Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Halloween is the perfect time to discover (or rediscover) the ultimate children’s book all about the things that go bump in the night: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz.

Older readers might remember this 1980s series of spooky stories from their childhoods -- although perhaps not for the stories themselves, but for the nightmarish illustrations that accompany them. Dreamlike, inky, splotchy, and grotesque, these pictures are the kind that stick with readers (especially at bedtime), and years later still have them reminiscing -- remember those books with the seriously creepy drawings?

Purists might be dismayed to know that the newest editions of the books have changed the style of illustrations to something less nightmare-inducing, but either way, these books stand the test of time as the scary stories for kids. These are classic, creepy (and short!) stories that range from silly rhymes and gotcha endings to the seriously macabre and scary. For younger readers who may prefer less unsettling artwork, check out the updated version that’s illustrated by Brett Helquist (best known for his drawings accompanying Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events). If not, brace yourself and brave the original artwork by Stephen Gammell -- but beware, they’re genuinely freaky!

A great nostalgia book for slightly older readers, and a great introduction to the genre of scary stories for upper elementary and middle school aged kids (with mindfulness towards the creepy illustrations and content).




This movie is very strange, which makes sense because it's a Tim Burton movie. But the basic premise is that Coraline crawls into another world, somehow, and is trapped there with fake parents. The mother is incredibly creepy, has buttons for eyes, and tries to keep Coraline with her. I saw this movie a long time ago, so I could be wrong about the basic gist. What I do remember, however, is that it was a little scary for the age group it's intended for. I was probably 13 or 14 when I saw it and I got freaked out. (That's not saying much, though, because I can't stand anything even remotely scary.) The animation and creativity of the movie is really cool, but I honestly don't think that's enough to actually watch it. The best way to describe this movie is simply weird. 

Happy Birthday, Harold and the Purple Crayon!

Happy birthday to Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson! The classic children's book that tells the tale of a little boy and the fantastic world he creates with his purple crayon turns 60 this year! Authors and readers from all around the world are celebrating this wonderful story with tributes to Harold, and you can join in the celebration too! Join us by re-reading the book, watching the cartoon, or listening to the audiobook, all available through ELPL, or stop by to create your own work of art in the library, including our Harold-themed coloring and activity sheets in the children's room. Leave your creations with the staff if you would like it to be displayed on the wall!

Books & Bagels - October 2015

East Lansing Public Library - Children's Storytime room

In October we will be discussing the book Inside Out and Back Again by

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The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Some picture books just beg to be read out loud, and The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (you might recognize him from TV’s The Office and The Mindy Project) is one of those -- except, as you might have guessed from the title, this is a picture book with no pictures in it! That’s right, none at all.

Never fear, though. This title is so fun to read out loud that even the most visual of readers will enjoy it. The rules of the book are simple: whoever is reading it has to say absolutely everything written down in it, no matter how silly. Even if it’s gibberish like “bliggity blaggity” or “glibbity globbity.” The text itself quickly becomes the art, using fonts, sizes, colors, and orientations as cues to the reader, occasionally breaking the fourth wall and inviting kids to participate with the silliness on a meta level (isn’t it fun to make mom or dad say something so goofy?). This hilarious, interactive book lets imaginations (and silly sides) soar, and it won’t take long to get both kids and adults laughing out loud!

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton is probably best known for her webcomics -- she’s the creative mind behind the ultra-popular Hark! A Vagrant, a hysterical take on history, as well as several autobiographical comics about her experiences growing up in Nova Scotia. In The Princess and the Pony, her first picture book for early elementary readers, she brings her trademark charm, humor, and eye for setting to the table again, this time as we join the fearless Princess Pinecone on her quest to receive the perfect birthday present. This year, she doesn’t want yet another cutesy sweater -- she has her heart set on a fierce battle horse to ride during the hero’s competition! She knows she can take on the other fearsome warriors on once she has a trusty steed of her own.

When her pony shows up, though, it’s not quite what she was hoping for. It’s short and fat, it’s eyes point in different directions (sometimes), and it has an unfortunate tendency towards gassiness. There’s no way Princess Pinecone will be able to become the ultimate champion riding this pony into battle... is there?

