Posted in gaming, Intermediate, Middle Grade, programs

Tabletop Tuesdays with Tem-Purr-A

I started up my Tabletop Tuesdays a couple of weeks ago for the first time since the Before Times, and I was so happy with the response, I thought I’d start writing about our gaming group.

I have mostly younger kids in my library community – we don’t have a zoned high school near us, and we’re not open for Saturday or Sunday service, so my high school kids are likely hanging out in neighborhoods where their schools are. This informs my gaming choices, to be sure; the lion’s share of my kids are 0-12, with the 5-8 year-old range being the biggest attendees for our programs. So in addition to the usual suspects: Uno, Monopoly and Monopoly Jr., Candyland, and Connect 4, I introduced Tem-Purr-A, a card game that’s similar to Uno, but with more indigestion.

Tempurra, IelloGames (2011)
Ages 8+ (6+ with modifications)
Play time: 15-20 minutes
Number of players: 3-10

The Plot: It’s an eating contest! All the players are cats, passing dishes back and forth among each other, but every card you pick brings you closer to indigestion. If you get three indigestion counters, it’s all over; go get some Alka-Seltzer and relax.

The art is adorable: various cats, brandishing gloriously overflowing dishes. Separate the Indigestion cards from the other cards, shuffle, deal 5 to each player. Put one of the Indigestion cards in the remaining pile.

Images courtesy of Iello Games

Gameplay happens over several rounds. The first player chooses a dish card from their hand and puts it face-up on the table. The next player can either:

  1. Serve a Dish: play a card with the same value (if a card has a value of 6, the player must play a card from their hand with a value of 6)
  2. Eat a Mouthful: Draw the same number of cards as the value of the played card (if you don’t have a 6 card, draw 6 cards). At this point, if you haven’t drawn an Indigestion card, discard the stack you’ve been playing on, and start a new stack by playing a card from your hand.
  3. If you DO draw an Indigestion card, the round is over: the person who got the Indigestion card gets an Indigestion counter; they add the cards they’ve drawn to their hand, and the deck is reshuffled, adding an additional Indigestion card to the mix. The stakes get higher with every Indigestion card revealed, because you’re adding MORE to the deck!
  4. Play an Action Card: Rather than Serve a Dish or Eat a Mouthful, players can play an action card if they have one in their hand. Action cards let you reverse the action, throwing the game back into the previous player’s lap; pass over yourself and have the next player take an action, OR add one dish to the total of dishes to be eaten. If you have a card with a value of 3 showing, and you play a +1 card, the next player must play a card with a face value of 3 OR draw four cards.
  5. Skip a Dish: If you don’t have a card with a face value of the card in play, but have multiple cards of another value, you can play those and Skip the Dish offered. If that 3-card is face up, and you don’t have a 3, but you have a pair of 6 cards, throw them down! Then, clear the stack and start a new pile with the second 6-card facing up, and the next player must either match with a 6-card of their own, draw 6 cards, play an action card, or skip.

Gameplay ends when someone draws their third Indigestion card.

The kids really enjoyed this game, with some modifications. I made it even simpler for my younger kids by keeping it closer to Uno rules: match the cats by number or play an action. If you can’t match, take the number of cards on the displayed card. If you play a +1, the same rules apply as the game rules. I keep the rounds short, and hope to introduce skipping dishes in the next week or two, once the kids are comfortable with game play and pace.

All in All: Super fun for kids 8+, modified for ages 7-8 made it fun for my library kids. This is one of our favorite games at home, and I have my library kids actively looking for this one on game days now.

Posted in Librarianing, professional development, programs, Summer Reading

Summer Scares is back!

It’s time to start planning Summer Reading already – I know, right? – and there are some great themes available: there is the Oceans of Possibilities theme, and there’s the Read Beyond the Beaten Path. For those readers that like the spookier side of life, I’m very excited that the Horror Writers Association is back with Summer Scares!

