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Perfect Weather and Perfect Books to Share

By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager

Spring weather has blown in to Manhattan. It’s a time to appreciate Earth’s beauty, head out on the nature trail or spend an evening at the ball diamond. Here are some children’s books that pair nicely with the season.

Greensburg, Kansas is celebrated in Allan Drummond’s newest picture book, Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future. Beginning with the aftermath of the 2007 tornado, Drummond portrays the damaged town, the worried citizens, and the many decisions that had to be made. Children can see how a few bright ideas about rebuilding Greensburg “green” caught on and took hold throughout the whole community. Sidebars give further information about influential townspeople and building sustainable structures. Published just in time for Earth Day, this will be a popular resource for teachers and an inspiration to young students all over the U.S.

Cricket Song by Anne Hunter will set the mood as your day comes to a close. Beautiful illustrations using watercolor and ink show frogs, foxes, otters and whales settling in for their evening. The calming text intertwines animal sounds with poetic prose, perfect for reading aloud to a toddler or preschooler. “The frogs puff their throats full of cool air from the woods, where the poorwill calls poorwill! poorwill! and listens for the footfall of the fox.” The framework of the story connects one sleeping child at the beginning to another sleeping child at the end, with the land and ocean and all the animals between them. Another gorgeous title to share is Kevin Henkes When Spring Comes, with enticing illustrations by Laura Dronzek. Young children are amazed by the green and the blossoms and the critters that come with springtime. Henkes captures this wonder and the joy it brings.

moMo Jackson is the star of a beginning reader series by David Adler, who also writes Cam Jansen mysteries, picture book biographies and a slew of other series. In Get a Hit, Mo!, Mo’s baseball team, the Lions, is playing the Bears. Mo was excited about the game, but after he arrives, he remembers that he is the smallest on his team. He always bats last and is stationed in boring right field. The Bears, on the other hand, look big and strong and they pitch fast. Mo strikes out, not once but twice. Many kids will identify with Mo’s moods and will cheer him on to the very end. Adler, a seasoned writer of beginning readers, has the formula down perfectly with just the right amount of text, controlled vocabulary, and illustrations by Sam Ricks that will clue readers in to the story as they decipher harder words.

Headed out to the park with your “helicopter parent” shoes on? Check out some facts and advice from Heather Shumaker’s It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids, a recent addition to our Parent and Teacher Resource Center. There’s a reason why your child wants to go up the slide. In fact, the urge to take risks or try new challenges is part of healthy development. Shumaker uses her Renegade Golden Rule, “It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property,” to sort through many situations kids and parents encounter. She tackles topics parents may not have even considered questioning, like talking to strangers or doing homework, and includes a helpful section on limits for screen time. With each new chapter, or “rule,” Shumaker includes examples, facts about child development, and practical tools for parents to try. She provides words to say (and words to avoid), as well as how to “take off your adult lenses” to get past preconceived notions. Chapters can easily be read alone, so busy parents or teachers can read what they need instead of tackling a 300+ page book.

Enjoy the transformation of spring with your kids, and if the wind or rain drives you inside, curl up with a good library book.

 

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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Ready for Fall

By Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager

The new school year always brings with it a barrage of children’s book publications. It’s a wonderful time to fill shelves and backpacks with brand new books. Here are a few seasonal picture books that arrived just in time for falling leaves, pumpkin patches, and getting settled into another school year.

Fall Leaves“Fall Leaves” by Loretta Holland, with enchanting illustrations by Elly MacKay, is the perfect book to discuss the season. Each spread is centered on a two word phrase, such as “Fall arrives” and “Leaves leave.” Further description gives meaning to the phrase and sometimes a simple scientific explanation of what happens as the season moves from September to December.

