Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today is Halloween.
(History, fun facts, and plans for a Halloween party can be found in this book.)
But I degress.

You wouldn't know Halloween had finally arrived if you had been watching the 10-year-old the past few weeks. She's been wearing her costume to various Halloween events for some time now.
A Girl Scout troop Halloween party.
A Halloween party at our UU Meeting House.
Halloween parade at school.
Halloween parade (and fun events) at her friend's community party last evening.
And NOW -- the big event -- going Trick-or-Treating with friends.

What costume did she choose?
She created her own SITH costume. (not Jedi. nope. She's going as young Darth Vader.)

She found her mother's dress riding boots, (those that go up to the knees and have lacing at the ankle)
Her legs either are covered with brown tights or dark jeans, depending on the event. (indoor or out)
Her chest has three layers.
The part that shows is a white longish garment with full sleeves, covered by a brown (her mother's old Air Force) tshirt.
Her face only has a little of the red Sith stripes -- it is, after all, the younger Darth Vader of early Star Wars 3.
And her hair? covered with her red Arial wig.
Why red?
Beats me.

Today she's going to Trick-or-Treat with boys. Every one of them is a geek and will be dressed as some sort of computer game warrior, so she fits right in with them. (yes, several parents will be going along with them.)

What are you -- or your kids -- going to do for Halloween?

Friday, October 29, 2010

School adopts iPad

We all knew that someday in the future kids would be learning via computer. But did you know that the future is now?

I don't know how long this article in Forbes Magazine (online) will be up, but click on the link to learn about schools in Scotland and the US of A which are giving every child an iPad to use in school.

Benefit -- the iPad is flat which helps teacher see what each child is doing, whereas students can hide behind computers.

Do you think this is a good idea? or not?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Party at the Library

Tuesday, we held our annual Halloween party at the Joppa Library from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. By five minutes of six, there were already costumed people in the library gathered around the craft tables and massing at the door to the meeting room.

Exactly at 6:00 pm I placed the final supplies on the three craft tables in the Children's room and let the familes dig in. Another librarian sat at a fourth table helping children decorate paper bags.

The meeting room doors opened showing various snack food, a few more crafts, plus a large pumpkin shape and a pile of beanbags. The object of this game was to try to toss your beanbag through the eyes or mouth.

Each child checking in with me got a jack-o-lantern hand stamp.
We had planned to have the costume parade about 7:00, but since everyone had pretty much hit every activity earlier, we formed the parade about 6:45. It wound its way around the adult department, stopping for "Trick or Treat" at the Information Desk, then approached me at the Children's Information Desk.

"Trick or Treat!"
"Do you have candy?"
No, I didn't have candy.
I had PRETZELS! (In little bags)

(I also discovered that this was a good way to get an accurate count of the number of children attending -- I knew how many bags were in the pretzel jar and could subtract what was left.)

Including moms and dads, big sisters and brothers, and babies, we had way over 100 people milling around the library Tuesday. (and they all fit!)
Probably a record attendance for any program here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Calico Dorsey, Mail Dog

Calico Dorsey, Mail Dog of the Mining Camps by Susan Lendroth. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. Tricycle Press, 2010. Available now.

Did you know that Tricycle Press is now owned by Random House?
Me neither.

In the 1880s Dorsey, a border Collie, lived with Al, the storekeeper of the mining town of Bismark. Every week Al and Dorsey went to the town of Calico to pick up store supplies -- and the mail.

One week, Al decided it was too dang hot to make the trip over the mountain trail. (But Dorsey went anyway, to visit his Calico friends.) In fact, Dorsey visited more often than Al, every week.

Soon the men were attaching notes to Dorsey, back and forth, and eventually attached mailbags to his back. True story. A note in the back tells about the real Calico and even has a photograph of him.

This picture book biography of a Mail Dog should appeal to first and second grade readers as well as preschool listeners.

Links to more Nonfiction Monday blogs are listed at Write about Now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What does Moondust smell like?

