The Glass Castle


The library book club read The Glass Castle  by Jeannette Walls and discussed it last Thursday. Earlier in 2015 we read Half Broke Horses a fictionalized biography of Walls’ grandmother. I say fictionalized because the characters are real, but Walls admits that she can’t know for sure what happened since she wrote based off stories told by her mother and grandmother. We all loved Half Broke Horses and Walls’ writing style.

Most members of the book club were not so sure of Glass Castle. Many wondered how accurate the memoir is, and many also said they had a hard time finishing it based off the abuse Walls and her siblings suffered. Our discussion was especially interesting as several of the ladies work in child services or the health field and had many professional opinions surrounding the treatment of the children.

Overall, I found the book fascinating, even if there are some doubts as to the truth behind the plot. The fact that someone who had such child could be so successful as an adult is inspiring.


A Birthday Cake for George Washington

If you are unaware, there is a controversy brewing in the Children’s Literature world. On January 17th Scholastic pulled A Birthday Cake for George Washington from production and distribution. A Birthday Cake for George Washington tells the story of Hercules, George Washington’s head cook, and his struggle to make a cake for Washington once a lack of sugar is discovered. Hercules, one of George Washington’s slaves, was a very prominent and famous cook. According to Scholastic Editor, Andrea Davis Pickney, Hercules could be considered one of the first celebrity chefs in America.

I, personally, am not quite sure what to think about this situation. I don’t think pulling a book once published and distributed is correct. The censorship in that act concerns me. If the book had such issues, shouldn’t they have been addressed pre-publication?

I’ve done a lot of reading about the controversy, and find it fascinating and slightly confusing. Especially as much of the debate happens in blog comments with links and counter links and I can’t remember what I read and where. The other fascinating component of the issue surrounding A Birthday Cake for George Washington is that another book with a similar theme, A Fine Dessert came out earlier and was not pulled from distribution. What exactly makes one so offensive it is pulled from distribution and another is not?

While I mull over my thoughts, I leave you with links to various posts about the issue:

The original statement from Scholastic

A response from Elizabeth Bird *

A bit of backstory

A thoughtful look at A Fine Dessert (although I personally find the quote from the illustrator interesting when contrasted to the rest of the piece about her work)

Kirkus review of A Birthday Cake for George Washington and A Fine Dessert

An opinion piece by author Mitali Perkins

* it was pointed out to me that the posts by Elizabeth Bird are not, in fact, representative of SLJ. I apologize for my mistake.

Mouse Storytime

This week we read about mice. It was different for me since I did not use the Flannel Board.

Opening Song


Count with Maisy Cheep, Cheep, Cheep! by Lucy Cousins

Great for storytimes and counting. But I wish there was a bit more to the story or more rhymes as some children lost interest by the end.

Action Rhyme: Boing! Boing! Squeak! from Sur La Lune Storytime

Boing! Boing! Squeak! (bounce)
Boing! Boing! Squeak! (bounce)
A bouncing mouse is in my house,
It’s been here for a week.
It bounces on the sofa,
On the table and the bed,
Up the stairs and on the chairs, (move hands upwards)
And even on my head. (bounce hand on head)
That mouse continues bouncing.
Every minute of the day.
It bounces, bounces, bounces, (bounce)
But it doesn’t bounce away! (jump to side)
Boing! Boing! Squeak! (bounce)
Boing! Boing! Squeak! (bounce)
A bouncing mouse is in my house, (shrug)
It’s been here for a week.

Sur La Lune lists it as a song, but we spoke the words and bounced to the rhythm. We sang/spoke it three times.

The Mouse Who Ate the Moon by Petr Horáček

The illustrations are great and it kept the children’s attention during storytime, but the cutouts aren’t as fun or useful as they could be. The kids knew right away that Little Mouse had a banana, but that just made the story more fun for them, since they knew something Little Mouse did not.

Action Rhyme: Little Mousie from Sur La Lune Storytime
Here’s a little mousie,
Peeking through a hole,
(Poke index finger of one hand through fist of the other hand)
Peek to the left,
(Wiggle finger to the left)
Peek to the right,
(Wiggle finger to the right)
Pull your head back in,
(Pull finger into fist)
There’s a cat in sight!

Itsy Bitsy Baby Mouse by Michelle Meadows

Great fun for storytime. The rhythm and subject matter reminded me a lot of Llama Llama Red Pajama.

Song: The Tiny Mice are Creeping from Sur La Lune Storytime

The tiny mice are creeping,
Shhhh, shhhh, shhhh.
The tiny mice are creeping,
Shhhh, shhhh, shhhh.
They do not make a sound
as their feet touch the ground.
The tiny mice are creeping,
Shhhh, shhhh, shhhh.

