Virtual Toddler Storytime: Week 10

Some more spooky storytime stories and rhymes this week! I’m back to baby storytime in November, but I’m already searching for more to retell with toddlers in December! If you ever want to watch these live, we have three live storytimes a week on the Westerville Public Library Facebook Page on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 9:30 am. My next storytime is for the babies on Tuesday at 9:30 am.

Find additional content at the links below:

Toddler Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Make up your own words to familiar tunes to create silly songs. Let your child choose unique animals for “Old McDonald Had a Farm” and unique actions for “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

Book Recommendation: The Ghosts Went Floating by Kim Norman (abbreviated) The Ghosts Went Floating (9780374312138): Norman, Kim, Fleck,  Jay: Books

Song: Can You by The Wiggles

Fingerplay: Five Little Pumpkins

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Retelling: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

— Find more Book Retellings in this post. —

Action Rhyme: Horns and Fangs

Magnet: Five Little Bats

Manipulative: Shakers (If All of the Raindrops by Old Town School of Folk Music)

Closing Song: The Popcorn Song by Laura Doherty

Rainworks: Dragon Footprints!

Many libraries are still closed across the country due to COVID. We have just opened our doors to allow limited browsing opportunities, but, as is the case in most parts of the country, in-person programming is a thing of the distant future. I’m thrilled to highlight a tool that might be perfect for engaging your patrons outdoors: Rainworks!

This post is not sponsored–I just really appreciate this product. The easiest explanation:

  1. Create or purchase a stencil.
  2. Find a surface likely to get wet when it rains.
  3. Secure your stencil to the surface while it is dry.
  4. Spray your surface, following their directions.
  5. Wait 24 hours, dump water on the area you sprayed the day before and BOOM:

Make sure to follow their directions, spray lightly, and thoroughly cover the surrounding potential “overspray” areas. I had a lot going on while I was installing these, so I was more impatient than I should have been, and you can see some of my overspray spots (though, really, I don’t think it hurts the affect).

We’ve only had these installed for about two weeks, but they can last for up to three months! When the ground is dry, you can’t see any difference, but whenever the ground gets wet, your Rainworks shapes appear.

Rainworks Expenses

Nothing is free, however, with limited in-library offerings, I can see a lot of potential for this product over the coming months, especially as things get wet and rainy as we enter winter. Our chosen stencils were connected to our visiting dragon (more on that below), but some creative librarian types could make obstacle courses, hopscotch boards, book recommendations, and more.

The biggest (and required) expense is the spray. I definitely over-sprayed in places, but with about half of a 16 oz. bottle, I created nine 2 foot dragon footprints and three words on our steps. That bottle costs about $130.

Your other potential expense is your own stencils. Rainworks provides an extensive explanation on how to make your own stencils that, for a crafty librarian, might be easy enough to do:

However, time isn’t always on our side, so I took a look at the premade Rainworks stencils in their shop, available for purchase. There aren’t too many options, but they range from about $7-10 each.

Options are limited, however, so I decided to test my luck on a limited budget and ask about pricing for custom stencils. I was so happy with the pricing–all three words for “Kindness is Magic” were a combined $30 and the dragon footprint was just $18 (think about how long it would take you to make stencils by hand and how much you get paid by the hour, and this may really work out in your favor).

Back Up. Why Do You Have a Dragon on the Roof?

Hilda, our 30-foot roaring and smoke breathing dragon, is part of our annual Wizards & Wands Festival event. While I haven’t been too involved in Hilda’s creation or execution, I did chair this event in 2018-2019, creating something pretty cool. Last year, we had 3,000 people over four hours explore our library for one magical evening:

The 2020 Festival was supposed to be my last attempt at shaping this event, with my co-blogger Michala taking over in 2021. For pandemic reasons, there was no event this year. Assuming pandemic resolutions, I’m going to give this one last run in 2021 while relying much more heavily on Michala than I might have in 2020, especially with some exciting plans to keep the magic but move away from all things Harry Potter.

So instead of 3,000 visitors and a ton of magic, we have some footrprints and the return of a dragon whose roars echo through our quiet post-pandemic children’s space. Though that is still pretty cool, right?

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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#Baby by Michael Joosten (board book)
Baby-Toddler. Adorable board book in it for the laughs. Each spread is simply a photograph of a baby paired with a hashtag–#lewk, #foodie, #fashionista, and my personal favorites #mondays and #holidayspirit:

This board book is the perfect mix of adult humor combined with those beautiful photographs of baby faces that will appeal to the intended audience. Quite a collection of diverse babies too! Not quite my storytime style, but this will definitely have a lot of audience appeal.


Becoming Muhammad Ali by Kwame Alexander and James Patterson
Gr. 4-6. Cassius Clay was a kid, just like most kids. He struggled in school and dealt with bullies, but after his new bike was stolen when he was twelve, Cassius started training as an amateur boxer. Dual perspectives follow Cassius through his teens, with readers following his story from both Cassius’ point of view and the point of view of his best friend, Lucky. A final chapter, from the point of view of his friend, quickly sums up Cassius’ adult life and his transformation into Muhammad Ali.

