Book of the Week: Baby Monkey, Private Eye

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Baby Monkey, Private Eyeby Brian Selznick and David Serlin
Illustrated by Brian Selznick
Published by Scholastic Press, 2018
191 pages
ISBN: 978-1-338-18061-9
Age 3 and older
Marvelous visual storytelling and spare, lively word choice make this winsome novel a success for preschoolers. (Yes, you read that right.) Baby Monkey, Private Eye is on the case, or rather, five cases, each unfolding in a similar pattern: A client arrives (opera singer, pizza chef, clown, astronaut, mystery woman) with a problem (stolen jewels, stolen pizza, stolen nose, stolen spaceship, missing baby). Baby Monkey looks for clues, writes notes, eats a healthy snack, puts on his pants, and solves the mystery. The humor reaches its peak in each chapter over three almost wordless double-page spreads in which Baby Monkey, always expressive, struggles to put on a pair of jeans (so many holes to figure out!). The discovery of the culprit in each of the first four cases would be anticlimactic were it not so silly, while the fifth case reaches a resolution worthy of the best warmly reassuring stories. The patterned narrative and engaging storyline will delight young children, while the overall design and layout also makes this a great choice for beginning readers. Appealing black-and-white illustrations feature an abundance of laughs for older kids, too, including visual references to many famous figures and works of art identified in a key at book’s end. The end matter also includes a hilarious index (“Coat, trench,” “Nose, red rubber”) and faux bibliography. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

ALA Public Library & School Library Collaboration Toolkit

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Look at our colleagues at ALA - so many helpful resources shared with us!

Just out is the joint ALSC/YALSA/AASL Toolkit focusing on best practices for initiating and engaging in public and school library collaborations. This uber helpful toolkit can be downloaded or linked to and contains:

  • information on how to start and continue a school-public library collaboration
  • research that supports that collaboration
  • examples of successful collaborations
  • useful templates
Stop here to read and/or downlaod your free copy!

STEAM in Youth Services Workshop: April 3

Youth Services Shout Out -

Calling all librarians serving youth, teens and families! Mark your calendars for a STEAM-y workshop set for April 3rd at the Marathon County Public Library, Wausau location from 9-3:30pm.
The WVLS STEAM in Youth Services workshop will cover creating high-interest STEAM programs on a low-to-no budget, local STEAM grant writing, successful STEAM program plans, virtual/augmented reality, the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten App, passive coding activities, AND attendees will be guided through the Hour of Code!

Emily Zorea, Youth Services Librarian of the Brewer Public Library in Richland Center, will kick-off the day with “Engaging Families, Youth, and Teens around STEAM and Thematic Programming.” Julie Kinney, Teen Librarian for Marathon County Public Library, and Tammie Blomberg, Director of the Rib Lake Public Library, will lead the group through the Hour of Code and talk about bringing coding concepts to teen and adult library users.
Find more from Emily at her Sowing Seeds Librarian blog.

Attendees will be able to participate in passive coding activities and leave with inspiration and coding lesson plans in hand! Activities and lesson plans courtesy of Linda Liukas, author of the Hello Ruby book series. The Hello Ruby series written for children is a “whimsical way to learn about technology, computing and coding.”

Shining Moments from the YSS Regional Meet-up in Waupaca

Youth Services Shout Out -

So many wonderful things came out of our afternoon in Waupaca: networking, engaging in discussion, and even a favorite cheese list that I'm working on for another blog post. These meetups are intended to be fun, professionally invigorating, sparking engagement and ideas, as well as connecting us and our work with our colleagues serving youth.

Katie Kiekhafer, Chair-elect, came prepared with our second activity of the day called "Shining Moments." This small group activity asked participants to reflect on shining moments that motivate us in our work, such as an accomplishment or achievement that we are proud of, and then asks us to share this moment. As the small groups listened to each other, we recorded our moments and then identified common themes. Next we reported back to the larger group and Katie recorded our responses and themes. This was an incredibly powerful exercise that affirmed the great work we are doing and the underlying themes common to every library staffer in the room.

After reading through this list of common themes and identities elicited from our responses see if they resonate with you, inspire you, or reflect your ideals and self:

  • Innovative thinkers
  • Change embracers
  • Empowerment - of the people we serve which then returns to us in a circle of empowerment
  • Validation - that the work, even the unsung work, we do is meaningful and effective
  • Connection - with our communities, their needs, and discovering unmet needs through this engagement
  • Becoming visible in the community
  • Collaborators
  • Boundary stretchers
  • Seizing opportunity
  • Following and setting trends
  • Inclusiveness
  • Embracing technology

Learn how to implement this activity with your staff or library system by reading the full activity directions HERE.

