Monthly Archives: February 2015

Surprise Storytime Thursday, February 19, and STEAM


It’s been a strange few days here in my city – temperatures fluctuating, Mother Nature trying to figure out if she wants to drop moisture on us, and how much, and the Library Plague still plaguing us all. I picked up a toddler storytime for my sick coworker on Thursday, and, as is usually the case, my “surprise” storytimes always go so much better than the ones I sign up for. Can you explain it? I can’t.


I’m proud that for my planned-in-advance storytimes that I have created and stuck to my “one new book in my storytime” rule, but when you learn that morning that you’re doing a storytime, I’ve created a new rule: the “the one new book in my storytime rule can go out the window when you have to pull a storytime together in less than an hour” rule. Because, I mean, honestly.

So sometimes you have to stick with what works. Making animal noises? Check. Making dog noises (and using a dog puppet)? Check. A classic Caldecott winner? Check. And the songs can be classics too: I used my Old McDonald flannel set, we sang “Bingo,” and my usual opening and closing songs. The kids were excited, everyone participated, and we had a great time.

Go figure.

On Saturday, Mother Nature blanketed my town with about four inches of snow, which made my whole town panic *rolls eyes* and closed us at 2 p.m. My commute home was stretched out to almost two hours from its regular 30-40 minutes, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but at least I was warm while my poor car, Daisy, was slipping and sliding her way down slushy streets.

Sunday, though, it was business as usual, and I was glad, because for once I had a STEAM program that I was truly excited – and confident! – about. I forgot to take pictures (sorry), but it was all about fingerprinting. The kids and I talked about fingerprints, what makes them, how they’re different, and the science of fingerprinting. Then we took ours with ink pads, and compared them, learning about loops and arches and whorls. (We also learned that it’s easy to see your fingerprints on a piece of tape.)

Finally, we learned about lifting fingerprints from glass surfaces by making our own. First, everyone had a little glob of honey on their thumbs, to rub with their forefinger and get them nice and sticky. Then they stuck those fingers onto various spots on a mason jar and leave fingerprints behind. Once those had dried, I produced small cups of cocoa powder and paintbrushes, and the kids used paintbrushes to make the fingerprints “appear.”

(Yes, obviously, the fingerprints were much more visible than the latent kind would be. But I explained to them that the CSI techs use a special kind of powder and brush to bring out the invisible prints, and we were doing an experiment to see what it was like.)

The best part of the whole program was that one of my attendees had visited the library on Thursday, and I had told her all about the program, and she came because she thought it was going to be cool. Yay! And it was cool, in my completely biased opinion.

Links links:

In the top spot this week: Well, this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again, and I truly don’t think you’ll find a librarian who disagrees: NOTHING BEATS THE PRINTED PAGE. 

So this may have come from a Doctor Who Tumblr – don’t judge me – but I love the variously-painted Paddingtons! And look who all is contributing to their design…

I got Lisbeth Salander whatwhatwhat? (So did Mama Bear. Sister A got Jo March.)

Assuming that copyright issues have been sorted out, this is an excellent idea.

As if I needed more reasons to find an excuse to move to Great Britain

Listen to A.A. Milne read from Winnie-The-Pooh.

The library police in my system are actual members of our town’s police force, rather than mere security guards. But their stories are probably not unlike this officer’s.

From Friend A:

Friend A works at the DC library, and this came from her system’s Tumblr. A great resource for teens – my library system should do this.

From Mama Bear:

So much debate on the “new” Sherlock Holmes story! Granddad, Mama Bear’s dad, was a Sherlockian and a Baker Street Irregular, and I daresay would have much to comment about this. (Have I mentioned him before? Probably. If so, give me a break, I’m getting old and my memory is failing.)

And speaking of Sherlock, I’m not sure how much my dear Mama Bear knows about slash fiction, but I’d be tempted to say a great deal more than she did before she read this article.

Love my hometown shoutout!

LeVar Burton is a god among men.

A final sentence can have a lot more oomph for a book than the opening sentence, don’t you think?

I’m a little tired of Lena Dunham, but I will never be tired of Eloise.

From Sister A: (I have been asked a few times if Sister A is a nun. Sister A is not a nun. I just call her that because she’s my sister.)

More on Harper Lee and Monroeville, Alabama.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I was stuck at home last week without a book, and randomly picked up Under the Banner of Heaven, which is always interesting. I need a new copy, though; the one I have is completely waterlogged and warped. I have some strong ideas about religion, which have no place in this blog, but this book always leaves me shaking my head at the extent of peoples’ fanaticism.

