Poetry & Painting

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually a quiet time in the library. It is a great time to have a program for kids who are on holiday from school.  The kids need a break from all of the hype of Christmas and something that will stimulate their creativity.  What better than three days of writing poetry and watercolor painting.

Twenty-two kids signed up.  We talked about haiku, limericks, alliteration, rhyming and even onomatopoeia.  I used some wonderful books to read samples of all of the above.  The kids got it.  They did some very creative poems and used vocabulary other than “nice”, “good”, “pretty”.  The 90 minutes flew by each day.  The kids created their own book of poetry and art.

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Books for reluctant teen readers

A reluctant reader needs a book that has a  high interest subject, vocabulary that is easy to understand and should be less than 200 pages.  Here are some suggestions from the American Library Association.

  1. Glimpse by  Carol Lynch Williams. Recommended for ages 14-18.
  2. Blank Confession  by Pete Hautman . Recommended for ages 14-18
  3.   A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti. Recommended for ages 12-18.
  4. Scars  by Cheryl Rainfield . Recommended for ages 15-18.


  1. Some Girls Are  by Courtney Summers. Recommended for ages 12-14
  2. Riker’s High   by  Paul Volponi . Recommended for ages 14-16.
  3. Girl Stolen   by April Henry. Recommended for ages 12-16.
  4. The Duff  by Kody Keplinger Recommended for ages 14-18.
  5. One Hundred Young Americans   by Michael Franzini  Recommended for ages 12-18.
  6. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty byGreg Neri. Recommended for ages 15-18.



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Alfie Bloom meet Harry Potter

Alfie Bloom is a picked upon 12-year-old looking at a boring summer vacation.  That soon changes when he arrives home and finds a letter addressed to the attention of Alfred Bloom.    The letter indicates that he needs to meet with senior partners to discuss his substantial inheritance.

This is the start of an interesting turn of events for Alfie.  He moves into a magical castle, has ancient magical skills passed on to him and has to prevent two evil headmistresses from winning.  Sounds a bit like Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Gabrielle Kent has done a great job on her first novel. It’s a fun read and full of excitement.  A good fantasy read for ages 8 -12.

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Snuggle up with a holiday book

Tuck your little one in with a Christmas book and fill their head with sugarplum dreams.  The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus turns the old tale upside down.  Santa thinks that a boy named Harold might not be real! Santa asks “Is there really a Harold?”.

Allergies?  Maple and Willow get their first real Christmas tree but Maple starts sneezing.  What to do?  Find out in Maple and Willow’s Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols.

A curious cat crawls in Mr. Furry Boots bag on Christmas Eve.  Slipper finds herself in the North Pole with no way home.  Find how she gets home in Stowaway in a Sleigh by C. Roger Mader.

Hanukkah and Christmas are celebrated together this year.  Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf  by Greg Wolfe is a great way to introduce a different faith to children.

What better way to induce dreams of sugarplum fairies than to read The Nutcracker  illustrated by Valeria Docampo?  The enchanting illustrations are sure to have the little ones dreaming of a magical nutcracker.

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Renee Ahdieh has written an adventurous and  romantic but not mushy retelling of A Thousand and One Nights in her new YA fantasy The Wrath and the Dawn.  Sixteen year old Shahrzad agrees to marry the murderous boy king who marries and then kills his wife the next day as dawn arrives.  In order to survive Shahrzad begins to tell the boy king a tale.  She spins the tale so that as the sun rises above the horizon she is at a pivotal point in the story and refuses to tell the ending until that night.

Each day Shahrzad learns more about her husband the king and each day becomes less sure of her plan to kill him.  Enter wizards, spells, old carpets and attempts on her life just to make things exciting.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a fast paced page turner that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Keep you eye on the carpet I’m sure it will play a big role in the sequel The Rose and the Dagger.  This set of books would make an excellent Christmas gift for the reader in your family that is 14 or older.

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The children cast their votes at the Downingtown Library for their favorite story book character for president.  The two candidates were Olivia and Arthur.  It was a close race.  The total number of voters was 96.  The winner was Arthur with 53 votes.  Olivia had 43 votes cast in her favor.  A good time was had by all.


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bg-mdHere is a great way to help children count down to Christmas or Hanukkah.  Collect 24 children’s books.  I suggest going to your local library and checking them out.  Wrap them in festive or plain brown paper and put a number on each one…1, 2, 3…24. Each day take the  appropriately numbered  book off of the stack and read it.  Start out with books about winter or snow and slowly get into the more intense holiday books.  Children have the delight of opening a gift and hearing a story.

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