Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fiction, history and stuff

It's time for a new Book Review Challenge.  In the first month of 2010, I will review books written by one dozen different authors, at least.  That's three authors a week.  Whew!  I hope I'm up to the challenge.

In the meantime, I have pulled some books off the shelf that deserve a second look.  Civil War buffs will enjoy the book An Island Far From Home by John Donohue.  Joshua, a 12-year-old boy in Massachusetts starts writing to Private John Meadows, a fourteen-year-old Confederate soldier imprisoned at George's Island.  Neither boy is too excited at the prospect of writing to an enemy; Josh, because his father died at Fredericksburg and John, because he was already a prisoner of the Union army.  Read the book to find out what happens between these two very different boys.  This book will appeal to readers in grades 4 and up.

The Sacrifice by  Kathleen Benner Duble tells the story of 10-year-old Abby Faulkner and her family, caught up in the madness of the Salem Witch panics.  Friends, neighbors and even family members are not spared from the awful accusations and the terrible punishments meted out to imagined "witches".  See how the hysteria spreads through the eyes of one girl and those closest to her.  This book will appeal to history buffs in grades 5 and up.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PJ storytime and Winter events

Tonight's the night!!  Come out in those cozy PJs and flannel lounge pants and show them off.   Stories, and a PJ fashion show are on the schedule. There will be night time riddles, some great sleepytime (or not!) books and a song or two, as well.

Winter Reading Club for grades K through 5 started yesterday.  Join the fun AND read for prizes by going to the Parkland Community Library's website.  Look to the right of the search windows and a link will take you to the Winter Reading Club Registration and log in site.  This is a new reading club.  Members will have to register as new members even if they belonged to the past online reading clubs.

Readers in grades 6 through 12 can register for the Teen Online Review club from the same link.  Sign up to review books and win prizes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

PJ storytime and Winter events

The children will be home for a whole week of holiday fun.  Bring them in to the Parkland Community Library to pick out books, DVDs, and books on CD and audio tape.

The Winter Reading Club begins on Monday, December 28th.  There will be a link on the Parkland Community Library homepage to let children in grades K through 5 register online (with their parents' help) and log in reading time.

Teens will have a Teen Review link as well.  Teens will be able to review books online so that other teens can get suggestions for great books.

All this "goes live" on midnight, Monday morning, December 28th.

On Tuesday, Dec. 29th, from 6:30 to 7:30, the Parkland Community Library invites everyone for a PJ Storytime.  Don jammies and slippers and come to the library for stories, games and songs.

Between now and then, enjoy the Winter wildness of the holidays.  Enjoy the snow and cozy kitchens and good books!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tumblebooks Reminder

Don't forget to use Tumblebooks this winter.  The Parkland Community Library offers two separate databases of books that children and teens - and grown-ups, too - can read and listen to online.  Tumblebooks offers over 200 picture books and beginning chapter books for the youngest readers.  TumbleReadables concentrates on books for older readers, teens and the classics.  Some offerings are audio enhanced, some are full text.  This is a great resource, especially for last minute book reports!

Remember, to access Tumblebooks or TumbleReadables, readers must go through the Parkland Community Library's website.  Go to the Youth Services link in the toolbar on the left hand side of the page and pick Tumblebooks from the dropdown menu.  Tumblebooks is a subscription only service.  The Parkland Community Library is very happy to offer these databases to Parkland residents.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Books for Giving

Here are my suggestions for best gift books for 2009 - or 2010 - or whenever.

Picture books:
For the baby girls in your life:  Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman.  The artwork is delectable and the words are so dear.  Ahhhhh!

Every one will enjoy the clever artwork and squabble in Duck! Rabbit! by Alison Krouse Rosenthal.  Is it a duck or a rabbit?  YOU decide.

Yummy : eight favorite fairy tales. by Lucy Cousins introduces 8 familiar stories with Cousins' signature colorful chunky artwork.  This book will be a family favorite.

Gear guys will enjoy Otis by Loren Long about a little tractor who gets shunted aside when the new yellow tractor arrives on the farm.  But big and new is not always better.  The retro drawings are a big part of this book's charm.

Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka and David Shannon is a lot of fun.  A small alien robot takes on the electric appliances in a modern home and rescues a toy phone, his Earth Queen.  Robot fans of all ages will like Robot Zot

Another "Ahhhh!"  book is the lovely and poetic All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee.

Books for Young Readers:
Marissa Moss has introduced the Alien Eraser series, starring Max, a boy who is examining his life as his family rearranges around him.  Max draws a comic strip about Alien Eraser and the comic helps Max with his problems.  Written with humor and insight for second and thrid graders, this series is thoughtful and visually appealing.

Kit Feeny is a new "graphic novel" (read comic book) series for young readers.  Comic books are a great bridge from picture books to longer fiction for a lot of children.  Kit's adventures will appeal to boys in First through Third grades.  In the first book Kit Feeny : on the move, Kit has to adjust to a new house and a new neighborhood while missing his best friend, Albert.  The author of the series is Michael Townsend.

Today I will : a year of quotes, notes and promises to myself by Eileen and Jerry Spinelli is a thoughful gift choice for readers in grades 4 and up.  Give it to your favorite grown-up as well.  This book dedicates a page to each day of the year.  Each page starts with a quote from a book, some are classics, some are current books for children.  Then the Spinelli's have a short reflection about the quote that mirrors concerns that most children have.  The last thing on each page is a promise or a course of action the reader can take.  On January 1, the promise reads "Today I will play no favorites.  I will wish the whole world a "Happy New Year"."

Books for Older Readers:
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is my hands-down choice for girls between the ages of 10 and 13.  Set in 1899, Calpurnia learns a lot from her naturalist grandfather and comes face to face with what her life will be like as a woman in turn of the century Texas.  The book will make readers laugh and sigh.

