Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guardians of Ga'hoole - Are the books better than the movie???

If you liked the  Guardians of Ga'hoole series, you're probably planning to see the film if you haven't already! Legend of the Guardians, the computer animated movie based on the first three books of the series, The Capture; the Journey; and The Rescue, opened on September 24.

Here is a plot synopsis adapted from the one on Movie Insider as featured on the blog, Teen Frequency @ Hauppauge Public Library:
The film follows Soren, a young owl enthralled by his father's epic stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, yearns to hunt, fly and steal his father's favor from Soren. But Kludd's jealousy has terrible consequences--causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home and right into the talons of the Pure Ones. Now it is up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave young owls.

To date, there are 15 books in the series.  To see what Needham owns, click on:

You can watch the movie trailer by clicking on this link:

To see a film review from the Boston Globe, click on:

To do some activities based on the book, click on:

Books about Apples @ your library!

J Picture Book

Bunting, Eve. One Green Apple. While on a school field trip to an orchard to make cider, a young immigrant named Farah gains self-confidence when the green apple she picks perfectly complements the other students' red apples. [J ADVANCED PICTURE BOOK]

Gibbons, Gail. The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree. As the seasons pass, Arnold enjoys a variety of activities as a result of his apple tree. Includes a recipe for apple pie and a description of how an apple cider press works

Hall, Zoe. The Apple Pie Tree. Describes an apple tree as it grows leaves and flowers and then produces its fruit, while in its branches robins make a nest, lay eggs, and raise a family. Includes a recipe for apple pie.

Hutchins, Pat. Ten Red Apples. In rhyming verses, one animal after another neighs, moos, oinks, quacks and makes other appropriate sounds as each eats an apple from the farmer's tree.

Kleven, Elisa. The Apple Doll. Lizzy is scared to start school, so she makes a doll out of an apple from her favorite tree to take with her on the first day. Includes instructions for making an apple doll.

Lipson, Eden Ross. Applesauce Season. In an urban setting, the story of how a family gets
together to cook apples for applesauce. Includes a recipe for applesauce, to help you create your own traditions.

McDonald, Rae A. A Fishing Surprise. A sister and brother go fishing, but come home with a net full of apples instead.

Miller, Virginia. Ten Red Apples. Bartholomew and George, two bears, and Little Black Kitten enjoy the apple tree in the garden and count its shiny red apples.

Priceman, Marjorie. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. Since the market is closed, the reader is led around the world to gather the ingredients for making an apple pie.

Purmell, Ann. Apple Cider Making Days. Alex and Abigail join the whole family in processing and selling apples and apple cider at their grandfather's farm.

Ray, Jane. The Apple-Pip-Princess. In a land that has stood barren, parched by drought and ravaged by frosts since the Queen's death, the King wants his three daughters to make the kingdom bloom again, and discovers that sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Rockwell, Anne. Apples and Pumpkins. In preparation for Halloween night, a family visits Mr. Comstock's farm to pick apples and pumpkins.

Rosenberry, Vera. The Growing Up Tree. The life of an apple tree, planted by Alfred's mother when he was a baby, parallels Alfred's life as he and his children and grandchildren grow older together.

Schertle, Alice. Down the Road. Hetty is very careful with the eggs she has bought on her very first trip to the store, but she runs into trouble when she stops to pick apples.

Shapiro, Jody F. It’s Apple Picking Time. Myles and his family go to his grandparents' apple ranch, where they have a wonderful time picking and selling apples together.

Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth. Apples, Apples, Apples. Members of the Rabbit family visit an apple orchard, where they have fun picking apples and discovering their many uses. Includes a recipe for applesauce, directions for a craft activity, and sayings about apples

Wellington, Monica. Apple Farmer Annie. Annie the apple farmer saves her most beautiful apples to sell fresh at the farmers' market.

Winget, Susan. Tucker’s Apple-Dandy Day. Tucker the rabbit goes on a class trip to Farmer Sam's apple orchard.

J Easy Reader

Driscoll, Laura. Apples and How They Grow. Simply describes how apple trees are cultivated and grow to produce particular kinds of apples.

Ruelle, Karen Gray. Easy as Apple Pie. Emily says "Yuck" whenever apples are mentioned, but when she and her older brother, Harry, sleep over at their grandparents' house, they all pick apples and make them into delicious pies.

J Nonfiction

Powell, Consie. Amazing Apples. Simple poems in acrostic form describe an apple orchard through the seasons, as well as the activities of the family that tends the orchard. Includes a page of notes about apples [j811 P]

Most nonfiction books about apples have the call number 634 or 634.11

Friday, September 10, 2010

"All the rules of table manners are made to avoid ugliness."

