Saturday, May 18, 2019

This week at the library

Happening at the library
  • Monday
    • Open Storyroom
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddler Party: Garden
    • Sewing Workshop: Accessories
    • Teen sewing club
  • Wednesday
    • Family garden program
    • We Explore Outdoors: Bees
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Book Explosion: Percy Jackson and mythical fantasy
  • Friday
    • 1st grade field trip
    • Scholastic warehouse sale
  • Worked 44 hours; 14 hours on desk; 3 programs
Projects
  • Ordered materials for summer
  • Updated calendar to use a new format
  • Still working on neighborhoods weeding
  • Working on and off on summer programs
  • Getting ready for 5th grade field trip next week - spent several hours putting ALL THE BOOKS on hold!
  • Sewing workshop ended up mostly finishing skirts from last week.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Straw into gold: Fairy tales re-spun by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb

There are a lot of reworked fairy tales (E. D. Baker's are some of my, and my patrons', favorites) but McKay goes in a different direction with this collection of retold fairy tales. Her introduction, although definitely Euro-centric, clearly shows her love of fairy tales and her writing skills. The tales include Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, Pied Piper of Hamelin, Snow White, Princess and the Pea, Red Riding Hood, Twelve Dancing Princesses, Hansel and Gretel, and the Swan Brothers.

McKay's reimaginings are British in tone, but also definitely in her own style. Rapunzel reflects on how she has to free herself from the prison of her tower, even though she's not physically trapped there. Rumpelstiltskin is retold as a goblin-like creature who is misunderstood and tormented by the villagers and smug miller's daughter. A lonely little girl listens to the wandering tales of her elderly grandmother and harassed mother about dancing with princesses underground. The youngest brother longs to fly, one more time, as a swan. A little princess finds a piece of a magic mirror that whispers to her about being the fairest. The stories range from sad to sweet, mysterious to humorous.

Gibb's silhouette illustrations have an old-fashioned, classic look reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and other golden age illustrators. Ladies in puffy skirts, fairies with wings, and little flecks of magic sprinkle the pages as McKay works her own fairy tale magic.

Verdict: Fairy tale fans, especially those who love the traditional, Western classics, will fall in love with this volume. It's not for everyone - young readers accustomed to instant action, over the top humor, or contemporary realism are not likely to pick up this dreamy collection, but for the right reader it will be treasured.

ISBN: 9781534432840; Published February 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mighty Meg and the magical ring by Sammy Griffin, illustrated by Micah Player

This beginning chapter is another "girl discovers superpowers", similar to Mia Mayhem. At her birthday party, Meg gets a special ring from her aunt, who is an archeologist. That night, she dreams of being a warrior queen in armor, fighting in a battle. The next day, strange things begin to happen - she has super strength! She can leap rivers! She does some tests and realizes it is indeed the ring giving her powers, but when she sees their neighbor's dog struggling in a swollen river, her powers aren't enough - she needs to be brave to rescue him as well. The story ends with Meg choosing her superhero name, realizing she'll have to lie to her parents sometimes, and foreshadowing her next adventure.

While the text is in a larger font, it's still pretty dense for a beginning chapter book. It's also fairly high-level, more middle grade than beginning chapter. It's illustrated in a somewhat blurry, muddy style in oranges and blacks. There are illustrations on every page, but they're not seamlessly integrated with the text, making it sometimes difficult to read the text itself.

Meg is eight and this just didn't work for me. Now, the only "non-canon" superheroes that my library kids really like are Captain Underpants and Captain Awesome - they usually don't go for the "kids with superpowers" books, but this one really didn't thrill me. While it's great to see a black girl as the main character, I was skeptical about her "dream" of being a Viking warrior. No blood is shown, but it had definite violent overtones, way too much for an eight year old. It's certainly wish-fulfillment, in how she can just disappear after school with nobody looking for her and a quick lie/apology smooths everything over, but it didn't sound right. Basically, this didn't sound like a real child and the text was oddly elaborate and/or stiff in places.

Verdict: If you have kids that enjoy this genre and are strong readers, it's an additional choice. Otherwise, I prefer Gumazing Gum Girl by Rhode Montijo.

ISBN: 9781499808322; Published January 2019 by little bee; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Small Readers: Flubby is NOT a good pet and Flubby will NOT play with that by J. E. Morris

I loved Morris' Maude the Koala books and I was thrilled to see she's published a true easy reader with her humorous cartoons. These are sure to fly off your shelves and I can't wait to introduce them to my book club kids!

In Flubby is NOT a good pet, Kami, a girl with brown skin and wild brown hair, introduces us to her pet cat Flubby. Her friends have pets too - they can sing, do tricks, jump, and more. But Flubby does not do that. Flubby does not do ANYTHING. Flubby is a very disappointing pet. But maybe there is one thing that Flubby can do? It turns out, he's just the right pet to have in a scary storm!

In Flubby's second adventure, Flubby will NOT play with that Kami is once again trying to elicit a response from the enigmatic Flubby. Kami has a whole bag of toys to try out on Flubby. Will he play with the mouse? With a swinging toy? Or the really exciting one? Nope. Nope. Nope. It looks like there's absolutely nothing Flubby will play with... except, just maybe, a brown paper bag!

The short, simple sentences, "This toy rolls." or Jill's pet can jump." put this squarely in that rare category of pre-readers. It falls at 150 on the lexile scale, or an E on the Fountas and Pinnell scale. The short sentences lend themselves well to Morris' deadpan humor, which is played out in the accompanying pictures. Flubby, a pudgy white cat with gray markings (inspired by Morris' own cat Flubby shown on the frontispiece with an equally unimpressed expression) is just not very interested. Tricks? He'd rather nap. Toys? They leave him cold. But when it counts, and just when Kami has given up on him, Flubby stirs himself and does the unexpected! Cat owners and cat lovers alike will giggle as they recognize the extreme cat-like behavior of Fluffy, sauntering home in the rain, only to suddenly panic when the thunder and lightning starts, or the sudden shattering of his cool when Kami pulls out the really "exciting" toy!

Verdict: A funny addition to the easy reader genre, this is sure to delight cat-lovers and kids who like the humor of Mo Willems and other comic writers for the beginning reader set. Recommended and I look forward to more Flubby in the future!

Flubby is NOT a good pet
ISBN: 9781524787769

Flubby will NOT play with that
ISBN: 9781524787783

Published April 2019 by Penguin Workshop; Review copies provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Wake up, color pup by Taia Morley

This joyful explosion of color is sure to attract children and adults alike. The story begins with a sleepy white puppy, her tail dipped in a pool of golden sunlight, in a dark, gray house. When she wakes up and bounces up to investigate the light, her tail keeps its golden hue. She runs outside...

and encounters a world of color! She plunges into the yellow sunlight, a yellow bird alighting on her nose and turning it yellow, then an orange butterfly leads her into a wash of orange, coloring her head and ears. A ladybug leads to red, then a dragonfly to purple. As each new color washes over the page - and the pup - she picks up shades of it dappling her white coat and blending with her previous colors. The pup demonstrates new movement on each page as well, "trot, greet, circle, sniff, wade, splash through." Color pup plunges into a blue pool, wriggles through the green bushes, but then a storm begins! The pup huddles with her friendly yellow bird as the frightening storm washes away her colors, leaving her in a gray landscape... with all her colors in a puddle! One last joyful shake and colors spatter the world, leaving the reader with a picture of a vivid and colorful world and a happy puppy, tail still dipped in yellow, as she saunters home.