Where the Mountains Meet the Moon by Grace Lin.  Minli loves her father's stories about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon.  Her mother, tired of her hard life, thinks the stories are a waste of time.  But Minli leaves home to find out why their valley is so poor and her father's stories are her guides.  This fairy tale set in China is full of wonder and hope.  Fantasy lovers of all ages will enjoy this book.

Books for Teens:
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck returns to the Illinois town featured in A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Under.  Mrs. Dowdel is still protecting her patch of land with a shotgun, shooting the geese that fly above her garden and cooking huge pots of apple butter out in her yard.  She has new neighbors in this story, the new Methodist preacher and his three children, teen-age Phyllis, timid 6th grade Brad and six-year-old, Ruth.  Mrs. Dowdel doesn't "Neighbor" and she doesn't "church" but she does give the new family a whole passel of gifts, the kind that stay with them all their lives.  Teens should leave this book out where their Moms and Dads can read it.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield.  Steampunk is a new genre where the past is reimagined and technology plays a huge part in the plot.  Leviathan re-imagines the beginning of World War I.  The murdered Grand Duke and Duchess leave behind a teen-age son, Alek, who, guarded and prodded by his retainers, may be the most important person in all of Europe.  They are members of a Clankers society that depends on mechanical engineering to get things done.
Deryn is a teen girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to join the British Air Corps and ends up on the airship/whale, the Leviathan.  Britain is a Darwinian society that uses genetically engineered animals to transport them and do their fighting.  The teens meet in battle and form an uneasy alliance.

Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede.  This is the start of another series and it is another historical/fantasy.  Eff is the thirteenth child in a family of fourteen, the seventh daughter, and her twin, Lan is the seventh son of a seventh son.  In a society of magic users where numbers have great significance, Eff is reviled and her twin is treated with respect.  The twins' parents move the entire family to the Frontier so that the twins will not be poisoned by such outdated and cruel attitudes.  There, Lan and Eff learn a lot more about tolerance and their own talents, which are considerable.  The story is exciting; the magical constructs are new and refreshing and the interpersonal relationships are well-drawn. 

Airhead series by Meg Cabot.  (Airhead, Being Nikki) The Queen of ChickLit is back with a science fiction romp.  Geek Em Watson is in the wrong place when a huge plasma screen drops on her destroying her body.  She wakes up from a coma to find that her brain has been transplanted into the extremely healthy and beautiful body of Super Model, Nikki Howard.  This outlandish premise leads to an inside look at the glamorous life of the Rich and Famous and, in the second book, a mystery and a kidnapping.  Third book to come in Spring of 2010. 

Books make great gifts all year round.  Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 30, 2009

What to Give, What to Get

A book is a gift that can be opened again and again.  And a book that is part of the Friends of the Parkland Community Library's Milestones Program honors the gift recipient and enriches the whole community.  Read more about this program on the Parkland Community Library's website.

If you want to give a book that will be treasured by just one person, check out's list of "What to Give, What to Get" book giving (and requesting) ideas.  While on this site, scroll down a bit and print out an entry form to win the first book in Ann M. Martin's (Baby-sitters' Club, The Doll People) new series, Main Street.  Martin's new series is about orphaned sisters who go to live with their grandmother and find a new community and a new home.

For those sometimes difficult to please teens, visit for a separate "What to Give, What to Get" list designed just for this age group.  Teenreads is giving away a basket full of the best books written for teens, so take a few moments to enter that contest, too.

The Parkland Community Library's winter holiday picture books and music CDs are now on display on the counter above the Juvenile CD drawers.  Stop by often to renew your supply of seasonal stories and songs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Harvest Stories and Crafts

Thanksgiving goes by too fast.  Join the Parkland Community Library Youth Services staff and volunteers for Harvest Stories and Crafts on Friday, November 27th, from 11 am to 12 noon.  Make a seasonal craft and listen to fall and winter stories.  Please make a reservation for this event by calling the Parkland Community library at 610-398-1361 or by coming into the Parkland Community Library at 4422 Walbert Avenue, next to the South Whitehall Township Building.

This event is for families with children of all ages.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The flu and you

Flu season is here. Storytime attendance is down. Children are home from school. The nightly news keeps everyone updated on vaccine availability. The Center for Disease Control has a Question and Answer site for all the things people want to know influenza, its symptons and what to do to avoid or lessen its effects.

It's a good idea to have plenty of good reading material and DVDs on hand for those days when the house is full of runny noses. A perennial favorite of children of all ages is Michael Bond's Paddington Bear. The marmalade loving bear from darkest Peru manages to get into and out of trouble with the greatest of ease. The books are great for 3rd and 4th grade readers and younger children will enjoy hearing Paddington's adventures read out loud.

Or, borrow The Little House on the Prairie, the book or DVD, for cozy feel-good reading or viewing.

The Parkland Community Library has many other options for passing the time for the ill or recuperating family. Place items on hold from your home computer and the library staff will pull those materials off the shelf and have them waiting for you. Please give the library staff time to retrieve materials before picking the items up.

Feel better soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fun websites

Remember to bring your used children's books - in good condition, please -to donate to Literacy Outreach Belize. The Parkland Community Library will collect children's books for this charity throughout November. (New books are also appreciated!)

Here are some great websites I've run across. Some are book related, some are just for fun.

Historical Fiction for Independent Readers is a booklist put together by the people at Scholastic, Inc.
The folks at Scholastic also put together a booklist of Historical Fiction for Middle Schoolers. If your child is tired of fantasy and superheroes, get them interested in stories of bygone times.

Lehigh Valley Little Ones is a website dedicated to letting parents know about children's activities and resources in the Lehigh Valley. The Parkland Community Library will have a link on their website soon.

If you need a place where family members can share things, but don't feel ready for one of the larger social networking sites, take a look at Parents can create calendars, post pictures and do just about everything that other social networks can do. One nice feature is the list feature. Your entire family can access the gorcery list, for instance, when they discover that your family is running low on catsup. Membership is free. Check out the demos first. Famundo offers tutorials to make using the site that much easier.

