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Children's literary news, book reviews, and more.  rss-icon

    by Katie B. | Sep 02, 2017

         Pincushion Sea Urchin

    Our featured fish this month is actually not a fish at all.  The pincushion sea urchin, found in our reef tank, is an echinoderm and belongs to the family of animals that include sea cucumbers and starfish.  This little animal may not look like much but I think it is one of the most fascinating creatures we have here in the Children’s Services aquariums. 

    The spines that cover a sea urchin’s body serve as both protection and allow it to move around the tank. It also has retractable feet that help it move and climb. Sea urchins spend their lives upside down since their mouths are located on the bottom of their bodies. The mouth is a complex system with 5 teeth plates that allow a sea urchin to scrape algae off of rocks and coral. It even has a special name: Aristotle’s Lantern.
           Pincusion Sea Urchin
    There is a lot to find interesting about these strange little animals, but my absolute favorite thing about our little sea urchin is how much it loves to decorate.  A master of camouflage, our sea urchin is constantly picking up shells and rocks from around the tank and carrying them on its back.  It is surprisingly strong and you can often find it carrying much larger objects than you would expect.  Be sure to check out what our sea urchin is wearing the next time you visit Children’s Services!

                         wow ocean
    I don’t know of any picture books that feature sea urchins in particular but Wow! Ocean by Robert Neubecker has vibrant illustrations that provide a fun snapshot of the different creatures found in the ocean. (You can look for several different sea urchins and other echinoderms on the “Wow! Tide pool!” pages.)

    by Erin | Aug 31, 2017

    For many children, reading on their own is a milestone that is both exciting and a little intimidating. Learning sounds and letters and blending them all together can be tough! Which is why it’s important to have pre-readers on hand. These are books that have only a few words per page, and they tend to focus on sight words or simple vocabulary.

    Here are my favorite pre-reader series:

    Flip a WordFlip a Word
    By Yukiko Kido

    Flip a Word is a series that focuses on sound families. Initially, each page has only one word on it, along with a brightly colored picture to help the child decode the text. Every word introduced belongs to the same sound family, but the beginning sound changes on each page, making this a simple introduction to reading for those who are just starting out. As the book goes on, it slowly starts to add more words to the page until your child is reading a phrase.

    We Both ReadWe Both Read
    By Various Authors

    This series is another favorite of mine because the entire concept is that you and your child read together. You will read the text on the left page, and your child will read the text on the right page. The grown-up’s text is more complicated than the child’s text. These readers are divided up by level, so a book that is at the K level would have just one word on the child’s page, whereas a book that’s on a 1st grade level would have a simple sentence. When you read these books with your child, it builds your child’s confidence because he or she will feel like they’ve read an entire book!

    Rookie ReaderRookie Reader
    By Various Authors

    Once your child has mastered Flip a Word and the K level of We Both Read, he or she will be ready for the Rookie Reader series! This series features one simple sentence, typically consisting of only 3 or 4 words, per page. At the back of the book, there is a word list, so you can see which words your child will be learning before he or she cracks open the book!

    Brand New ReadersBrand New Readers
    By Various Authors

    This series features several different stories per book, and each story is told in a few pages with one sentence per page. There’s lot of word repetition and pictures to help your child out, and some of these stories are sure to introduce your child to new vocabulary words, such as “ostrich” and “termite.”

    Easy Words to ReadEasy Words to Read
    By Phil Roxbee Cox

    The Easy Words to Read series is great for kids who've had a little practice. There are a couple of sentences per page, and each book in the series uses more words than the other pre-readers. This series also has a list of words in the back for you to check out, and while most of the words are simple or even sight words, there are one or two that are bound to be new to your child.

    And there you have it! My top five series for pre-readers (for now).


    One of the best things about our library system is that we have so many wonderful children’s librarians. Stop by your favorite ACPL location and ask the children’s librarian to suggest a few of his or her favorite pre-readers!
    by Dawn Stoops | Aug 28, 2017
    Last week in baby storytime I tried something fun and new with musical instruments.
    image of paper plate shakers
    Before storytime I had help from staff making 20 of these splendid paper plate shakers. They're made of two decorated paper plates stapled together with three milk jug caps inside to provide the rattle noise.

