Friday, November 28, 2008

neither fish nor fowl

Not quite sure what to make of this blog - I have been so sporadic with my posts here and never quite found the footing for it.

So, for now, hibernation.

Maybe come spring, we'll wake the bear.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mother Goose's Little Treasures review

I hadn't heard of a number of these short and delicious rhymes, all rich with rhythm and nonsense and cha cha hurdy gurdy fun. Children with their serious schools and no child left behind testing and cell-phone ears need to get their sillies in fast and quick while they're young. Rosemary Wells' illustrations compliment the telling of nursery rhymes with perfection - fantasy rooted in commonplace, serious farmer roosters and bunnies and chickens on the phone and Handy Spandy pipers in striped hats all seem possible in her warm and colorful world. Note to grown-ups alarmed that the rhymes make no sense...add an "n" and that's the deal, squeal.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Friends of the Library

I went to the Friends of the Library booksale on Saturday - as usual a great haul! Not shown - a hardcover Kate DiCamillo book (looks new, one dollar), a coffee table sized collection of the works of a cartoonist someone in my family likes (4 bucks!), and an assortment of really great children's nonfiction all currently hidden away in my closet as they will appear under our Christmas tree. In this time of frugality, check into what your friend's group at the library is doing. I also purchased a series of prints (25 Cents each) that would look great framed. Our Friends group raises money for our children's programming among other things - such a win win deal to support them and get great stuff to boot!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Random round-up

I probably enjoy the internet more for random items more than anything else. I love that people post their hobbies, their passions, their quirky interests. Since I am guilty of the same with this and my other blog, clearly I feel the kindred spirit love for this history, and for an earful of celtic music from way back when which I found on this website which has a ton of celtic info of potential interest.
Love these fabulous notebooks on Etsy. When taking an archival class, we all cringed at the idea of the "altered" book since there is the probably quite realistic fear of wonderful (and valuable) books being led to slaughter. However, these are the sort I find at booksales that are charming and need a home and no doubt welcome being transformed into useful and quite fabulous items. She has some extremely cute things that may be turning up in people's Christmas giftbags so I should probably shut-up now. I'll end with a perverse pleasure, the art of Banksy, since I am in a mood and have been all day, and sort of just love the graffiti'd Thomas.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Library of Doom series

Could not love this more, so much fun. A new graphic novel series for the younger set by Michael Dahl.

The books have a dark intense look sure to thrill kids with a yen for fearsome adventure but of course what charms me is the series hero being the mysterious "Librarian" and of course, everything book related. Sweet! Who wouldn't be crazy for a series where one of the books is called Escape from Pop-Up Prison? This stuff is as wonderful as my Nancy Pearl doll. Other reviews? My fourth grader says that the "Librarian" is cool but that I am not even though I am a librarian. So harsh. Little does he know what lurks in my closet....Bwwaaahaaahahahaha! Yeah, maybe he's right. But this series is way cool.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Well done!

Always happy for good news about librarians, I am especially pleased to add this bit of news
about my bff Joan's rockin' cousin, Dawn, who is doing the library world proud. Kudos Dawn! And a shout out, of course, to the greatly missed influence, Frances.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Discovery of the day

Googled a nursery rhyme for Scarecrows and I came upon this which was a big hit at storytime - I didn't have the cd music for it, so we just sang it with movements and threw in fun scary faces at the end to chase off those wily blackbirds (Jack and Jill on the hill, of course).
I hadn't realized that so many nursery rhymes and songs and felt board activities and the lot were available on Youtube - what a great resource! Especially for those songs in a lot of the nursery rhyme books that just list the tune as "traditional". I was raised on Mitch Miller, Montovani, the Ray Coniff singers and hymns so "traditional" means very little to me unless they are singing this. Like those old aerobics class I took way back when and the instructor would shout out "cha cha" and "rumba" and people would run me over doing these mysterious movements. Where do people learn to rumba anyway? Well, now I know :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Charlotte Rabbit

Lagomorphs on the brain lately. And CR is my colleague during Nursery Rhyme Times...