This last site is Just For Fun! Create a Cookie is a Better Homes and Garden website. Expect some ads when you visit. Ice a cookie and share it with your friends!

These sites will be posted on the Parkland Community Library's Links for Kids website as soon as I can get them on there.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Used book collection

The Parkland Community Library is collecting used children's books, not for the library or for the Friends Book Sale. During November, the library staff likes to remember how lucky we are to have a friendly library and our fine patrons and our jobs. So we collect used children's books to share with other libraries and families that are not so lucky.

This year, the best books we collect will go to Literacy Outreach Belize, an organization that collects books and ships them to school libraries in Belize. Literacy Outreach Belize also sends volunteers to that country to do workshops in poetry, story writing and storytelling.

The Parkland Community Library will partner with the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild in this effort. During the winter, members of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild will put on a benefit performance to collect more books. The Parkland Community Library's own Teen Tellers will also perform in that concert. A date and venue are still in the works.

In the meantime, clear off your bookshelves and bring used children's books in good, nearly new condition to share with young readers, here and in other countries. Put them in the Turkey box and we will ship them off to Belize.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mom & Me groups??

I just got off the phone with a young mother who wanted to sign up for a storytime. She asked if there were other "Mom & Me" activities available in this area.

I'm sure there are but how does a librarian find out about them? I remember going to the YWCA swim classes and gym classes and to library storytimes when I was a young mother. My son is 33 now, but the need to meet with other young mothers will never change. We lived in the city and finding these groups was easy.

If you know of any Mom & Me groups that meet in the Parkland area, please let me know. Reply in the comment area or click on the Contact Us link on the Parkland Community Library website.

I look forward to reading your responses.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Children's magazines

Children's magazines are more attractive than ever. Parkland Community Library has subscriptions to more than a dozen children's magazines, including American Girl, Highlights for Children and the new younger sibling of Highlights, Highlights High Five. High Five is written for children between the ages of 2 and 5 and includes cartoons, stories, games and informative articles, just like its older sib, Highlights.

Special interest magazines on PCL's Children's magazine shelves include Kids Discover, the non-fiction magazine for children. Kids Discover sports beautiful photos, insightful articles, games and quizzes for children in grades 3 and up.

My favorite magazines are the "bug" magazines, Ladybug, Spider, and Cricket. These magazines are literary magazines for children, with writings by some of today's most popular and acclaimed children's authors. This family of magazines features illustrations by famous children's illustrators, too. Cricket is by far my favorite children's magazine and is written for young readers between the ages of 9 and 14. Spider's audience is the 7 to 10 age group. Ladybug is written for 4 through 7 year olds.

Ask ; arts and siences for kids and Click! are two other magazines published by the company that does Cricket. Ask and Click! are non-fiction magazines for readers in grades 3 and up.

PCL also carries Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Your Big Backyard, Cobblestone and National Geographic for Kids.

Children's magazines are shelved on the window sill in the Picture Book area. The newest issue must remain in the library but all older issues can be taken out. Check one out today!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Fest

I can't wait for the Hogwarts Theme Park to open - sometime next year, I hope - SO, Hogwarts is coming to the Parkland Community Library this Saturday, October 17th, from 2 to 4 pm.

Here is a preview of what will happen.
Quidditch!! Well, Quidditch for Muggles. One or two 15 minute demo games will take place with players, ages 8 and up. Each player.e will get a broom and a House Badge (see Sorting below). The Quaffle and Bludgers will be balloons. The rules are simple. The Chasers will try to get the Quaffles through the goals. The Beaters will protect their teammates from the Bludgers and the Seekers will run after the Golden Snitch. We WILL have a Golden Snitch. Come see how THAT works out!

Sorting! Our Sorting hat is a bit different but it works quite well to separate the Slytherins from the Hufflepuff. Find out which House you belong in - just for the afternoon.

Crafts! Make a Divination Paperholder from glass gems and clay.

Costumes! Come in Costume, if you dare. Costume fixings of some sort or another will be available on Saturday.

Stories! Help the Teen Tellers create a new Hogwarts story starring your favorite Hogwarts characters (Luna? Neville? Ron? George? Cho?). YOU get to decide and might even get to star.

Hogwarts Castle! Or a facsimile thereof. Just for fun and climbing through.

I hope to see you ALL at Hogwarts at the Parkland Community Library, Saturday, Oct. 17th from 2 to 4 pm

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Science and kindness

Vicki Cobb has been writing fun, informative science books for kids since - whew! - 1972. She's back with a series on the human body's defense systems called Body Battles published by Millbrook Press (c2009). Cobb describes how the human body reacts to such indignities as a broken bone, a cold, and earache, a cavity - each in a book of its own. The books are illustrated with a combination of photographs (or photoMICROgraphs, in some case) and colored illustrations. Cobb includes a glossary, a list for further reading and interesting websites related to each topic. The books will intrigue almost anyone but third graders and up will be able to read the books by themselves. Most can be found at J 616 COB or nearby.

Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, a native of Kenya and a member of the Masai tribe, was in New York City on September 11th, 2001. He was horrified by what he saw and wondered what he could do to help America heal. When he went home to Africa, he asked permission to "give" his cow, the most precious thing he owned, to America. Other members of his tribe offered to do the same when they heard the story of what had happened. 14 cows were dedicated to helping Americans heal from the tragedy of 9/11.
14 Cows for America is Wilson's story, told by author and storyteller, Carmen Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. It is a beautiful story about compassion and how even the smallest group of people can offer comfort in times of need. The story is very short and beautifully inllustrated.
14 Cows for America will touch your heart. Find it at J 327.67 DEE.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sounds like Reading

Brian Cleary just came out with a great new series, Sounds like Reading... The books approach different phonics concepts, like short and long vowel sounds, with simple text, short instructions and Jason Miskimins bright, funny illustrations. The books are on display right now but they will find a new home in the Easy Reader section of the Parkland Community Library's Picture Book collection.
Cleary also writes the Words Are Categorical series and explains parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc.) in silly rhyme. Brian Gable's illustrations make grammar a whole lot more fun than I remember it! This series is split between the Picture Book collection and the Juvenile Non-Fiction section (J 428 CLE, for the most part).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Down on the Farm, Fall Fest and more

Storytime started this week and the theme is "Down on the Farm". Though Lehigh County's population keeps growing, there are still a lot of working farms in this area. The take-home paper for storytime this week is a list of the farms included in this year's Open Gate Farm tour scheduled for Sunday, October 18th, from 1 to 5 pm. For more information, click here or call Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lehigh County, at 610-391-9840. (For books read at each week's storytime, click on the link on the library's Storytime page.)

