Paper Snowflakes Program in the Library

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Kids hard at work contemplating their snowflake designs.

When I started as a library intern in high school, one of my first jobs was cutting out paper snowflakes for a display. I love cutting snowflakes and had a lot of fun making them. The display was very well-received and while there was a lot of time involved, it was low cost.

As I try to regenerate interest in teen programs, I’ve realized that I prefer to lead low-effort/high-impact craft programs. Basically: I like programs where participants can put in as little or as much effort as they like and still leave with some kind of finished project.

My library has a monthly Ezra Jack Keats program which includes a story by Ezra Jack Keats and can also feature other stories, rhymes, songs, or fingerplays. After the reading, everyone makes a related craft. Although it was summer, I decided to do cut paper snowflakes along with a reading of The Snowy Day.

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Coloring snowflakes with crayons.

Before the program I gave teen volunteers a snowflake-making tutorial and then asked them to cut some demo ones. I grabbed a ream of white typing paper and a ream of blue typing paper and lots of scissors. I also used a box of crayons so that more adept participants could draw designs to cut. The crayons also allowed the younger kids to color and decorate pre-made snowflakes.

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A finished masterpiece. Cut and colored by one of the kids at the program.

Because this craft is so simple, I was able to let teen volunteers do a group reading of The Snowy Day. I then talked a bit about if kids did the same things in winter as we see in the book and we figured out some facts about snowflakes. Then I explained the craft and gave quick instructions before everyone got started.

During the program I discovered it’s really best to have a lot of actual scissors (child size) but NOT the safety-scissors with almost no blade–they are impossible to use for cutting through the multiple layers of folded paper to make a snowflake.

I also spent a lot of time going around to ask kids how they were doing and tell me about their snowflakes. If I noticed anyone who was frustrated with cutting, I was able to quickly make a snowflake for them to use as reference or to color.

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Snowflake, mid-coloring.

The biggest downside to this program was that there was a lot of paper scraps by the end but cleanup wasn’t terrible with help from volunteers. (We couldn’t find a broom so I did have to ask a custodian to sweep up the last bits.) I would not recommend doing this program in a carpeted room unless you have a vacuum handy.

Related Books:

  • Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian
  • It’s Snowing by Olivier Dunrea
  • When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
  • It’s Snowing by Gail Gibbons
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Snow by Uri Shulevitz

The Kiss of Deception: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonLia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, is seventeen years old. She is Morrighan’s princess and a key part of her father’s plans to forge an alliance with the neighboring kingdom of Dalbrek. The only problem is that Lia has no intention of marrying to further her kingdom’s political standing–certainly not to a prince she has never met.

When Lia flees on her wedding day she sets a series of disastrous events in motion that leave chaos and danger in her wake.

Her hopes to start a new life as a commoner alongside her faithful maid, Pauline, are threatened when two handsome strangers arrive at her new home. One is the prince Lia refused to marry, the other is an assassin sent to kill her.

Surrounded by secrets and lies, Lia’s entire world could unravel when the truth is revealed in The Kiss of Deception (2014) by Mary E. Pearson.

The Kiss of Deception is the first book in Pearson’s The Remnant Chronicles which continues with The Heart of Betrayal and The Beauty of Darkness.

The Kiss of Deception is a thoughtful blend of fantasy and suspense layered across a dystopian world. Tantalizing hints throughout the novel suggest that Morrighan shares a common past with the modern world, but no concrete answers are given leaving  readers to draw their own conclusions.

Lia is an interesting heroine and narrates most of the novel. She is often naive and reckless but she is also kind and selfless. What originally appears as thoughtless privilege soon morphs into a strong moral compass and royal demeanor. Lia’s growth throughout the novel is empowering and well handled but her character remains the most developed for most of the novel.

By all rights, The Kiss of Deception should be a fast-paced adventure beginning with Lia’s flight on her wedding day. Lia’s narrative is even interspersed with chapters from the Prince and the Assassin lending another level of mystery to the story. Unfortunately, these pieces take a bit too long to come together which makes the first half of the novel drag. Uneven pacing and predictable plot twists further weaken the story.

The Kiss of Deception introduces a rich world and a large cast of characters. Readers willing to forgive unanswered questions about world building and readers who don’t mind characters who withhold key information will get the most out of this novel. Recommended for readers looking for a new high fantasy with a lot of romance, strong female characters, and meandering action.

