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This Won’t End Well: Tragic Middle-Grade Reads

by Anne Wilmoth on March 17th, 2017

If, like me, you don’t mind wallowing in despair, as long as a good story has led you there, try one of these new works of juvenile literature.  Eye-opening and morally challenging for middle-grade readers, and equally moving for adults, these two novels and one biography will be read through tears.

Thumbnail   The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin

Dog books are notoriously sad, and this one is no exception.  However, instead of doggie death coming at the end of the story, in this book tragedy occurs right at the beginning – 12-year-old girl Daisy is killed in a car crash, and her soul returns to Earth in the body of a dog.  A mistake has been made, though, that allows her to recall her previous life as a girl while living her new life as a dog.  Daisy’s one goal is to find her former home and return to living with her parents, but as their dog.

This intriguing concept plays out in a story that is heartbreaking but also sweet and humorous at times.  Daisy finds that “the responsibilities of a dog are enormous” and though her life may be heading in a completely new direction she can’t control, there is meaning and love and hope in store for her.

 

Thumbnail   The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero by Patricia A. McCormick

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German minister who conspired with others to assassinate Hitler at the height of the Holocaust.  Long a crusader for social justice, Bonhoeffer was one of the earliest critics of the Nazi regime.  At first, he sought the support of other church leaders in condemning Nazism – few did.  Later, Bonhoeffer graduated to espionage, traveling widely outside Germany to share news of the horrors being leveled against Jews – almost no one believed him.  Finally, Bonhoeffer determined that he had no choice but to take part in a daring scheme to end Hitler’s life.

This juvenile biography raises fascinating moral and ethical questions; through reading, we are privy to Bonhoeffer’s decision to turn to violence, despite his religious convictions and commitment to pacifism and nonviolent social change.  Bonhoeffer’s courage and willingness to stand alone is breathtaking; readers will relish this page-turning volume that exposes little-known history.

 

Thumbnail   The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz

To escape gang violence in their small Guatemalan village, 12-year-old Jaime and his cousin Angela embark on a risky journey north, through Mexico and across the border to Texas and safety.  The drug-trafficking gang that controls their town has killed their cousin and promises they’ll be next; their impoverished family, terrified, scrapes together the money needed to finance their escape.  Along the way, Jaime and Angela are locked in a sweltering boxcar for days, dodge murderous gangs as well as the police, endure hunger, and put their lives in the hands of strangers.

This morally complex book is an important read at a moment when immigration is a hot topic around the world. As USA Today reported, in the first 11 months of the 2016 fiscal year, 54,052 unaccompanied minors made the trek from Central America into the United States.  Based on true events, this novel is the tense, heartfelt story of two of these children, for whom an incredibly dangerous journey is their only hope for the future.

 

 

 

Celebrating National Library Week at Preschool Storytime!

by Anne Wilmoth on April 13th, 2017

In the mid-1950s, the American Library Association grew concerned over research that showed Americans were “spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments.”  In response, the ALA launched the first annual National Library Week in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”

Since then, National Library Week has been observed across the country each year during the second full week in April, as a time to “celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.”  (For more on National Library Week, check out this ALA fact sheet.)

The 2017 theme is “Libraries Transform,” and preschool storytime today was transformed into a jubilant celebration of all the things we love about being kids at the library!  It was difficult to choose which picture books about libraries to share with the children – there are so many good ones in our collection (see photo).  I finally settled on Bonny Becker’s A Library Book for Bear, a side-splitting read-aloud with sweeping watercolor illustrations about a bear’s first experience of the library – he’s initially skeptical (who needs more than seven books, really?) but is won over when he stumbles onto a storytime featuring a book about pickles and bears (subjects that resonate with him).  We also read Deborah Bruss’s Book Book Book, a fun read-aloud about a group of farm animals attempting to make themselves understood by the librarian and receive the books they’re after – a book that engages young listeners with a series of participatory animal sounds.

We sang a wacky song called “Bananas Unite,” with plenty of movement, silliness, and an eventual invitation to “GO BANANAS!”  I told the children I selected this song not only because it’s super fun, but also because it’s okay to go a little bananas in the children’s library!  We don’t have to whisper or tiptoe, but can get excited about books and be regular kids in the children’s department.  We also shook egg shakers to the beat along with Tom Knight’s boogie-woogie tune “The Library Song,” a little ditty that lists the wonders to be had at the library – “all you need is a library card!”

Finally, we capped off our half-hour of library love with a mini “behind the scenes” tour of the library – we put some books through the book return slot, then went to the “other side” of the book return to find our books there.  While we were there, several patrons passed by and put materials in the slot – the children gasped and cried, “WHOA!” as they watched the books tumble through the slot and thump into the bins below.  They seemed content to hang out and watch the book return in action for as long as I might let them, but we eventually returned to the storytime room to watch a hilarious classic Sesame Street clip wherein Cookie Monster nearly gives a straight-laced librarian an aneurysm by repeatedly requesting a box of cookies.

