Friday, October 29, 2010

Road Trip Thursday - Day 6

Seeing as how Famous Illinois People Pictionary was such a hoot last week, we started this week off with Famous Missouri People Pictionary.

You'd think I'd have learned from years and years of being the worst person at the Pictionary table that I am not good at turning words into images, but I can't help myself. To me, being laughably bad at something just means you get to laugh a lot. My apologies to my road-trippers, as well as to Scott Joplin, Ryan Howard, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Our snack for the day was iced tea and cookies. Legend has it that iced tea was invented at the World's Fair held in St. Louis in 1904, but many sources, including our book for the week - Meet Me in St. Louis : A Trip to the 1904 World's Fair - say that iced tea was probably already in existence before the fair. Still, all agree that the drink is probably as popular as it is today thanks in part to the 1904 World's Fair.

After the World's Fair, we pulled up our chairs to watch part of a video about the Gateway Arch, right in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri. Did you know that at 630 feet, the arch is the tallest man-made arch in the world, and that it's over twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty?

(Neither did we.)

We wrapped up our day by looking ahead to next week, when we visit Tennessee - home to Vanderbilt University, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the Tennessee Titans.

(To me, though, it'll always be Graceland.)

See you there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hidden Classic #3: Bedtime for Frances

I am old enough to remember vinyl records, and I once owned many. Among my favorites were a collection of 45 RPM recordings that came with matching paperback books, so you could either read along or listen to them at bedtime, just like the book & CD kits of today. The ones that my brothers and I listened to and read over and over again, our favorites, were the Frances stories, written by Russell Hoban and illustrated first by the incomparable Garth Williams and then by Hoban's first wife, Lillian.

Frances is a temperamental badger child, whose escapades are in part based on the experiences of the four Hoban children, Phoebe, Brom, Esmé, Julia, and their friends. Her stories are Bread and Jam for Frances, A Baby Sister for Frances, A Birthday for Frances, Best Friends for Frances, Egg Thoughts and Other Frances Songs, and the original (my favorite), Bedtime for Frances. The events of the story will be familiar to children and to their parents: first, she wants a glass of milk, then a piggyback ride, then her teddy bear and doll, then extra kisses. Even after all of that, sleep eludes her, so she makes up a little song to sing to herself (her songs are the best parts of the books). But there is a tiger in her song, which makes her wonder if there is a tiger in her bedroom....or maybe a giant....or maybe spiders will come out of the crack in the ceiling....or maybe a ghost is moving the curtains.....

Throughout it all, Frances is charming and ingenious and unique, yet completely believable. And her parents' initial patience and humor, followed eventually (and inevitably) by firmness then exasperation, will be all too familiar to anyone who has ever tried to get a young child to sleep. Hoban's words and Williams' drawings complement each other perfectly.

It wasn't until years later that I realized that Hoban was a local boy, born and raised in Lansdale, PA. Or that he also wrote novels for older children and adults, including the award-winning The Mouse and His Child. Or that he was also an illustrator himself. Williams, a writer-illustrator in his own right, has provided the artwork for many childhood classics, including The Rescuers series by Margery Sharpe, The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little (both by E.B. White), several stories by Margaret Wise Brown, numerous Golden Books, and all children's titles by George Selden (including A Cricket in Times Square). Interesting, but not necessary at all to the enjoyment of Frances and her very relatable adventures. They have never been out of print, and I hope they never will be. They are truly classics in every sense of the word.

Bedtime for Frances
written by Russell Hoban
illustrated by Garth Williams
published by HarperCollins, 1960
31 pages with illustrations
Recommended read-aloud ages: 3-8
Recommended read-alone ages: 6-8

Praise for Frances:

"An enchanting picture book with winsome illustrations and a text in which there is humor and a real sympathy for the maneuvering of the reluctantly retiring young. " ~ Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Here is the coziest, most beguiling bedtime story in many a day." ~ Kirkus Reviews
"Williams' drawings have become inseparable from how we think of those stories. In that respect... his work belongs in the same class as Sir John Tenniel’s drawings for Alice in Wonderland, or Ernest Shepard’s illustrations for Winnie the Pooh." ~ Gordon Campbell in the introduction to Williams' The Rabbit's Wedding
"Anyone who has ever put a little one to bed will find this delightfully familiar, and the children themselves will enjoy the gentle humor and coziness of the story." ~ School Library Journal

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Road Trip Thursday - Day Five

It was bound to happen eventually. I lost my voice.

Yup, the autumn ick has swept through the library staff, and I am its most recent victim. Still, I wasn't going to let a little thing like not being able to talk get in the way of our trip to Chicago, now was I?

We started off with some deep dish pizza, and went straight into Famous Residents of Illinois Pictionary - a great game for the artsy and vocally challenged. (Well, the vocally challenged, anyway. Artsy, I am not.) I had barely finished the top hat before our car collectively shouted "Lincoln!" I wasn't nearly as handy with Walt Disney, but my Michael Jordan got at least one guess.

Next we read about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and how it burned down an enormous portion the city. (We = not me; thanks to everyone who helped out by reading a section aloud.)

Finally, we looked at our trusty atlas and mapped out the rest of our trip - next stop Missouri, and then on to Tennessee, Alabama, and finally, Florida.

See you there.

Public domain photo via Wikipedia

Friday, October 15, 2010

November is National Novel Writing Month!

My skills of persuasion never progressed beyond the phrase, "C'mon. All the cool kids are doing it." I know you're too smart to fall for that, so instead, I appeal to your sense of adventure when I ask you to try and write an entire novel in just one month!

