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

    by Dawn S | Mar 14, 2018
    Good News! The Allen County Public Library's online catalog now has the added capacity of searching for titles by Lexile Level. We've added it as one of the limiters on the left hand side of the catalog search screen.

    image of catalog search page

    As a librarian, I've helped lots of families find books for kids by Lexile level, but it was always a chore to hop onto the site, find interesting titles, then go back to our catalog to see if they were available at Grabill or another library in the county. Now I can skip the first step and go directly to our catalog.

    It's a help to librarians and parents! When you're using the online catalog from home you can get Lexile info in each library book record or you can search by Lexile level to get the level you need and limit by your favorite library. You can also have books at the needed level sent to whatever library you'd like.

    image of online catalog page

    If you have any questions about this new part of the catalog, you can ask a librarian in person, or ask us online using our ask a librarian email reference service.

    We hope this helps get just the right book into your students' hands!

    by Katie B. | Mar 07, 2018

    March 14 is my favorite day of the month.  It’s a holiday (of sorts) if you weren’t aware.  A holiday that is more like an inside joke to those “in the know” like Star Wars day (May the Fourth).  It’s a day to celebrate the irrational number of pi (the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter). 

    Pi is a pretty amazing number when you think about it.  While most of us remember the 3.14 part (hence, 3/14 being Pi Day), pi never ends and it never repeats itself.  It is also pretty incredible that any circle, no matter what the size, will give you pi if you divide the circumference of the circle (distance around) by the diameter (distance across).

    Even if math isn’t of particular interest to you, Pi Day can still be a lot of fun.  First of all, you can’t celebrate Pi Day without pie, and who wouldn’t want to celebrate a holiday that involves pie?  Secondly, just because pi is a mathematical ratio, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it to make beautiful art.
    Pi cityscape

    Mathematical arts and crafts are how we will be celebrating here at the Main Library in Children’s Services on Pi Day. Join us anytime between 3:30 and 4:30 pm to make some mathematical art or a pi bracelet!  We will even have some yummy pie to eat!
    Pi crafts

    by Dawn Stoops | Mar 01, 2018

    When kids gain the ability to read independently and fluently everyone shouts HOORAY! Teachers are ready for more great learning to begin and parents are pleased that all those bedtime stories are now paying off.
    image of child reading
    It’s such a joy to see the growth and confidence at this point that it’s easy to forget how important it is for adults to KEEP READING to these kids.
    But why worry about read-alouds when your child is capable of reading on his own?
    Let me count the ways!

    1. When your child was a baby, you knew that reading together provided wonderful bonding time. It’s still true, but your kid would probably roll their eyes at you if they heard anything about bonding so let’s just call it “hang out time” instead.
    2. Even confident readers have to work at reading. Give them a break and let them get carried away in the story while you’re doing all the work.
    3. Vocabulary. The more books you expose your child to the better her vocabulary will be. SATs here we come!
    4. It’s fun reading time for you too. Pick a classic that you’ve never had time to read, and read it together.   
    AND don't limit yourself to chapter books. Picture books are fun, no matter how old you are. Here are some of my favorites, totally appropriate for kids in grades 4-6.

    cover image for grumblebunny
    cover image for tuesday
     cover image for pssst
    cover image for the kamishibai man cover image for the secret project
    cover image for the whispering town

    by Erin | Feb 26, 2018

    The puppets are coming!

    puppet show 2018
    We are just a few short weeks away from Children's Services' annual Preschool Puppet Show! This year, we'll be courageous with the Brave Little Miss Muffet, and we'll try our best to Don't Wake the Tiger. In between shows, there will be singing and dancing and getting our wiggles out.

    Interested in joining the fun? The dates for this fantastic event are listed below:

    Wednesday, March 14 at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, and 1:30 pm.
    Thursday, March 15 at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, and 1:30 pm.
    Friday, March 16 at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, and 1:30 pm.
    Saturday, March 17 at 10:30 am.

    The Preschool Puppet Show will be held in the Main Library's theater. Space is limited, so please plan to show up early.

