Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Sisters

by Raina Telgemeier
Graphix, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-545-54059-9

Raina is very excited to be a big sister.  She'll have someone to play with.  When her sister Amara is born, things don't go quite the way Raina imagined they would.  Amara is fussy, as babies usually are.  As a toddler, she is still cranky and expresses many a meltdown.  Raina has a hard time playing with her because Amara likes to do her own thing and be alone.  This dynamic doesn't change much as Raina and Amara get older.  By this time, they have a younger brother, Will.  On a road trip from California to Colorado to attend a family reunion, Raina and Amara must deal with each other (in very close quarters) and in doing so, figure out some way of getting along and accepting each other's differences.

This is a true story about growing up with a sister.  Anyone who has a sister can relate to this book.  I know I did.  It is a companion to Telgemeier's 2010 novel Smile, which was about her childhood experience with braces.  If you haven't read it, you must.  Sisters has the same humor and relatability of Smile.  What I liked about it was Raina's experience with her sister is a universal one.  Sisters squabble, they fight about petty things, they get on each other's nerves and push each other's buttons.  But, at the end of the day they are there for each other.  Raina details this in a way that is very real and not at all "sugar coated."  As I was reading this, I instantly thought of my younger sister and how we were growing up and I'm so glad I don't have to relive those years!  Raina's artwork is beautiful.  She uses a lot of bold colors and when Raina has "flashbacks" the pages are yellow, which is a great way to help the reader follow the story.  I love how expressive the characters are and how that emotion supplements and supports the plot.  I would recommend this to reluctant readers or to middle-grade kids looking for realistic fiction.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Star Wars Reads Day

On October 11, we hosted Star Wars Reads Day at my library.  This is the third year of this nationwide event, and the third year we've participated in it.  Along with book stores and other libraries, we planned a fun day celebrating all things Star Wars and reading!  It was open to all ages, and we encouraged families to attend together and dress up in costumes.  The officially licensed publishing partners put together an event kit that can be downloaded from the Star Wars website.  You can also sign-up for email newsletters that give you chances to send away for free things (what librarian doesn't love swag?) to give away at your event and enter drawings for free books.  The Star Wars website also has a lot of coloring sheet and activity sheets, which are great passive activities to add to your program.

Offering giveaways and reproducible activities makes planning an event like this completely doable for any size library.  I've also used The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton, The Star Wars Party Book by Mikyla Bruder, and The Star Wars Cook Book by Robin Davis for ideas (all available in my library system).  Every year I plan different crafts and activities to keep it fun.  If you're interested in what I've done in past years, please let me know.  Here is what we did this year.

Star Wars Photo Booth

I just can't be serious. Jedi training failed!

One thing we've offered for the past two years is a Star Wars Photo Booth.  It is super popular!  My colleague Scott sets up a green screen and using fancy photography equipment and props, he creates awesome pictures that we post on our Facebook page.  (For example, see above picture.  No, I didn't really travel to a galaxy far, far, away.  I know you were wondering.  The beauty of green screen technology.)

Pretzel Lightsabers

You'll need:

Baking sheet
Waxed paper
Pretzel bags (plastic)
Pretzel rods
Melting chocolate (I recommend Almond Bark)

This is a simple "craft" that fits in well with many library programs (we've made these for our Harry Potter Party and called them wands).  Melt the chocolate in the Crock-Pot.  You can make these for the kids and have them packaged and ready to grab, or help the kids dip their "lightsaber" into the chocolate and cover it with sprinkles.  Either way, it's a fun activity!

Pool Noodle Lightsabers

You'll need:

Pool Noodles
Duct Tape
1/2-inch Black Paper Tape

I wanted to make these at last year's event, but couldn't.  I don't know if you know this, but it's very hard to find pool noodles in October in Central New York.  Thankfully, I planned ahead this year and bought these babies in June at the Dollar Tree.  I purchased 13 pool noodles; 10 were cut in half and three were cut into thirds for the young Padawans.   This was the most popular craft, as kids got to promptly engage in a lightsaber battle.

Star Wars Figurines

You'll need:

Perler Beads (we bought two buckets of assorted colors)
Peg Boards
Waxed paper
Iron and ironing board

This summer, I rediscovered the joy of Perler Beads.  And you know what, kids love them too.  They are an investment, but we've used these at our Minecraft Party and our Summer Reading Finale Party and I plan on using them at future programs, so I'm getting my money's worth.  I printed out Star Wars patterns that I found online.  Kids created their design on the peg board, brought it over to me, and I ironed it to fuse the beads together.  If you've never tried Perler Beads, you must!

