would have been quite happy if I had just put this one out:

Of course, it didn't stay in that tub for long.

My keys came up missing, and a couple little girls decided they must be in the cloud dough (they weren't, but they made a VERY thorough search!)

Cloud dough is pretty easy to dust off, for the most part, but it does go EVERYWHERE.

Just a few swipes with a stiff broom, though, and:

The second (blurry - dangit) picture was taken literally less than a minute after the first. It looks like an awful mess, but it cleans up quickly!

Lots of fun, and I think some learning happened. 

Now, if I could just find those KEYS...