Storytimes galore


I knew I was late on my blog updating when something happened this morning – I’ll share in a second – and I thought to myself, “Oh, I must put this on my blog.” And my next thought was, “You are seriously behind on your blog, doofus. Get it together.”

So here I am. Sorry.

This morning I was late to work due to a quick doctor’s appointment. At the corner of the library, I ran into one of our regular preschool groups arriving for storytime. The children were SO excited to see me (you know – at that age, seeing your teacher/librarian outside of school/the library is weird, right?) that they went a little bonkers, and wanted to hold my hands on the way into the library. So we all walked in together, me with three-year-olds proudly holding my hands, and me proudly holding theirs. One of the administrative librarians had a good laugh when she saw me.

I really love my job.

There have been some fabulous opportunities for storytime lately.


These two books worked beautifully for baby time: The Tushy Book  and ye olde standby, Where is the Green Sheep?  I think I did this one on St. Patrick’s Day, since you have to work a little green in there somewhere.

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, I wanted to pull out an accessible and interesting biography for my older preschoolers. (I may have mentioned here before the world of difference between the young preschoolers – barely 3 – and the older preschoolers, who are practically kindergarteners.) I’ve tried a lot of things with the older preschoolers, and what I did with this group worked really well:


I read Minette’s Feast to them – a beautifully illustrated biography of Julia Child and her cat, Minette. Because this was the “big” book of storytime, I only read one other book – a song book, at that – and we did a flannel rhyme about popcorn that went quickly. The kids really enjoyed it. They had come in knowing what a biography was, and there was a picture at the end of the book of Julia Child holding Minette on her lap. When I showed them the picture, though, they had trouble reconciling that that photograph was the lady from the book. “So she was real?” was asked a few times. The teachers and I explained it, and they seemed to get it.

Here’s the picture at the back of the book:


I also told them as simply as I could that she was also a spy before she began cooking (well, she worked for the OSS), and then I had to tell them what a spy was. Too much information, Annabelle! Keep it simple.

For a toddler storytime I had the other day, full of older ones, I read them these:


Non-fiction books, such as A Friend for Einstein, can work really well if there’s a plot to them. This sweet book is about a miniature miniature pony trying to find a friend his size, so kids liked seeing pictures of farm animals and talking about what friends do. I pulled out Imogene’s Antlers at the last minute as the group came in, since a little girl had Easter bunny ears on, and I was inspired to read David Small’s excellent book. She even let me borrow them to sing “On my nose I have a hat.”

For April Fool’s Day – I had preschool storytime, so: JACKPOT – I read books about butts. Because I could. So we read the aforementioned Tushy Book, plus Michael Ian Black’s Chicken Cheeks, and Bottoms Up! a non-fiction book. (I had something more elaborate planned, but I’ll save that for the future.)

This coming Tuesday, April 12, is a day that should be recognized as a national holiday. It is, to any children’s librarian, an important day. I’ll be running an all-day program to recognize it, and I’ve made sure to invite as many groups and attendees as possible. You’ll see.

In What’s Annabelle Reading,  I read the most recent of Lizzie Skurnick’s publications, a Sydney Taylor book – she of the All-of-a-Kind Family – I’d never heard of: A Papa Like Everyone Else.  I’m glad it’s back in print. Then, in need of something till my hold came in, I read a coming-of-age biography of Elizabeth I. Next, I read the deeply unusual and troubling The Vegetarian, a book out of South Korea.

What’s better to read after that than a memoir about prostitution? Paid For by Rachel Moran was excellent, and I highly recommend it (though it’s a bit dry). After finishing it, I wanted a palate cleanser, so I read the hilariously funny Redshirts by John Scalzi. If you love Star Trek, you should read this. Wil Wheaton narrates the audiobook.

Finally, I most recently finished a book recommended to me by my book-a-day calendar… that’s the gift that keeps on giving. True crime! The Prince of Paradise: The True Story of a Hotel Heir, His Seductive Wife, and a Ruthless Murder. The more grisly, the better. I’m so weird.



Babies and Schoolchildren


Trying a new storytime book can be tricky. There are some tried-and-true ones (we actually keep a list with that specific title on the staff computer), and then every so often I’ll come upon a new one and give it a whirl. Because how else will I know whether it works or not? Sometimes one you think will work for one age group will work best for another.


