Author Archives for Annamarie Carlson

Book Club in a Bag: Sadiq Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11: Book Club in a Bag (also known as Leap Off the Page, since we already have book club kits at our library, and the original name became confusing). This week: Sadiq by Siman Nuurali.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In May, these featured characters or books included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

  • Ages 8-11:
    • Tristan Strong (Kwambe Mbalia)
    • Last Kids on Earth (Max Brallier)
    • Two Truths and a Lie (Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson)
    • Lumberjanes (Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis, Kat Leyh, Faith Erin Hicks)

Check out these previously featured Book Club kits:

Elephant & Piggie (Mo Willems)
Mindy Kim (Lyla Lee)
Yasmin (Saadia Faruqi)
Azaleah Lane (Nikki Shannon Smith)
Wings of Fire (Tui T. Sutherland)
New Kid (Jerry Craft)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Dana Simpson)
Shuri (Nic Stone)

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Sadiq Kit

The Sadiq Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items (like DIY journals) depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Sadiq Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Sadiq Kit General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Sadiq kit is no different.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF featuring all kit activities here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing readalikes here.

The Sadiq readalikes bookmark features these titles:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing discussion questions here.

The Sadiq Discussion Questions included:

  • Talk about Sadiq and the Fun Run:
    • What reason did Sadiq’s parents give for not letting him try out for football? Do you think they were being fair?
    • Sadiq feels left out when his friends Manny and Zaza talk about their football team. Share an experience you’ve had of feeling left out.
    • Sadiq receives a lot of encouragement as he trains for the Fun Run. Who helps Sadiq prepare? Discuss how they help him.
  • Talk about Sadiq and the Perfect Play:
    • Manny feels upset while the Friends Theater Club works on the play. Why do you think he was mad?
    • Mr. Anderson, the director of Aliya’s play, tells Sadiq a director must ask others for help on completing a project. How do you delegate or ask others to do certain tasks?
    • Baba and Hooyo help Sadiq with his problems in the story. What are some of the lessons they teach him as he puts his play together?

This bag also included one swag item: a 2.25″ button made with our button maker.

Download the button images here.

Sadiq Crafts, Games, and More

First up: draw constellations! Each bag included two half sheets of black construction paper, a white crayon, a gold star sticker sheet, and constellation identification cards.

Slideshare not working? Download the constellation cards here.

Slideshare not working? Download the constellation instructions here.

The second craft also involved science–specifically sunlight. Participants made their own pipe cleaner creatures using pony beads and UV beads When put in sunlight, the UV beads will change color! For an extra challenge, participants can try to find something that they can wrap or coat the UV beads in that will stop them from changing color when they are placed in sunlight.

Download the instructions here:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (5/3/2021-5/9/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: Big news this week–well, this month! A few weeks ago I was elected as a member of the 2023 Caldecott Committee–a huge honor that I still can’t quite wrap my head around. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me! This is the reason for the slow down and eventual stopping of these book posts (for a while anyway!) as I adjust to this new opportunity and abide by the social media rules attached to this commitment.

There is more news too–I’m going to be leaving the amazing Westerville Public Library for a new job! In just a few weeks, I will be the new Youth Manager at Upper Arlington Public Library (not too far away from my current workplace). I’m thrilled for the opportunity, though I am sad to be leaving behind such a great team at WPL. This may also mean that program posts will be slowing down in the immediate future, as I adjust to all of these new changes. There are still five more Book Club in a Bag posts to come (since those kits are already made!) as well as some amazing contributions from my co-bloggers.

Lots of changes and, of course, lots of great books too! A particular shout out to Ana on the Edge — this is a wonderful, wonderful own voices book about a nonbinary main character that needs to be at the top of your to-read stack. See more of this week’s favorites below!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 29 Books Read This Week
    • 16 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (55%)
    • 12 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (41%)
    • 11 Books by Own Voices Authors (38%)

Favorites of the Week:

Book Club in a Bag: Zoey & Sassafras Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11: Book Club in a Bag (also known as Leap Off the Page, since we already have book club kits at our library, and the original name became confusing). This week: Zoey & Sassafras by Asia Citro.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In May, these featured characters or books included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

  • Ages 8-11:
    • Tristan Strong (Kwambe Mbalia)
    • Last Kids on Earth (Max Brallier)
    • Two Truths and a Lie (Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson)
    • Lumberjanes (Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis, Kat Leyh, Faith Erin Hicks)

Check out these previously featured Book Club kits:

Elephant & Piggie (Mo Willems)
Mindy Kim (Lyla Lee)
Yasmin (Saadia Faruqi)
Azaleah Lane (Nikki Shannon Smith)
Wings of Fire (Tui T. Sutherland)
New Kid (Jerry Craft)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Dana Simpson)
Shuri (Nic Stone)

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Zoey & Sassafras Kit

The Zoey & Sassafras Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items (like DIY journals) depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Zoey & Sassafras Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Zoey & Sassafras Kit General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Zoey & Sassafras kit is no different.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF featuring all kit activities here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing readalikes here.

The Zoey & Sassafras readalikes bookmark features these titles:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing discussion questions here.

The Zoey & Sassafras Discussion Questions included:

  • Who is telling the story? How do you know?
  • What does Zoey learn from her first experiment?
  • What is the coolest magical creature that Zoey meets? Which would you like to meet the most?
  • Talk about Dragons and Marshmallows:
    • How did Zoey feel about being in charge of the barn and any magical creatures that might need help while her mom was away? Why do you think she felt this way?
    • Why does Zoey keep a science journal?
    • Zoey’s mom always tells her that in an experiment she needs to change just one thing and keep everything else the same. Why is it important to change just one thing?

This bag also included one swag item: a printable bookmark. I printed these on white cardstock.

Download the printable bookmark here.

Zoey & Sassafras Crafts, Games, and More

First up: make your own Sassafras! This cat craft was inspired by the headband craft from this blog. I recreated their template with a printable cardstock template with some color options to make it work in this kit.

Everything was printed on white cardstock.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the craft template here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the craft instructions here.

The heart of this kit was the DIY Zoey & Sassafras science journal. I had a lot of fun designing this one–though there was more assembly involved than I initially anticipated. Each journal had a handful of opening pages and then four sets of the science journal/experiment pages, followed by some blank paper for more open-ended writing and drawing.

The cover images were printed on white cardstock, cut to size, and attached to slightly larger chipboard. Our industrial holepunch created the holes for the binder rings. The final assembly was left for the participants.

Download the instructions here:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

Download the covers here:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

Download the ready-to-print activity sheets here:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (4/26/2021-5/2/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books:

Picture Books:

Beginning Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Did I get through all of those graphic novels I keep talking about each week? Of course not. I think this particular stack is unlucky–I’m excited to read them, but other things keep popping up that take away from my reading time (and I can read picture books faster…so those become the focus when I have limited time). Look forward to another book club kit post later this week!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 47 Books Read This Week
    • 21 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (45%)
    • 14 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (30%)
    • 11 Books by Own Voices Authors (23%)

Favorites of the Week:

Book Club in a Bag: Pete the Cat Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11: Book Club in a Bag (also known as Leap Off the Page, since we already have book club kits at our library, and the original name became confusing). This week: Pete the Cat.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In May, these featured characters or books included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

  • Ages 8-11:
    • Tristan Strong (Kwambe Mbalia)
    • Last Kids on Earth (Max Brallier)
    • Two Truths and a Lie (Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson)
    • Lumberjanes (Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis, Kat Leyh, Faith Erin Hicks)

Check out these previously featured Book Club kits:

Elephant & Piggie (Mo Willems)
Mindy Kim (Lyla Lee)
Yasmin (Saadia Faruqi)
Azaleah Lane (Nikki Shannon Smith)
Wings of Fire (Tui T. Sutherland)
New Kid (Jerry Craft)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Dana Simpson)
Shuri (Nic Stone)

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Pete the Cat Kit

The Pete the Cat Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items (like buttons) depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Pete the Cat Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Pete the Cat Kit General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Pete the Cat kit is no different.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF featuring all kit activities here.


