Monthly Archives: February 2014

2s and 3s Storytime, Thursday, February 27


Sometimes you have just what is a really great storytime, when everything comes together, when everyone’s participating, and having a good time, and it just all meshes together in a beautiful storytimey…ness. 

Which is what happened today. I love the 2s and 3s most of all. They’re in a sweet spot between being babies (who I love, but could be speaking Martian to) and being preschoolers (who I love, but are wild).


Today’s theme, as you can guess, was hands, so in addition to our regular songs, we also sang “Open, Shut Them,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “Where is Thumbkin,” so they could use their hands as much as possible. 

The only drawback – bad Annabelle – was that storytime was too short. We were having such a good time, and I walked out of storytime, and looked at the clock, and thought, “Dammit, it’s only 11:15?” I should have planned to do more – planned to do another book, or more songs, or a flannel. Sigh.

The most fun part of the day today was during my time in Teens. (I know, hope you’re sitting down.) We’re trying to put together a 3D puzzle (this one, if you care), and it’s harder than hell. But we have a lot of teens sitting down, taking a few minutes to put pieces together, and just chatting. It was nice. I can’t describe it any other way. 

More links! (Why does it always happen that as soon as I finish a post, Mama Bear sends me another link? How does she know?)

I got Jane Austen, because the sky is blue and grass is green and OBVIOUSLY.

New York City isn’t for everyone. I love it, but I can only last 2 days or so before I break out in hives. I would, however, move there, for this.

Also, about New York City, how the DiBlasio administration might make potential renovations to the main library on 42nd. (By the way, do you know the names of the lions out front? I do! They’re Patience and Fortitude.)

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I’ve started a new book yet – on Mama Bear’s recommendation – that I’m not sure if I like yet or not. It started off promising, so I hope it holds up.

From Friend D, some YA books that are worth your time. (Most of the YA books are worth your time. These particularly.)



Preschool Storytime Wednesday, February 26




I felt like being a little “wild” for this one and decided to go with a jungle theme for my preschoolers today. I took a little gamble – one longer book and a short book, instead of two standard-length books – which didn’t really pay off, as you’re about to see.

After our usual “Hello, how are you?” welcome song, I decided to do “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” because I wanted them to get all their sillies out. We did it slowly, at normal speed, and then fast, which this particular group really enjoyed last time.

So the first book I read was Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji. I knew going into it that it was a little long, so that’s why I had them do “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” first. They really did sit patiently and pay attention to the book, but I was hoping for a little bit more shock value (I guess in my day, the idea of a lion on the couch and monkeys in the kitchen would warrant a reaction). So they liked it, but it might still be best for older students. 

We sang “On my Nose, I Have a Hat,” which I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned before. So here it is:

(To the tune of “This Old Man,”)

On my nose, I have a hat

It is such a silly hat 

That my nose goes wiggle-woggle to and fro,

Where else can my silly hat go?

(Then the kids can suggest other places for the hat to go, and the song can be as long or as short as you want it to.)

The second book I read was Walking Through the Jungle, by Julie Lacombe, and there are chances for the kids to “wade,” “stomp,” etc. through the jungle. It worked really well. If I have a small toddler group, I might use it with them too. I think the kids liked the many moving-around activities we had today.

I finished up as usual with “We Wave Goodbye Like This” and “Our Hands Say Thank You.” It felt like it went pretty quickly, and the kids were pretty well-behaved.

In other news, it’s been a busy few days of meetings and trainings. On Monday I had training for the Common Core Standards, which was a great training – extremely well-presented. I may turn into the trainer for my coworkers at my branch. Then yesterday I had two meetings, one for the summer reading program, and one for the librarians alone in the children’s division. We talked about getting programming together for the summer and making a few little tweaks to some of the ones we already have. 

So many meetings and trainings – I feel like I’m back in pre-libraryland, at my old job. It’s strange.

Now, some links!

I love this little guy. What a good heart.

Some of these would be great – others, maybe not so much. 

