Saturday, June 29, 2019

This week at the library; or, Summer week 3

Set up for Tom Lichtenheld art program
Happening this week
  • My associate did brushbots - she added pompoms to stabilize them and it was a great idea.
  • I have nearly finished weeding the neighborhoods! All that's left now is to recatalog and relabel a couple sections, go through the 90+ books still checked out, and monitor to see if I need further shifting. Also, buy more shark, reptile, and dinosaur books.
  • I usually have 30+ people for marbling and I had barely 20. The sudden thunderstorm? I don't know. This summer is just so weird. Floods of people, and then suddenly nobody at all. The weather is kind of doing the same thing if it comes to that.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Disaster strikes! The most dangerous space missions of all time by Jeffrey Kluger

I love science and nonfiction, but, to be honest, I've never been interested in space exploration. However, lots of kids certainly are, and if one is invested in the CSLP summer 2019 theme (A Universe of Stories) all the space books are popular right now.

This chapter book details all the things that can - and did - go wrong on space missions from major, well-known disasters like the Challenger and Apollo 13 to disasters in the Russian space program and the astronaut who almost drowned - in outer space.

Each chapter is dedicated to a different mission and a different disaster. Kluger writes quick, breath-taking prose that includes the lead-up to the disaster, what went wrong, how the astronauts dealt with it, and the aftermath. When death results from the disaster, he writes respectfully and soberly, not giving graphic detail but reflecting on what went wrong and how astronauts are aware of the risks when they sign up.

Back matter includes an author's note, which details his sources, glossary, and index. Each chapter starts with a black and white photo.

Verdict: You'll need readers willing to pick up a book that's all text, although it's not at all dense, but strong readers, especially those who like historical disaster stories (I Survived, Lost, etc.) should be willing to dive into this book, especially as they can sample it chapter by chapter. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781984812759; Published May 2019 by Philomel; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Frankie Sparks and the class pet by Megan Frazer Blakemore, illustrated by Nadja Sarell

Frankie loves science and research and she's always got lots of ideas! So why won't her teacher and friends listen to her when she decides the best pet for their classroom is a rat?

The story begins with Frankie barely able to contain her excitement to share what she did over the weekend - visit her aunt, a rodentologist at a nearby university. She learned so many exciting and interesting things about rodents and especially about rats, that she just can't wait to tell everyone!

When their teacher, Ms. Cupid, tells them her exciting news - they are getting a class pet - Frankie knows the perfect pet would be a rat! She hardly listens to their teacher tell them the rules and limitations and the next day she's ready to get that rat, but Ms. Cupid just won't let her go ahead.

With the gentle guidance of adults, from her teacher to her parents to her aunt, Frankie slows down, does her research correctly, and even figures out a clever way to feed the rat over the weekend. But can Frankie figure out a way to convince her best friend, Maya, that a rat makes a good pet? And can Frankie get her rat and be a good friend too?

It's easy to see that Blakemore has actual school experience; one of my perennial complaints is books that show unrealistically small class sizes and this once clearly states there are 20+ kids in Frankie's class. I also appreciated that Frankie is good at making things and doing research, but struggles with actual reading and writing and readers can see how her teacher and parents help her work on those skills. Frankie's enthusiasm, which leads her to hurt her friends' feelings and sometimes overpower her, and other students, is dealt with kindly but firmly by adults and on top of this being a funny, interesting story it would make a great classroom read to talk about empathy and listening to other people.

Verdict: At just over 120 pages, this is perfect for chapter readers who can't yet handle the heftier books but still want something that doesn't talk down to them. Teachers and parents will appreciate the problem-solving suggestions included in the book and the back matter, and kids will see themselves and their friends in the light-hearted story of scientific - and personal - problems. With a diverse, realistic classroom and a main character of color, this book hits all the high points and is sure to be a popular acquisition for your library.

ISBN: 9781534430433; Published June 2019 by Aladdin; ARC provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The whole wide world and me by Toni Yuly

I feel like it's getting harder and harder to find picture books that are truly aimed at toddlers, not preschoolers or grade school children. Something simple that really little kids can enjoy and appreciate in storytime. One of the authors I depend on is Toni Yuly and her new book does not disappoint.

Simple illustrations in collage, charcoal, and digital collage show the big and small, all part of the world. The spreads show a dandelion, fish, and cloud first large and then on the following page small in relation to the unnamed girl. The second half of the book shows the the girl creating actions - rolling like a pebble down the mountain, splashing like a wave, and floating like a leaf. On the final spreads, the girl celebrates that she is a small and a big part of the whole world she sees around her.

Yuly's illustrations are bright and colorful, simple with just a few tiny details, like a ladybug, to find. Vibrant greens, soothing blues, and spiky yellow dandelions are spread through the book, with simple actions performed by a girl with straight black hair, pale skin, and a purple skirt, shirt, and green boots.

This would be a great storytime choice for toddlers, the simple language and bright collage illustrations catching and holding their interest. They can search for the little ladybug that appears throughout the story and identify simple parts of nature. Toddlers will also be great at trying out the different actions, floating, rolling, wiggling like a fish, and more. For older kids, pair this with other concept books like Anna Kang's You are (not) small and Henry Cole's Big Bug for a storytime on size and perspective.

Verdict: The clean lines and joyful, minimal language will make this a storytime staple for many ages. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763692636; Published February 2019 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, June 24, 2019

Hair: Animal fur, wool, and more by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Julie Colombet

A perky hoopoe and droopy sheepdog narrate this informational and fun book about that furry stuff that grows on all mammals. Yep, even dolphins!

