Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Purple Kangaroo by Michael Ian Black

"The monkey narrator in this humorous picture book guarantees that he can READ YOUR MIND. What begins as a simple request to imagine the most spectacular thing in history turns into the story of a roller-skating, bubble-blowing purple kangaroo searching for his dear friend Ernesto on the moon. So by the time you finish this book, there's no chance you will be thinking of anything BUT the purple kangaroo."
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This is one of my absolute favorite picture books now. I laughed the entire time I read this book and I had to check it out to read to my cousins. . . even though they were 17 and 31 at the time.
When reading this book to others,  I like to hide the pictures and make them actually imagine what is happening. With a younger audience, I do show the pictures to keep them engaged.


With Love from LibraryLand,
Amber

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Sheep Go on Strike by Jean-Francois Dumont

" 'Why are we always the ones who get sheared? Why don't they make cat-hair sweaters, duck down socks, or donkey-hair britches?'  'Let's refuse to be sheared! Everyone who agrees, raise your hoof!' They all raised their hooves, down to the last sheep. And that's how the strike began.'

The sheep are tired of losing their wool, so they decide to go on strike. The dogs, however, are determined to keep the sheep in line. When the other animals on the farm choose sides, things soon turn into a furry, feathery scuffle. But eventually all the animals sit down together and manage to find a creative solution in this hilarious book about the importance of compromise." (Book jacket)

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This book is an interesting way to introduce the inequality in this world. While I am sure this book was in the works way before the most recent bouts of protesting and violence we have been experiencing here in the U.S., there are themes in this small picture book that I am finding to be a mirror of what we are seeing now. I think that Dumont's book is a great teaching tool to talk to your kids about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and a well timed resource to talk about the violence we are seeing from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and other places in this nation.

I don't think this book would work well in a story time group setting, but it will work for a one on one reading time.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Meditate with Me: A Step-by-Step Mindfulness Journey by Mariam Gates

"Meditation does a body good. The regular practice of mindfulness improves health and happiness, and can even help very young children-- to settle their busy minds and understand their emotions. In this gentle and endearing step-by-step introduction, kids learn how to focus their breath, on the sensations in their body, and on the sounds around them. It's an ideal first experience of mindfulness that can be shared at home or in the classroom. Calm is just one breath away."
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While I probably wouldn't use this book in a storytime, I do think it has a lot of value. This particular book would be a great book to use at bedtime to help your little one relax. Mindfulness seems to be one of the latest "trends" right now and this is a great way to introduce it to small children. While I wouldn't use this in storytime,  I would be open to finding a way to do a mindfulness program with children and use this book as a way to get the kids to slow down.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wordless Book Wednesday: The Carpenter by Bruna Barros

This special book shares its story without a single word. Bruna Barros’ beautiful, creative illustrations will capture children’s imaginations, showing readers that even the simplest, most common objects can start a wonderful adventure. This book also offers opportunities to foster discussions and spontaneous story telling.

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I will be the first to admit I am not a fan of wordless books. I understand their value, but it's not my cup of tea. That being said, I like the premise of this book. A little boy is glued to his electronic device, much like kids today are, but something catches his attention and he starts to play and explore his father's carpenter tools.  I think kids will have a blast telling the story the little boy invents and the stories they will come up with will be entertaining.

I do have to mention that I am not a fan of how the people are drawn. The color of the boy and his father reminds me of the blackface used years ago. I understand the author is from Brazil and blackface may not be an issue in that country, but here in the USA, it leads to reminders of how divided our country still is.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

 "'Once upon a planetoid, amid her tools and sprockets, a girl named Cinderella dreamed of fancy rockets.'
With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the ball-- but when the prince's ship has mechanical trouble, someone will have to zoom to the rescue!"

