Monthly Archives: July 2014

Reliable Authors

Almost-HomeLots of kids like reading series – it makes finding your next book a little easier and you know you’re probably going to like being in the company of the same characters in the same world.

Well, another way of finding that next read is to hit upon an author you like and read all of his or her books. Some authors just seem happier working with standalone titles but will frequently stick to the same genre and often the same type of characters and settings.

Here are a few of my favorite authors that I always keep in my back pocket for recommendations and who make my heart skip a little faster when they publish a new book.

Joan Bauer – lots of girl power stories that are great for upper elementary and middle grade readers. There is often a tragic edge and some fairly soft hitting social realism. Try Almost Home or Hope Was Here to get a flavor of her style.

Sharon Creech – great for elementary school readers who like their fiction to reflect the real world with just a touch of magic. Ruby Holler is a good one to start with.

Matthew J. Kirby – one of my favorite fantasy authors, Mr. Kirby always comes up with something unexpected like the Norse historical fantasy, Icefall.

Carl Hiaasen – laugh out loud stories set in Miami often with a mystery element and always with a side of environmentalism. We listened to Chomp on Spring Break and the whole family loved it!

Jonathan Auxier – a new kid on the block with only two titles to his name but they are both brilliant! His debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a highly original fantasy.

All the children’s librarians at Mill Valley will have their own favorite reliable authors, so if you’re stuck for a new book to read, just ask!

– Hayley

Full STEAM Ahead: July 28 – August 3

Here is some of what’s happening at the library this week!

Monday, July 28 at 2:30: Stories & More Busy Bees – All Ages
Buzz into the library for stories about bees and a busy bee craft with Courtney! Creekside Room. No sign-up needed.

Tuesday, July 29 at 11:00: Little Sprouts Mad Hatter Tea Party – for kids entering kindergarten and younger
Bring your best stuffed friend or doll to tea and make a crazy hat or crown. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Tuesday, July 29 at 4:00: Laugh-Out-Loud Book Club – Grade 3-5
We’ll finish reading aloud The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Wednesday, July 30 at 3:30: Kirk Waller, Storyteller – All Ages
This award-winning storyteller is known for his ability to enrapture audiences with the spoken word.  Experience tales from the African American tradition conveyed with musicality, mime, and emotion. Amphitheater. No sign-up needed.

Thursday, July 31 at 2:30: Elephant & Piggie Party – All ages
Let’s party with our favorite pair – Elephant & Piggie! Join us for Elephant & Piggie stories, party games, and crafts!  Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Friday, August 1 at 2:30: Super Structures – Grades 1-5
Discover the strengths of triangles, cylinders, and arches.  Use teamwork to build your own super structures as well as an earthquake-proof building. Take home your creation along with the knowledge of a junior structural engineer. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Fantastic Magazines for Kids

The zine. Sometimes this word stirs up connotations such as “non-literary,” and “disposable.” But magazines can offer so much more than that. Our Children’s Room purchases an eclectic list of magazines to meet young people’s variety of ages and interests. They are not only fun, but also enriching!

Magazines are a great medium of information because they are alive. A new issue is born each month that reflects current trends in thinking, culture and events. It is the place where words meet the world of graphic design. The display of art/photography, stylish fonts, and strategic layouts grab the reader’s attention. Magazines are topic-specific, which makes them an excellent resource for related information and professional voices.

Browse through our collection and check out up to ten magazines for two weeks at a time. Look for our magazine shelf along the aisle as you walk into the Children’s Room and remember to lift those shelves up for issues you can take home.

Let’s take a look at some of the magazines in our Children’s Room collection:

Stone Soup
stonesoupCalling all writers ages 8-13! Founded in 1973, this magazine is for kids and written by kids. Young writers submit poetry, short stories, illustrations, and book reviews. They can get published and see what their peers have written. Stone Soup empowers kids by giving them their own professional space to be creative and connected.

In this month’s issue (July/August 2014), my favorite piece is 13-year-old Lucy Hoak’s poem, “The Fairy House.” Descriptive language fills the reader’s senses as Lucy writes about a fairy house decorated by a child waiting for fairies. Her poem gives perspective on childhood wonder, loss of innocence and the ambiguity of fact versus fiction.