Programs Inside the Box, Vol. 1: Cardboard Box Drive-In

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Cardboard, there, EVERYWHERE.  Regardless of the size of your library, you likely find yourself inundated with oodles of boxes at some point or another.  Of course, you could always recycle them, but why not re-purpose them for programs first? 
One idea: you could host a Cardboard Box Drive-In!  Each attendee gets a box and some fun craft materials to transform into their own sweet ride!  Then, once the vehicles are completed, they can sit in their respective cars, watching a short film and eating delicious drive-in snacks.
As you might imagine, things like paper, scissors, duct tape, and markers are always well-utilized.  Here are a few other materials to consider having available:
  *craft sticks - great for license plate covers!  *pipe cleaners - antennas and windshield wipers, galore!  *paper plates - tires and steering wheels!  *cupcake wrappers + bracelet-sized glowsticks = super sweet  headlights!
Given that cardboard boxes can be rather bulky and take up quite a bit of space, you can always consider having registration and ask folks to secure their parking space ahead of time.
What's great about this program is that it can be relatively low-cost, provided you plan ahead: most of the materials necessary can be found on your craft shelves or--in terms of boxes--saved as orders come in.
This program has been quite popular here at my library and is something that I've revisited often.  To add a bit of extra excitement for our next installment, I've been in contact with our fire station to see if they'd be interested in hosting a firehouse tour and Cardboard Box Drive-In at the station for SRP 2018 - - we'll transform our boxes into firetrucks and other emergency vehicles and have the chance to watch a movie with real live firefighters!
Ladies and gentlemen, let's all go to the drive-in!

Book of the Week: The Funeral

CCBC Blog -

The Funeralby Matt James
Published by Groundwood Books /
House of Anansi Press, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55498-908-9Ages 4-8
“Norma was practicing her sad face in front of her parents’ mirror.” Going to the funeral of her great-uncle Frank isn’t sad for young Norma: She gets to miss a day of school and see her younger cousin, Ray. The story’s wonderful details, as when Norma explores the contents of her mother’s purse at church, are so authentic they feel familiar. So, too, is the fact that Norma finds the service boring (“And oh, how looong they sat on those hard seats, with all that talk about God and souls, and not very much talk about Uncle Frank.”). Ray asks, “Is Uncle Frank still a person?” Norma has no answer. The wonderful mixed-media art, a blend of full-page and sequential images, shows adults around Norma often somber-faced, sometimes hugging or crying. It also exquisitely conveys the sense of release Norma feels when she and Ray are able to escape the sober atmosphere to play outside. Norma is not grief-stricken and that’s perfectly fine in this remarkably honest picture book. Still, she is not unaffected. After pausing to consider a photo of great-uncle Frank, Norma tells her mom, “I think Uncle Frank would have liked his funeral.” ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards for Early Literacy Announced

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Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy is happy to announce the 2018 CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards for Early Literacy!

The five winning books consist of one title in each of five categories selected from a shortlist of 25 titles. Each category represents an early literacy practice: Read, Write, Sing, Talk, and Play. The books, in their content, theme, or design, support caregivers’ interaction with their children through these five early literacy practices. Research has shown that engaging children in these practices builds language skills and prepares children to become successful readers.

READ: The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark; illustrated by Chuck Goenink
A rainy day entices a girl to the library.  Sitting in her favorite chair, she is soon surrounded by literary friends including Winnie the Pooh, Madeline, Pinnocchio, and more. After a fun visit to the library, she checks out her favorite book to take home and read.  This book models a child’s love of reading and how it can be enhanced by a trip to the library.

WRITE: Little Plane Learns to Write by Stephen Savage
Little Plane loves flight school where he and the other planes are learning to write in the sky. His arcs and dives are excellent, but he can’t seem to get the hang of loopity-loops. Finally, tracing the round shape of the moon inspires Little Plane to write the perfect loopity-loops. Drawing circles, arcs, and lines helps children learn to form letters, just like Little Plane.

TALK: Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet
Say Zoop! encourages children and caregivers to interact with the pages of the book by inviting them to place their fingers on different colored dots and make the sounds that the book describes for each dot. Making noises helps children practice the different sounds in words which will help them in acquiring language.

SING: Motor Goose by Rebecca Colby, illustrated by Jef Kaminsky
Motor Goose is a compilation of classic nursery rhymes that have been rewritten with a transportation theme. Each page is a song centered on a different vehicle and set to familiar tunes such as Mary Had a Little Lamb or Itsy-Bitsy Spider. This book supports singing with children, whether it be classic nursery rhymes or modern children’s classics.

