Monthly Archives: December 2013

Creative Writing Circle with Karen Benke

benkeAre you ready to experiment and explore your wild wonderings and wanderings from the safety of a blank page? Take a break from writing for good grades and ignore the punctuation police –  it’s time to let the words flow freely. All that’s required is a notebook, a fast writing pen and a willingness to surprise yourself. Karen Benke will be your guide, providing plentiful prompts and comments when asked. Sharing is completely optional. We’ll close each meeting with a chocolate meditation.

Tuesdays, 6:45 – 7:45pm: January 28, February 25, March 25, April 29

4 meetings, grades 6 to 8, pre-registration required.

Click here to register for January 28
Click here to register for February 25
Click here to register for March 25
Click here to register for April 29

Middle School Intro to Playwriting

mtc3 Calling all middle school playwrights! Learn the nuts and bolts of playwriting with a Marin Theatre Company professional. Participants will collaborate on a project over four weeks. No experience needed!

Program meets on Thursday evenings, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., on January 16, 23, 30, and February 6. Grades 6 – 8, Conference Room, Mill Valley Public Library.

Advance registration is required. Click here to register.

Fantastic Fantasy: New Books for Older Readers

north-of-nowhere-coverNorth of Nowhere by Liz Kessler
The author of the Emily Windsnap series leaves mermaids behind in this new novel about a girl, a mysterious friend, and small fishing village. Right from the start Mia tells us this spring break trip changed her life: the time her grandfather went missing. Mia, friendless in this backward town, finds an abandoned boat with an intriguing diary written by Dee, a girl who appears to be the perfect friend. If only they could meet! Over the next few days, Mia writes in the diary and receives notes back, and a promise that they would get together at the end of the week. But when a storm keeps Dee away from the mainland, Mia and her new friend Peter want to sail out and get her themselves. A story about family and friendship, with a little magical mystery thrown in, this is an intriguing read.

cover.The Real Boy - Front Jacket - 2-13The Real Boy by Anna Ursu
Oscar is a shop boy to the only Magician left in the Barrow, the village near the wondrous city of Asteri. Once the land was overflowing with magic, but there are no wizards left – only the wizard trees that infuse the land. In the shop, the autistic Oscar works quietly and behind the scenes, mixing herbs and trying to stay out of the way of Wolf, the cruel apprentice to the Magician. But one day Wolf is found dead, torn limb from limb. Then the perfect children of The City begin to fall ill, and the Magician is nowhere to be found. Oscar wants only to return to the way things were, to his routines and his cats, but instead he must confront the upheaval in the magical world. Then Oscar discovers a terrible secret and begins to suspect that he himself is of magical origin, which would explain why his is not quite the same as everyone else. With The Real Boy, author Anna Ursu follows up her critically acclaimed Breadcrumbs with a beauty of a tale, inspired by the old story of Pinocchio and giving it some surprising twists and turns.

The Screaming Staircase USThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
No one knows why, but 50 years ago ghostly spirits started appearing all over the place, and they are more than just scary – they’re dangerous. Fifteen-year-old Lucy Carlisle is sensitive to these spirits and has recently joined Lockwood & Co., a Psychic Investigative Agency of two determined boys and no adult supervision. After making a grisly discovery that lead to a disastrous outcome at a client’s home, the three intrepid teens agree to tackle the most haunted house in the country, Combe Carey Hall, and its infamous Screaming Staircase. Stroud has followed up his excellent Bartimaeus Trilogy with an inventive new London, one with spooky spirits and mysteries waiting to be solved. Told out of sequence to increase the excitement level, The Screaming Staircase is a fun start to a new series.

fortunatelyFortunately the Milk, by Neil Gaiman
Dad went out to get milk, and oh, kids, you won’t believe what happened! Pirates, piranhas, aliens and more pepper this tall tale. Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) has crafted a story that’s out of this world and that begs to be read aloud. The illustrations throughout add to the fun and excitement of this wild tale.


