Tag Archives: link roundups

How About Looking at Some Links and Then We’ll Resume Normal Programming

24 Feb
via imgkid.com

via imgkid.com

Well, well, well.  It has been a spell since I posted something, hasn’t it?  I apologize.  For someone who had optimistic plans to put up a post every five days when this blog started, I have fallen WAY off the pace.

Anyway, my blogging mojo has begun to percolate again, so I am going to jump back into it by sharing some curious and fun links I’ve run across in recent days. 

  • Boing Boing shares a fascinating story from Lapham’s Quarterly about the mysterious disappearance of Barbara Newhall Follett.  She was a literary phenom who in 1927 published The House Without Windows at the age of 12.  She disappeared without a trace at the age of 25 and exactly what happened to her remains a mystery to this day.  There were a couple of places in the article that raised my eyebrows.  The first was that Anne Carroll Moore, head librarian of the New York Public Library’s Children’s Room (and subject of a charming biography, Miss Moore Thought Otherwise, in 2013), took a cautionary stance towards young Barbara’s achievement:

“I can conceive of no greater handicap for the writer between the ages of nineteen and thirty-nine,” thundered Anne Carroll Moore in the New York Herald Tribune, “than to have published a successful book between the age of nine and twelve.”

via farksolia.org

via farksolia.org

The second is the writing of Barbara herself.  It is luminous, disciplined, and doesn’t pull punches.  At a young and tender age, she could write something like this which has the power to resonate with the most jaded New Yorkers amongst us today…

“Not even a cat was out. The rain surged down with a steady drone. It meant to harm New York and everyone there. The gutters could not contain it. Long ago they had despaired of the job and surrendered. But the rain paid no attention to them…New York people never lived in houses or even in burrows. They inhabited cells in stone cliffs. They timed the cooking of their eggs by the nearest traffic light. If the light went wrong, so did the eggs…

 “I don’t like civilization,” she said, to the rain.”

I live in a studio apartment in Brooklyn, I time heating up dinner to when the next episode of Law & Order begins.  GET OUT OF MY HEAD, 12-YEAR OLD CHILD WRITING 88 YEARS AGO!!

Anyhow, The House Without Windows is long out of print, but you can download e-book versions here for free.

  • I went on a bit of a Ludwig Bemelmans kick during the Summer of 2014.  I  read through both Viking’s A Madeline Treasury when it showed up at my branch, and then I put Bemelmens’ charming Hotel Splendide on hold.  Then, on a late afternoon in August I found myself on the Upper East Side, walking past the Hotel Carlyle with lots of time to kill.  So I stopped in at Bemelmens Bar, bought myself a $19 G & T, chatted with some tourists and the bartender, and took  pictures of Bemelmens’ original artwork throughout the bar.  It was a lovely outing, well worth $19…
I kept the official Bemelmens Bar swizzle stick as a souvenir.

My Bemelmens Bar gin and tonic. I kept the swizzle stick as a souvenir.

Miss Clavell, et al doing calisthenics on their morning walk?

Miss Clavell, et al doing calisthenics on their morning walk?

This illustration has touched the cockles of my heart.

A woman and her be-ribboned dog rest on a bench in the park.  This illustration warms the cockles of my heart.

Images of animals observing caged humans in a zoo setting is a major theme of Bemelmens' bar illustrations.  Hmmmm...?

Images of animals observing caged humans in a zoo setting is a notable theme in the Bemelmens Bar illustrations. Hmmmm…?

Where am I going with this?  Well my summer Bemel-mania was brought back to me a few days ago by an article published by WBUR in Boston, How a Jilted Mom, a Former Nun and a Shattered Childhood Inspired ‘Madeline’.  In it we are introduced to how a variety of influences from Bemelmens’ past life and current circumstances combined to form the Madeline we know and cheer for to this day.  Thanks to Waking Brain Cells for the link.