    Large groups of 10 or more people must register for the show by calling 421-1220. Smaller groups do not need to register, but will be seated on a first come, first served basis.

    Hope to see you there!
    by Angie Fetters-Nitza | Feb 23, 2018

    We saw some amazing board games created during our last Design It! program. Lots of thought and planning went into the layout of each game, and the games were so creative and fun to play!


    Join us for the next Design It! program at the Main Library on Wednesday, February 28 from 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM in the Program Room of Children’s Services. We’ll have all the materials you’ll need to create a Mixed Media Collage to take home, hang on your wall and enjoy. Let your artistic imagination run wild. Washable paints will be available for the collages, so please keep that in mind when deciding what to wear.

    by Dawn S | Feb 21, 2018
    We're getting a ton of great graphic novels.
    Try one out today!

    cover image for grace for gus
    cover image for hermes tales of the trickster
     cover image for peter pan cinestory
    cover image for detention of doom cover image for the cutie map
    cover image for the friendship mix-up
    cover image for the mystery of the tree stump ghost  cover image for the half-pipe panic
    cover image for abraham lincoln action presidents
    by Dawn Stoops | Feb 15, 2018
    This week's Messy Art History lesson was about faces in art.
    We covered some history and some serious stuff like proportions of the human face. Did you know that when drawing a face, the eyes should be placed at about the half way point between the chin and the top of the head?

    But then after the realistic stuff, we got a little silly!
    magazine collage face picture magazine collage face picture magazine collage face picture
    magazine collage face picture magazine collage face picture magazine collage face picture
    magazine collage face picture magazine collage face picture magazine collage face picture

    These magazine collage faces were a big hit. As you can see, we just collected face elements from different photos in the magazines then arranged them on a head. The more outrageous the better!

    We always have fun at our homeschool classes at the Grabill Branch Library. We meet the second Monday morning of each month from 10:30 am - 11:30 am.
    We'd love to see you there!

    Check out all homeschool library events on our calendar.
    by Dawn S | Feb 13, 2018
    Have you heard the news? Yesterday the American Library Association announced the 2018 winners of the Youth Media Awards.
    Take a look!

    cover image for wolf in the snow 

    Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

    Wolf in the Snow

    illustrated and written by Matthew Cordell is the 2018 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was published by Feiwel and Friends, an Imprint of Macmillan.

    cover image for hello universe
    John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

    Hello, Universe

    written by Erin Entrada Kelly, is the 2018 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

    cover image for out of wonder 
    Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets illustrated by Ekua Holmes, is the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner. The book is written by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth and published by Candlewick Press.
    cover image for piecing me together
    Piecing Me Together
    written by Renée Watson, is the Coretta Scott King Author Award winner. The book is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
    cover image for la princesa and the pea
    Pura Belpré Awards honoring Latino writers and illustrators whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

    La Princesa and the Pea

    illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, is the Belpré Illustrator Award winner. The book was written by Susan Middleton Elya and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

    cover image for twelve days in may 

    Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:

    Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961

    written by Larry Dane Brimner, is the Sibert Award winner. The book is published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights.

    cover image for charlie and mouse
    Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers is:

    Charlie & Mouse

    written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Emily Hughes. The book is published by Chronicle Books.

    For a complete list or award winners, visit the ALA's news release page.

    by Angie N. | Feb 10, 2018

    cover image for I'm just no good at rhyming

    I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups
    Written by Chris Harris
    Illustrated by Lane Smith
    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 192 pages


    Let me start out by saying that I am someone who loves poetry. However, I’m sort of picky about what I enjoy, especially when it comes to humorous poetry. It often falls short for me, but I loved this collection of funny and I have to say, sometimes even fall out of your chair laughing poems written by Chris Harris. The illustrations by Lane Smith who’s an award winning machine for his illustrations in books like “Grandpa Green” and “The Stinky Cheese Man” are silly, hilarious and compliment Chris Harris’ poems extremely well. These guys make a good team, and I hope we see more work from the two of them together in the future.

