Thursday, December 19, 2019

3D Paper Snowflakes

I might be a little too enthusiastic about the holidays. But hey, I'm a children's librarian. It comes with the territory; like sweaters and scarves, and sweaters and scarves covered in cat hair. When I decided to hang paper snowflakes around the Children's Department I was thinking of how Buddy the Elf decorated Gimbels. See the vision below:

Festive for the holidays and for the rest of winter. So what does the Children's Department look like? Check it out below! If you're interested in creating some 3D snowflake magic of your own, keep scrolling for a quick tutorial. You can also find instructions hereherehere, and here

6 pieces of white copy paper 
Tape or glue

Fold a piece of paper in half diagonally. Copy paper will not make a perfect triangle, so cut off the rectangular edge. Feel free to get as elaborate as you like with your paper. Cardstock with different patterns on each side make some beautiful snowflakes!  

Fold the triangle in half. Along the bottom fold of the triangle, cut three parallel lines. Cut almost all the way to the triangle's edge. I tend to just eyeball my cuts, but some people prefer to measure their lines with a ruler. 

Unfold the paper and position it so it looks like a diamond. 

Starting from the inside of the diamond, bend and roll two paper lines together to form a tube. Attach with tape or glue. You should see triangle shapes on each side of the roll. 

Turn the paper over and attach the next two paper lines together. The tubes should be opposite one another. 

Keep turning the paper over and joining the lines together until no paper strips remain.  

Repeat with the remaining five pieces of paper. 

When you are finished rolling all the pieces, join three of the completed pieces together by stapling their ends together. Do the same with the remaining three to form the two branches of your snowflakes.

Staple the two pieces together in the middle. Then staple where each of the arms meet to ensure a full snowflake shape. 

Now you're ready to decorate! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Holiday Reads

Are you still searching for a picture book to read on Christmas Eve? Set out Santa's cookies and milk, and cozy up with one of these books. To find even more Christmas reads, visit our catalog

Dear Santa, I Know It Looks Bad but It Wasn't My Fault!
Norma Lewis
Scalawag writes a series of letters to Santa explaining all the mischief he has found himself in during the year. Since he is clearly the best kitty ever, there is no reason a few accidental mishaps should prevent him from receiving the Catman and Robin video game for Christmas! But when Scalawag destroys Miss Violet’s Christmas tree, he realizes he needs to ask Santa for something else.  

Little Robin’s Christmas
Jan Fearnley
Little Robin is ready for Christmas! He has seven cozy and festive vests to wear during Christmas week, but he doesn’t count on meeting seven chilly friends that need some hand-knitted warmth. When Little Robin starts to freeze in the snow, will a certain jolly fellow be able to help?   

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Charlies M. Schulz
One of the holiday season's quintessential movies comes to life in book form. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit expect for Charlie Brown. Something is missing among all the lights, presents, and aluminum Christmas trees. Can Charlie Brown and the gang find the true meaning of Christmas?

The Most Wonderful Gift in the World
Mark Sperring
Esme and Bear have the most wonderful Christmas, but they discover that Santa accidentally placed a gift for Little Bunny Boo-Boo under their tree. The two decide to deliver the gift to the correct recipient, but the journey is full of fierce winds, freezing temperatures, and deep snowdrifts. When they finally arrive, Esme and Bear learn that the lonely little bunny got exactly what she asked for from Santa.

Snowmen at Christmas
Caralyn Buehner
You may know what snowmen do at night, but do you know what fun snowmen get up to on Christmas Eve? A roly poly, snowy party of course!

Santa Mouse
Michael Brown
A lonely little mouse in a big, old, empty house realizes that no one ever gives Santa a gift in return. As he gets ready for bed on Christmas Eve, the little mouse decides to leave his most cherished piece of cheese for Santa. Santa is so touched by his generosity, that he asks the little mouse to be his helper.