  • Another link from Boing Boing.  Take a look at Twitter feed Dystopian YA Novel (@DystopianYA), which is feeding out one tweet at a time a heavily clichéd novel that strikes me as a mashup of The Hunger Games and Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series…

YA Dystopian Novel

  • via Wikimedia Commons

    via Wikimedia Commons

    I am a tennis player and I generally contend that tennis is the best game ever created (because it is).  However, if there is one area where tennis MAY be lacking is that we don’t employ kickass nicknames like they use in roller derby.  All you bookish types with a penchant for hitting hard need to scan through Book Riot’s 39 Killer Literary Roller Derby Names.  I’m partial to Mary Choppins, Pippi Longstompings, or Give ’em Hell Vetica.  They make me want to head to the court to pound the fuzz off of some tennis balls.

  • Crafty CrowThe Crafty Crow, a terrific site which labels itself as a ‘children’s craft collective’ has taught me a couple of things in recent days.  The first is that the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has its own blog of arts and craft ideas, Making Art with Children.  There are lots of great ideas here!  The second thing I learned via the Crafty Crow was that Netflix streams a number of Weston Woods videos of well-known picture books.  Huh.  Who knew?
  • For my final link, please allow me to lay some props on my employer.  It is Black History Month and on our website we have some swell resources for families with children in preschool and the early elementary grades about African American inventors and scientists.  There are book suggestions, talking points, and games, crafts and activities to do at home on Garrett Morgan, Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver, and Mae Jemison.  They did a fantastic job of helping parents and caregivers make these figures accessible and engaging to their young children.  I gave a bunch of handouts to the head of a local Universal Pre-K and she was so pleased, she hugged me.  It’s an early literacy and STEM win for the Brooklyn Public Library!
Learn about space travel and make astronaut ice cream!

Learn about space travel and make astronaut ice cream!

I’m happy to be back, y’all!  I already have a couple of new posts in their formative stages, so you’ll be hearing from me again soon…probably not in five days, but soon.  Thank you for reading!



We Aren’t Going Anywhere Until We Look at Some Links

22 Jul
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hullo!  I hope everyone is managing through their Summer Readings, if not with grace and aplomb, then at least by taking advantage of the Fizz! Boom! Read! theme and making things explode.  I for one have pledged to set off at least one Diet Coke and Mentos geyser at my library before Labor Day.  If you want to join me, maybe we can set a date and time and do it together.  Coke Geysers Across America! Who’s in?




I believe it’s time for a good old-fashioned link roundup.  I’ve come across some interesting and weird stuff over the past few days, and I’m going to write it up before it becomes last week’s news.  Pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, find a nice shady spot, and enjoy!

*  Public Libraries and Summer Meals Programs: I learned back in April that my branch was chosen to be a NYC Summer Meals lunch site this year.  I was very pleased.  Besides providing mid-day nutrition to neighborhood kids during the summer months, I figured it would also draw children into the library who were not otherwise using it.  We could work with them on their library cards, sign them up for Summer Reading, steer them towards programming and self-directed activities, and just demonstrate that the library is a lovely and welcoming place where they can have fun and get fed, no questions or strings attached.  If you are interested in hosting a Summer Meals program in your library (or putting together a proposal you can take your library administrators), SLJ is on it.  Check out their article, Libraries Needed to Host Summer Meals Programs.  Here’s How to Help.

*  Stand By Your Summer Reading Lists!: There are a few people who work at the Brooklyn Public Library I would readily say are ‘feisty’.  Rita Meade makes the list, and that’s a compliment.  Here’s the skinny.  Local rag The NY Post publishes an editorial, The New York Public Library’s Pathetic Summer Reading List for Kids in which the author (1) waxes nostalgic for the classics of her youth;  (2) harangues about titles that feature diverse characters; and (3) simultaneously takes the list to task for being politicized, but also fluffy and unchallenging.  Enter Rita, who in this piece on Book Riot, combs through the  editorial paragraph-by-paragraph and thoughtfully refutes this so-called pathetic-ness once and for all.

