Candy Mosaics

Years ago at a fancy food show I saw the jellybean Starry Night. I forget how may thousands of jellybeans went into making the work but it is something that I had filed away in my brain. I knew I wanted to do a less tedious version as a program and candy mosaics was what I came up with. My original plan was to put a bunch of frosting on a square cookie base.  However,  I realized even the most die-hard sugar addict wouldn’t be able to eat that so we switched to cardstock and paper plates for the littles and regular elmer’s glue.

I waited for easter candy to go on 70% clearance and then bought some pastel m&ms, black jellybeans, flower-shaped candies, duck-shaped candies, speckled jellybeans, regular jellybeans, and rainbow twizzlers pull and peels. I had some skittles leftover from the skittle rainbows we did. It probably took me about 45 minutes to sort out all of the different candies and colors and I set them up over two tables.

The kids came in and got 1 twizzler and a dixie cup to pick their candy. I had glue and some scissors out on the tables. At first I was afraid they would finish too quickly but the timing was just about perfect with the earliest finishing in about 50 minutes, the rest took about an hour. I encouraged people to go pick out some books to checkout while they let the glue dry for a few minutes.

I was super impressed with this 3D duck pond

I think this would be fun to do again. The m&ms and speckled jellybeans and twizzlers were the most popular. BE warned that black jellybeans stink like black licorice and are for some reason much bigger than other jellybeans.

Registrations: 45
Attendance: 22


I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony

I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony is a nominee for the Buckeye Children’s & Teen Book Award in the K-2 category.

illwaitmrpanda cover

From the Cover

Mr. Panda is making a surprise. What is it? The animals must wait and see. But waiting is boring. Mr. Panda shows that good things come to those who wait!

Mr. Panda is cooking a surprise. Llama asks him what it is, but Mr. Panda says to wait and see. Llama won’t wait, but penguin says he will. Anteater says waiting is too hard. Bunnies won’t wait, but penguin will! Bird won’t wait, but penguin is waiting. Mr Panda reveals the treat. It was worth the wait!


The Good
I’ll Wait Mr. Panda actually fixed one of the issues I had with Please, Mr. Panda where the images from page to page were so similar that they looked to be copy and pasted instead of drawn individually. I think kids really like the grumpy panda and the over-eager penguin.

The Bad

I think the two different fonts used in the book clash and I wish the animals had some kind of identification. I think kids will know panda,  penguin,and bunny – but anteater is harder. I am guessing the other animal is a llama, but I am not sure and the bird is crane-like, but again we don’t know what it is.

The Ugly
It feels like there is some confusion as to who we are supposed to focus on in this book. There are many pages where both Mr. Panda and the penguin are extended off of the edge of a page.

In Conclusion
It’s a modern update on the little red hen story and the high contrast illustrations would work well for storytime. I think this book is the most versatile of the K-2 nominations as you could use it for pandas, penguins, food, manners, black & white, etc. If our library did not already have it in the collection I would order it.

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Waiting by Kevin Henkes is a nominee for the Buckeye Children’s & Teen Book Award in the K-2 category.

waitingbykevinhenkes cover

From the Cover

Look at the owl and the pig and the bear and the puppy and the rabbit. What do you think they’re waiting for? Something wonderful? A visitor? A surprise? Maybe they’re waiting for you!

Five figures on the windowsill are waiting. The owl waits for the moon, the pig with the umbrella waits for the rain, the bear with a kite waits for the wind, the puppy on the sled waits for the snow, and the rabbit just enjoys looking out the window and waiting. Some characters wait longer than others. Some characters leave and return. An elephant appears but leaves when it falls and breaks. The scenes outside the window are beautiful. One day a cat appears and she was waiting for something new. Then there were ten on the windowsill waiting!

Waiting ten characters

The Good
I enjoy most of the art. The scenes outside the window are some of the best in the book, and it utilizes white space really well.  I like that it is a quiet book, and not very busy.

The Bad

I am a bit confused by the choice of characters, Are they supposed to be toys or figures? The rabbit makes me think they are supposed to be toys, but either way I don’t think these are good choices for either.

