It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? December 21, 2015

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? was initiated by Sheila at Book Journey, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus – perfect for a children’s librarian like me. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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11th

Title: The Eleventh Hour – A Curious Mystery
Author/Illustrator: Graeme Base
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 1988 (!)
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: When Horace the elephant turns eleven, he celebrates in style by inviting his exotic friends to a splendid costume party. But a mystery is afoot, for in the midst of the games, music, and revelry, someone has eaten the birthday feast. The rhyming text and lavish, detailed illustrations each provide clues, and it’s up to the reader to piece them together and decide whodunit!

My Two Cents:  I’m going back into the vaults today to share with you this exceptionally beautiful picture book that enthralled me as a child, and still leaves me with a powerful sense of wonder today.  Horace the elephant throws a giant party for his eleventh birthday, inviting his ten best friends to join him in playing eleven different games. To the animals’ horror, though, when the specified time for eating arrives (11:00, naturally), they discover that someone has already devoured the entire feast! It is up to the reader to solve the mystery of the mysterious party crasher. Intricate clues are hidden within the elaborate, full-colour illustrations on each spread, including codes, ciphers, and even musical clues.

Make no mistake, The Eleventh Hour is not for the faint of heart, and is an ideal picture book for older children (and adults!), who enjoy solving puzzles and figuring out riddles. I shared the story with my partner, a computer programmer who has always enjoyed solving puzzles, the more challenging the better. He was very impressed, and agreed that he would certainly have enjoyed solving this mystery as a child!

Still, like all great picture books, The Eleventh Hour can be enjoyed by readers of all ages and personalities (even impatient people like myself who just can’t be bothered to solve puzzles….) I remember being unable to solve the mystery as a child, and was still unable to solve it when I read it again last week! That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story, though – I was always far more interested in the stunningly detailed, densely-lush illustrations, which captured my imagination and drew me in to the story’s world completely.

slop

Title: I Really Like Slop
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Fiction/Reader
Publisher’s Summary:  In I Really Like Slop!, Piggie invites Gerald to try her favorite food . . . slop. But Gerald is not so sure he’s going to like it. At all.

My Two CentsFor two summers in college I worked at an international school language camp for kids and teens. One day, a very adorable and very earnest group of kids offered me a taste of their lunch, which they assured me was “very deeleeshus” (a popular expression among the kids at the summer camp). Not knowing much about Korean culture at the time, I eagerly took a big mouthful of a fragrant cabbage dish they called “kimchi”…. As you might imagine, I then struggled to smile and nod enthusiastically while gasping and choking, tears streaming down my face.

In I Really Like Slop, Piggie enthusiastically shares her favourite food, slop, with her best friend Gerald, who doesn’t quite share her enthusiasm. Stories about characters being initially repulsed by the food preferences of others abound in children’s literature. In most of these stories, however, the characters are eventually persuaded to try the ostensibly disgusting foods, only to discover that the strange dishes are actually delicious (The Sandwich Swap immediately comes to mind). Happiness and joy then abound as characters share their exotic yet uniformly delicious food with each other and learn valuable lessons about tolerance and intercultural understanding.

What makes I Really Like Slop so special is that when Gerald does eventually sample Piggie’s slop, he discovers that it tastes even more disgusting than it looks or smells! As someone who has never quite embraced kimchi can tell you, that’s just the way life goes. People have different food preferences, regardless of who they are or where they’re from, and we don’t all like the same things.

What Elephant and Piggie show is that just because you don’t share someone’s interests or preferences doesn’t mean you can’t respect and appreciate them all the same. Respecting and appreciating something you like and understand is easy, anyone can do that! But having those same feelings for something you don’t understand, don’t enjoy, or might even find repulsive, now that is the real challenge. As Gerald illustrates, you can find your best friend’s favourite foods disgusting, and still love your best friend all the same. Keep an open mind, try new things and leave yourself open to new experiences, but understand that it’s OK to be different, to like different things and have different opinions.

Isn’t it amazing how much a talented author/illustrator can convey with just a few well-chosen words and some expressive pictures?

 Now tell me, what have you been reading this week?

Early Readers Book Club – “Elephant and Piggie”

This week we celebrated the awesomeness that is Mo Willems and his “Elephant and Piggie” series of readers. The children picked their favourite Elephant and Piggie title to read – we had plenty to choose from!

As a craft, we made Elephant and Piggie paper bag puppets, using this template. The kids coloured in their Elephants and Piggies, cut them out and pasted them onto paper bags for an easy and cost-effective craft that worked on a number of different skills. Colouring and cutting help children develop their fine motor skills, and are a lot of fun.

