Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Hello Kitty Craft Books

You probably heard the news: Hello Kitty is not, in fact, a cat. My middle school heart is broken, my childhood now dramatically altered. I spent most of my middle school allowance on all those cute Hello Kitty thing-a-ma-jigs (technical term). It was an obsession. So I was super excited when I received two fun Hello Kitty books in the mail from Quirk Books (thank you!).

The Hello Kitty Baking Book: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes, Pies and More by Michele Chen Chock

“Do you know what a macaroon is?”, The Tween is yelling at me from her bedroom. “What?”, I inquire. She yells across the house again: “A macarons? It’s a French thingie.” (You can see where she gets her expansive vocabulary from.)

The book thief strikes again in my house. The Tween, seeing the Hello Kitty covers, had swiped the books off my table and she and a friend were looking through them in her room. One of the items in the cookbook is indeed a Hello Kitty French Macaron (page 18). There are also Hello Kitty ice cream sandwiches, cakes, cupcakes and a whole lot of yum. There is a brief introduction that discusses key ingredients and baking equipment, helpful for people like me who barely enter the kitchen. It turns out, unsalted butter is best for baking (I bet Robin knew this). There are two things I look for in a cookbook: 1) I want colored pictures of each and every recipe. 2) I want a detailed list of ingredients that’s easy to find before I even start reading the recipe. And we have a winner because both of those things happen here. You have to buy a Hello Kitty cookie cutter for a couple of these recipes to work, but a brief Amazon search reveals that there are plenty to choose from and they are not overly expensive. There are also some templates that you need to photocopy and blow up to do a few of the recipes (and there are instructions for doing that).

Hello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurumi Patterns for Sanrio Friends by Mei Li Lee

First things first: “In Japanese, Amigurumi refers to knitted or crocheted stuffed dolls.” (page 5). This is a book that will help you make a ton of cute Hello Kitty and friends dolls. They are adorable. They are also way above my skill level it turns out. BUT, for those who can make these, best thing ever.

We begin with some front matter full of basic information, including a look at some of the common tools you’ll need and an overview of some techniques you’ll need to complete the projects. Then we have our instructions with full color pictures to show you what it is you’re trying to make.

The Tween has now confiscated both of these books. Her and her friend are trying to learn to crochet because they want to make the Amigurumi dolls. This weekend we’re making Hello Kitty French Macarons (The Tween is France obsessed). So these books are a win. The layout and design is perfect, the instructions seem easy to follow, and they have motivated us to try new things. Wish us luck!

As for Hello Kitty, apparently they are saying she is not literally a cat, but the cartoon personification of a cat. That’s splitting hairs. It’s not like my middle school self thought she was a literal cat, so I’m at peace with this news. All is right in the world once again. Go forth and craft.

Sleuthing the Sleuth: Discussing The Sherlock Holmes Handbook

I recently watched a fascinating discussion about Sherlock Holmes on PBS called How Sherlock Changed the World.  One of the interesting revelations the special maintains is that as the original Sherlock stories were being written they were in fact SCIENCE FICTION in that Doyle posited doing things with science to investigate and solve crimes that were not yet actually being done.  The science being written about in the Sherlock mysteries is akin to the nanotechnology that Michael Crichton and Michael Grant (the BZRK series) are writing about in the last ten years; in other words, it was just a tip of the ice berg.  In fact, Doyle’s writing helped take the concept of forensic science into the future.  Before the Doyle stories, eyewitness testimony or confessions were the primary method of solving crimes.

That was a fascinating revelation to me, the master of mystery may in fact have been dabbling in the art of science fiction with his use of science in not yet developed ways.  After watching years of forensic science procedurals and even seeing Sherlock’s thought processes represented visually in the BBC reboot of the show, it’s interesting to remember and explore just how revolutionary Sherlock’s investigation methods were for the time period in which the stories were written.

So I thought we would end Sherlock Week with one of our favorite topics: books.  What is a library without a books, right?  In 2009, Ransom Riggs wrote an interesting handbook on the great consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes.  And yes, I do mean THAT Ransom Riggs . . . before there was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (which is awesome and you should read because the sequel, Hollow City, comes out this month), there was a nonfiction look at Sherlock.  This is not a look at the BBC television show or the CBS reboot, but a look at the character, the stories, and his methods.  Some of the topics in The Sherlock Holmes Handbook include:

How to Use Deductive Reasoning

How to Analyze Fingerprints-Without Computers

How to Master a Dozen Disguises

How to Survive a Plunge over a Waterfall

There are illustrations, a look at Scotland Yard during the time period that the stories were written and set, and a ton of interesting trivia.