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier, Vt

Last but hardly least of the library visits of the summer - the children's room - where I chatted with a very fun librarian. They have a lot going on, lots of well thought out, creative activities including a brilliant one where children brought in their toys for a toys-only sleepover - the enterprising librarians photographed the stuffed animals and dolls enjoying a pizza supper, games and checkers, and other such library mayhem, and the delighted kids were able to view the photos on the library website (although I'm sure the toys filled them in as well). A great library in a great city - Montpelier, besides being the capital of fair Vermont, is also the home of Bear Pond Books, one of my favorite bookstores, just a whistle down from the Coffee Corner Diner which is home to the world's best chocolate chip pancakes (oh, yes) and corned beef hash my husband swoons over.

Just in time for Halloween

I came across this terrific craft book that includes quite a number of great ideas for Halloween - from face paint, to flickering spooky flashlights, to
cool masks from paper plates - all easy to make (and cheap, too). The book is by DK (Dorling Kindersley to the uninitiated) who are known for their great photographs in their books - and these do not disappoint - I think I might even be able to master the knitting instructions (and I am usually all thumbs).
A lot of crafts for other holidays as well as many things children could make for gifts or just for fun. Also a lot of items librarians and teachers could use for craft time :)
Have fun making cool stuff.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If Lord Franklin was a'stampin'

Stayed up late the other night with some music from Kate Rusby playing while I noodled around with these fun stamps called A B Seas Stamps. I got mine in Burlington, Vt, but you can apparently get yours at the Cricket magazine website - I think it's but if unsure just click on the image and it will come up (as I swiped the image from their site). Anyhoo - free advert since you cannot find better mags for kids than from the Cricket people (Spider, etc.) which I would say even if I hadn't stolen their photo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Be a Rebel! Read a banned book!

Read a book from the list of books objected to by people I find objectionable (can I ban them?) during banned books week, September 29 to October 6.
Several variety of lists are available at the ALA website but I suggest buying a book - yes, I always think libraries are swell places to get books, but here is a link to purchasing children's books that have been banned - in this case I think we should show the authors some love for refusing to be limited by narrow minds.
And I enclose this illustration and quote- the borders are the redesign of A Wrinkle in Time (proudly on the banned books list along with The Bible, Alice in Wonderland, and other books guaranteed to ruin minds). I love her for starting that great book with that great line - she had wonderful humor in that brilliant mind of hers.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

View out of a library window in Warren, Vermont

Library visits

Nearly every summer we have gone up to Vermont for a few days and every time we take a ride over to Warren, a small but appealing artsy town with an even smaller (but appealing) library that overlooks a beautiful graveyard with very old headstones. The library is moving from this, the present location, to a larger building in town, and I will miss the above view out the windows - a clear invitation for stories to start their weave if I ever saw one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Running Bear Books, good, huh?

Driving in Vermont this summer and a black bear runs across the wooded road into the thick greenery.
We were thrilled beyond words.
Of course, in the weeks to come I had worked out my winning the lottery plan which is to move to Vermont and open a bookstore called Running Bear Books.
But until I win the lottery, I will be content to watch children cuddle up to our big library bear who sits in our reading area, deeply contented as they read "smasher trucks" books to themselves (making up the words, of course, as they can't read yet - but you don't have to read to enjoy a good truck book). And I will enjoy bear books such as the charming Old Bear by the insanely talented Kevin Henkes. When the bear dreams of napping in a giant pink crocus, I was so very happy, and remembered the bear running and I wondered if he will sleep this winter with dreams of flowers and blueberries and icy winter nights studded with stars. I hope he will.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One mo' time