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express
Maudie Powell-Tuck
Sad that her Christmas card won’t reach her grandfather in time, Mia finds an unusual mailbox at the Christmas market. When Mia follows the mailbox’s instruction, she is whisked away on a reindeer through beautiful winter landscapes. What will she find at the end of her journey?

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Brooke Vitale
An adaptation of a classic holiday movie, Gonzo and Rizzo narrate The Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge meets three ghosts and lots of Muppets on Christmas Eve, changing his mean ways for good. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Best Nonfiction of 2019

If you think nonfiction has to be dense and dry, think again! We're wrapping up the end of 2019 with some of our favorite nonfiction reads. Full of gorgeous photographs, STEAM activities, funny anecdotes, and more, give these titles a try.

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons 
Natascha Biebow
Macaroni and Cheese. Inchworm. Robin’s Egg Blue. Razzmatazz and Tickle Me Pink. It’s hard to believe that children (and adults) weren’t always dreaming about naming a Crayola Crayon color or wishing for the big box with the sharpener. This book reveals Edwin Binney’s journey from working in a dark, colorless factory to inventing a way for children to vibrantly draw. 
Highlights include: A look at the Crayola factory in Easton, Pennsylvania; the various minerals for pigments; and a well-rounded bibliography.

United Tastes of America: An Atlas of Food Facts & Recipes from Every State
Gabrielle Langholtz 
What culinary delights are famous in your state? Ohio is known for its chicken paprikash, apples, and the chocolate peanut buttery goodness of buckeyes. In this colorful cookbook, each state is given a profile of fun food facts and a signature recipe. 
Highlights include: A cooking tips and tools section; easy recipes; and the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also featured.

Elvis is King!
Jonah Winter
Elvis Presley’s impoverished beginnings and meteoric rise to superstardom are chronicled in 3D by Red Nose Studio. Short chapters convey Presley’s shyness, first love, loneliness, and discovery of blues and gospel music. 
Highlights include: Each chapter is a short, lyrical poem about a moment in Presley’s early life; an author’s note at the end describes the complexity of Elvis, including the loneliness he experienced throughout his life, and the cultural appropriation and segregation of the time. 

The Sea Book
Charlotte Milner
From coral reefs to migrating whales to kelp forests, The Sea Book explores the incredible habitats and animals of the world’s oceans. The end of the book discusses some of the issues threatening these incredible places and creatures, such as climate change and plastic waste, and what steps can be taken to reverse the effects. 
Highlights include: Gorgeous illustrations and countless diverse facts; there’s even a tutorial for crafting a reusable shopping bag from an old shirt.

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest
Peter Wohlleben
Do trees have grandparents? Do they ever get scared? What do trees drink? Why do some trees lose their leaves every autumn? Peter Wohlleben answers these questions and more for young readers. While the book discusses the typical life a tree, particular emphasis is given to how trees communicate with one another and how essential they are to the planet’s network of plants and animals. 
Highlights include: Beautiful photographs; quizzes; and a “Try This!” corner on virtually every page with easy activities and experiments.

Can You Crack the Code? A Fascinating History Ciphers and Cryptography
Ella Schwartz
If you’ve ever wanted a more secure, secretive way to pass notes during class, give this book a try. Can You Crack the Code? traces the use of ciphers from Ancient China to the Greeks to Samuel Morse to Alan Turning to the present day. Simple and complex methods of creating codes, such as messages on silk or through computer code, are discussed in addition to methods of keeping codes secret – even swallowing paper! 
Highlights include: Activities for young readers to create and break codes are included

Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night
Mark Wilson
Those gorgeous, big owl eyes that captivate us? Did you know that some owls’ eyes are larger than their brains? Or that owls do not build their own nests, but rather use those abandoned by other birds? Owling is a detailed look at the anatomy, nesting habits, calls, habitats, and hunting and flying practices of owls. The nineteen owl species of North America are covered with gorgeous pictures by wildlife photojournalist Mark Wilson. 
Highlights include: The layout and photographs are attractive; every young reader is fascinated by poop so it’s no surprise that there’s a hefty discussion of owl pellets; the end of the book details current conservation efforts and steps for making an owl box. 