Riggs is apparently quite the Holmes aficionado and it was interesting to see the results of that interest and research poured out into this volume of awesome.  For teens looking for more background information in the classic Sherlock Holmes, this is a great read.

TPiB: Sprinkles – Things to Make and Do with Sprinkles, inspired by the book Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers

Last year for Christmas, The Mr. and I bought the girls this big box thing of sprinkles.  I’m not going to lie, it really just appealed to my organizational nature – I am a librarian after all. We used the sprinkles exactly twice.  Once to make cookies.  And a second time when the Tween had an ice cream sundae party at school, I volunteered to bring the sprinkles.  So I needed the book Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers.  And honestly, I had no idea all the various things I could do with sprinkles.  My kids look at this book basically every day, not an exaggeration.  But to be honest, it is very colorful and inviting and full of awesome ideas.

The Tween’s Top 5 Recipes:
1. Homemade Pop Tarts (page 45)
2. Hot Chocolate Stir Stick (page 55)
3. Rainbow Layer Cake (which you see on the cover, page 75)
4. Holiday Cake Pops (page 81)
5. Brownie Bites (page 85)

And flipping through this book, I came up with a few fun programming/party ideas. It always amazes me how you can find the best ideas in the most unlikeliest of places.

Sprinkle Words/Letters

Glitter Initial Instructions at DesignMom

As a book lover, I love words.  And as a mom, I can tell you that tweens and teens are all about their names.  My tween has a ton of craft projects she has done where she has ended up with her initial or her name on her wall.  Or the name of a show she loves.  Or the title of a book.  So why not make (or buy) sugar cookies and let teens use the sprinkles to make word (or initial) cookies that mean something to them.  They’ll want to Instagram them of course.  If you do an end of year book discussion group where everyone shares their favorite titles, this would be a fun way to provide snacks and get teens talking about books.  Or you could do a variation of this using glue and confetti/glitter (and something for a backdrop like paper, picture frames, wooden or foam initials which you can purchase at most craft stores at minimal cost, etc.) and just eat cookies.

Doctor Who Sonic Screwdrivers

What you need: Pretzel Rods, Frosting, Green and Blue Sprinkles
Dip pretzel tip in frosting.  Coat in sprinkles.  Voila – a sonic screwdriver.  Or, for Harry Potter fans, a wand. Or for the non-geeks, just tasty, cool looking pretzels.

Fairy Bread Sandwiches

I recently spent the entire day making a fairy garden with my kids, inspired by the book Return to Me by Justina Chen.  And yes, there is a severed Barbie head on a stick in my fairy garden.  I would love to have a book discussion group for this book, make fairy gardens, and then eat fairy sandwiches.  I also talk fairy themed parties in the post on Tiny Food Party!  There is so much fairy themed fun you can have, and some of it is very dark :)

Hot Chocolate Stir Sicks

This is the tween’s favorite book in the whole shebang, and this is one of her favorite projects out of it.  To make this stir sticks, which are a version of chocolate covered marshmallows, you need marshmallows, chocolate, some type of stick and sprinkles.  You melt the chocolate (can be done in a crock pot or microwave), dip the marshmallow in the chocolate, and then coat in sprinkles.  You can also make mini ones using mini-marshmallows.  So I am envisioning having a holiday program where teens come and make their own chocolate stir sticks which you package to give as gifts (wrap in plastic wrap and tie with ribbon).  Then, at another station, they could use stamps, markers, etc. to make their own wrapping paper or gift bags.  Then at another station they can either pick out a discarded book or an older ARC that you have lying around.  Also, it would probably be a good idea to include individual envelopes of instant hot chocolate.  They can put a thing of hot chocolate mix, the stir stick and the book in their gift bag and they can give the gift of reading to someone.  Or you could take the packages and donate them to a local shelter or charity organization.  Or you can do a white elephant exchange at a book discussion group.  Want to take this to the next level? Make a Sharpie mug to complete the package.

Science: Make Rock Candy

There is recipe for making rock candy in a jar that is epically cool.  It takes a bit of time, it says the rock candy will grow over two weeks, but I can’t help but think how cool it would be for Tweens to come into the library periodically over that two-week period and watch the rock candy crystallize and grow.  You’ll want to keep it at well staffed desk, mainly because it has to be kept in a jar of water for the 2 weeks.  Make bookmarks with the recipe on one side (properly cited, of course) and a list of other fun hands on science and craft books on the other so patrons can duplicate the experiment at home.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

Flasback Post: Tales from Lovecraft Middle School

As part of Quirk Books Week, I am rerunning an earlier post about the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School, a great read for Middle Grade readers who want to be afraid – but not too afraid.  Fans of Percy Jackson may also like it as a bunch of mythological creatures are also pulled into the stories.

