Thursday, December 30, 2010

Orphan Quiz

How well do you know your orphans in literature.  Click here to print out the Orphans in Literature Quiz.

So many great books are written about orphans.   Pip in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations gets a lot of exposure since this novel is often required reading.  Dickens stars orphans in some of his books and uses them as supporting characters in many others.

Louisa May Alcott wrote about orphans as well.  Rose Campbell, in Eight Cousins, is a solitary orphan who moves in with a large family of cousins.

The title character of Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher is an orphan who reluctantly gets to know the "other" side of her family when the aunts who raised her become desperately ill.

Barbara Brooks Wallace has made writing about orphans her stock in trade with such fun titles as Peppermints in the Parlor and Sparrows in the Scullery.

Just this year (2010), author Maryrose Wood introduced Miss Penelope Lumley, a fifteen-year-old orphan, in the book, The Mysterious Howling.  Penelope must play governess to three other orphans, who have all been raised by wolves.   

Take the quiz to read snippets about other famous orphans.
Click here for the answers.

Have a wonderful New Year's Eve.  Celebrate responsibly!  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

YA Favorites and orphans

The Youth Services Favorite Books for Teens 2010 is now available.  Click here to download this list.

There is no way that the YS staff would be able to hit every great book written this year. counts on teens to keep the website up to date.  Teens read and write reviews for TeenReads.  Some of the books are superb, some are just fun but they all have found readers who loved them.  Nominate your favorite book of 2010 by going to the TeenReads' Best Books Nomination list.

Let the Youth Services staff know about books that you loved. 

One of my choices for a Favorite Books is Behemoth by Scott Westerfield.  It's the steampunk sequel to Leviathan.  The story of an alternate World War I continues as two teens work together to insure the one's safety and possibly stop the war before it begins.  The steampunk elements are well done and the illustrations are amazingly detailed.
Both of the main characters, Deryn, who masquerades as a boy named Dylan, and Alek, the heir to the Austrian throne, have lost parents.  In the first book, Alek's parents are assassinated.  Deryn's father died before the book began.  Being an orphan makes plot development a whole lot simpler, since there are no pesky parents to get in the way.

Look at all the famous orphans in literature.  Starting with Oliver Twist, probably the most famous literary orphan, the concept of a child or teen set adrift on life's choppy ocean without parents to guide or control them is compelling for both the writer and the reader. 

In this list of Favorites, at least four of the books feature the adventures of orphans.  Check out the list and see if you can guess which books are "orphan" stories.

I recently read The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry.  In that book, the four children are not orphans but they sometimes wish they are.  When their less-than-perfect (understatement alert!) parents leave them in the care of a Nanny and sell the house while the children are still living there, the five of them - Nanny and the four children - become "orphans" and are thrown out into the street.  This book is a tongue-in-cheek romp through orphan story stereotypes.  Lemony Snicket fans will enjoy The Willoughbys.

Next week, I will give you an Orphans in Children's Literature Quiz.  For the quiz, the word orphan will be defined as "any child or teen whose parents are dead or absent." 

Enjoy your holidays and read, read, read.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My absolute favorite book for 2010 was Neil Gaiman's Instructions.  This beautiful picture book visits archetypal fairy tale instructions and takes the reader on a journey far away and back again.  I want to give it to everyone who is embarking on a new phase of life - births, graduations, weddings, new jobs.  The book gives everyday choices a magical quality.

To download a pdf. of my list of Favorite Picture Books, Juvenile Fiction and Juvenile Non-Fiction of 2010, click here.   I formatted it as a booklet.  So print it out and carry it with you.  A list of YA favorites is on the way.  I will not venture to mention a date for that since I have not kept to my predictions very well in the past.

Here are highlights of the Favorite Picture books, besides Instructions, of course.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein features a young chick who simply can NOT let her father finish any bedtime story.  This book is laugh out loud funny.

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood.  You will be surprised at how many different kinds of quiet there are!

Jerry Pinkney has updated a Nursery Rhyme classic with his stunning rendition of Three Little Kittens.

This next one is for Cooking Channel and Food Network fans.  Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst follows poor Henry as he attempts to play "cooking show" with his little sister, Ellie.

If your favorite picture book of the year doesn't appear here, or on my list, please let me know.  I'll share your suggestions with the other readers of this blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More gift ideas

I love books but I also love libraries.  So, when it comes to suggesting books as gifts, I prefer books most people won't find on library shelves.  Books that have pages that flip or move, books that invite readers to scribble inside or tear pages out - these make excellent gifts for children and teens. 

Other types of books I enjoy to give - and receive - are books that give instructions, like cookbooks or craft books or how-to books. 

Here are some activity/recipe/instruction books for children and teens.
Make Art Mistakes : a creativity sketchbook   978-811870764  Chronicle $16.99
This book includes graphic scenes that the reader can add words and drawings to.  All ages. 

Papertoy Monsters by Brian Castelforte  9780761158820 Workman $16.95 Offers cardboard punch-out models to build and inspiration for more.  Ages 9 - up

This book made me do it: cool things to make do and explore by John Woodward  97810756668815  DK  $19.99.  Instructions for landing a plane, knitting, staging a ghost hunt, treating hypothermia and baking a chocolate cake are just a few of the instructions in this book that I have decided is going to each of my 10 year old nephews!  Ages 10 - up.

