Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

I’m not much on realistic fiction typically.  Living through upper elementary and middle school was hard enough the first time, right?!  For some odd, quirky reason though, the realistic graphic genre has totally grabbed me.  I get knots in my stomach every time a character hits an awkward spot and am cheering them on when they have a victory.  The graphic format is just more powerful for me.

Real Life by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is one of the best in this genre, by far.  This should come as no surprise.  This is the duo who has already blown us away with The Princess in Black series.

This new title though is one that unlike their fantasy series for early readers, lands us in the very real, very challenging topics of friendship, growing up, and finding your “tribe”.  The friends who get you and have your back no matter what.  Anyone who spends time with children knows friendship brings some of the highest highs and lowest lows.  This book delves deeper into that from the child’s perspective.  The anxiety, the fear of rejection and confusion surrounding why, the joy and peace of acceptance.

The story is actually a memoir written about Hale’s own childhood, revisiting the ups and downs of friendship, family, and change.  As I read it, it brought back all the memories of the tumultuous nature of childhood friendships from my own childhood and the immense joy felt when you have acceptance and compassion.

The relationship between Wendy and Shannon is one I feel a lot of readers will connect too.  Between family dynamics and mental health issues, these two characters are pushed apart but in the end, come to see that they actually have an ally in each other and are family, regardless of past hurts.

This graphic novel is beautifully done and fans of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, and Smile by Raina Telgemeier are going to eat this one up!

Celebrating Mom

With our next holiday around the corner, we have had a lot of families coming in asking for Mother’s Day Books.  While there are some great ones out there about the holiday specifically, we wanted to share some of our favorites about how much moms rock all the time!

I Love Mom by Joanna Walsh

My Mom Has X-Ray Vision by Angela McAllister

My Mom is Trying to Ruin My Life by Kate Feiffer

M.O.M. (Mom Operating Manual) by Doreen Cronin and Laura Cornell

Pirate Mom by Deborah Underwood

Little Owl Lost By Chris Haughton

What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day by Martha Simpson

How to Raise a Mom by Claudia Harrington

A Baby’s Guide to Surviving Mom by Benjamin Bird

A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager

DIY EMOJI PILLOWS

Our tweens and teens group had the chance to make their own emoji pillows this week!  Let me tell you, the hype that surrounded this program was crazy good!  Anytime I was out on desk getting anything prepped for these pillows, I would have kids coming up and asking me tons of questions, which I loved!  Since it was so popular in my library, I figured a quick lil’ tutorial to share the love would be helpful so here you go!  The step-by-step with pictures is located below, but read on through for the details and what worked well for us.

Our awesome teen librarian and I started by looking at our audience.  We are working with kids in grades four to eight, many of whom had never sewn before.  We wanted to give them the chance to learn basic stitches and to use a sewing machine.   Working with upper elementary and middle school kiddos meant we needed materials that were forgiving.  We ended up choosing fleece for the heads because it has enough give that it could easily cover slight mishaps with cutting and stitching.  The felt, however, was by far the easiest to cut since it is so sturdy and therefore was the best material for the facial pieces.

Speaking of those faces, we took advantage of some of the great free coloring sheet sites in order to create our patterns.  We printed them out to fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, then had the kids cut the pieces, pin them down to the felt, and cut around.  This was pretty much the most pattern cutting the kids did since we decided to pre-cut the yellow circles that everyone would be using for their pillows.  Depending on how long your program is, you could let kids do this, but for our time frame, it made much more sense for us to get this out of the way ahead of time.  They still got plenty of practice with patterns and cutting when it came to constructing their emojis though!