The bold text and simple language, paired with glorious, joyful splashes of color, are sure to make this a storytime favorite. Read it in color storytimes, before art programs, and cozied up with a little one during a rain storm. Encourage your little ones to try painting their own colors on different surfaces and see the lovely color in the world around them.

Verdict: A perfect book for wiggly toddlers, make this a storytime staple and encourage your young listeners to wade, wiggle, and experiment with color right along with sweet Color Pup.

ISBN: 9780399559457; Published March 2019 by Random House; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, May 13, 2019

Life at the zoo: The secret world of your favorite animals by Michael George

I'm always looking for more books about zoos - there are plenty of books about animals, but hardly any about zoos! This book absolutely fills that need.

What is it like for animals at the zoo behind the scenes? Where do they come from? How do zookeepers take care of them? This introduction walks readers through the behind-the-scenes of a zoo, explaining about captive-bred and rescued animals, how keepers care for their charges, offer enrichment, handle medical issues, and train animals for their own health and the public's education.

Throughout the narrative, photographs of animals, their keepers, and the zoo surrounding are included with most labeled with species and/or name of the animal. Readers will not only learn how keepers feed, care for, and stimulate giraffes, they'll also learn how their neck vertebrae are organized. How have zoos helped the Galapagos tortoise? How do zoos teach animals to live in a natural habitat? Can endangered animals be saved by zoos? These and more questions are touched on throughout the book.

Although it's in picture book format, the layout is large chunks of fairly complex text, broken up by photographs. I'll be putting this in juvenile nonfiction despite the size, since it's really not a read-aloud. It would also pair very well with Zoology for kids, which offers career advice for many of the jobs mentioned in this book.

Verdict: Sure to fly off the shelves, this nonfiction book will fill a gap in library collections for third grade and up animal lovers, especially if there is a zoo in/near your community. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781454930891; Published November 2018 by Sterling; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, May 11, 2019

This week at the library

Happening this week:
Notes
  • I've still got a cough that is driving me crazy. I had a ton of bills to do this week, plus suddenly realizing I hadn't done my monthly report and I'm still behind in getting ready for summer. Field trips start next week as well as a number of other things going on. I'm just tired I guess.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Joe Bluhm

A boy writes letters to his sister from the time she is a baby until he leaves for college. They start out as crude charcoal drawings, complaining about the sister being whiny, stinky, and loud; a typical baby. The two grow together, weathering arguments and illnesses, life changes and new challenges. Finally, the story ends with the brother leaving his sister all the letters he's written her and permission to use his treehouse as he sets out on his new adventure in skillful line drawings in black and blue shades.

The art is the main attraction of this story. From scribbly drawings of an annoying baby sister to "progress reports" on her whining abilities, to two exasperated tween boys stuck with a lively sister and her best friend at the movie theater, the art conveys the annoyance and exasperation as well as the growing affection between the siblings.

Verdict: This is a quick read with lots of pictures, it's humorous and touching, but ultimately it felt more like something that an adult would pick up than a child. It has a nostalgic flavor for the joys and sorrows of childhood and the bond of siblings that most kids won't appreciate until they are leaving home probably. Still, it's a sweet story and the heavy illustrations may appeal to some readers.

ISBN: 9781481451420; Published October 2018 by Atheneum; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The big idea gang: Everybody needs a buddy by James Preller, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

I've really liked some of Preller's books and I'm always looking for more beginning chapter books, but I had a hard time seeing kids pick this up; it's just too didactic.

This is the second book in the series; in the first book, four third graders formed the "Big Idea Gang" to get a cooler school mascot. In this second book, the third graders are chatting over lunch about their favorite parts of the day when they hear some interesting news; the PTA has a big surplus of money from selling the merchandise of their new mascot and is going to spend it on something for the school! The kids throw around some vague ideas, but meanwhile Deon notices a new boy who stays by himself and looks lonely. At the same time, their teacher gives them some important lessons on gossip. Then she tells them the PTA has decided to give the money to the library, to buy new books. The kids are disappointed that they didn't get to even suggest the idea they finally decided on; a buddy bench. But working together and with some help from various teachers and parents, they get their big idea. The benches are exciting at first, but then life goes back to normal. Even so, the kids still use the benches when they need them.

I appreciated the depiction of the librarian explaining why she had to get rid of old, outdated books and teachers will surely be able to use these to teach lessons on gossip, persuasive writing and speaking, and the importance of being kind. However, this... just wasn't very interesting. It didn't have a hook like a mystery and there was little to no action.

Verdict: If you're just looking for filler or teachers want a classroom book to read together to focus on social-emotional development this would be fine, but it's not a story that I can see kids grabbing off the shelf.

ISBN: 9781328857194; Published January 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: One patch of blue by Marthe Jocelyn

In this wordless board book, Jocelyn uses her collage skills to great effect to show young readers different perspectives. The "story" begins with a crouching child, with straight black hair and brown skin, a grainy blue patch of fabric coming off their jeans. Each following page shows the "patch of blue" in a different picture; as the bowl of a shovel, the car of a Ferris wheel, a window, a sign showing a person in a wheelchair, an aquarium, a house in a neighborhood with flowers, the tag on a dog's collar, and more. The final picture shows what appears to be a younger child sleeping under a quilt made of squares, including the patch of blue.

This book is just right for helping toddlers recognize shapes and colors and follow a single item through different transformations. The pictures are simple enough that young children can identify them without too much trouble, but complex enough to challenge them. Adults can make up simple stories, or just dialogue to go with each page. "Can you find the blue square? What did it turn into? Can you find a green square?" etc.

Verdict: I'm sometimes reluctant to buy Orca board books because they're almost twice the average cost of most board books - about $10 - but I think this one is worth the price. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781459820739; Published 2019 by Orca; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

We are (not) friends by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Kang and Weyant's series of relationship concepts, which includes You are (not) small, That's (not) mine, and I am (not) scared adds another simple story with several layers that works equally well as an easy reader and a read-aloud.

We are (not) friends brings back the furry creatures that fans will recognize, starting with the honey-colored bear and small purple creature. They are having a dress-up game, pulling costumes out of a green trunk when a blue, kangaroo-like creature appears and wants to play. The bear enthusiastically invites it to join their play, suggesting a duet and seemingly deaf to the surprise of the purple creature, who thinks they're playing something else! Trouble ensues as the purple creature gets jealous, honey bear is bewildered... and then in a rapid change of pace, purple and blue hit it off, leaving out the big bear! Adults will recognize the rapidly changing patterns of friendship as the creatures play, fight, and finally declare WE ARE NOT FRIENDS! But it just takes one friendly gesture for the three to reconcile and find a game they can all enjoy, best friends forever! At least until another creature shows up....

The colorful artwork and simple text, easily readable by a beginner, sends a gentle message about remembering to include everyone. The creatures don't mean to exclude each other, but in their excitement to play new games and meet new friends they sometimes forget the old ones who then feel left out or ignored. Adults will nod knowingly at the progression of events while little kids will giggle - and maybe think twice next time they're playing with friends.

Verdict: This thoughtful series teaches social skills with humor and a fun story; use it in storytime, as a fun read-aloud, or with a class that's having difficulties playing well together. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781542044288; Published May 2019 by Two Lions; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, May 6, 2019

Beavers: The superpower field guide by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Frith

This starter in a new nonfiction series was certainly different. It's a unique combination of old and new elements and I think will be very popular.

