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ICPL’s Sunday Fun Day Presents: October Improv! The Story’s the Thing

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 18th, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library invites children interested in the performing arts to join them every Sunday in October for October Improv! The Story’s the Thing. Drama-Club-poster2

Using a variety of drama techniques to bring popular children’s stories to life, October Improv! will explore the many ways there are to tell stories, and how actors can experience the character, action, and themes inside of stories.

These weekly drama sessions will be led by AmyRuth McGraw and students from the University of Iowa’s “Drama in the Classroom” course. AmyRuth has a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University. She spent four years as the Associate Director of Education for Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York, and was an Outreach Specialist for Sunshine, Too, a touring theatre company sponsored by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Caps for Sale, designed for children in grades kindergarten through second grade, will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5 in the Storytime Room, in conjunction with the Iowa City Book Festival. Children are invited to take on the role of monkeys and experience this well-loved story in a new way. They’ll also learn to build a story with their bodies, voices, and an empty room.

The Legend of the Shooting Star, designed for students in third through sixth grades, will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12 in the Storytime Room. Participants will explore how storytelling devices prepare them for drama work, music inspires movement, and playing broadens the creative mind.

The Little Engine That Could, designed for children in grades kindergarten through second grade, will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in the Storytime Room. Participants will use their bodies as building blocks, creating machines and exploring how to give trains personalities.

Stone Soup, for students in third through sixth grades, will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, in the Storytime Room. Participants will explore the difference between drama and reader’s theatre, learning how an actor communicates character and action by blending narration, vocal work, and limited movement.

October Improv! The Story’s the Thing is free to attend, but registration is required. To register, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Children’s Garden Update from Scott Koepke

by rcarlson on September 15th, 2014

Garden 2014 postTwo of my favorite words together are “edible landscapes.” What a beautiful way to describe creative uses of public green space for food in addition to flowers. Year three of the City Plaza Children’s Garden will be over already before you know it, so I thought I’d check in with a brief update on some highlights from this past summer.

We harvest food from the garden every Wednesday, and all produce is donated to Table To Table. Our annual rain dance with the pre-schoolers ultimately worked. Perhaps a bit too well. It seems to be feast or famine with rainfall this year. A good rain soaker can often take a gardener through a couple of weeks, and is much more preferable than using tap water. Luckily, we haven’t had to water supplementally that much. Raised beds typically dry out quicker, but the better we take care of the soil with plenty of organic matter, the more effectively it holds onto water molecules to get through dry spells. And, as anyone who knows my teaching knows, it’s all about the soil. We also did a fun “balanced diet promise” with the kiddos the other day. They all put their hands over their hearts before we read some carrot stories, and promised me that they’d eat their veggies!

The bumper crop this year has been eggplant. That purple is the color of summer. Cherry Tomato jungle got a haircut recently. And, of course, the ever-popular natural trellis of cucumbers climbing the sunflowers continues to be a big attraction. That discovery, by the way, like many discoveries, was a serendipitous accident: a couple years ago on children’s day at Arts Fest, when we were planting, some cucumber seeds fell out of my pocket near the sunflower seeds and, voila! Cukes climbing sunnies. Companions forever. Next year I’d love to do one bed just with root crops: more ‘taters, beets, onions, carrots and garlic. It’s important to remember the distinction between above and below ground plants.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. This has been the first season that we’ve had a bit more vandalism and theft. Some plants ripped out and signs stolen. But, overall, as I say every year, I’m still so grateful for the respect this space is given. And you know what? Those rare events of disrespect, in my experience at least, have been valuable, teachable moments. I even had one person come up to me this year and apologize for removing one of the two celery bunches.

The city is still on track to remodel the ped mall, likely in the next couple of years or so. City Staff has been very supportive of the children’s garden, and have told me that they indeed plan to retain enough sunlight-adequate space to continue this precious community resource. I will never tire of watching families walk around the beds, identifying veggies. But I’m a man of simple pleasures.

Soon to come, as well, will be the annual “Putting The Beds To Bed” routine: broadcasting a cover crop of rye seed. I recommend this for any gardener. Soil should never lay bare. Rye is a regenerative cover that will return in spring, unlike oats & peas, for instance, which are “winterkill” – both methods, however, do their job: building organic matter to provide chemically-available nutrients to root systems.  So, to come full circle, let’s return to the essential theme of taking care of the soil first. Then we have plants. Then we have food and oxygen for people and animals. And then we’re here.

Thanks again, Iowa City, for honoring the City Plaza Children’s Garden. And a huge thank you to Rachael Carlson, Scott Spak and Mara Cole who help each summer tremendously with Children’s Day planting, produce deliveries and signage! As I always tell all of my students, the best is yet to come. – Scott Koepke, New Pi Soilmates.

Iowa City Public Library Presents Totally Tweens

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 15th, 2014

After a successful summer of tween-focused events during the Summer Reading Program, the Iowa City Public Library is pleased to present Totally Tweens, a once-a-month program featuring hands-on activities specifically for students in third through sixth grades. free-knitting-patterns-2

Totally Tweens begins Tuesday, Sept. 16, with Knit-In. This program will teach beginners how to knit. Already know how? Experienced knitters will be on hand to help you with your current knitting project.