    They work well as both a shaker or a kind of drum for little hands. We played along to "Little Bitta You" by Andrew and Polly on the CD Heart Beats: Feel Good Songs for Families. It was a rockin' good time!
    cover image for heart beats c.d.

    So that's the 'what' and the 'how' of my story, but there's also a WHY.
    I wanted parents and grandparents to see how simple and fun it is to use everyday objects around the house to build their baby's brain. There are lots of resources out there describing how music helps babies grow, like this one from Kids Health. When young children make music by shaking and pounding on things like homemade paper plate instruments, they're expanding their experiences with touch and hearing and making new brain connections. They're interacting with their world in a way they probably haven't before. They're having fun and they're learning. That's what our library baby storytimes are all about and we find new ways to do that every week. We'd love for you to join us! Take a look at the calendar for days and times.

    by Dawn S | Aug 24, 2017
    Here are some great new chapter books. Enjoy!

    cover image for dewey fairchild parent problem solver
    cover image for the forever court
      cover image for encounters in end city
    cover image for the professor and the puzzle
    cover image for just sayin'
    cover image for olice and the backstage ghost
    cover image for lucy and the rocket dog
      cover image for uncertain summer
    cover image for the patchwork picnic
    by Cindy H | Aug 20, 2017
    This stunning picture book tells the story of a child waking up early to go fishing with their sibling. They crawl from their tent, quietly, so as not to wake their other family members, to find their sibling waiting for them. They walk down to the lake and get in their red canoe. They see a number of animals and beautiful scenery. After waiting a while they finally get a bite on their fishing hook and catch a silvery trout. As they make their way back to shore they can hear the rest of the family stirring and preparing a fire. They cook the trout for a delicious breakfast.

    This story is written almost like poetry; you can almost smell the fresh, outdoor air. It is clear this was a wonderful experience for the child in the story. It took me back to the times I enjoyed camping when I was younger, and how special it felt to get some alone time with one of my parents or siblings. This beautifully illustrated book will be great for very young children who enjoy looking at the pictures, or older children who will enjoy the lyrical nature of the words. It is available in print or as an ebook on Hoopla. Click the picture of the book's cover to place on hold!
    by Dawn S | Aug 17, 2017
    Today at the Grabill Branch Library we've fielded a lot of questions about the solar eclipse happening on Monday. Mostly, people want to know if we have viewing glasses to give away. The answer is no, but we'll have pairs of glasses to use here on Monday and fun activities too!

    In fact, every location of the Allen County Public Library will have glasses to share on Monday. Check out our official Facebook Event Page here.

    This super science event calls for some super science books! Here are some suggestions.

    cover image for why do elephants need the sun

      cover image for the sun: our amazing star
    cover image for eclipse darkness in the daytime
    cover image for the sun is our nearest star
    cover image for moon
    cover image for solar and lunar eclipses


    We'd love to see you on Monday!
    by Mary Voors | Aug 15, 2017

    We have been having so much fun all summer long with storytimes outside, and we still have two Mondays of Storytime at the Park left in our summer programming!
    Storytime at the Park

    As part of a cooperative venture between Riverfront Fort Wayne and the downtown Public Library, we’d love to see you and your kids at the Headwaters Park West Ampitheatre for Storytime in the Park at 10:30 each Monday morning through August 28th. Enjoy the fresh air as you enjoy stories, songs, rhymes and more. (In the event of inclement weather, this program will be held at the downtown public Library.)

    It’s all fun and it’s all free! Join us!