The author, sketched as a black and white cartoon figure with a white shirt, black pants, and checked jacket, wants to introduce you, the reader, to the amazing animal that is the beaver. After a brief overview of beavers and their place among the rodents, we jump into their superpowers from teeth to tails, stink to scuba head, this is one tough critter! The book has a glossary and additional reading, from simple to complex, as well as a couple websites. There are no specific sources listed, but the author's credentials are on the back flap.

What really makes this stand out is the combination of cartoons and illustrations and the layout. Cartoon illustrations of "Elmer" the beaver and his mate, "Irma" are scattered throughout, illustrating the concepts, adding humor, and being goofy with the narrator. For more serious illustrations, Frith uses an old-fashioned style that will be instantly familiar to readers of children's nonfiction from the 1960s and 1970s. Carefully drawn illustrations show the beaver in its naturally habitat, building dams, entering and leaving its home, and otherwise living life. There are also panels comparing the beaver to an old-fashioned Superman or lining up rodents by size.

There's a lot of information packed into these 96 pages, but with the frequent illustration breaks, interesting facts, and eye-catching layout, readers will be drawn through the pages to explore these little-known but important animals.

Verdict: A good choice for older kids who are interested in learning more about animals. This is supposed to be a series and I look forward to the next installment.

ISBN: 9780544949874; Published December 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, May 4, 2019

This week at the library; or, Unnnghhh thank all the wombats I have staff

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Open Storyroom begins
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • Maker Workshop: Quilting
    • OPtions board meeting
  • Wednesday
    • Lakeland School field trip: We are in a book!
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Bookaneers: ending party
  • Friday
  • Saturday
    • May the fourth be with you
  • Worked I don't know. I worked from home when I could. So sick.
Notes
  • So, so sick. I had to get someone else to cover my Monday night desk shift and cancelled the quilting workshop because I had no voice and a horrible cough.
  • Projects that absolutely had to be done this week and I DID THEM
    • Summer newsletter
    • Updating all the program descriptions for publicity
    • Schedule for summer
    • May materials orders
  • Other stuff I worked on
    • Picture book weeding project
    • Data on juvenile circulation - looking at spots to fill in the favorites

Friday, May 3, 2019

Make this: Building, thinking, and tinkering projects for the amazing maker in you by Ella Schwartz, photographs by Matthew Rakola

National Geographic has plenty of activity books, many of them including science projects, but this book takes a slightly different approach that opens it up to a whole new audience.

After an introduction, explaining the use and purpose of maker spaces and suggestions for using the book, it dives into six chapters covering materials, systems, optics, energy, acoustics, forces, and motion. The book ends with an afterword, some short stories of how scientists use these skills in the field, and photo and illustration credits.

Each chapter starts with a section of facts and information, includes three to four things to make, and then has a series of situations or logic puzzles to solve using the information you've learned and practiced. Each project has step-by-step instructions, a complete list of materials, difficulty rating, whether or not an adult is needed (and how many people are needed to do the project), and an explanation of what's happening.

Projects range from making a kaleidoscope to a string phone, experiments with ice to making a rocket with a straw. Situations to solve include imagining you are a field biologist in Africa - how will you get close enough to photograph lions?, creating a seatbelt for your dog, and figuring out how big to make a hole in the ice to study seals in Lake Baikal.

This book is a great resource for teachers, librarians, and parents; each chapter could easily be expanded into a series of lessons on the subject. It encourages kids to use their minds and think out problems without any immediate result or reward. It uses simple items and clear instructions to get kids involved in hands-on experimentation and then think beyond what they've made or tried to the wider applications.

Verdict: This is a must-have for schools and libraries and would make a great gift for a science-minded kid as well. I plan to keep the review copy in my professional collection for reference and purchase a library-bound copy for circulation. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781426333248; Published February 2019 by National Geographic; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library; Purchased additional copy for the library

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Brilliant Beetles by Melissa Higgins

Smithsonian Little Explorer is a Pebble book, one of Capstone's imprints. I don't like the "regular" Pebble books, because I just feel that there's so much white space I'm wasting money on the expensive library bound editions. I mean, I know it's not like you pay for it by word but somehow it just seems odd to me.

Anyways, this series has a lot more text. If you're going to get buggy, beetles are the way to go. Then again, dragonflies are really cool too... generally I'm fine with bugs as long as they're not cockroaches or have too many legs, like house centipedes. Anyways. The book starts with a basic description of beetles and then devotes a page to each of several types of beetles; weevils, bombardier beetles, water beetles, skin beetles, etc. Each page is paired with a photograph of a beetle and some additional facts. There is a brief glossary, link to Capstone's website, a few titles for further reading, and an index. This is a 4D book, so readers who have downloaded the app scan purple stars for additional information. There are 3 stars that I saw.

One the one hand, this book is at a good level for readers who are transitioning from easy readers to chapter books. It's right between a 2nd and 3rd grade reading level, 540 for those of you who use lexiles, and has short sentences that will help readers make it through some of the more difficult vocabulary. On the other hand, I was disappointed that none of the beetles were identified. Presumably, the ones on the pages of specific beetles, ladybugs, etc., are from that group but there's no way to tell exactly what beetle you're looking at. I don't normally spend money for library bound books in the easy reader section, but I think this would more properly be shelved in the juvenile nonfiction.

Verdict: If you normally purchase library bound nonfiction for your easy readers and have higher level titles there, this is a reasonable addition. However, the lack of captions for the specific beetles makes this a secondary choice for me, since I'd be putting it in juvenile nonfiction where I place more weight on accuracy.

ISBN: 9781977103420; Published January 2019 by Pebble Plus/Capstone; Review copy provided by publisher

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Animals on the Go and Space by Ruth A. Musgrave

National Geographic offers a new board book series, Little Kids First Board Books, with photographs, simple text, and some basic facts.

In Animals on the go, a variety of animals are shown in movement. An ostrich, snake, ladybug, orangutan, and penguin are some of the animals included. Each spread has a simple sentence describing the animals' movement, "Penguins slide across the snow on their bellies". Some pages include a yellow circle with additional facts, "Dolphins use their tails to swim and jump." Other pages may include this and an activity, like the dolphin page "Touch each dolphin's tail" or "Flap your arms up and down to swim like a sea turtle." The photographs are clear and bright, some covering a whole spread with text superimposed over the photo, others include the text on a colored background facing the page-size photo.

I've looked at several astronomy and science-based board books and all were way too complex for a baby or toddler. Or a preschooler, for that matter. Space, however, does a great job of explaining simple concepts to young children. Photographs of planets, landscapes, and space take readers from a simple explanation of earth's place in the cosmos, "Earth is a planet in space./Planets are round, like balls." to a photo of the Milky Way and pictures of space craft. Additional facts, "The Milky Way is a spiral shape." and a few cute exclamations, "Let's race! Bet I can run rings around you." says Saturn, are spread throughout the pages. The final spread shows a variety of planets and encourages children to trace shapes, sing to the stars, and find Earth.

Verdict: This new series has a nice combination of simple text and photographs, filling a gap for collections needing more nonfiction offerings for the youngest of readers.

Animals on the go
ISBN: 9781426333125

Space
ISBN: 9781426333149

Published April 2019 by National Geographic; Review copies provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Elbert the curious clock tower bear by Andrew Prahin

Prahin's first book, Brimsby's Hats, was a sweet take on friendship. His next title features a cute bear also, but this one longs to explore the world.