Emily Post has been the authority on table manners since her 1922 book, Etiquette.  Her descendants have now published a modern edition for kids.

Post, Peggy (2009).  Emily Post's Table Manners for Kids (Gr. 2-8)

Why should you wash up before a meal?  When are you allowed to finally put that delicious hamburger in your mouth?  How much bread should you take from the basket on the table?  Where should you put that cherry pit after eating a fruit salad?  Who should you talk to at a large table?

Table manners can seem confusing, but they're all in place to do just what Emily Post recommended: "avoid ugliness."  No one wants to see chewed-up food, and no one wants to sit at a table with someone who hogs the dinner rolls and shovels food into his or her mouth.  Table manners are not very difficult to learn, and this book will clear up many of the questions about both familiar and unusual eating situations for kids.

It's fun, it's quick, and it's painless.  Pick this book up today!

A nomadic life in Mongolia

Baasansuren, Bolormaa (2009).  My Little Round House. (Gr. K-2)

Baby Jilu is born into a a Mongolian family that travels from pasture to pasture as the seasons change.  From his family's round tent to the circular pattern of the seasons, Jilu sees the shape of his world and the love of his family all around him.  The end of the story marks his first birthday, when Jilu's family returns to the summer pastures.

The illustrations show Mongolian life and are best shared in a small group so that everyone can see.  A great way to learn about a new culture!

Friday, August 6, 2010

One blue cake, coming right up!

August 18th is Percy Jackson's birthday, and there will be a fantastic birthday party for him at the library on Thursday, August 19th.  Who knows--you might even find some blue food!

In preparation for this party, it could be fun to re-read your favorite Percy Jackson book.  If you've read those more times than you can count, there's a sneak peek of Rick Riordan's next book!  You'll recognize a few characters in the second chapter.  Go to and enter the password "newhero" (without the quotation marks), which will show you the cover of The Lost Hero as well as the first two chapters.  I have some theories brewing about the possible plot!

After that, make sure you've read The Red Pyramid.  What do you think would happen if Percy Jackson and Carter Kane met?  Would they get along?  Or would the Greek gods and the Egyptian gods fight too much?

P.S. -- Put a hold on a copy of The Lost Hero! The link is up above :-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Science Songs

Salas, Laura Purdie (2009).  Are You Living? A Song about Living and Nonliving Things. (PreS-K)

Sung to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?", this book talks about the ways to tell if something is living.  Does it move? Grow? Eat? Have feelings?  Each verse introduces one or two ways to identify a living thing: "Is it moving? / Is it moving? / Can it fly? / Gallop by? / Living things need dinner, / Or they get much thinner, / So they need / To drink and feed."

If you read this book aloud, be sure to practice the song first--the rhythm changes in a few places to fit the syllables.  Also be prepared to discuss some of the more advanced vocabulary ("People have emotions, / Thoughts and clever notions".)  The colorful illustrations are directly tied to each verse, making this a fun book to start a science lesson for young children.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dad always said not to eat apple seeds ...

King, Stephen Michael (2009). Leaf (Ages 4+)

A little boy with shaggy hair gets the surprise of his life when a seed is dropped onto his head.  The seed sprouts into a little plant, which the boy and his dog lovingly care for.  Nightmarish visions of giant caterpillars, cannibalistic plants, and wayward hedge trimmers plague the poor boy at night.  But what will happen when the boy's mother insists on cutting his hair?

This wordless picture book is sweet, funny, a little rebellious, and filled with great sound effects.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Treasure, Survival, Spelunking

 Wilson, N.D. (2007). Leepike Ridge (Gr. 4-8)

Tom Hammond lives in a strange house that is chained to the side of a mountain.  His father died three years ago, and now some lousy guy wants to marry his mom.  Perhaps unwisely, Tom takes a nighttime float down the nearby creek on a large piece of packing foam that came with a new refrigerator.  When the river dumps him into partly flooded caves, Tom has no idea what terrifying and thrilling adventures are in store for him.  Above ground, treasure hunts, search parties, and shady characters abound in Tom's absence.

You'll have to decide for yourself if you think that the treasure is worth the effort!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adam, Paul (2010). Max Cassidy: Escape From Shadow Island (Gr. 5-9)

Max Cassidy goes to school like other 14-year-olds, but that's the only normal part of his life.  Like Houdini, Max has devoted most of his life to being an escape artist, learning the skills from his equally talented father.  When his father disappeared from a Central American country while traveling two years ago, the corrupt courts there declared him dead and viciously convicted Max's mother of murdering her husband.  With the help of his guardian, Conseula, Max is determined to travel to the scene of the crime and bring his family back together.  His journey to Shadow Island, however, is more dangerous than any escape he's ever attempted on stage.

