Category Archives: Libraries
Ms. Bird, a seasoned librarian who has put on many a storytime event, has kindly shared with us some great ideas for hosting a dance party in your library, classroom, or store that will get everyone moving and grooving. We hope you’ll use this guide to throw your own Giant Dance Party for your little giants. And don’t forget to check out the book, which Kirkus Reviews called “Full of pep and verve and enthusiasm . . . Sheer joy.”
Many thanks to Betsy Bird, and happy dancing to everyone!
From Betsy Bird:
In GIANT DANCE PARTY, we see what happens when some furry blue big ’uns cut loose on the floor. Now here’s your chance to have your very own Giant Dance Party in the comfort of your own store, school, or library. When hosting any kind of a dance event, it is important to remember the four essential elements of any good party involving kids:
- Loud music
- Fabulous snacks
- Fun costumes
- Goofy adults
You’re responsible for the goofy adults. For all other items, here are some ideas for having a GIANT DANCE PARTY to beat all other giant dance parties.
Food: It Gotta Be Blue
Are you the kind of person who quails at the thought of providing delicious, healthy, and one-of-a-kind snacks at a party? Well, quail not. Kids love specialized foods, but what they like even more is filling their bellies. And since the giants in GIANT DANCE PARTY are as blue as the sky above, try serving treats of a similar hue. Here are some simple party ideas that can be fancied up if you’ve a yen to do so.
Blue ice pops—In GIANT DANCE PARTY, Lexy turns into the human equivalent of an ice pop whenever she’s called upon to dance. Consider making some ice pops of your own.
Blue juice—Time to get nice and cozy with the Kool-Aid man, yet again. Find your favorite blue version and make up a nice big pitcher.
Blue popcorn—It can be done! Combine butter, oil, salt, corn syrup, and blue food coloring in a big bowl. Next, microwave the mixture for 30–40 seconds, just until butter melts. Stir to combine, and then add the unpopped popcorn kernels and stir so that the kernels get completely covered with the syrup mixture. Spread them out evenly in the bottom of the bowl. Then just cover the bowl with a vented lid and microwave on high for 3–5 minutes, or until there are 1–2 seconds between pops. Instant blue popcorn awaits you!
Cupcakes—Consider blueberry cupcakes with blue frosting and M&Ms for a topper. Healthier alternatives can include blueberry muffins or just big bowls of blueberries.
Suggested Tunes for Little Monsters
The number one most important thing you need when you host a dance party? Dancing! Now that you’ve gotten them hepped up on sugar, it’s time to let those kiddos strut their signature dance moves on the floor. Trust your gut when it comes to great music. If it has a beat, the kids will be able to dance to it. Some recommended selections include:
“Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” by C&C Music Factory
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (Cindi Lauper’s version)
“Walk Like an Egyptian,” by The Bangles
“Hey Ya!” by OutKast
“La Bamba” (Los Lobos version)
“Twist and Shout” (the Beatles’ version)
The Kidz Bop albums—You may roll your eyes when you hear the oddly infantilized versions of the latest songs on the radio. But hey, if it comes down to the dirty real lyrics and the ones Kidz Bop comes up with, you may as well go for the safe and secure, if only to avoid the glares of irate parents.
Big on Costumes
Everyone has a different idea of what a giant looks like. In GIANT DANCE PARTY the giants are huge (as per usual), furry, and blue. But leave yourself open to a range of different giant interpretations. Here are some great giants in pop culture you might want to consider replicating:
The giants in GIANT DANCE PARTY—Furry-and-blue is the name of the game here. Don’t want to go all out with a hot and heavy costume? Consider going to Etsy and purchasing a pair of furry blue boot covers for the legs alone. They’re sure to gussy up any outfit.
The Jolly Green Giant—The nice thing about this guy is that he doesn’t require fur. Just a toga of green, maybe some green tights, and some makeup for the skin. Toss in a little green dye for the hair, and voila! Instant giant.
Hagrid from the Harry Potter series—This is for your future motorcycle tough guy. All you need is a ginormous beard and maybe an old bathrobe, and it’s Hagrid in the flesh.