I don’t use Summer Scares as the sole Summer Reading program at my library, but I do promote it to give me that little extra, to reach all my readers at the library, because I have quite a few spooky/horror fans here (including me). This year’s Summer Scares Middle Grade offerings are fantastic:


Source: RA For All, Summer Scares FAQ and Resources, 3/1/2022

 

I’ve only read one of the YA offerings, Clown in a Cornfield, which I LOVED (and which is getting a sequel in August!); I’m looking forward to diving into these other selections:


Source: RA For All, Summer Scares FAQ and Resources, 3/1/2022

 

Info and resources are available on the RA for All: Horror blog, which is updated pretty regularly by Becky Spratford, who also writes the excellent RA for All blog. These are excellent Readers Advisory blogs that you should be subscribed to; Becky Spratford has great insights and puts up plenty of links for professional development.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, programs, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Summer Fun: Escape Room Books

Now that I’m back in the library, I’m trying to think of ways to keep the kids engaged while we have no in-person programming. Enter Escape Room books! My Kiddo and I discovered some fun ones online, like this Dog Man one, but I want to be able to give the kids something to think over while they’re here. Luckily for me, Schiffer Books sent over some escape room books, and I’m thinking these may be my next project.

The Escape Game series by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur, and illustrated by El Gunto, consists of four books right now. They don’t need to be read or played in order; each book has instructions and the story: you’re a member of a time traveling agency called Spatial-Temporal Agency Y. As a high-risk mission specialist, you and your robot companion, Dooz, are sent into different time periods to head off horrible disasters. Together with Dooz, you have to figure out the clues to advance through the adventure and save the day. You can get hints in a different section of the book, and check your answers against Dooz’s “validation grid” – and yes, you can look at the answers, if you really, really need to. Let’s take a look at the adventures!

Escape Game Adventure: The Last Dragon, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Jan. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764358951

Ages 7-12

We’re going further back in time in this adventure: heading to the 12th century, our mission is to save the last dragon egg, currently in the clutches of an evil king, who wants to make it into a dragon egg omelet! Recover the egg and get it to safety while escaping the castle before the king finds out you’re even there, all while learning about the Middle Ages, magic, and dragons. Perfect for fantasy fans that want to have their own fun adventure; kids will be able to save a wizard, put pieces together to create a coat of arms, and choose the right invisibility potion so you won’t be seen. Use Dooz’s clues – they’re your best way of figuring out what you need to advance! Have pictures of eggs for participants to decorate and take home – or wizard hat crafts available; all you need is a piece of construction paper to roll into a cone, and some stickers or gems and glue!

Have fun with these books, extend the activities into programs if you can, and handouts if you aren’t able to yet. There are so many fun ideas to have with this book as a jumping-off point: make your own coat of arms, have a magic wand workshop (I’m pulling from my old Harry Potter party ideas); decorate with Time Machine clip art.

 

Escape Game Adventure: Trapped in Space, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Oct. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360312

Ages 7-12

You and Dooz are being sent to the year 3144 to rescue a crew of astronauts from the planet Vacumy, who have not responded to messages for 24 hours. They’re some of the most intelligent scientists in the universe, and in danger from the evil inhabitants of the star, Hyena, so you need to intervene and find out if the crew is safe, fast! Solving puzzles and logic riddles, you and Dooz will complete your mission and learn about space thanks to helpful callout boxes. The Validation Grid is a fun way of checking your answers without spoilers: follow the page number and your suggested puzzle answer; if you see a thumbs up, you’re good: proceed! If there’s a thumbs down, go back to the drawing board. The artwork is kid-friendly, with big-eyed, friendly robots and aliens, and fun, challenging puzzles that will get your readers thinking and playing with solutions to advance.

Jumping-off activities: we just had an entire Summer Reading program about space two years ago! You know there are oodles of space-related fun activities to be found! Let readers color in their own aliens, or have some craft supplies around so they can make their own.