    Here's how to find the storytime:  Head North on Harrison. Cross Superior Street and turn right immediately before the Harrison Street Bridge. There is a parking lot on the right.   Follow the sidewalk to the outdoor ampitheater. We’ll see you there!

    by Cindy H | Aug 10, 2017
    Sergio is a penguin. Sergio's favorite things in the world are soccer, fishies, and water. He especially loves water of all kinds! Water can make him happy, relaxed, playful, and silly. Even though he loves water, Sergio can also be scared of it because he doesn't know how to swim. On his first day of school, his class takes a field trip to the ocean where they are going to learn how to swim. Sergio is nervous because the ocean is so big, deep, and dark. He watches his friends dive in, having a great time. He decides to jump in! Even though he doesn't get into the water very gracefully, he finds that it is a ton of fun and he can't wait to go back. Maybe next time he'll even be able to get in without his floaties!

    This is a cute story that is great for encouraging reluctant swimmers. Sergio is an adorable little penguin, and you get to learn some fun facts about him, such as where he lives, and how he is different from many other types of birds. This picture book is recommended for children ages 4-8.

    Sergio Makes a Splash, written and illustrated by Edel Rodriguez, is available in print at the library, click the picture of the book's cover to place on hold! If you like this book, check out another book about Sergio, Sergio Saves the Game.
    by Katie B. | Aug 08, 2017
    One of my favorite annual programs here in Children's Services is the Stuffed Animal Sleepover.  Kids are invited to bring in a stuffed animal friend to share a special storytime before we tuck our stuffed friends in for a sleepover at the library.  
     Storytime with a friend
    Of course, after the library closes, the real fun begins!  The animals are much too excited to sleep and they get into all kinds of shenanigans.  This year's guests took a trip down to storage, made s'mores on the library plaza, and raced library carts in the Great Hall among other things.
     Checking out Juvenile Storage  Making s'mores on the plaza
     Racing carts

    The next day, our overnight guests were picked up by their owners along with a photo book that documented their after-hours adventures at the library.  If you missed the sleepover this year, be sure to be on the lookout for next year's event.  The animals find new adventures to have every year so the program is always a little different each time.
     Block tower
    by Dawn S | Aug 07, 2017
    Add a back to school book to your school supply list this month! We've got nonfiction books about teachers, bus safety, and making friends. We've got fiction titles for kids who are nervous about starting school, kids who are excited about starting school, and everyone in between!

    cover image for jake starts school  cover image for growing friendships: every kids guide to making and keeping friends
    cover image for my school bus: a book about school bus safety
    cover image for the kissing hand
    cover image for amanda panda quits kindergarten
    cover image for schools first day of school
    cover image for teachers
      cover image for back to school
    cover image for everything you need to know about math homework
    For more great recommendations, visit your library and ask a librarian. We love to help!
    by Katie B. | Aug 02, 2017

                Starry Blenny

    This month’s featured fish is our Starry Blenny. You can find him in our East Tank hidden among our damselfish. Although he is unique looking (especially in a tank of fish that all look pretty much the same), he can be a little hard to spot. His beautiful, spotted pattern makes excellent camouflage and allows him to blend in with his surroundings. Our blenny is a bottom dweller and you can most often find him relaxing on the floor of the aquarium. Then again, he can be a bit of a busybody and sometimes you will find him perched on the castle or other aquarium decorations keeping an eye on what’s happening. You probably won’t see him swim too often. Blennies are grazing fish that feed mostly on algae but that doesn’t diminish how cool this little fish can be.  His “eyebrows” make him one of the most expressive fish in our aquariums here in Children’s Services.

                                 My Visit to the Aquarium

    My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki is a wonderful non-fiction book that explores all kinds of different sea creatures.  It reads like a picture book so it even works well as a lap read with younger children.

    by Dawn Stoops | Jul 31, 2017
    Sometimes there's ONE perfect book for a particular situation.

    Several years ago I had a local elementary school principal ask me what I'd recommend she read to classes as she visited each teacher and introduced herself to the students at the beginning of the school year. My suggestion? A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech.
    cover image for a fine fine school

    This is indeed the perfect book! It's all about what happens when the principal of Tillie's school is so proud of all the great learning happening at his school that he decides the kids should go to school EVERY DAY of the year. Bright-faced, children engaged in learning is every principal's dream! Going to school every day, including weekends and holidays, is every kid's nightmare! Tillie knows there's lots of learning happening at home too. Her dog and little brother miss those important lessons when they see Tillie off to school every day. In the end, Tillie finds the courage to teach her principal an important lesson too.