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Once our puppets were complete we took turns acting out some of the different E&P stories! The kids really got into their roles, putting on different voices for the different characters.

Only one more book club session to go! 😦

Passive Activity – Elephant and Piggie

Kids at the library love colouring. I wanted to put out a passive activity that would encourage even more creativity, so I printed this “make your own Elephant and Piggie story” template and spread copies out on a table with a box of pencil crayons.

The response has been adorable, as kids eagerly make their own Elephant and Piggie stories. I didn’t put out any instructions or prompts – I wanted kids to use their imaginations and put their own unique spin on the activity.

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One little boy pulled the entire Elephant and Piggie collection to use as reference!

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The fun never stops at the library, even when there aren’t any structured programs running.

Baby Story Time – July 24, 2015

To be honest, I can’t exactly remember what we did this week….I normally plan my programs in advance, but the summer has just thrown me for a loop. So…I’m fairly sure we did something along these lines….

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Here are baby’s fingers
  • Slowly slowly
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly
  • Come under my umbrella

Book 1: Cat the Cat, Who is That? / Mo Willems

whoisthat

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • Gregory Giggs
  • London Bridge is falling down

Book Two: Farmyard Beat / Lindsey Craig

farmyard

Movement Songs:

  • Dancing with bears
  • Mamma’s little baby loves dancing
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Rain is falling down

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

I like Farmyard Beat, but I definitely make a few changes when I use it in story times. Adapting picture books is something I talk about a lot in my programs. To make things a bit more consistent I replace all of the different noises in the story with animal sounds, and I shorten the story a bit by changing the ending.

I encourage caregivers to view picture books as interactive objects that can be adapted to meet different moods/needs. Most picture books can be made appropriate for any audience with a bit of creative interpretation. Caregivers can even forgo the printed text all together and make up their own stories using the pictures – this is a really fun activity to do with children, as kids can be insanely creatively!

Baby Story Time – July 17, 2015

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Baby put your pants on
  • Two little eyes
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly/ Mo Willems

fly

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • Giddyup horsey
  • You be the lemon
  • Trot trot to Boston

Book Two: If You See a Kitten/ John Butler

kitten

Movement Songs:

  • My bonny lies over the ocean
  • What shall we do with lazy Katie?
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Mm-ahh went the little brown bear one day

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

I really like branching out and using picture books that aren’t necessarily targeted towards babies in my baby time. I think it’s helpful to model ways in which caregivers can adapt materials for their children when they’re at different ages. I know that several of the parents in my group have older children, so I like to showcase ways in which they can use the same books and songs with all of their children just by making a few adaptations. For example, the Cat the Cat books grow with children – they’re simple and repetitive enough for babies, with big bold text and colorful illustrations, and there are plenty of opportunities for fun animal noises, but they’re perfect for older children who are just learning to read.

Similarly, many of the songs we do in baby time are perfect for older children! While babies love being lifted in “zoom zoom” or “the elevator song”, older kids love jumping instead! Parents can continue using familiar material as their children grow, and can use the same material with several children, just by making a few simple changes. When you’re a busy caregiver, anything that can make life a little easier helps!

Five Finds – Birds, birds, birds

May 2 – 9 is Vancouver Bird Week, a “week-long series of events to celebrate Vancouver’s birds. It was inspired by World Migratory Bird Day, a United Nations-sponsored initiative that recognizes the importance of birds as key indicators of our environment’s health.”

Our branch has a sizable collection of nonfiction bird books, but to celebrate Vancouver bird week I thought I’d share five fun bird-themed picture books!

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The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog / Mo Willems

Pigeon learns about sharing when a curious duckling keeps asking questions about the hot dog Pigeon has found.

 Owl Babies / Martin Waddell

Three owl babies whose mother has gone out in the night try to stay calm while she is gone.

How to Heal a Broken Wing / Bob Graham

When Will finds a bird with a broken wing, he takes it home and cares for it, hoping in time it will be able to return to the sky.

Flora and the Penguin / Molly Schaar Idle

In this wordless, lift-the-flap picture book, Flora and her new friend, the penguin, dance on the ice together and learn to treat each other with respect and kindness.

 Calvin Can’t Fly / Jennifer Berne

A young starling chooses to read books when his cousins are learning to fly, and the knowledge he acquires comes in handy when a hurricane threatens the flock’s migration.

