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Weekly Shhhout-Out

Roaming librarians file dispatches from the world of information.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Summer is for Projects

What will your project be? Will you plant a garden? 




Or will this be the summer you learn to bake bread?

How about keeping a Summer Journal?

This is a great project for adults and kids and it involves one of my favorite things - book arts!

  My favorite Muse for making books is Susan Kapuchinski Gaylord, who not only makes beautiful books filled with art and power, but cherishes the Earth while doing so. Her website and blog are inspirational.

 She uses materials like cardboard cut from a cereal box, brown paper from a grocery bag and endless reams of paper, printed on one side only, that every office and most homes produce. With markers, a glue stick and a rubber band and a twig picked up out-of-doors to bind it, a summer journal is produced.

What subject can you think of for journaling? Travel, visitors, recipes, poetry and leaf prints have all made appearances. How about songs, new words, book reviews (Hello, Summer Reading Club!) or photographs you've taken, to name only four!

Like wood warming you twice, summer journaling fills in quiet hours now, and recalls them later. Take a step back from the warm-weather hustle and enjoy this summer, your way.

Jan D.

CATEGORIES: Children , Crafts , Jan D.
POSTED: 10:00:00 AM |

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Peas and a Cupcake

Oliver TwistCan a small child thrive on a meal of two peas and a cupcake? I've been spending many mealtimes with my little grandsons lately and I can report the answer is yes. They are both healthy and thriving despite being picky eaters. I'm surprised they turned out this way because both parents are gourmet cooks and have always placed an interesting variety of healthy, real foods in front of them. Their likes and dislikes change constantly. Peas were a favorite one day and the next good only for use as projectiles across the table. That was a fun mealtime with grandma in charge! I was raised in the stern post-war "clean your plate and remember the starving children" style so I have difficulty resisting becoming the stereotypical nagging, bargaining grandmother: "just one more pea, and then you can have a cupcake."

The modern approach to forming healthy eating habits is to provide children with a variety of nutritious foods and then don't fuss over what and how much they eat. Pediatricians advise that the worst thing you can do is make mealtimes a battleground and power struggle. The children will win, perhaps with dire consequences in the future: eating disorders or obesity. I was once at a family dinner where a pediatrician with three children served lasagna, salad, and bread. One child ate only lasagna, one only salad, and one only bread. When they finished they could leave the table. It was a very calm, stress-free meal. The pediatrician explained that they ate what their bodies must need that day. Hungry children will eat anything.  Ergo: if they don’t eat they aren’t hungry. I've started reciting the mantra "Oliver Twist, Oliver Twist" whenever I feel the temptation to urge my grandsons to eat up or else.

Many parents and grandparents find this a stressful issue, especially when busy schedules leave little time for cooking from scratch. And when news stories about childhood obesity foment anxiety. Fortunately the library has many books with ideas, advice, and easy recipes. One I found particularly helpful is Real food for Healthy Kids: 200+ easy, wholesome recipes by Tracy Seaman.  Hungry Monkey: a food-loving father's quest to raise an adventurous eater by Matthew Amster-Burton, a food critic turned full-time Dad, is entertaining as well as informative. The Sneaky Chef: simple strategies for hiding healthy foods in kids' favorite meals by Missy Chase Lapine is indispensable. Just add shredded carrots and zucchini to that cupcake and it becomes a health food! Choose My Plate

First Lady Michelle Obama was inspired to take the lead on educating parents and children about healthy eating and exercise after alarming statistics on the incidence of childhood obesity in the U.S. received widespread publicity. Her Let’s Move website has a wealth of information and resources for parents and links to the new dietary guidelines from the USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov

I raised my own children on some of the traditional English dishes like Toad-in-the-Hole. One day my daughter's friend stayed for dinner. When she went home her mother asked her what we had to eat.  That mother wasted no time in getting on the phone and asking me in an alarmed tone "What did you give my child for dinner?" I hastened to assure her that toad was not actually involved in the recipe, just good old English bangers! I am waiting for my daughter to invite me to cook this treat for my grandsons. Then we'll find out just how fussy they are! Bon appetit.

Rita T.

Rita's avatar

CATEGORIES: Children , Food , Rita T.
POSTED: 8:00:00 AM |

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Summer, Picnic, Mmm!


 A BOOK of Verses underneath the Bough, 
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou 
  Beside me singing in the Wilderness— 
O, Wilderness were Paradise enow! 

Sounds like an invitation to a picnic to me!

What do we need for a picnic? Food, an outdoor place in which to eat, and good company! Amusements, activities and ants are extra.