Did you know that Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in 1930? Isn’t it hard to imagine that the Dead Sea is ten times saltier than ocean water? Do traditional Nigerian foods such as obe ata pepper soup make your mouth water for new flavors?

If you have a traveling spirit or are interested in the way other people live, Faces: People, Places, and Cultures is an excellent magazine for you. Read about a kid your age in another country, and how their typical day is similar and different than yours. Learn phrases in a different language, marvel at photographs of world heritage sites, and understand regional conflicts deeper. This magazine is a cultural gold mine for ages 8-13 that will connect and inform on an international level.

ladybugTime for a picnic with words! Young children will be entertained with this magazine playground as they bounce from a colorful short story to a craft they can cut out. Ladybug makes reading fun and active for kids ages 3-6. Sing a song, learn a new joke, play a matching game, and see how the eye-popping art makes a tale come to life.

The latest issue (Jul/Aug 2014) tells a short story of a Cherokee mother and son traveling on animals. Readers get to try out a few Cherokee words, such as ka nu na, the word for jump. Kids can also learn to do the “dog paddle” boogie this month.

newmoonNew Moon Girls
Girls just wanna have fun! Or do they? This magazine is for tween girls who want to be awesome girls: creative, opinionated, curious, and compassionate individuals. New Moon Girls invites young ladies to confidently share their voices. From peer advice columns, voted movie choice awards, to debates on societal issues, this magazine is fun, feminine, intelligent and meaningful.

The most recent issue (Jul/Aug 2014) features a community profile of a tween girl who started her own lemonade stand to support honeybees (partnering up with Whole Foods!) and an interview with an adult cartoonist who loves her career. Young girls get to take fun personality quizzes and hear what their peers have to say about the pangs of getting braces.





Full STEAM Ahead: July 21-27

Here is some of what’s happening at the library this week!

Monday, July 21 at 2:30: Stories & More Math Patterns with Toni – All Ages
Patterns in nature, patterns on clothes, patterns everywhere — it’s all math to Toni!  Come listen to stories about patterns. Create your own repeating pattern from one small square of paper! Creekside Room. No sign-up required.

Tuesday, July 22 at 11:00: Little Sprouts Stomp, Chomp, and Roar with Dinosaurs! – for kids entering kindergarten and younger
Listen to silly dinosaur stories and make your own dinosaur mask. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Tuesday, July 22 at 4:00: Laugh-Out-Loud Book Club – Grades 3-5
We’ll continue reading aloud The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Wednesday, July 23 at 3:30: Clowning Around with Coventry & Kaluza – All Ages
Witness extraordinary skills and thrills, including extreme acrobatics and high numbers hula-hooping! This clown duo has performed with the New Pickle Circus, among others, and twice won Best Comedy/ Clown Act in the American Circus Festival. Amphitheater. No sign-up needed.

Thursday, July 24 at 2:30: Draw Your Own Superhero – Grades 2-5
Learn from illustrator Norris Burroughs how to draw your own superhero. Be sure to bring your imagination and your super powers!  Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Friday, July 25 at 2:30: Lego Play Day – Grades K-5
Get in touch with your inner engineer! Free play with Legos supports creativity, problem solving, and reading skills — and it’s FUN! Creekside Room. No sign-up needed.

New Books for Older Readers

UpsideDownNowhereUpside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana
Armani is looking forward to an exciting weekend, celebrating her tenth birthday with all her friends. But a heavy storm is brewing in the skies and some of her neighbors are leaving for safer cities. Armani is determined to celebrate her birthday, and despite the gray weather, she and her extended family throw a party complete with the best present of all: a new puppy. This happiness is short-lived as Hurricane Katrina speeds up, causes the levees to break and Armani’s neighborhood to flood. Armani, her parents, her grandmother, and her four siblings race to higher grounds. When their family separates, it’s up to Armani to look after her younger siblings and stay together. The horrors and tragedy of Hurricane Katrina are told in the fist-person narrative of young Armani, her main concerns keeping her family safe. Through this disaster and through Armani’s eyes, readers are taken on a powerful, personal journey of growing up in the harshest of disasters. (ages 9-12)