*  Speaking of BPL…: We’re hiring some children’s and YA librarians.  If you’re in town this Thursday or Saturday, stop by one of our job fairs with your resumes and smiling faces.

blastoff*  The 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing is this week.  Back in May of this year, Brain Pickings had a fascinating post about a visionary picture book published in 1973.  Called Blast Off!, it is the story of an African American girl named Regina who wants to be an astronaut.  She gets some pushback, but only from kids in her neighborhood who don’t know what astronauts are.  No one is saying Regina can’t be one because she’s a girl or she’s non-caucasian.  Blast Off! was written by two women writers, Linda C. Cain and Susan Rosenbaum, and was illustrated by a husband-and-wife pair you may be familiar with…



Moon Over StarYup, that’s Leo and Diane DillonBlast Off! is long out of print, but I can recommend an equally heartwarming title set in July, 1969 that also features an African-American girl inspired by the Moon Landing.  I’m talking about The Moon Over Star, published in 2008 and written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.  If you never read it, your homework this week is to pull it off the shelf and prepare to wipe away a tear (or two).

*  I like to joke (at least in my head) that when you open the Books category in Buzzfeed, the posts break down as follows: 40% are about Harry Potter, 40% are about The Fault in Our Stars, and the remaining 20% covers everything else.  I’m going to cherry-pick a few images from this HP post, 22 Harry Potter Puns that Are So Bad They’re Good.  Because they cracked me up.  And because I am 10 years old.

HP Keeper


I am seriously considering doing this to the front door of my apartment.

I am seriously considering doing this to the front door of my apartment.

Chamber Pun

Some people think I have more coffee coursing through my veins than red blood cells.

Some people think I have more coffee coursing through my veins than red blood cells.

*  I am a longtime lurker and very rare commenter on the ALA Think Tank Facebook group.  Over the weekend, an ALATT-er posted this image:

Bukowski  Now the only things I know about Charles Bukowski are he was a Beat poet, he hung out with William S. Burroughs, he drank a lot, and Mickey Rourke played him in the movie.  However, I am well-acquainted with the work of  Bob Staake, and when I noticed he had a whole site devoted to these Bad Children’s Books, I went straight to Google.  Behold the weirdness (If you click through to the site, heads up. A lot of entries are not exactly…er…sensitive).  Here’s a (tame) sampling.

Bad Books 1Bad Books 2Bad Books 3

eloise-690*  I’ve obviously entered the realm of the bizarre, offensive and unsettling here, so I’ll wrap up this post with one more link in the same vein.  I give you Eloise: an Update by Carolyn Parkhurst, found on the New Yorker online.   Our girl is now 46 years old.  She no longer resides at THE Plaza, but has moved downtown, to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Times Square.  Skipperdee apparently was not one of those long-lived turtles because Eloise now shares her suite with a dog named McConaughey and her valet/personal assistant Manny. She still revels in hotel life and, being Eloise, has loads of friends to act amiably haughty towards.

Sometimes I talk to Mark-on-the-sidewalk, who sells fraudulent merchandise to tourists
I ask, “How’s business, Mark?”
and he says, “Hey, you want some comedy-club tickets? I can get you into Caroline’s, cheap,”
and I say, “Not today, thank you very much”
Ooh, I love love love Times Square!

Adulthood hasn’t been kind to Ms. E. (Defense Exhibit 1: she live in Times Square).  However, her exuberance and mischievous nature seem to be totally intact after 40 years.  I’ll leave it to you to decide if (a) that is too depressing to bear or (b) is something all of us who are staring middle-age in the face should celebrate.

If she were still with us, I think Kay Thompson would get a big kick out of this piece.

Until next time!