Fall Fest is Saturday, October 17th from 2 to 4 pm. This year, the theme is Hogwarts. A Sorting Hat will send Fest-goers to their designated Hogwarts House, Slytherin, Gryffindo, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. Children 8 and over can play a Muggle version of Quidditch while members of their Houses cheer them on. Anyone can try their hand at pumpkin bowling. Face painting, a reading corner and storytelling will also be offered. Please sign up in advance so that the library has enough House badges made.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet now have more fully-authorized adventures, sanctioned by the Trustees of Pooh Properties, (unlike Disney's cute, but sometimes saccharine stories). The book Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, written by David Benedictus and illustrated by Mark Burgess, was released yesterday. The library's copy has not arrived but holds can be put on the book now.

Christopher Robin comes home from school to join his animal friends and a new female character arrives in the Hundred Acre Wood to keep poor Kanga company. Eeyore takes the lead in a story or two as well.

A. A. Milne's original version of The House at Pooh Corner (the second, and until now, final book about Pooh) is my all-time favorite children's book. Milne's humor grows on the reader. Small children like the silly adventures. Older children like the humor. Adults like the language. I hope Benedictus is able to match Milne's tongue-in-cheek tone, at least some of the time.

Now we can all go back to Pooh Corner, at last.
P.S. To watch and hear Jim Dale read part of this book, click here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week began on Saturday, September 26th. Since 1987, the American Library Association and other Free Speech advocates have celebrated freedom of expression by pointing out notable books that have been "challenged" or banned.

The city of Boston earned notoriety in the early 20th century for banning books - not allowing the books into the city's limits. The idea seems almost medieval but every month someone complains about a book that has been published, or is on a public library's shelves or has been assigned to a class for study.

The reasons for banning a book are myriad. Shel Silverstein's "A Light in the Attic" was banned because it included an illustration that might encourage children to break dishes so they wouldn't have to wash them!

Librarians are rumored to have painted diapers on a naked Mickey in Maurice Sendak's "In the Night Kitchen".

The Harry Potter series was challenged because it talked about magic, spells, wizards, witches, etc. I haven't read that the "Twilight" series has been challenged anywhere, even though it features vampires and werewolves. Oh, wait, Australian middle schools have banned the Twilight books. Hmmm.

The reason for keeping these books on the shelves reflects a basic American value, freedom of expression. Removing a book because one person, or interest group, finds that book objectionable denies the rights of all the people who think the book is well-written, fun or informative.

Check out more resources on Banned Books by looking at the massive amount of info posted on the American Library Association's website.

For a list of the ten most often challenged books or series of 2008, click here.

Read a banned book, today or choose not to. That choice belongs to everyone. Let's keep it that way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Event Sign-ups Begin on Friday

A problem with the venue has forced the Parkland Community Library to change the Wednesday Preschool Storytime to 1 pm, NOT 10:30 am as noted in the newsletter.

Sign-ups for Fall Events - Storytimes, Fall Fest, Wool Felting Workshop and Storytelling Workshop - will begin on Friday, September 25th. To register for these events, call the Parkland Community Library at 610-398-1361 OR come into the library at 4422 Walbert Avenue in South Whitehall.

Here are two new Picture Books with a ghoulish Fall theme; "Do NOT Build a Frankenstein" by Neil Numberman features the new kid in town, who explains all the drawbacks of building a monster. Then, the monster appears. The pictures are great fun.

"Runaway Mummy" by Michael Rex is a spoof of Margaret Wise Brown's classic tale, "The Runaway Bunny". Monster fans will love the ending.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ready for school

Are you ready to start school? Do you wonder what to expect this year? This post will lead you to some online resources for parents and students.

Family Education is a commercially supported site with lots of information, polls, worksheets and printables. Articles that explain what children will learn at each grade level can be helpful and reassuring. Different states have different requirements but these articles give a good feel for what to expect.

The United States Government has a site for parents about getting ready for school This is a typical government site, short on eye appeal but pretty hefty on substance.

Reading Is Fundamental wants all children to be competent and enthusiastic readers. Their site has games and other fun ways to keep reading interesting. The grade appropriate booklists are a big plus on this site.

Schoolfamily is a PTO affiliated site with games, quizzes, worksheets and advice for parents and children.

So, don't panic. You will be ready when the first school day comes around.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

School Days

Next week, kindergarteners and high school seniors and everyone in between will trudge off to school. Some of the area's students are trudging even as I type this.

Jamie Gilson hit the school jackpot when she wrote Thirteen Ways to Sink a Sub, her very first Hobie Hanson adventure. This was soon followed by4B Goes Wild Hobie is a likeable, ordinary character who gets into a comfortably funny amount of trouble. These and other books by Jamie Gilson are for readers in grades 4 and up. Good third grade readers will like them, too.

More recently, Andrew Clements has cashed in on the school days phenomenon. He even titled one of his books, The School Story. Frindle, the book that earned Clements acclaim and a Newbery Award, pits a too-smart-for-his-britches student against a stubborn, experienced teacher. They both learn a lot from each other in very satisfying ways. Clements books are for readers in grades 4 and up. He writes books for teens as well.

