Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Treasure Box

I suppose it goes without saying that here at the Lawrence Library, we love books. We love to hold them, we love to organize them, we love to read them and we love to share them with you.

But once in awhile, an idea comes along that is so delicious and delightful, we can't help but sacrifice one of our beloved books just to have it.

Here is one of them.....A book treasure box:

How fun is this? You can use it to store your secret stuff, so your brother can't find it....

Or you can use it to stash your phone or tablet so your parents think you are reading....

Or you can leave it on a bookshelf and send private notes back and forth with someone in your family!

 I want to tell you that this treasure box is easy to create, but the truth is that the process requires a little time and a lot of patience. All you will need is a sharp exacto knife and some ModPodge or glue.

With the knife, carefully start to remove rectangle shapes, a few pages at a time. Once you get to the desired depth, it is time to stop and use the glue to paint on a few layers, which will secure the pages to each other.

If you prefer, you could like the inside chamber with felt or fabric.

VOILA! It's your little secret, and you can keep it forever.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fun with Hot Chocolate!!!

1 1/2  cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of cocoa
1/2 cup of salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 cup of boiling water

Mix the dry ingredients together and add the oil and boiling water. Throw a healthy of handful of flour onto your work surface and knead the dough thoroughly. Add glitter if you want! And whatever you do, DON'T TRY TO EAT THE DOUGH!!! It smells so good but it tastes like YUCK.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Allow me to introduce name is Mandy Roberge (formally known to children everywhere as "Miss Mandy") and I am the new Library Assistant in the Children's Room here at Lawrence Library. And it bears mentioning that I am pretty happy about that.

Because I love to write, I have pleaded with the powers-that-be to let me take over this blog for awhile until they kick me out and let someone else do it. So for now, you are stuck with my words, my pictures, my thoughts as I tell you about all the awesome things we have going on here and about reading, literacy, kids -- basically whatever I feel like talking about when I sit down at this desk and imagine who might be out there reading. Moms? Teens? Our senior-est patrons? Whoever you are -- I'm talking to YOU!

Today I want to let you know that despite the distinct lack of white amid the outdoor landscape, it's full-on winter here in the Children's Room. We have a serious winter theme running through the room, with not only lots of snowman related activities but also plenty of books that will tickle your coldest funny bones.

With a new focus on teens and tweens, I am also pleased to announce that I will be here on:

 January 17th from 2 to 4 p.m. to offer FREE HENNA TATTOOS to patrons! 


Prior to coming to the library, I have worked as a traveling henna artist for the better part of a decade and I have been offering library workshops for as long. I am excited to show the Lawrence Library patrons this unique art form and maybe if you are feeling brave, you will come get a tattoo. I hope you will stop by and introduce yourself to ME!

Miss Mandy

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All About George

"Make sure you get my good side."
Who is George?
In short, George is the library frog.  He's an African Dwarf Frog who lives in a tank on the bookshelf next to my desk in the children's room of the library.

How We Got Him
The library was lucky enough to be able to adopt a pet this past spring. I (Miss Kat) had been talking to my assistant (Miss Shannon) about possibly getting a fish or a gerbil or something.  "How would you feel about a frog?" she asked, and called her mother right then.  Shannon's mother was the proud owner of George, an African Dwarf Frog, with whom she had lived for 9 years. (Nine years!) Unfortunately, poor George was often being terrorized by the cats, who were trying to get into his tank. The poor little guy was stressed out, and was invited here to live at the library.
No cats here! High five!
George and his mother are still on good terms, of course; she follows him on Twitter so she can keep up with his active social life.  (You can follow him, too! His handle is @LibraryFroggy .)
Biology and Such
George is an African Dwarf Frog. He's very little - smaller than he looks in photographs.
The camera adds 10 ounces.
His body is only about an inch and a half long - this isn't counting his legs, which are probably another inch and a half long on their own.  African Dwarf Frogs, George included, live their whole lives underwater. They have lungs and breathe air - they don't have gills like fish do - so they need to swim to the top of the water and take a breath every 10 minutes or so. They do need to be underwater, though; their skin is delicate, and can dry out really quickly.
Yes, George can understand English, though he doesn't have the vocal chords to speak. He also doesn't have teeth or eyelids. He eats frog pellets, which come in a jar that looks like fish food. (According to my research, he could also eat frozen bloodworms, but I'm not excited about that idea.)
ADFs live for an average of 5 years, but can live for up to 20 years! We are celebrating George's 10th birthday on September 6, which puts him right in the middle.  We hope he has a long and happy life ahead of him.