A powerful, fun read showing Cassius discover confidence and strength. I am not a sports reader, and this book kept me fully engaged with so many humorous anecdotes that painted a beautiful picture of Ali’s childhood and teen years.

Unfortunately, this is the first title in a while that I wish I hadn’t listened to on audio. I feel bad starting a review that way, but due to the narration choices, I was very confused for the first half of my listen–I wasn’t entirely sure there were two perspectives since the voices were indistinguishable, and I just kept getting confused as we shifted from Cassius being described in the first and third person. I also missed out on the illustrations I see mentioned in many reviews–I will be tracking down the physical book soon to get a more complete view of this title.

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Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins (picture book)
Gr. 2-4. Siblings Maria and Juan are thrilled to head to the US-Mexico border to visit their grandmother and celebrate Las Posadas with her. Even though they are divided by a fence, they are excited to swap stories, but when it comes time to leave, they realize that their presents won’t fit through the fence. Maria creates a cunning plan to get her younger brother’s beautiful picture across the wall.

A beautiful, heartwarming story about families, love, and celebrations that also highlights the conditions of families separated by a border wall, trying to celebrate the holidays together. A soft color palette makes the harsh realities of the story more palpable for young readers.

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Bling Blaine: Throw Glitter, Not Shade by Rob Sanders (picture book)
Gr. K-1. Blaine loves everything sparkly. Sue loves orange; Alberto loves high-tops; Marvin loves hoodies; and Blaine loves bling. While his classmates embrace Blaine’s love of bling, not everyone else does. After some bullies make fun of his accessories, Blaine decides to leave the bling behind. Can his classmates stand up for Blaine and help Blaine get his groove back?

A cute story about identity and gender norms. The understanding and support from Blaine’s classmates is fantastic. Illustrations are colorful and show a diverse collection of students and teachers. Back matter talks about what it means to be an ally and how you can practice standing up for others.

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The Chicken Who Couldn’t by Jan Thomas (picture book)
Gr. PreS-K. Chicken just CAN’T win a ribbon at the fair, CAN’T fly, CAN’T walk all the way home–chicken couldn’t possibly accomplish these things! With some help from new friends, chicken develops self-confidence that allows him to defeat the hungry fox that likes to eat chickens that walk down the road.

Lots of Jan Thomas humor. This book is entirely dialogue, making it a bit of a difficult read aloud choice. May work well as a reader’s theater script. Filled with Thomas’s standard, colorful, child-friendly illustrations.

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Craftily Ever After: Making the Band by Martha Maker (first chapter)
Gr. 2-3. Craft-loving friends Maddie, Bella, Emily, and Sam have to figure out an act for their school’s talent show! They are sure they can find some way to showcase their crafting talents on stage, but all of their ideas are just okay until Sam is inspired to start a band using instruments they make themselves.

This is an adorable series, brimming with diversity and happy, positive messages about caring about the environment, being kind to others, making new friends, and embracing the activities you love. This particular title stands out for the kids’ perseverance after their first instruments are destroyed by rain. Also a good place to find lots of creative DIY ideas for young crafters.

Diary of an Ice Princess by Christina Soontornvat (first chapter)

The Big Freeze. Gr. 2-3. Lina has got a lot to figure out in just a few days! Her teacher at her human school wants her to create a piece of art representing Lina. Lina loves science and magic–but science won’t work for her project, and she can’t reveal her magical secret at her human school. Lina is stumped, but she doesn’t have too much time to focus on her art project because her grandfather wants Lina to pick her magical forever task. Her grandfather directs wind currents. Her mother brings the spring rains. Her cousin, Jack, makes intricate lace-like artwork out of ice. What does Lina want to do? And is she really ready to pick the job she wants to do…forever?

Slush Puppy. Gr. 2-3. Lina wants to get the perfect present for her best friend’s birthday. Claudia really, really wants a dog, and, luckily enough, Lina discovers that her winter magic can bring snow to life! Lina makes the most adorable snow puppy…but the puppy turns out to be a bit more trouble than the girls imagined. How to you train a magical dog made of snow?

This series is fun with a great combination of humor, everyday school adventures, magic powers, and a lovely message of self-acceptance. Plus, this series stars a biracial main character, is written by a diverse author, AND is a fantasy series–a combination very hard to come by in first chapter books. Recommending to anyone and everyone.

Ellie Ultra by Gina Bellisario (first chapter)

An Extra-Ordinary Girl. Gr. 2-3. Ellie Ultra is a superhero! She has spent her first eight years training in supervillain identification, combat skills, flying, and more, but now her parents think it is finally time for Ellie to start regular school. Ellie is thrilled–until she realizes that none of the other kids have superpowers. If Ellie wants to blend in, she is going to have to become a little less super. But is fitting in the best choice for Ellie?

