The Princess in Black

I mentioned previously that I like to dress up as characters from children’s books for Halloween. This year I was Princess Magnolia, or better known as The Princess in Black.


The only thing I had to do was cut a piece of black felt to an appropriate cape size (I don’t recommend felt though, it was very heavy. But it was all I had on hand) and draw a flower, cut it out and pin it to my shirt. Easy Peasy.


Bookish Halloween

Since becoming a librarian I’ve rediscovered a love of Halloween. I love dressing SELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891bup like some of mySELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891b favorite books and book characters. Of course, they’re pretty much all kids books since I work with children. But, really, they’re more fun anyway!

So without further ado, I present the last couple of years worth of bookish Halloween. I linked patterns and printables where I could, but some of these are quite old. This year, the plan is to dress up as Princess Magnolia from The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale.

Luna Lovegood

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

As you can tell, I majorly copied the look from the movies as there is not a lot to go off in the books. I found a printable for the specterspecs online and a cover for the Quibbler. I also found a pattern for making radish earrings out of beads and made my own design for the wand and butterbeer cork necklace. For the Ravenclaw crest I printed the copy I liked best, “laminated” it with packing tape and then used a safety pin to pin it on my sweater.

circa 2010


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by C.S. Lewis

This was probably the easiest costume. I already had the blue dress and black bow headband and black shoes. The only thing to make was the apron and all I did was cut up an old white tshirt in a half-circle shape and tie it around my waist. I did write in puffy paint “we’re all made here” on the pocket I made out of the tshirt’s sleeve. I hot glued the pocket onto the apron.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2013

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

A bit of advice, should you want to recreate this costume- don’t use a stretchy knit tunic. The letters would not stay on and I spent most of the day trying to tape, staple, and sew them on my sweater. To make the letters I typed the alphabet into word using a simple font and then cut them all out to use as a pattern. Full disclosure, my mom made the leaf collar. I have no idea how she did that- it’s far beyond my talents.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2014


How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

If I remember correctly, Astrid is not in the books, just the movie. But it counts because the movie is based off a book. And obviously I based my costume and my husband’s off the movie (he’s Toothless if you can’t tell). I found a bat costume intended for kids using a black zip up sweatshirt and modified it for Toothless. The ears were the hardest part (although you can’t really see the ears in this pic). You can’t tell, but I had skirt made out of brown felt strips (worn over shorts of course). I then drew with skull like shapes on with Sharpie to emulate Astrid’s skirt in the movie. The Viking helmet is left over from a previous costume, and since we live in MN the snow boots were no problem.

Bookish Halloween

circa 2015

Olivia the Pig

Olivia series by Ian Falconer

All the books are checked out at the moment, but I’m not 100% sure the version of the outfit I wore is ever seen in Falconer’s Olivia, or if it’s only seen in the TV show and the books based off the show. The only thing I had to make were the ears, which were a lot harder than I expected! I attached pipe cleaners to a stretchy workout style headband then tried to hot glue felt along the shape of the pipe cleaner, to give the ears the distinctly Olivia shape. That didn’t work so well, The felt ears kept detaching themselves from the pipe cleaner, and the pipe cleaner on the headband was really scratchy.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2016

Worth Reading

I’ve come across several fascinating blog posts and articles that relate to Library Land.

From Malinda Lo’s Blog:

“Should white people write about people of color?” It’s an oldie but goodie, and still so relevant, and a much needed discussion in the quest for Diverse Books.

This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to blithely write whatever the hell you want about a culture that isn’t yours. Writers who are writing outside of their culture do have to work extra hard to research that culture, because they have much farther to go to get to the kind of instinctual knowledge of it that allows someone to hear my Chinese name and feel that it sounds poetic.

From Mother Jones:

“The uncomfortable truth about children’s books”

Some diversity advocates fear that the vitriol of the internet attacks will give pause to skittish writers and publishers. “For me, the biggest issue is the chill on diversity that is happening because of the feeling that it is okay to destroy people on social media,” Taylor-Butler told me. “We have lost the perspective that these are books and they are going to be imperfect.”

This comment is particularly relevant in light of the Anti Semetic Twitter and Goodreads attacks author Laura Silverman* received for her, as of yet, unpublished book Girl Out of Water. Thankfully by now many of the comments are gone, but it sounds like Neo Nazis trolled her account spewing hateful comments and reviews and attacking authors who supported Silverman.

*It’s kind of buried at this point, but definitely worth finding.

In my Internet perusals I also came across this infographic, which I think really highlights the need for diverse books. I specifically remember reading in a storytime book for grad school about “children in animal costumes” or something to that effect. Basically, if the picture book was about a turtle or pig or mouse character (Franklin, Maisy, Olivia) children could better identify with the character as it could be anybody. While I personally don’t see a problem with animal protagonists in children’s stories (or adult for that matter) those characters should not be created at the expense of diversity. The fact that American Indians/First nations make up less than 1% of characters in children’s books is just sad.