Halloween is one of my most favorite times of the year.  The leaves turn beautiful colors and glide gently to the ground, perfect for leaf pile jumping.  Everyone gets to dress up.  And there is candy.  Lots and lots and lots of candy.  I may or may not be the parent who sneaks candy out of the candy stash after my kids go to bed.  In my love for Halloween, I have set up my library as a haunted house a couple of times.  And as I read through the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series, I can’t help but think that this is not only the perfect Halloween read, but the perfect programming tie-in.

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School is a series about school that was built where a bizarre house used to stand.  Now, there are portals in the school, gateways to another dimension where this house once stood.  And sometimes strange, terrifying creatures come through the portals.  Not everyone knows about them, but Robert and Glenn do.  These are fun, slightly terrifying tales for middle grade readers – think a modern day take on Lovecraft for the Goosebumps set.  I’ve read all four books and they are more fun then scary, perfect for the MG crowd.

You can turn your library into a haunted house (Pinterest is your friend to research this).  Also, there are a few fun hands on activities below you can do for a program.

Gargoyle Stained Glass

 

Book 1 of LCMS is called Professor Gargoyle, so of course a gargoyle craft is a great idea.  Follow this link to Free Kids Crafts for a complete list of materials and instructions.  If you are ambitious, you can make gargoyles out of non-bake clay and let it dry.

Snake Charming

Book 2 involves two sisters who have snakes for hair, ala Medusa.  Oriental Trading (every librarian’s friend) has wooden wiggly snakes you can purchase and let participants color.  You can also make these springy spiral snake mobiles to hang from the ceiling or make these cool paper folded snakes.

Buggy Crafts and Games

 
Book 3 involves bugs.  There are no shortage of bug crafts out there.  Again, Pinterest is probably your friend here.  This bug is made from a calculator and school supplies.  I love this spiderweb made with colored chalk and school glue.  I also think it would be fun to buy some Hexo Bugs (not cheap, but you can buy them in bulk) and let the kids build HexoBug parks/arenas out of boxes, etc. and do some racing/fighting.

Monster Lab

Book 4 has a sinister substitute teacher and an army of monsters.  For some hands on monster fun you can either do an Exquisite Corpse activity (directions here) or pull out your left over craft supplies and let the kids loose to make their own monsters.  I love craft closet clean out!  You can also check out these previous posts: It’s a Dead Man’s Party , Bring Out Your Dead and Monster Fest.

You could also do some face painting and a monster make-up lab. 

Instagram It

The people in my neighborhood are already starting to decorate for Halloween.  Get out your smart phone and take pictures.  You can then Instagram them to add atmosphere and, if you like, add words to create cool signage for the season.  You can use your pics to create bookmarks, wall or end cap art, and more.

Here is some more random fun that you can throw in:

Tombstone Making : You can find instructions (and lots of other fun Halloween themed ideas) at It’s Written on the Wall.

Ghost Lights

Bat Mobile (which you can also turn into garland)

Creeptacular Touch Test: Check it out here at Craft Interrupted

Eyeball Miniature Golf – Make a min golf course (book ends, boxes, tubes, etc.) and use these floating eye ball balls as your golfball.

Additional Resources
20 Mod Podge Halloween Craft Tutorials
50 Halloween Crafts & Ideas 

Haunted House Pinterest Board Ideas
158 Pins 
266 Pins
327 Pins
1586 Pins

The Tales from Lovecraft Middle School are written by Charles Gilman and published by Quirk Books.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

TPiB: On a Stick

This is how some program ideas come to me: I am flipping through a new book that comes into our library and it sparks some inspiration.  It’s a win/win: patrons get cool books and I get great program ideas.

I like the idea of food on a stick.  There are some glorious recipes in here: Pizza Skewers, Cake Pops, Cinnamon Rolls (on a stick! You dip them into the icing.), Deep Fried Ravioli . . . So many great recipes. Give me a second, I have to clean the drool off of my keyboard.  As I looked through this book, I couldn’t help but think of all the programming and party planning ideas that could come out of it.  Sometimes all it takes is a little spark and you get entire party themes.  I think having a stick party is kind of the best idea ever.  But you can take it in other directions as well.  Wait, let me tell you some of the ideas that came to me as I flipped through.

Stick Puppets

I know what you’re thinking, “Stick puppets, really?”  But I have found that tweens and teens like to be creative if you give them the opportunity.  So give it to them.  Have them create stick puppets and then bust out your digital device and encourage them to make Vines or short YouTube clips.  Stick Puppets don’t have to be simple, you can create really elaborate ones (and clean out your craft supply closet) with hair, clothes, and more.  They can be people, animals, and even made up creatures.  Then feed your teens tons of glorious food on a stick.  They will love you.  And again I say to you, having a stick themed party is just quirky enough to be fun and interesting.

