Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rochester Children’s Book Festival

This past November I volunteered at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival. I have never volunteered at a book festival before, and thought it would be fun. Plus, James Howe was going to be there, and I wanted to meet him.

I manned the greeting table at the entrance with four other volunteers, welcoming visitors, handing out maps/session information, and answering any questions. Many little girls came in clutching Fancy Nancy books – Jane O’Connor was one of the featured authors. She also did a packed-to-capacity-with-people-standing-in-the-hallway storytime.

The festival was compact, but there was a lot to do. There was a book-based arts and crafts room, the first stop for many families, three conference rooms that were set up for sessions and storytimes, and of course, the main event – a huge room where visitors could meet authors and buy their books. I wasn’t able to attend any of the sessions, but there were many that looked interesting, such as the “Chinese Dragon Drawing Workshop” by Yangsook Choi and “Finding the Story in History: Three Graphic Novels” by Matt Phelan.  However, I did get a chance to see some of the authors.

Two authors in particular, James Howe and Linda Sue Park, were on my “must meet” list. James Howe because Bunnicula was the first chapter book I ever read – aged 8, in the car while traveling somewhere in the Nevada desert. I still have the copy of the book I read back then. He graciously signed it for me.

bun sign

And Linda Sue Park because Bee-bim Bop! is my best friend’s daughter’s favorite book (mailed to me from Virginia expressly to have it signed). When her daughter found out that I was going to have the chance to meet Linda Sue Park, she was beyond ecstatic, asking me to take a picture as proof.

lsp me

I met other authors as well. Putting faces to books helps a lot, especially when there were multiple authors there whose books I’ve read (such as Evil Librarian) or are currently on my “to read” list (such as Frogged and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place).

roc books

Storytime: Kandinsky

(my crowd is preschoolers, but The Life and Work of…Wassily Kandinsky would be good for the elementary-aged crowd.)

noisy paint box aint gonna paint

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont


“This Is the Way…” (from Storytime Katie)
This is the way we stir the paint, stir the paint, stir the paint
This is the way we stir the paint so early in the morning
(dip our brush, paint the paper, blow it dry, frame the picture)

“We’re Making Some Purple Paint” (from Anne’s Library Life)
We’re making some purple paint,
Whip whip, whip whip (pretend to stir paint)
We’re making some purple paint,
Shooby dooby do (point fingers to the sky and do a little dance)
With purple potatoes and purple tomatoes,
And…..” (have kids tell you something purple to mix in)    

1.  Circle Stamp Painting (idea from Small Kids Big Ideas)

kandartkandart 2

Read Harder Challenge – Book Riot

I have never participated in a book challenge until now. Generally because the lists I’ve come across in the past have been too narrowly focused (e.g. you must read these specific titles). Admittedly, I haven’t looked very hard. I’ve always viewed reading challenges in the same way I view New Year’s resolutions – a good idea, but the execution rarely happens.

I am a big fan of Book Riot, and pretty much every article read on their site results in additions to my already near-unmanageable “to read” list (my Amazon list is currently sitting at 402 titles). Because of my Book Riot, when their Read Harder Challenge popped up in my Facebook feed, I thought I would give it a look. And it looks pretty darn awesome. Categories instead of titles brings with it the thrill of the hunt. The number of tasks within the challenge is reasonable. Twenty-four categories means I only have to read two books per month (if so inclined, which given my reading history, I am not).

My sister and mother have decided to do the challenge with me, and even though my husband has no interest in these kinds of things, I plan on steering his reading selections towards meeting categorical requirements.

Some sort of strategy is necessary for this, and I’m placing certain parameters on myself, or I could knock out most of the challenge by waltzing over to one of multiple bookshelves scattered throughout my house. Simple is best, so:

*Books read in the past cannot be reread to count towards this challenge.
*Books cannot count for multiple categories.
*Books used for Book Riot’s challenge cannot be used for Panels’ challenge, vice versa.

Now onward to some awesome books I might not have read except for this challenge!

My Daughters’ Favorite Graphic Novels

My 8-year old daughter is an avid graphic novel reader. She’ll whinge if you hand her a chapter book, but she’s loved almost every graphic novel I’ve placed in her hot little hands (the Amulet and Squish series being the exceptions so far). The idea of giving her graphic novels didn’t occur to me until we started reading The Fog Mound trilogy when she was in first grade. The chapters in the books alternate between prose and comic format, but she was especially taken by the details of the comics chapters. I read the first Babymouse to her because of that her fascination, and she’s been hooked on graphic novels since then. Below are her current favorites.

