Mice Storytime 9/13/17

By Awnali Mills

Last week’s storytime was about mouses.  Mice.  The small, scurrying creatures.  The books I chose were How to Catch a Mouse by Philippa Leathers and Whose Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus.

How To Catch a MouseWhose Mouse Are You

I welcomed the kids and said we’d start with a song.  I turned around to get my ukulele and screamed.  My little fingerpuppet mouse had scared me!  He brought us our letter “M” and brought out his friend to help us do a Thumbkin variation – Where is Mouse?  Then we read How to Catch a Mouse.

To include some science, I showed the children a standard #2 pencil and told them that a mouse can squeeze through a hole that is the size of a pencil, and that if a pencil can roll under a door, then a mouse can get under it as well.

I pulled out my Hickory Dickory Dock activity set that I made, passed out the mice, and then did the rhyme with the different colors.  The children would bring up their color when it was called, and drop their mouse inside the clock.

Hickory Dickory Dock Clock

I read Whose Mouse Are You? Then we sang The Little Mice.  I wasn’t familiar with this song before, but it went over really well.  The children acted like the mice, and the adults acted the part of the cat, while I sang the song and played.  I had everyone practice the motions before the song, so everyone was prepped and ready to go.

C                                                         G            C
The old gray cat is sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,
G            C
The old gray cat is sleeping in her bed.

The little mice are creeping, creeping, creeping,
The little mice are creeping,
Through the house.
The little mice are eating…all her food
The little mice are climbing…on the cat
The little mice are jumping…on her back.
The little mice are dancing…’round the cat.
The old gray cat is waking…from her nap.
The little mice are hiding…from the cat.
The old gray cat is creeping…through the house.
The little mice all scamper…through the house

I finished up with the flannel and song Five Little Mice.
To the tune of: Five Little Ducks
C                               G7
Five little mice came out to play,
Gathering crumbs along the way,
Out came pussycat sleek and fat;
Four little mice go scampering back

Four little mice came out to play
Gathering crumbs along the way
Out came pussycat sleek and fat
Three little mice go scampering back

One little mouse came out to play
Gathering crumbs along the way
Out came pussycat sleek and fat
No little mice go scampering back

The children didn’t seem too terribly disturbed that the cat was eating the mice.  Shrug.

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Book Review – The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky

Countdown ConspiracyBy Awnali Mills

Miranda Regent is one of six kids chosen from around the world to begin training as an astronaut.  Their mission is to be the first people to go to Mars.  Miranda is thrilled about the opportunity—she competed very hard for the chance.  But not everyone is as excited about Miranda’s participation.  Attacks seem to be targeting her, and rumors are flying that the United States strong-armed the committee into accepting an American into the program.  The war over space has only recently ended, and there are political minefields everywhere.  Miranda just wants to do her job and go to Mars—but will she survive that long?

The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky looked good…but not great.  I left it on the bottom of my stack and proceeded to read other things, picking it up with a little sigh and wondering if it was going to be worth the read.

And I almost couldn’t put it down.

Wow.  I’m not wild about stories full of technical jargon, but this book had just enough technical jargon in it to make it realistic without making it dull.  It was full of action, competition, personal rivalries and interesting characters.  Even among the top tier of students, there’s someone who’s at the bottom of the top, and Miranda is it.  Everyone (including herself) wonders if the rumors about her inclusion in the program are true.  The tension she feels and that plays out in the group are very engaging.  I found myself being dragged into the next chapter despite my best intentions.

Housework was neglected.

Husband was neglected.

It wasn’t pretty.

And yet even now, I find myself looking at the book and thinking, “Was it really that good?  Did it just hit me at the right time for me to love it?”  All I can say is that it felt like a well written adult thriller that features children.  You’ll have to read it for yourself to see if it’s actually that good.  Recommended for grades 4- 8.

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Jungle Storytime 9/6/17

By Awnali Mills

Today’s storytime took us to the jungle.  The books I chose were Warning: Do Not Open this Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle.

Warning Do Not Open This BookIt's a Tiger

I opened storytime with If You’re Happy and You Know It just to get kids settled down, and then went right into my first book, Warning: Do Not Open this Book!. If you haven’t read it, monkeys, toucans and an alligator escape because you keep turning the pages.  You get to trap them all with a banana and snapping the book closed.  I heard a few kids worriedly asking their caregivers if the monkeys were really going to come out.  The kids were so focused in that I was able to whisper several pages as we set a trap.  At the end, I had everyone form their hands into a trap and slam them shut with me when I slammed the book closed.  We celebrated trapping all the monkeys, etc., and then I turned to my cart and…a monkey had escaped!  A monkey puppet was sitting on my cart.