Fighting for the Forest: How FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps Helped Save America
P. O’Connell Pearson
When President Roosevelt took office in 1933, he immediately unleashed a barrage of New Deal Programs to bring the U.S. back from the brink. One of the most successful New Deal programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC provided young men with employment, shelter, clothing, food, and a $30 monthly wage ($25 was automatically sent home to their families). Some 3 million men participated, 800 parks were created, and 3 billion trees were planted. Ample personal stories, a thorough background on the Great Depression and the creation of the CCC, the leadership involved in the program, and the type of work the CCC did make this an excellent read. 
Highlights include: The positives and the negatives of the CCC are discussed; vocabulary words are highlighted; and today’s connections to the CCC are given plenty of attention.

The Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in Our Food and Drugs
Gail Jarrow
The Poison Eaters hooks young readers immediately with tales of candy laced with arsenic, milk with formaldehyde, and sausages with borax. In addition to gruesome food events and junk medicine, the book describes the life of Harvey Washington Wiley, his 30 year campaign for safe food and drugs, and the eventual creation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Highlights include: Photographs, timelines, newspaper headlines and political cartoons, magazine advertisements, plenty of stories, and a “More to Explore” section are a draw for reluctant readers.  

Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats
Kimberlie Hamilton
"Dewey" know about the library cat that greeted patrons and read with children? What about the first cat that traveled into space? Or what about the tabby that went on top-secret flying missions during World War II? Hamilton provides young readers with 30 full page biographies of famous felines complete with the most adorable illustrations. 
Highlights include: The diversity of the cats profiled; a timeline and cat trivia between biographies; and a fun quiz titled “Why Are Cats So Weird?”

Monday, November 25, 2019

Katie's Review of Renee Watson's Some Places More Than Others

Are you a reader who prefers realistic fiction to fantasy? While I, myself, do not dislike any genre of fiction, I often find I am mostly attracted to stories about real people in real-life situations. It is in these stories that I am not only given the opportunity to learn about people from other walks of life, but I am also able to see myself and my own journey in a new light. There may be no ring to be dropped in the fire of Doom, but there is always a journey that tests the courage of the protagonist and begs the reader to ask who am I and of what am I capable?

Award winning writer Renee Watson is known for her ability to present the lived experiences of young girls in a way that is relatable to those living outside the character's own backdrop. Her talent for describing real life places makes the reader want to travel to the depicted destinations and become a part of the story. Watson's most well-known book Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winner Piecing Me Together, is a great read for understanding race, identity and our own stereotypes we have in regards to these subjects.

In her latest book Some Places More Than Others, the reader sees the world through Amara, a young African American girl from Portland Oregon, who travels to New York City to visit the grandfather she has never met under the guise of a school assignment that requires her to learn about her family's heritage. In so doing, she not only learns about her father’s childhood, but is also made aware of the impact historical African American figures and institutions have had on not only his sense of identity, but also her own. It is on this adventure through Harlem, that Amara discovers her own resilience and the power of love and family, while the reader is left with an understanding of the transcending power of forgiveness and gratitude.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Must-Reads Based on Your Hogwarts House

Still stalking the post for your Hogwarts acceptance letter? Don't worry. I get it. There's something about this time of year that makes me crave the goodness that is the Harry Potter series: Moody, gray skies, comfy scarves, falling leaves, lots of candles and twinkly fairy lights, you get the idea. So how about grabbing a book based on your Hogwarts House? Check out the list below for recommendations for every witch, wizard, and badger (Sorry Hufflepuffs, couldn't resist). If you don't know your Hogwarts House, take the official quiz on Pottermore!    