 

Escape Game Adventure: The Mad Hacker, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Feb. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764358968

Ages 7-12

All right, in this adventure, you and Dooz are going to the year 2394 to stop a mad hacker named Snarf from releasing a computer virus that will paralyze all the world’s computers! You need to localize and destroy the virus by hacking Snarf’s computers, and then escape from his compound before he finds out what you’re doing there. Solve problems, save the world, and learn about computers thanks to callout boxes. The story is not linear: solving problems will help you jump easily around the book, taking you further into Snarf’s compound and closer to destroying the virus! The answer key is illustrated and step-by-step, but you don’t want to do that, do you? You want to solve these along with your kiddos! Choose from a number of keys to break down the languages of different drones you encounter, take apart a riddle to find the right door to Snarf’s lair, and cut the right cable to unlock the doors and escape. Time yourself and see if you’ve improved your escape time!

Offer to let readers take the books and have – if you have the budget – small pads for them to work out the riddles, or just have extra paper on hand for them. Explain what a hackathon is – a collaborative event where computer programmers get together to work on a project – and tell them that The Mad Hacker Adventure is a kind of hackathon for them, collaborating to destroy the virus and save the world! You can always make cool certificates to hand out when they’ve completed the adventure.

 

Escape Game Adventure: Operation Pizza, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Feb. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360305

Ages 7-12

Heading back to Naples, Italy in 1889, your mission this time is to preserve pizza history. A chef is due to present his new creation – a margherita pizza – to the royal family, but he’s about to be murdered by his cold-blooded rival, unless you and Dooz can save the day. Enter the bad guy’s restaurant, find the poisoned food, and replace it with an identical dish you prepare, and escape before they can find out you’ve been there. Is there a more important mission than to preserve the sanctity of pizza? Learn all about pizza thanks to fact boxes throughout. Use menus to help you navigate the ingredients you need to make an identical dessert that won’t kill our pizza inventor; locate the poisoned dessert so you can dispose of it, and figure out how to get out of a locked bathroom before you can get caught!

I’ve done a bunch of pizza programs in the past, and they’re always popular. Make your own pizza crafts couldn’t be easier, and you can make them grab and go: put a small paper plate, and cut-up construction paper shapes for toppings, like sausage, peppers, cheese, sauce, and mushrooms, into a plastic or paper bag, and you’ve got a craft kids will love.

If you’re going to invest in these for your library, be forewarned: they’re going to get marked up. Consider for your games reference collection if you don’t have the budget to replace them. I’m thinking of introducing the adventure to my library kids, a few puzzles at a time, by leaving the book at reference and collecting answers each day (I have a LOT of prizes in my prize drawer, for incentive). Give the Escape Game series a shot!

 

Pirates Escape Game : A High Seas Mystery, by Eric Nieudan/Illustrated by Margot Briquet, (Aug. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764360084
Ages 8-12

Okay, last one up, and it’s a good one: a pirate escape game! You’re a sailor who wakes up and discovers you’re the only one left on a ship that’s been adrift in the high seas. No captain. No crew. No memory of anything that’s happened. You have to explore the ship and find clues to discover what happened, solving logic puzzles, breaking codes, and figuring out word puzzles and riddles. Unlock a padlocked pantry; find a mysterious note in the surgeon’s cabin; decipher recipes, with the help of a separate clue book and your own wits. The book is not linear – you’ll be jumping back and forth as solving different puzzles takes you to different pages – and includes brain busters for every type of skill. Pirate fans are going to love it, and you know you can enhance a pirate day! Make eyepatches, mustaches, and pirate hats as either grab-and-go or in-house crafts!

Escape Room Games don’t have to be relegated to online or in a room – see how these work out for you with your kids and teens. We’ve all had to get more creative in the last year and a half; let’s keep adapting.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Summer Reading, Tween Reads

Fun Summer Challenge with author Adam Perry!

With Summer Reading in full swing, I thought this may be a fun challenge for middle grade and tween readers!

Adam Perry, author of The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children’s Books, has a summer challenge that just sounds like too much fun. I’ve got his book coming up shortly – I’m finishing a few graphic novels and two more middle grade books at the moment – and it sounds like just the sort of lost-in-a-book-adventure that I adore. Think The Ninja Librarians, the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series, or Book Scavenger.