Possible Pairings: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, And I Darken by Kiersten White, Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Summer Reading 2016 Display (Get in the Game)

Summer is a very busy time in any public library because kids are out of school and the library usually has some kind of Summer Reading Program.

Such is the case at my place of employ. To make things easier (and to promote the summer reading list) I usually create a summer-long display in the YA area to show off summer reading books. This also works well because we buy special “summer reading” copies and have them in a separate section during the summer. The teen section isn’t always the easiest to find while browsing so my hope is that the display helps make it more visible.

Since I helped create this year’s middle school and high school booklists, I was especially excited to make the display.

This year’s summer reading theme is “Get in the Game” so I decided to go for a comic style in my main sign. I included the theme, an explanation that the books are from the summer reading list, and directed patrons to the information desk if they want more information and/or to sign up.

sr16cAround the informational sign I put images of book covers for titles featured on the list. I also made larger images with some book covers and quotes. I chose which quotes to use based on whether I had already made an image/quote file (The Scorpio Races) and whether the books had good quotes available. The Great Greene Heist, for instance, did not have any good quotes I could find online so I just used the book cover. Then I just tried to do a mix of ages/formats to flesh out the display. I also tried to go for books with bold covers.

sr16bI stocked the display with summer reading books found in the regular collection as well as the special summer reading copies (new paperbacks with a summer reading label). As the summer has progressed I’ve restocked the display with whatever titles we have the most of on the shelves. I added copies of the summer reading list for people to grab too.

sr16aSo this is what my YA display table looked like for the summer. This week marks the end of my library’s summer reading program.

You can check out my library system’s summer reading lists online.

What books have you been reading this summer? If you work in a library, what was your summer reading theme/booklist?

Week in Review: August 21

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Here is what no one tells you about having your wisdom teeth removed: even after the stitches are out and the swelling goes down you are not completely healed. Your head will still feel uncomfortable when you bend over. You might still not be able to eat everything you want to eat. The sockets won’t heal and close up for another 3-4 weeks. And even though you are expected to get on with things, you probably still won’t feel completely like yourself.

This week was hard with all of that and with playing catch up at work and feeling like I was making zero progress on anything because I had so many deadlines and moving parts that I couldn’t deal with while I was home. I was also shamed by the receptionist at the oral surgeon for taking three days off from work plus another day for when I had the stitches removed. Which was great. Obviously. A week of bad sleep also didn’t help anything. I am hoping for a better next week.

I am continuing to add Amazon Associate links to all of my published reviews which is giving me the chance to update photos that are low quality or badly sized. If you happen to be shopping at Amazon, feel free to follow one of my links for your purchase ;)

You also might have noticed: My blog turned nine this month! I’m running a giveaway for the rest of the month and have some other thoughts in my 9th blog birthday post.

If you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my August Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

A Small Housekeeping Announcement

This is pretty small news but I have made my blog a part of Amazon’s Associates program. What that means is that when you click a link from my blog to Amazon, it will generate a very small commission for me if you make any purchases.

Moving forward all of my posts will feature a link to Amazon in the first instance of the book’s title and author (typically right at the end of my book summaries that start each review). I’m also working on updating my older posts but as you can imagine, it’s taking a while for a blog as old as this one.

It’s tedious adding the links but it’s also giving me a chance to update a lot of photos so that they are a better size. You might also see me tweeting some of my older reviews as I “rediscover” them.

Being part of Amazon Associates won’t change anything about how this site runs or influence my opinions. But I just wanted to publicize the change so people know what the new links are in each post.

This is What Happy Looks Like: A Review

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. SmithIt all started with a typo in an email address.

Graham Larkin thought he was emailing his pet pig’s walker, instead his email shoots across the country to Ellie O’Neill. Their conversations are always personal but they never reveal personal details. Ellie has no idea that Graham is a major celebrity. Graham knows very little about Ellie until she slips and reveals the name of her small town in Maine.

That’s all it takes for Graham to mark the town of Henley as the perfect location for his next film. And, of course, the perfect location to meet Ellie in real life.