You know how I feel about my Birthday Twin, John Green. He’s kind of perfect. Here are some of his best (literary) quotes.

I’ve managed to bring most of my childhood stuff (Mama Bear would probably quibble about the use of the word “most,” since my “most” is not her “most”) into my current apartment, but my childhood books were a real priority. Some of them I’ve split with Sister A, after prolonged negotiation, and some of them are still in my parents’ basement in boxes. I don’t know if I could say goodbye to them so easily.

Memoirs are really underrated. Here are some great ones by people of color.

What I picture in my head is never close to the real thing where authors are concerned.

You can keep your pigeon pie, thank you.

People are just figuring this out?

All of these and more.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I went historical and picked up the always excellent Alison Weir’s The Children of Henry VIIIAnything she writes is good. Next, a friend had lent me Ursula K. LeGuin’s novella The Lathe of Heaven, which was too smart for me, as much as I loved the premise – a man in some future dystopia discovers that his dreams can change the world. The writing, however, was completely on point. While sci-fi isn’t really my thing, the quality of the writing is such that I’d like to read more from her. Finally, before I left work yesterday, my reserve copy of Hyperbole and a Half came in. Hooray! I read that in one sitting last night and laughed and laughed (and cried a little). Sister A had just happened to be reading it while she visited me this weekend and liked it. If you haven’t read Brosh’s blog, it’s definitely worth it, particularly her pieces on depression, which were brilliantly, painfully well done (Part one and part two.)

Lots of little things


My darling readers, I’ve been neglecting you. Tsk tsk. Bad Annabelle. Well, lucky you, you get an update and a boatload of links – how does that sound?

It’s been a quiet bit of time at the library. Yesterday I took a “See Something, Do Something” training, which was taught by some of our security officers. Much of what was taught I already knew – how to write an incident report (since I’ve gotten quite good at those), how to work with difficult patrons) – but other things, as in what to do during an earthquake, a tornado, or even an active shooter situation. I sincerely hope I never have to use any of them, but these are important things to know. 

Lately I’ve been working on adding lots of material to the website: an entry about the STEAM program I’ll be teaching next week, etc. 

Lots of meetings next week, and two storytimes, too. It’s going to be a busy end of February.

Today’s good feeling: a mom came in and needed a book for her son that the catalog said was checked out. I found it for her, brought it to her, and you would have thought I’d given her a million dollars. She was very happy. And that makes me happy.

Who wants links? I do, I do!

James Patterson wants independent bookstores to succeed, and he’s giving a lot of dough to make that happen. Excitingly, one of my favorite hometown bookstores has been given one of his grants

This makes me really flipping mad.

Sometimes it’s fun to get really sucked into a big doorstop of a book. Here are some chunky ones worth your time.

Lady characters who really should have their own series.

Happy birthday, Harriet M. Welsch! (Don’t forget the M.)

I could have written this, but I didn’t.

Congratulations to my Birthday Twin, John Green! 

Who decides what becomes a classic? Who gets to make that decision? How does it happen? If they could, some authors would add their favorites to the list of classics.

Alternatively, what books are past their primes?

So they’re making a Flowers in the Attic sequel – here’s some casting news.

The end of a long legal battle for Harper Lee.

I love punctuation. I’ve made some enemies over it in my time, even. But you can’t mess with the semicolon.

Enough with all the shoulds, already!

A very well-thought out list that parents should read.

What are the top 100 books at the Harvard Book Store? Take a look; some might surprise you.

I love Buzzfeed, and I like the Murakami books I’ve read, but this quiz went over my head.

For the record, it’s JOHNS Hopkins University, but despite that egregious error, this is an okay read.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I was desperate for something to read, so I grabbed up Gone Girl, which I’d really liked before when I read it, and I remember how clever it was. Then, one of my e-books came in, so I read that: The Bling Ring, about a group of teens who burglarized celebrities’ homes in LA. (It was made into a movie with Emma Watson.) It was an easy, quick, fluffy read.

Big hearts and big smiles


(Wow, that was super-cheesy.)