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I absolutely LOVE this book. I love how Cinderella is not the typical Cinderella, just cleaning a house with only dreams of going to a ball. This Cinderella is the kind of girl who can take care of herself and has dreams to be a mechanic for big spaceships. The Cinderella in this story reminds me a bit of my older sister-- a woman who can fix things and works in an auto repair shop, happily.


I really love how this particular version of Cinderella ended and will probably give this book to some little girls that I know.


With Love from Library Land,
Amber

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bob, Not Bob (To be Read as Though you have the worst cold ever) by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick

" Little Louie has the worst cold ever. All he wants is his mom, but every time he calls for her, slobbery Bob the dog comes running instead." (book jacket)

Little Louie has a terrible cold that is affecting his ears and has stuffed up his nose. As he tries to get his mom's attention, his dog, Bob, thinks Louie is calling him. Little Louie gets frustrated because no one can properly understand him and his dog is confused because he thinks Louie wants him. As Louie gets worse (like we all do when sick) he is even difficult to understand until his mom in her frustration crawls into bed with him. . . just what Louie wanted.
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I love that the full title of this book is "To be read as though you have the worst cold ever: Bob, Not Bob!"  Little Louie was the right amount of pathetic during his illness and you could feel his frustrations in the illustrations by Matthew Cordell

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Escargot by Daska Slater

"Bonjour! I am Escargot. I want only two things:
 1. To be your favorite animal
 2. to get to the delicious salad at the end of this book. Are you ready? On your mark. . . get set . . .GO!" (book jacket)

Escargot the snail tries to make you love him throughout the entire book. He spends the book telling you all the good things about snails and how they are actually faster than cheetahs (not really), he does not leave slimy trails behind him (it's a shimmery trail of . . . shimmery stuff) and how fierce he can be to a carrot. This book is adorable and I love how Escargot includes some French words in his dialog.

While snails are still NOT my favorite animal, Escargot is almost cute enough to change my mind.

With Love from Library Land,
Amber

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt

"I hope you're wearing your BATTLE PANTS! You've played the game. Now read the legend of the three great warriors who started it all. . . ROCK PAPER SCISSORS!"

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Rock is a warrior from the Kingdom of the Back Yard and he is sad because no one can beat him in battle so he journeys to the nearby kingdom of Forest Over by the Tire Swing to find someone to beat him, he destroys the competition and then travels to the Tower of Grandma's Favorite Apricot Tree to challenge another being. . . and wins again.

While all that is going on, Paper is in the Empire of Mom's Office trying to find someone who could beat him. He travels through Desk Mountain and Pit of Office Trash Bin defeating all of his foes. Paper sadly continues his journey to find someone who can defeat him.

Finally, we meet Scissors, in the kitchen. She searches far and wide from the tiny village of Junk Drawer to the frigid wastes of Refrigerator/Freezer and cannot find anyone who can defeat her.

One day all three meet up in the great cavern of Two-Car Garage and battle each other. . .


Ya'll, I tried. I tried so hard to like this book. I love the game Rock, Paper, Scissors so I had great hopes of this book being amazing. It's not. The story takes too much time developing a backstory that the true action of the book takes place in the last 12 and is really only 3-4 pages of actual Rock, Paper, Scissors. Oh, also the only girl in the book lives in the kitchen? (I know, I'm reading to much into this, but still.)

I will say Adam Rex did an amazing job illustrating the text of the book. His pictures are what makes the book worth reading.


With Love from Library Land,
Amber

Friday, November 3, 2017

Almost Everybody Farts by Marty Kelley

"Grandmas fart. Teachers fart. Terrifying creatures fart. But. . . is there someone who DOESN'T fart?"

Almost Everybody Farts by Marty Kelley is a hilarious story about a bodily function we all do but no one likes to admit-- farting. Every person and animal farts, well, almost everyone. There are so many different types of people and even mythical creatures that fart, but one person who insists she does not fart.