To be honest, we did cheat a bit in another area too.  The kids stitched the fleece pieces together, but glued the felt pieces on.  For the skill level our kiddos were at (and our librarians, but shhh… don’t tell), it just made the most sense so no one got frustrated. It also gave the kids a lot more freedom to create some of the faces with smaller pieces that would have been a real pain to sew.  One important detail… do get fabric glue!  It worked beautifully even when a little too much glue was used!  Other glues also don’t hold as well over time and we didn’t want anyone’s face falling apart.  The other plus?  It dried quickly!  While we were showing some great youtube tutorials on back-stitching, ladder stitching, and going over the sewing machines and letting them give those a whirl with some practice paper, the glue dried and we were able to move on to the sewing!

As I am sure you noticed if you did the Pinterest spin through looking at different tutorials like we did, a lot of folks use no sew for these pillows!  We opted to sew for two reasons.  First of all because sewing is an awesome skill that everyone should have a basic concept of.  Second, because when we tried glue, we had a bit of a disaster.  It puckered and left some gaps.  You had to clothes pin it all over to get it to stay together.  Granted, that was using fabric glue since hot glue isn’t an option with so many kids and so few of us grownups in the room.  Still,  sewing everything but the gap for stuffing and using glue to close said gap didn’t even work.  On one of our test runs, we tried this theory and it literally looked like someone had taken a bite our of our emoji’s chin!  So with all that said, we stuck with sewing.

Hover over or click on the steps pictured below to get the details and tips that helped us have success with this.  The step-by-step below was done by hand using a double floss for thread.   If you are new to sewing, I promise, it isn’t as hard as it may look.  Tutorials make it very easy to watch as you sew to double check yourself.  If you are comfortable with a machine, these zip through very quickly.  Just be careful since fleece does have quite a bit of give.

 

The kids absolutely LOVED this project and we hope you do too!  We would love to hear about how your pillows turn out or any suggestions you have for us! Drop us a comment below!

Link Grab Bag

 

 

Things we like from around the web…

 

We featured electrical circuits in Exploratorium a few weeks ago using circuits made from holiday lights inspired by this blog post and paired that activity with Squishy Circuits.  Talk about an awesome combination!  The Squishy Circuits were the perfect tool to teach the concept of open and closed circuits and how the electrical current flows.  Once the kids had these basic concepts down, they were able to create their own circuits!  They were even able troubleshoot their way through the activity, reflecting back on the various activities they had done with the Squishy Circuits right before.  It was one of those days that reminded me why I do what I do.  Thanks for the inspiration nittygrittyscience.com!

Next in the grab bag…

We were very excited to hear that one of our favorite children’s musicians will be in our area this summer!  Laurie Berkner (who has an AMAZING youtube channel you should check out!) sings awesome kids tunes like Victor Vito, Buzz, Buzz, We are the Dinosaurs, and our personal favorite, I Know a Chicken (or The Shakey Egg song if you ask our littlest library friends).  They get kids (and adults) up and moving and have fun, silly, positive messages.  We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her and the band at the Butterworth Center in July! Click here for more info.

 

Along the lines of local fun…

Big Nate the Musical?!  Until recently, I didn’t know this was a thing, but I am so glad it is!  I’m even more glad to say it is coming to our area!  Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse is featuring Big Nate as one of their Spring shows this year.  Click on over to their site for information, but it should be a lot of fun.  The cast will also be making a visit to the library so be sure and check our calendar for more info!

 

And last but not least…

This rainy spring has kept a lot of us indoors.  For small wiggly bodies, that is tough so we have been looking for ways to get those wiggles out without getting soggy.  Ms. Janna found this great channel on youtube and shared it and we couldn’t love it more!  Cosmic Kids Yoga has some great videos for you and your littles to do on a rainy day… or any day for that matter.  Personally, I recommend the Star Wars adventure!

 

Until next time… happy clicking!

If You Loved… Warriors (Read-Alike series)

New Books @ MPL

This awesome array of new-book-ey goodness will be arriving at MPL soon!  Come check these titles out!