Yarn will be available along with a limited number of knitting needles for those who don’t own their own. Knitting books will be available for check-out and refreshments will be provided.

Knit-In will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, in the Storytime Room. The event is free and registration is not required.

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

Little Elephant, Big World

by Casey Lambert on September 12th, 2014

Meet Pomelo.   He’s a tiny little “garden elephant” who has big imagination and an even larger vocabulary.   Written by Ramona Badescu and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud, the Pomelo series is by far one of my favorite ongoing picture books series for all ages.  Raucous, inventive, heartfelt and surreal each of Pomelo’s stories blends into the next not only giving readers a glimpse of what being a garden variety elephant entails but instilling us with the desire to see more of this little pink adventurer.

His journey begins with Pomelo Begins to Grow in which our little elephant wonders if, when and how he’ll grow and what will come with this new Pomelo 7stature. “Could it turn out that one day Pomelo is the biggest of all?”

Next, Pomelo Explores Color.  From”the silent white of the blank page” and “the comforting white of  the dandelion” to “the magnificent black of fade-out endings”, Pomelo sees and knows it all, especially the shades in between.Pomelo

In Pomelo’s Opposites we take a deeper look at his character, his world and consequently at ourselves.  Exploring opposites from up and down through dream and reality, this whimsical page turner will keep you laughing from start to finish.

The latest installment in the Pomelo series, Pomelo’s Big Adventure, sees our little friend off into the wide world after packing everything he needs, of course.  Aside from adventure, Pomelo discovers much along the way and perseveres through a “world ruled by chance”.  full emptyThese are books that I can read over and over and not only are they always enjoyable but each one brings a little more of Pomelo to the table showing his readers combined whimsy and verity.  I can hardly wait for the next installment in the series and am in fact thinking of finding all of the original publications, in French, of which there are eleven.

 

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

by Katherine Habley on September 2nd, 2014
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper Cover Image

Two-time Coretta Scott King Award winning author, Sharon M. Draper, has written a stunning novel for upper-elementary school children that opens like this:  “Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes–each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.  Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts.  Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas.  Clever expressions.  Jokes.  Love songs …. But only in my head.  I have never spoken one single word.  I am almost eleven years old.”  So begins the story of fifth grader Melody Brooks who has cerebral palsy but doesn’t want to be defined by it.  Although she can’t walk, talk, feed herself, or go to the bathroom without help, she can read, think, remember, and feel.  She is a brilliant girl trapped in her own weak body and confined to a wheelchair.  Melody learns of a computer with technology that will allow her to communicate to others and her world changes big time!  But there are still ignorant doctors, thoughtless teachers, and cruel classmates to deal with.  Fortunately, Melody has a fierce advocate in her mother, not unlike the author whose own daughter has cerebral palsy, thus providing great authenticity and accuracy in the writing.  This book is a compelling read that will hopefully make all readers more compassionate and understanding toward those with disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them.  I especially loved Melody’s sense of humor and fortitude despite her many challenges.  This is one book you won’t be able to put down until you come to the final page.

Raise a Reader

by Vickie Pasicznyuk on August 28th, 2014

reading aloud 3

Do you have a child just learning to read? Congratulations! Your child is on the verge of exploring a whole new world! The path to becoming an independent reader can seem slow and arduous at times, but here are some tips to help your child stay the course and discover the joy of reading.

Let your child choose books he wants to read. This sounds simple, but so often we get derailed by two little words—“reading level.” Kids need to read “easy” books to build fluency and comprehension, so let them choose books below reading level. Just like practicing an instrument, reading an easy book or an old favorite will refine skills. Kids need to read what they’re interested in—even if it’s hard. So let them choose books above “reading level,” and they’ll tackle challenging vocabulary just because they care. And if they need help, you’ll be there to ease the way.

Which brings up the next tidbit of advice- kids need you to read to them. Don’t abandon reading aloud once your child begins reading. Your reading models skills they need—cadence, speed, inflection, pronunciation, vocabulary. Even more, your read-alouds remind them why they’re working so hard—for the love of story and information! So the next time they choose a book that’s above their reading level, help them meet the challenge—share the reading, model for them, and let them echo you.

The mechanics of learning to read can be hard work, but be careful about making it a “chore.” Your child’s motivation to read is a huge indicator of how accomplished he’ll become. And, let’s face it, how motivated are we by our chores? Beginning readers are encouraged to practice their skills at least 20 minutes a day, but it’s important to not become clock-watchers. Keeping track of time is fine, but shift the focus away from that in hopes that your child will one day completely lose track of how long he’s been reading.

While your child is practicing, be a great listener. Don’t correct mistakes unless it changes the meaning. Help your child when he needs it. Be patient and nonjudgmental. Find fun and alternate ways your child can practice—with siblings or family pets, or even leading a stuffed animal storytime. Soon, you’ll discover that you’ve raised a reader!