From the BBC:

“The secret libraries of history”

This one is really cool. The history and importance of libraries is so fascinating to me (shocker, I know).

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

I came across my current Popsugar Reading Challenge title while shifting the audiobooks at work. I knew about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries youtube videos when they were super popular a few years ago. I even tried watching them once when I was sick back in the day, then forgot about them.

Not anymore! The book, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, is exactly what it sounds like– Lizzie Bennet’s diary. The same Lizzie Bennet from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries youtube videos. It’s even narrated by the same actress! In the book we delve deeper into Lizzie’s thoughts and backstory. For example, we have a better understanding of why she’s doing the videos and how she feels about her family situation.

I started watching the videos again on Friday and I’m almost done! It’s been really fun listening and watching around the same time, so I can remember what the book said about the situation and compare it to the video portrayal. The website, Pemberly Digital is also super interesting. You can follow the story (in this case, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) through the videos and then also through various ancillary social media posts, like Jane’s Look Book or Kitty’s twitter feed.

If you haven’t yet, check out the videos here. Next I’m going to watch the March Family Letters. I love Little Women!

Audio Books, and Why I Love Them

It’s no secret that I love audiobooks. I listen to one almost every day on my way to work and I always have a few Harry Potter books stored on my phone for those random times when the radio just won’t cut it. My husband and I drove up to my parents cabin for eelpout festival (only in Minnesota…) and found ourselves without familiar radio stations. Enter Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry Potter is great because we both love the books and can get into super detailed discussions regarding our favorite witches and wizards, but we can also get distracted and worry about maps and directions without losing our place or enjoyment in the book. However, given that we drove all around northern Minnesota, Harry Potter did not last the whole trip. Enter Looking for Alaska by John Green.

I figured my husband would enjoy it since he loves watching John Green’s youtube videos and enjoyed Paper Towns. And I was right! We haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t review it, but I can tell you it appeals to a wide(ish) audience and it is great for road trips. There is humor, depth, compassion for the characters, all while allowing the listener to tune out while establishing location and other important driving activities.

Anyway,  I have a point to this aside from telling you about how I pick my audiobooks when traveling with a certain someone. Many parents are under the impression that their children must read chapter books at their age level (no picture books allowed, but that’s another rant for another day), and they must READ them, not listen. However, there are so many benefits to listening to an audiobook! Denise Johnson lists in Reading Rockets the benefits of audiobooks. Benefits include, “introduce students to books above their reading level teach critical listening, introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider, introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales, sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations.”

Audiobooks have also proved useful in helping struggling readers and language learners. From my own person experience, when listening to books I’ve already read (Harry Potter is a great example again), I notice things I missed while reading. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the plot I forget to process what I read and can miss some great turns of phrase or foreshadowing or key points in character development.

Books I Read and Forgot to Review

I’m still getting used to this blogging business. I usually finish a book, rate it, categorize it, and write a short blurb on Goodreads. Here are a bunch of books I read since starting the blog and forgot to blog about.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

It was a sweet book, and I felt for the characters, but after reading The One and Only Ivan, I expected more. More character development, more plot development, more everything. However, Crenshaw does touch on homelessness, an aspect of childhood that many books do not, so I appreciate that.




Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan

Wonderful illustrations, and I like the authors note at the end. However, there didn’t seem to be much of a story. I enjoyed the book because I like old movies. I don’t want to imply that no child ever will like the book, but it seems like one of those juvenile books that adults love and nominate for awards, but kids actually don’t like. When I worked at Borders I overheard one kid tell another something along the lines of, “see those books with the award sticker? That means it’s boring.”



Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye

This was my library’s book club book for November. I couldn’t get into the book and I didn’t care for the characters. The only interesting thing (for me) is the setting. I love Duluth and the North Shore. Everyone else in my book group loved it though…





Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Beryl Markham is a fascinating person and I loved her story. Colonial East Africa is also a fascinating time period, and I’m sure I’ll read more. However, the last several chapters dragged on and on. As always, McLain’s writing is beautiful and the characters are wonderfully developed. When I first began listening I did not realize Markham was a real person or that Karen in Circling the Sun is Isak Dinesen who wrote Out of Africa.



To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean is a major romantic. She writes each of the boys she’s loved a letter and stores them in her hatbox as part of her moving on process. Nobody knows about her letters until somehow they get mailed, and now everyone of those crushes knows. From her middle school crush on the most popular guy in school to her sister’s ex-boyfriend.

While Lara Jean isn’t the most sympathetic of characters, she’s very realistic and I somehow still find myself rooting for her. Peter K. is the same way– I feel like I should really dislike him, but somehow, he wormed his way into my heart and I root for him too.  I also think that the audio version makes her sound whinier and more babyish than the book intends.