“Otis and the Scarecrow,” a new Otis the tractor book by Loren Long, will be a popular choice. Otis is a good-natured tractor who loves his farm, and he is not sure what to do with the new arrival who doesn’t “smile or say hello,” but just stands there with “a sour look on his face, staring at the cornfield.” How does one make friends with a scarecrow? Leave it to Otis to come up with a way. (more…)

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Bedtime Books for Summer Nights

by Grace Benedick, Children’s Librarian

As a child, I loved the long summer days and the warm summer nights, but if there was one thing I really hated about summer, it was bedtime. I think we can all remember the childhood trial of trying to fall asleep before the sun had set—when it seemed the whole world was still wide awake. Fortunately, for all of you grown-ups with children undergoing that yearly trial, the library is full of wonderful bedtime stories to appease your wakeful children. In fact, over 200 titles will come up if you search our catalog for picture books about bedtime, so here’s a small selection of summery favorites to get you started:

atnightJonathan Bean’s debut picture book, At Night is all about one of those restless nights when sleep just won’t come. The story moves at a poetic, quiet pace, following a restless girl as she chases the night breeze up to her city roof. With her curious mother trailing behind, she takes her pillows and blankets upstairs to the rooftop terrace, where she can see the moon and feel the breeze, and better yet—fall asleep.

 

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Snowflakes Fall and Other Important Books of 2013

Steven Kellogg is a children’s book author and illustrator who has touched the lives of most of us in one way or another. You may recall reading aloud his fun picture books about the big white dog Pinkerton in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, or The Day Jimmy’s Boa at the Wash and other strange tales like The Island of Skog and The Mysterious Tadpole.  He retold tales of larger than life characters like Pecos Bill and Johnny Appleseed and illustrated books that became classics in children’s literature–Is Your Mama a Llama and How Much is a Million.  I’ve admired his intricate artwork for years. I did not know that for most of those years, he was working and raising his family in a quiet Connecticut neighborhood called Sandy Hook.  With the publication of his newest book, Snowflakes Fall, a collaboration with Patricia MacLachlan (author of Sarah, Plain and Tall), Kellogg pays tribute to the lost lives of children and adults in the tragic school shooting of December 14, 2012. 

A remarkable and wonderful aspect of their book is that it is filled with joy. MacLachlan’s poem flows lightly and delicately as snow falling from a clear sky, and the children in the pictures are grinning with delight as they make tracks, go sledding, and jump in the snow drifts.  This beautiful winter picture book will once again touch the lives of so many readers. It is a celebration of snow and of childhood excitement about the wonders of our world. Perhaps it can also help heal hearts as the snow angels left by the children lift off the last page and fly into the snowy sky. 

Kadir Nelson’s book Nelson Mandela is another extraordinary picture book from 2013, which shares Mandela’s history and legacy with a new generation.  The biographical information is extremely brief, but significant moments in Mandela’s childhood and adult life are marked with poignant and inspring illustrations, from the opening page showing silhouetted children playing on a grassy hill to the final portrait of Mandela boldly addressing his people after being elected president of South Africa.  The most recent issue of The New Yorker features a painting of Mandela by Kadir Nelson, as well as pictures from the book which came out just 11 months before Mandela’s death.

Aaron Becker’s new wordless picture book Journey has received much attention for its amazing sketches that manage to convey a whole story and range of emotions without using language.  A bored child leaves her house with a red crayon which opens a door to a new, colorful world.  Like Harold with his purple crayon from many years ago, the child is able to draw the items she needs to transport her and save her – a boat, a hot-air balloon, and even a magic carpet. Unlike Harold, she is not trying to find her way back home, but instead saves a beautiful purple bird from capture which, in turn, opens another door. 

Last Saturday, the library hosted a “Mock Caldecott” discussion led by the Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community (ChALC) and the KSU English Department.  More than 30 picture books from 2013 were considered by the group, and Journey was voted the winner. With allusions to Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crown), Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and David Wiesner (Tuesday and Art & Max), it still stands on its own as a singularly beautiful and fantastical story.  One person noted that the art looked like “something you could actually fall into and explore.” Journey will engage children’s imaginations and let them feel their own power to take action and do the right thing. The real Caldecott award winner will be announced by the American Library Association on January 27th.

