Friday, November 29, 2013

For the LOVE of BOOKS

Celebrate Picture Book Month with a PARTY
                                         ....or maybe a Wild Rumpus?

Oh yes we did! ... an evening to remember!   Our recipe for success included: a red carpet, fancy stanchions, shinny streamers..balloons! refreshments...glitz, glam, swag bags, stories, songs and picture books galore!  


November is Picture Book Month and the Caldecott Award is 75 years old, whoa!  This deserved a party.  Agreed?  Of course!  And we thought... fancy party, fancy dress, fancy pants, fancy fancy!  Check out this fancy, handsome young man...simply perfect

We set up a "Walk the Red" PRESS BOX for interviews and family was the best!   Everyone sat in the director's chairs.  Take a look!  Straight from the Faxon Library's BNN (Book News Network) where I had the microphone and they answered the questions....we have a charming mom and son...
talkin' books and monkeyin' around!

Knuffle Bunny and Sarah, (photo bombed by a monkey)

Oh my! A fancy-dressed princess in the press box with mom and dad!

Two of the evening's prize winners!  (watercolor paint sets)

...and, well, what can I say?  Hey hey we're the monkeys!

We set up the Library's Community Room with spotlights on the Caldecott Books.  We dimmed the overhead lights, turned on the music and our families walked that red carpet.  I must confess...I walked it like a runway...fancy me!!  My friend Isabella "walked the red" and announced,  "Mrs Breen, I love this party already!"  

Within minutes I realized that the parents and grand parents were excited to see Caldecott Award winning books from their youth.  This was incredible and it both surprised and delighted me.  A common thread, a common joy...these beautiful, beautiful books held meaning and memories for the children and THE ADULTS!  The adults loved revisiting their favorites.  WOW!  (and just saying...I don't think you'll ever get that feeling from a Kindle... like I said...just saying, absolutely no judgement here!)

Max and his Wild Things were front and center in our decorations for the evening.  Everyone recognized them and identified with the story in some way.  My thanks to the incredibly talented author/illustrator Maurice Sendak.   I had the honor of sharing the stage with him in 1988 reading books to children.  It was spectacular - but alas, I was so completely in awe...I could not manage to speak a single word to him! *sigh*


 Anyway, back to the help everyone settle into our event we provided a maker's table for designing and making pipe cleaner flower corsages, bracelets, crowns and hair jewelry! Once decked-out with personalized designer accessories we slowly organized into the story time area.  Here are two of the evening's beautiful young is stylin' a Disney designer gown, crown and cherry lollipop, and the other sweet heart is politely waiting for the story!

Before reading our book we just had to have a conversation on background information for the round gold medal on the book cover.  The author writes the you like to write? Raise your hand.  The illustrator does the drawing and painting and creating pictures for the book.  Ah, the work of the illustrator is as cool and as important as the author's words. And the illustrator wins this award!  "Please raise your hand if you like to draw and paint and make beautiful pictures" .   Hands went up...adults and children's hands stretched into the air with pride.  This is the best!  Twenty-six years in Children's Services and it's always a delight when the parents "buy into" the deal.  Yep - many of our parents like to draw and paint and make messes!   They raised their hands!  Good listeners!  Great audience!  Thank you for being the best role model for your children.  

We read Kitten's First Full Moon - written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes.  Oh what fun!  Everyone loves kittens!  And this one is really thirsty...but why, oh why is the bowl of milk in the sky?  Wait!  Milk in the sky?  That can't be...hmm.  No spoiler to be found on this blog - you'll need to read the book!  

But for now, just look at the expression on her little face.  Ut-oh!

The book is darling and silly and we learned that many of our families own it. (YAY!)

We did a cute flannel board game too.
Little Cat, Little Cat are you in THIS party hat? 
Just hide that kitty behind a hat and you have a suspenseful game with a giggling group!

Then we all stood up and did a freeze dance...we needed a stretch!  And more giggles!

                     And finally refreshments!  (inspired by books!)

Hollywood had the Rat Pack - and we had the SNACK PACK.
These happy children were outstanding...

 ...and beautiful.

Parents proudly talked about Caldecott books they read and remembered.  We had a couple of moms in the press box who recalled some very classic folk and fairy tales while growing up in other countries.  Again, to hear children and parents discuss their particular favorite book and books they love to share with each other just made my night.

I told the crowd early on that I hoped they would all go home with a Caldecott medal (aka borrow a book!)  - they did!!  As we wrapped up the evening we had a swag bag for each child - it's just what happens in the glamorous red carpet get a swag bag!  Honestly!   And on top of that...a touch of gold!  We had Little Golden Books, (donated) for each child - again, a home run!

Here's my friend Isabella bundled up to go home but FYI: she wore a golden dress!

 One of the party go-ers received her very first library card on this special night and I just have to say...Sofia...Girl On Fire!  You rocked it!!  And congratulations!

I am grateful to all who attended the Faxon Library Special "Walk the Caldecott Carpet" on Monday the 25th of November.  The love and joy you have for your children is contagious.  Reading, sharing and celebrating books with your little ones is PRICELESS. Just keep doing it.  And many thanks for letting me be a part of this journey. 
Read * Share * Celebrate


It's a wrap!  November has come to a close.  It was a pleasure to serve as an Ambassador for Children's Picture Book Month.  I am grateful for our community and their love of picture books.  We'll have to get together soon and talk books again.  Yes?

P.S. (Piper Script)  We're reading all of the Caldecott Award winning books from now til Christmas. You can too!  Pick them up at The Faxon Library in West Hartford, CT.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's fall!  Time to get a wiggle on!