Elbert is the smallest of the mechanical clocktower bears. The other four bears take their duties seriously and march regularly in and out of the clock tower with little interest in the world around them. But Elbert is curious. When he causes an accident, the other bears insist he leave the clock tower for a day and get rid of his curiosity before he embarrasses them any further. But Elbert's explorations only make his curiosity grow! As the hours tick by, Elbert has more and more questions about the world that he just can't hide. Instead of suppressing his curiosity, what if he shares it with the other bears?

Prahin's medieval town is surrounded by a beautiful forest and Elbert's daylight adventures mostly take place there while he wanders the town at night. No people are shown, even when Elbert sneaks into an open shop at night. The forest shows vibrant fish in a pond, a fox's red tail, and a surprised bear, the rich colors glowing in the sunlight.

Verdict: While not a first purchase, this quietly reflective story will resonate with some children and may perhaps serve as a gentle reminder to parents and caregivers to encourage children to explore the world around them.

ISBN: 9780525513988; Published March 2019 by Putnam; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sisters: Venus and Serena Williams by Jeanette Winter

I was surprised by how much I liked this picture book biography of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, but I appreciated how nuanced it was and thought it would appeal to kids on multiple levels.

The story begins with the two sisters growing up in Compton, California. The dangers and privation of their home is hinted at with trash on the court and concentrating on the ball to ignore the sound of gunfire. The story moves through their first tournaments, where they face "a sea of white faces" and depend on each other and their focus to win. They move to Florida, grow up, and begin competing even more seriously. A series of spreads show the young women playing, their faces tense with concentration, waves of color surrounding their powerful, graceful bodies. They begin expanding their interests, but then both get sick. They continue to train, practice, and play tennis together, strong in body, mind, and family support. Jeanette Winter's powerful collages, with blocky color, blur the faces of bystanders and audiences, focusing attention on the two sisters.

The bond between sisters and their resilience in the face of challenges are understandable by kids from a variety of backgrounds. Even if they don't face the specific challenges of the sisters, they will understand the importance of working hard at something they love, building concentration, and not listening to naysayers. It's also worth noting that Winters' shows Black, athletic bodies as beautiful, focusing on the sisters' grace, strength, and abilities rather than just their physical appearance. The supportive bond between sisters is powerfully portrayed also, refusing to let their sport and competition come between them. Winter's illustrations show two powerful women, who are strong even when they are physically weak.

Verdict: A great read-aloud for a variety of ages, this will appeal to kids who are interested in sports as well as those with siblings. Both inspiring and realistic about challenges in life, it features two powerful women who work together to support each other, their families, and make a difference in the world.

ISBN: 9781534431218; Published April 2019 by Beach Lane Books; F&G provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library

Saturday, April 27, 2019

This week at the library

Happening at the library
  • Monday
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Craftorama
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • What's next (teen/young adult outreach)
  • Wednesday
    • Friends' General Meeting
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
  • Friday
    • Staff Development Day
  • Professional Development: Stories and Sequences part 1
  • Attended Friends' General Meeting
  • 32 hours PTO
I took the week off, but then I needed to attend a workshop, and the Friends' meeting. I skipped Staff Development day instead, since I also needed to go out of state for a funeral. I also got sick. It was not the best vacation. Oh well.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The journey of York: The unsung hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Hasan Davis, illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Children studying Lewis and Clark probably learn about Sacawajea, but is York ever mentioned? I had certainly never heard of him. When President Jefferson called for an expedition and Captains Lewis and Clark recruited able-bodied men as volunteers, one man went along without volunteering; York. Captain Clark's slave. York was never given a choice.

Told in first person, Davis imagines what life would be like as a slave on the expedition. York meets Sacawajea, is honored and respected by the Native Americans, and suffers the loss of a man he considers a friend, Sergeant Floyd, who was anti-slavery. When they finally reach the ocean, for the first time York has a voice and is asked to vote with the other men. But when Captain Lewis honors the men who took part in the expedition, York's name is never mentioned.

In the author's note, he points out that York's name was not included in the official record of the expedition. He received no honors, payment, or even acknowledgment of his participation. He remained a slave and was separated from his family by Clark two years later. There are differing accounts of York's eventual fate. Clark claimed he set him free and he died of cholera while trying to return to Clark's employment. This seems unlikely, especially considering no evidence of manumission was ever found. There is anecdotal evidence from trappers and Native Americans that York was either freed or escaped and joined the Crow tribe.

A brief page of back matter lists some books and websites with information about York and includes a note that the author took creative license in lieu of any historical record of York's personal experiences. This raises an important point for discussion - how do authors tell the stories of marginalized people who were left out of the historical record? You can dig all you want to and still sometimes the information just isn't there. Do we continue to overlook these people because we can't "prove" or verify all the facts? Or do we bring them into the narrative anyways?

Verdict: Although in picture book format, I'd give this to older elementary students, especially those studying Lewis and Clark, to give them a different and wider perspective on the event. It's too long for a casual read-aloud, but a teacher could read sections aloud in their classroom with, I think, great results. It's well-written and the author thoughtfully discusses the lack of sources. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781543512823; Published January 2019 by Capstone; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit's Bad Habits by Julian Gough and Jim Field

Bear is sound asleep in her den, when a thief on his way out wakes her up. Bear gets up - in winter! - to investigate the thief who has stolen her salmon, honey, and beetles' eggs, and finds Rabbit. The two have a conversation about gravity, making snowmen, and friendship, until Rabbit retreats to his hole, annoyed by Bear's stupidity (and not wanting her to figure out that he's the thief). Bear sticks her head into the hole to say thanks for the moldy carrot Rabbit gave her and sees Rabbit... eat his own poop? A discussion about animal habits ensues and Bear ends up saving Rabbit from the wolf, whereupon the two become friends and Rabbit Confesses All. In the end, Rabbit decides he'd rather be a bear and the two settle down into Bear's cozy den together.

The book is heavily illustrated with aqua blue and shades of gray, as well as black and white. The illustrations are cartoon in style, with a pop-eyed rabbit, kindly but rather dim-looking bear, and crafty wolf. The font is clear and slightly larger than average, a good choice for beginning chapter readers, and the book is between a 2nd and 3rd grade level.

I'm always looking for new beginning chapter books and I think kids might find this funny, but it was a weird conglomeration of different types of story. The animals are anthropomorphic, talking, stealing, feeling shame and guilt, but they are also portrayed with actual animal habits, like Rabbit being coprophagic. But not all of them, since bears are omnivorous and would happily chow down on a nice, accessible bunny. Not to mention that if you're going to be grossed out by rabbits eating poop (coprophagy is a very common habit among many different animals) then you should be aware that bears eat carcasses, a variety of bugs, grubs, and insects, and pretty much anything they can scavenge.

Verdict: This was ok, but didn't really stand out to me. It felt like it needed tighter editing and a clearer plot thread, as well as a distinction between narrative nonfiction and funny cartoon animals. Of course, as a nonfiction devotee I'm biased, but I don't find it helpful to give kids books that encourage them to be grossed out by natural animal behavior. On the other hand, what kid doesn't like poop jokes? In the end, know your audience.

ISBN: 9781684125883; Published January 2019 by Silver Dolphin; Review copy provided by publisher

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Into the forest by Laura Baker and Nadia Taylor

This board book is created by layered, die-cut pages to show a busy, colorful forest.

