Monthly Archives: April 2011

Rainy Spring

It has been a wet spring here, and I went looking for some poetry that could give me that rainy feel. Here is an Emily Dickinson poem on rain. I can hear it coming down even as I type!

Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I new ’twas Wind —
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand —
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road —
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad —
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.


Suprise Second Grade Visit

So apparently I scheduled a 2nd grade visit while I was in the middle of a long reference question, and now do not remember what I said I would talk about. Yeah, not great. I plan on calling on Monday before to double check, but in the mean time I am planning a simple class visit. We have some fun programs coming up at the library and ideally these class visits will encourage more kids to come to the library.

Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles While the schools I visit are all pretty close to the library, I’m always amazed how many of the kids have no idea where the library even is! So I like to start with an introduction to me and where the branch is located. I’m hoping to include more poetry in my school visits, but I’m always tempted to read a few of the poems from Spot the Plot, though I’ve used it a number of times.

Interrupting Chicken After that I encourage the kids to come to the library and ask me for book suggestions, or to find a book they can’t quite remember. Then I read a longer story, this time I want to try Interrupting Chicken, which I love, but haven’t had a chance to read to any kids yet. I think it will work well for the second graders.

A Picture Book of Harry Houdini I’ll finish with a book about Houdini to promote our magic show, I’m thinking A Picture Book of Harry Houdini, by David Adler.

This will work, so long as the teacher doesn’t tell me they had something specific in mind!

Wordless Wednesday

Oscar and his frog friend, both had surgery on their legs--Oscar finally got his hair done after.

Bird in a Box

Bird in a Box Boxing has never been a topic of great interest to me personally. When I was growing up I mostly knew boxing from The Happiest Millionaire and from my dad telling me stories of how he and his dad followed boxers in the late 1950s and 1960s. Even now, my exposure to boxing comes primarily from reading children’s books about Cassius Clay and other famous boxers.

In Bird in a Box, Andrea Pinkney successfully captures not only the drama and excitement of a boxing match, leaving me on the edge of my seat as I followed play by play recounting of boxing matches along with the adults and children who were listening. But she also captures the way that boxing, and especially the boxer Joe Louis, was a focus of depression era African American culture.

The story focuses on three children: Otis, Willie, and Hibernia. Otis and Willie live in an orphanage, though Willie is there escaping an abusive father. Hibernia lives with her father, though her mother is also absent, having left to pursue dreams of fame. Their lives intersect through their love of Joe Louis, but more over through the work of Lilly Wiess, a white woman who works in the orphanage and attends Hibernia’s father’s church. Lilly is an odd character, almost out of place, with ideas that bring her in conflict with those around her. While I like Lily, I wish her character had been explained more fully.

This slim volume would be a nice choice for sports fans and reluctant readers who need a historical fiction recommendation for school. Not a perfect book, but a good choice for public libraries.

Audio Book Book Talk

As I’ve mentioned before, audio books are SUPER popular at my branch, so we are asked on a regular basis to recommend good titles for kids, teens, and adults. There is a fair amount of crossover, with a lot of adults listening to teen and children’s titles. Unfortunately, I’m not much of an audio book listener, generally they are too slow for me, and I either tune out the book or whatever else I’m doing (something that can be particularly dangerous when driving). Most of our patrons, however, are satisfied with good story recommendations, even if I can’t tell them much about the narrators.

Recently, I visited a middle school and took a handful of audio books to book talk. It was a resource class and the teacher had told me that she was trying to promote different ways of accessing stories.

Stuck in Neutral Stuck in Neutral, Terry Trueman. This is a powerful book, and an easy on to book talk. Can you imagine if you thought your father was going to kill you, but you had no way of communicating with anyone to tell them your suspicions, or anything else!

Hoot Hoot, Carl Hiaasen. I actually listened to this one, and I thought it really brought the different characters to life. My five second book talk is, new kid in town, notices a mysterious loner running away from the bus, starts an investigation of pranks, and finds more and more mysteries.

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman. This is another book I listened to, and it is a fantastic listen–it has Bela Fleck on banjo and it is narrated by the author. The story is also awesome–toddler escape’s his family’s murder and is raised in a spooky old graveyard by an eccentric mix of ghosts.