Finn MacCoul—He’s the most famous giant in Ireland, so run to your local library to pick up some books on him (we recommend Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife, by Robert Byrd, or Fin M’Coul, by Tomie dePaola). Next, construct an outfit. You can go all out with a kilt or just find some plaid fabric to make an appropriate sash.
Your standard Fe Fi Fo Fum giant—Bad teeth, warts, raggedy clothes, and maybe a club for grinding men’s bones into bread. Extra points if you bring along your own beanstalk.
King Kong—Who says all giants have to be humans? Go ape by dressing up as everyone’s favorite Empire State Building ascender. Consider attaching a couple of paper airplanes here and there for the kids to swipe at for fun (and don’t forget to carry a Faye Wray-esque doll around, too!).
Most important of all, have fun! There’s no wrong way to throw a Giant Dance Party. Each one, like each giant, is unique in its very own way.
We love listening to Chris Crutcher. He always has the most interesting things to say. Luckily his new novel, PERIOD 8, is full of things to talk about!
Watch Chris Crutcher discuss the truth and when to tell it, what it means to live a good life, and PERIOD 8. Make sure you stick around until the end for a special message to teachers and librarians!
Download the PERIOD 8 discussion guide and get talking . . .
Getting ready for Poetry Month? We’ve got some brilliant activities for Jack Prelutsky and Carin Berger’s STARDINES SWIM HIGH ACROSS THE SKY, brought to you by picture book and flannelboard maven Storytime Katie. With Jack Prelutsky’s signature sense of humor and Carin Berger’s stunning collage, shadowbox, and diorama illustrations, this fantastic new poetry collection can be paired with SCRANIMALS and BEHOLD THE BOLD UMBRELLAPHANT or used on its own for a rollicking Poetry Month celebration.
Many thanks to Katie for these great activities, and happy (almost) Poetry Month to all!
From Storytime Katie:
In STARDINES SWIM HIGH ACROSS THE SKY, Jack Prelutsky and Carin Berger team up to create an unforgettable recording of sixteen brand-new species unseen by humans before! To celebrate this amazing new book from Greenwillow Books, readers are invited to try their hands at these activities.
1. Create Your Own Animal. In STARDINES, Jack Prelutsky creates animals by combining two words with at least one similar syllable. For example, a panda who plans becomes a planda. Plan + Panda = Planda. Try making your own animal! If you get stuck, you can try using two of the words in the following lists:
Panda: Fan, Land, Sand, Stand
Buffalo: Fluff, Muff, Stuff, Tough
Butterfly: Blue, Flew, Mutt, Nut
Make sure to write out the definition of your new animal. (For example, a Bluetterfly is a butterfly who only lands on blue flowers!)
2. I Spy. In Carin Berger’s collage illustrations, she includes a lot of details to demonstrate each animal’s environment and personality. Can you find all fifteen items listed below in the pictures throughout STARDINES?
Items to find: Apron, Broom, Cactus, Clock, Feather, Fork, Guitar, Mushroom, Pretzel, Red Shoes, Rocks, Sailboat, Spoon, Tuba, Umbrella
3. Collage Art. Make your own collage using a variety of paper, found objects, and creativity. You can use whatever can be glued down on a piece of paper, as long as you have permission to use it! Try using milk caps, cardboard boxes, and newspaper to make a truly Earth-friendly recycled craft.
4. Animal Discoveries. While the creatures in STARDINES may not be real, new animal species are discovered regularly in our world. Do some research about when your favorite animal was discovered and find out who was responsible for the discovery. Write a poem about how your favorite animal was discovered—be imaginative!
Black History Month (celebrated annually in February) is almost upon us, and we have two new, stunning picture books that we hope you’ll include in your festivities.
NELSON MANDELA, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, published January 2013 from Katherine Tegen Books. ISBN: 9780061783746
Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy’s determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela’s triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world. Rather than portray Nelson Mandela’s life and accomplishments in a standard nonfiction prose format, the beauty and language of this lyrical prose-poem distinctively captures time, place, and the story of a remarkable figure in world history.