The brand new students, either to preschool or to kindergarten, will get a kick out of Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish. Amelia is a first grader and she takes everything that her teacher and classmates say literally. The book is a lot of fun.

My favorite chicken, Janet Morgan Stoeke's Minerva Louise, wanders into a school. How she sees everyday objects will make children smile. As always, Minerva Louise takes ideas home to the henhouse in Minerva Louise at School.

Simon the rabbit does NOT want to go to school. Really. He dosen't want to go. But when his mother picks him up on the first day of school, Simon has changed his tune. I Don't Want to Go to School by Stephanie Blake introduces Simon to young readers.

Ben's older sister, Hannah, has a lot to tell Ben about Ben's teacher in I Don't Want to Go Back to School by Marisabina Russo. Hannah's stories make Ben pretty worried. It all works out, in the end, which brings us to the moral - Don't listen to everything your big sister says!

Enjoy the last weekend before school and read on!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Reading Club Quiz

Time for a Summer Reading Club quiz. Do NOT scroll down to the answers until you try to answer the questions first.

1. What was this summer's theme?

2. What kind of animals visited the library twice a week for four weeks in July?

3. What was the Big Build?

4. How many children (rounded out to one zero) joined the Summer Reading Club?

5. How many programs in all - including the school programs - happened during the Summer Reading Club?

6. How many hours did Summer Reading Club members read this summer?

Okay. Here is a statistic that might interest you. A total of 1790 people attended programs at the Parkland Community Library and in the Parkland Elementary School libraries this summer.

Well, enough stalling. The answers to the questions are:

1. Be Creative @ Your Library was the 2009 Summer Reading Club theme.

2. Certified Therapy Dogs visited the library this summer. They'll be back in October and November.

3. The Big Build was a program where children and their parents got to build towers with boxes and a city out of pudding cups and the long paper chain that still hangs in the library. Well, the paper chain was started during the Big Build.

4. 785 children and teens signed up for the Summer Reading Club. So if you said either 780 or 790 you were right!

5. When the 14 Stories in the Schools programs are counted in, the Parkland Community Library planned and carried out 38 programs this summer. If we add in the 3 mysteries, that makes 41 programs. No wonder I'm so tired. ;)

6. Children and teens read 11, 570 hours. Most of you read in 15 minute time increments so that makes the total even more amazing.

What all of this means is that all the Parkland Community Library Summer Readers will be ready and raring for school next week - or this week for some of you!

Thanks again for a wonderful summer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reading Rainbow ends

For 26 years, LeVar Burton has opened the pages of great children's books for PBS viewers. Today, the last Reading Rainbow episode will be made. Funders of PBS educational television have decided that showing children how much fun books can be is not as important as teaching them the building blocks of how to read.

I know how to climb but unless I have a reason or desire, I don't see the point in learning advance climbing skills. So it is with reading. Children who want to learn to read will overcome reading disabilities and social or economic disadvantages. Reading Rainbow made children and their parents WANT to read.

Every week, a grown-up man opened a real book and showed children that reading was more than deciphering letters to make words. Reading was telling stories and learning things. "Books are important", LeVar said, week after week. "Books are fun and books can lead us to other fascinating things." And then, a bunch of children said the same thing. They said, "We read. Reading is something that children do for fun and for learning. You can, too."

The Parkland Community Library has Reading Rainbow DVDs. Children can still see LeVar get excited about hats and camels and numbers. But now, no new books will get star treatment. Oh well.

So check out a Reading Rainbow DVD this week. Take home a new book. Take on the job of showing your children and your friends that books are important. Reading can lead us to fascinating things. And take a moment to thank LeVar Burton and PBS for 26 years of reading rainbows.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zazoo by Richard Mosher

Someone just mentioned the book Zazoo by Richard Mosher to me this afternoon. Published in 2001, this deeply moving book tells the story of a Vietnamese orphan and her elderly "grandpere" as she learns about life and love and as he deals with the spectres of his past.

Zazoo is set on the canals of France. There are secrets that Zazoo uncovers as she tries to care for the man who is her only family. He appears to be sliding into senility and is tortured by the events of his youth in France during WWII. A strange boy arrives in the neighborhood and becomes Zazoo's friend and first love.

Although this book is categorized as Young Adult fiction, any adult who picks it up will not be disappointed.


In Praise of Brian Cleary

Brian P. Cleary has written a slew of fun, informative and attractive "non-fiction" books! His Words Are Categorical books - all found in or around J 428 CLE - make grammar fun and easy. Each book handles a different part of speech - nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, adjectives...the list goes on and on.

Cleary also has a math series, Math is Categorical. The Parkland Community Library only has 3 of these titles. The books can be found in Juvenile Non-Fiction in the Math section (around J 510 CLE) and, for some reason, in J 530.

Cleary also has a series of phonics books that the library has on order, Sounds Like Reading. Look for these books in late September, early October.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

End of Summer

Wow! Summer Reading Club flew by. The new online registration and logging software worked very well. Close to 800 young readers logged over 11,500 hours of reading this summer. There's still time to snag some more reading time. Keep checking out those books, and books on CD. (And, ok, some DVDs and video games, too - before school begins!)

Take a look at the What's New Display to see the brand new books the library has added to the Children's and Young Adult sections.

The Youth Services Department, (Mrs. Chaply and I) were sad to see our two summer staff people, Erin Lease and Dorothy Chan, go back to college. They helped the Summer Reading Club run smoothly here and in the Parkland School libraries.

Thanks go out to all the volunteers, teens and adults, who made the Stories in the Schools programs so much fun this summer and who helped with programs in the library and with shelving and keeping things in order this summer.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Local Teen Author

Katelyn Sheinberg, A Parkland High School student who writes under the name of Katelyn Emily, presented a copy of her first book, The Treasure Trove Tales : at the Gazebo to the Parkland Community Library a month or two ago. So, since I hope Katelyn will do a booksigning at the Library before school starts, I brought the book home to read. Here is my review.