One page is devoted to the line, “Sometimes one or the other of them went away, but he or she always came back.” What a mouthful!  I understand one wants to use proper grammar in a children’s book but this line stuck out to me like a sore thumb. It is hard to say in that sing-song voice and I wish we could use more gender-neutral language. In a world of living toys do we really have to stick with the he/she gender binary?

The Ugly
And this is why I shouldn’t write book reviews. That bunny totally looks like an adult toy. The pregnant matryoshka doll is also unsettling because it looks like the kittens are giving birth to more kittens. I wish the cat figure had just given birth to some different-sized, non-opening kittens.

In Conclusion
I know there is sort of a cult of Henkes, so it is unpopular to not like a Henkes book but I didn’t think this one was anything special. That being said, the one I borrowed from the library is covered in sticky fingerprints, so someone out there is a fan, if not me.

Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead

Samson in the Snow by Philip C, Stead is a nominee for the Buckeye Children’s & Teen Book Award in the K-2 category. The official website erroneously has this title written as “Sampson” in the Snow.

samsoninthesnow cover

From the Cover

As a sunny day turns cold Samson must go looking for his friend. Little does he know he’s about to meet two in this tender tale of kindness and unexpected friendship from the creator of Ideas Are All Around.

Samson is a woolly mammoth, or perhaps a very hairy elephant, that tends a dandelion patch with only his flowers for company. One day a red bird appears and asks Samson for one of his yellow flowers for a friend who is having a bad day and loves the color yellow. Samson gives the bird three of his best flowers and the bird flies off while Samson falls asleep wondering what it would be like to have a friend.

A snowstorm blows in and turns the landscape white and Samson worries about the bird so he goes out in search of her trudging through hill and valley. He stumbles upon a mouse that is having a bad day and offers him a ride. The mouse is also looking for someone. The snow gets deeper and they rest near an “unlikely” patch of dandelions. Samson asks the mouse if he has a favorite color and the mouse replies that it is yellow. Samson says his favorite color is yellow too. He plucks the dandelions from the snow only to find the little red bird. The bird is too cold so Samson takes his little companions to a cave where they warm up and tell stories about their adventures in the snow. The storm passes.

The Good
I am struggling to find something good to say about this book. I think some of the art is nice enough.

The Bad
I have no idea why Samson has a dandelion patch and the blossoms never seed and blow away to the wind. It seems like this is a children’s literature equivalent of having a character with a gun that never shoots it.

The characters all seem very flat to me. Samson wants a friend and likes the color yellow, the mouse has a bad day and likes the color yellow, the bird asks for a flower for his friend and then never talks again. The dialogue is sparse – but the action is too, so it doesn’t seem like much happens at all.

The Ugly

There are several pages where the bird is dwarfed by a page of snow and ice and appears to be dead. The frail body really looks like a bloodstain on the snow. The characters in general look pretty messy and murky.

In Conclusion
I expect picture books to have a tight, cohesive story and art that contributes to the story. I feel like Samson has neither. I do not see this circulating well or being used in any story time. I will be very surprised if this wins the K-2 category.

This Was My Week…

Cheers and Jeers
Suddenly spring has sprung. The blossoms opened this week!
I heard circulation stats are down 24% this year. I want to know specifically which areas, but the report doesn’t give that info. Our hours and schedules might be changing.

What Happened This Week?
Monday: Painting With Crayons program. People came to look at the building and talk about a remodel I put up all of the dinosaur mini golf posters, displayed fiction dinosaur books in children’s and pulled non-fiction dinosaur books to put on display and a lot were gone by the end of the day. Still working on compiling a list of J series books.

Wednesday: I spent a lot of the day working on the J series books. I found quite a few new series to order and I tried to go through the collection and include missing volumes in the series we already had. The website kept freezing on me and forcing me to log out and then log back in. A lot of the dinosaur display books were checked out so I brought more books out of the stacks.

