Tompkins County Public Library

Welcome to Wild About Reading!

We LOVE chatting about books, authors, illustrators. Here you'll find some of the best books we're currently reading and what we've been sharing at our storytimes.

Tell us about the books you’re reading by writing a book review of your own at: We will post your review to this blog within the week.

Thanks for visiting and HAPPY READING!

Monday, May 9, 2016

May Staff Picks

Picture Books
The Bear and the Piano, by  David Litchfield
(E Litchfield)

Summary: "A bear finds a piano in the woods, learns to play it, and travels to the big city to become rich and famous, but ultimately discovers that his old friends in the forest back home are still the best audience of all."
Adelle's Thoughts: This lovely picture book encourages children to follow their interests while underscoring the true meaning of happiness. The illustrations are unbelievably sweet and breathtakingly beautiful. I can't wait to see what Litchfield comes up with next; this is his first book for children. A great title for Pre-K - 2nd grade.

A World of Your Own, by Laura Forbes Carlin
(E Carlin)
Summary: "Encourages readers to use their imaginations as the author reimagines her world."
Cassie's Thoughts: Yes, YOU can imagine your own world to be your own perfect kind of world. In this author's world, there are stores with superhero shoes, slides and tubes to travel between buildings and even the scary home on the street is reimagined as a house full of happy cats! This offers a great imagination spark and includes questions for the reader to consider when thinking of how they'd create a world of their own.

If You Plant a Seed, by Kadir Nelson
(E Nelson)
Summary: "While planting seeds in their garden, two animals learn the value of kindness."
Kelly's Thoughts: At the beginning, this seems like a beautiful book about gardening. But as you continue reading, a magical tale of kindness versus selfishness unfolds before your eyes, revealing simple yet powerful truths that, if only folks would listen, could save humankind. :) Oh, yes, such hubris! But I swear it's true!

Children's Nonfiction:
(J 617.0232 Murphy)
Summary: "In 1944, a groundbreaking operation repaired the congenital heart defect known as blue baby syndrome. The operation's success brought the surgeon Alfred Blalock international fame and paved the way for open-heart surgery. But the technique had been developed by Vivien Thomas, Blalock's African American lab assistant, who stood behind Blalock in the operating room to give him step-by-step instructions. The stories of this medical and social breakthrough and the lives of Thomas, Blalock, and their colleague Dr. Helen Taussig are intertwined in this nonfiction narrative."
Sarah's Thoughts: I don't typically enjoy reading a lot of nonfiction, but this is riveting in its description of the lengths that the individuals involved went through to succesffully perform groundbreaking heart surgery on infants in the United States. Not only is the history of the procedure fascinating, but the stories of those individuals involved -- including a woman pediatrician in a male-dominated field and an African-American man living in a country that is far from accepting -- is remarkable!

Chapter Books:
The Complete Brambly Hedge, by Jill Barklem
(J Barklem)
Summary: "The mice of Brambly Hedge have many adventures but they always have time for fun, too. All through the year, they mark the seasons with feasts and festivities and, of course, the mice never miss an opportunity to meet and celebrate."
Adelle's Thoughts: A community of self-sufficient mice spend their days (and nights) helping one another in this delightful compilation of the original eight stories. Each story features a sweet adventure perfect for preschoolers interested in listening to longer stories or older sensitive children uninterested in angst. Children will love poring over the charming and detailed illustrations. My new favorite read-aloud for young listeners.

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer Holm
(J Holm)
Summary: "In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida."
Kelly's Thoughts: That's the brief trade description of the book, but this book is so much more! It is chock full of wonderful characters, with a protagonist, 11 year-old Turtle, who may just be the spunkiest girl that ever lived. Her quirky relatives are an interesting bunch, too, to say the least! As for their home state, Florida, nothing Turtle has ever experienced could prepare her for the hot, sticky strangeness of Key West. Set during the Great Depression, with Turtle's longing for her mom, and losses that will break your heart, Turtle's voice still had me laughing out loud all through this amazing story.
If you like characters that get into your heart and stay there, this book is for you. I didn't want this one to end! Note: try listening to the book on CD -- the narrator's voice completely captures the charm and wit of this wonderful story, bringing the very imitable Turtle to vibrant life.

Mercy Watson Series, by Kate DiCamillo
(J DiCamillo)
Summary: "Mr. and Mrs. Watson and their porcine wonder, Mercy, have many hilarious adventures with their neighbors and other wonderful characters."
Cassie's Thoughts: My four year-old son and I have been LOVING these books. They're beautifully and vividly illustrated with short chapters and very funny writing. Inadvertently, Mercy often becomes the hero of the day and these sweet stories always end with hot buttered toast and smiles. Perfect for preschool read-aloud or early chapter book readers. SUCH a wonderful series. **These are also available as audiobooks and "Read to Me" books on OverDrive, our digital downloads service.

