Monday, January 30, 2012

Toddling Twos February 6th and Terrific Threes and Fours February 8th Storytime Topic: It's Cold Outside!

Chilly nose, chilly toes, it's winter and it surely shows! Our Toddling Twos and Terrific Threes and Fours Storytime topic next week is all about blustery and cold weather. We'll read some frosty tales, perform a mitten action rhyme, find out what clothes should be worn in the winter and the summer in our Weather Matters Clothes Game, and make a cozy and warm scottie dog mitten craft.

*Registration is closed for these storytimes. Please call the Y.S. Reference Desk to learn about more of our fun and interactive programs at 630-368-7734.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Toddling Twos and Terrific Threes and Fours January 30th and February 1st Storytime Topic: Groundhog Day

During the Toddling Twos and Terrific Threes and Fours January 30th and February 1st storytimes we are going to go gaga over groundhogs! We'll put on our dancing shoes and rock to the iconic 80's song "Footloose", meet Gertrude D. Groundhog, play Where's your Shadow? (shadow match game), read a boatload of groundhog-themed books, and create a perky groundhog pop-up craft.

Spots on the waiting list are still available for the Toddling Twos storytime. Please call the Y.S. Reference Desk at 630-368-7734 to register.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Toddling Twos and Terrific Threes and Fours January 23rd and 25th Storytime Topic: Chinese New Year

Our Toddling Twos will ring in the Chinese New Year (The Year of the Dragon) on January 23rd by dancing with red paper lanterns to Disney's  Mulan "True to Your Heart", see why five little dragons were merrily dancing in a Five Green Dragons flannel board, read Chinese New Year themed books such as My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz, and create a happy dragon puppet!

The Terrific Threes and Fours will continue the fun on January 25th when we read more Chinese New Year tales, dance with our red paper lanterns, figure out how to put together Chinese Zodiac Animal puzzles, and make those happy dragon puppets too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pretty As A Picture: An Illustrated Year: 2012 Picture Book Reading Challenge Hosted by An Abundance of Books

I’m taking this challenge partly because I’m  the lap-sit, toddler, and Preschool storytime lady, but also because of my slightly maniacal obsession with picture books. 

You will often find me behind a mile high stack of  these glorious and captivating volumes as I peruse their pages for the perfect stories for my storytime children as well as my own personal enjoyment. 

There is something so quaint and magical about a books filled with stories of talking animals, silly sayings, and whimsical drawings. They bring you back to the days when any dream was possible and all problems could be solved by an ice cream cone or your mother’s soothing voice. 

I have pledged to read 24 picture books (level 3) within the year in the an Illustrated Year 2012 Picture Book Challenge. 

Here are the rules for the challenge below: 

The Details

  • Timeline: January 1, 2012- December 31, 2012
  • Select your level:
                     Level 1 - Read 12 picture books
                     Level 2 - Read 16 picture books
                     Level 3 - Read 24 picture books

  • You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go.  If you do list your books in the beginning, you can always change them later on.
  • Crossovers with other challenges count.
  • Digital books count
  • Re-reads count as long as you read them in 2012 and you post a new review for the book.
  • You can join anytime


Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas 
 Picture Book
 JE Thomas (New Picture Books Shelf) 
 Publication Date: 2011 

Who isn't ready for fun? that's all I have to say. 

Little ones will squiggle and squirm reading this laugh out loud barnyard animal romp about three cows who are having quite a jolly time moving and  grooving on Chicken's sofa. 

Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy mimicking the simple gross motor movements as you read the story such as jumping and dancing. Jan Thomas's graphic novel/comic book-style word balloons add a touch of whimsy to this funny and charming picture book. 

Hedgehug: A Sharp Lesson in Love by Benn Sutton 
 Picture Book 
 JE Sutton (New Picture Books Shelf) 
 Publication Date: 2011

This book's awww factor is cranked up to maximum capacity as readers meet Hedgehug, a prickly and too-cute-to be-believed hedgehog in search of love. 

Hedgehug is on a mission to find love as he toddles out of his burrow and marches through the forest toting his homemade valentine and listening to the bathump of his heart. 

Will Hedgehug find the love of his life or is he looking for love in all the wrong places?

Read Hedgehug: A Sharp Lesson in Love to learn that sometimes love can be quite prickly, but where there's a quill there has to be a way. 