I LOVE this adorable book. The illustrations add so much to the cadence of the rhyme. My favorite page has to be the one with a farting unicorn. "Ninja farts are SBDs" is probably the funniest line in the entire book.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

" Thank you for joining us. We are so glad you are here. I want to read this book to YOU. Will you be with me in my arms. . . WHILE WE READ THIS BOOK TOGETHER." (book jacket)

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This book has everything going for it. First of all, it's by Mo Willems, who is one of the most loved picture book authors ever. Second it's an adorable book to use as you bond with your baby. I love how this book opens and closes with a mirror for baby to look through. I love how throughout the book, Mo Willems uses the phrase "While we read this book together," demonstrating how important adults reading to little ones can be. My favorite part of the book is repeated, "This is YOU. You are HERE. You are LOVED. . . while we read this book together."



Someone who is pregnant or just had a baby will be receiving this book from me. I LOVE IT.


With love from Library Land,

Amber

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Worldless Book Wednesday: Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier

"Things are not always what they appear to be in this mesmerizing tale of a bee and a bird's epic journey. Brilliantly hued illustrations that look good enough to eat and a simple but surprising story will entrance young readers. . . and everyone else.

Bee & Bird  is a visual tour de force by the distinguished author, illustrator, and graphic designer Craig Frazier, creator of the acclaimed Hank Finds Inspiration  and other distinctive books for children." (book jacket)

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I actually thought the illustrations were adorable. I found myself trying to guess what bee and bird where on the entire time, and there were a couple times that I was very surprised. I think kids will have a fun time making up a story for Bee and Bird's adventure and it will be highly entertaining.


With Love from Libraryland,
Amber
                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Manga Review: Komomo Confiserie vol. 1 by Maki Minami

"As a little girl, Komomo Ninomiya delighted in picking on Natsu Azumi, the son of her family's pastry chef. Ten years later, when  the family fortune is lost and she has no place to live, Komomo encounters Natsu again in her hour of need. Now that Natsu is a master pastry chef in his own right, he'll help Komomo-- but only if she works for him at his new confiserie." (back of book summary)

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Okay, first of all, I am not someone who reads a lot of manga. This book, Komomo Confiserie vol 1 is the first manga I've actually read. The description on the back of the book was promising. I loved the idea of people meeting up again 10 years later. I was intrigued. The book itself ended up being really disappointing. Komomo's treatment of Natsu as children was appalling. She was a spoiled little rich girl who always got what she wanted, including Natsu's sweets (who lets a 5 year old bake by himself?!) which would fill her with warmth and MAKE HER CRY. Seriously? His sweets could make her cry?!

Fast forward 10 years and Komomo is being forced to work part time jobs (all of which she fails at and is fired from, sometimes multiple jobs in the same day) because her family has lost their wealth, she's renting a room at someone's home (her family has abandoned her) and she's just as awful as she was at 5. Natsu is returning from France as the youngest pastry chef ever and running a confiserie. Television interviews reveal that he can't wait to see Komomo again to repay her for the way she treated him as a child, introducing a weird revenge plot through out the book. Oh! There is also the introduction of a mysterious man telling Komomo to learn not to show emotion for some reason I can only guess will be explained in a further volume.

Seriously, Natsu made me so angry throughout most of the rest of the book. I wanted to slap his arrogant attitude from his face and make him start acting like an actual human being with compassion toward Komomo and I wanted to tell her to run away from his abusive behavior. From the time the two meet up again at 15, Natsu tells others the he was the only one allowed to abuse bully Komomo. He tells her not to befriend another pastry chef (6 years older) who is coming to work the shop when Natsu and Komomo have to go to school, he constantly belittles her and treats her poorly.

I spent so much time wishing for redeeming qualities for either of them that when they finally happened, I was so annoyed I didn't care. There are at least 4 more volumes to this series and I can safely say I will NOT be picking them up off the library shelves.