    The author, the illustrator, and even the illustrator’s wife prove on the dedication page of “I’m Just No Good at Rhyming” just how funny and clever the rest of the book is going to be. The laughs continue through to the very end of the book where you see the “portraits” Lane Smith drew of himself and Chris Harris for their biographies. In the Acknowledgements by Chris Harris, he thanks Lane Smith, but insists, “I DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT!” You’ll have to check out the portrait yourself and see why Mr. Harris is so emphatic. Also, included in the author’s biography is an explanation of what he does in his free time. He of course, “gets older”, which made me laugh out loud.

    This poetry book is filled with poems that will tickle your funny bone no matter how young or old you are, and I’m sure will continue to delight us all as we get older in our free time. One of my personal favorites is “The Race”. It’s about two rocks that decide to race from the mountaintop where they are perched down to the edge of the sea. It begins…

    Two rocks on a mountaintop, 90 BC,

    Gazed far below at the scenery.

    The first one said to the second, “Hey, Lee,

    I’ll race you on down to the edge of that sea.”

    Then they sat there and sat there and sat there and sat there

    And sat there and sat there and sat there.

    I know you’re going to want to find out who won the race, so I’ll say it again, check this book out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

    Some of the poems in the collection offer a bit more seriousness and thoughtfulness. They include “The Whydoo Inside of You”, “Let’s Meet Right Here in Twenty-Five Years” and another favorite of mine, “The Valleys Shape the Mountains”.

    The valleys shape the mountains.

    The shadow shapes the crescent moon.

    The chill of late December

    Shapes the warmth we feel in June.

    So next time that you’re crying

    Just remember this small rhyme;

    Your sadness shapes the happiness

    You’ll feel again in time.

    This is one of those children’s poetry books that needs to find a permanent place on your bookshelf next to Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, so you can pull it off the shelf when you want to share a good laugh with a child in your life or just with yourself.

    by Angie N. | Feb 06, 2018

    Our first Design It! program, Cardboard Construction, was so much fun! We filled the Globe Room at the Main Library with lots of cardboard and masking tape and challenged our young guests to create whatever they could imagine. The results were fantastic! Helmets and shields were created, as well as a theater for dolls, a car, a robot, a fancy hat and a birdhouse. One small group worked together to make a campsite complete with a roaring “fire” and played in their campsite for the remaining program time.



    Please join us for the next program in our Design It! series where kids will have the opportunity to design and create their own board games. The program will be held on Wednesday, February 14 from 3:30pm - 4:30pm in the Globe Room at the Main Library, and we'll have all sorts of materials to use for this creative project including dice, game pieces, foam board, and plastic cars. Don’t forget, all projects designed and created during any of our Design It! programs can be taken home.      

    by Dawn S | Feb 05, 2018
    Saturday morning, twenty seven amazing librarians, teachers, and friends discussed children's picture books at our annual Allen County Public Library Mock Caldecott Program. We were debating and voting on the one we think should win the 2018 Caldecott Award.

    And the winner was...

    cover image for after the fall

    After the Fall
    written and illustrated by Dan Santat

    We also named two mock honor books
    cover image for grand canyon

    Grand Canyon
    written and illustrated by Jason Chin

    cover image for muddy the story of blues legend muddy waters

    Muddy: the story of blues legend Muddy Waters
    written by Michael Mahin
    illustrated by Evan Turk

    Now we're just eagerly awaiting the official results next Monday.

    Here are the details from the American Library Association's website:
    The 2018 Youth Media Award announcements will take place on Monday, Feb. 12, at 8 a.m. MT from the Colorado Convention Center. Fans can follow 2018 results in real-time via live webcast at , or follow hashtag #alayma.
    by Cindy H | Jan 30, 2018
    Join us at the Aboite Branch of the Allen County Public Library each Tuesday morning in February for Musical Conexion, a bilingual music and movement program! Musical Conexion grew out of a need for quality early music education that cultivates not only motor skills and cognition, but also empathy, creativity, and appreciation for cultural diversity. Creative Directors, José Manuel (Chile) and Kelsie Murray (Fort Wayne, Indiana), are musicians and educators combining a variety of experience with distinct pedagogical approaches on both continents.

