Monday, April 30, 2012

Books In Brief: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

 Reviewer: Kassel

The name of the book being recommended: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Please give us five reasons why this book is awesome: 

1. Timelessness. Even though the story is based in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in real-life 1967, the book remains timeless despite the many changes that have taken place over the years (for instance, the museum is no longer free).

2. Likeable characters. Claudia and her brother Jamie are characters you root for. Even stodgy Mrs. Frankweiler is sympathetic.

3. Great plot. The story becomes a mystery in a way, as Claudia tries to discover the sculptor of a new work of art recently revealed at the museum.

4. A 360-degree ending. The story comes full circle with Mrs. Frankweiler's letter to her lawyer, Saxonberg.

5. Adventure. What kid (or adult) can't relate to wanting to run away from home at one time or another?

Where can I find this book in the library? It can be found in the Children's Department under the call number j KON.

Meet Books In Brief Reviewer Kassel Coover!

Kassel Coover has been with the Tredyffrin family for a little over two years. She spends most of her time at the adult circulation desk, but she also works some shifts at the information desk and the children's desk.

Hi, Kassel! What are your favorite genres and subjects to read about? 
I love young adult novels most of all, but I'll read pretty much anything except for romance.

Besides reading, what are your other hobbies and interests? 
I spend much of my spare time reading, but I also enjoy writing stories and spending time with my husband.

What are you good at? 
Writing novels.

What would you like to be better at? 
Reading faster. There are too many good books out there!

To find reviews and recommendations by Kassel, simply click on her name in our "Contributors" list on the right, or search for the label "Kassel."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

History Comes Alive with Jean Fritz

"Known for her impeccable research, Fritz writes about subjects she really admires, and she unveils them with such wit...Turn an American historical figure over to her and sparks go off with such glare that there's a celebration worthy of a Fourth of July parade. 

"She is especially fond of the American Revolutionary War period and has written a number of books about the men responsible for the birth of this nation: And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?; What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?; The Great Little Madison; Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?; Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?; Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?; and Shh! We're Writing the Constitution. Yet there was a slight ax to grind with those men. When they wrote the Constitution, they gave plenty of rights to themselves but few to women. Fritz dealt with the battle that took another century and a half to win when she wrote You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

"In a biography on one of her publisher's websites, Fritz says that she doesn't find her ideas. They find her...That's exactly what Pocahontas did, and Fritz wrote The Double Life of Pocahontas. When Harriet Beecher Stowe got her attention, she wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers. Sam Houston demanded a story, and she wrote Make Way for Sam Houston. Teddy Roosevelt bullied his way right into her life, and she penned Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt!

"[But] in 1982, Fritz wrote an entirely different kind of book. This time she turned to her own childhood. Born in 1915 to American missionaries in China, Jean often felt like an outsider and was homesick for the America she knew only through letters she received from her grandmother. Homesick: My Own Story was named a Newbery Honor Book in 1983.

"At the age of 95, Jean Fritz published Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider, her forty-fifth book, on January 6, 2011. From a girl in China who once felt like an outsider, Fritz has become a true insider in the world of children's books. In 1986, she was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award by the Association for Library Service to Children for her substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature...She has been the ultimate history teacher to generations of young readers. How do we say thank you, Jean Fritz?"

excerpted from an article by Pat Scales in Book Links, January 2011

Friday, April 20, 2012

Free (or really cheap) eBooks for Kids

The following sites carry some children's as well as adult titles.

Amazon The free Kindle books aren't always easy to find. One way to find them is to sort the eBooks by price (low to high) in the preference box, which will put the $0.00 and $0.99 ones at the top.

Barnes and Noble Go to NookBooks, then to Customer Favorites to find a great selection of free eBooks. The free Nook app is also available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

BookYards A web portal in which all books, education materials, information, and content are free.

DigitalBookIndex Offers an extensive list of nonfiction titles in PDF, ePub, and Kindle formats, mixed with web books. Search by title or author, or browse by subject. Contains a special American Studies section.

eBooks Directory Has over 4,000 PDF titles divided into over 400 categories. Includes many new titles.

FreeBookSpot Search and download free eBooks in various categories. No registration is required.

Globusz Books can be read online or downloaded in TXT format. Access older eBooks via the categories and authors on the center of the page. Access newer eBooks via the list of featured authors on the left. They also provide an excellent Star Rating Showcase for new and evolving authors.

Inkmesh A search engine and browser for free and cheap eBooks. Links on the front page list free books compatible with different devices. Search by title, author, or subject. Clicking "Find free eBooks" will do just that.

Internet Archive* Offers simple and advanced searching of thousands of titles, but no browsing capabilities. Each title has a unique page offering complete title, author, and publisher information. a description of the content, and links to the various formats available for the title.* Click on "Young Readers," then browse the A-Z titles list (which includes thumbnails of the book covers) or search Library of Congress Categories.

MemoWare Browse dozens of categories and choose from thousands of free documents and  eBooks for your Kindle or Nook.