Love from Library Land,
Amber

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Kiddie Kardio

Kiddie Kardio is probably one of my favorite parts of the week. For 30 minutes every Thursday, I get to dance with toddlers and preschoolers. Some days, the kids just kind of stand there and stare at me, but there are days when those little ones will dance with wild abandon and it is hilarious. Most of the songs we use are from the Fresh Beat Band and the Imagination Movers(because they don't make me want to shove pencils through my eyeballs like some children's musicians).

During Kiddie Kardio, not only do we exercise through dancing, we also work on life skills like cleaning up our toys and waiting our turn. Each song where the kids get a handheld object (scarves, shaker eggs, lummi sticks, bean bags or hand bells) the kids have to come get them (learning to wait their turn) and put them back in the proper bins (cleaning up).

Our typical routine:

D.J. Get the Party Started (scarves)
Spin Around
Dance with Me
Here we Go (lummi sticks)
Tap it Out (lummi sticks)
A Friend Like You (shaker eggs)
Freeze Dance
Wiggle Song (Dragon Tales)
Mover Music (Imagination Movers)
Jump Up (Imagination Movers)
Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah (Aly and AJ) (Parachute time)
We're Unstoppable (parachute time)

Parachute time may be the best thing about Kiddie Kardio. During Aly and AJ song, the parents and I work the parachute and the kids dance underneath it as it goes up and down. The happy squeals of the kids is infectious. The kids love the parachute, the parents and I love the cool breeze that comes from moving it. The second parachute song We're Unstoppable by the Fresh Beat Band is the invitation for the kids to handle the parachute if they want . If the kids are the ones holding the parachute, I kneel down to their height to help out. The parachute tends to move quicker and not as high as when the adults do it, but the kids love it just the same.

Kiddie Kardio is a 30 minute class for ages 2-5 held every Thursday during our Story Time Sessions.


With Love from Library Land,
Amber

Friday, October 13, 2017

Early Learning Kits

 

 


Early Literacy/ Early Childhood Learning is something we are really trying to focus on this year. Each of these little boxes on the shelf ($1 at Dollar Tree) contains some sort of Early Learning Game- most of which I have purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers. My favorite creator on TPT is Lavinia Pop and you can find her TPT site here.

 

I hand stitched the felt letters in about a week and they are quickly becoming one of our biggest hits. The little ones love to play with them and the parents love having a more physical way to introduce the alphabet to them.

Our current themes are:
Alpha-Art
Counting Turtles
Ocean
Ice Cream Alphabet and Math
Fall
Apples and Pumpkins

I have been showcasing a new kit each week and the parents have enjoyed sharing them with their little ones. I have more to make. I would like to be able to rotate the kits each season.

Love from Library Land,
Amber

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

STEAM Travels: Ancient Greece: Edible Parthenons

One of my goals with the new Where in Time is Ms. Amber?  program I'm doing, is I want to extend the lesson beyond one class. I wanted to find a way to teach about history and not still have a lecture. So I decided that this year, we would do a cross curriculum approach and I would pair history with STEAM.

Our first STEAM Travels class focused on creating Edible Parthenons. I picked up icing tubs from the dollar tree ( 10 oz for $1 at the Dollar Tree) graham crackers (family pack about $5), mini marshmallows, mini York Peppermint patties and peppermints. I paired the kids up into 3 teams and gave each  team a picture of the Parthenon and then I allowed them to get creative in trying to build it. Two of the teams were pretty successful, one team. . . well, they tried.
   


The kids had a blast "building" these things, and by building, I mean eating the construction supplies. I still maintain that the sugar highs they left with are were not my fault.

With Love from Library Land,
Amber

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Resources

This is where you will find links to some of my favorite resources: books, websites, and even videos that have helped me during my career.