If I close my eyes I can hear my mother saying "get a wiggle on" or "don't dawdle" whenever she needed to encourage any one of her seven children or any of the grandchildren or great grands to pick up the pace!  My mom had a way with expressions.  Somewhere in the seventies she started greeting me each day with "morning sunshine" *sigh*  And I will forever love that she referred to my daughter as "Queenie"  Why Queenie?  I have no idea. 

I do know that she would have a number of things to say about my curling up on the couch and watching the television each evening.  And she would be a bit bothered, well more than a bit, about my pressing the snooze button on the alarm clock and snuggling under the covers for another ten minutes in the morning. Get a wiggle on indeed!  "Jane Ellen, is your work done?"  She lives in my heart and my memory and she usually keeps me on task.

My mom was English, and a Registered Nurse, mother of seven and she ran the household.  We were a disciplined lot, neat and trim and polite.  She fancied all four daughters with nursing degrees, (only one is a nurse) and she was light years ahead of her Rosary Society friends... she knew her sons would not be priests, (none are).  Thank the heavens!

Summer has slipped away.  Some time ago, actually.  Yet Piper and I are not willing to move forward.  We're stuck.  We could call it denial!  We set the clocks back, we've turned the heat on, we did all of the fall story times.  We outreached to plenty of new friends but it's dark outside and it's cold and we like the couch and the covers and all the NEW children's books.  Although Alice, (that would be my mom) would politely inform me to get off the sofa and go "out for a bit of fresh air".  In a home with seven children - that was mandatory unless it was 30 below!  "out you go"  "you need some pink in your cheeks" "keep an eye on your sister" don't be stalling, close the door, you don't live in a barn"  

Currently Piper and I are stubbornly refusing to go out and about.  The distant echo of Alice's words are just not strong enough this Fall.  We are curling up under comfy blankets reading everything we can get our hands on, or Piper's paws on!   The books are fabulous.  We are still going to the beach house on the weekends pretending it's summer and loving the sunsets while reading even more books.   This evening I took a photo of the books on the L.  If you follow this blog...the L is the other end of the L-shaped sofa where one of my "to read" piles lives.  Here's a nice neat photo:  

And here's what the rest of the house looks like!.  Heaven forbid Alice ever saw my messes!  

And on the coffee table

And these have found their way into the bedroom.  Piper wants me to read them to her!

We're very comfy on the couch and the bed with the books.  We're reading for submissions to our Connecticut Library gift giving list which our state librarians pull together annually.  We're reading for the library's 2014 summer reading list, and I am reading new picture books in order to feature a book each day in November because it is Children's Picture Book Month!  Yay! And we're Ambassadors!  


Here are a couple of cute photos from our library kids, big and little and some of their favorite picture books:


Alrighty now, Piper is tugging me off to bed, "get a wiggle on" to read the book at the top of this post...but I bet you already guessed that.  If You Give A Dog A Donut.  Ut-oh, this could present a problem tomorrow morning.  Or maybe I'll just say "out you go, Piper" with a little bit of Alice in my voice.  God Bless and good night!

P.S. (Piper Script) Alice loved dogs!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Flannel Friday in Fall!

Autumn Leaves are falling down...

                                                                                    ...all through the town!
                                                                 (okay those are dinosaurs)

I walked out of the library with Piper in tow this afternoon and autumn leaves were falling down, falling down, falling down.......yellow, green and brown.  It was just like the song!  The same song we've been singing for three weeks in story time.  I actually wanted to walk back in and ask my Halloween-costumed colleagues to come outside and watch all the leaves falling...but I didn't. They haven't been singing the song...over and over and over, they haven't placed all those leaves on and off the flannel board again and again and again - it just wouldn't mean as much to them.  And they'd probably think I'd finally lost it.  Well, that's just silly - they know I've lost it!  Heck, I'm Batman today...and it is seriously exhausting to be a superhero all day!  Fighting crime - in story time!!  Ridiculous, right?!  But there's a part of you that loves it, right?  (Just agree, please!)

Here's Tanika waiting for Prime Time to begin.  We're reading orange books tonight!  We have our ladybug on the flannel board for our welcoming song...Hello Everybody Hello.  

We use scarves and lots of fancy dance moves when we sing hello!!  There are leaves for everyone to place on the flannel board for our Autumn leaves are falling down song and man, oh they ever love placing their leaves on the flannel board.  

Okay, here's Tanika again, she's patiently waiting for our families. It's mouse night at Prime Time with Piper and Mrs Breen!!   Tanika loves the little mouse puppet and we are ready to do our chant "Little mouse, little mouse are you in the gingerbread house?"  Later we'll let the autumn leaves fall all over the houses...or all through the town!!!

We followed Tanika's lead on cute little mice and the kids made an adorable craft with the help of their parents.   (I love having parents at story time)        

with their own little folded houses

and a traveling bag!

And now everyone can play Little Mouse, Little Mouse at their own house!

This past Monday at Prime Time we did one of our most favorites books/flannel board stories - The Little Old Lady Who is Not Afraid of Anything.   We could not place our leaves on the flannel board because we were full to capacity in our room and I did not have enough felt leaves!  Yikes! First time that happened.  So we sang the song a couple times with just the three leaves on the board.  Here's our link to The Little Old Lady Who is Not Afraid of Anything

Happy Halloween from Piper and Jane!

P.S. (Piper Script) We're off to the Bat Cave - even Superheroes need their sleep!

If you would like to see more on the Autumn Leaves song and the flannel board just click  

And if you would like tips on playing Little Mouse, or little Cat - click here!

Almost forgot - the falling Dinosaurs at the top of the page can be found in the Westport Library in CT.