Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Anniversary, Elaine Alphin Obituary

AlphinAuthor Elaine Alphin Dies: San Francisco native Elaine Alphin, author of several young adult novels, died on Aug. 19, 2014 at age 58 after a long illness. Her first book, Ghost Cadet, was published by Holt in 1991, as was the followup Ghost Soldier in 2001. She also wrote books for younger children, including the beginning reader A Bear For Miguel (HarperCollins, 1996). For more information, see:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s 50th Anniversary: Roald Dahl’s classic children’s Charlie and the Chocnovel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is celebrating its 50th anniversary with Skype tours. The book’s publisher Penguin is offering a week-long Skype tour of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, which will include a Q&A with the museum’s education manager, and a peak at Dahl’s desk, chair, and other personal items in his studio.

Skype opportunities are available the week of Monday, September 29 – Friday, October 3, 2014 between 9:30am EST and 3:00pm EST/8:30am CST and 2:00pm CST/7:30am MST and 1:00pm MST/6:30am PST and 12:00pm PST.

If you are interested in scheduling a FREE virtual visit, please email with your preferred date and time. You can also find more information at

Also, Sharon Levin let us know about a “lost” chapter to Charlie – check out this article:

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Review of the Week – Loot: How to Steal a Fortune

lootWatson, Jude. Loot: How to Steal a Fortune. Fiction. Scholastic, 2014. 272p. $16.99. 978-0-545-46802-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-8.
     Trained by his father, a notorious cat burglar who dies in the opening scene, 12-year-old March McQuin puzzles over his father’s cryptic personal notes. Guided by these mysterious clues and aided by an amazing set of coincidences, March discovers a twin sister Jules. Through a madcap series of adventures, the two learn that a curse predicts their imminent death. In a rollicking farce that tickles and thrills, the twins and two friends plan and carry out a series of jewel heists at the expense of ethically challenged adults. Broadly drawn characters—a hilarious assortment of buffoonish types—threaten to thwart their heroic efforts at every crooked turn of the plot. One short episode even occurs in San Francisco. Short chapters, elements of wishful fantasy, and cinematic scenes make this laugh-out loud, hair-raising picaresque novel a rousing read.
Linda Perkins, Independent

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Do-I-Yourself Programming: Women of Character, Courage, and Committment

Do-It-Yourself Programming with Children’s Books on Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment

Hands-on crafts and games are a great way to celebrate women in history. Instead of sounding like a history lesson, this interactive format can bring in a wide age range of children who will enjoy the crafts and art projects, as well as some fun games. Here are some simple do-it-yourself programming ideas tied to children’s books on great women and their accomplishments.

Hands-on do-it-yourself programming can be relatively easy and much more affordable than other programming for many libraries, since the costs are just some simple arts and craft supplies. You can present a program offering these activities at separate stations, as part of a Women’s History program or festival. Have two high school volunteers at each station, to help younger children, to monitor the craft supplies, and to keep things moving. Perhaps a group of older Girl Scouts, or a local young women’s organization would like to volunteer. Having a refreshment table and a display of these books and others on the topic will make for a great program!

You can also offer just one or a few of these activities as a “passive program.” Just set up the supplies for one activity, along with a poster outlining the instructions, for parent and child to do together at a library table. These activities can also be adapted to the classroom, bookstore, or museum, since they fall into the type of “living history” activities that are so popular.
Here are several books and a hands-on activity relating to each, which would be a great focus for a Women’s History program.

tree_ladyMake take-home small potted plants to honor Kate Sessions, the focus of the picture book biography The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry, Beach Lane, 2013. The first woman to receive a science degree from the University of California, Sessions took a job in San Diego and quickly started a project to add trees to the community. Have puff paint available to decorate small terra cotta pots, and let each child choose a small houseplant to plant into the pots. Or make these cool plants that look like hair:

Even a young teenage girl can make a difference, as we learn in the picture book biography Brave Girl: Clara and the Brave GirlShirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Harpercollins/Balzer+Bray, 2013. Clara Lemlich helped lead a strike against garment factory owners for safer working conditions. To celebrate her achievements, make the fabric scrap memory game seen here:

Flying SoloMaking and flying paper airplanes are a natural activity to accompany Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart by Julie Cummins, illustrated by Malene R. Laugesen. Roaring Brook Press, 2013. A contemporary of Amelia Earhart, this short book introduces readers to Ruth Elder, who attempted to fly across the Atlantic Ocean (and finally succeeded). Check your library for many books on paper airplanes, or check out:

Making bookmarks, or decorating canvas bookbags, are natural activities to link to Miss Moore Miss MooreThought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debby Atwell. Houghton Mifflin, 2013. This picture book biography focuses on Anne Carroll Moore, a ground-breaking children’s librarian at the New York Public Library. Here are some ideas for library-related crafts:

Some of the earliest artistic photographers were women (such as Dorothea Lange), including the Imogensubject of Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Lisa Congdon. Cameron + Company, 2012. Imogen Cunningham was a creative genius as well as the mother to three sons. For a photography related craft activity, make special picture frames:

Josephine the DazzlingHave a “Dance Zone” at your program to honor Josephine Baker, the subject of Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell. Chronicle Books, 2014. This innovative modern dancer and civil rights activist had an unbelievable life. Have scarves and beanbags, and assign a leader to motivate the dancers, similar to a toddler dance party!