Starting with babies and the hair they're born with, the book moves into the different kinds of fur worn by animals, its purpose, and how it varies from creature to creature. Genes, camouflage, patterns, and scent, all this and more are covered. Singer touches lightly on puberty, "You will grow more hair on various parts of your body." and how hair texture and color are passed along to children. She ends with a celebration of the many unique types of hair, some additional facts, and back matter.

The illustrations are a mix of photographs, patterned backgrounds mimicking different kinds of fur, and cartoons of animals passing along facts or making jokes. Although this is laid out in picture book format, it's actually quite a complex book, ideal for handing to strong readers in the younger middle grade age group. Add this to units on studying the human body, animals, or for kids who like interesting nonfiction.

Verdict: Pair this with Nicola Davies' What's eating you, Maris Wicks' Human Body Theater, and Nancy Castaldo's Beastly Brains for kids interested in learning more about the marvelous human body and how we fit into the world around us.

ISBN: 9781512449150; Published January 2019 by Milbrook/Lerner; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, June 22, 2019

This week at the library; or, Summer week 2

What's Happening This Week
This is what happens if you ask my awesome library kids
if they like snakes!
  • Weather continues unseasonably cold, and we are swamped, even with summer school starting this week.
  • Note to self, do not plan involved maker workshop after snakes. Must have extra time for playing with snake friends. Didn't get any lunch, but had excellent programs.
  • The weather is not cooperating, had to move kindergarten field trip to the school.
  • On Thursday everyone suddenly disappeared and only about 15 people dropped in for chalk and bubbles. But I didn't have time/materials as planned out as I want so it was just as well. The kids who came had fun mixing salt and chalk, alka-seltzer, and playing with bubbles.
  • Snakes and 80 kindergarteners seemed like a good idea earlier in the summer... they were reasonably calm and enjoyed touching everything, especially the super-chill guinea pig. Note to self - select larger child to hold the skink next time, I think it's been dropped (or gotten close to it) every time. Nobody showed for the art program - turned out there were a couple families in the library who didn't realize it was across the hall and the school that was scheduled to come didn't get their bus fixed in time. One family came and enjoyed watercolors and took all the books home to read! Also just as well b/c the schedule had gotten crossed and we had to turn the room over super quick for an author visit.
  • Left my associate in charge of teens after hours and all 20+ teens seemed to be having a reasonable amount of more-or-less safe fun. There's a D&D program tomorrow that my associate is helping with, but I'm done!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Sea Sirens: A Trot and Cap'n Bill Adventure by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee, inspired by L. Frank Baum

I am an unrepentant Oz fan, so I was really excited to see a graphic novel inspired by one of his lesser-known characters, Trot, and her adventure The Sea Fairies. I thoroughly enjoyed it but... I find it very difficult to decide how to review it, especially for non-Oz fans.

So, in the original story, Trot (it's a nickname) is a little girl who lives by the ocean with her mother and a retired sea captain, Cap'n Bill. She has several adventures in strange places, sometimes accompanied by a little boy from Philadelphia named Button Bright, and eventually she and Cap'n Bill become citizens of Oz (her mother kind of fades out of the picture). In The Sea Fairies, she and Cap'n Bill are caught in a storm and think they will drown, but are rescued by mermaids, or sea fairies, who introduce them to the wonders of the ocean, including the marvelous sea serpent King Anko and the wicked Zog the Magician, whom they eventually defeat, leaving a human boy who's been adapted to live underwater and Cap'n Bill's long-lost brother to take over his kingdom.

In the graphic novel, Trot is a thoroughly modern Vietnamese-American girl who, with her cat Cap'n Bill, loves to surf. When her grandfather, who is suffering from dementia, has an accident, her busy mother restricts them both to the house but Trot sneaks out anyways and she and Cap'n Bill are caught up in a massive wave. They are saved from drowning by the Sea Sirens, who are in a great battle with the wicked Serpents, led by King Anko. After many small adventures, some sympathetic discussions with the Siren princess who also has difficulties with her mother, and the discovery of her grandfather who is also underwater, Trot and Cap'n Bill (who can talk thanks to the Sea Sirens) discover that the evil King Anko is actually just a boy, saved from drowning long ago and taking over from the original King Anko. He's not trying to attack the mermaids, he just wants games and interesting artifacts from the surface world. Having reconciled the two nations, Trot, Cap'n Bill, and her grandfather are rescued and, after reassuring her mother, imagine the future adventures they might have.

The art is lush and lovely, a thoroughly modern take that still pays homage to John R. Neill's work with elaborate hairdos, rich undersea life, and plump-cheeked children exploring the underwater world. The whole book retains the flavor of the original, with the slightly didactic air of Oz titles, the richly imagined fantasy worlds, and the cheerful optimism of the characters, even when things seem at their worst. The question is, will kids appreciate this? Or will they even notice? My guess is that, unless they know the original, they will miss pretty much all the references to it and, while they may find the book as a whole slightly odd, since it retains that 19th century flavor, the gorgeous art, humor, and interesting characters will hold their interest.

Verdict: I'd say to purchase if you have Oz fans, but it's unlikely that you do; rather, purchase for mermaid and graphic novel fans. This may not be an absolute necessity, but it's sure to find an audience and I look forward to additional titles in what promises to be a series.

ISBN: 9780451480163; Published June 2019 by Viking Children's Books; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bea Garcia: The tree and me by Deborah Zemke

My ultimate conclusion about the Bea Garcia books is that they're great books, kids love them, I'm happy to buy them, but they annoy the heck out of me!