The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children’s Books, by Adam Perry,
(March 2021, Little Bee Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781499811247

Ages 8-12

Hey, how about a readalong? Read The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children’s Books along with me, right here! I’ll aim to start it next week; I’ll post when I start it, and can post every few chapters, to see if we can get a discussion going!

So while you’re waiting for me to get my act together, watch this video where Adam Perry talks about his book and his fun Summer Challenge, with very cool goodiesAnd download your Adam Perry Summer Reading list here: your kids have until September 22nd to read just one of these books!

 

Psst… if any of my library families are reading this? Our library system has the book in 8 of our branches (all requestable!), and an ebook available.

The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children’s Books has a starred review from Shelf Awareness. Read John Schu’s interview with the author here!

Posted in programs, Summer Reading

Summer Reading: Which theme to choose?

Summer Reading’s coming! How many different themes are there, and how does your library choose?

This year, my library system is doing the Reading Takes You Everywhere theme. After a year in relative quarantine, we thought it was time to indulge some armchair wanderlust! Our Summer Reading site has links to our booklists, programs, and our Reading Challenge site, through ReadSquared, for the second year running. I mean, when you think of it, travel can be to so many places – through a book, you can visit outer space as easily as you can visit your neighborhood library.

 

I know so many library systems are part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program, and their theme this year, Tails and Tales, is just adorable! Also, home run – animal stories are always a win with the kiddos! The CSLP site has great resources, downloads, and ideas. If you have an access code, you can download the whole manual, which has booklists, programming ideas, and templates for early childhood, children, and teens.

 

For older tweens and teens who like the spookier side of life, a side theme you can run is Summer Scares, a program created by the Springfield-Greene County Library District, the Horror Writers Association, Book Riot, Booklist, and United for Libraries. I first found out about Summer Scares through the RA for All blog, and love the idea of having some extra offerings for my older readers who may be more interested in thrills and chills. The free programming guide features three suggested books for adults, for teens, and for tweens/middle graders, along with readalikes and programming ideas. A friend of mine who works in a different branch in our system is a horror/spooky books fan, too, and we’re both thinking up some ways to introduce Summer Scares programming and displays, with some QR codes to link our libraries’ (our libraries are in the same system, but about 13 miles apart) programming and Bitmoji collections.

Those are the three Summer Reading programs I know about – tell me about yours!

Posted in programs, Storytime

I’m back and have book bundles with me!

I took a few days to update this week, because my neighborhood library is open to public browsing and computer use now, and I was hopping! It’s been wild and surreal, having people in the library again; more and more kids are dribbling in, looking for books, and it is amazing to feel like a kids’ librarian again! I’ve also just got the great news that I’ll be returning to my branch at the end of next month, just in time for Summer Reading. It has been a good, if exhausting, week!

So, book bundles, book bundles, book bundles! Who’s doing them? I started putting them out and about in my library when we were at grab and go service, in my quest to give patrons a little bit of a browsing opportunity. The most popular by far was my storytime in a bundle, where I’d pair up 3 board and/or picture books in various themes, add a song sheet, and a coloring sheet or activity. They were super popular, and I definitely see continuing these in my future!

 

I also made some Mad Scientist bundles, where I’d bundle some fun STEM/science experiment books with experiments I found online (DK offers amazing resources for download) along with some fun printables I downloaded from Teachers Pay Teachers like this fun Mad Scientist headband from Mallory Homuth and this Mad Scientist Club packet from Molecules and Middle School.

 

If anyone’s doing book bundles, I’d love to hear more about them! I’ll be posting some fun book bundle ideas today, but in the meantime, I’m happy to share a link to my song sheets, created in Canva, for you to use in your bundles. Enjoy!