Do Something : Change the world!  a handbook for activists.  Workman 13.95  97807661157472  This handbook helps youngsters analyze problems they hope to solve and gives the steps needed to organize, understand and work toward change.  Ages 9 - 12 

Wind Power : 20 projects to make with paper by Clive Dobson.  Firefly, $24.95  9781554076598  Instructions about wind powered models abound with a discussion of the uses and problems of wind power.  Pretty technical and a lot of reading is involved.  Still the models look fascinating.  Ages 10 and up.

My list of favorites of 2010 will be posted on Friday!  Keep reading.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Gift ideas and Favorite Books 2010

The PCL Favorite Books of 2010 survey is up on the Parkland Community Library's homepage.  Take the survey and you may even win a prize.  Prizes include Wii game accessories and gift cards and more prizes are being selected.  The survey runs until December 27th.  And in January, 2011, the PCL staff will pull together all of those nominations and post our patrons favorite books of 2010.

In the meantime, here are a few titles to consider for holiday gift giving.  The titles below are the type of book not usually found in Library collections - except for the record books of course.

Flip-o-Saurus by Sara Ball and Britta Drehsen is put out by Abbeville Press.  This book allows the reader to flip the feet, torso and heads of different dinosaurs to create new prehistoric monsters.  The text explains the differences between the different types of dinosaurs.

Harry Potter : a Pop-up Book is based on the wildly popular film versions of these children's blockbusters.  Bruce Foster created this book and Andrew Williamson illustrated it.  It is published by Insight Editions and lists at $34.95 but is cheaper in online markets.

The Robot Book by Heather Brown will delight little engineers and their moms.  The book is about a little robot and how he is put together.  Every page has a piece that moves.  Bloggers are excited by this title published by Andrew McMeel.  It retails at $16.99.

The Guinness World Records 2011.  It's already here and it's amazing.  This book will delight anyone who is interested in the biggest, smallest, longest, shortest, most or least of anything.

Boxed sets of favorite series are always a hit and there are a lot fo series to choose from:
Fancy Nancy  by Jan O'Connor for the pretty fancy girls between the ages of 3 and 8. (and up.  We all want to be fancy sometime.)
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows.  These friends have wonderful adventures just being girls.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.  Present a whole set of the escapades of Greg Heffly to a pre-teen, girl or boy.
Dork Diary by Rachel Renee Russell is a series that pre-teen and middle school girls are eating up.
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan for adventure and loves of mythology between the ages of 9 and adult.
The 39 Clues by various authors, follows the adventures of clan members who are trying to win a huge inheritance.
For fantasy lovers, don't forget The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley.

There are so many hot series out for children and teens, it's impossible to keep up with them.

My next post will include suggestions for teens and stand alone titles.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Old favorites for a nostalgic holiday

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Enjoy your turkey and your family and remember all the things for which you are grateful.  No matter where you are or what is going on in your life, there are small things that give your days light.

Libraries count among those things.  (And, no, we are not open on Thanksgiving but we are open on Black Friday!)  A trip to the library is better than a trip to the Mall because you come away from the library debt-free.

Right now, I am going through children's fiction to make sure that the books on the shelves at the Parkland Community Library are books that children want to read.  I have run across some old favorites - some of them written in and about simpler times.  Some of these stories were read by my parents and they make friendly reading today.

The stories of Louisa May Alcott are couched in the language of 19th century America but the characters and their values are timeless and enduring.  Check out Little Women or Little Men.  Although each book tells a story, the chapters are little tales in themselves and can be shared out loud.

L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and all of its sequels.  Once again, the language is charmingly old-fashioned but the books are full of adventure and fantasy and peopled by strange creatures.

The books of Thornton Burgess deal with animals who have human problems - trickery, jealousy, greed and mischievousness.  Animal Tales and Mrs. Peter Rabbit are two of Burgess's titles in the collection at the Parkland Community Library.

Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Family series starts with The Saturdays.  That story revolves around the adventures that the Melendy children have after they decide to pool their allowances.  Their weekly allowances are mind-bogglingly small in today's economy.   The adventures are adult-free and creative.  Read the rest of the series to find out how the Melendy children grow and change.

Eleanor Estes Moffats are another family to love.  Widowed Mrs. Moffat manages quite well with the help of her lively and creative brood.  I particularly love the chapter in which Rufus gets his own library card in Rufus M.

The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Lovelace have a club of their own fans.  Right now, most of Lovelace's books are in storage.  Bring them back by putting a hold on the titles.  Get a taste of this series about the friendships among pre-teen and teen girls by checking out Heaven to Betsy which follows Betsy and Tacy during their first year of high school.

The list of beloved authors goes on and on and grows longer and longer.  Which of the authors our children crave today will still be on the shelves - or downloadable - when their children are learning to read?  Jeff Kinney and his Wimpy Kid?  Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games?  Mary Pope Osbourne and her Magic Tree House?  And what about some of my all-time favorites?  I've listed them below.  Will they still be around in 40 years?  I hope so.