In her fourth adventure, Bea is going along with her normal life, navigating her friendship with super-smart but socially awkward Judith Einstein, ignoring horrible Bert, her next-door neighbor, and hanging out at the 250-year-old oak tree in their playground. But when Bert climbs the tree and throws acorns at them all - and then gets stuck - an interfering member of the school board says they have to cut it down for safety reasons! Bea and her friends are devastated, but working together with science, poetry, and art, they save "Emily" their tree. On a trip to the national forest, even Bert gets interested in trees when he meets a pileated woodpecker that looks just like a pterodactyl to him! To placate the school board, a fence is put up around the tree, but they decorate the fence and are satisfied that they've saved their friend. Sketches, doodles, and panels sprinkle the book and make this the perfect choice for young readers who aren't ready for middle grade notebook novels yet.

I can totally see this happening - but it still annoys me! Kids SHOULD be able to climb trees without it turning into a giant production, and although Bea is definitely prejudiced against Bert, he also constantly harasses her and her friends with little to no consequences. So, as I said, these are great books but I want them to end differently! It's ridiculous that they "saved" their tree, only to have to put a fence around it and that Bert continues to constantly disrupt their activities and basically runs the classroom. Alas, this is the real world and most kids will recognize their own classrooms and classmates in this story.

Verdict: My own biases aside, this is a fun series that kids love, with copious illustrations and a gentle, humorous message. Recommended for 1st through 3rd grade.

ISBN: 9780735229419; Published May 2019 by Dial Books for Young Readers; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Small Readers: Sparkly new friends by Heather Ayris Burnell, illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla

This is one of the new Acorn readers from Scholastic. The Branches books, meant to be a branch from easy reader to chapter book, have been a huge success with my readers. Kids up to 5th grade devour Dragon Masters, Notebook of Doom, and Owl Diaries, among others. This new line is meant to hit that spot right between early leveled readers and beginning chapter books, where you'd find, say, Frog and Toad, Henry and Mudge, etc. In fact, some of the series coming out later are actually remade from easy reader series like Rylant's Poppleton.

I sampled a couple books from the series and first I'm looking at Unicorn and Yet. The first book, Sparkly new friends, introduces Unicorn who is pink, has a rainbow mane, can fly, and is, well, sparkly. Yeti is big and fluffy and... not so sparkly. Or is he? When Unicorn sees something sparkling, he flies down to investigate and discovers Yeti. By crashing into him. Yeti wishes he was sparkly and Unicorn decides to convince him that he - and the snow - do have sparkles! In the second and third chapters, their friendship continues as they discover things that are different and the same about each other and learn more about their different abilities.

The pictures are cute and colorful; Yeti has a male pronoun at the end of the book but I didn't see one for Unicorn so I've decided he's a boy because I was annoyed that they defaulted to Yeti as male. Lots of sparkles, pastel colors, and little cartoon figures dot the pages. The book is laid out like a comic book, with different colored word balloons (Unicorn is orange and Yeti is purple) and a mixture of panels and full-page illustrations. 

They are calling them early readers, but after due consideration I have decided to put them in with beginning chapter books. Physically, the books are smaller than a Branches book - about 7x5 inches - and 56 pages long. They include a drawing tutorial and an encouragement to tell your own story in the back. Most Branches books are a 400-500 lexile and these seem to be coming in at a 300-400. More generally, I've found that kids are being pushed to read younger but are falling behind and losing interest earlier. Having an easy series in with the beginning chapter books will attract both younger and older readers.

Verdict: With a unicorn and Scholastic's track record of success with Branches, there's no argument that this is a necessary purchase. The only decision is the best spot to put them and how many copies to purchase.

ISBN: 9781338329018; Published April 2019 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Hannah Marks

A delightfully roly-poly panda wreaks hilarious havoc in the latest addition to the popular genre of books bending the traditional picture book narrative.

The story begins, like all stories do, with a problem. But wait! This panda has no problem. No problem? How can there be a story with no problem? A hilarious conversation ensues between the increasingly exasperated narrator and the cheerfully indifferent panda, munching away on bamboo, as the narrator tries to get the story going and the panda just. won't. cooperate! But wait, the panda has an idea! Maybe the problem in this book... is the panda! What if the panda a banjo? Chaos ensues until suddenly the panda (and the panda's double) DO have a real problem - they're hungry! A bargain is struck and the story comes to its silly and satisfying conclusion.

Hannah Marks produces an excellent illustrator debut with her mischievous panda and ensuing problems. From the innocently pleased panda in a leafy bower of bamboo to the chaos of jellybeans, banjos, aliens, and penguins, Marks' sweet cartoons will keep kids laughing as they blend perfectly with Underwood's exasperated prose.

Verdict: This is a delightful addition to picture books breaking the fourth wall; Read for a riotous storytime and listen to the growing giggles of your audience as they follow the wacky adventures of this naughty panda. I've read this to about 600 kids before school ended and all universally acclaimed it!

ISBN: 9780735228504; Published April 2019 by Dial Books; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, June 17, 2019

20 recipes kids should know by Esme Washburn, photographs by Calista Washburn

I think this is the first kids' cookbook that teaches you how to cook steak! Come to think of it, I've never cooked steak... It's created by two sisters, ages 12 and 17 (the younger wrote it and tested the recipes and the older took the photographs). I'm always interested in the newer type of kids' cookbook that teaches real cooking skills, and this is a fun addition to that genre.