Retold Fairy Tales and Cranky Kids: New Books for Younger Readers

three-triceratops-tuffThe Three Triceratops Tuff by Stephen Shaskan
Meet Stanley, Rufus, and Bob Tuff. These three husky boys are triceratops brothers. As our story begins, the trio are lumbering through the valley looking for food. When they encounter a valley loaded with luscious plants, they’re delighted — until they see the massive Tyrannosaurus Rex guarding it! Oh no! One by one, each brother goes clip, clomp, clip, clomp down the hill to face the mighty carnivore. This colorful retelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff is funny, satisfying, and delicious to read. (ages 4-7)

crankensteinCrankenstein by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat
What happens when the cruel, hot sun melts your popsicle down the stick and all over your hand? What arises when your mom makes you a huge stack of pancakes, but the syrup runs out? What inevitably comes to pass when you have to wait in a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long line? Look out, it’s Crankenstein! Mehhrrrr! With fabulous glossy graphics and wisecracking humor, this picture book takes on the clenched-fist, tensed-shoulder, teeth-baring creature that lurks within all kids when they have a bad day. (ages 5-7)

mr-wufflesMr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner
The great David Wiesner is back with another surprising and glorious picture book. The three-time Caldecott-winning author/ illustrator presents Mr. Wuffles! Mr. Wuffles is a large black cat with white-tipped paws and yellow eyes that narrow to a calculating slit. While his human tries to entertain him with rubber balls and cloth mice, Mr. Wuffles discovers a fleet of tiny, robed aliens who have crash landed in his house. As his oblivious owner cajoles him to play, Mr. Wuffles and the aliens wage a vigorous battle. Where the aliens seek refuge, who helps them, and how they escape make up this colorful and original tale of a seemingly ordinary afternoon in the life of a housecat. (ages 4-7)

cindersCinders: A Chicken Cinderella by Jan Brett
Here is another new picture book from a master of the form. Like David Wiesner, Jan Brett is one of our best. In this lavish rendition of the Cinderella tale, she casts plump, resplendent chickens in a classic and wintery Russian landscape. As with all Brett’s stories, each page offers a rich array of details — gorgeous dresses, intricate interiors, and realistic animals. And though Brett’s visual prowess is out of this world, her pictures never overwhelm the story. With its snowy scenes and glittering gowns, this is the perfect holiday read. (ages 5-7)


Charged Particles: Plugged-in Jazz with a Spark!

Sunday Special, January 12, 11:00 a.m.
Main Reading Room

charged1The most exciting and creative music being made today crosses stylistic boundaries and blends multiple traditions to create vital new sounds. Charged Particles features three of the country’s virtuosos doing just that in the electric jazz arena. The trio’s repertoire blends jazz styles with elements from Latin music, classical music, funk, and more.  FREE – All ages – No sign-up needed.

Winter Break Film Fest and Fun!

Come to the library over Winter Break for movies, game day, and Lego play day! All events start at 2:30 p.m. FREE! All ages – no sign-up required.

elfMonday, December 23, Winter Film Fest: Elf (PG, 97 mins)
Buddy is a human, raised by Elves but when he discovers that he is not actually an elf he decides to leave the North Pole and find his biological father in this laugh-out-loud comedy.  Fresh popcorn and pillows provided, of course!

planes_ver10_xlgThursday, December 26, Winter Film Fest: Planes (PG, 91mins)
Disney’s Planes is a fun-filled adventure about a crop-dusting plane who dreams of entering an around the world race. With the help of his mentor and goofy friends he may be able to overcome his fear of heights and get good enough to fly in the race.  Fresh popcorn and pillows provided, of course!

children-playing-legoFriday, December 27, Lego Play Day.
Get in touch with your inner engineer! Free play with Legos supports creativity, problem solving, and reading skills — and it’s FUN!


MUNTeaserposter900Monday, December 30, Monsters University (G, 102 mins)
Mike and Sully are students at Monsters University in this prequel to Monsters Inc. After being expelled from the Scaring program they must rely on each other and their misfit friends in order to win the Scare Games and get back into the program. Fresh popcorn and pillows provided, of course!