Reveiwed by Jennifer Adams
Published in The Mercury, December 15, 2013


 

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Colorful Picture Books to Highlight Read to Preschoolers Week

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week is November 17-23, highlighting the importance of reading aloud to young children daily.  Our library was honored to be chosen as the site for the statewide kick-off with a special storytime on November 19 at 11:00. First Lady Mary Brownback will read this year’s selected book, Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd, and children’s librarians will lead other fun songs, rhymes and stories.  Following storytime, we will host “Dog’s Colorful Play Day” during which children can create a dog craft with spots of all colors, play with balloons, games and puzzles related to literacy, colors, shapes, and other early concepts and skills, and take home a free book, courtesy of the Manhattan Library Association and a Ready to Read grant.

The library has thousands of other great picture books to read aloud with young children.  Here are just a few new ones that will spark their imaginations:

A great follow-up to Dog’s Colorful Day is Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates. Dog counts his way through various animals, finding different traits to count, like the lines on a five-lined skink or the rings on a raccoon’s tail.  Another fun dog story is Chris Raschka’s new Daisy book, Daisy Gets Lost.  Raschka’s illustrations, sometimes described as abstract or “fluid,” blend colors and lines, capturing motion and emotion at the same time. Daisy gets distracted from playing catch and chases a squirrel, leaving her owner behind.  The reuniting hug at the end is a satisfying ending for any dog lover.

David Wiesner, winner of multiple Caldecott Medals, has a new, nearly wordless picture book to please both cat lovers and alien hunters.  Mr. Wuffles! appears to be a typical cat – too lazy to play with the toys his owner buys him, but endlessly watching through cracks in the wall while twitching his tail.  Wiesner shows us what is happening behind Mr. Wuffles’s walls – tiny aliens have landed, and they need help to repair their ship damaged by the cat’s paws.  Enjoy this delightful, playful book as children describe what is happening and what they think the aliens are saying to each other.

Fantastical animals will carry you away in Emily Winfield Martin’s Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey.  Beautiful paintings show children riding animals – a bear, a fox, a narwhal – to dreamy landscapes that combine real animals with fairies, elves and imaginary beasts, making the transition from bedtime story to dreamland seamless.

In Stardines: Swim High Across the Sky, a new book of poetry by Jack Prelutsky, the author creates new critters by changing or adding just one (very important) letter to each animal’s name, followed by a poem about its humorous habitat and behaviors.  Learn about bluffaloes, chormorants, slobsters and more.  The tattlesnake is a rattler with a megaphone for a head – “Tattlesnake, Tattlesnake, Overly keen to tattle repeatedly – Truly, you’re mean. You’re noisy, annoying. You’re venomous, vile. You don’t mind your business. We don’t like your style.” I’m sure Mr. Prelutsky would approve of kids making up more new animals and poems themselves after reading this volume!

Magic Colors and Magic Opposites by Patrick George are fun books to share with children.  Each double-page spread is separated by a clear plastic page with a single shape or color.  Turning the clear page from one side to the other illustrates a color change or an opposite image.  An umbrella in the rain on one side becomes a beach umbrella in the sun on the other side.  Children will marvel over the way a pink semi-circle can be a pink and brown ice cream scoop on one side, and an orange sunset on the other.  This is a great way to introduce the idea of mixing colors to make new ones. Get out the paint set next!

Reviewed by Jennifer

Published in The Mercury, Nov. 3, 2013

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column

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It’s a Paleontology Party at the Library

Dinosaur stories have been a big hit this summer with our Dig Into Reading theme, from Mo Willems’s tongue-in-cheek Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs to David Bergen’s awesome Life-Size Dinosaurs book. Kids are invited to a Paleontology Party on July 13, 2013, at 2:00 for more dino fun. Children’s librarian Jessica Long is planning a dinosaur egg relay (with dino-feet and dino-claws) and a craft “group effort” to create dinosaurs out of everyday objects that will be displayed in the library, plus some cool stories, facts and a volcano demonstration.