Babies and Toddlers:

Totally Tots









Preschool/ Early Literacy

Countdown to Kindergarten

Reading with Red

Lavinia Pop a great resource for printables

Teachers Pay Teachers a great resource for printables and other educational materials. There are some resources that are free, but most you do pay for. Some are as little as $1.00





School Age and Tweens:





Teens:


Librarians:

Abby the Librarian

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Where in Time is Ms. Amber? : Ancient Greece

As a woman who grew up in the 80s and 90s I LOVED to watch PBS and some of my favorite shows were Where in the World and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?. So for the past few years I've been doing a geography club at the library. The first 2.5 years were dedicated to traveling the United States and then we spent 1.5 years traveling the world. Now that the geography club is over (for now) we are traveling through time in a class I call Where in Time is Ms. Amber?. 


Since this class is a new venture for me, I decided to change it up a bit. In the past, the Geography club was primarily lecture with a craft thrown in at the end. I would make study guides for the kids and there would be a big Geography Club versus the Librarians Geography Bee. I had been using that format for 4 years and the kids were getting bored with it. (Several of the kids have been with me since we started 4 years ago.) This new class will have stations around the room for the kids to interact with. After a brief overview of Ancient Greece (which included a clip from Disney's Hercules), I unleashed my 2 students to the stations in the room.

Station 1
God and Goddess Match Game (I found some really cool ancient Greek flash cards at Research Parent) I took the god/goddess descriptions, laminated them and glued them to a large sheet of Art paper. Then I laminated the god/goddess names and let the kids match the god/goddess to their description. The kids had a little difficulty matching a couple of them, but quickly fixed their mistake.

Station 2
Decorate a Grecian Urn
We found an old Oriental Trading paper vase craft in our craft drawers and I thought it would be perfect for Ancient Greece. I think we originally bought them for a Percy Jackson party and had several left over. Sadly, I ca no longer find the craft on Oriental Trading.

Station 3
Build a Lego Parthenon
This was probably the biggest hit in the class. By the time the kids were ready to work on the Parthenon, D's little brother C came in to build with us. I gave each of the kids a Lego building board and let them dig through the boxes of Lego to find the pieces they needed. We ended up with two partially built Parthenons by the time class ended, but they loved it!

Websites:

I chose to use the Greek Gods and Goddesses card to create a match game that my students really enjoyed.
Layerd Soul should us a really cool Lego Parthenon that I had kids attempt to build.
Statue of Colossus at Rhodes came from Ancient Awe.


Helpful Books:

Ancient Greece by Peter Ackroyd
Ancient Greek Women by Hadyn Middleton
Cultural Atlas for Young People: Ancient Greece by Dr. Anton Powell
Ancient Greece: 40 Hands-On Activities by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell


The new format of the class seemed to be a huge success. The kids who were able to make it had a blast and I'm not upset that it was a really small class. I'm pretty sure that had we not been closed for Hurricane Irma for almost a week the class would have been a bit bigger. (We ended up re-opening on the same day as the 1st Where in Time class.) Next week, we will have our first STEAM Travels class and that will be a nice little tie in to our Ancient Greece studies. We will be building edible Parthenons!

Love from Library Land,
Amber

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Secret Coders Series by Gene Luen Yang

"Hopper hates her new school. The kids are mean, the principal is scary, and there's something creepy about the building itself. For instance: why are the walls of Stately Academy covered in the number 9?

Hopper and her friend Eni are determined to get to the bottom of it. but the mystery of Stately Academy has been programmed into its very stones, and it'll take two persistent programmers to figure it out!

Hopper and Eni are about to become secret coders." (back cover of the book)


I want to start this with letting you know, I am not a big fan of graphic novels. I've never really understood the point. I always preferred to imagine the illustrations instead of looking at them in a book. That being said, I loved Secret Coders. Hopper is new to school and all she really wants to do is join the girl's basketball team and not anger her foreign language teacher. She discovers something odd with her school and with Eni she sets out to uncover the odd things about her school.

