Monthly Archives: September 2015

It’s Lego Time!


Just a quick post here to chat about Legos in the library.

Legos can be a big draw at a library with relatively little effort. Acquiring said Legos take the most time and money; they can be expensive to buy, but with a little ingenuity – begging on a listserv, checking out Freecycle, asking friends with older kids who’ve grown out of their Lego love, stalking eBay- you may be able to score some for free or on the cheap.

At my branch, we got four starter classic sets.


As you can see, they came with the pieces bagged by color, and it took some time to put the wheels, doors, windows, etc. together. (Pumpkin Spice Latte not included.) I did this for three of our starter sets, since we’re not anticipating a mega-turnout just yet. We should be so lucky. But not yet. So this took about an hour to put them together.

Finally, I had them all sorted.


I split them into two sets (both pretty full), and a box of accoutrements: wheels, platforms, doors, etc.

And because yours truly is seriously Type A, I made this sheet (please forgive the photo quality):


The sheet has the numbers of all the doors and windows and platforms and Lego pry-aparter-thingys, so that we can count before, and after, Lego Club to make sure we have all the pieces. We waited a while to get them – I am not losing a window in the first few months!

The only thing we “need” (don’t need that would be nice to have) that we’re missing are some minifigures. But maybe we can get those in time.

I was really excited to be the staff member at the first Lego Club. And I had a wildly exciting turnout of ONE participant! But you know what? We had a great time. I copied the way that participants got their stock of Legos from how they do it at Neighborhood Branch: everyone gets a scoop of Legos onto a plate (or multiple scoops, if there aren’t that many people there) and then can pick out some of the doors and wheels and such.

I built a pirate ship.


The patron, an awesome little dude who comes often, built a jail cell. It’s hella creative.

image (1)

At the bottom right is the door into the jail cell. At the bottom left, the red round thing is the heat source for the cell. The brown thing above the gray round thing in the center is the bench to sit on with an ottoman. There are four sodas on the green shelf and a brownie. The enclosed room on the right is a toilet room with a drain and a mop. Isn’t that just doggone creative????

We’re only having Lego Club the second Sunday of every month. I wish it were more often, and I wish I could staff every one. But sharing is caring, so I suppose I have to let my coworkers have their turn at it. (There are some great challenges planned: I know that Coworker G is going to do self-portraits in a few months. The next time that I do it, I’ll give everyone the chance to have either one or two scoops, and tell them that they can free build, but that they must use every single piece that they take. I’ll call it “Less is More.” I’m so diabolical.)

Legos are awesome! In fact, everything is awesome!


Preschool storytimes, Tuesday, September 15 and Wednesday, September 16


“Two preschool storytimes,” you ask? “But what about Mary Poppins? Isn’t she doing amazing storytimes? Has the wind changed? Has she left?”

No. She has not left. She is still saving our collective behinds and doing amazing storytimes, because she herself is amazing.

Well, not just amazing, as she herself will remind you:


Practically perfect in every way, indeed. (Have I mentioned how great her storytimes are?)

But we’ve encouraged some of our preschool groups to arrange individual visits in order to cut down on the high-volume preschool storytimes. Last week, I was on the children’s desk and answered a call from a local preschool, who wanted to come in for a storytime about friendship, Tuesday the 15th at 11 a.m. And guess who was free? Yours truly.

Individual storytime group visits like this are terrific for many reasons. First, they build rapport with the school. Second, the storytimer can build a rapport with the kids who visit. Third, the storytime can be a bit less traditional (as I’ll show in a second in telling you how I did mine). Fourth, it counts as outreach. Fifth, the teacher involved in the visit goes back to the school, spreads the word among the other teachers, and tells them what a great resource the library is. Voila, a great relationship is born and/or developed.

I had a group of 8 (!! small! Perfect!) for the storytime, and we started off with a pad and paper, discussing just what friendship was: they threw ideas at me, such as “being nice,” “sharing toys,” “saying sorry,” etc. etc. Maximum cuteness was in effect.

Then we started with two short stories from George and Martha, and talked about them: can two friends have different opinions? What if your friend likes something you don’t like? How can you talk about having different opinions without hurting feelings? How can you make up with a friend if you have an argument? Questions like that. The group was small enough that everyone was able to offer (multiple) good answers.