He came out and leapt around a bit before agreeing to bring us the letter “J”.  We talked about “J” words before moving on to do the activity Five Little Monkeys.  They’re in a tree, teasing Mr. Alligator (in case you didn’t knowJ)

Five little monkeys (2)

Then I brought out my ukulele and we sang Do You Know the Jungle Animals?  For each stanza, I brought out the appropriate stuffed animal/puppet.  (I also sneaked in a little lesson about camouflage).

C                                                                       F                           G7
Do you know the chimpanzee, the chimpanzee, the chimpanzee
C                                                                       F      G7                  C
Oh do you know the chimpanzee that lives deep in the jungle?

Do you know the scaly snake, the scaly snake, the scaly snake
Oh do you know the scaly snake that lives deep in the jungle?

Do you know the anteater, the anteater, the anteater
Oh do you know the anteater that lives deep in the jungle?

Do you know the chameleon, the chameleon, the chameleon
Oh do you know the chameleon that lives deep in the jungle?

Do you know the fierce tiger, the fierce tiger, the fierce tiger
Oh do you know the fierce tiger that lives deep in the jungle?

Adapted from http://www.everythingpreschool.com/themes/jungle/songs.htm  (the animals can be changed around to suit whatever you have on hand if you want to use stuffed animals.)

Since we finished on the fierce tiger, I had the children guess how long a Bengal tiger is.  Then I brought out a ruler and the children helped me count to 10 as we measured 10 feet, two children marking each end of the line.

Next up was our book It’s a Tiger!.  I had the children stand and help me do all the actions from the book.  They sat back down and I did the flannel Five Elephants in a Bathtub.  The kids helped me by patting, clapping, and yelling “Come on in!”

One elephant in a bathtub going for a swim
Knock, knock (clap, clap)
Splash, splash (slap hands on knees)
Come on in! (make a big “come on” gesture)

Two elephants in a bathtub, etc.
(End) And they all fell in!

I had planned to end with Old MacDonald Lived in a Jungle, but we were out of time.  Whew!

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Book Review: Everybody’s Revolution by Thomas Fleming

Everybody's RevolutionBy Awnali Mills

Everybody’s Revolution by Thomas Fleming is an examination of the American Revolution from the perspective of race and nationality.  So often, we think of the founding fathers as “the old white guys,” and they were.  But the Revolution wasn’t won by the old white guys.  It was won by African, Irish, French, German, Polish, and Jewish Americans to name a few.  It was won by women and children who believed as strongly in the cause of freedom as any man.

Many of the fighters were first generation folks who came from other countries, but believed strongly in the cause of freedom.  Fleming does an excellent job of pulling out the little known stories of patriots like James Forten, a fourteen year old African American who served in America’s Revolutionary navy, Swiss immigrant Henry Wisner who campaigned for the Declaration of Independence and then manufactured the gunpowder to back it up, and Irish spy Hercules Mulligan who charmed the redcoats with his tailoring skills and sent George Washington valuable information.  He includes Nancy Hart, who used the enemy’s own guns to capture loyalists who broke into her home, and 16 year old Elizabeth Zane who left a besieged fort in the face of enemy fire and returned with a keg of gunpowder, ensuring the Americans could hold out until reinforcements arrived.

I really enjoy the stories of history (do NOT ask me dates), and I enjoyed these very much.  I kept muting the Little League World Series to read portions to my ever-patient husband.  I wanted to read children’s books based on these stories.  I wanted MORE!

But for now there’s Everybody’s Revolution.  For children who are reluctant to delve into history, this will certainly whet their appetite.  For others who think that history is all about the white dudes, this will be a wonderful surprise.  Recommended for grade 4-adult.

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Book Review: Confessions from the Principal’s Kid by Robin Mellom

Confessions from the Principal's KidBy Awnali Mills

Allie West’s mother is the school principal.  That means that Allie knows her way around the school—knows all the staff, knows who has the good snacks, and the best places to eavesdrop on teachers.  It also means that her classmates see her as an outsider, the principal’s ear in their secret conversations.  They didn’t use to think that until Allie, in a moment of panic, ratted out her best friend.  All she wants to do is fit in and, well, be normal.  Will she sacrifice the few people who still speak to her to make that happen?

