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Author Archive for Morgan Reeves



Storytime Recap: Welcome Spring

by Morgan Reeves on March 25th, 2015

Spring is officially here, and today at Preschool Storytime we did our best to welcome all things spring. To start we talked about how you can tell spring is here with the changes in the weather. Which conveniently led into our welcome song “Clap Everybody and Say Hello” in which we do many things, no matter what the weather. To introduce our first story, I talked about how friends stay friends even when the weather changes and they live far apart. Then we settled down to read Forever Friends by Carin Berger, which follows the friendship of a bird and a bunny through a year.

Next we did an action rhyme “Wind, Oh Wind.” Since I forgot my scarves we improvised and blew kids away instead, which turned out to be just as fun.

Wind, oh wind, oh wind I say. (Wave hands forward in a pushing motion)
What are you blowing away today? (Shrug shoulders and raise hands in question)
Kids, oh kids, oh kids I say, (Point to each other)
I am blowing the kids away. (Hop backwards  as if being blown away)

We followed another rabbit through the changing seasons in Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na. This time the rabbit visited all of his friends to see where they go and what they do during winter before returning in the spring.

Next up I asked what animals might they see on a creek or pond in spring. I gave a hint: they quack. The answer was, of course, ducks. I sang “Six Little Ducks” and asked the kids to join in and flap their arms on each quack, quack, quack. Everyone was singing by the end of the song.

ducks

Six little ducks that I once knew
Fat ones, skinny ones, cute ones too.

Chorus:
But the one little duck with the feather in his hat
He led the others with his quack, quack, quack.
Quack, quack, quack-quack, quack, quack
He led the others with his quack, quack, quack.

Down to the river they would go.
Wibble wobble, wibble wobble to and fro.
Chorus

Home from the river they would come.
Wibble wobble, wibble wobble, ho-hum-hum.
Chorus

Six little ducks that I once knew
Fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones too.
Chorus

With such enthusiastic singers, we moved right on to another song, “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring.”

It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed and he bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning

I told everyone that next we would rest our voices and read a book based on a song. Tweedle Dee Dee by Charlotte Voake replaces the green grass from “And The Green Grass Grew All Around” with green leaves all around as the story progresses each page towards eggs hatching in a nest. I like to read cumulative stories like this, as it helps kids learn the concept of sequential order.

For our last action rhyme we stayed with the rain and nature theme and recited “Rain on the green grass”

Rain on the green grass, (Wiggle fingers, bringing fingers all the way to ground.)
Rain on the trees, (Wiggle fingers to shoulders, then sweep hands around to form treetop.)
Rain on the housetop, (Wiggle fingers to top of head, then form triangle over head.)
But not on me! (Make large “x” with right index finger; point to self.)

We ended storyime with a sweet story about a girl caring for her flower, Ava’s Poppy by Marcus Pfister.

After storytime we watched In the Small, Small Pond, an animated film based on the book by Denise Fleming.

Storytime Recap: Good Morning!

by Morgan Reeves on March 11th, 2015

Today’s Preschool Storytime was all about saying good morning to a beautiful day. To start, we talked about the sun coming up and how the weather is warm enough that we don’t need our coats anymore. Then we sang our welcome song “Clap Everybody and Say Hello” from the CD Sally Go Round the Sun by Kathy Reid-Naiman. Then we talked about how it is sometimes hard to wake up in the morning and sang “Brother John.”

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing
Morning bells are ringing
Ding, dang, dong
Ding, dang, dong

Next we talked about waking up after a dream and trying to remember what happened. Which led nicely into reading Hank Has a Dream by Rebecca Dudley.

With everyone awake, we did a finger-play song with “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” I like to sub in the words “great big hairy” on the second time through for a funny ending.

The itsy bitsy spider (finger to thumb climb)
Climbed up the waterspout (finger to thumb climb)
Down came the rain (wiggle fingers downward)
And washed the spider out (wipe motion with hands across body)
Out came the sun (use arms to make circle above head)
And dried up all the rain (open arms to sides)
And the itsy bitsy spider (finger to thumb climb)
Climbed up the spout again (finger to thumb climb)

Next to celebrate the change to warmer weather we read Wake Up, It’s Spring by Lisa Campbell Ernst.

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After reading about all the animals waking up, we did an action rhyme that follows the movements of different animals.

Can you hop like a rabbit?
Can you jump like a frog?
Can you waddle like a duck?
Can you run like a dog?
Can you fly like a bird?
Can you swim like a fish?
And then can you be
As still as this?

When everyone was still, I told them I needed help from a friend for the next book. My friend  was a stuffed animal rabbit that I put on my head in order to be just like the boy in A Boy and His Bunny by Sean Bryan.