This thriller has suspense, adventure, mystery, and a backstage peek at how escape artists work.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Teddy Bears

Ormondroyd, Edward (2009). Theodore: The Adventures of a Smudgy Bear (PreS)

Theodore is a smudgy, dirty, well loved teddy bear.  He's owned by Lucy, who might be careless but loves him just the way he is.  When Theodore accidentally ends up in the family's laundry basket, he takes a wild ride through the washer and dryer--and he's so clean that Lucy doesn't recognize her poor lost bear!  Theodore's messy journey home is both funny and sweet.  This is a must-read for anyone with a beloved toy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

While you're waiting for The Red Pyramid ...

If, like so many people, you're waiting and waiting for a copy of Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid, here's another book to read in the meantime!

Voelkel, Jon (2007). Middleworld (Gr. 5-9)

(The Jaguar Stones, book 1)  Max Murphy was looking forward to a family vacation in Italy, but his parents--famous archaeologists--leave for a sudden excavation among Mayan ruins instead, leaving Max home with their strange housekeeper.  What a waste of a summer ... until Max is rushed along to Central America, too.  Smugglers, theives, murderous bandits, and the ancient Mayan gods all play a role in this thrilling mystery.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Go Green at Your Library!

The summer reading program has official opened!  Here's the scoop:
  1. The program is for anyone from age three through sixth grade.
  2. There are two categories: "Independent Reader" and "Read To Me", and the rules are the same for both groups.
  3. You measure the amount of time that you spend reading.
    • The reading logs measure time in 20-minute blocks.
    • There's a new prize every time you read a total of 3 hours.
You can sign up with a paper log at the library, or you can sign up online at --the rules are the same no matter how you register for the program!  If you sign up online, don't forget to come to the library to pick up your official summer reading bookmark.

Need some help finding a great book?  Just ask the librarians!  We have tons of ideas to get you started.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do you despise broccoli? It might not like you, either.

Weinstock, Robert (2009). Food Hates You, Too (Gr. 2-5)

"If everyone hates different food,
Then couldn't it be true
That creamed chipped beef dislikes Gertrude,
And liver gags on Lou?"

This collection of poems will tickle your funny bone--and maybe your stomach, too.  There are poems devoted to ice cream for cats, a limerick about toast, a brief poem about a praying mantis's recent meal, and even a few lines in praise of circus fare.  We have food on the land, food underwater, and even some food in the sky.

These poems are funny when read to yourself, and funnier still when read aloud.  Be sure to look closely at the illustrations!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Shape of Letters

Werner, Sharon (2009). Alphabeasties (Gr. K-4)

Not all typefaces look the same.  You can have this, or this, or this, or this, or thousands of other options!  An A can be sharp and pointy, or an a can be small and round.  What does the shape of a letter say to you?  In this book, letters become animals, plants, and people.  A becomes an alligator with deadly teeth, and Z becomes a zebra with bold stripes.  There are fish and giraffes, elephants and newts, and different letter shapes have very different personalities: just look at the spooky bat, the trembling rabbit, or the newly sheared sheep.

This is a book that has fun with letters, shapes, and great big ideas.  Read it once, twice, and then again.  You'll see something new each time!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Monday is a Holiday

Monday is a very important day.  Public schools won't have any classes, the Post Office will be closed, and even the librarians will be taking a break. 

What could possibly keep the wonderful teachers, postal workers, librarians, and other adults away from their jobs? 

Memorial Day!

Memorial Day can trace its roots all the way back to 1866, right after the American Civil War ended.  In the beginning, people called it Decoration Day.  "Memorial Day" didn't become a popular name until many years later.  It was a day to remember the soldiers who had died in the Civil War, and enough people continued to observe the day that the government finally made it federal holiday in 1971.   People celebrated the day for more than one hundred years before it became an official holiday!

In the past, Memorial Day was held on May 30, but workers and students really like having a three-day weekend.  Today, Memorial Day is always held on the last Monday in May, and it's a day to remember soldiers who have died in many wars.  Needham will have services and a parade this year, so you can celebrate, too!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big Al: a lonely fish

Clements, Andrew (1988). Big Al (Gr. PreS-2)

Al is a big, scary-looking fish.  None of the little fish will get close enough to find out that Al is also the nicest fish you'll ever find in the ocean.  Poor, lonely Al tries everything to disguise himself: he wraps himself in seaweed, he buries himself in sand, and he even tries to change his color.  Still, everyone is frightened by his scary teeth and enormous mouth.  When danger comes along, Big Al finally gets to prove his kindness and bravery.