Originally, a picnic was a communal meal to which everyone contributed... what we today would call a potluck.  Try The Garden Entertaining Cookbook for inspiration and whip up a batch of Basmati Rice Salad with Fresh Peas, Corn and Chives (page 100) to go with anyone else's main dish.

Where shall we eat? Especially with children, a short trip to a new a different (but not too different) place is fun and exciting. There are lots of free picnic locations in local parks and many of them have sports or other amusements for the family.

book cover

Why don't you read Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack to the youngest children before you go? You can make a game of finding things from the book at your picnic destination.  And if the neighborhood is devoid of blankets, ducks, eggs, goats and hens, you can always make your own alphabetical list of facinating objects sighted.

But what about that book of verse?  Omar Khayyam is classic, but he doesn't suit every occasion. Choose Books and Authors from our Reading & Literature resources  and you can zero in on just the kind of rhyme (or free verse) that touches you.

And if Omar is your cup of tea, you can always download the "Rubaiyat" to your e-reader from Project Gutenberg.

What's left? Ants, of course! The kids will be facinated by Pestworld's take on ants.


Or, if it rains, pop in the classic movie "Picnic" or, for the kids, try this one!

Have a great summer!

Jan D.

CATEGORIES: Children , Books , E-Books , Food , Jan D. , Reading , Seasons
POSTED: 11:59:00 AM |

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great Big Trucks

Heavy Equipment is a treat for anyone any age.  The book has huge elegant pictures of a wide variety of trucks and heavy equipment, including construction, mining, transporting, tunneling, harvesting, recycling, and more.  You can find it in the Oversize section of the library.  The authors give brief history and explanations of the various kinds of giant trucks and machines.  They pack a lot of information into very little text so there is plenty of room for the marvelous selection of photos.

In Montgomery County and the DC area we generally see big trucks and heavy equipment in road construction or building construction, we also often see those eternal favorites, fire engines.  To see more heavy equipment up close, and to get a chance to talk to the operators, you can usually find a county's best at the county fair.  Keep your eye out for announcements of county fairs in July and August.  Look for the Montgomery County Fair here.

Here are a few of the book's fabulous photos starting from the chapter heading for mobile wheeled cranes.  Below that are pictures of mining shovels and the Komatsu 930E Giant Dump Truck, and last, the giant Krupp Bucket Wheel Excavator.  Click on a picture once or twice to see it larger.

mobile wheeled crane

mining shovel and dump truck, diagram of shovel

Komatsu 930E Giant Dump Truck

mining shovel and dump truck

Krupp Bucket Wheel Escavator
CATEGORIES: Photography , Children , Nell M.
POSTED: 10:04:00 AM |

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From Papyrus Scroll to iPad App - The End is Nigh, Again

scroll“But papyrus scrolls feel so much better!” Such were the cries of lamentation heard across the ancient world as papyrus scrolls were replaced by that new-fangled Roman invention the codex, or book. “Why do I have to flip these – what are they called? pages? The scrolls ran so smoothly under my hand, they signified a seamless flow of knowledge, a noble tradition, now it’s all chopped up into scraps signifying nothing …” The Luddites’ fretful complaints drone on down the centuries, ever eloquent in bemoaning the end of civilization as we know it, while civilization as we aren’t quite used to it yet is busy being born. The invention of the printing press was the work of the devil according to these doomsayers, and maybe they were right because it did spread those dangerous things called ideas to the previously unlettered masses. They began thinking for themselves, founding new churches, having revolutions, writing novels that sent Victorian ladies into a swoon, and reading everything from the Bible and Shakespeare to tabloid gossip and vampire boyfriend sagas. Where will it all end? Not with a bang or a whimper apparently, but with a tweet.
The digital revolution is upon us and my grandchildren will grow up in the first fully digital generation. It is bringing out the Luddites once again; check out this cartoon, which at least adds humor to the traditional diatribe. Determined not to join the chorus of old fogies – even though that role is getting age appropriate for me – I bought an iPad and began exploring the world of children’s apps to share with my grandsons. Here is what I have discovered so far: like any other medium - books, films, music, you name it – the good, the bad, and the mediocre are all out there. Just as librarians select and recommend the best books for children, so we can help sort out the sheep from the goats when it comes to apps. If you’ve heard the horror stories about the Smurfs game and don’t want your child playing Angry Birds all day, here’s a sampling of the best apps for the very young tested on my own 1 and 3 year old grandchildren.
 The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Children touch the spider to start the song and watch him climb the water spout, then touch other objects for entertaining actions – make water gush from the downspout, see a caterpillar change into a butterfly, and more. Beautiful graphics, and the singer sounds so much better than I do!
 Fish School. Colorful fish and lively music teach letters, numbers, and colors with interactive games including matching and which one’s different? A low-key, fun way to learn.
 FirstWords Animals. Perfect for children who know their letters and are ready to start recognizing words. Settings allow parents to choose the difficulty level – three or four letter words, matching the letters or filling in the blanks etc. Note: this bird is not angry and doesn't attack any pigs!
 Popout! The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This interactive classic presents the original text and illustrations in pop-up form, with the advantage that the tabs don’t get torn by tiny fingers! Parents can turn the narration off so they can read to their child. Beginning readers get help with unfamiliar words: touch the screen to hear the word. Twittering birds, hopping bunnies, and gently falling leaves bring Beatrix Potter’s natural world to life. A beautiful app that shows the potential for digital books. The Washington Post Book World editors like Peter Rabbit too! They include it in this list of the best picture book apps in the Spring Children’s Book Review section.
I know my grandsons will be reading and learning in both print and digital formats in the future. Introducing them to the iPad hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm for books; it is just another way to enjoy stories together. Maybe when they grow old they will look back with nostalgia on that hopelessly old-fashioned device their grandmother shared with them. And maybe in that brave new world, as information is beamed directly into their brains, some people will cling to their electronic devices and predict the end of civilization, as so many generations have done before them.
One thing I’ve learned in three months with my iPad – Marshall McLuhan was wrong. The medium is not the message. The medium is just the device. Stories are forever.
CATEGORIES: Technology , Children , Books , E-Books , Rita T.
POSTED: 1:00:00 AM |

