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Author Rosemary Wells at ICPL on Dec. 6

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on November 25th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library and Prairie Lights Books are pleased to welcome children’s author and illustrator Rosemary Wells to the Library at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, in Meeting Room A.

Wells is the creator of many popular children’s book characters, including Max and Ruby, Yoko, and McDuff. She is known for using animal characters rather than humans in her stories, telling the children’s journal Stone Soup that this allows her to “address sophisticated, controversial topics in way children can understand and adults can accept.”yoko

Wells’ presentation at the Library will include a video tour through her studio, as well as her thoughts about reading, writing, and illustrating. There will be a book signing afterwards. Copies of Wells’ books will be for sale at the event and at Prairie Lights Books prior to the event.

This author reading is co-sponsored by the Library and Prairie Lights Books, and will be broadcast live on The Library Channel, Iowa City cable channel 20. The event is free and open to the public.

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

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

by Morgan Reeves on November 23rd, 2015
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate Cover Image

A couple of people told me I had to read Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate. Now I have to add my own recommendation, please read this book. This story made a huge impact on me in just a few hours (because that’s all it took to finish this page turner). Ostensibly, a middle grade novel, it brings hard issues front and center in a way that people of all ages can relate to. Poverty and homelessness are not issues often featured in middle grade fiction, but Applegate portrays them masterfully here. A father with a crippling disease too proud to ask for help. A mother underemployed after being laid off. A boy trying to cope. A little sister to be protected from the truth. A true friend. And one imaginary cat named Crenshaw.

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Storytime Recap: So Happy

by Morgan Reeves on November 18th, 2015

As the weather turns colder and grayer, it becomes a bit more difficult to be cheerful and happy. So I thought everyone would enjoy a storytime all about what makes us happiest. As usual, we began our time together with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” Then I talked a bit about some things that make me happy, like my dogs and cat, or reading a good book. I asked everyone to think about their happy things as I read our first book 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz.

Each rhyming pair of happiness possibilities evokes such fun responses from the kids. “Chocolate chips, camping trips…hula hoops, double scoops,” received the most enthusiastic sounds of approval.

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Storytime Recap: Veterans Day

by Morgan Reeves on November 11th, 2015

In honor of Veterans Day, we had a veterans and peace themed storytime. As usual, we began our time together with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” Afterwards, I introduced the concept of honoring our veterans for their contribution to keeping the peace by reading excerpts from Veterans Day by Arlene Worsley. I talked about how Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day, honoring the peace agreement after World War I.

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Saturday Morning Cartoons

by Angela Pilkington on November 10th, 2015


rThis Saturday, November 14th at 10am the ICPL will be having its first Retro Saturday Morning Cartoon showing in the Storytime Room. When planning this event, I had to ask what makes something “retro?” I discovered retro is defined as “style that is consciously derivative or imitative of trends, music, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent past, typically 15–20 years old.”

Thanks WikipediaMy childhood has been officially classified as retro. Since my childhood cgummie bearsan now be defined as retro, I chose cartoons from 1987 for Saturday’s program. See Mom, I didn’t waste my life away watching cartoons as a child. I was doing research for my future job!

There are a few websites available that can tell you what shows were on which channel at any given time. My choice in cartoons in 1987 ranged from the Carebears and Alvin and the Chipmunks to the Gummie Bears and Pound Puppies. (I can still sing all of their theme songs).

I was the classic Midwestern, middle class 7 year old. We had just moved to a new home and had two! television sets. My family had a cable box which required you to get up (the horror!) and manually select the TV channel you desired.  I could never remember what cartoon were on what cablechannel and what time they came on. That was fine, because I had all morning to lay around in my pajama’s to watch before Mom or Dad woke up and started making me do those dreaded chores.

I would get up earlier than I ever would on a school day and watch cartoons all morning while eating my bowls of cereal, usually Cookie Crisp, S’mores Crunch or Fruity Pebbles. In doing research for tsmorescrunchhis program, I came across a wide variety of odd cereals. I remember begging my mom to buy these, normally she would say no, but eventually I would wear her down and I would eat one bowl. I can see why some of these never made it out of the 80’s!

This Saturday we will have some cereal for the kids to enjoy as they watch a retro cartoon or two! These are cereals that were introduced in the 1980′s and just like me they are still around! If they want, kids can come in their pajama’s, bring a blanket or their favorite stuffed toy.

If you want your kids to catch a glimpse of your own childhood, bring them to the library and stick around with us for Saturday Morning Cartoons to bring back some good old memories! What were some of your favorite Saturday morning memories? Tell us!




Veterans Day reading suggestions

by Nancy Holland on November 6th, 2015

As Veterans Day approaches, I’m thinking back on some of the children’s chapter books I’ve  read about World War I. I’m old enough to have a grandfather who actually enlisted to serve in World War I. Fortunately for me and his other descendants, he came down with influenza right away and didn’t recover until the fighting was over.