Big Al's gentle, funny story reminds us that actions speak louder than words--and that looks don't tell us everything about the people around us.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where's Spot? At the library!

Spot, the Dog, turns 30 years old this year.  To celebrate, Spot is making a special visit to the library to meet all of the wonderful people here.  If you missed seeing Spot last Friday (5/14) or Wednesday (5/19), you still have one more chance to join in the fun. 

Come to the library on Saturday, May 22 at 10:30am for Spot's last library visit before heading home!  There will be stories, songs, crafts, and plenty of time to give Spot a great big hug.  Bring a camera to get a picture with our fun friend!

You can also watch a video of Spot during the storytime on Wednesday.  NeedhamPatch visited the story room, took pictures, and got a great video of the story, a song, and a little game.

Friday, May 14, 2010


The bullying book-list has been newly updated!  There are books about how to deal with bullies, bullies who learn that it isn't fun to be picked on, books for parents, and books for kids.  Click "read more" to see the full list, or come into the children's room to get a paper copy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Poetry (even for people who don't like poetry)

Not all poems are made the same.  Some rhyme, some don't.  Some are funny, some are serious.  Some are very long, some are really short.  Others, like concrete poems, use words or letters to create shapes and pictures.  Today's review looks at an entire book of concrete poems.

Grandits, John (2004).  Technically, It's Not My Fault (Gr. 4-8)

A school bus that eats children, the autobiography of a fart, an annotated thank you letter for a hideous sweater, and the best excuse for not mowing the lawn are just a few of the poems in this collection.  Each concrete poem is told from the perspective of Robert, an 11-year-old boy who likes skateboards, video games, and tricking the class bully.  The poems are funny, gross, goofy, sarcastic, and insightful--much like a pre-teen boy.  Even readers who don't like poetry can get into these poems.

Friday, April 30, 2010

May Day: share a basket with a friend!

Tomorrow is May 1st, which is often celebrated as May Day.  One tradition is to make a small basket, fill it with flowers or candy, and then leave it at the door for a friend.  Ring the doorbell or give a loud knock, then run and hide.  If your friend catches you, you have to get a kiss!  Make this basket tonight so that it's ready for the morning.

Making a May basket is very easy to do.  What you'll need:
construction paper
scissors (optional)
stickers, stamps, or other decoration (optional)
flowers or candy

1. Draw a big triangle onto a piece of construction paper, then cut out along the lines.  (Optional: instead of cutting out a triangle, just roll the piece of paper so it looks like a big waffle cone!)

2. Tape the edges of the triangle or cone together.

3. Using a long, thin piece of construction paper, tape it to the open end of the cone, making a handle for your basket.

4. Decorate!  Stickers, stamps, crayons, and glitter all make great decorations.

5. Fill the basket with flowers from the yard or with candy.

6. Pick a friend, a brother or sister, a grandparent or anyone else whom you like.  Very quietly leave the basket on the doorknob or in front of the door.  Then, ring the doorbell or knock loudly.  Run away!  If you get caught, your friend gets to kiss you!

When you're all finished, go enjoy the sunshine and warm weather tomorrow.  Happy May Day!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Printing: A Very Fun Craft

Once upon a time, no one had computers or printers.  If you wanted to put words or pictures onto a piece of paper, you had to make it by hand.  You can still print by hand today!  In fact, your hands are some of the best tools for printing. 

Just think about it.  What is it called when you put ink on your finger and then press that finger onto a piece of paper?  A fingerprint.  Or what about when you step into wet cement?  That's a footprint.  When you put your dirty hands on your clean shirt?  Yep, that's a handprint.  Printing is as easy as that!

First things first.  This will be messy.  Wear old clothes that are meant for getty dirty.  Then, spread out some newspapers or a plastic sheet.  Make sure your mess stays in that area!

Hand printing and finger painting requires no tools--just paint and hands.  Pour a little paint onto a paper plate to cover the palm of your hand, or dip your fingertips into a small bowl.  On a piece of blank paper, press the paint from your hand to the paper.  Try patting, squishing, dragging, or swirling for a different look.

