Monthly Archives: November 2014

Saturday, November 22 – Family Fun Time: Thanksgiving


I get nervous planning programs. What if no one comes? What if it’s stupid? What if my boss walks in, takes one look, and says, “Annabelle, this is the worst program I’ve ever seen. You are fired.”

(The last is probably not likely, but these are the thoughts that zoom around my head nevertheless.)

It’s funny, because the Family Fun Times I do are generally two parts: the storytimes and the crafts. I don’t have any lack of confidence in my storytimes (I can do them with my eyes closed now), but often the crafts worry me. This time, though, I felt it was backwards. The Thanksgiving books I pulled turned out fine: a simple, introductory book about the holiday, and two “fun” books: a song I bet you know, and a riff on a traditional Christmas poem. The latter two were big hits with the little ones. A good time was had by all, and I felt glad.

Surprisingly, the craft went even better, because I had a brainstorm while planning it.

Have you ever combined kids and paint? Yeah, you have. Did you regret it later? Yeah, you did. I wanted to do handprint turkeys, but the idea of dipping kids’ hands into paint made me hyperventilate. So I had a brainstorm: why not paint the kids’ hands with a brush, and have them just press their hands on the paper?

I’m a genius. You know I was on Jeopardy!, right? I really was. And it’s because I come up with ideas like that.

So I decided to make myself the guinea pig as I put the materials together.

I painted my hand. Orange is fun. Apparently it’s the new black.


Then I pressed it carefully onto the medium of choice – a paper plate. After about 5 seconds, I peeled my hand away, and was left with this.

photo (2)

Look at my weird heart-shaped palm divot! I also learned that, while I went to wash my hand, the (simple washable tempera) paint dried, so I later sent the kids to wash their hands immediately after removing them from the plates, so they could begin decorating once they finished washing.

We had lots of little decorating doodads, so I created Stanley the Turkey:

photo (3)

My attempt worked well, so I figured it couldn’t go too wrong with the kids, and it didn’t. We had a blast! Here are some of their finished turkeys. Even the parents, after helping their little ones, made their own. So cute.

photo (4)

After I told them that I had named my turkey Stanley, and created a companion for him, Ursula, they all named their turkeys too.

It was a great program with a solid turnout. A good day.


In the top spot, Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature for Brown Girl Dreaming. AWESOME.

The Burt Reynolds one is the worst.

From Friend D:

Who wouldn’t want to see more Margaret Atwood books on the big screen?

‘Cause everyone’s equal in the scary dystopias!

YA historical fiction is so necessary, and when it’s done well, it packs a punch.

From Mama Bear:

If you’re a longtime reader, you didn’t need this article to enlighten you.

Karen Katz is a staple of my storytimes, so her presence in this group is a terrific surprise.

One should always work “malaprop” into as many conversations as possible.

Harper Lee’s sister died.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I had forgotten that I’d meant to read Deborah Harkness’ witch trilogy, so I picked up A Discovery of Witches. I’d read that first book a few years ago at my old job, but didn’t remember any of it. I’ve just finished it – enjoyed it a lot – and picked up #2 today. #3 is on hold.


Toddler Storytime, Wednesday, November 19


So I’m back from my wild and wonderful adventures with Sister A. We had a really magical time, pun completely intended.

But that’s another blog post. I’m off Friday and Monday, so I promise – promise – that I’ll post pictures and share all. (Believe me, it’s worth the wait, if I do say so myself.)

However, it’s back to work time, so let’s get back to work.

I try new things for my storytimes, and sometimes they hit their mark, and sometimes they don’t. I made Today is Monday into a felt, with all the different foods on each day of the week, and used it with my toddlers. It worked just okay, so I think I’ll try it next time with the preschoolers. As always anything by Melanie Walsh was a hit, as was 1, 2, Buckle My Shoewith such pretty embroidery illustrations.


And I got a very enthusiastic pre-storytime hug from Little O, which was great, and some giggles from her baby sister, Little K. It was a warm way to come back into my first storytime.


In the top spot: we recognize the creator of a book series that was, and is, popular with the tweens, so much so that Neil Patrick Harris recently modeled his autobiography on it. Thanks for Choose Your Own Adventure, R.A. Montgomery.