In addition to presenting this party and storytimes about dinosaurs, Ms. Jessica regularly reads dino books to her own budding paleontologist at home, three-year-old Colton. He has listened to, memorized and approved many of the following favorite dinosaur books, reviewed below by Jessica:

For the youngest dino-lovers, Simms Taback’s Dinosaurs is full of bright, fold-out pages introducing toddlers and preschoolers to several of the most famous dinosaurs. Dinosaur Dig by Penny Dale combines two toddler favorites – dinosaurs and diggers. What else could you ask for? Dinosaur Dig is being featured in the children’s room through July with several early literacy activities related to the story. Children and parents visiting the library can read the book together and then play with construction vehicles on our table covered with roads, construction sites and road signs. A magnet matching game encourages children to match the dinosaur names with the correct dinosaur and color. Children can also puzzle together a dinosaur life cycle or match construction vehicles with action words.

For slightly older paleontologists-in-training, Dinosaur Pet by Marc Sedaka is a fun rewrite of “Calendar Girls” to fit every dino-lovers dream – owning a pet dinosaur! A CD is included with the book so kids can learn the tune and dance along. Illustrations in Hatchlings: Life-Size Baby Dinosaurs by Kelly Halls brings the youngest dinosaurs to life. Most people think of giant sauropods and theropods when they think about dinosaurs. Even the biggest Argentinosaurus started out as a small(ish) egg, though. Some of these baby dinos are actually kind of cute!

If your young paleontologist is ready for more dino facts but not quite ready for the dinosaur encyclopedias, check out The First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine Hughes. It includes more than one hundred pages of dinosaurs with just enough text to learn about each species without being overwhelming. The colorful pictures and lift-the-flap features in Dinosaurs Around the World by Susie Brooks will keep young readers engaged as they learn about the dinosaur’s world. Dinosaurs by Penelope Arlon is a slim volume, but it has stunning digital renderings of dinosaurs and up-to-date information on current discoveries and theories.

Barnum Brown is a name known to every paleontologist. After all, he discovered the most revered and feared dinosaur of all time: Tyrannosaurus Rex! Barnum’s Bones by Tracey Fern is a picture book biography that gives the reader a glimpse into this eccentric character and his most famous discovery.

More serious dinosaur hunters should check out The Ultimate Dinopedia by Don Lessem, filled with almost three hundred pages of amazing dinosaurs including some information that can be hard to find elsewhere (for example, how many fossils of each dinosaur have been found). Dino-lovers young and old will eat this one up!

Kids who are registered for the library’s free summer reading program can earn a cool dinosaur skeleton prize just for finishing 250 minutes of reading time.  We still have lots of dinosaurs left, so sign up now if you haven’t already!

By Jennifer Adams and Jessica Long – published in The Manhattan Mercury, 6-30-13

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Picture Books for the Season

Hanukkah is just around the corner, and several new books will be fun to share with little ones. Jane Yolen’s popular dinosaur series has a double entry for the season this year.  How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? and How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? both go through many of the traditions of each holiday.  In the first half of the story, extremely large dinosaur “children,” illustrated grandly by Mark Teague, are grumpy or misbehaving. In the second half, they do a 180 turnaround with actions to melt a parent’s heart.  Children will be able to identify with some of the potential holiday disasters, and they generally find it very humorous to see how much bigger the dinosaurs are than their human parents.

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko shows how one child celebrates both sets of beliefs and traditions with her parents.  At Sadie’s house, latkes are left out for Santa and the Menorah has candy canes.  This book will be fun for families that observe both holidays and revel in a little bit of holiday chaos.  Older children who like to help in the kitchen might enjoy Maccabee Meals by Judye Groner and Madeline Wikler.  Simple recipes and instructions with fun illustrations make this cookbook kid-friendly.  Recipes are divided into various meals, from brunch to Shabbat dinner to pajama party food.

Sweetness abounds in several new Christmas books perfect for sharing while snuggled in a big armchair with your favorite toddler.  Puppy’s First Christmas by Stevel Smallman and Alison Edgson is a choice for our Christmas storytime on December 13th.  Puppy cannot figure out what is going on at his house. First, his owners brought in a tree and covered it with shiny lights and balls (which he is not supposed to play with), and now, they nailed their socks on the wall.  When Cat explains about Christmas and Santa Claus, the two cuddly pets decide to stay up to meet him.  Furry felt hats on pages throughout the story give little hands something soft to feel while you read.