If you couldn’t make it today, don’t despair!  National Library Week storytime is happening again on Saturday, April 15 at 10:30am, with some new books, songs and activities.  Come celebrate libraries with us!

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Fresh Picks: Strong Heroines

by Morgan Reeves on March 9th, 2017
Fresh Picks: Strong Heroines Cover Image

I grew up reading stories filled with strong female characters, from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne to Roald Dahl’s Matilda to Tamora Pierce’s Alanna the Lioness. I also loved reading biographies about my real-life heroines, Susan B. AnthonyEleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart. Reading about strong female characters is important for both girls and boys, as reading has a strong influence on children’s ideas and opinions about themselves and others. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some new books full of both fictional and factual heroines.

Fiction

The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

After being sold as a bride to a wealthy family that treats her poorly, eleven-year-old Jing, with the help of her animal spirit friends, runs away. Her subsequent journey is filled with both magic and adventure.

The Runaway by Kate O’Hearn

In the second installment of the Valkyrie series, Freya and Archie are sent back to Earth by Odin in order to locate a banished Valkyrie and bring her back to Asgard. But Brunhilde has built a life for herself on Earth and has no desire to return. And what Freya learns about that life, changes her understanding of her own family.

Disenchanted :The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

For generations the Charming men have been cursed, but now that the witch Envearia is dead the curse should be broken–however things are complicated at Charming Palace: King Clement is still nasty, Queen Maud has fled with the help of her son, Prince Dash, and Ella Coach (called Cinderella) would rather be at home sewing than living in the palace at Charming Prep school.

Nonfiction

Hidden Figures : The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly

In this young reader’s edition of the adult title, discover the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, a group of dedicated female African-American mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Fannie Never Flinched : One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mary Cronk Farrell

Fanny Sellins was a union activist who fought and gave her life for equality and labor reform. This biography shines a light on the long and often dangerous fight for worker’s rights, with the period photographs providing stark reminders of the reasons for the fight.


Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly by Deborah Noyes

A biography of Nellie Bly, the pioneering journalist whose showy but substantive stunts skyrocketed her to fame. Her exploits included impersonating an inmate at an asylum for the mentally ill and reporting on the terrible conditions, as well circling the globe in 72 days and interviewing a controversial anarchist.

You’ll find these titles on the Children’s Room New Shelf for the next couple of months. While you’re there, you might find other heroines to be inspired by.

Her Idleness Strikes Again!

by Casey Maynard on March 7th, 2017

Flora and the Chicks Today, Molly Idle has released her first board book which happens to be the fourth entry in her seminal Flora series.  Flora and the Chicks is an adorable, mostly wordless, counting primer.

Your little one will love exploring numbers 1 through 10 with Flora and her brood of hatching chicks. The old adage regarding playing while mom’s away definitely applies here, much to the delight of the chicks and the chagrin of Flora who does her best to keep up with their the ever increasing number.

Image result for flora and the chicksDefinitely a sequel to check out while we wait, impatiently, for the next installment, Flora and the Ostrich: an Opposties Book, also a board book, coming in September.

Can’t get enough Flora? Be sure to stop by ICPL to see all of her other work and the books she’s illustrated for other authors–our friendly staff would be happy to help you find them all!

 

ICPL to Host Belly Babies for Expectant Parents

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 24th, 2017

Parents expecting the pitter-patter of little feet are invited to the Iowa City Public Library’s Belly Babies, a new program for parents-to-be.

Beginning March 4 and continuing through April 8, Belly Babies will meet from 3 to 4 p.m. every Saturday in the Storytime Room for six weeks. Programs will focus on pre-birth bonding activities, such as songs and stories, and feature special guests who will provide information for families as they prepare to welcome their new addition. This also is an opportunity to meet other expectant parents in the community.

Read the rest of this entry »

La Madre Goose

by Casey Maynard on February 17th, 2017

Image result for la madre gooseLa Madre Goose by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, has become my new favorite picture book for February.

Elya is famous for intermixing Spanish and English within her stories in a way that incorporates rhythm and rhyme.  Her updates to traditional Mother Goose rhymes are no exception in this collection.

The poems and classic rhymes presented here seamlessly flow from Spanish to English and back again making it a lovely read aloud for any family. Martinez-Neal’s warm illustrations help show those not as familiar with the Spanish vocabulary what the slight changes to the rhymes are.   The glossary directly following the title page also helps to make this accessible for multi or single language homes.

Children and parents familiar with classic Mother Goose will be certain to enjoy the twists and turns that this bilingual title takes.