I give this story 2 hearts up!

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
Picture Book
JE Freedman (New Picture Books Shelf)
Publication Date: 2011

Blue, Blue, who's blue? It's chicken that's who! Blue Chicken is a quacky, wacky story about a snowy white chicken who magically jumps out of a painting to help paint the picture's barn blue.

A paint-tastrophy ensues as the well-meaning chicken knocks over a glass of sky blue paint turning all the animals on the farm blue!

Chicken quickly snaps into action and courageously saves the day with his ingenious plan.

What's the plan you say? Come on over and check out the book Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman to find out!

Freedman's use of flamboyant colors and bold font will draw children to this sensational and delightful picture book.

The Friendship Wish by Elisa Kleven
Picture Book
JE Kleven (New Picture Books Shelf)
Publication Date: 2011

Who doesn't dream of the perfect friend, just maybe not one as shimmery and sparkly as The Friendship Fairy! In the story, you will meet Farley, who is looking for a dog-gone good friend. Unfortunately, as Farley searches for that special friendship all his neighbors seem way too busy with their own activities than having him join in.

One night, Farley dreams of a beautiful, magical "Friendship Fairy" who did all the wonderful things Farley enjoys doing with his friends including playing the guitar, singing, and being fed pancakes. Watch as magical events unfold in Farley's life after the visit from this majestic lady. 

Yuck! That's Not a Monster by Angela McAllister
Picture Book
JE McAllister
Publication Date: 2010

The story begins as Mr. and Mrs. Monster excitedly wait for their gruesome young as they hatch from their eggs. They glow with pride when they see that two of their children, aptly named Frightful and Horrid, live up to their full expectations of ugliness.

Unfortunately, their third little monster, who hatches from their bounty of eggs, is an  insanely adorable, sickeningly cute, little bundle of tufted pink fur, which they name Little Shock. He receives this moniker because it is such a shock that two very ugly monsters could create such cuteness.

Little Shock's sweet-natured ways and cutesy appearance just might pay off during a particularly scary event in the woods that will leave little ones gripping their seats at the sheer suspense of it all.

I loved this book and the glorious artwork which will captivate a very young and wiggly audience such as preschoolers. Illustrator Alison Edgson hits the mark with her sharp details and spot-on shadowing and shading which adds beauty as well as interest to the story. The rendering of Little Shock's sweet face will leave readers swooning. Well done!

Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes: A Very Silly Alphabet Book by Brian P. Cleary
ABC Concept Book
JE Cleary
Publication Date: 2007

This stunningly beautiful ABC picture book is a cheery feast for the eyes and wistful tongue-in-cheek delight to the ears. Children will surely become fascinated with the brilliant, soft and aw-inducing illustrations of flamingo hairstylists to kissing kangaroos that decorate it's pages.

The language in the book will introduce young readers to words such as Quail and Wallaby which will definitely induce fits of giggles to all-out laugh-out-loud snorts of glee. Kids will also enjoy a "letter hunt" as they search the pages for the hidden letters being read about on the book's pages.

I may be an adult, but after reading this book I know I certainly want a second helping of Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes!

Dog In Boots by Greg Gormley
Picture Book 
JE Gormley
Publication Date: 2011

Dog has quite a footwear dilemma ahead of him after he reads the classic children's storybook, Puss In Boots.

He must have a pair of beautiful, bodacious boots to parade around in during his daily doings.

So this passionate pooch sets off to the shoe store and tries on a brilliant pair of black, buckled boots which he immediately buys.

Unfortunately, he finds out that while these boots are perfectly polished they're not appropriate for rough and tumble bone digging, so he decides to ditch them and get himself a pair of boots that are up for the task.

The salesman suggests a rubbery pair of canary-yellow boots which will definitely suit dog's dirty mission.

Unfortunately, they don't do the job for another favorite pastime: swimming. So off again strides the pup to the shoe store to find just the right shoe to mend this irksome quandary.

Will our canine friend find that perfect shoe? Find out by reading this delightful story that grabs readers with its sweet storyline, light and fluffy illustrations, and a surprising ending, and  winsome spirit.

Jammy Dance by Rebecca Janni 
Picture Book (New Picture Book Shelf) 
JE Janni 
Publication Date: 2012 

It's time to cha-cha in your footie p.j.s and waltz in your nightgown over to your favorite reading spot to listen to this spirited bedtime story. 