The first strip shows a family of playful foxes and a scurrying squirrel, looking for Mama. In the next strip, about half the book-height, the squirrel meets a bear cub and her mother. The next strip, almost full-size, introduces squirrel to a deer family as well as some frogs. The second-to-last spread shows an almost full-size spread with a family of bunnies amid a forest of popsicle-shaped trees. In the last spread, the squirrel meets her family and all the forest creatures reappear.

The colorful, simple shapes show a bright, cozy forest. Textures from dots to lines, leaf-shaped to stripes, cover the pages adding an additional sensory dimension.

The die-cut pages are thick and sturdy, although the binding is not as tight as I'd hope. Unless a kid goes waving it around by one page (which they are apt to do) it should last well.

Verdict: The text is rather bland, but the art is attractive and babies and toddlers will enjoy the sensory experience of touching the pages as well as identifying the animals.

ISBN: 9781419733543; Published 2018 by Harry N. Abrams; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Spend it! by Cinders McLeod

McLeod's first Moneybunny book featured a little girl bunny who wanted to be a famous singer but learns that hard work is the only way to get anywhere. The next title, featuring a little boy bunny named Sonny, clicked with me much more and it's one I can see recommending frequently to parents.

Sonny, an exuberant gray bunny with a striped shirt, blue shorts, and long ears, gets his allowance of three carrots every Saturday. He wants to buy EVERYTHING but he doesn't have enough carrots. His mom calmly tells him he will have to make a choice about what's important and goes back to raking leaves. Sonny does some basic math - he wants three things, he has three carrots, but his mom tells him he has to think it through a little more! The things he wants cost more than one carrot each. After some hard though, he decides on a pogo stick, which costs three carrots, and is happy with his choice.

This is a very simple introduction to the concept of buying things. The simple illustrations are humorous and don't detract from the lesson of the story, that Sonny has to make a choice about what he will spend his money on. Of course, the concept can be a lot more complicated, especially for kids who don't get an allowance, but this is a good, easy introduction for preschoolers about how money works. Future titles will cover saving and giving money.

Verdict: There are very few picture books covering money for the preschool crowd. Match this one with Lemonade in winter and Pretty Penny (now out of print) for a good beginning lesson on handling money.

ISBN: 9780399544460; Published March 2019 by Penguin; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, April 22, 2019

We travel so far... by Laura Knowles and Chris Madden

I'm always fascinated by migration and this is a beautiful and simple look at this complicated subject. In poetic language, Knowles introduces the great journey of migration and the stories of the creatures that undertake these epic journeys.

Each spread introduces a different creature and is illustrated in sharp detail by Madden art that focuses on the creatures and their natural surroundings. The migration of the sockeye salmon shows a group of red fish, determinedly leaping up frothy white falls as hungry bears lunge across the page. The monarch butterflies' page explodes in color and life as orange butterflies pour across a green and blue background. Fruit bats spiral up from the trees in Kasanka National Park, where they have migrated to feed on fruit. A close-up shows a sweet, furry creature peering back at the reader. Arctic terns glide across a cold, grey-blue page, "We are the arctic terns, the daylight dancers./We chase the summer, pole to pole." The book ends with a spread showing a diverse group of people and repeating the refrain, "We travel so far." that has been reiterated throughout the book. Just like the animals, humans travel for safety and food, but also to find freedom and adventure.

Back matter includes a world map (the migrations are not marked on it) and data about the land and sea migrations.

Verdict: A beautiful and informative book, a great addition to school curriculums and for reading aloud in sections and discussing.

ISBN: 9781770859852; Published August 2018 by Firefly; Borrowed from another library in my consortium



Sunday, April 21, 2019

You are light by Aaron Becker

Technically this is a board book, but it's a more complex concept than the average board book. However, it's not really a picture book either, since it has the traditional format, in some ways, of a board book.

The die-cut circles on the cover are repeated throughout the book, with some blank and some having colored, thin vinyl behind them. The colors shift throughout the book, so you get a different set of colors as you hold it up to the light. The pattern of die-cut shapes in the center of the cover are repeated in flame-like colors throughout the book. The accompanying text at first seems poetical, but a more careful read shows that it actually takes readers through the water cycle and how light effects it.

The text is abstract and the light plastic coverings on the individual circles probably won't stand up to vigorously poking little fingers. However, it's a lovely book with rich language and a unique design that will attract kids of a variety of ages.

Verdict: While I don't often suggest buying "novelty" books, this one is so beautiful and overall much more sturdy than, say, a pop-up book, that I think it's worth purchasing for use in art programs especially

ISBN: 9781536201154; Published March 2019 by Candlewick Studio; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to an art teacher to use in her classes

Saturday, April 20, 2019

This week at the library

What's happening this week
  • Monday
    • Paws to read
    • Art show opening
    • Manager's meeting
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • Library on the Go: OPtions
    • Teen sewing club
  • Wednesday
    • Train Tracks (4K collaborative event)
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Book Explosion: Wings of fire
  • Friday
    • Library closed
  • Saturday
  • Worked 32.5 hours; 19 hours on the desk; 3 programs
  • 8 hours off (holiday)
  • 2-3 hours work at home (emails and collection development)
Notes
  • I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to do two conferences in quick succession, along with our annual big collaborative event and the art show... it seemed like a good idea at the time? Anyways, I'm done with CE for the year now (except two local things).
  • We had about 200 people come through for the art show Monday night and then on Tuesday all the 4K directors came in for set-up for the big train party. I'm desperately trying to finish another chunk of weeding before I'm gone-ish next week.
  • Feeling a little overwhelmed when I think about what still needs to be done:
    • update field trips (still waiting for some teachers to schedule their classes)
    • update summer reading materials and send to the school to print
    • update and add to activities we give away for summer reading prizes
    • summer newsletter
    • finish staff schedule - I'm waiting to see if I need to hire another teen to fill in the schedule
    • plan sewing maker workshops coming up
    • update STEM calendar for the summer
    • waiting on grant money to order LOTG books for summer, including Spanish, and some big chunks of juvenile fiction and graphic novels
    • write-up and publicity for Walmart grant - I think we will finally start open storyroom in May
    • plan summer programs, including new maker workshops and art programs
    • recruit and schedule teen volunteers

Friday, April 19, 2019

Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce

I've seen a lot of enthusiasm and love for Peirce's new book, including blurbs from Pilkey and Kinney, but frankly when I heard about it I thought it sounded weird. Now that I've read it, I still think it's kind of weird and there are going to be SPOILERS ahead because I can't talk about it without exposing the big twist halfway through.

So, the story is framed as Big Nate hands in a book report on Max and the Midknights for his "history" report. The story itself is done in the same graphic blend/notebook novel style as Big Nate and the art style is the same as the Big Nate cartoons.

The story opens with Max and Uncle Budrick traveling the countryside as troubadours. Max, however, doesn't want to be an entertainer, especially not one who's as bad as Budrick. After they're robbed and Max uses Budrick's broken lute to knock out the robber, they arrive at Budrick's home city of Byjovia. Budrick explains that there people are required to follow the trade of their father and he didn't want to go to knight school so he ran away when he was ten. But he assures Max that everyone in the city is friendly and kind, due to the good rule of King Conrad. Turns out, Conrad is gone and his treacherous and evil brother Ghastley has taken his place. Uncle Budrick is hauled off to be Ghastley's fool, his alternative being a dungeon or execution, and Max is revealed as a girl, and declares her intention of being a knight. With the help of a rather bumbling magician, two street children, and another new friend, Max and the Midknights set out to save Uncle Budrick, defeat Ghastley, and break the evil spell on the city of Byjovia.