PLAY: Things to Do with Dad by Sam Zuppardi
A boy and his dad start the day making pancakes together, but dad’s looming to-do list puts a damper on their shared fun. The boy alters the list, inventing imaginative ways he and his dad can complete the chores together. This book models a variety of ways that adults and kids can playfully interact during their daily routine.

For more information and for a free activity sheet for each winning title, please visit the award website.

The Best Podcast Apps For Your Smartphone

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A couple weeks ago, over at Review Geek, Jennifer Allen discussed the best podcast apps for your smartphone.  If you are a neanderthal like me you know about Apple Podcasts and maybe Google Play Music if you are an Android user.  (What can I say, I drive a car from the early 2000s and am stuck still rocking burned CDs.)

BUT, as Allen points out:
If you’re not enjoying the wealth of podcasts out there, you’re really missing out. Podcasts provide you with the experience of a radio show—ranging from in-depth information on a wide variety of subjects to light hearted comedy—but are available whenever and where ever you want to listen, if you have a good app to manage them that is.So, check out her fabulous list and maybe recommend a few to teens or grown-ups at your library!

Anne Pellowski Film Premiers!

Youth Services Shout Out -

Ginny Moore Kruse just got information today about a brand new film about Anne Pellowski (one of our Wisconsin Notable Authors) having its debut this very weekend. If you are near Winona, this is a great chance to hear about a great storyteller and humanitarian!

The Frozen River Film Festival will premier Mary Farrell's film "Anne Pellowski: Storyteller to the World" on Sunday, February 11 @ 3:30pm in the Harriet Johnson Auditorium, Somsen Hall, Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota.  The film lasts almost 30 minutes, and it's second of three films on the program.  The public is welcome. 

Anne Pellowski was raised by a farm family of Polish heritage in Trempealeau County, WI and was a voracious reader of books about other countries and believed she would someday travel to all those countries. She discovered her life’s vocation through her studies in languages and library science which led her to New York City where she pursued her career, first as the children’s librarian at the NYC Public Library, and later as founding director of the Information Center on Children's Cultures for the United States committee at UNICEF. Through her work at UNICEF and other international agencies, she traveled to over 120 countries, assuring children had access to books in their native language by conducting workshops on cloth bookmaking and storytelling.  She has also authored 20 books including the Polish American girl series. Since her retirement, she has lived in Winona, Minnesota and travels several times a year to places around the world leading workshops. Filmmaker Mary Farrell traveled with Pellowski to Kenya in 2014 and filmed her workshop and decided to share Pellowski’s story of courage and determination as an ambassador for cultural and international understanding.

