Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stuffed Animal Sleepover

We did it again and your stuffed friends had a roaring good time sleeping over at the library. They got into all kinds of trouble. You can see here our sock monkey friend took care of everybody.
Children dropped off their stuffed friends on Monday at Family Story Time. While here at the library everyone made frames using foam and stickers. On Tuesday everyone came back to pick up their furry friends and we gave them a picture of the silly things that happened overnight.

Friday, October 25, 2013

In Praise of Mary Downing Hahn (and Other Spooky Writings for Middle-Graders)

No season is more perfect for a good leave-the-lights-on scary story than the Halloween season, and no writer does spooky tales for middle-graders better than Mary Downing Hahn. She is a former children's librarian who has been writing kids' novels for over thirty years, and her books are popular with kids, parents, teachers, and librarians alike. The genres in which she writes include contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy, but her ghost stories and suspenseful mysteries are where she really shines. Here are a few of my favorites, along with recommended grade levels: 

All the Lovely Bad Ones (5-8)
When Travis and his sister, Corey, discover that their grandmother's old Vermont inn has a supposed history of ghost sightings, they decide to play tricks on the guests and "haunt" them for fun. As people hear about what they think are authentic ghosts, the inn becomes a popular tourist attraction for ghost hunters and other lovers of the supernatural. Unfortunately for Travis and Corey, their games have awoken some very restless and nasty spirits who are definitely NOT playing games.

Deep and Dark and Dangerous (5-8)
While looking through some old photographs, 13-year-old Allie finds a childhood picture of her mother, her aunt Dulcie, and...someone else. A third girl who was ripped out of the picture. Her mother refuses to talk about it, so when Allie is asked to spend the summer with her aunt Dulcie, at the same lake house where Dulcie and her mother spent their childhood summers, she starts investigating in secret. It's an investigation that will take dangerous and sinister turns and Allie discovers the truth about the lake where the three little girls once played.
The Doll in the Garden (4-6)
Even though Ashley is warned not to go into Miss Cooper's garden, she can't resist following the white cat who comes to her window every night. This cat eventually leads Ashley through a hole in the hedge and into another world where she meets Louisa, a young girl who is looking for her doll. The doll that her friend Carrie took and buried in the overgrown garden so many, many years ago, the doll that Ashley and her new friend, Kristi, found. Unfortunately, finding that doll turns out to be the start of Ashley's problems.

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall (4-6)
This one is a good, old-fashioned Victorian ghost story, with a few elements reminiscent of The Secret Garden. Orphaned twelve-year-old Florence is sent from London to live in the country with her uncle and aunt and their sickly son, James, whose room she is forbidden to visit (but of course she finds a way to do so). Before long, Florence realizes that they're not alone in the house - her dead cousin, Sophia, is haunting them all. Sophia is evil and wants both revenge and a new chance at life and she thinks that Florence will help her get it. Problem is, Florence is having a hard time making everyone believe that Sophia is real.
Look for Me by Moonlight (6-9)
This is a great one for kids who want an atmospheric and spooky romance but who aren't yet ready for things like Twilight. When a mysterious stranger named Vincent comes to stay at her father's inn, 16-year-old Cynda falls instantly under his spell. What possible danger could there be? He is handsome, charming, and very attentive, so when he asks Cynda to meet him secretly on moonlit nights, she is thrilled. However, their flirtation takes a turn when Cynda discovers just who (or what) Vincent really is.

The Old Willis Place (5-8)
Diana and Georgie live in the woods surrounding a creepy old abandoned mansion named Oak Hill Manor. They also live by a set of strict and mysterious rules set by the sinister Ms. Lilian: don't let yourselves be seen; don't ever go beyond the gate; don't go near the house; and don't talk to anyone else. But when a new caretaker and his daughter, Lissa, move into Oak Hill Manor, Diana and Georgie can't resist spying on them. They are particularly intrigued with Lissa since neither of them have ever had a friend other than each other. When Diana realizes she and Georgie will need Lissa's help to break free from Ms. Lilian, she has to decide whether or not to break the rules and risk whatever punishments Ms. Lilian has in store. This is probably my favorite MDH ghost story. It's truly creepy, with lots of twists and turns.
Time for Andrew (4-6)
While spending the summer with his Great-Aunt Blythe, Drew goes into the attic and finds an old set of marbles...and a boy named Andrew. A boy who looks just like Drew. A boy who died in 1910. They get the idea to switch places, hoping that maybe that will give Andrew a longer life. At first, Drew has fun with it and is intrigued by life in 1910. But things take a sinister turn when Drew decides that he likes modern life better and wants to switch permanently. Andrew agrees to one final game of marbles.  If Drew beats Andrew, he can come home - but if he loses, Andrew gets to stay and Drew will be stuck in the past forever...if he can survive what killed Drew....
Wait Till Helen Comes (4-6)
When Molly and Michael's mother marries Heather's father, they become a blended family. The only trouble is that Heather is a real manipulator: she is unbearable and spiteful toward her new siblings but knows just how to make herself look like the victim in front of their parents. When the family moves into Harper House, a former church with a graveyard in the back, Heather starts disappearing. Molly follows her and notices her hanging around one particular grave. When Heather starts talking to someone named "Helen," at first Molly and Michael think she has invented an imaginary friend. Until they notice that the name on the gravestone that Heather has been visiting is...Helen. Heather commands Helen to create trouble for the family, but things become deadly when Molly realizes just what Helen really wants. Can she make her brother and parents believe in ghosts before Helen enacts her revenge on all at Harper House?

