Monthly Archives: June 2015

Preschool, Wednesday, June 24, and Babies, Friday, June 26

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Two fabulous storytimes, right across the board. I don’t know if that’s luck (probably) or good planning (at this point, with almost two years under my belt as a librarian, possibly), but I had a super group of visiting students who were just delightful. I practically begged them to come back again – the kids participated, the adults were attentive and interested – what a treat!

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We had a lot of fun with You’re Finally Here! (though it took them a minute or two to get into it), but they loved If I had a Dragon and The Monkey Goes Bananas, especially since the last book was so participatory: what was the monkey doing? How was he trying to get the bananas? Why did this attempt work or not? They had great ideas!

I had about six or seven adult/baby “couples” on Friday, some younger infants, some older babies, and they were such good participants, as usual. For some reason, I was just a fountain of literacy tips, and it was a nice conversation to have with the adults.

Also, I’ve learned that I don’t need to focus so much on books with the babies – that sounds wrong to my librarian ears – but that songs will do, as will bounces and rhythm movements. For instance, I just learned “Pizza, Pickle, Pumpernickel” and used it on Friday with them. As you can see, it’s so short that it can be done twice, easily, which is good: the first time, we (the adults) are still learning it, and the second time we know it better and have more confidence with things like poking noses and tickling.

One of the great things about working in the library is learning about books I may not have heard of. I almost fell out of my chair the other day hearing about a series by Jo Nesbo. (Yes, the Scandinavian mystery/thriller writer Jo Nesbo.) But guess what? She also writes about farts. Specificially, a children’s chapter book called Dr. Proctor’s Fart Powder and its sequels, Bubble in the Bathtub, Who Cut the Cheese, and The Magical Fruit.

I love farts. But more importantly, so do kids.

In other news, there are going to be some personnel changes at my branch – some staffers coming and going, and a leadership change, too. Those kinds of things are hard to get used to, but the good news is that Interim Boss (who’s been here for, what, two months? Three months?) is now becoming just Boss, and continuity is always good. So I’m pleased about that. She has good ideas, and I’m looking forward to working more with her.

Links!

In the top spot: When you write crappy books that glorifiy an abusive and controlling relationship, and then you invite people to participate in your Twitter AMA, it’s not going to go well.

This isn’t technically book-based, but given that “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is one of my storytime standards, I just had to share this one.

The first of two links today about the importance of grammar. Thanks, Buzzfeed.

So pretty! (Though I’d naturally be like, “Dammit, I’m assigned to Breaking Dawn this year?”)

To learn more about the darker humor of Uncle Shelby, I highly recommend this snarky piece..

From Friend D:

Let me tell you something about the Morgan Library – they have the BEST exhibits anywhere. Go if you can. Mama Bear and I once went to see Our Jane’s letters. In the flesh. Amazing.

Great news for the New York Public Library system!

You think you know Nancy Drew. You do not know Nancy Drew.

A great investment for libraries (assuming it doesn’t get broken or stepped on…)

From Friend L:

Millicent Spinmander and I invented a spell in Slytherin with my cat.

From Friend P:

Yes. Yes it can. 

From Mama Bear:

I DON’T CARE.

The anatomy of a grammar nerd. Boy, do I tag all the bases or what? Librarian, single, female, college-educated…?

Congratulations to every challenged/banned book out there, whether or not you’re tallied appropriately by the ALA.

From Sister A:

Art from the sequel to one of the oddest, but funniest picture books in recent years.

Another Birthday Twin movie will hit the silver screen.

Getcher tickets now!

In What’s Annabelle Reading, man, I have just busted through a whole variety of books lately, so here we go. I like creepy books that aren’t outright scary (I do love scary books, but I also like just plain creepy ones), but I thought Andrew Pyper’s The Damned was pretty solid. Then it was over to a middle grade chapter book (that means not a super-easy children’s book, but not a YA book – let’s call it “tween”) that I thought was excellently done. Then it was over to YA for a disturbing book that I breezed through, Stained (I don’t know why I read what I read, don’t judge me).

The best book I read throughout this cluster was the first in a YA trilogy, The Vault of Dreamers, about a reality show in an arts high school where the teens are mined for dreams. I can’t wait to see the next two. Finally, I loved loved loved my first foray into Laura Lippman’s mysteries. This one, By a Spider’s Thread, was out of the series sequence, but it’s just so much fun to read about my hometown and recognize landmarks from my childhood. She even mentioned the street where I grew up! Multiple times! Hey there, Baltimore!