    Here's the thing. That request was 15 years ago. I was wondering the other day if there was another, newer book that I would pass along to a principal with the same request this year. Nope. I've seen my fair share of great children's books come my way as a librarian for the past 12 years and I still can't think of a better book.

    Sometimes there really is one perfect book. Librarians love helping you find it!

    by Cindy H | Jul 26, 2017
    Fireflies, by Julie Brinckloe, is the story of a child who eagerly joins the other neighborhood children to catch the beautiful fireflies that light up the night sky. They each catch what feels like hundreds of the insects in their jars. After their parents tell them to come in and go to bed, the child watches the glass glow like moonlight. They begin to notice, however, that the fireflies do not fly or glow the same as they did outside, and soon their lights are barely glowing at all. The child knows they must free the fireflies into the night sky. As they release the fireflies out their open window, they are sad to see them fly away, but cannot help but smile knowing the fireflies are back where they belong.

    This is a tender and sweet story that not only encapsulates the childhood excitement of catching fireflies but also teaches a lesson in kindness and empathy. Although the story was written over 30 years ago, the joy of fireflies transcends time. I believe children will find it entrancing, and parents will enjoy feeling the nostalgia for catching fireflies in their youth.

    This book is recommended for children ages 5-8. It is available in print at the library, click the picture of the book's cover to place on hold!
    by Teresa Walls | Jul 24, 2017
    the dumpster drummers
    Learn and celebrate recycling and environmental conservation with The Dumpster Drummers who will perform two fun, action-packed 30-minute shows in the Main Library's Meeting Room ABC on Wednesday, August 2. The first show is 10:30 am; the second is 2 pm.
    by Dawn Stoops | Jul 20, 2017
    Yesterday I lugged home a bag of library books for my two boys. The four-year-old looked the pile over appreciatively then announced, "you got the wrong book mommy! This one is scary. It's not for kids."
    page from mr wuffles
    Evidently he didn't think Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner was appropriate for kids his age. We did a little 'book walk' through the pages so I could point out the funny parts and the general plot while he took a second look at the scary pictures to see if they were really all that terrifying. The verdict? He decided it was probably ok and asked me to read it right after the Lego City book about farms.

    cover image for mr wuffles
    Mr. Wuffles is indeed the perfect book for preschoolers and kids just learning to read! See the word bubbles for the aliens and bugs? There are not many actual words in the entire book. Mostly it's just a series of panels where readers tell what's happening by getting clues from details showing characters, action, facial expressions, and setting. It takes some work, but it  makes for stronger readers. Readers who know how to soak in a book in its entirety to get the full story. And it's fun! There are plenty of books like this if you'd like to explore wordless and nearly wordless picture books with your new reader. Just ask your librarian or try some on this Children's Services Book List.
    by Dawn S | Jul 17, 2017
    You've got a limited time for summer reading - the kind without assignments, AR points, lexile levels, or book reports. Here are some great new books to try!
    cover image for spiderman prelude cover image for victor shmud total expert
    cover image for slime 101
    cover image for the tail of the timberwolf
    cover image for pokemon first partner handbook
    cover image for cosmic commandos
    cover image for never say nether
      cover image for the kid from planet z cover image for two truths and a lie
    by Dawn S | Jul 12, 2017
    Today's program at the Grabill Branch Library was loads of fun and tasty too!
    boy making snack
    fruit and veggie snack
    girl making snack
    fruit and veggie snack
    boy with snack
    Find out where the next Fun with Food class will be here!


