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A Retro Hello

by Angela Pilkington on July 2nd, 2015

CaptureI am very happy and excited to be a part of the Iowa City Public Library’s Children’s Department as the new Coordinator! I am moving here from Burlington, Iowa, where I worked at the Burlington Public Library for 13 years. I am bringing with me, my two young kids, and my love of reading.

My love of reading began when I was very young. You could always find me with my nose in a book devouring anything by my favorite author of the month. Today, as I was looking over the j-fiction collection in the children’s room of the library, I found several books that I loved growing up, which has inspired my 80’s & 90’s retro booklist.

Retro Book List – Some titles, some authors:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. These books introduced me to my love of a good mystery book and reading books in a series. I am happy that so many kids still enjoy this series, including my own kids, and as of today they have solved over 140 mysteries. The four Alden children, in my opinion, lived the dream in the ultimate club house, an abandoned boxcar. They had everything figured out and got to solve mysteries at the same time.

Doll House Murders by Betty Ren Wright.dollhouse-murders-betty-r-wright-hardcover-cover-art  I probably read and reread this book a thousand times. It also started me on a path of reading books about Dollhouses (Midnight in the Dollhouse and When the Dolls Woke by Marjorie Filley Stover). Amy discovers an eerily-haunted dollhouse in the attic-an exact replica of the family home. Whenever she sees it, the dolls, representing her relatives, have moved.

goneGone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. A summer filled with mystery and a ghost town! This was right up my alley as a young girl. Portia and Julian find a abandoned resort just across the lake and are determined to find out the secrets

The Not-Just-Anybody Family by Betsy Byars. I have to thank my 4th grade teacher for sharing this book with me. The way she read it to our class had us falling out of our desks laughing. The Blossom family has their share of problems which all seem to fall to Maggie and Vern to figure out.

The BFG by Roald Dahl. This is officially my favorite book by Mr. Dahl, probably because after listening to it in the 6th grade we got to watch the movie, but still a hilarious book nonetheless. Sophie has a great adventure with her BFG (Big Friendly Giant) to save England. I loved all the made up words and silliness that is found throughout the book.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I think I may have loved the movies more than the books but because of the details of the setting, PEI (Prince Edward Island) is on my bucket-list to visit. I loved the friendships that Anne made and the lasting impressions she had on everyone she met.

Mary Downing Hahn. She published her first book the year that I was born and she has been creeping young readers out ever since. I loved her ghost stories, Wait Til Helen Comes, and her suspenseful stories, Dead Man in Indian Park.

Katherine Patterson. She was the first author to make me cry while reading a book. I have read and still own every single book by her. It would be a dream come true to meet her! Top three books by her that everyone should read: Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins and Lyddie.

And I will end my list with books by Christopher Pike because this is the last author I remember reading before the call of a social life and mandatory high school reading (Beowulf, Ivanhoe, The Odyssey) took up all my time. Like most books on this list Christopher Pike’s books were sure to include twists, turns, thrills and chills.

Trust me, I could add about 100 more to this list and I have read plenty of books since the 1990’s. I would love to suggest something with a newer copyright; just look for me in the stacks of the Children’s Room!

IC Farmer’s Market Storytime Recap

by Morgan Reeves on July 1st, 2015

This past Saturday, I took an early morning trip to the Iowa City Farmer’s Market to do a special storytime. I had been worried about rain, but the day started off nice and sunny. I sat under the trees in Chauncey Swan Park and spread out some colorful tablecloths for the kids to sit on. After  a nice little crowd took their seats, we sang a welcome song together.

“We Clap and Sing Hello” to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell”

We clap and sing hello,
With our friends at storytime,
We clap and sing hello!
(Repeat with stomp, wave, etc.)

As an appropriate start to storytime, our first book was Farmer’s Market Day by Shanda Trent, which follows a little girl throughout a farmer’s market as she tries to decide what to buy.

I followed this by asking what the kids had gotten today at the farmer’s market. I told them about my delicious breakfast at Griddle Me This (blueberry lemon pancakes!). Conveniently one girl was still eating a muffin she had gotten, which led right into singing “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”

Oh, do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane?

Oh, yes I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Yes, I know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane.

Next I asked everyone if they knew where the fruits and vegetables they could get at the farmer’s market came from. Everyone knew they came from the garden. Then we read my big book version of Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres to see how these plants grow.

