Monthly Archives: May 2016

Something old, something new


My schedule is going to change a little once June hits. Not outrageously differently, but just enough so that I won’t be doing Pajama Storytime anymore.

Sigh. Such is life. But for the past few months, I’ve had hardly anyone show. It’s been difficult.

So last week, when I did my last one, and had a turnout of ten – TEN! – I was really happily surprised. Then, one of my favorite preteens (a boy!) asked if he could help out by reading one of the books. You bet, I told him. And he was great.


Everyone loves Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (the kids requested we read it first, so hey, why not?), and they were happy to read The Noisy Way to Bed (animal noises are always a hit, no matter what age kids are), but having Patron M read them Hug Machine  was the real highlight. For me and for them.

It’s Thursday, so that means: Baby Lapsit! Today I realized I hadn’t used the egg shakers  in a while.

Tangent: egg shakers are useful for any age storytime. With the oldest kids, you can work on shaking fast and slow, low and high, and stopping. With the youngest kids, it’s a matter of just gripping and holding; whether or not they shake at all is incidental.

For Baby Lapsit today, loving themed storytimes as I do, I built it around the egg shakers and some songs I’d found through Jbrary.


We read Cheep! Cheep!  first (the terrycloth illustrations are adorable) and then moved on to the shakers, which were naturally the highlight. As I’d expected, the babies didn’t really shake – they were more interested in sucking on them and playing with them – but I had enough eggs so that the adults and the babies each got an egg, so the babies could see what the eggs were for.

We sang and shook, shook and sang, and a good time was had by all.

Then we read Barnyard Banter, sang “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and two verses of “Old MacDonald,” and that was it. A happy barnyard storytime for my babies!

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I was fascinated by The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj, an absorbing account of women in the Victorian era who went searching for husbands in India. (The gender ratio then was one woman to four men. Hello!) It was compulsively readable and exotically romantic.

Then I read one of those children’s chapter books that should be labeled “NOT JUST FOR KIDS,” because it was smart and funny and, frankly, is right up there, cleverness-wise, with The Westing Game. For a puzzle-loving librarian, this was right up my alley, full of in-jokes and book references. Go pick it up, bibliophiles. (Right now I’m reading the sequel, which is just as great.)


Storytimes and more


Oy, I’m so delayed. I don’t know why. When I saw Mama Bear not too long ago, she told me how much she missed my blog (well, she said how much she missed the links, and I said, “Tough, those aren’t coming back“), but after Preschool storytime today, I realized that it’s time to update, no matter what.

My preschoolers are the They are so funny. I had a ball with them today, using two different books and some new surprises. The theme, essentially, is “Books that Shouldn’t Work, But Did.”


Read It, Don’t Eat It is a book about what not to do with (library) books, and I thought for sure that we’d get hung up on words like “deface” or “censor,” but the kids loved seeing what NOT to do with books, and assuring me that they didn’t leave their books out in the rain, or take them to the beach, or eat ice cream over them. That was fun. I told them how proud I was of them for knowing how to treat their books so well.

In my “Old McDonald” envelope of felt animals, the dinosaur has long been the most popular one. So he needed an equally oddball companion, I felt.

Enter this guy:


When we sang the song today, I pulled him out and when the preschoolers said it was an alien, I said, “No, come on, it must be a horse/cow/chicken, come on, look a little closer,” and naturally pretended to be surprised when I saw it, and we sang “With a ‘beep beep’ here and a ‘beep beep’ there” or whatever an alien says. You have to mix it up once in a while, or else the children will get bored, and you will be predictable. It’s boring already for the adults – who were on the phone even after my “no phones” spiel, so I can only do what I can.

The next book, Tap the Magic Tree, also shouldn’t have worked, because it’s full of directions about what to do on the page – tapping the tree, rubbing it, using your finger to draw a circle, but the kids weren’t fazed at all when I asked them to pretend the tree was in front of them and to put their fingers in the air.

In short, it was a terrific storytime.

I’ve done others between now and then, but there are two events worth mentioning that are Very. Big. Deals.

Number one! Beverly Cleary’s Hundredth Birthday! Hurrah! Now, it happened to land on a Tuesday, which wasn’t terrific programming-wise, but what can you do? I couldn’t bring myself to wait till the weekend (or do it the weekend before) in order to get higher attendance. It had to be done the day of, I stubbornly felt, but we had enthusiastic participants.

We made owls with paper bags, just like Ramona does (unhappily) in Ramona the Brave, in the chapter “Owl Trouble,” some with a guide, for our older friends:


and some as they’re described in the book, for our younger friends:


I had a little Ramona storytime as people got artsy, reading the students the relevant chapter, and also the part in Ramona the Pest in which Ramona scribbles in a library book and then goes to return it and gets a library card.

One of our other activities was writing to authors, as Leigh does in Dear Mr. Henshaw. We had a few little ones write letters, and they handed me the blank envelope and I addressed it to the authors’ publishers. I hope they get responses!

Alas, though, I really wanted to be able to have a special preschool storytime and show the old Ralph S. Mouse movies (young Fred Savage and Sara Gilbert alert!), but no takers. Sigh.

I was so happy to have this program. Why didn’t I get a birthday cake to sing to Mrs. Cleary in absentia? Sigh.

Exciting news number two! I went to my first conference two weeks ago! It was the Urban Librarians Conference in Brooklyn, and I loved meeting people and learning about programming for all ages. (Often I feel as if we neglect our very youngest patrons in my branch – we do storytime for them, but no program programs, so I have a great idea that’s been hugely popular in Brooklyn that I’m interested in replicating here.)

That’s the news! And I promise you, my dear chickadees, I’ll be a lot more up to speed in updating in the future. Really. That is a promise.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, there are lots, so buckle up.

I like boarding school books – blame Enid Blyton for this – so I read one that was prettily written but turned out to be kind of dumb. Right after that, I went on to one that was fabulous, about college, so I was a little shocked to go from meh to great.

Then, in the spirit of Bevery Cleary’s centennial, I borrowed Sister A’s copies of the memoirs A Girl From Yamhill and My Own Two Feet, which were just delightful and worth reading, to learn how an author gets her start, particularly 100 years ago.

In need of something quick, I reread My Friend Dahmer, which gets better and better each time I read it.

The next book was good, but slow-going, and having not had much success with Stacy Schiff’s other books, I’m pleased to have even finished this one. Naturally, once I did finish it, I immediately went to my bookshelf to pick up The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and much of it jumped to life where it hadn’t before.

(Again at home and in need of something quick, I was impatiently thinking about my upcoming college reunion, and picked up one of the worst books in the world, but at least it was slightly fulfilling.)

For my quick trip to Brooklyn, I read two books on Overdrive, which I enjoyed very much: The Hired Girl (Baltimore shoutout!), and, well, it can’t even be counted as a book, but the short story “The Grownup,” by Gillian Flynn. Perfectly creepy.

If you want to hear more from your favorite children’s book authors, this is the book you should be reading. I skipped back and forth through it, learning a lot about the authors’ and illustrators’ backgrounds.

At the conference, I picked up an advance reader’s copy of a book that could have been so much more than it was. With an extra 100 pages, it would have been much more fleshed out. I hope it’s the first in a series. The next book I read, though, was just what I needed in terms of story and character fulfillment, and I couldn’t put it down.

While I think the trope of “YA book in which a teenage girl in a dystopia becomes the voice of the rebellion” has been waaaaaayyyyyy played out, I read what, again, I hope would be the first in a series. It was deeper and better than I expected. 

Needing to hit non-fiction next, I’d heard good things about Sarah Hepola’s memoir Blackout, and it was funny and raw both. I was glad.