    This is a 30-minute program designed specifically for toddlers and preschoolers. The toddler program will be from 10:30-11:00 am and preschoolers from 11:00-11:30 am February 6, 13, 20, and 27.

    For more information about Musical Conexion, please check out their website, We hope to see you and your children there!
    by Dawn Stoops | Jan 24, 2018
    Have a favorite movie hero or television character?
    We've got plenty of books to keep you reading and enjoying their adventures.
    Here are just a few new titles from this month.

    cover image for tiana's best surprise
    cover image for dragon pox
     cover image for the leia chronicles
    cover image for justice league the official guide cover image for garfield grumpy cat
    cover image for the great egg race
    cover image for the villainous venus flytrap  big baking bonanza
    cover image for fast as the flash
    by Angie N. | Jan 20, 2018

    cover image for beyond the bright sea
    Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
    Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2017
    283 pages

    Crow has spent every day of her twelve years living in an isolated area of the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts, where she washed ashore in an old boat and was rescued by Osh when she was just hours old. Osh took her in and has raised her with the help of their strong willed neighbor, Miss Maggie. Crow is happy and enjoys her life with Osh and Miss Maggie, even though the other people on the island have always kept their distance from her. Crow never questioned the islanders’ treatment of her much, but as she is getting older, she begins to wonder why they act like they are afraid to be near her. She also begins to ask questions about who she really is, where she came from, and who set her adrift on the sea when she was just a newborn. Her curiosity leads her down a path where she seeks the answers to her questions, but the path proves to be a dangerous one, and Crow risks losing the only home she’s known and the people she loves.

    Lauren Wolk has crafted a beautiful story about belonging, understanding who you are and what it means to be a family. As someone who has spent a great deal of time on Cape Cod, her descriptions of the islands and the sea brought the scenery to life. One I particularly enjoyed describes the beginning of a storm, “We listened for a while to the rain having its own conversation with the sea, the wind chiming in when it had something to say.” There are so many amazing passages like this in the book, but will it rise above the others in our discussion and voting on mock election day?

    I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below!  We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.

     Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)

    by Angie Nitza | Jan 18, 2018

    image of rolls of tape
    Do you know someone who loves to build things and who has fun doing hands-on activities? Does the Lego builder in your life set aside the directions of their Lego sets and prefer to create something new? If so, please join us in Children’s Services at the Main Library on Wednesday, January 24 at 3:30pm for our very first Design It! program called Cardboard Construction.

    We’ll provide lots of different sizes of cardboard and super colorful masking tape for the designer and builder in your life to create whatever they can imagine. They can build something tall, short, skinny or wide, create a bridge, building, statue or anything else. It’s up to your young builder to decide!

    by Cindy H | Jan 17, 2018

    The Warden’s Daughter By Jerry Spinelli
    Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2017
    352 pages

    The Warden’s Daughter opens with Cammie in 2017, now an old woman, looking back on her time as the warden’s daughter. Quickly, the story flashes back to the summer of 1959, when Cammie was just a young, rambunctious tomboy desperately trying to find someone to replace her mother, who died when she was just a baby. Cammie is granted a lot of freedom while her father is at work. She loves riding bikes, playing baseball, talking to inmates, and dreaming of the future with her flamboyant and confident best friend Reggie. She also spends a lot of time in their apartment above the prison, where Eloda Pupko, an inmate and prison trustee charged with cleaning the apartment and taking care of Cammie, becomes the fantasy mother Cammie has been longing for. Eloda is a stern and cold woman, and despite Cammie’s blatant attempts to get her attention, Eloda does not seem interested in having any kind of intimate relationship. Cammie is not to be deterred, however, and will stop at nothing to get Eloda to be the mother she’s always wanted.

    I really enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio book version, and the voice actor, Carrington MacDuffie, does an excellent job of portraying the various characters, particularly the boisterous gruffness of Cammie. Despite covering some very difficult topics, like the death of a parent, the penal system, underlying racial issues, and suicide, there are some wonderful heart-warming and funny moments that keep the story from getting too dark. The characters and setting are beautifully developed, and the historical context is very engaging. This would be an excellent book for parents to read together with their children; it is sure to inspire nostalgia in adults and peak children’s curiosity about the past.

