Aubrey D.'s blog

Little Makers Make - Seed Bombs!

Summer is a great time to get outside and get your hands dirty. We did just that at our Generations Gardening Together program in May and again, earlier this month, at Little Makers. Ginny and friends got green with a fun spring/summer activity, creating seed bombs!


Seed Bombs are small balls made from clay, seed, and dirt that will explode with beautiful flowers when planted or thrown into dirt areas. They’re great for exploring nature and present an opportunity for learning. Even more important, they’re fun and can incorporate some of Every Child Ready to Read’s five daily practices, such as” playing” and “talking.” Why stop there? Add in a song or a reading and writing activity to get the full five practices! Try the fingerplay "My Garden" performed by our own librarian, Mary and one of the recommendations on our Gardening Books for Kids list.

Creating seed bombs in the library's Courtyard Garden

What You’ll Need :

  • Potting soil
  • Red clay
  • Flower seeds (we used wildflower seeds)

What To Do :

  1. Knead the clay to soften it.
  2. Once the clay is moldable, flatten and shape the clay into a disc shape.
  3. On top of the clay disc, add ½ teaspoon of potting soil and ¼ teaspoon of flower seeds.
  4. Fold the clay inward, keeping the soil and seeds from spilling out. Mold the clay into a ball around the soil and seeds.
  5. In a bowl, mix some soil and seeds together.
  6. Roll your seed bomb through the soil and seeds. Try to get an even covering of soil and seeds on the clay.
  7. Gently pat the soil and seeds into the clay to incorporate them into the clay ball.
  8. Toss the seed bomb wherever you’d like plants to grow!


The Caldecotts are Coming! 2015 Edition

Josh inspects potential Caldecott award winners.

It's awards season! And in the world of Children's Literature that means it's time for the American Library Association to announce the most prestigious awards of the year. Early tomorrow morning a few hundred Children's librarians will gather at the ALA Midwinter Conference to witness the Youth Media Awards in person. The rest of us will congregate impatiently in front of a live stream of the event, waiting to see if our favorite titles will show up on screen!

The Randolph Caldecott and John Newbery Medals are probably the most well known of these awards, but other important honors to be announced include the Coretta Scott King Awards (for outstanding African American authors and illustrators), the Michael L. Printz Award (for excellence in Young Adult literature), the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award (for the most distinguished American book for young readers), and many more. Today we're talking about the Randolph Caldecott Medal, or in reality, our favorite picture books published in 2014. From the ALA website, here's the official description:

The Caldecott Medal "shall be awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year. The award shall go to the artist, who must be a citizen or resident of the United States, whether or not he be the author of the text.

The Caldecott committee may also award an unlimited number of Honor books, aka the runners-up. Last year there were three Honors awarded, all to wordless picture books. So which books do we think could win? There were a ton of fantastic picture books published last year so, for the sake of organization, we've broken them down thematically into a few very general groups.


First up, a perennially popular theme, Animals and Pets.

Gaston - written by Kelly Dipucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson – A clever and very sweet book about mixed families.
Sparky - written by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans – This is a lovely book about a girl who wants a pet and, after a little help from a friendly librarian, ends ordering a Sloth by express mail (I think this is how we ended up with Henri…) Kathy felt a special connection to this fun book.
A Boy and a Jaguar - written by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Cátia Chien – A beautifully illustrated and incredibly moving autobiography about Dr. Rabinowitz, a conservationist with a stutter and a special connection to animals.
If I Had a Raptor - written and illustrated about George O’ Connor
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird - written by Rita Gray, illustrated by Kenard Pak – Lisa says this is a great book for inquisitive preschoolers with a lovely mix of images, sounds and informational content.
Big Bug - written and illustrated by Henry Cole
Born in the Wild - written and illustrated by Lita Judge


Books on the human condition, or books about navigating the minefield of childhood emotions and experiences!