The-Islands-of-Chaldea-UKThe Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones, completed by Ursula Jones
Aileen has failed the test for her wise woman magic powers, but before she has a chance to explain herself to her Aunt Beck – the most powerful wise woman in Skarr – the two of them are sent on an impossible journey to rescue the High King’s son from the warring country, Logra. Accompanying Aileen and Beck is Prince Ivar and his servant, and they’re tasked with creating a team from all the countries of Chaldea to enter Logra. However, at an abandoned island, Aileen befriends a large, almost invisible cat who accompanies the travelers on their quest. With the cat’s help and encouragement, Aileen begins to see and understand more of her country, her family, and herself. Diana Wynne Jones’ final novel, The Islands of Chaldea is a journey through an enchanted land rife with legends, magic, and betrayal. (ages 8-12)

boysofblurBoys of Blur by N.D. Wilson
Charlie and his family return home to Taper, Florida for the funeral of the high school football coach, Willie Wisdom. Mack, Charlie’s stepfather, was one of Willie Wisdom’s star players who made it to the pro-leagues, and has been asked to step in as the new coach. However, before Mack, Charlie, and their family can decide whether or not to stay in Taper, Charlie is pulled along the sugarcane fields with his cousin, Cotton, and the boys run into a strange man with a sword, live panthers, and a dark creature that is not quite alive nor dead. The next time Charlie and Cotton are together in the fields, more of these dangerous creatures emerge and both boys barely escape with their lives! It’s up to Charlie to bury the anger and hatred of the past in order to save Taper and his family. Boys of Blur is as fast-paced as the boys in this story of old legends, football, and family. (ages 10-13)

NightGardener_cover_finalThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Siblings Molly and Kip have traveled a long way to work for the mysterious Windsor family and, upon arriving at the old house, they immediately notice something is very wrong. Molly scrubs the floors every morning because muddy footprints appear in the night; the whole family is pale and dark-haired when in previous family portraits they had rosy-cheeks and light hair; Molly knows her employers have no money but, when creditors come to collect, Master Windsor produces a sackful of coins in minutes. When, one night, Molly hears the same, heavy sound over and over again — THUMP, THUMP — she leaves her room to investigate and encounters a tall, dark figure wandering the house, visiting all the bedrooms. Everyone in the Windsor house desires something, especially Molly and Kip, but they will trade more than they bargained for when they’re wishes are granted. The Night Gardener is a creepy and fascinating tale about the reality of legends and to be careful what you wish for. (ages 9-12)


Full STEAM Ahead: July 14-20

Here is some of what’s happening at the library this week!

Monday, July 14 at 6:30: It’s Pajama Jammy Jam with Molly! – All Ages
Wear your PJs and bring your favorite stuffie to this special before-bed story time in the library. Surprise bedtime snack included. Children’s Room. No sign-up needed.

Tuesday, July 15 at 11:00: Little Sprouts Jelly Jam Time: Story Dancing with Risa Lenore – for kids entering kindergarten and younger
Join performer and educator Risa Lenore in story dancing: using the elements of dance to explore story, drama and imagination. It’s fun and exciting exercise for body and mind! Creekside Room. No advance sign-up required.

Tuesday, July 15 at 4:00 | Laugh-Out-Loud Book Club – Grades 3-5
We’ll continue reading aloud The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Wednesday, July 16 at 3:30: Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic – All Ages
Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic take traditional zydeco and infuse it with elements of hip-hop, blues, rock, and pop. Andre is an accordion virtuoso and a captivating singer with a smooth soul sound. Audience members will even learn to zydeco dance. Amphitheater. No sign-up required.