Lloyd Alexander -The Prydain Chronicles form a fantasy series that still entices and delights.
Betsy Byars - With numerous Newbery Awards and Honor books to her credit, Byars' books chronicle the day to day life of American children in sometimes difficult, sometimes hilarious and often suspenseful  circumstances.
Susan Cooper -Her Dark Is Rising novels lean heavily on the Arthurian legends to create fabulous fantasies.
Sid Fleischman - Funny, fast-paced, well-researched, Fleischman's novels offer accessible historical fiction and the occasional fantasy.
L. M. Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables was only one of Montgomery's heroines.
E. Nesbit - Old fashioned, tongue-in-cheek fantasies were Nesbit's stock in trade.

This is just the tip of the iceburg.  I will list other favorite authors in further posts.  Visit with these old friends; share them with your children.  And enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stories on CD

The online survey never happened.  I apologize.  It WILL happen soon. So keep an eye on this space.

Has anyone noticed how busy the highways are?  Commuting on Rte. 22 takes longer and longer as the holidays approach.  I have found a way to "shorten" the drive.  I listen to stories on CD.  Books on CD take forever to finish and I find myself sitting in the car waiting for a chapter to finish.  BUT stories are finished in 5 or 12 minutes and make the slow traffic on the road bearable.

Look for CDs by Bill Harley, Donald Davis, Willy Claflin, Odds Bodkin, the Lehigh Valley's own Chaz Kiernan and his daughter, Emily. (They each have their own CDs.)  Dovie Thomason shares Native American tales in her Cds.  Heather Forest is a renowned teller and teacher. 

Most of these CDs can be found in the Children's CD collection.  Check one out today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First PCL Youth Book Awards

Dear Blog Friends,
A lot of wonderful books for children and teens are printed every single year. This year seemed like a banner year, especially for teens and preschoolers.  SOOOO  let me know which books were your favorites this year.  What books caught your attention, made you think, made you want more, more, more?

Next Wednesday, Nov. 10th, check this blog for an online survey.  The survey will ask for your favorite book in several categories.  No matter when the book was published, if you read it this year, and it made an impression on you, type the title in.  When that survey ends, the top five books in each category will be published online and you can vote on your favorites in another online survey.

Paper ballots will be in the library as well.  By December 20th the surveys will be complete and winners will be announced.

Please take part in this fun event.  Anyone who takes either survey will be entered in a random drawing for prizes!

Start thinking about the best books for children or teens that you read this year.  And watch the nomination process begin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Election time and new non-fiction

The midterm elections are "too much with us", as the Bard might say.  Bombarded by television and radio ads and dinnertime phone calls, most of us will rejoice that the season is over, no matter who wins next Tuesday.

The Youth Services department has just added a couple of series that can answer some of the questions that all of these ads might bring up.  What DOES a Senator do? or a Congressional Representative for that matter?  A new series called How Our Government Works looks at the jobs of senators, representatives, governors, mayors and even the president and describes what each position requires of the person holding it.  The books are written for elementary school students, in grades 3 through 5.

The Constitution is mentioned a lot in political debates and in political ads.   In the series Six Questions of American History, (written for grades 4 and up), one of the titles deals with the history of this important American document.  Who wrote the U.S. Constitution? and other questions about the Constitutional Conventions of 1787 by Candice Ransom provides a close look at the people who drafted the Constitution of the United States of America.  To read the entire Constitution, divided into sections and Amendments, go to this link  It is a VERY long document.

Other titles in the Six Questions of American History series deal with the history of canals in America, why the Pilgrims came to the New World, and why the Cherokees moved West. 

And parents, don't forget to vote next Tuesday!  May the best representative, senator, etc. win.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Requiem for an author

Eva Ibbotson, author of many wonderful books, including The Dragonfly Pool, Journey to the River Sea, and The Star of Kazan, passed away on October 20th at the age of 85.  She wrote over 20 novels for children and adults. 

It is always sad when a great author dies - and Ibbotson was a great author - but even sadder is the truth that now readers will not find out what happened next to characters they grew to love.  I wanted another book about the children in The Dragonfly Pool, a book that takes place at the beginning of World War II and features young people who work together to rescue a prince from the Nazis.  I will have to make up my own sequel for this story now.

Ibbotson's novels range from intensely suspenseful to silly and fantastic but her writing is always lively and her endings always hopeful.

Check out one of her books in memory of a long life spent bringing pleasure to readers all over the English speaking world.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Teen Read Week - Books with Beat

Teen Read Week started yesterday.  This year's theme is "Books with Beat".  So what does THAT mean?  Music?  Romance?  Beatnik hipsters?  Hearts beating with fright or excitement? The pounding beat of hammers and jackhammers?  All of the above.

There is a colorful display of YA Books with Beat on the counter in front of the YA shelves to celebrate Teen Read Week.  Check some of these fun, frightening, fierce titles out this week.  Click here for a book list of some of these titles.

On Friday, Oct. 22nd at 7 pm, Andrei Maurer of the Locksmiths Band will share tips on writing music with beat here at the Parkland Community Library.  Sign up in advance by calling 610-398-1361 ext. 19 and requesting a space.

Some brand new titles that did not make the list mentioned above are:
Hold me closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride.  Just in time for Halloween!  Here's the story of Sam, who discovers that he can raise the dead. The other necromancer in town is not too thrilled about Sam's new powers.

The curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey.  Will James tells the story of his apprenticeship with a New England doctor who hunts down real monsters.  The Wendigo starves, even as it gorges on human flesh! 