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Outdoor Storytime, Thursday, June 1

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Having outdoor storytime at 10 a.m. this summer instead of last year’s 11 a.m. slot was a smart idea. Very smart. Just the one hour makes a difference in both heat and humidity. I find that the children are more attentive, too, and less fixated on lunchtime (as I would naturally be, as well, even at 35).

I forgot to take pictures, sorry, but we read Look Whooo’s CountingWho Says Woof, and sang/read Peanut Butter and Jelly, which the kids really enjoyed. The group was mostly a mix of one- to three-year-olds, so these books worked well. I’d also brought my Old McDonald flannels, but it turned out that the half-hour passed quickly and I didn’t even have time to use them.

Yesterday was the first Thursday that we had our Ones (10 a.m.) and Preschool (11 a.m.) storytimes in the Great Hall of the library. As you may remember, last Thursday’s storytimes were hella crowded. The strollers, the adults, the daycares – it was too much. We couldn’t do it anymore. The bonuses of having the storytime in the Great Hall were plentiful:

  • Kids can have their snacks there;
  • There’s plenty of running-around room;
  • We don’t have to cap the attendee number;
  • We’re not pressed for space;
  • The A/V is set up so we can show a short Scholastic cartoon book adaptation (we showed a William Steig one yesterday) between the storytimes, and the timing was perfect;
  • People can come to both storytimes if they want; etc. etc.

The only downside is that the area is open to the public, so we do need the accompanying adults to be quite watchful of the kids. Our numbers really reflected that – we had quite a lot of attendees! So far, so good!

The other good news is that all through the summer, on Saturdays, rather than our regular storytimes, we’re having performers and presenters – a storyteller one week, a magician this week, capoeira dancers next week, etc. etc. Very exciting.

Links!

It would be inappropriate to make my top link anything other than a link to Cynthia Hurd’s obituary, and noting her commitment to her library and its patrons in Charleston, South Carolina. Hurd died Wednesday in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

Contributions to her memory (in the form of books, obviously) are being accepted here:

Andria Amaral, c/o Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC 29401.

Now a part of history.

From Mama Bear:

In my non-scientific study I have conducted, people don’t remember their second-grade homeroom teacher, but they remember their Lower School librarians.

For such a crappy writer, some surprisingly solid book choices.

From Friend L:

Poor Voldy. Never gets a chance, that guy.

From Friend P:

Huge advances in reading apps for people with disabilities.

From Friend T:

“Ye Gods!” she wrote in an email. Please don’t mess this up, Starz.

NSFW. Not safe for life. Not safe for your eyes. UGH.

In today’s installment of What’s Annabelle Reading, I read the novella Binary Star, which was took me a while to get into, but I liked the writing. Then I read Orphan Train, which a bunch of people told me to read. It was unabashedly predictable, but surprisingly moving.  Finally, I finished 10:04, which… I don’t know. I never know whether books I find pretentious either really are or are amazing and I can’t see it. I say: pretentious.

Toddler Storytime, Thursday, June 11

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I’m starting to love my toddlers more and more. They used to be a difficult middle-age-group for me. Their books weren’t as clear-cut obvious as those for the babies or preschoolers; they were the wiggliest of all my storytime groups; I never felt 100% comfortable with them as I did with the other groups.

But I think that’s changed. They’re still the wiggliest, but in the way, that’s good. It’s taught me to be flexible. If they get a little wiggly, we can do a song that helps them get their wiggles out, like “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” Raffi’s “Shake My Sillies Out,” or just get up and do some arm and leg shaking, or jumping jacks, or something silly. If they get a lot wiggly, and the Storytime Titanic starts sinking, then I know that it’s time to end a bit early, and that’s okay.

My Thursday storytime went beautifully. Being a little silly with this group works really well. (With preschoolers, I do try to be more serious, because the older preschoolers are going to Kindergarten – very much so, sometimes; they’re so old! – and they need to be able to sit still.) So this session’s book selections were solid choices.

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As it happened, most of them knew We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, though this was my first time with it. So they were happy to help me make the movements and the noises and get faster once we “saw” the bear. We sang/read Five Little Monkeys and the big book of Freight Train, which we didn’t get to last time.

What’s funny, and worth noting, is that they were getting a little wiggly by the end, when I was reading Freight Train, but I wanted to try something that had worked in the past when I was a camp counselor with teenagers. If you’re ever in a room with a bunch of loud teens, the quieter you speak when trying to get their attention, the quicker they will get quiet in their curiosity to hear what you say.

I knew it worked with teens, but I wondered if it worked with toddlers, so I decided to try it. I read Freight Train steadily and in the same volume I had with my other books, and would you believe it, I’d say about 75% of them quieted down and paid attention! Whaaaa?! Some of them were even reading along with me.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. It was great.

