Word of Mouse

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein is a middle school, juvenile fiction novel about a little mouse with a big heart. Isaiah is a very special mouse, not only is he “electric neon blue” but he is super smart, he can read, write and if you listen very carefully he can even talk!

Our story begins when Isaiah and his 96 multi-colored brothers and sisters attempt to break out of the “bad place” but something goes horribly wrong and Isaiah is the only one who makes it out. Now he is on his own in a world he knows nothing about, dodging cats, dogs and trying to make it alone.

But a mouse needs his mischief and Isaiah is determined to get his back. With the help of some very unlikely friends, Isaiah may just do that and find a little courage along the way.

Patterson and Grabenstein make a great team. This was such a fun, inspiring story the kids will love. Isaiah has an upbeat, positive attitude even when all seems lost. He is able to see the positive side of everything and he will do the right thing even if it isn’t easy.

Although there are a ton of lessons in this book, the biggest theme is that being different isn’t just okay, it’s great! Everyone is different and when we look past our differences we can see what’s really special in each and every one of us. Isaiah learns (and teaches us) that when you are told what to do and what to be that you can miss out on opportunities and hidden talents you never knew you had. This is something every parent, teacher and adult wants to (or should want to) teach our children and this book definitely gets that point across.

I listened to the audio book of Word of Mouse and it was fantastic. A really great one to bring with you in the car and probably an even better one to read out loud to your kids. I could also see this being a positive middle school book club pick.

I thought this was a really great read. This one gets a high 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Where They Found Her

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight is an adult fictional thriller that takes place in a small well-to-do New Jersey town. In a small town, everyone has an opinion and it can be difficult to hide when all you want to do is blend into the shadows. New to town, freelance journalist, Molly Anderson is trying to begin anew and forget the tragedies of her past. But these tragedies are once again forced into the light when she is assigned a story that starts with a dead baby.

But there is more to this story then meets the eyes and things take surprising turns as past and present collide. Told from the perspective of three very different women this book unwinds a twisting tangled web of hidden truths. Will this small town survive when everyone is forced to look beneath the surface?

This is another book for my book club, so again not my usual go to genre. This actually wasn’t a bad read. One of the really great things about Where They Found Her was that it really did keep you guessing. Every chapter you thought you knew what was what and whodunit and then something would happen and you’d find you weren’t really sure anymore. By the end I knew _________ was part of things somehow but I was actually pretty surprised at the final reveal.

My favorite character in this book is probably Sandy. She is a teenager trying to build herself up even though all the odds are against her. She is a tough, straight shooter and yet she has these moments of fragility that are very human and relatable. I also think she comes out the most changed, in a positive way, after all is said and done.

Another thing I thought this book did well was it’s narrative. The story wasn’t quite linear in it’s telling–it would go backward and forward in time but it a way that felt natural. Jenna’s diary was a really great way to look into the past without getting too much or too little. It was actually really neat to get to know Jenna as a teenager when she is literally missing in the present.

I did think the end wrapped up a little quickly, given that the rest of the story only took place over a matter of days. There were also quite a few, uhh really, moment and a few loose ends I would have liked to seen cleaned up.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Fort Night

Hi Guys,

So one of our requirements for this summer was to swap a program with another library.20170727_184334 That’s where I got this fun fort night idea. I mean really, who doesn’t remember building forts out of blankets and cushions when they were little? That and we are building a better world, so fort night fits perfectly in with the summer reading theme.

This was a pretty easy actually. I spent about $25.00 on cheap plastic tablecloths in a variety of colors and we used some table clips / binder clips. About a day before the program I realized that plastic tablecloths were probably not the best choice but it was the most bang for my buck. That being said, I did sit the kids down before we got started and we had a little safety chat.

20170727_185241How we did this was by putting out a bunch of tables and chairs in our large meeting room that the kids could use as the base of their structures. I then let them pick out a few tablecloths and get building. This was actually a great teamwork program because we only had so much supplies so the kids had to work together to build their tents. I know another library who actually let the kids build their tents in the stacks, but our branch is too big for that and I was too nervous to be honest.

51zh4rf3k5l-_sx392_bo1204203200_After we finished building our tents, the kids brought in books and had some reading time. We finished up fort night by gathering around my fo-campfire and I read two camping themed stories: A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen & One-Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova.

Although hectic, this was a really great and unique program. I think it would also work really well if you incorporate some type of tent building into a PJ storytime.