Together at Christmas by Eileen Spinelli is a cute countdown book, beautifully illustrated by Bin Lee.  Ten little mice on a snowy night try to find a warm place to sleep, but eventually they all end up back together in a hollow log where there’s room for everyone.  In Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw, a piece of red cloth is “just right” for a cloak for a princess. After the King’s sewing maids are done with the gift, the scraps of cloth are left outside the door where a girl finds them. They are just right for her to make a gift for her mother. The scraps from each project work their way down until the final piece becomes a scarf for a mother mouse’s son.  And each gift is just right.

Need something to do while waiting for Santa to fall down the chute?  Bruce Hale’s Santa on the Loose is a Where’s Waldo style mystery, and kids can pass the time inspecting the colorful pages to find Santa and all the clues.  Santa Retires by David Biedrzycki is as silly as it gets, with Santa doing cannonballs into the pool, taking hula lessons, and making sand snowmen. But will he really skip Christmas for good?  This one is great to get the giggles going.

Bob Shea’s new dinosaur book will be another big hit.  You’ve already seen him in Dinosaur vs. Bedtime and Dinosaur vs. the Potty – now he’s kicked it up a notch to Dinosaur vs. Santa!  Follow this festive dino kid as he roars his way through decorating the tree, crafting presents for his parents, and even being extra good.  If he can just fall asleep on Christmas Eve, Dinosaur will win again!

Rabbit’s Snow Dance by James and Joseph Bruchac is a real winter treasure.  Joseph Bruchac has written many children’s books with Native American themes, often retelling tales that have been passed on orally for generations. He wrote this traditional Iroquois story with his son, James, also an author and storyteller.  It is summer, but Rabbit wants snow so he can walk on top of it and reach the yummy leaves and buds. Rabbit is very impatient and begins drumming and singing his snow song – “EE-OOO! Thump! Thump! EE-OOO! Thump! Thump! YO, YO, YO!”  The snow falls, covering the other animals and pushing Rabbit to the top of the trees, just as he wanted. But a sunny ending to the book leaves Rabbit in the lurch and also explains why bunnies have very short tails.  Jeff Newman’s expressive paintings of Rabbit and his friends are lively and fun. Don’t be surprised if you have little ones drumming and chanting after hearing this story.

Printed in The Mercury 12-2-12

Reviewed by Jennifer

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column

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Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week

Manhattan Public Library is participating in the 2012 Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week, November 11-17, by giving out free books to child care providers in the Manhattan area. The books are funded by our Friends group, the Manhattan Library Association, and delivered to more than 130 daycares with help from the Riley County Health Department Smart Start Program.

This is the eighth year the state of Kansas has declared a special week to highlight the benefits of early literacy. The goal of Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week is for each preschooler (ages 0-5) in the state to have the chosen book read aloud to them.  But the larger mission is for parents, caregivers, teachers, aunts, uncles, and everyone around young children to recognize the importance of reading aloud to their kids every day.  Every moment you spend reading to your child is time well spent.

I was fortunate to be part of a committee of early childhood educators and children’s librarians that chose the picture book for this year’s project, Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn. It is a simple story of a young girl who visits the library with her dad and checks out enough books to read a different one each day of the week.

McQuinn’s illustrations show Lola spending time with both of her parents and with friends, reading books and playing all day.  Lola has an amazing imagination, and she uses stories as a springboard for her creativity.  She pretends to be the various characters from her books, from a fairy to a farmer to a tiger.  Lola stars in some other cute picture books that also revolve around the importance of books.  Lola at the Library and Lola Reads to Leo (the new little brother) are excellent read-alouds.

Lola Loves Stories works great with toddlers because it is not too long, the pictures are colorful and inviting, and the story is straightforward.  It is also fun to read with older children and then use each page of Lola’s story to lead into a new activity.  You can focus on dramatic play and set up a café or tea party, as Lola does on Tuesday.  Later, Lola and her dad are fixing her toy house with tools. Children love building with blocks or pretending to fix things with toy tools.  Showing a child how to use real tools and then allowing him to hammer wood pieces together or use a screwdriver, sandpaper or pliers is an exciting project with adult assistance.  More related activities can be found online with a Lola activity guide and a “tool kit” of ideas especially for early childhood educators.