Then we read two of my favorites, Jeremy Draws a Monster and The Monster Returns. These are actually interesting books about friendship, too, so even though the kids enjoyed the stories, I did make them work (heh).

The next day, I had a small group of older preschool storytimers, and I was able to sit on the floor with them and really get involved. It was nice.


We started off with Feast for Ten, which I’ve found works well with any age group, due to the counting. With this older group, I had them hold up the correct number of fingers based on the number I read in the story. Educational and enjoyable! Then we moved on to two new books: Old Mikamba Had a Farm (I told them to put their hands on their heads every time I accidentally said “Old McDonald,” which was funny, because I truly did slip up a few times), and Chicken Cheeks, which was pure silliness. The author is Michael Ian Black, an actor you may know from Wet Hot American Summer and other snarky shows and movies. Small groups are my faves.


In the top spot, this link is the perfect place to announce that I’m heading off next month to Jolly Olde England (huzzah, huzzah) for a week, to visit my hometown abroad, Bath – and damn me for missing Austenland by a month – Cardiff for a day, to visit the Doctor Who experience, and then London for the rest. I sent this link to Mama Bear with the subject line, “You’ll have to make me a list.” Guess I’ll just have to bring an extra bag solely to tote home gifts… for me.

And this made me want to go on the Harry Potter studio tour in London. Am I Harry Pottered out from going to Universal last year with Sister A? Who am I kidding?

Speaking of HP, #potteritforward.

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month! 

While it’s worth subscribing to Pop Sonnets anyway, this one was worth sharing on this particular blog.

From Friend D:

Libraries of Things! My system does not have one. I would like to now formally petition for one. THINGS!

Frankly, this creeps me out more than anything else.

From Mama Bear:

It sounds strange to think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writing a book, but he’s pretty prolific in children’s, at least. I’ll be interested to see what the reviews look like, and what legit Sherlockians think.

I’ve never actually read Beowulf, and now I’m regretting it, because I’d understand this a lot more. Still: hilarious.

“WORST. BOOK. EVER,” declared Mama Bear. As far as I’m concerned, Franzen can take a long walk off a short pier.

The National Book Award long-listers.

This list is not that weird. Children ask me all the time how much it costs to rent the books, which is both endearing and heartbreaking.

From Sister A:

The Man Booker Prize shortlist is out (and an attaboy to my hometown girl, Anne Tyler!)

Sister A sent me a link about this book, which Uncle M and Aunt J sent me for my birthday! They have great taste.

More from Mindy Kaling.

“This amuses me,” she wrote. “Amuses” isn’t the word I would use…it’s more like “makes me crazy.”

In What’s Annabelle Reading, one of the perks about being a librarian is reading books before everyone else can. So guess who got to read the new Brian Selznick before everyone else?? It’s a doorstop – as are all his books – but it was wonderful and delightful and intricate and MARVELous (see what I did there?).

Then I read a novel about an exorcism being filmed for a reality show. It was meh, except for the last 20 pages. Skip it and read the real thing. Or see the movie and really scare the pea soup out of yourself! (Just don’t do what a certain Mama B. did – names have been abbreviated to protect the guilty – and see the movie, then decide to visit the Exorcist Steps immediately afterward.)

Pajama Storytime, Monday, September 14, 2015



Well, for me. It’s starting at Main Branch (you remember how I did it at Neighborhood Branch, where it’s been a staple for a while). But it’s starting at Main Branch, and naturally I was all over it.

I even have a set of PJ’s that I keep at work just for the occasion – thank you, Goodwill.

There were five attendees (adults and kids together), but that’s a pretty good turnout for a first storytime. I advertised through Facebook, word of mouth to customers and in storytimes, on our storytime flyer, and on two neighborhood listservs. Not bad.

Due to my failing memory in my old age, I forgot to take a picture of what I read, but I did read Piggies in Pajamas, Mama Cat Has Three Kittensand Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy. (I had some other books planned, but when I saw that I was skewing young, I switched up the books at the last minute. Flexibility!)