Battle of the book sorters! We just do ours by hand.

We’ll get to good reads that scared the crap out of me – see below – but Wait Till Helen Comes was an early read for me that creeped me out. (It still holds up.) What’s it like to (re-)read it as an adult? Bonus points – it takes place in Maryland! AND it’s being made into a movie (which I’m not sure I like the idea of).

“How ‘bout that Dewey Decimal System?”

I wish I were a real writer, because I’d buy this.

Stolen from Friend K’s Facebook, there were a lot of people at The Wizarding World of HP wearing shirts with #19 on them, which I want, a lot. I want all of these, of course.

From Coworker J:

I looooooooved these books (by which I mean feared), but a movie? Meh.

From Friend D:

I remember reading “The Lottery” for the first time. It unfolded so carefully and scared the pants off me, so much so that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a few days. It was fascinating. Now there’s a petition to put Shirley Jackson, a master writer and scare artist, on a U.S. postage stamp.

There should be a question mark at the end of this headline.

I will buy this, and you will address me as Lady Annabelle.

Hate to break it to you balcony-scene lovers, but…

Not the same as Little House on the Prairie. 

You know his work, but do you know his name?

They’re really dark. You were warned.

I guess some authors are better at wrapping things up than others.


From Friend E:

My favorite song-of-the-moment fits nicely with libraries.

From Friend M:

So many things libraries do that people STILL DO NOT KNOW ABOUT. SERIOUSLY.

From Mama Bear:

Some inventive and delightful choices here.

A lot of history here.

Don’t mess with Maurice Sendak.

Some facts you didn’t know about the Harry Potter movies.


From Sister A:

“Lock up your daughters… Darcy’s in town.” Oh, baby.

Ramona! You know how I feel about Ramona Q.

If you’re a fan of either Matilda the book or Matilda the movie, or Bruce Bogtrotter cake, this scene – and the reenactment so many years later – is worth watching.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, over vacation, I read a book that I’d vowed years ago never to pick up again, having had to read it in Upper School, in college, and twice in my first round of grad school. But, hey, why not read it with more adult eyes, and though I read it through my Kindle app, and not the physical copy with all my notes in it, I certainly got much more out of it than I had the last time I read it, over ten years ago. (Speaking of marginalia, Coworker J said, “Oh, you have to see this, then.”) And I did just finish The Vacationers, by Emma Straub, and liked it much more than I’d expected to.

Vacation time!


I feel inclined to preface any post about time off with some disclaimer about how much I really do love my job. Because I do. But it’s natural, and normal, and necessary, and a bunch of other words, to have a vacation now and then.

This is also my first vacation – my first getaway vacation, not just a staycation or trip to the parents’ – since I started at the library over a year ago. I am going home for a day or two tomorrow, and then Sister A and I are heading off to Florida to get our dork on. (I may have mentioned it a few million times on my blog recently.)

So I won’t be posting for the next week or so, but you’ll get lots of pictures from our trip, I promise.


In the top spot, I’m not going. But I wish I were, for many reasons besides this one.

You have to put the words “gold standard” and “Colin Firth” in the same sentence. It’s canon.

I always wondered about Becky more than Sara.

Stolen from Friend R’s Facebook. Keep in mind that Hanukkah’s only a month away, folks…

From Friend D:

Get ready for a rare WWII-era Steinbeck story.

What’s it like to revisit your own first edition?

A very cool idea.

From Friend L:

Slightly awkward Voldemort problems.

From Sister A:

A family favorite turns 25.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, it’s been a weekend of comfort books, going back to some old favorites. I was in the mood for something absorbing, so I pulled out The Alienist, which I love because it’s a great Gilded Age mystery (Edward Hermann reads the audiobook!). Then I thought I’d head back to some of my tweenage books I’d loved, especially ones I’d referenced recently, so I sped through Catherine, Called Birdy, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (the audiobook is read by the late Lynne Thigpen, who, if you’re my age, will always be The Chief from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego), and an obscure chapter book I’d gotten for my birthday once and loved, called Peppermints in the Parlor. (The best surprise of all – the audiobook is read by Dame Angela Lansbury!) For FL, I’ve put some other favorites onto my Kindle.