More truly spooky stories by other middle-grade writers:

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand (5-8)
Coraline (4-6) and The Graveyard Book (6-9) by Neil Gaiman
Doll Bones by Holly Black (5-8)
The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright (5-8)
Infestation by Timothy Bradley (4-6)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (series) by Alvin Schwartz (4-6)
The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver (5-8)
A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz (4-6)
Zombie Tag by Hannah Moskowitz (5-8)

To find these and other great books, visit the children's department of the Tredyffrin Public Library, and also check out our many reviews and ratings on Goodreads (under Tredyffrin Kids).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Books in Brief: Wilfred

Reviewer: Travis

The name of the book being recommended: Wilfred by Ryan Higgins

Please give us five reasons why this book is awesome:

1. It features a vividly-imagined world where a hairy monster searching for a friend encounters a town of bald people.

2. The illustrations are excellent. Expressive characters and intricate textures.

3. It tells a Lorax-type tale about the perils of over-exploitation of our environment.

4. Except in this case it's the over-harvesting of monster hair for the purpose of making toupees.

5. There are many birch trees depicted. Logically, since the author is from Maine.

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pre/K Story Time 10.22.13

We had a monstrous good time today!


story and illustrations by Ryan Higgins
Wilfred is humongous and hairy, and he'll do just about anything for a friend. But when some greedy townspeople discover just how generous he is, they hatch a not-so-nice plan. A quirky and moving story about the power of true friendship. The kids were mesmerized.

Monster, Be Good!
story by Blue Apple Books
illustrations by Natalie Marshall
A bright, bold, and boisterous book featuring all kinds of monster behavior and what kids can do about it. Simple and fun.


We "created" a monster on the white board by me drawing, to the kids' specifications, what body parts s/he should have, how many, what sizes, and what colors. This continued until we were satisfied with the finished product.

We also played Monster Match with these reproducible cards that the kids got to take home after.

If you have children between the ages of 4 and 6, please join us next Tuesday. There is no charge, and registration is not required, but tickets will be given out starting at 1:30. The program is limited to 18 children, ages 4-6.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Crayon Tree Party

We celebrated the holiday with an afternoon of fun. Children ages 4-6 joined us for a story, coloring pages, and snacks. All children made their very own crayon tree to take home. We started with a paper towel roll that was painted green, decorated with glitter and had 8 holes punched in it. Each child was given a new 8 pack of crayons. The crayons were inserted into the holes to make the tree. Now the fun really started when everyone began to decorate their trees with stickers, feathers, pipe cleaners, ribbon, and much more. Check out pictures of our masterpieces on our facebook page

Hidden Classic #6: The Devil's Storybook

This charming little book is full of witty stories about the Devil, who is portrayed as a short-tempered trickster always trying to stir up trouble. Sometimes the Devil gets the results he wants, other times the people he's trying to deceive fool him instead. All the tales have a subtle moral, mostly about the consequence of choices or desires, and a lesson about human nature.And several are really, really funny.

Natalie Babbitt was born and grew up in Ohio. She spent large amounts of time in those early years reading fairy tales and myths, and drawing. Her mother, an amateur landscape and portrait painter, provided early art lessons and saw to it that there was always enough paper, paint, pencils, and encouragement. In those days, Ms. Babbitt wanted only to be an illustrator. She spent a lot of time drawing at Laurel School in Cleveland and went on to major in studio art at Smith College.

As befits Babbitt's early training as an artist, a suitably wicked but hilarious drawing accompanies each tale.

But don't just take my word for it! Check out these credentials.....