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.

Counting By 7′s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

by Katherine Habley on August 25th, 2014
Counting By 7′s by Holly Goldberg Sloan Cover Image

Twelve-year-old Willow Chase has had trouble fitting in her whole life because she is a genius, a person of color, unusual, and adopted.  Her parents provide much love and support despite Willow’s idiosyncrasies and mild obsessive compulsive disorder (she counts by sevens to help calm herself down and has a fixation about medical issues).  Finding a friend has never been easy, but meeting Mai Nguyen who accompanies her brother to his counseling sessions, prior to Willow’s own hour with the inept Dell Duke, changes things and the girls build a unique friendship together.  When the unthinkable happens, the car crash that kills Willow’s adoptive parents, Willow goes to stay in the garage behind the nail saloon that Mai’s mother owns.  The social worker insists that this is just temporary until she can be moved to a facility that can deal with someone who has twice lost her parents and must fine another place to live.  Finding a “new normal” amid a Vietnamese family living just barely above the poverty level creates an opportunity for Willow to change other people’s lives while finding stability and her own unique place in society.  The strong characterizations, the different voices used in the storytelling, and the plot through which Willow finds meaning and acceptance again, create a special novel that will definitely hold the interest in 5th-8th grade readers.

THE SCRAPS BOOK by Lois Ehlert

by Katherine Habley on August 18th, 2014
THE SCRAPS BOOK by Lois Ehlert Cover Image

Lois Ehlert has long been a favorite picture book author/illustrator of mine.  Her books are perfect for storytimes with their large beautiful collage illustrations and short text. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this Milwaukee children’s book author a couple of times and she is just as colorful in her dress and lively in her conversation as you would expect from her artwork.  She collects folk art from her travels and many of those items like fabric and toys from other countries are found in her picture books.  Her latest book, The Scraps Book; Notes from a Colorful Life, is a delightful insight into her creative process when making picture books for children.  The reader learns a little about her life and sees photos of her parents, the house she grew up in, early sketches of some of her books, tools she uses to create her artwork, and some of her actual collections– fishing decoys, folk art dolls, items from the natural world.  The collage of photos on the end papers are inspirational for young artists as is her simple text with notes throughout that makes reading this book pure joy.  The Scraps Book is a unique autobiographical picture book that will be enjoyed by young artists and readers, not to mention art teachers and parents.  Hurray for creativity and inspiration for children to make their own art and learn about bookmaking in the process by a very gifted artist.

ICPL Summer Reading Program Boasts Record Numbers

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 13th, 2014
Treymire Johnson is the winner of the Babies Summer Reading Program Grand Prize -- a $50 gift certificate to Prairie Lights.

Treymire Johnson is the winner of the Babies Summer Reading Program Grand Prize — a $50 gift certificate to Prairie Lights.

The Iowa City Public Library ended the 2014 Summer Reading Program with a bang, recording record participation numbers among all age levels – babies, kids, teens, and adults.

In all, 4,822 patrons registered for the 2014 Summer Reading Program, with 2,205 participants turning in completed game cards by Aug. 2.

The kids program had the highest number of registrants – 2,720 people – and the highest completion rate – 1,386 people.

More than 1,250 adults signed up for the program, with 453 turning in completed game card.

The teen program had 404 registrations and 184 completed game cards handed in, while the babies program had 440 registrations and 183 game cards returned to the Children’s Room.

All completed game cards were entered in a drawing for the Summer Reading Program Grand Prize, which varied depending on the program level. The winners were chosen by a random drawing and contacted by Library staff.

Congratulations to everyone who received a Summer Reading Program prize and thank you to all who participated!

Babies Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A $50 gift card to Prairie Lights

  • Winner: Treymire Johnson

Kids Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire

Edward Li is the winner of the Kids Summer Reading Program Grand Pirze, a Kindle Fire. He is pictured with his father, Richard Li, and Vickie Pasicznyk, the Children's Room Coordinator.

Edward Li is the winner of the Kids Summer Reading Program Grand Pirze, a Kindle Fire. He is pictured with his father, Richard Li, and Vickie Pasicznyuk, the Children’s Room Coordinator.

  • Winner: Edward Li

Teen Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire

  • Winner: Anh To

Adult Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire

  • Winner: Mamta Gautam

Both the teen and adult Summer Reading Programs had additional prizes. In the teen program, first prize winners include:

  • John Green prize:  Morgan Louvar
  • Day Dreams Comics prize:  Madeline Van Horn
  • Prairie Lights Bookstore prize:  Thomas Duong
  • Movie Theatre Prize:  Ashley Rose Joens

Second prize winners received Taste of Iowa City tickets. The winners of this prize includes Palmer Love; MaryClare Greer; Emma Dochterman; Noah Bullwinkle; and Abby Walling.

The winner of the first prize in the adult program – a bag of books – is Lenore Maybaum.

Second prize winners also received Taste of Iowa City tickets. The winners of this prize include Ellen Lee-Andino; Rachel Carmen; Wesley Beary; Brittni Stille; and Jennie Fischer.

 




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