Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Halloween-ish Reading: Ghostology

Ghostology: A True Revelation of Spirits, Ghouls, and Hauntings, by Dugald A. Steer & Lucinda Curtle/Illustratrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert, Garry Walton, & Doug Sirois, (Aug. 2020, Candlewick Press), $27.99, ISBN: 9781536209150

Ages 8-12

A spooky letter from a ghost hunter who’s just seen too much. A tome filled with information, including notes about (in)famous hauntings and maps of haunted rectories, and sketches of ghost towns; journal excerpts and information on hunting ghosts, with flaps and secret notes throughout. And… a missing page, torn from the book? Are those… notes from a ghost, scribbled hastily all over the book? Ghostology is a ghost-hunting adventure in a book, with fun facts on putting together a ghost-hunters kit, detailed information on the types of ghosts and a map of notable spottings, haunted houses, hotels, and forts, and so much more. Perfect for Halloween collections and for readers who love reading about ghosts all year long, but make sure you keep a copy on your Reference shelf; my library kids love the “-Ology” books, but they are eaten alive in circulation.

Back when I used to have actual people and programs in my library – fun times, right? – I used the “‘Ology” books as part of my program planning. I would recreate notes, leading kids to clues that they could look up in the books (Wizardology); read excerpts and use codes (Spyology) as part of dossier files I’d hand out to the kids. They are just so much fun for grownups and kids alike – imagine what I’d have been able to do for this last year’s Imagine Your Story Summer Reading? Now, to think about ways to recreate these programs virtually… Actually, these are pretty much made for Escape Room planning, so let me just get my notebook out and start writing!

The ‘Ology books are largely authored by Duglad Steer and have been around for a while, but as they’ve had different publishers, it’s hard to find one spot for all of them. I linked to Candlewick’s page earlier, and I also found a Beautiful Books page that lists quite a lot of them. If you click through to the Ghostology book detail page, check the lower left-hand part of the screen for more titles by Dugald Steer, and that’s also a pretty detailed list. Dugald Steer also has an ESL-ology website for teachers and educators, with free tools for English lessons in the classroom!

Posted in programs, Storytime

Harvest Festival Programming

The Mid-Autumn Festival starts tomorrow, October 4th, so I’ve been doing some programming with the kids here to celebrate. Yesterday, I had a Fortune Bookies workshop where we made fortune cookie bookmarks with felt. The glue didn’t hold so great – I really need to get a hot glue gun – but the moms jumped right in and made the best of a Make It Work Situation and saved the day with a few discreetly placed staples.

PictureNot one of my Fortune Bookies – this is Heidi Fiedler’s model.

 

Today’s program was more successful. I had a tea party! Ever since reading How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea, I knew I wanted to use the story in a tea party setting. The Festival provided the perfect time. I bought some moon cakes, palmiers, and milk tea and set up a proper tea table, cutting the moon cakes up so everyone could share, laying out bags of palmiers so I’d have extra food on hand, and pouring cups of milk tea for everyone. I was able to accommodate 10 kids and 4 parents, with no leftovers and a very happy group!

The reception to How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea was good; they were engaged and interested in the different teas throughout the book. Next up was Loretta Seto’s book, Mooncakes, which I loved. It’s the story of a little girl sitting with her parents, underneath the full harvest moon, and telling the three most popular stories about the Harvest Moon: the story of Chang’E and how she flew to the moon; of how Wu Gang chops away at a tree to gain immortality, and the Jade Rabbit. This one seemed to be the biggest hit with the families as a whole. I finished up with Grace Lin’s Thanking the Moon, for my younger kiddos, and had one QH Kid say, “That’s a really short one.”

All in all, a nice little party to welcome the harvest.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, programs, Summer Reading, Tween Reads

Summer Reading Programs: Spy Week

My second big Summer Reading programming theme was Spy Week. Again, Pinterest was my co-pilot, as I created dossiers and came up with activities to keep the kids happy and thinking that week.

First, I put out any kind of books with spy/espionage themes, and booktalked them as I introduced Spy Week. Favorites were Gene Luen Yang’s Secret Coders (and they’re excited that the second one is coming out), The League of Unexceptional Children, Harriet the Spy, The Fourth Stall, Tom Angleberger’s Fake Mustache, and Varian Johnson’s The Great Greene Heist all went over really well.