"A masterful Devil's advocate, Natalie Babbitt presents ten brief testimonials to Satan's unflagging gusto for dirty tricks. Paunchy and well past his prime, this Prince of Darkness is no Superdemon."--Starred review, School Library Journal

"High on my list is The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbitt. This Devil is not dire; he is a scheming practical joker and comes to earth often when he is restless, to play tricks on clergymen, goodwives, poets, and pretty girls."--Jean Stafford, The New Yorker

"[Babbitt's] Devil is a cultured fellow who drinks cider, reads novels and gives concerts for the damned. He also has a sense of humor, frequently employed at human expense. What he lacks, however, is real malevolence. Parents who are concerned about their children's reading matter will be relieved to see that this book has virtually no violence, making it a tame match for the average cartoon - or, for that matter, Grimm's fairy tales." Laurel Graeber, The New York Times

There's also a very nice review at The Excelsior File.

Association for Childhood Education International
Booklist, starred review
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Children's Book Review Service
Elementary School Library Collections, selected choice
Horn Book Magazine, starred review
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal
, starred review
Wilson Library Bulletin

American Library Association Notable Children's Books
Children's Book Council Children's Choices
Horn Book Magazine Fanfare List
National Book Awards Finalist
New York Times Notable Children's Books of the Year
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
School Library Journal, Best of the Best Books for Children

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pre/K Story Time 10.15.13

It was a starchy but delicious story time today.


Hooray for Bread!
story by Allan Ahlberg
illustrations by Bruce Ingman
Full disclosure: I was given a loaf of bread as a gag gift when I was 10. Gag or not, I ate it! THAT'S how long and deep my love of bread is. So hooray, indeed! Ahlberg's enthusiasm and gentle humor  and Ingman's cheerful and quirky style suit each other perfectly. Also check out their previous collaborations: The Pencil, Previously, Everyone was a Baby Once, and The Runaway Dinner.

The French Fry King
story and illustrations by Roge
A sweet and clever story about finding one's passion. Also, it will make you crave fresh fries. And corn-on-the-cob. And shepherd's pie.


We assembled a cardboard-tube baker like this one, except we substituted a loaf of bread for the cake. Cutting skills are often difficult to master, so the kids worked hard, but they were thrilled with their results and spent a few minutes after they finished introducing their bakers to each other and making up stories about them.

If you have children between the ages of 4 and 6, please join us next Tuesday. There is no charge, and registration is not required, but tickets will be given out starting at 1:30. The program is limited to 18 children, ages 4-6.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pre/K Story Time Books (10.1.13)

This week it was all about celebrating our differences while finding common ground.

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great
story and illustrations by Bob Shea
I think that Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great is pretty great, and so did the kids. The language is very contemporary and conversational, and the pictures support it beautifully. Goat is a little jealous of and competitive with Unicorn (and his popularity with the other creatures) until Uncicorn points out all of the drawbacks to being a unicorn and all of the great things about being a goat. A funny tale with a satisfying ending. This would be good not only for a 4-6-year-old audience but for kids all the way up through 3rd grade.

story and illustrations by Dave Whamond
I'm not quite sure what to say about this one. I love the messages about being yourself and about retaining your individuality even when it's not easy to do so, but I'm not sure about the audience for this book. I had to stop and define more than one word and idiom, which disrupts the flow of the story, so for that reason I'd recommend it to a slightly older audience (maybe first or second grade). But the simplicity of the story and the bright and lively illustrations are appealing to the pre-K and kindergarten set.

Our activity was an individuality wheel. We divided a paper plate into sections and asked each child what makes him/her unique (name, favorite food, favorite color, something s/he is good at, etc.) and then looked for ways that we are each unique and ways that some of us are alike. Then the children decorated each "wedge" of the wheel with markers and sequins.

If you have children between the ages of 4 and 6, please join us next Tuesday. There is no charge, and registration is not required, but tickets will be given out starting at 1:30. The program is limited to 18 children, ages 4-6.

Pre/K Story Time Books (9.24.13)

Week one of the fall session was off to an autumnal start with two books about industrious little mammals and a nature walk.

How Chipmunk Got His Stripes
story by Joseph & James Bruchac
illustrations by Jose Aruego
When you want a Native American tale well-told, Bruchac is your go-to guy, and this is one of his best picture book endeavors. Bear is a giant braggart, chipmunk (who starts out as a small squirrel) is a tiny tease, and the story is perfect for reading aloud. A great message, illustrated with verve and humor, and full of opportunities for silly voices and suspenseful pauses. When I read this to a few kindergarten classes as part of our outreach program, the kids were laughing along and begged to hear the story a second time the minute I had finished. It's THAT fun. :-)


Ol' Mama Squirrel
story and illustrations by David Ezra Stein
More silliness and lively drawings from the man famous for the hilarious Interrupting Chicken.

We also discussed chipmunk and squirrel behavior and then went out into the park armed with seeds, nuts, and dried fruit for our furry friends.

If you have children between the ages of 4 and 6, please join us next Tuesday. There is no charge, and registration is not required, but tickets will be given out starting at 1:30. The program is limited to 18 children, ages 4-6.