Thursday, December 08, 2011

Presents, presents, presents!

The holidays will be here soon and the snow last night helped me realize how little time I have. I always look forward to shopping and picking out books for family and friends. If you are looking for suggestions, I'm ready!

Board books for the youngest children can be found from TV characters (please don't) to classic books that have big chunky pages (but the board book is not always the best format for some of these titles). My favorite board books have bright colors, little text, and lots of noises or pictures that help babies and toddlers learn vocabulary from animals to toys. Babies love to look at babies, so choose some that have real babies in the pictures. I also love board books that can be sung. From nursery rhymes to lullabies, to silly songs with crazy rhymes, all will be read and re-read by babies, toddlers, and you.

Picture books are next. I've got some new titles and some favorites. My favorite book this year is easily Meadowlands: a Wetland Survival Story by Thomas Yezerski. Every border around each two-spread page has animals, birds, and more that are part of what has been lost and found in the meadowlands. It's an "I Spy" book and a science story. The illustrations are lovely.
Another new book I love this year is Grandpa Green by Lane Smith. It, too, has an ecological message but fun and playful. An older book, and Caldecott medal winner, that is a lovely addition to "good night" books is The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson. It is dark, with striking white and gold light on every page. And another old favorite for kids of all ages is Steve Jenkins' Actual Size. Parts of animals on each page is the actual size of that animal - from a hand, to a head, to a tooth or the whole animal. At the end of the book are all the animals and information about their size and habitat. Another one for kids to read and re-read.

Chapter books for independent readers are popular. There are many series which are perfect for these readers. At our library we are very fond of the "Ready Freddy" series by Abby Klein, "Pony Tales" by Bernadette Kelly and "The Buddy Files" by Doris Hillestad Butler.
For young people who enjoy a longer book, you might want to give Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. This book is really two stories, one wordless with no text and the other with text and no pictures. The two stories eventually converge and it is a book to view over and over again. Richard Peck has a new animal fantasy called Secrets at Sea that is a delight! For your mythology fans don't forget Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series or his newer series. And George O'Connor is the comic artist behind "The Olympians" - 12 graphic novels. Right now there are 4 finished in the series.

As I write out these titles, I'm thinking of so many other books. Come in and ask us for favorites, or visit your local independent book store. Happy reading!

Monday, September 12, 2011

School Daze

We can tell in the library that young people have started school. We've been seeing students come in with homework; others asking for books for new assignments. But the biggest difference is not seeing kids during the day. It feels quite lonely, if you must know!
Mrs. Brown and I had a little time off at the end of the summer. Most of my vacation was rainy - can you guess when that was? Oh well, I had a couple of nice days between Irene and Lee (hurricanes/tropical storms). There was a power outage when neighboring trees took down lines and a major transformer blew up! It was like a fireworks demonstration.
But it is time to begin storytimes again - we start next week; book discussions are coming up at the end of the month and into October. Don't forget the little ones with our Babygarten programs.
Lastly, kids still need to read for pleasure. Just because school has started, there should always be time for reading for enjoyment. We have a couple of different displays in the children's area. One is school stories, with all your favorites and some new books. The other display is picture book biographies. These are great for reading aloud, a little longer than most picture books, and filled with fascinating information. Check them out this week! ~Joyce Laiosa

Friday, August 26, 2011

Anya's Ghost

Here's a graphic novel that is for any teen - middle or high school - that feels left out. I read it yesterday and I have to agree with reviewers that it is a first rate story. The art work contributes to the story, but it isn't distracting either.

Anya is a Russian immigrant. Her mother still lives as she would back in Russia, while Anya wants to assimilate into the American life. At school she has only one friend, another outcast, and would do almost anything to be noticed by the cool kids. One day, as she skips classes, she falls down a hole and finds a ghost. The ghost's bones are in this hole, too. When Anya is rescued, the ghost tags along. At first she becomes a friend to Anya, but then the ghost becomes more demanding of Anya's time and attention. What will Anya do to get rid of her, or can she?

