Monthly Archives: May 2014

Toddler Storytime, Thursday, May 29


Not every day at work is going to be unicorns farting rainbows – this, I know. Alas. And maybe I’m being naive when I thought that I would get the support I need from all quarters. My boss is great, and so are my coworkers, and so are most of our patrons and parents. But there’s always going to be one, right?

I had planned my storytime with some books – all of which turned out to be hits.


I pulled out Coworker C’s felt cutouts of Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet, and we did each twice.


Between each book, we sing a song. With long ones like “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Old McDonald,” we don’t need to sing those more than once, because they will take freakin’ forever. But the short ones – we repeat those because repetition is good for the kids, and helps them learn.

So I chose “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” to sing in between two of the books, and we sang it once. Then I said something like, “Wow, what great singers! Why don’t we sing it again?”

And one of the day-care providers said, “Nooooo!” and all the kids laughed.

This accomplished a number of things:

1) I felt embarrassed. I got heckled at my own damn storytime! I work hard to put my storytimes together, but this made me feel stupid.

2) The children learned that talking back is funny.

3) It disrupted the flow I had going.

I ignored the comment and kept on going, but it left a nasty taste in my mouth. My coworkers were kindly sympathetic (or sympathetically kind), but I still wish it hadn’t happened. It was a little thing, but I felt bad.

In other news, I couldn’t find a felt for “Old McDonald,” so I made my own. Notice anything interesting?


Yup, Old McDonald had a dinosaur. I figured I’d mix it up for a little bit of fun.

Here are some links.

In a gothic novel mood? Try this chart.

The Fault in Our Stars read-alikes, from Coworker L’s blog.

The book was a lot of fun, and the casting for the movie looks spot-on.

From Friend D:


Any of these would work for me, thank you.

I was really, really excited to help out the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter project, and I jumped for joy when they hit their goal in one day. Here’s an interesting counterpoint.

From Mama Bear:

Need something to read this summer?

Every English novel ever.

John Green is a ROCK STAR.

This is a terrible idea!

From Sister A:

In an email with the subject line “Eeeeee one week.”


Never Off the Clock


One thing I’ve learned about being a librarian is that you’re never off the clock. No matter where I am, if I tell people I’m a librarian, they ask me for book recommendations. Without fail. Of course, I don’t mind it – I welcome it – because I love talking books. (Which is 90% of the reason I went to library school in the first place.)

While camping this weekend, I had a lot of book questions thrown my way, and twice pulled out some paper plates and pens – gotta be resourceful! – to make up reading lists for a 7-year-old and another for a young tween. There are also a lot of questions that go into making a book list. I can name the hot books that are generally popular, but if kids have certain likes and dislikes, that narrows it down considerably. A 12-year-old who loves dragon stories that take place in Asia has a much narrower field of interest than a 7-year-old who loves fairy stories or whatever. 

The most important questions I ask are:

1) “Do you like to read?”

I make it a point to tell the kids that it’s okay to answer that question with “no.” It breaks my heart, but not everyone likes to read. And reluctant readers may be open to graphic novels, or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-type stories, but chapter books with a narrative thread may not hold them.

2) “What’s the last book you read that you really enjoyed?” 

2b) “And why did you love it?”

That question and its follow-up give the child a chance to really get excited. When kids talk about books they love, their enthusiasm levels go up. They love talking about it and the parts that they liked. 

In other news, I got a really good reference question from an older gentleman, who wanted to find young adult books from the early 1900s. Many people don’t realize that YA as a genre is a relatively recent invention from as early as the 1930s – 1950s, but really coming into its heyday in the past decade or two. So when I told him that there was no YA back then, he asked, “Well, what did teens read?” And I suppose the answer is – adult books. Older children’s books were things like Baum’s Oz books, or sci-fi/fantasy – Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, but nothing that could be likened to young adult lit as we know it until mid-century. (Another reason I love what Lizzie Skurnick is doing with her imprint.)

Now, links.

Diverse YA titles! There are so many of these I want to read.

Jane Austen would be really offended to be on this list.

Another reason to love NPH.

From Mama Bear:

Please excuse me while I go buy Beverly Cleary’s childhood home.

This makes no sense. What if, as Mama Bear said in her email to me, we didn’t teach Shakespeare because he wasn’t an American author?

