Wednesday, November 26, 2014

She's Crafty | Yellow Owl's Little Prints

Looking for something fun to make with or for a munchkin during the long hours of the various school vacations of the winter season? Then you have to check out this book: Yellow Owl's Little Prints by Christine Schmidt.

It's pretty much one of the most adorable craft books in our collection.

The focus of Yellow Owl's Little Prints is using various printmaking and other craft techniques to create decorative and fun pieces for children that can be used over and over, and even saved as heirlooms. Christine Schmidt will show you how to make stamps (and point out which toys will make great stamps), how to make stencils, different image transfer techniques, and more. One of my favorite projects is a perpetual birthday banner made out of felt that you can use every year for every member in your family. You can even change the number of candles that are needed!

Reusable and cute!
Schmidt offers some really helpful tips at the beginning of the book in sections titled, "How to Use This Book" and "How to Teach Art to Kids". One of my favorite features in the "How To" section is a table explaining the skills kids typically possess at certain ages and how to involve them in craft projects depending on their age and grade level. Her table begins with preschoolers at the age of three and I think that is just fantastic. Get those little hands and young minds busy as early as possible!

Yellow Owl's Little Prints is a fun, well designed kid-centric craft book with projects that will give you a basic understanding of creating decorative and useful objects. Schmidt's style is whimsical and cute, but with a classic touch that will allow favorites to be saved and passed down.

The projects range in difficulty from Easy to Challenging, but I think even the Challenging projects will be just fine for beginner crafters since Schmidt's instruction layouts are well designed and her step-by-steps descriptions are easy to follow.

Similar books we currently carry geared towards making cool stuff for kids or keeping kids busy with fun crafts and activities:

Added bonus, if you click on this search term: Crafts, you should be directed down the internet highways to our shiny, new Kids' Catalog where you'll find 429 titles ranging from various holiday craft books to Activity TV DVDs!

So grab a kid, grab a craft book, grab some supplies, and get crafting!

Malia & Kaye

Learning | Nuts to You

Let me be clear about this; I am not trying to insult you, or anybody else.  I'm excited, because I just read an entertaining story about squirrels, and I would like to tell you about it. The name of the book is Nuts to You.

Nuts to You is by Lynne Rae Perkins. You may have read her Newbery Medal-winning book, Criss Cross. The main characters in this book are four squirrels. Not just any four squirrels--squirrels who are brave, loyal to their friends, philosophers and problem solvers.

Squiggy the Squirrel (the star of Explore)
from Kenny P's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

The story begins with what appears to be the end for Jed, a grey squirrel who is snatched up by a hawk. But he finds a clever way to distract that predatory bird, so that he can escape. 

The new problem is, he does not know where he has landed. Everything is unfamiliar. Even the squirrels look different; they are red, instead of grey. They talk funny, and they just do things differently than Jed and his friends.

Red squirrel,
from Drew McLellan's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

For instance, red squirrels eat pine cones--something Jed had never seen, because he lived in an area with different trees. 

Squirrel on a Mission, 
from Doug Brown's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

Jed's friend, TsTs, sees the hawk snatch him, and drop him in a far off place. She enlists another friend, Chai, to accompany her on the dangerous mission to go find Jed and bring him home.

So we have an interesting story here, but it's made even better by the way it is told.  

The main narrative is enhanced by the author's own illustrations; some of these are like comic book panels, with dialogue and commentary.

She also adds notes. These notes tell us additional things about the story, or random facts.  There's plenty of opportunity to learn here, even though this book is fiction. 

For example, when she says Jed "slipped like water* through the distracted hawk's talons," The asterisk on water indicates a note that says,"Thick water. Or perhaps like a non-Newtonian fluid. Look it up on YouTube."

Perkins has a knack for lyrical description, as you can see in the quote below.

Best Squirrel House at the University of Michigan (April 4, 2014)
from Corey Seeman's photostream at
Some rights reserved.
"Chai watched the object enter a solid bough the way a duck's foot enters water. But while water heals back up and is the same as before, the bough fell heavily to the ground. Thunk."--Nuts to You, p. 115. 

Nuts to You is written for middle graders, roughly from ages 8 to 12.  I also recommend it to anybody who enjoyed Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal-winning book, Flora and Ulysses.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ms. Suzy Reads | And Picks a Winner

Well, maybe I'll pick a winner -- a Newbery Medal Award winner -- to be exact. The Newbery Award is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year. That last line comes directly from the Newbery Award website, by the way. But anyway, the Newbery Award committee people will select the most distinguished book for children and announce it in January 2015. Oh my goodness, this is more exciting than predicting who will win an Oscar!

Recently I chatted with some of my colleagues about which book they think will win the Newbery Award. Here are a couple of our predictions...and since this weather is perfect for chilling with a great book, why not read one or both and tell us if you think it's the most distinguished American children's book. 

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage is a worthy contender. It's filled with all the things that make for a great read: a detective agency run by kids, an old inn that may or may not be haunted, and a slick new kid in town. Can Mo and Dale solve the mystery of the haunted old inn? This is the follow-up to Three Times Lucky, a Newbery Honor book, but you don't have to have read that one. You'll very quickly get to know Mo and her Southern quirkiness, and you'll be pulled into all the adventure from the very beginning.

Another book that several of my colleagues really liked is Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin. Now I've not read this one yet, but I'm told it's about a girl who has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), Asperger's Syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (words with different meanings but with the same pronunciation). She names her beloved dog Rain, a word which has two homonyms -- reign and rein. Things go south when a big storm hits, Rain goes missing, and Rose must leave her safe little world in order to find her beloved dog. I'm pretty sure this is going to tug at the heart strings, but it still sounds like a great read! 