Team Earth Takeover. Gr. 2-3. Ellie Ultra is a superhero! Ellie regularly uses her superpowers to stop supervillains, but this time she is faced with a different challenge: working with her classmates to help save the environment. Ellie and her best friend Hannah decide to build an animal habitat. Ellie loves the idea, but, as a superhero, she knows that she must really do all of the work–all of the earth saving–all by herself. It’s her superhero duty after all! Though, if she uses her dad’s cloning machine to make two Ellies that just means two superheroes will accomplish even greater results! Right?

Ellie is a cute, spunky young superhero. I prefer Mia Mayhem’s everyday adventures to this series, but, reading level wise, this is a good step up from the Mia Mayhem books. Lots of kid appeal, and I appreciate any diverse young superheroes.

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Fiona, It’s Bedtime by Richard Cowdrey (picture book)
Gr. Toddler-Pres. Howl! Roar! Squawk! Coo! The sun is setting at the zoo. Fiona travels around the Cincinnati Zoo to say goodnight to all of the animal families, including the cheetahs, sloths, tortoises, and more before falling asleep herself.

Come on…it’s an animal book with adorable illustrations about the baby hippo internet sensation that lives just a few hours away from my house. How can I not love it? The rhyme scheme and large illustrations (plus the local familiarity with Fiona) make this title a good storytime contender. Lots of animal identification and guessing as we turn each page and explore the zoo with Fiona.

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I Love My Fangs! by Kelly Leigh Miller (picture book)
Gr. PreS-K. Little Dracula loves his two, pointy, beautiful fangs! He brushes and flosses them every day, but suddenly one starts to wiggle. And then–oh dear–it falls out! How can Dracula be a vampire with just one tooth? He tries tape, string, and bubblegum to get his fang to reattach, but it just won’t go back in. How can he face the world with just one fang?!?

Lots of humor and drama surround our adorable young vampire including a hilarious battle with the tooth fairy. Bright, colorful illustrations will keep the youngest readers engaged. A great explanation about teeth for little ones soon to be visited by the tooth fairy themselves. Hoping for more adventures starring this little guy.


I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee (teen)
Gr. 5-10. Skye has been told she is fat her whole life. For a while, she participated in her mom’s crazy diet schemes, but, since then, Skye has accepted herself as she is, even if her Korean mom and much of the Korean-American community find her body size alarming. Skye doesn’t have time to worry about the number on a scale because she is too busy preparing for auditions for a prestigious, televised Kpop competition. Skye knows she has the vocals and the dance moves to succeed–but will anyone in this stereotypically skinny field take her seriously? And why is hot, Instagram model Henry Cho auditioning anyway? And why is he so interested in Skye?

THIS BOOK! I powered through this title in just a few hours. This book is great mix of girl-power, strength, confidence, and pure awesomeness with a plus-sized, bisexual main character; an adorable love interest; and wonderful side characters. I love a good romance, and Henry Cho is adorable, but this book would have been just as successful without the romance because of the strength of the main character. I love the new trend in books featuring plus-size characters who are fully confident in their size. Skye is a force to be reckoned with–when she is body shamed, her confidence in herself and her appearance simply grow. Will be recommending.


A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa and Coert Voorhees (picture book)
Gr. 1-2. Children Alessandra, Laura, Nando, and Rodrigo travel, unaccompanied, north from Central America, nearly 1,000 miles through Mexico, to seek asylum in the United States. Although the children don’t know each other when the book begins, and language differences sit between them, they become fast friends as the band together to make the dangerous journey north.

Based on the true stories of the 50,000 children who make this journey each year, A Journey Toward Hope provides a unique view into these children’s experiences. Paired with four pages of back matter giving more details on the real kids who make these trips each year and information on how to help.

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Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (graphic novel)
Gr. 10+. Juliet is leaving the Bronx and moving to Portland to intern for her favorite feminist author, Harlowe Brisbane. Just before leaving, Juliet came out to her Puerto Rican family and the results were…not exactly great. Juliet hopes that Harlowe will help Juliet figure out what it means to be a lesbian and Puerto Rican, but, while Harlowe definitely has a lot of ideas, Harlowe doesn’t really understand Juliet’s perspective. Even with a few bumps in the road, Juliet is sure that her experiences in Portland will help her figure out her place in the world.

Juliet is fun, vibrant character, and this is a lovely queer coming of age story that touches heavily on race and identity. I haven’t read the original book, which may have made the graphic novel experience feel a little disjointed at times. Many of Juliet’s Portland experiences felt a touch too quick, and I would have appreciated a little more detail (perhaps I just would have enjoyed this book better in novel form instead of as a graphic novel). The art is vibrant, with the colors matching the pace and setting of the story.

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The Last Kids on Earth and the Skeleton Road by Max Brallier
Gr. 3-5. Newest addition to the Last Kids on Earth series! This time, Jack, Quint, June, and Dirk are on the road trip of their lives, determined to track down and stop the evil Thrull. The team finally have a lead that might take them to Thrull’s Tower (a portal to bring Rezzoch, Destroyer of Worlds, to Earth). But, of course, a road trip in this series combines new monsters and constant danger with a ton of snacks, lots of humor, and many, many kitschy roadside attractions.

