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Transportation Storytime

After about four years at my last job, I’ve started a new position back at my last library system in another state. I’ve gone from little system to big system, extremely rural to urban, and college town to economically depressed district. Not only have basic environments changed for me, but I’m also walking into a very different situation than I walked into in Idaho. Instead of stepping into a small, established program and growing it, I stepped into a branch that hasn’t had consistent programming for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in quite some time and also does not have a dedicated or even secluded space for storytime. My coworker started babytime, toddler time, and playtime a few months ago, and playtime has taken off but her other programs are still struggling to attract attendance. I’ve recently started leading preschool storytime, but so far, no one has shown up–at all! This week, I finally had a couple of toddlers visiting during storytime, so I roped them and their caregiver into a modified storytime/lapsit program.

We read:

Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle

Who is Driving? by Leo Timmers

Freight Train by Donald Crews

You know what babies and toddlers just aren’t that into? Sitting through books read to them by someone who isn’t their parent/caregiver in an environment filled with brightly colored toys! I was able to keep them interested by using the very simple/colorful Freight Train, the guessing game of Who Is Driving?, and the noisiness of Little Blue Truck, but to be honest, they were totally done with books when I pulled out the third one. However, they loved the bouncing rhymes I used–Dump Truck, Smooth Road, and This Is the Way the Ladies Ride. I didn’t plan to use any bounces since the plan was preschool oriented, but I knew those from memory, and all of them related to transportation. The littles loved the bounces and wanted to keep going forever!

We’re considering revamping our schedule and moving my coworker’s programs for our smallest patrons to Tuesday instead of Monday (because who wants to go anywhere on Monday morning?) I’m campaigning for moving preschool storytime to Thursdays. In the meantime, I get to start hosting storytime at a different branch where staffing numbers are currently low. Hopefully that will get me a storytime fix for a couple of months, at least.

YA Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

28763485Backstory: Delacorte Press, November 2016. $18.99 hardback, ISBN-10 0553496689, 384 pp, ages 14+

Major: Contemporary Romance

Minor: Family Drama

In short: Over the course of one day, romance blooms between a Korean-American boy and a Jamaican girl whose family has lived in the States for several years, but her family is scheduled for deportation back to Jamaica that night.

Worth a Look? This gorgeous second novel from the author of Everything, Everything has everything going for it: the timely topic of immigration, the timeless topics of epic-yet-doomed love and the slippery nature of the American dream, a sweet-hot romance of opposites attracting, a tiny bit of poetry and script format mixed in with the prose, and an overarching theme that we see ourselves as main characters but might be mere digressions from someone else’s story. The central duo butt heads over passion (him) versus practicality (her), poetry (him) versus science (her), and fate/true love (him) over no such thing (her), but the chemistry of these two lovingly developed characters is electric.

Worth Acquiring? Yes. Don’t be surprised to see The Sun Is Also a Star hit a few shortlists.

Further Reading: Mature readers interested in similar themes may also like Behold the Dreamers by Mbolo Imbue.

Moose Storytime

M is for Moose! M is also for muffins at times, because moose love them, according to Laura Numeroff. I’m sure not going to argue with her.

We Read:

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Of all the animals in this series, I think the moose may be the worst. At least if you give a mouse a cookie, you eventually get your house cleaned. If you give a cat a cupcake, you’ll have a wonderful albeit exhausting day of fun. But the moose just wrecks your house, eats your food, and expects you to make him more food. I’d have to double check on that pancake pig, but I think we can safely say this moose is a jerk.

Concept: Sequencing

Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root

Children look for moose in various natural settings with no luck, but the reader can see moose legs hiding in the trees, moose noses hiding among rocks, and so on. In the end, the little hikers find a plethora of “long-legged, dinner-diving” moose. The rhythm of the text is infectious.

Concept: Inferring a whole from a part

Moose on the Loose by Kathy-Jo Wargin

What would you do if a moose got into your house? Put socks on him? Let him into your bed?

Concept: Rhyming

Flannelboard

Five Big Muffins

Ten big muffins on the window sill.
Moose danced along and ate his fill. (encourage everyone to dance)
Now how many muffins are on the window sill?
_____ big muffins are on the window sill.