I'll be back with more possible Newbery Medal Award winners. In the meantime, let us know what book YOU think was the most distinguished American children's book.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Just Life| Library Lion

No, we are not adding a lion to our library staff. Library lion is a children's book written by Michelle Knudsen.

At my last story time, a grandfather suggested this book to me. So, I took his advice and read it.  I loved the book. So, I took it home and read it at dinner time to my daughter. She loved it too.

So, here is a quick summary of the story:

Once upon a time, a lion wondered into a library and no one knew what to do.

So, Mr. McBee ran to the head librarians' office to tell her about the lion roaming in the library.

She tells him immediately that he shouldn't be running in the library.

" But there is a lion in the library."

" Is he breaking any rules?"

" Well, no", he said

" Then leave him be."

I checked our circulation policy and we don't have any policy about lions either.

So, I am assuming, if a lion walks into our library one day, as long as it isn't breaking any rules, it can use the library like the rest of us.

Until then, let's just keep on reading.

Leona is reading at the Troke Library

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ms. Suzy Reads | One for Big Kids, One for Little Kids

Greetings, gentle readers! With the cooler weather upon us, I'm finding quite a bit more time for reading, which is always a great thing, right? So today I share two books -- one that gripped me from the first page, and one that is a very old favorite.

So imagine a large, foreboding tree -- planted so close to a big house that its limbs have grown into the walls -- a tree with axe handles embedded in it from past futile attempts to destroy it. Now imagine the family living within the house -- all powerless to resist the tree's temptation -- and slowly withering under the tree's spell.

What's the tree's spell? Well, of course I'm not going to tell you. But I will tell you that you 9-14 year olds will be simply spellbound by Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener: A Scary Story. And I will tell you this: this ghost story-fantasy-adventure all rolled into one is a page-turner from the very beginning. You'll meet orphan siblings Molly and Kip and hold your breath as Molly starts to figure out the secret of the old tree. That's all I'm going to say. Just read it...if you dare!

I stumbled upon one of my favorite storytime books a few days ago: Don Freeman's beloved classic Corduroy. This is the story of a stuffed bear who has lived far too long on the shelves of a department store, waiting to be chosen by a little boy or girl. When Corduroy realizes he's missing a button, he goes on quite the adventure to find it. Why, just think of all the adventures a little stuffed bear could have in a big department store!

Corduroy was first published in 1968, but it's in no way outdated. The illustrations perfectly capture Corduroy's wonderment and awe as he discovers many new things. 

My favorite illustration is this one. Again, I'm not going to tell you what happens, but I promise you'll love this as much as I do. 

So there you have it, friends. Just a couple of recommendations perfect for this stay-in-the-house weather.

Happy reading!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just Life | Macarons

A few weeks ago, a wonderful patron gave me a present. It was a basket. Inside there was a mysterious box. 

I opened the box and I came face to face with these lovely macaroons. It was one of the most rewarding presents I have ever received.

That box was a treasure chest full of edible jewels. I ate one. It was caramel with sea salt and it was unbelievably delicious.

I saved the rest to share with my daughter. After work, I picked up my daughter and showed her the box.

" Macaroooooooons." she screamed. 

So, while driving home, we ooohed and aahed and we ate one macaroon after the other.

We ate the entire box in just a few minutes with the exception of one macaroon with red topping. 

We thought it was red velvet and my daughter wanted to save it for last.

Then my daughter bit into it. " Oh, mom, it is hot."

The last macaroon was covered with chili powder. We laughed and giggled about it all the way home.

By the way, those macaroons were from a local shop called Bon Mange in Stockton at 2819 W. March Lane, Suite A8. Tel 209-910-0505. 

Since the Holiday season is right around the corner, how about checking out some French cookbooks to spice up your holiday table.

You can find these books at your local Library at no cost:

Simple French cookery : step by step to everyone's favourite French recipes

The little Paris kitchen : 120 simple but classic French recipes

My French kitchen : a book of 120 treasured recipes

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Learning | Fun with Musical Directions

"Smorzando," I read, on an old photo of some sheet music. I was exploring The Commons, a part of the website that is dedicated to sharing the world's public photo archives. Smorzando is the musical direction for dying away; it comes directly from the Italian word for extinguish. 

I know many of you out there have studied music at some point in your lives. You have probably noticed that the musical directions all seem to come from Italian words like piano and allegro. Why is that?

I know a family that is blessed with an abundance of musical talent: the Batchelders. They're the ones to ask.  So I started with my best friend, who is the violinist/mother of this amazing family. She said that musical directions can come from any language. But since modern musical notation was invented in Tuscany during the Renaissance, Italian words became the conventional language for musical terms.

Image from page 44 of "Die weisse Dame = La dame blanche : komische Oper" (1900) Boieldieu, A. (Adrien), 1775-1834 Scribe, Eugène, 1791-1861 Kogel, Gustav F.   Leipzig : C.F. Peters

No known copyright restrictions.

What was my other question to her?  Can you think of any musical directions that sound funny?  As it turns out, she could, and so could Don, her husband/trumpet player/professor. He was kind enough to snap a photo of sheet music displaying the word squillante for me, and allow me to share it here in this post. Squillante means ringing, tickling, or piercing.

Click on the image, to view the words more clearly.

"Squillante" photo courtesy of Don Batchelder.

"This photo is taken 'in the box,' a plywood construction that holds a 10-piece offstage brass 'Banda,' or stage band. 
We provide musical reinforcement for the onstage chorus and soloists during the Triumphal Scene in Act II of Aida. 
There are also 6 costumed trumpets onstage, who play the famous Triumphal March."
--Don Batchelder

Here's a list of books on music terminology in the Stockton/San Joaquin County Public Library System.