But as Graham and Ellie get to know each other they are both hampered by “what ifs?” What if their relationship really is at its best in email form? What if a famous actor like Graham isn’t cut out for a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? What if Ellie is drawn into Graham’s spotlight has to reveal some closely guarded secrets of her own. Graham and Ellie have talked at length about happiness, but they still have to figure out if they can be happy together in This is What Happy Looks Like (2013) by Jennifer E. Smith.

This story has a slow start as both Graham and readers are introduce to Ellie’s idyllic small town home. A charming cast of secondary characters and picturesque locations vividly situate each scene in this novel. Ellie and Graham’s correspondence is simultaneously authentic and endearing as emails and face-to-face interactions work together to give readers the full story of Graham and Ellie’s courtship. Snappy dialogue also helps to make this story shine.

Smith delves into the familiar territory of missed connections (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) and long-distance pining (The Geography of You and Me). While This is What Happy Looks Like has some of the same charm as Smith’s other novels, its characters never feel quite as well-realized or compelling.

This is What Happy Looks Like is a sweet and summery romance filled with small-town charm and memorable moments.

Possible Pairings: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, Undercover by Beth Kephart, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, In Real Life by Jessica Love

Results May Vary: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review from Estelle

Today I’m excited to share a CLW guest post from Estelle:

“But the thing about what-ifs is that you can drive yourself crazy, spinning your thoughts around and around until you’re dizzy; and for all that, you only ever end up in the same place you’re standing. All you can work with is what happened.”

Results May Vary by Bethany ChaseAt first sight, Results May Vary (2016) by Bethany Chase probably seems a story solely about a broken marriage. Caroline finds out that her husband has had an affair — after 10 years of marriage and utter devotion others find sickening — and she must decide what to do next? Does she forgive Adam like her friends and family think she will do or will she retreat into a new direction and embrace the unknown narrative ahead of her?

The funny truth is no matter the path she chooses, the narrative changes. The dynamics with her husband, the person she thought knew her best and she thought she knew best, will forever be changed even if she decided to stay. Just like where she lives, who she hangs out with, and the next person she sleeps with will alter the routine she’s gladly accepted for herself since high school.

Nothing, nothing will ever be as it was.

Results May Vary could easily have turned into a will-they-or-won’t-they kind of novel, but that’s not Bethany Chase’s style. And her style is exactly why I felt like this book would be a perfect fit for Emma’s Chick Lit feature. Caroline isn’t just someone’s wife. She’s an independent woman who is well-respected at her job at a museum. It’s a job she fought to take even if this meant moving a less-than-thrilled Adam out of New York City. She has a solid support system including a best friend from college, a younger sister, and a feisty artist friend who knows the value of a yummy ice cream topping. Caroline’s not afraid to curse out her husband when he can’t explain why he had an affair, she’s not against keeping him at a distance even though he wants to a swift reconciliation, and, because she’s human and not robotic, she’s not afraid to collapse in the arms of others and give into her sadness when she needs to.

I’m messing up the Pinocchio quote for obvious reasons but she’s a real girl!

So much of this book is about Caroline settling into herself — whether that means forgiveness or not, you’ll have to find out — and allowing other parts in her life to rise when the once solid ones start to crack. The girl power explodes when her little sister, Ruby, moves into the house and the two rekindle a sisterhood they hadn’t had since they were super young. Their relationship is one of the most memorable of this entire book because, while both are in their own versions of transition, they both prove to be there for one another: whether it’s about scary face masks or sharing a glass of wine.

Of course, this relationship isn’t without its complexities either. (Sisters.)

And that’s just what I mean. When I started getting into young adult books about five years ago, I was exhausted by new fiction that reflected nothing new at all. There was absolutely nothing for me to relate to, and I found the emotions I was searching for — raw and so real — in YA. It’s a pleasure to be welcomed back into the big kid world with books by authors like Chase who get it. Women are more than one thing. We can be strong as anything, but we can break down just as easily. We can be happy even when we are grieving. We can make one decision and then change our minds. We are constantly works in progress – no matter how settled we might be in one area over another.

When I finished reading Results May Vary, I felt empowered. I don’t think there’s much more you can ask for from a book.

Possible pairings: The First Husband by Laura Dave, After I Do and One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid; Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer, Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

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By day, Estelle is a book publicist for (mostly) kid books. She is also the co-creator of Rather Be Reading Blog, where she blogged for almost 5 years with her best friend. Always writing and always brainstorming, you can find her on Twitter @thatsostelle.