BRICK BY BRICK, written by Charles R. Smith, Jr., illustrated by Floyd Cooper, published January 2013 from Amistad. ISBN: 9780061920820
I’m not sure if many people know that the White House was built partially by slaves, some of whom purchased their freedom after learning a trade through this work. This non-fiction picture book collaboration by a celebrated duo is told in verse and tells a new story of a landmark we all know well. Publishing right on the heels of the 2012 Presidential election, this moving book captures the tremendous feat of building the White House, with human hands. And it celebrates those African Americans slaves who toiled to bring this grand structure to life, as noted in President Barack Obama’s inaugural address.
And check out last year’s post for a round-up of further Black History Month reading from HarperCollins Children’s Books, as well as useful links!
Even though it feels like we JUST got back from TLA (and more on that terrific show later), we’re heading to Molly’s hometown Chicago tomorrow to exhibit at the International Reading Association next week. Will you be there, too? If so, come by booth #2240 for our wonderful author signings (listed below) galleys, teaching guides, posters, bookmarks, booktalking, and friend-making.
MONDAY, APRIL 30TH:
1:00–2:00PM, Henry Cole
TUESDAY, MAY 1ST:
*9:30–12:00PM, I CAN READ GOES DIGITAL– swing by our booth Tuesday morning to take a photo with your favorite I Can Read costumed characters, see demos of I Can Read books on the iPad and Nook, and enter a sweepstakes to win your own ereader or tablet loaded with an I Can Read library!*
12:30–1:00PM, Jan Spivey Gilchrist
1:00–2:00PM, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Peter Reynolds
2:00–2:30PM, Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campos
2:30–3:30PM, Patricia McCormick
3:30–4:00PM, Stuart Murphy
WEDNESDAY, MAY 2ND:
9:30–10:30AM, Laura Numeroff (do you like donuts? If so, make a point to come to this one!)
11:00–11:30AM, Jody Feldman
11:30AM–12:30PM, Rita Williams-Garcia
See you there!
In case you haven’t heard us talking about this book yet, we’ll say it again here: WE LOVE IVAN.
Ivan is an easy-going gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, and he spends his days drawing, watching his TV, and being stared at by shoppers. When Ruby, a baby elephant, moves in, Ivan summons the protective instincts of his inner mighty silverback and makes a promise that Ruby will have a different kind of life than the one he has known.
Katherine Applegate tells the story (which, by the way, is based on a true one) in Ivan’s own voice, with narration full of gentle gorilla observations and subtle, sharp insights. His voice and his story are poignant and profound and deeply moving, and we could go on for a very long time about what a fantstic read this is. But we’d rather you find out for yourself!
Others are loving Ivan, too:
“Extraordinary.” ~ Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“The characters will capture readers’ hearts and never let go. A must-have.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“Compelling. . . . Poignant. . . . Utterly believable.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
We are so excited about this book, and we’re thrilled to share Ivan’s story far and wide. You can get a peek at the book by using our Browse Inside feature, and don’t miss the discussion guide for conversation starters and activities for your students.
And here’s some exciting news! We’re giving away three copies of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, each of which will be accompanied by an adorable gorilla stuffed animal*. Post a note to us in the comments telling us your favorite animal character in all of children’s literature, and we’ll enter you to win a copy of the book and a stuffed Ivan. You have until Wednesday, February 15th at 11:59 p.m. EST to enter, and we’ll announce the winners at the end of next week. Open to U.S. and Canada only.
Things might be a little quiet over here at the blog this week, because the team is packing up and heading to Dallas, Texas to attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. We love this conference– we catch up with old friends, make new ones, promote our terrific upcoming books, and scope the scene for what’s about to pop onto our radar.
If you’ll be at Midwinter too, please stop by our booth (#1528) and say hello! We have LOTS of galleys to give out, including UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, Sara Pennypacker’s middle grade SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS, Adam Rex’s first-in-a-trilogy COLD CEREAL, and PANDEMONIUM, Lauren Oliver’s follow up to DELIRIUM*. Plus you absolutely must meet Penny, Kevin Henkes‘ newest mouse, whose sweet story is sure to win a place in your heart.
See you in Dallas, y’all!
*Limited quantities available.
