The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

I first picked up this book when I noticed it was a future story for our Books & Bagels group, and then was further convinced to read it when I saw a review by my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, on the cover.

Thankfully I trusted in his review and our children's librarian Eva who picked it, because this book was an absolute delight to read. It features a 12-year-old girl named September who is whisked away from her mother in Omaha, Nebraska to go to Fairyland, where she has all sorts of adventures and finds true friendship with a wyvern named A-L (his father was a library, of course) and water-loving marid named Saturday along the way. The prose reads magically (almost in a Gaiman-esque way) and kept my attention throughout the story. Each chapter features a different adventure that September and her friends go on, from meeting alchemists in a land that is forever Autumn, to a bathhouse with a lonely soap golem, all part of the main goal of the story, which is September retrieving a sword for the Evil Marquess.

Like I said, this book is a delight, and a stunning example of why adults shouldn't neglect YA and children's fiction! This book was one of my favorites this year, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a tale with a very happy ending.

Bread and Jam For Frances by Russell Hoban

Russell Hoban’s Frances series is a staple of my childhood, and this book just might be my favorite of them all. The title character, Frances, is a lovable but imperfect badger who’s sometimes a little too stubborn and headstrong for her own good (hmm, I wonder why I related to her as a child…). In Bread and Jam For Frances, she decides that the only food she wants to eat is, drumroll: bread and jam. Her parents indulge her, and while at first it’s fun to have her favorite food for every meal, she quickly realizes that she’s missing out on a whole wide world of delicious food.

Although these books were written in the 1960s, their charm and heart and humor stand the test of time. I love that Frances is always allowed to make her own mistakes and learn her own lessons (usually in a way that’s both funny and heartfelt). I’ve been holding onto my childhood copy of this book my whole life, and whenever I pick it up to thumb through it, I remember why.

Literacy Through Lip-Reading

There’s a whole host of reasons to read, sing, and talk with your babies every day, from sharing a special bonding moment together to helping build their literacy skills, and now a new study about the speech development of infants confirms it: your babies learn to talk by listening to (and watching) you!

It’s not only the sounds of speech that helps teach babies how to talk. A recent study at the Florida Atlantic University shows that at around six months old, babies begin watching our mouths rather than our eyes as we speak to them. By essentially lip-reading, they start to figure out how to make those shapes and sounds on their own. At around one year old, they will start making eye contact again when spoken to, unless they encounter a new language, when they might watch lips more closely again.

So when you’re talking and singing to your babies, reading aloud to them, or bringing them to storytimes at the library, keep in mind that all of these interactions contribute to their literacy, helping them learn to speak and eventually read.

Read more about the study here, and find lots of books to share with your little ones at ELPL!

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett

This is such a fun book!  The premise is that there was a book called Birthday Bunny that a young boy, Alex, has altered to become Battle Bunny.  Each page has the "original" artwork and text that Alex has drawn over, added to, and altered in pencil.  If you just picked it up you might think the book had been vandalized.  So Alex tells the story of the Battle Bunny attempting to take over the world on his birthday.  Highly recommended for the young and young at heart.  My mother absolutely loved it when I showed it to her.

As an added bonus you can go to for a preview and you can download the original Birthday Bunny to print off and "vandalize" to make your own story!


Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

It is a duck?  Or a rabbit?  Kids will love this silly book that changes perspectives from a duck to a rabbit.  It's fun to have them weigh in on which one they see.  I've been waiting for the follow-up to this book - there's a teaser on the last page!


If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson's artwork is amazing!  With spare text and breathtaking oil paintings, If You Plant a Seed demonstrates not only the process of planting and growing for young children but also how a seed of kindness can bear sweet fruit.  


What the Sun Sees, What the Moon Sees by Nancy Tafuri

This book is so much fun to read.  It describes what happens with the sun during the day, then halfway through the book it changes to the moon's perspective.  Also, the book's orientation changes so you have to turn it upside down and back around to read the different parts.  Very ingenious...and children love it!

