Police Storytime 10-4-17

By Awnali Mills

This week’s theme was Police, and we had a wonderful guest presenter—Officer Richard Mallory, our community police officer.  The books I chose were Police: Hurrying! Helping! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell, and Police Officers on Patrol by K. R. Hamilton.

We started by singing If You’re Happy and You Know It, and then I brought out my very naughty raccoon puppet, Bandit, who had been stealing things.  He stole the letter P, and a whole bunch of things that started with P.  I asked the children what happens if you steal things, and one boy told me solemnly that you go to jail.  I said that you might, and that you would assuredly have to deal with a surprise (yes, I know, not the most brilliant segue).  I had them practice their surprised faces, and then brought out our surprise guest.  The children were stunned, and a little nervous (I think they were a bit afraid that Officer Mallory was there to get Bandit).  But Officer Mallory very quickly put everyone at ease with his kind and gently humorous manner.

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He read our first book, Police: Hurrying! Helping! Saving!, and then we sang a version of Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck.  I wasn’t happy with a lot of the songs I was finding online, so my co-worker Meg and I noodled around and came up with this one.  Officer Mallory sang this with us and said during the first stanza, “This is my favorite part!”

(Spoken) A call is coming in!  A robber is on the loose!
Hurry, hurry, drive the police car
(Hands on steering wheel)
Hurry, hurry, drive the police car
Hurry, hurry, drive the police car
Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!
(circle fingers like lights)

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Hurry, hurry, turn the corner
(Lean to the right)
Hurry, hurry, turn the corner
(Lean to the left)
Hurry, hurry, turn the corner
(Lean to the right and left)
Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!
(circle fingers like lights)

Hurry, hurry, catch the robber
(Pretend to run)
Hurry, hurry, catch the robber
Hurry, hurry, catch the robber
Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!
(circle fingers like lights)

Slowly, slowly, back to the station
(Lean slowly to the left and right)
Slowly, slowly, back to the station
Slowly, slowly, back to the station
Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!
(circle finger like a light)

(Spoken for the second time through) Another call is coming in!  Some children are in danger!
Hurry, hurry, save the children
(Pretend to scoop children into your arms)
Hurry, hurry, save the children
Hurry, hurry, save the children
Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!
(circle fingers like lights)

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Officer Mallory did our flannel pieces for us while I read Five Police Officers.  For my pieces, I used clipart that represented a mix of races and genders.

Five police officers standing by the store,
One directed traffic, and then there were four.
Four police officers, watching over me,
One helped a lost girl, and then there were three.
Three police officers, dressed all in blue,
One stopped a speeding car, and then there were two.
Two police officers, how fast they can run,
One caught a bank robber, and then there was one.
One police officer, whose day is all done,
Says hi to the next shift whose day has just begun.

Adapted from https://iwritethebook.net/2014/11/05/storytime-theme-my-friends-the-police/

Officer Mallory read our next book, Police Officers on Patrol.  I have to say, we didn’t have a whole lot of prep time together, but he did a fantastic job of reading to the kids.  He held the book for them to see, read with expression, and didn’t read too quickly—all rookie mistakes that I’ve seen people make.  Officer Mallory claims that all his experience comes from his granddaughter.  A lucky girl!

After the book, I said, “Being on patrol can be very stressful, and can make you really crazy and silly.  What do you do when you’re feeling silly, Officer Mallory?”  He said, “Why, I shake my sillies out!”  So we stood up and danced around to Raffi’s Shake My Sillies Out.  There’s nothing like seeing a policeman shake his sillies out!

After that, I brought out a large piece of paper with a cell phone on it, and we talked about how to call 911, and what constitutes an emergency, so that you know WHEN to call.  Then, I let kids practice using the large phone to call 911.  We followed that with the 911 song (tune of Three Blind Mice):

9-1-1, 9-1-1,
Help’s on the way, help’s on the way.
If I need help, I know what to do,
I can call the police and emergency crews.
It makes me feel safe to know just what to do. Dial 9-1-1.
Credit: https://www.jocolibrary.org/kids/storytime-blog/police-officers-preschool-storytime

For our grand finale, Officer Mallory led us outside to his squad car, which he’d parked at the front of the library, out of traffic.  He even turned the lights on!  The kids were over the moon (and many of the caregivers, too), and the kids even got to use the loudspeaker inside the car to say hi to their caregivers.  We got a lot of positive feedback afterwards, so it was a very successful program.  We’re already trying to think of ways we can bring Officer Mallory back for an encore.