You can also play games like Hangman, Pick Up Sticks, and more at your stick themed party.  Or use pipe cleaners to make stick people and make stop motion Vine videos.

Spam and Pineapple Skewers and a Post Apocalypse Survival Party

When I saw this in the book I immediately thought: Post Apocalypse Party (or book discussion group).  Well, actually first I thought: “Ewwww, Spam.”  Then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a post-apocalypse discussion group/survival party?”  You could do things like make Paracord bracelets, discuss survival strategies, and even talk about your favorite post-apocalypse fiction.  Better yet, make it an ongoing book discussion over a series and discuss several books and do a different survival related activity at each book discussion meeting.  You could also include fun things from the Quirk Books Worst Case Survival Handbook.  And I happen to own the Worst Case Scenario Boardgame.  When you are running from zombies, you’ll want to make sure you know how to survive falling into quicksand.

You could also combine some of the recipes here with the ideas found in this Kitchen Road Trippin’ program outline to create a read around the globe book discussion group.

Cookies on a Stick

Have a Cookies on a Stick version of Cupcake Wars.  If you have not ever seen Cupcake Wars, you basically are given a theme and you bake and decorate cupcakes to highlight that theme.  In this version, you would provided cookies on a stick and allow participants to decorate the cookies around a theme.  You could take it up a notch and have them use their decorated cookies to create a scene, much like they do with Peeps Dioramas.

From Bake with Ginger


Bake with Ginger has a fun tutorial for creating Mustache Cookies on a Stick which you can use to make fun mustache pics – and then eat!  You could even have a mustache themed party with mustache crafts and a fun photobooth.

S’Mores (on a stick of course!)

Scary stories around a campfire – perfect for October.  Of course, you would have to create a fake campfire if you were going to do this in a library.  But get out a copy of your Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, eat some S’Mores on a Stick, and have fun.

Fish and Chips

Probably in part because I am obsessed with British TV (think Doctor Who, Sherlock & Downton Abby), I immediately thought about having a British TV/Film festival where you would of course serve Fish and Chips – on a stick.  The Robert Downey versions of the Sherlock Holmes films are covered under by Movie Licensing USA.  And you can buy some cool Union Jack Duck Tape to make some very British duct tape crafts.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

TPiB: STEM Projects with Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

Just as I was thinking to myself, “self, you need more sciency things in your programming”, Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by “Science Bob” Plugfelder and Steve Hockensmith showed up on my doorstep.  It was like a gift from the STEM fairies.  And the Tween spawn of me saw it and immediately grabbed it to read (she is the original book thief I tell you).  She really enjoyed reading this.  I asked her and this is what she said: “It was a lot of fun.  I liked it.  I especially liked . . .” Well, I can’t tell you that part because SPOILERS.  Let me just say, this is a great Middle Grade read that combines fantastic fun, zany inventions, and a little science to help readers add a little mystery to their day.I highly recommend it.

The best part, the book has its own science experiments built in and outlined right there in the book for you.  Who doesn’t want to learn how to build rockets and robots?!  The science projects outlined in the book include:

  • Low-Tech (Practically No-Tech) Bottle Rocket and Launcher
  • Mints-and-Soda-Fueled Robotcat Dog Distractor
  • Semi-Invisible Nighttime Van Tracker
  • Christmas-is-Over Intruder Alert System
  • Do-It-Yourself Electromagnet and Picker-Upper

I can totally see (and am in the process of actually planning) hosting a MG book discussion group of these titles and doing the activities outlined inside the book.  There is another book coming soon, Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage (February 2014) and you can find more science fun at NickandTesla.com.  This series is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to read more.

Here are a few more ways you can incorporate science into your programming (or at home):

Strawberry DNA Extraction
I recently took Thing 2 (now 5) to the Dallas Arboretum and they have added an entire science garden.  I’m not going to lie, this was the best thing ever and I want to write a grant to remake the entire library into an interactive science space like this.  If you can get to the DFW area, I highly recommend that you visit.  While there, we did an experiment where we extracted Strawberry DNA and viewed it up close over an overhead projector.  You can find instructions to duplicate this experiment here.

Tech Take Apart/Robot Building Days
The simplest tech programming I have ever involved included a two-day workshop.  The first day, we took apart a bunch of donated tech we had collected (cell phones, computers, printers, etc.) to explore what they looked like inside.  One of our staff members was able to identify the various internal parts for us.  The second day, we used the components to make various “robot” creatures.  We didn’t make actual electronic robots, although with the right tools you certainly could.  But this allowed our tweens and teens to tap into their creative side while exploring tech innards.  Plus, it was a great way to get rid of all of our outdated or non functioning technology.