Yoda Ears

You'll need:

Green construction paper
Stapler or tape

I borrowed this idea from Nerd Craft Librarian.  I drew a Yoda-like ear shape, and traced this out on green paper.  I also cut out strips of green paper.  All kids had to do was staple the paper strips together, fit it to their head, and affix the ears and decorate them.  A cute and easy craft, perfect for all ages.

R2-D2 Paper Craft

You'll need:

White cardstock
Gray construction paper
Black construction paper
Blue painter's tape
Glue sticks

I borrowed this idea from Tip Junkie.  The website said they had a printable template, but I couldn't find it.  I ended up copying the image into Publisher and manipulating the size until it was big enough to print.  I then photocopied that onto cardstock.  Using a circle cutter, I cut out gray and black circles.  Kids cut their robot out, taped on blue tape pieces and glued the circles and square to look like R2-D2.

Origami Jabba

You'll need:


If you've never heard of the Origami Yoda book series by Tom Angleberger, you're missing out!  This book series is perfect for Star Wars Reads Day.  The website offers printable instructions on how to fold Yoda, Darth Paper and the other characters.  My colleague's son Lucas was my helper for the day, and he was in charge of "Origami Training."  He provided lessons in folding Jabba and gave participants instructions to take home with them.

We also had a book display of Star Wars books, since this event does celebrate reading!  And we had a snack table with Yoda Soda, Wookiee Cookies, and Dark Side Dip and Chips.  The possibilities are endless.  I hope this encourages you to participate in Star Wars Reads Day next year, or just have a Star Wars Party at your library.  May the books be with you!
Giveaways. Who doesn't love free swag?

Book display of Star Wars books

Rocking my Darth Vader Read a Book t-shirt and visiting the Pretzel Lightsaber table...again. Don't judge.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Storytime: Autumn Fun

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love watching the leaves change colors, feeling the air get cooler, and checking out apple orchards and pumpkin farms.  Living in Central New York provides me plenty of opportunities to partake in fall festivals and I look forward to them every year.  To get kids pumped up for fall, here's what I did at story time.


The apple pie that Papa bakedIt's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!Fall leaves fall!Ten red applesPumpkins

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson
It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall
Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins
Pumpkins by Ken Robbins


Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson (from DVD I'm Dirty! and More Stories of Adventure and Science by Scholastic Storybook Treasures)

Occasionally, I will show a movie version of a picture book.  I usually do this for my preschool crowd, as my toddler group is too antsy to sit through a short movie.  The kids love this, and it's a nice addition to story time.


Way Up High in the Apple Tree

Way up high in the apple tree,
Two little apples smiled at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down came the apples,
And mmmm....they were good!

"Pumpkins on the Ground"
(tune: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star")

Pumpkin, pumpkin on the ground (crouch down)
How did you get so big and round? (stretch arms out wide and then make a circle)
Once you were a seed so small (pretend to hold a seed)
Now you are a great big ball! (make a huge circle with your arms)
Pumpkin, pumpkin on the ground (crouch down)
How did you get so big and round? (stretch arms out wide and then make a circle)

Source: King County Library System

Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel
(you can use a squirrel puppet with this rhyme)

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (stand with hands in front of chest and bend knees twice)
Swish your bushy tail. (wiggle bottom)
Wrinkle up your little nose, (point to nose)
Hold a nut between your toes. (point to toes)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (stand with hand in front of chest and bend knees twice)
Swish your bushy tail. (wiggle bottom)

Source: King County Library System

"Autumn Leaves"
(tune: "Mary Had a Little Lamb")

Autumn leaves are falling down, (flutter fingers down)
Falling down, falling down.
Autumn leaves are falling down,
We love autumn!
Jump in them and toss them around, (pretend to jump and toss leaves)
Toss them around, toss them around,
Jump in them and toss them around, (pretend to jump and toss leaves)
We love autumn!

Source: Perry Public Library 

"Baking an Apple Pie"
(tune: "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush")

This is the way we pick the apples,
Pick the apples, pick the apples.
This is the way we pick the apples
On an autumn day.
This is the way we wash the apples...
This is the way we slice the apples...
This is the way we add the cinnamon...
This is the way we roll the dough...
This is the way we bake the pie...
This is the way we eat the pie..
On an autumn day!

Source: King County Library System


Apple Collage

This simple craft worked great for my toddler and preschool groups.  All you need is an apple template, red construction paper, and glue sticks.  The kids had a lot of fun tearing up paper and gluing it onto their apple shape!