Tag Archives: Beverly Cleary

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 bomb.com. 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.





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.

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow…


shall keep our library from being open!

(Although it shall make Annabelle a little cranky about closing tonight.)

I mean, I don’t mind the weather. It’s not so bad here, but I am a little worried about going home later tonight, in the snow, or freezing rain, or whatever else is coming down from the sky, and did I mention the black ice yet? There’s that, too.

But we are open, and we’re a warming center for the homeless, and we’ll stay open to serve the patrons as long as we need to.

Still, a snow day would be a nice treat.

In other news, last week I led a small tour of developmentally disabled high schoolers around the library, and they were so sweet. We had a good time, looking at all the aspects of the library, from the books to the computers, from the art installations to the 3D printers. They thought everything was fascinating, and I taught them how to do a simple search on the computer to find books. At the end of the visit, they received their first library cards, and they were really happy.

I’ll admit that I’m getting frustrated with my teen programming. I’m trying to be cool – hold your comments, please – and think like a teen, but I’m not sure what else to do. That same day that I gave the tour, I showed a movie for a teen program (it was the anniversary of the beheading of King Louis XVI of France, so I showed Marie Antoinette, which I thought was appropriate). A cool movie, right? Neat costumes, great music selections, a hip cast… so I figured teens would like it, right? Wrong. I had three – 1, 2, THREE – attendees. What am I doing wrong? I’m not sure. Gotta think on that.


For our top spot today: I never thought of this. BRILLIANT.

This is what I do as a librarian. I didn’t write it, but i could have.

An original! You know, written in ancient Greek, the kind that would be sold in 850 BCE. Idiots.

Let’s just agree right now that JKR is a genius.

I never would have guessed this would be so popular! A baby boomer thing? A nostalgia thing for fans of the show?

As you know, I will be fine with this.

Love the book, but never thought about it quite like this…

Cat, hat, in French, chat, chapeau. In Spanish, a gato in a sombrero.

Would you want to be the guy who has to respond to her? I wouldn’t.

Another addition for the “people are weird, and weird people congregate in libraries” file.

So pretty!

From Friend D:

Pony up, folks. This is a collection worth saving.

One should always have Jane Austen tattoos, no?

This is a terrific list. It mentions Doctor Who, and a lot of Simpsons, so… obviously.

How do you lose his bones? What?

From Friend P:

It’s never to late to learn about MLK – especially since February is Black History Month…

From Mama Bear:

Remember that this is a man who always said he didn’t write for children. That being said…

From Sister A:

After the Jacqueline Woodson watermelon debacle, I’m not sure I can get behind him, but he did mention Beverly Cleary, so there’s that.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I had jury duty last week, so I managed to get through some books in a flash. First, I went back to a book I love so hard and love more every time I read it. (And in good news, Ernest Cline is writing a sequel!) Next, after the crying-on-the-bus debacle of Katherine Rundell, I read her other book, Rooftoppers, another children’s book, and was equally charmed, though my tear ducts stayed dry. Next, as an ebook I read what I think might be the only Ben Mezrich book I had yet to read, The Accidental Billionaires – the movie version, Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network is quite good.

Finally, I read Hitler’s Furies, which was not nearly as dry as I’d imagined it would be (most Holocaust books are dry, I’ve found, just words and figures, death, death, and more death). In other Holocaust news, I just (not five minutes ago) read Hidden, a graphic novel for kids. About the Holocaust. Being hidden during the Holocaust. For children. Whoa. I’m not sure if children are ready to read a graphic novel about the Holocaust. Wow.

Never Off the Clock


One thing I’ve learned about being a librarian is that you’re never off the clock. No matter where I am, if I tell people I’m a librarian, they ask me for book recommendations. Without fail. Of course, I don’t mind it – I welcome it – because I love talking books. (Which is 90% of the reason I went to library school in the first place.)

While camping this weekend, I had a lot of book questions thrown my way, and twice pulled out some paper plates and pens – gotta be resourceful! – to make up reading lists for a 7-year-old and another for a young tween. There are also a lot of questions that go into making a book list. I can name the hot books that are generally popular, but if kids have certain likes and dislikes, that narrows it down considerably. A 12-year-old who loves dragon stories that take place in Asia has a much narrower field of interest than a 7-year-old who loves fairy stories or whatever. 

The most important questions I ask are:

1) “Do you like to read?”