Snapcircuits
To give tweens and teens a simple chance to explore electronic science, you can always just purchase these basic Snapcircuits kits.  We have one at home and you can do over 300 things with it.  There are various different kits you can buy, so choose wisely.


Legos and Tech
I outline some great ways you can use Legos to help tweens and teens explore technology at this Makerspace post.

Raspberry Pi
School Library Journal recently ran an article that outlined how to get started exploring tech using Raspberry Pis, which are these small little motherboard things.  I also have one of these at my house (spurred on by the article), but we have yet to do anything with it.  The tween wants to use it to create an alarm system for her room.  I’m pretty sure her little sister is somehow involved in this desire.  Christie and I have gotten the funding to add a Raspberry Pi component to our Makerspace, which I will share with you next week.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

TPiB: Marshmallow Madness

Although Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever mostly involves various recipes for cooking your own marshmallows, I couldn’t help but think of all the fun programming you can do around the theme of marshmallows.  One of the most popular programs I ever hosted involved putting a buffet of various sweet food items in front of a group of teens and putting them to the task of creating a desert concoction ala Iron Chef.  Food programming can be the most fun, and can have the biggest draw.  Of course some libraries are having demonstration kitchens built in as they embrace the Makerspace idea, and I am only a teeny bit jealous.  So here is a way to have some “Marshamallow Madness” fun with tweens, teens, and families . . . .
 
Marhsmallow Shooters
Instructables has a step-by-step outline of how you can make your own Marshmallow Shooters.  It involves cutting PVC pipe – or finding an alternative – so you would have to pre-cut some of the pieces.  However, Spoonful has ideas for making a marshmallow catapult, which would be a great upcycled craft for Earth Day. There is another version at Rainy Day DIY.

Marshmallow Fling
There are instructions for a game called Marshmallow Fling available at PBS.  It basically involves flinging marshmallows into a designated space – say a cup or paper bag – using a plastic spoon.  There are more marshmallow games available at 33 minutes, a youth ministry site (youth ministry sites are actually a really good place to find games).

Marshmallow Designs
Using a variety of marshmallows in different sizes and colors and some toothpicks, you can have tweens create marshmallow creations of all types.  For example, here are some marshmallow animals that appeared in McCall’s Magazine in the 1970s (I found the picture at Candyprofessor.com: Things To Do with Marshmallows and they state it is from The Happy Apple via Flickr).  You wouldn’t have to do just animals, however, as you could get into some engineering and ask your participants to build larger structures or create whole scenes.

Source: Best Friends for Frosting

You can also use edible markers – yes, these things exist – and color marshmallows to make creations.  Put your marshmallow on a skewer to make designing and coloring easy to manage.  And to avoid smudges.

You can also decorate marshmallows using some royal icing as “glue” and various small candy, like Red Hots and such.  It’s the marshmallow version of the Gingerbread House.  You can have a type of Iron Chef program using marshmallows as your secret ingredient as we discussed these food based programs earlierBest Friends for Frosting shows how you can use frosting, sprinkles and more to create fun marshmallow pops – which coincidentally will also work for an On a Stick program or Sprinkles program (which we will talk about in the next few days).  They also tell you how you can make these fun Snowmen pops, which, you know, this is a good time of year for.

Adipose
Doctor Who fans are familiar with Adipose, little creatures that look like cute little marshmallows.  Because they look like marshmallows, they are easy to make out of marshmallows.  Funny how that works out that way.  Cookfiction has instructions for you.

Peeps Dioramas
Perhaps no marshmallow is more famous than Peeps.  Well, maybe the Stay Puft Marshmallow from Ghostbusters (“Who you gonna call?”).  Libraries near and far have had great success hosting Peeps Diorama programs. Pink and Green Mama created this amazing Goodnight Moon inspired Peeps diorama. I heartily recommend seeing what your tweens and teens can create.

From Pink and Green Mama

The Tween went through this book and her 5 favorite recipes include:
1) Kool-Aid Marshmallows (page 66)
2) Root-Beer Float Marshmallows (page 69)
3) Bubble Gum Marshmallows (page 70)
4) birthday Cake Marshmallows (page 72)
5) Mallow Cones (page 74)

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

Book Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher (Plus a TPiB)

May the Verse Be With You!

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher is kind of one of the best books ever.  It was not at all what I was expecting.  It is basically Star Wars, done as a Shakespeare play, including stage directions and all the requisite doths and pray ye and such. You even get to say things like “beep, squeak, beep, beep, squeak” as R2-D2.  You can read an excerpt at Entertainment Weekly.

