Saturday, October 31, 2015


Just had to share these gems from yesterday at school!

Pete the Cat book character day costumes Halloween teachers
The kindergarten team channeling Pete the Cat.

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon book character costume
Our art teacher helped out too...

Halloween costume book character Camilla Cream Bad Case of Stripes
Camilla Cream!

Halloween book character costumes Harry Potter Slytherin
 Then Harry showed up...that's me in the Slytherin hat. Represent.

What they're (really) reading: October 2015

Children reading in a meadow
photo by Toby Neal

By keeping a pulse on what my kiddos are checking out and keeping a close eye on which books are circulating heavily, I feel that I can spend the small budget I have more wisely by choosing books I know will have a greater likelihood of circulating widely.

Each month I'll feature a few fiction and a few nonfiction books that are on the "heavy rotation" list at our elementary library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're just what the kids want.

This Month's Selections:

Never Smile at a Monkey by Steve Jenkins book cover informational picture bookNever Smile at a Monkey
by Steve Jenkins
Informational Picture Book

An illustrated discussion of what not to do around various dangerous animals, with warnings about petting a platypus, touching a tang fish, or pulling a python's tail.

Pop The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy book cover informational nonfiction
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum
by Meghan McCarthy
Informational Picture Book

Gum. It's been around for centuries—from the ancient Greeks to the American Indians, everyone's chewed it. But the best kind of gum—bubble gum!—wasn't invented until 1928, when an enterprising young accountant at Fleer Gum and Candy used his spare time to experiment with different recipes.

Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon book cover picture book
Penguin and Pumpkin 
by Salina Yoon
Picture book

Curious about what fall is like in places that are not always white, Penguin and his friends go to a pumpkin farm and bring back a surprise for Penguin's brother, Pumpkin, who couldn't come with them.

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas book cover picture book
Pumpkin Trouble
by Jan Thomas
Picture book

When Duck decides to make a jack-o-lantern, he and his friends Pig and Mouse are in for a scary adventure.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman book cover fantasy chapter bookCoraline
by Neil Gaiman
Chapter book

Looking for excitement, Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others.

No Talking by Andrew Clements book cover chapter book
No Talking
by Andrew Clements
Chapter Book

The noisy fifth grade boys of Laketon Elementary School challenge the equally loud fifth grade girls to a "no talking" contest.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Fright Club

review Fright Club picture book HalloweenFright Club
by Ethan Long
Bloomsbury (August 11, 2015)
Picture Book


Each year, on Halloween eve, Fright Club meets to go over their plan: Operation Kiddie Scare. Only the scariest of monsters can join Fright Club-Vladimir the Vampire, Fran K. Stein, Sandy Witch, and Virginia Wolf have all made the cut. They've been practicing their ghoulish faces, their scary moves, and their chilling sounds. But when a band of cute little critters comes along asking to join in the fun, the members of Fright Club will find out who really is the scariest of all!

Why You'll Love It:
  • I read this to a few classes one day last week and the book immediately had a hold list. 'Nuff said.
  • The monsters make pathetic attempts at ghoulish faces and goofy dance moves. Kids will enjoy laughing at the delightfully not scary creatures, especially when the Fright Club is shown up by the cute little animals.
  • Punchy dialogue and a range of characters offer opportunities for lively read alouds: “Awwwwwww, look! An adorable little bunny!” coos Vladimir, a vampire.
  • Ethan Long’s illustrations, primarily in moody gray tones with washes of color, will appeal to those looking for a spooky book, while the humorous details, such as the bunny’s innocent, wide eyes, will make readers giggle. 

picture book Halloween Fright Club Ethan Long

Who Should Read It:

Great for PreK-2, but even some of my fourth graders said it caught their eye on the bookshelf and requested it...also, here's the book trailer.

What Else You Should Read: 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Fable Comics

Fable Comics edited by Chris Duffy book coverFable Comics
Edited by Chris Duffy
First Second (Sep. 22, 2015)
Graphic Novel


From classics like "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "The Grasshopper and the Ants" to obscure gems like "The Frogs Who Desired a King," Fable Comics has something to offer every reader. Twenty-eight fables from different cultures and traditions are wonderfully adapted and illustrated in comics format by twenty-six different cartoonists.

Why You'll Love It:
  •  These fables are so sharply drawn and snappily dialogued that returning to their original texts might be a bit of a letdown! 
  • Kids will love flipping through the pages and recognizing the trademark styles of their favorite graphic novelists and illustrators. 
  • Although most of the fables are of the Aesop variety, a few are pulled from other countries such as Russia and India.
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 3 and up...and here's an awesome lesson plan from the publisher!

What Else You Should Read:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation

Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation by Peggy Thomas book cover nonfiction biographyThomas Jefferson Grows a Nation
by Peggy Thomas; illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Calkins Creek (Sep. 8, 2015)
Narrative nonfiction/biography/picture book


Examines the life and career of Thomas Jefferson, who in addition to his accomplishments as a politician and president was also talented in the field of agriculture.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Illustrator Innerst actually used a quill to hand letter all the quotes. Cool!
  • This illustrated biography sheds light on the lesser known episodes of Jefferson's life and presidency, such as his efforts to stimulate European demand for American produce and his concerns about an agricultural pest.
  • The final section, "Thomas Today," wisely invites readers to ponder Jefferson's slave ownership. 
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 3-6 (and up!) and here's the educator's guide.

Thomas Jefferson picture book biography illustration

What Else You Should Read:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: A Handful of Stars

Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord book cover realistic fiction chapter bookA Handful of Stars
by Cynthia Lord
Scholastic (May 26, 2015)
Realistic Fiction Chapter Book


Lily’s lost dog leads to her friendship with Salma, a young migrant who works in the blueberry barrens near Lily’s home. Lily worries Salma will challenge conventions when she enters a local pageant.

Why You'll Love It:
  •  Seriously. The cover. This will be a great attention-grabber for kiddos; it will move off the library shelves without too much prodding :)
  • This book is also a perfect read-aloud for upper elementary classroom teachers. 
  • Lord conveys a great message without being over the top or preachy. The characters embrace each other's differences and really practice empathy.
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 4-6...and here's the book trailer!

What Else You Should Read:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Hamster Princess

Hamster Princess by Ursula Vernon book cover graphic novelHamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible
by Ursula Vernon
Dial Books (August 18, 2015)
Graphic/fantasy hybrid chapter book


Never a conventional princess, Harriet becomes an adventurer after learning she is cursed to fall into a deep sleep on her twelfth birthday, but after two years of slaying ogres, cliff-diving, and more with her riding quail, Mumfrey, things go awry at home and she must seek a prince to set things right. 

Why You'll Love It:
  •  Vernon already has a following in our library with the Dragonbreath series, and those kiddos will love Harriet! Also a ready-made booktalk for lovers of Holm's Babymouse graphic novel series. 
  • Shifting between prose passages and indigo-tinted cartoon sequences, Vernon upends fairy-tale conventions and gender stereotypes left and right.
  • Harriet breaks all the "princess" rules. She's cursed from birth to prick her finger when she's 12 and decides she's got to make the best of it 'till then. There's a great twist that leaves Harriet scrambling to find a prince--not to kiss HER awake, but everyone else in the castle.  
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 3-5...and here's the book trailer.

What Else You Should Read:

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