Wake Up, Kitty Cats, and Look at Some Links

15 Nov
Ya-ww-n!  This is one lynx who is ready for some links (photo source: wallpaperswa.com)

Str-e-tch!  This lynx is clearly ready for some hot links (photo source: wallpaperswa.com)

Hullo!  I’ve been dumping articles and and addresses into WordPress for a couple of weeks, and now I will share the bounty with all of you.  Happy scrolling!

  • I am hardly a snappy dresser.  All of my clothes are black, gray, and blue, and I own very little in terms of jewelry and accessories.  I never even got my ears pierced, for pete’s sake.  Show me a Tumblr of outfits inspired by Nancy Drew, though, and suddenly I am looking online for a cute cloche.  These outfits aren’t directly inspired by the Nancy Drew books, by the way, but by a series of Nancy online games produced by HeR Interactive.  No matter.  They look like something Nancy would wear on the covers of the original books from the 1930’s, the ones with the yellow spines.  (via Buzzfeed)
Nancy Drew Outfit

Outfit inspired by a Nancy Drew online game, ‘Message in a Haunted Mansion.’ Look at those cute oxfords!

  • This one is from a couple of months ago.  The always eccentric Lemony Snicket was a guest-judge on an episode of Top Chefs Masters on Bravo.  In his 12-minute appearance, he serenaded the celebrity chef contestants with his accordion, shared with the audience that his nickname in high school was Blood Turnip, and made florid, over-the-top pronouncements on the dishes he sampled.  Frankly, the chefs and the host looked irritated with him, and thought he was a bit of a whack-a-doodle.  They obviously can’t appreciate him like we do, right?  Judge for yourself, you’ll find the video at this link.  Mr. Snicket’s segment is the first one after the opening credits.
  • Picture Book MonthNovember is Picture Book Month! As its website states, “Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November”.  Every day they publish a short essay from an author, illustrator, educator, and picture book enthusiast on why picture books are important.  We are halfway through the month, and we have already been treated to posts from the likes of Tomie dePaola, Rosemary Wells, and Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  Looking through the site has certainly motivated me to join the celebration and shine a spotlight on picture books at my library before the end of November.  Illustrator Katie Davis, a Picture Book Month co-founder, gives us this lovely video of authors and illustrators answering the question, “What is a picture book?”

  • I’m still milking my success with all things Yoda.  First on the docket, a mashup of Dr. Seuss and Star Wars.  (via Affectdad)

Yoda SeussThen, although it has nothing to do with children’s books or libraries, I submit for your viewing pleasure a photo of a pig with an image of Yoda on its forehead. (via Richard Wiseman).

Yoda Pig

I’m a vegetarian, so jokes about Dagoban ham and bacon, I WILL NOT MAKE.

Image Source: Tiny Tips for Library Fun

Image Source: Tiny Tips for Library Fun

  • I don’t order books anymore.  My library system does centralized ordering for its branches, and only the divisions of our Central Library do their own ordering.  I don’t miss it (yet), and I am mostly satisfied with how responsive our collection is to our patrons (although I have not seen a single copy of Rick Riordan or any title from the  Diary of a Wimpy Kid oeuvre in the 3 1/2 weeks since I started at my new branch).   When I was in charge of purchasing children’s books for the Central Library, I came up with all sorts of rules, systems, and axioms for getting the most bang out of our book budget buck.  Thanks to Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun, I don’t need to type them out here.  She lays out her top poor selection practices in two installments of, “Top 12 Ways to Be a BAD Selector” (post 1 and post 2).  I am not 100% in following Marge’s words of wisdom, however.  I’ll own up to not weeding books by Canadian writer Brian Doyle for the longest time because I loved them, even though it was clear Brooklyn’s young readers could care less.  That’s a flagrant violation of Rule #8.
  • Cover Grimms MarchenLast year, Philip Pullman published an English translation of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  Now there is a German edition that has translated Pullman’s English translation back into German (stay with me) and it has been illustrated with sculptures by Shaun Tan.  You don’t need to know a lick of German to recognize how fittingly Tan’s use of basic elements (sand, metal, clay) represents the dreamlike and emotionally charged strangeness of these classic stories.  Take a look. (via Educating Alice)
Hansel and Gretel