The introduction covers measurements, safety, and a glossary of commonly used cooking terms. Each recipe is introduced with a little story from the author. The recipes are pancakes, banana bread, omelets, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, black bean soup, hummus, salad and dressing, breaded chicken, steak, pizza (including the crust), pasta with tomato sauce or pesto (including making the pasta), mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, strawberry shortcake, apple pie, bread, and popovers.

As you can see there's a wide variety in the recipes, from simple (grilled cheese sandwiches) to more time-consuming and complex (pasta and bread by hand). Each recipe has a mouth-watering photo, clear list of prep time, ingredients, and directions. The book itself is an over-sized hardcover with colorful text and information about and photos of the authors in the back.

Verdict: I don't know that I'd agree that every kid needs to know how to cook these specific recipes, but they do include a nice variety, in ingredients, cost and tastes, and paired with a book that teaches more specific cooking skills, like my favorite How to cook in 10 easy lessons, this is a great resource to encourage kids to try some cooking on their own.

ISBN: 9783791385075; Published April 2019 by Prestel; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Saturday, June 15, 2019

This week at the library; or, First week of summer

Some of the 30 people who came to our Eric Carle art
program - cutting up their paintings after storytime to
make collages.
Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Outdoor Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • Box Build
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Open Storyroom
  • Friday
  • Worked 41 hours; 18 hours on desk; 5 programs
  • Worked 2 hours at home finishing emails and program plans for next week
  • Summer Reading: Approximately 300 kids signed up for summer reading, about 200 activity bags given out.
  • Headstart came to the Box Build - I think they brought about 20? people. My staff brought up massive amounts of cardboard from the basement and I had tons of masking tape, duct tape, regular scissors, markers, kitchen shears, xacto knives, and hot glue. We had a lot of cardboard left over, mostly because I had acquired way too many couch boxes earlier this year, but the kids had a lot of fun and we eventually got it all out to the recycling dumpster.
  • Updated all my field trips from the last few weeks to be ready for next year.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Becket List by Adele Griffin

Starting with changing her name to Becket, the middle Branch is ready for the country! Her older sister and younger brother aren't so enthusiastic, but Becket is sure that if she follows her "Becket List" for "How to be a Country Kid" she'll succeed in her goals of making a new best friend and getting a younger, just-right-for-the-country dog.

Of course, nothing goes the way she has planned. The new best friend she thinks she's found doesn't like her, her enthusiasm at camp is misunderstood and everyone thinks she's snobby, and her little brother, who she was all ready to help get over his many fears and issues, is settling in much more easily than she does! As she tries to earn money, makes mistakes, and slowly settles in herself, she finds that there are positive and negative aspects of her new life, just like her old life, and that as long as she keeps trying she'll eventually succeed.

Line drawings by LeUyen Pham show an exuberant girl who goes headlong at life and sometimes trips along the way. She's white with lots of freckles; their old friends from the city, the Fairs, are black. The girl she hopes to make her new best friend is black. Fair warning - the dog dies at the end. It's not traumatic and clearly expected throughout the book, as the dog is an ancient, wheezy pug who clearly is coming to the end of his lifespan.

At just 200 pages, this is a welcome addition to chapter books for younger middle grade readers, specifically 3rd and 4th graders. Becket is a relatable character, even if her readers haven't moved from the city to the country. She's putting her best face on a difficult change and she makes mistakes, missteps, and bad choices like every other kid. Her family is always there to back her up and help her out, but they give her a chance to assert her independence and make mistakes as well.

Verdict: This is a great choice for readers who are facing big changes in their lives or who are ready to move on to more independence and need reassurance that, although mistakes can happen, things will work out in the end. The death of the dog at the end of the story is a quiet ending, surrounded by family, and leaves the way open for more stories about Blackberry Farm.

ISBN: 9781616207908; Published April 2019 by Algonquin; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Small Readers: Hello, Crabby! by Jonathan Fenske

Acorn books is Scholastic's new easy reader series, a step between leveled readers and the Branches books, which are a step before chapter books. Some of the Acorn books are new and some will feature familiar easy reader characters like Pilkey's Dragon and Rylant's Poppleton.

I have been eagerly waiting for Fenske's contribution to this new line - kids love his silly easy readers like the nut series and his picture books. Fans of Barnacle is bored and Plankton is pushy will be delighted to see all his ocean critters joining a new character for this series; Crabby.

Crabby, a grouchy red character with lowering eyebrows and a determined frown, is having his usual crabby day. He meets Barnacle, "He is always hanging around" and gets sloshed by a wave. But the real fun (or frown) doesn't begin until he meets pushy Plankton. Plankton is determined to get a smile out of Crabby. He tries jokes, introducing him to some not-so-crabby crabs, and even baking a fantastic cake. Will Crabby get over his crabby mood? Or is he just meant to be crabby?

The deadpan humor of Fenske's other books is here in full force and will have kids who appreciate the more subtle jokes laughing hysterically as they read the goofy story. I am curious as to how long it can be sustained as a series - does Crabby have enough dimension to have more books with three chapters each? But I have faith that Fenske will make them funny, whatever happens.

Verdict: There's no doubt that Acorn is going to be a hit in libraries, schools, and homes. The only question is how many copies you'll need to buy for your Barnacle and Plankton fans.

ISBN: 9781338281507; Published April 2019 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Noah builds an ark by Kate Banks, illustrated by John Rocco

This contemporary retelling of the classical Bible story, depicts a sensitive boy who cares deeply for all the creatures around him.