The five Avery children find themselves orphaned after a fire destroys their home and kills their parents. Luckily, their grandparents are willing and able to take the children in but as middle child, Julia, explains their lives are bleak and barren. They have no photographs, no mementos, and for several days, not even any clothes except what is on their backs.

Then, Danielle, whose relationship with her parents was deeper than that with her siblings, goes missing and the four other Avery children go on a desperate search for her. When they find her, they also find a link to some of the best memories they have of their times with their parents.

This a lovely book about the importance of preserving memories in the face of loss. There is an element of mystery as well as the Avery children try to find a missing memento that should have survived the fire.

The book is best for readers 9 and up and will appeal to thoughtful readers of all ages.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (HarperCollins, 2001) is full of talking animals. So, does it belong in the Teen section of the library (YA) or in the Juvenile section of the library? I took the book home to see.

Maurice is a cat. The boy is a piper and the rodents are sentient mice. Maurice comes up with a scam to end all scams. He send the rats into a village to carry on shamelessly. Then the boy offers to pipe the rats out of the village - for a fee. The rats willingly stream out of the village after the boy and they all move onto to another town.

When they come to the village of Bad Blintz, the group find a weird and creepy situation. Rat catchers seem to rule the village but there are no native rats in sight. Worse yet, the mayor's daughter, Malicia, has decided to stick to the boy, and to Maurice, like glue.

There is "Evil" in the tunnels under Bad Blintz, and greed, and revenge. And being a rat who can think is an existential curse at times. A battle to the death, poison and traps, tricks and betrayal, and acts of extreme kindness, all take place in the dark and hidden places.

Younger readers - ages 10 and up - will enjoy the novel. But the angst and the humor will be best appreciated by teens and adults.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days - yeah right!

Here is book review 8: waaay overdue.

Dying to meet you : 43 Old Cemetry Road, book one by Kate Klise, with illustrations by Sarah Klise.
The story is told in a series of letters and journal entries. A washed-up children's author rents a mansion without reading the lease's small print and finds himself saddled with the care of an 11-year-old boy -(the author abhors children!) -and sharing the home with a ghost. Suspend your disbelief that parents could actually get away with this kind of behavior so that you can enjoy a story that is funny and satisfying. The parents get their come-uppance in the end. Hooray! Great for good readers in grades 3 through 6 - fun for older people, too

Book Review 9:
The red blazer girls : the ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil. The academy that 7th graders, Sophie, Rebecca, Leigh Ann and Margaret go to abuts the home of an elderly woman who is trying to find a treasure left by her father. The mystery is well constructed but some of the subplots go astray. Still, there is something appealing about mysteries solved by school kids and these girls are fun and fairly realistic. For grades 4 through 8.

Book Review 10:
Same, same by Marthe Jocelyn with illustrations by Tom Slaughter.
This concept book for little ones groups things and animals together in pairs by similarities - things that fly, things that are round, things that go, etc. Great for toddlers!

And since I'm pretty sure I reviewed The red blazer girls on this blog before I will add another book review.
Wink : the ninja who wanted to be noticed by J. C. Phillipps.
Wink is an EXCELLENT ninja, able to scale walls and slip through narrow openings and do all kinds of amazing feats but he really wants to be seen and, as we all know, that is NOT what ninjas are supposed to do. Read this picture book to find out how Wink is able to use his ninja skills and get the appreciation he desires. For children ages 3 and up.

No more promises! I will try hard to review new books every week. Check back.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

10 book reports in 12 days Part 7

I failed. Sigh. I allowed myself to be distracted by other things like computer malfunctions and Storytelling Workshops. Forgive me, oh faithful reader(s). I did not write 10 book reviews in 12 days. So now I am aiming for three book reviews in the next two days.

Okay, I just finished Ally Carter's book Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, the third entry in the Gallagher Girl series. It involves presidential conventions, kidnap attempts, covert operations, boy-girl stuff, hot teachers, family complications, and of course, spy jargon and spy tech thingies.
Better than the second book, this is not as light-hearted as the first book in the series. Carter makes the adrenaline rush of operations, successfully avoiding capture, and the need to find answers irresistible, while highlighting the terrible price that is paid for living the life of a spy. This is a PG book because of the violence. The romance is actually romance lite. Fans of the series will snap this up. The series is for middle and high school students.

Monday, July 6, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 6

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox by Cristina Garcia -
Yumi Ruiz-Hirsh faces a lot of changes in her thirteenth year. Her beloved grandfather, Saul Hirsch, has been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother, poet and professor Silvia Ruiz, has finally found the man she wants to marry. Yumi's chronically depressed father, a piano tuner and aspiring punk rocker, and her grandmother, Hiroko, are the only stable things in her life. At school, the orchestra has been cut from the budget and Yumi spearheads a campaign to raise money and awareness for the orchestra. And Yumi has no one to surf with!

There is almost too much going on in this book. The book would have been just as absorbing - maybe even a little easier to get through - without the move from the house to the apartment, or the drama around Ms. Ruiz's impending wedding.

Two things kept my attention - Yumi's attempt to record her grandfather's life story and the musical subplot. Saul's voice contrasts with Yumi's urgency. The choice to use classic punk rock songs (and one of her Dad's original songs) for the orchestra's fund-raising concert was a clever idea. Yumi makes a lot of things happen for a lot of people in this book.

Out of five stars, I'd give this book a solid 3 1/2 stars. It's a fun read, a bit too ambitious, but with elements to appeal to most middle grade readers. I suggest this book for grades 5 through 8.

Friday, July 3, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 5

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trent Stewart.

The four children who were recruited for The Mysterious Benedict Society come together again under happier circumstances. Their mentor, Mr. Benedict, has promised a "surprise" adventure and not too soon, either. Reynie is happy to be safe with his adopted mother; Sticky loves being safe with his parents; Kate works hard to keep the farm she shares with her newfound father going; and Constance enjoys living with Mr. Benedict - but - regular life is a little boring.