I would be remiss if I didn't include a quote for the challenge from one of my favorite books. Tom, beloved brother of the narrator, Frances, has died and there is his funeral: " And it was cold, I remember that, the low November sunlight glittering on the wet headstones. There was the sound of traffic from the road, the rumble of the presses in the nearby Creda factory.
It was Harry who saw him first. He grabbed my sleeve but said nothing. I looked... and there was Tom. He had his hands in his pockets, his jacket collar up. His hair was as uncombed, as wild as ever. And he was leaning against a tree."
Not an easy book, perhaps, but a rewarding one.
The image of the jacket borrowed from the following website worth noting - love reading 4 kids, a UK site, very interesting. Here's their info about Allan Ahlberg:
England has always had so many fantastic children's book authors and illustrators. I have fantasies of going there and filling up giant steamer trunks full of children's books someday (possibly why the husband hasn't seemed so eager to make the trip). Fortunately so many of their books cross the pond and get published here as well. (I was thrilled beyond reason when Ginger Bear by Mini Grey, which was pub'd in the UK as Biscuit Bear, came to our USA bookshelves).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In memory of Rontu

For the last of the quote challenge, I give you the opening to Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.

"I remember the day the Aleut ship came to our island. At first it seemed like a small shell afloat on the sea. Then it grew larger and was a gull with folded wings. At last in the rising sun it became what it really was - a red ship with two red sails." interesting background information on both the author (who did not start writing books for children until in his sixties) and how he came to write this book.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pirate Quote

"Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates."
-Mark Twain
in my advil/vicodin dentalwork haze, I nearly forgot it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Last year, I donned Pirate duds and bling and asked all the kids "Arrrrrrrrrrr ya readin'?" in my best pirate voice. This year I am home moaning "Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..." But hey, it's still Pirate, right?
(And as the most fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow asks: "Why is the rum always gone?")

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The ultimate revenge?

" Once on a dark winter's day, when the yellow fog hung so thick and heavy in the streets of London that the lamps were lighted and the shop windows blazed with gas as they do at night, an odd-looking little girl sat in a cab with her father and was driven rather slowly through the big thoroughfares."
So begins the story of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - and the preferred version for me illustrated (as pictured) by Ethel Franklin Betts. I took this book out of the library as a child so often that the librarian finally refused to let me take it out any longer telling me I had to choose another book. So was the ultimate revenge finding a wonderful copy of this in a used book store for five bucks years ago or becoming a children's librarian myself? (This is where my older children would roll their eyes and just say that is too geeky to be a revenge of any sort!).
Thanks to the listed blog below for the photo - only one that came up googled and my camera is not yet sympathetic to the new computer or I'd take a photo myself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Became of Susan?

So starts Chapter One of Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd, a recommended book by my boss (as she just purchased the 4oth year anniversary edition for the children's room) - and I am enchanted to note it starts off with a Susan - we Susans are so often overlooked in literature. So for my ongoing week of quotes put forth by The Hidden Side of the Leaf blog at, I offer these opening lines:

"One Wednesday in March, late in the afternoon, Susan Shaw vanished from the Ward Street apartment house in which she lived with her father.
The last person to see her was Mrs. Clutchett, a lady of uncertain age but reliable habits, who was employed as a cleaning woman by various residents of the building, and also by Mr. Shaw as a cook."

I just adore the "uncertain age but reliable habits" line.

Monday, September 15, 2008

...and he grew up to be a librarian

"Edmund was a boy. The people who did not like him said that he was the most tiresome boy that ever lived, but his grandmother and his other friends said that he had an inquiring mind. And his granny often added that he was the best of boys. But she was very kind and very old."

from Kind Little Edmund or the Caves and the Cockatrice by E. Nesbit in her The Complete Book of Dragons for the quote a day challenge (my theme: children's books grabbed at random)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rainy weather reviews

The Dangerous Alphabet is obviously not for the regular ABC youngster set. I see this more as a poetry book with some delicious macabre rhymes: "E's for the evil that lures and entices; F is for fear and its many devices;". Teachers looking for a Halloween writing activity might want to consider picking this one up and having their students spin an unusual alphabet. Extra credit if they notice something is a bit off kilter in the alphabet line up. Likewise, the equally amusing Creature Carnival is a poetry collection built around the title's concept - another fun Halloweeny project could be inspired (write your own Monster Mansion or the like) and the inspired art is again by the talented Gris Grimly.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shining review of the moment

The irrepressible blue squid is back
and this time he's packing a paintbrush.
Clever and perfectly on note, this book
is a charmer.
I am a big fan of writer/illustrator
Kevin Sherry who seems to be
channeling Picasso as a toddler
when he creates his squidlicious books.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

from "Boats" by Alberto Blanco

Un poema es un barco de papel
hecho con tus propias palabras:
toda tu vida cabe en el hueco
que dejan suis pliegues,
e sus colores.