“Hansel and Gretel”

"The Fisherman's Wife"

“The Fisherman’s Wife”

  • Warby Parker, purveyors of those librarian-chic eyeglasses that all cost just 95 bucks, gives us this handy chart of Reading Positions.  I can vouch that The Inchworm (fig. 7), is pretty darn comfy, while The Modified Beyoncé (fig. 10) gives burying one’s nose in a book a certain dramatic flair.  (via Swiss Miss)
  • Warby Parker
    tree octopus

    Taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest? Don’t forget your tree octopus repellent.

    A ‘Z BeforeY’ post is incomplete unless I link to my dearest of colleagues, Ingrid.  Check out this post in which she tackles an all-too-common presumption: that kids and teens are naturals at sniffing out inaccurate, biased, or sloppy information when they search online.  Not so.  The internet may have been around since before they were born, but they are not being taught to scrutinize the integrity of the information they encounter online (And I mean that as a sweeping generalization.  I know there are communities that offer rigorous information literacy training to their students, but those are too few and too far in between).   Ingrid’s post provides some excellent resources ( The ‘Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus’ has long been my favorite hoax site) AND she blows the cover off the great Brooklyn Public Library/Disappearance of Agatha Ann Cunningham Mystery.  Folks, it was all made up.  It never happened.  It sure fooled a lot of people, though.  Heh, heh, heh.

  • I’m going to wrap up with a book trailer for a new title that boasts a SQUEEEE! Factor that is off the charts.  It is Newborn Puppies: Dogs in Their First Three Weeks by Traer Scott.  Mr. Schu included it in a roundup of titles for holiday giving.  If you can make it through the video below WITHOUT bellowing out some iteration of, ‘Awwww!’ or ‘PUH-PEEES!’, you are a much less of a mush than yours truly.

All together, now.  PUH-PEEEEES!!!!!



13 Sep
Kitty hunts rabbits on the Northern Tundra AND keeps up with his blog reader.

Kitty hunts rabbits in Northern Boreal Forests AND keeps on top of her blog reader.

This is the first lynx (I can’t be the first blogger making this joke) roundup I’ve done on Z Before Y, and before I dive in, I want to get something off my chest.  Putting this post together has been a weird experience, fraught with lots of second-guessing and doubt.  Am I striking a proper balance between professional and playful?  If I use links seen on Facebook or Twitter, wouldn’t I be upstreaming the posters before they can add them to their own links roundups on their own blogs?  Is this link old news?  Has it already made an appearance in lots of other blogs?  Gaa-rrrh!

I don’t have scads of sites to share with you in this debut roundup.  What I decided to do was trust my instincts here and go with the material  I can say something about.


fantastic beastsThe J.K. Rowling movie that will focus on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them author, Newt Scamander, will be at least partially set in New York City.  This Gothamist article quotes Rowling’s Facebook announcement where she writes.

“The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.”  (emphasis mine)

Seventy years before the Harry Potter books?  So that puts us in the early decades of the twentieth century.  How picturesque!  And impoverished.  And perilous.  I have one request for Ms. Rowling as she writes her script: don’t forget  the outer boroughs.

We Give Books“We Give Books” Lets You Read E-Picture Books for Free

A joint effort between Penguin and the Pearson Foundation, We Give Books makes dozens of high-quality and recognized picture books available to be read for free over the internet.  Madeline is there, as are Max and Ruby, along with new favorites like Llama, Llama Misses Mama and No Fits, Nilson!  You’ll also find lots of non-fiction, as well as offerings in Spanish and Nepali.  Here’s hoping the collection continues to grow!  (via Pragmatic Mom)

Pete the Cat Play to Learn Program

In my library, we are all huge devotees of the Pete the Cat books.  In fact we have Pete and his groovy buttons prominently displayed on the windows that overlook the entire Youth Wing (if I weren’t on vacation, I would take a picture and post it here).  That’s why I’ve put the spotlight on this Pete the Cat Play to Learn program that Lisa from Libraryland posted in March, instead of the more recent Where Is the Green Sheep? program praised earlier this week in Storytime Underground. Such great ideas!  Such a thoughtful blend of fun, interactivity, and focus on early literacy skills!  Now I totally want to do my own Play to Learn program.  Luckily the Pete the Cat one is there for the taking.