Hobbies and Interests
George loves singing. When it's really quiet (and usually later in the day, but not always), you can sometimes hear George's song, which sounds like a little tiny zipper being zipped.  "Zeep! Zeep! Zeep!"  It's a happy noise, and he has been known to sing when he's happy. He's also an avid reader, and usually has an opinion on just about any book he's read, though it's not always easy for him to articulate it.
If he was in Hogwarts, he'd be a Hufflepuff.
He's a really good listener, and will often swim up to the glass on the tank if you sit down to join him for a bit. (Not always, though - ADFs can sleep up to 12 hours a day, and might snooze through your visit.) George is also a history buff, and enjoys celebrating the anniversaries of famous events.  Here he is honoring the Apollo 11 astronauts and their successful moon landing. 
"That's one small step for George, one giant leap for mankind."
All in all, George is a pretty cool guy.  Do you have any questions that I didn't answer?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fall 2014 Events

Fall is just about upon us (at least, when it comes to planning programs) and I'm sure that after a summer of thrilling blog entries and arts & crafts tutorials, you're all clamoring for more information about what we're doing at the library. So, here's what's coming up:

We will start being open on Saturdays again in September, and I've decided that the first Saturday of the fall will be George's birthday. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting him, George is the frog that lives in the kids' room of the library, on my bookshelf.  He's an African Dwarf Frog that belonged to a friend of our's (actually Miss Shannon's mom) for nine years (!) before he came to live with us a few months ago. Given that he wasn't a tadpole when she got him, we can safely assume he was at least few months old by then, so we may not be too far off on the birthday that we assigned him. Officially, he will be 10 years old on September 6.
Isn't he handsome?
To celebrate George's birthday, we're having an Ice Cream Party, where you can make your own sundaes. (To be honest, we did this last year, anyway, but this year we have a good reason to celebrate.) I am working on frog-themed decorations.  I could write a whole post about George, and maybe I will at some point. In the meantime, you can follow him on Twitter to see what he's up to (no, really - @LibraryFroggy). 

We're trying to do a party each month, just for the fun of it. On the calendar are the Despicable Me Party, a Pirate & Princess Party, and a Holiday Gift Wrap Party (where we watch movies and wrap presents and drink cocoa and feel festive and alive). Those are far enough away that I'm not working too much on them just yet, though.

Right now, I'm in the planning stages for the Fall Crafts event (the first of this school year's monthly Arts & Crafts Club meetings).  Last year, we did one craft per month, but I'm being a bit more ambitious this time around, and I'm going to attempt to have materials for 2 or 3 different crafts each month.  These will mostly be made with stuff we already have or that doesn't cost a lot, so we can watch our budget... Also, they're easier to duplicate at home if it's not all from a kit. I always felt like doing from-a-kit crafts was somehow cheating, anyway.

I'll post the instructions online later, but here are a couple of the Fall Craft samples I made: 
Whooooooo would make an owl out of a toilet paper roll?
You may be sensing a theme here.  Owls out of cupcake liners, and owls out of felt and puffballs (in the actual craft, I'm hoping to use acorns instead). The third craft, however, will be making foxes out of leaves, so if you thought it would be another owl... looks like I out-foxed you! (Hahaha, I kill me.)

Also new this fall: We are revamping storytime! What used to be "Baby Lapsit" is now "Baby Time" (since that's what I always called it anyhow), and I'm going to do my best to add in more nursery rhymes and finger plays. Even more exciting, what has been "Toddler Time" for years and years is now "Story Adventures"! Miss Shannon will be doing more books, bigger crafts, and the whole thing will be on a brand new day! That's right: due to many conflicts of scheduling with other storytimes and toddler- or preschool-aged activities available locally, we have switched storytime to Thursday mornings! This may not seem like big news to most people, but it's very exciting to us! I hope we get off to a running start.

The Tween Book Worm Book Club is still meeting twice a month; they have chosen books to read through February. Nothing new there, but it's always a good time. 

Other than that... business as usual. Maybe once school starts, it can slow down enough here that I can get my desk cleaned off (what are the odds?).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Reading Overview

The 2014 Summer Reading Program (Fizz, Boom, Read!) has come to a close, after just under 6 weeks. We had a few setbacks - budget cuts led to us eliminating a few programs and weekly summer reading prizes, and we were closed for an entire week.  Even so, I think this summer was a great success!

First off, the thank yous. Fizz, Boom, Read (as well as Spark a Reaction and Literary Elements) was sponsored by the Lawrence Library, the Massachusetts Library System, the Boston Bruins, and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Because we have no budget for programs, all of the summer's activities were funded by the Friends of the Lawrence Library. The Tidepool Adaptations program from the New England Aquarium, the Mouse Trap Science program with Jungle Jim, and the visit from the Blue Star Planetarium were supported by grants by the Pepperell Cultural, a local agency, which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. This year, we were lucky enough to get Summer Reading prizes donated by Chipotle, the Topsfield Fair, the PawSox, Roll On America, and the Rob Compagna Guitar School in West Groton, MA. Thank you! We are extremely grateful.