I am Not a Chair by Ross Burach

Could there be anything worse for Giraffe? Maybe being sat on by a skunk or smooshed by two hapless hippos, or worst of all—cornered by a hungry lion? No one seems to notice that Giraffe is not standing around just to be sat upon. Will he be able to find his voice and make his friends realize who he really is?

The Day I Ran Away by Holly Niner

While Dad tucks her in, a little girl named Grace calmly recounts her day—which was anything but calm.

Duck, Duck, Dinosaur: Noise At Night by Kallie George

Feather, Flap, and Spike are spending their first night in their very own nest. They tell stories and snuggle up to get a good night’s sleep, until . . . GRRORE! What’s that scary-sounding noise?

How to Find a Friend by Marie S. Costa

Two creatures …too busy …to notice each other! Finding a friend can sometimes be a hit-and-miss affair! When Rabbit moves into his new burrow and Squirrel moves into her new treehouse, they would both love to BUMP into a friend. But will that ever happen or will they keep on MISSING each other? With all the appeal of those ‘it’s behind you’ moments from pantomime, you can join Squirrel and Rabbit on their comedy CRASH course in how to find a friend!

Good Night My Darling Baby by ALyssa Satin Capucilli (board book)

In this lovely bedtime story, animals tuck in their babies, sing a song, and give a kiss good night, ending with parents tucking in their child for a sweet sleep.

I’m Grumpy by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (board book)

A grumpy cloud upsets his friend Sunny and must make amends. A sweet, funny, and simple introduction to the impact that emotions can have on those around you.

Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

Flora and the Chicks by Molly Idle (board book)

Idle brings her balletic heroine Flora to a younger audience in this nearly wordless board book that finds the girl struggling to keep up with a nestful of hatching chickens.

Brobarians by Lindsey Ward

Two brothers, two great warriors—two brobarians!—engage in an epic backyard battle, until the “magic that ruled all” (aka mother) calls them in.

Is Your Smile Like a Crocodile’s?

Get ready for fun as you compare your toddlers smile to the toothy grin of a crocodile.

Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na

Bird’s new in the forest, and as much as he’d like to befriend Bear, he never quite gets up the courage to say hello.

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

Having failed in the hospitality business due to a rude and surly bear (Hotel Bruce, 2016), mice Rupert, Nibbs, and Thistle decide to go into publishing.

Carrot and Pea: An Unlikely Friendship by Morag Hood

Colin is tall. He’s orange. He’s a carrot! He’s nothing like Lee, a round green pea. He can’t do any of the things Lee and his pea pals can do. How can Colin and Lee ever be friends? A charming celebration of embracing differences and standing out in a crowd.

Amazing Animals: A Spin & Spot Book by Liza Charlesworth

 Be on the lookout for polar bears in the Arctic, elephants in the savannah, chickens on the farm, and more exciting creatures of all shapes and all sizes. Can you spot all 64 animals?

Bear Likes Jam by Ciara Gavin

When Bear discovers jam for the time, he can’t think of anything else. Mama Duck tells him that growing bears need to eat their vegetables first . . . but Bear can’t stand the strange green things on his plate. He only wants jam! It’s not until Bear notices the little ducks around him eating ALL of their food, that it finally clicks: Bear can have his dinner and his jam.

Spring & Rain Reads

You can tell Spring is in full force!  The rain is steadily coming down almost daily.  Of course, this means we have had tons of parents and teachers in asking us what books we recommend for Spring and rainy weather as they try to keep their little ones happy, taking advantage of the indoor hours together.  Here are some of our favorites! What books would you add to our list?

Stormy Night by Salina Yoon

Rain! by Linda Ashman

Once Upon a Rainy Day by Edouard Manceau

Worm Weather by Jean Taft

Splish! Splash! by Josepha Sherman

Let It Rain by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle

Rainy Day! by Patricia Lakin

Puddle by Hyewon Yum

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Spring is Here! by Heidi Pross Gray

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand

Who’s Awake in Springtime? by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum

Mud by Mary Lyn Ray