The book is a weird mixture of medieval history and contemporary language and attitudes. Things like children following in their father's profession, the limitations on girls, being jailed for being a vagrant, and beliefs in wizardry and magic blend with the sometimes incongruous attitudes of the characters, using slang and making jokes like picking up a book of prophecies at a yard sale, etc. I'm not familiar enough with medieval history to recognize all the parts that are accurate though; were medieval people familiar with zombies, for example? There's also a very contemporary attitude throughout; after some initial surprise, Max's gender nonconformity is quickly accepted (a secondary character agrees that boys' clothes are easier to fight in) and King Conrad allows her to attend knight school.

To some extent, I felt there were a lot of stereotypes in the characters. Max is a spunky redheaded girl, the pudgy boy is nerdy, liking stories and making books and always looking for food. One of the street children she befriends is black, but is almost completely silent throughout the book and only at the end does he suddenly declare his own intention of being a knight with Max, although no prior discussion of his interests was made. The pudgy boy's father has a wooden leg and is shown as a child with it, so presumably something he was born with (although missing limbs would have been more common in medieval times I would guess and that's not even approaching the whole medieval attitude towards birth defects or deformity of any kind). One major historical incongruity was the complete lack of religion of any kind; there are no churches, priests, or anything similar mentioned or shown.

Verdict: It's funny yes, and I think Big Nate fans will pick it up, but the inconsistencies really made me uncomfortable and I'd hate to think of any kids, like Big Nate ha ha, using this as a guide to medieval history. In the end, it's just a fun book that probably won't have the wide appeal of Big Nate but will surely check out regularly.

ISBN: 9781101931080; Published January 2019 by Crown; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Small Readers: Duck, Duck, Dinosaur: Snowy Surprise by Kallie George, illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Readers who have previously encountered Spike the dinosaur and his duckling siblings, Feather and Flap, will be delighted by their next funny adventure, this time in easy reader, rather than picture book, format.

Winter is full of surprises and Spike can't wait to experience them all! Skating, sledding, building snowmen, he wants Feather and Flap to join him for everything. There's just one problem - Feather and Flap are really, really cold. Much too cold to play outside, even if they want to. Can Spike come up with a special surprise that will let the siblings play together?

Bright, colorful cartoons illustrate this predictable but satisfying adventure of the Ugly Duckling family that accepted their own odd duckling (or dinosaur as it might be) and created a family all their own. This is the lowest reading level of the I Can Read! imprint, My First Shared Reading, but it still comes in at a guided reading level of E, and a lexile of 260. This would be what I'd give a red sticker and call a first level reader, usually for 1st graders and some kindergarteners. It's not a true emergent easy reader, those are few and far between, but it's certainly a good choice for kids who are ready for sentences and multi-syllable words.

Verdict: A silly and fun book for beginning readers. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780062353191; Published November 2017 by HarperCollins; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Animals with Tiny Cat by Viviane Schwarz

I do love Schwarz's cats. After several popular and beloved (at least in our library) picture books with flaps, pop-ups, and other elements, Schwarz eventually returned to the smallest of her characters, Tiny Cat, in several sweet board books.

In this little book, Tiny Cat dresses up as various animals and mimics their sounds. The first spread, shows Tiny Cat, grinning widely, saying "purr" as himself, a cat. He holds up rings to make big mouse ears, a long tube for an elephant nose, a tied-on beak for a bird, long boots for a horse, a brush for a porcupine, wraps himself in a carpet for a snake, gets tangled up in yarn as a spider... but this leaves quite the pile of things. Which come together to make a scary dragon! Luckily, Tiny Cat has one more animal, which doesn't need any disguise - a lion with a loud roar!

Scharwz needs only a few lines and strokes to convey her mischievous and imaginative cat. While this isn't one I'd hand to actual babies, or even the average toddler who is unlikely to grasp the humor of the story, preschoolers are sure to adore it and with a caregiver to encourage sounds and their own dressing up, toddlers will catch on quickly.

Verdict: I love Tiny Cat. You will love Tiny Cat too!

ISBN: 9780763698188; Published 2018 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rosie and Rasmus by Serena Geddes

This sweet story about a lonely girl making friends starts out well, but I didn't care for the ending.

Rosie, a white girl in an old-fashioned village, is shy. She stands back as kids walk by in pairs and triples, fly kites, and play around the fountain. Outside the village is Rasmus, a pudgy green dragon with no wings. Rosie wishes the other kids would see her. Rasmus wishes he could fly. When Rosie wanders under his tree, he gives her a flower and they become friends, sharing their favorite things with each other. But when Rosie sees how sad Rasmus is that he can't fly, she sets out to find a way to help him. She tries many plans, but it's not until she gives him goggles and a scarf that he finally grows wings and can fly! The friends say a sad goodbye and Rosie is left alone again, this time with a flower to remember Rasmus by... until she sees another shy girl and offers her the flower, starting a new friendship.

The soft, pastel art is very enticing for readers who like fantasy and warm fuzzy feelings. Most of the kids pictured appear to be white, and the small village is very picturesque with a blue sea in the distance and no cars or machinery in evidence, although the kids wear modern clothes as they freely run across the cobbles of the main square.

On the one hand, most kids will just see this as a cute story about a dragon. On the other hand, several things about the ending especially bothered me. Rosie and Rasmus originally become friends because Rasmus makes an overture to her and they're both lonely. But their friendship quickly devolves into Rosie's efforts to "fix" Rasmus and help him fly and in the end he spontaneously sprouts wings. That feels like a weird call back to books like Heidi where the kids are friends with the "poor cripple" and they just magically lose their disability. There's no reason given for Rasmus having to leave - maybe he was imaginary all the time? On the other hand, there's also kind of an implication that he doesn't fit into their perfect little world in the village. I also noticed that the solitary girl Rosie makes friends with wasn't there in the first place - so maybe it isn't just that she needs to make overtures, but that she has to wait for the right time and the right person.

Verdict: Kids probably won't pick up on all the things that confused/bothered me as an adult, so ultimately it's a sweet book with a nice message about making overtures to make friends. I would say it's an additional purchase.

ISBN: 9781481498746; Published April 2019 by Aladdin; F&G provided by publisher

Monday, April 15, 2019

Avalanche Dog Heroes: Piper and friends learn to search the snow by Elizabeth Rusch

So much doggy fun! This is a delightful account of the training and testing of Piper, a three-year-old border collie who is learning to be a rescue dog at Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington. Rusch introduces readers to Piper and her friends and trainers and then her day begins.

Readers will learn how Piper is trained, the science behind avalanches and dogs' abilities to smell, and the equipment and training needed to equip dogs and their handlers. The book ends with Piper taking - and passing - the test to be a real rescue dog. Back matter includes links to social media to follow the dogs, more information on dog training, and resources to learn about the science.

The book has a picture book layout and briefer sentences/exclamations, as well as the framing story of Piper's day, but it's essentially a nonfiction book for older readers with large chunks of text. Photographs, graphs, maps, and facts are included throughout the book.

Verdict: Rusch has a very readable style and this is a subject that is sure to fly off the shelves. Add this to your collection on working dogs and recommend it to third grade and up.

