Friday, December 30, 2011

That's a WRAP!

2011 was a year of great gifts for the Des Plaines Public Library Youth Services Department. We were able to do some moving, some rearranging, some purchasing of new furniture; all to help make your visits to the Youth Services Department more accessible and enjoyable. Many of our collections have been consolidated, expanded, or moved to new locations to better serve you and we have some exciting new things we hope you will enjoy.

Some of these new developments you can see for yourself. The first thing you may notice when you next visit the 2nd floor is the new wall of magazines on display. Where this wall used to hold only the most current issue of your favorite kids magazines, now all the issues are right there, ready to go home with you. Each magazine has its own container so they are easy to locate. Magazines are great for trips to the grocery store, rides in the car, or any time.

Make sure you check out the new and improved Holiday collection. What does it mean if there is no shadow on Groundhog Day? Want to make a great Hanukkah potato latke? Need a good story to share with your child's class at the Chinese New Year? It's so easy to find the answers with newly arranged shelves that are clearly labeled and books identified with holiday stickers.

We got some new chairs! They are bright, sturdy, attractive, and mobile. Both adults and children who have had an opportunity to sit in them comment on how nice and comfortable they are.
When asked if they liked the new chairs, this group of boys answered, "Yeah."

Another addition is our beautiful new LEGO table

outfitted with duplo blocks, perfect for little hands and big imaginations. Imaginative play is an essential part of building early literacy skills. Come play at the table with your young children and create buildings or animals or anything you wish. This memorial table was made possible in part by a generous gift from the family of former library staff and Youth Services team member Judy Reiss, who passed away in 2010.

There is a new section just for Graphic Novels, new shelving for movies and music in the Foreign Language collection, the audio books on CD have moved and expanded, and there's so much more!

We give many thanks to the pages of the Circulation Department who planned and plotted and dusted and measured and moved so many items. We also give many thanks to the Technical Services Department staff who re-moved, re-cataloged, and re-stickered so much of our collection. And I want to thank the staff of the Youth Services Department who worked hard, organized projects, communicated with other departments, waited (mostly) patiently, and celebrated the gifts we were given this year.

Please come and visit us at the library soon to see the many additions and changes that have come to the department in 2011. Have a happy New Year, and we will look forward to seeing you and dreaming up more new projects for the library in 2012.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The True Spirit of the Season

Last week, as I was casually glancing through the headlines showing on CNN, I noticed the name Irving Berlin.  Now, a quick history of my family will allow you to understand my infatuation with Irving Berlin, the composer of the songs from the movie/musical White Christmas.  My family celebrates Christmas, and the beginning of our Christmas season begins Thanksgiving night... with the viewing of and singing along with White Christmas.  Boys, girls, old, young... it doesn't matter.  The 36 of us - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents - sit and watch it together every year.  

This year is the first Christmas I will spend with my new husband, and we watched it last weekend (for the second time in just these few weeks).  My husband declared, "You don't have to celebrate Christmas to love this movie,"  and as someone who is celebrating his first Christmas this year (he's Jewish), he is right.  The next day I got texts from two cousins informing me that the movie was on AMC and the quoting texts ensued... "Mutual I'm sure" followed by a "Let's just say we're doing it for a pal in the Army". 

So, when I saw the article come up, I just had to read it... and was surprised to find that the first line of the article is: Who walks away from $10 million?  The answer - Irving Berlin.

Irving Berlin was a Jewish Immigrant who came to the United States from Russia when he was 5 years old.  Although many of the songs he is famous for are showcased in White Christmas (yes, you heard that right... a Jewish man wrote the song White Christmas), his most famous song is perhaps one you don't associate with him directly.  That song is God Bless America.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Diwali... the spirit of this time of year is giving, and Irving Berlin gave a whopper.  In 1938, he was asked to write a song for a CBS radio program, and he delivered with a song that provided an outlet for his love of America, and brought a nation on the brink of war to a patriotic high.  

Now, where does the $10 million come in?  As it turns out, when Berlin wrote the song, he wanted to make sure that because he wrote it for America, that America got the reward.  He set up a fund so that every penny earned from the song would be given to make America's future bright.  Every cent went to needy troops of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.  This would explain why God Bless America is on the list of Boy and Girl Scout songs.  Now, 73 years later, we are still reaping the benefits of this beautiful song... and hearing the message loud and clear.  This is the true meaning of the season.

You can read the initial article here, and for more information on Irving Berlin and the history behind God Bless America, click here.  We can learn a lot from Irving Berlin, the first lesson being that no matter what you celebrate, we can all celebrate this wonderful country we are blessed to call home.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Graphic Novel Wrap Up

Here at the library we love graphic novels! In fact, we recently started a new section just for juvenile graphic novels. This way kids can easily find these popular materials. 2011 has been a strong year for graphic novels. As an avid reader of the genre there are many I would recommend. Here are my top choices for the year. Drumroll please!

J Graphic Novels

From the creators of Babymouse comes a funny new character. Squish was introduced in Babymouse: Mad Scientist when Babymouse discovered a new kind of amoeba. Squish is just your regular amoeba. He reads graphic novels starring his favorite super hero Super Amoeba. He's late to school. His best friend mooches his lunch money every day. And Squish has a problem with the school bully. If he doesn't let the bully cheat off his test the bully will hurt one of Squish's friends. What's an amoeba to do?