Thursday: More planning Sept-Dec programming. More dino books. I spent a large portion of the day working on the STEAM/Makerspace program. I might call it STEAMspace. Lots of rain and thunder but the power stayed on

Friday: We were short today and had a sub from a different library who didn’t know how to do a lot of things so I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off. Looked up instructions for a geodome greenhouse for a patron that really wanted the penta-hex dome instructions mentioned in a 1972 Popular Science magazine article. 10 minutes to close I helped a patron file a harassment complaint on craigslist.

Painting With Crayons

Oh, Pinterest! Sometimes I find really cool things and other times the sea of broken links and worksheets makes me want to pull out my hair in frustration. I saw a teacher do some crayon Batik art and thought it would be fun to do as an art program. I found this tutorial and ordered some 5″ cotton squares.

My completed sample batik and print.

At first the kids were pretty skeptical but they quickly got into the project. I emphasized planning out their batik on a blank sheet of paper first but I still had one kid claim they messed up and wanted to start over. I saw a lot of hearts and emoji art, but I was so busy doing the dying and the ironing I didn’t get any pictures of the kids artworks.

Two little girls were just too small so I ended up giving them some plain crayons, paper, and some watercolor paint so they could do a more traditional color resist piece.

I don’t think this was the most thrilling project ever but the kids did seem to like it. I think if I did it again I might have pre-made designs on the fabric for them to color and then they could do something freehand later when the bug project was done.

Registrations: 33 (Max)
Attendance: 19
Activity: Paint with crayon wax

Brainstorming – STEAM

STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. It’s an educational philosophy that I am struggling to learn, but I feel the need to because it seems really critical. From what I have gathered it is very hands-on, and more about critical thinking and experimenting than rote memorization. I am basically approaching it as science play. If we need to read for fun and pretend for fun, it seems logical to me that we should art and science for fun too. Sadly, from what I have seen in my community there is little focus on STEAM programs. We don’t have a truly local children’s science center, and programs that do exist certainly aren’t free or accessible to my library kids.

Makerspaces are sort of a dedicated, DIY space with crafts, electronics, and other supplies.  I have read about school libraries that have makerspaces, but I have never had a patron talk about one or seen them at any school I had visited. Additionally, it seems to me as though public libraries, if they happen to have a makerspace, tend to cater to the adult patrons with 3D printers and other fabrication machines. One day I was thinking about the STEAM programs, makerspaces,  and about the Matthew effect.

The Matthew effect of accumulated advantage, described in sociology, is a phenomenon sometimes summarized by the adage that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

If the Matthew effect applies to reading, with the argument that weak readers fall further and further behind, wouldn’t a similar gap apply to the kids that are behind in science play? And if so, what could I realistically do about it?

My library does not have the space or the staff to have a dedicated makerspace, but maybe I could use some of my programming time to have a STEAM/Makerspace hybrid program. I would want to run it at least once a month to help justify any purchases to be made. If it does well I might be able to expend it to tween/teens which is a historically difficult demographic for me.

My next step (in progress) is to come up with activities and incentives. I had been thinking about badges, buttons, and stickers for a long time but I decided I want to have a log book with badges that the kids can keep track of their progress. I think the gamification of the program will keep interest up and encourage kids to try new things. They can earn some kind of prize for completing badges. I know some librarians have let the kids earn books or candy bars. I also have access to some general giveaways and prizes we use like pencils and wristbands.

I want a majority of the activities to be used individually or in a small group. My goal is for them to take 20-50 minutes so that kids can focus on one more difficult activity or two smaller, activities and have time to clean up. I spent some time on amazon looking for STEM games and toys as well as brainstorming what activities I have previously done with the kids that could work for this program, and what science topics would be the most interesting.

This Was My Week…

Cheers and Jeers
I had one of those amazing, you-are-totally-doing-the-thing-you-were-meant-to-do-in-life feel-good experiences this week. A little girl came to the desk and asked if we had any Dork Diary books. I had actually requested all of the missing volumes a few months ago and they just came in so I took her back to show her where they all were and she danced in the aisle before running off to tell her friend that we had the new book! It was adorable and just an expression of pure joy.

