Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race

Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein is the third book in the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series.

Mr. Lemoncello and his fantabulous library is back for another adventure filled with riddles, fun, facts and of course books. After escaping the library and competing in the Library Olympics what else is there for Kyle Keeley and his friends to do? Race of course!

Mr. Lemoncello is on the verge of revealing his new fabulous fact-finding frenzy game and in Lemoncello fashion, he is asking his friends of the library to compete in a race to see who will tour the libraries of the world and debut his new game. Of course Kyle and his friends can’t wait to compete!

But the race ends up being about more than just a game. Kyle Keeley and his friends find themselves in a race of another kind… a race to the truth.

It is just so much fun uncovering clues and reading/hearing quotes from books you’ve read. It’s like “Hey! I’ve read that book too!” People love that and Grabenstein is constantly referencing popular books and authors. This is definitely a series for book lovers.

The Lemoncello world is a world I want to visit. I’d love to ride around in book mobiles and race across the states to find clues and solve riddles. And the library just gets cooler and cooler with each book. Please take me to this library!!!

My only criticism of this one is that all of the Lemoncello books feel very familiar. Yes, the plots are different but the contests and fact finding games are all very similar. It is still a lot of fun though and I did enjoy that this one focused on doing research and not taking shortcuts.

Overall, this was another entertaining read by Chris Grabenstein. Grabenstein really does write some great children’s books. This one gets a high 3.5-4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!




Lapsit Storytime – 10/16/17

Hi Guys,

This will actually be my last storytime post for a while. I will be going on maternity leave shortly, but I’ll try to keep up with my book reviews at least.

Here’s a list of what we did this week:

  • Rhyme – Welcome, Welcome Everyone
    • This is to the tune of twinkle, twinkle little star and it is my way to welcome my crew to storytime.

Welcome, welcome everyone

Now you’re here, we’ll have some fun!

First we’ll clap our hands just so,

Then we’ll bend and touch our toes.

Welcome, welcome everyone

Now you’re here, we’ll have some fun!

  • ASL – Hello Friends
    • I like to use sign language in my story time. We go over the signs for: Hello, Friends, Time and Say. Thanks to Jbrary for this one!
  • Movement Exercise – Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
    • Everyone knows this classic. We do it three times, faster and faster each time. By then end, all my sleepy kiddos are ready to go!
  • Song w/ Movements – Roll, Roll, Roll Your Hands
    • This is a classic and if you are not comfortable singing the song yourself, there are several versions you can download and play the music. This time I used a CD.
  • Lap Bounce – Bumping Up and Down in my Little Red Wagon51a6akqlcol-_sy498_bo1204203200_
    • I did the first two verses of this classic rhyme. Baby bounced on our laps during first verse and during the second, every time we said “axles broken,” we would stop bouncing and dip baby to one side.
  • Story – Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti I did this one a little differently this time. I read each page and flipped the flap and then I had the grownups turn baby toward them and repeat each different peek-a-boo with baby.
  • Bounce – This is the Way the Lady Rides
    • This is one of my most popular bounces. We get faster and faster with each verse.

This is the way the lady rides

Lady ride, lady rides.

This the way on her way to town. 

(Repeat with Gentleman, Doctor and Cowboy.)

  • Prop – Five Little Pumpkins
    • I made my own gate and pumpkins and taped them to a white board. We then counted out the pumpkins and went through the rhyme together, pointing out each pumpkin as we went.
  • Song – Tap Your Toes and Follow Me by Susan Salidor
    • This is a song with minimal movements, perfect for baby storytime.
  • Bounce – Going Up and Down in an Elevator
    • Obviously we like our bounces. Baby goes up and down as you do the rhyme.

Going up and down in an elevator

Up and down in an elevator

Up and down in an elevator

First floor, second floor, third floor, Yay!

  • Story – EEK! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton51esrqagbml-_sx458_bo1204203200_
    • I love Sandra Boynton and her board books are great. I enlarged this boardbook on our printer and was able to make my own big book to read.
  • Song w/ Shakers – Chugg-A-Lugg-A Choo-Choo by Johnette Downing
    • I like to switch between a song with shakers and a song with scarves. This week we went with the shakers.
  • Slow down Rhyme – Patty Cake
    • Just a slow easy rhyme to ease on out with.
  • ASL – Goodbye Friends
    • We learn to say goodbye in ASL and use the same signs and song as our hello.
  • Song – Goodbye, So long, Farewell My Friends by Music Together
    • Just a slow, goodbye song I always put on as I open the doors to say goodbye.

How’d it go? This was a great storytime. We started to run out of time at the end so I nixed Patty Cake but other than that everything seemed to go as planned. We had a lot of late arrivals for some reason, so that sort of interrupted our flow a bit but we made do and had lots of fun!

That’s all for now!


Family Storytime – Back to School!

Well it is almost that time, so of course I had to do a Back to School themed storytime.

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 – Shake Your Sillies Out
    • I love this song and it’s a great way to get all the giggles and wiggles out before storytime really gets going.

From here we get into our theme.

  • ASL – School, Bus, Apple & Learn51xigejft2bl-_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 – Mouse’s First Day of School by Lauren Thompson
    • This is an easy, short book with lots of different concepts and first experiences for children.
  • Movement Exercise – Back to School
    • This is a good movement exercise that helps to get those little fingers moving.