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week is a time to highlight the public library. Your child is never too small or too active to bring to the library. We want you to come and enjoy our space.  Daycares or classes can schedule field trips to the library for their own special storytime and tour of the room.  Families can have a great time just hanging out together in the Children’s Room looking at books, using computers, and playing with puzzles, games, puppets, magnets and interactive toys.  Our children’s books and media collections include more than 40,000 items, which you can borrow with a free library card. The library has board books for babies and books on CD for listening in the car.  In addition to many special events year round, our librarians present 10-12 storytimes each week, and this week we will give away a free copy of Lola Loves Stories to each child who attends a storytime.  We hope to see you there!

Published in The Mercury, Nov. 11, 2012

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column

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Classic and Fractured Fairy Tails

published in The Mercury, July 29, 2012Puss in Boots by Jerry Pinkney

Fairy tales are woven into all our lives, as children and as adults, and they are alive and well in culture, as noted by the popularity of Disney’s Tangled and the adult film this summer, Snow White and the Huntsman.

Reading fairy tales aloud to my own children is an amazing experience. They are hearing these age-old stories for the very first time.  My four-year-old is fond of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf at bedtime, but he makes sure to tell me from the beginning that “the pigs get away and run to the brother’s house, and the wolf tries to go down the chimney, but he gets burnt.” He doesn’t want any surprise endings or alternate tellings where two of the three little pigs get gobbled up.  I always comply, unless we decide to read Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, because there are hamburgers pictured, and there’s just no way to get around that.

Children first have to hear the classic tale so they can find humor in so many jokes, plays on words, and silly stories that rearrange, twist, retell and “fracture” the classics, from Looney Toons to political cartoons.  Of course, there are as many versions of the “classic” tales as there are retellings, so you still have to pick and choose.  Whenever we get a new Little Red Riding Hood picture book at the library, I jump to the ending to see who gets eaten, or if the woodcutter comes with his axe, or maybe this time Little Red is a wise, feisty gal who tricks the wolf herself.

New editions of classic fairy tales are published constantly.  Some recent titles of note are a reissue of Jan Brett’s Beauty and the Beast, and Jerry Pinkney’s Puss in Boots, coming out this November.  Both Brett and Pinkney are masterful artists, making these perfect picture books to share a first, memorable reading of these tales. I also enjoyed Eric Carle’s Tom Thumb, done in his usual cheery bright colors, and Bernadette Watts’ The Three Little Pigs, which is full of interesting details in the illustrations.

Fractured fairy tales use the basic plot, characters or symbolism of a fairy tale to tell us something new.  Some have a cultural twist, like Senorita Gordita by Helen Ketterman, a new retelling of the gingerbread man with southwestern flavor.  The Emperor’s Cool Clothes by Lee Harper puts a silly spin on this Hans Christian Andersen tale with funny penguins and seals, platinum credit cards and North Pole humor, but the end result is the same – a naked emperor penguin marching down the street.

As seen in the popular Shrek movies, combining characters from several tales always riles things up.  Emile Bravo’s graphic novel for beginning readers, Beauty and the Squat Bears, has no less than seven bears, three pigs, Snow White, Cinderella, a fairy godmother, two princes, a beast and a pumpkin. It also has very funny dialogue, earning it a spot on the 2012 Eisner Awards nominees list.

This summer, six local teens have been working up a “Fractured Fairy Tales” performance, much of it written by themselves, in which they combine fairy tale plots and characters with new storylines and a little pinch of personality from each of them.  Kids can watch this live show on Wednesday at 5:00 in the library auditorium.

The show is framed by two short skits with talking frogs that have strong opinions about some traditional fairy tale phrases. The actors will perform an original tale titled “Fairytale Mash-Up,” which features some of the teens’ favorite characters (including Puss in Sneakers) in a mixed up story of wishes gone wrong.  Young adult librarian Janene Hill says the scenarios for the Mash-Up came strictly from the teenagers. “They had so much fun figuring out what role they wanted to play and deciding what that person would wish for. Kids of all ages will recognize the characters.” Using readers’ theatre techniques and some costuming and sets, the actors will bring their creations to life.  It’s a one-time only performance on August 1st at 5:00, so don’t miss it!