(Continue, changing “danced” to twirled, hopped, wiggled, waved, or any action you like.)

Muffins

I made the muffins by rolling tan felt through the die cut machine, over the ice cream cone die. I cut the points off the cones and used them as the base and the ice cream scoop as the muffin top, then painted little “berries” on each one.

If you have a moose puppet, use its mouth to grab the muffins from the board.

Adapted from m/rcpl family zone

Action Songs

Moosie Pokey

You put your right hoof in (use foot)
You put your right hoof out.
You put your right hoof in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Moose Pokey
And you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about.

*You put your left hoof in…*You put your antlers in…*You put your whole self in

Source: Harris County Public Library

In the Forest (“The Wheels on the Bus”)

The moose in the forest go trot trot trot, trot trot trot, trot trot trot,
The moose in the forest go trot trot trot,
All day long.

The wolves go aw-ooo…the bunnies go hop…the birds go tweet…etc

Adapted by me

Craft

Paper Plate Muffins

We made paper plate muffins similar to the ones on this post from In the Great Green Room.

How It Went

I got several compliments on this session, although I don’t know if the adults were impressed with the storytime itself or that I didn’t panic the second I saw the completely packed room. We have been busy for this fall series, and this particular day was one of the largest. I have had so many parents and grandparents tell me, “You are so talented!” or “You are so good at this!” in the last few weeks, and I think by “this,” they mean crowd management more than anything.

This plan took a lot of poking around and research to put together, because while plenty of wonderful moose books exist, most of them are not for the toddler/preschool age level. I’m very happy with how it turned out and will use it again, but first, we need a moose puppet for our puppet collection.

Readers Advisory: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Posted on

William Morrow & Company, ISBN-10 0062379089, June 2015

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui. But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone–especially herself–that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

Remember those dark days when we thought The Princess Diaries were over forever? If you’re like me, you screeched in delight when you found out that we were getting another book, that Mia grew up, and that Mia and Michael Moscovitz would finally tie the knot.

Cabot’s in fairly good form here. Since Mia’s holed up in a hotel hiding from the press for the first half of the novel, the story doesn’t pick up speed until about a third of the way into the book. However, after Cabot hits her stride, it’s definitely a Princess Diaries book. Mia has matured but hasn’t changed, Fat Louie is too old to eat sock but still around, Grandmere is still the devil incarnate, and if anything, Lilly has gotten more feminist and Tina Hakim Baba is more of a sappy romantic. Michael has lost the allure of being the older man since they’re not high schoolers anymore, but he’s turned into a great catch. Because of a huge family secret that has the potential to rejuvenate the series, the book avoids feelings of redundancy. Fans of the series will likely feel the new ending is fitting, although it’s unlikely to hook new fans on its own merits.

However, do be aware that although the rest of the series is a landmark in YA fiction, this entry is adult fiction. We get more talk about foreign policy than in previous installments, and Mia and Michael have a rather healthy premarital sex life. Cabot doesn’t get graphic with the details beyond the stories and characters they use to role play, though, so it’s admittedly tamer than some current YA stories.

I don’t think we’re seeing the last of Mia, but if we are, long may she reign.

Readers Advisory: Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

Posted on

Disney-Hyperion, ISBN-10 1484713788 , May 2015

Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests–making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade–goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do. When Sparkles’s leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what’s wrong. Sparkles doesn’t want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won’t want to hear. What Sparkles doesn’t know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?

If you work with beginning readers or the picture book set, you know Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems have a large and enthusiastic fan base. You also know a young reader can get through the series quickly and still want more. If you’re in need of readalikes, Ballet Cat is ideal. Although Ballet Cat and Sparkle Pony sound like girly names, the story isn’t frou frou at all. Sparkle Pony, despite his fabulous name, wants to take a day off from playing ballet and maybe get out the checkerboard or have some lemonade instead, but he’s afraid Ballet Cat will stop liking him. Of course friendship prevails in the end. This brightly colored, comical series is sure to take off.

To buy or not to buy: First purchase!

Love Storytime

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L is for Love!

We read:

I Love My Mommy Because… by Laurel Porter-Gaylord

Baby animals list reasons they love their mommies. We tried to name all the animals.

