Tag Archives: books

Picture Book Review

I love, love, LOVE! the new Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld book: Exclamation Mark ……!!!

image from Goodreads

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

Great concept, great design, great story! Short and sweet, the illustrations are simple and bold, blending perfectly with the story of this little exclamation mark who tries so hard to fit in, until he realizes his full potential. I love that this story essentially takes place on that gray/oatmeal-colored, almost-newsprintish, wide-lined paper with the little dashed line in between each that I used in elementary school to practice writing my letters. A fun story for any age, but also a great book to read when learning about punctuation!

This gets 5 Goodreads stars from me!!

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Oh, Willow….. 😉

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New Young Adult display! I copied it from a picture I found on Pinterest. 🙂

I put books on the shelf that have already been made into movies or that will be made into movies. Here’s a list I found – with the help of my good friend, Ali!  YA Books Into Movies

Definitely eye-catching!


photo 2                            photo 3                   photo 4


photo 5



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Mock Newbery

Well, I’ve been MIA for a few months but one of my New Year’s Resolutions (which is actually all of my old ones that I never, um, resoluted?) is to actually post MORE on my blog. Or, at all, as the case may be.

Anyways, this email I just received from one of the Youth Advisors from MLS (Massachusetts Library System) was definitely post-worthy, as it confirms what I thought when I first read See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Am I biased because Jo was my AMAZING writing professor who was an inspiration to everyone in my masters program? Perhaps. HOWEVER, that does not make her novel any less Newbery-worthy. In my humble opinion.

See You at Harry's Cover Image

I only hope MLS is OK with this…..!

We are all eagerly awaiting the results of all the ALA Book Awards on Monday, January 28! 
In the meantime, a small but tenacious group of your peers have been reading and discussing their picks for the Newbery Award since June, using for communication a moodle’s discussion lists and sometimes chat (when it worked). The “Committee” is made up of 9 school librarians, 3 public, 1 academic, and 1 other.
And here is the Short List! 

2013 Mock Newbery Short List:


Crow by Barbara Wrights. Random House Books, 2012

The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure. Candlewick, 2012

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. Scholastic, 2012

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood. Scholastic, 2012

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead.  Wendy Lamb Books, 2012

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. Putnam, 2012

Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. Wendy Lamb Books, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Harper Collins, 2012

One for the Murphy’s by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Candlewick Press, 2012

Son by Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin, 2012

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. Little Brown, 2012

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.  Dial, 2012                                 

Wonder by Patricia Palacio.  Knopf Books, 2012


See? How cool is that?

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YA Fiction Review

The Dark UnwindingThe Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Dark Unwinding at BEA this past spring and I was eager to read it. Mine didn’t have the pretty cover, but I had a postcard with what it would look like. I defintely really enjoyed reading this story. I thought the characters were very well done. The main character was interesting because she wasn’t your typical saintly, innocent heroine. She had a job to do and her own interests to look after, especially in a time when females typically had no income without a husband or someone to take care of them.

It was a well-told tale, full of intruging imagery and mysteries that kept me wondering. I did crave a bit more darkness and maybe some more romance. But it is still a creepy and chilling tale, without even being supernatural, which is usually the case for these types of Victorian/Gothic/Clock-work-ish novels. Because of this, I would recommend it for younger teens +.

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December Story Times (weeks 9 & 10)

(Better late than never, eh?)


Week 9 – Bedtime


For this story time, I read Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdey, Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton and Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by the great Mo Willems. The Llama books are always a hit and work with younger and older kids alike. The rhyming text is perfect for reading out loud to a restless group and the parents love these too because Baby Llama is “every toddler.” The kids totally get it too, and think it’s funny when Baby Llama whines and screams. I always ask them if they would ever act like that and they always say “no” with a big grin on their faces. In this story, Baby Llama has some trouble falling asleep and whines and frets until Mama rushes to him and tells him she is always there. Russell the Sheep has the classic Rob Scotton illustrations that I love and is a cute story about a sheep who tries everything he can think of to fall asleep to no avail. When he finally tries counting the sheep in his own flock, he falls asleep immediately. This is a cute story, but didn’t work too well with the group I had. They were on the younger side and the pictures are smaller and more detailed, so harder for them to see. I ended with Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! which is usually another one that works for all ages, but by this point, it was almost a lost cause! (The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually pretty tough for keeping kids focused, no matter what age.) Normally though, this is a great read-aloud because it involves the kids. They have to say “no!” to the pigeon, which they think is hilarious because they get to act like their parents.


Songs & Rhymes

We did the 5 Little Monkeys Song with hand motions. Bit hit! I had also planned to do Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, but they asked to do one of our Jim Gill dances – this particular group’s favorite is Jumping & Counting. So that got a little more energy out of them at least.