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After this sweet but silly story, we talked about how sometimes your day may not start out great, but if you don’t give up it can still be a good day. Our last story was A Good Day by Kevin Henkes.

We finished off the main part of storytime with singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-A-Dee-A

My oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine heading my way
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-A-Dee-A

Mister bluebird on my shoulder
It’s the truth
It’s actual
Everything is satisfactual

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-A-Dee-A
Wonderful feeling
Wonderful day

After storytime we watched All the World, an animated film based on the book by Liz Garton Scanlon.

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Accio J.K. Rowling: Video Volunteers Needed

by Morgan Reeves on March 5th, 2015
Accio J.K. Rowling: Video Volunteers Needed Cover Image

Do you love the magic and mystery of Harry Potter? Did you find something to think about in The Casual Vacancy? Have you found a new detective sleuth along with in Cormoran Strike? Would you like to help bring J.K. Rowling in Iowa City next year? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, stop by the library’s letter writing display this Thursday, the 5th, between 11:30am and 1pm or next Monday, the 9th, between 11am and 12:30pm to tell her about it.  We will be videotaping the thoughts of library patrons and staff in order to put together a video letter asking Ms. Rowling to visit Iowa City next year. Please come by and share your thoughts and enthusiasm!

Bonus: If all the excitement has piqued your interest in Rowling, why not learn more about you favorite author from one of our biographies about her life. Our newest title for children is Who is J. K. Rowling? by Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso.

Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson

by Morgan Reeves on February 20th, 2015
Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson Cover Image

Moments ago I finished reading Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson. I’ve been reading it on the bus, before bed, while I cook, and even on my walk home. It has been my constant companion since I first became enthralled by the girl with no name and her encounter with a witch and enchanted forest. After running into Remington, a knight-to-be, she soon finds her way to Pennyroyal Academy, where Princesses of the Shield are trained to fight witches. Here anyone can become a princess, if only they train hard enough and learn well enough. Given a diagnosis of suffering from a memory curse, the girl is also give a name, Cadet Eleven or Evie for short. With only a dragon scale and clothes of cobwebs as hints to her past, she feels a bit out of place. However, she soon befriends other outcast girls, though she does have trouble with a sour princess-in-training, aptly named Malora. Learning the history of princesses, navigating warrior training with a Fairy Drillsergeant, and even sewing lessons with the master tailor troll  offer challenges Evie must find the strength to overcome. Twists and turns throughout the story left me guessing (and sometimes peeking to the last chapter). By discovering the truth of her memories and family, Evie is finally free to be herself. A slight undercurrent of romance between Evie and Remington satisfies without overpowering the main story of a girl deciding for herself who she is and what she wants to be. Cheeky nods to classic fairy tales round out this world of witches, princesses, dragons and knights. Pick up this story of self-discovery and adventure for a dose of princess power.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy

by Morgan Reeves on November 29th, 2014
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy Cover Image

Two dads, four boys, one dog, one cat, and one invisible cheetah. The Family Fletcher is preparing for a new school year, the first school year where all four of the very different boys will be in school. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy follows this unique, and at the same time totally normal, family throughout the year as they deal with their individual problems. Twelve year-old Sam is a soccer player, a cool kid looked up to as the example for his younger brothers. Can he transfer his talent for storytelling into a part in the school play, and more importantly still be cool? 10 year-old Jax thinks Sam is the coolest, and wants to be accepted as part of the same crowd, now that he’s in the same school building. But with a changing friendship and a school project hanging over his head, Jax might end up more behind than ever.  Eli, also 10 (but a couple of months younger), is starting a new, expensive, academically minded school, trading familiar faces for scholarly challenges. When his new school turns out to be less amazing than he had hoped, he struggles with the his ability to admit he made a mistake. Six year-old Froggie (not Jeremiah) is excited to start kindergarten with Flare, his invisible cheetah. His biggest problems are asking for kittens, turtles and convincing his family that his new friend Ladybug is real girl.

Even with all of their individual issues to work through, the whole family comes together for the biggest Halloween party ever, camping trips, and convincing their grumpy neighbor Mr. Nelson that they mean no harm. With loving support from both Papa and Dad (who have some misadventures of their own), the Fletchers work together to overcome all obstacles that come their way. This is a fun romp that just happens to have a diverse family at the heart of it.

Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt

by Morgan Reeves on October 30th, 2014
Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt Cover Image

Not since first picking up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone have I read a book that started off full of so much life and mystery. But this is just how Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt begins. As dramatic as any play, the scene is set when a letter arrives inviting Max Starling’s actor parents to visit the Maharajah of Kashmir. His parents say Max will be coming too, but when the steamship leaves, Max is left behind. Determined to be independent until his parents return, he decides to find a job. But jobs for twelve year old boys don’t pay very well, so Max uses his experience of growing up in the theater to disguise himself and act older. To his surprise, he discovers he has a talent for solving problems for other people. He is not quite a detective and not quite a life coach, but something in between, a Solutioneer, as he calls himself. Cases start rolling in, a lost dog, a lost Baron, even a lost spoon, Max finds the solution to them all. This wonderful beginning of a trilogy weaves tricky problems and spirited characters into the the overarching story of what has happened to his parents.  A story that leaves readers both satisfied with Max’s solutions and eager to find out more about Mister Max, Solutioneer.

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389591922l/17471117.jpgMister Max: The Book of Secrets is the recently released second title in the trilogy, which follows Max on his most important case yet. The problems are bigger and more complex, but Max is sure he can handle them. Fires have been springing up in small businesses, but no one will talk to the police, and with a visit from the Royal family approaching, the Mayor is desperate stop the fires without a fuss. Enter Mister Max and his ability to get people talking without knowing who they are really talking to. But with the appearance of an old schoolmate, for the first time he must deal with the possibility of being recognized, which could ruin Max’s independent lifestyle. Help is provided in the form of his librarian Grammie; his tutor Ari; and the sometimes irritating, very talkative Pia, who insists she is his assistant. All the while Max continues to receive troubling hints on the whereabouts of his parents. A great follow-up to the first, this story manages to leave some solutions open-ended while setting up the last book and what readers will hope to be Max’s reunion with his parents.

Listen Up to Neil Gaiman on Disc

by Morgan Reeves on September 30th, 2014

I listen to very few books on disc. I am generally just not able to immerse myself in the audio version of a book as well as I can in the print version. I end up listening to the same passage multiple times because I zoned out or got busy doing something else. If that sounds like you, try listening to anything written and narrated by Neil Gaiman. So far I have listened to three of his audiobooks; The Graveyard Book, Fortunately the Milk, and Odd and the Frost Giants. In the telling of all three stories Gaiman is engaging and brings each character to life with a distinct and unique voice. As the author, he of course has special insight into how characters are supposed to sound, but his range of believable voices is impressive. Gaiman can imitate the confused innocence of a child and in the next breath reply in the piercing tones of a talking eagle. In addition to Gaiman’s performance, the stories themselves are always imaginative and full of life. I imagine they would be riveting in any format, not just audio.

The Graveyard Book  follows the story of young Nobody Owens, or Bod for short. His entire family was murdered when he was just a toddler. He would have been killed too, if not for wandering into a graveyard and being adopted by the resident ghosts. He grows up under the tutelage of his two ghost parents and his guardian Silas, who may or may not be a vampire. As a child given the freedom of the graveyard Bod learns lessons both practical, moving through shadows, and personal, how to do what is right even when it is hard. At times scary, this is great coming of age story for grades 3rd-6th.

Odd and the Frost Giants introduces Odd, a perpetually grinning Norse boy with a bit of bad luck. His leg has been crippled, his father died in a Viking raid, and winter has gone on much too long. In an attempt to get away from it all, he retreats to his father’s old woodcutter’s hut in the woods. While out walking he befriends a bear, a fox, and an eagle, who quickly reveal they are the gods Thor, Loki and Odin. They have been trapped in animal bodies by a Frost Giant who has taken over Asgard and is the cause of the long winter. With his usual good humor Odd decides he has nothing to lose by attempting to defeat the Frost Giant, returning the gods to their true forms, and ending winter. Nothing too scary here, good fantasy adventure for grades 1st-5th.

Fortunately the Milk is a shorter story about the extraordinary adventure a father endured in order to bring his children some milk for their breakfast. Dinosaur scientists, volcanic sacrifices, time travel, pirates, aliens, and even ponies are all a part of this very funny book. An amusing tale that can be enjoyed by the whole family, particularly grades 1st-5th.

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

by Morgan Reeves on August 25th, 2014
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi Cover Image

The Search for WondLa has been on my “To Read” list for awhile now, since it was published in 2010. But having learned a valuable lesson in series anticipation from Harry Potter, I put off starting this trilogy until the last book was published. This May the final book was published, The Battle for WondLa, and the time was ripe to start this series.