I am always in a Jane Austen novel. (Note: #1 really, actually, I promise, did happen to me.)

Stick to writing, Birthday Twin.

From Sister A: Behind every great man

From Friend D: I’d never heard of this, have you?

Stolen from Friend L: Charlotte Perkins Gilman is rolling in her grave.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, boy, did I kick some serious reading butt this weekend. I really enjoyed The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, a non-fiction compilation of murders and mysteries and obsessions. It was fascinating. 

I only just liked The Scarlet Sisters, a biography of Tennie Claflin and her sister, Victoria Woodhull, who was the first woman to run for President. They were both ahead of their times, speaking out about feminism, women’s rights, abortion, contraception, etc. They were quite interesting ladies.

I absolutely HATED HATED Penelope. I normally love books about college, but no one was likeable in it, the characters spoke without using contractions (who does that??), and there was really no plot. Sister A had said it sounded interesting before she read it, then read it, hated it, and forgot to tell me she hated it, so when I called her and told her that I’d read it, she said, “Oh, you hated it, right?” Yes. Yes I did.

Toddler Storytime, Thursday, May 22


All the forces conspired for a terrific storytime yesterday. What I’ve found is that I’ll want to do one particular story and then build the rest of the storytime around it, which is what happened yesterday.


I thought it would be fun to do Caps for Sale with toddlers, who would be able to mimic the actions of the monkeys and the peddler, shaking their fingers, stamping their feet, and so it was. They were really into it! It was a lot of fun. (My coworker pulled The Hatseller and the Monkeys, a folktake from Mali, so I could show the kids and adults how folktales span cultures and continents.)

We read Monkey and Me next, and they shouted out the names of the animals. We finished off with Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (see a theme here?).

(I’m clearly twelve inside, because one of the songs we did was “Where is Thumbkin,” and there’s a weird sense of glee in giving 75 kids and adults the finger!)

So anyway, it was a success. A very strong, highly participatory, no-phone zone storytime.


Beverly Cleary is 90-something years old and still going strong.

A love letter to a book I didn’t even discover – and subsequently love – until Sister A read it.

This article may be blocked unless you have a WSJ account, but basically parents in NYC are going a little bit bananas about lining up for and getting into storytimes. I mean, yay, they’re excited about storytime, but, guys… relax.

Some people can do this – some people can’t. I’m one of them.

Are any of these your favorite coming-of-age novels?

Yes. All of them.

Anyone can be a librarian, and anyone can be a children’s librarian, but the awesome ones….

From Friend D:

I’d never heard of most of these!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ahhh ahhhhhhh family dinners!

From Mama Bear:

I want a house that can have all of these.

This is a great book, and a neat article about it.

A super-shitty idea from my hometown.

Not crapulence.

This doesn’t work for me, but, still, an interesting list.

Clever marketing – I’d have flipped if I’d seen this!

When Rolling Stone puts together a YA list, read it.

Have a terrific Memorial Day weekend, chickadees!

Looming on the Horizon


A four-day break. I’m going camping over Memorial Day weekend and I can’t wait. I love camping anyway, but I come back from a few days away with such a fresh outlook, a clear head, and renewed enthusiasm. So I need to make the most of this weekend, particularly because I’m not taking any vacation – unless you count camping now and Labor Day weekend, and it’s going to be a LONG summer.

How about some links? 

First look at Mockingjay pics!!

I’ll be reading this (don’t knock it till you try it.)

The original female vampire?

A million points to Gryffindor!

YA books for Mental Health Awareness month. (Follow this tumblr if you don’t – they’re always putting up great stuff.)

Yes, I do all this, and more.

From Friend M: Sometimes it just helps to see things in video form to see a point that words can’t make effectively.

From Friend D: 

This will be very exciting for Beowulf and/or Tolkien enthusiasts (I am neither, alas.)

From Mama Bear:

Book love AND interior design. So gorgeous!

Trigger warnings are essential – here’s the first of two articles on their gaining prominence. (Here’s the second, which I like better.)

In What’s Annabelle Reading, as I mentioned in my last post, I finished The Kill Order, the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy. It can really be read either as a prequel, before reading the trilogy, or a companion book, after reading the trilogy. So I needed something to cleanse my palate from world catastrophes and killer viruses, so I read Dan Savage’s It Gets Better. So affirming.