And that’s it for now. I’m off, chickadees – have a great week!

Toddler storytime Wednesday, November 5 and Thursday, November 6


On Monday, I ran the Art Attack program for the Teens. I’m not a hugely artsy person, and I had been planning to make flip books, but we had so many books that were weeded for condition in our children’s section that I thought I’d use them to make flowers. They’re not fabulous, but the ones that turned out well exceeded my (super-low) expectations:


I mean, again, not great, but if I had a little more practice, they’d come out more uniformly well. I found the easy-to-follow instructions here.

Two toddler storytimes this week – no one fell asleep in either, happily – although one parent showed up for both and read a book through each. That really frosts my cookies. Even though I pointedly added in my “no cell phones” spiel “please put away books, too,” he still read. He’s been a difficult patron, and, really, what can I do?

(I’ve been internally wrestling with whether or not it’s a good idea to fight the losing battle against cell phones in my storytime. I mention it in my aforesaid spiel at the beginning, and to eradicate their presence completely I’d have to stop at least twice in each storytime to remind people – in front of others, potentially embarrassing them, which I don’t like doing, even if I privately feel they deserve it – to put their phones away. I don’t like to stop a storytime, and I don’t like to break the flow, but I also don’t like seeing people disrespect me and model inappropriate behavior for their kids. What to do?)


Yesterday’s was good, but not fabulous.  Everyone seemed to have a case of the wiggles. But Pete the Cat seemed to help. (Oh, speaking of, I am so getting this).


Today went better because I had a theme. I think it always is better, tied together, more cohesive, you know, whenever I have a theme.


And funnily enough, I didn’t even get to two of the books. I just read If I Were a Jungle Animal (which usually is a hit with the parents) and Let’s Be Animals (a tried-and-true favorite) because we got so tied up with the felts of Five Little Ducks and Five Little Pumpkins. Sometimes storytimes don’t always go as planned, and that’s okay. Just call me Little Miss Flexible.


In the top spot, I went on a semi-profane rant about this on my FB feed last night. Here’s the cleaner version: Where I work, so many of our patrons are homeless (and thus can’t prove where they’re from), and many of our tourist visitors pop in to use our express computers, which don’t require a card to log in. What kind of jerks would we be to say, “Oh, yeah, that thing about the library being free and wonderful and for everyone? Lies! All lies! Can we have $3? Thanks.” That’s not fair. The library is for everyone, and calling users – ANY USERS – “parasites” is petty and juvenile and hitting below the belt.

… if you’re freezing to death and you’re finding warmth inside a Tauntaun, you might be in a Jack London story… nope, wait, that’s Star Wars.

Forget about, my aunt Fanny. These are classics. (In fact, did I mention that some of our “staff brats” – a phrase I use with love – are reading one of my favorite elementary-age books, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry? I keep going up to them and asking them how much they love it, and they’re like, “We’re hardly into it yet. Please go away.”)

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

From Friend D:

How to give a book as a gift. (Although I slightly disagree with the “it’s not about you” one. I’ve given Rebecca to so many people – because it is the BEST BOOK EVER and I think everyone should read it.)

From Friend E:

One of the funniest, and most accurate, corrections ever, from Ann Patchett. #commasrule

From Mama Bear:

Not as trite as you might think.

Pan it all you want, I’ll read it. I love her.

From Sister A:

I have a Little Free Library not too far from me. I should contribute some of my books that I haven’t cracked in a while.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I just finished one of the most unusual and unique books I’ve read in quite a while.  The book is a novel about a hive. It was quite Candide-like, and went on for about 50-pages too long, but definitely fascinating. It’ll be a long time before I look at bees the same way.

Halloweenies 2014


It’s Halloween! Doctor Annabelle at your service.


(The lab coat is Daddio’s, from his first lab rotation, so that coat is older than I am. Add some scrubs, the pretend stethoscope from the early literacy room, and boom, a costume.)

Saturday, November 1 was our big Halloween party. Nothing like getting kids hopped up on sugar after they’ve finally come down from the night before

Last year we’d had about 125 attendees at the party, and prepared for about 150. But due to some weather concerns and another free event in my city, we had about 110. So we have a lot of candy left over. Oh dear! I mean, not that I’m complaining.

