A Summer Library Memory

This past June, we signed up for the summer reading program for the first time. The previous summer, we had fun exploring several libraries in our area. We played at lots of different libraries and at parks in different towns. We didn’t get to explore new libraries quite as much this summer since we had to be at our local library every week to turn in our reading log and complete activities. But here’s a fun memory of a day complete with TWO libraries!

First, we started off the day building “green machines” based on an episode of nick jr.’s Butterbean’s Cafe. In the show, there’s a drawing to win a green ATV, but Jasper is having such bad luck, he thinks it’s not even worth trying to win. Butterbean creates little cars out of apple slices, toothpicks, and other fruit. We used blueberries for the wheels because that’s what we had (but we’ve also made them with grapes). I think our green machine turned out pretty cute!

Next, we went to our local library to turn in our weekly reading and activity log. My daughter got a slip to put in a jar for a prize drawing. She also turned in a list of ten books we had read so that there would be $1 donated to the food pantry. My daughter also got three marbles to send through a marble track. After all that, we picked out new books to read for the following week. As we looked through the shelves, we found a display showing how tall different space objects were and a ruler to compare your height to the objects. The theme for the summer was “A Universe of Stories,” so there we several space-inspired activities.

Since there was still plenty of time left in our day, we decided to check out a library we had never visited before. While it isn’t super far away from us (maybe 20 minutes or so), it’s in an area with lots of one-way streets and confusing intersections, so I don’t like to drive there often! This particular day was VERY hot, so my plan was to head straight into the library and its air conditioning, but my daughter noticed the playground so we got side-tracked. The playground was so cute, though – because it was Arthur-themed! Yes, like Marc Brown and the PBS show Arthur! Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t seem to remember the show or books we had read when she was really little, but I definitely sang the theme song for her to see if it sparked a memory! “Every day when you’re walking down the street/everybody that you meet/has an original point of view…”

Once we got too sweaty, we went inside the library. We ended up walking around the entire building though, because we weren’t really sure where the front door was. Turns out, it’s pretty obvious – if you park in the right spot! Inside, the library was very big and spacious. There was a large area where adults were working at computers. We went upstairs to the children’s area and were impressed with the sensory area for little kids. There were lots of fun little places to sit and tons of materials to choose from. We found a cool window seat to sit in, where we could spy on the adults down below! We read a few cute books before heading home.

After supper, we finished off our meal with a simple yet delicious dessert: strawberry shortcake. I had thawed a Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake (which I found in our local supermarket’s freezer section) in the fridge, and then cut it into slices when I was ready to serve it. I chopped up strawberries and added a bit of sugar and then heaped it on top of the slices of pound cake. Adding a generous dollop of cool whip to the top, this dessert was the perfect way to end a summer day.

It may only be the beginning of winter, but this memory sure has me dreaming about the fun things we’ll do next summer!

Rating + Review: Space Boy, Volume 1

I was supposed to meet my sister and niece at a children’s museum an hour from our house, but because of flash flooding near the museum, we had to cancel our plans. I decided to take my daughter to a new (to us) library about 30 minutes from our house in an area not affected by flooding. We practically had the library to ourselves. We explored a bit first. The library has a deck on the second level where you can read outside (when it’s not winter, of course), nice furniture and lots of reading nooks, and one of the biggest children’s sections I’ve ever seen. We found a place to play and when it looked like my four-year-old was busy with the LEGO table, I decided I needed something to read. My kid got nervous when I started walking away from her, so I had to pick out something quick! I spotted a graphic novel on a shelf and hoped for the best. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised by this book.

Goodreads Blurb:

A sci-fi drama of a high school aged girl who belongs in a different time, a boy possessed by emptiness as deep as space, an alien artifact, mysterious murder, and a love that crosses light years.

To Amy, everyone has a flavor. Her mom is the flavor of mint–sharp and bright. Her dad is like hot chocolate–sweet and full of gentle warmth.

Amy lives on a mining colony in out in deep space, but when her dad loses his job the entire family is forced to move back to Earth. Amy says goodbye to her best friend Jemmah and climbs into a cryotube where she will spend the next 30 years frozen in a state of suspended animation, hurtling in a rocket toward her new home. Her life will never be the same, but all she can think about is how when she gets to Earth, Jemmah will have grown up without her.

When Amy arrives on Earth, she feels like an alien in a strange land. The sky is beautiful but gravity is heavy and the people are weird. Stranger still is the boy she meets at her new school–a boy who has no flavor.

Space Boy is a graphic novel that introduces us to a teen named Amy who lives in space, but gets sent back to Earth when her father loses his job. The family gets cryogenically frozen and “sleeps” through 30 years on board a spacecraft. When they arrive on Earth, they have to adjust to gravity and catch up on all the news and technology they’ve missed. While Amy goes to an Earthen school for the first time, she comes across a boy who seems out of place – I’m assuming this will be the “Space Boy” from the title, but we don’t learn much about him in this installment.