No sooner do the children leave the farm than Kate's father, superspy Milligan, gets a telegram warning the children to stay where they are. Mr. Benedict and his helper, Number Two, have been kidnapped. Too late! The children are already on their adventure

A trip across the ocean in a superfast cargo ship, run-ins with evil Mr. Curtain's henchmen, a seaplane flight to an uncharted island - riddles, packets of money, tunnels...the four youngest members of the Benedict Society are in for a hair-raising adventure.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 4a


In Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, a small rabbit insists that what he is playing with is NOT a box. This simple book is a celebration of a young child's (or rabbit's) imagination. Portis writes a similar story in her book, Not a Stick. Enjoy!

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 4

Today's review: Carrie's War by Nina Bawden.
Carrie and her brother, Nick, are sent to the countryside during the bombing of London in WWII. They meet a weird old woman, Hepzibah Green, her ward, Johnny Gotobed, and another evacuee, Albert Sandwich, and form a makeshift family.
Right before Carrie goes home, she does something rash and, soon after, catastrophe falls on the people that stay behind. Carrie grows up positive that she was the cause of the misfortune of her friends.
When she has children of her own, Carrie brings them back to the country village and her children manage to unravel what actually happened so many years before.
Bawden helps the readers see events through her character's eyes. Bawden takes simple misunderstandings, people's fears and hopes and turns all this into adventures.
This book was turned into a BBC movie in 2004 and was a stage play on London's West End.
Carrie's War wll be enjoyed by good readers entering grades 4 and up. Adults will enjoy this slice of history, too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 3

Happy July! Time for my next book review. Before I do the review, take a look at this "book finding" website put together by Sylvan Learning Centers, Book Adventure! I looked at it yesterday and it lets the viewer enter exactly what he or she is looking for. Just check the Parkland Community Library's catalog (or your own public library's catalog) to see if the library has the book.

Ok, here's a review for the little ones! Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Spoon tells his mother of all the wonderful things his friends, Fork and Knife, can do. His mother listens and empathizes and then, she says just the right thing to help Spoon see how special he is.

Rosenthal is the artist behind the YouTube sensation, The Beckoning of Lovely, and the author of other great picture books such as Duck! Rabbit! and Yes Day.

Meet me here tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 2

Star Jumper : journal of a cardboard genius by Frank Asch. How can Alex build his cardboard box models when his little brother bothers him all the time? Alex plans to build a space ship and escape his little brother’s pestering questions but Alex’s other cardboard box machines cause a catastrophe. This book is a great chapter book for good readers entering grades 2 or 3.

Monday, June 29, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days

I have thrown down the gauntlet. I promise to write a NEW book review every week day for the next two weeks! Ten reviews in 12 days!

The Trouble Begins at 8 : a life of Mark Twain in the wild, wild West by Sid Fleischman. Fleischman concentrates on Twain's life in Nevada, California and points West. Twain jumps from silver claim to gold claim and from writing job to writing job, embroidering everything that happens to him to maximize drama and humor.
Fleischman, no stranger to embellishment himself, adds a chapter at the end that untangles the myth from the facts of Twain's adventures - as well as can be managed.
This is a clever, well-written and amusing biography about one of America's most clever, and most amusing authors. Liberally illustrated with period drawings and photos, this book will be enjoyed by readers aged 9 and up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Reading Club has started and our new online registration is GREAT. However, it is NOT self-explanatory. One of the mistakes a few people are making is to put the total number of minutes they have read into the time log. The two younger groups are counting 15 minute blocks of time which means that for every 15 minutes they read or listen, they count 1. 15 minutes is 1; 30 minutes is 2; 45 minutes is 3, etc.

So on the log page, parents should imagine that they are dividing by 15. 45 minutes divided by 15 is 3, so if your child listened to books for 45 minutes, enter 3 in the log.

When you enter a number, at the bottom of the log it reads something like that "3 15 minutes have been logged."

It's easy to fix the mistake. Go to the log page and click "edit" on the right hand side of each entry. Then enter the right number in the time box. The program will automatically correct the mistakes and adjust the number of prizes your child should earn.

Good luck.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mrs. Chaply and I brought back a backpack full of new paperbacks from Book Expo on Friday. Most of these books will be given out as prizes for the "Be Creative @ Your Library" Summer Reading Club. I even got a signed copy of Mo Willems' new Elephant and Piggy book. I MET MO WILLEMS!!

I also got an Advance Reader's Copy of the second book in Suzanne Collins' series, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. I have already read it and it is as good as The Hunger Games. The series is for older readers, teens and adults. Check out The Hunger Games, soon. I want to thank Dayne E. for talking me into reading the first book.

Today, I was helping someone pick out books to read to a class and I stumbled across Allan Ahlberg's book, The Pencil. The story is simple and silly but not simplistic. (I love alliteration!)
The Pencil draws a family with pets but when the pencil draws food, no one will eat it. It's in BLACK AND WHITE. So the pencil draws a paintbrush who adds color to everything. When people complain about their appearance, the pencil draws an eraser and the eraser goes CRAZY!
This clever book is a great way to start a "Creative" summer.

Don't forget. Register for the "Be Creative @ Your Library" Summer Reading Club form the comfort of your desk chair, beginning June 8th. Look for the "Be Creative" graphic in the upper right hand corner of the Parkland Community Library website. You must be between the ages of 2 (or parent of said 2 year old) and 17 to join AND you must have a current Parkland Community Library card.

Registering for individual programs and workshops can only be done by coming into the Parkland Community Library. Attendance is limited at the workshops. Registration begins on Monday, June 8th, for those events.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Teens! Download a copy of Michael Scott's The Alchemyst and learn more about the Nicholas Flamel series by clicking here. The Sorceress is on order and will be in the library in late May or early June.

Children's Book Week is getting even busier.
May 12th - at 7:30 pm - the Teen Advisory Board meets to plan Summer events and to eat junk food. Be there. Teens must be in grades 8 and above to attend these meetings.