What Happened This Week?
Monday: was the big Easter program and egg hunt. Secretly, I wish I could have dressed up as the bunny.

Wednesday: I did some program brainstorming for September -December programs and they are due in June. The program I am probably looking forward to the most is a My Little Pony one before the movie comes out in October. I am also considering running two sessions of the dinosaur excavation program instead of one. I wonder if I could pull off a DIY journal/diary program.

Thursday: I went to a literacy night at a local elementary school. The organizers were bummed as turnout was not what they expected, but I think it was a bad week to schedule an event. They seemed well organized and a majority of the participants had library cards, which is a win in my book. On the other hand it seemed like they did not know about the family programming we offer so I passed out a lot of event calendars. The principal also took a newsletter and calendar.

Saturday: Reference desk, lots of signs, reading emails, and researching J series.

What’s Hot
I have gotten several requests for 13 Reasons Why this week. Of course our copy is missing and the audio book is checked out.

Easter Eggstravaganza 2017

I really wanted to have an Easter bunny at the egg hunt this year. I asked for a bunny suit but was not approved. When I found one for <$80 on amazon I ordered it because I knew I could use it for my personal Easter activities and yearly at the library or for charity etc. Amazon said it would ship 3-5 days later than normal, no big deal I ordered it a month before my Easter party. And then there was a shipping delay and another shipping delay and then the possibility that the costume might arrive in time for my party. Meanwhile the other bunny costumes I liked were about $500+ so I could not just purchase another one. Well the costume didn’t arrive in time for the party, and he has a crooked eye which I will have to email the company about, but I did have a bunny for the library’s Eggstravaganza, which was really exciting.

I figured out you could tuck the sleeves into the gloves after this picture of course…

As the families came in I checked them off of the list and had them grab a bunny ear mandala headband to color and an Easter-themed word search to work on. I brought the bunny in once I felt like most of the participants had arrived. As the kids colored and got their headbands stapled I went table by table and had the kids come up to do pictures with the bunny. One of the shelvers agreed to play the bunny and was a champ because it had to be at least 75 in the room outside of the costume.

After the kids saw the bunny they could go to the cookie table and decorate a cookie. My hope was that everyone would stay entertained and the bunny wouldn’t get sticky with frosting. This mostly worked except a word search activity that took kids 25 minutes before now took them three so some of the kids got a little bored. I should have had some extra coloring pages printed too. At a certain point I sent another coworker out with about 385 plastic eggs to hide in the reading garden and on the lawn.

Before we went out I told everyone that they could find up to 11 eggs, and that the eggs were empty but they would turn them back in at the end for a gift bags with some candy and other little things like stickers and a temporary tattoo in it. And look at those bags. They are the cutest things ever! I had them line up youngest to oldest and we walked outside. Apparently in the walk outside everyone forgot how many eggs they were allowed to get and some kids only got 5 because other kids got 22 and in general it was the parents not following the rules, ugh.

In short it was chaos, but mostly the good kind of chaos and at least there were no tears!
Registrations: 56
Attendance: 56 – Coincidence because some cancels and some walk-ins
Activity: Bunny Mandala Headbands
Activity: Word Search
Activity: Bunny Photos
Activity: Egg Cookie Decorating
Activity: Egg Hunt

Buckeye Nominee Reading List

You may have noticed a lack of book reviews on this site, which is a little odd for a library blog. The reason I have not published any book reviews is I am not at all confident about my writing and even attempting to write a review is very difficult for me. I thought perhaps forcing myself to write would be a good thing so I have decided to read and review all of the Buckeye nominees for this year. Wish me luck!

For Grades K-2:

For Grades 3-5:

  • Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (Parts One and Two) a new play by Jack Thorne, based on an original story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
  • License to Thrill (The Genius Files #5) by Dan Gutman
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

For Grades 6-8:

  • Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

The Teen Buckeye Book Award nominees (for grades 9-12):

  • Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
  • The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
  • The Heir (The Selection bk. 4) by Keira Cass
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Voting begins September 1st.