Kids Club Wednesday, June 23


Because school is out – and most of us have survived so far – we’ve started a new program called Kids Club (put the apostrophe where ye may), in which from 2 – 3 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday we have a program full of whatevers (games, STEAM, etc.) for 6 – 12 year-olds.

I could have been brainy, I could have been sciency, but nope, we made fortune tellers because… why not?

(Through definitive scientific research, i.e. crowdsourcing on Facebook, I discovered that most of my friends called them fortune tellers, while my New England friends grew up calling them cootie catchers.)

Even funnier, I discovered that not only did Mama Bear and Daddio know what they are – I didn’t expect them to – but they both made them when they were younger, in the 19somethings. Coworker J. sent me this link about their history; fascinating!

In other news, today I found a book that may be the Holy Grail for little boys. A three?year-old asked me for a book that had both dinosaurs AND trucks in it, and after a shockingly short amount of searching, I found possibly the most perfect book, in which dinosaurs drive trucks. The end, that’s it, I can now quit my job knowing I’ve found the most perfect book ever.

The oddest sentence I’ve said today (and we still have over 2.5 hours of work left): “No, sir, I’m not going to have dinner with you tonight at the soup kitchen.”

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished the scary book to which I alluded in the most recent post: it’s Joe Hill’s The Fireman. Not as scary as NOS4A2but still superscary. Once I finished that, I needed to read something a bit fluffier, so I picked up something I’d been wanting to read for a while and that Sister A loved, too. I’m due for a rewatch.

And this is how I feel about rewatching it, for the 80000th time.


Preschool Storytime, Friday, June 17


My storytime today was small and full of newbies (children who didn’t know that they were supposed to not behave and parents who didn’t know they were supposed to be on their phones) and we had a great time.

The books, which disappeared into the kids’ hands immediately after we finished, were 66% new and all successful. We loved, and I’ll be sure to use again, Duck’s Vacation , an interactive book that had us laughing with every page. It reminded me a lot of one of my (also very meta) childhood favorites. Next, we read Jeff Newman’s Hand Book, and while I was reading it, I asked everyone to make the motions described in the books. This is another one for my regular rotation, that would even work well with toddlers, too. We finished off with The Seals on the Bus, which none of them knew, and it surprised them.

A winner for a Friday, for sure.

Today is the last day of school for our local public school system.

Let us briefly bow our heads in prayer as a long summer stretches before us.

My moment of the day: When a man came and asked me if I could print him out information on a wig store in Chicago, and I had to say no, because we’re the children’s department, but the adult services section down the hall would be happy to help him. (This is not that unusual, the adults asking me for things, but that request was a bit on the odd side. I mean, hey, you want to research wigs, buddy? You go right ahead. You do you.)

In other news, on Wednesday night I ran into my friend J. (Hi, J!), and she had just come from seeing a sneak preview of The BFG. She said it was great. How could it not be, right, with Spielberg directing? Thanks for the heads up, J. Can’t wait to see it, too!

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I read The Royal We again. Shut up. I love it. It’s so un-fluffy and the characters so well-developed and charming and it’s so, so much more than just “Will and Kate if Kate were American.” I can’t help it.

I don’t often talk about what I’m currently reading, but right now I’m reading the scariest book of the year, bar none. Can’t wait to finish it.

Today’s Double Facepalm


The past few days I’ve been on a reorganizing kick for the board books. I’ve put the main authors together (Eric Carle, Tomie de Paola, Leslie Patricelli, etc.), and they’ve each gotten their own cubbyhole in an attempt to make finding their books easier, since they’re probably the most-requested board book authors.