If you're comfortable with finger painting, try making a stamp out of a potato!  Scrub a raw potato clean, cut it in half, then draw a shape or a letter onto the cut side.  If you're old enough, use a knife to cut away the potato from the outside of the lines to the edge, leaving a raised surface in the middle.  An adult should always help when knives are involved.  You could use a cookie cutter, too--just stick it in the potato and cut around the edges!  When you like the shape, dip it in a little bit of paint, and stamp all over a blank piece of paper.  You can make pictures, cards, or even wrapping paper this way.

If you really really like printing, then you should learn about a man named Johann Gutenberg, who can claim most of the credit for inventing the tools to print books quickly and inexpensively.  You know what's amazing?  He invented those tools almost 600 years ago, and people still use them today!

Koscielniak, Bruce (2003).  Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press (Gr. 2-5)

This is a history of books and history of printing, all in one.  From the earliest days when making a book meant writing each word by hand--all the way to the first book ever printed from moveable type.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day Actions

Every year, people around the world celebrate Earth Day on April 22.  Even though it was yesterday, Earth Day is all about making choices all year long that are good for the world we live on, like recyling, using less water, or cleaning up our neighborhoods. 

In some ways, Earth Day is kind of like New Year's Day: it's a day to make a new resolution.  Maybe you'll take shorter showers this year, maybe you'll start a compost pile instead of throwing away old vegetable scraps, or maybe you'll carry library books home in a cloth bag that can be used again and again.  Even small choices can be important ones!

Sirett, Dawn (2009).  Love Your World: How To Take Care of the Plants, the Animals, and the Planet. (Gr. PreK-2)

Toddlers and young children can make a difference, too!  This fun introduction to going green includes ideas like recycling, reusing old household items, turning off lights, and planting flowers that butterflies will like.  Even the book is green: the paper was made from a sustainable forest, the cover was made from recyled paper, the ink is vegetable-based, and the printing shop generates 100% of its own electricity.  That's earth-friendly!

Herzog, Brad (2009). S Is for Save the Planet: A How-to-Be Green Alphabet. (Gr. 3-6)

There's a lot more information in here about fossil fuels, endangered animals, energy-efficient tools, and organizations that provide more facts and ideas for kids.  From National Parks to compact fluorescent light bulbs, this book will give older kids some inspiration for ways to protect the planet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Better Late than Never ...

The 2010 Newbery Award medal was announced way back in January, so it's high time for the winning book to receive some attention on this blog.  If only there were a way to go back in time ...

Stead, Rebecca (2009). When You Reach Me. (Gr. 5-8)

In 1979, 12-year-old Miranda lives in Manhattan with her mother.  They have a run-down apartment in a run-down building, and she reads and re-reads a tattered copy of A Wrinkle in Time.  The homeless man on the corner and the gang of boys at the garage make Miranda nervous, but she has street smarts to keep her safe.  Everything starts to go wrong when Miranda's best friend, Sal, is punched while they're walking home from school.  Sal stops talking to her, and Miranda has no one to turn to when someone breaks into her apartment and leaves a strange note: "I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own."  More mysterious notes accurately predict the future--and, as if that isn't enough to worry about, she has to make new friends.  Miranda has a lot of questions to answer.  Will her mom ever be able to leave the job that she hates?  Is time-travel possible?  Will Sal be her friend again?  Who keeps sending the notes?

There's a little bit of science fiction, here, but everything about the characters and the setting is realistic.  Clues are slyly dropped along the way, and everything fits together perfectly.  If you like science fiction, you'll probably like this book.  If you like realistic fiction, you'll probably like it, too.  If you like mysteries ... yep, you'll like this book.  (If you like all three genres: this is exactly the book you need to get on your next visit to the library.)  It's the kind of story that keeps turning over and over in your mind for days as you digest it all.

Especially recommended for Wrinkle in Time fans.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Calling All Girls, Ages 13 and Up

Have you heard about the Amanda Project?  It's a fictional story about Amanda Valentino, who arrived at Endeavor High School last Halloween and disappeared on the Ides of March.  Now, her three friends are trying to find out what happened, who she really is, and where she's gone. 

The best part about this project is that it involves you.  All girls over the age of 13 are welcome to register on the website and start writing their own stories about Amanda.  Maybe you want to have a character that's just like you, or maybe you want to write about someone who is nothing like you.  Maybe your character goes to that high school or works in town.  It doesn't really matter who you are or who your character is: just write more of Amanda's story and add it to the growing collection online.

To get started, read the first book in what will eventually be a series of eight books.  Then, start writing.  The Project will publish zines with girls' stories, and some stories might even make it into the next books in the series.

