Monday, July 30, 2018

And Some More New Picture Books!

I promise I will get back to regular reviews soon, there are just so many great books coming across my desk, and I don't want to 'hold up the line', so to speak!


Two familiar names in funny children's books (Dragons Love Tacos!) This is the first in a set of three, so far, including the rascally squirrels and poor Old Man Fookwire. A semi-traditional tale of a grumpy old man trying to get the best of some pesky varmints, but with plenty of twists and giggles along the way. (I knew squirrels were smart, but I had no idea they were such accomplished engineers!)


It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became neighborhood enemy number one. Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy!

The astute reader will quickly figure out the secret to enemy pie, which the narrator never quite does. A wonderful lesson in friendships and first impressions, without a second of heavy-handedness.


Bear is hungry. Gertie wants to help. But finding the perfect snack is harder than it looks. Will Gertie and Bear silence Bear's tummy grumbles before hunger gets the best of them?

Poor bear! Just look at that face! Kind of like mine when the kids walk in and catch me scarfing the last piece of cake. Make sure your young reader checks out every single page, beginning with the inside front cover, and don't miss the dedication at the end! This one has already been inked into my mammals story time this fall - it's one of those read-alouds that adults will get some chuckles out of as well! (And his earlier title, Nope!, will be appearing when we read about birds!)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

This Week

Saturday was the quarterly Community Pot Luck up in High Rolls.

I try to do a little kitchen clean-up each time I am there, but somehow these muffins escaped my notice last week.

That's not streusel.

Fortunately, with mountain folk, you never have to rely on mass-produced foods of questionable age. Mountain folk can COOK!

As usual, I was too busy socializing to get pictures until half the food was gone. I may or may not have been partially responsible for the quick disappearance of these:

Cheese pierogies with chorizo bacon bits. Even yummier than they looked. I could have happily just eaten those all night!

Of course, some visitors were unimpressed,

but I think that's because her Momma is such a good cook, she takes great food for granted.

I counted 53 people, not a huge crowd, but just the right size. I actually got to talk to everyone this time!

Socializing is definitely the best part of the pot lucks.


The very next day was Logan's birthday party at our house. What was I thinking?! He wanted a Magic Tree House birthday party, which was great - there are so many themes in the books, I could use the leftover decorations and party favors from every other party we have ever had! For food we did "High Tide in Hawaii" and had fresh fruit and veggies, Hawaiian cole slaw, mango salsa, and of course meatballs.

Daddy always decorates the cakes, and I thought to make it easy on him I would order a toy treehouse as a cake topper. This turned out to be WAY too big, but also so darn perfect!

Look at the little Jack and Annie!! I just used it as a table decoration, and Logan absolutely loved it. He loves tiny things like that, and he couldn't wait to play with it as soon as the party was over.

As I said, Daddy always decorates the kids' cakes, but he got stuck on a car wreck. In fact, he missed the entire party! I waited as long as I could, but when it became evident this would be a long haul, I fashioned a tree and treehouse with sprinkles, frosting and graham crackers.

Logan was happy with it!

Mostly the kids just like to run around, but we had two MTH activities. For Dinosaurs Before Dark, they dug for dino bones in side back yard.

No shovels, paleontologists wouldn't want to damage the bones!

When they found all the bones, they had to bring them in and figure out how they fit together.

Easier said than done!

I finally took pity and gave them a picture.

And here we have the Loganosaurus Rex (signed by most of the attendees):

While they were digging for bones, Christopher and Jayden were stealthily setting up the treasure hunt for Pirates Past Noon:

That carried them all over the house and yard, until they found the goody bags in the pirate ship playset I picked up at a yard sale years ago.

Hawaiian cowboy pirate dude! With a glow stick!

Sharing the same brain, as usual.


Last week of summer reading!! The story time activity was supposed to be chalk drawing outside, but it is hovering around 900 degrees this week. I varied crafts inside for a bit, then settled on cool new shoes for school, to go with Pete the Cat, Rockin' in My School Shoes. I've noticed some increasingly ridiculous shoes available in the we tried to top those:

Rocket boosters, wheels, spikes, AND they play music!

