12:57 PM–Spring starts today!

I heard a radio DJ announce that spring will arrive today at 12:57 PM!!  I don’t know how they can get it down to the minute, however I’m thrilled!  I think we’ve all been waiting for this day.

Take a look at some of these books to continue this good feeling!

baby loves spring

Baby Loves Spring! a lift-the-flap book by Karen Katz

On a fine spring day, Baby goes for a walk and wonders about what she sees and hears in a tree, in the dirt, and behind a bush.

mud 2

Mud by Mary Lyn Ray

As winter melts into spring, the frozen earth turns into magnificent mud.

mouse 2

Mouse and Mole: fine feathered friends by Wong Herbert Yee

When spring arrives, Mole and Mouse find a unique way to bird watch.


Rabbit’s Good News by Ruth Bornstein

Rabbit leaves her warm dark burrow and discovers that spring has come.

when will it

When Will It Be Spring?  by Catherine Walters

Although Mother Bear urges Alfie to be patient and sleep, he cannot wait to see tiny butterflies on the wing and hear baby birds chirp in the trees.


In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer

Describes in verse the lion that is March weather, which finally gives way to the lamb of spring.

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A musical conversation on St. Patrick’s Day

One of my favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day is people playing Irish music. I like Irish music both because it makes good use of the fiddle (or violin, if you prefer) and because I used to play it. A friend of mine sent me a recording of The Bothy Band playing “The Butterfly,” a common slipjig. As I listened, I realized that the musicians were having a conversation. The guitar started out, then stepped back and gave the whistle/flute a turn. Then the pipes held forth, and then all the instruments played variations together. I figure that’s a great example of turn taking in a conversation. If an instrument played too loudly or too long or interrupted another, the song would be a mess. But even the naturally loud pipes showed restraint and waited their turn, because they were playing in a group.

Music is a great teaching tool, from turn taking to math concepts and other languages. And if kids learn to play an instrument, they can develop their motor skills. (And if a kid is like Violet, any noisemaking surface will do.) But music is also just really, really fun! Did you know that even parrots move to music? (Speaking of birds, spot the parrot in this video of musicians from all over the world playing “The Butterfly” at the same time!)

See also: The Tellin’ o’ the Tale booklist

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Rachel Renée Russell @ CLP

IMG_2800         IMG_2799

Rachel Renée Russell, author of The Dork Diaries, visited the Children’s Department today! Her daughters Nikki and Erin accompanied her as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Series. Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success!

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Passport to the World–Hawai’i!!

We had a great time learning about Hawaii on Saturday, March 8!  IMG_2783Miss Julie had lots of photos, maps, objects and more about our 50th state.IMG_2785IMG_2784

Everyone had a chance to tap out a rhythm while Miss Julie said the chantIMG_2786

and showed the motions that went along with it.

IMG_2787IMG_2788The best part was yet to come . . .


The eruption of the volcano!!

Several different crafts plus a taste of pineapple rounded out the afternoon.


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Passport to the World: Hawai`i

Young kahiko (ancient) hula dancers

Are you tired of snow and ice? Grab your beach towel and come to sunny Hawai’i with our Passport to the World program on Saturday, March 8 at 2:00 pm! Listen to the legend of the Shark God and learn a mele oli (chant) before witnessing the eruption of the library volcano. Create your own temporary tattoos and “styroglyphs.” Age 5 and up. Registration Requested.

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Celebrating World Read Aloud Day

Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 3) and World Read Aloud Day (the first Wednesday in March) occurred happily close together this year, which is fitting because Dr. Seuss is so much fun to read aloud.

Reading out loud can benefit anyone, of any age. Reading to babies lets them hear the sounds and rhythms of language and engages their attention. (And as Sam Vimes knows all too well, babies adore repetition.) Dr. Seuss knew how important it was to get across the sounds of language, and still told hilarious stories in those few words and rhymes. Older children who are read to develop their attention spans and vocabularies, and may have an easier time reading print on their own.

Even children who are old enough to read independently can still enjoy the experience of being read to. (I still remember when my second grade teacher was reading us The Knights of the Round Table a little every day, and my mother bought me a copy so I wouldn’t miss anything when I had to have surgery. It wasn’t the same as hearing it bit by bit at all.) And when the reader is a good one, for example Jim Dale with Harry Potter, the audio book almost becomes its own thing. But you don’t have to be Jim Dale to enjoy reading to a kid, either.

I like a story where I can really throw my voice around. I do a decent Gruffalo, but I have to watch my brogue or I sound like the Cryptkeeper. And you can really put some dismay in your voice when the Gruffalo comes–oh help, oh no–with his terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.

Or how about the Dust Bunnies? They’re rhyming along, and all of a sudden Bob blurts out something like “HERE COMES A BIG SCARY MONSTER WITH A BROOM!!!” and you get to say, “No, Bob [calmly]. HERE COMES A BIG SCARY MONSTER WITH A BROOM!!! [yelling to match Bob] doesn’t rhyme with <word>.”