Thursday, July 17 at 2:30: Fun with Fossils – Grades K-5
Travel back in time with a stegosaurus to learn how and why fossils are formed. Discover where the best fossil hunting grounds are, and learn what they can tell us about the creatures that once roamed the Earth. Then dig for a Shark’s tooth, make a cast, and take both home! Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Friday, July 18 at 2:30: Balloon-powered Raceway – Grades 2-5
It’s the first annual Library Raceway Tournament! In teams, build a balloon-powered car made from everyday materials such as straws, plastic bottles and rubber bands. Test your vehicle, make improvements, and race it in the Tournament!  Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Sunday, July 20 at 11:00: The Corner Laughers – All Ages
The Corner Laughers play catchy and clever pop music, full of harmony, hooks and intelligent lyrics. Main reading room. No advance sign-up necessary.

Monsters and Dragons and Bears, Oh My! New Books for Younger Readers

cover-HYSMD_cover HI-RESHave You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
Have You Seen My Dragon? takes readers along on a little boy’s journey as he searches for his lost pet dragon. Each detailed pen and ink illustration features the boy in a different area of a bustling city. Is the dragon riding on a bus or maybe visiting the monkeys in the zoo? Even though the double page illustrations are mainly black and white, with the only color coming from the objects to be counted, they are still the main attraction of this book. The dragon, which can be found on each page, blends into the city background making this counting book even more interactive and fun for young readers. (ages 3-7)

CannotWaitCoverThis Monster Cannot Wait by Bethany Barton
Stewart is waiting, not very patiently, to go on a camping trip. He tries every trick he can think of to make time go by faster, like building a time machine, changing the clocks, and even trying to get the reader to turn the pages faster. With help from his best friend, Stewart realizes that focusing on his impatience is making him miss his last week of school with his friends. Silly colorful monsters illustrate the lesson that good things come to those who wait. (ages 3-6)

deedeeDee Dee and Me by Amy Schwartz
Dee Dee is the quintessential bossy older sibling who steamrolls over her younger sister Hannah and always gets her way. After Dee Dee steals her bear, turns her favorite apron into a purse, and delegates her to the role of butler, Hannah has had enough. She decides to run away and take all of her favorite things with her. But where is Brown Bear? While Hannah is looking for her bear and playing by herself, Dee Dee shows up with Brown Bear having repaired his missing eye. Hannah takes advantage of her sister’s moment of kindness to establish new rules for playing together. Through colorful, detailed illustrations, and humor, Schwartz tells a delightful story of sibling rivalry and love. (ages 4-8)

ThreeBearsBoatThree Bears in a Boat by David Soman
From the co-creator of Ladybug Girl comes a delightful story of adventure and three lovable bear cubs: Charlie, Dash, and Theo. After breaking their mother’s favorite seashell, the cubs decide to set out in their boat to find a new one instead of confessing what they have done. Their voyage takes them far away from home, past islands, over mountains, and through caves until they encounter a mighty storm that sends them back home empty-handed. On their very own beach the bears find a beautiful blue shell just like their mother’s, but are still sent off to bed with no dessert. Children and parents alike will love this tale of familial camaraderie and the beautiful watercolor illustrations. (ages 3-5)

-Sarah Beth

Full STEAM Ahead: July 7-13

Monday, July 7 at 2:30: Stories & More Paper Bag Puppet Party – All Ages
Come to our annual paper bag puppet party. Listen to animal stories and make your own animal puppet. Creekside Room. No sign-up needed.

Tuesday, July 8 at 11:00: Little Sprouts Yoga Sprouts – for kids entering kindergarten and younger
Practice yoga with your preschooler in a fun, creative, and cooperative environment. Namaste. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Tuesday, July 8 at 4:00: Laugh-Out-Loud Book Club – Grades 3-5
We’ll continue reading aloud The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Wednesday, July 9 at 3:30: Bluegrass Boogie – All Ages
Bluegrass duo Emily Bonn and Jody Richardson, both early childhood music educators, perform their favorite Americana tunes for children and adults in a lively interactive concert of fiddle, banjo, ukulele, and percussive tap-dancing.  Be prepared to sing and dance! Amphitheater. No sign-up needed.