Pete the Cat Collage

Four stations from Libraryland’s “Pete the Cat” Play to Learn Program.

A Banned Books Display the Magpie Librarian Way!

chocolate warOur 1,118 Origami Yodas are not the only display going on where I work.   Ingrid is crushing it with her Banned Books Display.  Some patrons may be taking the signage a little too literally, but censorship has definitely become a real-life Trending Topic in the Youth Wing (and not just among those who may need to adjust their irony antennas).  Also take a look at Ingrid’s earlier post about her colorful and thought-provoking Censorship Poster.  For the record, I have killed exactly zero flies.  They hadn’t infiltrated my part of the workroom by the time I left for vacation, so I wasn’t exactly being a team player in their slaughter.

Ingrid Poster

Speaking of Origami…

In a blog post titled Brooklyn Folds 1K Yodas!!!!!!!, Mr. Tom Angleberger posts on his Origami Yoda site the video I made.  I especially like the comment from Zacharosorigami: yoda overload lol!

Looking to the future, though, I’ve been talking about making “Let’s Fold 1,000 Origami Corgis!” my next campaign.  Tasha Tudor loved corgis, so there’s your tie-in to children’s books.  It will work.  Right?  Right?  Anyone?  (LinkHow About Orange?)


Microaggression in the Form of a Pink Ribbon?

You Can Do ItThe term ‘microaggression’ was introduced in the 1970’s by Harvard professor of psychiatry, Chester M. Pierce.  They are small acts of non-violent aggression, intentional or not, directed against those of different races, genders, cultures, etc.  The marvelous Betsy Lewin recently published an early reader title, You Can Do It!, in which a pink-beribboned girl alligator serves little other purpose to the plot than to bolster the confidence of the boy alligator protagonist.  I included the book in a new books presentation I did earlier this year, and I probably said something along the lines of, “It’s a great book, but that part isn’t cool.  Not cool at all” regarding this aspect of its character development.  Allie Jane Bruce, in a Children’s Book Council blog post, Microaggressions: Those Small Acts that Pack a Big, Negative Punchlays it out much more eloquently than I could.

“Ultimately, when analyzing for microaggressions (or, for that matter, macroaggressions), the question is “what effect does this have on its audience?” In this case, You Can Do It positively affected most of the children in my group, who enjoyed the fun, inspiring story. My impression of Charlotte, however, was that she seemed to feel devalued and type-cast. And this reaction—even if it was just Charlotte’s—is valid and deserves consideration”.

To Wear to All Your Storytimes…At Least Until the Next YouTube Sensation Hits

Fox ShirtAdmit it, children’s librarians.  You’ve been tempted to use Ylvis’ viral hit, What Does a Fox Say? in a program, haven’t you?  To make up for all those times you were flummoxed about what to do with those squirrels, rabbits, moles, and yes, foxes?  Well, the good people at shirt.woot have created the perfect shirt to wear when you do that program.  If you’re not familiar with shirt.woot, they blog a new t-shirt design every day.  If you buy it on day one, it costs a flat $12.00 (shipping and taxes included in the price).  After that, it’s $15.00.  If you go deeper into their back-catalog, it will cost you $18.00.  Not a bad deal at all!  I’d say about 2/3 of the shirts in my t-shirt drawer are products of shirt.woot.    

Well, that’s a wrap on my first links roundup.  It wasn’t so bad after all.  Have a great weekend, y’all!


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