Despicable-Me-2Tuesday, December 31, Despicable Me 2 (PG, 98 mins)
Gru, super villain turned super dad, is recruited by the Anti-villain League to help stop a new evil mastermind in this entertaining sequel to Despicable Me. Fresh popcorn and pillows provided, of course!


stuart-little-movie-poster-1999-1020231159Thursday, January 2, Stuart Little (PG, 84 mins)
A talking mouse named Stuart is adopted by a human family but the Little’s cat, Snowbell, is not happy about having a mouse as part of their family and plots to get rid of Stuart once and for all. Loosely based on E.B. White’s children’s novel. Fresh popcorn and pillows provided, of course!

Candy-Land-Wallpaper-candy-land-2020333-1024-768Friday, January 3, Game and Puzzle Day
Roll the dice, spin the spinner, or work a giant floor puzzle. Fun for the whole family!

Pajama Story Time

pajama_story_time_imageMonday, December 9, 6:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Wear your PJs and bring your best stuffed friend to the library for a rousing yet relaxing evening reading of favorite picture books new and old, on the second Monday of every month. (All ages, Children’s Room.)

Great New Picture Books for the Holidays

Looking for something new to add to your holiday rotation? Here are five picture books about Christmas and Hanukkah (or both!) that we think you’ll really enjoy.

dinosaurs chanukahHow Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
The latest in the popular How Do Dinosaurs… series is as charming as its predecessors. Jane Yolen’s verse is pitch-perfect, Mark Teague’s lumbering characters are endearingly mischievous, and dino-crazed kids will love that, as always, each one is scientifically identified. Here, the theme is Chanukah, and the giant critters teach us the meaning of the holiday—after first demonstrating how not to be good. “Does he snatch away dreidels so no one else plays? Does he do this for each of the eight festive days?” Yolen asks. The hilarious deadpan tone, deriving from the fact that the parents of each dinosaur are a staid-looking, human couple who are totally unaware that they seem to be raising an extinct monster, will keep parents smiling, too. (ages 3-7)

deckthewallsDeck the Walls! A Wacky Christmas Carol by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Nick Ward
Deck the Halls was already one of the tap-tappingest carols. Now it just got funnier and more kid-friendly. In this clever parody (with spot-on rhyme and rhythm), we follow along, gasping in horrified delight, as a group of cousins reap mayhem throughout Christmas day. “Deck the walls with mashed potatoes! Fa la la la la, la la la la. Make a snowman with tomatoes! Fa la la la la, la la la la.” Appealing illustrations depict surprisingly tolerant relatives cleaning up after the little mischief-makers, and the book ends on a joyous note, as happy family young and old gather in the snow for a portrait. (ages 4-8)

daddy christmasDaddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
“I am a mix of two traditions. From Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama,” begins this interfaith holiday book. In this little girl’s home, Daddy hangs candy canes on the menorah and Mama sprinkles gelt under the Christmas tree. Even the self-aware, hipster edge is handled with grace and humor, as Daddy listens to “mellow holiday jazz” on Christmas morning and Mama makes a point of tossing the wrapping paper into the recycling bin. The colorful mixed media illustrations depict a happy family who gets this whole multicultural thing just right. (ages 4-8)

christmaswombatChristmas Wombat by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
The adorably dim-witted, carrot-crazed wombat is back for another adventure, this time with a holiday backdrop. When the wombat finds a dish full of carrots (and then another, and then another), he can’t believe his good luck. Unfortunately, his glee turns to indignation when some pesky antlered animals keep munching them first. Children will be delighted to be in on the joke — that the carrots have actually been left out by children for Santa’s reindeer. Written in diary form (“Fought major battle with strange creatures. Won the battle.”) and illustrated with colorful paintings on a clean white background, this is a funny holiday read to share one-on-one. (ages 4-8)

little santaLittle Santa by Jon Agee
Finally, a Santa origin story! Popular author-illustrator Jon Agee explains how the man in red came to be. The tale starts on a quirky note, as we meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their seven children: Larry, Mary, Willy, Millie, Joey, Zoe, and Santa. All of them are sick and tired of living in the North Pole — except for Santa. When they decide to move to Florida, Santa asks, “Won’t you miss all the pine trees and the icicles and the miles and miles of snow?” No, Santa,” they reply. “We won’t.” When the family is delayed by a snowstorm, Santa shimmies up the chimney and sets off to find help. Because of the sly, wink-wink humor, this is a picture book even older kids will enjoy. (ages 4-9)