Unlike other kits, this bookmark does not include every Pete the Cat book, as there are a lot of them!

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing readalikes here.

The Pete the Cat readalikes bookmark features these titles:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing discussion questions here.

The Pete the Cat Discussion Questions included:

  • Talk about Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes:
    • Did Pete’s day go as planned? Why or why not?
    • How would you feel if you stepped in a pile of strawberries, blueberries, or mud?
    • How do you think the large pile of strawberries got there?
    • How can you tell the difference between a big problem and a little problem?
    • Can you re-enact your favorite Pete the Cat story? What happens first? Next?
    • If cats could talk, what would you ask the next cat you meet? What do you think the cat would like to talk about?

This bag also included two swag items. The first is a Pete the Cat Activity Book, collecting activity sheets from the official Pete the Cat website.

Download a printable PDF of the activity booklet here.

Also, I printed stickers on 2.25″ Avery Circle Label Paper:

Download the printable sticker sheet here.

Pete the Cat Crafts, Games, and More

First up: make your own Pete the Cat headband! This craft was inspired by the headband craft from this blog. I recreated it with a printable cardstock template to make it work in this kit.

Everything was printed on white cardstock.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the craft template here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the craft instructions here.

I also included a second craft, Pete the Cat button bracelets. I first saw this craft here, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily buttons can be strung onto a pipe cleaner.

Download the instructions below:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

And finally, I made a Pete the Cat BINGO set:

And download below:

Slideshare not working? Download the Pete the Cat BINGO cards here.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (4/19/2021-4/25/2021).

You might remember me saying that I was getting a giant stack of books from my library–this is that week! I managed to get through this week’s load of the picture books, though I still have many a graphic novel that I hope to read next week. Due to the large number of books in this post, I’m featuring my favorites list at the top this week.

Favorites of the Week:

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books:

Picture Books:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: So much reading this week! I’m trying to move through my to-read pile before July (so I can share these awesome books with all of you!), so I am accessing books from a few different libraries now. That means many more books are moving through my house (and also why Book Review Tuesdays are on hiatus — I simply don’t have time to write reviews for everything I read with the pace I will be keeping for the next few weeks). Listening to another teen thriller now that I’m excited to share next week. Life is keeping me busy, that’s for sure!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 47 Books Read This Week
    • 28 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (60%)
    • 17 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (36%)
    • 14 Books by Own Voices Authors (30%)

Little Free Library Kits: Dragonfly Craft

The highlight of 2020 (and 2021) No Contact Library Programming: Take and Make Kits! I’ve written about this before in other kit-based programs, but my library didn’t initially have the option for curbside-based pickup kits, like many other libraries have adopted. First we mailed kits to patrons, but more recently we have offered drive-thru (and now in-library) kit pickup. All of our take and make kits have required registration through our event calendar. This limits who we are reaching, as patrons have to know to check our event calendar to sign up for a program. One of our new service offerings that has allowed us to actively reach new people are our Little Free Library Kits!

These kits contain materials to make just one craft, though they also have to be physically small. Bags can’t hold anything larger than a half sheet of paper. Each month, we create 200 new bags that are distributed at 14 Little Free Libraries around our community. Even while our building may be closed, our amazing outreach team has been restocking these boxes with books (and now kits) that are always available to our community.

Read about my December picture frame craft here.

For May’s kits, I created a clothespin dragonfly craft and a nature scavenger hunt. I promise, not all dragonflies looked this depressed, but the last set of eye stickers I had for my sample were fairly sad looking.

Each kit included the following materials:

  • 1 clothespin
  • 1 pack of crayons
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • 1 set of eye stickers
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt

Instructions encouraged kids to make their own dragonfly to take on an exploration of their neighborhood as they complete the nature scavenger hunt.

Download the instructions here and the nature scavenger hunt here, or send me an email for the editable file (bookcartqueens@gmail.com).