I saw this headline and was fascinated. I didn't know it smelled like anything strange. I had to go read the article.
Think about what you think it smells like, then go read the NASA article here.

Then come back here and tell us (in the comments) what you thought.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is the picture book dead?

Here's an interview with an editor who doesn't believe the picture book format(in this case, the picture book biography)as a physical format is dead. Check out this interview with Clarion's Lynn Polvino on Tina Nichols Coury's blog, Tales from a Rushmore Kid.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Visited the Academy of Notre Dame today

Lovely visit today with the librarians, Victoria Abens, and Mary Buxton, and the Middle School students at the Academy of Notre Dame in Villanova, PA.

Beautiful day for a drive north to the Philadelphia area.
Enthusiastic students and teachers, great question and answer session.
I feel inspired to keep writing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Orangutans are ticklish

Orangutans are Ticklish, fun facts from an animal photographer by Steve Grubman with Jill Davis. NY: Schwartz & Wade, 2010.

Don't plan to use this book for assignments. But it might serve as a kick-off to get children interested in wild animals.

Steve Grubman, a wild animal photographer, presents photographs he took of various animals, along with a few interesting facts about the animals, plus side comments about the photo shoot. "This chimp and I took turns making funny faces at each other. Monkey see, monkey do!"

First and second graders will enjoy the animal facts -- set in larger type than expected. Adults will be interested in his two page preface describing how he posed the animals. With advice about always having an escape route if things get out of hand. (like when the tiger attacked him)

Want more facts? A few more about each animal are inserted on the last pages.

I probably would have written the section about the Aardvark a bit differently than Jill Davis did, not using the word "nocturnal." Nowhere does she explain what that means. On the other hand, I never knew that Aardvarks are only active at night (nocturnal) until I read it here. (I wonder how that information affects our view of Marc Brown's Arthur books? He's supposed to be an Aardvark.)

This is more equivalent to an adult Coffe Table book than an informational book about animals.

But it's about what you should expect from a man who photographed the ad for a Samsonite luggage campaign. He was asked to produce a photograph of an elephant standing on a piece of luggage, so Steve found an African elephant, got it into his studio, and took its picture. (I remember that one! Don't you?)

Do you like those t-shirts that have the design facing you on the front of the shirt, but shows the back of those object on the back of the shirt? Me too. Then you'll like the cover of this book. An Orangutang faces you on the front cover, but his backside is pictured on the back of the book.

More Nonfiction Monday links can be found at Mother Reader's blog, today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You can't force a good grade with Art

(heard after church last Sunday, at the dedication of the refurbished children's playground at the back of the church property)

A high schooler decided, after finishing a test, that he probably didn't do very well on it. So, at the bottom of the page, he drew a duck.
Then a gun pointed at the duck.
With the words, "If you don't give me a good grade, the duck gets it."

The teacher graded the test, and as expected, the grade was a low one.
When the boy got his paper back, he noticed an addition to his drawing:

The teacher had written, "I don't negotiate with terrorists!"
and had drawn a bullet coming from the gun and through the duck's head.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Elephant and Piggie love to party

Why do I have this picture of Elephant and Piggie here?
No reason -- I just LOVE it. Don't you?
(created by Mo Willems, found on Betsy Bird's Fyse #8 blog)

For those of you who don't have a young reader in the house, may I introduce you to the series of easy readers created by Mo Willems about two friends -- Elephant and Piggie. Winner of the ALA Geisel Award plus several honor book awards.
(You've gotta read -- There is a Bird on your Head.
This picture comes from -- I am Invited to a Party)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Into the Mail it goes

I'm putting a submission together.
Do I have all the pieces?