A poem is a paper boat
made of your own words:
everything in your life fits
in the spaces formed by its folds
and its colors.

From the fantastic book: The Tree Is Older Than You Are, poems from Mexico selected by (the wonderful) Naomi Shihab Nye. Hopefully this book finds its way onto every library shelf.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Library Travels: Vergennes, Vermont

Library Mermaid went landlubber and visited the Public Library in Vergennes, Vt. A beautiful glass dome ceiling, a nice old building that manages to feel old and historic and yet airy and open. Upstairs they were holding a used book sale - the son grabbed some paperbacks - and we stumbled across their historic room - we were charmed by the stuffed birds and artifacts and the way it was just something we lucked across. Serendipity.

Poetry Friday: William Jay Smith

There was a Young Lady named Rose
Who was constantly blowing her nose;
Because of this failing
They sent her off whaling
So the whalers could say: "Thar she blows!"

from Around My Room, a collection of his children's poems.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How to create a reader

First and foremost - let children see that reading is not just important to you but a pleasure. Let them catch you dipping into a book. Let them see piles of books on your bedside table, a paperback in a purse or a briefcase or beach bag. If you understand there is magic in books, they will want to discover that magic themselves.
Try leaving books from the library, a seemingly random selection, on a table in your home and see if there are any takers. Get a joke book out and write out some jokes and stick them on the fridge. Include a book as a gift for at birthdays and holidays. Take out cookbooks from the library and have your child read the recipe to you. Read to them at night if they have trouble reading themselves...let them pick a book that interests them and take turn reading the paragraphs. Get them a magazine subscription, start a book club for them and their friends, let them pick out things to read you might not adore graphic novels, Captain Underpants books, (after all they aren't telling you not to cruise through People magazine - if adults don't have to read War and Peace level literature everytime they pick up reading materials, why should kids?). Give them a build-your own-home-library allowance and let them hang out in bookstores and libraries. And hang out in those libraries and bookstores with them. You'll meet the nicest people in those places :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

8/8/08...and a few links of interest

I continue to marvel at the amount of stuff people seem to include in their blogs on a daily much detail, so many links, so many updates and extensive reviews. Librarian Mermaid is busy thinking about napping and why Advil is not really working for me so much anymore.

Storytelling site: lots of good storytelling links as well as the storybug site.

the Scranton library in Madison, Ct has a wonderful picture books site that can be subscibed to:

and five owls most excellent book reviews and more..., and a promise to read the blogger instructions and great info sent by Nan about how to put in links properly without all this mess of computerspeak...once I am back from the land of the son's virus spreading throughout the house ...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Oh, behave!

When I first started doing programs, I was amazed at some of the behavior I witnessed. Not the kids, mind you, but the adults. Talking among themselves loudly, cell phone chats (my fave - the Dad on the floor saying loudly into his cell "no, I'm not busy, just hanging out with the kid at the library" as he is inches away from where I am attempting to enchant the wee ones. ). Then there is the mother who likes to read a separate book (loudly!) to a younger sibling (maybe she thinks we are harmonizing), the ones who choose the library for free to be you and me time for the kids so Parent or Nanny can have some downtime... including this one nanny (who I haven't seen in a while, hoorah) who used to sit in a front row and fall asleep even during the noisiest of songs. What's a girl to do? I preface my programs with a couple of brief and cheerily announced guidelines (this being suggested a couple of years ago by an older librarian and boyhowdy, it works). In Family Storytime by Rob Reid, he also notes the difference in behavior that opening remarks can make. Weird but true. The one he puts forth in his (very useful) book is a bit too formal to me but can easily be adapted to your personality and needs. "Children, put on your best listening skills. That means sit still and be quiet unless I ask you to talk or move around. Parents, feel free to take any children who are restless or noisy out to the hallway until they are ready to rejoin us. I appreciate your cooperation and consideration for the other audience members and myself. Thank you."
Of course, everyone still will misbehave, but you will feel better and in more control. And people will glare at the misbehavers more fiercely which is all the better as you and your puppet carry on stalwartly.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A dog of a program

