Kids Blog

Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

For most of us, peanuts don’t usually conjure up thoughts of sickness and death, but for Ambrose Bukowski that’s all they have to offer. The main character of Susin Neilsen’s Word Nerd has a serious allergy, but his real problem is the fact that he’s so awkward. His classmates tease him nonstop for the way he acts, the way he dresses, and the things he says. When they hide a peanut in his sandwich at lunch, the hospital visit afterwards convinces his overprotective mother to homeschool Ambrose.

One day Ambrose meets his landlord’s son Cosmo, who just got out of prison. You might not think that a nerdy kid and a twenty-something ex-con would have anything in common, but the game of Scrabble works in mysterious ways.
 
Ambrose hates Cosmo’s smoking habit and tattoos, and Cosmo doesn’t want to be seen with Ambrose when he’s wearing his lucky purple pants. Still, these two unlikely friends try to make things better for themselves, the only way they know how. But how can they play together when Ambrose’s mom won’t let him near Cosmo? And why does a scary-looking guy named Silvio keep showing up in front of their house, asking for Cosmo?

Hanukkah: A Festival of Lights

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, begins on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev, at sundown. Lasting eight days, Hanukkah usually occurs during December, but sometimes begins in November. This Jewish holiday is known as the Festival of Lights, commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C. after three years of war. Hanukkah means "dedication."

Jerusalem at the time was part of the Hellenistic empire and was ruled by Antiochus IV. His government instituted a different religion from Judaism. When the Temple became a site of sacrifices and icons, the people resisted, sparking three years of fierce rebellion. The Maccabees led the rebellion and were triumphant in 164 B.C.

A Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup

There are a lot of stories out there: boy wizards, girl detectives, wimpy kids, and underpantsed captains. Despite the many possibilities and and numerous titles to read, there may be that ever-lurking fear that there is not a story out there for you. In this is the case, you might want to avoid a panic attack by taking a note from Dr. Cuthbert Soup, head of the National Center for Unsolicited Advice. If you are so brave and wise to follow Soup’s advice, you will be handsomely rewarded with A Whole Nother Story.

This particular tale revolves around inventor Ethan Cheeseman and his three children, who are on the run from a madcap menagerie of pursuers: Secret agents known only by different numbers, evil corporations, a Russian spy and his extremely talented chimp (for one thing, he can speak yak). All of these sundry types wish to get their hands on Cheeseman’s latest creation: A time machine.

New! TumbleBooks: See Books Come to Life!

TumbleBooks, a new addition to the CRRL database collection, brings picture books to life with animation and audio. It's sure to delight kids of all ages.

Check it out!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

That time is upon us.  That time when we start sniffling and coughing.  A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead is about one of those days when you just want to go back to bed.  Amos McGee is the cheerful zookeeper at the local zoo.  Every morning he "ambles" down to the bus stop after his breakfast of oatmeal and tea to catch the number 5 bus to the zoo.  When he arrives there he always makes sure to spend time with his friends before he starts working.  He plays chess with the elephant, he races with the turtle, and he sits quietly with the penguin.  This particular day, Amos  wakes up with the sniffles and his legs are achy.  He decides to stay home and not to go to work.

Well, after some time has passed the animals begin to worry when Amos has not arrived at his usual time.  The elephant has the chess board ready, the turtle is ready to race, and the penguin waits patiently alone.  "Where is Amos?" they all wonder.  Tired of waiting and concerned for their friend, the animals decide to go and check on Amos.  So, they board the bus and head to Amos' house, where they arrive to find him not well.  They each tend to Amos in their own special way, and then they end the day with a pot of tea.

Emmaline and the Bunny

Emmaline and the Bunny by Katherine Hannigan is a sweet, cautionary tale about the dangers of eliminating the messiness of nature from our everyday lives. Emmaline lives with her parents in the tiny town of Neatasapin which is run by the bad tempered Mayor Oliphant. The mayor's favorite pastime is making declarations about tidy people, tidy houses and tidy yards all in the name of keeping the town of Neatasapin as neat as a pin. Emmaline feels out of sorts because she enjoys playing in the mud, running and jumping and hollering the occasional "hoopalala!" When Emmaline's parents ask her what she would like for her birthday, she asks for a bunny to call her own.   Bunnies are messy. Bunnies are untidy. How can Emmaline make a place for a bunny in a place like Neatasapin?

Deliciously Demented Daniel Pinkwater

How does this master of dry wit create? He imagines a boy, very much like he was, and tries to write a story that would please him. Like many excellent writers for kids and young adults, he has a terrific recall of what it feels like to be a bright, out-of-sync, yet amazingly well-adjusted, kid in a not totally indifferent world.

Daniel Manus Pinkwater was a well-traveled soul by his teens. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, moved to Chicago, then on to Los Angeles at age eight and back to Chicago again as a teenager. Not being a particularly tanned or svelte person, he found Chicago to be a much more friendly residence, although Los Angeles was where he first discovered art supplies. In high school, his friends were like the "Snarkout Boys" from his books-- not socially gifted in the mainstream, but together they formed a clever, friendly group of creative goofballs and truth-seekers.

Ready, Set, Draw!

All it takes is a piece of paper and a pencil to make a great drawing. Even if you don't think you have any talent, step-by-step guides will have you sketching in no time.

Drawing Cartoons and Drawing Step-by-Step

Amaze your friends by drawing pictures of cartoon characters. Looney Tunes' web site has step-by-step instructions for Bugs, Daffy, and the rest of the gang. Step-by-step instruction books from the library can give you the confidence to create cars and kittens, dinosaurs and spaceships. The youngest artists may enjoy Ed Emberley's very simple books which turn basic shapes into cool cartoons.

Where Did All the Bees Go?

 Dave Hackenberg is not your average backyard beekeeper. He and his son run a business managing three thousand hives, moving them around the country in a tractor trailer to pollinate blueberries, almonds, and pumpkins from California to Maine. But one day several years ago, Dave opened a hive in Florida and was faced with a mystery: where were the bees?

What he found that day astonished him, as Loree Griffin Burns reports in “The Hive Detectives, Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe.”  Not only were the twenty million bees in his four hundred hives gone without a trace, but there was no sign of any other insects, either. Usually an abandoned hive is crawling with honey robbers, but not this time. “It was as if something was in the hives, something so awful that the bees who lived there were forced to leave, something so sinister that other insects refused to enter, even for free honey.”

Columbus Day: A Day of Discovery

Columbus Day is sometimes called Discoverers' Day. In the spirit of discovery, take some time to learn about the world as it was in the days of the European explorers. You can make a compass, learn about the stars, read about other explorers and discoverers, and find how even our way of eating has changed since the Europeans came to the Americas looking for gold, glory, and, yes, tasty cooking spices.

Pizza Without Tomato Sauce?

The explorers who came to the Americas found the food enjoyed by the native people to be very different from what they knew at home. They had never seen tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize (corn), pineapples, chili peppers, or even cocoa. The vegetable dishes from the Europe they knew relied on parsnips, cabbages, peas, carrots, turnips, and onions. After being at sea and living off of a diet of lentil soup, salt beef from a barrel, salted sardines, hardtack, and other delights, the fresh, new foods of the islands would have been an astonishing change.