For my babies last Thursday, I pulled out two books I like quite a bit. I’ve used Ten Tiny Babies many a time. I love the colors, and I love the poem. It works nicely. But Nellie Belle, a new choice, had a soothing rhythm to it that I wanted to try with the babies. It wasn’t the best book I’d ever used, but it was sweet. Maybe I’d try it with the toddlers next time, and now at least I have a new resource in my rotation.

One aspect of children’s librarianship I wish I experienced more is school visits. I love having kids come in and teaching them “how to fish,” one might say. A few weeks ago I had a lovely group of 8th graders from a local private school, and then today I had a classful of 6th graders from that same school. Both groups were inquisitive, interested and interesting, and delightful to have around. I’m always more than happy to pull books for them, but I like teaching them how to research, to know these skills for the future.

This is going to be my last blog post with links, unless there’s something incredibly important to share; then I might toss in one or two. Otherwise, it takes up a lot of time to do, and no one ever reads them.

The top news, which my pals and I are very, very excited about. Sister A, in Baltimore, is most excited of all of us, and sent me a link about Dr. Hayden’s – yeah, that’s DR. HAYDEN TO YOU – most historic moments. Wahoo! From Friend D, why she’s a game-changer.

A sad goodbye to YA staple Louise Rennison.

Another major loss: Pat Conroy. I LOVED his books when I was in upper school.

I have many feelings about this. First, yay, a new American Girl doll, but second, how stereotypical. Not a fan.

Brie Larson is even more awesome now that I know this.

Quentin Blake and Beatrix Potter just don’t match! (I love spaghetti and I love chocolate, but not together!)

Of course they are, but too many are left off this list.

From Coworker J:

Ramona should have a place in every library.

From Friend D:

The International Man Booker longlist (in translation). “Didn’t we just do this?” asked Friend D. “Lord, yes,” I said.

I stand behind this theory; it makes a lot of sense.

“The wild things were Jewish relatives.” 

Bet it gets lonely there without a book.

Fonts are fascinating. Disagree? Watch the documentary “Helvetica.”

Because people still buy books.

I can’t anymore about Harper Lee.

It’s gonna be a trilogy!

Well, duh. 

A truly seminal book – for juveniles AND adults.

How can you fit in if you don’t see yourself in your favorite books?

They should be embarrassed.

How the Little House books happened, from L.I.W. herself.

My short answer? No, I wouldn’t. 

From Mama Bear:

It’s as if these people live on Mars.

Where are the classics? What a terrible list.

Gilbert Blythe and Fitzwilliam Darcy can fight over me anytime.

What unusual pen pals

From Sister A:

Books recommended by the adorable Mindy Kaling.

“There are shadows in your heart.” 

A great tribute to Sister A’s and my favorite book.

But here’s some Beatrix Potter news I can get behind…

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I’ve read a lot since my last post, and I’m sorry I haven’t updated in forever. I needed a book, quickly, and grabbed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? off of a cart in our workroom. Fascinating. So now I have the movie – yes, this is the adaptation – sitting at home from Netflix.

Then, after being #388 on the wait list, I finally read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. When I was young, my mother once said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” so I’m moving on to the next book.

I liked more than I thought I would The Swans of Fifth Avenue, knowing next to nothing about the intersecting stories of Babe Paley and Truman Capote. The author uses description very well, as did the author of my next book, Abroad. (The latter may put you in mind of the Amanda Knox case; read at your own risk.)

Dave Eggers’ cautionary tale The Circle was next, and I liked it quite a lot. It had been recommended to me by my Book-A-Day calendar. Thanks, calendar!

I went on a YA spree then, with Victoria Aveyard’s fantasy books Red Queen and its sequel, Glass Sword. It took me a while to get into the second book. The first one is being made into a movie by Elizabeth “Effie Trinket” Banks (yay).

Then I read The Royal We again. Shut up.

Finally, I picked up Mindy Kaling’s most recent book, Why Not Me, which I think was miles above her first one. Well done, Mindy.

Baby and Toddler Storytime, Thursday, February 18


Before I start talking about yesterday’s B&T storytime, I should mention the news that’s just broken minutes ago: Harper Lee has died at age 89.

