Monthly Archives: May 2015

Toddler Storytime, Thursday, May 21


Thursday, May 21 seems so long ago – after a weekend of camping in the great outdoors – that I hardly remember it now. There were a lot of my familiar faces, and all went smoothly.


My new book to old book ratio this time around was 2:1. I used my flannel cut-outs with Today is Monday, and then got a big kick out of the children’s reactions to Where is the Green Sheep? (a good book for talking about what the sheep are doing in the pictures and confirming that we hadn’t yet seen the green sheep) and Nighty Night, Little Green Monster, which reveals the cutest little monster ever. It’s a sweet book.

In other news, Mama Bear and Daddio are in Seattle right now, and Mama Bear sent me this picture – how neat! I would go to see this; wouldn’t you?


Links! (Lots about Judy Blume, as her new book comes out soon!)

This is in the top spot, because I think it’s a scream. I could NOT stop laughing.

Ugh, this is just not okay. 

Some “screw you” book dedications.

Not the most clever from McSweeneys: Little Pulp Fiction Women. 

From Coworker L:

Austen’s hotties, ranked. I will not reveal #1 here – you must look, and no, it’s not Darcy.

From Family Friend Jill’s blog:

Think carefully before you review a book online.

From Friend D:

If you take a book, isn’t every bar a library bar?

Edward Gorey’s most notable covers.

See below, but here’s a literary smackdown between Bill Gates and Osama bin Laden.

From Friend E:

What’s Bill Gates reading?

(Stolen) From Friend M:

You might be (or might make a good) librarian if…

From Friend T:

The books were great, and it looks as if SyFy may have gotten the adaptation right.

From Library Friend D:

Hark, a Vagrant! tackles the Brontes (see below for more Bronte action)

From Mama Bear:

Want some sexy sex time, according to Our Jane? Hit the seashore.

An interesting story about one of the first real “children’s” books.

Judy Blume knows all your secrets.

The New York Times review of Judy Blume’s new book, In the Unlikely Event.

A generous gesture to the Baltimore City libraries.

ALL OF THESE. YA forever!

Clearly library paste was before my time.

Snacks to pair with some kickin’ new YA books.

Another author who’s becoming a bookseller – and this one might surprise you.

From Sister A:

It’s comforting to know that the Queen of the Puberty Books was a late bloomer.

“Oh, to be a fly on the wall,” Sister A wrote about this photo.

Her subject line to me: “This may be the only time you see dementors referenced in an article about the Orioles.”

I want it nowwwwwww #VerucaSalt

If you’re going to jump all over Go Set a Watchman, might as well reread To Kill a Mockingbird first, right?

So here’s a funny story. A few weekends ago when Sister A came to visit, we had occasion to bring up Al Hirschfeld twice (once by Brian Selznick!), hilariously. Not that he’s such a random topic, but hey, how often does he come up in conversation, and twice in a weekend? Then the next day was Mother’s Day, so we met up with the parents. It turns out that the parents had gone antiquing and Mama Bear had found a signed memoir in an antique store. Whose memoir? Al Hirschfeld’s. How weird is that? So then Sister A sent this link, with the subject, “This was on my Zite… I’m just saying.”

In What’s Annabelle Reading, the only book I’ve finished lately is On the Banks of Plum Creek, in my Laura Ingalls Wilder re-reading. But I’m in the middle of another book for a project with Friend E, so I promise I’ll report on that once we finish.


Toddler, Outdoor, and Family Fun Storytimes


I’m so sorry, my chickadees. I’ve fallen down on the job. It’s been a few days since I should have posted, so I have lots of links for you, too, and many books that I’ve read, including a new personal project to share!

My Wednesday storytime was with the toddlers, and I’ve started using some music CDs to accent my storytimes. I’ve been singing up to now, but is that something that everyone wants to hear? No. Besides, there’s a lot of great children’s music out there waiting to be discovered.


My new book this time was This Little Chick, which is a terrific animal sounds book for all ages. I love discovering new books, but then I think to myself, “Why have I not discovered this before??” I found CDs with Raffi’s “Shake My Sillies Out,” and have used that in this storytime and my outdoor storytime, along with Sharon, Lois, and Bram’s “Skinamarink.” Both songs were under a minute, so we did them twice. Again, with the young ones, REPETITION. REPETITION. It bears repeating: REPETITION.

