Monthly Archives: November 2014

Cruise Reads

My girls and I are going on a cruise (perfect timing to escape the wonderful Buffalo weather), and as with any vacation I take, reading will happen. I do have to squeeze in some getting-close-to-the-end-of-the-semester schoolwork, but that will take up only a minimal amount of time. Below is my wishlist of books to read. It is only a 4-night cruise, and I know I will not make it through even half of these books.

Physical Books
While I predominantly use my iPad for travel reading, I always bring actual books with me. Sometimes my kids lay claim to the iPad, and sometimes I just want to hold an actual book while reading.

(Ella Enchanted is the book I am currently reading aloud to Bean.)

alienated england mistress girls kingfisher ella

Admittedly, none of these books were purchased specifically for me to read on this cruise. Most of them have been wasting away in the ether for at least half a year. Six of them are novellas, so it shouldn’t take too long to read them.

not a vamp vamp charming marble monkey gilded ashes bane 5 bane 6 bane 7 bane 8 bane 9 flash gold lady of spirit sunbolt thorn

Storytime: Veterans Day

*Coming Home about made me cry both times I read it. Thinking about it now makes me want to cry. The illustrations do a wonderful job capturing what a homecoming is like.

vet day nelson father's coming hiome coming home

Veterans Day by Robin Nelson
The Fathers are Coming Home by Margaret Wise Brown
Coming Home by Greg Ruth

*I had the initial idea of having the children make cards to take to the VA hospital, but I did not have the time to prep them because of a large assignment due for one of my courses.

1. Coloring Page – I printed out a page with an bald eagle head in profile against a US flag.

2. EOD Robot – the highlight of the storytime was an Air Force bomb squat robot demonstration. My husband showed the children how the robot worked, what the controller looked like, and had the robot pick up a grenade and put it in one of the children’s hands.  While participants were mostly on the younger side, they still had fun.

eod 2

Storytime: Stars

(How to Catch a Star is one of my 3-year old’s favorite books.)

how to catch a star stars stars stars stars rustad

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
Stars! Stars! Stars! by Bob Barner
The Stars by Martha E. H. Rustad

Song “Catch a Falling Star” (idea from Sunflower Storytime)
I gave the children scarves to dance with. For Family Storytime, I played the song through completely. I noticed the children started to lose interest about halfway through, so for Toddler Time, I stopped the song during the interlude.

Action Rhyme “Bend and Stretch” (idea from Storytime Katie)
(We used our scarves with this as well.)

Bend and stretch, reach for the stars
There goes Jupiter, here comes Mars
Bend and stretch and reach for the sky
Stand on tip-e-toe, go so high!

Watercolor Art Activity (idea from Buggy and Buddy)
I had all of the supplies for this (yay!) which made it easy to put together. I couldn’t find my watercolor paper so I used card stock instead. I taped postcard-size pieces of card stock to the table and gave each child a pipette for squirting the paint. We used two colors of paint (blue and blue-green) and two types of salt (iodized table and epsom). There was a bit of a delay in seeing how the salt effected the watercolors, so know that it won’t necessarily be immediate. Doing it again, I would put each piece of paper on a paper plate.

The Orange Carpet

My library held its 2nd Annual Halloween Runway Party on October 25th. The director came up with the idea last year to have kids model their costumes down The Orange Carpet. Each child is announced by name along with who/what they are dressed up as, then they walk runway accompanied by music (Jamiroquai, if you’re curious). This is not a competition. There are no prizes. Just each child’s chance to be the center of attention.

bp oc 3Me being me, I wanted to do more than just the fashion show and a single craft using random bits of foam and paper scrounged from our supply closet. My initial expansion idea came from Halloween ComicFest. I wanted to give the children Halloween-themed mini-comics (which ended up being a good choice on my part) and incorporate comic book elements into the party. I ended up skipping the additional comic book elements in favor of some simple games and and activities.

Once all of the children walked the Orange Carpet, we opened up the community room for the remainder of the party. There were four stations (two games, two crafts), and when families were ready to leave, a table with take-home favors consisting of  candy, Halloween-themed play dough, and Halloween mini-comics (Vamplets was the favorite).