I read the entire book in just about an hour, so it’s a quick read, but incredibly enjoyable. There are layers and questions and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. While Amy is a teenager and this is marketed as a young adult book, it felt more like middle grade to me because of the reading ease. Also, I found it on the children’s side of the library, so I went into this book thinking it was middle grade. That being said, the illustration style is beautiful (though my daughter kept asking where the girl’s feet were!). I enjoyed the depictions of life in space and the pictures felt like they had movement and energy to them.

One of the reasons why I think I liked this book so much was because it reminded me of the 1999 Disney channel movie Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. Cetus-Lupeedus! Remember that one? But I also enjoyed Space Boy because I love thinking about what it will be like for humans to live in space. Books where the author presents a version of the future and our connection to space usually intrigue me – for instance, anything by Andy Weir, These Broken Stars, Defy the Stars, Ender’s Game and many others.

In all, I’m so glad that I swiped this book from the shelf to read. I didn’t know anything about this book going in, but I’m leaving with a new series to follow. A great graphic novel and great read.

Intrigued by Space Boy? You can read the series online at the Webtoon website. The books are broken down into “episodes” that you can scroll through. Try it out here. This is a good way to read the books for free, but I think I like the format of a book better. 

Library Fun: Second Edition

We came back home to snow when we flew from Mexico to Wisconsin today. While I’m excited to get started on our Christmas decorating this weekend (an excellent way to procrastinate the unpacking of our suitcases!), I’m not ready to return to the cold. Luckily, even when the weather is yucky, we can still enjoy a day of fun at our local libraries. Here’s some more library fun from this summer:

We built towers and tracks with big blue blocks at my parent’s library. These blocks are fun to play with – but I’m glad I don’t have to store these huge things at my house! My daughter loved the veterinarian clinic that was set up at another library near our house. There were lots of stuffed animals to take care of, clipboards with checklists to give your pet a check-up, x-ray scans, and plenty of medical tools and grooming tools to get the job done. My kid especially loved taking care of the snake and the parrot. Creepy. Sometimes she does not seem like my child! At the same library, they had another corner set up as a campsite. There was a tent with camp chairs, a fire, lantern, and woodland animals. There was also a nearby “pond” where kids could reel in fish thanks to some magnets. While my daughter gets shy around other kids, she made several friends while playing at the library in these fun play stations.

Another play area was full of construction items like a wheelbarrow, blocks, a workbench with tools, brooms, and a construction worker outfit. My daughter liked loading up the wheelbarrow. At the library closest to our house, the children’s area is smaller, but still provides some room for play. My daughter took up the whole kid’s table with this giant book of The Wheels on the Bus. Luckily, she was happy enough to flip the pages by herself so I didn’t have to embarrass either of us with my terrible singing!

Before entering the children’s library, there is a statue of some children reading a book. My kid sat down and said, “Take a picture of me!” She fit right in. Another library offers a spacious area to build your own wooden train track. I know this is common at many libraries, but what I like about this set-up is that you don’t have to make your track fit on a train table. A big floor rug gives you more room to play. When we visited a new library this summer, we found lots of puppets. While I was personally a bit grossed out thinking about how many kids have put their hands inside all the puppets, my daughter joyfully explored them! Bring on the hand sanitizer!

Since we’ve been on vacation, we’ll be back at the library soon to check out new materials. Hope you are utilizing your local libraries too!

Library Fun: First Edition

My daughter and I are homebodies. We much prefer hanging out at home to venturing out into people and traffic. But the one place we always look forward to going is the library. We have so many fantastic libraries in our area, so we utilize them a lot. We visited a new library last spring and it became a fun place to visit during the summer. It’s located in a small town about 10 minutes from our house. An extra perk was that there’s a cute little ice cream shop a few blocks away. We could visit the library and stop for a treat before heading back home. That’s a great day!

Inside the library, there is a cute children’s section. There is a large arched door for adults to walk through, and next to it is a smaller door for kids to enter. Right away, it makes it clear that children are welcome. While the children’s area doesn’t have a ton of space for toys, there are a few things to play with like a shop that rotates different toy bins, a tower of puzzles, and two tablets with pre-loaded games attached to a giant yellow crayon.

There are also fun things to check out. In addition to the usual books, CDs, and DVDs, this library also has crafts to check out and Me Readers. Me Readers are like e-readers for kids. Each Me Reader comes with 8 books and a device with color-coded buttons. Each page of the book has a color and shape around the text. Kids push the correct button on the device to have the page read out loud. My daughter thought this was so cool – it was just like Mommy’s kindle! She could turn the pages, push the buttons, and feel like she was reading the book herself.

There are fun things to find outside the library too. The library must have had a rock-painting event because there are cute painted rocks hidden among the landscaping. There are also benches with large, colorful canopies overhead for shade, and two big wooden swings set under pergolas. You can check out your books and then read outside. How I wish we had a swing like this at our house!

A sensory garden provides time to explore. Three large planters offer a variety of plants that you can Taste, Touch, and Smell. My daughter loved trying the green onion each time because she thought it looked like bamboo! In the Touch planter, there were plants with super soft leaves and plants with rough, bumpy leaves. I’m so grateful for the fantastic libraries in our area and the thoughtful librarians who provide interesting materials and programming for library patrons of all ages.

We love libraries! What do you love about your local library?