The story begins with Noah, a boy with curly dark hair and brown skin, peeping over the fence to see a storm coming down the hill in his city. As his parents prepare the house for the storm, boarding up windows, getting out candles, and stockpiling food, Noah prepares his small friends for the storm. He creates a roof for the bed of an old wagon and fills it with food, miniature furniture, a flashlight, and other comforts. When the storm hits, Noah and his family are safe in their home; and his small friends are safe in their ark. Hummingbirds, salamanders, snakes, spiders, grasshoppers, and toads all weather the storm in safety within their ark. The creatures hiss, buzz, and sing while the family in their house tell stories; they nibble on snacks, curl up for bed, and when the storm is over emerge to see the glorious rainbow and fill Noah's yard with life one more.

Banks' pictures were created in pencil and watercolor and rendered digitally; they show a glow of light in the sky and on Noah's skin, the gathering storm clouds, and the individual personalities of each little creature as they wait for the storm to end. The rising waters, dark sky, and anxious families waiting to see if they make it through the storm are shadowed in grays and the joyful return to the world at the end shines with all the colors of the rainbow.

There are many layers and possibilities for this book; readers familiar with the Biblical story can discuss the parallels and differences and look at the book from a religious perspective as both Noah and his parents care for those under their protection. Readers unfamiliar with the story or approaching it from a non-religious viewpoint can discuss how Noah cares for the wildlife in his home and what things they can do to help their own backyard creatures. All readers can enjoy this imaginative, warm story for its lovely text and rich art.

Verdict: A strong addition to any library, this is a great choice for a preschool or older storytime, one-on-one reading, or retelling traditional stories.

ISBN: 9780763674847; Published March 2019 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, June 10, 2019

Just right: Searching for the Goldilocks planet by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Jessica Lanan

An African-American girl looks out her window, dreaming of what's in the sky... and the book segues into an exploration of the search for exoplanets and the science surrounding space and the stars. The book alternates between nonfiction and fiction, introducing astronomers and scientists of the past and analyzing what makes a planet habitable - and for what type of life forms and then switching to the girl and her sister and parents visiting a museum an exploring these concepts and questions further.

There is back matter, including an extension of the science behind finding exoplanets and more information on carbon-based life forms as well as a list of further reading and resources. The book is written simply, in a way that young children can understand, but also offers room for older readers to investigate the concepts further and think more deeply about the subject.

Lanan's watercolors show a realistic picture of a family exploring the wonders of science as well as imagining galaxies and planets beyond our reach. Smaller sections of text explore some concepts in more depth although they can sometimes be hard to decipher against the colored backgrounds.

Verdict: Whether or not you're adding to your space titles, this is a strong selection that not only explores a fascinating topic but encourages creative thinking and scientific questioning.

ISBN: 9781250155337; Published January 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Sunday, June 9, 2019

RA RA Read: Is there a book about...

I have mixed feelings about bibliotherapy. On the one hand, picture books on difficult topics can give caregivers a helping hand in dealing with said topics. On the other, I am personally skeptical of them really having an effect on the kids themselves. Be that as it may, I do get asked a lot for books on specific "issues" and this is the list I have so far. I have a separate list of books on divorced and blended families and all of the titles here are stories, not books specifically aimed at issues. Specific issue books are in our Parenting collection.

  • Adoption
    • My new mom and me by Renata Galindo
    • Orange Peel’s Pocket by Rose Lewis
    • Best family in the world by Susana Lopez
    • Most unusual day by Sydra Mallery
    • Goyangi means cat by McDonnell
  • Biracial families
    • Spork by Kyo Maclear
  • New Baby
    • Double trouble by Atinuke
    • There's going to be a baby by John Burningham
    • Mooshka by Julie Paschkis
    • Phoebe and Digger by Tricia Springstubb
  • Siblings
    • Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall
    • Big red lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
  • Single father (or sole interactions with father)
    • Hammer and nails by Josh Bledsoe
    • Rory the dinosaur by Liz Climo
  • Single mother
    • Two is enough by Janna Matthies
  • Dealing with Emotions
    • When Sophie gets angry by Molly Bang
    • Jar of happiness by Ailsa Burrows
    • Llama llama mad at mama by Anna Dewdney
    • The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
    • Taming of Lola by Ellen Weiss
  • Grief and Death - animals
    • Big cat, little cat by Elisha Cooper
    • City dog, country frog by Mo Willems
  • Separation Anxiety
    • Llama Llama misses mama by Anna Dewdney
    • Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney
    • No more blanket for Lambkin by Bernette Ford
    • I want my pacifier by Tony Ross
    • No babysitters allowed by Amber Stewart
Growing Up
  • Bedtime Issues
    • Your own big bed by Rita Bergstein
      • Moving from a crib to a regular bed
    • Back to bed, Ed! By Sebastien Braun
      • Staying in bed
    • Llama Llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney
    • I don’t want to go to bed by Tony Ross
    • Jake stays awake by Michael Wright
  • Being Sick
    • Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker
    • Llama Llama home with mama by Anna Dewdney
    • Bear feels sick by Karma Wilson
  • Healthy Eating (Picky Eaters)
    • Monsters don’t eat broccoli by Barbara Hicks (out of print)
    • Bread and jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
    • Soup Day by Melissa Iwai
  • Moving
    • Before I leave by Jessixa Baxley
  • Potty training
    • Saddest toilet in the world by Sam Apple
    • Dinosaur vs. the potty by Bob Shea
  • Sharing and Playing Together
    • I’m the best by Lucy Cousins
    • Llama Llama time to share by Anna Dewdney
    • Tea party rules by Ame Dyckman
School and socialization
  • Bullying
    • Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
    • Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney
    • Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully by Julianne Moore
    • Stand tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
    • Dixie and the big bully by Grace Gilman
    • Trudy Ludwig (author)
  • Social Interactions
    • Plankton is pushy by Jonathan Fenske
    • Invisible boy by Trudy Ludwig
    • Kindergators: Hands off Harry by Rosemary Wells
    • Kindergators: Miracle Melts down by Rosemary Wells
  • Tolerance, diversity
    • There's a cat in our class by Jeanie Ransom
Other Issues and Subjects
  • Allergies and food issues
    • Jake goes peanuts by Michael Wright
  • Biting
    • No more biting for Billy Goat by Bernadette Ford
    • Teeth are not for biting by Elizabeth Verdick
  • Children with physical disabilities
    • Snow rabbit by Camille Garoche
  • Lice and bedbugs
    • Barnaby the bedbug behavior by Catherine Stier
    • Bugs in my hair by David Shannon
  • Poverty and social issues
    • Bike like Sergio's by Maribeth Boelts
  • Vision issues
    • Pirate of kindergarten by George Lyon
    • I can see just fine by Eric Barclay
Updated 5-19