A great start with Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion (I heart Harry, the white dog with black spots). Then a new one, Not Afraid of Dogs by Susanna Pitzer, a nice tail (arf!) about Daniel, a brave boy who isn't "afraid" of dogs, he just doesn't like them (and Bandit, the little dog who changes his mind). I Love Dogs, a very simple book by Barney Saltzberg that is always a surprisingly big hit, and last, the based-on-a-real- story (which makes it even more special) The Stray Dog by Marc Simont. Max, a dog puppet who barks on cue joined us. A version of Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes I found online awhile ago and altered that goes: Paws, muzzles, ears and tails...fur and fleas and barks and wails, paws muzzles...etc. Was most effective with the puppet helping and kids liked waggling their tails. Also Bingo (thank you Sharon, Lois and Bram cd) and a cute fingerplay, five little puppies (see website: ) good dog books list on their site as well. ) And please remember: Leave no dogs in cars even with windows down in the summer, it's hotter for them than you, they don't sweat (lots of water for your pups, too!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

a (sort of) green themed Story time for a hot day

What's for lunch? by John Schindel (okay, no green but a good kick-off story)
Hi, Harry! by Martin Waddell also a hit especially as one of the kids stood next to me with our turtle rhyme and puppet after : "Little turtle in your shell, slowly you do go.
Slowly creeping, slowly crawling
Slow is nice you know!"
Then the book Elizabeth Bird over at Fuse #8 enthuses over (couldn't believe we own it)
The Noisy Counting Book by Susan Schade. Ms. Bird is right, lots of fun (saying Ga-Dunk! is always fun).
Green as a Bean by the wonderful Karla Kuskin invited "what would you be?" responses. Hilda's Restful Chair by Iris Schweitzer - which had watermelon in it which was why I chose it to go with our watermelon craft. We sang the watermelon song : (to tune of "Are You sleeping?") that I found on the web this morning (have kids echo each sentence) "Watermelon, on the vine, sweet and red and juicy, please be mine. Watermelon, how it drips, up and down your elbow, spit the pits." A good time had by all.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer delays and a post for thought

Nothing like starting up a new blog midsummer and then going on vacation jaunts here and there...not condusive for posts.
However, here is an interesting bit of library biz to think about:;_ylt=AkuwYkOtW75Nw_xpfSpRAkZH2ocA

and clearly I need to figure out how to just link the post to a word like "here" as I have seen on other blogs...well, I'll look into it and figure it out but not while I am still on vacation :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In lieu of a basket...

or a file, or a drawer, or several draws, many baskets, many files. Yup, that's how all my library stuff is laid out - and not just at home but in two separate libraries as well.
So welcome to my brand new blog. Here's where I will try to pull it all together - book lists, reviews, program ideas, links to crafts, anything I find I can use in my work as a children's librarian.
A note: this is not a "kidslit" blog, although I have put links to some of the finest ones on my blogroll - I couldn't possibly match the energy and detail of those blogs! And this may be vague and on again, off again, and bursts of enthusiasm, and then stretches of not a lot...a bit like yours truly operates, especially when writing which I am supposedly doing (my other gig).
But I wander - if anything strikes your fancy, please, borrow any idea you might find of use. If you borrow from a review or something "written", please note the source (moi!). The most helpful thing I have found in library work is the generosity of other librarians. I will try to pay it forward.