I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but it’s a pretty big deal around the library.  I was off on the 14th, but we had all exchanged valentines among ourselves. Quite a few were really hilarious – literary references, puns and puns (One of mine read “I want tibia your valentine” with a picture of a leg bone), lots of fun. Librarians are smart, educated people with a weakness for silliness, and Valentine’s Day encourages it.

Yesterday (again, off), I had a bit of a busman’s holiday by popping into children’s – I needed a book from the library anyway, I swear – to see how Coworker A’s STEAM program was going.

(Have I mentioned STEAM? It stands for science-technology-engineering-arts-math and each Friday at 4 p.m. is a different STEAM program.)

Anyway, A put together a catapult program for STEAM. I made one – isn’t it cute?


Picture a bottlecap glued down where I drew the heart, serving as a launching pad. It’s quite fun, and we talked about launching different objects – cotton balls, M&Ms, pennies, Cheerios, and how far they might each go, and why they would go different distances.

I plan to use it to cause mischief.

Today was the Valentine’s Day party in the children’s section. I missed it all, ensconced in Teens – we were a bit short-handed, so I held down the teenage fort myself for most of it, incident-free, I might add – but I helped Coworker C set up for the party.

He made a tic-tac-toe board and a few heart-shaped animals (talk about cute) to guide the patrons.


Patrons could also use pipe cleaners to twist into hearts and glasses and crowns. You can see my heart-shaped glasses that C made for me while I was coming up with… well, you’ll have to see in the next paragraph. I wore them all day. The teens thought I was a bit bananas, but they always sort of think I’m bananas just in being an adult.


So what was I working on? I came up with a scavenger hunt – to search for certain books, DVDs, CDs, or magazines, and inside them would be cut-out hearts. There were 20 tasks, and 20 hearts (see the example below, from James and the Giant Peach).


The whole day was a success, so I hear! It makes me glad.

Just a few links today (and a whole lot of content, what a switch!):

Marriage and Hermione apparently just don’t mix.

What’s your preferred love story? Try this infographic.

Oh, in other news, apparently the next book in J. K. Rowling’s Cormorant Strike series – the one that began with the surprisingly good The Cuckoo’s Calling – will be out in June.

in What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished The Tale of Murasaki, by Liza Dalby, who is the first Western woman to ever become a geisha. The novel is the fictionalized life of Lady Murasaki, who wrote what is considered the first ever real novel, The Tale of Genji.  Which, sigh, I’ve never read, but want to.

Feedback… and it feels so good


One of the moments I’d been hoping for in the library finally happened yesterday, and it felt just as good as I’d hoped it would. So many people come in and out, taking out books, returning them… but I never get any follow-up. 

But recently I’d spent some time with a lovely woman who wanted to help her niece improve her reading skills. The niece loved Dora and Doc McStuffins, so I found a bunch of easy readers in those characters – and more – and she thought they’d be a success. Last night, she came back, and with her niece in tow, and both of them told me that the reading practice was a hit, particularly with those books, and could they have more? Could they? I piled half the library into their arms!

Sometimes I feel that the library is like an ER. Not so much “treat ’em and street ’em” (thanks, Sherry Stringfield), but in that we recommend books and we help patrons find what they need, and then they’re off, back to their lives, and we are left wondering if we were useful to them. Did they like the books I recommended? Did it they get those jobs they’d applied for? We hardly ever know, if my experience so far has been any indication. So working again with this aunt and niece pair was a huge, huge highlight of my time at my library.

I’ve also become a lot tougher during my time here. Today, a dude was spewing obscenities at me as security escorted him from the Teen Space (no, I didn’t call security on you because you were eating, I called security on you because you were eating, and when I told you you’d have to leave, you sat there and pretended you didn’t hear or see me. That is why, my friend.).  In the first few months here, I would have probably gotten some squigglies in my belly, or my adrenaline would have started rushing. Maybe this was just a low-key incident, but I was just like, boomI’m taking care of this silliness.

All good things.