 

Posted in programs

Make and Take Quickie: Dawn from The Nocturnals

I’ve finally dipped my toe into the world of Make and Takes, and have had a good response! My first one was a colorful rendering of Dawn the Fox from The Nocturnals series. I started with the Heart Craft templates from The Nocturnals Book Club Kit (Halloween Edition), which I’ve linked to here. There are a bunch of great craft ideas in this kit, including heart crafts for Bismark and Tobin, in addition to Dawn. I printed out copies on different color paper, and mixed and matched to give some fun contrast. Cute, right?

 

I cut out all the pieces, so no one would have to worry about cutting small pieces at home. Things get lost, scissors slip, paper gets torn, you know the drill. I printed extra copies of the Dawn the Fix step-by-step instruction sheet that you see above (it’s in the Book Club Kit), and folded it in half, putting the pieces to assemble the Dawn craft in each one. Then, I made my flyer, with a little pizzazz: since we are only providing to-go service at the moment, I created a QR code that would link anyone interested in two of the Easy Readers (The Slithery Shakedown and The Chestnut Challenge) to the book detail page on our library’s website. We have the books available in eBook or in hard copy, so folks can borrow the ebooks right there on the spot or request them, no muss, no fuss. I also included links to The Nocturnals YouTube page, where author Tracey Hecht reads The Slithery Shakedown and The Chestnut Challenge. Voila! A make-and-take project, readaloud, and readers advisory all in one!

Nocturnals World, the website for The Nocturnals, has a lot of fun craft projects and helpful educational resources, so make sure to visit them. If you have any great make and takes you’ve worked on, please weigh in! Let’s share info.

Posted in professional development, programs

The Bitmoji Library is done!

I completed my Bitmoji library this morning! Aren’t my colleagues and I adorable?

This was so much easier than I thought it would be. There are several good videos online; I primarily used Ms Farah’s tutorial and DJ Silene’s tutorial, which were super clear and helpful.

Again, I used Google Slides, and insert a background using a search for “floor and wall background”. I played around with different keywords, like “cozy”, “library”, and “study”, but the results came back more cluttered than I’d like, so I went with this space that I could personalize. Next, I did a Insert and searched for “transparent book case”, because I didn’t want a background that would break up the experience of the scene.

Next, I created the Bitmoji. The PC app didn’t work well with my laptop, so I downloaded the app on my phone and emailed myself the Bitmoji. So. Easy. You can even search different keywords to see your avatar in silly costumes, reading, hanging out with a dog, you name it. Click on the avatar you like, and you get the choice to send it to yourself via email.

My colleague, Esti, sent me a few Bitmojis she had of herself, but I altered my avatar to create my colleague Alicia’s, which I also texted to her to make sure she was happy with the image. She was! Hooray!

The thing about Bitmojis is that they will show up with a white background around them, and you want that background removed. Thanks to the tutorials above, I learned about Remove.bg, a site that lets you upload an image, and download the same image with the background removed. Huzzah!

After choosing book covers and linking them to the library’s website, like I did with yesterday’s bookshelf post, I dropped in the Bitmojis, and finally, used one of Hafuboti’s Libraries Are for Everyone posters to give my library space a little personal touch. Voila!

I sent a link to my colleagues, and told them to make copies and customize to their delight. All you’ll need to do is click File, Make a Copy, and you have your own copy to enjoy. I’m thinking of adding slides to create bookshelves for different topics and subjects, and I can switch up the Bitmojis while I’m at it. This will be fun for Outreach!

Other Bitmoji Libraries

This Bitmoji Library is Library Goals.

This School Library/Media Center has some fun links, including links to an online chess game and a design-your-own-mask activity.

Knowledge Quest: Can Brandi Hartsell become my Bitmoji guru, please?

Mrs. Korzi got a shout-out from School Library Journal for her Banned Books Library, and it is fantastic.

Posted in professional development, programs

In which I play with virtual bookshelves

I have virtual bookshelf envy. There are some really amazing ones out there, and once again, I am in awe of the librarians out there, especially, in this case, the school librarians, who are figuring out ways to keep their kids reading, engaged, and interested. So I started playing around with creating my own virtual bookshelf, and made one with Google Slides.