Concept: Vocabulary.
 
 
I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

The barnyard is excited about the arrival of a baby duck and gossip about feeding it, tickling it, and kissing it. I dressed up the monkey doll I use for lapsit as a bird, and we used her as a stand-in for the baby.

Concept: Print = action.

Hugless Douglas by David Melling

Douglas the bear wakes up from hibernation and needs a hug, so he starts on a boulder and a tree and eventually moves on to harassing the other forest animals until a helpful rabbit redirects him to another bear–his mommy.

Concept: Sizes. Vocabulary.

Action Rhymes:

I Can Hug
I can hug, hug, hug
I can hop, hop, hop
I can kiss, kiss, kiss
I can stop, stop, stop
I can nod my head for yes,
And I can shake my head no,
And I can sit down very slow.

Source: Storytime Katie

Give Mom a Hug
Roar like a lion, growl like a bear
Give Mom a hug, show her you care
Hop like a bunny, flap like a bird
Quiet as a mouse now, don’t say a word.

Source: Storytime Katie

Flannelboard:

Five Little Hearts

Five little hearts at the corner store,
Five little hearts and not one more.
Along came (name) with a coin to pay,
(S)he grabbed the (color) heart and took it away!

Craft:

Love Bugs

We made Love Bugs based on the one I saw on Sunflower Storytime.

How It Went

This storytime had a bumpy start, because when I announced the theme as Love, two small boys had emotional meltdowns. I am talking wailing, big fat tears running down the face and mingling with snot, lashing out at Mom kind of meltdowns that went on halfway through I Love My Mommy Because… They would not look at me, and when their mom tried to turn them to face me, they would have none of that nonsense, Mom. Finally they stopped crying and started looking at the book. Then I told them the black heart on my flannelboard belonged to Batman, and everything was better, and they had the most fun of anyone in the room. Of course.

Readers Advisory: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Posted on

Balzer + Bray, ISBN-10 0062317601 , March 2015

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame? Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

Advice about Bone Gap for readers: Find out as little as possible about this book before you start it. Be surprised. It’s beautiful, magical, and romantic. The young women are fierce and the young men are heroic but flawed, and the journey is epic and redemptive.

Advice about Bone Gap for librarians: Buy it and talk it up to your teens.

Princess Storytime

I knew when I asked the storytimers for theme suggestions at the end of winter session that I might get some suggestions I couldn’t accommodate, but also that I might get some I did not want to accommodate. Princesses combined a bit of both. First, finding princess books that are both preschool appropriate and equally interesting to the “pink and frills are for losers” set can be a challenge. Second, I don’t identify with the princess camp. Too often, it celebrates things that keep women down, and I’m not even talking about waiting around for Prince Charming to save you. Before you even get to the relationship distortion aspect, you’ve got the impractical clothing and appearance obsession aspects. Still, I took it as a challenge: Design a princess storytime that all of the storytimers would find palatable and that would not make me feel like I was pushing an anti-feminist agenda to 3-year-olds.

We read:

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen

Emphasizes the wide variety of activities princesses (read: girls) can do, including sports, gardening, and more, all while wearing a sparkly crown.

Concept: Rhyme.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

A dragon burns up everything a princess owns and kidnaps the prince she’s supposed to marry, so she puts on a paper bag (all she can find) and goes to rescue him, which she does by using her wits. The prince then tells her to get lost and come back when she’s properly attired, and she tells him off. The end.

Concept: Knowledge and wisdom is the true power! Also, don’t waste time with people who only care about your looks, an important message for both genders.

Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joose

A little princess wants a dragon for a friend, and vice versa, and finally they meet. Super sweet, and the inclusion of the dragon made it more palatable for those who aren’t nuts about princesses.

Concept: Rhyme.

Action Rhymes:

There Was a Princess Long Ago

I got the idea for this one from Storytime Katie, but you should check out this video clip from Fun Song Factory if you’d like to learn the tune.

Curtsy Like a Princess (Tune: Skip to My Lou)
Curtsy like a princess just like so

Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess!
Bow like a prince just like so…
Juggle like a jester just like so…
Fly like a fairy just like so…
Roar like a dragon, just like so…
Source: Story Time Secrets

Flannel Board:

The Princess Wore Her Red Crown

Sing it to the tune of Mary Wore Her Red Dress. To make the set, I used our crown die and ran five different colors of felt crowns.