Two little houses all closed up tight (make two fists)

Open up the window and let in some light (open fists)

Ten little finger people tall and straight (wiggle ten fingers)

Ready for school at half past eight (walk your fingers)

  • Song – The Wheels on the Bus
    • Going back to school, what fits more than this great movement song!
  • Lap Theater – Mary Had a Little Lamb20170817_195427
    • I created my own lap theater for the classic rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb.
  • Game – Stoplight freeze dance
    • I created red, yellow and green circles on popsicle sticks.
    • When I held up the green, they’d drive their cars. Yellow and they would drive in slow motion. Red and they would have to freeze in place.
    • I showed them in different orders and at different paces to make it more fun. A freeze dance for cars!
  • Action Rhyme – Ten Little Buses
    • I used the tune of Ten Little Indians and meshed together a few different rhymes to comes up with the following. I used simple hand movements for Honk, Flash and Shout.

One little, two little, three little buses.

Four little, five little, six little buses.

Seven little, eight little, nine little buses.

Ten little buses in a line. 

Now let’s honk, honk, honk our horns.

Honk, honk, honk our horns.

Honk, honk, honk our horns.

Honk them all to school. 

(second refrain: flash those lights ; third refrain: shout hooray)

  • Story – Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean 618rpzbo2wl-_sx389_bo1204203200_
    • I think Pete the Cat is such a good storytime book and this one is fun and everyone gets to hear my lovely voice.
  • Song w/ Shakers – Recess Time by Putumayo Kids
    • I also like to use multicultural songs in my storytime if they have a good beat. This one is perfect to use with shakers and it’s all about recess!

Finally, I always end with the same three things:

  • 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: Goodness this storytime was packed! We definitely had a full house but it was still a lot of fun. If I did this one again, I would do Pete the Cat as my first story instead of my last, because we sort of lost focus by that point. Mary had a little lamb was also hilarious and we all got a kick out of it because after the first two stanzas no one knew the words and I kept butchering them. But we all laughed and I got a clap at the end. Overall, a fun back to school storytime!

That’s all for now!


Mary Had A Little Lamb: Lap Theater

Hi Guys,

I am going to be doing a back to school themed storytime in a little bit and I wanted to think of a different type of prop to use for the rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb. I really didn’t feel like pulling out all my flannel, so I looked around and found a few printables of Mary and her lamb and thought I could do something with popsicle sticks and cutouts.

And what I ended up with is a lap theater, puppet box hybrid!


Basically, I took a sturdy box and cut one of the sides off:


I then wrapped everything with green construction paper and used a razor blade to put slits in the top of my box. This was one hell of a thick box and my razor blade skills were sub-par. Maybe you guys can come up with a better way to do this. Because my slits are so wide, my puppets won’t stand on their own. So I will need to create some sort of stopper so they don’t slide through when I am not holding them. I’m leaning toward those small rubber hair-ties.


For my puppets, I used printables I found online, thanks Storytime Katie and Making Learning Fun, and colored them in before laminating and attaching to popsicle sticks. I printed and colored two of each so the images show on both sides. The teacher I drew myself. I couldn’t find an outline I liked.

I made a: Mary, Lamb, Teacher, Children Laughing and a School House.

My plan is to say the rhyme and present the characters in my lap theater as I go. The way I have the slits, I can move the puppets from side to side. I’ll need a little practice but hopefully it will all work out.

There are quite a few versions of Mary Had a Little Lamb out there. Because my theme is back to school I am going to go with this one:

Mary had a little lamb,
little lamb, little lamb,
Mary had a little lamb,
its fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went,
Mary went, Mary went,
and everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,
school one day, school one day,
It followed her to school one day,
which was against the rules.

It made the children laugh and play,
laugh and play, laugh and play,
it made the children laugh and play,
to see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out,
turned it out, turned it out,
And so the teacher turned it out,
but still it lingered near.

And waited patiently about,
patiently about, patiently about,
And waited patiently about,
till Mary did appear.

“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
Love Mary so? Love Mary so?
“Why does the lamb love Mary so,”
the eager children cry.

“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
The lamb, you know, the lamb, you know,
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,”
the teacher did reply.

Hopefully, this will be a fun and different prop to use in storytime. I’ll let you know how it goes!

That’s all for now!



Ghost by Jason Reynolds is a fifth-sixth grade, juvenile fiction coming of age novel. Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, has always been good at one thing… running. Ghost always thought he’d play basketball, but he’s never tried out for the team. One day, Ghost impulsively challenges a track member to a sprint and the coach sees his potential and recruits him for the team. But Ghost has never been a part of a team before and the only this he’s ever really run from his past… his past and trouble.

Ghost is full of anger and is conflicted about letting the team in. Can he overcome his past, his emotions and tear down the barriers that keep him from being great?

I always try to read several of the Maryland Black Eyed Susan nominees after they’ve been announced. I like to do this because it’s a great way to read outside of your comfort zone and familiarize yourself with different genres of juvenile literature.

Ghost is the perfect coming of age book for boys and it covers such a wide range of topics kids are dealing with these days. Just some of the themes that are addressed are: bullying, socioeconomic issues, family struggles, issues in right and wrong, building confidence, believing in oneself and so much more. Some of these themes can be sensitive like gun violence and drug abuse, but I think they hard handled very well and I personally would even recommend this book to a well read fourth grader.

This book definitely has a little of everything without feeling over done or overwhelming. One of the things I really liked about it was the relationship that develops between Ghost and Coach. It was very realistic and very real. In fact the whole book was just so believable and just very, very real.

Ghost definitely deserves to be a contender for the 2017-2018 BES award. It’s a great read for boys, especially those reluctant readers. I think everyone can find some aspect of Ghost to relate to.

Great read. This one gets five stars from me.

That’s all for now!



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!


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!