Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

Dancing Men - and Women!

I enjoy a good mystery - and when it involves a code to decipher - it just doubles the fun with two puzzles to solve in one story!

In the graphic novel mystery Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Dancing Men, master detective Sherlock Holmes receives a picture of stick figures with their arms and legs positioned in different ways so it looks like they are dancing. The stick figures are appearing around the home of Mr. Cubitt who asks Sherlock Holmes if he can determine what the pictures mean. Holmes examines different samples of the drawings and believes they are a code used to communicate messages in secret. When Holmes travels to Mr. Cubitt's home to inform him of what he has learned, Holmes encounters another mystery: Mr. Cubitt has been murdered! Immediately, Holmes begins questioning the servants and looking for other clues that will reveal the identity of the murderer.
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Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale

School is almost out and the summer reading program has begun. Our theme this year is One World Many Stories: Get Reading, Get Moving. Reading folktales is the perfect way to explore this exciting theme and one of the best folktale collectors is Margaret Read MacDonald.
Dr. MacDonald lived in Bloomington many years ago when she studied for her Ph.D. in folklore at Indiana University. She lives and works in Washington state today where she is a librarian, storyteller, and author of dozens of books. Some of her books are collections that are perfect for beginning storytellers. Teachers, parents, and kids who want to learn how to tell stories will love The Storyteller's Start-Up Book . These stories are easy to learn and Dr. MacDonald gives great advice on how to present them. When the Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales to Tell is a fun collection of shivery stories that are great to share around a summer campfire.
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Best. Folktales. Ever.


What would you do if the leader of your country ordered you to kill your parents? What if you had a talking mask that looked just like your best friend? Imagine finding a village of tiny people who all rode on rabbits. What would you say if they told you that you could live forever?

I just came across Mirra Ginsburg's The Kaha Bird: Tales from the Steppes of Central Asia. If you like your fairy tales to surprise you, check this book out. Although Mirra Ginsburg is best known for her picture book adaptations of such tales as The Clay Boy and Two Greedy Bears, she collected stories from all over the world and retold them for children and adults.

Find her in our stacks, but fasten your seatbelt before reading these stories. They have teeth! The Kaha Bird is recommended for grades four and up.

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

I thought I knew most of what there was to know about Amelia Earhart and her doomed final flight, but this well-researched account, Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming, is both surprising and fascinating!  Starting with a haunting account of the coast guard cutter Itasca's fruitless wait for Earhart to land on tiny Howland Island the morning of July 2, 1937, this book is hard to put down.  Earhart's early childhood was a happy one, but by the time she was in high school, her father had descended into alcoholism, sending the family into poverty and shame.  Fleming implies that Earhart's desperate wish to fly was at least partly a result of a need to free herself from the unpleasant realities of everyday life.

Celebrate Children's Book Week: May 2-8

This week is national Children's Book Week - a time to celebrate all the marvelous books for children you can find at your library! More than 500,000 people voted for their favorite children's book, author and illustrator.

The 2011 Children's Choice Book Award winners are:Author: Rick Riordan for The Lost Hero
Illustrator: David Wiesner for Art and Max
Kindergarten to 2nd Grade Book of the Year: Little Pink Pup
Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year: Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown
Fifth to Sixth Grade Book of the Year: The Red Pyramid
Teen Choice Book of the Year: Will Grayson, Will Grayson Read more »

Bloomington Reads! at the Farmers Market

There's two terrific ways to celebrate reading and fabulous stories for children this Saturday, April 30!

From 8:00am to Noon, readers of all ages and abilities are invited to the Bloomington Farmer's Market to help Bloomington read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl aloud on stage. Each participant will have a chance to read a page. And the first 300 students who visit the Bloomington Reads table will receive a free book!

So go early, get your free book, and then hop on over to the Library Auditorium for a special free preview performance of Cardinal Stage's production of A Year with Frog and Toad, based on the stories by Arnold Lobel. The preview peformance, which starts at 11 am and lasts about 30 minutes, will feature the delightfully funny episodes of Frog and Toad sharing cookies and going for a swim. Listen to librarians tell the stories and then see how cast members depict the stories on stage through song.
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The Water Seeker

"What would you do if you knew you had a special gift - a sixth sense - that was passed down from one generation to the next? A gift that could help people in times of need, but one your father often saw as a trap. Would you use that gift?" The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt is the story of Amos Kincaid, a boy who could find water where it lay beneath the land, unseen by ordinary eyes.

After his mother dies in childbirth, Amos is raised by a succession of women who are each symbols of the American West: a missionary, a rough farm worker, a new bride, and his father's second wife, an Otoe Indian woman. Each of them contributes something unique to the boy's upbringing under the watchful presence of his mother's spirit. The boy is also shaped by the rough men of the wilderness: his father Jake, a reluctant dowser and trapper, and the Blocks, a family of boys as close as brothers to Amos. All come together in the vast wilderness of America sharing tragedy and triumph as Amos grows into manhood on a perilous journey along the Oregon Trail.

Recommended for readers in grades 5-8

Some Picture Books Are a Little Scary


I was thinking about Swimmy, by Leo Lionni, and how as a child I was both drawn to and scared by the story. If you don't know, this book for preschoolers and primary grade children features a little black fish who must undertake the classic hero's journey after his entire family is eaten by a giant tuna. While I love to share this book, I recommend it carefully. No one deserves to get frightened when they're not looking for a scare. But what about when they are?

In School Library Journal (www.slj.com) John Peters notes that, "do you have any scary stories?" is second only to "where's the bathroom?" in the list of most commonly asked reference questions from very young children. We have a natural instinct to protect children from things that might frighten them, but what are they telling us when they ask for these stories? According to Peters, children who ask for scary stories are "searching for ways to articulate, control, or at least build a little resistance to the fear that comes from feeling surrounded by a world rife with shadows, sudden dangers, and unknown rules."
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The True Meaning of Smekday

I had a great time listening to The True Meaning of Smekday, the recipient of the 2011 Odyssey Award. (The Odyssey Award is presented by the American Library Association to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the U.S.) How can you not love a friendly, tongue-clacking "Boov" alien nicknamed "J.Lo" (because Boovish names are unpronounceable by humans) who becomes the unlikely companion of an intrepid 11-year old car-driving heroine named Gratutity (nickname "Tip")? Throw in a cat called "Pig," a flying car called "Slushious," and other colorful characters, along with some strange, funny, and occasionally horrifying events - well, the result is a futuristic road trip like you've never imagined.

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Get Reading, Get Moving!

Whew! Looks like Spring has finally arrived! What a great time of the year to get outside and Get Moving!

Whether you like to hop, jump, skip, kick a ball, ride a bike, or do some yoga, there are a lot of ways to exercise for fun - and we have a lot of books with great tips on how to keep your body fit and strong. Did you know that in addition to keeping your heart and muscles strong physical activity can also keep your brain strong?
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