When it arrived on my doorstep, my family and I began reading it aloud and it was hysterical. The Mr., a huge Star Wars fan, adores this book.  Doescher is clearly a Star Wars fan and knew what he was doing when he translated it into Shakespeare, an impressive thing indeed.  I can not imagine any Star Wars fan not being tickled by this book.  It is a pretty faithful presentation of the first film (well, the IVth actually) and it is interesting to see how well the plot of the film fits into a Shakespeare translation.

“I pray thee, sir, forgive me for the mess/And whether I shot first, I’ll not confess.
– Han Solo, Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__E20tUsM3s?rel=0]

For the past 2 years, Christie and I have participated in Star Wars Reads Day at our library with great success.  So we already have a ton of programming ideas lined up for you (Star Wars Reads Day Take 1 and Take 2).  And the Quirk Books blog has14 Star Wars and Shakespeare Craft Ideas to Make. Random House has an educator’s guide available as well.

This book is a lot of fun and is dying to be read aloud.  Make sure you do that.

“A plague on 3PO for action slow,/ A plague upon my quest that led us here,/ A plague on both our circuit boards, I say! [R2-D2}”
Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope 

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Pecular Children by Ransom Riggs

This post originally ran way back in 2011, when I first started TLT.  I am rerunning it today as part of Quirk Books Week.  And because I still love this book and you should read it if you haven’t.  Even if you have, read it again because the sequel, Hollow City, comes out in January of 2014.

Every once in a while, an amazing new book comes along that moves you.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is one of those book for me.  This is an amazing story: creative, moving and just inspiring.  There are also a lot of great programming opportunities that tie into it.

Synopsis: As a child, Jacob was inspired by his grandfather’s stories about a home where a variety of peculiar children lived.  His grandfather shared haunting photos of these children: a girl who seemed to float on air, a girl with a mouth on the back of her head . . .  As Jacob grows, he begins to doubt the wondrous stories his grandfather has always shared.  He is working at his uncles drug store empire, trying every day to get fired and wondering what his future holds when his grandfather dies.  Jacob has seen a strange creature which everyone thinks is part of his coping mechanism.  Soon Jacob is sent on a journey where he tries to find this home, to learn the truth about his grandfather.

Miss Peregrine’s Home is a rich fantasy full of adventure and discovery.  It is also a story that celebrates how truly different and unique each person is.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWrNyVhSJUU]

Throughout the story Riggs shows a variety of beautiful, haunting pictures that really enhance the reading experience.  Riggs found the photos at garage sales and in attics, and they really help bring the journey together.  Riggs has a blog that I recommend you check out.  This is his first book, and it will definitely not be his last.  I sincerely hope that he continues to explore the world that is mapped out in Miss Peregrine.

If you have not read it stop reading this blog post now, go read it and then come back.  It is that good.

Are you back?  Okay, now I want to share with you some ideas I have for programming that tie-in to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  Have a “Peculiar Party” where you show the book trailer, discuss the book, and engage in some creative activities inspired by the book.

Make a Picture, It’ll Last Longer

One of the truly amazing parts of Miss Peregrine are the photos throughout the book, and we definitely have a wide variety of tools at our disposal to help create our own images.  As you know, TLT believes in providing opportunities for teens to express themselves creatively and learn technology skills that will help them succeed in life.  So get out your digital camera (or iPhone, there are a lot of apps that would be great for this) and get teens shooting.  Then, upload the images and use photo editing software (you can do some in things like PowerPoint and Publisher, which a lot of libraries use, but GIMP and a couple other programs are available for free download if your library hasn’t purchased any photo editing software).  Let the teens explore ways they can manipulate the images and make themselves, or their friends, into “Peculiar” children.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be done digitally – some teens may want to draw or make collages.  You can also do thinks like a scrapbooking project or make picture frames to work with the creative aspect of Riggs book.

You can also have teens put together a photo essay.  A photo essay tells a story using a series of pictures.  Teens can create the photos themselves, or collect photos similar to making a collage.  Here is a list of sites that talk about good photo essay activities.

You may also have a local photographer who would be willing to come in and do a workshop or a series of workshops to talk about basic photography and layout and design, etc.  The photographer for your local paper, a college instructor or the teacher that does your local high school’s newspaper may be willing to give some basic instruction.

Have teens think about what type of peculiar child they would like to be:
What type of talent would they like to have?
What would it look like in an old fashioned photograph?

Make sure you get copies of each created piece so you can decorate your teen area and share them online.