In other news, I need a break. I often feel like I’m turning into a fractious toddler. I get cranky in the middle of the day, knowing I need a nap or some food. I don’t want to listen to what people are saying. I want to go home. I want to go home NOWWWW. Or a nap. Maybe because it’s summer, maybe because public schools close on Friday (Beyonce help us all), maybe because it’s unrelentingly hot and humid, maybe because I need a vacation.

Links:

In the top spot: Oregon reigns supreme.

It’s about time to hear a new voice.

Ugh, just…. no. NO.

A few misfires, but some other excellent recommendations.

Oh, man, do I just love The Bad Seed

From Friend D:

Queen Victoria took a stab at a children’s book (well, way before she was Queen).

#14: Annabelle has just never liked this book.

From Friend P:

James McBride has a few things to say about To Kill a Mockingbird.

From Mama Bear:

Thank goodness for fine caps!

“Shawl insufficiency”

Sounds like a good time in my hometown

OBVIOUSLY I got P&P!

True – traditionally it’s a Mommy job, amirite?

This whole story is weird, but how dare they drag Madeline into it?

I am a logolept.

Probably another bad idea in a series of bad ideas?

Mostly agreed, except for Alexander and…. 

For obvious reasons, and we salute you.

From Sister A:

Jeez, where don’t I read? Where do you read?

Quite Brit-centric, Mama Bear and I agreed, but, well, can’t complain. (Where’s Charlotte A. Cavatica, ahem ahem??)

The new Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling cover!

“Hello, I’m an illustrator, I know this sounds weird, but could I draw your child and not tell you what it’s for?”

In What’s Annabelle Reading, The long experiment of rereading The Little House on the Prairie series is finally over. They were fine, but I can clearly see why 8-year-old me wouldn’t have enjoyed them. The last few books, with teenage Laura having friends, going to parties, etc., I enjoyed much more than flipping pages through descriptions of Pa building a door. Ugh.

In other news, I also read Emily Gould’s Friendshipwhich was meh, since I didn’t particularly care about either protagonist in said friendship, and The Hangman’s Daughter, which was a nice little historical mystery from Germany.

Bloggy Miscellany

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We had rather a rainy week, which actually affected my work, would you believe.

I’m sure I mentioned my outside storytime last year, and this past week, I had one scheduled, and thanks to Mother Nature making it rainy and cool this week, mine was cancelled. Boo. The only good thing about that is that at least I can save my materials and my storytime songs, etc. for the next one I have planned.

Last year’s outside storytime tended to skew a bit older, towards preschool-age, but this year it’s been consistently leaning toward ones and twos each week, we’ve found. So I have lots of counting and repetitive songs and motion games for them planned.

I guess having a cool and rainy outdoor storytime is better than having one that’s superhot, right? Last year our storytimes were outside at 11 a.m. This year they’re at 10 a.m. Trust me, this has already made a difference!

In other news, we’ve been doing a boatload of weeding of biographies, also something I’ve mentioned before. Eventually we’ll get through the whole children’s section; we’ve already finished chapter books. For biographies, our main criteria (aside from condition; I actually threw a book covered in mold right into the trash can today) are:

  • Is it ridiculously out of date where the subject is concerned? (does the biography of Maurice Sendak talk about his “plans for his books in the 1990s?”)
  • Have new facts/developments been uncovered in regards to the subject (i.e., does a biography of Steve Jobs stop at the invention of the Apple IIe?)
  • If the book is part of the series, is the series out of date?

Here’s a perfect example of the last one, from a book about William Henry Harrison:

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While I’m sure the book’s facts are perfectly fine, this timeline on the book’s back cover indicates that we received it sometime while Reagan was still in office. So out it goes.

(Besides, 1) most of these books are available at other branches in our system, and 2), our system subscribes to a terrific online biography database or two or twelve, so I don’t worry that our customers are missing out.)

Links!

In the top spot: Your secrets are, and always have been, safe with us, no matter what the government says. (In L&O-speak, yes, there is librarian-customer privilege – particularly with children and teens.)

This makes sense, because apparently adolescence continues till the mid-twenties these days.

“You are being blackmailed by a swarthy fellow.” Hee.

From Coworker J:

Explain yourselves, movies.

From Friend D:

A necessary place, but it’s running out of time.

I had to write her and ask, “Is it me, or does he come off as a total douche?” Spoiler: not just me.

Some other famous books from alternate viewpoints (not just that Fifty Shades of Crap).

Who’d get any work done with these in their office? I would not. And I’d love it. Can we get one right meow?