51bngl7vkcl-_sx362_bo1204203200_This is definitely one I would consider doing again with just a little tweaking.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is Gaiman’s retelling of various Norse myths. Through Gaiman’s eyes we see Thor, Odin and Loki as we have never seen them before. In manageable snip-its we read narratives about famous and more obscure Norse myths. We see the frost giants, the construction of Asgard’s un-breachable wall, Loki’s mischief and Thor’s unquenchable thirst.

Gaiman stays true to the original myths, while creating characters that readers of fiction will enjoy reading about. This story starts at the beginning–the beginning of the world, of life as we know it–and it comes full circle with the end of all things and it’s rebirth anew. Norse Mythology is the story of the Norse gods, where they came from and where they went.

This is a book of mythology for those who don’t really like mythology or more historical type texts. Even though the book feels like a basic mythological text with it’s use of language and theme, it is also very readable and has a narrative readers of fiction can easily follow. I always like a good book that is teaching me things without making me feel like I am studying a text book. By the time I finished reading this book, I felt like I knew a basic history of Norse mythology.

That being said, this is a book to read in snip-its like I said above. Any time I tried to read more than a few chapters at night, which I often do, I found I fell asleep. This would be a great book to take with you when you are out and about and you have a few minute to kill here or there. I found I got most of this book read during my lunch breaks.

I will say though, this book really shows just want Gaiman can do. He is such a diverse writer–children’s books, fiction, non-fiction and now this. Amazing.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book. Was it one I would go to first in a pile of to-be-read, probably not. But I think it is a great book to throw in your bag for a little light, informative reading. This one gets a high 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Family Storytime – ART!

For this storytime I really wanted to use my folder story of Scat the Cat, so I decided to go with an Art theme. Similar to my Imagination theme of a few months ago but I mixed it up with different rhymes and books.

Here’s what we did:

I always start with the same warm ups:

  • Song – Top of the Morning
    • This is a good song to warm up with because we stretch all the parts we will be using in storytime. Eyes, arms, legs, mouth, nose.
  • Rhyme – Say Hello
    • love this rhyme. Everyone claps along and at the end we say hello how ever I tell them to. Loud, soft, quick, slow.
  • Song – Skidamarink
    • It’s a classic, I know you all know it!

From here we get into our theme.

  • ASL – Art, Colors, Paint & Fun61uefap5vjl-_sy497_bo1204203200_
    • I like to include a few new ASL signs in storytime. I usually print my own flash cards from Baby Sign Language.
  • Story – Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
    • This is a cute one that talks about colors and what to do when the best intentions go wrong. I also love how it looks like paper!
  • Movement Exercise – If Your Wearing Any…
    • I sort of adapted this from a few site, here’s how mine goes:

If your wearing any red, if you wearing any red, if you’re wearing any red… stand up and touch your HEAD!

If your wearing any blue… bend down and touch your SHOE!

If your wearing any green… stand and bow to the QUEEN!

If your wearing any black… reach back and pat your BACK!

If your wearing any brown… just turn yourself right AROUND!

If your wearing any color… jump up and shout HOORAY!

  • Song – The Color Song from Parachute Express20170703_170420
    • Just an upbeat song to shake our sillies out to.
  • Folder Story – Scat the Cat!
    • I found this one online and I LOVED it! It was also a really big hit! You can look at my how to post here.
    • I would definitely recommend making a sign with the chorus on it. I had a volunteer hold up the sign for me and this was a big hit.
  • Game – All the Children Were Sleeping
    • This is a game my mom taught me (she’s a nanny). You go “sleeping, sleeping all the children were sleeping. And when they woke up, they were ____.” Lions, tigers, bears. You get the kids to act out different movements and sounds. It’s a big hit for my kids. Remember to turn them back to boys and girls at the end.
  • Action Rhyme – This is the way… art version61syrqojfnl-_sx425_bo1204203200_
    • You can get the words here.
  • Story – Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! 
    by Karen Beaumont

    • I passed out scarves and we pretended that our scarves were our paintbrushes and while I sang the story, the kids painted their arms, legs, heads…
  • Scarves w/ Song – De Colores from Dora’s World Adventure CD
    • We went through two verses of this one, so we got the Spanish and English versions of the son.