It's off to bed for two boisterous p.j. clad siblings who bust-a-move during their nightly bedtime routine. 

This dance fest includes a bubbly bath, combing out some tangly tresses, brushing those pearly whites, and getting ready to listen to a magical fairy tale. 

Rebecca Janni expertly describes the daily "dance" with lively poetic print which preschoolers will adore. 

Illustrator Tracy Dockary's blissful illustrations illuminate the child-like quality of the text. 

Her painstakingly joyful renderings make the reader want to join in on the bedtime bash. 

Some other picture book faves that I have reviewed can be found by clicking on this link: 

These books include:

Dancing with the Dinosaurs by Jane Clarke

 Limelight Larry by Leigh Hodgkinson,

All Kinds of Kisses by Nancy Tafuri

Reaching by Judy Ann Sadler

Strega Nonna's Gift by Tomie DePaola

Miss Jennifer's Picture Book Parade Pick

Scary Mary by Paula Bowles                                
 Picture Book (New Picture Book Shelf) 
JE Bowles
Publication Date: 2012

Scary Mary is quite a curmudgeonly hen who "vants to be alone" at all times. There is no budging no matter how hard the other farm animals try to persuade this persnickety poultry to play with them. 

She rules the barnyard and makes it perfectly clear to all the animals that she is not a "chick" to be messed with. 

In order to cull the other animal's kindly actions, Scary Mary puts up all types of roadblocks including signs and a very foreboding-looking fort. 

To Scary Mary's chagrin, these precautionary measure arouse even more interest in the friendly livestock. Everyone wants to play!

Scary Mary gets her feathers in a twist and her explosive temper scares the other animals away. 

Will Scary Mary enjoy her "me" time or find out being alone isn't all it's cracked up to be? 

Read this charming tale which illustrates the importance of pro-social behavior and the true meaning of friendship. 

Children will enjoy the carefree renderings of sweet-faced farm animals and the bold use of primary colors which make this a true picture book gem. 

I give this story 2 eggs" up! 

Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn
Picture Book (New Picture Book Shelf)
JE McQuinn
Publication Date: 2012

Lola and her parents are getting ready for a bundle of joy. The family reads books, prepares the home for the little ones needs and finally the day arrives: Lola is a big sister. Lola loves being a big sis and decides she can help him stop crying whether it be for tiredness or a clean diaper.

This wholesome tale can be easily incorporated into a talk about becoming a big sister or brother for parents and simplifies the needs of infants to young children.

Simple words and pictures give the story a compelling aura into  the love of a family.

Monday, January 16, 2012

History Rocks: YA Bliss 2012 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

I've decided to step back into time through the pages of a novel by joining the YA Bliss 2012 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. I have pledged to read 5 Young Adult historical fiction books this year (level 1)!

Historical fiction is a phenomenal genre which invites the reader into the past through use of period situations, dress, and locations.

Follow me as my reading transports me to different time periods filled with beauty, intrigue, deception, joy, sadness, and romance that have influenced our world for eternity.

The following are the rules for the challenge:

Choose your level:

Level 1: 5 Books
Level 2: 10 Books 
Level 3: 15 Books 


  • All Historical Fiction books must be YA or MG 
  • Books don't have to be 2012 releases 
  • Anyone can join. Please link to a public (web) place I can find you. 
  • You can join at anytime. The challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.


Books Read

1I Am Rembrandt's Daughter by Lynn Cullen 
    YA Cullen 
    Publication Date: 2007
    307 pages 
    Historical Period: 17th Century Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

A true work of art! Peruse the pages of this novel and be beguiled by the world of Cornelia, the illegitimate daughter of the famous painter Rembrandt and his common law wife Hendrickje Stoffels, who suffers through poverty, loss, anger, and a struggle for true love which is forever out of reach. 

Readers will be drawn into the fear of the plague which sweeps Amsterdam, intrigued by the beautifully rendered imagery brought to life by the author, and relish in the gripping ending which causes Cornelia to doubt the love of Rembrandt. 

One aspect of the book that I found most fascinating was the use of Rembrandt's masterpieces to explain poignant flashbacks of Cornelia's life which gave the novel truly expressive meaning and depth. 

2. Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen 
    YA Godbersen 
    Publication Date: 2010
    389 pages 
    Historical Period: 1929 Kansas, New York City and Long Island, New York 

Ms. Godbersen offers a dazzling introductory novel to the Bright Young Things series with the smooth and seductive page turner of the same name. 

At first glance I believed the book, which is set in 1929 Kansas, New York City,  and Long Island, to be rather shallow and too coincidental in plot and events, but soon was absorbed by the author's use of language and wordplay which was deeply captivating and convincing. 

In the story, you will meet three young women who wildly differ in demeanor, appearance, and style. First, you will meet strong-willed Kansas farm girl, Cordelia, who is determined to locate the bootlegging father she has never know in glamorous New York.  Next is Cordelia's friend, lovable, yet naive Letty who dreams of bright lights and stardom in the cold and cruel world of show business, and lastly Astrid, the young and beautiful flapper who befriends Cordelia and introduces her to the elite of Long Island. 

Many bumps and bumbles follow the three as they reach their goals, become victims of defeat, and live dizzying lives in the epic Jazz Age. 

3. The Letter Writer by Ann Rinaldi 
    Not available at Oak Brook Public Library, but can be put on hold
    Publication Date: 2008
    217 pages 
    Historical Period: 1831 Southampton County, Virginia 

The Letter Writer is a sweeping novel that draws readers into the injustices and struggles between white plantation owners and their slaves in 1830's Virginia. While the novel was enjoyable, I found it to be rather shallow in areas which needed more explanation and may have lost interest without the brisk pickup in action and meaning by the end of the story. 

The young protagonist, Harriet Whitehead, is a thoughtful, yet immature girl at the beginning of the novel who blossoms into a worldly and dignified young woman due to the slave rebellion which transpired partly due to her naivete. 

In the story, Harriet is told by her fire and brimstone preacher half-brother, Richard, to help his near blind mother write correspondence to her business associates as well as family and friends. Harriet willingly accepts  this duty by writing to her Uncle Andrew in London, in order to polish her letter writing skills. 

As time goes on, Harriet meets Nat Turner, a young slave preacher, who is hired out to help produce quality furnishings for the family. Harriet is drawn to this smooth talking and gentle man who speaks of a kind and loving God rather than her brother's angry and tyrannical one. 

One day, Nat Turner privately asks Harriet for a map of the county. Unknowingly, Harriet decides to copy the map for Nat because she believes he will be preaching the word of a peaceful God to the local plantation owners and their slaves. Sadly, she does not know of the destructive and horrific events that will ensue due to this action: The 1831 Nat Turner Slave Rebellion with left 57 souls dead. 

This chilling novel will leave the reader grappling for answers to one question: Why did Nat Turner choose to destroy so many peoples lives through such violence and terror? 

Unfortunately, we will never know. Mr. Turner is a total mystery. Even though he had the ability to read and write he never wrote or discussed any information relating to the reason for the rebellion. His reasoning is left to suggestions, hypotheses, and probabilities by historians and novices alike. 

4. Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards 
     YA Richards 
     Publication Date: 2010 
     293 pages    
     Historical Period: Late 1880's  Johnstown, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas leading   up to 1889 Johnstown Flood 

Enter the world of Celestia  who is resigned to being the bookish, good-girl daughter of a wealthy businessman who summers at the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club near the doomed to-be-flooded Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Only to meet a handsome, but poor club worker, Peter who sweeps her off her feet into a tumultuous secret romance. 

This book which is strikingly written in the unique and notable style of verse ensnares the reader in its streamlined use of text and dreamy quality of yesteryear. I was totally blown away by how Ms. Richards was able to blend many characters within this story through use of chapters. Not only will the reader be invited into Celestia's world, but also glimpse into the lives of Maura (a young teenage bride and mother of a railroad worker), Estrella (sister of Celestia who harbors a secret which leads to her abandonment), Peter (Celestia's love who live in forsaken Johnstown, PA), Whitcomb (Celestia's businessman father), and Kate (a young women with a sad past who becomes a nurse in order to run away from the pain of loss). 

Watch as this story unfolds into a crisp and detailed fictional account surrounding the events of the May 1889 flood which forever changed the landscape of the Three Rivers area of Pennsylvania. 

The brilliant characters and magic of Ms. Richards storytelling will leave readers lingering on how such profound sadness and indignities can happen upon so many souls in a mere nanosecond of time. 