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol reminds me of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, a Printz medal winner. It is about the immigrant experience, trying to fit in, and renouncing your own heritage. These two books aren't the same, but if you like realistic fiction (OK, I know there is a ghost in one of these books), I think you would enjoy both titles.

Lastly, for another middle school-high school experience you might try Smile by Raina Telgemier. A young girl must wear braces for most of middle and high school and learn to cope with her own self image.

I've enjoyed all these books, all in graphic format. I hope you'll check them out! ~Joyce Laiosa

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Family Stories

If you have been following the Penderwick family, you are in for a treat with the latest installment. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is a summer story that takes place in Maine. Jeanne Birdsall, the author, lets you feel the ocean spray up against the rocks, hear the gulls calling, and enjoy summer as children are meant to; time to think, walk, explore, write, read, and imagine.

I fell in love with the very first Penderwicks book because of the love that is shared among the four sisters. There are typical sibling problems but first and foremost they look out for each other, care about each other, and try to be interested in each other. Into the four sisters lives enters a boy who is "adopted" by the girls as a brother. He fits into their adventures, and they truly care about his unfortunate life with his mother and stepfather.
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette has the three younger sisters visiting an aunt in Maine while their father is on his honeymoon with his new wife. The oldest daughter is on her own vacation in New Jersey, while Jeffrey, their "adopted" brother is forced to stay home. Eventually his mother relents and he comes to Maine, meets the very musical next door neighbor and finds that the youngest Penderwick may have some musical talent. (The rest of the family does not!) Their aunt is a great, patient friend to each member of the Penderwick family.

I highly recommend this book! If you like family stories, don't forget Saffy's Angel and all of the sequels (4) by Hilary McKay. Each book highlights a particular sibling, but the whole family is involved in all their escapades. These are contemporary stories set in England. I love the Casson family, especially the youngest child, Rose. Another interesting piece of information is the fact that each child is named for a color as the parents are artists. It may sound batty, but they are delightful.

Lastly, there are some older but wonderful family stories that shouldn't be missed! There are The Moffats by Eleanor Estes and sequels; The Saturdays about the Melendy family (and the sequels) by Elizabeth Enright; and The All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.

Try some special family stories today! ~Joyce Laiosa

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Puppet People and The Firebird

The Puppet People will be here on Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. with a performance of The Firebird. It is one of my favorite pieces of music! Now, some of you may be thinking that you are reading this wrong. The Firebird is a Russian folktale. Igor Stravinsky composed the music for a ballet of the folktale, and I know you will hear some of the music in the background of the puppet show.

This show will be our finale to the Summer Reading Program. Our prizes will be distributed and our programs will officially be over. We have one more program on Wednesday, August 31st at 10:15 a.m. That will be our "Camping" program with some boys from Boy Scout Troop 73. It is for Club 1-2-3 (children going into grades 1, 2, or 3).

What a summer we have had! "One World, Many Stories" has taken us around the world exploring stories, art, food, and games. The best part of the summer, is the reading so many kids do. Mrs. Brown and I are so proud of the children that are reading or listening to books by themselves or with other family members.

School will be starting soon and we have books on display about going to school - most of them funny! Check out those titles as you prepare the little ones for all their new experiences about taking a bus, meeting new teachers, and making new friends. Read about it all from the library.~Joyce Laiosa

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Summer vacation is the perfect time to read aloud to the whole family. Choose an old classic or a short story collection. We have suggestions in either category.

Classics: If I had to choose one or two glorious books, I would choose The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahme or Charlotte's Web by E.B White. Both feature animals and are well written. These will please all ages, but probably elementary school-aged children into adulthood. If you want to entice younger children, please read Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. By the way, if you aren't up to the task of reading aloud, you can always get out an audio book for when you are driving. Listening together will make the trip fly by.