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Bear Storytime – 9-27-17

By Awnali Mills

Last week’s storytime (actually, two storytimes) was all about bears.  The books I chose were Never Ask a Bear by Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

I started with If You’re Happy and You Know It.  Unfortunately, our library doesn’t have a good bear puppet.  After grumping about this for a while, I pulled out a squirrel puppet and used him in storytime.  He brought us our letter B and all of our B pictures, but when I mentioned “bear,” he ran and hid under my arm.  We couldn’t convince him he was safe, so he hid on my cart while we read Never Ask a Bear.  This went over fairly well with my first group, but kids were pretty scattered for this the second group.

Then we sang a bear version of Thumbkin.  I used two little blue and purple bears, and the children used their fists.

Where is bear? Where is bear?
Here I am. Here I am.
How are you this winter?
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep. Go to sleep.
(Have kids shout “WAKE UP BEAR” to do the song again.)
Credit: Preschool Education Music & Songs: Animals > Winter

A rousing chorus of If You’re a Bear and You Know It followed.  The kids loved growling.

If you’re a panda bear and you know it, clap your paws
If you’re a polar bear and you know it, show your teeth
If you’re a grizzly bear and you know it, growl real loud

Credit: https://storytimekatie.com/2011/01/13/bears-2/

Next, I pulled out my ukulele and we sang The Bear Went over the Mountain, and I used the verses and flannels that I got from Storytime Ukulele.  The song went over really well.  Then, I pulled out Brown Bear.  I’ve avoided using this in storytimes, which is silly.  Yes, the children knew it already.  But they were just as thrilled as they could be when they saw it come out.  I read it, then on the last page, I said the color, pointed to the picture, and the kids filled in the rest.  And, when I brought out the book, I pointed out that it was part of our banned book scavenger hunt.  Yes, Brown Bear was banned in 2010 because Bill Martin Jr. shared a name with another Bill Martin who had the temerity to write a book about Ethical Marxism, and some folks were afraid that a little brown bear was going to be the death knell for capitalism *eye roll*.

Our last activity was a flannel, Ten Teddy Bears from Storytime Katie.  I’ve done this one before, and it just seems too long to me, so I did it as Six Teddy Bears.  I had the kids grab imaginary blankets and pull with me, and clap for BOOM.  They also got to tell me which colored bear fell out of bed, which they really enjoyed.  I finished up with another B word—bubbles.  I don’t do these too frequently, so they’re a real treat when they come out.

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Book Review – Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel

Caleb and KitBy Awnali Mills

Twelve-year-old Caleb has cystic fibrosis, and he’s tired of having his life circumscribed by the needs of his disease.  His mom hovers constantly, and his oh-so-perfect brother, Patrick, outshines him at every turn.  His father doesn’t want to deal with his disease, and his best friend, Brad, just wants him around to provide a foil that makes him shine.  At least, that’s how Caleb feels.

When his mother decrees that Caleb will attend a neighborhood summer camp for little kids, Caleb is infuriated.  He has no interest in attending summer camp.  And when he meets a girl named Kit in the woods behind his house, he decides to take his life into his own hands and spend the summer with her.  Caleb’s lies compound, but he loves living in Kit’s make-believe world, where fairies live and knights conquer.  But things are not right in Kit’s life, and Caleb becomes increasingly aware that make-believe worlds can be very dangerous places.  Kit’s might even cost him his life.

Vrabel is a master at writing about kids who are differently abled.  I didn’t know much about cystic fibrosis, but she wove the facts into the story seamlessly.  Caleb chafes at his restrictions, just like any of us would.  He isn’t particularly admirable—he’s rude, self-centered, and angry, but Vrabel writes so masterfully that we can see things from Caleb’s perspective, and even empathize with him, even if we don’t agree with his conclusions.  Caleb wants his life to be different, so he pretends it away.  Kit doesn’t ask him questions—she’s too busy pretending that her own life is different, so Caleb finds it easy to ignore her needs, and his own.

I always enjoy Vrabel’s books, and would recommend them to anyone who enjoys realistic fiction.  Caleb and Kit would also be a great conversation starter in a classroom, not just about disabilities, but about being aware of other people’s needs, and knowing when to tell grownups things.  Recommended for grades 3-5.

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Book Review – Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors

Wedgie & GizmoBy Awnali Mills

Gizmo is a guinea pig who happens to be an evil genius.  His plan is simple.  He wants to become the king of all guinea pigs, create an uprising, and take over the world.  First, though, he has to figure out how to escape Barbie’s Dream Home.  Gizmo’s arch nemesis is Super Wedgie, the family corgi who insists on wearing a cape and has superpowers—namely, if he runs around in circles in front of the door fast enough, he activates a force field that causes his owners to open the door.  No matter what Gizmo’s plans are, somehow Wedgie always foils them.