Saturday, June 8, 2019

This week at the library; or, Last week of field trips. Summer looms.

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Paws to read
    • Managers' meeting
    • New employee training
  • Tuesday
    • Kindergarten field trip (3 classes)
    • Fourth grade field trip (4 classes)
    • 2nd grade field trip (1 class)
    • Teen sewing club
  • Wednesday
    • Tibbets school visit (5 grades)
    • Fourth grade field trip (4 classes)
  • Thursday (last day of school)
    • 1st grade field trip (4 classes)
    • 3rd grade school visit (4 classes)
  • Friday
    • Free lego build
    • Usborne book sale
  • Saturday
    • Blast off to summer reading
    • Usborne book sale
    • In-person summer reading registration for all ages begins
  • Worked 33 hours; 10 hours on desk; 9 programs (approximately 650 kids)
  • Worked at home on collection development for several hours
  • Tuesdays 4th grade field trip was rained out - had to haul all the books over to the school. Just as well, since we forgot to put up the Pac-man maze the night before and it wasn't ready!
  • Wednesday went well... except for my somehow frying the scanner the night before, the a/c in the library being out, and only 1 kid remembering their library card! But for a first year of doing remote check-outs it was very successful and we checked out LOTS of books!
  • Last visits on Thursday - writing up all the things I need to remember to adjust next year.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Missing by Brenda Z. Guiberson

I'm more familiar with Guiberson as an author of nonfiction picture books; this is her first upper-level nonfiction title I've read.

Starting with the disappearance of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975, Guiberson works back through history covering the disappearances of D. B. Cooper, hijacker in 1971, author and eccentric Barbara Follett in 1939, Amelia Earhart, William Morgan, who threatened to publish Mason secrets in 1826, and the princes in the Tower of London circa 1483.

Each chapter presents a narrative of the disappearance, information about the history and personalities leading up to the disappearance, and speculation and effects. The book is illustrated with black and white photographs and black and white line drawings, which to me had an outdated look. There is a bibliography organized by chapter and index.

I'm not much interested in the topic, so it's hard for me to judge how well-known these people, other than Amelia Earhart, would be. I'm pretty sure no young readers have ever heard of Barbara Follett or William Morgan and probably won't be particularly interested in these people. Jimmy Hoffa and D. B. Cooper are a little more current and might elicit more interest, while history buffs will enjoy the introduction to the princes and the continued speculation about their fate.

Verdict: I don't think this will have a wide audience. It's an interesting topic, but the black and white photos and sketches don't add much interest and the random assortment of subjects limits the appeal. An additional purchase for high-level readers.

ISBN: 9781250133403; Published February 2019 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Weird animals by Mary Kay Carson

There are plenty of books about weird or odd-looking animals, but you can never have too many - and this is a great addition to the subject.

Illustrated with bold, eye-catching photographs, each page covers a different animal with some taking up an entire spread. An opening sentence describes some of the creature's oddities, pointed out with colored arrows that match the words. Readers are invited to examine and consider the reasons behind the animals' features before reading the explanation. The sea pig's sentence reads, "What is this eyeless creature? Does it even have a mouth or legs? Colored arrows point to the sea pig's soft feet that move it across the ocean floor, long tentacles that take the place of eyes, sensing food in the dark ocean, and grabbing tentacles around its mouth. Back matter consists of a glossary and index.

Not all the photographs are completely clear and there is a certain element of "look how gross/weird/freaky this creature is" which I like to avoid, but I liked the way Carson shows how the different features are useful in the animals' survival.

Verdict: While this can't measure up to titles like Jess Keating's Pink is for Blobfish and Melissa Stewart's Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers, it's a great additional collection for younger readers to browse and giggle over and the cover is sure to have it flying off the shelf in no time.

ISBN: 9781454929673; Published January 2019 by Sterling; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

B is for Baby by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

This joyful celebration of a mischievous toddler takes place in a bustling, African market. Each page of the has a different word starting with B and the colorful pictures advance the story. It starts with splashing, vibrant red patterns on the end pages and then the first spread shows a plump, cheerful baby playing with her own toes. "B is for baby." says the bold text. B is for beads, which are added to the baby's hair, then a basket, where she finds bananas and tumbles in to eat her breakfast. When her brother appears, jamming out to tunes on his headphones, he loads the basket up to go see Baba without checking and the baby is off on an adventure! Along the way the baby and brother marvel at butterflies, birds, baobabs, and baboons and they all get a surprise when they get to Baba's house! The story repeats in reverse on the last spread, showing the boy returning home with his sister and ending with him smiling on as her mother gives her a hug.