And Two Boys Booed - written by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Sophie Blackall – We love Sophie Blackall’s richly detailed and interactive illustrations. They are a great complement to Viorst’s spot on story of childhood stage fright.
Bad Bye, Good Bye - written by Deborath Underwood, illustrated by Jonathan Bean – This one drew mixed reactions (one librarian says ‘Meh’). But I enjoyed how Bean’s picture move across each spread, which, along with an aggressive color palette, illustrate the sometimes traumatic experience of moving.
The Adventures of Beekle : the Unimaginary Friend - written and illustrated by Dan Santat - Kathy thinks this one might win, and Ellen wants a Beekle of her own.
The Baby Tree - written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall – Another beautiful book full of fantastic little details. Blackall’s book about where babies come from feels so true to real life.
Hug Machine - written and illustrated by Scott Campbell
Where’s Mommy? - written by Beverly Donofrio, illustrated by Barbara McClintock – This one’s a real winner. Ellen loved the parallel worlds of Maria and Mouse Mouse, who are both missing their mothers, and the beautiful setting of a mid-century modern home.
Coming Home - written and illustrated by Greg Ruth

Seasonal picks!

Books about the seasons, three of which happen to be books of poetry!

Firefly July : a Year of Very Short Poems - selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold - written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen
Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons - written and illustrated by Jon Muth – We have a soft spot for Muth’s signature penguins. This book is full of clever little haikus perfect for sharing.
Winter is Coming - written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche - Lovely illustrations, but one of our librarians pointed out a possible error that might keep this one from a medal.

Books about literature and the arts.

Next up, books about literature and the arts.

Viva Frida - written by Yuyi Morales, photography by Tim O’Meara
The Right Word : Roget and his Thesaurus - written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet – A very cool book about Roget and his book of words. Kathy’s not sure if it can win but I think Melissa Sweet’s amazing mixed media illustrations are Caldecott worthy.
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse - written by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
The Pilot and The Little Prince : the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - written and illustrated by Peter Sis
Draw - written and illustrated by Raúl Colón – Another stunning wordless book that’s definitely in the running.
Remy and Lulu - written and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Firebird - written by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers – Myer’s collage style illustrations are fiery and bold, a perfect complement to Copeland’s sparely written story of an African American ballet dancer.

Grand adventure stories!

Stories about a grand adventure or journey!

Sebastian and the Balloon - written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead
Quest - written and illustrated by Aaron Becker – Beautiful, but doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, the Caldecott Honor winning Journey.
Gravity - written and illustrated by Jason Chin – A strikingly illustrated book that simplifies the concept of gravity for young childen.
Voyage - written by Billy Collens, illustrated by Karen Romagna
Three Bears in a Boat - written and illustrated by David Soman – We loved the large format of this clever yet tender book. And the sneaky references to other literature are very fun.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole - written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen – This book is a serious trip. Written and illustrated by previous winners, this could walk away with an honor.
The Storm Whale - written and illustrated by Benji Davies – Okay this one isn’t actually about a journey, in fact it’s a touching story about lonely boy who adopts a beached whale. Check this one out.

The outliers.

And finally the outliers. These books didn't quite fit in with the other titles, but the category includes a few of our favorites.

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads - written by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith – This book is laugh out loud funny but we wonder if the length might turn off the Caldecott committee.
Telephone - written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jen Corace
Rules of Summer - written and illustrated by Shaun Tan - Once again, Shaun Tan explores the truly epic proportions of the childhood imagination while crafting an intimate narrative of the intensity of family relationships. The Rules of Summer pushes the boundaries of the picture book without becoming inaccessible. Read it, then check out the rest of his remarkable work.
The Farmer and the Clown - written and illustrated by Marla Frazee – We saved the best for last. This amazing wordless book by Marla Frazee is our pick (and the pick of many Mock Caldecotts around the country) to win it all. Frazee’s moving story of found family is spare yet punctuated with tender humor. If this one doesn't earn at least an honor we will be shocked.

Build a stand, Spark a dream!

Lemonade Stand Logo

This year, the library is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club to help promote Lemonade Day Bloomington. Lemonade Day brings the community together to experience entrepreneurship, promote philanthropy, and celebrate the bright aspirations of our future leaders.

Caldecott Worthy Books from 2013

It's award season again! And in the Children's Department that means we're looking forward to the upcoming ALA Youth Media Awards. On Monday the 2014 winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards will be announced honoring the most distinguished books published in 2013. In particular, the Caldecott is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most outstanding American picture book for children. For the second year in a row we put together what we've deemed the CaldecartTM, a library cart full of picture books published last year. For the first Caldecart we looked at around 30 books. This year we went crazy with 66 to peruse and evaluate!