Afterwards, I asked everyone to pretend they were corn and grow up towards the sky. When I asked what is a tasty treat that comes from corn, everyone shouted out “POPCORN! So then we had to pretend we were popcorn by doing an action rhyme.

I’m a piece of popcorn (point to self)
Put me in the pot (make small tossing motion)
Shake me up, shake me up (jump around)
And watch me (freeze)
POP! (big jump with hands spread out and up)

Next we continued thinking about gardening, but this time with flowers instead of food, by reading Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn.

I was going to go to a rhyme next, but a family needed to leave and really wanted to hear the last book, so I moved right into My Garden by Kevin Henkes. I love this book because it is so imaginative and inspires belief in limitless possibilities.

I had fun sharing ideas with the kids about what would be in their gardens. Lastly we finished up with a fun little action rhyme focused on fine motor skills.

10 fat peas in a pea pod pressed (fingers in a fist pressed together)
1 grew, 2 grew, so did all the rest (very slowly uncurl 1, then 2 then, all fingers)
They grew and they grew, and they did not stop (keep slowly uncurling fingers)
Until one day that pod went POP! (suddenly open hands with fingers out)

Overall it was a fun and successful experiment, so perhaps we will try to do another Farmer’s Market storytime before it’s over.

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt

by Katherine Habley on June 30th, 2015
Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt Cover Image

Eleven-year-old Tate P. Ellerbee needs to write to a pen pal for the school year and her teacher wants her class to choose a child from a school in Japan so they will get to know someone from a different country.  Some kids hesitate because this story is set in 1949 and World War II is still fresh in the minds of all.  Glimpses of the prejudice and anti-communist feelings are obvious.  Tate decides she wants to write to Hank Williams, an up-and-coming country and Western singer she’s heard on a Saturday night radio program each week with her family.  Although the story is told entirely via letters Tate writes to Mr. Williams (and his only response is sending autographed photographs), she is not deterred because he never writes back.  Once you get past the idea that Tate never gets any letters in return from the singer (I would have found a different pen pal who wanted to correspond with me!), the reader will enjoy the narrative. Her letters are almost journal entries as she tells about her day-to-day life practicing her singing for a talent show, laughing with uncle Jolly’s girlfriend, and cuddling with her dog.  Tate’s parents are absent and she lives with Aunt Patty Cake and her Uncle Jolly.  We later learn that her actress mother is serving time in prison because of a bad choice she made and her father is off supposedly taking photographs all over the world for his job. Tate has not been dealt a fair hand in life but she is still a positive and upbeat character who loves her caring aunt, funny uncle, and especially her dog, Lovie.  Her annoying brother, Frog, adds an important element to the story, especially in the surprise ending to the book.  As Tate continues writing to a complete stranger, her personality and outlook on life unfold revealing a very real character with spunk, humor, and hope for the future.  I love historical fiction and have enjoyed other books by Kimberly Willis Holt so this story was a great choice for me to read and be able to recommend to 4th-6th grade readers this summer.  A tender, and at times heartbreaking story, this book will surely take the reader on a memorable ride in a by-gone time.

Upcoming Children’s and Family Events

by Casey Maynard on June 18th, 2015

With the Summer Reading Program in full swing I thought this would be a perfect time to remind you all of some great programs we have coming up in the next few weeks. Be sure to mark your calendars!

  • Thursday, June 25th: 10:30-11:15 am We’re hosting a wonderful concert about Real American Heroes with Mike Schneider of Pint Size Polkas
  • Thursday, June 25th: 2:00-3:00pm Dynamic storyteller and troubadour, Darrin Crow is making his return to ICPL with a program about Super Heroes of Folk Tales
  • Saturday, June 27th: 10:30-11:15am  Mister G is making his ICPL debut with a bilingual concert entitled Los Animales Fiesta
  • Sunday, June 28th: 2:00-3:00pm After a wonderful program here last summer, the Macbride Raptor center is making a return visit to ICPL
  • Thursday, July 9th: 10:30-11:00am & 2:00-3:00pm The Blank Park Zoo’s Show ans Tell program is back!  Be sure to stop by the library to see which wonderful animals we’ll meet this year.
  • Sunday, July 12th: 2:00-3:00pm Don’t miss the Super Heroes of Outer Space concert with Dino O’Dell!
  • Thursday, July 16th: 10:30-11:00am A first for the library, Iowa’s very own Mr. S and the Sandbox Band will be making their debut appearance!
  • Thursday, July 23rd: 10:30-11:15am & 2:00-3:00pm  Come to the library to be amazed by tricks and illusions galore! Not only will Jason Kollum leave you mesmerized with his feats, but he’ll teach you how to do some of them at home.
  • Sunday, August 2nd 2:00-4:00 Back by popular demand the Iowa State University’s Insect Zoo will be bringing its living display for you to interact with and learn from! This program is full of creepy crawlies for you to see, meet and handle, be sure to bring your sense of adventure.