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Odds and Ends (Sometimes Really Odd)

animated MRI of a watermelon

After writing entries for this blog for over two years, I have learned to save links to
possible sites of interest as I discover them. When blog time rolls around, I check my
bookmarks and see if any themes emerge. Some things just don't fit anywhere, and this has left some oddments lingering in my files. Hey! Maybe that's a category in itself. So, just for fun, here are some sites I've come across in my travels through the Web and wanted to share.

Ever wondered what would happen if you mashed up a famous science fiction book with a famous picture book? Here it is--Goodnight Dune.

That is actutally a good book compared to the one I'm now  going to tell you about. Possibly the worst picture book ever written is Little Kettle-head by Helen Bannerman. Yes, the same Helen Bannerman who wrote and illustrated the controversial book Little Black Sambo. At least Little Black Sambo had a coherent plot--this one is plain weird. Little Kettle-head should be given to everyone who thinks they can write a children's book as an example of what not to do--not ever, ever.  It is so creepy that one doesn't know where to start to enumerate its failings. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. (Okay, I admit it--there were screams of laughter eminating from my office, once I was able to get my jaw off the floor. But I have a sick sense of humor.)

I think it's time to get back to the world of good books, now. Did you know that Tove Jansson of Moomintroll fame also illustrated The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien? Click on the first picture to enlarge it and use the arrows to move through the slideshow.

Speaking of Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings is number 10 in this list of Top Ten Most Overrated Novels. Maybe you don't agree with this list. Let them know--they appear to be still taking comments.

I've had many hamsters during my career as a children's librarian, and currently I have
hermit crabs in my office (don't ask) but, early on this year, The Library of Congress had a hawk take up residence in the main reading room.

One thing no library I've worked in has had--zombies. But you never know these days. When confronted with a zombie outbreak is your library prepared? Here's a  Zombie Emergency Prepardness Plan for libraries. 

Libraries have expanded the scope of their collections greatly over the years from new media formats to items such as puzzles and tools. This, however, takes the cake, although I'm vaguely disgusted to talk of food in the same breath as introducing you to the largest collection of belly button lint in the world. All together now: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!  Way to go Graham Barker for further eroding the reputation of librarians.

Speaking of food and too much time on your hands (that was implied by the above example, right?) some people are creating animated MRI's of fruit to produce living fractiles. Yeah, you heard me. Cool, huh? There's one at the beginning of this blog post. That's a watermelon, believe it or not.

From the innerverse to the outerverse: Do you want to explore the universe and not leave the house? Try Celestia a free space simulation. Whew! I needed a break.

There, we've gone from the ridiculous to the sublime; science fiction to real science. Aren't you glad?


CATEGORIES: Science , Children , Books , Annette K.
POSTED: 2:46:00 PM |
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Last edited: 11/6/2007