Family Fun Time, Saturday, May 17


I really hate it when I plan and plan and plan and plan and then no one shows up for my storytimes. That hasn’t been true for my weekday ones, but this Family Fun Time and my last one. (I did get two toddlers Saturday. Not enough!)

My theme was black and white – I even wore black jeans, a black sweater, and a black and white striped t-shirt, and printed the flyer for it in black and white, rather than color – and had some faaaabulous books pulled. In the interest of full disclosure, I had found a copy of one of my favorite childhood books in our collection and thought, “Hey, I can make a storytime right from this.” To round out the books, I found a great opposites book for the littlest kids, and thought, for fun, about poetry, once I saw we had a book called Poems in Black and Whiteand was planning on reading a few of the poems that were the most descriptive. So there were books for all ages.

But with only two toddlers, who were most interested in the craft project we were doing (more on that in a second), I just read the opposites book and we sang “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” And that was that.

The craft project turned out to be easy and fun. The best part was trying it out first to make sure it worked! So if you take a white crayon and draw or write on a white piece of paper, then paint the paper with black paint (the instructions said acrylic, but we only had tempera), the message/drawing comes out nice and clear, a little chalkboard-y-like. Like this one I did for my Coworker A’s birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, A!!!)


It was super-easy, and with a tablecloth on the table, not too messy. That was a success!

We have a lot of regulars, and some of those regulars turn into favorites. Maybe that’s wrong, but if it is, I don’t want to be right. One of our favorite girls is moving with her family to another state, and gave us a picture in a picture frame that she had taken with us, and then this card, which I just love:


I do not want to leave but I have to. You guys are so good with books and you are so friendly!! I will miss you so much. Love, (M)

And I’m doubly annoyed because I had forgotten it was her last visit on Friday, and it was my day off! Ah, well. The little ones come and go. It’s so nice to see that we had made such an impact on her! She has been one of our STEAM regulars, and is just a great kid.

How ’bout some links?

This was a TERRIBLE idea! Terrible! (Includes TFIOS spoilers)

The feels!

Also: where are the Asian teens? Black teens? Multiethnic teens? And yeah, I guess, fat teens?

From a friend’s blog – I could have written this, because I see it all the damn time.

From Coworker J – I need to carve out some serious time and watch these.

Also from Coworker J – wow.

From Friend D: I guarantee this is what I’ll be doing.

From Mama Bear:

This is a really fabulous essay about one of my favorite heroines of literature, ever. 

How many times do librarians have to repeat that libraries are more than just books?

Fantasy author Mary Stewart passed away at 97.

Because, also, librarians.

Perhaps slightly overdramatized, but an interesting look at culling one’s library. (Although when we were weeding our YA, I emailed the following to Mama Bear: So I had this thought today while weeding our Teen books – the ones that are in good condition, they get weeded if they haven’t been checked out in 2 years. But the ones that might not be in good condition…. I’m like that one guard at Auschwitz who dictated whether people went to the right or the left, who lived or died, who went to work or went to the gas chambers… Her response? Perhaps your imagination is a tad bit overactive….)

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished the third Maze Runner book, and now I’m reading the prequel to them (which is obviously meant to be read after the trilogy).

Preschool Storytime Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew with my storytime yesterday.

But it was a good try, and with older kids, you can try a few different things and see how they respond.

I started off storytime, after our usual hello song, with talking about being nice to people, etc. I made it interactive (“Raise your hand if you like to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you'”!), and we talked about being nice to people, having good manners, etc. The three books fit together well, at least in my head – there was a central theme running through them.

photo (13)

Leo the Late Bloomer worked nicely, and it was the only book I didn’t involve the kids in, because it’s a quick read. When we read Nobunny’s Perfect, I had them put their hands on their head when they saw a bunny doing something bad/mean, and then on their noses when they saw a bunny doing something good/nice. (Luckily, the book is split into two clear parts, each featuring either the good or bad bunnies.) Finally, we read Oliver Button is a Sissy and talked about being nice to people when they don’t like the same things that you do, and why “sissy” isn’t a nice word.

I decided not to read William’s Doll a) because I hate it, and you should never put a book you hate in your storytime lineup, and b) because it was long, and it was either that OR Oliver Button, and, well, that was an easy choice.