Source: Story Time Secrets

Craft:

Princess Castles

We made toilet paper castles similar to these from Crafty Morning. Over the holidays, we had a teen volunteer looking for projects, so I had her cut the battlement notches from a ton of cardboard tubes, then the storytimes and grownups taped the tubes together and decorated them with crayons and sparkly stickers.

How It Went:

I felt a little tense going into this one because of the book Paper Bag Princess, in which the princess calls the prince a bum. I wasn’t sure how the grownups would react. We all know Munsch is controversial in general. However, my audience tends to run to the more liberal end of the parenting spectrum, so I took the leap. Most of the grownups clapped at the ending! Overall, I think I pulled this off. We did have one boy come in midway through and start furtively whispering to his mother when he realized we were talking about princesses, but when no one attempted to force a tutu on him, he settled down. I am in no great rush to take on this theme again, but I’m glad I rose to the challenge.

Cars Storytime

When I polled the storytimers about future themes they’d like to see, one little boy yelled, “Cars!” In today’s society, we’re hyper-conscious about driving and the pollution caused by vehicles, or if we aren’t, we should be. Without even touching the topic of global warming, I think we all at least know that vehicle exhaust pollutes the air we breathe and contributes to that disgusting brown miasma we see hanging over major cities. Yeah, I see that brown cloud, Dallas. And Houston. And Seattle! You’re supposed to be full of greenies! Why did I see sludgy air hanging over you from the ferry deck last summer?

In other words, yes, I felt a ping of conscience while celebrating the automobile. On the other hand, the car is so much more to the American family than a smog machine, or even a mode of transportation. I just had a phone conversation with my mother a couple of weeks ago about what a shame it is that so many parents now let their kids watch television in the car, whether by portable DVD player, built-in TV, tablet, or phone. We agreed that some of our best memories and conversations happened on road trips, and Mom said she always felt that time in the car gave her a chance to talk to us without distractions like homework, television, or phone calls. (I didn’t bring up that time when I was 16 and she almost got us T-boned because she was on her cellphone, because bygones.) The car is a bonding zone.

Cars also offer a great opportunity to talk about colors, shapes, and size. You can read the names of models and talk about what they mean–provided you have some clue; I mean, Impala is one thing but what’s a Camry aside from a small sedan? You can even talk about whether cars are clean or dirty, old or new, though probably not with the owners in earshot. Of course, don’t forget all the wonderful sounds! Engines roaring, purring, or putt-putting. Brakes screeching. Wipers squeaking.

So, we’ll worry about the environment in some other storytime. It’s not like 3-year-olds have much to do with emissions control anyway.

We read:

Speed by Nathan Clement

The text is more on par with K students than preschool, so we mainly did description/discussion here and pretended to wave race flags. I wanted the kids to learn a little about car racing for the next story.

Concepts: Colors and patterns.

Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

Sam’s Number One at everything: speed, turns, and most importantly, winning! One day, Sam loses a big race and his confidence, too. He worries incessantly about the next race, but when it finally comes around, he finds his mojo is back. Then 5 hipster chicks (as in baby chickens, not women) wander onto the track, and Sam decides to throw the race so he can get them to safety. However, everyone celebrates his decision more than they would have celebrated a win, because saving the lives of children is way more important than winning a race. (Side note: The chicks’ parent appears to have taken part in the race. Why didn’t s/he take steps to keep the kids safe? Somebody call the authorities on that fowl.)

Concepts: Friendship. Life priorities. Anxiety.

Night Light by Nicholas Blechman

Goes like this: You see a number of lights (one through ten, natch) on a die-cut black page, with some white printing about what kind of vehicle has the lights. Then you turn the page and see what it is: a taxi, a tanker truck, a helicopter, a train, and so on. You guess based on the hints and also the color/configuration of the lights. Well, mostly the hints, because preschoolers don’t recognize the light pattern of an airport tanker truck. Neither do I. Strictly speaking, not everything in this book is a car, but there’s a conversation you can have, right there!

Concepts: Counting. Vocabulary.