While I was able to link each individual book in the Google Slide to my library’s book detail page, it doesn’t work if I download it as a PDF or a JPG, so that’s something you may want to keep in mind (at least, I haven’t figured out how to do it, yet, if it’s a possibility). So I’ll link the Google Slide here, if you want to see the links, and post the .JPG below.

This is a quick Back to School bookshelf I put together for littles, but I think it looks pretty snazzy, no? I found a quick video that is super helpful, if you’re interested. You can open a Google Slide blank, change the background and do an image search to find a bookshelf. From there, you can Insert book cover JPGs and PNGs, size them as you want, and put them on the shelves. You can click on the book cover, click the “insert link” icon, and add links to your library system, a GoodReads link, or your own book reviews, and share as you’d like. If you do want it to show up as a graphic file, and save it as a PNG or JPG, though, I haven’t figured out how to keep those links available when you download (unless you want to link the bookshelf files to the Google Slide, which has the links).

How will I use this? I can email the Google Slide to schools that I normally work with, and offer them a bunch of bookshelves with subjects of interest to the teachers and students (Minecraft bookshelves for the WIN!). The kids can click through to the library system’s page, and either borrow an ebook, if we have it available, or request a hard copy to be sent to their nearest open library to be picked up. I’ll report back on how this works, and if you have done something similar, I’d love to hear from you on how it’s working.

Next up: a Bitmoji library!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, programs, Storytime, Storytimes

Calm Down Zebra and a fantastic readaloud!

About two years ago, I was lucky enough to read and talk about a sweet book about the ABCs called Not Yet Zebra, by Lou Kuenzler and illustrated by Julia Woolf. It’s about a little girl named Annie, who wants to paint pictures of all her animal friends in alphabetical order, and an impatient Zebra who just wants to get his portrait done NOW.

Flash-forward two years, and Lou and Julia are back with Calm Down, Zebra! It’s a book that talks colors, and managing one’s emotions. Annie and Zebra are back; this time, Annie asks her animal buddies to help her teach her baby brother, Joe, about his colors. Frog offers up the green paint, and Lion gets yellow; Black goes to cat, but wait! Polar Bear has PINK STRIPES? It turns out that Zebra is at it again, running loose with a paintbrush and a wicked sense of humor. Can Annie reign in Zebra – or will Zebra show Annie that it’s okay to let loose and have fun once in a while?

Calm Down, Zebra, by Lou Kuenzler/Illustrated by Julia Woolf, (Apr. 2020, Faber & Faber),
$16.95, ISBN: 978-0-571-35170-1
Ages 2-6

Calm Down Zebra is adorably funny and teaches some lovely lessons beyond colors and the animals who sport them. There’s a sweet message about imagination, and the need to explore the creative urge: maybe even color outside the lines once in a while. Zebra may look like a cheeky menace to Annie, but you’ll quickly see that he, like a toddler or a preschooler, is exploring his natural curiosity. Lou Kuenzler has given us delightful characters in Annie and Zebra, who parents and kids will recognize in themselves instantly (you try herding a group of children when one class clown is the attention draw). Julia Woolf’s illustrations are too much fun; bright and bold colors stand out against pale or stark white pages, and colorful paint splatters will get little fingers itching to pick up brushes and stick their fingers in paint puddles of their own. A spread where a peacock gets to spread his wings is stunning, with silver and gold foil adding to his illustriousness. An elephant’s posterior provides a broad canvas for Zebra and will get plenty of giggles.

An activity kit loaded with Annie’s black and white paintings let kids create their own colorful animal friends. Let loose your inner Zebras and download it!

I was so excited to work with Lou Kuenzler and Julia Woolf’s publicist, Becky Kraemer, to arrange for the author and illustrator to have a book talk, plus readings of both Zebra books, for my library system! I’m pasting it here for you to enjoy, and I’ll be taking the link down in mid-June. Thank you to Faber & Faber, Becky Kraemer and Cursive Communications & Marketing, and most of all, to Lou Kuenzler and Julia Woolf, for a wonderful storytime and Q&A.