    I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion, which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below! We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.

    Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)

    by Mary Voors | Jan 15, 2018
    Cover image of Stormy Seas
    Stormy Seas - Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale
    Annick Press, 2017
    56 pages







    These topics are increasingly in the news. Stormy Seas – Stories of Young Boat Refugees is a very powerful collection of five stories of young people who endured risking everything, including their lives, in order to seek refuge in a new land.These are true stories of leaving everything behind in search of safety and peace.

    • Ruth. An 18-year-old who set sail for Cuba to escape the Nazis in Germany
    • Phu. A 14-year-old who takes a risky voyage on the South China Sea in hopes of finding a better life in the United States
    • Jose. A 13-year-old Cuban boy who travels on a boat to the United States.
    • Najeeba. An 11-year-old who takes a risky voyage on the Pacific Ocean to attempt to escape the Taliban in Afghanistan
    • Mohamed. A 17-year-old who is crossing the Mediterranean Sea looking for a place he can live in peace after his parents were killed in a bombing

    Heart-wrenching and compelling, these true stories are important glimpses into a world which – through the luck of my birth – I was fortunate enough to escape. It is a difficult book to read. But it is an important one. And it left me wanting to know more.

    I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below!  We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.

    Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)

    by Erin | Jan 10, 2018

    Amina's Voice

    Amina’s Voice
    By Hena Khan

    Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2017

    197 pages


    Amina has a beautiful singing voice, but she is too shy to use it in front of anyone other than close friends and family. To make matters worse, middle school is turning out to be tougher than what she originally expected: her best friend, Soojin, is both thinking about changing her name to something more Americanized and hanging out with one of the popular girls at school. How is Amina supposed to find her voice when everything around her is changing?


    While this book has all the basic components of other coming of age stories, it also deals with themes of religion, racism, and the idea of what it means to be American. Overall, this book is about a community that overcomes hurdles to join together in a time of need.



    I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below!  We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.


    Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)

    by Kris Lill | Jan 08, 2018
    cover image for her right foot 

    Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers with art by Shawn Harris
    Chronicle Books, 2017

    Wow. This book might just rank as one of my favorite books of 2017. And…..wait for it…’s NONFICTION! That means it’s a book with facts about something real and true.

    Now, I know what you might be thinking….BOOOOOORRRRRIIINNNNNGGGG.

    But, no. Not this one. This book reads like the author is sitting right next to you, telling you about his visit to the Statue of Liberty….and this really amazing thing that he noticed about her right foot! Have you ever noticed her right foot? Well, neither had I! I thought I knew a lot about the Statue of Liberty, and there were some things mentioned in this book that I already knew, but I also learned some new things and now I want to learn more. And guess what? The author included a nice list of other books about Lady Liberty at the end of this one, so I already have some great choices for further reading.  

    Seriously. You should read this book. It’s a quick, fun, and unique read with great illustrations. And I hope the members of the Newbery committee will read it too, and consider it for the award. I think it really deserves it! 

    I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below!  We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.

    Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)

    by Dori Graham | Jan 05, 2018

    Sensory Bottles

    Are you looking for something to do with your little ones in the coming weeks of (involuntary) indoor fun? Come to the Children's Services department at the Main Library for Toddler Fun: My Five Senses this coming Tuesday, January 9th, at 10:30 am for an hour of hands-on fun and a handful of great take-home projects and ideas. We’ll be making silly noises, spying fun things, smelling great scents, and touching all kinds of interesting textures. For example, kiddos will have the chance to play with a discovery tub full of chia water beads. This non-toxic bit of fun is free of choking hazards, and it's as simple as letting chia seeds (which you can get at most any grocery store) soak in food-colored water overnight. Not only is it perfectly safe for your little one to explore, but it’s squishy, beautiful and fun, too!

    But you don’t have to wait until Tuesday to enjoy some library sensory fun. Come in and check out some of these activity-filled books as you count down the days till Toddler Fun:

    Curious George Discovers the Senses by Natan Nuchi

    Mommy and Me Start Cooking by Denise Smart

    Senses by Jinny Johnson