I know, it seems crazy to talk about the holiday season already. But this is also the point where we start putting in book orders for the latest titles and replacing old books as well. So let’s jump in and talk about some of the newest books for the holiday season:
A CHRISTMAS GOODNIGHT by Nola Buck, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright (On-sale now). In its starred review, Publishers Weekly said that this book “serves special status, to be kept off-season with other holiday decorations and then brought out each year at Christmas.”
THE LITTLEST EVERGREEN by Henry Cole (On-sale now). School Library Journal calls this “a fine Christmas choice with an environmental message.”
Need to replace books in your collection? Here are some possible titles that you may need to re-order:
- AMELIA BEDELIA TALKS TURKEY by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Lynn Sweat (An I Can Read book). Download the teaching guide.
- THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER by Barbara Robinson
- A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Brett Helquist (Picture book edition)
- CHRISTMAS COOKIES by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer
- DANCE, SING, REMEMBER: A CELEBRATION OF JEWISH HOLIDAYS by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Ora Eitan
- FLETCHER AND THE SNOWFLAKE CHRISTMAS by Julia Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
- HANUKKAH LIGHTS: HOLIDAY POETRY by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Melanie Hall
- IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO THE MOVIES: A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EDITION by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
- IT’S CHRISTMAS by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner (An I Can Read book)
- LI’L RABBIT’S KWANZAA by Donna Washington, illustrated by Shane Evans
- THE LUMP OF COAL by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist
- MERRY CHRISTMAS, AMELIA BEDELIA by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Lynn Sweat (An I Can Read book)
- MERRY CHRISTMAS, SPLAT by Rob Scotton (Download the activity sheet)
- MERRY NAVIDAD! by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Vivi Escriva
- MERRY UN-CHRISTMAS by Mike Reiss, illustrated by David Catrow
- MY WEIRD SCHOOL #14: MISS HOLLY IS TOO JOLLY! by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot (Download the teaching guide)
- THE NUTCRACKER by Susan Jeffers
- STANLEY’S CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan
- THANKSGIVING IS HERE by Diane Goode
- THIS IS THE FEAST by Diane Z. Shore, illustrated by Megan Lloyd
It’s been warm in NYC lately – in the 80s the past couple days! – so we’re thinking forward to cooler autumn nights and cozying up with some atmospheric, moody, sweeping stories. In particular, this is when I love reading romantic stories and we’ve got some gorgeous ones for you:
FATEFUL by Claudia Gray: Known for her Evernight series, Claudia Gray strikes new ground with this sweeping paranormal romance that takes place on the RMS Titanic’s maiden – and only – voyage (check out the deliciously creepy book trailer).
COLD KISS by Amy Garvey: When Wren’s boyfriend dies unexpectedly, she realizes she can bring him back from the dead…but just because she can doesn’t mean she should (Kirkus called it “a provocative romance” and Publishers Weekly said COLD KISS was “a delicate portrayal of love and loss”).
Here’s hoping for cooler days soon in NYC and, for those of you enjoying cooler climates, curl up with one of these today!
A gorgeous book illustrated throughout by Kei Acedera, we are so excited to share LIESL & PO with you! Lauren Oliver proves she can right it all: young adult, dystopian, and now middle-grade.
We have materials to help you read LIESL & PO with the kids in your classrooms and libraries. Check out the website: download the discussion guide, ask Lauren a question, and hear Lauren talk about creating the story.
The reviews are lovely:
“With her third book, Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall; Delirium) creates another highly original world, this one for middle-grade readers. Oliver introduces orphans Liesl and Will, a touch of magic, some delectable coincidences, and friendship that stretches from the Living Side to the Other Side.” ~ Shelf Awareness
“Classic fairy tale elements weave throughout this spirited, old-fashioned adventure. Invigorating and hopeful, this novel testifies to the power of friendship and generosity to conquer greed and depression.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A nice addition to libraries looking to add to their middle grade fantasy collections. It could also be a good read aloud, since I think it would have appeal to both genders – it doesn’t lean too ‘girl read’ or ‘guy read’.” ~ GreenBeanTeanQueen
Lastly, check out the gorgeous book trailer (and even download the lyrics to the accompanying song):