I adore this series–a perfect mixture of humor, action, crazy fantasy, friendship, and sarcasm. Looking forward to more, particularly additional June standalone adventures.


The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson (nonfiction)
Gr. 4-8+. A beautiful collection of thirty short stories, poems, letters, and essays from an amazing group of diverse authors and illustrators about how they talk to young people, most often their children, about race.

Each story was unique and poignant, though for me, personal standouts include “Handle Your Business” by Derrick Barnes, “Mazes” by Christopher Myers, and “Our Inheritance” by Adam Gidwitz. In the first, Derrick Barnes’ son comes home and in passing talks about his teacher doing an entire unit on the book Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. A kid in class asks Derrick’s son if he is happy that they are finally reading a book with a character that looks like him. While the child stands up for himself and his history, this one really hit home why proper representation is so important. Myers talks about the story of the Minotaur and how stories are twisted by the tellers to create a view that most benefits them. Gidwitz talks about explaining to his young daughter how their white family has benefited from racism–historically and in the present–giving a sharp reminder that these “talks” about racism should not be limited to diverse parents warning their kids about what they will face now and in the future.

There is so much to unpack here–it isn’t really possible to write decent summaries of some of these stories, as they each have so many layers and nuances. An excellent book to read together as a family, one story at a time. A title I will be recommending to teachers, parents, librarians, and more.

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Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper (picture book)
Gr. 1-2. The day after a blizzard, young Lina awakens to silence–the silence created by a heavy layer of snow. Lina decides to walk to her grandmother’s house to make a special meal. Her grandmother can’t see very well, so as Lina walks, she focuses on listening to the sounds of the world around her, discovering ten different ways to hear snow.

A beautiful story with stunning illustrations and a great point of view. Lina and her grandmother have a wonderful relationship, and the blending of story, diversity, and even a science lesson about your senses would make this a wonderful storytime or classroom read.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (10/19/2020-10/25/2020).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

First Chapter Books:

Everything Else:

Note: So…I came back to work last week to over 100 holds. These were just the picture books:

So many books. And another 25 came in yesterday. Now that I write at least brief reviews for each title on Goodreads, these take more time, so even with reading a lot of books this week, I feel like I haven’t made a dent. I always have a big stack of library books, but this feels excessive even for me.

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Stats for the Week:

  • 43 Books Read This Week
    • 28 Books with Diverse Main Character (65%)
    • 17 Books by Diverse Authors (40%)
    • 16 Books by Own Voices Authors (37%) (to the best of my knowledge)

This week’s reading highlights:

Michala’s Reading

Note: It’s that time of year, can you sense a theme in my reads? Although all my Halloween picture books just came in so next week I might be listing a few stragglers that make the cut for good reads.

Virtual Toddler Storytime: Week 9

A handful of “spooky” storytime additions this week, mixed in with some old favorites. I have a lot of great new material for upcoming baby and toddler storytimes from the book Move, Play, Learn by Alyssa Jewell.

Find additional content at the links below:

Toddler Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Toddlers need to move, so don’t worry if they act out stories or just skip, romp, or tumble as you read to them. They may be moving, but they are listening.

Book Recommendation: Five Little Monsters Jumping on the Bed by Bill Cotter

Song: The Goldfish by Laurie Berkner

Fingerplay: Dance Your Fingers Up

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Retelling: I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry

— Find more Book Retellings in this post. —

Action Rhyme: Put Your Claws

Magnet: Little Spider, Little Spider

Manipulative: Scarves (Song: Shake Freeze by Little Maestros)

Closing Song: The Popcorn Song by Laura Doherty

Virtual Program: How to Train Your Dragon Kits

We’ve been exploring different ways to provide virtual programming to our patrons. Many libraries have been providing make-and-take kits, but, unfortunately, due to our library’s curbside setup and our patron demand, that isn’t an option for us. A few week’s ago, I shared my Baby-Sitters Club Membership Kits, and my Camp Half Blood Welcome Kits (Percy Jackson). These How to Train Your Dragon Kits follow a similar style.

Why dragons? As part of our annual Wizards & Wands Festival, we have a 30-foot, smoke-breathing dragon on our library roof. While our large event is not taking place in 2020, Hilda has returned, and we have a few events throughout the month with a magical feel.

Why send kits in the mail? Especially kits that focus more on fun than a specific learning concept? Read my thoughts in this post.

Looking for more Mail-To-You Kit Ideas? Check out:

Baby-Sitters Club Membership Kits
Camp Half Blood Welcome Kits
Teen Bubble Tea Kits

How to Train Your Dragon Kits: Contents

I had a lot of fun with these! Lots of dragon and viking magic will be found within. I focused on making sure each bag contained a tangible activity (not just something to read, no matter how cool that reading might be).

Downloads for most items can be found in the downloads section below. All files are PDFs, though you can email me ( or post in the comments if you are interested in the originals for editing.

Each child received their own envelope, even if there were multiple kids in the same house registered. This made it more individual–not just that the oldest or youngest got to open the package from the library.

Each kit contained a general welcome kit, in a document envelope, as well as seven individual bags. Four bags focused on a different element of dragon training, two were related to Viking apparel, and one contained tools that were parts of multiple included crafts.

The general welcome kit included:

  • Personalized welcome letter from Hiccup and Toothless
  • Dragon Trainer ID Card
  • How to Train Your Dragon Activity Guide
  • Readalike Book Recommendations
  • Swag: Bookmarks, Buttons, Trivia Sheet, Viking Name Generator, Map of Berk

The kits contained two Viking bags to create Viking apparel, so dragons would be more comfortable in our young trainer’s presence. The first kit focused on Viking Helmets:

The second focused on Viking shields:

Our first dragon training bag focused on Identifying Dragons. These included a dragon identification guide as well as a BINGO game to help young trainers master their new dragon IDing skills.

Learn how to bond with your own dragon by getting to know Hiccup’s best friend, Toothless, through a paper bag craft.

Design your dream dragon by making an adorable paper plate craft dragon from Pink Stripey Socks.

Finally, train your dragon with the best training tool in all of Berk–sheep! Discover different ways to play with your sheep in the included training guide.

Each kit also contained a tools bag, which contained supplies needed to complete many of the included crafts, such as crayons, glue dots, and gem stickers. Scissors were also needed for most crafts, though those were not included.

Each kit’s Dragon Trainer Welcome Letter was personalized.


Everything should be downloadable from the links below. All files are PDFs, though you can email me ( or post in the comments if you are interested in the originals for editing. They are all Publisher files, and as usual, I used a lot of fonts.

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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Animal Showdown: Round Three by Stephanie Warren Drimmer (nonfiction)
Gr. 3-4. Which animal is most acrobatic? Loudest? Most venomous? Lives the longest? Find out in the newest round of animal matchups.

I like that this series isn’t quite as clear cut as the Who Would Win books. While some of these questions have just one answer–like the loudest animal–the book makes the reader look at the stats and facts to figure that out (or, in the cases of less clear cut matchups, the answer is up to the reader). A great design paired with beautiful photographs and, of course, fascinating information, makes this series a win.

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Goldie Vance: Larceny in La La Land by Hope Larson (graphic novel)
Gr. 4-8. Goldie Vance is back and taking Los Angeles by storm! While her best friends have glamorous lives as movie stars or are off working at fancy internships, Goldie has to figure out her own summer plans. When she stumbles across a grown-up female detective, Goldie knows she is meant to spend the summer solving real mysteries! After a bit of convincing, Goldie manages to land her dream assistant job where she is quickly caught up in a pair of intertwining mysteries involving both sentimental and very lucrative thefts.

Goldie is back! Move aside Nancy Drew–Goldie Vance is the queen of teen detectives. I love the sweet alternate reality that Goldie lives in (that essentially looks a bit like a Hollywood version of the 1960s without racism, the Vietnam War, and all of those real-world issues). Goldie and her friends exude the diversity that is much needed in modern comics but probably wouldn’t have worked out well in real life at the time–Goldie is biracial, gay, curvy, and amazing (she also drag races, though that isn’t featured in this book). Her friends are equally unique and awesome. Plus these comics are just fun–a combination of Sherlock Holmes meets Nancy Drew mystery, a few high stakes action scenes, fun side characters to flesh out the plot, and a great color palate that brings the setting to life. More please!

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Move, Play, Learn: Interactive Storytimes with Music, Movement, and More by Alyssa Jewell (professional development)
Adult. Make your storytimes active through movement, music, and play! Think about how to make all parts of your storytime, not just some elements, an active experience, engaging little ones and caregivers throughout.

I wish I had read this book pre-COVID, but I am still glad to have found it now. Lots of great messages and ideas here (and a great list of children’s musicians!). The theory and research in this book help me put into words what I’ve been trying to do with my storytimes before and after COVID–create an active, engaging experience. The less passive listening, the better.

While I don’t agree with everything–I’m really not a theme person, and those are emphasized heavily in this text–the below paragraph really stuck with me, so much that I wanted to include it here to refer back to. I had a core set of storytime materials that I used pre-COVID, and I didn’t put that much effort into revitalizing those materials. While I still use a bit more repetition than is highlighted in this book, I’ve been taking a much more thorough effort into planning and carefully selecting materials for my virtual storytimes–finding quality materials that I enjoy that highlight new voices, cover an early literacy skill, and fit the appropriate developmental level. I’ve wondered a lot about the time commitment involved with this and how this will fit into my job when I am back on desk with the public many hours a week, and I’ve been coming to the conclusion that storytime content needs to remain a priority. Author Jewell sums this up nicely in her text:

“For me, selecting the best materials for storytime is at the core of what it means to be a good children’s librarian. My job is to showcase the best of what the library’s collection has to offer. This means not only keeping up to date with the newest books and music, but also performing rigorous searches of the collection for each storytime theme, as there are sometimes hidden gems published years ago hiding in the stacks and begging to be brought to life. This is not always easy to do if you, like most librarians and teachers, are strapped for time. Everyone falls into bad habits at some point, such as rushing through material selection, gravitating toward comfortable materials that you or others have used time and time again, or choosing materials that you think are cute but are really not developmentally appropriate for your storytime. If you find yourself falling into any of these behaviors, take a step back and remember: the building blocks of storytime are the materials you select. If you are not putting energy into that process, then your foundation will be shaky.” – page 51

Queen Of The Spelling Bee - (Ellie Ultra) By Gina Bellisario (Hardcover) :  Target

Queen of the Spelling Bee (Ellie Ultra) by Gina Bellisario (first chapter)
Gr. 2-3. Life isn’t always filled with daring rescues for young superhero Ellie Ultra. She has to go to school, and sometimes those school days are filled with spelling bee practice! Ellie is sure that her super talents will make her a spelling bee champion, but when Ellie decides she doesn’t need to practice, things don’t work out as planned. But is there more to this new substitute librarian than meets the eye? Something seems to be off about the plans for the upcoming school-wide spelling bee…will Ellie need to save the day?

Ellie is a cute, spunky young superhero. I prefer Mia Mayhem’s everyday adventures to this series, but, reading level wise, this would be a good step up from the Mia Mayhem books. I’m not sure if these books have to be read in order (no series number on the spine), but I definitely felt a bit confused by many of the references to what felt like previous books. This felt a little disjointed at times with a heavy focus on the fast-paced action, but I see the kid appeal, and I appreciate any diverse young superhero.


Rick by Alex Gino
Gr. 4-5. Rick has always gone along with his best friend, Jeff. Even when his best friend is mean–best friends stick together, right? Now, Rick is in middle school. He learns that maybe things don’t all have to be one way, especially when a new friend leads him to a meeting of the school’s rainbow spectrum club. The kids in this club seem to be so sure of who they are (or they are comfortable in being not so sure). Rick longs to be just as understood–but can he figure out who he is while still keeping his life as it has always been?

This was fun and so sweet! I loved the call backs to George–even though its been a while since I read that title, hearing Melissa introduce the talent show with a few loud “salutations!” was lovely. Rick was a particularly great perspective to explore. While George was a bit stronger of a book for me, I like that Rick was–and still is–questioning who he is. That questioning is normal and such a part of growing up that isn’t focused on quite as often as the kids who “know” something about themselves. Rick’s relationship with his grandfather was particularly strong and nuanced. Looking forward to more books!

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School for Extraterrestrial Girls #1: Girl on Fire by Jeremy Whitley
Gr. 5-8. Tara Smith longs to be extraordinary–but, when she said that, she dreamed of becoming an astronaut, not spontaneously combusting in math class. She wanted to travel to space–not find out she is really an alien. She wanted her parents to be a little less routine-oriented–not really be kidnappers that tore her away from her home and hid Tara’s true identity from her for years.

But, things don’t always work out the way you expect. Such as when you discover all of these extraordinary things about yourself, while also finding out that you still have to go to high school (but now a high school for alien teenage girls). New friendships, drama, and confusion seem to follow Tara wherever she goes as she tries to figure out where she fits in among the big, wide universe.

A new series by the author of Princeless! This wasn’t quite as amazing as Princeless, but I am definitely looking forward to the sequel. Tara’s emotional ups and downs felt very real, and I’m excited to see more of the world created in this series, including the multitude of alien species (more cat people please!). I’m also ready for the strength of a united Tara, Summer, and Misako–their new school isn’t going to know what hit them.

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There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
Gr. 7+. Ashish was recently dumped by his (now ex-) girlfriend. Ever since the breakup, nothing is working–he can’t seem to flirt anymore, he never feels happy, and basketball just feels routine. Even though he can’t ever imagine it working, he agrees to let his parent’s set him up with a new girl, hoping that a little bit of a flirting and a few dates (without the pressure of making those things happen himself) might help him find his groove again.

Sweetie doesn’t think too much about romance–she is too busy beating everyone on the track, hanging out with her friends, and singing in the shower. When Sweetie finds out that Ashish’s parents want to set the two of them up, she is mildly interested–until Sweetie’s mom denies the match because Sweetie’s traditional Indian mom thinks Sweetie is too fat for an attractive, rich boy like Ashish.

Sweetie is furious. She doesn’t care so much about dating Ashish, as she hates how her parent’s insecurities about Sweetie’s weight make them control her actions. She tracks down Ashish and proposes a deal–that they date, in secret, behind their parent’s backs. He gets his mojo back, and Sweetie proves that fat girls are datable. Ashish agrees. Obviously, love follows.

I love all of Sandhya Menon’s sweet romance novels, and I’m glad I saved this one for last (of what she has currently published). It was fun to see familiar characters again, but Ashish and Sweetie just have a great dynamic. Contrary to their names, Ashish was the one who was a little too sweet for me at times, especially toward the end of the book, but Sweetie’s self-confidence and determination make this book shine. At so many moments, Sweetie could have crumbled–but she never does, no matter who is trying to hold her back, because of her faith in herself. So much fun to read.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (10/12/2020-10/18/2020).

Annamarie’s Reading

Note: Lots going on in real life, so much less reading this week. I should be back up to regular-ish reading amounts next week. Still squeezed in some great titles!

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Stats for the Week:

  • 12 Books Read This Week
    • 8 Books with Diverse Main Character (67%)
    • 5 Books by Diverse Authors (42%)
    • 4 Books by Own Voices Authors (33%) (to the best of my knowledge)

This week’s reading highlights:

Michala’s Reading

Note: Alright, so I stepped up my game since Annamarie the super librarian was off this past week. I tried stacking in more Youth books, but as usual when I see them lined up here I feel like did not read all that much. Happy Reading y’al!

Storytime: Fingerplays

Fingerplays are awesome! Fingerplays are especially fantastic for toddlers and preschoolers, allowing them to practice controlling their fingers in specific ways while building those finger muscles they will need for writing. I sometimes include fingerplays in baby storytimes, but I’ve been able to explore fingerplays more since I’ve started presenting toddler and preschool virtual storytimes.

Problems with 10 Littles

Ten Little Indians. I’ve heard librarians use it (with those original words). For a while, I used adapted fingerplays to the same tune with different words, but I’ve stopped. I may attempt to avoid dehumanizing Indigenous people by not counting Indians like they are toys, but the few times I used this fingerplay, some caregiver would often mess up my new words and loudly use the original words because they are so associated with the tune.

At the beginning of virtual storytimes, I shifted to a different counting tune I found while watching other library storytimes (I have one, I have two, I have three little fingers). I adapted this a lot virtually because it was a quick, easy fingerplay that was just…easy to adapt.

But. Not everyone has 10 little fingers. Or 10 little toes. Or 5 little fingers. I’ve made storytime videos using ten fingers that I am not highlighting below. I’m including fingerplays that count up to five, though I want to eventually phase those out to or make videos where we count to five using two hands instead of always just using one. How do you think about inclusivity in your fingerplays and overall storytime plans? What other elements to this am I not thinking about?


Thinking about some of the inclusivity lessons I mentioned above, plus that some kids can’t bend their fingers one at a time, I’m also including action rhymes that focus on hand motions.

Bananas Unite

Bananas unite!

Peel bananas.
Peel, peel bananas.
Peel bananas.
Peel, peel bananas.

Continue with: Chop, Mash, Eat


Bubble, Bubble Pop!

One little red fish
Swimming in the water,
Swimming in the water,
Swimming in the water.

One little red fish
Swimming in the water,
Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble (roll arms)
POP! (clap)

Clap Them

Clap them, clap them, clap them so.
Clap them high!
Clap them low.
Clap them left.
Clap them right.
Clap them, clap them, out of sight!

Continue with: roll them, shake them

Cool Cat

Hey there everybody, you’re a real cool cat.
You got a lot of this,
And you got a lot of that.
So come on in
And get down (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
To the left (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
To the right (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
Up in the air (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
And get down (ch ch ch ch ch ch)

Dance Your Fingers Up

Dance your fingers up.
Dance your fingers down.
Dance your fingers side to side.
Dance them all around.

Dance them on your shoulders.
Dance them on your head.
Dance them on your tummy.
And put them all to bed.

The Elevator Song

Oh the city is great and the city is grand.
There are lots of tall buildings on a little piece of land,
And we live way up on the 57th floor,
and this is what we do when we go out the door.

We take the elevator up and the elevator down,
take the elevator up, take the elevator down
Take the elevator up and the elevator down
and we turn around.

Five Fat Peas

Five fat peas in a peapod pressed.
One grew, two grew,
And so did all the rest.

They grew, and they grew,
And they wouldn’t stop.
They grew, and they grew,
Until they popped! (clap)

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Five green and speckled frogs
Sitting on a spaced log.
Eating the most delicious lunch,
Yum, yum!

One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were four green and speckled frogs
Ribbet, Ribbet.

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1

Five Little Caterpillars

Five little caterpillars wiggling on a leaf,
One falls off, goes to sleep.
Close her eyes and wait a week,
Up come a butterfly floating on the breeze.

Repeat with: 4, 3, 2, 1, None

Five Little Hot Dogs

Five little hot dogs
Frying in a pan.
The grease for hot,
And one went BAM!

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1

Funky Spunky Monkeys

Funky spunky monkey
Climbed up the coconut tree
Down came the coconut
And bonked him on his knee
Along came his mama
And kissed away the pain
And the funky spunky monkey
Climbed up the tree again.

Here is the Beehive

Here is the beehive,
But where are the bees?
Hidden away where nobody sees.
Watch and you’ll see them come out of the hive…
1, 2, 3, 4, 5…They’re alive!

Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and
Washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and
Dried up all the rain
And the Itsy Bitsy Spider
Went up the spout again.

Leaves on the Trees

The leaves on the trees turn orange and red,
Orange and red,
Orange and red.
The leaves on the trees turn orange and red, all around the town.

The leaves on the trees come twirling down,
Twirling down,
Twirling down.
The leaves on the trees come twirling down, all around the town.

The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish,
Swish, swish, swish,
Swish, swish, swish.
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish, all around the town.

Little Mousie Brown

Little Mousie Brown
Little Mousie Brown
Climbed up the big, white candlestick
And couldn’t get back down.

So she called to her Grandma,
“Grandma! Grandma!”
But Grandma was not around.
So she curled into a little ball,
And rolled herself back down.

Mix a Pancake

Mix a pancake.
Stir a pancake.
Pop it in a pan.
Fry a pancake.
Toss a pancake.
Catch it if you can!

My Garden

Here is my garden.
Rake it with care.
And then, some seeds
We’ll plant in there!

The sun will shine,
The rain will fall,
And then my garden
Will grow big and tall.

Point to the Ceiling

Point to the ceiling.
Point to the floor.
Point to a window.
Point to the door!

Point to your elbow.
Point to your knee.
Now sit down,
And point at me!

Put Your Claws

Put your claws in the air.
Put your claws on the ground.
Put your claws in the middle,
And wiggle them around.

Put your claws to the side,
And pretend to soar!
Put your claws to your mouth,
And give a big ROAR!

Put Your Hands Up High

Put your hands up high,
Put your hands down low,
Put your hands in the middle,
And wiggle just so.
Put your elbows in front.
Put your elbows in back.
Put your elbows to the side and

Roll Roll Sugar Babies

Roll roll sugar babies,
Roll roll sugar babies,
Push and pull
And clap, clap, clap!

Roll roll sugar babies,
Roll roll sugar babies,
Push and pull
And clap, clap, clap!

Roll up high!
Roll down low.
Roll real fast!
Roll real slow.

Roll roll sugar babies,
Roll roll sugar babies,
Push and pull
And clap, clap, clap!

Slowly, Slowly

Slowly, slowly, very slowly,
Creeped the garden snail.
Slowly, slowly, very slowly
Up the wooden rail.

Quickly, quickly, very quickly
Ran the little mouse.
Quickly, quickly, very quickly,
Round about the house!

There Was a Crocodile

There was a crocodile,
An orangutan,
A flying eagle,
And a silvery fish.

A bunny,
A beaver,
A crazy elephant,
Da na na na na na
Da na na na na na

This is Big

This is big big big.
This is small small small.

This is short short short.
This is tall tall tall.

This is fast fast fast.
This is slow slow slow.

This is yes yes yes yes.
This is no no no no.

Two Little Friends

Two little friends sitting on a hill,
One named Jack and one named Jill.
Run away Jack! Run away Jill!
Come back Jack. Come back Jill.

Two little friends sitting on a cloud.
One named soft and one named LOUD.
Run away soft! Run away loud!
Come back soft. Come back loud.

Two little friends sitting down below.
One named fast and one named slow.
Run away fast! Run away slow.
Come back fast! Come back slow.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We’re going to the moon.
Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We’ll get there very soon.

If you want to take a trip,
Climb aboard my rocket ship.
Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We’re going to the moon.

In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Pete the Cat Storytime

Another themed Saturday storytime special! This was a little different for me because I was not a Pete the Cat fan before this storytime–but I have been won over! Pete the Cat Storytime was a ton of fun, though a little more low key than some of my past virtual Saturday storytime specials.

I made another “commercial” for this program, which you can view below:

I’m not sure how much these videos contribute to the audience for these programs, but I am looking forward to some in-person marketing when our library reopens for browsing next week. This may give some new life to all of our virtual storytimes.

To help continue the Pete the Cat fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

The general storytime layout is below, with videos where applicable. This was a bit more chill for me, with me reading two books and retelling one more. No color-changing unicorns or flattened dinosaurs this time!

Backdrop Setup: Pete the Cat pennant banners, posters, and images. I’m happy to share these printable files if anyone is interested–just let me know in those comments or send us an email.

Pete the Cat Intro: Instead of my regular storytime intro song (Shake Your Sillies Out), we started with something a little more cool and grooving–Clap Your Hands by They Might be Giants.

Book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean and Eric Litwin
*I read this book, but I am including a previous video of this story being retold in flannel form below.

Song: Go Pete Go!

Book Retelling: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Action Rhyme: Cool Cat Boogie
(During storytime, we did not include the music for sake of time and so that I could include music in our last read aloud.)

Magnet Activity: Pete the Cat Playing Hide and Seek

Book: Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes
I synced up the music for this book so that I read the sentences, and we all sang along with the music each time Pete sang a song.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes - Naturally Curious Kids

Closing Song: Pete the Cat Theme Song

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