Full to the brim with engaging drawings, silly humor and vocabulary, and strong messages (particularly those of friendship, acceptance, combating stereotypes, and the fact that everyone -- even round, flatulent ponies -- have something valuable to bring to the table), this a book that kids will want to read over and over again, and parents (especially if they’re fans of Beaton’s work themselves, in which case they might recognize the eponymous pony from her earlier comics), will be happy to indulge them.

Find The Princess and the Pony at ELPL (as well as a printed collection of Hark! A Vagrant for adults). 

National Book Award for Young People's Literature Longlist

The longlist for 2015’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature has been announced! Check out some of these titles (ranging in age from 4th to 12th grade audiences) for your next great read, and stay tuned to see who the winner is -- finalists are announced October 14th, and the winner will be revealed November 18th!


Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

I recently read Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire.  Egg and Spoon is a crazy mash up of a folk/fairy tale involving two girls from very different circumstances who accidentally switch places, Baba Yaga, and Czarist Russia.  There's magic, there's history, there's lots of confusion.

Those who have read Wicked will be familiar with Maguire's writing style.  It works very well here.  You will find it in the library's J Fiction section in the Children's room but don't be put off by that.  Like The Golden Compass, this book will entertain readers of all ages.

Chiggers by Hope Larson

It’s finally summer, and thirteen year old Abby is back at the sleepaway camp she’s loved attending for the last several years. Except this summer, things have started changing. There are new piercings, new boys, even new natural phenomena (including will o’ the wisps and the eponymous biting pests -- chiggers). Then there’s the new girl, Shasta, who no one can seem to stand except for Abby. As her summer at camp continues to go entirely differently (and a lot less smoothly) than she’d imagined it would, Abby has to realign her expectations, examine her own hang ups, and try to figure out her role in this familiar environment that’s suddenly not so familiar.

Aimed at readers ages 10 - 14, Chiggers, by Hope Larson fills an important role in the graphic novel genre -- realistic fiction for tween and teen girls, which are still comparatively few and far between in this medium. Chiggers does an admirable (and accurate) job of translating the sometimes confusing experience of growing up girl into a visual medium.

This is a great story for those who want to relive their summer camp experience, as well as those who simply appreciate a thoughtful, well-done graphic novel. Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile and Sisters will likely enjoy this book as well, and recognize some common themes -- particularly, being a girl on the edge of teenagedom. Chiggers may not have as much action and adventure as some readers might expect from a graphic novel, but it overflows with heart, charm, and style.

Find it at ELPL here!

Graphic Novels for Kids

Looking for a great graphic novel for young readers? Check out some of our the past year’s best titles for kids and tweens here at ELPL!

Want more? Be sure to browse our graphic novel section in the children’s room or ask a librarian for help to discover your next great read!

Literacy-Based Apps for Kids

Digital literacy is an increasingly important factor of young children's education. Check out some of these free literacy-based apps that will help your toddler or preschooler read, write, play, and learn!

Michigan Reads! 2015

Do Unto OttersMr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are otters. Otters! But he doesn’t know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends? “Just treat otters the same way you’d like them to treat you,” advises Mr. Owl.

(Excerpt from inside flap)

Parents and young readers, be sure to check out the 2015 Michigan Reads! title Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller! Each year, the Library of Michigan works to promote early childhood literacy by selecting one picture book for parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers across the state to enjoy with their young readers. This year’s selection, Do Unto Otters, is a charming read that uses humor and colorful illustrations to explore concepts like kindness, manners, and the Golden Rule.

You can also pick up coloring sheets, bookmarks, and sign our poster in the kids’ room once you’ve read the book, or watch the Do Unto Otters BookFlix movie, available through the Michigan eLibrary.

Looking for even more great picture books? Enjoy some past Michigan Reads! titles!

2014: Acoustic Rooster by Kwame Alexander

2013: Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski

2012: Moose on the Loose by Kathy-jo Wargin

2011: Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian

2010: The Runaway Garden by Jeffrey Schatzer

2009: The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

2008: Raccoon Tune by Nancy Shaw

2007: Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski

2006: Bed Hogs by Kelly DiPucchio

2004: Barnyard Song by Rhonda Gowler Greene