Ave atque vale, requiescant in pace, and alevah shalom, and thank you for one of the most influential books of the 20th century. I wish your last years had contained less controversy, and you’d been allowed to spend them in the peace and solitude you clearly craved.

For what it’s worth, I still stand by my opinion that Lee was not wholly aware of the publishing fracas surrounding Go Set a Watchman. Friend D noted that in recent months, her body was catching up to her brain, which I think sums up the situation well.

All in all, just an unfortunate ending. I’m so sorry this is how her life ended.

So, to storytime.

When we began offering a baby AND toddler storytime, I was skeptical – these are two distinct developmental stages. How do I cater to walkers and talkers, while at the same time coo at my tiny ones and have fingerplays and songs for them?

Well… carefully.

I had almost a full house: 50! (We cap at 60 for fire code reasons.) About 35 toddlers/caregivers, and 15 babies/adults, and I think this one went well.

(I don’t have a picture, sorry; I zipped out for a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and today one of the books I used was on our holds list.)

I started off with Caps for Sale, a childhood favorite, and I started with it because it was my longest book. Always start with the most challenging/longest/time-consuming book, no matter the age group, because the beginning of the storytime is when the little ones have the most focus. The toddlers loved shaking their fingers and stamping their feet and saying “tsk tsk tsk,” and the adults of the babies helped their little ones do it too.

Then we sang some songs and did some fingerplays – Zoom Zoom Zoom and Patty-Cake, and toddlers are still at that age where they won’t turn up their nose at baby fingerplays, whereas preschoolers might, so it all went well. Then we read Ruth Krauss’ Bears, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. (Don’t show kids the title page; there’s a bear in a noose on it. How it got past the publishers, I’ll never know.)

We were almost at 30 minutes by that time, a bit longer than I’d intended to go anyway, so after a quick song with felt stars, I chose a few verses from Jan Cabrera’s The Wheels on the Bus and, boom, that was it.

Lesson to learn from B&T: some from column a (babies) and some from column b (toddlers), and you have yourself a baby and toddler storytime.


From Friend D:

Not Aunt J’s and Uncle M’s house, or that one corner place where Mama Bear and I found that super oily hummus that we loved?

EXTREMELY relevant to me given the book I’m about to finish (patience, chickadees).

Or wine. Wine is always good. Then again, I haven’t met a tea that hasn’t worked with a good book.

Because weren’t books the original alternate reality? (And y’all KNOW how I feel about Ready Player One.)

Another reason I don’t plan to become a parent: I’ll lose all my reading time.

Speaking of those we revere passing away, was Justice Scalia the most literary of the Bretheren?

Make sense of this if you can.

From Sister A:

Browsing should be like a solid scavenger hunt.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I was in the mood for some comfort books, so I reread Enid Blyton’s St. Clare’s series.  (Sister A will not deny that reading these may be part of the reason she went to boarding school.) Ignore these covers – they’re terrible. My original covers are in this style, which don’t hold a candle to the original ’40s style (this?).

Then I read the incredibly written Barracuda, whose author also wrote The Slap. It was amazingly done. Then I read on eBook It Was Me All Along; I find people’s personal journeys fascinating (no, not passport-required journeys).




Babies, Babies, Everywhere


And I am very happy!

Last week I had the chance to hop to a branch library and help them out with three baby storytimes in a row: 10:30, 11:30, and 12:15. This was in a different neighborhood from us, and I was particularly interested in seeing what these storytimes would look like, specifically because all three were apparently full, and all had different personalities. It was true! I liked being a “guest storytimer” at this branch, and it was fun to meet a whole new section of babies.

Funnily enough, when I came back to my branch and did another baby storytime, I had a full house here too. Coincidence? You decide.


These two books have always been crowd-pleasers. One Hungry Baby is a traditional book for baby storytime, and has lots of opportunities for movement and baby cuddles. Do You Love Me is a sweet book – good for talking about noses – but is the kind of cutesy book a grownup might get for his/her boyfriend/girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. It also just happens to work well for baby storytime; all the better for me.

One of the perks in working at the main branch is that you never know what will be happening. For instance, I walked in this morning at 11 a.m. to start my shift, and there was the mayor, talking about tax season. Life is funny sometimes.

