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Sep 5

It’s in the (Library) Bag

Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

As I cautiously wield my way through the library with books piled to almost disaster, my friend (and favorite librarian) stops me. She speaks to me through the precariously stacked books so that all I hear is a mumble, and then my weight shifts quickly as I feel one more book added to the top of my pile.

She must have just recommended a book to me, I think to myself.

“Thanks!” I say through my wall of words and stories and continue on the path to the checkout counter.

The book turned out to be Press Here by Herve Tullet.  Press Here invites young and old to interact with what seems to be a few simple circles of color.  I don’t mean that it has flaps to lift or tags to pull.  It’s just you and the book.  As you press, tap, and blow on the colors, the circles multiply, get tossed about, and even get lost in the dark.

When my husband commented, “It should be an app!”, I hit him.  With an app you expect objects to move around and lights to flicker,  the imagination behind this gem is that the author/illustrator makes those things happen with the help of a reader and some paper, no electronics necessary.

When I find an unfamiliar author, I can’t help but look to see if he/she has more books waiting for my eager hands.  This author did not disappoint.

Today, our library trip produced The Book with a Hole.  One reading led to giggles which led to a flurry of ideas, which led to LEGO sculptures, and finally a few of our own “what can we make with a hole in the middle of the page?” drawings.

“What are you going to feed it?”


“Did she eat too much too?”


“Who’s the king of the castle?”

“What is he holding?”


“What does its face look like?”


“You dare put your hand through the hole?”


“Make his tongue.”

“Make the tallest building.”


“Make the statue.”


“You could put your own picture here.”


“Can you put on a play?”

Activities you could do with this book:

  • Only read a few pages a day, savoring each new activity.
  • Create you own black and white drawing with sharpie and cardstock centered around a hole (it doesn’t have to be a circle, it could be a different shape).
  • Create your own book with card stock and a whole in the middle (make the whole a square for a different challenge).
  • Bring the book to a group of friends and enjoy together!


“What sad song is she singing?”

Mar 2

From My Library Bag to Yours

Posted on Friday, March 2, 2012

My very good friend turned to me and said, “Let’s go to your favorite place.”

Did she know the location of my favorite place? Did I know? Two places came to mind.

“What’s my favorite place?” I asked.

“ThriftSmart,” she answered confidently.

It was one of the two.

“Yes, and the library.”

Both places mean surprises.

When I enter Thriftsmart I don’t know if I’ll find a skirt with just the right “me” in it, a favorite author rudely discarded but then lovingly delivered into my hands, or a pair of green rain boots for our three year old. I do know that only one out of fifty times have I walked out without at least one little surprise that put a smile on my face.

When I enter the library I also know there’s a 98% chance I’m walking out with a fresh, inspiring find. And I usually find it on the hold shelf.

I always get my holds first.

I walk to the hold shelf and try to calm my anxious hands as I look for the section with my name. And then I see them, those little white slips of paper addressed to me just like the tags on Christmas presents, and I fill my bag to overflowing.

And then I have to wait.

Maybe I get a peek at a cover, a teasing glance at a cover illustration, as I place them in the bag. And then it’s off to Story Time and keeping tabs on the four kids. Then I endure the drive home as I glance at my bulky bag, wondering what surprises await me. Will they be worth the wait? Will there by one gem to add to my favorites?

Sometimes it’s naptime or night time before I get to sit down with my heavy, promising bag.

But when it finally happens, it’s always worth the full day of anticipation.

I’ve decided I have to start sharing my library bag experience. Then you can put these books on hold at the library and I can feel like I played a little part in the joy of opening your library bag!

In my Library Bag this week (only the gems):

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Stuck is the most recent Oliver Jeffers book in our library bag.

We’ve had one by Jeffers in our bag each week because I can’t get enough of Jeffers’ work. Characterized by animals/people with pencil thin legs, along with a collage of media to create telling illustrations, his art work (and stories) deliver something unexpected.  Unexpected in a really good kind of way.  In Stuck, it’s the scribbled trees (that actually work), it’s his shadows that don’t follow any rules, it’s his monochromatic color schemes, and it’s even in his story which doesn’t take the usual dips and turns.

As an artist Jeffers illustrates concepts that aren’t easily put into the visual.  ”In Stuck the boy has a problem and he tries to throw everything at it” (paraphrase from an interview).  In Heart and the Bottle, he visually expresses what happens when we get hurt and then lock our hearts up somewhere safe, and how much it interrupts our abundant life.

On many levels, and then on the level of my 3 year old who shouts “Read Stuck by Olive Jeff, Daddy!”, I recommend his books for your library bag.  Here’s a  video of the author/illustrator, who seems like an unexpected book character himself.

Here are three of our other Oliver Jeffers favorites from the last few weeks:

The Great Paper Caper

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

The Heart and the Bottle


Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Illustrated by Jon Klassen

When I pulled Extra Yarn out of the bag and gave it a first read,  it was difficult to maintian self-control and not order up several copies from Amazon to pass out to friends.

In the story we  meet a girl who finds yarn that never seems to run out so she starts knitting for everyone and everything in the town, including the math teacher and the mailboxes.  Klassen’s ink and watercolor move this story beyond cute to enchanting and finally to the hope that a place like this might actually exist.

Maybe if the knitters of the world unite.  I did see yarn covered trees in Chicago last year.


Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists

Our 9 year old is particularly interested in comic book style art, which can be a difficult genre to find appropriate material for her to enjoy.  This collection offers a wide variety of cartoon art (as the title suggests, 50 different artists) but centers around well known stories.

Though just because these are “nursery rhymes” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re for your 3 year old, because nursery rhymes can actually be quite strange if you think about (three blind mice, see how they run, well you know the ending).  Some of these illustrations may not feel right for your family or at at least for your younger child, take a look for yourself.

Nursery Rhyme Comics would make a great jumping off point for encouraging your child to create his own comic, based on a nursery rhyme, fable, or fairy tale.

Hoping you find something unexpected (the good kind of unexpected) in your bag this week.