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.

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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!

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!

When Life Gives You O.J.

 

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When Life Gives You O.J. by Erica S. Perl

Zelly Fried really really really wants a dog, but her parents won’t let her. She also happens to be one of the few Jewish kids in her small, Vermont town. When her best friend forever goes off to camp, Zelly is left friendless for the summer. Until her grandfather comes up with a plan for Zelly to prove to her parents she is ready for a dog. Enter, O.J., the practice dog.

The narrator, Abigail Revasch, does a great job, and I loved the author’s inclusion of Hebrew words and customs. However, I felt that it dragged a bit. It will be interesting to see how this book fares in the Maud Hart Lovelace awards.

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My Favorite Audio Books: Not Adult Ficiton

Since my car rides are so long I generally listen to adult fiction or nonfiction, as they are usually longer. But sometimes I like to switch it up. These are my favorite children’s, middle grade and YA audiobooks.

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Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale

Unless you’ve lived under a rock since 1991 (can you believe Sorcerer’s Stone came out 25 years ago!), you know the general outline of the Harry Potter series. Jim Dale does a marvelous job of narrating Harry’s adventures. I listen to Harry Potter all the time. It’s a great distraction while running on the treadmill.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Tara Sands

This audiobook takes listening to the next level. It isn’t just someone reading the books, but every time Ulysses is about to begin a heroic, superhero feat, music swells to accompany the task. When Ulysses gets sucked up by the vacuum cleaner, he knows all is lost. But! Something amazing happens and he is reborn from the vacuum cleaner with amazing abilities. Namely, the ability to fly, heroic strength and poetry. Flora is changed too. The pessimistic reader of “Terrible Things Can Happen to You” learns to hope.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, narrated by Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell

I don’t even know where to begin describing this book. There are so many great details and plot twists that I don’t want to inadvertently spoil. So I’m going to cheat and copy the Goodreads blurb.

“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.”

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra

Eleanor is different from everybody Park knows. Sure, her clothes are strange and there are whisperings about her family, but there is something else about her. Something special. And so begins their Romeo and Juliet romance. Full of heartbreak, honesty and passion, Eleanor and Park will truly make you feel.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, narrated by David Tennant

You may have seen the 2010 movie How to Train Your Dragon, but did you know it’s a book? The series follows Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (also called Hiccup the Useless by some) on his quest to become a hero. While the print version is wonderful, and has humorous illustrations, the audio version is narrated by David Tennant (of Dr. Who and Harry Potter Fame) and filled with music, accents, and dragonese.

2015-2016 Maud Hart Lovelace Award

The Maud Hart Lovelace Award is a children’s choice award in Minnesota. Named after the creator of the beloved Betsy, Tacy and Tib series. What is unique of about this award is that every book must be available in paperback by February 1st of the selection year. We see several “best of” and awards in the library world, but almost all of those lists include only brand new books, and are often have holds lists miles long, and all children in the state of Minnesota in grades 3-8 can vote.

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This year’s nominees are:

Division I (grades 3-5)

Division II (grades 6-8)

I’m going to read as many as I can before voting in the spring. I’ll cross them off the list and link reviews when I’ve read the books.

Book Character Dress Up Day

Mardi Gras is BIG deal in Louisiana. We even got a week break over the holiday! As a northerner, the culture surrounding Mardi Gras was fascinating. I knew I had to incorporate the holiday into the library in some way, and in the end, we came up with Book Character Dress Up day. Parades and costumes play a large role in Mardi Gras festivities, so dressing up in costume made complete sense, we just added a literary spin to the proceedings. On the Friday before Mardi Gras break, students (and staff) dressed up like their favorite book character. My first year I dressed up as Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, and in my second year, I dressed up as Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Seeing the kids embrace their favorite characters was so much fun! Of course, there were a ton of Katniss, Harry Potter, and Superhero costumes, but it was really fun to see the range of characters the kids chose. The White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia, Pinocchio and Horrid Henry come to mind as some of the more unique costumes seen.