Brooksbank's soft pictures show a landscape with reds, browns, greens, and blues. Busy buses, animals, and people zip around, but sometimes the siblings ride quietly through the fields, looking at the sights as they go. The mixed media illustrations are clear enough for small children to identify the bike, bus, bananas, and other items but have a gentle, fuzzy edge that not only gives an impression of the sleepy heat of the day but also of a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

There's a nice balance of familiar and new for toddlers and preschoolers here. The images of African village life are specific enough to not be stereotyped; the mother, grandfather, brother, and baby all have distinct personalities and attitudes. However, it's still general enough not to overwhelm my young audience whose only knowledge of Africa is usually watching Lion King. The words range from "beautiful," "bananas," and "butterfly," to "baboon," "bougainvillea," and "bungalow," adding some interesting new vocabulary.

Verdict: A sweet choice for storytime for toddlers up through preschoolers. Expand the story by finding other things that start with B in the book (there's one!) or in the room. Encourage older children to make their own stories that start with one letter.

ISBN: 9781536201666: Published March 2019 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

I can only draw worms by Will Mabbitt

This raucous and ridiculous book joins other silly read-alouds, like the ever-popular Book with no pictures for a fun, silly adventure. The opening page, in eye-searing neon pink, explains that this is a book about worms. Because the creator can only draw worms. The story progresses from there, trying to count the worms, but they're, well, worms. He loses his pen and has to draw different colors, imagines wonderful adventures that he... can't draw, and finally illustrates a horrible accident when a worm... gets cut in half. Finally, the last page shows a full spread of all ten worms, plus worm eight and eight-and-a-half (cutting a worm in half does NOT give you two worms).

The neon pink and yellow worms, striped with bold black, stretch out against sharp white and black pages with a few yellow and pink pages thrown in. It's a simple story, but one that older children, who can pick up on the subtle humor, will demand to hear again and again. Pair with creative, drawing, or silly books for a ridiculous storytime.

Verdict: An additional purchase, but a fun one! I've been reading this to all my pre-summer field trips and it's a hit!

ISBN: 9781524788223; Published March 2019 by Penguin Workshop; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, June 3, 2019

Mapping Sam by Joyce Hesselberth

Once you move beyond the simple concept of counting, getting math books for young children right is very tricky. Hesselberth uses a wandering cat to demonstrate principles of napping. Sam takes off for a night on the town, after seeing her family (two black-haired children) into bed. The first part of Sam's journey goes around her house and the neighbor's house. The book pauses to show how to demonstrate this on a map, along with a compass for direction and a simple scale for distance.

Then Hesselberth shows other things that can be mapped - Sam's body, including organs and limbs, an instructional map is included (it has a complex color scheme that isn't explained, but maps have always confused me...). Other things that can be mapped are the parts of a flower, the depths of a pond, or something as small as a water molecule. Things as big as the solar system are included as well - each one related back to Sam and her nightly journeys. Sam returns home through the neighborhood and the story ends on a light note, suggesting that the reader try mapping Sam's dreams.

Hesselberth's colorful, geometric illustrations remind me a little of Michael Hall, but the layered colors and textures are all her own. Sam is an eye-popping orange cat who stands out well against the soft, dark hues of the night she wanders through.

Back matter includes thumbnails of the different maps and explaining each one. Ah ha! The color-coded map is a transportation map with routes. It's been... a long time since I used public transportation... it also explains blueprints, constellation charts, and more.

Verdict: Add this one to your mapping books; a great start for a program, class study, or just to read for fun.

ISBN: 9780062741226; Published October 2018 by Greenwillow; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Sunday, June 2, 2019

RA RA READ: Interactive Picture Books

Interactive picture books are extremely popular in my library; at storytime, with the parents, with preschool teachers, and of course with the kids themselves! I've been tagging them in my LibraryThing for a while and now I'd like to share some with you. These are the ones I use most often in storytime and to the greatest effect.

There are many, many more interactive books - and many books you can make interactive just by how you use them in storytime! Please share your favorites in the comments.