May 13th - 3 pm - Parkland High School Library - "Read Out Loud to Children" workshop. Contact Karen Maurer 610-398-1361 ext. 19, to sign up. Attendance is limited. This workshop is for teens who want to do storytimes this summer.

May 14th - from 3 to 5 pm - If I Were a Penguin Day. For all ages. Stories, games, and crafts. Stop by for 15 minutes or stay for an hour.

May 16th - Parkland Arts Festival - Parkland High School - 10 am to 4 pm. Stop by the Parkland Community Library booth to make a craft, learn about the Summer Reading Club, create a poem and hang out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lois Lowry ( author of Number the Stars and Anastasia Krupnik among many, many others) gets the privilege to judge the final two books in the Battle of the (Kids') Books. The contenders are (drumroll) Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Octavian Nothing,Traitor to the Nation : The Kingdom on the Waves by M. T. Anderson.

The suspense is unbearable - well, intriguing maybe. Which book would you choose? My gut says that Hunger Games is the hands down popular choice. But Octavian Nothing offers a lot to a discerning readership.
To see an overview of the competition so far, click here. In this chart the last two titles are blank so insert Hunger Games and Kingdom on the Waves in those slots.

On May 6th, the winner will be revealed.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time is almost up in the Battle of the Kids' Books. Most of these books are actually for teens. So if you are a teen, click and vote. Look for the People's Choice link on the right hand sidebar.

Also, for teens mostly but amusing for other people as well, check out this video on YouTube made by a couple of 20-somethings. They obviously want ONE book to win this year's Battle. It's kind of cute and funny.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Children's Book Week is coming up - May 11th to May 17th. Watch the Parkland Community Library website for an Author or Illustrator of the Day Quiz. Every day, I will post five clues to the identity of a children's book author or illustrator. The next day, I will reveal the previous day's answer AND new clues to another author or illustrator. I already have clues prepared for 4 authors/illustrators and my clues are NOT easy. See how well you know children's literature.

On May 14th, from 3 to 5 pm, stop by the Parkland Community Library for games, stories and activities. The featured - but not only - book for the day is If You Were a Penguin by Florence and Wendell Minor, this year's "One Book, Every Young Child" selection. Drop by to find out if you are tall enough to be a penguin, put together a penguin floor puzzle, play with penguin toys and listen to penguin books and other icy titles. That day is an Early Dismissal day in the Parkland School District so I hope I see a lot of you at the Parkland Community Library.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The big YA move is almost done. The books have been successfully moved to their new location against the back wall of the library. The Local History collection has moved into the corner where YA used to be. Thanks go to Adam Bell and the other Boy Scouts for doing all the heavy moving and all the logistics.

Monday starts TV Turn-off Week. How long can your family survive without turning on the TV? The library is a great place to find ideas for activities and games to keep your family away from what my Dad called the "boob tube". Watching your favorite shows on Hulu instead is considered cheating. Click here for a list of resources at the Parkland Community Library that can fill this week with non-televised fun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Origami, Storytelling and more

There is still room in Mark Kennedy's Origami workshop on Saturday, March 28th at 11 am, here at the Parkland Community Library. Workshop participants must be 9 years old or older. Please call the library to register so Mark has enough supplies.

Check out the website StoryBee to listen to great folktales, original stories and tall tales, told by some of the best storytellers in the country. Two Schnecksville natives have stories on the site. Charles Kiernan and Emily Kiernan got their storytelling start here at the Parkland Community Library.

National Library Week is April 12th through the 19th. The Teddy Bear Costume Party on Tuesday April 14th at 6:30 pm (All ages. Please register.) is just one of the fun things going on that week. On Saturday, April 18th at 1 pm, Moe Gerant will lead an Intergenerational Drum Circle. Bring a hand drum - or any drum - and join the fun. Moe will bring drums with her. Moe leads the Lehigh Valley Drum Circle and is an accomplished percussionist.

YA MOVE - This is huge! The Young Adult fiction collection is coming out of the dark corner and taking a place of honor along the back wall of the library. The Local History books, all of which are easily damaged by ultraviolet light, will be moved into the vacated YA section. Thanks to Adam Bell, an Eagle Scout candidate, for organizing this long overdue move.

Parkland High School yearbooks have moved behind the circulation desk. These books must be used in the library.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kim Chatel will be at the Parkland Community Library - well, the South Whitehall Township building actually - on Saturday, March 14th at 11 am to lead a photography workshop for people in grade 2 and up - or ages 8 and up. Participants should bring a camera and sign up by calling the library at 610-398-1361.

Then, Kim will read portions of her new book, A Talent for Quiet, and sign copies. Books will be on sale, too.

Kim just won an EPPIE award for her book Rainbow Sheep. For more information about Kim and her books go to her website, Chatel Village.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Teens and Reading

A small group of teen volunteers met here at Parkland Community Library last night. When asked how the library could bring in more teens, they unaminously said that most of the people at their schools did not read, except for school work. Four schools were represented in the group.
However, they admitted that teens they knew were reading magazines and blogs and series books like Gossip Girls and Twilight - oh and manga.

What I'm wondering if this. Is this a matter of perception? Is reading not seen as cool enough to talk about? If that is the case, could a lot of teens be "closet readers"? Or could reading be considered mundane and ordinary like brushing teeth, and therefore not worthy of mentioning?

Think about it. If I like to read but I believe that all my friends think reading is boring, am I likely to talk about what I'm reading?

Even in books, teens are not often pictured as reading - except in books by John Green and
e. lockhart and their ilk, that is. And by the way, everyone should read lockhart's Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, if they get a chance. Also, John Green's Paper Towns is just as good as everyone says it is. However, DO NOT TRY THESE THINGS AT HOME..

Back to my original point, I suspect that fewer teens are reading for pleasure than I want to admit. But I also suspect that more teens are reading than their peers realize.

What do YOU think?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Visit my "new" blog at BooksnStories.