Closing Song

Alien in My Pocket: Blast Off!

My second book in my quest to read all 2015-16 Maud Hart Lovelace nominees was Alien in My Pocket: Blast Off! by Nate Ball.

I can see why students nominated this book for the Maud Hart Lovelace Award– it’s funny, Zack is a relatable character etc.– but it just didn’t hold my attention. Although I believe that adults can enjoy children’s books (and I usually do) this is one where the intended audience enjoys it best. Alien in My Pocket: Blast Off! ended on a major cliff hanger, so it will be interesting to see where it goes next.

Opposites Storytime

On Wednesday Storytime  began again at my library. We take a very nice holiday break between Thanksgiving and New Year since so many people are out of town. However, I think I’ll stop taking breaks. It gets confusing!

For our first storytime of the New Year, we read about opposites.

Storytime opened with our opening song:

Who’s here today, who’s here today, everybody clap and say who’s here today… (next round add in child’s name, repeat for all in attendance)

Lola’s here today, Lola’s here today, everybody clap and say Lola’s here today (repeat)

Quiet Koala, Noisy Monkey: A Book of Jungle Opposites by Liesbet Slegers

The colorful illustrations and the flaps really kept the kids’ attention. I also enjoyed watching them try to figure out what the opposite would be, or how Slegers would illustrate the concept. I think the hardest one was alone vs. together.

Action Rhyme: “This is Big” from Mel’s Desk

This is big big big
(Hold arms out to side)
This is small small small
(Cup hands together)

This is short short short
(Hold hands with palms facing each other)

This is tall tall tall
(Reach one hand above head)

This is fast fast fast
(Circle fists quickly)

This is slow slow slow
(Circle fists slowly)

This is yes yes yes

This is no no no
(Shake head)

We did this rhyme three times.

Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

I loved this book. I think it’s beautifully illustrated and funny. My group is a bit older so I thought they’d “get it,” but they didn’t. In retrospect, this was not the best book to pick for the first storytime after a long break. I do think it’s a great book for discussion, maybe with a smaller or more focused group.

Felt Board: “Big Bigger Biggest” inspiration from Storytime Katie

I was inspired by the rhyme but wanted a bit more, so I added two more verses. My rhyme is as follows:

“A little ball, a bigger ball, and a great big ball I see. Now help me count them: One, Two, Three.

A hard hat, a soft hat (pictures of a hard hat and a stocking cap), one for me and one for you. Help me count them One and Two.

A slow friend, a fast friend and an even faster friend (pictures of a snail, dog and horse) are what I see. Help me count them: One, Two, Three.”

Song: “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”

First we sang it normally, then super fast. What is the opposite of super fast? Super slow! So we sang it one more time, super slowly.

Olivia’s Opposites  by Ian Falconer

Who doesn’t love Olivia? This was a nice short book to end stortyime after a rowdy rendition of “Head, shoulders, knees and toes.”

Closing Song: “The More We Get Together” by Raffi

We sing along and shake egg shakers. It’s the highlight for some of the younger siblings in attendance. Egg shakers are SUPER popular.

Free Play

I always end storytime with free play. I chat with parents and nannies and the kids, and they always get a coloring sheet connected to the storytime topic. I usually use this time to talk about early literacy and Every Child Ready to Read.

My 2015 Favorites

It’s a few days late, with the holidays and everything I’ve been a bit distracted. It should be no surprise that I love lists, so of course I compiled my own personal best and worst of 2015 list.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Since reading this book in November I still think about the ingenious way Walter told this story. The narrative jumped between characters, timelines, and formats. It should be confusing, but somehow it wasn’t, and only added to the epic nature of the story.



Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin

When I think Ann M. Martin I think fluffy babysitters club. I don’t think moving narrative about an autistic girl and her loyal dog. I am not personally familiar with  Autism Spectrum Disorder, but I’ve worked in enough schools to glean a broad understanding, and I found Martin’s portrayal to be pretty realistic. Listening to the book as opposed to reading it, and hearing all the homophones, really made Rose’s obsession real to me. Also, I’m a sucker for dog stories even though they always make me cry.



Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

I love elephants. For Christmas I got a “Save the Elephants” sweatshirt from my mom and an elephant watch where proceeds go to help Indian Elephants. Anyway, I noticed we have a great influx of new picture books with elephant characters and I read them all. This one was my favorite. Between the beautiful illustrations and the spunk of the character, I couldn’t wait to recommend it patrons and parents.