Flush, by Carl Hiaasen
Summary: "With their father jailed for sinking a river boat, Noah Underwood and his younger sister, Abbey, must gather evidence that the owner of this floating casino is emptying his bilge tanks into the protected waters around their Florida Keys home."
Kelly's Thoughts: I think the narrator, Michael Welch, has the perfect voice for this book about environmental protection for older tweens and teens. As far in tone from "If You Plant a Seed" as one could get -- the story is dripping with sarcasm for those who would defile our ocean ecosystems, yet brimming with respect for the natural world. Real family values and modern day sensibilities are also at play in this fun, sometimes nail-biting adventure. Feeling overcome by all the environmental "bad guys" in the world? Carl Hiaasen might just be able to provide an antidote for that!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Family Storytime: DIA! and Last of Session

What fun our DIA Family Storytime was today! We learned a little bit about several different cultures with books, puppets, songs and food as we celebrated Diversity in Action. Thank you so much to everyone who came to celebrate with us. I want to especially thank Kai, Lucia, and Aloja, who all shared a bit of their own cultures: Lucia sang a book in Spanish with me, Kai and I read a book in Chinese, (while my talented colleagues, Kate and Cassie, wielded the puppets from behind the theater curtains :) Aloja shared his wonderful drumming with us as background to a counting book with numbers in Swahili. The drum and the sounds of the different languages really made the books and songs come to life! Thanks, everybody!
Here are the books:

Everywhere the Cow Says "Moo!" by Ellen Weinstein; Ills. by Kenneth Andersson 
I Went Walking / Sali de paseo by Sue Williams; Ills. by Julie Vivas
Hurry Home, Hedgehog! A Bilingual Book of Sounds by Belle Yang
We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey Through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs; Ills. by Julia Cairns
Today Is Monday in Louisiana by Johnette Downig; Ills. by Deborah Ousley Kadair

Yeah! We read 5 books! It's amazing what puppets and music and diverse culture can do for enhancing listening and learning skills! In Everywhere the Cow Says "Moo!" we learn how Dog, Duck, Frog and Rooster say their respective vocalizations in English, Spanish, French and Japanese. Sometimes they sound very similar, sometimes not :) Take Rooster - "cock-a-doodle-doooo!" right? How about "Key-key-ree-KEE!"? or "Ko-ko-REE-ko!"? Or wait - is it Ko-kay-KOko!"? Check out the book and find out!

We have many books in lots of different languages for kids. For some ideas, check out our World Language section in Youth Services. I Went Walking / Sali de paseo is a popular children's book that you can sing! You may also find Hurry Home Hedgehog, which is in Chinese and English. If you read it, you can learn about a little hedgehog that got caught out in the rain. Does he make it home in time for a cuddle with Mama hedgehog?

You won't need the World Language section for We All Went on Safari, you can find it right in our picture book section. Read it and you can learn how to count to ten in Swahili - it's easier than you might think! And you'll learn some Swahili names of kids and animals, too!

After reading Today Is Monday in Louisiana - which was chock full of delicious foods! - I felt we needed to celebrate a little bit of our own Ithacan heritage. Enter Today Is Monday in Ithaca! - a vegetarian smorgasbord of healthy food! I put up a menu on our big white board and was so pleased that so many people sang along! Click here for a Youtube of the Today Is Monday in Louisiana book, and for the melody. Here's the Ithacan version:

The Vegetarian Today is Monday Song!

Today is Monday, today is Monday…(always repeat the day of the week)

Monday rice & beans,

 all you hungry children come and eat it up, come and eat it up!

Today is Tuesday2…Tuesday tacos, Monday rice & beans, all you hungry children…..come and eat it up2!

Today is Wednesday2…Wednesday tofu, Tuesday tacos, Monday rice & beans

Today is Thursday2…Thursday pasta, Wednesday tofu, Tuesday tacos, Monday rice & beans

Today is Friday2…Friday stir-fry, Thursday pasta, Wednesday tofu, Tuesday tacos, Monday rice & beans

Today is Saturday2…Saturday pizza, Friday stir-fry, Thursday pasta, Wednesday tofu, Tuesday tacos, Monday rice & beans

Today is Sunday2…Sunday soup, Saturday pizza, Friday stir-fry, Thursday pasta, Wednesday tofu, Tuesday tacos, Monday rice & beans,

 All you hungry children come and eat it up,

Come and eat it up!

Mmm, mmm! I don't know about you, but both of those songs make me really hungry :)

We also sang Tingalayo, (click on it to see Raffi's version,) an old folk song originating in the Caribbean. There are many different verses and versions - Raffi's is great! Here's mine:


Come me little donkey come.
Come me little donkey come.

Me donkey eat, me donkey sleep
Me donkey kick with his two hind feet.
Me donkey walk, me donkey talk
Me donkey eat with his knife and fork
Me donkey hee, me donkey haw,
Me donkey sit on his kitchen floor!

We ended the storytime with This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie. This land is everybody's land, no matter where you hail from. The same thing goes with TCPL - we are here for YOU, whoever you are and wherever you are from :)

*This land is your land
This land is my land
From California to the New York island

From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters

This land was made for you and me!*

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway;
I saw below me that golden valley;
This land was made for you and me.*

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.*

When the sun came shining and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:

This land was made for you and me!

You can find a wonderful version on This Land is Your Land Woody Guthrie,
CD3 Guthrie, along with many other wonderful, old children's songs.

Stories in the Park Redux
This was the last Family Storytime of the session, so we will take a hiatus for the month of May. Because programming for TCPL's Summer Reading Program is always a busy endeavor, and FST attendance tends to drop off in the early warm months, we don't normally resume FST until October, but this summer we are going to try something different. Once Stories in the Park starts on Tuesdays in June, I will start a slightly modified Family Storytime up again on summer Saturdays. Each Saturday, Family Storytime will basically be a repeat of the previous Tuesday's Stories in the Park program, so families that can't make it to the park on Tuesdays due to work/scheduling constraints will still be able to enjoy some early literacy, storytime fun on a regular basis. We'll see how it goes! I'm looking forward to it!

In the meantime, come see us at the library! We will have lots of other fun programming for you, and of course, BOOKSBOOKSBOOKS!

Hope to see you all soon!
Miss Kelly