Baby Story Time – April 17, 2015

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Wake up feet
  • Head and shoulders
  • Everybody knows I love my toes
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friend Who Fly / Mo Willems

friends

Songs/Bounces

  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • Gregory Griggs
  • I’m toast in the toaster
  • Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap

Book Two: Peek-a-Moo / Marie Torres Cimarusti

moo

Movement Songs

  • Dancing with bears
  • Love somebody yes I do
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Orca whale
  • You are my sunshine

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

Baby Story Time – March 27, 2015

I was delighted to see a couple of the mums I met at the drop-in program yesterday at our story time this morning. We even had a few enthusiastic dads attend today, which was lovely.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • The moon is round
  • Two little eyes
  • Everybody knows I love my toes
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Cat the Cat, Who is That? / Mo Willems

cat

Songs/Bounces

  • Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap!
  • Trot trot to Boston
  • Pudding on the plate
  • I’m toast in the toaster
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two: Jump! / Scott M. Fischer

jump

Movement Songs

  • Love somebody yes I do
  • Go in and out the window
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • You are my little panda bear
  • You are my sunshine

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I decided that we should finish off with a song to honour the change in the weather today and celebrate the return of the sun!

Jump! is one of my favourite baby time books – I ask all the caregivers to lift baby every time we say jump!, and the babies just adore it.

I was also delighted when a patron came up to me after the program wanting to borrow more Mo Willems books – I love it when a patron connects with something I’ve shared and wants more!

Five Finds – Rain, rain, rain

Picture if you will winter in Canada. Temperatures dropping below -20 degrees (Celsius, please), streets slick with ice, snow piling up against houses, children bundled up in so many layers they can barely move.

While this may be the winter reality for much of Canada, in Vancouver the season looks somewhat different. Winter in Vancouver can be described in a single word – “blah.” It’s grey, it’s wet, it’s overcast, it’s drizzly, and we all feel a bit mossy and mildewy by the time spring rolls around.

While pulling books for a winter display in the branch, I realized that most of the typical “winter” picture books don’t quite capture this soggy reality. So, here are a few children’s books that capture the true spirit of a Vancouver winter.

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Rain! / Linda Ashman

As an old man grumbles his way through a rainy morning, spreading gloom, his neighbor, a young child, spreads cheer while hopping through puddles in frog-themed rainwear.

Are You Ready to Play Outside? / Mo Willems

Will Elephant and Piggie let a bit of rain spoil their fun, or will these two friends find a creative way to deal with the weather?

Four young crocodiles find all sorts of ways to keep their spirits up on a rainy day.

When it begins to rain and storm on the day of her big parade, Jazmin stomps, shouts, and does all she can think of to drive the rain away, only to discover that maybe the rain isn’t so bad after all.
Two children, a dog, and a pair of bright red galoshes star in this poetic celebration of a the adventures that can be had on a rainy day.

Family Story Time – December 12, 2014

Oh. My. Word…..We managed to cram 98 people into the meeting room for story time today, with a small crowd gathered outside watching. Normally I have someone outside monitoring the situation and cutting off entry at a manageable point, but because of a miscommunication with a new staff member, the post was left unmanned, and the crowds kept smooshing in! It’s hard to kick people out while reading a picture book, so it was a little stressful to say the least, and I hope people didn’t mind too much….Oh well! It’s the last story time of 2014 – I successfully completed my first full season! I also saw my attendance rise from an average of 60 to an average of 100+, not too shabby in three months, if I do say so myself, even if it has caused us a few logistical headaches…

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly! / Mo Willems

friends

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat the Wheels on the Bus

pete

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Orca whale
  • Well hello everybody, can you touch your nose?
  • Here we go a driving
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

One of the challenges this week was that the books were really, really short, which meant I had to scramble a bit to fill up the full half hour. With such big groups in such a small space (that’s the real challenge – I don’t mind big groups, but you need an appropriate space so that everyone can sit and move around comfortably) I have been struggling a bit with my books – I have been turning to really short, simple stories that I won’t lose my voice shouting across the crowd. It’s OK, but it’s certainly not ideal.

We’ve been doing our informal branch survey to find out when people would like to see an additional story time, and it looks like Thursday morning and Saturday morning are the favourites, though both have challenges. Thursday morning would involve specially opening the branch before regular opening hours, while Saturday would involve a different staff member, and probably wouldn’t solve our size problems (in particular the number of nannies and home child care providers who come to our weekday story times). I’m going to talk about it with the branch manager and see what we can figure out for the new year, so that our story times can be both inclusive and accessible for as many kids as possible!