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Party, Party, Party!

>Library column printed in The Mercury, February 12, 2012

I am sure “party” is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking of libraries, but we like to break out of the mold sometimes. We have parties and programs for kids and teens this month, so don’t be surprised if you smell yummy food or hear distant music and laughter while you are passing through.

Our ten weekly storytimes started in January, averaging about 20 children at each session. Last week, we added another option – Spanish Storytime! Marisol Teran-Apadaca from the Bebe Language Academy will be presenting these bilingual storytimes every month on the 2nd Friday and Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Spanish storytimes will feature picture books read in both English and Spanish, interspersed with traditional rhymes and songs. Spanish speaking families are encouraged to come, as well as children who do not know any Spanish. Last Friday and Saturday, Ms. Marisol read Biscuit/Bizcocho, Wiggle/A Tu Ritmo, and Good Boy, Fergus/Muy Bien Fergus. Join us again March 9-10 for Spanish and English zoo stories, including an all-time favorite: Brown Bear, Brown Bear/Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo.

We celebrated Chinese New Year on Friday afternoon when USD 383 kids were out of school. Children who came to the “Year of the Dragon” party led a Dragon Parade through the library, ending with party “poppers,” and participated in a “Sweep out the Bad Luck” broom relay. The group made cool crafts such as Chinese lanterns, good luck Kanji, lucky money envelopes, and dragons. Children’s librarian Melendra Sutliff-Sanders came up with the idea for this party because “it’s a celebration that is fun to all different cultures and, at the same time, exposes kids who are not from China to some important traditions of another society.”

We will continue celebrating the year of the dragon at the library with our newest early literacy station activities. These simple games and puzzles are designed to go with the picture book Dragon Dancing by Carole Lexa Schaefer, and they are available for young children to play with in the Children’s Room for the next six weeks. Create an alphabet dragon on our magnet board, make new poems with alliterative action words from the book (like “slip-sliding” and “mish-mooshing”), or don a mask and scarf to perform a dragon dance.

More days off from school this week may leave some kids (and parents) looking for free entertainment. Make your way to the library on Thursday afternoon for our “Origami Yoda” Party. For those of you who don’t know, Tom Angleberger’s hilarious children’s novel, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, has been on the New York Times bestseller list, along with the sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back. Fans of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are eating up this new, silly series about sixth graders who begin to believe the weird kid’s origami Star Wars finger puppet can actually predict their futures and provide wise advice. Kids who come to our party on February 16 at 2:00 will get to make their own origami characters and Star Wars masks and participate in some fun games. Children’s librarian Jessica Long adds that “Someone will get to destroy the Death Star piñata!” A couple of lucky kids will get to take home a prize book, too. Following the party, the library will show an animated movie following the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Count Dooku.

Friday is our kids’ Wii Play Day from 2:00-3:30, recommended for ages 5 and up. We will have two Wii stations with games projected onto big screens. Kids can sign up when they arrive for a spot to play Smurf Dance Party or Mario & Sonic Olympic Winter Games. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to make sure all kids get a chance to play, and parents are asked to stay with children under age 8. Teens can play Wii games at the monthly “Last Tuesday Gaming” in the Groesbeck Room on February 28, 4:00-6:00.

Speaking of teens, young adult librarian Janene Hill has planned an interesting and tasty event for kids in middle school and high school on Saturday, February 18, at 2:00: Microwave Experimentation! Do you know what happens when a frozen grape or bar of soap gets nuked? You’ve heard you should never put aluminum foil in the microwave, but have you ever seen what it looks like? Join us at the library to see what we can light up, fire up, and melt down with several interesting experiments, followed by yummy microwave snacks (not made in the same microwaves).

You can support teen programming at the library by visiting the Teen Library Advisory Board’s bake sale on Saturday, March 3, from 10:00-2:00. Eat your baked goodies while you browse for cheap books at our Friends Group’s Annual Book Sale that day. Book sale proceeds and other donations help fund our fun programs and parties, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

By Jennifer Adams

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column

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