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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


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.)


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


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.

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: Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti

Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99 hardbound, ISBN-10 0385744412, January 2015

When rhesus monkeys are brutally massacred on the dusty streets of Kolkata by a troop of power-hungry langur monkeys, Mico, a privileged langur, becomes entangled in the secrets at the heart of his troop’s leadership and is shocked at what he discovers. He feels compelled to help the few surviving rhesus, especially Papina, a young female he befriends, even though doing so goes against everything he’s been taught. As more blood is spilled, Mico realizes that choosing between right and wrong won’t be easy.

My initial reaction: Wait, a YA novel about monkeys? Not about kids saving monkeys like Endangered or Threatened, but actually about the inner lives of monkeys? That’s insane…which means that either the editor who said yes to it was high at the time, or the book is, in reality, something special.

As it turns out, the “something special” option is correct.

I think the first instinct everyone has when discussing a novel with animal protagonists is to trot out the Watership Down comparisons, most notably “Does for (insert species here) what Watership Down did for rabbits.” May I just say that as far as I can tell, Watership Down did precisely beans for rabbits? Our species is still wearing their species and selling their species quartered and frozen in the aisles of select grocery stores. (Full disclosure: I had a pet rabbit called Basil and loved him very much, and if you wear or eat rabbit voluntarily, I will think less of you and probably tell you so.) I think the compliment is poorly phrased. However, if used to mean that whatever new animal-centered novel is comparable to Watership Down, I don’t think it’s ever true. I cannot think of a single novel with animal protagonists that approaches Watership Down in scope and mastery. Heck, I can’t think of many novels about human protagonists that match up to the adventures of Hazel-rah & Co.

Another comparison I’ve heard in the case of Monkey Wars is that it compares to Animal Farm. That’s a fairer parallel because it does deal with a totalitarian regime. However, Animal Farm is satire. Monkey Wars is serious. It’s genocide. It’s the Holocaust. It’s tyranny and resistance and false flag attacks, families torn apart and innocents tortured at the drop of a hat, or in this case, a mango. It’s the corruptible seeking the corruption of absolute power, and the strong trying to fight their way to the truth. Blood, intrigue, romance, murder most foul… Perhaps the most accurate comparison to make is with Shakespearian tragedy. Getting readers to pick it up may be a challenge, but once they’re in, they’ll stay with it.

Recommend to: Anyone interested in stories of conspiracy, action, and conflicted heroes. Be aware that although the protagonists are animals, this book is on a teen/adult level of interest, and it contains quite a bit of graphic violence.

To buy or not to buy: A first purchase for YA collections and high school libraries.

Cookies Storytime

For our last storytime before Christmas break, we shared stories about Cookie. C is for Cookie! And I backed that up with an actual cardboard letter; I’m not just stealing a line from Cookie Monster.

We read:

Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington

A simple picture book about how bakers make and sell cookies.

Concept: Factual book.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

The ducking gets a cookie (with nuts) and the Pigeon is predictably upset.

Concept: Print awareness (word bubbles!)

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson

The farmer feeds his animals the appropriate items except the cow, who loves cookies. Cumulative rhyming text, a refrain, and plenty of farm animals to encourage noise-making.

Concepts: Rhyme and animal noises (phonemic awareness). Sequencing.

Cookie Count by Robert Sabuda

Mice sample a variety of tasty treats in this pop-up delight.

Concept: Counting


Five Little Cookies

Five little cookies in the window today,
Along came (child’s name) with money to pay.
(S)he picked the (color of sprinkles) cookie and took it away!


The cookies across the top of the board in this photo are the pieces for this set. The photo is of all three sets I made for the Food storytime kit.


Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?

We played the classic game with its classic rhyme using a felt cookie from the flannel set. If you don’t know it, you can hear the lyrics in this video. I decided my group was too young to handle the entire “Who, me? Yes, you” part on short notice, so I improvised that part a little and just said, “Not you? Then who?” when a child denied having the cookie.

This is the Way the Cookies Bake (“Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”)

This is the way we sift the flour, sift the flour, sift the flour,
This is the way we sift the flour, all day long.

Stir the batter…melt the butter…shake the sugar…sprinkle the nuts…the cookies rise…we eat them up


Die Cut Gingerbread House


Always a hit: yarn for icing and sequins for “candy.”

How It Went:

Everyone likes to talk about cookies, so this program went perfectly. Poll results reveal the leading favorite cookie is chocolate chip.