Modeled after Honey Lemon's purse, this one blows bubbles and stores extra school supplies, among other things - just push the right button.

The Gardener's model. Seeds are stored in the brown part of the toe. As you walk it plants them, then when you walk back it squirts water out of the sides and waters them!


900 degree weather is a bad time to be orphaned and trapped in an abandoned car. Thank goodness for Good Samaritans who are willing to spend an hour rescuing kittens, and Grandma, who is willing to foster and nurse back to health!

And for a teen volunteer who was quite happy to spend her entire 2-hour shift in that exact spot.


Christopher spent the week at Camp Innoventure, where he learned how to set up a business. The kids had the chance to make things to sell at the Farmer's Market, and he chose bat houses.

He had to do everything himself, from measuring

to cutting (this made him really nervous but he did great!)

to drilling, 

then screwing together and sanding.

He sold 4 at the Farmer's Market Saturday, and has requests for more! Time for him to start buying ME lunch!


At home we started on the Netherlands. They seem to like sour things.

So do my kids!


For the last Teens and Tweens, we had water gun fights and pizza.

This young lady just needed a moment. School is starting soon, it's stressful.


Finally, we had our closing Dance Party, complete with ice cream bar (and yes, of course we have been reading Groovy Joe in all our story times!) About 80 kids and parents got to watch me do the Tooty Ta and Baby Shark, which should be enough to make anyone happy to go back to school. Huge thanks to the volunteers who pulled one last day of work and served the ice cream! And of course to all the sponsors, parents, and library staff who also helped make it a great summer!

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Few Thoughts on Summer Reading (and after)

I grew up hating exercise.

I knew that it was good for me. I knew that it was something I should do. I just didn't like to do it.

When I was little, I was always exercising, but nobody called it that. Back then it went by the scientific term of "playing outside." It was fun, I was active, I was healthy.

Then in school, exercise changed. It was something we were forced to do in PE. I didn't understand the rules, and I wasn't very good at things other kids seemed to do effortlessly. On my very first grade card (yes, in Kinder), I got an "unsatisfactory" on my grade card for PE. (My crime: I couldn't skip. I could climb a tree and swim across our pond, but I couldn't skip.)

PE, of course, was mandatory through 10th grade, and none of it (with the possible exception of that one week we played on scooters in first grade) made me like exercise any more. In fact, it just continually reinforced that this was something I wasn't good at, something that was unpleasant, something that was a "have to", not a "want to". Once I finished the last required PE class, I washed my hands of it. It never occurred to me to seek out opportunities to exercise on my own. I didn't HAVE to any more, so why on earth would I choose to?

Then in college, there were the dreaded two PE credits. Most of those classes interfered with the student teaching schedule, so many education majors, including myself, ended up in a January term class called Body Conditioning. Yeah, not my first choice, but it was a "have-to".

The other half of the class was made up of body builders who spent their whole day in the weight room anyway, so they figured they might as well get a credit out of it anyway. The very first Friday, our teacher (the head of the entire athletic department, did I mention that?) announced that we were going to play volleyball. Everybody can play volleyball, right?

This was college, you don't pick teams, we just shuffled to a side. You can guess what happened: all the body builders gravitated to one side of the net, all the ed majors on the other.

I hate to stereotype, but the fact is, we were behind by twenty points before the first serve. It was a slaughter. The body builders were showing off, and we were miserable - but not surprised. Most of us grew up hating PE. It was just an hour to live through.

The teacher decided to help us out. First he encouraged us to move up to serve. Maybe a little more.

Then he started cheating. "That's a do-over, there was a breeze."
Body Builder: "Coach, we're inside the building!"
Coach: "Want to do laps?"
BB: "Huge breeze, Coach. Definite do-over."

We were still losing. But it was starting to be funny. And then. Then.

The head of the athletic department. Who was dressed in a jacket and tie for an important meeting later. Tossed his jacket aside and joined our team. 

He was cheating. He was trash-talking the guys and encouraging us. We were...giggling? It

We still lost. But I talked to the others afterward, and none of them could remember the last time PE - any sort of exercise - had been fun. We wanted to...get it again.

