The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

If you are looking for an Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz read alike with a fairy twist you should certainly give Catherynne Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making a try.

The story begins with a 12 year old girl named September. September is an ordinary girl from Omaha, Nebraska who longs to play a special part in an adventure. After a character from Fairyland called The Green Wind steals her away one night, she finally gets her chance to experience some excitement. She meets many fantastical characters and makes some good friends along the way, including A-Through-L, a wyvern who believes his father to have been a library and therefore considers himself a "Wyverary."

The writing is superb and Valente does an excellent job of painting vivid pictures of fantastical scenes and situations with her words. If you enjoy The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making don't miss the sequel The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There where September returns to Fairyland for a brand new adventure.

Get an Inside Look at the White House...When Audrey Met Alice

Ever wonder what life is like for a kid in the White House? Then check out When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens.

Thirteen-year-old Audrey Rhodes became the First Daughter when her mother was elected the first female President of the United States. Sadly, life in the White House is far more frustrating than fun. After her last hope of making friends at her new school is ruined by a security breach, Audrey feels alone and miserable. Then she discovers the diary of Alice Roosevelt, eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt and a former First Daughter herself. Alice seems to understand exactly how Audrey is feeling, and while reading about the lively and rebellious Alice – whose antics included taking her pet garter snake, Emily Spinach, to dinner parties and sneaking a boy into the White House by dressing him up like a girl – Audrey decides to try out a little of Alice’s rebellious spirit. By channeling Alice, Audrey is eventually able to stand up for a cause both she and Alice believe in – marriage equality.

I have been a big fan of Alice Roosevelt ever since reading the wonderful picture-book biography What To Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley, and so I loved getting to learn more about Alice and her White House adventures. Readers who enjoy spunky female characters and kids who stand up for what they believe in will definitely enjoy meeting Alice for themselves.

Cozy Classics

If you ever get tired of checking out the same board books about shapes and colors, you can round out your board book reading with Cozy Classics. Each of these adorable little books feature classic stories such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Each classic tale is condensed into 12 words that relate to a child’s world such as “friend,” “mean,” or “chase.” On the page opposite each word appears a needle-felted illustration that provides a visual for the plot. These illustrations are gorgeous in their detail and their beauty alone is a good reason to check out these books.

Parents who know the original stories will enjoy these books and may also appreciate the opportunity to introduce their little ones to such great works of literature so early.

“Enchanting… a service to literate families everywhere” ~ The Wall Street Journal
“Capture[s] the imagination of young readers” ~ Reading Rainbow

If you like the concept of introducing your young children to classic literature but the Cozy Classics aren't appealing to you, try a BabyLit book. These books teach concepts such as opposites and the weather with the backdrop of stories such as Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights.

Art Table: Chalk It Up!

Hey kiddos! Next time you’re in the youth area downtown visit the art table and see what’s new! This month we’re working with chalk. We have colorful sidewalk chalk and chalkboards ready for you to create a masterpiece, erase it, and start all over!

Chalk artist Julian Beever uses a technique called anamorphosis in his amazing 3D effect large scale chalk drawings. To read more about his process and see samples, check out the book Pavement chalk artist: the three-dimensional drawings of Julian Beever.

"Oldies but Goodies!"

There are so many fun kids’ books out there from recent years that sometimes we forget about the great older books that are still fantastic reads today! If you or your children are looking for something new to read, why not try something “old?”

Newbery Medal winner The Westing Game, first published in 1978, is a wonderfully mind-twisting tale of a group of people—all potential heirs to the inheritance of an eccentric millionaire—who must race one another to solve the mystery of his death before one of them can claim the money. The fun quirks of the different characters keep the book interesting and funny, and make this a great story for older elementary readers.

A Long Way From Chicago, published in 1998, and its companion, A Year Down Yonder (2000), both by Richard Peck, are fantastic read-aloud stories and audio books. The Newbery Medal-winning A Long Way From Chicago is really a series of short stories, told from the perspective of a young boy who visits his wild grandmother with his sister during the Great Depression. Their visits produce all sorts of experiences and memories and make for a wonderful, heart-warming story that has stuck with me since I first had the book read to me in, well, 1998.