DiTerlizzi has mixed a good bit of science fiction into his fantasy to create a fascinating world. Eva Nine is a human girl being cared for and trained by Muthr, a humanoid, multifunctional robot. They live in an isolated Sanctuary with no contact with other humans. Eva longs to go outside and venture into the real world, but up until now Muthr has prevented this, deeming it safer to stay inside. But when their home comes under attack from an outside force, Eva is forced to flee on her own. Outside, her encyclopedic Omnidroid cannot identify any of the strange creatures she encounters. Feeling increasingly unprepared for life on the surface, Eva is captured by the strange hunter Besteel, but is able to escape and free his other captives at the same time. Thus, she has made her first friends, Rovender Kitt, a tall blue alien, and Otto, an enormous water bear.

Rovender has some news for Eva, instead of being on Earth as she had assumed, they are on a planet known as Orbona. To help make sense of this new world, she insists on rescuing Muthr from the ruins of their home. Reunited, the group sets off in search of other humans using Eva’s most prized possesion, a photo of a girl, robot and book with only the letters “Wond L a” still visible. Along their journey they encounter both kindness and cruelty from the natives. Eva and Muthr soon realize that they are oddities that no one has seen before, and thus valued for their rarity. The mystery of their origins is left unanswered for most of the book, with the only tantalizing hints coming at the end. Told in four parts with short chapters, this a fairly quick read accompanied by DiTerlizzi’s sylistic illustrations. An interesting tale that leaves you wanting to more, a demand that can gladly met by the sequel, A Hero for WondLa.

The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones

by Morgan Reeves on July 28th, 2014
The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones Cover Image

I have been looking forward to reading this latest and perhaps last tale from the late and fantastic, Diana Wynne Jones, ever since it was announced. Finished by her sister Ursula, The Islands of Chaldea is a fitting bookend to such a long and varied career. The story begins as Aileen, a young magic user in training, discovers that she doesn’t seem to be all that magical. Devastating news for a girl from a long line of powerfully magical Wise Women of Skarr. Aileen is not given any time to dwell on this as she and her no-nonsense Aunt Beck are sent on a quest by the king of their stony grey island. Their quest is in response to a prophecy, that only a Wise Woman and a man from each of the four Islands of Chaldea will be able to remove the barrier that separates them and reunite them as one kingdom. At the end of the last battle between the islands, Logra was magically sealed off from Skarr, Bernica, Gallis, with the barrier in place for most of Aileen’s life. They set off accompanied by Ivar, an arrogant prince of Skarr, and Ogo, a Logran abandoned during the war.

After an eventful start involving poisoned clothes and a sometimes invisible cat, the companions arrive on Bernica. As they wander through rolling green hills, a traveling monk joins them, bringing with him a bird who may tell the future. After Aunt Beck runs afoul of a queen and her donkeys, Aileen begins to come into her own as a leader. She gets them all safely to Gallis, where spells are sung and a religious order reigns supreme. Here they find the relatives of Aileen’s long lost father, who offer them a way over the barrier to Logra, via hot air balloon. Together with her newly discovered cousin and his size changing dragon, they make it over the barrier only to crash land and be taken prisoner. In the capital, the companions find that the poor Lograns have blamed the barrier on the other three islands, and hope for its removal as much as the rest of Chaldea. Who then put up the barrier in the first place? As a decades long conspiracy begins to unravel, Aileen must become the Wise Woman she was meant to be and bring together the four magical guardian animals of Chaldea to overcome the great evil intent on keeping the islands apart.

A great read for fantasy fans, The Islands of Chaldea is a fantastic coming of age adventure, full of the magical comedy Diana Wynne Jones was best known for.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

by Morgan Reeves on June 30th, 2014
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel Cover Image

Trains, Sasquatches, and a circus make for an exciting combination in this steampunk adventure story from Kenneth Oppel. During the late 1800′s in Canada, Will Everett grows up witnessing the expansion of the continental railroads as the son of the railway company manager. A shy boy with a talent for drawing, he has always wished for adventure, but never seems to find it. Now on the maiden voyage of The Boundless, the longest train ever built, his adventure finally begins, as he witnesses a murder. In order to stay alive and warn his father about the criminal plot, Will disguises himself as part of a circus with the help of an old acquaintance. He teams up with Maren, the highrope walker from his past, and Mr. Dorian, the circus ringmaster who has an agenda of his own. Together, they try to reach the front of the seven mile train before the criminal gang catches them. The journey, full of perils both magical and real, puts Will’s drawing skills and new friendships to the test. As the train reach the snowy mountains, danger finally catches up to the circus trio, and not everyone will escape uninjured.

The only hitch in this otherwise fantastic story, is the present tense narration takes some getting used to for most readers. Overall this is a page turning story bolstered by mild fantasy elements and plenty of detail from a lesser-known period of history, with some edge of your seat moments that lead to a suspenseful climax.




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