This Little Puerco

 

Effective Ways to Talk to Kids so Kids Will Listen

by Karen Gordon on February 15th, 2017

I babysit my 3 year old grandson on Thursdays. He’s a good kid and he’s lucky that communication and parenting are loving and consistent in his home.

Theo and Mimi "Date" at the Children's Museum

Theo and Mimi “Date” at the Children’s Museum.

Many times we have “Grandma dates.”  Like all kids, Theo likes to test me: can he have chocolate? Can he stay up late or watch more TV?   Well, I think it’s a really important to respect mommy and daddy’s routine. However, he IS with grandma and well, it is grandma time! So every once in a while we do things out of mom and dad’s routine, and sometimes behavior issues will arise. I like to communicate clearly and fairly while encouraging Theo to do the things I would like him to do, not the things I don’t want him to do. How do I deal with behavior struggles in a positive way?

Here is a list of books worth reading. These books are practical and inspiring reads which changed the way I relate to Theo so I can become the grandparent I always wanted to be. These titles I recommend to parents, teachers, librarians, and grandparents, or anyone who works with children.

Parents need to start positive communication techniques sooner rather than later. And by the way, these same methods and techniques enhance communication between adults in all aspects of life.

easy-to-love Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The Seven Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation by Becky A. Bailey. Learn how to stop policing and pleading and become the parent you want to be.

You love your children, but if you’re like most parents, you don’t always love their behavior. But how can you guide them without resorting to less-than-optimal behavior yourself? Dr. Becky Bailey’s unusual and powerful approach to parenting has made thousands of families happier and healthier.

how-to-be-the-parent-you-alwaysHow to Be the Parent You Always Wanted to Be by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish. This helpful little book under 100 pages, also has a CD so you can listen to simple principles that I was able to start right away. This method helps raise kids who are compassionate, caring feelings or others (because they have never been denied their feelings) considerate, respectful and able to make the right decision.

how-to-talk-to-kids-soHow To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish.

Faber and Mazlish use real-life situations to show how you can respect and respond to your child’s feelings and satisfy your own needs.

the-emotional-life-of-a-toddlerThe Emotional Life of the Toddler by Alicia F. Lieberman.  Why do toddlers throw tantrums?  What might they be feeling, and how is it developmentally motivated?  This book is a great resource for parents struggling with the strong, conflicting      emotions of a toddler.  Lieberman explains what is behind the outward manifestations of these feelings, and gives us positive, loving, and empathetic ways to support our children, and ourselves, during this time.

 

 

Storytime Recap: 1,000 Books and Counting

by Morgan Reeves on February 11th, 2017

1000-books-graduationIt has been 1 year of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, so today we celebrated with a storytime focused on books and counting.

We started off with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello” by Kathy Reid-Naiman.

 

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New Children’s Nonfiction Books to Celebrate Black History Month

by Mari Redington on February 10th, 2017

bhmFebruary has been a busy month for the Children’s Room. Well, it’s pretty much always a busy time for us, but with Valentine’s Day, the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten anniversary, and the One Book, Two Book festival coming up, we wanted to be sure to offer some great programs and resources for children to learn about black history in our country. For upcoming programs for kids and adults, see our Black History Month series in the calendar. And be sure to check our Black History Month book display and the Behind the Beat: African American Music display by the African American Museum of Iowa, both located in the Children’s Room. Here are some of my favorite newer nonfiction books I’ve been reading this month to learn more.  Read the rest of this entry »

ICPL Announces February Crazy 8s Math Club Programs

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 1st, 2017

Join the national movement to make math the cool thing to do after school by attending Iowa City Public Library’s Crazy 8s Math Club. This fun and educational program for elementary students in kindergarten through second grade meets from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Storytime Room every Tuesday.

Crazy 8s from the Bedtime Math Foundation is designed to get kids fired up about math. Participants will build things, run and jump, make music – even make a mess – while making new friends and increasing their understanding of math.

Registration isn’t required and participants don’t need to attend every club meeting – but they’ll probably want to!

Here’s what we have planned for February:

February 7: Funky Fractals

Get funky with patterns and mazes! Create crazy patterns with wax sticks, and connect them to make a giant version. Then design your own waxy maze to stump your friends.

February 14: Walk on the Wild Side

How do ladybugs, crabs and lizards run so fast with all those extra legs? They use math! We’ll run, walk and gallop like animals to learn some fancy footwork.

February 21: Super-Cube Shuffle

Math and art collide when you use specially colored cubes to create cool designs. After a round of design copy mania, you’ll be a super-cube pro!

February 28: Epic Air Traffic Control

This week we will build an Epic Air Traffic Control: Build your own airport, complete with finger-light airplanes and glow stick runways. Use your math skills to land all the planes safely!

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




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