We made sheep out of cotton balls. Yup, that’s it! Some kids made several sheep, while some made one big one. I made a sample sheep, modeled after Russell.

This was my sample....

Week 10 – Unusual Pets


I chose 4 books as possible reads for this story time, and I actually managed to read all 4 at my Wednesday session, a miracle!

The books were: My Rhinoceros by Jon Agee, Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly, Chewy Louie by Howie Schneider and Smelly Bill by Daniel Postgate. Jon Agee’s new book is super cute and has that lovely off-beat humor and story-style that all of his books tend to have. At first, the boy thinks that his choice of a Rhinoceros as a pet was bad, as the Rhino doesn’t play fetch or any of those normal pet things. After speaking with an expert, he finds out that Rhinos only do 2 things. Those 2 things end up saving the day, and revealing that there is one more thing that Rhino’s do, making them the perfect choice for a pet after all!

As for Prudence, she wants a pet so badly and goes through all sorts of “non-pet” pets, such as a branch, a stick, a tire, and an old shoe. Her parents finally agree that she should have a real pet and the story ends happily, with Prudence choosing the perfect name for her new pet. I love this book, but it’s probably not the best group read-aloud. I only read it to my slightly older Wednesday group, who all loved it. It has cute illustrations and some subtle, dry humor for the parents too. Chewy Louie is about a dog that chews. Everything. Cute story, but a little on the longish side. Smelly Bill is a rhyming book about a smelly dog who finally gets a bath from Great Aunt Bleach, only to leave her as smelly as Bill was. A very funny story.


Song & Rhyme

We sang BINGO, which was a lot of fun, since the parents and myself kept getting confused as to how many claps to do! And did some more Jim Gill dances.


For the craft we made Sock Pets, which actually turned out even better than I thought it would. They are easy to make, since they don’t require any sewing, though I did heat up the glue guns so that they didn’t have wait for things to dry. I have 2 low heat glue guns that I put out for crafts sometimes, though parents always have the option of Elmers or tacky glue. Sometimes it’s just easier. I had black and white child socks I bought at Walmart. They chose a color, stuffed it with cotton balls, and then used a rubber band to tie off the end. This also worked as a tail. They came out so cute! And also really strange-looking, which was the whole point, of course.

This kid made some sort of carrying case for his....

It has antlers.....

We decided this was a Reindeer Lady Bug Mouse 🙂

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Fall Story Times – Week 6

Week 6 – Teddy Bear/Bear Story Time

I am going to attempt to post more about my story time programs than just the craft. So here it goes….

I try to begin by saying hello, asking if there are any newbies and, if so, introduce myself and talk a little about what we do in story time. I will also talk about any special programs coming up that pertain to the 3 – 5 age group. I might take attendance, but usually there are people who walk in late, so I tend to just count people while we do the craft at the end. I also might begin with asking the kids about the theme, so I might ask them about bears, what they sound like, where they live, if they are nice, who has teddy bears at home, etc. This takes up some time because we usually get totally side-tracked with comments like “I have a teddy bear!” “I want to be a dinosaur!”  “I have a cat!” “My cat got hit by a car!” and so on.

I usually start with a song or rhyme, lately we’ve been singing Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi. They are starting to remember the song, and they love to get up and move around and get their “sillies” out before reading.

For the Teddy Bear/Bear theme, I pulled out 4 books to read: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., Big Smelly Bear by Britta Teckentrup, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (LOVE Karma Wilson!), and The Bear Came Over to My House by Rick Walton. I ended up reading the first 3 books for both the Monday and Wednesday sessions, which is pretty good, since we don’t often get through 3 books! I also used my velcro story board characters for Brown Bear, which is fun because the kids get to be involved in the story by putting up a character on the board when it comes up in the story.

Story Characters from Lakeshore Learning


I had 2 songs/rhymes picked out to use: The Bear Went Over the Mountain and Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear. I didn’t end up using either since they were able to sit through the 3 books.

However, we did go on a BEAR HUNT! They loved doing this and doing all the hand motions and sound effects. Plus, it’s always to pretend you’re in a dark cave with a bear. I love Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, but doing the Bear Hunt (chant? it’s not really a song…) is totally fun. There are a lot of different variations of this and most are online somewhere. I think I’ve actually changed my version to make it work better for my group. (At some point, I  will post it, but it’s on my work computer at the moment.)

The craft was decorating construction paper teddy bears. I had my library page pre-cut the teddy bears and then I put out different craft items to glue on or color with. It’s simple and the kids love it. The parents love it too. They came out really cute 🙂

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