The Children's Room Blog

Archive for November 2011

This review pays homage to the release of Martin Scorcese’s Hugo (based on Brian Selznick’s award-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret)… but not in the way that you might think!  No no no, I haven’t seen the movie yet, mainly because I never ever GO to the movies, although I recently did see Vision Quest, which I think may have come out in 1985.  So I am approximately 30 years behind the times on the movie scene.  But anyhow, this is not a Hugo movie review.  This is actually a review of Brian Selznick’s new book, Wonderstruck, which was released this fall.

Selznick, B. (2011). Wonderstruck. New York: Scholastic Press.

Although this book came out in September, I was JUST able to get my hands on a copy last week.  Yes, even librarians need to put holds on books, and yes, Brian Selznick’s work is that popular!  And for good reason.  Like Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck is a delight in both the visual and textual senses.

In Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick spins two tales: one (told completely in text) is the story of Ben, a young boy growing up in Minnesota in 1977, and one (told completely in pictures) is the story of Rose, a deaf girl who lives in Hoboken in 1927.  The stories unfurl in parallel fashion, as both Ben and Rose undergo eerily similar trials.  Because of these shared experiences, the breaks between Ben and Rose’s stories are never choppy.  Instead, Selznick creates a natural flow between the text of Ben’s tale and the drawings of Rose’s.

The main characters are rich and sympathetic.  It’s important to note that after Ben is struck by lightning during a violent storm, he becomes deaf like Rose.  This character element works well for Selznick’s unique format– it emphasizes Ben and Rose’s internal monologues and amplifies their isolation from their families.  It will also provide children with a good introduction to the realities and experiences that members of the deaf community undergo.

At the risk of being a giant SPOILER, I’ll refrain from discussing more of the plot elements of this book.  But I will say this: in Wonderstruck, Selznick quietly and poetically tells a story that will both break your heart and make it sing.  Highly recommended for children ages nine and older.


FOOD.  It’s delicious!  It’s nutritious!  And in case you weren’t aware, it’s all over some of our very favorite children’s books!  In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we thought that it would be timely (and delicious) to share some of our favorite children’s books that do a wonderful job showcasing delicious, delicious food!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett

Welcome to Chewandswallow, a town with some… unique weather patterns.  At breakfast, the sky rains pancakes and syrup!  At lunch, it’s soup!  And dinner brings anything from mashed potatoes to peas to MEATBALLS!  And life is ideal until the weather takes a turn for the worse and the food becomes GIGANTIC.  Read on to see how the citizens of Chewandswallow cope with the threat of massive hamburger and brussel sprout storms!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

This is the classic story of a very hungry little guy who wants to devour EVERYTHING until the day he eats just too much.  With a focus on counting, fruit, the days of the week, and the life cyle of a butterfuly, Carle’s beautifully illustrated book will entertain young and older audiences alike!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

Willy Wonka’s enormous chocolate factory is home to some of the most delicious-sounding treats of all time: fizzy lemonade swimming pools, invisible chocolate bars for eating in class, strawberry-juice water pistols, and (everyone’s favorite) Everlasting Gobstoppers… My oh my!  Perfect for children of all ages, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a one-of-a-kind delight that’s stuffed with whimsical fantasy, childhood justice, and candy candy CANDY.

Strega Nona, by Tomi DePaola

Strega Nona is the source for a lot of amazing things in her little town, like cures and secret potions.  But she is best known for her splendid (and magical) pasta pot, which presents quite the temptation to Strega’s helper, Big Anthony.   He just can’t resist using the pot to feed the whole town.  If only he knew how to make it stop producing pasta– and prevent the pasta flood that results!

Raggedy Ann Stories, by Johnny Gruelle

This is a CLASSIC book… meaning that it was published a LONG time ago! The fun part about it is that after Raggedy Ann and Andy have their adventures, they have to pause for parties always includes ice cream, cake and cookies!  Delicious!

Bread and Jam for Frances, by Lillian and Russell Hoban

This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite picture books– it’s perfect for picky AND adventurous eaters!  Also, I really wish that I had little salt and pepper shakers that I could pack in my lunchbox. That Frances was so lucky!

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, by Michael Kaplan

…so much she is going to marry it!  That must be SOME cake!  However, one of the most important lessons that Betty needs to learn is patience and self-control when yummy treats beckon.  With lively illustrations and delightful prose, this newly published book is one that your family won’t want to miss!

How To Eat Fried Worms, by Thomas Rockwell

Disgusting, right? What would you do if your friends dared you to eat 15 worms in 15 days? Billy fries them, puts them in sandwiches and makes special sauces for his worms. What recipes would you dream up?

Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder

In what is perhaps the king of all food books, Laura Ingalls Wilder describes her husband Almanzo’s childhood in 19th century upstate New York.  Almanzo’s childhood seems to center around food– a regular weekday dinner consists of roasted meats, stews, sweet and savory pies, creamy mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables, and other delicious treats!  Not to mention what happens AFTER dinner: little Almanzo devours pies, doughnuts, cakes, apples, apple cider and popcorn.  Every day seems to be Thanksgiving at Almanzo’s house!

Mud Pies and Other Recipes, by Marjorie Winslow

Clear directions for delicacies such as stuffed sea shells, roasted rocks, fried water along with lovely line drawings to inspire young chefs.

We hope you enjoy these delicious recommendations!  And if you have a favorite food book, just let us know in the comments.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The FIRST official trailer for the Hunger Games has ARRIVED!  We are so excited!

“If we didn’t have libraries, many people thirsty for

knowledge would dehydrate.”

— Megan Joe Tetrick, Age 12

Welcome to the most exciting place on earth– or at least in Arlington: the Robbins and Fox Libraries’ Children’s Room Blog!  This is the place to come for information on our book recommendations for kids of all ages, thoughts on reading and literacy, recaps from our exciting events, and fun fun fun!  We are so excited that you have found your way here.

First and foremost, we would like to introduce ourselves, the ladies of the Robbins and Fox Libraries.

Pam Watts-Flavin, Head of Children’s Services

Hi! Welcome to the Robbins and Fox libraries blog site. My name is Pam and I’ve been the Head of Children’s Services for a few years but I’ve worked at the library for 15 years!

My favorite place has always been the children’s room of a public library so I love my job – it’s the best! I get to spend all day, every day finding new and creative ways to match kids with books (and books with kids).

When I’m not at the library, I’m reading (children’s books always), hanging out with my kids (they’re mostly grown up), making weird sculptures or teaching classes at Lesley University.  I can’t tell you what my favorite book is because, well, there’s so many of them! (Ok, ok.. Elizabeth Enright’s “The Four-Story Mistake” is up there as well as pretty much anything by E. L. Konigsburg.) But I can tell you to watch the blog for reviews and posts about some of the latest and greatest that we come across. Come back and come in to visit us soon.

Laura Lintz, Branch Librarian

Children’s books and reading have been my favorite things for as long as I can remember.  As the new Branch Librarian at Fox Library, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share the joy and magic of books with you and the children in your life.   When I am not reading my favorite stories, you can find me brainstorming my next fun craft (usually involving felt or construction paper), running the streets and bike path of Arlington (usually wearing a fluorescent orange coat), or indulging in a delicious cup of coffee (usually at Quebrada).  My favorite children’s book?  One timeless classic that comes to mind is Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.  It has it all: lollipop dragons, delicious birthday cakes, and a very mischievous little Ramona!

Sophia Sayigh, Children’s Librarian

When I had young children, we spent a lot of time in the Children’s Room at Robbins.  I am thrilled to have a perfectly valid excuse to continue to spend a lot of my time in the Children’s Room, surrounded by books and children, even though my own children are now grown.  I am very much enjoying leading story time on Wednesday morning for 3 – 5-year-olds and their caretakers, where we read stories, sing songs, move our bodies, do a simple craft, and get to know each other better!  I hope you will join us.

When not at the library, I can be found reading (surprise surprise!), preferably while cuddling with my dog, fussing over a crossword puzzle, trying a new recipe (both the cooking and the eating parts), walking around town (with the dog again), and spending time with family and friends.  I love a running joke and a good laugh.

Liza Halley, Russell Fund Coordinator

I love bringing fun, enriching programming to babies, families, youth, and teens in Arlington.  I have been with the library since 2006.  Outside of work, I devour books, write poetry, enjoy hiking, and love hanging with my two lively boys, friends, and family.  Some of my favorite children’s books include: The Wind in the Willows, When We Were Six, Elizabeth’s Shopping Spree by David Omar White, Hailstones and Halibut Bones (poetry), Pog (about a monster who is a afraid of kids), Elijah’s Violin (a collection of Jewish folk tales), and Bone by Jeff Smith.

Well, folks, that’s all for now!  Please do stay tuned for more excitement here on the Children’s Room Blog!

Visit the Robbins Library online!