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.  Here's scary of a different kind.  Imagine that you find yourself referred to as the DUFF - "Designated Ugly Fat Friend".  So how would you deal with that?  Bianca deals by hooking up with the biggest womanizer of all.  Suggested for mature audiences. (15 and up.)

The freak observer by Blythe Woolston.  A teen suffering post traumatic stress disorder tries to cure herself using physics and problem solving.  The human heart on the cover makes me wonder what Lisa's trauma was to begin with.  

The cruisers by Walter Dean Myers.  Four friends use an alternative newspaper to change the inevitable end of the mock Civil War waging at their school.  They learn just how much freedom of speech they really have.

So get the beat or march to your own beat!  Either way, find Books with Beat at the Parkland Community Library.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Spookiness!

Join the Teen Tellers - and me - on Tuesday Oct. 19th for SCARY STORIES! at 7 pm.  The teens like to tell frightening stories, just be forewarned.  We are suggesting that these stories are best for ages 7 and up.  Call the Youth Services Department at 610-398-1361 ext 19, if you'd like to come.  Or just show up!

Search for Ghosts and Ghouls (and cats and bats, skeletons and scarecrows) between Oct. 15th and Oct. 30th.  Each creepy creature will ask a question.  Do the research and write the answer on the answer sheet.  Then turn the answers in for a startling surprise!

Halloween books are flying out of here like bats out of a belfry!  Here are some new titles to look for - or place on hold.

AlphaOops! H is for Halloween by Alethea Kontis. The alphabet puts on a Halloween pageant and chaos ensues.   

Broom, zoom by Caron Lee Cohen.  A little witch and a monster fight over the broom.  Simple text and bright pictures make this book perfect for sharing with little ones.

Dark emperor and other poems of night by Joyce Sidman.  Poems and facts about how animals and plants behave at night.

Vampire boy's good night by Lisa Brown.  Are children REAL?  Bela the vampire and his friend, Morgan the witch, investigate one night and end up at a Halloween party.

Zen ghosts by Jon Muth.  Stillwater, the giant panda, shares a zen "ghost" story.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wimpy Kid in Macy's parade!

Greg Heffley will be larger than life on Thanksgiving as he floats above the streets of Manhattan in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  That's right!  The Wimpy Kid has his own helium balloon for Thanksgiving. 

Some lucky people will win a chance to see the parade in person in a contest put on by Abrams Publishing.  Stop by the Parkland Community Library and pick up an entry form .  The contest is open to people between the ages of 6 and 16, and the winner gets 4 tickets for a trip to NYC and seats in the VIP Grandstand.   There are only a limited number of entry forms so stop by the Parkland Community Library today.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall fun!

Today's rain makes the world feel like Fall has finally come.  Crunchy Fall leaves, acorns, squirrels, pumpkins on porches, windows full of light because of early evenings, sweaters, and anticipation!!! - Fall brings all of these.
Here are some great books for Fall afternoons and evenings:
Picture Books:
Applesauce season by Eden Ross Lipson.  A city family gets together to make applesauce.

Fletcher and the falling leaves by Julia Rawlinson.  When a young fox's favorite tree begins to lose its leaves, her worries that the tree is sick.

The little yellow leaf by Carin Berger.  A little leaf doesn't want to let go, until it finds a friend to fall with.

Thanking the moon : celebrating the Mid-autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin.  Each member of a Chinese family contributes to the celebration.  The author includes notes about this Fall festival.

When the frost is on the punkin by James Whitcomb Riley.  Celebrate the season with this classic American poem.

Autumn across America by Seymour Simon.   The book travels across America and describes the signs of autumn, such as bird migrations, falling leaves and changes in the weather.

Autumnblings : poems and paintings by Douglas Florian.  Florian's paintings and poems describe the change from summer to fall.

Crinkleroot's  guide to knowing the trees by Jim Arnosky.  A guide to trees with illustrations of bark and leaves and the ways animals use trees for shelter and food.

Leaves by Ruth Thomson.  A very simple introduction to leaves and trees.

The brilliant fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner.   Gianna is more interested in running than in completing her homework, which is to collect autumn leaves.  Then her failing schoolwork threatens to put an end to her participation in track events.

Coyote autumn by Bill Wallace.  After moving to the country, a thirteen year old boy adopts a coyote pup.

Henry and Mudge under the yellow moon by Cynthia Rylant. Henry and his huge dog, Mudge, have adventures in the Fall.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Storytime sign-ups and crickets

Storytime sign-ups started an hour ago.  Wednesday Family Storytime is almost filled so call in soon if that is the storytime of your choice.  There is room in Thursday Family Storytime and both Preschool Storytimes.   Click here to see the storytime schedule.

With today's busy family schedules, committing to a storytime slot can be difficult.  Parents and caregivers can try Drop-in Storytimes on Friday mornings at 10:30 am.  No registration is required for Drop-in storytime and there is no upper or lower age limit.

All storytimes at the Parkland Community Library start the week of October 4th.

The celebration continues for The Cricket in Times Square's 50th anniversary.  Here are a couple of websites about the book and about crickets in general.

This excellent teacher's site offers comprehension questions, craft ideas and activities.  Check out the great clothepin cricket featured on this site.

Nancy Polette put together a literature exploration site with links to Amateur Entomologists' site and activities for class and group discussion.