I make it a point to tell the kids that it’s okay to answer that question with “no.” It breaks my heart, but not everyone likes to read. And reluctant readers may be open to graphic novels, or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-type stories, but chapter books with a narrative thread may not hold them.

2) “What’s the last book you read that you really enjoyed?” 

2b) “And why did you love it?”

That question and its follow-up give the child a chance to really get excited. When kids talk about books they love, their enthusiasm levels go up. They love talking about it and the parts that they liked. 

In other news, I got a really good reference question from an older gentleman, who wanted to find young adult books from the early 1900s. Many people don’t realize that YA as a genre is a relatively recent invention from as early as the 1930s – 1950s, but really coming into its heyday in the past decade or two. So when I told him that there was no YA back then, he asked, “Well, what did teens read?” And I suppose the answer is – adult books. Older children’s books were things like Baum’s Oz books, or sci-fi/fantasy – Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, but nothing that could be likened to young adult lit as we know it until mid-century. (Another reason I love what Lizzie Skurnick is doing with her imprint.)

Now, links.

Diverse YA titles! There are so many of these I want to read.

Jane Austen would be really offended to be on this list.

Another reason to love NPH.

From Mama Bear:

Please excuse me while I go buy Beverly Cleary’s childhood home.

This makes no sense. What if, as Mama Bear said in her email to me, we didn’t teach Shakespeare because he wasn’t an American author?

I am always in a Jane Austen novel. (Note: #1 really, actually, I promise, did happen to me.)

Stick to writing, Birthday Twin.

From Sister A: Behind every great man

From Friend D: I’d never heard of this, have you?

Stolen from Friend L: Charlotte Perkins Gilman is rolling in her grave.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, boy, did I kick some serious reading butt this weekend. I really enjoyed The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, a non-fiction compilation of murders and mysteries and obsessions. It was fascinating. 

I only just liked The Scarlet Sisters, a biography of Tennie Claflin and her sister, Victoria Woodhull, who was the first woman to run for President. They were both ahead of their times, speaking out about feminism, women’s rights, abortion, contraception, etc. They were quite interesting ladies.

I absolutely HATED HATED Penelope. I normally love books about college, but no one was likeable in it, the characters spoke without using contractions (who does that??), and there was really no plot. Sister A had said it sounded interesting before she read it, then read it, hated it, and forgot to tell me she hated it, so when I called her and told her that I’d read it, she said, “Oh, you hated it, right?” Yes. Yes I did.

Toddler Storytime, Thursday, May 22


All the forces conspired for a terrific storytime yesterday. What I’ve found is that I’ll want to do one particular story and then build the rest of the storytime around it, which is what happened yesterday.


I thought it would be fun to do Caps for Sale with toddlers, who would be able to mimic the actions of the monkeys and the peddler, shaking their fingers, stamping their feet, and so it was. They were really into it! It was a lot of fun. (My coworker pulled The Hatseller and the Monkeys, a folktake from Mali, so I could show the kids and adults how folktales span cultures and continents.)

We read Monkey and Me next, and they shouted out the names of the animals. We finished off with Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (see a theme here?).

(I’m clearly twelve inside, because one of the songs we did was “Where is Thumbkin,” and there’s a weird sense of glee in giving 75 kids and adults the finger!)

So anyway, it was a success. A very strong, highly participatory, no-phone zone storytime.


Beverly Cleary is 90-something years old and still going strong.

A love letter to a book I didn’t even discover – and subsequently love – until Sister A read it.

This article may be blocked unless you have a WSJ account, but basically parents in NYC are going a little bit bananas about lining up for and getting into storytimes. I mean, yay, they’re excited about storytime, but, guys… relax.

Some people can do this – some people can’t. I’m one of them.

Are any of these your favorite coming-of-age novels?

Yes. All of them.

Anyone can be a librarian, and anyone can be a children’s librarian, but the awesome ones….

From Friend D:

I’d never heard of most of these!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ahhh ahhhhhhh family dinners!

From Mama Bear:

I want a house that can have all of these.

This is a great book, and a neat article about it.

A super-shitty idea from my hometown.

Not crapulence.

This doesn’t work for me, but, still, an interesting list.

Clever marketing – I’d have flipped if I’d seen this!

When Rolling Stone puts together a YA list, read it.

Have a terrific Memorial Day weekend, chickadees!