My 4-year old daughter loves looking through the Babymouse books, but wanted her own graphic novels. She cannot read, so that’s a limiting factor. She’s been obsessed with owls for most of her life, and since Owly has no words, I figured it would be a perfect fit. She now owns three Owly books, and reads them in bed on most nights. Hello Kitty is the other series she’s read, but we check them out from our library.

8-Year Old

babymouse 1 happy happy clover 1 mameshiba guinea pig swan

Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm (18 volumes so far)
Happy Happy Clover by Sayuri Tatsuyama (5 volumes)
Mameshiba: On the Loose by James Turner & Jorge Monlongo
Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye by Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue (6 volumes)
Swans in Space by Lun Lun Yamamoto (3 volumes)

4-Year Old

owly 1 hk here we go

Owly by Andy Runton (5 volumes so far)
Hello Kitty: Here We Go! by Jacob Chabot & Jorge Monlongo

lily owly

My 4-year old getting ready to read her brand new Owly in bed.


Storytime: Penguins


penguin dunbar penguins barner penguins pichon

Penguin by Polly Dunbar
Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner
Penguins by Liz Pichon

Songs (both from Perpetual Preschool)

“I’m a Little Penguin”
(Tune: “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m a little penguin black and white,
I waddle to the left and I waddle to the right.
I cannot fly but I can swim,
So I waddle to the water and jump right in!

“Have You Ever Seen a Penguin?”
(Tune: “The More We Get Together”)
Have you ever seen a penguin? A penguin? A penguin?
Have you ever seen a penguin swim this way and that?
Swim this way and that way? And this way and that way?
Have you ever seen a penguin swim this way and that?

Extra verses: Slide…Waddle…Flap…

1. Carry an Egg – The children put an egg shaker between their feet and attempted to waddle across the storytime carpet. Bean bags would have been easier, but we do not have any.

2. Shape Penguins (idea from Classroom Freebies) – I cut out shapes for square and triangle penguins. We counted how many sides each shape had, then drew that number of fish for each penguin to eat.

shape penguin

shape penguin 2

Favorite Books of 2014

Favorite Books of 2013

For the purpose of this post, narrowing favorites down this year was hard. I read an insane number of books in an attempt to avoid schoolwork, and many of them were good.  Some pulled me in hook, line, and sinker (Outlander and Cruel Beauty), and others are listed as favorites because months after reading them, I can’t stop thinking about them (Only Ever Yours).

Bean’s favorite books are included as well. I’ve only listed the books I read to her, not what she read on her own.


any duchess outlander queen tearling cruel beauty alienated only ever yours saga1 sixth gun 1 rat queens iron maiden crazy girl shin bia


journey earth cats tanglewood rose
HP 4 bun2 ella

Storytime: New Year’s


corduroy new year first night turning year

Happy New Year, Corduroy! by Don Freeman
First Night by Harriet Ziefert
The Turning of the Year by Bill Martin Jr.

 Songs (both from Storytimes at the Library)

“Hello New Year”
(Tune: “Are You Sleeping?”)
Hello New Year, hello New Year
Good bye old, good bye old
Hello New Year, hello New Year
We’re glad you’re here, we’re glad you’re here

“Celebrate the New Year”
(Tune: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)
Cheer, cheer, cheer the year,
A new one’s just begun.
Celebrate with all your friends,
Let’s go have some fun!
Clap, clap, clap your hands,
A brand new year is here.
Learning, laughing, singing, clapping, through another year.

1. Liquid Watercolor Fireworks (idea from Amy’s Craft Bucket).  I poured red, yellow, and blue liquid watercolors into plastic cups and put several pipettes in each cup. Each child received a piece of card stock and a straw. Squirt watercolors onto the paper, and blow the blobs with the straw.

2. Noisemakers (idea from Alphamom) – This was popular with the children, and having done it at both family and toddler storytimes, I would modify how I prepped the materials (hot clue the craft stick to the box) and the order in which it was assembled (wrap the ribbon around the box, like a present, and tie the bell on before gluing sequins and sparkles).