  • Silvia Borando
    • This is the main author for Minibombo books, a small, Italian imprint. They have quirky and unique books that are delightful storytime reads. Some of our favorites are Shapes, Reshape! and Open up, please! The newest title, Shake the tree has also been a hit.
  • Nicola Davies
    • What happens next, Who's like me, what will I be
    • These lift the flap books are my top go-to nonfiction titles, especially Who's Like Me which teaches the difference between mammals, amphibians, reptiles, etc. There are enough flaps for a large class to take turns lifting and looking but be prepared to spend a loooooong time discussing these. I usually set aside at least 10 minutes and you can easily spend an entire storytime just one one of these books.
  • Ed Emberley
    • Go away big green monster; If you're a monster and you know it
    • I actually have a puppet that goes with Big Green Monster. I have used it to great effect with special education students - teen age, preschool developmental level. I get them all to make "go away" motions and say with me "go away" as I read the book. The second title is a fun singing book - get everyone standing and clapping their claws!
  • Edward Gibbs
    • I spy series
    • These are very simple - there is a question with a clue and a hole in the page gives you a hint as to the animal. These work best with toddlers and younger preschoolers as they're too easy for the older kids. They are mostly out of print, but sometimes available as board books.
  • Christie Matheson
    • Starting with Tap the magic tree, a marvelous fall-themed take on Press Here, Matheson wrote several titles with nature themes.
  • Nicola O'Byrne
    • Sometimes written with a co-author, O'Byrne has created a series of interactive books that are both funny and clever. Open very carefully, a book with bite started the series and the latest is What's next door?
  • Jessica Young
    • Only two stories so far, Pet this book and Play this book but both are excellent and I expect more in the series!
Individual titles
  • Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett
    • This works best with older children (4-5). Have them join you in the actions suggested on each page.
  • Don't push the button by Bill Cotter
    • At first this appears to be a spin-off of Tullet's Press Here but it's actually more akin to The Monster at the end of this book. Be prepared to calm down riotous laughter. Only offers opportunities for a small number of children to participate. It works best if you have two helpers.
  • Jump by Scott Fischer
    • All ages love this book. I get all the kids to crouch down, and once they've got the idea of the book - that there's going to be a JUMP every time I turn the page, they will enthusiastically follow along.
  • Who has this tail? Who has these feet by Laura Hulbert
    • This works nicely with a range of children - simple pictures of different parts of animals. You can expand it for older kids to talk about how the different parts are used (a la Steve Jenkins)
  • It's a tiger! by David LaRochelle
    • This is one of our absolute favorites! Have all the kids stand up and as you read the book, whenever you get to "it's a tiger! run!" have them scream and run in place. They will catch on quickly!
  • Warning: Do not open this book by Adam Lehrhaupt
    • This works best with older kids who can understand the tongue-in-cheek humor, but kids pretty universally like the idea of breaking the rules. There is a sequel, Please open this book.
  • Do you know which ones will grow by Susan Shea
    • This one works best with older kids who understand the point of the story - that you're contrasting living and manufactured things. I use it with a game "Garden vs. Not Garden" and I generally open the flaps myself as I read it.
  • Can you make a scary face by Jan Thomas
    • All ages love this. Stand up! Sit down! Do the chicken dance!
  • Press Here; Mix it up by Herve Tullet
    • These are the books that really touched off the interactive picture book fad. One of the things I like is that they offer opportunities for a class of 20-25 kids to participate, although you have to do a little math to make sure everyone gets a turn. Do leave extra time for participation.
I use these and many other titles in my Get up and move! outreach storytime and my Winter Wigglers: Interactive Storytime

Updated 5-19

Saturday, June 1, 2019

This week at the library; or, Field trips

Continuous drawing from the 3rd graders
Happening at the library
  • Monday
    • Library closed for holiday
  • Tuesday
    • 1st grade field trip
    • Book-a-librarian sewing
    • Teen sewing club
  • Wednesday
    • Kindergarten field trip (four classes)
    • 2nd grade field trip
  • Thursday
    • Kindergarten field trip (four classes) (2 sessions)
    • 3rd grade field trip (three classes)
  • Friday
    • 2nd grade field trip (three classes)
    • Library on the Go: 1st grade school visit (three classes)
    • 5th grade field trip (four classes)
  • Worked 28.5 hours; 4 hours on desk; 9 programs
  • 8 hours holiday
Daily notes
  • I was trying to take some time off this week because of the extra hours I've worked. So I went in late on Tuesday, with a severe sinus headache, a lot of things went wrong or were frustrating, and other than the field trip (the kids really liked I can only draw worms) I spent the whole afternoon emailing teachers about books checked out on institutional cards and sorting, processing, and fixing issues with the holds for field trips and summer programs. My associate J took over book-a-librarian (patron finishing a project from our last workshops) as well as helping out the teens, who have some new members who are learning to sew.
  • I dropped off my car to be serviced and then watched the sky anxiously as my associate T and I set up for the kindergarten visit. Thankfully, the rain held off all day. We had four classes of kindergarteners for their field trip and my volunteer B helped out as well. Then I made a push to finish checking all the class lists so I could send them off with T when she ran errands and had a visit with a 2nd grade class. I've convinced them that I don't just shelve books but they've decided I'm our (male) adult services helper. *headdesk*. Then I had a staff meeting and finally wrote up a grant report and left early to pick up my car.
  • The storm was a lot iffier on Thursday, so I took my colleague and all my puppets over to the school and we did the kindergarteners in two groups - storytime and puppets. I told them to be sure to come to the library after school for the obstacle course and at least one kid did! Then I had three classes of third graders - my colleague did the outdoor portion and I did inside art and stories. We went a little long checking out in the end, and our circulation staff were truly heroic in making 20+ library cards in barely 30 minutes!
  • Can I make it one. more. day? 2nd grade field trip in the morning, lovely group of kids, very enthusiastic about making their puppets, teachers were super nice and flexible when we went long. Of course, this meant I was just barely in time (ok, a little late) for my next visit, when I had to go over to the same school (the kids were thrilled to wave to us as we drove by) and do 1st grade. I basically read them a litany of stories while my associate grabbed about five at a time to check out Library on the Go. The school is not air-conditioned. Then back to the library, a brief break, and set-up for the fifth graders. This group almost all had library cards, but almost all of them were expired and/or the kids had forgotten to bring them. I wrote down numbers and updated addresses like crazy! 
  • I still need to write up some to-do lists for next week, plan programs, and write updated field trips so I have them on hand for next year, but I'll do that later this weekend. After I sleep.