Today, doing the actual book moving, the board book room was a mess. Books here, books there, books everywhere, piles and piles and piles. (Not unlike this moment from Clueless, except with books.) And that was the precise moment that a nanny came in, looked at the mess, and asked me, “Oh, do you have the board book of ‘The Wheels on the Bus?’ ”

I knew we did; I know our collection well. Yet I wanted to respond, “Lady, are you kidding? You took a second to see the state that this room is in, so obviously you have registered the towering piles of books around me. Do you really think I could find it right this very second?” But of course I didn’t say that. I just put on my best customer service smile  and said that I’d try to find it for her as soon as I could. But then she said it didn’t matter and grabbed a few books at random anyway.

But – for real?

I award this nanny the Double Facepalm for not only a ridiculous question, but for bad timing.


Preschool Storytime, Tuesday, June 14


Happy Flag Day.

I had a whole storytime planned around Flag Day because I was supposed to have preschoolers for my storytime. But since no preschoolers showed up – I had toddlers –  I had to scrap the whole thing and scrabble together a storytime for toddlers. I didn’t get any pictures, but we did Chu’s Day (thank goodness Neil Gaiman’s picture books are nothing like his adult or even children’s chapter books), Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.

Like I said, it was an emergency, so I had to get my stuff together and quickly. None of the parents participated, the kids were generally unruly, and I was not feeling it. But luckily, my new fingerplays went well:

“Five Little Apples” (I made five felt apples with our Accu-Cut):

Five little apples in the bowl

One fell out and started to roll

It bumped the table and hit my feet

How many apples left to eat?

And then you count down from there.

It wasn’t quite seasonal, but I did “Five Little Snowmen,” too:

Five little snowmen, standing in a row

Standing tall in the deep, cold snow

Out came the sun shining hot all day

And one little snowman melted away

Again, we counted down from there. They really liked those rhymes.

Last week I had a toddler storytime – a real one, scheduled to be a toddler one – and somehow it all worked out.


I read Hooray for Hat! again, as an experiment, and learned that it works with all ages, but best with preschoolers. Melanie Walsh has a few in the same vein as Do Pigs Have Stripes? and all of them have been successful. This one I pulled off the shelf at random; I’d use any of them. I like The Seals on the Bus because it’s a nice alternative to the usual song, and it brings in wild animals, which kids always like.

I’m in a funk – boo.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I read a YA book called The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, which was… fine, but if I’m going to read a book about someone born with an abnormality, just give me Geek Love, which did it best.

Then came two ARCs in a row: June, which started rough and I only liked half of it (damn these split books, half in flashback, half in modern times), and yesterday I read Look at You Now, a memoir that was quite moving and even a bit shocking. Tissue alert!

You know it’s summer when…


… you’re back in the Great Hall for baby storytime.

That’s right, it’s definitely summer in the East, and because we’re going to get some crazy crazy numbers of babies and toddlers as we always do, we’ve moved our Thursday 10 a.m. baby lapsit and 11 a.m. baby and toddler storytimes back into the library’s main lobby.

Aside from having to sing a little louder (there was a microphone, but that would have been overkill, I think), it went just the same as any storytime normally would.


I read my books – using A Good Day by the fabulous Kevin Henkes for the first time, and One Hungry Baby again – and sang my songs and there you have it: baby lapsit storytime.

Today’s preschool storytime was SUPERFUN. It was a storytime full of first-time books, and I had a 100% success score with all of them.


If you don’t know Kate Beaton, author of Hark, A Vagrant! – and you should, because otherwise, where TF have you been? – you can start off with The Princess and the Pony, which is a great story, first off, but also has pony farts in it, which guaranteed that the preschoolers would love it.

Hooray for Hat! went off really well too. The kids even chanted parts of it with me each time (can’t say which parts – spoilers!) and it had a nice lesson about giving of yourself to cheer up your friends.

Ghost in the House is a bit Halloweeny, but hey, ghosts are always fun.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished the sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, which was just as fun as the first one, and should also be marked “not just for kids,” too.

Then I went camping and reread Gone Girl (not linking to it, because of course you’ve heard of it), because it had been a while, and it’s just so clever, I keep forgetting how good it is. There are so many books that have been touted as “the new Gone Girl,” and they’re just really not.