Munseys The proper choices for various devices are explicitly identified. Search by title, author, tag, or category. When downloading a particular title, first click "Select One" to choose the desired format, then click "Download."

Project Gutenberg* Looking for that obscure, out-of-print book you remember reading at your grandmother's house when you were a kid? Look no further. These titles are free because their copyrights have expired, which means that many of them are fairly old. But a good classic is often hard to beat. PG supports Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple products, PCs, and most smart phones. 

Smashwords Allows you to peruse titles, giving search options such as "highest reviews" and "most popular." The reviews are also available for reading, which you won't find on all of the free eBook sites. 

*voted one of the Top 7 Free eBook Sites by TopTenReviews 

And if you don't find what you want on any of those sites, did you know that you can also borrow eBooks (and audiobooks) FOR FREE if you have a valid Chester County Library System library card? eBooks that would normally carry a fee? eBooks that are compatible with Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, iPads, smart phones, and more? It's true! Find out the details here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ten Picture Book Authors Every Toddler Parent, Story Time Leader, and Childcare Provider Should Know

The ten individuals listed below consistently create high-quality, appealing picture books for young children. Books by each of these individuals are available in the Children's Department here at Tredyffrin Library.

1. Molly Bang excels at using shape, color, and simple language to introduce themes and concepts that are essential in the lives of young children.

2. Kate Banks writes lyrical texts that ingeniously connect small children to the larger world through familiar daily routines that are comforting.

3. Byron Barton might best be described as a minimalist. Barton's simple, brightly colored illustrations are captivating, and there's never an extra word or line in his crowd-pleasing stories that often center on machines.

4. Donald Crews, the favorite author of many two-year-olds, writes and illustrates boldly colored books about favorite topics such as planes, trains, and trucks. His detailed illustrations are accompanied by nearly wordless texts invite a lot of participation. His book design always reinforces left-to-right movement across the page.

5. Denise Fleming uses distinctive collage style illustrations featuring handmade paper and batik in her books, which draw from the natural world to tell stories that appeal to preschoolers. Her expert pacing and playful use of language make for great read-alouds.

6. Pat Hutchins excels at using developmental tasks and easy concepts as the building blocks for her engaging stories. Her use of repeition, perfectly paced texts, and clear, boldy colored illustrations make her books perfect for group story times.

7. Angela Johnson's quiet stories generally revolve around contemporary family life and feature African Americans.

8. Ann Jonas combines simple concepts with the drama of everyday life to create appealing, child-centered sotries. Her books frequently show biracial children and are full of familiar objects in a child's world.

9. Keiko Kasza uses animal characters and humor to tell entertaining sotires about characters in conflict. Her resolutions are often surprising and always satisfying.

10. Lynn Reiser's genius is to make complex, multilayered picture books completely accessible to young children by remaining true to their interests and abilities. Her warm stories are accompanied by colorful, expressive art.

Compiled by Kathleen T. Horning and Megan Schliesman

Reprinted with permission from the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), School of Education, University of Wisonsin-Madison.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Books In Brief: I Want My Hat Back

Reviewer: Travis

The name of the book being recommended: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Please give us five reasons why this book is awesome:

This book pushes picture book storytelling to a new level of absurdity.

2. A bear has lost his hat and goes around asking the animals if they have seen it. They all say no, and he gives up in despair. But wait! What if he HAS seen it?

3. The text is spare and haiku-like, but with an implication of deadpan humor.

4. The drawings are likewise minimalistic, with a blank background and a style that seems like an ironic response to Eric Carle.

5. This book will appeal to people who are tired of didactic children's books. There is no way you will learn any important lessons here. But it's funny!

Where can I find this book in the library? It can be found in the Children's Department under the call number jE KLA.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

James Kennedy, Part Two: Feivel Goes West


A) It's past my bedtime, and
B) Paragraphs intimidate me at this hour,

I am forced to tell you about James Kennedy's visit to Tredyffrin Library as a series of lists. Here goes...

The actual program:

1. Mr. Kennedy opened by telling the funniest story I have ever heard about being bad at one's job. I can't recreate it, but I will say that an escaped snake was involved.

2. Next were two very animated readings from his novel The Order of Odd Fish, which Tredyffrin Library owns and which Mr. Kennedy was good enough to autograph.

3. Finally, we screened several 90-Second Newbery films, including our own - a 2 minute adaptation of Louis Sachar's Holes.

And now for the backstage pass - otherwise known as, best dinner break ever:

i. James Kennedy taught me how Norwegians toast each other. There's a lot of staring, and it's best done with beverages that don't have straws.

ii. Thanks to James Kennedy, I now know amazing stuff about children's authors, including how Roald Dahl was a spy and invented a brain pump. Yes, you read that right - a BRAIN PUMP.

And that's all the news that's fit to print. Thanks again to everyone who came out tonight, and especially to James Kennedy. Check out more photos on the library's Facebook page!