Random House has a great site for the book as well.

To learn more about these noisy and sometimes hungry insects, check out BioKIDS site on crickets.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Discussion Kits

Book discussions are all the rage, not just among grown-ups.  Parent/child book groups are springing up all over the place.   To help these eager readers along, the Parkland Community Library will offer book discussion kits for readers as young as 8 through middle school.  Each kit will hold 10 paperback copies of the featured title, discussion questions and suggestions for further reading and.or activities.  These kits will be known as Talk Totes, Jr.  The Parkland Community Library offers similar kits for adults called Talk Totes.

The first three Talk Totes, Jr. will be The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, and Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray.  Talk Totes, Jr. should be available by October 1st.

The Cricket in Times Square celebrates a milestone this Fall.  Chester the Cricket is 50 years old!  Celebrate fifty years of making music in the subway underneath Times Square, plotting his return to a land of meadows and trees and helping a family newsstand survive by checking this classic story out of the Parkland Community Library.  Hooray for The Cricket in Times Square!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Read with the Cat in the Hat

The Civic Theatre of Allentown brings "Read with the Cat in the Hat" to the Parkland Community Library on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30 pm.  There is still some room so call (610-398-1361 ext. 19) and sign up.  Check out Seussville for games and info about Dr. Seuss.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fun stuff from publishers

Fans of various series written for children, including The Boxcar Children, will enjoy the activity guides and coloring pages on Albert Whitman and Conpany's website.  This is just one of the many publishers who augment their books with online activities.

HarperCollins has a page just for young readers.  Right now, you can find several sweepstakes for fans of various series to join.  Click on the Games tab to find online games and printables based on HarperCollins' books.

If you like Junie B. Jones, the Berenstain Bears, Thomas the Tank Engine, or books about Sesame Street or based on Nickelodeon, then the site to visit is kids@random.  There are individual sites for many of the series that Random House publishes.  
Take time to investigate the websites of your favorite books' publishers.  Publishers post teacher's guides, art project ideas, online games and more.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Mockingjay, the final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy is here and it is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.  The excitement in these books is breathtaking but the violence is, well, pretty awful.  So be warned.  The horror does not abate in the third book.  It is compellingly awful and fascinating to the very end where readers finally get a moment of peace. Collins has a lot to say about society's obsession with "entertainment" (just look at what passes for "reality" on reality TV) and society's equally disturbing insistence on revenge.  That said, I stayed up until midnight finishing this book and sighed with relief and appreciation when it was all done.

Before the book came out, teens at the Parkland Community Library took a Mockingjay quiz about what they predicted would happen in the third book.  The quiz was multiple choice and contained the YS staff's best guess on what might happen.  Take a look, just for fun, and see if you could have done better.

While waiting for your turn to check out Mockingjay, here is a list of books with similar themes of oppressive future societies.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School

In a matter of days, children and teens will be headed back to school.  Stop by the Parkland Community Library and check out the Back-to-School display to get "in the mood".  The Parkland Community Library has books to help children re-adjust, or simply prepare, for another great school year.

Sesame Street's Elmo has a great video for little ones experiencing Nursery School for the first time.  For parents of all ages, PBS has developed a website of resources.

Here are some new titles all about the joys (and un-joys) of school at all levels.

Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen.  Jim worries about his first day of school and then finds a friend.

The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon.  A girl's vision problems make school so much harder until vision screening shows her how the rest of the world sees.

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade by James Preller.  A young pirate survives his first few days of first grade and earns a treasure.

We, the Children by Andrew Clements.  Ben Pratt has a lot of changes to deal with, not the least of which is the destruction of his historic school to make way for a seaside amusement park.  When the janitor gives Ben a mysterious coin, Ben decides to keep the school from being destroyed.  

Griff Carver, Highway Patrol by Jim Krieg.    The mystery of just what Griff did "in the line of duty" that made him persona non grata at his old school is never revealed in this hard-boiled story of justice and crime in a middle school.  There is a lot of "copspeak" and a law-abiding partner that combine to make this a fun read.

How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart.  A boy's best friend ruins the beginning of the school year, so he makes a new friend who leads him to notoriety online.

So gather some books, paper and pencils and off to school you go!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Storytime flier

The Parkland Community Library Fall Storytime 2010 flier is now out. Pick one up today.  Pick up the last Summer Newsletter, too, to read about other Fall activities.

Just remember, the Storytime flier is TWO-sided.  One side is about the storytimes that require advance registration.  The other side is about Drop-in Storytime and Family events.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pirate Name Generator

Last night, the Pirate's HO! party was a big success.  The Pirate Name generator worked out very well.  There are Pirate Name Generators online, like the one at  What my First Mate and I had to do was come up with a way to let young pirates-in-training make their own pirate names that was fast and low tech.

The first step was to come up with likely pirate adjectives and nicknames.  Then we had to find a "formula" for creating a new name.  After playing with ideas like assigning number values to the letters in each person's name and letting children choose the combined amount of the subset of the.....,(WAY too difficult), we took our clue from the Shakespearean Insult page .  We separated the adjectives and nicknames into three piles.  Pirates chose a word from each pile and, voila! a piratical name.

Now here is where the First Mate earns her position as irreplaceable.  She printed each word on a label and the children had instant pirate nametags.