Kantor, Melissa (2009). Invisible I (Gr. 7+)

15-year-old Amanda has disappeared, leaving Callie, Hal, and Nia in trouble.  As the three teenages piece together clues, they're left with more questions than answers.  Who is Amanda?  Why has she told three people three different stories about herself?  Where did she go?  Cliques, high school politics, and family secrets round out this mystery, making it much more involved than your average whodunnit.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Audio Books, streaming through your computer

There's something exciting about listening to a story.  Even a favorite book that you've read and re-read a hundred times can seem brand new when you listen to someone else read it out loud.  The library has lots of books on tape, CD, and PlayAway (it's a little mp3 player), but did you know that you can also find some audio books online?

Storyline Online is a great place to look for read-aloud picture books.  All of the books are read by actors who are part of the Screen Actor's Guild--a group for movie and television actors--and you can watch the whole story on your computer screen.  There are illustrations, some animations, and a video of the actor as he or she reads the words.

Kiddie Records also has recordings of picture books from the 1940's and 1950's.  One of my favorites is a recording of Ruth Krauss's book, The Carrot Seed

Krauss, Ruth (1945). The Carrot Seed (PreS-Gr. 2)

(The link will open a streaming audio file on your computer.  Read by Norman Rose. Recorded by the Children's Record Guild.)  A little boy finds a carrot seed and decides to plant it, even though his parents and his brother all say that it isn't going to grow.  He waters it and pulls out weeds every day, waiting to see what will grow.  The recording adds many lines to the story, but the music and sound effects are a lot of fun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lawrence, Iain (2009). The Giant-Slayer. (Gr. 3-6)

Despite the title, this book is not really about magic or giant-slayers.  It's about Laurie Valentine, whose best friend gets polio in 1955.  Knowing that her father and nanny are scared of polio, Laurie sneaks away from the house as often as she can to visit her friend, Dickie, in the hospital.  Sometimes, it's uncomfortable to visit Dickie.  He's in an iron lung because his lungs are paralyzed, and only his head sticks out of the huge metal cylinder.  There are two other children in iron lungs, too: a boy who doesn't talk much about himself, and a girl whose family hasn't visited her in eight years.  Laurie doesn't know what to say to Dickie, anymore, so she makes up a story about a tiny boy who decides to slay a cruel giant.  Laurie's story gives them courage and hope as they battle their own giants. 

The Giant-Slayer is about hardship and friendship and the magic of imagination.  If you don't know much about polio, don't worry: all the information you need is in the book.  Your grandparents might remember the polio epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s, too.  As always, you can come into the library with any questions.

"A Good, Good Pig Story"

Mansfield, Howard (2008). Hogwood Steps Out.(PreS-Gr. 2)

Christopher Hogwood is a pig who knows what he likes.  He likes nibbling in the neighbor's garden, digging up the lawn with his snout, running away from the policeman, and admiring the fine work of a backhoe.  He likes mud and apples and the fresh smells of spring on the breeze.  He also likes reminding people that he weighs 600 pounds and could run them over if he wanted to.  (Fortunately for everyone, he doesn't want to.)  If only everyone could enjoy the small pleasures of life as much as he does!  The gardener, the lawn's owner, and the policeman are less pleased with the way Hogwood tears up the ground and scares everyone away, but Hogwood doesn't mind: he has them all very well trained.

This is a laugh-out-loud story about a very smart pig and the very patient people he encounters.  There's a surprising amount of piggy information in this book, but you'll be laughing while you learn.  Share it with someone you love!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Secret of Zoom

Just a few days ago, the President of the United States stopped into a bookstore to buy some books for his two daughters.  You can read more about his visit here.  One of the books that he bought is part adventure, part mystery, and part amazing imagination.

Jonell, Lynne (2009). The Secret of Zoom (Gr. 4-7)

Christina Adnoid's mother died when she was just a baby, and her father has kept her safely protected inside their house ever since then.  He's a scientist for Loompski Labs, and Christina has never been very interested in what he does. She isn't interested in very much at all until an orphan boy secretly meets Christina and tells her about the sinister plot to steal children for a secret project run by Mr. Loompski himself.  Christina and this orphan embark on a daring adventure through hidden tunnels and dangerous mines to unveil the truth--and they discover even more secrets as they dig deeper and deeper into the mystery. 

The Secret of Zoom is a world very much like our own world, but it has the potential to be run by music and imagination in this exciting adventure that will keep middle-grade readers turning pages to discover the ending.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring! Plants! Gardens!

Spring is a marvelous season.  The sun stays in the sky a little bit longer every day, the temperatures warm up, and living things begin to return to the world around us.  From snowdrops to daffodils, and from song birds to the skunk that lives in my neighborhood, you can see, hear (and smell!) all the signs of spring.

Spring is also the season to plant vegetables and flowers in your very own garden.  Whether you have a big garden in your yard or just a few empty flower pots sitting around, you can grow a colorful, exciting garden during spring, summer, and into fall.

Krezel, Cindy (2007). 101 Kid-Friendly Plants. (Gr. 3-8)

Organized by type of plant, this book covers one hundred one seeds, bulbs, herbs, vegetables, and trees that kids and families can plant together.  The sections include information on what the plant looks like and how to take care of it.  There's also a chapter at the end about plants that can be dangerous when eaten or touched.

Krezel, Cindy (2005).  Kids' Container Gardening. (Gr. 3-8)

From a garden the size of a drinking glass to giant salad bowls, this book offers projects that will inspire you to add a little color to your home.  Each project uses containers of varying sizes to hold vegetables, flowers, or decorative plants.  You don't need much room at all to try one of these ideas!  Be sure to try out the worm garden: you'll get great dirt for new plants when you feed old vegetable scraps to worms.

Lock Deborah (2008). Grow it, Cook it. (Gr. 3-6)

Some gardens are filled with flowers that are pretty to look it, but this book introduces gardens that are meant for eating.  Each section talks about a kind of edible plant followed by a recipe that uses it.  Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, onions, beans, pumpkins, zucchini, strawberries, blueberries, lemons, sunflowers, and more fill the pages with beautiful colors and delicious recipes.  Some plants require lots of room in the garden (like pumpkins and zucchini), but others can be grown in containers (like tomatoes, strawberries, and even potatoes).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Other worlds are just an attic away ...

Wilson, N.D. (2007). 100 Cupboards (Gr. 5-7).

12-year-old Henry York has led a strange, if uneventful, life.  He has never played baseball, drunk soda, or had parents who paid much attention to him.  When his parents are kidnapped on a bicycling trip in South America, Henry travels to Kansas to stay with his aunt, uncle, and cousins.  A thump on the wall of his attic bedroom throws Henry into a whirlwind, sometimes creepy, adventure of mysterious cupboard doors that lead to other worlds.  Henry and one of his cousins begin to explore, finding notes from their grandfather and meeting a few people from these other worlds. Some of the people want to help, some want to be left alone, and others want something much more sinister than Henry can even imagine.

100 Cupboards combines the best of fantasy and mystery--readers might even find it a little bit scary.  Fans of Neil Gaiman's Coraline should check this one out!  The books move quickly, so be sure to request the two sequels at the same time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where the Less Wild Things Are

Proimos, James (2009). Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel (Gr. K-2).

Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel knows that she is a princess, but her non-royal family disagrees.  Inspired by Max, from Where the Wild Things Are, she flies off in her little airplane to search for her own princessdom.  The Land of Hippos happily welcomes Patricia as their princess: they dance past midnight, eat cake all day long, and give her a great big crown to wear.  Unfortunately, Patricia's job comes with a very long, very tiring list of rules.  Suddenly, home seems a lot better than it did before.

This picture book is laugh-out-loud funny for both kids and the adults who read to them.  Comical side comments and literary references balance Patricia's saucy personality, making this an irreverent take on a familiar childhood wish.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Boston Massacre: March 5, 1770

Two hundred forty years ago, on this very day in history, a small group of British soldiers killed five colonists in the city of Boston.  Colonists were angry about the taxes they paid to England, and very unpopular British soldiers patrolled Boston every day.  Colonists made fun of the soldiers and threw objects at them on March 5, 1770, and the confused soldiers fired their guns into the crowd, killing five men. 

John Adams--a lawyer who would sign the Declaration of Independence six years later--defended the soldiers in a trial despite the anger toward the British in Boston.  None of the soldiers were convicted of murder, and only two were convicted of other crimes.  Even so, the event was named the Boston Massacre, and it became a very important event that led to American independence from England.

Learn even more about the Boston Massacre:

Fradin, Dennis Brindle.  The Boston Massacre.
     Covers the Boston Massacre as a watershed event in U.S. history, influencing social, economic, and political policies that shaped the nation's future.

Santella, Andrew.  The Boston Massacre.
     Discusses the events leading up to the Boston Massacre, including the Sugar and Stamp Acts, and the aftermath of the massacre.