What does this have to do with reading? Many kids - and adults - see reading the same way I did exercise. They don't like it. They aren't good at it. It's something you HAVE to do, like cleaning your room or paying your taxes. They are never going to do it a second more than they have to...unless it can become fun again.

I will never be a gym rat. But if you make exercise fun, if I'm doing it with someone - well, then, I'm there! Riding a stationary bike? Nah. Hiking with the kids to check out a waterfall? Heck, yeah! Push-ups in my living room? Not happening. Rock climbing or rafting with my friends? Let's make a weekend of it! 

Adults and kids alike are far more likely to do things that are fun, and that we do with somebody. We have tried to make reading - or just coming to the library - fun over the summer. That's why we switched to the READO boards a couple years ago, to make it more of a game than a "have to," required number of books or minutes. We gathered kids together in groups at the library to just have fun, and encouraged reading with someone else in some of our READO tasks.

As school gets under way, it's easy to get back into that have-to mode. There's just so much that does have to be done, and so little time to do it in! But forcing me to exercise did not make me want to exercise. It made me resist it even more. Forcing kids to read will not make them want to read. It will just make them resist it more. Yes, I said it. And many recent studies back this up: check out this article, or this.

Yes, the more you read, the better reader you will be - just as, the more you run, the better runner you will be. But if you can't get someone to open a book or lace up those shoes to begin with...see what I'm saying? We want our kids to be good readers, yes, but we want them to CHOOSE to read - or any gains they make now will be lost the second they aren't forced to any longer.

So we would like to encourage you (and ourselves) to try to hang onto that sense of fun you hopefully found this summer. Give each other some silly reading challenges. Let the kids pick out books that interest them. Most important, read WITH them. Read a chapter book out loud at dinner each night (pick a funny one!) Let them see you curled up with something YOU want to read, and let them see that you enjoy it.

We want you to have fun, too! Come by the library any time this year, and let us know what you are looking for - or not looking for. Notice that when a child is brought to us because "he needs a book for school," we will never ever ever begin by asking him what his 'reading level' is. We will ask: "What kinds of things do you like to read? What do you like to do in your spare time? What's the last book you read that you kind of liked?" or even, "What is your favorite movie?" (We're Marvel girls here, but we have DC books, too!), or "What is the book you liked the LEAST?" We want them to leave with a book they aren't dreading sitting down with - and we want you to leave with one you are excited about, too!

If you aren't local, we guarantee your area librarians feel the same way. Try them! And then let us know what you are reading, because we want in on the fun, too!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

More New Picture Books

A few more quickie reviews of the new titles on our shelves!


Oh, I loved this!!! I have said a million times that people just don't know how to handle negative emotions any more. We somehow have this idea that we are supposed to be happy all the time, and that if we are not, it has to be fixed immediately. Buy the child a new toy, let him have that extra dessert...blame the coach, quit the job, get the divorce...

We all need to be reminded that "sad" is a perfectly valid emotion, and while it isn't an enjoyable one, sometimes we just need to let it happen. Black's newest offering presents that concept in simple kid-speak, with the kids (er...and flamingo. And...potato.) working it out themselves.


Did you call for a truck full of ducks?
Bernie is on the road to make a delivery when one of the ducks EATS the directions. Oh no! How will he find his customer?
Join the flock on this wacky call-and-response ride to find out just WHO ordered a truck full of ducks -- and why!

No sadness here! Hilarity (and terribly punny jokes) abound as these comically drawn ducks travel through town (with a quick bathroom break) looking for the correct customer. The illustrations are a visual feast, and kids will spend hours pointing out all the silly details. I see some writing/drawing extensions happening with this one!


"Your hand in my hand is where it belongs.
Your hand in my hand as we walk along."

Come on a loving journey through the year and share the wonder of the world with your loved one. YOUR HAND IN MY HAND focuses on the warm spirit of togetherness and companionship.

More illustrations that need to be framed prints. I love the texture in these! I wasn't able to figure out what medium Teckentrup used with a quick search, but the pictures a lovely. The big and little mouse are just ambiguous, along with the text, to be any adult and child exploring the world together. The general sense is of both adventure and security. This would be a wonderful gift for anything from a baby shower to a birthday.