5.   The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg
      YA Dagg
      Publication Date: 2011
      250 pages
      Historical Period: 1896 Mica Creek, Washington to New York City

The Year They were Famous is a poignant and touching story based on the author's great-grandmother and great-aunt Helga and Clara Estby, who courageously walked our nation entirely on foot  in order to save the family farm and win 10,000 dollars.

I found this story to be an eye-opening look at America's past where perseverance and resourcefulness led people to think and dream up even the most impossible schemes in order to stay afloat.

Readers will become drawn into the pages through some of the following situations: Helga divulges a staggering family secret, she and Clara meet Mrs. William Jennings Bryan, they almost lose their lives to a flash flood, and roam aimlessly through lava flats with no help in sight.

The story remained exciting to the end and allowed the reader to revel in the complexity of the human spirit, shed light on the early suffrage movement, and act as a  loving family portrait of the settlers of the Pacific Northwest.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January/February 2012 Toddling Twos and Terrific Threes and Fours Storytime Crafts

The Toddling Twos and Terrific Threes and Fours will be making crafts a plenty during our January and February 2012 storytimes. Here's a peek at some of the crafts we will be making.

A torch for Lady Liberty

Don't forget her crown!

The Year of the Dragon: Chinese New Year

Special delivery

Hurry doctor and grab your kit!
The doctor will fix you right up!

These storytimes are closed to further registration. Please call the Y.S. Reference Desk  at 630-368-7734 for more info about our other exciting Youth and Young Adult programs.

January 17th Baby Tales Lap-sit Storytime (6-23 Months) Topic: Pigs

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy came to storytime... That's right, January 17th Baby Tales Lap-sit (6-23 months) Storytime is going to be hog wild! We'll read plenty of pig tales, visit the Three Little Pigs in a porcine-inspired flannel board of the classic children's story The Three Little Pigs, wiggle with Petunia Pig during our "Piggly Wigglies" rhyme, and bounce and dance during our Baby Hop lap bounce. 

Spaces are still available for this storytime. Please call the Y.S. Reference Desk at 630-368-7734 to register for this program. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

New York State of Mind! Toddling Twos and Terrific Threes and Fours January 16th and 18th Storytime Topic: New York and Statue of Liberty

Join Miss Jennifer as we travel back to her home state (New York) by "visiting" the Statue of Liberty and enjoying the excitement of a day spent in New York City! We'll dance with scarves to Neil Diamond's "America" as we make our way to the Statue of Liberty, go sightseeing by reading New York City and Statue of Liberty-themed books, and decorate and wear our very own dazzling Statue of Liberty crowns and torches!

Spaces are still available for these programs. Please call the Y.S. Reference Desk at 630-368-7734 to register. Registration is required.

Ring in the New Year with our Fantastic Storytimes! Programs begin January 16th!

Ring in the new year with one of our fabulous storytimes which begin next week (1/16/12)!  

Storytimes engage children through the use of picture books, songs, dances, fingerplays, and flannel boards to help build early literacy skills such as print and phonological awareness, create social interaction in a playgroup setting, and develop creativity and self-suffiencency through easy-to-make crafts.

We have many age-appropriate storytimes which your child can join! Each storytime is designed for the particular age group it is geared towards. All children are welcome! You do not need to be a resident of Oak Brook to join our storytimes.

See the following descriptions to see the many wonderful things these storytimes offer!

Baby Tales for children 6-23 months
Tuesdays at 10 am, January 17 - February 21

This story time allows parents and children to interact through stories, dance, songs, and books within a playgroup setting.

Toddling Twos
Mondays at 10 am, January 16 - February 20
Toddle on down to this breezy and interactive story time that includes marvelous books, flannel boards, tons of music and cute-as-a-button craft.

Terrific Threes and Fours
Wednesdays at 4:30 pm, January 18 - February 22
Preschoolers will wiggle and giggle in this fun-filled story time which includes a whimsical craft, dancing, and, of course, books.

Grades K-2
Tuesdays at 4:30 pm, January 17 - February 21The children will enjoy a story or two and embellish it with a creative craft.

Saturday Storytime for K-2
Saturdays at 11 am, January 21 - February 25
Something new for those who cannot make our weekday program, these sessions will feature a simple story and themed craft.