Worth Reading: Kid Lit

What Classic Picture Book Fills You With Dread?

This post is geared more towards parents, with examples like:

“Marjorie Flack’s “The Story About Ping” also fills me with anxiety. One evening, the little duck Ping fails to hear the call in time to return home to the family boat, gets stuck on shore, and has horrible adventures until he finally manages to get home, to a spank, the next night. I don’t think I ever once read this book to my daughters.”

But, it’s an interesting idea.

I sent it to my mom, asking her if she had any books like this she refused to read to me or my brother. She couldn’t think of one. The only one I can think of is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I don’t think it’s the best idea to teach our children to give themselves completely to another person and I don’t understand people’s fascination with the book. If you’re interested, there are many others who dislike The Giving Tree and you can read all about it here and here.

I’m not a mother, but I don’t give this book as a baby shower gift, for the reason Laurel Snyder describes: “When you give a new mother ten copies of ‘The Giving Tree,’ it does send a message to the mother that we are supposed to be this person.”

 

Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time

Not only do we need #diversebooks, but those books about diverse characters need to be diverse. I can think of a few recent book about non-historical characters, but there certainly aren’t many. Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story by Janay Brown-Wood come to mind.

“Regardless of what the publishing industry seems to think, our babies don’t spend their days thinking about Harriet Tubman, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and black bodies swinging; they’re excited about what the tooth fairy will leave under their pillows, contemplating their first ride on the school bus, looking for dragons in their closets.”

 

 

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Harry Potter Day!

A coworker discovered Bloomsbury’s Harry Potter Book Night promotional materials, so we decided to have our own Harry Potter program. We all love Harry Potter, so it was a no brainer. The official Harry Potter Book Night happened to fall on a February 1st, school night, so we postponed until Saturday. Which also happened to be the day before the Super Bowl (only tangentially important).

Most of the resources from Bloomsbury focus on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, since the new movie is coming out soon. The resources are also geared towards older kids and the super obsessed. Even I didn’t know the answers to most! So I picked through the resource book and made my own program.

First, I found a house sorting system using a cootie catcher, or fortune teller (this is dependent on age and where you grew up). I thought about the Pottermore quiz, but I couldn’t take that long to sort everyone via an online quiz. However, showing second graders how to fold the fortune teller was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. Thankfully a few grownups stayed to enjoy the party. We also had one attendee who was still in Kindergarten and can’t read, so having her mom there was very helpful.

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Once sorted, we had 2 Slytherins, 2 Ravenclaws, and 1 Gryffindor (the kinder) so I joined her team. As you can see, the Slytherins won handily.

house points

Then we played Pictionary. I came up with the phrases and tried to vary it between easy and hard, as I wasn’t sure what age group would show up. I included: Scabbers, Snape, Hagrid, Bertie Bots Ever Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Potions class, the Elder Wand, The Burrow and a few more that I can’t remember. Then we moved on to Jeopardy. This is where things got tricky. A lovely volunteen made our Jeopardy board, but all the questions from the Bloomsbury Handbook were about Fantastic Beasts, and the questions were hard! And of course, the kids all went for the 150 point questions, and only one team got a question over 50 points right. So I did feel badly about that. But, in my defense, the program was geared and advertised towards middle and high schoolers. Not in my defense, I should know by now that our programs attendees skew young.

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By the time we finished Jeopardy, our program hour was almost over. We quickly cut out the template for the corner book marks, and I sent them home with supplies to decorate and Harry Potterfy their bookmarks. Then they took home the word search and draw your won beast pages from the Bloomsbury Guide.

All in all, it was a fun program, and I got to capitalize on the fun Superb Owl meme, with the most superb of Superb Owls.

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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.

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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.
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circa 2010

Alice

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

Astrid

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

Appleblossom the Possum

Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan is one of this years Maud Hart Lovelace nominees. I’m going to try and read them all this year. I totally failed last year. It helps that many of them fulfill my other reading challenge categories.

The Goodreads blurb reads “Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it’s time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they’re about to find out!”

I should find this little book cute. But I didn’t. I may have mentioned a couple years ago that I lived in an old house and squirrels and one chipmunk managed to find their way inside. Finding chipmunk poop on your sofa is not cute. Ever since then these kinds of stories gross me out. I’m fine reading about the Possums outside, but once Appleblossom falls into the “people house” I was in yuck mode. Despite my aversions, the illustrations are adorable, and I can see kids really enjoying this book.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book from a nonhuman perspective

Audacity Jones

I have to admit, the only reason I read this particular Kirby Larson book is because it has a cat on the cover. Which is a Popsugar Reading challenge category, and I don’t want to read a cozy mystery (which almost all seem to feature a cat of some kind.

I’m apparently on a spunky, spirited orphan kick recently. Audacity Jones has a very Anne Shirley personality, which showed most with her vocabulary and when talking about the books she’d read.

Audacity is the only orphan at Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls, and as such is snapped up for help on a mission by the Commodore. At first Audacity is excited for her adventure, but soon she begins to suspect something, or someone, in the mission is amiss.

I can’t say I loved the book, which is surprising because I normally love historical fiction. And I remember enjoying other Kirby Larson books. This one felt like it was trying too hard. Again, I can’t say what it was trying too hard to do. There was just something “meh” about the whole thing.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: A book with a cat on the cover

George

I really wanted to like George by Alex Gino. There are so few books about trans children, written for children, and these are important stories. However, it is so poorly written!

I’m going to copy and paste the Goodreads description here:

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part. . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Aside from the poor writing, I did like that Melissa’s (the name George gave herself) story was not wrapped up perfectly. The ending was very realistic, but hopeful.