"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

04 May 2017

The Unbreakable Code


Bertman, Jennifer Chambliss. The Unbreakable Code. Henry Holt & Company, 2017.

Emily and James have hardly recovered from their adventures in Book Scavenger, and now they notice their teacher Mr. Quisling acting suspiciously. Following him leads to another book-related mystery. Can they solve this mystery before the mysterious arsonist beats them to the answer?

This book was very similar to Book Scavenger, a book I very much enjoyed and frequently promote at my library through book talks. While there are plenty of references to books in this story, is not nearly as literature or library-focused as Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library or its sequel. I loved watching the kids solve the puzzles and wondering if they'd arrive at the correct conclusion before the bad guys caught up with them. I did guess the ending correctly, but I'm not an 8-12 year old, so I don't consider that a bad thing.

Full of San Francisco color and history, this book is highly recommended for tweens, particularly those who are fans of mystery stories.

Recommended for: tweens
Red Flags: "mild peril" - there are a couple of fires that happen and the main characters are occasionally in danger
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Inkheart, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

18 April 2017

Storytime: Trains


I did a train storytime recently, and not only was it a lot of fun to read books on a very popular topic, but I had the opportunity to provide lots of literacy skills practice during our craft.



Opening Rhyme: Open Them, Shut Them

Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds

Book: Trains by Patricia Hubbell

Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"

Book: Train Man by Andrea Zimmerman

Rhyme/Game: Dinosaur, Dinosaur, are you behind the [color] door?

Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"

Book: Freight Train by Donald Crews

Closing Rhyme


Craft: For our craft, we made name trains. I found a train coloring page online and copied the engine picture, then shrank it to a quarter sheet. Each child colored an engine, cut it out, and glued it to their paper. Then we added square "cars" behind the engine with our name letters on them. This was a great opportunity for my young patrons to practice cutting, pasting, and writing, and they all pointed to the letters in their names and told me what they were. I love being able to demonstrate this type of activity for the parents and caregivers, as it models a literacy project they can do in their own home as well.


11 April 2017

Science Storytime: Three Little Pigs

After attempting, without much success, to bring my science club programming to my current library, I decided to begin incorporating science activities into my regular storytimes. This allows me to bring science programming to my preschool patrons in a way that doesn't require them to come to the library on an additional day for a separate program.



At my previous library, another librarian ran STEAM times for toddlers after their regularly scheduled toddler storytime. I decided that this method would make for a too-long morning for my patrons, so I adjusted my regular storytime and replaced the craft with our science experiment.


I did a standard storytime, complete with rhymes, songs, and of course stories, but for the stories I read two different versions of The Three Little Pigs. At the end of storytime, when I usually introduce the craft, I explained that we would be doing a science experiment instead.


I had three tables set out, and each table had a different item on it: standard drinking straws, craft sticks, or DUPLO blocks. The kids and their caregivers collected a worksheet from me and went to each table to construct a house and then attempt to blow it down. It was really neat to watch the kids and their caregivers working together on this project, and I will definitely do something similar again.

28 March 2017

LEGO Minifig Felties


I have enjoyed making felt characters for older kids to enjoy at my library, but there still are some kids who aren't interested in My Little Pony or Pokemon, so those felt characters won't engage them. LEGO bricks and characters, however, are nearly universally loved, so I thought I'd try to make some LEGO felt characters. They won't have that satisfying "snap" that holds LEGO bricks together, but I did want to make some pieces interchangeable.


I started with a standard minifig shape. I found this by Googling "LEGO minifig coloring page." After resizing it, I printed a couple of copies and separated the parts I wanted to make: head, hands, shirt, and pants.


I made several copies of a standard yellow head as well as yellow hands. Then I found the rest of my felt scraps and made shirts and pants in various colors and patterns. I haven't decorated any of the clothing yet beyond drawing the outlines. I did glue the hands to the shirts for added stability and to avoid choking hazards with the babies and toddlers. The faces all received different expressions.


The kids at my library will really enjoy these, and I'm especially hoping that younger kids - those whose parents deem too young to play with a standard minifig - will like playing with the felt versions. The facial expressions will work well for discussing emotions, too.

21 March 2017

Felt Board: My Little Pony


Besides Pokemon, My Little Pony is probably the most popular show among my young patrons. I created some felt characters so the older kids would have something to play with and talk about when they visit the library after school.


I started with the "Mane Six" - the six main characters of the show, as well as Spike the Dragon, who is Twilight Sparkle's assistant, and Gummy the Alligator, because he's my spouse's favorite. For each character, I cut out a base layer in their body color and then added a second layer for their hair, except for Rainbow Dash whose hair was painted on because it's, well, rainbow. I also added details to the ponies' hair, like Pinky Pie's curls: