Hoist up the John B’s Sail

Sloop John B: A Pirate’s Tale, by Alan Jardine is a kid friendly book adaptation of the Beach Boys’ song “Sloop John B,” from the classic Pet Sounds album. The picture book is written by an original Beach Boy member, and features a young boy and his grandfather on a pirate’s adventure. Read the wonderfully illustrated book, listen to the new song version on the CD that comes with it, and get in a pirate mood.

60 Year Anniversary of the First Peanuts Comic Strip!

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On October 2nd 1950, after many rejections, the first Peanuts comic strip was published in 7 newspapers. Just 2 years later the first Peanuts book was published. Over the years, the Peanuts have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List with Happiness is a Warm Puppy. I personally always loved that book in particular. It takes you through a number of simple things that make people happy and reminds me of reading it at my grandmas house when I was little. The Peanuts were on the cover of Time Magazine in 1965. That same year, Charles Schulz even won an Emmy for outstanding children's programming for A Charlie Brown Christmas. In later years, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, You're a Good Sport Charlie Brown and Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown. By 1999, before his retirement, more than 2,600 newspapers worldwide were publishing the Peanuts. On February 12, 2000, the day before the final Sunday Peanuts comic strip ran, Charles Schulz died at the age of 77. New Peanuts strips are not being made however, many of these loved classics can be found here at the library. The library also offers a number of Peanuts DVD's such as: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Valentine, This is America, Charlie Brown and many more. Be sure to place holds early for the holiday books and DVDs because they lists grow quickly! I'm happy to see that even after 60 years people still love the Good Ol' Charlie Brown and the Gang!

Take Part in Art -- Self-Portraiture

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Making a self-portrait is almost a psychological exercise -- a way to examine questions of identity, do some introspection into yourself, and think about how you present yourself to the world. It is also an opportunity to be creative and have fun! To explore self-portraiture, you can always come and check out our Youth Art Table downtown, or follow along at home:

Two excellent books on self-portraiture are Just Like Me and Bob Raczka's Here's Looking at Me. To learn more about one of the most prolific self-portrait artists, read Frida Kahlo: The Artist in the Blue House. Grown-ups who want to learn more might be interested in Frances Borzello's Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits.

Making your own self-portrait is amazingly easy. You can use any medium and any style -- all you need is some paper and a mirror. The fun part is deciding how you want to look. You can draw yourself with a pet, with a friend, taking part in your favorite hobby, wearing a costume...or any other way you like! For ideas about how to make different kinds of self portraits, check out the projects on this page by Incredible Art. Grown-ups who want to make self-portraits can check out Mixed Media Self-Portraits by Cate Prato.

Literacy Series -- Nature Literacy

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Naturalistic Intelligence is the most recently identified of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. A rather under-appreciated form of intelligence in our technological modern world, Naturalistic Intelligence consists of the ability to recognize patterns, relationships and categories in nature, essentially, the ability to “read” nature and be “nature literate.”

Today, we tend to live farther and farther from nature, although research suggests that access to nature, and even dirt itself may be vital to human health and happiness. Few would argue that nature is essential to human survival -- and we need nature literate people to give us more balanced ways of living on earth.

So what can you do to foster nature literacy? Here are some easy (and fun!) suggestions:

1. Visit a natural history museum: U of M’s Exhibit Museum of Natural History is a great local resource – and guess what? We have a Museum Adventure Pass!

2. Go on a nature walk: Ann Arbor has many excellent parks available for this purpose – Matthei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum for example. And look! We have a Museum Adventure Pass for them. Also, if you act fast, you can take a hike at Greenview Park with us on September 13th.

3. Feed the birds: What better way to observe wildlife than in the comfort of your own backyard? Check out The Bird Lover's Ultimate How-To Guide for some bird feeding and watching tips. To see more birds, and other types of wildlife, too, check out the Howell Nature Center. Oh yeah, and we have a Museum Adventure Pass for them, too.

4. Read about famous naturalists: Like Jane Goodall, George Washington Carver, Rachel Carson, John Muir and Charles Darwin, to name a few.

5. Explore nature yourself!
Try these books for tips:
Hands on Nature
Sharing Nature With Children
Teaching Kids to Love the Earth

The Odious Ogre

The creators of the long-loved classic The Phantom Tollbooth have gotten back together after an almost 50-year span apart to create a new picture book, the Odious Ogre. Written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, the new book is perhaps simpler, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's only for younger children.

In a NPR interview, Feiffer stated, "I wanted to do the biggest, meanest, filthiest ogre in the history of ogreship — and one who could barely fit on the page. And he does barely fit on the page."

In the same interview, Juster comments on the story itself: "The story means what it means to you. That's the way I look at all these stories. There's no one moral, unless you want to make one for yourself."

To see excerpts, visit NPR.

Take Part in Art -- Super Cool Stamp Art

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Printing has been around since about the year 200AD, and was in use for centuries in the Middle East, Europe and Asia -- especially Japan -- before spreading around the world. Printmaking is still alive and well today, and many artists use a variety of printing techniques to create unique and beautiful works of art.

If you want to try your hand at printing at home with your kids, the most convenient method is the humble rubber stamp. If you happen to have some rubber stamps lying around the house from your scrap-booking projects, it is time to take them out! Try combining the images to make a story. What patterns can your child make with the stamps? Can your child combine stamping and drawing to make a picture? For more rubber stamp ideas, read Cool Rubber Stamp Art by Pamela Price.

Of course, if you have no stamps at all, fear not. TLC Family and Kinderart have plenty of suggestions for making your own stamps and printing blocks. For more ideas read Joe Rhatigan's Stamp It!, The Usborne Book of Printing and Printing by Michelle Powell.

For any grown-ups who want to try printmaking and stamp art, try The Instant Print Maker by Melvyn Petterson, Creative Stamping by Sherrill Kahn, and, for some history, The Woman Who Discovered Printing by Timothy Barrett.

Also, if you act fast, you can see some cool prints at the University of Michigan Museum of Art's exhibit Sister Corita: The Joyous Revolutionary. Admission is free!

Literacy Series -- Numeracy

Numeracy is to math what literacy is to reading -- understanding the components that make up the mathematical "language." Numeracy involves understanding the different kinds of numbers -- decimals, fractions, percentages, etc. -- and being able to use them to solve problems.

If math was not your favorite subject, don't worry -- encouraging numeracy in your child is surprisingly easy. Here are some quick tips:

1. Drive -- How far have you gone, and how far do you still need to go? How fast are you going and how soon will you get there? And, a scary question, how much will it cost to fill the gas tank?

2. Shop -- Which product is the better deal? How much does each product cost per ounce? If you still use real money, how much will your change be?

3. Cook -- Double or halve a recipe. How do you change the measurements? Read The Math Chef by Joan D'Amico for more ideas.

4. Play Games -- Let your child keep score when you play games or sports. Dominoes and card games are good for recognizing and matching numbers, while Battleship is a great introduction to graphing.

5 Pay Attention -- How do you use math in your life? Share your daily calculations with your child.

For more tips and ideas, try these resources:
This page from the Peel District School Board has several pages of tips -- scroll down to where it says "Help Your Child Boost Math Skills."
The US Department of Education provides its own list of activities for preschool through grade 5.

Cindy Neuschwander's "Sir Cumference" books are a great way to learn about geometry.
For fans of One-Minute Mysteries, try 65 Short Stories You Solve With Math!.
Amy Axelrod and Greg Tang, who have written many, many books about math.

Good Listening: Chasing Vermeer

If a driving trip is on the horizon this summer, a good BOCD to keep everyone in your family entertained might be Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett. It's a smart, entertaining story about two kids who solve an art mystery. (Apparently the movie is due out in 2011.) If that doesn't appeal, browse here in a treasure trove of 475 youth BOCDs at the library.

Summer of DIY @ AADL, for the Kids

This summer at AADL our goal is to MAKE IT HAPPEN, with a ton of DIY and MAKE programs for all ages. As always, there are many craft and DIY related books to help get you on your way with some new projects. Here are a few to get the kids started:

Kid Made Modern, by Todd Oldham is new, hip, colorful book, that talks about basic craft supplies, and has oodles of projects to work on, including vases, rugs, printed t-shirts, duct tape totes, pillows, zines, printmaking, jewelry, forts, and more. All are easy enough for children to work on. D.I.Y. Kids is another great find. This books features a lot of crafts and projects that recycle and repurpose supplies you probably have lying around. You can make toys, kites, castles, decorated boxes, clothing, accessories, and beyond. And for the younger kid set, ArtStarts for Little Hands! Fun & Discoveries for 3 to 7 Year Olds has simple projects for kids to make out of every day household finds. Help those little ones make sailboats, animals, cars, trains, puzzles, and more.

Happy making!

Jenga Tournament!

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How high can you build the tower of wood bricks before it tumbles down? Come to the Pittsfield Branch Library on Tuesday, June 22nd from 2 - 3 p.m. and test your Jenga skills. We'll provide the games, you bring the steady hands.

Prizes at the tournament will be awarded to the top three finishers in two categories: grades K-2 and 3-5. As with all summer programs, we go by the grade you will be entering in the fall.

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