This was my first outdoor storytime of the year on Thursday, and Coworker L, who did it last week, helpfully let me know that it skewed young. Last year, it skewed young to toddlers, but this year, it skewed young to one-year-olds. WOW. At the last minute before I left, I thought to bring along Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and I’m glad I did, because I was just filled with babies, ones, and a few twos and threes.

So I did a lot more songs than I had planned, and the only books of the ones below that I actually read was Suse MacDonald’s AlphabaticsI was planning to have the kids identify the pictures, but the teachers did, and then I asked the kids about the pictures – “Oh, look, a hat! Do we see anyone here wearing a hat right now? Yes! Let’s point to them!” (etc.)


For my Saturday Family Fun Time, sometimes I have trouble coming up with themes, so I look at that day in history. You may remember that I did that with Marie Antoinette and the teens once. So I went to Wikipedia don’t judge me and learned that May 16, 1929 was the first Academy Awards.

“Aha!” thought yours truly, the genius.

So yesterday, I had a private Family Fun Time with College Friend D and his hilariously adorable three-year-old J, and we watched the 1952 Academy Award nominee short Madeline and then read Madeline’s Rescuethen read Gerald McBoing-Boing (which I had never heard of before starting my planning, but, oddly, Mama Bear and Daddio had), and watched Gerald McBoing-Boing on Planet Moo, an Academy Award short nominated in 1956. Finally, we watched the 1984 nominee cartoon Dr. DeSoto and then read The Amazing Bone.

But remember that there are no geniuses like three-year-olds, who come out with the best ideas.

At the beginning of Family Fun Time, I shared some fun facts about the early Academy Awards (tickets to the first ceremony were $5, compared to the oddly reasonable $69 today, and the first one lasted 15 minutes; this year’s ran at what, three hours plus?).

Then I asked if anyone knew why the Academy Awards were also called The Oscars.

J instantly replied, “Because they’re trashy!”

Can’t argue with that logic, can you?


Well, okay then.


A Q&A with Anthony Doerr, the author of the Pulitzer-winning All the Light We Cannot See. 

You should have seen me with my paintbrush on Harry Potter Day at work last year, really trying to cast spells with that thing.

Ayn Rand’s Babysitters Club. Heh.

So many embarrassingly-new names to me.

French Milk was charming! Lucy Knisley is one to watch, and so are these other women. Graphic novel memoirs are a great place to start if you’re interested in the genre but a little hesitant about starting.

From College Friend J:

He and I were in the college Writing Center together, and boy, did we know On Writing Well backwards and forward.

From Friend D:

Who wouldn’t, seeing this?

Sharing books with my mother is a wonderful memory (all below aside.)

From Mama Bear:

A rave review for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. 

A fascinating column about Daphne du Maurier.

Numbers 15 and 16 really hit home.


Sister A and I are chronic re-readers. For this author, not so much.

Charlotte Lucas, which is a little humiliating, but okay.

From Sister A:

Shout-out to The Amazing Bone!

In What’s Annabelle Reading, after finishing “Mammy Sucks” (not the official name of the book), I picked up Far from the Madding Crowd, because I realized I’d never read it. I LOVED it. And now it’s a new movie with Carey Mulligan. I can’t wait to see it.

Then finally, I got a copy of Ms. Marvel: No Normal, which is one of the first new graphic novels I’ve ever read. We need new women superheroes. We need new teenage women superheroes. We need new diverse teenage women superheroes. We need new Muslim teenage women superheroes. I’m so happy this graphic novel came along.

When Sister A was visiting, I grabbed a copy of The Partly Cloudy Patriot to read from our local Little Free Library, which is always fun to visit. You never know what you’ll find. Sarah Vowell is snarky and clever.

So, with my first of two new projects, falling under the category of “Books That Didn’t Take When I Was a Kid,” I’m re/reading the Little House series, in order. I’ve already made it through Little House in the Big Woods, the first, which is the only one I remember, and I remember it clearly from multiple childhood rereadings. Mama Bear and I had the whole set and we were planning to read them aloud before bedtime. I don’t remember why we didn’t continue, but I sense it’s because we got to Little House on the Prairie and I strongly objected; on this reread I realized 8-year-old Annabelle would have definitely found it boring. Who cares how Pa built a door? Even 35-year-old Annabelle skimmed that part pretty quickly.

The whole part about the Native Americans living nearby was cool, except I felt squicky with the repeated “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” mantra from one of the Ingalls’ neighbors. Despite the blatant racism (y’know, aside from that), it’s charming, although the little girls are too well-behaved to be believed.