Next, I read the completely wonderful chapter book A Mango-Shaped Space, which acquainted me with the world of synesthesia – something I’d heard of but knew nothing about – and loved the fleshed-out characters, the themes of grief and acceptance, the plot, and now need to read everything by Wendy Mass.

Finally, I just finished this morning what I can already tell will be one of my top books of the year, and was one of practically everyone’s top books of 2014. I can give it no higher praise than saying that it felt like reading a book by Daphne Du Maurier. I want to open it up and read it again, and then have Sarah Waters tell me a bedtime story every night for the rest of my life.




We’ve had quite a bit of snow here in the Northeast, and had our first snowday of the year yesterday. Hooray!

Naturally, we’ve been quite busy today, as grateful parents get their kids finally out of the house, the back-to-back closures of Presidents Day and a snowday clearly making for some frazzled nerves.

So though I’ve had a four-day weekend (wahoo), and would have much preferred to sort of ease my way back into work, the patrons care very little for what I prefer and have descended on us. I also have a STEAM program on Sunday that, for once, I’m really excited about, but it will take some prep, and I only have today and tomorrow before I work the weekend to prep for it.


In our Top Spot! Dr. Seuss has a new book coming out (which is a neat trick, since he’s dead). It’s called Go Set a Watchman. I’m just kidding. I stole that from Friend D.

Odd facts about children’s books + my birthday twin = a captivating 11 minutes.

Big fan of #1, then #2, and #3 is a big mess of what now?

This question is why I’m single, because I hear it on every. single. first. date. The responses are why I’m enjoying it.

Richard Scarry for the win, I think.

I hope I never see the movie, but if I do (by which I mean tied to a chair with my eyes held open), at least I can torment my liver along with my eyes.

The Harry Potter/Mean Girls mashup is the best (picture Malfoy saying that his dad, the inventor of toaster strudel, wouldn’t be too pleased to hear about this), but pretty much anything can go together.

So it is indeed Malarkey (pun fully intended). Does it get trashed, or does it go into fiction, then?

I looooooove Sense and Sensibility.

What a great idea, to have a circulating collection of cake pans, of tools, of American Girl dolls…

From Friend L:

J.K. Rowling is, again, the cleverest of the clever. These are really brilliant.

From Mama Bear:

Putting this on my Hanukkah list for next year…

Well, hellloooo, Jane, you sexy thing.

You have a Judy Blume awkward moment. We all do. I laid mine bare for you all, so I now have nothing to hide.

Amen, sister. 

Another author I’ve been meaning to read a lot of – and her personal story is nothing short of amazing.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I have had the chance to read some wonderful children’s chapter books throughout our weeding process, and just finished AshesWhile chapter books and Nazi Germany don’t always go well together, this one was carefully written and the characters fully fleshed out, but probably should have been designated YA, due to some of the adult themes, and not just for the (superbly researched) history behind the story.

Then, in a really abrupt change, I breezed through Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, which was just so fabulous that I can’t believe I hadn’t read it earlier. As I read it, it seemed like a wonderful book to read with a child – the adult reading the words, the child describing Rose’s story through the pictures.

Baby Lapsit, Friday, February 13


Today is bitterly cold. Piercing winds, the kind that make you want to take one look outside at the people having their hats blown off, shake your head, and get back into bed with a cup of cocoa and a book.

I started off with one little munchkin for my baby time, and then eventually we grew to 11! It was nice. We had a cozy time in the Early Literacy Room rather than in the regular storytime room, which can feel positively cavernous when you have a small group, particularly of little babies.

Of course, a larger number is better for our monthly reports to The Powers that Be, and weather and holidays and such account for lower numbers, but, dangit, I do like a smaller group, particularly where babies are concerned.


Linkity dinks:

For tomorrow, if you’re looking for someone to date

Have you ever found anything cool in a book?

One of my favorite smells – old books and contentment.

From Friend D:

These guys are the talk of our office, and for good reason.

From Sister A:

“Because duh,” says A (and happy belated to dear Judy Blume!)

How (and why) to surround yourself with books.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I received an advance readers’ copy of A Touch of Stardust (which has already been released), and liked it very much. It’s a sure hit for anyone who likes stories about old Hollywood, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and most of all Gone With the Wind, like yours truly. Lots of fun little details about studio life and screenwriting in the late 1930s.

Have a happy Valentine’s Day, my chickadees (or a Galentine’s Day)! Spend it with loved ones, friends, or family, real or fictional.

Preschool storytime, Wednesday, February 11


My preschoolers were all over the place today. I had one group that was focused and ready and paying attention, and another that was all over the room, hiding behind things, not paying attention, literally on all possible inches of the carpet. Perhaps it’s my fault, since my book theme today was silly books, and we did songs like “BINGO” and “This is the way we brush our teeth/wash our hair/etc.” So I primed them to be up and down and around.


