Notes from the Black Lagoon

Author Archive

Just a quick update from a continuing ed. workshop here at SEMLS. I’m at our regional library system’s office learning all about the joys of wikis and dreaming up ways that I could incorporate a wiki into the TPL’s website. Right now, we’re experiencing technical difficulties with the presentation and are on a break. Seriously, wikis are cool. You can post a large amount of info that can be shared and edited by tons of other folks. If you have ever used Wikipedia, you know what wikis can do! Right now, I’m considering creating a Story Time Wiki for my staff to compile past story time ideas by subject.

At our last Youth Services Roundtable, several librarians (including moi) got excited about starting a Story Time wiki for our whole region. Librarians from across SEMLS could edit and upload story time ideas, craft templates, bibliographies for a subject….the fun could go on forever. I think some librarians are still afraid of the technology, but I really do think we could learn so much more from each other with a wiki! Most children’s librarians are pretty isolated geographically in their own little libraries, trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to story time. Why not have one place where colleagues can exchange ideas and not feel so alone?! We’ll see if that idea gets off the ground, but it has definitely prompted me to expend my tech horizons.

FYI- Wiki comes from the Hawaiian term “wiki wiki” meaning “quick quick”! Pretty acurate, no?


Hi, my name is Kate and I love superhero movies. I love them. I never read comic books as a kid and I’m not really that into graphic novels. But I can’t get enough of  superhero movies. I’m so psyched that Marvel Comics has developed their own movie studio and produced an awesome little movie you may have heard of: Ironman.

Even though I do love superhero movies, I’m the first to admit they are not all perfect. In fact, in the past few years, the genre has seen some great triumphs (Spiderman 2, anyone? Or how about X-Men 3? So good) and some sad failures (The Incredible Hulk…groan). But Ironman is perfection! It has good guys! It has bad guys! It has cool gadgets. It has a superhero suit! It has a great plot! It presents deep philosophical questions! It has Robert Downey, Jr! IT HAS ROBERT DOWNEY, JR!!!!! I can’t emphasize my enjoyment of that last one enough.



If you’ve been living under a rock since last summer, Ironman brings us to the story of Tony Stark, super-hot, playboy, billionaire genius who manages to dream up the latest military weapons technology AND leave the ladies wanting more. After being kidnapped by terrorists who own weapons designed by Stark Industries, Tony builds his own superhero suit, rescues himself and seriously begins to question his own role in and assumptions about the consequences of American military power.

The film is filled with special effects, but they don’t overwhelm the plot or the questions that Tony is wrestling with. The coolest scenes blend special effects with amazing camera work as you see Tony fly for the first time in his newly-built Ironman suit. I’m not sure how they managed it, but it really does feel like you are really flying above Los Angeles.

Finally, we come to my favorite part of Ironman: Robert Downey, Jr. Not only is he hot, but also manages to inject the film with charm and humor. Seriously, I love how Downey combines Tony’s bravado with a vulnerability. But he’s also hot. I mentioned that, right? There other some other people in the movie called Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terence Howard. They’re pretty good too. Especially Gwyneth, given that I usually despise her. But her performance as Pepper Potts was so good and she had such chemistry with RDJ that I actually despise her LESS. But only a little less.

Clearly, you need to go borrow Ironman from your library and love the superhero goodness.

Well, the last time that I wrote (and it was an embarrassingly long time ago!), I said I was going to write more.  You can see how quickly that has fallen by the wayside.  but it’s 2009 and I’m back and hoping to be better than ever. A

At the moment, I’m busy planning our February vacation programs:  A Fancy Nancy Tea Party, an African Wrap-Doll Workshop and perhaps, maybe, a story/craft with Miss Ellen (although she doesn’t know it yet!).

In previous years, I had sort of skipped over February vacation, thinking that  most families, well, went on vacation.  Boy, how wrong was I!?  People kept pouring into the library last year, demanding programs and looking at me like I was INSANE when I said there were none.  I learned my lesson, obviously.

I think I’m most excited for our Fancy Nancy Tea Party on February17th.  Mostly because I will be getting fancy for it as well.  So many of our patrons really love the Fancy Nancy books and who doesn’t love celebrating books?  Especially when you can do it in style!

Most of you know that librarians (unfortunately) do not simply sit around and read while we’re working at the library. That would pretty much make it the best job ever, but I don’t think our patrons would be too happy with us! Anyway, like most librarians, I do LOVE to read and try do so as much as possible. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbit

This book is on the reading listsfor the schools around here, so I thought I would read this to be in solidarity with all the kids who are groaning and moaning about doing their summer reading. Initially, I was intrigued by Babbit’s exploration of the question “What is delicious?” in this new fairy-tale. Being pretty enamored of food myself, I naturally replied “Mac and cheese with ketchup”. But then I thought “Well, maybe pizza”. As the Prime Minister sets out to define every word in the kingdom for his dictionary, more and more people disagree about Delicious, from the king down to the peasants. Young Gaylen, the PM’s trusty apprentice and adopted son, is immediately dispatched to register everyone’s delicious idea of the perfect food. Soon, tensions mount and different factions (“Plum cake!! No! Pork Chops!”) are on the brink of war. Along his journey, Gaylen encounters some very odd characters and learns just how the world really works. Sounds good, right???!! Well, let me just say, the ending was super-disappointing. I won’t spoil it, but everyone does come to an agreement about just what is really delicious. And boy, is it boring. A really, really good read until the last couple of chapters.