The City of Ember (The Ember Series, #1) The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau. Lots of kids have seen the movie or read the book, but I figured if this class was made up of kids who didn’t like to read, they might not have. In a world that is dark, the electricity is running out, as well as a lot of other things–how can you survive in a world where everything is falling apart.

Booktalk Tuesday is hosted by Lemme Library, head on over to check out the other book talks and reviews.

Meya Monday

When Meya gets comfortable on the ground she goes into a classic small dog pose, that always reminds me a little of a frog. Here is Meya in her frog dog pose:

A better view of Meya’s frog legs.

The Watcher: Jean Goodall’s Life with the Chimps

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps From childhood, Jean Goodall was interested in observing nature around her, watching the world and wondering about its marvels. Thus her move to Africa and her work observing apes was a progression of a childhood interest. In The Watcher: Jean Goodall’s Life with the Chimps Jeanette Winter focuses on Jean’s love of animals and desire to watch and learn from them. The text emphasizes her persistence in seeking the apes, but also her willingness to let them teach her rather then force herself on them. When the animals she studies are threatened, Jean is shown as a fierce defender, moving from a watcher to an advocate, speaking out to protect the animals and environment she loved.

Because of the picture book format, and the intended young audience, the story of her work and life are told very generally. Though information about some of the most important discoveries she made is included, such as she saw that the apes used tools, had emotions, and functioned in family groups. In this case, I think it works very well. She was self educated and self motivated, which makes her an interesting role model for children. This masterful portrayal is perfectly pitched to children who have a variety of passions, because it demonstrates how an interest in their youth can carry on through their lives.

The illustrations, also by Jeanette Winter, are simply gorgeous. Colorful without being overpowering, they depict the apes, the jungle, and Jane through rain and sun. They are a perfect match for the simple text.

There is an afterword, with a suggestion to look to Jean Goodall’s autobiography, but I wish there were listed resources more suitable for the audience, so that children who read this and want to know more can look for further information.

Highly recommended.

Check out the other great informational books reviewed this week for Non Fiction Monday at Telling Kids the Truth.

Moms, Mommys, and Mothers: A Picture Book Round-Up

Turns out that after I imported my old blog posts, I discovered that I’ve actually posted a Mothers storytime. Well my mom is the best, so clearly there can be more then one storytime to celebrate the awesomeness of mothers everywhere. Plus the subject of mothers is a staple of children’s books every year, so in the two years since my last post new books have been published.

This week was not just Moms, but also Grandmas. This was nice, as we have lots of G’mas that bring the grandkids to storytime.

So here are some fun stories on moms and some on the mothers of our parents (kids liked to think about the mom’s of their mom’s or their dad’s mom.

A Mother for Choco (Paperstar) A Mother for Choco, Keiko Kasza. While I do like the “are you my mother” stories (and will include some here), this avoids the idea that a mother needs to be just like her kids.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama Llama Llama Mad at Mama, Anna Dewdney. Classic tantrum book, once saw a kid throw a tantrum because his Mama wouldn’t read this to him. The others in the series are also good choices.

Bedtime for Mommy Bedtime for Mommy, Amy Kraus Rosenthal. Funny role reversal.

Mommy Mine Mommy Mine, Tim Warnes. Very cute pictures and simple story.

Where's My Mommy? Where’s My Mommy? Jo Browne. Fun to do the actions and make crocodile noises.

My Mom My Mom, Anthony Browne. Classic, simple story, with great illustrations. I did have one kid tell me that a woman couldn’t be an astronaut. I told him about Sally Ride.

What's the Matter, Bunny Blue? What’s the Matter, Bunny Blue?, Nicola Smee. A story about a missing Grandma! Perfect for toddlers.

Sleepover at Gramma's House Sleepover at Gramma’s House, Barbara Joosse. A fun Grandma story!

Just What Mama Needs Just What Mama Needs, Sharlee Mullins Glenn, helping Mom around the house can be fun!

Most Loved Monster Most Loved Monster, Lynn Downey, another classic formula–who is the favorite child? Mommies can love a lot!