I want to show off two amazing bulletin boards my coworkers did outside our Teen Space. I wish I could take credit for these, but I can’t. The first is by Coworker L:


This second, by Coworker G:


(I had to cut out part because it had our library website in it.)

Great, right?

Yesterday we had an external group come in and show us how to make light-up LED valentines. I was thrilled I didn’t have to take the lead on this, because I’m not much of a science person – have I mentioned this before? – but they were easy to do, and we had a great turnout of tweens and teens.

Here’s the inside: you have the circuit wire all in place, with the lightbulb and the battery ready to go…


and then you fold over at the dotted line, and hey presto:


The circuit is complete and the bulb lights up.

Yay, science!


The top story: apparently, these things just happen.

A short but moving piece from My Birthday Twin.

I am ultra-excited to see this movie, so it being pushed back makes me irritated.

Beatrix Potter has a new story… with some, er, interesting (and familiar!) illustrations.

From Coworker J:

As someone who just saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (it was fun, go see it!), this is hilarious.

From Friend D:

For all Sherlockians, near and far.

Enough, enough, enough with To Kill a Mockingbirdplease.


How old libraries become new (or don’t)

An excellent question – why aren’t we reading natives?

Lionsgate, please do not mess these movies up! #JackandAnnie

“Books of Love” – Nigerian romances.

Haaaa, haa, that’s… that’s funny.

Impossible, unmappable – you can’t do this.

Libraries as social services.

“I felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart.”

Subscription libraries are not so much a thing of the past.

Oh, please, they’re not going anywhere.

How adaptations are adapted – this one, a story from The Martian.

Most librarians I know would probably like the flask best.

From Friend G:

Where the Wild Things Aren’t, indeed.

From Friend R:

Everyone who is not a librarian is shocked by this. Librarians are like, eh. Don’t read while eating.

From Friend T:

Whit Stillman and Our Jane? This could be interesting.

From Mama Bear:

Bath is included, obviously. 

I do not have a reading problem! Psshht.

So many winners on this list. Particularly the last, which, as you know, is a favorite of Sister A and me.

From Sister A:

I love you, Baltimore!

30 years of solid historical fiction… and yeah, overpriced dolls.

“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.”

Oy vey ismir. About time.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, everyone had been talking about this book, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it. Still, a good read.

Next, a book I must devote some words to: Look Who’s Back.  Yes, it’s a book about Hitler. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s also frighteningly written in Hitler’s “voice” – that is to say, the author has clearly studied Mein Kampf and the way Hitler speaks and writes. Do read it, and even watch it – Netflix is getting on that boat, too.

Finally, I read a historical novel that was sort of like The Crimson Petal and the White + Fight ClubIt got better as it went on.

Snow What’s Up?


Hello from a snowy East coast. I don’t have a huge amount to say, but I do have a huge amount of links, so that’s where this post will go.

I did do a baby storytime on Thursday, January 21, but it’s not really worth mentioning. I hardy remember what was happening at the time, since I was coming down with something, and I knew it. (About an hour later, I ended up being quite sick with a 48-hour-bug, but I’m fine now.) I did read Baby Love and One is a Drummer (which goes up to ten, but we only counted up to five). Remember, you don’t have to read the whole book, front to back, beginning to end. Do what’s right for the storytime and your audience.

And you. At the time, I knew my breakfast wasn’t going to stay put for long, and the dancing elephants in the corners of the room weren’t supposed to be there, so I chugged through storytime and did the best I could.

In exciting news for my department, we’re now allowed to make our own labels! This sounds silly, but it gives us new autonomy. It saves us a LOT of time; we’re not sending books to cataloging and waiting for them to come back, to be fixed in a process that takes, literally, 30 seconds.

Here are my first labels. Aren’t they pretty?


Our labelmaker is clearly the most valuable member of our department.

Coworker J turned me on to the fact that a library in New York put together “storytime boxes” in the 1980s. Check out the space one, for instance, or the dental hygiene one. Interested in turtles? That one has a puppet! There are a few libraries, I know – my hometown system has a branch that lends backpacks of themed books – that offers these. Pop into your local library and see if they do, too.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how valuable an addition Alan Rickman was to literary adaptations. From the Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liasons Dangereuses on Broadway almost 30 years ago, to Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, to Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, and in his upcoming final role as the voice of the Blue Caterpillar in Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Here, then may be the best place to put the link that Friend T sent me. Thank you, Alan.