The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) opens with a terribly bored boy who can never find anything to do that amuses him. Arriving home from school one day to find a mysterious gift in his bedroom, he is ultimately transported to a magical land where he has grand adventures and even goes on a quest to save two princesses trapped in a castle in the air! Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, this is an endlessly entertaining story with lots of great puns and wordplay.

Other lovely “older” reads are: All-of-a-Kind Family (1951), From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967), Our Only May Amelia (1999), Harriet the Spy (1964), The Borrowers (1953), and Bud Not Buddy (1999).

Roar said Dragon!

This week in Ms. Amanda’s preschool storytimes we read books about dragons! Dragons who breathe fire and eat castles in The Paper Bag Princess, dragons who are looking for a friend in A Friend For Dragon, and dragons who count and make way too much noise in One Drowsy Dragon. Which shows you that not all dragons are as fierce as Smaug.

For more picture books featuring dragons check out this nice list. And to see what else we've been reading at storytimes this summer check out this list of books.

Mo’s Mustache

The world needs mo mustaches and Mo’s Mustache by Ben Clanton is a charming and funny new picture book that brings us MANY stylish and silly ‘staches. The awesome Mo is a trendsetter and his ‘stache styles are copied by many and Mo worries that he won’t stand out anymore. Can you be unique and still have the same mustache as those around you?!

Does YOUR ‘stache stand out?! For Mo and other mustache picture books here’s a handy dandy list for you.

Scary Murder Mystery – With Ghosts!

In the mood for something spooky this summer? Then give The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud a try.

This unusual murder mystery is set in an alternative England where ghosts have grown more and more active in the last few decades and Psychic Detection Agencies like Lockwood & Co. employ talented young agents to track down and destroy the sources of these hauntings. When Lucy and her fellow Lockwood & Co. agents uncover an unsolved murder while searching for the source of a haunting, they decide to solve the mystery with the help of the victim’s locket…but someone is out to make sure they never solve this case.

Full of adventure and genuinely scary encounters with ghosts, this story may be written for children but it is not for the faint of heart. Recommended for fans of Alvin Schwartz’s scary stories or older readers who enjoyed Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Audiobook fans may also wish to check out the audiobook of The Screaming Staircase, which was named one of ALA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014.

Hogwarts for Fairy Tales

School may be out for the summer, but this summer is the perfect time to discover The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

At this school, students learn how to be fairy-tale heroes and villains, with good students (known as Evers) attending classes like princess etiquette and animal communication and evil students (known as Nevers) tackling subjects like uglification and henchman training. The story focuses on two new students, best friends Sophie and Agatha, who seem to have been mixed up in the wrong schools. As golden-haired Sophie struggles in the School for Evil, trying to convince everyone she really belongs in the School for Good, foul-tempered Agatha just wants to escape the School for Good and return home.

Fans of the Harry Potter series will enjoy this new twist on a magical boarding school, complete with its own annual traditions, mythical creatures and unusual headmaster, while fans of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm will appreciate its exploration of the darker side of fairy tales.

Bawk Bawk!

Think CHICKENS!

Last week Ms. Amanda told CHICKEN stories during her storytimes.
We heard about a hen with a surprise in Bumpety Bump, a hen searching for the best place to lay an egg in Mama Hen’s Big Day, and a little book that featured the littlest Little Chick.

Here’s a wonderful, new CHICKEN book to roost with, Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure. The beautiful illustrations tell the story of a chicken named Peggy who was happy living in countryside and one day she gets swooped off and lands in the big city! It’s a darling story about getting out of the nest once in a while and enjoying new things, while yet still enjoying that special place you call home.

If you still have chickens on the brain like I do, and are playing the SUMMER GAME, don’t forget to visit Director Josie Parker’s office downtown and look for the CHICKENS– it’s a CODE worth 1,000 points!

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