Our activities were: bingo, trivia, bag decorating, ghost decorating, and song and storytime. (I read Little Goblins Ten, which I had read the other day, and it worked even better, and did my Five Little Pumpkins rhyme that I’ve been doing since, literally, the first day of October.)  The party ran from 2 – 4, and at 3 we trick-or-treated around the second floor of the library, and the kids could pick up some candy but also some pencils, bookmarks, and tattoos. It was fun, messy, and tiring.

But then we have that nasty little drawback of post-Halloween: the let’s skip Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas syndrome. It’s becoming more common in the past few years. Have you seen this meme below in your Facebook feed, my chickadees?


This morning, we swapped out all of the Halloween books for not only the Thanksgiving books – that I was prepared for; it made sense – but also the Hanukkah books AND the Christmas books. It’s November 2! It’s a little early for me.

Some Halloweeny links.

In the obvious first place spot, let’s learn a little bit more about the odious Dolores Umbridge.

Authors’ Halloween costumes.

Ranking the Goosebumps books.

From Friend D:

So many little facts we learn in the Harry Potter books.

From Mama Bear:

Now that it’s November, it’s NaNoWriMo. (I just made a new display in Teens on NaNoWriMo – I’ll have to take a picture of it.)

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I was between books, so I pulled out Sex With the Queen, because you know I love royal history, and it’s so much fun. Then, because I’m one of the world’s great introverts, I picked up The Introvert’s Way, which was super-interesting, not so much because it told me what it’s like being an introvert – this, I knew – but how to make the most of my introverted tendencies out in the world. In that respect, it was eye-opening, and fun to read. I’m in the middle of a fascinating work of fiction that I can’t wait to share with you all, so I’m turning off the Ravens/Steelers game (and not a moment too soon, at halftime), and heading off to read it some more. Good night!

Preschool, Wednesday, October 29 and Toddler, Thursday, October 30


Because I’m a big dork, I didn’t take any pictures of  my Thursday toddler books. My bad.  But both storytimes were Halloween themed – more on our Halloween party in the next post – sorry, I’m behind a few days, it’s been a LONG weekend.

For the Preschoolers on Wednesday, I was so excited to wear my new shirt.


(Had to explain it a bit, but there you are.)

So naturally, I had to read the corresponding book.


It’s always a winner. The kids really enjoyed The Halloween Kid and Monsters Party All Night Long. It was a fun time.

The next day was my preschoolers, which was not so fun. The storytime itself, with Sweets and Treats, Who Goes Out on Halloween, and Little Goblins Ten were all good books.

And at the end, I had to say a few words to the daycare provider who had fallen asleep multiple times. REALLY?? That’s just lousy. The kids may fall asleep, yeah, but when a day care provider does, that’s not cool with me. It’s rude. I’m sorry, but it is. And then she got rude with me, and I was over it.



In the top spot this week, I would be REALLY excited if this happened. (Also, it’s not a children’s book, not a YA book, just saying.)

I’d get this more if I’d ever read the play. (I wasn’t/still am not a big Shakespeare fan.)

Worth thinking about.

Halloween better book titles…

I don’t have the five years of experience, or else I’d apply!

James Franco’s reading list. One of the most pretentious things I’ve ever read in my life.



The first look at the Bennets in P&P&Z.

From Former Coworker A:

How the American Girl line isn’t so innovative anymore.

From Friend D:

This might put you off egg salad for a while.

You know how I feel about Poe’s Grave and the Poe Toaster, but I don’t think I ever mentioned that my senior prom was held at Westminster Hall. Slightly morbid, but still cool. Ever toured a crypt in a sequined dress? Didn’t think so.

From Friend E:

Cuteness, as she put in the subject line of her email.

Not technically, but there once was a guy I was on a date with who didn’t know who Jane Austen was (COME ON) and I just couldn’t. Because… come on.

From Mama Bear:

This gets me excited about my upcoming trip with Sister A!

The power of Gone Girl and strong female characters. (Warning: spoilers)

Halloween post up next, chickadees.