"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

21 September 2017

Tash Hearts Tolstoy


Ormsbee, Kathryn. Tash Hearts Tolstoy. Simon & Schuster, 2017.

Tash is a vlogger, and when her web series Unhappy Families goes viral, it's all she can do to keep up with the pressure. She wants to keep her cast happy as well as her fans. When the vlog is nominated for a Golden Tuba, Tash nearly buckles under the stress. She is also concerned about meeting a crush IRL at the Golden Tuba awards. How will she explain to him that she likes him, but that she's a romantic asexual?

There were lots of things to like about this book. The YouTube/vlog connection will obviously appeal to my teen patrons. The diverse cast - including an asexual character - is wonderful. Tash is not a completely likable character, but she gets called on it near the end of the book, and that's good. There is no magical Disney-esque ending. I will definitely be book-talking this title with my teen patrons.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Afterworlds, Fangirl, Gena & Finn

19 September 2017

Storytime: Boats


Opening Rhyme: Open Them, Shut Them
Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds
Book: Sail Away by Donald Crews
Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"
Book: Boats by Byron Barton
Rhyme: Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Are You Behind the [Color] Door?
Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"
Book: Little Tug by Stephen Savage
Closing Rhyme

Our craft today was actually a science experiment. I gave each child a sheet of aluminum foil as well as a variety of craft supplies: craft sticks, crayons, string, pipe cleaners, straws, etc. They were to construct a boat that would float when we put it in water. For an extra challenge, I had a bag of pennies to use as "passengers" on our boats. If their boat floated, we added passengers to see how many it would hold before it sank.

This is a great project to demonstrate to parents that science learning can be simple and is something they can do in their homes with supplies they probably already have on hand. Kids were encouraged to make multiple versions of their boat as well, and most of them chose to take them home at the end of storytime.

14 September 2017

Meg & Linus


Nowinski, Hannah. Meg & Linus. Swoon Reads, 2017.

Meg and Linus are best friends, sharing a love of Star Trek and all things nerdy. Meg's girlfriend breaks up with her at the start of Meg's senior year, and Linus finds a new guy at school that he's crushing on. As Meg tries to help Linus kindle the romance, she finds things become more complicated. Perhaps her ex-girlfriend isn't as ex as she thought.

I really wanted to like this book. Two LGBT main characters, Star Trek, what more could I ask for? A plot, apparently. There really wasn't one. This works well as a slice of life novel, which is awesome if that's your thing. Also, if you want to write a book with two different narrators, you need to make their voices very distinct. I shouldn't have to double check the beginning of a chapter to remind myself who is speaking, but I found myself doing that frequently throughout this book because it just wasn't as clear as it should be.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Naomi and Ely's No-Kiss List, The Inside of Out, You and Me and Him

12 September 2017

Storytime: Frogs


Opening Rhyme: Open Them, Shut Them
Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds
Book: One Frog Sang by Shirley Parenteau
Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"
Book: Ribbit by Jorey Hurley
Rhyme: Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Are You Behind the [Color] Door?
Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"
Book: Fabulous Frogs by Martin Jenkins
Closing Rhyme

Craft: We made clothespin frogs. You can find the original file via Google, but basically I took a frog picture, changed it to a coloring page, then put a line down the middle so it could be cut in half. We colored them, cut them out, then glued them to a clothespin. This is a great activity for small motor control for preschoolers!

07 September 2017

The Impostor Queen


Fine, Sarah, The Impostor Queen. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016.

Elli is next in line to be queen - to wield equally the power of fire and of ice. She was chosen the day the current queen ascended the throne, and has been trained her whole life for this position. However, when the queen dies and Elli takes her place, she does not receive control of the magic the way she is supposed to. Fearing for her life, Elli is forced to flee to the outside, where she learns for the first time what the kingdom and the queen look like to those who have been banished.

I read this entire book in one sitting, which is an extremely rare thing for me. I loved the character development, the world-building, the unique twist on a standard fantasy story, I thought this book was well-paced, as I enjoy both page-turning sections of intense action and more moderately paced world-building sections in stories. And as I said, I read it all in one sitting. It is a very rare book that makes me stop everything else just to finish it.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: moderate fantasy violence
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Shadow & Bone, Three Dark Crowns, A Thousand Nights

05 September 2017

Storytime: Houses



With the "Build a Better World" theme this summer, I thought it important to do at least one storytime on building. We read all about houses and completed a house craft that I had used early for a Three Little Pigs storytime.

Opening Rhyme: Open Them, Shut Them
Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds
Book: Whose House by H.A. Rey
Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"
Book: The House that's Your Home by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Rhyme: Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Are You Behind the [Color] Door?
Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"
Book: Building a House by Byron Barton
Closing Rhyme

The house we made for storytime was very simple. It's just a piece of paper with lines to divide it in fourths both ways. When kids were done coloring, we cut the outside flaps and taped them together to make the sides of the roof. The best part about this craft is that it is easy for parents and caregivers to replicate when they go home, so they could make an entire village if they want to.