While I was waiting for the next few books in the series to come in, I pulled out The Fault in Our Stars, by my birthday twin, and damn near started crying on my commute yesterday. Although I did see a teenage girl with an “Okay? Okay.” shirt and we shared a nice moment.

Ones storytime, Thursday, May 7, and Baby Lapsit, Friday, May 8


Two storytimes, an Artsy Annabelle, one extremely exciting author talk this weekend, my 200th post (!!!) and a partridge in a pear tree.

I had two disappointingly small storytimes – three adult/baby pairs today and I think six pairs yesterday – which happens, and I do love small storytimes, but it really frosts my cookies when I plan and plan and plan and then, boom, people don’t show. Sigh.

Yesterday I used three new books! (Only two are pictured here because my third book is a big book – a big version of Bill Martin’s Here are My Hands.) I particularly liked Hello, Day! because it was all animals and the sounds they make – perfect for almost any age. I can’t believe I’ve never used it before.


Today, for my babies – mostly one-year-olds; no actual babies, again, sigh – I used some favorites, and another big book, Annie Kubler’s The Wheels on the Bus. 


Baby books do not work well when your attendees are not actually babies.

But I did get happily artsy yesterday in my teen Art Attack. I made rolled paper beads! It is easy-peasy once you learn how. I pulled some magazines from Teen Space – one old Seventeen and one old Entertainment Weekly, sliced up some ads with some fun colors, rolled the beads around thin paintbrushes, glued those bad boys up, and voila, beads. Here’s the practice bracelet I made last week as I was prepping:


Practicing a craft beforehand is essential. You can see here that the string is too thin, and I had to add plastic beads to keep the paper beads from slipping off. I realized I’d need some actual yarn to keep the beads on the string. I also realized a few other little problems as I rolled those beads that would need to be corrected.

I’m glad I worked so hard to make it right for the ZERO people who showed up. /snarky Well, nevermind, because now I have a supercool new necklace.

In other artsiness, I had some off-desk time today, and I updated a display. For lack of anything else interesting to think of, I thought, “Why not do a space display?” Here it is in full:

IMG_2177 (1)


Only later, after I’d finished AccuCutting them all out, did I realize that it would have been so much niftier to say FLY ME TO THE MOON AND LET ME PLAY AMONG THE STARS. What was I thinking?! Silly me. What a missed opportunity. But I didn’t want to waste the paper. Maybe halfway through the month, I’ll change it up. Although the kids never would have gotten it. Well, a Toy Story reference will work just as well.

Here’s the moon books section:


And the rest-of-outer-space section:


I like doing displays, and I wish I could do more.

Tomorrow is a lecture from and booksigning with Brian Selznick! And Sister A will be here for the weekend! WAHOO! So much exciting in one weekend!


In the top spot: This isn’t what you think it is.

In the second spot: ABOUT TIME, J.K.

Illustrator Marcia Brown passed away this week.

Graphic novelists’ favorite childrens’ books.

“Oh Harry, don’t you see?” Hermione breathed. “If she could have done one thing to make absolutely sure that every single person in this school will read your interview, it was banning it!” 

Not going to lie: I am SO excited to read this book. Coworker A read it in the original German; on Tuesday it was finally released in English.

More YA movie adaptations ahead.

Who could the real Mr. Darcy be?

So am I.

From Friend D:

The best F-bombs from female authors. Naturally the first one is from Judy Blume.

Art Spiegelman is a champ for many reasons.

From Friend E:

This sounds like it could be a morbid topic, but the list could go on and on.

From Friend L:

Tumblr is so brilliant. Smarter than I could ever be.


From Mama Bear:


Another reason to cross the pond this fall!

If you haven’t read Station Eleven yet, you should just drop what you’re doing and go get it. 

(Another article on the above.)

Don’t let it make you mad; worth reading for the historical perspective.


In What’s Annabelle Reading, I read the officially-authorized Ruth’s Journey, the story of Mammy from Gone With the Wind. I was not impressed. It’s MAMMY! GWTW’s Mammy kicks ass and takes names and nobody messes with her! Where was that Mammy in this book? Nowhere to be found.

Outreach storytime: Kindergarteners


Here’s what I know about kindergarteners, having a) worked directly with them during the day b) worked in after-school/extended day programs with them c) been one: one, they have lots of energy, two, they have lots of opinions, and three, they have lots to say. And I thought that was just me, ba-dum-bum.