You're All My Favorites You’re All My Favorite, Sam McBratney, more sappy than the above title, but sweet.

I Love It When You Smile I Love It When You Smile, Sam McBratney. Another cute book about all the things moms do for their kids.

Flip, Flap, Fly!: A Book for Babies Everywhere Flip, Flap, Fly: A Book for Babies Everywhere, Phyllis Root, A little long, but fun!

Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, Eric Carle, fun parade through different animals and babies.

Also see the non-fiction picture books I posted a couple weeks ago on Non-Fiction Monday, both feature Moms, Grandmas, and families.

Besides reading some fun stories, we did this fun song, it is to the tune of Frère Jacques, the kids really got into it, and ran to hug grandmas and mom’s

We love Grandmas, We love Grandmas
Yes we do! Yes we do!
Grandmas are for hugging!
Grandmas are for kissing!
We love you,
Yes we do!

We love Mommies, We love Mommies
Yes we do! Yes we do!
Mommies are for hugging!
Mommies are for kissing!
We love you,
Yes we do!

We also did Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee. I really wanted to use the version from Toddler’s on Parade, but I could only find the second verse, so we just did two verses, the bumblebee and the baby dinosaur.

Earth Day Every Day

Today is Earth Day, and library system wide we are celebrating it with programs and giving away ladybugs. It is also Friday, which is never a day I’d normally schedule a program. We are short staffed and it is busy enough after school. The hectic nature of this day reminds me of how silly it is to give the whole world one day, we can’t fit everything in one day, rather we should strive to be more aware all year long of our interdependence upon the earth and the impact of our actions. So we stretch our awareness of the earth through the years and through time. So my earth day poem is a little from the past to celebrate the present and the future.

Spring by Anacreon

See the Spring herself discloses,
And the Graces gather roses;
See how the becalmed seas
Now their swelling waves appease;
How the duck swims, how the crane
Comes from winter home again;
See how Titan’s cheerful ray
Chaseth the dark clouds away;
Now in their new robes of green
Are the plowman’s labors seen:
Now the lusty teeming Earth
Springs each hour with a new birth;
Now the olive blooms: the vine
Now doth with plump pendants shine;
And with leaves and blossoms now
Freshly bourgeons every bough.

c 572-488 B.C.E., Trans. Thomas Stanley, 1651, found in the Poetry Archive.

So as “the lusty teeming Earth/ Springs each hour with a new birth” let us try to do our best to protect the resources we have so that the children a further two thousand years from now can look on the same bounteous land.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Book Aunt this week, head on over to check out some other great poems!

Guys Listen

Audio books are enormously popular at the library where I work, with many patrons returning their 10 CD items just to pick up a new selection. Whether it is truck drivers, IRS workers, stay-at-home moms, or folks with long commutes, adults praise audio books as fantastic ways to make their day go by faster and get some reading in. Audio books are equally popular with kids and teens at my branch, but somehow there seems to be more of a negative connotation connected to kids and audio books. Somehow people seem to think that if a kid listens to the book they are cheating, but in reality listening to books, rather then reading, offers its own set of literacy skills, and can actually help kids become better readers.

Some of the benefits of audio books:

  • Improve critical listening skills
  • Improve vocabulary and pronunciation skills (more likely to use words you have heard and can say, than ones you have just read)
  • Enjoy stories, rather then struggle with words.
  • Demonstrate how to read fluently, including important skills like pacing, intonation, and phrasing.
  • Expand access to materials, so kids can enjoy stories that they do not have the reading skills to read.
  • Help struggling readers to develop their skills, both by following along with the text as they listen and by improving their comprehension of what they have read.

In Guy’s Listen, Jon Scieszka has attempted to draw attention to some of these literacy benefits to encourage boys to read or listen. The literacy advantages, however, are the same regardless of gender and age, which is why audio books are such an important part of a library collection.  There are a number of interesting articles and handouts on the BooksonTape website, which is admittedly commercial in nature. But the content is true regardless of where you buy your audio books, they can enhance reading and books in a way that is not cheating. So the next time a kid wants the audio of The Scarlett Letter rather than the text, consider that listening to the text may make him or her a better reader then trying to wade through the printed version.