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry 
Set Gryffindors apart
Courage, bravery, determination

The Bee Maker by Mobi Warren 
The year is 2036. Honeybees are almost extinct. Melissa’s parents are divorced. Her mother is off on archaeological digs while her father is studying honeybees and searching for the last remaining hives to rescue. Melissa tries to cope with her distant parents and her epilepsy by folding hundreds of origami honeybees. When her origami opens up a time portal, Melissa finds herself in Ancient Crete trying to save a young boy and the world’s honeybees. 

The Gryffindor Appeal: Gryffindors will find plenty of adventure with this mix of time travel, mythology, dire consequences, origami, and even a few marathons.  

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Prince Sebastian of Belgium is in France searching for a wife. Or rather his parents are searching for the perfect bride so Sebastian can carry on the family line. At a ball in his honor, a dress catches the prince’s eye. Sebastian offers the creator, a young girl named Frances, to work as his personal seamstress, making romantic and gorgeous dresses for him to wear at night as Lady Crystallia. Frances and Sebastian become close friends but as Lady Crystallia’s popularity soars, it becomes harder for Frances to keep Sebastian’s double life a secret. 

The Gryffindor Appeal: Every Gryffindor knows the bravest thing you can do in this world is be yourself. 

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
On the night of the Autumnal Equinox, Ben’s town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that the lanterns will meet the Milky Way and turn into stars. This year, Ben and his friends decide they are going to follow the river until they discover the truth of where the lanterns land. Despite their pact, Ben’s friends leave him one by one (One leaves because it’s taco night at home. Can you blame him?) and Ben finds himself stuck with the nerdy outcast, Nathaniel. As Ben and Nathaniel continue to follow the lanterns, they discover a wonderfully weird adventure full of gentlemanly bears, homemade Rice Krispie treats, potions, flying fish, and dogs that can walk on water.

The Gryffindor Appeal: There’s a pact with two rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back. What Gryffindor doesn’t love a quest with a pact? While the fantastical quest makes the book a page turner, the real draw is the unexpected friendship between Ben and Nathaniel.

The Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher 
12-year-old Oliver is a mage. A very minor, inexperienced mage. He knows only three spells, and one is to help control his allergy to armadillo dander (Did I mention that Oliver’s familiar is a snarky armadillo? Let that sink in for a bit). Yet Oliver is his village’s only hope to bring back the rains to the drought-riddled town. And so begins Oliver’s journey that teaches him about magic, friendship, monsters, ghosts, and pigs. 

The Gryffindor Appeal: The Minor is Mage is a quick read (it's a novella), ensuring plenty of time for Gryffindors to have real-life adventures in addition to those on the page. Plus, Oliver is a fun blend of Ronald Weasley and Neville Longbottom.  

You might belong in Hufflepuff, 
Where they are just and loyal, 
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true 
And unafraid of toil
Trust, loyalty, patience  

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. A newborn baby is taken to the nearby forest and left as an offering to the evil witch. The problem? Unbeknownst to the people of the Protectorate, the witch in the forest is kind and compassionate. She rescues the abandoned babies, feeds them starlight for nourishment, and finds them loving homes on the other side of the forest. One year the witch accidentally feeds a baby girl moonlight instead of starlight, thus filling her with extraordinary magic. As the girl grows up, she must learn how to use her magical powers and discover the real witch terrorizing the Protectorate. 

The Hufflepuff Appeal: A young girl brimming with moon magic, an elderly witch, a poetry loving swamp monster, and a perfectly tiny dragon somehow form a family. Hufflepuffs will adore the love shared between them. 

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
Iris is a whiz at fixing electronics, especially antique radios. While she feels at home among the world of wires and vacuum tubes, school is different story. Iris is deaf and struggles to communicate with those around her. When she learns of a whale with a similar challenge during science class, Blue 55, Iris makes it her mission to let him know that someone understands him. She decides to create a song just for him. The problem? Iris is in Texas and Blue 55 is swimming off the coast of Alaska, some 3,000 miles away.