An example flier
This picture was taking using Hipstagram on iPhone

Monster Mash

There are dark monsters that inhabit the peculiar world that Riggs has created.  These creatures, want to use the talents of the peculiar children for their own selfish purposes.  Have the teens discuss this aspect of the book.  Then, they can create their own monsters.  I am a big fan of the Gocks, so that is certainly one thing you can bring into your program.  Of course you can just make your monsters out of any type of found materials.

In fact, this would be a great time to employ the old practice of exquisite corpse: get teens a long sheet of paper (like table covering paper) and fold it into 3 sections.  The first teen will draw the head and then fold it over.  The second teen, without seeing the head, draws the body and folds it over.  And the final teen draws the leg portion without having seen the body or the torso.  When you unfold the entire art piece you get one cohesive monster that features the imagination of 3 teens put together in a Frankenstein mish mash.  You can also do this as a writing exercise, have 1 teen write a sentence then they pass it on.  This is a creative way to get interesting poems or short stories together with a wide variety of input.

The Wonder of Found Art

Remember part of the inspiration of Riggs work was a collection of found art.  So any activity that allows for creativity is a great tie-in.  And as you talk about how the story came to be, it is great to incorporate the idea of found art into your programming.  It is amazing what teens can come up with if you give them a mish mash of items to work with.  Collect clean trash from staff and then give each teen a container with say 10 items, see what they can make out of it.  You could also just get a bunch of your leftover craft supplies together and do the same.  They can make 3-d art or paper art, either would work.  Here is an example of some amazing found art.

You could also have the teens bring in their favorite stuff to share.  Or have a swap meet and let them trade.  It is always amazing to see what teens have that mean something to them, and it is equally fun to see what they have that they want to get rid of.  One person’s trash truly is another person’s treasure.

The Collector’s Peculiar Museum

On his blog, Ransom Riggs shares about his peculiar hobby of collecting pictures of people he doesn’t know.  Give your teens an opportunity to share what they collect:  You can have them take photos and create a digital museum or have them bring in examples as part of a kind of swap meet/show and tell.  Maybe you have a display case and you can let teens set up displays.

The Collector’s Museum – Have teens take a picture of themselves with their collection.  Then print off the pictures and hang them in your teen area.  Maybe put a call number reference on the poster and use it as a means of teaching teens to navigate the stacks. 

Have a teen of the week feature on your FB page and share the picture with a brief bio of the teen (first name only).  Share any books your library may have on the topic.

What a Peculiar Short Story

Get a bunch of old photographs together.  When teens come into your program have them randomly choose one out of a bag.  Then, ask them to write a brief short story about the picture.  What is happening?  How does the character feel?  What journey are they on?

Or daily post a random pic on your FB page and asks teens to write a caption for it.

My Peculiar Life

I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a huge fan of data visualization and of Nicholas Felton’s yearly annual reports, basically a data visualization account of his year – a type of “biography“.  I think teens would enjoy creating a visual biography like this.  It can be their biography, or the summary of a year, or a way to tell their family story.  I think this would also be a great activity for seniors getting ready to graduate.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Riggs fabulous book will soon be made into a movie.  Have your teens create movie posters.  Have them create their dream cast: who would they want to play each character.  The great thing is you can send out a poll and have these types of discussions online to help generate traffic to your webpage.

Sharing Family Stories

At the heart of the story is the relationship between Jacob and his grandfather and the stories that his grandfather shared.  You can give teens opportunities to share their family stories.  They can write them, story board them, make a pictorial version.  Any of the creative ideas that have been shared on this blog can be used:  make posters, pictures, quotes.  Just give your teens an opportunity to create and share.

And the Winner Is . . .

Not everything has to be a contest, but any of the above activities can certainly be turned into a contest.  Your prize can be a Peculiar Gift Basket: a copy of the book, a digital camera, some snacks to enjoy while reading it.

What a Peculiar Read, Let’s Discuss It?

  • Basic discussion questions:
  • Why did Jacob start to doubt his grandfather’s stories?  Do you think you would have?
  • When Jacob runs out after the creature in his grandfather’s house, what did you think was happening?  How do you think you would have felt in that situation?
  • Would you have wanted to take the journey that Jacob wanted to take to learn about his grandfather?  What do you think this says about Jacob?
  • What was your reaction when Jacob first found Miss Peregrine’s home?
  • If you were a peculiar child, what type of peculiar talent would you want to have?
  • Who was your favorite peculiar child in the book and why?
  • What did you think about Jacob’s developing relationship with the various peculiar children?
  • What did you think of Miss Peregrine herself?
  • Would you have made the decision to stay in the time loop?
  • What was your reaction to finding out about Jacob’s counselor’s role in it all?
  • What did you think of Jacob at the end of the book?  What choices that he made would you have maybe have done differently?
  • Overall, what did you think of the book?
  • If you could travel back in time, where would you travel to and why?