See? Silly books all over the place. It was a great storytime, but perhaps a little too active?

Summer is creeping ever closer. We’re getting ready for summer reading, and the programs – science programs galore! – and even our summer schedules. It’s February! How am I supposed to know what kind of vacation I want? It’s too early! Gah!

Links (quite a few in here about the Harper Lee/Go Set a Watchman debacle, which still floors me.)

A reminder about the good in the world.

Do other people find so much joy in visiting the library, or is it just me?

Finally, some answers from J.K. Rowling.

They had me until “sauna.”

Judge a book by its cover, why don’t you?

One of the best reviews of Divergent EVER.

Since clearly this is a recurring problem for me, I hope this will help me avoid such embarrassment in the future.

First of all, the image in the link is from the movie adaptation of The House of Mirth, which was written by Edith Wharton. So that’s a fail. Second, I’m not a huge fan of #3, but, well, it is Henry James.

From Friend D:

Don’t do it

Shooting the mockingbird.

They doth protest too much.

In non-Harper Lee news, Kurt Vonnegut is a genius.

A longread about the mysterious disappearance of someone you’ve never heard of, but should.

From Friend J:

If you subscribe to the WSJ, you can read more about how Go Set a Watchman was discovered. 

Stolen from Friend R’s Facebook:

The return (!) of the great American indie bookstore?!

From Library Friend D:

So many problems with Fifty Shades of Grey, but let’s tackle grammar first.

From Mama Bear:

To Shill a Mockingbird.

Was Lee manipulated?

The cover of Go Set a Watchman.

Shelfies! My favorite new word.

A scathing review of Anne Tyler’s new book from the NYT. (Contrast that with the Baltimore Sun‘s review, which calls Tyler’s book “among her finest“)

You guys can be his fans, but he’s my birthday twin. So there.

These are gorgeous. No argument here.

So Mama Bear is not thrilled with this guy (“AND HE DISSES THE RAVENS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH” is exactly how she ended her email to me with this link in it – the first half is not for family viewing), but the link is better than a case of measles.

From Sister A:


I actually met some roller derby gals this weekend, and they were awesome. I told them that my name would be Raven Maniac. You’d think I’d come up with a literary name. I can’t, because all those listed are the best, and they are taken.

He is rather a lovely little bear. (Happily, the movie seems to have gotten good reviews across the board.)

In What’s Annabelle Reading, the idea of “Dollar Princesses” was around much earlier than anyone thinks – before the Churchills and Curzons and fictional Granthams of Downton Abbey. I’d been wanting to read Sisters of Fortune for a while because they were the Caton sisters from my hometown, who were early “Dollar Princesses” of the late 1700s. Fascinating.

That was a rather daunting book, and afterwards I sped through a few: The Girl on the Trainwhich was like a British Gone Girl, and it was just fine, and the ultra-charming children’s graphic novel Smile, by Raina Telgemeier. I can’t wait to read everything else she does. (Also, being the daughter of a dentist, boy, did I get everything she was talking about!)

Next, I managed to snap up the newest Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Reading Murakami is comfortable and comforting. I just let the words wash over me, and they’re always the right words. This was one of his shorter works – well, I suppose everything is next to his masterpiece, 1Q84At this point I can add Murakami to the list of writers I will always pick up when I hear he has a new book out. Don’t care what it’s about, what it’s called, how long it is – I will always read it.

Finally, I sped through the memoir Girl in the Dark, by Anna Lyndsey, who writes about her debilitating sensitivity to light, and how it’s affected her life. I can’t imagine.

Ones, Thursday, February 5, 2015


Blah blah blah storytime with the ones, they were great, here are the books I used (plus Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed), etc. etc.


Ready? Let’s move on to…

…the huge crazy news that came out,which would normally be top news in the links, but this deserves a little bit more discussion. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock/have had the Library Plague (see below)/need a refresher, the news came out that Harper Lee will be releasing her first book in 50 yearsGo Set a Watchman. (All credit to Friend P for alerting me to this earth-shaking news by sending me the link in an email that had “BREAKING NEWS” with 500 exclamation points as the subject line.)

The book has the potential to be quite exciting – OMG A NEW HARPER LEE BOOK AHHHHHH – but also a little worrying.

Consider the factors that have gone into the timing, as revealed by this Jezebel article.

Consider also this shady, shady, supershady interview.

Consider Lee’s own words from back in the day (when she was still lucid).

Consider this NYT op-ed writer who says, “We have been greedy. One great book is enough.”

Consider what the new book is up against in terms of the original.

Do you want my take, dear chickadees? Well, you’re still reading, so I assume your answer is yes. Frankly? I think it smells. There are too many factors that just don’t match up. Mama Bear offered to pre-order a copy for both Sister A and me, but I asked her to hold off, at least on my end. Is this something I want to put my money toward? I think I’ll wait till the rumbling stops and see what shakes loose.

Moving on.

In other news, I have the Library Plague. At this point, most of us have had or currently have it. Here’s a picture of the staff in our protective gear:


Just kidding. But we’re just slightly short of that. I slept through yesterday, but today I’m quite snotty (go ahead, make your jokes), so I’m armed with tea, handkerchief, and a boatload of Purell. You should have seen us in storytime today – it was a symphony of sniffling and coughing. We were disgusting. But I guess that’s children in February.

Okay, regular links.

In the other top spot, Harper Lee aside, the youth media awards, announced at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting. Congratulations to all the winners – excellent choices this year!

One of the best presents I ever received (from Sister A, I think), was a copy of the letters of Ursula Nordstrom, referenced here. What a hero.

Another reason ISIS is not winning any points with anyone (this time with librarians and booklovers).

Who wouldn’t love to read in spaces like these?

So many great women writers to read in 2015…

We now pause for pets.

From Friend M:

Libraries and librarians change, but serving families is forever.

From Mama Bear:

My Birthday Twin defines acronyms.

Google, what have you done for us lately?

Aren’t there actual, y’know, crimes that the police could focus on?

YA gives me the feels. Case in point.

From Sister A:

This could be quite useful, if you’re on a streak…

What it’s like to get the Newbery/Caldecott/Printz call…

STEAM Sunday, February 1


It’s never a good sign when your boss comes over to you and says, “So…no one’s signed up for Sunday’s STEAM program…” She’s not coming over to you to just inform you of that fact and then tell you she’s going to lunch. No, sir. She’s informing you of that fact and then telling you that you are now in charge of that Sunday’s STEAM.

Uh, oh.

But luckily, inspiration struck and it struck quickly. (This conversation happened on Friday, so I knew that indulging in panic would not be productive.) I thought for a few minutes – maybe something for Superbowl Sunday? And I lit on a word that came from the depths of a long disused portion of my brain, devoted to math: tessellations.

Where it came from, I don’t know. But it turned out to be just what I needed.

I pulled out Boss’ iPad and loaded up a few links to share with the kids: one, the song “Tessellations” from the most underrated kids’ TV show ever, Square One TV, (a math show that I watched obsessively – I know, right? Math and me?), and two, some of M.C. Escher’s tessellations to show them.

Once I’d shown them these links, we set to making our own tessellations, thanks to some internet digging I’d done. (Rare is the librarian who comes up with his/her own program. The internet is there for a reason, and I’m not too proud to say that.) It was easy and fun.

Here are mine!


If you look carefully, you can see that I have a page of tessellated Heffalumps and a page of tessellated Woozles. I felt like making my tessellations into creatures, and one of the boys asked me what Heffalumps and Woozles were. Well, that required more than just an explanation; it required a song. So not only did the kids learn about tessellations, they learned some rich Disney history via YouTube. (This one kid was fascinated. I’m serious. He insisted on watching the video twice.)

So it was a good program, for the brief amount of planning time I had!

In other news, I changed up one of our bulletin boards. It was our MLK Day one, and I made a slight switch to make it our Black History Month one. I pulled up some quotes and tied them to photos of who said them.


The photo to the far right (sorry, I couldn’t fit the whole board in) is Rosa Parks standing in front of a library. I’m no fool.

Last of all, everyone who’s cool and is not me is at the ALA Midwinter, oh, did I mention LeVar Burton and books and swag and Chicago and awesome librarians and not me? Sad.


In the top spot, a trip down memory lane.

Because it’s awesome!

Gorgeous and really well done. I’m partial to #6 in particular. So delicate.

From Friend D:

I’m going to start using “Interviewing your brains.”

Sad, but not a surprise.

Short but sweet novellas for the non-footballers among us.

Wow – learned something new about Stephen King today.

Speaking for all librarians, which is generally a dangerous thing to do but in this case I’m happy to do it, please do not film porn in the library.

I blew it at #21 by guessing a character who was listed at #55.

From Mama Bear:

English majors, sing it loud and proud.

From Sister A:

She titled the email “Good list,” but I’m going to say it’s an EXCELLENT list.

About writing for kids – things I never would have thought of.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished Stephen King’s Revival, and was still waiting to get scared. It did get a little creepy, okay, fine, but it wasn’t so scary like his old books, like The Shining, or a book I cannot name here that is so scary I can’t even keep it in my house.