Burgin, Michael.  The Boston Massacre
Rinaldi, Ann.  The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre.
     Fourteen-year-old Rachel Marsh, an indentured servant in the Boston household of John and Abigail Adams, is caught up in the colonists' unrest that eventually escalates into the massacre of March 5, 1770.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Princess Books

Two important stickers from the "Books We Love" Valentine's heart were not included in yesterday's list. Both stickers said that the readers' favorite books were about princesses, but there are so many different kinds of princess books! The "Books We Love" list wouldn't have done the genre any justice.

Today's post is devoted to all things Princess: from animal stories to fairy tales to more realistic books, the following list will introduce all kinds of princesses in all kinds of worlds. Just like yesterday, click the "Read more" link to see the whole list.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Readers' Report: Valentine's Edition!

Here's a great big "Thank you!" to everyone who helped with the special Valentine's display.  We had a lot of people come into the children's room to write down the title of their favorite book or series of books--so many people, in fact, that we filled a great big paper heart above the book display!

Getting a picture of the whole heart was easy to do, but it's even more important to share this list of favorite books.  The list is pretty long, so click on the "Read more" link to see all of the titles, grouped by reading level.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Samantha Hansen: Rock Star!

Nancy Viau (2008). Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head (Gr. 3-6)

Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen is crazy about science.  She loves learning about caves, clouds, the weather, and especially rocks.  She also likes to make lists: a talent she got from her dad, who died a long time ago.  When her mom announces a family vacation to the Grand Canyon, Samantha's wildest dreams come true: she'll get to see the biggest, oldest, most colorful rocks she's ever heard of.   The vacation almost falls through, however, because Samantha has trouble controlling her temper.  It's not easy to be calm with a pesky older sister and classmates who like to tease!

There's a lot to like about Samantha Hansen.  She asks honest questions and makes honest mistakes.  She's a good friend and a (mostly) good sister.  She's also a little awkward, and sometimes you want to jump into the story and stop her from whatever she's about to do.  On the whole, Samantha Hansen makes this a very good book that skips along quickly in her quest to know as much as possible about her family, herself, and (of course) rocks.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Waiting for Mama

Lee Tae-Jun, illustrated by Kim Dong-Seong (2007).  Waiting for Mama (Gr. K-2).

(Bilingual: English and Korean) 
On a wintry, cold afternoon a small boy waits patiently at a streetcar station for his mama to come home.  Other passengers come and go, but there's no sign of the boy's mother.  As each streetcar arrives, the little boy asks the driver if his mama is there.  The little boy sits quietly despite his cold, red nose, and he continues to wait as snow begins to fall and the day gets darker. 

Although this story was originally written for a Korean newspaper in 1938, Kim Dong-Seong's new illustrations bring the Korean people, landscape, and culture to life.  Pay close attention to the pictures--the final drawing has two very important people in it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Puppet Playtime!

The children's play area is shaping up nicely now that we have our exciting new puppet theater.  We have our very own piece of a river to play on!

There's lots of room for puppets and players, so put on your creative thinking caps!  We have new and old puppets who are waiting for you to produce your very own puppet show. 

There are ten geese in this painting.  Can you think of a famous picture book with ten ducks?  (Hint: the ducks hatch on the Charles River and waddle their way to the Boston Common.)  If you know the answer, tell a librarian in the children's room, and get a sticker!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Day of Love (for books!)

Valentine's Day is only a few more weeks away.  The children's room is getting ready for a very special display, and we need your help!  Come to the library, and visit the reference desk in the children's room.  You'll find a little red bucket with blank stickers just waiting to be filled in with the title of your favorite book.  Do you have more than one favorite book?  Great!  You can fill out a few more stickers while you're here.

We want favorite books from kids, favorite books from parents, and favorite books from anyone who has ever read a wonderful children's book.  Novels, picture books, fairy tales--any book that you love to read and read again.

Just hurry in before Valentine's Day has come and gone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year, New Display!

Happy New Year, everyone!  January 1st in the United States of America is traditionally a time to set goals for the year, make resolutions, and turn over a new leaf in life.  But, did you know that not everyone celebrates the new year on January 1st?

One of the biggest celebrations is the Lunar New Year in Asia, where many countries like China, Vietnam, and Korea celebrate the new year later in January or February.  This year, Lunar New Year is on February 14th--the same as Valentine's Day! 

Another familiar new year celebration is the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which occurs in September.  As a religious holiday, there are many rituals and traditions associated with Rosh Hashana.

You can read all about the American New Year, Lunar New Year, and Rosh Hashanah at the library!  The new book display has information about all three holidays. 


While you're looking at the displays, why not pick up a book about Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Next Monday is a holiday to remember him.  We also have books on the display about outdoor sports to play during winter as well as lots of indoor activities to keep you entertained during the cold weather!