Did you know there's a place in Antarctica where it's warm enough to swim? It's true! It's heated by an active (though not actively erupting!) volcano. Mouse and his human friend have set out on a long journey to that spot, and we're along for the adventure.
A Trip To The Bottom Of the World with Mouse, written and illustrated by Frank Viva, is the tale of a mouse in a stripey hat, and a bald-headed boy in a shirt with a bat on it, amusing themselves aboard a big boat bound for Antarctica. Mouse is antsy to get where they're going -- Mouse is always antsy -- and the boy is seasick. So they chat about everything they can think of to keep their minds occupied. The story progresses as a series of lists under discussion: things that are hard to do on a boat on a rough ocean, things to wear when it's cold, and the different kinds of penguins inhabiting the icy expanse.
Author and Illustrator Patricia Polacco has a knack for creating picture books for older readers. Her thoughtful, sensitive stories have addressed a range of issues including cancer, cultural differences, race relations and slavery. Her most recent book, Bully, takes on a topic she has written about previously in both Thank You, Mr. Falkerand Mr. Lincoln's Way, but this story depicts how bullying can take place via social media, as well as through direct interactions with peers.
Bully describes how Lyla attempts to make friends and fit in at her new school. A new friend encourages her to get a cell phone, a laptop computer, and a Facebook account so that she can "stay connected with the world!" Her parents relent, and her new friend Jamie, who is a computer wiz, helps her set everything up. The cool "celebrity" girls invite Lyla to join their clique -- not for her newfound electronic communication skills, but for her tumbling and cheerleading abilities.
The versatile Mo Willems, author and illustrator of popular picture books about the much loved Knuffle Bunny, the demanding Pigeon, and Early Readers featuring good friends Elephant and Piggie, has unleashed his creative humor into the realm of classic folk tales. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs as retold by Willems, follows the basic plot of the familiar story featuring the three bears and an adventurous blond haired girl. But instead of porridge, the dinosaurs are preparing bowls of delicious chocolate pudding at varying temperatures. They seem to be setting a trap for an "unsuspecting kid" as they loudly announce their departure for "someplace else" -- not necessarily a walk in the woods.
It seems like a basic concept, a "no-brainer" if you will: the more you read, the better you get at it. But it was good to be reminded of this proven fact at the Literacy Summit sponsored by the Monroe County Community School Corporation last week. Dr. Richard Allington, Professor of Education at the University of Tennessee was one of the featured speakers. He underscored research demonstrating that the number of minutes spent reading outside of school directly correlates to how well you read. Like anything else, reading takes practice to get good at it. A former elementary school classroom teacher before beginning his career as a teacher educator and instructional researcher, Allington also emphasized the importance of allowing children to choose for themselves what to read. "Students must have choice along with interesting texts -- things they want to read," he said.
Hello, Bloomington Brainiacs - Please use the link above to sign up for a special program which doesn't appear in the Children's Services summer program brochure: Famous Brainiac Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor will join us in the library auditorium on Saturday, July 21, at 11 a.m. to read the classic children's book Miss Rumphius, and to chat and answer questions! (And did you know we have Dr. Jill's very cool and colorful brain statue - one of 22 brain statues around town - in front of the library, near the bear statues?) Ages 5 and up are welcome (though 5 and 6-year olds will need to be accompanied by an adult, of course); teens and adults are welcome, too, even if unaccompanied by children!
In our Move to the Groove program last month, we took a look at how you can find dance music at the library. I had pulled a sampling of CDs from our collection to share with the kids, but also demonstrated how anyone with a library card - and a computer -- can download music for free through Freegal!
I've always loved the artwork of Maira Kalman and was pleased to see she has a new picture book out this year - on good ol' Abe Lincoln. Her presentation of Lincoln is both biographical and based on her own impressions of how he must have felt in certain situations, so to call this book strictly nonfiction might be a bit of a stretch. (Additionally, complex history is, of necessity, oversimplified - so parents and teachers may want to provide more context for children just being introduced to slavery and the American Civil War.) But don't let these small complaints keep you from reading this book with your kids. Kalman provides a child-friendly portrait of Lincoln and his family and adeptly hits the high points in the life of the great historical figure. I especially like her notes on various topics in the back of the book - such as the one that explains that members of the Association of Lincoln Presenters abide by the motto "We are ready, willing and ABE L." For some lovely examples of Kalman's quirky, colorful art, as well as her writing, see her old blog for the New York Times, called "And the Pursuit of Happiness." Recommended for grades 2 and up.
We receive wonderful questions from kids at our "Ask Questions Here" desk, and in our programs. But we also get a lot of terrific statements. One of my favorites is: "I know that book!" or "I know that story!" This statement is typically shared as an excited, gleeful shout. It feels good to know something. It's empowering.
Children's librarians have a long history of sharing classic nursery rhymes, folk and fairy tales with children: Three Little Kittens, Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Besides being part of our cultural literacy, these stories lay a foundation for an understanding of character, sequence, and plot. Familiarity with folk and fairytales -- and the ability to retell familiar stories - also is an expectation of our state's curriculum standards.
And how do these stories become familiar to our children? By hearing them, reading them -- even seeing them performed -- repeatedly, of course. Read a picture book version of the story together, listen to it on audiobook, tell it in your own words; invite your child to tell the story to you. One of the extra fun things about folk tales is comparing the different versions of the same story. How does James Marshall's version of The Three Little Pigs compare to Paul Galdone's version? And once a child is familiar with the classic tale, they may have greater appreciation for the spin-offs and variants, such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
Huff & Puff is a new picture book variation of The Three Little Pigs folktale. It's funny and clever enough to be enjoyed in its own right, but children who know the classic tale will have a jump start on predicting what's going to happen in this story -- and being pleasantly surprised by the different conclusion. This version also presents a unique way to invite participation in the story. There are small holes cut out in the pages through which the reader is invited to HUFF & PUFF. If you play the part of the wolf and huff and puff hard enough, the consequence is apparent when you turn the page! Give it a try. Invite your child to take a first step to becoming a storyteller. Provide an opportunity for them to tell you what they know.
Our Summer Reading Program has taken off like a rocket! Our theme this year is Dream Big: Read! -- a fun theme with many interpretations. Sometimes, you might want to read simply to escape into a dream world for a while. And, of course, your librarians will tell you that the ability to read gives you the ability to achieve your dreams, for learning to read enables you to read to learn. We are unabashed advocates of the notion that knowledge is power. Learning about something, learning how to do something can inspire and empower you to act, to do, to become!
Some of us are cat people and some of us are dog people. I am a cat person. I am not a dog person. That's not to say I don't like dogs. I do. Really. Long ago, I even shared a home with a sweet beagle for a time. It's just that after that experience, I prefer to enjoy other people's dogs in their homes or parks or even at the library where we have some wonderful dogs come in and visit. But even though I am not a dog person, I still appreciate a good dog story, and recently have enjoyed some delightful stories about dogs.