Some names were excellent like "Seven Ocean Kid".  Others were silly, "Silver One-Eye Crow's-Nest".

And what name did I get?  Well, ye be reading the scribblings of one Cap'n Hangin' Ugly, ye be! ARRRRGH! 

And as our pirates sail off into the sunset, Summer Reading Club comes to a close.  Thanks for another great summer.  Stop by the Parkland Community Library to pick up some books about getting ready for school.  Or, choose books just for fun - my favorite kind!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Party like a PIRATE!!! ARRR

What is so appealing about pirates?  I mean, besides Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow - oh and Orlando Bloom as Will Turner!  Is it the lack of washing, schedules and responsibilities?  Is it the loud and sometimes naughty songs?  The colorful clothing and weaponry or adventures as they search for treasure?  When we look carefully into what pirates actually are - thieves, kidnappers and sometimes, even murderers - they do not seem very nice at all.

But, Jack Sparrow and his predecessor, Long John Silver, are pirates with hearts of gold, and a hunger for the cold yellow metal.  They are scamps and rascals and not entirely to be trusted.  But when the chips are down and it comes to a BIG decision, well, they usually choose the right course of action - away from cowardly villainy, toward kindness and courage. These are the pirates we pretend to be - lawless, free, brave and gallant.

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, August 17th, from 6:30  to 7:30 pm, it's the golden hearted scamps I want to see at our Pirates HO! party.  Join the Parkland Community Library staff and volunteers as we make pirate crafts, walk the plank, get pirate names, and help tell pirate stories.  Come dressed as a pirate, if you can, for an hour of fun and piratical hi-jinks.

To get ready, here are some excellent pirate books for all ages.

That's Not My Pirate... written by Fiona Watts.  Textured pages let little ones explore scarves, beards, eyepatches and other pirate garb until the right pirate is found.

A Year on a Pirate Ship by Elizabeth Havercroft.  Each page pictures activities for a month of the year and a couple of items for young readers to find in the crowded illustrations.

Roger, the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist.  Roger is too pleasant to be a REAL pirate but when he is stuck in the hold during a battle with the Admiral, his attempt to bake a cake saves the day - AND creates a brand new pirate flag, the Jolly Roger.  Helquist's pictures make this clever story even more exciting.

Dirty Joe, the pirate : a true story by Bill Harley.  Dirty Joe terrorizes the seas in his quest for dirty socks until he meets his big sister, a worse pirate than Dirty Joe in every way.

Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi.  Book loving Henry disappoints his father, Captain Barnacle Blackear, until Henry's book learning helps out in a storm.

For readers who want true life adventure, here are books that explain what a pirate's life was really like.

Piracy & Plunder : a murderous business by Milton Meltzer.  Meltzer gives readers the history, lifestyles and fates of pirates in this book for older readers.

Piratology : the sea journal of Captain William Lubber, pirate hunter general by Dugald A. Steer.  This attractive book includes flaps, small booklets, fold-out pages and maps that purport to explain how pirates behaved.  The book is great for middle grade readers and fun for young pirates to look at.

You wouldn't want to be a pirate's prisoner! : horrible things  you'd rather not know, written by John Malam.  Part of the You wouldn't want to be... series, this book delves into the seamiest sides of pirate life, including shackles and chains, flogging and beating, and disease and death.  YUCK!  For readers with better stomachs!

And now for a pirate chant!  Be prepared to shout this tomorrow night:

Yo Ho Ho!  Yo Ho Ho!
I'm a pirate from me head to me toe.
Yo Ho Ho!  Yo Ho Hi!
I'll be a pirate 'til the day I die!  ARRRRRRRRRRR

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Artemis Fowl tour

Eoin Colfer starts his tour for the new Artemis Fowl book, The Atlantis Complex, in September.  Colfer plans to interview Artemis on this tour and include music as well.

Go to Artemis Fowl's website to listen to some of the songs planned for the tour and to see a trailer for the book.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Reading Club

The Make a Splash - READ!  Summer Reading Club at the Parkland Community Library ends on August 14th.  Please log in all of your time spent reading and listening by the end of Saturday, August 14th.

Last minute prizes can be picked up from 1 to 5 on Monday, August 16th, Tuesday, August 17th and Wednesday, August 18th.

Pirates, HO! The Final Party will take place on Tuesday, August 17th from 6:30 to 7:30 pm at Jordan Lutheran Church on Snowdrift Road.  Come in your best pirate garb to walk the plank, make crafts, play games and be part of a Pirate adventure, created by the Black Rose (arrrr) Teen Tellers of the Parkland Community Library and you! 

Pirates, HO! is open to all members of the Maker a Splash- READ! Summer Reading Club.

Summer fun doesn't end with the Summer Reading Club.  Stop by on August 31st from 6:30 to 7:30 pm for a visit from Chippy Chipmunk's creator, Kathy Miller.  Watch a wonderful slide show and hear Chippy's story as Kathy talks about her award winning book, Chippy Chipmunk Parties in the Garden.  This program is open to the public - of all ages.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Chippy Chipmunk at the library

Local author, Cathy Miller, will bring her award-winning picture book,  Chippy Chipmunk Parties in the Garden, to the Parkland Community Library on Tuesday evening, August 31st, from 6:30 to 7:30.  Cathy will have copies of her book on sale and will stay to sign them. 