Thursday, July 10 at 2:00: Spin Me a Shadow, Tell Me a Tale – All Ages
Discover the magical world of shadow puppetry with Daniel Barash and The Shadow Puppet Workshop. Daniel teaches about the art of shadow puppetry while telling a Southeastern Asian Folktale. Audience participation included! Creekside Room. No sign-up required.

Friday, July 11 at 2:30: The Hungry Owl Project – Grades 1-5
Hear about our nocturnal friends and their natural history.  Learn about the positive impact owls have on the environment. Watch a video on the nesting cycle of Barn Owls, and meet a live Ambassador Kestrel Hawk! Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to visit the registration page.

Saturday, July 12: SHARE-A-Book Dogs – Grades K-5
The popular SHARE-A-Book dogs are back! They’ll be stopping by the library on the second Saturday of every month to share their love of reading. Kids in kindergarten and older may sign up for a 15-minute appointment. Appointments will also be available for second Saturdays in October, November, and December. Advance sign-up required. Call 415-389-4292 x4741 for an appointment.

New Audiobooks for Your Summer Road Trips

As you hit the road for summer vacations, I’d like to highlight a few new audiobooks that can help the time pass. Last year I wrote about family entertainment in the car, so this year I’ll focus on some newer audiobooks that are just terrific.

screamingThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Jonathan Stroud’s newest series, Lockwood & Co., starts off strong with The Screaming Staircase. In an alternate, modern England, psychically sensitive children and teens are the only ones who can see the ghosts that are plaguing the city. Narrator Lucy has moved to London and joined a psychic investigations company made up of two other teens. When their first job together ends in disaster with a burned down house, the company finds itself is in dire straits. But then a new client offers them a windfall if only they’ll visit the most haunted private house in all of England. Stroud combines spooky ghost stories with deadpan humor and ends up with a terrific read. For more fun from Stroud, try The Amulet of Samarkand, one of my all-time favorite audiobooks about the contentious relationship between a young magician and a djinni. (ages 8-12)

Escape-from-Mr.-Lemoncellos-Library-e1391404515145Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a fun read for a wide range of ages. Mr. Lemoncello, the famous game maker, has sponsored the new town library and invited a dozen 12-year-olds to spend the night there before it opens. He constructs a game in which the kids must solve intricate puzzles in order to find their way out of the building by the next morning. There is no true jeopardy in the story – no monsters or mortal terror – and they only real antagonist is one mean kid. But excitement is high due to the fun and complex puzzles, teamwork, and interactions among the players. Plus, who would love spending the night in a brand-new, whiz-bang, high-tech library, solving puzzles with your friends? (ages 8-13)

zombieZombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
Last year Paolo Bacigalupi, author of the excellent and intense YA dystopian novels Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, released a book for a middle grade audience: Zombie Baseball Beatdown. After their baseball coach attacks them and tries to eat their brains, 13-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe realize that something is amiss at the local meat processing plant: zombies. The action scenes are terrific, full of zombies and even zombie cows, but just as in his books aimed at teens, there is more here than meets the eye. With discussions of immigration laws, racism, factory farming, and more, this book has a lot for listeners to chew on (BRAINS!). (ages 10-14)

texasFrom Texas with Love by Dan Gutman
Here’s a perfect book for a road trip. In the fourth installment in The Genius Files series, From Texas with Love finds twins Coke and Pepsi still on the run from mysterious and nefarious villains as they drive from Graceland in Tennessee to Roswell, New Mexico. Dad loves driving his new convertible Ferrari and Mom insists on stopping at every roadside tourist attraction, while the kids focus on outwitting their enemies. Laugh-out-loud funny and full of hair-raising adventure and geographic trivia, this is a delight for the whole family. (ages 8-12)

Don’t forget about the library’s downloadable e-audio resource: Overdrive. It has a growing selections of audiobooks for adults and children that can be downloaded directly to your iPhone or Android device or to your computer. Some children’s audiobooks recently added to our Overdrive collection are Lemony Snicket’s Who Could That Be at This Hour, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, and Rick Riordan’s Demigod Files.

Drive safely this summer, and have a fantastic vacation!