ISBN: 9781632171733; Published October 16, 2018 by Little Bigfoot; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Early Childhood Conference

I haven't been to this conference before - apparently it's quite a big deal in the early childhood educator world. It's pretty inexpensive, compared to most library conferences, and is at a local university. I wasn't sure how much it would apply to library work, especially since I already have my school colleague who does most of our early childhood storytimes, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to see ways the library can support our local early childhood centers, from daycares to four year old kindergartens. Conclusion - I'm glad I went, but once was probably enough, since I got the feeling a lot of it repeats. I was the only librarian at the pre-conference on Friday, but I did meet two other librarians from the Gail Borden library on Saturday (those in the library world may be familiar with this Illinois library as the one of the first to go to bisac/subjects and it's a pretty innovative - and massive - library.). Anyways.

Friday preconference
 - Inevitably, I drove back and forth several times on the highway before deciding on an exit. Amazingly, I then quickly found the university, even with detours!
 - Robin Fox, a professor with a lengthy background experience in early childhood education, was the morning speaker. She talked about the changes in education, inclusiveness, policies, having difficult conversations, etc. After lunch, there were casual break-out sessions. I don't think these went too well since a lot of people seemed very much at a loss what to do without a facilitator, but I had some good conversations with a couple people, especially a teacher in a county next to ours and we exchanged several different library-related resources that I'll be following up on.
 - Robin Fox finished with a final conclusion and a number of resources
 - I then drove in CIRCLES for an HOUR trying to find my way out of the town. No, it is not a big town. I couldn't find the highway again! I finally found it, after an HOUR but I have no idea how.

Saturday
 - Found the exit with no driving back and forth this time!
 - The keynote was... not for me. The speaker was someone who was apparently well-known in early childhood circles and she gave a very "inspirational" speech but I'm really not much on inspiration, I prefer practicalities. Other people seemed to get a lot out of it, but I personally thought there was no substance, just a lot of talk. And she incorrectly attributed several quotes from children's literature, including a Winnie -the-Pooh one, my particular bete noire. But, again, I wasn't really the audience for this.
 - Children and Play by Sandy Queen. Apparently this presenter has been presenting at the conference for a long time. I think it was the first time I've seen her though - very lively and personable, lots of stories, and some good information on the importance of play with ways to frame it. I think she was used to having longer sessions, as she kind of ran out of time at the end and I was sorry she had to end it - I could have listened to her longer. I'll be using things from this session in my work on our play areas and grant-writing, as well as how I frame/plan programs.
 - Secrets from your SLP by Tammy Myers. I was supposed to go to a different session, but I decided to be the rebel librarian and changed my mind and went to this one instead! I wasn't sure if you could do that or not, but apparently the only sessions that were completely filled were the, uh, essential oils and something else. So... yeah. Anyways, SLP does NOT mean what it means in the library world, it means speech language pathologist! The presenter did kind of put me to sleep - very soothing and somewhat monotonous voice - but she had really interesting things to say, especially in how we talk with/read to children and I'll be interested to incorporate some of her ideas, especially doing more matching and less identifying "this is red what else is red?" rather than "what color is this?"
 - During the lunch hour I checked out the vendor hall - they had a couple booths with puppets, toys, and the rest were things like the Registry and sponsors. Library exhibits are more fun lol.
 - Learning continues at home with Bev Schumaker - I was familiar with this person, she and her husband do learning games that many libraries circulate (I've got them in a list somewhere to add... sometime). This was super practical and useful, full of simple ideas for things parents and caregivers can take home to keep learning going. Lots of great recyclable ideas, things we can use for our activity table and/or in storytime.
 - Project Wild Child with Becky Bender and Sarah Nogee. Oh, how I wish our local kindergartens used this approach! These two amazing teachers take their early childhood and kindergarten classes out to the woods every Monday, rain, sun, or shine. So many wonderful experiences and ideas! I'm not sure how or if I can apply this to the library, but I'd certainly love for our outdoor garden space to be an exploratory space like theirs! Unfortunately, because it's right on a main road there are not only safety concerns but also issues with it looking "messy" since people drive by it. However, I really, really enjoyed this session.
 - Science it's electric by Karen Evans - this is a preschool teacher from Chicago who teachers her kids to make circuits and use electricity. It was hands on and I'm excited to see what I can incorporate into our programs - I think a maker kit for electricity and seeing if the kids can wire the dollhouses we make this summer for electricity would be a cool start...
 - Amazingly, I did NOT get lost leaving this time! I have no idea how, but somehow I magically ended up at the highway exit. So all's well that ends well.

In some ways this was very different from a library conference. It was much more structured - people signed up for sessions ahead of time and I am pretty sure you weren't supposed to change (rebel librarian here though...). The educators have a lot of different concerns - much more attention is paid to policy, regulations, etc. I also noticed that there wasn't as much of the same "sharing" culture as I usually see in library groups - people stuck to their own groups and although I chatted with a few people it wasn't anything like a library conference. Especially before and after sessions, most library conferences people naturally (in my experience) chat to their neighbors and introduce themselves, but that's apparently not a thing for this. I also didn't see many people exchanging ideas as I'm used to.

So, as I said at the beginning, some great presenters and I got good ideas, but I don't think I'll need a repeat visit. I'm certainly glad I went (although that's not how I felt at 6am in the morning after a long week...)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

This week at the library

Happening at the library
  • Monday
    • Discovery Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
    • Teen volunteer
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books
    • VIP Services volunteers
    • Teen volunteer
  • Wednesday
    • Book a librarian sewing
  • Thursday
  • Friday
    • Anime Club
    • Early Childhood Conference
  • Saturday
    • Early Childhood Conference
  • Worked 27.5 hours; 11.5 hours on desk; 3 programs
  • Two-day conference
Projects and Notes
  • Redoing signage for maker spaces - my associates have almost finished with this last-minute project. They are now the STEAM labs.
  • Bills, summer schedule for staff (first step - just putting in shifts)
  • Back to work on weeding projects.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Ingeniously Daring Chemistry: 24 experiments for young scientists by Sean Connolly

I had originally requested this book in the hope that it would have great ideas for easy, quick experiments I could do at the library. That didn't turn out to be the case BUT I did discover that it was a fun, interesting book that sparked ideas for me in other ways.

The book has a unique and interesting arrangement; it's set up around the periodic table. So readers learn about the properties of, say, nitrogen, its history and uses, and then there's a section of experiments based around the element. 20 elements are discussed, from sodium to oxygen, and a final chapter tackles the more dangerous elements - radium, arsenic, etc.

The experiments are all fairly simple - using vinegar and fluoride rinse to test the enamel on an egg, growing crystals, or making a potato clock. They're things that a typical middle-class household could do in their kitchen. However, most of them aren't things that would work well in a library setting; they are messy, take multiple hours or days to complete, or don't translate well to multiple kids. So, using it in a STEM program at the library is out.

However, it's a great book for at-home experiments; full of humor, history, cartoons, and science. It also sparked a lot of great ideas for me to have science demonstrations at the library! I'm going to combine this with another book I've looked at, Mason Jar Science, collect jars, and periodically set up experiments on a display! The kids can come in and see how they are progressing and we'll post updates on Facebook. That's the plan anyways.

Verdict: A great addition to your science experiment books and full of fun ideas to inspire experimentation.