Confessions from the Principal’s Kid is written by an actual principal’s kid, Robin Mellom.  It isn’t autobiographical, but some of the stuff (she explains in the author’s notes) really did happen to her.  While very few of us were teachers’ kids, all of us can probably relate to feeling like the outsider, having fights with our friends, and being misunderstood.  I expect that all of us can feel like we’ve lost our parents to their jobs, and our parents just don’t understand, so there’s a lot here for kids to relate to.

I liked Allie’s character a lot.  She has plenty of flaws, but she’s basically a great kid who’s just trying to navigate friend drama.  Graham, her friend, was a bit too wonderful to be believed.  Elementary school guys are rarely this deep, brave, and insightful, but I enjoyed his character anyway (suspension of disbelief, ya’ll.  I mean, guys should be this wonderful.)

While this book isn’t great literature, there was some good stuff about trusting your parents and knowing who your real friends are, and it was a fun read.  Recommended for grades 3-6.

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Audio Book Review – Rose under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose under FireBy Awnali Mills

At the recommendation of a co-worker, I listened to Rose under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.  Rose Justice is an American courier pilot for Britain during WWII.  She’s dealing with the grief of losing friends and the tedium and horror of war when she gets captured by the Germans.  As a political prisoner, she is sent to Ravensbrück, the Nazi camp notorious for the horrendous conditions and the medical experiments that were done to the Polish female prisoners.  Very quickly Rose is learning the politics of bowls, why prisoners fight for the top bunk, and how to prop up dead bodies to fill out the roll call.  But can she survive the war with her sanity intact?

Wow.  I was really enjoying this book until Rose got captured.  Then it became very…real.  I mean, it was real before, but it became scary.  And horrific.  Part of my mind just flinched from the horrors I was hearing about, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was, if not a true story, then a story that included true events.  It was really hard to wrap my brain around the reality of people being this deliberately cruel to one another.  I’ve studied WWII, of course, but tend to shy away from stories that involve the concentration camps because they bother me so much.  But the cry of the women in the story is “Tell the world!”  Someone must be there to listen, mustn’t they?

This is a very good story, deep and involved, but may be hard for sensitive souls to listen to.  Recommended for older teens.

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Library Storytime – 8/16/17

By Awnali Mills

The last storytime of this session was Library themed.  The books I chose were A Library Book for Bear by Bonnie Becker and Comin’ Down to Storytime by Rob Reid.

I started with my ukulele and If You’re Happy and You Know It, adding the verse “read a book.”  This was a crowd pleaser.  Then my monster puppet, Larry, came to visit.  He kept trying to eat little fingers (they’re a delicacy, you know), and he also eats books.  And letters.  But he didn’t get today’s letter – L.  After I put him down for a nap, we read A Library Book for Bear.

Library Cheer by Brad Boggart was next.  I had the kids help me with the chant “Books are good.  Books are great.  I want books; I will not wait!”  In between each chant, I put up the appropriate books for the poem.  Then we sang a song that my coworkers and I made up.  It started as a joke.  I’m just learning ukulele, and I’ve managed to play some variation on the tune Farmer in the Dell for every storytime since I started lessons.  This time, I didn’t have a song for it, so we made one up.

It’s Library Day (tune: Farmer in the Dell) By Shelby Driskill, Awnali Mills & Barbara Jones

It’s library day, it’s library day
We’re excited to get to play
It’s library day

Storytime is here, storytime is here
Friends have come from far and near
‘Cause storytime is here

We sing in storytime, we sing in storytime
We read our books and say a rhyme
We sing in storytime

We’re checking out a book, we’re checking out a book
I looked and looked and looked and now
We’re checking out a book

I’m reading with my friend, I’m reading with my friend
I wish it never had to end
I’m reading with my friend

Use it with my blessing!

Our last book was Comin’ Down to Storytime.  This book is sung to the tune of She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.  Before each verse, I prepped the kids on what we were going to say at the end of each line, with a motion.  I encouraged the caregivers to sing with me, and everyone did a pretty good job.

To finish, I did the flannel Five Little Books.  What eager beavers to take down those library books!

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