    Thanks to the Foellinger Foundation and the Friends of the Library for making these sorts of exciting summer programs possible!
    by Michal M. | Jul 10, 2017

    yellow duckling

    The Children’s Services department at the Main Library has partnered with Riverfront Fort Wayne and started a new venture this summer called Little Science Explorers at Lawton Park. The first topic we explored was BIRDS!--which happens to be one of my favorite topics! I had the hardest time choosing what book to read and what birds to focus on because there are so many different kinds!

    Do you know what bird has the largest wingspan that can fly? It’s the Andean Condor! Can you guess how looooong the wing is from one tip to the next? It’s about 10 feet long! Since we know what the biggest flying bird’s wingspan is, what about the smallest? Check this book out about tiny birds to read more about the smallest ones. Don't forget to read about the Bee Hummingbird!

    Here is a fun activity you can do at home with comparisons: first think of the condor’s wingspan and then think of something really small, like a hummingbird. Cut a piece of yarn to the length of the condor’s wingspan and stretch it out between two people or line up smaller items to see how many paper clips it would take to reach from one end of the yarn to the other. Then, cut a piece of yarn to match the length of the hummingbird's wingspan! How many paperclips does it take to measure the hummingbird's wingspan? The difference is very noticeable! (Check out Measuring Penny by Loren Leedy for more ideas on how to measure with everyday objects!)

    If you really love birds and want to explore some more fun books check out these:

    Birds Make Nests by Michael Garland
    A Bird is a Bird by Lizzy Rockwell
    Bird Nests by Hopkins
    - Robin, Where are You? by Harriet Ziefert
    - Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette Cate
    - Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins
    - Birds by Kevin Henkes

    Come join us for fun explorations in Lawton Park on the first Saturday of each month. Here is the topic line-up:

    August 5th - Stars
    September 2nd - Aquatic Wildlife
    October 7th - Leaves
    November 4th - Signs of Winter

    Hope to see you soon!

    by Miss Heather | Jul 07, 2017

    GSK Science in the Summer from Science Central is a fun and free science education program sponsored by GSK for students entering grades 2-6. This year’s theme is “Science of Sports.”

    Kids will explore the role of science, technology, engineering, and math in sports. Through active hands-on learning, students discover that athletes need to be physically as well as mentally fit and properly equipped to excel. At the same time, students learn how a broad and diverse network of STEM professionals support athletes. The Science of Sports program shows them that science is another way to get in the game.

    Sessions will be held at Shawnee Branch Library, 5600 Noll Avenue, July 17-July 20, 2:30-3:30pm and Mondays in July, 2pm at  Hessen Cassel Branch, 3030 Paulding Rd. and July 24-27 at Tecumseh Branch, 1411 E State Blvd. There is no cost for this Science Central program!



    by Cindy H | Jul 06, 2017
    Lucy and the Bully, written and illustrated by Claire Alexander, is the story of a little lamb named Lucy who is one of the most talented artists in her class. She is very kind and well-liked, except by Tommy, who is a bull. Tommy spills paint on her drawings, breaks her clay model, and rips her storybook. Each day Lucy comes home, sadder than the day before, but she is afraid to tell her mother what is going on with Tommy at school. Finally, Lucy breaks down and confesses to her mother what she has been experiencing. She is afraid of what will happen, but her mother calls their teacher, Ms. Goosie, to explain what Lucy has been going through. When she gets to school the next day, Lucy notices that Tommy is very quiet and withdrawn. She begins to feel sorry for him and decides to tell him that she likes the drawing he is doing and ask him to draw one for her too. Tommy is surprised, because no one has ever asked him to draw something for them before. He gives Lucy his drawing and apologizes for hurting Lucy and breaking her things. In the end, they decide to go outside and play together.

    There is a note at the beginning of the book to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of encouraging children to talk with them about bullying. This book is a great way to approach the subject with your young children, and is a good lesson on being kind and understanding as well. Bullying is something nearly all children will experience at some point or another, so reading this book with your child will help them know that you are there and will listen to them if they are in trouble. This picture book is recommended for children ages 4-8 and is available in print at the library. Click the picture of the book's cover to place on hold!