My plan for them today for outreach at a local school was a fractured fairy tale storytime. (Why I didn’t think to do a Mother’s Day storytime/craft, I have no idea. DUMB. ASS.) I chose a few books – the two pictured below were the only ones we got to, and I had an hour – AN HOUR, mind you – and had a modified Mad Lib and a craft idea, but the three items above ended up taking a lot of time.


Having a storytime with this age group, and this particular group before, I get it: it’s an afterschool storytime, the kids have sat still all day, and even after a stretch on the playground, which is where they were when I arrived, they still have the wiggles. Even before they sat down, we did jumping jacks. Not much help.

We started off talking about fairy tales and naming as many as we could. Then we read Eric Kimmel’s The Three Little Tamalesand I told them to think in their heads, and not use their mouths (not possible, and this is me talking, so I know of what I speak), if the story reminded them of a fairy tale they already knew.

After the story, we talked about which fairy tale it was – The Three Little Pigs, obviously – and what was the same and what was different about the two stories.  We all agreed it was pretty silly.

More jumping jacks.

Then we all sat in a circle and I said we would write our own silly fairy tale. I had created a few Mad Libs for an author visit earlier this year, and modified it for this visit so that I wasn’t asking for nouns and verbs and adjectives, but for “relatives,” or “numbers,” or “feelings,” or “person, place, or thing,” or “something in the classroom,” etc., since kindergarteners aren’t yet versed in parts of speech. With each blank space, I went around in the circle and every child had a chance to contribute a word.

Here’s the mini-Mad Lib I did with the kids, “Cinderella,” telling them nothing beforehand (not even the title). Their contributed words are in bold.

 Once upon a time, there was a lovely young clay named Cinderella. She lived with her laughing stepmother and 1000 stepsisters. One day, Cinderella heard about a wonderful zoo, and her stepmother said that Cinderella could go if she made her own pajamas. Cinderella’s helpers, the frogs, made her a beautiful shirt, but her stepsisters were so happy that they destroyed it.

   Luckily, Cinderella’s fairy brother appeared, and created a new dress for her, with a coach made out of an apple. But she warned Cinderella to be home by 100 o’clock.

   When Cinderella arrived at the ball, everyone wondered who the blue girl was. The prince fell in mad with Cinderella, and asked her to hop. Cinderella and the Prince danced together until the clock struck 99 o’clock.

   Rushing home, Cinderella jumped down the steps of the palace and lost her glass hat, but didn’t even realize it was missing. The Prince picked it up and promised himself that he would play her. 

   The Prince wanted to find the fancy girl he danced with, so he went to every horse in his kingdom to find her. When he arrived at Cinderella’s house, her stepmother and stepsisters tried on the book, but it was too quiet. When Cinderella tried it on, it fit her quickly. The Prince knew he had found the mysterious young man. He asked her if she would like to go on a date on Wednesday, and she said, “Yes!”

Sounds good, right? I expected laughs, which I got in abundance. I did not expect tears.

One thing that Annabelle did not remember about that age group is how sensitive five-year-olds can be.

The little boy who contributed “pajamas” got a huge laugh, because the idea of going to a ball in pajamas is funny, right? But he thought we were all laughing at him, rather than the idea of the pajamas, and I had to remind him that the point of the story was for it to be as silly as possible. Other children were proud of their words; for example, when we got to “99 o’clock,” the girl who had suggested it said, “That’s mine!” as we all laughed.

Oh, this poor boy, he may never look at pajamas the same way again. I felt rather wretched for a bit. But then we read Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude, and all was smiles.

Until we did one more activity.

I asked them each to give me one word that they could think of that they would find in a fairy tale, and I would mix them all up and tell them a silly fairy tale on the spot, and the words were great: “sword,” “princess,” “dog,” “sun” (?) etc. So I talked about an angry dog who used a sword to fight the sun and they found that silly.

Except the boy who suggested the word “dog.”

Guess who that was?

Yup, it was poor Pajama Boy.

I may never be able to go back to that class again.


In the top spot: Author Ruth Rendell died this week.

This news is super very excellent good.

From Friend D:

More great news about Nancy Drew.

From Library Friend D:

Jonathan Crombie remembered by Megan Follows. 

From Mama Bear: Unusual, unlikely libraries.

A lot of these apply to libraries too.

I assume this is supposed to be funny, but whatever.

From Sister A:

I received this from a lot of people – 2 Friends J, Friend D – but Sister A sent it first, so she gets the credit. And I would like to say that my coworkers and I were doing this before it was cool.