YSS Regional Meetup: Waupaca January 2018: Booklist

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When you invite library staff to bring a book to talk about, you are sure to wind up with a list of outstanding titles. Here is the list recorded at the first regional YSS meetup of 2018 on January 26 at the Waupaca Area Library. Some titles are adult reads, some are YA, some are juvenile fiction and picture books. Descriptions were captured from the booktalks as they were being given and I was writing as fast as I could:
If the Creek Don’t Rise (adult) - fiction pairing with Hillbilly ElegyIn Other Lands (YA) - creative, LGBTQ, unique writing style, flipped genderYork (juvenile) - Alt history, steampunk elements, twins, apartment building as characterOrigin - race against time, adventurousBeautiful Blue World - moral character and compassion shown as strengthsTemeraire series (adult/YA crossover) - dragons ridden by crews, good for readers who liked John Flannigan’s Ranger Apprentice seriesYear One by Nora Roberts - dystopic fantasy, steamy scenes but not graphicAmerica’s First Daughter (adult)- historical fiction about Jefferson’s daughter from 10 years old to old age, strong on moral dilemmas, good book club choice, cross-curriularOcean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - readalike for CoralineLibrarian of Auschwitz (YA) - historical fiction based on a 14 year old girl who became the caretaker of the 8 books at AuschwitzThey Both Die at the End (YA) - two boys living in a world where you know the day you’ll die, empowering, magnificent, and given thumbs up by three librariansSong of the Lionness Quartet by Tamara Pierce (YA, juvenile)- “badass” female character, fantasy, knights, protaganist is 9 years old at series start, author has a new series coming out Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (YA)- set in Texas where football is king, has a Friday Nights Lights twist but with a feminist flavor, Amy Pohler liked itEpic Crush of Genie Lo (YA)- journey of discovery in a comic book meets real life type of way with Chinese mythologySound of Gravel (adult) - nonfiction memoir of a child in a polygamist family with 38 brothers and sistersLand of Stories (juvenile) - audiobook is a great family listen engaging all agesMosquito Land (YA) - audiobook that tackles hard topics like mental illness, blended families, and sexualityRot, the Cutest in the World (picture book) - must read funny book for kids and storytime where a rotten potato wants to compete in the cutest in the world contestWrinkle in Time (graphic novel) - movie coming out soon, good for teensGrand Canyon by Jason Chin (nonfiction picture book) - Sue Abrahamson’s pick for the Sibert Award, written at a high level, great art, jam packed with information, Jan Brett-like borders with animals in them, multilevel read, end pages contain extra informationMost People(picture book) - universal themes that are a good answer to all the divisiveness in the world, message is that most people are good and kindMartin Rising - newest from Andrea Davis Pinckney, great for diversity and civil rights displaysCry Heart But Never Break (picture book) - translated from the Danish, a book about death who is personified to take Grandma, gives a soft message about griefOne Last Word by Nikki Grimes (nonfiction/poetry) - golden shovel style of poems from Harlem Renaissance poets, art is by different African-American illustratorsWishtree (juvenile) - predicted to be a Newbery Award or honor book, slow moving but then punches you with emotionNowhere Girls by Amy Reed (YA) - Teenage girls have had enough, get ready to be mad, alternates perspectives with masculine rights movement, represents no girl but every girlNo More Reading for Junk: Best Practices for Motivating Readers (Professional Development) - timely regarding summer reading and prizes, a quick read about research from the educators’ point of view about intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to readLunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer (YA) - excellent as an audiobookClaymates (picture book) - unique and fresh because the illustrations are take son clay modelsSparrow (juvenile) - a girl who likes birds is accused of attempting suicide for being up on a roofRoll (juvenile) - a curl up and read it all the way through story by first time WI author Darcy Miller about pigeon competitions, featured on public TVPrice Guide to the Occult - From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender On the Spot(picture book) - interactive with reusable stickers, good for preschool storytimesThey All Saw A Cat (picture book) - illustrations are colored by the viewers perspective of the cat, great for 1st grade audiences, use to talk about differences and how one sees things, good for a kindness unitCity of Ember(juvenile/YA) - an older but engaging audiobook with a positive portrayal of parents, dystopian fictionFortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman - fantastical story about what happens to a dad who goes out for milk while the mom was out of town, used in a juvenile book club “Cookies & Milk” book club with small cup of milk and a cup of Cookie Crunch cereal, another programming idea is Book! Cook! Where older kids listen to a read-aloud while something is bakedA Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman - diverse, about big numbers, great endnotes with extensive information, written numbers provided on pages as an aid to the reader, talks about extrapolation, takes the big picture and makes it personalRefugee by Alan Gratz - a pick for an award or honor book, takes three children in different times and locations and connects them through the refugee experience, personalizes tragedy but sparks hope through a fictionalized account of real things that happened to real children

Discover Something New: Novel Effect

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While perusing Storytime Underground awhile back, I saw multiple posts about a new app that added sound effects to stories.  Upon further investigation, I found out that it was free--score!--so the only risk was monopolizing some space on my phone, should I find it not to my liking.

On the screen, it sounded great and--of course--folks were raving about it.

Novel Effect is a FREE app that provides custom music and sound effects for over 100 stories.  The app works for both print and e-books and the library boasts a plethora of well-known classics and new favorites.  (The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Wolfie the Bunny, The Day the Crayons Quit, and Where the Wild Things Are are just a few of the available titles...and new ones are added every week.)

But, let's be honest, this needed a real-world test.  Rather than trying it for the first time in front of patrons, I decided to bust it out during bedtime stories with my daughter.  We read Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson - - and my daughter was enamored.  She loved hearing the forest critters chittering back and forth to one another, the sound of the fire, and the wind howling in the background.  Even my husband was intrigued; he kept asking questions about the app and how it worked.  The next night, my daughter requested the "neat sound thing again" for her bedtime stories.

It's not an app that I would use for every story, by any means, but it's definitely something I'll bust out for special story times or the occasional title.

Now, I know what you're thinking - - everyone has their own reading style/delivery/etc.  How will the app accommodate for that?  Never fear!  You don't need to tone down your own personal awesomeness in the slightest! (Nor should you.  EVER.) 
Novel Effect includes smart voice recognition, allowing the effects to sync with your reading style.  Pretty snazzy, no?

Plus, it's hands-free and will continue to work even if the screen goes to sleep, so no need to worry about having one more thing to juggle during your story times, should you opt to use it.

So, there you have it!  Even if you choose not to utilize it for your own purposes, it's certainly something worth mentioning to patrons looking for cool, free literary apps to incorporate into their home routines.

Novel Effect is available for free for iOS devices.  (Unfortunately, it isn't available on Android...yet...but they're in the process of changing that.)

Side note: If you just so happen to be heading to ALA Midwinter in a few days, you can stop by and chat with the Novel Effect folks in person!