More information about any of these programs may be found on the ICPL calendar online at



Teach Math with Picture Books!

by Karen Gordon on June 11th, 2015

GiraffeNumberCountRhymeWhat I’ve learned during many outreach visits is that math is another important skill to bring to storytime. There are so many wonderful books to get kids counting.
Without a doubt, kids are willing participants . I like to use flannel board activities or fingerplays, because they allow us to count up and count down together. They also learn about subtraction and addition through fingerplays. The kids are so enthusiastic about learning math and I notice these activities give them an extra boost of confidence.
Research shows how important and critical it is that parents read to their children every day from birth up until kids enter school. Well, it’s also critical that parents make an effort to incorporate math, too. This is where picture books can help.
Counting using picture books can spark the interest in, and nurture a wonder of, math the same way reading books can nurture a wonder of books. In math, kids can find imagination and wonder in so many ways.

Count with Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep! by Lucy Cousins  Counting w Maisy cheep is an adorable flap book that will keep any toddler’s attention: “It’s almost bedtime. Mommy Hen is looking for her 10 chicks.” And Maisy is there to find them. Little readers can help by lifting the flaps to see who’s hiding in the stable, the tractor, and the apple tree. This game of hide-and-seek will keep little ones busy and eager for more.

More counting – Look for these new counting books in the Children’s Room.

Count on the subway Count On the Subway by Paul DuBois Jacobs

llustrations and rhythmic text describe the  sights and sounds of a subway ride in New York City as a mother and child go uptown, counting their way from one to ten and back again.

Counting Crows by Kathi AppelCounting Crowst The reader is invited to count hungry crows as they hunt for savory snacks.

1 to 2o Animals a Plenty by Katie Viggers1-20 Animals                                    This beautiful and simply written counting book teaches kids to count from 1 to 20 as they meet a menagerie of amusing creatures.

Robot burp head

Robot Burp Head Smartypants! By Annette Simon
On your mark, get set, belch! The green and purple robots from Robot Zombie Frankenstein! are back for a second round of “Top This” games! Burp to ten? Easy! Burp the alphabet? No sweat! Burp by tens while blindfolded, juggling, and skateboarding? Yikes! Reluctant readers won’t even notice that they’re learning as they laugh out loud at the wacky antics of these irreverent robotic pals.

Way Cool Chemistry Dates Announced

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 3rd, 2015

Way Cool Chemistry, a program designed to make chemistry accessible and fun for fifth- through eighth-grade students, returns to the Iowa City Public Library this summer.

Students interested in chemistry will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on demonstrations and experiments from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20, and Saturday, Aug. 1.

Both programs will be held in Meeting Room A. Pre-registration is not required.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Summer Food Rocks! Program

by Kara Logsden on June 3rd, 2015

It’s summer and for many this means relaxed days, vacations, and no school. For others this means long days, no school breakfast or lunch, and being hungry. Fortunately our community has a Summer Food Rocks! program. From June 15th through July 30th on Mondays through Thursdays, breakfast and lunch are served at Fairmeadows Park and the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center.

Summer Food Rocks! is open to all children 18 and younger. There is no enrollment and no cost. Breakfast is served 9-9:30 AM and lunch is served Noon-12:45 PM.

Here’s a link to more information: 2015 SummerMeals_flyer_2015

Feel free to print this PDF and post it where students might find it. If you know a student who could benefit from this program, please pass along the information.

For more information, contact Alison Demory, RD/LD, Director of Nutrition Services, Iowa City Community School District, 688-1021.

Three cheers for summer!

ICPL Announces Monday Matinee Lineup

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 2nd, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will kick off its Monday Matinee series Monday, June 8, with Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles.

Join us every Monday at 2 p.m. in the Storytime Room for a screening of some of our favorite family movies.

June 8: The Incredibles

Undercover superhero family, the Parrs, are trying to live quietly until they are forced to don their masks again to try to save the world.

June 15: How to Train Your Dragon

Aspiring dragon hunter Hiccup discovers that there may be more to dragons than his clan thinks.

June 22: Shrek

When his swamp fills with magical creatures, Shrek the Ogre agrees to rescue a princess for the king. In return his swamp will be emptied of creatures.

June 29: Kung Fu Panda

Po the Panda dreams of being a master of Kung Fu while working in his parents’ noodle shop. When he is chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy despite having no martial arts experience, Po is forced to try to make his dreams a reality.

July 6: Brave

Princess Merida, determined to make her own path, defies a custom, creating chaos in her kingdom.

July 13: Wreck-It Ralph

Videogameland villian Weck-It Ralph aspires to be the hero of his game.

July 20: WALL-E

In the distant future a small garbage compacting robot, WALL-E, inadvertently sets out on a space adventure that will change the fate of the human race.

July 27: Mulan

To save her father from being drafted into the Chinese army, Mulan takes his place and becomes one of China’s most celebrated heroines.

Monday Matinee is a free event for children of all ages. For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Storytime Recap: Take a Trip

by Morgan Reeves on May 31st, 2015

As I did storytime on both Wednesday and Saturday this past week, this is a combined recap of both storytimes. With summer vacation just around the corner, both days were all about travel and taking trips. As usual storytime began with our welcome song “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.”  I talked about taking trips and how I take a short trip every day by biking to work. Then I read our first book Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone. I asked everyone to join me in reading by responding every time I read “Where are you going bear?” with “Please wait for me!” By running my finger under their response, I encouraged print awareness, or knowing that the words we say correspond to words on the page.

Then we sang the song “The Wheels on the Bus” following the words by Raffi.

The wheels on the bus go round and round
Round and round
Round and round
The wheels on the bus go round and round
All ’round the town

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish….
The driver on the bus goes ‘move on back’….
The people on the bus go up and down….
The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep….
The baby on the bus goes ‘whaa whaa whaa’….
The parents on the bus go ‘shh, shh, shh’….

Next we read one of my favorite books How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. The story takes baking from scratch to an absurd extreme, following the baker across the world in search of the freshest ingredients.

I followed this story with an action rhyme about ariplanes

Airplanes fly in the sky, zoom zoom!  (zoom arms around)
Airplanes fly in the sky, zoom zoom!  (zoom arms around)
Round and round the airplanes go  (arms out, spin around)
Flying high, flying low  (arm up high, then down low)
Shhh… I think I hear one  (finger to lips, then cup ear)
ZOOM! (zoom arm from one side to the other)

Our final book of the day, Lately Lily by Micah Player was a more reflective story about a young girl’s experiences as she travels with her parents.

As a nod to our movie we finished up with another action rhyme, “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom”

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom (rub hands together, back and forth while pointing them up in the air)
We’re going to the moon.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom (rub hands together, back and forth while pointing them up in the air)
We’re going to the moon.

If you want to take a trip, (wave hand towards yourself)
Climb aboard my rocket ship. (make stepping motions)

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom (rub hands together, back and forth while pointing them up in the air)
We’re going to the moon.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, (hold 5 fingers up and count down)

Blast off! (jump up)

Our movie was La Luna, a Pixar short film, which was mostly wordless and completely beautiful.

Preschool Storytime on Wednesdays will take a break starting June 10th, as we have Stories in the Park at Willow Creek Park through the end of July. Hope to see you there!


Soup and Salad Children’s Garden

by rcarlson on May 28th, 2015

flower_spring_2015Children’s Day is Saturday, June 6th and that means it’s time to plant the Children’s garden! This year Scott Koepke, the education and outreach coordinator for New Pioneer Food Co-op’s Soilmates program, will focus on root crops and greens, like potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and lettuce – perfect ingredients for soup and salad. We’ll also grow sunflowers to make a natural trellis for cucumber vines to climb, and we’ll plant more herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley, and basil to compliment the cilantro and dill that self-seeded from last year. The perennial flowers are back and stronger than ever, providing biodiversity for important pollinators and beneficial insects.

Scott reports that the garden soil condition is extremely healthy and happy. Compost and cultivated rye grass are providing tremendous nutrients.  As we know, healthy soil is the foundation for healthy plants.

We’ll need your help on Children’s Day to sow seeds around the edge of the garden and to make row signs for each type of plant. Reminder: All produce harvested from the Children’s Garden is donated to Table To Table, which provides food for the area’s hungry, homeless and at-risk population.