Our weeding project is coming along swimmingly. Finally, we’ve finished biographies. (That makes chapter books and biographies, which doesn’t sound like much, but we’ve created a boatload of shelf space. Pretty amazing.) Next we’re moving on to our series books. A lot of them are popular, but I think we’re going to have to look mostly at duplicates. We don’t need four copies of a particular Rainbow Fairy or Magic Tree House book; we can easily redistribute them to other branches, which will probably be the outcome of our project, at least in this section.


In the top spot is Jane Austen, of course, because there is no such thing as too much Jane Austen. (On a personal note, this photoessay gives fabulous views of my city, Bath. Well, not *my* city. But I lived there for a semester, and I miss it dearly.)

If you don’t recognize the name “Valerie Tripp,” you are not really an American Girl fanatic.

Librarians on the move. (I can never repeat how important outreach is.)

Captain Underpants is cool anyway, but this cemented its awesomeness.

Family friend Jill Morrow’s latest blog post, about how LOUD the online world can be.

Voldemort is French, *insert Maurice Chevalier laugh here*

As you can tell from What’s Annabelle Reading, I have some really, really strange tastes in books. I LOVE books about alternative and extreme/extremist groups. (Not alternative groups like being gay or lesbian, but, say, cults. Or the Amish. Or hermits. Prostitutes. Serial killers. Agoraphobes. Things like that.) Want some YA books about cults? Sure you do.

Some bookstores get ultra-creative with their signs. That makes me want to give them my 401K.

From Friend D:

“Just because we’re stranded doesn’t give you the right to use non-inclusive language,” Jack said.

Some people might have a problem with this. I’m still okay with it. It hasn’t crossed that line yet.

Sometimes you need a little somethin’ to get the juices flowing…

Super gorgey new illustrated Harry Potter editions!

Put all of these on your reading list. ALL OF THEM.

From Friend E:

A new installment of literary tattoos.

From Friend G:


From Friend P:

No surprise to me. And I’d bet that a good chunk of you folks reading this also read before bed.

From Mama Bear:

Big names here

Selfless and lovely and kind – and YA authors. Their generosity is so moving.

Yet another adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. I guess this makes it one million and one?

But you would want to put all of these on your walls.

Looking like another winner (and behemoth) from Brian Selznick (Sister A’s and my friend, you know).

From Sister A:

Lizzie Skurnick, from across the pond.

Love Harold, and love the tributes!

And the only poem Sister A and I know by heart.  (Wait, I do know “I never saw a purple cow…” by Gelett Burgess….)

In What’s Annabelle Reading, you know how I love weird British history. Here’s a plum example of how weird it can get. Mistaken identity! Victorian intrigues! I love it. Next, I read a strange, well-written book that I’m still processing. Half murder mystery, half novel of magical realism, I’m not sure what to think. Certainly unusual.

Finally, I read an advance readers’ copy of a children’s chapter book that Boss may – and should – require all of us to read in my department. It didn’t take me very long; I read it in one commute. It was charming and moving, and at times, difficult to read. Times are changing, people, so we need to change with them, whether we like it or not.

Picnic Family Fun Time, Saturday, August 29


I love my special one-off topic special storytimes. They sprout either one of two ways: either I’m perusing our collection, and I come upon a great book and think, “Hey, this would make a great storytime,” or I find a craft or activity I love, and think, “I’d love to do this with a bunch of “one-year-olds/toddlers/preschoolers/kindergarteners,” etc.

This past Saturday I had a picnic storytime. The problem was that the weather was great; so nice, in fact, that it would have been perfect for a real picnic. How was I going to get people into the library for a fake picnic?

Facebook! Hooray for social media!

Normally, I advertise my – and my coworkers’ – programs on some local listservs, and on Facebook, and given that I know some friends with little ones, I really guilt them into  encourage them to come to programs I think they might like. And the picnic one.. well, it had food. That’s a home run right there.


I had a bag full of goodies, plus my camping blankets, freshly washed.


Then, I sorted the goodies – popcorn, raisins, and candy corn – into Dixie cups (portion control is the name of the game), and kept them hidden throughout the storytime.

I’d really liked the books I’d chosen. They ended up working well, for all of the attendees, and turned out to be good participatory books as well.


What great fun! After stories were read and songs were sung, I pulled out the food, and everyone enjoyed having a (library-approved, no-mess) snack.