If You Like Miss Perergrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, You May Also Like

Books about being different, time travel and journeys, and missing someone close to you
Freaks, Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klaus
Mr. Was by Pete Hautman
Looking for Alaska by John Green
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum Ucci
The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum Ucci

And an odd true story to share: 
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science by John Fleischman

Other photo related activities to keep in mind: scrapbooking, making a wide variety of picture frames, and treasure searches (maps) such as the map of time loops.  There are a lot of possibilities, so be bold like Jacob and creative like Riggs . . .

More Photo Related Crafting Ideas
Turn Your Instagram Photos into Photobooth Strip Bookmarks   
10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas part 1 and part 2
Instagram crafts
When Books Inspire Art  

Since writing this post, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has been made into a graphic novel, so be sure and check that out as well.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

Take 5: “Quirk”-y Cookbooks (Quirk Books Week)

This week is Quirk Books Week so we are all about Quirk Books.  This week all came about actually because I was browsing their website one day while starving and they have all these cool cookbooks. I sat there drooling on my keyboard.  Seriously, the L key now sticks.  So when the books came in the mail, my 2 girls were ecstatic.  They have looked through them several times and marked tons of things they want us to try.  So these Quirk cookbooks all get a multi-generational thumbs up.  They also all have the one thing I really care a lot about in cookbooks: colored pictures, not for every recipe necessarily, but they are all attractive and colorful.  That is important to me, I’m shallow that way.  Today I am going to give you an overview of the books and then the next 4 days I will outline some programming and party ideas for 4 of the books.

Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever

Here’s what I knew to do with marshmallows before this book: 1) put them in hot cocoa, 2) use them in S’mores, and 3) use them in Rice Krispie treats.  Here’s some things I learned after reading this book: 1) you can make your own marshmallows, 2) you can make them in a lot of fun shapes, and 3) you can make them in a lot of fun flavors.  You can even make chocolate filled marshmallows! And cocktail themed marshmallows! Also, if you make me the S’mores cupcakes that are in the book we can be best friends forever.  

On a Stick: 80 Party-Perfect Recipes by Matt Armendariz

Corn dogs and skewers and fair food . . . oh my! And by oh my, I mean oh my yum! This book is exactly what you think it is: a bunch of food recipes that involve putting food on a stick.  But it is more than corn dogs (which, by the way, I adore) . . . There are sweet potato wedges,cake pops, candy apples, popcorn balls and more.  Sometimes the stick is food itself, such as the chocolate-tipped peppermint sticks, but most of the time the stick is just a vehicle for getting the food from the plate to your mouth – and I’m okay with that.  I was amazed by the creative recipes they put together.

Pops: Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella

When we were kids, my brother and I used to like to pour Kool Aid into ice cube trays with some tooth picks. Voila! We had our own ice pops.  We thought we were pretty cool like that.  This book proves we were totally amateurs.  There are recipes for healthy energy pops, fruit juice pops, soda fountain pops, coffee and tea pops, cream and pudding pops and – yes – cocktail pops.  Some of them are all layered and stripy looking, so take that Martha Stewart.

Sprinkles: Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers

I am not exaggerating when I share that last year for Christmas we got the girls this small suitcase thing of sprinkles for Christmas.  So I needed this book, needed it I tell you! Because all I could figure out to do with them was to make cookies.  The first thing you need to know is that this is not just a book about sprinkles.  For example, it had a doughnut recipe in it so that you can make your own doughnuts – with sprinkles, of course.  Really, it’s a book of recipes for foods that are made more fun and festive with sprinkles.  The recipes include things like Gingersnap Cookie Butter, Rainbow Layer Cake and French Toast.  But it *does* also have some fun things you can do with sprinkles, like making party spoons that you can dip into a warm drink and stir or making festive rimmed glasses.  The Tween says this is her favorite of the 5 books.

Tiny Food Party: Bite-Size Recipes for Miniature Meals by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park

Everything about this title is epic: Tiny. Food. Party.  How can you not want to do this? If you don’t, you have a coldness in your heart that can only be rivaled by the pre-Christmas singing in Whoville Grinch; you know, when his heart was 3 sizes to small.  So this is obviously a bunch of tiny food recipes and ideas.  There are tiny Pop Tarts people! You can make your own tiny Pop Tarts.  Miniature meat loaves. L’il Hostess Cupcakes.  And they have outlined some great party themes for you and put the recipes into fun menu categories for: a Tiny Picnic, a Tiny Vegetarian Food Party, a Tiny Comfort Food Party (great for taking over to a newly dumped friend’s house), and a Tiny Fiesta Food Party (great for multicultural days).  Basically, this is the best recipe book ever.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.