Monday, July 23, 2018

New Picture Books

A few quick reviews of some newer picture books that just hit our shelves!


"Exuberant" is the first word that comes to mind when you see Myers' illustrations! Doug LOVES to dig, much to his family's dismay. When I was younger, one of my favorite books was The Diggingest Dog by Al Perkins. In that book, the dog shows remorse for his destruction at the end - not so with Doug, which somehow makes him all the more lovable! As you follow his tunneling adventures from a gold mine to the White House, you can even get in tidbits of social studies and pop culture with the kids. We may pair this with Barnett's Sam and Dave Dig a Hole for our next Mud Day.


For Lizzie, the perfect afternoon is one spent playing with her big sister, Jane. But it’s tough being the little sister. Jane is always busy with activities and play dates. And so she hatches the perfect plan to show Jane just how much she loves her. Each day of the week Lizzie works hard sketching and planning, waiting until Saturday when she can reveal her grand surprise to Jane: it’s Sister Day, a celebration of imagination and sisterhood.

Any younger sibling can easily relate to this story line, and I liked how patiently the younger sister waited and planned through the older sister's (imo, way overscheduled) week. The sweet illustrations, featuring the transparent imaginations of the little sister, match the feeling of the text beautifully. Background characters have their own little two-dimensional worlds going on, so they are well worth poring over as you read!


Little Robot’s life is peaceful—yet maybe it’s a little too peaceful. But wait! He has an idea. With a little hard work, perseverance, and resourceful thinking, can Little Robot build his way to the perfect cure for loneliness?

While the name "MacLachlan" is an old favorite in children's literature, the illustrations really make this book. I want to see this little robot on everything from framed prints to tattoos! The softness and detail combined make this a perfect book to snuggle up with together.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

This Week

Strawberries at $1.25 a lb, and cherries for $2 means everybody pitches in.

Cutting tops off strawberries for jam.

De-stemming cherries for pitting and freezing.

Hulk smash!


We are still studying Colombia, and had our big meal Friday night. Mykela got to join us!

Colombian chicken:

Cubed chicken mariated in lime and chili powder, browned, the tossed in a casserole with bell peppers, onions and black olives. Pretty, sin't it?! Pour OJ over the top, cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Yummy!

Arepas - sort of like fried, flattened corn meal biscuits. Super yummy with honey on them.

We also got some fried avocadoes. Not sure if they fry them in Colombia or not, but they looked really good, so we decided to try them! Some of the kids were less than thrilled, but the grown-ups liked them.

I also grabbed an assortment of drinks from South/Central America, and we all tried a sip or two of each.

The mango was the most popular, coconut water the least (although I think it would be excellent served cold on a really hot day). There was a lot of discussion around each of them, and I was pleased that the kids have learned to use more descriptive words and phrases than just "good" or "bad".


Logan turned SEVEN!

He is BETWEEN six and eight, get it??


Andy Mason was here Saturday! And now we're all hungry for pizza.

She really was having fun, she just didn't want me talking to her!


I have a new grandbaby!! We are all in love!


The garden is producing! And we caught a cute little mouse eating the green beans...


Me, in preschool story time, reminding the kids of our upcoming dance party: "And we're going to have an ICE CREAM bar!"
Little boy: "Make sure there's lots of alcohol, too!"


The teens played floor-sized Scrabble.

It got pretty intense once I showed them the prizes: "Libraries Rock" journals made with waterproof paper. So cool! In an agonizing finish, the winning team got it by ONE point. So I gave everyone journals:)


Friday we had a new-to-us performer, Aspen Black, the Singing Cowgirl.

She was lots of fun!

and a REAL cowgirl! Somebody was fascinated.

She gave a guitar lesson in the afternoon, and Christopher attended that. I think I know what someone is asking for this Christmas...

One more week of Summer Reading programs! Then a week to clean up, after which I get a week "off" - sort of. JAKES, followed be each kid's "special day". I'll rest when I go back to work again!