And the Cars Go… by William Bee

Honorable mention. We didn’t have time to read it. Plenty of great car noises to make in this traffic jam, although some of the vocabulary will need explaining or dumbing down. If you don’t live near a lot of kids who know what a Rolls Royce is or that it’s famous for its quiet engine, you’ll either have to tell them or just call it “the fancy car.”

Concepts: Car sounds.

Flannelboard: Lots of Cars

Song and flannel template both came from Nancy Music. Click through for the rhyme and tune!

Lots of Cars flannel set

“Big cars! Little cars! Beep, beep, beep.”

Action Rhymes

“Drive, Drive, Drive Your Car” (Tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Drive, drive, drive your car,
All around the town!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Up the hills and down.

Turn, turn, turn the key,
Make the engine roar.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Let’s go to the store.

Press, press, press the pedal,
Give the engine gas.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Now we’re going fast.

Turn, turn, turn the wheel,
That is how we steer.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Let’s just park right here.

Adapted from King County Library System

“Windshield Wiper”

I’m a windshield wiper (bend arm at elbow and hold fingers up)
This is how I go (swing arm back and forth)
Back and forth, back and forth (continue motion)
In the rain and snow.

My modification: After we sang the song twice, I encouraged everyone to make annoying squeaky wiper sounds while we changed our wiper settings from high/fast to medium to low/slow to intermittent/every couple seconds. Fun!

Source: Storytime Katie

Craft: Letter C Cars

car craft

It’s a paper plate C with a paper car shape glued on. The storytimers colored theirs. You might wonder why mine has holes. To put it briefly: Summer reading. Underground theme. Hobbit party. Dwarf beard craft. You get the picture.

Source: Tip Junkie

How It Went: To quote Goldie Hawn in Overboard, “Buh buh buh buh buh.” For no apparent reason, I had twice my usual number of storytimers. One mom said, “It’s the nice weather,” which is also what everyone says when no one shows up on a nice day. Another mom said, “I guess word just got out.” Whatever the reason, I was happy to have such a big group, but a little sad because a bigger group means a slower pace as your questions suddenly have twice as many answers, so we had to cut a book. But we made so many car noises anyway!

This week: F is for Senses…Five, that is.

Readers Advisory: Story Thieves by James Riley

I’m adopting a new review policy: only mentioning books I think merit special notice, rather than trying to review everything I read. This decision is part of a larger New Year’s resolution about my ratios of reading time to writing time, reading time to life time, reading time to professional development/reflection time… Basically it’s a whole thing you don’t want to read about. Anyway, first mention-worthy book of the year!

Aladdin, ISBN-10 1481409190, January 2015

Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores. But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character. Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.

Holy Harry Potter, fanfolks! This rib-tickling series opener features a half-fictional heroine who can jump in and out of books, which attracts the attention of naive classmate Owen who uses her power to “fix” the ending of a volume in his favorite series, Harry Potter knockoff (the text says so) Kiel Gnomenfoot. He saves the life of a Dumbledore-like character called the Magister without knowing that the soon-to-be-released last volume would reveal the Magister as a villain. When the Magister escapes into the real world and drags young Kiel Gnomenfoot with him, Owen has to fill in for Kiel while Bethany rounds up the Magister. The Kiel Gnomenfoot story line that follows Owen and Kiel’s fictional cyborg sidekick Charm Mentus might appeal to Potterheads (that’s the correct term, right? it’s what I’m calling us) with its battle between magic and science. However, the most fun part of the story comes from watching Bethany try to contain the fictional characters and elements the Magister unleashes on the real world as well as her interactions with Kiel, who lends a hand and a couple of wands. Kiel, in typical action hero fashion, is brash, egotistical, overly optimistic, and brave to the point of idiocy, but he’s also so charming in a wink-nudge way that the reader has to laugh at him. Bethany is smart, but she’s also a worrier who stays safe in the fictional world through strict adherence to a set of rules (like, stay out of horror books, don’t change anything, et cetera.) Through her partnership with Kiel, she learns to step out of her comfort zone and own her powers, and the ending gives hope that their relationship will continue in the next volume.

Recommend to: Harry Potter fans, fantasy fans, possibly younger fanfic fans might find this funny