The Lunch Lady graphic novels is hands down one of my favorite series. This is an imaginative take on what if the school's lunch ladies were crime busters and their inventive food related items actually helped them with their crime fighting abilities. Only the Breakfast Bunch gang knows their secret. In the latest addition to the series Lunch Lady fills in as a chaperone for the field trip to the art museum. However she's so excited to see how the fantastic works of art that she's oblivious to the fact that something is suspicious about the museum. Can the Breakfast Bunch figure out what's going on and wake Lunch Lady up to the misdoings at the museum?

Sidekicks is my pick for older J Graphic Novel readers. Captain Amazing decides that since he's getting older it's time for a sidekick. His dog, hamster, and chameleon decide that want the job. While out working on their training that run into Captain Amazing's old sidekick, Static Cat. Static Cat agrees to help train them. Which sidekick will Captain Amazing choose? Will he defeat the villain Dr. Havoc? Older readers will enjoy this superhero comic with plenty of heart and adventures.

YA Graphic Novels

Once this graphic novel starts the action never stops. It's a clever retelling of The Odyssey. Zozimos is the King of Sticathia and he's trying to make his way back to his kingdom. The figures are all cleverly done in stick figure style and there's lots of sly humor mixed with potty jokes ("By Zeus' butt!") which is perfect for middle school boys (and girls).

Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman (ages 10-14)
Author Dave Roman takes the drama and fun of middle school and sets it in a futuristic space academy that includes a panda as an instructor. Hakata Soy is new transfer to the school. Starting a new school is challenging and it's about to get even worse for Hakata when his enemy creates a duplicate robot version of Hakata and sends it to the school to destroy him. Ah, the joys of middle school.

Next time you're at the library stop by to check out one of these titles for your child or feel free to ask a librarian for more great suggestions. If your child loves graphic novels please tell them to come to the desk and tell us about their favorites! We always love to hear what they enjoy reading.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Celebrate the Winter Holidays with a Museum Pass

Looking for ideas for day trips with your family during the December holidays that don't require heading to downtown Chicago? Why not check out a Museum Adventure Pass with your Des Plaines Library card, bundle up the kids, and head to one of the major suburban outdoor parks for a holiday stroll? Each park is hosting amazing light shows and special day/evening events all through the month! Discounted admission with the Museum Pass is a real money-saver, and since each pass is good for one week, you can be flexible about what day you choose to visit and then come back and check out a pass for another wonderful place the following week. 

What are the parks' special winter events ?

Brookfield Zoo evenings bring Holiday Magic, a wonderland of laser lights, wild animals, carolers, live music, costumed characters, a talking tree, holiday foods and gifts, plus photos with Santa or a real reindeer. Santa breakfasts or brunches weekends.

Cantigny Park (Winfield) is lit by community Christmas trees, and hosts a free LEGO Train Show this weekend, December 10-11. Of course, kids can always climb on the tanks, and parents would enjoy the McCormick house holiday decorations.

Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe) showcases the Wonderland Express, a miniature train moving over bridges and waterfalls past 80 Chicago landmarks, plus drop-in activities on Saturdays and Sundays, such as a visit with Mrs. Claus for hot chocolate and cookies.

Cuneo Museum and Gardens (Vernon Hills) features a drive-your-car-through-the-estate holiday light show, an Open House with Santa on December 16th, and a play, The Velveteen Rabbit.
We hope your family will enjoy one of these participating parks' festivities. Please check the link to each park's website for detailed information on program dates, times and fees.

Happy Holidays from the Des Plaines Public Library's Museum Adventure Pass Program!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mrs. Liz's Top Picture Books of 2011 That You Needed to Read Yesterday!

Sometimes, it's the simple "out of the box" idea that captures my interest and heart. This year, I've read several books that did just that and took me on an adventure.

These titles draw the reader into the story and encourage imagination and some even have the reader interact with the book to animate the story. I'll put these gems on any gift list for young children. Let's start with my top pick!

Press Here by Tullet Herve
Who thought a simple yellow dot on the cover could take you on a interactive journey in a printed book? Children will delight in tilting the page, turning it upside down and even blowing on the page all for the magical journey of that simple dot.

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Something perfect just doesn't last or does it? A perfect square is snipped, torn, crumpled and manipulated in various ways that lead the geometric shape into an adventure of transformation. The way this happy square embraces changes and continues to be happy is inspiring.

We Are in a Book! by Mo Williams
Elephant (named Gerald) and Piggy are best friends and have that special something that instantly bonds the reader as their best friends too! In the latest edition of their adventures, they realize that someone is watching them and not just anyone but a READER! Their adventure with this new realization of their world is full of laughter and cleverness as they have the reader enjoy reading!

I couldn't stop at three. Here's one more for those children who love scavenger hunts and puzzles:

Look! A Book! by Bob Staake
Rhyming text excitedly invites readers to seek and find objects. But there are deeper levels in this book, such as cut out circles highlighting interesting details in elaborate illustrations. And when you are finished with your first read through adventure, start again with the pull out pages which continues the fun.

How about you? Please share any books that move you!