The Hufflepuff Appeal: Song for a Whale is a heartfelt, touching read – perfect for Hufflepuffs that feel deeply and want an emotional connection to their books. In addition, the dedication and love shared between Iris and her grandmother makes this book a true gem.

Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos 
Nova is an astronomy nerd, counting down the days until the space shuttle Challenger lifts off and takes the first teacher into space. Nova and her big sister Bridget plan on watching the launch together. Nova likes how her new school has a planetarium. She thinks her new foster family is nice. But Bridget has disappeared. And even though Nova knows that she is smart, that she can read and write, everyone around her dismisses her as autistic and nonverbal. How can Nova share what she feels inside? And will Bridget make it home in time for the Challenger launch? 

The Hufflepuff Appeal: Nova’s rich, imaginative world and strength make her an unforgettable character. The beautiful bond between sisters and Nova’s journey will tug at the heartstrings of Hufflepuff readers.     

Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers 
by Celia C. Perez
When Lane moves from London to Florida to stay with her wealthy grandmother she isn’t quite sure how to make friends. After scattering invitations around the library to form a new club, Lane meets three very different girls: the avid birdwatcher and environmentalist Cat; the aspiring journalist Ofelia; and the accomplished young chef Aster. The girls couldn’t be more different and tensions are high when they first meet; however, a hat full of bird feathers leads the girls towards friendship and activism. 

The Hufflepuff Appeal: Sassy, tender, and diverse, the book’s overarching message about acceptance and friendship makes it the perfect read for Hufflepuffs. The club handbook and the numerous details about bird watching are treats for quirky badgers.     

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw 
If you’ve a ready mind 
Where those of wit and learning 
Will always find their kind
Cleverness, wisdom, creativity 

The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins by Gail Shepard

History buff Lyndie can tell you anything about the Civil War. Go ahead, ask her about the gruesome diseases that soldiers endured. When it comes to her own life, however, Lyndie needs to do some more research. Why is her dad different after coming home from Vietnam? Why does her mom stay in her bedroom with headaches? Why is her grandma trying to turn her into a proper Southern belle? When Lyndie starts to discover the answers and some family secrets, she must choose between loyalty and saving her family or a new friend. 

The Ravenclaw Appeal: A creative blend of history, mystery, and southern charm. Ravenclaws will not only be delighted by Lyndie, but also by Miss Dooley – the librarian that assists Lyndie with all her historical research. Using books and microfiche. That’s right Ravenclaws, no quick and easy Google searches in this book. 

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Hazel’s life is pretty quiet; she lives on a goat farm with her two moms, reads old science encyclopedias for fun, and takes care of her dogs. Things change though when Hazel is forced to go to a new school, without her best and only friend, because of school rezoning. Things get even more complicated when one of Hazel’s moms becomes pregnant after suffering two previous miscarriages; Hazel has to learn what it means to be a big sister. Thinking hibernating until high school is the only solution, Hazel meets two outspoken friends that make her complicated journey a little easier. 

The Ravenclaw Appeal: This book explores some sensitive topics such as grief, sexuality, identity, and disabilities, but Ravenclaws ready to ponder these will find Hazel’s story to be realistic and empowering.

The Book Wanderers by Anna James 
Tilly has lived with her grandparents, the owners of Pages & Co. Bookshop, since her mother disappeared shortly after she was born. While she may not have many real friends, she has plenty of fictional ones in Anne of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland, A Little Princess, and Treasure Island. When Tilly starts to see Anne and Alice in the bookshop and she’s able to travel with them into their books, Tilly learns of her family’s secret ability to bookwander. Tilly must be careful with her newfound ability, however, especially when she starts to investigate the real reason her mother disappeared. 