Participation & Books Read
This year, we had tons of sign-ups for the program - possibly due in part to getting a free meal at Chipotle when you signed up, but I'd like to pretend it's because reading is so awesome.  102 kids signed up! We taped an outline of a beaker (excuse me - it's actually a flask) on the wall, and asked the kids to help us fill it up by earning stars.  One star was awarded for each one chapter book or five picture books read.  Here's the wall at the end of the summer:

According to my binder, this is 597 picture books and 172 chapter books! Way to go, everyone!!

SO MANY PROGRAMS. We started off with our annual Bubble Blast, which Miss Shannon has taken charge of for the last several years - it's always a good time.  For kids, we had weekly "Make It And Take It" crafts, which could be either made at the library or taken and completed at home, as well as weekly "Science Adventures," which included stories and science activities for kids from preschool to early elementary age.  We had an MIT astrophysicist bring his solar telescopes so that we could look at the surface of the sun.  Jungle Jim performed a Mouse Trap Science program, which taught us about simple machines while using balloons (and I got to be the mouse in the mouse trap!). The Blue Star Planetarium was here and gave us tours of the night sky, and the New England Aquarium brought their traveling tide pool. Rolling Video Games of NH joined us to play video games on the front lawn.

We also had arts and crafts: the DIY YA series (Do It Yourself, Young Adult) found us making book safes, duct tape wallets, galaxy t-shirts, mini book necklaces, and homemade lip balm. We also made tie-dye shirts at Miss Tina's annual Tie Dye Party, and had two major movie parties: one for Doctor Who, and one for Star Wars. (The instructions for and information about many of these programs were posted on this blog in the past few weeks).
Lucky shows off his tie-dye.
All told, we had 1013 people attend our children's programs and 216 attend our teen programs. Not too bad for less than 6 weeks!

I know I had a great time this summer, and I hope you all did, too.  Now: let's get started on Summer 2015!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Star Wars Party

Lucky dressed up to promote the party. He's Boba Fetch.
The Star Wars Party was our very last event of the 2014 Summer Reading Program. I can't believe it!  This summer went by super fast, and I'll write an overview of it later this week, but for now, let's focus on the party.

I decided a while back that I needed to have a Star Wars event, and since this summer's theme was science, science fiction fit in perfectly.  We watched one of the movies (the one that used to be the first one but is now the fourth), had some snacks, and played a game.

Wookiee Cookiees and Vader-Ade
I always go way too overboard on this stuff, but since this was only a short event, I managed to rein myself in. We had Wookiee Cookiees (yes, that is how you spell "wookiee") and Vader-Ade (lemonade mixed with iced tea). As with the Doctor Who Party, I printed out cute little signs for the refreshments; please note that I didn't make the signs for Vader-Ade or for the Wookiee Cookiees. I found them using a Google image search. I wish I could take credit for the amazing artwork, but I can't.

Things I was going to do but stopped myself: Jabba Jigglers (green jell-o); Yoda Soda; pretzel-stick lightsabers. Also, for the Wookiee Cookiees, I was going to use a gingerbread man cutter and cut out a bunch of gingerbread cookies with fork-tine-marks for fur, and have little frosting bandoliers... yeah, see? Overboard. We had gingersnaps from a bag, and nobody cared.

Yes, you can have yellow lightsabers. Also purple or silver.
After sitting and watching a movie and eating sugary food, I figured we needed a way to burn off some steam. I found this idea online, and had some of my kid-friends help me make them. We took pool noodles, cut them in thirds, and wrapped one end with duct tape. Then, we drew on buttons and lines with markers. At the party, I blew up a bunch of balloons, and told the kids to try to keep them from hitting the ground. Most kids just attacked each other, but they're pool noodles, so after trying unsuccessfully to stop the violence, I decided the parents could intervene if they were worried (they weren't), and instead spent my time blowing up balloons and trying to keep the kids from running into the parking lot.
The battle ensues.
In addition to the two full-size cardboard Darth Vader standees that we own (each of which was pointing the way to the party), we had posters for each of the original trilogy, framed and on the sidelines.

We also had a cardboard standee that I made and painted, which isn't perfect, but will do just fine. Notes: Luke had both a blue and a green lightsaber, depending on the movie, but DID NOT wear his Tattooine outfit when he fought Darth Vader. I was aware of this (believe it or not) but thought it would look better than an all-black outfit, since the Tattooine outfit is more iconic. Yes, the kids noticed.

That's about it, really. We had 63 people (quite the crowd), and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. A good end to a good summer reading program.