And then, of course, you have resources like The Read Aloud Handbook, and even stories to read to your dog or cat. And then, of course, you have your librarians and libraries. ;-) What are some of your favorites?

See also: You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.

Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young

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Once Upon A Time . . .

. . . there was a young boy who was forced to get three hairs from the beard of the giant (or in some versions, the devil).  Will he have the courage to do this?

. . . a farmer planted some turnip bulbs and they grew and grew and grew.  When harvest time came, he couldn’t get them out of the ground.  How will he manage?

. . . a woman was weaving when all of a sudden a mosquito appeared on her work.  What will she do?

. . . someone stole Grandmother’s candles.  Who will help solve this mystery?

. . . an old lady wanted to bake some biscuits but had no “sody” or baking soda.  When she sends the little boy to the store to get some, he never returns home.  Will she ever be able to bake the biscuits?

Get the answers to all these questions at “Storytelling Around The World” on Saturday, March 1 at 2:30 pm!

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Gobblefunking around with words*

After reading an article about words possibly coined by authors–including “chortle,” via Lewis Carroll–I was reminded of how many cool words there are in children’s books, even if they never made the dictionary.

My favorite: Plevvit. Interjection. Origin: My Teacher Flunked the Planet   by Bruce Coville. Example sentence: “”Plevvit!’ said Kreeblim. This was a word from her own language, and it’s so bad I have no translation for it.”

Not a word, but a random gesture: current alien and former teacher Broxholm’s reaction to television in the same book. (It’s hard to tell sometimes if the Interplanetary Council is as or even more horrified by our taste in TV as by our world hungers and wars.) Translation: “The closest translation my implant could provide was something like, ‘I spit in deep disgust upon your decision to play in your own garbage.’ Only the last word wasn’t garbage.” Perhaps it might have been something like “uckyslush” (see entry on the BFG, below).

Oobleck. Noun. Non-Newtonian fluid. Origin: Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. Example usage and recipe.

Seuss is another one. I don’t know exactly what all the gimcracks and gadgets in How the Grinch Stole Christmas are supposed to do or sound like, but I have a feeling some of them are some species of brass instrument.

And then Roald Dahl, and not just Everlasting Gobstoppers, either. Whizz popping, for instance, “a sign of happiness. It is music in our ears!” Caused by the bubbles in frobscottle (soda or pop or Coke, depending on your location). But what’s whizz popping? You will have to consult the BFG, who has his own onomatopoeic, delightfully squiggly dialect that makes perfect sense. (He reminds me a bit of Dennis’ uncle in Pleasing the Ghost. I love the BFG–he’s so earnest and gentle and a little bit sad.)

So. I’d be here all night if I listed my favorites–which might be worth a dream from the BFG, and lord knows I’m in dire need of a good one, but I have things to attend to all the same. Have you got any?

* “Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”–The BFG

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Once Upon A Time . . .

. . . Anansi and his wife were getting ready to celebrate Granny’s birthday.  His wife was making a big pot of beans because she knew that’s what Granny would like.  She was missing a particular spice–pepper–(she did, however, have “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”) and went to the market to buy some.  While she was gone, Anansi couldn’t resist tasting the beans–he, of course, loves them!

So begins the story of “Anansi’s Hat-Shaking Dance!”  What transpires from here are the typical antics that are in so many Anansi tales!  He wants something, but can’t have it.  The actions are just right for getting kids involved in the story–just give them a shaker egg and let the fun begin!

You can find this story in several places:

world fiestaWorld Fiesta: Celebrations in Story and Song by Dianne de Las Casas and Betsy Braud

best loved folktalesBest-loved Folktales of the World  selected by Joanna Cole

hat shaking danceThe Hat-Shaking Dance: and other tales from the Gold Coast by Harold Courlander

Keep on dancin’!

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PA&L Kids and Teens: Shane Evans

On Sunday, illustrator—and singer!—Shane Evans will visit Hillman Auditorium as part of the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures Kids and Teens program.

Evans has illustrated books such as Chocolate Me, The Way a Door Closes, and My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood. His illustrations for Underground won the Coretta Scott King award in 2012.

The first Evans-illustrated book I read was The Way a Door Closes by Hope Anita Smith, a verse story about a close-knit African-American family whose father leaves when he’s laid off from his job. The narrator, Cameron James, begins to learn that a door has many meanings, depending on how it closes—depending on whether one has the intention of coming back. Evans puts exceptionally expressive faces to the love, uncertainty and pain the family experiences—the “flammable words and feelings” of moving on and growing up in the space of his father’s absence. There’s a hominess, too, in the illustration of Cameron’s and his grandmomma’s hands clasped; her hands “mostly… hold everything together.”

Underground has almost an unreal feel as the faces of a family on their way to freedom reflect the moonlight and shadows of their dangerous path until dawn.

Check out his other books, and hope to see you there!

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