After that, I read Emma, because it’s her 200th anniversary. Another book in which the comedy, pacing, and plot is unparalleled, but of course I’m not even comparing Gillian Flynn to Jane Austen.

Something old, something new


My schedule is going to change a little once June hits. Not outrageously differently, but just enough so that I won’t be doing Pajama Storytime anymore.

Sigh. Such is life. But for the past few months, I’ve had hardly anyone show. It’s been difficult.

So last week, when I did my last one, and had a turnout of ten – TEN! – I was really happily surprised. Then, one of my favorite preteens (a boy!) asked if he could help out by reading one of the books. You bet, I told him. And he was great.


Everyone loves Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (the kids requested we read it first, so hey, why not?), and they were happy to read The Noisy Way to Bed (animal noises are always a hit, no matter what age kids are), but having Patron M read them Hug Machine  was the real highlight. For me and for them.

It’s Thursday, so that means: Baby Lapsit! Today I realized I hadn’t used the egg shakers  in a while.

Tangent: egg shakers are useful for any age storytime. With the oldest kids, you can work on shaking fast and slow, low and high, and stopping. With the youngest kids, it’s a matter of just gripping and holding; whether or not they shake at all is incidental.

For Baby Lapsit today, loving themed storytimes as I do, I built it around the egg shakers and some songs I’d found through Jbrary.


We read Cheep! Cheep!  first (the terrycloth illustrations are adorable) and then moved on to the shakers, which were naturally the highlight. As I’d expected, the babies didn’t really shake – they were more interested in sucking on them and playing with them – but I had enough eggs so that the adults and the babies each got an egg, so the babies could see what the eggs were for.

We sang and shook, shook and sang, and a good time was had by all.

Then we read Barnyard Banter, sang “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and two verses of “Old MacDonald,” and that was it. A happy barnyard storytime for my babies!

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I was fascinated by The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj, an absorbing account of women in the Victorian era who went searching for husbands in India. (The gender ratio then was one woman to four men. Hello!) It was compulsively readable and exotically romantic.

Then I read one of those children’s chapter books that should be labeled “NOT JUST FOR KIDS,” because it was smart and funny and, frankly, is right up there, cleverness-wise, with The Westing Game. For a puzzle-loving librarian, this was right up my alley, full of in-jokes and book references. Go pick it up, bibliophiles. (Right now I’m reading the sequel, which is just as great.)

Storytimes and more


Oy, I’m so delayed. I don’t know why. When I saw Mama Bear not too long ago, she told me how much she missed my blog (well, she said how much she missed the links, and I said, “Tough, those aren’t coming back“), but after Preschool storytime today, I realized that it’s time to update, no matter what.

My preschoolers are the They are so funny. I had a ball with them today, using two different books and some new surprises. The theme, essentially, is “Books that Shouldn’t Work, But Did.”


Read It, Don’t Eat It is a book about what not to do with (library) books, and I thought for sure that we’d get hung up on words like “deface” or “censor,” but the kids loved seeing what NOT to do with books, and assuring me that they didn’t leave their books out in the rain, or take them to the beach, or eat ice cream over them. That was fun. I told them how proud I was of them for knowing how to treat their books so well.

In my “Old McDonald” envelope of felt animals, the dinosaur has long been the most popular one. So he needed an equally oddball companion, I felt.

Enter this guy:


When we sang the song today, I pulled him out and when the preschoolers said it was an alien, I said, “No, come on, it must be a horse/cow/chicken, come on, look a little closer,” and naturally pretended to be surprised when I saw it, and we sang “With a ‘beep beep’ here and a ‘beep beep’ there” or whatever an alien says. You have to mix it up once in a while, or else the children will get bored, and you will be predictable. It’s boring already for the adults – who were on the phone even after my “no phones” spiel, so I can only do what I can.

The next book, Tap the Magic Tree, also shouldn’t have worked, because it’s full of directions about what to do on the page – tapping the tree, rubbing it, using your finger to draw a circle, but the kids weren’t fazed at all when I asked them to pretend the tree was in front of them and to put their fingers in the air.