A terrific interview with the director of Baltimore City’s Enoch Pratt Free Library system.

Of Prep and Other Things


Give me ten minutes, and I can pull together a storytime for any of my regular crowds: babies, ones, toddlers, or pre-schoolers. (In fact, I was halfway through writing that sentence when I realized I did exactly that today – we had an overflow of preschoolers, so Coworker J and I tag-teamed with them. We switched off on songs and books, and I thought quickly and pulled out Jeremy Draws a Monster and The Monster Returns to read to them. Both short enough that I can read them back-to-back.)

But kindergarteners are a whole different matzah ball. They may only be a year older than preschoolers, but they’re in a different mental space. They’re schoolkids now. There are different expectations on them about sitting still and other behaviors, so doing storytime with them is a little different.

We do a regular storytime with a local school every other Monday, and I’ll be visiting them this week, so I had to pull together a few books and come up with a craft idea and another idea for fun. You’ll see after I do it – I never post my books and ideas beforehand, it’s bad luck! – but I think I may have come up with a plan that will suit their age group well.

This Sunday I’ll have time to prep two more storytimes (I know they’re coming, but can’t remember what they are off the top of my head).

Lotsa links:

Today’s top link: It is so important to narrow the (huge, disgusting, overly large) gap between the haves and have-nots. Books are the easiest way to do that. eBooks for all!

I got Puck, and so did Mama Bear!

Happy birthday, Nancy Drew!


My note to myself for this link was “omg no.”

Definitely some books to put on my TBR list.

A few photos of Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender in the, um, Scottish play.

From Coworker J:

Let’s take a nostalgic ramble with Judy Blume, shall we?

From Coworker L:

I particularly adore #12. Late for a date? I will fine you a quarter a minute. Just kidding. Maybe.

From Friend D:

A difficult challenge, and not nearly enough minority authors to make it doable.

This guy has a problem. I don’t have it. Do you?

D.E.A.R.! April was D.E.A.R. month, so this post is coming just a mite too late.

I don’t know what Brandcast is, but my Birthday Twin is involved, so: yay.

Did not expect this statistic, so: double yay!

From Library Friend D:

Many libraries – no matter their location – are a refuge for the homeless. (My library system calls them “people in a transitional housing situation.”) And despite this well-meant attempt at a euphemism, it doesn’t bring anyone any closer to humanizing them. But this project might.

Stolen from Friend R’s Facebook:

If I ever found a man who loves Our Jane like I love Our Jane, I might never let him go.

From Friend T:

The trailer (!) for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. (I tried a few times to get through the book. Maybe the miniseries will be the ticket.)

From Mama Bear:

Mama Bear always laughs at me about #13. I don’t like movie poster book covers, so there!

3D printers are ultra-cool. I have a little TARDIS on my desk.

This is a British list, which is why I didn’t recognize any of the titles except one, which I’m quite cranky about.

The Toast! I love the Toast! They nail it down.

You don’t think I would have been able to have a list of links without SOMETHING Harry Potter, did you?

You can watch it on your phone / You can watch it from your home.

Seriously, in case I haven’t mentioned it, like, five times, you absolutely cannot get a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography. Unless you want to pay through the nose. Then you can.

The New York Times reviews the HBO adaptation of The Casual Vacancy. Or you can skip the link and just know that Mama Bear no likey, which is really all you need.

Another review.

Philip Glass by the book. Big Baltimore shoutout!

From Sister A:

You may not know that I did my study abroad in Bath, so I have a deep sentimental attachment to that lovely little city. And Paris, well, who doesn’t love Paris? Check out this story.

More Judy Blume news. Sister A’s email’s subject line was “Because she’s awesome, obvs.” (Indeed.)

Clickbait books. Superclever.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, if you’ve ever been to Philadelphia, one of its hidden gems is the Mutter Museum in the College of Physicians. It is a fascinating collection of medical oddities, specimens, and junk. I highly recommend it between cheesesteaks. But who was Dr. Mutter? Learn about him in Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern MedicineFascinating man. Then, caught at home without a library book, I dipped into my own bookshelves and reread Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half in one sitting. I love it more every time I read it. After that, with a serious case of Royal Baby Fever (the baby’s due any day now!), I read The Little Princesses – again, for the billionth time. Still waiting for the one book I wanted to come in at the library, and wanting something light…er, I picked up Alex Garland’s The Beach, which always makes Thailand seem like a bad idea, though it generally isn’t.