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Read more »

Combat Cabin Fever in The Learn and Play Space

Catching butterflies in the Learn and Play Space
Grandparents are so important in a young child’s life. Whether you see your grandkids every day or once a year, you want to share experiences that form a lasting bond with them. During these chilly days and freezing evenings, the library is the perfect destination for grandparents with their visiting grandchildren to find relief from cabin fever. Children’s Services offers many great features for young ones in our preschool area and in the Learn and Play Space. Children and their grandparents can take a break from selecting books, CDs, DVDs and computer games to explore all of the things to do in the gathering area near the baby board books. You will find comfy seating, a doll house, a train table, activity cubes, a puzzle table and a nest of AWE computers preloaded with exciting learning games.

Catching butterflies in the Learn and Play Space

The Learn and Play Space is a room dedicated to children ages birth through 6 years. Here you will find a Writing Center to practice writing notes and drawing pictures. There are a Kitchen, a Store, and a Puppet stage where you and your grandchildren can engage in pretend play. The center of the room features puzzles and other activities on our theme of the month, ”Winter.” The building area houses an exciting polar scene where children can build a world of igloos and icebergs. You'll even find a place dedicated to babies who are not yet walking.

Creating a masterpiece at the writing center in the Learn and Play Space.

These areas were designed to support your grandchild’s early literacy development. Studies show that guidance from a caring adult is critical to helping children get the most from these experiences. Come visit the library. Your grandchildren will think you are playing together, but you will know that you are helping to lay the foundation for their future success in reading and in life.

Having fun at the train table!

Oskar Loves Letters!

This is Oskar playing his favorite game. He knows the names of all the letters in the alphabet and he loves to take these magnetic letters off the wall and carry them to his parents. They were wise to help him make learning fun. All children need to know the names of the letters and the sounds they make before they begin school and learn to read. Oskar is on his way to becoming a great reader!

As Oskar grows, his parents can expand on his knowledge by introducing new games about the look and sound of letters. Here are some ways all caregivers of young children can grow a young child's letter knowledge.

  • Point out the shapes of toys and other objects, and talk about how they are alike and different. Comparing and contrasting shapes helps children notice the differences between letter shapes.
  • Help your child notice environmental print such as names on food cartons or words on road signs. Point out letters as you go through daily routines.
  • Play games like, "We are going to go to a place to eat that begins with the letter M. Where do you think we are going?"
  • Talk about the letters that are most interesting to your child, like the beginning letter of his or her first and last names. Help your child find those letters on signs, food boxes, mail, and other objects. Repeat this activity using the beginning letter of other things your child likes.

Read more about our Learn and Play Space here, then visit us and help your child find fun ways to learn!

April is National Poetry Month


Sonnets, Haiku, Free Verse... Shel Silverstein, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost... There is a poet and style of poetry to suit you. You can sample a wide range of poetry in the juvenile nonfiction collection between 808.81 and 821.92: individual poems, collections of poems, poems to ponder silently to yourself, poems to read aloud. If you want to memorize a special poem, you might peruse a collection like: Poems to Learn by Heart, selected by author Caroline Kennedy, pictured to the left.

You can also create your own poem -- from your imagination or observation. If you look carefully enough, you can find poems all around you -- like on the spines of books at the library -- just waiting to be discovered:




Find other ideas for celebrating National Poetry Month at ReadWriteThink. Read more »

And the winner of the 2013 Caldecott is...


It's that time of year again, awards season! Sure the Oscars and Golden Globes may get the most media attention, but the announcement every children's librarian looks forward to is the Caldecott Medal. Each year the Caldecott Medal is awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children to "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children". The ALSC may also name a few runners-up, or Honor Books. We'll learn the 2013 medal winner tomorrow, Monday, January 28th.

So who will win the 2013 medal? In anticipation of this year's announcement our Children's Department pulled as many contenders as we could find. We chose our books based on recommendations from School Library Journal, Horn Book, and the more populist list put together by Goodreads. We dubbed our cart of thirty-some books "The Caldecart" and over the past week we've read as many of them as we could, making notes and picking our favorites. Was there a consensus? Nope! But here are a few of the books we liked the best and a few on which we couldn't quite agree.

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