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

The story of a little girl who wanted to travel and see faraway places.  Encouraged by her grandfather, his one thing more she must do:  "You must do something to make the world more beautiful."  So little Alice grew up and became a librarian.  She traveled the world and finished her days with that special "one more thing...".  This was one of my daughter's favorite books from her childhood.  I still count it as a book for all to read for all time.

The Story of Jumaji

JUMANJI!!! Would be what one yells upon winning the game created by Chris Van Allsburg - that is if you can make it through! Jumanji is the tale of siblings Peter and Judy and how they attempt to entertain themselves while their parents have gone out to the opera. Their parents left them with one direction, "please keep the house neat." How can two kids manage to keep the house neat when battling lions, monkeys, rhinos, and a monsoon? The most important part of the game Jumanji, is that it is not over until one player reaches the golden city and yells out Jumanji. Who knows what the roll of the dice will bring to the game? Do you think you'd have what it takes to finish the game? Read this Caldecott Medal book and look at the way Chris Van Allsburg tells the story, not just through his words but also through his beautiful illustrations.

The Day the Crayons Came Home

Have you ever wondered what happens to your missing crayons? Well, in The Day the Crayons Came Home, Duncan is about to find out! One day, Duncan receives a stack of postcards tracking the adventures of his missing crayons. Pea Green - now referred to as Esteban...the Magnificent! - has run away to see the world. Yellow and orange were left outside and got melted together, and now they just want to come home. Neon red crayon was left behind on a family vacation in Florida, now he's traveling the world to get home to Duncan. Read the book to find out what happens to Glow in the Dark and Gold Crayon. This story is written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. For further adventures of crayons, read The Day the Crayons Quit, also by Daywalt and Jeffers.

Books & Bagels - December 2015

ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio in Downtown East Lansing

A great way to share the love of reading with your friends.  Books & Bagels is a discussion group just for 4th through 6th graders.  Each month we discuss a book and enjoy bagels and a hands on activity.  December's book is Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco.   You can sign up for the program as well as pick up your free copy of the book at the circulation desk of the library. 

Thank you to Panera Bread of Frandor for providing the bagels, and many thanks to a generous, anonymous donor for providing copies of Books & Bagels titles to the first 15 program participants.

Upcoming titles for Books & Bagels in 2016:


Please note, December's program will be held at the ELPL Maker Studio, located in the Marriott Hotel.

East Lansing Marriott at University Place
Suite 212
East Lansing, MI  48823

The move is due to the library's renovation project which begins in December.

Want to know more about the renovation of the East Lansing Public Library?  Visit:




Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas has a winning combination of fun text and great illustrations in Rhyming Dust Bunnies.  Bug!  Mug!  Hug!  These dust bunnies love to rhyme.  Well, except for Bob.  Much to the other bunnies' frustration, Bob can never get the rhythm right.  Then he saves everyone from a big, scary monster wielding-gasp!-a broom, and they all breathe a sigh of relief.  But can Bob save them from the big, scary monster's next attack?  Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmm....Make sure you read the next book in this series-Here comes the big, mean dust bunny!

Beyond the Wild Things

We all know and love Maurice Sendak for his creation of the Wild Things and their terrible roars! But, I grew up listening to Really Rosie which combined many of Sendak's other books into the story of Rosie and the Nutshell Kids. Here are the 4 books we have here at the library that you can read along with as Carole King sings the stories of Rosie and the Nutshell Kids.

The Sign on Rosie's Door is the inspiration for Really Rosie, taking the characters introduced in the book to tell the stories of his other books. The idea is that on a regular summer day in New York City, Rosie and her friends (the Nutshell Kids) use their imaginations to create fantastical situations and make up alternate realities to their regular neighborhood.

Chicken Soup with Rice tells the story of the year, what we do in different months and how to enjoy our surroundings.

Pierre, a cautionary tale in five chapters and a prologue. What happens when the only thing you say is, "I don't care?" Take a lesson from Pierre and beware of hungry lions!

Alligators all Around is an alphabet tale. Using alliteration, Sendak and King have created an easy to follow alphabet sing-along!

Check out everything and have a Rosie Day!