My top links will share what to look forward to in 2016…

From the NYT (Sister A)Flavorwire (Friend E)Buzzfeed

Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck is being made into a movie.

From Camp Friend D:

I could add a few to this list

From Friend D:


Coloring pages! Yay!

Look, let me tell you, if a man read aloud (the right book) to me, I’d dig it.

OY. Do NOT get me started on this crazy.

“7.5 percent of nearly 6,000 picture books published between 1900 and 2000 depict female animal protagonists.” WHAT?

What is going on in Hong Kong?

Accurate sketches or no?

Want to be creepy, like Edgar Allan Poe? You can.

The story of Margaret Wise Brown is a fascinating one; she’s worth learning more about.

Pajama pants and drinking. Sounds a lot like my writer friends.

Apps are getting the better of us.

Thoughts about fictional detectives.

The trailer for Stephen King’s 11.22.63.

Emma Watson continues to be amazeballs: this time with a feminist book club.

Have you seen David Bowie’s list of favorite books? He was a voracious reader.

From Friend L:

Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book, too.

From Friend P:

Does your library lend ukeleles? It should!

From Mama Bear:


From Sister A:

An excerpt from Raina Telgemeier’s new graphic novel!

Friend E and I just watched A Walk in the Woods last week. (I wanted to love it, but, alas.) I’m glad the NYT got around to asking Bill Bryson to participate in By the Book.

It’s not till later this spring, but excitement about Beverly Cleary’s 100th is starting!

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I’ve read a lot since 2016 began. I started off with the most recent book in the Millennium series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web. It was quite faithful to the original Stieg Larsson trilogy. Next, I picked up Simon Pegg’s autobiography, which was a lot of cheeky fun.

I’m hoping to read more international literature this year, so I picked up a book by Colette – my first! – Claudine at School, which was prettily written and more sexual than I’d expected for a book about a schoolgirl. Then I read the two newest YA books in the Lizzie Skurnick list: one, a story about a Puritan girl, and another a Louise Fitzhugh I’d never heard of.

Finally, I finished an advance reader’s copy of a historical novel about Lady Jane Grey and then next a YA book that I read and promptly forgot.

Annabelle’s 2015 Book Roundup


Well, folks, another year has come and gone, and here we are at the end of 2015. What a year it’s been!

I looked over last year’s post to see what numbers I shared with you, and I’ll be doing most of it again, sharing the number of books I read this year, and particularly the number of children’s chapter books, YA books, and eBooks.

Last year I shared books I didn’t particularly enjoy, but I don’t see any point to that this year. Why focus on those when I’d rather talk up the books I did like?

In 2014, I read 142 books. This year, I read….


That number disappoints me. My goal had been to read 200. By way of explanation, not excuse, one of the reasons I may have read fewer books is the months I was posted at Neighborhood Library. Because my commute was 20 minutes of walking every day, rather than 30-40 minutes on two buses, my reading time was vastly reduced. That could certainly have been a factor.

Last year, I read 26 young adult books, and this year, I’ve read 16. Last year, I read 7 children’s chapter books, and this year, that number shot up to 28 (!), partially because of my zipping through the Little House on the Prairie series. Finally, last year, I read 18 eBooks, and this year, 22 (more, perhaps, because I went out of the country and read books that way?)

So, as in past years, I now present some of my favorite books from this year, with my number one choice first:

Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. I still can’t stop thinking about it, and I finished reading it in mid-August. I find books about the apocalypse – whether by weather, aliens, or other causes – fascinating, and this one delivered in every way, not only with humankind’s preparation (mentally and physically) for the end of the world, but what came next, and after that, and waaaaay after that. Don’t let the size of the tome deter you, or its subject matter, if you’re not into this kind of thing. At its heart, it’s about humanity and survival, and what drives us all.