The theme was a good one, but might have been better with different books, older kids, and more interaction.

The other day in our teen art program, Art Attack, Coworker C made little book charms (the nickel is there for scale). Look what she made for me! Thanks, C.



I love LeVar Burton. Always have, always will.

Wish I could afford these…

Excuse me while I hyperventilate.

Have you heard of this? I’ve neither heard of nor seen it before.

There’s some really good YA lit in here (one of ’em’s John Green!)

I looooooove old-school gothic novels.

Warning: these are genuinely scary.

Good choices, all of them.

The idea is good, but I think Foer’s logic on it is a little flawed.

News from Sister A, that the sequel to The Diviners has been pushed back to April 2015. She didn’t send me a link, but I trust her.

From Friend D:

These are weird. But as Mama Bear says, there’s a lid for every pot, so there’s probably an audience somewhere for these.

How many of these have you spotted? I knew a few…

Some photographic love for branch libraries.

From Mama Bear:

best shirts ever! (Friend E always sends me Out of Print‘s emails, and I can’t ever buy anything because I would end up buying the whole site. Although I do love that pretty necklace… oh, and that one tote … and all of the shirts…)

A GREAT list.

In What’s Annabelle Reading – in between my Maze Runner trilogy books, I needed something to break it up, and downloaded Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. I think it’s my favorite of hers. Predictable, though. And I just finished the second Maze Runner book. On to the third!

So shines a good deed


in a weary world (this guy, but I first learned it from this guy).

There’s been some not great stuff going down in Teens the past few days. Maybe it’s because I’m there, maybe the warm weather is making people cranky, maybe there’s an epidemic of Asshole going around – I don’t know. (Tainted water?)

Yesterday a teenage boy had an unopened can of beer by his computer. First, you can’t have alcohol, open or not, in a municipal building. Second, a), if he was 21 or older, he was too old to be in Teens. b) if he was not 21, then he was too young to have beer. Either way, he was banned.

Yesterday, also, a fellow without a shirt on told me that he did not, in fact, need to put on a shirt after I had told him that yes, in fact, he did. He used some very descriptive profanity to tell me what I could do with his shirt. Happily, a security officer was passing at that moment and heard most of it.

Today I was told that I’m a racist white bitch because I informed a young lady that she had used up her two warnings on her music being too loud, and that singing the lyrics of the song, which included words that rhymed with “bigger” and “brothermucker” and “pit” was not appropriate behavior, and she would have to leave. Then, she threatened to beat the shit out of us (my coworker and me), so security was called and responded in a timely manner. She was later banned, too. 


So I was ready for a good deed. Not for me personally (though Coworker M bringing in Rita’s definitely counts, bless her heart), but just some evidence that people are nice. And lo and behold, I found one.

I was picking out some stories for my preschool storytime tomorrow, and came across William’s Doll, and was flipping through it, when I found this, stuck in one of the pages:


And seriously I almost cried. I did. Really. (Partially because I HATE William’s Doll – it was everyone’s least favorite song in my summer camp’s production of Free to Be, You and Me.) But it was just so sweet to see – a random good deed. I put back that copy of the book and took another, to leave the surprise for a deserving patron. 

Isn’t that nice?


TURN DOWN YOUR $%*&#*&$ING MUSIC! (I swear, I had this particular link planned for my next blog entry even before I had to tell Miss Congeniality to turn down her music today.)

It wasn’t till after I read this article that I remembered where I’d seen chained books before: the Hogwarts library.

And speaking of Hogwarts… buy your tickets now!

I’d never thought of Jane Eyre quite this way before, but okay…

And speaking of the Brontes…. oh myyyyy! #georgetakei

I wish I were this smart.

A great Insurgent casting choice.

This is a great article. I remember loving Hazel’s parents the first time I read the TFIOS.

Um, what? I went to college in Amish country, and I do not remember any vampires roaming around the farmlands.

Happy belated Mother’s Day, all you mothers out there!

From Mama Bear:

Do they not get what a library is?

Mama Bear’s accompanying comment: “More John Green love in an unexpected place…”

Sister A and I still haven’t gotten here yet (but it seems as if our wait will be worth it).

My favorite is the Dashwood sisters’ cottage.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished my advanced readers’ copy of The Forgotten Seamstress. It was fine. Not outstanding. I do like quilts, though.