Impossible, you say? Not so. The good people at NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program have been challenging people to write 30-day novels since 1999, and last year 35,000 children and teens gave it a whirl!

The concept is simple: Write a novel during the month of November. You set your own word count goal, and just keep writing until you reach it. Why? Well, to quote the NaNoWriMo folks:

The reasons are endless! To write freely without having to stress over spelling and grammar. To be able to talk about how cool your novel is any chance you get. To be able to make fun of real novelists who take far longer than 30 days to write their books...

I've even gone ahead and set up a virtual classroom for Tredyffrin Kids so that you can track your progress online.

Have questions? Of course you do.

Interested? Sign up the next time you're at the library, or call us at 610-688-7092.

C'mon. All the cool kids are doing it. :)

Photo from avlxyz on Flickr via Creative Commons

Road Trip Thursday - Day Four

It was very hard for me to not sing Cleveland Rocks! all day yesterday, knowing that we were headed for Ohio as part of Road Trip Thursday.

First we talked a little bit about some of Ohio's state symbols, and how many of them seem to be bright red. For example, the state flower is the red carnation. The state beverage (to my dismay) is tomato juice. The state bird is the cardinal, and the state insect, the ladybug. (Interested in finding out more about Ohio? Of course you are!)

Then we read One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong, seeing as how the first man on the moon was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

The optimal snack for the Buckeye State would have been buckeyes, of course, but since I didn't want to tempt the allergenic fates (and since 3-way chili is way, WAY too much of a meal so close to dinnertime), I opted for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, in honor of the Annual Circleville Pumpkin Show. (And because, let's be honest, I like to make them.)

Side note: I cannot convey to you in words how good 3-way, Cincinnati-style chili is. Please, treat yourself.

Finally, in tribute to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we played a little name that tune. (Or rather, name that artist.)

Join us next week as we head west toward the Windy City!

Photo thanks to Mini D at Flickr via Creative Commons

Friday, October 8, 2010

And the winner is...

Two teams competed in our very first Pumpkin Pie Bake-off this afternoon. The team led by Swetha used evaporated milk, so we will call them Team E. The team led by Anuja used cream cheese, so we will call them Team Cheese. (And let that be a lesson to you. Don't let Angela name your teams after the fact.)

Using only common household ingredients, mismatched measuring cups, and their own wits, the teams set out to create pumpkin pies that would be the envy of any holiday dinner. There were some scary moments - like when Team Cheese took a look at their completed batter - but all turned out well in the end. In just two hours, both teams mixed, baked, and sampled their pies, then offered them up for judging.

And although we began the judging process with only three judges, we somehow ended up with five - which explains how, when the votes were tallied, Team Cheese edged out Team E, 3 votes to 2.

And there you have it. 24 pies, eight contestants, five judges, two recipes, and one winner. Congratulations, Team Cheese! Team E, we'll always have Paris.

Were you part of the pumpkin pie bakeoff and want to try your hand again? Excellent. Keep an eye out for a reprise in January...

Photo by cardamom via Creative Commons

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Road Trip Thursday - Day Three

I'll come right out and confess that I'm from upstate New York. Therefore, I have a pretty big chip on my shoulder when it comes to New York City vs. The Entire Rest Of The State issues.

However, when we've only got 45 minutes in which to explore a state that hosts what is arguably the cultural capital of our nation, NYC is going to get the attention, and upstate New York just...isn't.

We started today by reading a selection from Ballpark: The History of America's Baseball Fields, since there was a strong desire in our car to visit Yankee Stadium. We learned all about the House that Ruth Built - and about how the Babe actually started his career with the Red Sox. (And let me tell you, there was a very strong outcry in our car when that little bit of news was shared... We have some die-hard Yankee fans around here!)

After Yankee Stadium, we went and built ourselves the Statue of Liberty, using only paper towel tubes, pipe cleaners, paper plates, and human beings. How we ended up with three torches, I still don't know, but now she has two spares...

As for upstate New York, the aforementioned Entire Rest Of The State? Well, we sampled some apple cider and listened to Low Bridge.

Ah, well. I will somehow manage to hold my head up when I cross the state line at Christmas.

Join us next week when we arrive in the Buckeye state!

Photo public domain via Wikipedia

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Fest Friday!

I made my first apple pie of the season. I brought my socks and sweaters out of hibernation. I track dead leaves into my house every time I walk through the front door. The weather has finally turned. By my clock, it's autumn.

And what better way to celebrate the season than to join us Friday at the library for fall-themed activities?

Exactly! None! No better way!

In addition to our regularly scheduled morning preschool storytimes, we'll be doing crafts, writing songs, and baking pies. No registration is required; here's the schedule of events:

10am-2pm: Pumpkin Painting. BYOP (bring your own pumpkin) to the library and we'll provide painting supplies and snacks. (Ages 6 & up)

10-10:30am: Music with Miss Joy (Ages 3&4)

10:30-11am: Autumn Observation Journals. Record the changes of nature during this pretty time of year. (Ages 6-9)

11:30-11:45am: Autumn-inspired bookmarks. Use fallen leaves to create a beautiful craft! (Ages 2-5)

11:30am-1pm: Songwriting workshop. Invent tunes for popular rhymes and poetry about fall. (Ages 6-9)

Noon-2pm: Pumpkin Pie Bake-off. Bring your A-game and your apron. (Ages 9-12)

Want more information? Contact us at 610-688-7092, ext 210.

Want to print out your very own flyer? Of course you do.

Photo courtesy of Valerie Everett via Creative Commons License 2.0