The rest of the books I enjoyed, in no particular order, and with the caveat that they may not even have been written this year:

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, by Katherine Rundell. (Juvenile fiction) I laughed, I cried, I wanted to pick up Will and give her a great big hug and a Jaffa Cake. (Honorable mention to Rundell’s other terrific chapter book, Rooftoppers. I almost listed them together.)

Noggin, by John Corey Whaley. (YA) A book about cryogenics and friendship. Your world may stop until your frozen head is put onto a new body, but the rest of the world has kept moving.

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier. (Juvenile graphic novel) If you never had orthodontic work of any kind, you won’t enjoy this nearly as much as if you did go through it. Funny and warmhearted and just one of Telgemeier’s runaway hits. We can’t keep it on the shelf.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimageby Haruki Murakami. (Fiction) Murakami is going to win the Pulitzer someday – 1Q84 is his magnum opus, I think – because of the delicacy and precision of his work. I read Murakami and it’s as if I’m in a bubble of beauty. 

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters. (Fiction) When I wrote about The Paying Guests in the blog the first time, I think I used the terms “Hitchcockian” and “du Maurier-like” to describe the story of a mother/daughter boarding house in England between the wars. Those are my highest compliments.

Your Face in Mine, by Jess Row. (Fiction) 2015 has been a difficult year for race relations. Well, take out “2015” and insert “2014,” “2013,” or any other year, and those years have been, too. This novel about racial assignment surgery and its psychological and social effects has particular meaning for me this year. It’ll make you think.

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. (Fiction) What to say about this book that hasn’t been said? It landed on everyone’s top ten lists of 2014. Another book about the apocalypse, written with grace and beauty.

Newport, by Jill Morrow. (Fiction) It’s an unusual privilege to watch an author labor to birth a book from the sidelines. I’m including Newport on my list not just because of its sumptuous descriptions of between-the-wars (there it is again!) Rhode Island, but because I know how hard Jill worked. Brava!

George, by Alex Gino. (Juvenile fiction) There are so few books available to children that don’t pander to them on the “tough” topics, such as… being transgender, for instance! George is a buoyant, straightforward treat of a book, sorely needed, about George’s quest to let out long-buried Melissa.

Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman. (YA) Coincidentally, I finished this book almost immediately before Shusterman won the National Book Award’s YA version. It’s so inventive and clever, but hard-hitting, and brings much-needed light to the issue of adolescent mental illness. Don’t miss this one.


I wish every library system did this. I can’t imagine how much I’d “saved” this year with my 131 books.

From Coworker J:

Happy belated Hanukkah! Some books to help you celebrate (next year).

Here’s a place to spend all that money you got from Santa (or the gelt).

From Friend D:

Seriously subversive.

Non-traditional women! Yes!

Used bookstores are one of my favorite places to go; to wander, to get lost, to go on dates, to treasure hunt. Now it seems as if people are just discovering them (what took ’em so long?).

From Mama Bear:

She’s going to read The Westing Game now because of NPH!

Bet you didn’t know the story behind “Pooh, pooh.”

In What’s Annabelle Reading, in the spirit of the holiday, I finished up a Janian mystery that was a lot of fun and more than a little goofy. But a good time and well-written in the spirit of Barron’s other Jane Austen mysteries.

The last book I finished in 2015 was Ernest Cline’s sophomore effort. If the name means anything to you AND BY GOD IT SHOULD, he’s the dude who wrote Ready Player One, which if you haven’t read, GO GET IT RIGHT NOW. YOU WILL LOVE IT. I’m sad to say that Armada wasn’t as good as RPO (is the second book ever as good as the first?), but still a fun read.

Happy New Year, everyone! Bring on 2016!



Programs, Programs Everywhere


Last Saturday, I went to the museum we partner with for their weekly portrait project. This week’s subject was John Cornell, whom I knew very little about, so I read Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes to the visiting kids; the book is short and sweet and ADORABLE. Then we all made our own dream boxes about things that were important to us. (This can be a great snow day activity, parents!)

Behold mine, my chickadees:


The Ravens, obviously (with a stamp of Edgar Allan Poe underneath for my hometown of Baltimore), a mug o’ tea, my cat Lincoln, food (do you like the spaghetti and its little blob of sauce? I am very proud of that), puzzles, British stamps for when I lived in England, etc. The white thing you see is a shell, because I love the beach.