Shoeless and snacking? Heavenly.

In other news,


I do love summer reading. It’s an amazing opportunity to get our kids to read, and our youngest ones (from birth up, even), to practice early literacy skills. But damn, it’s a lot of work. So for that reason alone, I’m glad it’s over.

On the “game boards” we used this year, kids have the opportunity to tell us why they love summer reading, and we’ll publish those answers on our website. This answer is far and away the best one I saw. I could have written it when I was a child (this is just as s/he wrote it):

  I love Summer Reading! It helps you calm yourself down when you are hyper 

and excited! The characters talk to you every time you read. They become 

friends with you and teach you a lesson. In non-fiction you get to know 

what’s happening in your world and around you! Then you will have fun by reading 

more and getting to know more. Also summer is the best time of the season to read but

I go with more winter by sitting by the fireplace getting warm.

That kid deserves a prize.

Two Sundays ago, Coworker J and I spent hours on the floor of the early literacy room, organizing the board books, weeding them (many of them had actual bite marks on them, which: yuck), and setting aside duplicates to redistribute to other branches, because we really only need three copies, not 10, of Growing Vegetable Soup.

After all that, here’s a picture of the beautiful shelves. Not that they stayed beautiful for long, but I felt the need to document our hard work:


Hey, I’m a librarian, not Ansel Adams. Give me a break.

Now, some links for you, my chickadees:

At the top: A fall preview. Get out your TBR list and a pen and get ready.

Didja see JKR’s Twitter on September 1, the day the Hogwarts Express leaves from Kings Cross. And guess who’s on it this year?? Then, of course, there’s the Sorting

As Sister A said, “I’m just here for the Matthew Lewis.”

Mindy Kaling is deliciously overeducated. (See my note on Malory Towers below.)

A seriously useful guide.

Laugh all you want, but I would not be surprised if some of these came out someday. First-world, modern-age problems.

Combining two things I love: books and Doctor Who.

From Coworker J:

A little film about author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers, who, in addition to being rather talented, is also easy on the eyes. My goodness.

From Coworker T:

One of the requests I get all. the. time. is for princess books, so much so that I made up a list of princess books and authors to give to kids and their parents who request them. Luckily, most of these great choices are on it. (The Paper Bag Princess is a classic, and rightfully so.)

From Friend D:

Just the title of this is great. (And I’m Miss Havisham, obviously.)

How do they stay in business? I am fascinated.


From Mama Bear:

Don’t expect the backstory of life on “Sesame Street” with this book. It’s a look at a side of Sonia Manzano – you know her better as Maria – you might not know.

Bill Bryson is one of the few authors I will read if you gave me a new book of his and I didn’t even know what it was about. I will buy his books the day they come out, topic unknown, etc. If he wrote on the history of mousepads, I would read it. I can’t wait to see A Walk in the Woods. Here he is in the New York Times.

From Sister A:

R. L. Stine! A nice guy who writes scary-ass books.

It is one of the rare books that Sister A, Mama Bear, and I all agree we want to read, stat.

It’s hard to believe that this modern classic of a graphic novel has been around almost five years!

You should know that Sister A and I have a weird obsession with, well, many things, but in this case with classic British boarding school books. Preferably Enid Blyton ones, like the St. Clare’s or Malory Towers books. We read those books over and over and over again when we were young, thanks to a cousin from Bermuda who introduced us to them. So when Sister A sent me this, we both got really excited. (Our whole family maintains that Enid Blyton is the reason that Sister A went to boarding school – she doesn’t disagree.)

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I’m so excited about the sequel to The Diviners coming out – we’re expecting it at our library any minute now, where is it?? – that I had to read it again to get ready. I’d forgotten how much fun it is, and how many little historical tidbits are in it. I love Libba Bray.

Next, I’ve finally gotten around to reading a children’s graphic novel that looked promising, a la Raina Telgemeier, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s Cece Bell’s memoir El Deafoand it’s not only entertaining and informative on its own merits, but also meaningful for anyone, child or adult, who feels or is different and is yearning to fit in.

Finally, I re-read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, which, you may remember, I really loved, to get ready to read the sequel (!!), The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, which I didn’t like as much as the first one. Such is life.