Short story collections are numerous. Are you up to scary stories, perfect around a campfire, or backyard fire? You can find humerous stories, sports stories, or famous tall tales. Here are a few from our library: The Random House Book of Ghost Stories, Ribbiting Tales, The Kingfisher Book of Great Girl Stories and From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasure of American Folklore and Folk Songs. You'll find short story collections in the nonfiction and fiction collections. Don't hesitate to ask your librarian for help.

Lastly, what is your favorite book from childhood? I bet it will make a great read-aloud to your own children! ~Joyce Laiosa

Monday, February 07, 2011

Thumbprint, Funprint

I'm a big fan of Ed Emberley books. These are drawing books for those looking for directions (if you are not the most imaginative person) and ideas. My favorite of his books are the ones that show you what you can draw when you start with your thumbprint.

Start with a washable ink pad, a couple of fine point sharpies and paper. If you have a couple of colors of ink pads, that's even more fun. The books are Ed Emberley's Great Thumbprint Drawing Book, and Ed Emberley's Fingerprint Drawing Book. Both of those books are combined into a third book.

After you have made some drawings, think about bookmarks, or funny cards. After all, Valentine's Day is next week. This would make a fun craft idea, or special cards for classmates. The books are on the shelf this week at J741.2 EMB - check them out today!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Downloadable books for Teens

How many people have purchased a Kindle, Nook, Sony e-reader, or an itouch? These and other devices are hot, hot, hot! If you purchased a Kindle, then you must use Amazon to download books to your device. If you have other devices, and I am a Nook owner, then you can purchase titles from Barnes and Noble, or you can download free books from the library's website with Overdrive.

The system is a little clunky, but once it is running, it is very easy to use. The hard part may be finding something to read, though. When I first went online, I could barely find a title to download immediately. If it was available, it was an older title that I'd already read. I solved that quick enough by immediately ordering more titles. Here are my recent purchases for Overdrive. I hope you will find some to suit your fancy.

For those who enjoy realistic fiction I chose A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, The Cardturner by Louis Sachar, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green or Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers. If you enjoy the paranormal, vampires, etc. you might try ghostgirl or The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Historical fiction fans will enjoy The Luxe, Moon Over Manifest (this year's Newbery winner), One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (one of this year's Newbery Honor awards), and Gary Paulsen's Woods Runner. Also, I am a huge fan of Sally Gardner's The Red Necklace (about the French Revolution) and I'm going to read the sequel The Silver Blade. Both are now on Overdrive.

When you download your titles to the compatible free software you are able to read the books, or listen to them, on your computer. If you want to move them to your mobile device, they stay there until you decide to delete them. So, on my Nook, I've got quite a few titles that I might not get to for weeks. They stay there for as long as I like. That is not the case of those same files on my computer. They stay for only 21 days or less. I can choose which loan date I want. At the end of 21 days, they disappear! And there are no fines.

Check out your books online and start reading or listening through Overdrive. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


A 2010 graphic novel for upper elemenatry kids into middle school is called Smile by Raina Telgemeier. There isn't a kid wearing braces that can't relate to the story, which is autobiographical. There is an added complication for our main character, Raina, in that she has an accident right before the braces go on and has to have teeth replaced. Even if you aren't a big reader of comics, this is very accessible. The reader is able to follow the cartoon in a linear manner, the story is the trials and tribulations of adolescence, but Raina is able to grow and learn from her experiences with friends, bullies, family and her Smile. I think you will enjoy this book.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Long, Cold Days of Winter

Winter days are not long, except when you feel cooped up inside. This is a great time to visit the library and stock up on read alouds for all ages, craft books for boredom, and cookbooks for children. All of this means involvement, but that is the best part of family.

I've been trying to display books, especially ones with Readers' Advisory cards, telling you how much Mrs. Brown or I enjoyed a specific book. I just pulled Julie Andrews Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies to display. This is a beautiful book, great for read alouds, plus there is a CD with Julie Andrews reciting selections from the book. Check this out, put this on your CD player, and start baking with the kids. You'll find the book at J808.81 JUL; and cook books for kids at J641.5.

