The Children's Room Blog

Archive for the ‘Of the Moment’ Category

This wailed recently in the Children’s Room as a loyal patron, unable to locate a favorite book, was shown by a librarian how the Graphic Novels have been reorganized (by series). And in an attempt to make your life easier, not harder, we have also reworked the CDs.

Maybe you weren’t even aware that we have music CDs in the Children’s Room, tucked away as they were in a bookcase in the AV room. In an attempt to improve their visibility and browsability (if it’s not a real word yet, it will be soon), we have moved them from the dark, cave-like bookcase they formerly resided in, to the well-lit wall opposite the elevator. We have also labeled them with categories like Classical, Folk, Holiday, Lullaby, Pop/Rock, Soundtrack, and World. Come take a look and a listen!

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You can get your own library card. Bring your adult* with you to the Children’s Services Department, and make sure that he or she has an ID, with proof of address. Tell the librarian that you want to get your own library card. She will give you a form to fill out (it’s OK if your adult helps you with that part) and then the librarian will give you your very own blue Minuteman library card. You will sign your name on the back with a pen!

You can use your card to check out books, CDs, DVDs, and puppets. In case you didn’t know, librarians always love to talk about books if you need some ideas for what to read or listen to. You can also use your card to borrow toys, puzzles, and games to play with while you’re at the library. Oh, and you can also use it to log onto a computer while you’re at the library. I guess what I’m getting at here is, to quote Lilian Jackson Braun, “A library card is the start of a lifelong adventure.” What are you waiting for?

*Parent or guardian

Five-year-old Maisie, proud owner of a brand spanking new library card!

If you signed up for Dream Quest Summer Reading, come in this week to tell us about your last Quest, decorate and take home your Dream Quest Chart, and choose a book to keep from the red cart.

Oh, and even if you didn’t participate in Dream Quest this summer, come visit us anyway because we like to see you.

Summer Reading Stars

Some of the favorite books read this summer shine on our wall.

This year, the Robbins and Fox Libraries have selected John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars as the Community Read.  (Click here for more details on this incredible book.)  During the fall, both libraries will be hosting oodles of events related to this fantastic book.

And guess what!  One of the most FUN parts of this year’s Community Read is a writing contest.  We’re offering it to both kids and adults.  If this sounds like something you’re interested in, READ ON:

Community Read Writing Contest 411

In The Fault In Our Stars, a major plot point is that Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, stops in mid-sentence. After years of wondering how it ends and wanting to know what happened to the characters, she takes extreme steps to find answers to her questions.

Do you have a book that leaves you hanging in a similar way? Or perhaps your favorite book has an ending that you just don’t like. Here’s your chance to write a better ending!

As part of this year’s Community Read, we’re sponsoring a writing contest. Submit a new ending or epilogue to a book for a chance to win a prize.

Age categories are as follows:

Adult (18+): 1500 words maximum

Teen (high school): 1500 words maximum

Grades 6-8: 1000 words maximum

Grades 3-5: 1000 words maximum

Up to 2nd grade: 1000 words maximum

Entries will be judged by a panel of community members. Winners will be announced in October and will have an opportunity to read their winning entries at the prize reception. Entries will be available for the public to read, but you have the option of withholding your name from the public copy (see entry form.)

How to enter:

Entries must be typed.

Submit paper entries at the Reference Desk, Children’s Department, or the Fox branch. Or submit your entry online here.

Deadline: October 1.

Good luck and have fun!

Many of you know that we have Toys and Puzzles that you can check out to play with in the library. Most of them are geared toward the younger set (2 – 5 years old). Well, now we are officially making available Board Games suitable for a range of ages (2 – 10) to play while you are at the library! The way it works is you check our list of games and ask the librarian to borrow one. She hands you the game, and in exchange, you leave your library card – or something equally valuable – AS IF any such thing exists! Take the game and find a comfy, play inducing spot (floor, table, floor under table); play. Finish playing, put all the pieces and directions back into the box, and return the game to the librarian, who will return your library card to you.

  • Baby Bird Game
  • Battleship
  • Boggle
  • Cadoo
  • Candy Land
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Children of the World
  • Chutes & Ladders
  • Clue
  • Green Eggs & Ham
  • Harry Potter
  • In a Pickle
  • Lotto (Alphabet, Numbers or Pictures)
  • Mancala
  • Monopoly Junior
  • Mouse Trap
  • Parcheesi
  • Race to the Roof
  • Rush Hour
  • Scrabble
  • Sorry
  • Stratego
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Trouble
  • Uncle Wiggly
  • UpWords
  • Yahtzee

As many of you know, children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak passed away today at the age of 83.  In a career that spanned more than 60 years, Sendak created some of the most beloved picture books ever written, including 1963’s ground-breaking Where the Wild Things Are.

Click here to read Margalit Fox’s wonderful Sendak tribute, which appears in today’s New York Times.

If you’re like me and would like to celebrate Sendak’s amazing career by reading some of his works, here are a few titles that the Robbins and Fox Libraries own:

Bumble-ardy (2011).  Bumble-ardy is a mischievous nine-year-old pig who has never had a birthday party… Until one crazy day full of hijinx!

Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1967).  This is Sendak’s tribute to his beloved dog, Jennie.  In the book, Jennie is a terrier who is not content with having everything, so she ventures out into the great wide world.

In the Night Kitchen (1970).  In this popular and controversial book, Mickey has a dream journey through a surreal baker’s kitchen.

Outside Over There (1981).  This tells the story of a girl named Ida, who must rescue her baby sister after she’s stolen by goblins.

The Nutshell Library (1962).  This is actually a treasury that consists of four different (tiny!) books, including Alligators All Around, Pierre, One Was Johnny, and Chicken Soup with Rice.

We’ll miss you, Maurice!

I love The Hunger Games.

I do!  These books are as wonderful to me as a giant cupcake full of dancing ponies and lattes and Saturday mornings.  I don’t care how many times I have read these three books (plenty), I will always sit down and re-read and re-imagine and re-fall in wonder with Katniss and Peeta and Finnick and, of course, the Arena itself.

Also, this was my Halloween costume:

Yes, that is me, dressed as Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen, complete with a handmade bow fashioned from a basket handle and twine, arrows made with multi-colored feathers, a squirrel puppet in my belt, head wound, and Mockingjay pin.  The only un-Katniss thing about me is my overjoyed expression, because, well, Katniss is not a very happy young lady.

So you can imagine that I am beyond excited about the Hunger Games movie that’s coming out in ONE MONTH AND ONE DAY.  (I am planning to re-wear my Halloween costume to the premiere, naturally.)  You may know some people– maybe your own children– who are excited about this movie, too.  And you may be looking for someone to let you in on what on earth these stories are about.  Look no further!  I am here to guide you in your learning.

So without further random exposition, here is a concise summary of everything you need to know about the Hunger Games, but were afraid to ask.  Please note that I have done my best NOT to include huge plot spoilers.

Question One: I know that The Hunger Games is a children’s book, but a lot of adults are talking about it, too.  Who is this book for, anyways?

Well, dear readers, let me first quickly clear up some confusion.  The Hunger Games is actually a trilogy of books written by Suzanne Collins, the first of which is also named The Hunger Games.  The second book is entitled Catching Fire, and the third is Mockingjay.  The first book was published in 2008, and the second and third books were released in 2009 and 2010. There will be no further books added to this series.

Collins wrote these books for a young adult audience.  Most of the book’s main characters are between the ages of 12-18, the same age as her intended readership.  However, this doesn’t mean that adults can’t read and thoroughly enjoy the books!  In fact, I URGE adults to read these books.  Like many children’s and young adult books, they are as complex, thought-provoking, and exciting as many highly-regarded adult books.