Now, some links, my chickadees (almost all of these are from Mama Bear, so I’m giving her credit now).

I was a little too old when this was popular, but I do know Sister A was a fan.

There are some books that I think are terribly written, have poorly developed characters or are just plain awful. (I’ll say it: I think the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray books were sophomoric and generally terrible. Didn’t stop me from reading them all for scientific purposes, but those are hours I’ll never get back.) But I’m not going to hate on someone for reading (crap), because at least they’re reading (even if it’s what I consider crap). 

11 reasons to date me.

I’m including this because words are fun.

This is okay by me because Bring Up the Bodies was so rad. If she pulls off a Booker trifecta with the third installment, I will flip.

What librarians look like. (Another favorite Tumblr worth reading, in a similar vein, is this one.)

Pretty, but not for everyone

Erik Blegvad, illustrator, recently passed away. (He did the cover art on one of the saddest but loveliest books I know.)

What a cool idea

And finally, from Mama Bear, to which she added, “Once I find an author I like, this is what I’ve been doing.” Truth; she reads whole series at a time when she finds an author she likes. 

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I read Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodoxwhich was fascinating. And then – against a coworker’s advice – I picked up Stacey Schiff’s Cleopatra, which was boring, just as she’d warned me it would be. Life’s too short to read boring books – particularly with the list I have – so I figured, eh, screw it, and picked up something new. 

Baby Storytime, Friday, February 7


…and other things!

We had a good crowd yesterday, about 15 babies and their parents, for baby storytime. I did lots of singing, starting off with Busy Fingers and then some rhymes and songs, with Ten Tiny Babies and The Babies on the Bus. I tried a new version of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” with this book by Jane Cabrera (which was a little long, so I skipped some stanzas). They were all good participation books, and I’ll definitely use them all again.


I ended up not using my new felt, but I want to show it off anyway, because it’s so cute (to toot my own horn). It’s for The Five Little Ducks (you know the song, “Five little ducks went out one day/over the hill and far away/Mother duck said ‘quack quack quack quack’/but only four little ducks came back”). How cute are they? Bet you can tell which one is Mother Duck!


Don’t you love her pearls, hat, and bag?

After that, we had a full house for the preschool storytime, so I did an impromptu one with the overflow kids. I read them Strega Nona and The Day the Crayons Quit (obviously their favorite, since one of the crayons was naked).

Today was the party for one of the neighborhood libraries where two of my friends work. It just recently reopened after years of renovations. They kept the original windows and fireplace – really gorgeous.



The children’s area is the whole second floor – lots of light and space. Smaller than what I have at my branch, but so much nicer. Classic. I even got to decorate my own cupcake (possibly my favorite part).


In other news, I calculate from my “read books” list that I read about 50 books between starting my job at the library in September and the end of the year. (I only started marking the date of return just before I started at the library.) Conservative math says I read about 150 books last year. Woo!

Now, chickadees, only a few links:

Two links I found on CNN: one, 100 books to read in a lifetime, and the other, just in time for Hallmark Heart Day, ten books to read after a breakup.

I got Fanny Price – yay! A little wishy-washy, and not so much me, but could have been worse….

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent one, David and Goliathwhich was shorter than most of his others, and not as interesting as they are. This brings me to the end of my Gladwell books – I loved them – they made me think! Thanks, Friend D. Next, I picked up the oral history of Nickelodeon, Slimed, which really took me back to my childhood. A quick read. And then, a book that I think might be one of my first favorites of 2014, for one of my book clubs: Kindred, by Octavia Butler. It bills itself as science fiction/African-American literature, and it’s much more the latter than the former. (A young black woman in 1976 is magically transported back and forth between her time and the early 1800s, to try and save the life of one of her ancestors.) It’s terrific – please pick it up.

Toddler/Twos and Threes Storytime, Thursday, February 6, 2014


I’ve recently figured out that doing storytime for toddlers is HARD. With babies, they’re not crawling or walking anywhere, so they’re a captive audience. With preschoolers, they’re being taught in school to sit down, criss-cross applesauce, to pay attention, so they’re usually attentive. But with 2s and 3s, boy, they are all over the place. So I never know if they’re listening or not while they’re having little freakouts or bouncing around the mats.