Photo by Beverly Michaels

Books in Brief: Twice Upon A Time

Rapunzel, The One with all the Hair (Twice Upon a Time Series #1)Rapunzel, The One with all the Hair by Wendy Mass

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was prepared to not like this book. I don't know why - I love fairy tales and I really enjoy Wendy Mass. Perhaps I am too suspicious of pink. I can't know.

But I thought the story was well told, with chapters alternating from Rapunzel's point of view to the prince's. The language is a nice mix of fairytale and realistic teen-speak. (For example: "Father does not like being disobeyed. It's a king thing.")

I didn't quite understand why Rapunzel's hair was enchanted to grow in the first place, but I was willing to overlook that for a clever and non-thorny blinding of the prince.

Bottom line: A nice take on an old favorite. I've already got the next book in the series lined up!

View all my reviews

Science in the Summer

It's that time again - time to start answering your questions about Science in the Summer! Here are the basics:

When is Science in the Summer at Tredyffrin Library?

Science in the Summer will take place the week of July 9-12.

But isn't the library closed on Wednesdays?

Tredyffrin Library will be closed to the public on Wednesday, July 11, but participants of Science in the Summer will have access to the large meeting room for the duration of the program that day.

What is the subject this year?

The subject for 2012 is Chemistry. I know this has been a popular one in the past; I'm looking forward to it, too!

When can I sign up?

Sign-ups for the program will be held Monday, June 18, in the children's department. Registration will be begin at 7pm and is first-come, first-serve!

What if I can't make it to registration, can I send somebody else to sign up my child?

The registration requires the signature of a child's parent or legal guardian. If we don't have the signature of a parent or legal guardian, we cannot accept your application.

If you have any additional questions, please contact the children's department at 610-688-7092, ext. 210.

Photo: Nicholas Rigg, Getty Images

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tumble Bee is a sweet treat for the ears

Former punk-band lead vocalist and current indie artist Laura Veirs has released her first album geared toward family listening, and it's a real gem.

Tumble Bee is a collection of traditional and 20th-century folk songs arranged perfectly for Veirs' sweet but never cloying voice by her husband, Grammy-nominated producer Tucker Martine. Guest artists include banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck chiming in on "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O, " and Colin Meloy from The Decemberists providing the duet for "Soldier's Joy." I defy you not to dance around during those two tunes, along with "Jump Down Spin Around."

Don't miss this catchy, charming treat! The only glitch is that you'll first have to pry it out of the hands of staff members. ;-)

"What do you get when you mix rollicking and soulful folk songs with captivating vocals and a first-rate mix of harmonies, guitars, banjo, piano, percussion, accordion, brass, strings and whistles? A topnotch family folk album, shaped, layered and made shiny new by skilled musicians led by vocalist Laura Veirs, whose voice is graceful, expressive and utterly charming. Each song is a memorable little jewel, from the familiar ''All the Pretty Little Horses'' and a version of ''Froggie Went A-Courtin' '' called ''King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O'' to Woodie Guthrie's ''Why Oh Why,'' Ruth Seeger's arrangement of ''Jack Can I Ride?'' and ''The Fox,'' based on a 15th century poem about a foxy late-night poultry raid. The one new song ''Tumble Bee,'' written by singer and multi-instrumentalist Karl Blau, fits right in." --Parents Choice Award Gold Medal

Friday, April 6, 2012

Books In Brief: Children Make Terrible Pets

Reviewer: Travis

The name of the book being recommended: Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

Please give us five reasons why this book is awesome:

1. Answers the important question, "Do children make good pets?" You'll have to read it all the way through to find out!

2. Has a cool graphic novel/picture book hybrid format; aka, a picture book with speech balloons.

3. The role-reversal story line has humor that appeals to both kids and adults.

4. The pencil-drawn artwork and design are excellent and innovative, using wood and construction paper.

5. The cliffhanger ending will make you wonder if elephants make good pets. Fortunately, there's a sequel called You Will be My Friend!.

How can I find this book in the library? It can be found in the Children's Department under the call number jE BRO.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

James Kennedy and the 90-Second Newbery

It hardly seems possible that this time last year we were filming our 90-second adaptation of Louis Sachar's Newbery Award-winning novel Holes for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival.

And yet, I remember it clearly: getting sunburned in April, having our camera battery run out every 12 minutes, and giving the direction, "Faster! Everything is funnier when it's faster!"

Come to think of it, that'd be a great tagline for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. I'll have to remember to tell James Kennedy when he's here next week.

You: WHA-HA-HA-HA?!! Angela! You never told me that the guy who INVENTED the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival was coming to Tredyffrin Library!

Me: Oh, yes I did. Page three!

You: What's he going to be doing at the library?

Me: Showing us 90-second Newbery films made by students around the country, reading to us from his book, and making us laugh.

You: Is there still room for me?

Me: You bet! Tuesday, April 10, at 7pm. I'll save you a seat!

For more information about James Kennedy and the 90-Second Newbery, visit the Tredyffrin Library website or call 610-688-7092, ext. 210.