It’s too bad Wedgie is completely unaware that the Furry Potato is actually an evil genius.  He just wants to be petted.

It was a long hard week, and I needed something to read that was quick, simple, and fun.  Wedgie and Gizmo definitely fit the bill.  I laughed out loud several times.  Even better was the fact that two stories were going on simultaneously.  There was the back and forth between Wedgie and Gizmo, but in the background was the story of a family working through a new marriage, a move, and the struggle to combine two families.

This is a great book for kids transitioning from Bad Kitty to straight text.  It has a lot of text, but doesn’t skimp on the pictures (which are delightful).  Kids will definitely love the humor.  For grades 2-4.

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Book Review – Half True Lies of Cricket Cohen by Catherine Lloyd Burns

Half True Lies of Cricket CohenBy Awnali Mills

Cricket Cohen adores her grandmother, Dodo.  The two are very much alike, preferring imagination and adventure to calendars and schedules.  Unfortunately, the woman that binds them together, Dodo’s daughter and Cricket’s mother, Bunny, is WAY into calendars.  This frequently sets Cricket and Dodo against Bunny, but Bunny always wins, because she’s in charge.

As Dodo ages, she’s becoming forgetful and her mind starts wandering in ways that frighten and endanger Cricket.  And since Dodo is just about Cricket’s only friend, this is very difficult for her.  And when Bunny has to be out of town and leaves Cricket in charge, things go badly wrong.  Will Cricket be able to take care of her grandmother and still do what Bunny has asked of her?

This book is another wonderful exploration of the difficulties of having a beloved grandparent who suffers from Alzheimer’s.  Cricket has an amazing imagination, and is super smart.  She has a bit of trouble telling the difference between truth and fiction, which gets her into a lot of trouble.  But she is very loving towards her grandmother, and honestly wants to make her parents happy.  Give this to kids with active imaginations or who are struggling with losing a grandparent to Alzheimer’s.   Recommended for grades 3-5.

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Book Review – Beast & Crown by Joel Ross

Beast & CrownBy Awnali Mills

Jiyong is determined to do something meaningful with his life, and that something is to rescue his friend Sally’s brother, Chibo, from the magical tapestry weavers.  But to do so, he has to get to the city.  He takes advantage of opportunities presented to him to get his master, Brace, sent to the city, and he, Sally, and their friend Roz go along as servants.

But unexpected and unpleasant things happen in the city.  They meet friends they never expected, and make enemies of powerful people.  Can they save themselves, much less Chibo?  Or will they set in motion events that will destroy everyone?

I enjoyed this first installment of a new series by Joel Ross.  It was funny, sarcastic, and imaginative.  I liked that he kept flipping things on their heads.  Ji and his friends are smart and loyal, but woefully ignorant of the ways of power, and keep rushing headlong into trouble. I would recommend it for grades 4-6, and put it in the hands of fantasy lovers.  The sarcastic humor reminds me of Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath and Hamster Princess series, so it would be a nice move up in text for kids who enjoy those.

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Book Review: Growing a Revolution by David Montgomery

Growing a RevolutionBy Awnali Mills

True confession: I’m a bit of a nerd.  Things will strike my fancy, and I will pursue learning about them.  I come from a family that has been involved in agriculture for generations (way back in the old country, ya’ll), and have pursued gardening for years.  (Some years better than others.)  I’ve become interested in hugelkulture, and soil health, and became even more interested after watching Sustainable.  So the book Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life by David Montgomerycaught my eye in a new books display.  I read it.  I’m fascinated.

Montgomery is a geologist who has studied soil around the world.  He discusses the history of agricultural degradation, and links it to the rise and fall of civilizations.  Then he goes on a journey around the world, studying how individual farmers are bringing degraded soil back to life by using three practices—no till, cover crops, and crop rotation.

His analysis indicates that using these three practices in conjunction with each other, adjusted for the uniqueness of individual farms, would return our soil to productivity and make farming profitable again, without the need for government handouts.

I know! I TOLD you I’m a nerd.

So, if you’re a farming nerd, you enjoy gardening, or you happen to care about the decline in nutrition in the food you’re eating and would care to continue to eat in the future, you might be interested in Growing a Revolution.  This is me doing my bit to spread the word.

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