Jacket.aspxDescribing any war to children is a difficult task. Last year John Boyne published Stay Where You Are & Then Leave. It’s the story of nine-year-old Alfie Summerfield who remembers that it was on his fifth birthday when the fighting started, and the war still shows no sign of coming to an end. Living in London, Alfie is a resourceful young boy who finds a way to make money to help the family. He also finds clues to the fate of his soldier father who he has not heard from in a long time. This book deals with some complicated themes of war, but in a story suited for upper elementary readers. A neighborhood friend is a conscientious objector to the war, and Alfie finally finds his father  in a mental hospital suffering from shell shock. I think the author does a good job of showing the effect of war on a variety of people. Maybe things work out a little too smoothly in the end for adults to easily accept, but it could happen that way.

Animals played an important role in combat in World War I and several children’s books celebrate their service. Soldier Dog by Sam Angus  follows the story of soldier dogthirteen-year-old Stanley who runs away from home to join a weary army in 1917.  He is assigned to the new Messenger Dog Training School and soon forms a bond with a difficult but courageous Great Dane. Dogs continue to serve in the armed forces and young readers can find quite a few other fiction and nonfiction books on this topic.

war horseMy favorite  book about World War I is War Horse by Michael Morpurgo.  This is a powerful story about war told from the point of view of the horse, Joey.  The pointlessness of war is a main theme of this compelling narrative. This book is also great to listen to on audio or a family film that stays true to the book.

ICPL to Host Annual Chess Tournament Nov. 14

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on November 5th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library’s Totally Tweens Chess Tournament will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, in Meeting Room A at the Library, 123 S. Linn St.

A staple of the Library’s tween programming, the tournament is held in honor of Steve Young, who was active in the community’s chess population until his death in 2012.

This is a free event, available to students in third through sixth grades. Younger children may participate if they are a member of the United States Chess Federation.

Registration is required. Children can register by e-mailing Eric Vigil at Walk-ins may register the day of the event from noon to 12:45 p.m.

Refreshments will be provided. Participants should plan to stay for the entire afternoon.

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

Saturday Morning Retro Cartoons at ICPL

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on November 5th, 2015

Parents, do you remember the days of waking up early on Saturday in order to watch cartoons? The Iowa City Public Library invites you to relive the experience with your own children at our Saturday Morning Cartoon event.r

Join us in the Storytime Room at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, where we will screen a lineup of Saturday morning classics, including The Littles, Dennis the Menace, Heathcliff, The Get Along Gang, and Care Bears. Pajamas, pillows and stuffed animals are welcome – we may even have cereal for you to enjoy!

This program is recommended for children of all ages. Parents are asked to sit with their younger children. Saturday Morning Cartoon will replace our regular Saturday Family Storytime on Nov. 14.

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

Oscar Mayer WIENERMOBILE coming to ICPL

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on October 22nd, 2015

It’s no bologna – the Oscar Mayer WIENERMOBILE will be at the Iowa City Public Library for two special visits!wienermobile_billboard_lg

The WIENERMOBILE will make its first appearance at Preschool Storytime from 10:30 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28. There will be Halloween and hot dog stories read in the Storytime Room before a tour of the WIENERMOBILE, which will be parked outside of the Library.

Families unable to attend Wednesday’s event have a second chance Sunday, Nov. 1. The WIENERMOBILE will be parked outside of the Library on the Ped Mall from 2 to 4 p.m. Again, hot dog stories will be read to the visitors, who also will have the opportunity to tour the unique vehicle.

The Oscar Mayer WIENERMOBILE has been roaming America’s highways and backroads since 1936, with six WIENERMOBILE vehicles on the road any given time. You can follow the iconic 27-foot-long hot dog on wheels’ adventures on Twitter (@oscarmayer) and Instagram (@oscarmayer).

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

Baba Yaga’s Assistant

by Casey Maynard on October 15th, 2015

Baba Yaga 1Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll’s new graphic novel, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, is absolutely stunning.  McCoola’s debut is part fan fiction, part retelling, taking pieces from the traditional tale and spinning well known characters and tropes into an entirely new story. Emily Carroll, per usual, delivers fantastic illustrations to accompany McCoola’s devourable text.

Baba Yaga is everything a reader could want in a spin off. Featuring strong female characters, Baba Yaga has just the right amount of spookiness to keep the pages turning yet ends up surprisingly heartfelt and uplifting.

This is definitely a must read for anyone who likes fairy tales, or who is a fan of Emily Carroll’s graphic novel,  Through the Woods. Marika McCoola is an author to watch, and I am hoping to see this team pair up again for more retellings in the future.



baba yaga 3


For more information on Marika McCoola please visit her website

Emily Carroll’s online comics may be found at