Did you know MCPL now has Playaways? In Children's Services, we have over 30 titles available for check-out (or for placing a hold if already checked out). Simply insert an AAA battery and some headphones, and you've got yourself a portable audiobook. The player itself is smaller than a deck of cards, and they're packaged in bright orange cases. We've placed them near our books-on-cd. Come check one, or more, out! (3-week check-out.)
Hello, Bloomington Brainiacs - Please use the link above to sign up for a special program which doesn't appear in the Children's Services summer program brochure: Famous Brainiac Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor will join us in the library auditorium on Saturday, July 21, at 11 a.m. to read the classic children's book Miss Rumphius, and to chat and answer questions! (And did you know we have Dr. Jill's very cool and colorful brain statue - one of 22 brain statues around town - in front of the library, near the bear statues?) Ages 5 and up are welcome (though 5 and 6-year olds will need to be accompanied by an adult, of course); teens and adults are welcome, too, even if unaccompanied by children!
I've always loved the artwork of Maira Kalman and was pleased to see she has a new picture book out this year - on good ol' Abe Lincoln. Her presentation of Lincoln is both biographical and based on her own impressions of how he must have felt in certain situations, so to call this book strictly nonfiction might be a bit of a stretch. (Additionally, complex history is, of necessity, oversimplified - so parents and teachers may want to provide more context for children just being introduced to slavery and the American Civil War.) But don't let these small complaints keep you from reading this book with your kids. Kalman provides a child-friendly portrait of Lincoln and his family and adeptly hits the high points in the life of the great historical figure. I especially like her notes on various topics in the back of the book - such as the one that explains that members of the Association of Lincoln Presenters abide by the motto "We are ready, willing and ABE L." For some lovely examples of Kalman's quirky, colorful art, as well as her writing, see her old blog for the New York Times, called "And the Pursuit of Happiness." Recommended for grades 2 and up.
Five words on the cover of a new children's book caught my attention, and I knew I had to read it. One was Mystery (I really like mysteries), one was Cake (I adore cake!), and the other three were Alexander McCall Smith - a favorite author of mine! McCall Smith explains in an afterword that he felt compelled to explore the childhood of Precious Ramotswe, the heroine of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mystery series for adults. He found that many adult readers were sharing that series between generations, and thought it would be nice for children under age 10 to have books about Precious they could perhaps read themselves. In The Great Cake Mystery (and oddly enough, we have the same book under the U.K. title - Precious and the Monkeys), the young Precious realizes that an overweight classmate is being unfairly blamed for stealing pastries. She helps the others at her school identify the true culprits, while also imparting a gentle lesson about not judging people by their appearance. The text is interspersed with lovely illustrations in shades of red, black, and gray, by Iain McIntosh. Extras include information about the characters and about the geography of Botswana, a reader's guide with discussion questions, and even a recipe for Precious's Sponge Cake Worth Stealing. Recommended for grades 1-3.
We librarian types tend to pay a lot of attention to award-winning books, although we can't deny we're often a little disappointed when our personal favorites don't win. The Mildred L. Batchelder award is given each year by the ALA's Association for Library Service to Children "...to the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States." Read more »
As a young child, my older sister taught me a version of a song about the doomed ship Titanic that was so jolly in tone, it belied the sober meaning of the lyrics. I merrily sang/yelled, "Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives, it was sad when the great ship went down...to the bottom of the sea! Glug glug glug glug!" having no idea I was singing about a true tragedy.
Author Barry Denenberg, using the conceit of a fictional newspaper and reporter, brings the historical event roaring back to life in Titanic Sinks! Since we are just weeks away from the 100th anniversary of the sinking on April 15, 1912, I immersed myself (sorry!) in the make-believe correspondent's excited dispatches to his newspaper. Read more »
In 1984, Jumanji author Chris Van Allsburg compiled a storybook made up only of images with captions that hint at the fantastical and the scary, the strange and the beautiful. These mysterious illustrations were said to come straight from a man named Harris Burdick and, in the years since the pictures reached the public, the illustrations in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick have been used as a storytelling guide and even a jumping off point to help kids to their own fiction.
More recently, Van Allsburg hired a list of favorite children’s authors to interpret the images from Van Allsburg’s popular work. The result is The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, a 221 page compilation of short stories that flesh out the weird and fantastical elements present in Van Allsburg’s original images. Authors ranging from Sherman Alexie to Stephen King, from Walter Dean Myers to Kate DiCamillo and many, many more all lend their voices to very different types of stories. The compilation also features an introduction from favorite, but oddball, author Lemony Snicket. Read more »
February is National African American History Month, and fittingly, Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, recently won the American Library Association's 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award. Nelson has provided an overarching introduction to the difficult history of African Americans, told in the voice of an elderly female whose grandfather was born in Africa and was kidnapped and taken to America as a slave at age six.
Monday, January 16, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Please come to the library for children's films (including Martin's Big Words) and readings of children's books promoting diversity, tolerance, and equal rights, and last but not least, to do crafts and activities provided by local group Nur Festivals. Most activities will occur between 10 a.m. and noon, and all are drop-in events. Help us celebrate a special day and a remarkable man!
One request we get all the time at the library is for Star Wars origami books. In the past, we've had to refer people to websites, but now we can finally offer our customers an actual book with instructions for one Star Wars origami figure - speaking of Yoda, I am. Sixth-grader Tommy has an eccentric and socially challenged friend named Dwight, who is somehow able to channel very wise, if sometimes unclear, advice through his origami finger puppet Yoda. Tommy keeps a journal (his "case file") on the advice Yoda offers, in an attempt to determine if people should really listen to Yoda, or if he's just a "green paperwad" like Tommy's friend Harvey claims.