Reading aloud to your kids is always a good idea… no matter the age!

From Mama Bear:

Aye.

Not a lot of surprises on here.

Why aren’t there any pictures? All my female friends who went sent pictures of themselves with… other awesome females.

Friend E. and I had a delightful evening on Thursday discussing our thoughts on this very book. (We both couldn’t decide if we liked it or not, despite how well-written it is.)

“If you have no road map, you have to create your own.” Can’t think of anyone more deserving.

Boring.

This is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, right? RIGHT?

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I’m sorry to say I’ve never read any of Gary Shteyngart’s fiction. But I just read his memoir, Little Failure, and enjoyed it very much. Next is back to my Little House on the Prairie series slog-through.

Toddlers, Wednesday, May 29, and Babies, Friday, May 3

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My two storytimes last week couldn’t possibly have been more different.

My toddlers were almost a full house, and while I had their attention through the first book, 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo,  I rapidly lost it after the book and the song after that. And taking some advice from Kenny Rogers, I figured I wouldn’t try to keep the kids much longer, so we sang a song and adjourned. I didn’t even get to Barnyard Banternor the big-book version of Freight Train I’d planned to close with.  Maybe next time.

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In a complete 180, my babies were all about storytime on Friday. We could have gone on forever. “Give us more,” they cooed, smiling, clapping their hands, and drooling all over their grownups. (I don’t know. I don’t speak baby. They may have been smiling and clapping their hands and cooing, but saying “This sucks, where’s my pureed spinach?” But they looked happy, so I’m taking my wins where I can get them, okay?)

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Baby Love is a brand-new book that I snatched up when planning storytime. It has a refrain about kissing and hugging, which spurred some spontaneous, well… baby love! Doesn’t get any better than that. Pete’s a Pizza and My Nose, Your Nose are always popular, so those worked too.

Isn’t it funny how in just a few short years, boom, kids can change so much?

Today I have a meeting with my teen space committee to talk more about how we can make it a welcoming space, but still enforce the rules. It’s a tough balance, but I know we can do it.

Links!

In the top spot, from Sister A, this is the BEST NEWS OF MY SUMMER AND IT’S ONLY JUNE 2! Because y’all KNOW how I feel about Bill Bryson!

This takes the second spot among all my Judy-related links this installment.

Dirtbag Tess of the D’Urbervilles. (I read it for the first time in 9th grade, missed the whole point, and loved it when I reread it. Definitely worth looking into again. Thomas Hardy!)

Were you ever a Poky Little Puppy devotee? I don’t think I ever was.

In the category of “More things we don’t need…”

Mansfield Park in a nutshell, particularly if you watched the 1999 Patricia Rozema adaptation.

Glad to hear that my Texas friends are okay. But it’s funny (weird funny) that in times like these, people turn to… where else? Their library!

More problems with the New York Times’ summer reading list.

Not so much “around the world” as it is mostly “around Britain,” but they’re still gorgeous!

From Coworker A:

Her friend J works for the DC Public Library and did a reading guide from Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston. It is excellent.

From Friend D:

Here’s a chance to watch my Birthday Twin be cute.

More appropriate casting news for Doctor Strange.

Well, this is a problem.

I’m not sure a bookstore has “more to offer than all of [the] libraries combined,” but I’ll root to save a bookstore anyday.

Again, bookstores FTW.

J.K. is a BADASS! I love her!

From Friend E:

Don’t read this list on an empty tummy.

She sounds divinely interesting.

Some of the best opening lines in lit!

From Mama Bear:

I’ve said for years that the world would be a better place if we just adopted an Austenian way of life. Finally, someone’s listening.

He will never not be relevant.

It was different for all of us, but with different books and different moments, but Judy taught us all.

It’s not like the need for diversity is ever going to disappear, let’s be honest.

There is no reason to read this book. The first one was fine, thankyouverymuch. (The last line, burn!)

From Sister A:

Judy gifs!

“LIBBA BRAY” was how she titled her email about these great summer YA reads.

More John Green cuteness.

I love the part at the beginning about crying when people meet Judy Blume. She’s going to be in my town soon, and I cried when I met her, and a friend is worrying about crying when she meets her, and I was like, “Honey, we all do it.”

In What’s Annabelle Reading, the project I sneakily alluded to is finished! Friend E and I both read How to Be Bothby Ali Smith… but I read it from the beginning, and she read the second half first and then read the first half. We’re meeting to discuss it on Thursday night, at which point I’ll report our findings.

Because I love anything to do with New York City around the turn of the century, and good ole Theodore Roosevelt, I picked up this doorstop. It was interesting, yet plodding to get through.