2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (vol 1)

As Miss Daisy (and Mr. Holmes) would say , “The game is afoot!”. Seriously, Conan Doyle’s game is totally “afoot” in this first volume of the complete Sherlock Holmes collection. Being a huge mystery fan, I shamefully admit that I had never really read the origin of modern detective fiction until I started this a few weeks ago. After seeing this gigantic paperback on the shelf, I prepared myself for drudgery. NO! Conan Doyle’s writing is fast-paced, exciting, and often hilarious.  I have actually laughed out loud at parts of ” A Study in Scarlet”, first short story that introduces us to Watson and Holmes.  Good stuff.  Also this particular edition on the right has a great introduction about Watson’s role as Holmes’s faithful sidekick.  Good stuff!!

So, that’s it!  Have a great weekend and keep on reading!

So it’s been a really long time since I’ve updated this blog!  Summer reading has taken over, along with other happy events in my personal life.  Things are busier than ever here at the library, and while we’ve enjoyed our summer, I think everyone on staff will breathe a sigh of relief when school begins in September.

It’s a jungle in here, especially with our “Wild Reads” summer reading theme.  Thanks to an awesome and creative part-timer, our room has been completely transformed into an animal-filled jungle scene, complete with waterfalls and butterflies (not real, of course).  We’ve also had major success with our streamlined summer reading program and have had nearly 200 kids sign up!  As I mentioned before, we are raffling off books as weekly prizes.  Kids earn raffle tickets by checking out books.  This portion of the program has been a huge success and has allowed us to move away from the cheap plastic toys that held back our registration numbers.

So all is well in the jungle.  Now that I’m back, I’m going to try and do this blogging thing more consistently.  We’ll see how it goes…

Another successful story/craft hour has come and gone. This week, we read stories about dinosaurs!! And it was a hit. As one little boy put it, “ROOOOOAAAR!”.

Paper Plate DinoParents were amazed by the our paper plate dinosaur craft which, in turn, amazed me! Paper plate crafts are as old as the day is long! I guess many parents don’t think to do crafts with their kids at home (which is, I suppose, why they turn up at the library) or are too wrapped up in the bells and whistles of hi-tech crafts to remember the old stand-bys. But who doesn’t love a paper plate craft? They’re easy, fun, cheap and can be reinvented at any time. The perfect craft IMHO.

After doing many sessions of Story/Craft, I’ve sort of developed a little philosophy behind the crafts the I choose. My main operating principle is that story/craft needs to be bonding time for parents and children (parents accompany children for all story times at the TPL). Some parents seem to expect US to entertain their kids while they rest. However, I see myself as a facilitator during story time. Yes, I read the stories and do the movement activities with the kids, but when it comes to crafts, that’s where parent/child interaction can take center stage. I don’t go around and do craft with the kids. That what parents are for! I tend to instruct everyone from the front of the room and then go set up our snack while the parents and kids craft away happily. As a result, I tend to choose crafts that require both parents and children to complete certain elements. Enter the paper plate dinosaur. I had parents cut out the tail, neck and legs from one paper plate while children colored the “body” on another paper plate. Children had to color the cut-out parts as well and then glue a googly-eye on the head. As soon as parents staple the colored neck, tail and legs to the body, the whole thing is done! Easy, cheap, and fun!

Oh yeah, we also read stories and watch a movie BEFORE we even get to the craft. Here’s what we read today:

Dinopets Dino Pets by Lynn Ploude

A little boy tries very hard to find the right dinosaur to be his perfect pet. Naturally, none of the dinos he chooses work out, but it’s hilarious to watch what goes wrong with each one. All the escaped dinos become tired of being lonely and come back to the boy’s house for a happy ending. Sweet and funny for the preschool crowd.

Dad’s Dinosaur Day by Diane Dawson Hearn Dad’s Dinosaur Day

Mikey’s dad takes a break from fatherhood and becomes a silly dinosaur for a day. The usual school day routine is turned topsy-turvy as Mikey rides his dad (in disguise at T Rex) to school, feeds him the scraps from all the kids’ lunches and stops at a tree for a snack on the way home. Mikey likes all the fun he’s having with his new dino-dad, but soon tires of all the responsibility of having one. Kids will recognize Mikey wants his old dad back and he wants to be a normal kid again. Everything ends well as his regular Dad shows up at the breakfast table but the fun may start again as Mom is suspiciously missing!

So, in my home life, I’m a big movie buff. Patrick and I are obsessed with Netflix and we’re on a huge Errol Flynn kick right now. I might have mentioned that before…

Dodge City movie posterAnyway, we just watched Dodge City starring EF and Olivia De Havilland (with whom he starred in 8 films total). Amazing western that basically revived a dying genre for movie go-ers at the end of 1930s. It’s made in this incredible early Technicolor and looks completely saturated with vibrant color. Flynn plays Wade Hatton ,a hard-nosed Irish cattle trail boss who’s tough attitude wins him the job of sheriff for the sleaziest city in Reconstructionist Kansas (Can you guess what city??). De Havilland is his love interest and portrays Abbie Irving, a young women who originally came to Dodge City with one of Wade’s cattle drives. After the tragic death of her brother, Abbie’s hatred of Wade nearly prevents them from teaming up to save Dodge City from crime lord, Jeff Surrett. Once again, EF steals the show with incredibly intense acting and much-needed comic relief.

Check it out, even if you aren’t really into westerns. This will get you into them!