Some children younger than 12 have also read and enjoyed The Hunger Games.  If you do have a young child who is interested in reading these, I recommend that you read the books first, because they (as you’ll see in my quick plot summary) contain a lot of violence.  Even if you decide that your child can handle these books, you may also want to consider reading them aloud together or listening to the FANTASTIC audiobook version, in case they have questions or want to discuss concerns they have about the plot.

Question Two: So… are these books about really hungry people?  

Actually, no.  Well, kind of… but that’s not really the main focus.  However, waaaaaay back in 2008 when my amazing publishing pal recommended that I give the first book a try, that is exactly what I thought.  However, these books actually tell the story of sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a country called Panem, which is located in the former United States.  Panem is a totalitarian society made up of 12 districts and governed by the Capitol.  Each year, in an effort to exercise their power over the districts, the Capitol holds an event called The Hunger Games.  Each district must send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in these games, which are a televised battle in which all participants fight to the death until one survivor remains.

Yikes.  The plot always sounds so heavy when I describe it.

Anyhow, the story follows Katniss, a destitute member of District 12, who ends up (I won’t tell you how, in an attempt not to spoil too much) participating in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.  Her male District 12 counterpart is a young man named Peeta Mellark, whom she has vaguely known since childhood.

Okay, I’ll stop here– I think this sets the scene adequately.

Question Three: I haven’t heard this much buzz over books since Twilight came out.  Be honest– are these books like Twilight?

Lots of folks are asking this question.  Although (like Twilight) two boys compete for Katniss’ affections, this (unlike Twilight) is not the main focus of the plot.  Unlike Twilight’s Bella, Katniss does not seek to define herself through her relationships with either of the boys.  Instead, she is fiercely independent– independent to a fault, in many cases.  She is too focused on the survival of her family to spend much time thinking about love (and crushes), which she deems as trivial.  For those of you concerned about younger readers, the romance in these books is only hinted at, never overtly stated.

Question Four: How on earth did Suzanne Collins get the idea to write books like these?

Collins says that reality programming served as one of the main inspirations for The Hunger Games.  Although some people have claimed that the warlike brutality and repression that she describes serve as allegories for the adolescent experience, Collins claims that this was not her intention.  In a New York Times article* published in 2011, Collins claims, “I don’t write about adolescence.  I write about war. For adolescents.”

Question Five: Laura, why do you (and everyone else) like these books SO MUCH?  What’s all the fuss about?

The Hunger Games are the most popular example of a current trend in young adult and middle grade literature: dystopian fiction.  Basically, these kinds of books profile an anti-utopian future, in which characters are governed by some kind of repressive social systems.  As I previously mentioned, some children and teens may gravitate towards the Hunger Games because they see parallels with the repression that they experience in their own lives.  (This 2010 New Yorker article* does an excellent job of investigating this theory.)

However, on a more basic level, The Hunger Games books have all of the ingredients that make up a fantastic adventure story: non-stop action, multi-layered characters, struggles between good and evil– and the many shades of gray in between.  There are cliffhangers, plot twists galore, and even a gnarly old tomcat named Buttercup!  Through the progression of the three books in the series, readers also get to see an (in my opinion) original character arc in Katniss, as her ruthless and strong persona devolves in the face of all of the suffering that she undergoes at the hands of the Capitol.  Like the best children’s and young adult literature, these books do not underestimate or talk down to young readers, instead taking us on thrilling journey that’s very hard to forget.

Question Six: Okay.  You’ve convinced me!  I want to read these books.  Where can I find copies?

The Minuteman Library Network owns several copies of these books… but they are in high demand, especially with the movie coming out next month!  You can either place a hold on them using your online account, or ask the librarian to do so the next time that you’re in the library.  And, as I mentioned before, listening to the audio versions of these books is an amazing experience in its own right– it you haven’t done so, give it a try!

And let the games begin!

*If you do intend to read these articles, please be aware that they DO include some plot spoilers.