Are you taking books and make-and-take kits to unique places in your community? Share in the comments!

Book Club in a Bag: Narwhal & Jelly Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11 this month: Book Club in a Bag (also known as Leap Off the Page, since we already have book club kits at our library, and the original name became confusing). First up: Narwhal & Jelly Kit.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In May, these featured characters or books included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

  • Ages 8-11:
    • Tristan Strong (Kwambe Mbalia)
    • Last Kids on Earth (Max Brallier)
    • Two Truths and a Lie (Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson)
    • Lumberjanes (Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis, Kat Leyh, Faith Erin Hicks)

Check out these previously featured Book Club kits:

Elephant & Piggie (Mo Willems)
Mindy Kim (Lyla Lee)
Yasmin (Saadia Faruqi)
Azaleah Lane (Nikki Shannon Smith)
Wings of Fire (Tui T. Sutherland)
New Kid (Jerry Craft)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Dana Simpson)
Shuri (Nic Stone)

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Narwhal & Jelly Kit

The Narwhal & Jelly Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items depending on your budget.

Want to use make an Narwhal & Jelly Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Narwhal & Jelly Kit General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Narwhal & Jelly kit is no different.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF featuring all kit activities here.


Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing readalikes here.

The Narwhal & Jelly readalikes bookmark features these titles:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing discussion questions here.

The Narwhal & Jelly Discussion Questions included:

  • General Questions:
    • What is a Narwhal? Are they real? (Research narwhals to find out!)
    • Who was your favorite character? Why?
    • Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
  • Sample Story Questions: Super Narwhal & Jelly Jolt:
    • How does Narwhal cheer up Jelly? Have you ever cheered up a friend? What did you do?
    • What superpower does Narwhal end up having? How do you know?
    • There are some made-up words in this book that sound like real words. Can you find them? What do you think each word means?

This bag also included some 1″ buttons as swag. Download printable PDFs to make those yourself here.

Narwhal & Jelly Crafts, Games, and More

First up: make your own Narwhal & Jelly! This craft was inspired by the paper plate craft from this awesome blog. I don’t have the time or patience to paint paper plates for 50 take home kits, so I turned this into a printable template.

I realized afterward that the sizes are a bit disproportionate, but the craft still works. Everything was printed on white cardstock.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the craft template here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the craft instructions here.

I also included two printable activity books. One includes a variety of Narwhal & Jelly activity sheets, mostly from the Narwhal & Jelly website:

Download below:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the activity booklet here.

And finally, make your own Narwhal & Jelly comic book. Practice drawing Narwhal before filling in the provided comic panel templates with your own story:

And download below:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the comic activity book here.

Blog Update & It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hi everyone! I’m gotten some very good news regarding the results of the recent ALSC ballot–I’m not 100% sure what I can share yet — but the ALSC Election Results are public, and some of you have reached out with congratulations (thanks!) — so I wanted to give a blog update. (If this feels very vague, I’ll update the post once I’ve gotten the final go ahead to do so. But pending final approval, I’ll be a part of an upcoming ALSC award committee!)

Between the requirements of this new committee work, and a personal desire to slow down the pace of my blogging, you’ll notice some changes to the weekly Book Cart Queens blogging routine:

  • Book Review Tuesdays are going on hiatus.
  • It’s Monday What Are You Reading Posts will continue until July.
  • Expect some new Book Club in a Bag Kit posts really soon, and then a break in program-related posts for a while. While there will be new posts each week, the frequency of posts will slow down.
  • Starting in July, my posts will become more infrequent and not in any way book-related.

BUT–none of that means this blog is going to sleep. Michala will be dropping back in with some awesome teen kits, and a NEW blogger will be joining our team!

Sarah Simpson contributed some of her amazing flannel work a few months ago, and she is going to be joining us as a regular blogger featuring her own programs as well as her extensive knowledge of kids lit.

Welcome Sarah! I’m excited for some Book Cart Queens changes, while still sharing awesome content. More to come, but for now, on with the books!

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (4/12/2021-4/18/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers: