Saturday, December 31, 2011

I wish you a

Courtesy of Whimsy Studio

A toast to you dear reader. Give yourself a big hug, hug your parents or your kids and your grandpa and grandma and your brothers and sisters, hug the dog, hug a tree, hug a librarian, hug a fresh new full-of-promise-book and be excited that we have a brand-spanking-new year of exciting reading together ahead. Clink!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You go see Hugo

As I mentioned briefly in this post, I recently saw the movie Hugo.

After the presents are unwrapped and the ticker tape of ribbons and tinsel and trappings recycled, treat yourself to the luxury of an afternoon matinee and go see Hugo.

By now you know my admonition: NEVER judge a book by its movie. Read the book first.  Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a delight to read together and, believe it or not, a great choice for an older reluctant reader. Despite its hefty size, in reality it's a very quick read due the large number of pages that are illustrated like an old-fashioned film flip-book. In fact, Selznick won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for his illustrations (quite unusual for a chapter book to win a Caldecott medal.)

ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Like most book-to-movie adaptations, director extraordinaire Martin Scorsese expands on the original storyline quite a bit but does stays true to the tone and style. Wonderful performances by all the cast, and especially by Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Then get ready to be Wonderstruck! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy 1st Night of Hanukkah!

Berlin children celebrating Hanukkah, 1930's
May your latkes be nice and crispy and your pockets stuffed with gelt. 

It's Fruitcake Weather!

School Library Journal annually publishes a poignant series of holiday memories from notable children's book authors and illustrators. Take a look at this year's line up: Richard Peck, Lisa McMann, Jack Gantos, and Loren Long. Holiday Memories 2011

I remember Mom and Dad saying each December, "It's fruitcake weather!", a line from Truman Capote's  A Christmas Memory. Those words never made my heart sing, as I, along with most children, loath fruitcake. All one could really do was surreptitiously pick the pecans off the top and dejectedly slink away.

All of this is just to say, document your own holiday fetes. It's never too soon to furiously pen your memoirs- you never know when you'll be up on a podium accepting a Caldecott or Newbery award.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kids Zone Blog and Library Zealot

I do hope you'll take a moment and check out our shiny new kid's website.

In addition to my blog, we also have a Kids Zone Blog you'll want to take a peek at. Petey Makes Pumpkin Cupcakes is just adorable!

Be sure and subscribe to the charming Library Zealot's twitter posts, courtesy of  Marilyn Wronsky, the Corte Madera Library children's librarian, beloved by all and a treasure trove of up-to-the-minute reading recommendations. You'll also find a link on the "an itty bitty bite of other book blogs for kids" list.

Zee zealot "Madame Vronsky" (her gypsy fortune teller alter ego) and I just saw the movie Hugo together. I do believe Miss Kitty will present a post in the near future on that excursion (it was great!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Time is Here

I wonder if the Marin Civic Center lagoon will freeze over and we can have an ice skating party? Probably not, and anyway where would we find that many pairs of tiny ice skates for all those ducks??

Whatever holiday you celebrate dear reader, I hope it's full of good cheer.
I love this song, don't you?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's Your Lucky Day!

It just might be your lucky day in the library.....The Marin County Free Library has launched a "Lucky Day" book collection and you just might stroll into the children's room and get your hands on that hot title you've been hoping for. Won't that make you happy!!

The "Lucky Day" collection is a selection of high demand kid's titles that will check out for just 7 days. We put a big number "7" sticker on the cover so you won't forget. You can't put a hold of them; you just have to roll the dice and see what titles are there when you walk in.  Don't worry we want you to find all the books you're searching for, so there are lots of regular copies of hot titles too and you can certainly place a hold on those. Want a little hint of what you might  find, like a lucky penny? Oh, say this title, or this title, or maybe this title.  

There are many great stories about being lucky, or supremely unlucky, but here are two that I especially fancy- Orwell's Luck by Richard Jennings and Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Really when you think about it, any library book you check out makes for a very lucky day, doesn't it.
Licensed images by Lettering Delights

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Murder of Crows

Thank you to Andrea Gutierrez  for this lovely photo

The crows have been so noisy outside my house this week. When I see crows I try to count them and I think of Heidi Holder's Crows: An Old Rhyme.

But this *murder of crows  makes me think of The Sundown Rule by Wendy Townsend. Louise, the young teen narrator states,
When I was little, I had all kinds of tanks and fish bowls in my room that I set up for the animals I found in the woods and in Marl Lake. I caught snails and dragonfly larvae and crawdads and tadpoles so I could have my own Marl Lake right in my room. I brought in so many animals Dad made a rule called the sundown rule, which said that by sundown I had to let every animal go in the place where I'd found him. 
Like many animal stories and like nature herself, there are different kinds of loss in this slim, readable volume. Townsend has a keen eye for nature and wildlife and deftly describes Louise's love of the wild and free. The crows sit noisy sentinel over it all.
...Setting aside the chocolate cake, I lifted the bucket and dumped it, letting the handle bang against it. I called out, Cah!Cah!Cah! and my heart filled up and I stood very still and listened into the distance, into the woods and all around as far as I could. Then suddenly I heard, Cah!Cah!Cah! right across Marl Lake. An answer came from the trees not far away; then another crow called out. I felt as though they had been there all along, waiting.

*A group of crows is called a flock or a murder.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy 113th Birthday Clive Staples Lewis

Aslan, The Great Lion. The Chronicles of Narnia. Photo courtesy of
It's always a bit tricky tricky knowing where to start this series. Technically you can start with The Magician's Nephew, or you can start with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and then double back and read The Magician's Nephew and be just fine. Just for the record, I see no reason why wearing lipstick should prevent one from residing in Narnia. That fact seriously bums me out.

Just Right booklist

Here is the booklist I mentioned in my previous post. If you would like a full size PDF version, just e-mail me at, and I'll be glad to e-mail that back to you. Of course I have this and many more booklists for you to take away in my branch as well.

These titles will be spread throughout the library system, but you can visit the library catalog here, place a hold on as many titles as you like, then have them delivered to whatever branch you like. Is that not wonderful!

Stay tuned because over the next few months, the Marin County Free Library children's librarians will be busy creating all kinds of booklists to live on our new kid's webpage. You'll be able to print off as many lists as you like and be linked directly the catalog for searches and holds. Yipee.

Question from a parent regarding Lexile and the TinTin series

A parent asked a great question that I would like to share with all readers:
Will you tell me the lexile level for the Tintin series by Herge? My son is in third grade. His teacher wants him to read "just right" books. Thanks!
 The answer is there isn't a Lexile rating for this series. Lexile gives it a rating of "NP" which they define as:
NP: Non-Prose
The NP code is for any book comprising more than 50% non-standard or non-conforming prose. NP books do not receive a Lexile measure, merely the NP code. Some common examples of non-prose content are poems, plays, songs, recipes, and text with non-standard or absent punctuation. Since the Lexile Framework is based on prose analysis, Maurice Sendak's Alligators All Around (HarperTrophy) is coded NP. The text of the book is not in complete sentences and lacks punctuation entirely. The text difficulty of such a book cannot currently be assigned a Lexile measure.

I would say if your son is reading TinTin and enjoying them, fabulous. Let him keep reading them for fun. But in terms of reading development, third graders vary hugely in reading ability. Come into my library and I'll give you a booklist I have called, "Just Right: Not too easy, not too hard" and let's see what we can find for him to read that will satisfy his teacher's requirements, will be a good fit for his own interests and  his current reading ability, but will be enough of a challenge to build his reading skills.

As I said in this previous post, and this one, I'm more concerned that we get the right books in his hands rather than worrying too much about matching a specific Lexile number.

Thanks for the great question!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A little bit of the Big Picture

I do believe FabioTheItalianOne's fascinating video pairs well with Onward to the Edge, don't you? A nice reminder to keep things in perspective.

Enjoy your lazy Sunday with a second piece of pie and that delicious new title, plucked off the hold shelf, waiting patiently just for you at your library. After all, doesn't every book contain its own little world we get to inhabit for awhile?

From my "books for grown-ups" stack I'm reading Lev Grossman's superb work, The Magicians. The world of Brakebills College is mesmerizing and magical and mundane and heartbreaking. Just like ours actually.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hope your Thanksgiving dinner is swanky, dear reader

When we were little, my brothers and sister and I thought these tv dinner's were the height of cool. I suspect now that this turkey isn't brined.

I give thanks for books and libraries and you dear reader. Let's collapse on the couch and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade  and then read this delightful book together. Hurry and see if there's still a copy to check out.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I went walking and what did I see?

some glittery jewels winking up at me.

Civic Center Library parking lot. November 18, 2011

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it- Roald Dahl

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Here we are together, in this fragile little world

I promise you'll be singing "Onward to the Edge" all day after viewing this inspirational little video.

A musical celebration of the importance and inspirational qualities of space exploration (human and robotic), as well as a look at some of the amazing worlds in our solar system. Featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox, and Carolyn Porco.

Here are some titles to get you started on your own space exploration. Click on the image.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn in New York

Well my friends, it would seem our Indian summer has passed and Fall is here. Would you like to take a stroll through Central Park with me?

Here are two picture books about touring New York. The first from illustrator extraordinaire Miroslav Sasek, written and illustrated in 1960, This is New York

and the second, A Walk in New York, written and illustrated in 2009 by Salvatore Rubbino. I think Rubbino tips his  illustrator cap to Sasek.  What do you think?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday finishes
Chapter 23. The Bridge to the Stars

"And we've got the alethiometer," she said. "Yeah. I reckon we've got to do it, Pan. We'll go up there and we'll search for Dust, and when we've found it we'll know what to do."
Roger's body lay still in her arms. She let him down gently.
"And we'll do it," she said.
She turned away. Behind them lay pain and death and fear; ahead of them lay doubt, and danger, and fathomless mysteries. But they weren't alone. 
So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky. 

The Golden Compass. Philip Pullman

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

October days are winding down but it's never too late to focus on bullying.

Sadly, bullies abound and they aren't  restricted to just children and school yards. Young bullies grow into adult bullies and bossy know-it-all's. At some point, most of us will face one. There are many resources online, especially with cyber bullying so rampant, but here's a nice title to check out of the library.

Stand up for yourself. It's tough and not fun, but there really is a better way.

Happy 100th Birthday Mary Blair!

Disney illustrator Mary Blair is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE artists. October 21st would have been her 100th birthday and I love that Google displayed this great tribute video for her.

We have some terrific books in the library featuring her superb art and style. Check one out and have a little birthday cupcake in honor of lovely Mary Blair.

Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland
Walt Disney's Cinderella
Walt Disney's Peter Pan

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday begins

Chapter 1. An Unexpected Party
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, October 20, 2011

For Fran

We'll miss our colleague, our friend. We love you Franny. Golden slumbers fill your eyes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Get cozy, Cat in the Hat style

yarn photo courtesy of Magnolia Handspun
As cold weather approaches, here's some cool yarn from Magnolia Handspun on ETSY. This color combination is called Cat in the Hat. All the handspun yarns in her shop are so delicious. Pick up a skein or two from Magnolia Handspun, hop on your bike and peddle through the leaves to the library, check out a cool knitting book, peddle home, knit purl knit purl and ta da! - your very own cat hat to wear whilst reciting Cat in the Hat to an adoring crowd.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Regarding the Lexile reading system

photo from
One of my regular library families is reading the fun Regarding series by Kate Klise. When the girls come into the library they laugh and begin their request to me with, "Hello Miss Kitty! Yes, regarding the......<hold I placed yesterday> <the upcoming teen workshop> <the next book in this series>" I always laugh too.

Thusly, regarding the large number of families coming in with  Lexile recommended reading lists handed out at school, I say check with me before you spend too much time hunting down the exact titles.  Often series books are listed and if the exact title is checked out, an equally appropriate title is on the shelf. Many of the suggested titles are fine but some are not a good fit.  Often recommended titles on the same list will vary wildly in age appropriateness and reading complexity.  Lexile is a respected reading-ranking system and a fine place to start,  but I can help you fine-tune the list for books for your child that are a more suitable match, will appeal to your child interests,  and satisfy their teacher's concern for reading level correctness. See my post on September 12, 2011 for more information about Lexile.

Regarding the fountain?  A perfect choice for 4th to 6th grade readers and especially *"reluctant readers."

* a term Miss Kitty really doesn't like. Ask me why. 

What librarians and Google are for

Librarians are there:To help, aid, assist. To teach, collate, enthuse. To catalogue, index, arrange, organise. To find, discover, promote, display. To interest, intrigue, amuse and amaze. To instill wonder. To help children, adults, old people, the underprivileged, the rich, the poor, those with voices and those without. To protect resources, to archive them, to store them, to save them for the future. To provide differing viewpoints, to engender thought, conversation, research, fun. To provide the best answer possible, to match the answer to the enquirer, to provide just enough information without overwhelming the user, but enough to always help. To better a local community, a company, a school, a college, an organisation, a country, the world.
Google is there:To make money.
 From UK librarian Phil Bradley's blog.

To be sure, librarians are an endangered species and I fervently agree with Mr. Bradley's position on libraries and librarians. It's true that Google is there to make money, but Google is pretty terrific too. I think we can coexist in harmony if we teach our young readers to start with a real live librarian, and I do mean a professional librarian, and then further explore with Google. So come see me at my library, give me a hug, and ask me a question. I'm here for YOU.

Librarians looking at display of early English Children’s books by Christchurch City Libraries on Flickr.
I love Kekabette's comment, "The eternal allure of the besmocked librarian." Check out her Tumblr blog, Manifesto.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Puss in Boots

Before Dreamworks' movie Puss in Boots hits  theaters this month, be sure you check out the book.There are many versions available in the library but my very favorite is illustrated by Fred Marcellino. Look at those colors and Puss' expression!  I also love Phillip Pullman's version. I covet Puss' awesome hip boots; so chic!  Alas, I don't think I have the bravado to pull them off. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gallery Nucleus

I'm not fond of southern California's freeways, but I would make an exception and brave LA's scary freeways for a trip to Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California. Gallery Nucleus features an impressive line-up of talented artists and often children's illustrations are featured. I adore this giclee print by Caroline Hadilaksono.
Currently available on ETSY at CarolineHPArt. Click through. 

I treated myself to  Hogwarts as Night because Harry meant so much to me ( to all of us!)  The print is very nicely executed on high quality rag paper.

Currently available on ETSY at CarolineHPArt. Click through. 

I think many of the prints offered  would make fabulous gifts for the kids in your life and library.

Lucky for us we can subscribe to Gallery Nucleus' newsletter and oogle their art online.
All images originally from Gallery Nucleus 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



And the real Humbug Witch....

Halloween with Harry

I love to see how other libraries decorate their children's room. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the latest designs I made for my library!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guys Read!

I dig Awesome awesome awesome reading recommendations for boys, courtesy of that knucklehead Stinky Cheese Man creator Jon Scieska and his pack of buddies. Here's my gift to you today; how does one pronounce his last name? Just like the soda Fresca© only with an "sheh" sound- "shehs-ca". Take a look at the other book blogs I have listed on the "itty bitty bite" portion of my blog.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas is a fabulous choice for the reader who is not ready to take on The Hobbit but is ready for a new quest  post-Lightning Thief.
“This is a Tolkien for 10-year-olds, chock-full of giants and dwarves, heroes and villains, and all of the wizarding magic we've grown to love. When three siblings discover a book with magical properties, all the hardships of their orphaned past are overshadowed by the trials that lie ahead. Each sibling uses his or her unique strengths to overcome great obstacles, including time itself, and finds the courage to save the lives of others. Read it aloud, and the whole family will enjoy this fresh adventure that pays homage to the fantasy greats that came before.”
—Angela K Sherrill, 57th Street Books, Chicago, IL  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Dragon's Tooth by N.D. Wilson

Please declare aloud: I hereby undertake to tread the world, to garden the wild, and to saddle the seals, as did my brother Brendan.  I will not turn away from shades in fear, nor avert my eyes from light.  I shall do as my Keeper requires, and keep no secret from a Sage. May the stars guide me and my strength preserve me.  And I will not smoke in the library. Translation approved, 1946.

Book 1 of the Ashtown Burials series by N.D. Wilson. Perhaps you've read 100 Cupboards?
Also, I cannot emphasize this enough; no smoking in the library.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Toymaker

Sashay over to the delightful workshop of artist Marilyn Scott-Waters. I love her Toymaker website filled with enchanting toys for you to create yourself. Her projects are so lovely for a family or library craft hour.

Lucky us, Marilyn will be in the Bay Area at multiple locations this fall, be sure and check out her blog and sign up for her newsletter for her complete calendar. The Toymaker's mission is to amuse and delight and indeed she does.

Monday, September 12, 2011

NoveList K-8

Few of our library families and local educators are aware that with your Marin County Free Library card, you have access to a great database called NoveList K-8. This database helps kids, parents, and teachers in kindergarten through grade 8, to identify books appropriate for kids' reading abilities and interests. It also includes teacher resources.

If your school district uses the Lexile reading system, this is where you can find a list of titles within your child's Lexile range. But don't stop there, there are lots of recommended reading lists by age, grade, genre, read-alikes and more.  Who can access remotely? Cardholders with any public library in Marin.

Barnes and Noble's kid's page also offers Lexile recommendations. Click on the the "Books by Reading Level" box.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Playing with the form he created in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey. A boy named Ben longs for the father he has never known. A girl named Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room, and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Ben's story, set in 1977, is told entirely with words, while Rose's story, set fifty years earlier, is told entirely with pictures. The two stories weave back and forth before ultimately coming together. Summary from

Wonderstruck comes out September 13th, so hurry and reserve your copy today!  While you're waiting, here's a little sneaky peeky at some of the illustrations

This book was a joy, a challenge, and a puzzle to put together. I hope you enjoy meeting Ben and Rose, and joining them on their thrilling, dangerous and unexpected adventures in New York City.
-Brian Selznick

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

I know what many of you will be doing for the holidays this year...catching the new Tintin adventure movie! Directed by Steven Spielberg, the script is based on three of Hergé's stories; The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure. Read the stories first or you might find the movie very confusing. There are many versions of the Tintin series in the Marin County Free Library,  make sure you check the entire catalog. Snowy says, "RUFF! RUFF! Here's a sneak peak..."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater

The unexpected delivery of a large crate containing an Antarctic penguin changes the life and fortunes of Mr. Popper, a house painter obsessed by dreams of the Polar regions. Just like a penguin, you'll enjoy sitting in a nice air-conditioned movie theater to watch the movie, but be sure you read the book first!

Mr. Popper's Penquins is a great read-aloud choice and perfect for the young reader who has advanced beyond easy chapter books but isn't quite ready for full length chapter books.
Summary from the MARINet catalog.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart

ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD Looking for special opportunities? When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their new found friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all? Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society.

Caring children's librarian that I am, I can't help but think that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire would have welcomed the opportunity to attend this institution, and would have fit right in. Alas, so would Count Olaf.
Summary from the MARINet catalog.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Between Two Ends by David Ward

Trying to help his father deal with his long-standing depression, Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother's old and eerie house, where he discovers a pair of pirate bookends that unlock a thirty-year-old secret that Yeats must try to resolve by entering the exotic world of "The Arabian Nights." If you liked Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, you'll love Between Two Ends. After you read it, check out a copy of Arabian Nights!
Summary from the MARINet catalog.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

Teenaged criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl must save the underwater fairy metropolis of Atlantis from danger, while battling a psychological affliction known as the Atlantis Complex. Check it out here, and be sure follow Artemis' adventures in the cool graphic novels available too. Summary from the MARINet catalog.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

That Rick Riordan is a busy writer! After you've read the 39 Clues, and of course all the Percy Jackson books, start the Kane Chronicles. Carter Kane and his sister must prevent the chaos snake Apophis from breaking free in a few days' time or the world will come to an end. To have any chance of battling these Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. Book 2 in the Kane Chronicles series. Summary from the MARINet catalog.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordian

What would happen if you discovered that your family was one of the most powerful in human history? What if you were told that the source of the family's power was hidden around the world, in the form of 39 clues? What if you were given a choice - take a million dollars and walk away ... or get the first clue? If you're Amy and Dan Cahill, you take the clue - and begin a very dangerous race. Check it out from the library: The Maze of Bones.
Summary from the MARINet catalog.