In short, it was a terrific storytime.

I’ve done others between now and then, but there are two events worth mentioning that are Very. Big. Deals.

Number one! Beverly Cleary’s Hundredth Birthday! Hurrah! Now, it happened to land on a Tuesday, which wasn’t terrific programming-wise, but what can you do? I couldn’t bring myself to wait till the weekend (or do it the weekend before) in order to get higher attendance. It had to be done the day of, I stubbornly felt, but we had enthusiastic participants.

We made owls with paper bags, just like Ramona does (unhappily) in Ramona the Brave, in the chapter “Owl Trouble,” some with a guide, for our older friends:


and some as they’re described in the book, for our younger friends:


I had a little Ramona storytime as people got artsy, reading the students the relevant chapter, and also the part in Ramona the Pest in which Ramona scribbles in a library book and then goes to return it and gets a library card.

One of our other activities was writing to authors, as Leigh does in Dear Mr. Henshaw. We had a few little ones write letters, and they handed me the blank envelope and I addressed it to the authors’ publishers. I hope they get responses!

Alas, though, I really wanted to be able to have a special preschool storytime and show the old Ralph S. Mouse movies (young Fred Savage and Sara Gilbert alert!), but no takers. Sigh.

I was so happy to have this program. Why didn’t I get a birthday cake to sing to Mrs. Cleary in absentia? Sigh.

Exciting news number two! I went to my first conference two weeks ago! It was the Urban Librarians Conference in Brooklyn, and I loved meeting people and learning about programming for all ages. (Often I feel as if we neglect our very youngest patrons in my branch – we do storytime for them, but no program programs, so I have a great idea that’s been hugely popular in Brooklyn that I’m interested in replicating here.)

That’s the news! And I promise you, my dear chickadees, I’ll be a lot more up to speed in updating in the future. Really. That is a promise.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, there are lots, so buckle up.

I like boarding school books – blame Enid Blyton for this – so I read one that was prettily written but turned out to be kind of dumb. Right after that, I went on to one that was fabulous, about college, so I was a little shocked to go from meh to great.

Then, in the spirit of Bevery Cleary’s centennial, I borrowed Sister A’s copies of the memoirs A Girl From Yamhill and My Own Two Feet, which were just delightful and worth reading, to learn how an author gets her start, particularly 100 years ago.

In need of something quick, I reread My Friend Dahmer, which gets better and better each time I read it.

The next book was good, but slow-going, and having not had much success with Stacy Schiff’s other books, I’m pleased to have even finished this one. Naturally, once I did finish it, I immediately went to my bookshelf to pick up The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and much of it jumped to life where it hadn’t before.

(Again at home and in need of something quick, I was impatiently thinking about my upcoming college reunion, and picked up one of the worst books in the world, but at least it was slightly fulfilling.)

For my quick trip to Brooklyn, I read two books on Overdrive, which I enjoyed very much: The Hired Girl (Baltimore shoutout!), and, well, it can’t even be counted as a book, but the short story “The Grownup,” by Gillian Flynn. Perfectly creepy.

If you want to hear more from your favorite children’s book authors, this is the book you should be reading. I skipped back and forth through it, learning a lot about the authors’ and illustrators’ backgrounds.

At the conference, I picked up an advance reader’s copy of a book that could have been so much more than it was. With an extra 100 pages, it would have been much more fleshed out. I hope it’s the first in a series. The next book I read, though, was just what I needed in terms of story and character fulfillment, and I couldn’t put it down.

While I think the trope of “YA book in which a teenage girl in a dystopia becomes the voice of the rebellion” has been waaaaaayyyyyy played out, I read what, again, I hope would be the first in a series. It was deeper and better than I expected. 

Needing to hit non-fiction next, I’d heard good things about Sarah Hepola’s memoir Blackout, and it was funny and raw both. I was glad.