The summer is drawing to a close and s****l will start soon (shhhhhhhh!).  PBS has an excellent website that explains what most children learn in different grades.  The websites has tips for getting ready for the best school (oops, it just slipped out!) year ever.

"Make a Splash-READ!" has almost two more weeks to run.  If you haven't signed up yet, there is still time to earn prizes for the time you spend reading.  Click here to sign-up or log on.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

No more Artemis!!!

Eoin Colfer has announced that after this summer's addition to the Artemis Fowl series, The Atlantis Complex, the teen master criminal is retiring.  The series has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.  For those who have never met Artemis, we are introduced to him, in the novel Artemis Fowl, as he conspires to steal enough fairy gold to ransom his kidnapped father.  He takes on the Lower Elements Police, a collection of fantastic and mythological beings who operate like a high-tech law enforcement agency.  As far as I know, the Artemis Fowl books are the only fairy-cop novels out there for teen readers.

In The Atlantis Complex, Artemis dedicates his considerable fortune to a project designed to save the world's inhabitants, human and fairy, from certain destruction.  His sometime nemesis, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon forces, suspects that Fowl's change of heart from criminal to philanthropist is a scam or worse.

When Artemis first appeared on the scene there was a lot of talk about a possible movie version.  Now that the series has run its course, perhaps the movie will finally be made.  We can only hope.

All good things come to an end.  As summer draws to a close, there is still time to get prizes out of Davy Jones' Locker.  If you have not signed up for the "Make a Splash - READ" Summer Reading Club, there are two more weeks of fun, prizes and books!  Sign up today!  For more information, click here.

Stories in the Schools finished up this week as well.  But young readers can still participate in Read to the Pups on August 2nd and August 9th from 6:30 pm to 7 pm on the Parkland Community Library lawn.  And the Summer Reading Club Final Party, Pirates HO!, scheduled for August 17th in the evening, promises to be a lot of fun for everyone.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Title Games

At the teen program last Saturday, the teens played an improv game using book titles. First, the teens searched the YA Fiction and Fiction shelves for the oddest titles they could find. They wrote the titles down. Here are some examples; "Al Capone Does my Shirts", "Audrey, Wait", "Why I Let my Hair Grow Out".

Then, two teens volunteered to do an improvised scene based on a situation suggested by the other teens. Some of the suggestions were; a boss firing a worker, someone receiving the wrong change after a purchase and a patron arguing that they returned a library book.

Each of the actors were given two of the book titles to work into their improv scene somewhere. The results were pretty darn funny.

Make your own list of odd book titles. And play this game the next time you have a group of teens and pre-teens around.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


For most of us, twins are fascinating.  What fun it must be to have a built in best friend!   Most of us imagined the tricks we could play on teachers and parents, if only we had an identical twin.

Books about twins are fun to read, too.  This week, two new books about twins arrived in the library.

In The Other Half of My Heart, by Sundee T. Frazier, twins Keira and Minni could not look more different if they tried.  Minni looks white, with red hair, freckles and blue eyes, just like her father.  Keira is darker with dark tight curls and she resembles her mother.  When the twins are invited to spend ten days with their maternal grandmother, and participate in the Miss Preteen Black Pearl of America program, Minni is the one who stands out as different.  Readers in grades 5 and up will enjoy this book.

Younger readers might enjoy Ting and Ling : not exactly the same by Grace Lin.   The identical twins that I know get a little annoyed that people think they should be alike in everything.  Ting and Ling are no different.  This book, for readers in grades 1 and up, shows how different Ting and Ling actually are.

Twins have interested authors of older books, too.  Katherine Paterson won a Newbery award for Jacob I have loved, a story about fraternal twin sisters. Though these twins are the best of friends, the attention that beautiful and talented Caroline receives makes Sara Louise envious.  Caroline seems to get everything that Louise wants.  The story follows the girls into adulthood.  Older readers, grades 6 and up, will find this book satisfying.

Lost and found by Andrew Clements centers on identical twins, Ray and Jay.  They have long resented being treated as if they are just one person.  When they move to a new school, they discover a clerical error that lets them take turns being just one person.  Readers in grades 4 and up will enjoy the escapades of these clever twins.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Video contest

Reading Rockets is running a writing/video contest for young screenwriters.  Click here for the rules and the prompts.  The contest is open to writers between the ages of 7 and 18. 

Ten middle school students met this morning at Springhouse Middle School library to talk about The Wimpy Kid and how to turn their own stories into comedy and comics.  Click here for a list of books that Wimpy Kid fans might enjoy.

Check the Parkland Community Library's Summer Reading Club page for more book lists for young readers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Calling all artists!

Today, I received word of a great contest for artists of all ages.  Chronicle Books is running the Oodles of Doodles Contest to announce the launch of Taro Gomi's new line of products, adding coloring and activity books to Gomi's award-winning picture books.

There is a display with postcards, designed just for this contest, in the Picture Book section of the Parkland Community Library.  The postcards can be used as entries into the contest or you can click on the link above to download and print out a different entry form.  The link leads users to coloring pages designed by Taro Gomi.