As for craft fun, don't go out and buy any supplies. Cut up some fruits and vegetables. Use an apple cut in half (so you see a "star"), peppers, mushrooms, whatever looks interesting in the refrigerator. Pull out some paint, and newspapers, computer paper, or wrapping paper, and check out the possibilities of stenciling. If you are having fun, make stationary from the computer paper and have the children write notes to friends and relatives. Don't forget to take pictures of these special times. The library starts the fun!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Historical Fiction - American History

This week I was travelling and chose to read a book that I've had on my "to-read" list, but had never tried. It is The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume 1, The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. Quite a mouthful of a title. This book won a Printz Honor Award in 2007,and the National Book Award for Young People. The second volume also won a Printz Honor in 2009.

First, let me say that it was wonderful. It was also a book that took time. I read it on my new Nook, which has the capability of looking up words in a dictionary by placing your finger on a word that you want to check. I love this feature! I can see students using this technology and looking up words. It wasn't that I didn't understand the sentences, but Iwanted to check, to make sure I was correct. The Nook also gave me the derivation of the words, too. (Most were from Latin.)

This book is set in the pre-revolutionary Massachusetts colony. A group of subsidized scientists study an African-American slave in all ways to see what he is capble of learning, thinking, and accomplishing.

Octavian was born on a slave ship and purchased with his mother. He is the ultimate experiment. He and his mother are treated like guests or members of the household until funding for the scientists is changed and the revolutionary war looms closer. Octavian and his mother are then treated and worked as slaves. When Octavian's mother dies from small pox (given to her and all attending a "pox party"), Octavian is determined to have freedom.

Anderson has done a masterful job of writing in the style of the 18th C. It is high school level, but certainly not a problem for good readers of any age interested in American history. I can't wait to start volume 2!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Young Adult Literature - The Printz Award

It seems that I was wrong about every book that should/would win an award, including the Printz award. However, I have read Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker, the Printz medal winner. Do you want a rip-roaring, page turning, nail-biter of a book? Well, this book is certainly for you. I do have a caveat. It is another violent dystopia! If you thought Hunger Games was violent, Ship Breaker takes it up a notch.

In the near future, with global warming, coastal cities will be underwater. There will be money to be made and industries thriving as companies search the world for fossil fuels, and any metal that can be found. There will also be the scavenger crews that will search for any metal they can get their hands on. It's a hard life to be part of these crews. Nailer, a teenager, works "light crew" because of his small size, with his friend, Pima. They find a wreck filled with great materials to scavenge, but also a girl, barely alive. They decide to keep her for the reward, or a ransom. Nita does not give them much information before she is kidnapped by others for a much bigger payment.

The book was very intense and I had to put it down at times. Nailer's father is a horrible character: a brutal, lying, angry, drunken crystal-meth scavenger. Every time he came into the story, I had a hard time handling the violence. That said, I bet both guys and girls will want to read Ship Breaker for the roller-coaster ride!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Awards! Awards! Awards!

The American Library Association will be announcing the major youth book and media awards Monday morning. I've been thinking about my favorite books read this past year. I've met some wonderful characters and been to places I never imagined, all in the pages of books.

The awards are fun; it's a guessing game to see if I can predict what will win or if I'm disappointed by a committee's choice. In truth, I am in awe of the work that these committees undertake. They must read almost a book a day, if not more. They must evaluate, appraise, thoughtfully consider, and try to think of young people who will read the book with a golden or silver sticker on the cover. What a large responsibility.

There have been years where it was an easy prediction. There have been years where the buzz in "library world" has been all over the place.

If you are wondering, here are my predictions:

Caldecott (for illustrations): City Dog, Country Frog. Story by Mo Willems; Illustrations by Jon Muth
Newbery (for the writing): Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine or One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Printz (for Young Adults): Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan or Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel
Sibert (nonfiction): Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan; Illustrated by Brian Floca

Check back this week to see how I did!