On the sides I folded paper for “books,” and wrote the titles of books I loved growing up, and now, that have had lasting impacts on me.

One side:


And the other:


(The Richard Scarry one is Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, obviously.)

On to Sunday. For the second Sunday of the month, we have a “Book Share” program, and I had a solidly good idea for it. I had set out a sign and two books, which should tell you all you need to know about what I was planning:


Because, let’s face it, we DO judge books by their covers, and I wanted to talk with kids and tell them that it’s okay to do that. Book covers often tell us a lot about what’s inside – and sometimes they completely mislead us (which we’ll get to in the photo below).

I’d pulled two different copies of Little Red Riding Hood – one adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, and another adapted and photographed by William Wegman. The two versions clearly approached the tale differently: the Pinkney one more seriously and closer to the Grimms’ original version, and the Wegman a bit more whimsically. Yet they are the “same story,” for all intents and purposes.

And then there are books that get redone with different covers every few years. Behold three different covers (!!) of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret: 


I’ve ranked them in order from least to most offensive (in my personal opinion – you have every right to yours, but it will be wrong). The far right – texting? No thank you. The middle one could be a catalog photo, for fartsakes, and shows, who, a teenager? The left one is the best; that girl looks like she could actually be a twelve-year-old. So I was really excited to discuss why a book might have three different covers, and if a particular cover might change the way a reader felt about picking up a book…

…That is, if anyone had showed up.


I have a few random photos for you all, too.

Don’t you love it when you find one of your favorite books in another language? I was weeding the Spanish books, and I absolutely had to take a flip through Once Upon a Potty, which in Spanish is called Mi Bacinica y Yo (My Potty and Me.) This was always my favorite page:


Friend S. sent me this picture of a (newly refurbished, I think?) children’s section in her library – I love it! Look at all that color!


Links for y’all:

This gets the top spot because it cannot be said enough: “Owning books in the home is one of the best things you can do for your children academically.

A very classy victory lap for the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Sad and hilarious, because: true.

What a simple and useful idea! (About 40% of the questions I get are readers’ advisory, easily.)

I can’t wait for a series, because this book scared the crap out of me.

From Coworker J:

Ave atque vale, Peter Dickinson.

From Friend D:

The first trailer for Spielberg’s adaptation of The BFG!!

The first trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!!

Well, good luck to them.

I can’t even come up with a witty rejoinder for this.

No surprise there

Oy, is this funny!

FASCINATING. Asceticism might be up my alley.

Gabriel Oak, please! #farfromthemaddingcrowd

A must-read for lovers of not only Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but of books and the creative process.

From Friend G:

We have been good little chickadees, indeed!

Don’t you love that this came from Cosmopolitan?

This list of 100 top children’s books is epically solid, and the people who put it together know of what they speak.

From Friend R:

This is only a fraction of the weird. Believe me, the weird is definitely out there.

From Friend S:

Books that enhance children’s spatial skills development (yes, these exist!)

From Mama Bear:

Everything, because they are timeless. Have we not answered this question yet?

Your kidding me. Its unacceptable. Their doing it all wrong.

Hurrah to my home state! A great initiative!

Could work, could flop.

Trigger warning: This book promotes disobedience and features gender discrimination and segregation. (It’s The Cat in the Hat.)

Learn about some new poems.

From Sister A:

Looking for some great YA reads? Look no further. All excellent choices here.

I love these.

Not a deep guy, but Commonwealth folks love their Enid Blyton.

Some unexpected influences on some usual suspects.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I read the newest “Robert Galbraith” book (you know who that is), and it was fine, but they just seem so formulaic by this point. I mean, the writing is incredible, obviously, and the mystery is always good, but it’s nothing outrageously wonderful. But always a solid read.

Next I read Lila Perl’s final book, which was well done and surprisingly affecting. After that, don’t laugh, but I read this for the very first time and loved it.

Next, I read the most charming memoir I’ve read in a long time; do pick it up. You will find it so sweet. (Norland nannies are legendary. Will and Kate’s nanny is a Norland nanny, obviously. Here she is in her full uniform at Princess Charlotte’s christening.)

Finally, this made zero sense to me and was a serious disappointment. Can’t win ’em all.