One thing I absolutely loved about the book is Gene Luen Yang asks the reader to try to figure out the puzzles alongside Hopper and Eni. The way the author explains coding is easy to follow and he makes it fun. Secret Coders has a really fun interactive website that even includes coding tutorials. I can't wait to see how far this series goes and an eagerly waiting for the 3rd book to show up at my library. 

Supercharging Your Storytimes! Workshop by Saroj Ghoting

I had the opportunity to go to a workshop called Supercharging Your Storytimes! that was led by Saroj Ghoting. This workshop was a follow up to the Every Child Ready To Read workshop I was able to attend in December.  We were asked to bring a book that we like to read in storytime with us to use in the workshop and I choose The Loudest Roar by Thomas Taylor. The majority of the workshop had to deal with a project out of Washington state called VIEWS2. VIEWS 2 seems to be a more indepth version of Every Child Ready to Read and the combination of BOTH programs will help me become more intentional in my story time preperations.

For the majority of the meeting, I was gathering ideas and really enjoying what I was learning. The people at my table were fun to work with and we were able to bounce ideas off each other. The only snag my group had was when we were asked to come up with additional ideas to help with comprehension, ideas that were not on the sheet given to us. However, the list of activities and ideas to help comprehension was so exhaustive, that we could not come up with any thing!

Ms. Ghoting's workshop is a wonderful workshop and she supplies a ton of handouts to follow. Her personality is bubbily and inviting. If you have the opportunity to attend one of her workshops, I would highly recommend it. If you can't meet her in person, at least check out her Early Literacy website here. She supplies you with research, ideas and resources to help you with story time. Her website is woderful!



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill

"Emma O'Donovan is eighteen, beautiful, and fearless. It's the beginning of summer in a quiet Irish town and tonight she and her friends have dressed to impress. Everyone is at the big party, but all eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, Emma's parents discover her in a heap on the doorstep of their home, unconscious. She is disheveled, bleeding and disoriented, looking as if she had been dumped there in a hurry. She remembers nothing from the party.
That day several devastating photos from the party are posted online and go viral, eventually launching a criminal investigation and sending the community in to tumult. The media descends, neighbors choose sides, and people from all over the world want to talk about her story.
Emma's life has been changed forever by an unthinkable and all-too-common act of sexual violence, and all she wants is to disappear." (jacket cover)

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Louise O'Neill has written a brilliant novel about the aftermath of intoxication and rape in a way that was desperately needed. Emma's story sadly is not unique. In the aftermath of her rape, she remembers having sex with someone at a party, but nothing much until her parents find her passed out on the porch. Emma's downward spiral officially starts when she gets to school and her friends turn their back on her. It's during a conversation with her friends that Emma realizes 4 different boys had sex with her, and she only knew of 1 of them. When photos and video of what happened at the party surface on Facebook, Emma is approached by Ms. McCarthy, she has to confront what has been done to her and the steps she will need to follow to find her way again. Not only does Emma have to confront her attack, she has to watch her story unfold in international news. 

Too often rape victims are treated as pariah and blamed for what has been done to them. The victims often have to defend themselves in not only a court room but in the court of social opinion. Often victims are accussed of ruining their attackers lives if they tell what happened. Much like in the case of Rapist Brock Turner. The attacker had glowing character witnesses a sparkly clean photo shown in the press, everything to insure that he was innocent until proven guilty; while his victim (even though nameless in the media) had accusations thrown around about her character. Emma's life was left in shambles after her attack, her reputation in ruins, but her rapists, the community rallied around them. Far too often this occurs in today's society. Far too often we, as a society, protect the rapist instead of the rape victim. It needs to stop.

Louise O'Neill chose a realistic ending to her novel that while it left me empty inside because it's not all wrapped up like I would like, it's true to the narrative of Emma's story and the narrative of so many victims/survivors. O'Neill's book is a great way to continue if not START a conversation on sexual assault and rape and maybe a way to instead of teaching our daughters (and sons) not to be raped, maybe start teaching others not to be rapist.