The Ravenclaw Appeal: It’s a celebration of books. Anne Shirley and Alice from Wonderland feel true to form. Ravenclaws that have always fantasized about being able to jump into the pages of their favorite novel will be jealous of Tilly’s ability. Plus, this novel promises to be the first in a series of book traveling adventures.   

Saving Wonder by Mary Knight After losing his parents and brother to coal mining accidents, Curley lives with his Papaw in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Papaw gives Curley new words from the dictionary to learn and use each week, and the two share a love of nature and their mountain-top town. When the town’s coal mining company changes hands, Curley discovers the new owners intend to destroy his mountain home through Appalachian surface mining. Relying on the words his Papaw taught him and his friends, Curley launches a fight for the town he loves. 

The Ravenclaw Appeal: Ravenclaws will not only appreciate learning a plethora of new words, dictionary entries for Curley’s weekly words are featured at the end of each chapter, but will love the message that words have power to change the world. 

Or perhaps in Slytherin 
You’ll make your real friends 
Those cunning folk use any means 
To achieve their ends
Ambition, leadership, resourcefulness

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
The Civil War has consumed the United States and the March sisters; the four girls worry about their father who is serving as a chaplain for the Union. Beautiful Meg is the oldest and supports her impoverished family. Amy is the youngest, spoiled but artistic. Beth, often shy and sickly, has a particular talent for the piano. And then there’s Jo: a stubborn tomboy with dreams of becoming an author. As the girls grow into adults they discover the challenges and joys of sisterhood.

The Slytherin Appeal: If you think listing Little Women as a Slytherin book is a grievous mistake, fear not! Slytherins will find much in common with Jo: her wicked smarts, ambition, and penchant for leading her sisters into some good and not-so-good schemes. Jo's desire to become a famous author causes her to spend many nights in the March attic furiously scribbling away. Sounds like a Slytherin! 

Nightbooks by J.A. White 
Alex keeps what he calls nightbooks: several notebooks filled to the brim with scary nightmares and creepy stories. One night Alex determines that he needs to destroy his creations, it’s hard to fit in when you’re always writing scary stories, and he sneaks out of his apartment to the basement furnace to do the job. When a detour goes terribly wrong, Alex finds himself captured by a witch and forced to tell her a new scary story each night to keep her happy. Alex enjoys finally having a captive audience for his grisly tales, but he also knows he must plan his escape if he doesn’t want to be trapped forever. 

The Slytherin Appeal: It’s an eerie mix of the Grimm’s Fairytales, Goosebumps, and Neil Gaiman. Slytherins will appreciate the suspense and spooky twists.

The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner 
Irreelle is made of bone dust and the imagination of Miss Vesper – a fact that Miss Vesper and Irreelle’s crooked, mismatched bones never let her forget. The moment Ireelle displeases her, Miss Vesper will imagine her away. And so Ireellee dutifully follows what she is told to do and gathers bone dust from the cemetery. When Irreelle makes an unforgivable mistake and is chased into the tunnels below the cemetery, she begins to uncover the dark truths of Miss Vesper and what it means to really be human. 

The Slytherin Appeal: The haunting writing style and the cruelness of Miss Vesper will give Slytherin readers the chills. Slytherin fans of Coraline will be unable to put the dark tale down.  

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier 
Orphans Molly and Kip find themselves at the Windsor Estate, a mysterious manor built around a hideous tree, to gain employment and survive the Irish Potato Famine. Immediately, the siblings notice there something sinister about the manor. Nightmares, locked rooms, sickness, a nighttime visitor, and a shocking family portrait have taken an evil hold on the Windsors. Molly and Kip must find the source of the darkness, and be strong enough to resist it, in order to escape. 

The Slytherin Appeal: A creepy manor house? Check. Orphans? Check. A tree that wants your soul? Check. The bone-chilling feeling you get after reading an Edgar Allan Poe story? Check. This book has everything a horror-loving Slytherin could want.