1. Witch Hat Ring Toss (idea from Sometimes Creative) – I bought a piece of black foam core poster board and spray painted it silver. Dinner plates served as the template for the brims.  The cones are poster board and are attached to the foam core with electrical tape (using a glue gun didn’t cross my mind for some reason). The buckles are construction paper.

bp witch

2. Poke-A-Pumpkin (idea from Project Denneler) – Ignore the fact that in my infinite wisdom I wrote “pop” instead of “poke”.  This was surprisingly quick and simple to assemble. I hot glued orange plastic cups (16 oz) to white foam core poster board, put small prize in the cups, then rubber banded tissue paper over the openings. I did all of this while the board was horizontal, and made sure to be extremely careful when tilting it upright to place on the easel. Several cups had small bottles of bubbles, and I didn’t want them to either break the single layer of tissue or to be visible to the pokers.

This was by far the most popular station at the party.  I having at least two cups per child to poke.

bp poke


1. Origami Bats (instructions from Activity Village) – I printed out instructions, made a sample, and pretty much let the families have at it. If I did this again, I would remember to bring chalk so the children could draw faces on the bats.

bp bat

2. Candy Corn Collage (idea from Indiana Mom) – fairly self-explanatory. I found a free candy corn coloring page and printed it out. Since participants tend to skew younger at our events, I wanted to have something for them that wasn’t too hard.

bp craft

What Awaited Departing Children

Pumpkin Play Dough (idea from Juggling With Kids) – I used the ingredients in the ratios she had listed, but I combined the water, oil, salt, and food coloring in a pot and brought it to a quick boil before removing it heat to add in the remaining dry ingredients. Each pumpkin is approximately 6 oz, and I was able to get 6 1/2 pumpkins per batch.

bp pumpkin

Candy and Comics!

bp comics

October Books

jackaby cruel beauty tarnished iron dukeillusions fate CRA nat hist drag mia went heart steel cinder colonel BB evil lib

*Jackaby – The billing that this book is akin to Doctor Who and Sherlock roped me in. I definitely see the relation to Sherlock (especially the Elementary version), a hyper-intelligent detective with no brain-to-mouth filter, but not so much to Doctor Who. I hope there will be sequels.
*Cruel Beauty – A dark re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast set in a culture based upon an amalgamation of Ancient Greece and Rome. I ended up buying the book because I will read it again. I like that the main character is flawed. She has conflicting loyalties with a large dose of resentment,  guilt, and “first person to act like they care about me” thrown in. You can’t be raised by a family who has designated you as the sacrifice and be a Mary Sue.
*Iron Duke
*Illusions of Fate – This book had the potential to be great, but it ended up not really going anywhere. The plot meandered and felt underdeveloped, the characters seemed a bit flat, and the rules of magic were not clearly defined.
*Dead Iron – After reading 127 pages, I flipped to the end and read the last 26 pages to find out if the young child involved survived.  I didn’t connect to the story or characters, and it did not hold my attention.
*Crazy Rich Asians – This book is different from what I generally read, but I enjoyed the dynamics of it. The ending wasn’t very conclusive, but I don’t see how it could have been without making it look like a quickie wrap-up. That being said, it did end on a positive note. I will read the sequel when it comes out to see how everything pans out.
*A Natural History of Dragons – I liked the memoir style, liked the interjections of older self explaining/expanding upon younger self’s actions and thoughts. Even though dragons are present, I wouldn’t really consider this a true fantasy novel.  The dragons exist in the story in the way lions exist in real life, and it’s more of how a woman deals with the expectations and restraints placed up on her in a Victorian-like society.
*Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City
*Heart of Steel
*Cinderella and the Colonel – I really enjoyed this retelling of Cinderella. I like that she is not vapid, and that both her and her prince have substance and conflict.
*Beauty and the Beast
*Evil Librarian – Great idea, felt kind of shallow in execution. My teen self would have loved this book, gunning for evil librarian to triumph. The main character was somewhat annoying, but that might stem more from the fact that I Team Evil Librarian.