Finally, I always end with the same three things:

81ljkjf35hl-_sy355_

  • Movement Exercise – If You’re Happy and You Know It
    • I tell the kids that I want to know how happy they are.
  • Rhyme – Say Goodbye
    • This is the same rhyme we started with, so the new guys are familiar with it by the end of storytime.
  • Song – Goodbye, So Long, Farewell my Friends by Music Together
    • I always put this one on as I go to open the door. Its a nice, slow, peaceful song to wind down on.

How’d it go: We had a couple of screamers in this storytime but overall it went pretty well. The parents put up with my singing and they all loved participating in Scat the Cat. About 80 people in total.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk is another juvenile fiction book, with a historical feel, nominated for the 2017-2018 Maryland Black Eyed Susan Award.

For a town living in the shadow of WWI, Annabelle and her family live a quiet but peaceful live in small-town Pennsylvania. Annabelle and her two younger brothers walk to their one-room school every day from their family’s farmhouse. One day, things are shaken up in Wolf Hollow when a new student enters Annabelle’s life, Betty Glengarry.

Betty is a cruel and manipulative little girl who has her sights set on Annabelle. When Annabelle refuses to put up with Betty’s bullying, Betty threatens her younger brothers. Things only escalate when Toby, an eccentric WWI veteran who lives on the outskirts of society, gets involved.

As Betty’s malice turns toward Toby, things go from bad to worse in a hurry. Missing children, pointed fingers and more. Can Annabelle uncover the truth when no one will believe her?

Oh boy, I did not know what I was getting into when I started this one. This is a very serious book with serious themes and serious actions and repercussions. I read another reviewer’s comment that this is a middle school read… but not–and I feel the exact same way. I don’t think I would recommend this book to a sensitive reader.  Although, it is definitely a book that adults would enjoy and perhaps reading this one with your child (or at the same time) would be the way to go. But as a warning there is death, severe injury to children, lies and persecution in this book.

I think one of the main, positive, themes of this book is truth–telling the truth and not giving in to what everyone around you says/believes. Annabelle knows right from wrong and she pursues the truth with dogged determination, even if it means fibbing and blurring lines to get there. Annabelle’s family are well respected in her small town and even so, doing the right thing isn’t easy when lies are spurred on by gossip and too quick judgements.

This book is actually a prime example of how the best laid plans can devolve into chaos at rapid speed. I mean, the meat of this book takes place in only a matter of two or  three days at the most. And, for me, this was a realistic and important lesson. Things don’t always go as planned even if you have the best intentions at heart.

This wasn’t a bad read but I worry that it might upset it’s intended audience. Yes, we need strong fiction with a variety of morals and lessons but I think we need to prepare young readers for this one. It definitely should be recommended but maybe with a caveat.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is a juvenile fiction novel up for this years 2017-2018 Black Eyed Susan award.

When a shipment of robots crashes on a deserted island, one lone robot is left intact. When Roz is accidentally awoken by a curious otter, she opens her eyes for the first time, alone, on a remote and wild island. Not knowing anything about her whereabouts or how she got there, Roz does the only thing she can do, survive.

Slowly Roz begins to adapt to her surroundings. She watches and learns survival techniques from the animals around her. Eventually, Roz learns to speak the language of the animals but they are weary of the monster invading their island. When an accident causes Roz to adopt a baby gosling, the rest of the island begins to see Roz for the asset she very well may be.

This is a story of survival. A story of adapting to the world around you and working together to beat the odds.

You wouldn’t think a book about robots and wildlife would mesh well but it surprisingly does. You really do get a lot out of this book. We learn about different animal habitats and habits. You get to see the good and the bad parts of mother nature in ways that aren’t overly graphic for the kids and are done in an abstract, educational way.

There were also a lot of great lessons in this book. Team work, determination and never giving up, accepting ones differences and finding the beauty in even the worst circumstances. This is definitely a book for readers of all ages and quite appropriate for it’s intended 4th – 6th grade audience.

I actually chose to listen to the audio book of this one, so I only flipped through some of the images that accompany the book. What images I did see, really did add to the story. I can see this being a real appeal to reluctant readers who need a bit of a break here or there. As for the audio, I thought it was really well done. It was neat getting to listen to all of the different voices–this would make a really great road trip audio book for the kids. My only gripe about the audio is that the last 20 minutes or so had music accompanying it. It was really difficult to concentrate on the story with the music. I think maybe it was a little too loud.

I could see this being a very easy read that would appeal to both boys and girls. It would make an excellent book club choice. This one gets 4 high stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-