December Craft and Story Hour

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I apologize for the delay in posting about our December craft hour. Our camera cord got momentarily lost in the holiday shuffle.

My original plan looked something like this but apparently my egg cartons are bit more shallow. By the time I cut them out I could barely hold on to them, and did not want to create an overly frustrating craft for small hands.

Enter plan b. I found this template  in a google image search. We only used the body and feet portion of the template. We then took cut up black and white streamer paper and glued our squares onto the main body of the penguin. Then cut out feet and a beak, and glued on googly eyes. Overall it turned out great! Some aspiring artists did not cut out their penguins but drew a background for their penguins.

After I set up the craft and got everyone situated I read two very funny penguin stories. We started with  Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups by Tadgh Bentley and finished with Archie the Daredevil Penguin by Andy Rash. Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups includes a lot of audience participation, which is always a hit. Archie the Daredevil Penguin is written and illustrated in a comic book style with lots of funny comments from side characters.

Overall, this was one of my more successful craft and story hours. Now I just need to figure out what to do with all the leftover black and white tissue paper!

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Honey by Sarah Weeks


Honey tells the story of Melody, a lover of words, and Mo, a dog looking for the girl in his dream. Weeks creates all sorts of interesting characters—the Bee Bee the beauty salon owner who makes all her own nail polish; Henry, Melody’s father who sparked her love of words; Nick, Melody’s best friend and confidant, with family drama of his own; and Teeny, the nosy kindergartner neighbor.

Told in alternating perspectives, Melody’s and Mo’s respectively, Honey allows readers to get an inside view of the plot, and figure out twists before the characters. Plus, it’s always fun to read from the pet’s perspective.

While certainly not my favorite children’s book, it is a sweet and easy read. I might have to check out more of Sarah Weeks‘ books next!

Saint Paul Public Library is Pretty Cool

The Saint Paul Public Library recently published two books in Karen, which I think is pretty cool. I was pretty ignorant of the Karen culture until the 2013-2014 school year when I served as a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor at a charter school in Saint Paul. The student population at my school was mostly Hmong and Karen immigrants and many had recently relocated to Minnesota.

According to the article, “St. Paul is home to the largest and fastest-growing Karen population in the U.S.”

Way to go Saint Paul Library system!

It’s (not) Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

If you live in Minnesota you know that this winter is very strange. We’ve had so much rain! But very little snow. It’s gross. Anyway, the warm weather and lack of snow is definitely causing a distinct lack of Christmas spirit. I remember last year I decided around this time that I wanted to listen to a Christmas themed audio book, but they were all checked out! With multiple holds!

This year, however, the vast majority of our Christmas related books (audio, fiction, cook books, picture books etc) are still on the shelf or in displays.

It’s really kind of fascinating to see how the weather affects our reading habits.

STEAM: Arm Knitting

A while back I went to Public Library Day, and learned a lot about Makers Spaces and different ways to create a Makers Space. One thing that really struck me, was that we usually think of 3D printers and programming and fancy equipment when thinking of Makers Spaces and STE(A)M programs, but skills like knitting and sewing also fall under the same umbrella. Firstly, you’re making something (the whole point of a Makers Space), secondly, knitting and sewing require spatial awareness, pattern recognition, and a very detailed understanding of cause and effect (i.e. if you do something right, the whole pattern will not work).

Given that my library has very little money for fancy equipment I have to either bring in outside talent (like with Lego Robotics) or come up with outside the box STEAM programming. Enter, Arm Knitting.

 

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It’s all over Pinterest (so many tutorials to choose from, I found this one worked best) so I was hoping to bring in some of the older crowd and/or young moms with their younger children, and for the most part it worked. I loved watching one teen girl teach her mom and younger sister how to knit, as she grasped the concept much more quickly than her family.

Overall, I’d say it was a successful and unique program. I think I’ll try teaching it to adults as well!

Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend


 

A while back I saw a lot of posts about China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. Somehow I missed the hullabaloo from his first book Crazy Rich Asians, and knew I had to remedy that mistake. I immediately put Crazy Rich Asians on hold and devoured it.

 

While I didn’t like it as much as some people I know, it was an incredibly fun read. I felt the prologue was unnecessary and actually served to confuse me even more. I also spent the first half of the book flipping to the family tree trying to figure out who the characters were and how they were connected. I’m not sure I really understood who was who by the end, but I guess that really didn’t matter. The second half also started to drag a little for me. However, conniving actions of some of the characters had me on the edge of my seat. I had to know what would happen next and how Nick and Rachel would handle their situation. Reading Crazy Rich Asians also made me realize how little I know about Asian history and culture. I need to remedy that soon!

 

Many friends of mine did not like China Rich Girlfriend as much as Crazy Rich Asians, but I think they are equally rated. While Crazy Rich Asians is a bit more believable in terms of the actions of characters, I never felt that China Rich Girlfriend dragged. It was just fun and fluffy, whereas Crazy Rich Asians tried to be something more. In the last chapter of China Rich Girlfriend all plot points are wrapped up, although vaguely. I wonder if Kwan is planning on a third book in the series. While my hopes aren’t incredibly high (not sure what else he has to write about), I will be one of the first to put my name on the holds list. If anything they are a fun escape into a world I will never be able to experience, unless the salary of librarians drastically changes.

Best Audio Books: Nonfiction

adult nonfiction

Bossypants by Tina Fey, narrated by Tina Fey

Tina Fey is absolutely hysterical. But, we already knew that. Bossypants begins with Fey’s early life and introduction to acting, and ends with 30 Rock. After listening to this book I scoured the Internet for SNL skits featuring Tina and immediately put my name on the holds list for 30 Rock.

 

Yes Please! by Amy Poehler, narrated by Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Mike Schur, Eileen Poehler, William Poehler, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner

Like Bossypants, Yes Please! is narrated by Amy Poehler, but includes many interesting accompaniments by family and friends. Her book is like a party I was sort of invited to, and it made car rides and morning runs so much more enjoyable. I’m currenlty in the middle of binge watching Parks and Recreation for the first time (thank you Netflix), and I’ll have to listen to this again after finishing, so I have a better understanding of the Parks and Rec portions of her memoir.

 

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy

We’ve all heard of John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and all the other astronauts who worked to put a man on the moon in the 50s and 60s, but do you know anything about their wives? The space age affected them just as much as their husbands, with Life reporters filming and reporting on all their actions, with NASA requiring a certain image, and with their husbands fooling around with “Cape Bunnies” when at the base.

 

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence, narrated by Simon Vance

The Elephant Whisperer tells the story of a determined conservationist and his herd of nine violent elephants. Through non-traditional means Anthony manages to calm and acclimate the elephants, forging a unique and incredibly strong bond between man and animal. Listeners might remember hearing about the elephants that trekked back through the bush for their friend’s funeral, this is their story.

 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed, narrated by Bernadette Dunne

Divorced and confused about who she is, Cheryl Strayed begins a hike across the Pacific Northwest, one of the most difficult trails. Armed with Monster, determination and a childhood spent in the Minnesota Northwoods, Cheryl makes her journey. The story alternates between the hike and her past, and Strayed’s way with words keeps listeners captivated.