Secret-Decoder-printableI made up dossier folders for the kids to keep their materials – I ended up using all 50 sets, so whoo hoo! I printed out Confidential and Top Secret-type stamps to glue on each cover. The first day, we took on secret coding. I gave the kids copies of a code wheel, a breakdown of Morse Code, and an info sheet on PinPrick Code, along with a secret message written using the Code Wheel and PinPrick Code. I used a page from an old book (destined for the trash pile) for the PinPrick Code, and I used dots with a pen rather than pinpricks. The message was the same using both the Code Wheel and the PinPrick, so the kids could use either method and get the same message: “Congratulations! See Miss Rosemary for a prize!” I gave out stickers, bookmarks, and temporary tattooos as prizes and everyone was happy.

fingerprintsDay Two was Fingerprints and Secret Messages day. I gave the kids a printout on fingerprinting, a small sheet describing the different types of fingerprint styles (arch, whorls, loops), and showed them how to take the own fingerprints by scribbling on a piece of paper with a pencil, rolling your finger around on the graphite, and then applying their prints to paper. We also talked about the fact that no two people have the same fingerprints, and that’s why taking fingerprints is helpful in finding criminals, missing people, and identifying employees like folks that work in schools. After the kids took their own fingerprints, I mixed up lemon juice with water, handed out cups of the solution, along with small paintbrushes, and let the kids write their secret messages. When they got home, I told them to hold the message over a heat source like a hair dryer or a light bulb, with an adult, so the message would be revealed.

Day Three, we showed the first Spy Kids movie, and the attendance was strong! I was pretty happy about it, and the kids loved seeing all the wacky gadgets used in the movie. My partner in crime and co-children’s librarian had a Spy Crafts table after the movie, where kids made fake mustaches and paper plate masks.

20160714_163905Day Four was Spy Training Camp, and that’s where things got fun. I created a laser maze in our meeting room using yarn, and the chairs and tables. I ended up having about 30 kids going through the maze again and again, and then they came out to try their hands at TNT Hot Potato. 20160714_163316I wrapped up toilet paper rolls in red tissue paper, taped them together with black duct tape, used a yellow pipe cleaner as a fuse, and we had TNT. We played the Mission: Impossible theme as the kids tossed them back and forth; everyone got prizes for competing.

Finally, the fifth day was the big Spy Hunt – I told the kids that secret agents for the Bad Guys were loose in the children’s room, and they had to locate them. I hid five of these guys, below, throughout the children’s room and gave them code numbers like 007, 009, and so on. I also had a bonus – a giant Classified stamp – that went on my desk (I always give them a “free zone”). The kids found the agents, wrote the numbers on their sheets, and, you guessed it, got prizes. We like prizes here. Everyone who took part received a Spy ID card and Spy School certificate to close out their week.

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I was thrilled with the success of Spy Week! The kids were so into it, and it really gave me the shot in the arm I needed to keep topping myself in terms of creating exciting programming. One of the most amazing things about this profession is the openness and willingness to share information with one another; I have a huge debt to both The Show Me Librarian and Bryce Don’t Play, both librarians with amazing blogs and wonderful Spy programs that I borrowed liberally from to make my week a success. Thank you so much for sharing your work with everyone!

I’ve made my Spy Week programming folder on Google Drive shareable, if anyone would like to use some of the stuff. I’ve got just about everything I handed out here, and a few things I didn’t get to. There’s also a really good booklist from the International Spy Museum that helped when I was putting together my own booktalking list. Check it out!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Keira Gillett author visit!

Corona Library had a visitor this week: Zaria Fierce author Keira Gillett!

keira and roe

We had such a great time. Keira is awesome – personable, ready to jump in and talk, and great with the kids. My Corona kids are a little nervous when meeting someone new, but she knew just how to get them talking: she decided to raffle off a set of her books! The kids mobbed the table, and a few finally started to ask her about the books.

When it was time for our reading, I moved everyone into our meeting room so the kids doing homework could stay focused on homework and so Keira didn’t have to yell (with almost 100 kids in my children’s room after school, our library is most definitely a living organism – apologies to Dr. Ranganathan). The kids gathered ’round, and Keira read a selection from Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest; she put on different voices (that is precisely how I imagined Olaf!), she had a wonderful reading speed and volume, and her audience was rapt. No one said a word, and if you know my Corona kids, that is an accomplishment!