Cover letter? Check
List of publications and awards? Check
Synopsis? Check
manuscript? Check
Chapter Notes and sources? Check
A sample of the man's writing? Check
Timeline? check
Bibliography of sources used? Check
Suggested reading? Check

Deep Breath....
Address Envelope.
ooops, Enclose #10 envelope for S.A.S.E. (Love those Forever Stamps)

Go to bed and mail this thing in the morning.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Tornadoes

Tornadoes by Mari Schuh. a part of the Earth in Action series from Capstone Press, 2010. Available now. (copy donated by the publisher)

As is the usual with Pebble books from Capstone, large page or page and a third photographs on the right are paired with two or three short sentences on the left. A glossary at the back of the book defines some of the more difficult words. The concise wording gives the early reader an overview of what causes tornadoes and how to remain safe, while the final photographs show the devastation a tornado can do, ending with people helping people straighten up the mess.

Capstone hopes the readers will come away with a better understanding of what causes these weather events and how to stay safe should a dangerous situation arise.

Other books in the Earth in Action series are --
Avalanches, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes. Enough violence to satisfy a bloodthirsty preshooler or to tantalize a first grader into wanting to know more.

Be sure to click on over to Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day blog and follow the links to more Nonfiction Monday blogs.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Wimpy Kid comes to the library

The fifth book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Ugly Truth (a purple book) by Jeff Kinney comes out in November -- November 9th to be exact. Reserve your copy at a local bookstore or at the library, today.

To celebrate this, a lot of libraries are having Wimpy Kid parties. (just Google Wimpy Kid party and you'll see them)
In our library system, four or five branches are holding them.
My branch held theirs this Saturday.

Although both boys and girls love to read these books, mostly boys showed up for this program. One Girl. (I was able to convince a parent not to bring her Kindergartener by pointing out that one of the requirements for the programs was that you had to have READ the books -- we were going to have a discussion of them.)

And that is what we did.
Everyone filled out an application for the New York City Macy's Parade sweepstakes, then we settled down to talk about each book -- including the Wimpy Kid Movie book.
For some reason, nobody noticed the cheese on the floor in front of the TV set.
We did some fun quizzes, including a Personality Test. (Each child read a quote and everyone else had to figure out who in the book said it. They were good and got most of them.)

Using the sweepstakes forms, I drew for prizes. The publisher had sent me Wimpy Kid buttons, bookmarks, and window clings. Yes, everyone got prizes.

Finally, I began showing the DVD of Jon Scieszka interviewing Jeff Kinney.
Mayhem erupted! They discovered the cheese. Suddenly everyone was running around, trying to pass the cheese touch to someone else. "Quick! Cross your fingers. It's the only defense."

They settled down when I gave everyone a piece of cheese. (from a posta-note pack made to look like swiss cheese.)
Although they could eat snacks, create a Wimpy Kid Haunted House on paper, or learn how to draw Greg while the DVD was running, most everyone focused on the 20 minute interview. By this time their parents had also wandered into the room and were enjoying the snacks and the DVD.

A good Wimpy time was had by all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wear a Kilt to Class?

There I was, eating lunch in a college cafeteria, when I noticed that most of the guys there were wearing Kilts.

Why was I there? I was attending a one-day conference and, although the Student Center was about a quarter mile away, I decided the walk and a powerhouse sandwich would be better for me than eating at the nearby Mickey-D's.

Why were the guys wearing kilts?
Some were actual pre-sewn kilts.
Some were folded and gathered and belted old-fashioned kilts. Probably from material in mom's sewing closet.
And some had different plaids for the kilt and the shoulder scarf. (whatever that part is called)

One girl asked why they were doing it.
A boy replied, "It's National Wear a Kilt to Class Day." (I might not have heard it correctly.)

National Wear a Kilt to Class Day?
I Googled it and found nothing about it.
Hmmmm. Just a college joke?
I wonder.

What do you think?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nonfiction Monday Links

Busy, Busy this week. But still there are lots of Nonfiction blogs out there.
For my own Nonfiction enjoyment, I often visit Marc Aronson's blog Nonfiction Matters or the group blog, I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.

Where's your favorite blog?

The Nonfiction Roundup for this Monday had been gathered at: Madigan Reads. Click on over and enjoy.