Still, having learned that, I had a super-fantastic storytime today. It was so much fun. I had about 65 children and adults combined, mostly from nearby daycares. We have some new guidelines that we share with the caregivers, too, at the beginning of all storytimes, which is important: 

  • This program is for (insert ages here). Sometimes an older sibling preschooler will be good during his/her little sibling’s storytime, and sometimes s/he won’t be. It’s really useful to keep all attendees the same age. 
  • Please encourage your child to participate. Your child is more likely to participate if you do. Truth. Kids mimic what they see adults doing, and if you pat your head, so will they.
  • Adults, please set your cell phones to vibrate, and please don’t have conversations with each other during storytime. Frankly, I’d like to take that a little further: please put your cell phones AWAY. Put them down. Check them briefly and discreetly if you need to once in a while, but now is not the time to play Candy Crush.

So I went with a food theme this time, and read the following books:


First, The Watermelon Seed (which just won the Geisel Award); the kids I think were scared by the character’s imagination that a watermelon would grow in his belly, even though on each page I reassured the kids that “That’s silly, right? Does that really happen? Nooooooo!”  The biggest success was the next book, Worms for Lunch?, which allowed us to talk about lunch foods and what we eat for lunch, and what animals eat. (Fun tidbit: the book is dedicated to Andrew Zimmern, who, the author notes, has had worms for lunch before. Hee!) 

Before the last book, I pulled out Coworker C’s birthday cake felt, which I probably didn’t use in the best way, but it was fun.


Before the kids came, I set it up with the cake behind the oven on the flannel board. Then we talked about what ingredients go into a cake, and I stuck them on the board. Then I told them it had to cook, so we had to wait, so why don’t we count to ten, and then voila, I took off the oven and there was the cake, which the kids loved. Then I held up the B, asked what color it was, what words started with B, and then I put the candles on top, and asked the kids what it was. (A birthday cake!)

(Wait till you see tomorrow’s flannel. I am very proud.)

The last book was Chew, Chew, Gulp, which is fun, but maybe not a storytime book. They were getting a little restless, so I sped that one along. 

Interspersed within the books were the songs “Open/Shut Them,” with our usual opening and closing songs. The David Carter If You’re Happy and You Know It” is always a hit. 

I also got some lovely compliments after the show by some of the care providers – the ones who had their phones away and were participating – that should tell you something.

Tomorrow is baby time! Hooray! My favorite, honestly. 

In other news, I also spent 90 minutes in the non-fiction section covering for the staff while they had their staff meeting. It was fun – so many interesting and different questions than in children’s, I’ll tell you that.

Now, links, my dear readers:

How about a second Divergent trailer?

These are incredible. If I didn’t break my nails all the time shelving, I’d invest in getting them done.


Library history can be a lot of fun, I swear. Have you ever wondered about the history of this? Or wanted to learn more about Melvil Dewey, who was kind of an a-hole, but still the father of librarianship?

Too cute for words.

More post-Potter revelations from J.K. Rowling

While I don’t really advocate vandalism, this is still a fun idea

Confession: I really wanted to be a cruise ship librarian for a while. Still do, sort of, but this broke my bubble.

From Sister A. I am most obviously, clearly Ramona Quimby.

Also from Sister A, some rockin’ bookstores

Do you live in the most literate city in the U.S.? Which city takes that honor might surprise you.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I spent a few days wading through the new release Belle Cora. I love historical fiction, and this focused on New York and California in the 1850s. One of those sweeping sagas. It was pretty good. I also read – skimmed, I must admit, because I couldn’t bear to read it intensely – This Star Won’t Go Out, about Esther Earl, who was friends with John Green and partially inspired The Fault in Our Stars. Heartbreaking but uplifting, if that makes any sense. I’m in the middle of a novel for book club that I can’t put down – I can’t wait to share it with you when I finish.