After the reading, I tried to give some gentle prompts to get the kids talking. They tend to be shy, and they’re still working on learning how to discuss books, so we didn’t get much, but Keira and I had a brief Q&A session, her awesome boyfriend, Neil, donated an additional set of books to our library (thank you!!), and I picked a raffle winner. We took some pictures, I gave out Zaria Fierce coloring sheets, and the kids went back to their homework and books.

It was a great experience, and I’m so grateful to Keira Gillett and Neil for coming to visit, for their support of Queens Library (did I mention that we’re the only library in Queens to have the Zaria Fierce books? You can make a request!), and I can’t wait to let you know when I hear more about the third book in the series. I got a sneak peek at some of the artwork, and all I can say is WOW.

What I’ve learned: author visits are a great way to get kids to sit for a program. They’re often shy – at least my kids are – about asking questions, though, so make sure to have some basic questions prepped for a Q&A: the writer’s inspiration, what she/he does for a living in addition to being a writer, likes, dislikes.

Raffles rock: Kids love a chance to get something for free, sure, but it’s also about that moment of recognition when the name comes out of the box/hat/whatever you have the names in. Use that raffle gathering time to promote the book, steer kids to the author to talk about the book, get them excited about the book and the reading.

Authors are amazing: The patience and generosity an author exhibits when surrounded by a bunch of kids cannot be measured. Pay it forward: have their books available, booktalk them like wild, and let the author see their event promoted in the library. Know what the book’s about, and make the author and her/his entourage feel comfortable. Next time, I need to grab some bottled water and have snacks available.

Wrap it Up: Make sure to introduce your author to your manager and assistant manager. It’s respectful to both administration and your author. And write up the experience, provide some pictures, get bragging rights out there so people know what a great program you had.

Here’s some video from Keira’s reading. Enjoy!

Posted in Non-fiction

Add Make: Paper Inventions to your Maker Library!

paper_coverMake: Paper Inventions: Machines that Move, Drawings that Light Up, and Wearables and Structures You Can Cut, Fold, and Roll, by Kathy Ceceri (Sept. 2015, Maker Media, Inc.), $19.99, ISBN: 9781457187520

Recommended for ages 5+ (with some help!)

I love maker spaces in the library. I had a small one at my last library, and I’m psyched to set one up here in my new digs. The kids love having projects to do, and you don’t need a huge area with 3-D printers chugging along to be a maker. Duct tape, construction paper and imagination are a great start. Make Magazine has been a great resource for years, as is their Maker Camp, a virtual summer and holiday “camp” that provides cool projects and a discussion space for anyone who wants in. The Maker Media books are a huge help for anyone – parent, educator, and kid – who needs some ideas on how to stir up some creative juices.

One of the latest books in the series, Make: Paper Inventions is for anyone interested in paper crafting, paper engineering, and paper technology. Offering projects for relative newbies or whose skill level is “mostly thumbs” all the way up to creating paper-based automatons, light-up cards, even a geodesic dome!

Make: Paper Inventions, like every Maker Media book, wants to educate you as well as entertain you, so you’ll find a wealth of information on the nuts and bolts, the science and math, behind paper engineering. You’ll read about paper structures, for instance, and why folded paper can hold greater weights than a plain piece of paper. You’ll also learn why paper will tear rather than stretch if you pull it, but it will bend nicely for a pencil.

There are tons of projects in here for anyone and everyone, in any space. Kids can have a blast making their own paper – their own edible paper, even – with relative ease. Like most maker movements, the Maker Media books are big on reusing, reducing, and recycling, so projects are here for all weights of paper, from rice paper to card stock, and you can use old notebooks, newspapers, or copy paper for many of these projects.  There are comprehensive materials lists and step-by-step instructions and photos for every design, and math and science concepts that you can discuss with kids will make teachers happy, and make kids realize that yes, you will use that math outside of math class, and for cool stuff, to boot. An appendix with project templates and an index round out this resource.

I can’t wait to get the kids here at my library paper quilling – it’s one of the easier projects in here that will appeal to my library group’s need for fairly instant gratification. There’s a wealth of Pinterest resources, too, which makes me really happy, because this is likely to be a program I’ll repeat. Paper circuitry looks fantastic, and who knows? Maybe that’s a project for Valentine’s Day – once I get some practice time in.

Check out some of the photos from Make: Paper Inventions, and then add this to your reference library or your crafting library. Get those makerspaces operating!

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