6th gun 7 clockwork angel mr pants TT 1

*The Sitxh Gun, vol 7 – I’m ready for volume 8.  Go Becky!
*The Infernal Devices, vol 1 – I read the first two volumes a few years ago and enjoyed them. This time around, I had to force myself to finish volume 1. I returned volumes 2 and 3 without opening them. I might try rereading the novels to see if my lack of interest is because the graphic novel had to gloss over various details, or because of the story itself/writing style.
*Mr. Pants: It’s Go Time! – Quirky and funny (both Bean and I loved it, but my husband couldn’t force himself past the first several pages), it reminded me of the dynamic I have with my sister. Bean loved the unicorn backpack segments, and I loved Fairy Princess Dream Factory and laser tag (well…the aftermath of laser tag because that’s pretty much how it would go down in my house).
*Terra Tempo: Ice Age Cataclysm – I picked it up at ALA for my library, but haven’t had the opportunity to read it until now. Time traveling trio has adventure in prehistoric times. The premise is inline with The Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio series, but the science/history facts are much more prevalent. The book made me feel nostalgic for my dad, a former geologist.

Read-Alouds to Bean:
STILL READING Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!!!! ARGH!!!! We’re less than 100 pages away from finishing, though. I told Bean that from now until the end of the year, I get to choose all of the books. 3 1/2 months is a helluva long time to spend reading one book.

Books of YA Lit (UB LIS 535)

The second of my two summer courses was Resources and Services for Young Adults (the other being collection development). One of the requirements was to read one book per week, chosen from a list of 58 books. The books were divided by week and category. A few of the books I had read before, but most were not the kind to be on my reading radar. That being said, I enjoyed most of the books I did read, and have added to my already overwhelming “to read” list.

Books I read during the course:

outsidersWeek 1: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – I read this book 20 years ago as required reading in middle school. I remember thinking it was alright, and then mentally moved back into fantasy novel mode. This time around, I had a different perspective. It’s still not a book I would read for fun, but I can see why it is considered the first YA novel, and why it still resonates with readers 40+ years later.

part time indianWeek 2: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie– I can see why this book has been challenged, but I loved it. It’s well-written, and heavy topics are dealt with in a humorous manner (which is a great way to cope with being dealt a crap hand. My father maintained a very black/dry sense up humor about his circumstances right up until he died from cancer.) I’m no expert on rez life, but there was a small number of kids from the rez at my high school, and the descriptions they gave of it was very similar to how it was depicted in this book.

inexcusableWeek 3 (a): Inexcusable by Chris Lynch – I chose this from our list because it was short. The fact that it was written from the perspective of the perpetrator was different. I didn’t like it, and found the narrative confusing and disjointed. I know part of that is because the main character is living in a delusional bubble, but I wasn’t able to find anything redeeming about him.

first part lastWeek 3 (b): The First Part Last by Angela Johnson– Another book I chose to read because it was short, but I ended up enjoying it. Like the previous book, it was told from a different perspective. In this case, however, the narrator was relatable, stepped up to his circumstances, and did the best he could. His decisions did not seem out of line with how a teen would react. The only thing I found confusing initially was what happened to his daughter’s mother.

perks wallflowerWeek 3 (c): The Perks of Being a Wallflower – I read about 2/3rds of this book, then skipped to the last chapter. It was interesting at first, but became tedious and somewhat redundant as it progressed. If I had read this in high school or college, it would have resonated with me, but as it stands, I am not at that point in my life anymore.

maggot moonWeek 4: Maggot Moon  by Sally Gardner – The tone of this book was akin to the classic dystopian novels, but it wasn’t as well written. I liked the concept, but the plot felt disjointed, and certain events/relationships were poorly explained. I never became invested in the characters, and so wasn’t pulled into caring about their struggles.


Week 5: I did not read any book from this week. (Bad me!)

ABCWeek 6 (a): American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – The three separate narratives threw me off at first, especially because it started with a story about the Monkey King and not a modern teen suffering from an identity/culture crisis. The plots flowed well, and I liked how all three came together at the end.


life as we knew itWeek 6 (b): Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer – My best friend has been after me for a while to read this book, but I never got around to it (obviously) until now, and I have to say that I really liked it. It is a slow-paced story, but life isn’t always quick or action-packed. It felt like an accurate portrayal of how one family might handle such an extreme situation. The characters’ actions didn’t feel out of place for who they were. This is a well written story about average people. It was a nice change from many of the crazy dystopian YA novels.

Books I had read previously:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Delerium by Lauren Oliver
Feed by M.T. Anderson (I attempted to read this, but the slang was obnoxious and made it hard to read the book)

Book I want to read:
Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Gavin J. Grant
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Nobody’s Secret by Michaela MacColl
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Death Note, Vol 1 by Tsugumi Ohba (watched the anime several years ago and loved the main character’s psychological downward spiral caused by unlimited power)