ISBN: 9780761180104; Published October 2018 by Workman; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Klawde: Evil alien warlord cat and Enemies by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth


The story opens with the redoubtable tyrant, General Wyss-Kuzz, betrayed and sentenced to exile in a terrifying alien world... otherwise known as earth, specifically Elba, Oregon. He's not the only exile, although he's certainly the most outraged; Raj has been forced to move from his cool apartment in New York, his best friends, and handy pizza and comics. To add insult to injury, his parents sign him up for wilderness survival camp! On the bright side, he's just found a stray cat. That... can talk?

The chapters alternate between Wyss-Kuzz (or Klawde, as he is now known) and Raj. Klawde has many outraged pronouncements on the indignities visited upon him by the strange troll-creatures of earth, details his attempts to raise an army, and reluctantly admits his growing admiration for Raj. Ok, maybe "tolerance" is a better word. Raj, meanwhile, is exuberantly fond of his first-ever pet, and hopeful about the possibilities of making friends, although the weirder the camp counselor and other kids he meets get, the more nervous he is about survival night - especially since he's not sure he will survive!

The second title, Enemies, increases the parallels between Klawde and Raj. Klawde, betrayed by, well, he doesn't have friends so let's say a general previously thought to be loyal, and Raj, already unbalanced by attending a new school and now forced to meet an old "friend" who he had a huge fight with before leaving New York, are both off their game. Klawde works hard to battle an old enemy, recruit new soldiers and maintain their loyalty, and uphold the great traditions of his planet. Raj, on the other hand, alternates between anger and humiliation at his erstwhile friend's behavior and finally, just when he's decided to take the high ground and resist showing up his friend, Klawde plays an unexpected role. Both Raj and Klawde have unexpected, if not entirely happy, endings and the stage is set for another wacky adventure.

Spot illustrations in shades of blue and black show a scruffy, decidedly un-fluffy cat, the hapless Raj, and his motley crew of friends and enemies and they scramble their way through their adventures. It's not a beginning chapter book persay, more of a lower middle grade title. It will appeal to fluent readers in 2nd grade up to about 4th grade. Yes, the kids are in middle school but it's really written for a younger audience.

Verdict: This will appeal to readers who like Captain Underpants and Wimpy Kid-style humor, although Raj is a much nicer character and shows moral growth despite his somewhat difficult situations. Readers will need a fairly high tolerance for goofiness of the "Planet Lyttyrboks" style of humor. Hand this to readers who like Binky the space cat and Dragonbreath.

Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat
ISBN: 9781524787202
Klawde: Enemies
ISBN: 9781524787226

Published February 2019 by Penguin Workshop; Review copies provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Small Readers: King and Kayla and the case of Found Fred by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

The latest King and Kayla easy mystery throws a little foreshadowing, for readers in the know, about a lost dog.

King, a golden retriever, and Kayla, his sweet owner, both love to solve mysteries. The two are visiting Kayla's grandmother in the country, at a lake, when they find a cute white dog named Fred. Fred is lost and Kayla and her family think he's a stray - but King knows he's not really a stray, he just can't find his family! With King and Kayla both working on the case, they soon have Fred reunited with his family.

Meyers' cartoon illustrations show a perky set of dogs and carefully follow the steps Kayla takes to collect and organize her clues and solve the mystery. Kayla interacts with Fred to see if she can determine if he's a stray or not, finding that he knows several commands. She visits neighbors to see if anyone has seen Fred around or knows who owns him. Finally, with the nudging help of King, they set out on a trip across the lake and locate Fred's family, who are camping in the area.

This is a transitional easy reader, just right for kids who are in the process of moving from easy readers to early chapters. The story is complex enough to hold their interest but simple enough to allow them to spread some of their focus to the mechanics of reading. The layout is excellent, spreading pictures throughout the story that enhance the text and offer additional clues to the plot. An aspect I also appreciate in this series is seeing an African-American family in a suburban/rural setting, rather than an urban one.

Peachtree was recently purchased by a big company out of Shanghai and I was interested to see if there would be any changes, although the previous owner had said that it wouldn't affect the books published. The only difference I saw was a Chinese character on one of the blank pages - otherwise it's still the excellent series it's always been.

Verdict: This is a must-have series for your readers transitioning to chapter books and those who love mysteries and animals. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781682630525; Published March 2019 by Peachtree; F&G provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Not your nest! by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi

Any kid that is being forced to share will appreciate this mischievous story about a diligent little bird and the animals who keep appropriating her nests.

A small yellow bird is just finishing her perfect nest... when she discovers it has been co-opted by a hoopoe! "You can build another" he says. Slightly annoyed, the bird builds another from scratch... and a fox takes it! Another nest, built by an even more annoyed bird, gets taken over by a warthog! The story builds to a ridiculous scene with the tree full of nests and Bird loses it and evicts EVERYONE. Sadly, this destroys all her nests and when she looks miserably at the resulting chaos, saying "this WAS my nest" the animals feel guilty - and build a huge nest, just for her. Bird kindly invites them all to share the new nest, and in a last aside builds her own cozy little nest away from the snoring animals!

I felt like this was a different art style than the work I've seen before from Tsurumi; it still has that cartoon humor, but it's more sketchy and realistic and less of the minimal lines and figures of her other work. It's also one of my newest, favorite books and a hilarious take on the Little Red Hen, even if nobody besides me gets it. It always drives me crazy that most of the retellings take out the original ending and have her sharing, even though the animals did none of the work! The outraged bird and her charging buffalo was deeply satisfying - especially when the animals fixed their mistake and all ended happily! And the part where Bird gets her own nest in the end! I can't wait to add this one to my storytime repertoire and to my funny read-alouds that are kind of naughty list!

Verdict: A much more nuanced view of sharing, perfect for kindergarteners and some preschoolers who can think about sharing as more complex than just "give the other kid what they want because they asked." There's also the additional element of identifying the different animals! It's ridiculous, satisfying, and funny - all the things needed for the perfect storytime book.

ISBN: 9780735228276; Published March 2019 by Dial; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, April 8, 2019

Animal Antipodes by Carly Allen-Fletcher

This is a really interesting and unique animal book. The opening spread, showing a colorful earth against a dramatic black background, explains that antipodes are the opposite sides of the earth. Then the book jumps into various antipodes. The top half of the spread is divided from the bottom half by the text. On the left side of the page is the text that does with the top, then you turn the book upside-down to read the bottom-half.

Antipodes included are the North and South poles; the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Big Island of Hawaii; Desert National Park in India and Easter Island; Palembang, Indonesia and La Jagua, Huila, Colombia; Kaoh Nheaek, Cambodia and Machu Picchu, Peru; Lake Baikal, Siberia, and Monte Sarmiento, Chile; Xi'an, China and Santiago, Chile; Hong Kong and La Quiaca, Argentina; Whangarei, New Zealand and Tangier, Morocco; Yasawa, Fiji and Timbuktu, Mali; then readers arrive back at the North and South poles.

The final two spreads explain more about antipodes and the book, including showing how the light changes slightly in each image, how the solar system works, and the angle of the earth. A final spread encourages readers to find their own antipode, although it's probably in the ocean! The back endpapers are covered with sketches of the many different animals included. The art is glowing with color, almost as if each place is set in the heat of the desert or shimmering glow of the Northern lights. Some places contrast wet, dense jungles with arid deserts, high-rise cities with empty tundra, while others are very similar.

Verdict: A fascinating new way to look at habitats around the world as well as an introduction to earth science and the solar system. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781939547491; Published September 2018 by Creston; Borrowed from another library in my consortium