Check out one of Gomi's books, My Friends, from the Parkland Community Library.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Read around the Lehigh Valley

Libraries aren't the only organizations that encourage Summer Reading.  ABC Channel 6 has sent the Parkland Community Library entry forms for the Summer Sweepstakes.  Young readers can write down three book that they read this summer and enter a sweepstakes to win tickets at one of several amusement parks or the Philadelphia Zoo.  The entry cards are on display in the Children's area of the Parkland Community Library.

TD Bank is offering $10 to add to an existing TD Bank savings account or to use to open a TD Bank account to any one, ages 18 and under, who reads 10 books this summer.  Click here for more information.

Barnes and Noble's Summer Reading Club is open to readers in Grades 1 through 6.  The book log offers lists of books for children to read.   Here is the link to the B&N Summer Reading Club.  Download the Passport to read the rules and print out the booklist.

Borders Books and Music is running a Double Dog Dare Summer Reading Club for readers under the age of 12.  Here is the link to Borders Double Dog Dare Summer Reading Club.

Make sure that you read the rules and the dates carefully.  Keep reading all summer.  It will enrich your life in more ways than one!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Online Book Clubs and fun

Publishers of books for teens and adults have discovered the Internet as a way to build brand loyalty among young readers.  And why not?  Sites like HarperCollins' Awesome Adventures introduce readers to a variety of titles and authors and offer games, sweepstakes and more.  Check it out. has a site for kids and teens called The Stacks.  The site offers movie trailers for films based on books published by Scholastic, a Summer Reading Challenge, games, book reviews and and a live book trivia game featuring authors like Jon Scieszka, and Christopher Curtis.  It looks like a lot of fun.

You plan to read anyway, so, join the Parkland Community Library's Make a Splash - READ! Summer Reading Club and join these online sweepstakes and reading challenges.  You can use the same books for ALL of these clubs  OR you can read even more books and split them between the different challenges.

Keep reading all summer and you will go back to sc***l (shhh, it's too early to even think of that word) smarter than ever!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Voyage of the Vikings!

The Make a Splash - READ!!  Summer Reading Club kick-off event is tonight - at Jordan Lutheran Church on Snowdrift Road - at 7 pm.  Kitty Jones, of Kit's Interactive Theatre, will turn herself and the audience into Viking Voyagers.  Fun for all!

Click here for a list of great books about Vikings, Norse mythology and culture.  All the books on this list are available at the Parkland Community Library.

The Smithsonian Institute has a very informative site about the Viking exhibit.  Click here to learn about North Atlantic Voyages, settlements and more.

Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates how to make a Viking ship out of a milk carton.   It looks like fun!

The World Almanac for Kids gives an overview of all the Norse gods and goddesses at this site.

See you all tonight as we voyage with the Vikings.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book reviews and games online

I just opened my weekly email from, the teen review site.  There are so many new books on this site that I just HAVE to read.  Readers in grades 6 and up can check out what other teens have to say about the newest books.  Check the Parkland Community Library catalog to see if we have the books you want to read. 

There is information on Flamingnet's website on how teens can become reviewers for this site. 

Younger readers might want to play games like Hermie Heckle's Funhouse on .  Pauly's Playhouse is a site that hopes to sell CDs so, as with anyplace online, pay attention to what you are doing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Voyage of the Vikings MOVED!

The Summer Reading Club kick-off - Voyage of the Vikings with Kit's Interactive Theatre - has moved to Jordan Lutheran Church, 5103 Snowdrift Road, Orefield, PA 18069.

This program is open to ALL members of the Summer Reading Club.  Children 5 and up, teens, and adults will especially enjoy Kit's humor and clever script.   Younger children should stay with their parents during this program.

To learn more about this program and this performer, check out Kit's Interactive Theatre.

Are you looking for booklists for summer reading? The Parkland School District has Summer Reading Lists available online for students entering grades 6 and up.  PSD also offers a list of good books for readers in grades 6 through 8 and a list of Newbery winners.

The Youth Services staff here at the Parkland Community Library is working on booklists, too.  A Science of the Sea booklist for grades 1 through 4 is available online on the Summer Reading Club page.  Check back for more booklists throughout the summer.

Younger readers can go to Reading Rockets, the National Education Association's Reading Site for kids, parents and educators.  Lists for preschoolers through age 9 are listed here.

A lot of schools and school districts have reading lists online.  Kincaid School in Houston TX offers lists for readers entering grades 5 through 8.

Check the Parkland Community Library catalog to see if these books are in the library.   Place a reserve from home to make sure the title is here when you visit the library.

Summer is a great time to read.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Reading Club Donors

The Make a Splash - READ!  Summer Reading Club is lucky enough to have wonderful donors. 

Crayola has donated craft items to use in programs and to give away as prizes.

Amelia's Grocery Outlet and Giant Food Stores have donated gift cards.

Just Born came through with Mike & Ike's again this year.

Domino's Pizza and Dunkin Donuts have given certificates for FREE FOOD!

TD Bank will hand out goodie bags at the Kick-off program on June 24th - Voyage of the Vikings with Kit's Interactive Theatre.  Don't miss this program.

The Lehigh Valley Zoo has donated tickets to ZooBASH! in October.  Look for this as a gift basket this summer.

ClubZ! In home tutoring has donated prizes as well.

Swim In Zone will do a program for us this summer.

The DaVinci Center will do 2 programs for the library this summer.

Thanks go out to all these great organizations for supporting the Parkland Community Library's Summer Reading Club.