Many children will be surprised that until the mid-1800’s, the U.S. didn’t have female doctors. Who Says WomenIntroduce them to Elizabeth Blackwell with the book Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, Henry Holt, 2013. For a related game, have a cotton ball relay race:

DaredevilBetty Skelton was a stunt pilot in the 1930’s, and even tried out to be an astronaut in the 1950’s. The picture book biography Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy, Simon & Schuster, 2013 describes this unknown over-achiever. For a game, play “Pin the Tail on the Airplane:”

Adept at English, Sarah Winnemucca used her public speaking skills to advocate for her Paiute PrincessNorthern Paiute people in the 1800’s. Her life is celebrated in Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca by Deborah Ray Kogan, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012. For an authentic Paiute game, play the Hand Game:

Plastic AhoyPlastic Ahoy: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, Millbrook, 2014, is a photo-filled look at how three young women scientists studied the huge island of plastic that is impacting the Pacific Ocean. Using recycled water bottles, play this fun bowling game:


By Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ., School of Information Science

Originally published on the Kidlit Women’s History Blog:

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Read-Alikes for Neil Gaiman’s “Fortunately, the Milk”

fortunately the milkNew Short Tween Novels – Read-alikes for
Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk

Alexander, Kwame. The Crossover. Houghton, 2014.

Angleberger, Tom. The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain! Amulet, 2014.

Brown, Skila. Caminar. Candlewick, 2014.

Creech, Sharon. Boy on the Porch. Joanna Cotler Books, 2013.

Davies, Nicola. Lion Who Stole My Arm. Candlewick, 2014.

Doan, Lisa. Jack the Castaway (Berenson Schemes series Book One). Darby Creek, 2014.

Friedman, Laurie B. Too Good to be True. Darby Creek, 2014.

Gaiman, Neil. Fortunately, the Milk. Harper, 2013.

Hobbs, Valerie. Wolf. FSG, 2013.

Jennings, Patrick. Odd, Weird, & Little. Egmont, 2014.

Klise, Kate. Greetings from the Graveyard (43 Old Cemetery Road series). Houghton, 2014.

Klimo, Kate. Togo (Dog Diaries series). Random, 2014.

MacLachlan, Patricia. Fly Away. S&S, 2014.

Marciano, John Bemelmans. The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield. Viking, 2013.

Morpurgo, Michael. A Medal for Leroy. Feiwel, 2014.

Moss, Marissa. Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire. Creston, 2014.

Muten, Burleigh. Miss Emily. Candlewick, 2014.

Nagai, Mariko. Dust of Eden. Whitman, 2014.

Simon, Coco. Emma, Lights! Camera! Cupcakes! Simon Spotlight, 2014.

Weston, Carol. Ava and Pip. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2014.

Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ. School of Information Science

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Review of the Week – A Piece of Cake


Pham, LeUyen. A Piece of Cake. LeUyen Pham, Illus. Picture Book.
Balzer & Bray, 2014. 40p. $16.99. 978-0-06-199264-3.

Whatever you do, don’t show this story to the pack rats in your
life. Mouse, generous to a fault, exchanges the birthday cake
he’s baked, piece by piece, for “a cork, a wire, a net, and a
flyswatter.” The resourceful recipient, Little Bird, manages to
trade each piece of junk for an ingredient with which they can
bake another cake for all to share. The fun of this story is that
the odds and ends are not used where they seem most obvious,
as when Little Bird gives Bear not the flyswatter for his
bee problem, but the cork, to trap the bees in the hive. LeUyen
Pham’s digital illustrations are as expressive as ever, but she’s
brightened her palette and dropped her usual thick black outlines,
giving her characters a soft and fuzzy feel. It’s too bad
the other animals don’t face any consequences for taking advantage
of Mouse’s generosity, but Mouse and Little Bird are
content in the end to have kindness and cleverness, which is a
fine message. This book will make a lovely, funny read-aloud
and perhaps a great birthday present.
Amy Martin, Oakland PL

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Oakland Library Garden Project, Jordan Middle School Helps Libraries in Africa

Oakland gardensOakland Library and ACL Recognized in Article on Library Gardens: School Library Journal has an article in their August 2014 issue about library gardens, where children can learn about growing vegetables and good nutrition. “Dig It!” by Grace Hwang Lynch, p. 24-27 describes various urban library garden projects: The Oakland Library is recognized for its garden, and there is a nice mention of the Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California. The article mentions the 2012 ACL Institute on healthy food (check out our bibliography from that Institute at: ).

annie-mcqueen11-300x200Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto Starts Libraries in Africa: Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, CA, will receive the Compassion in Action Award from the African Library Project, to celebrate eight years of donating books for 13 libraries in Africa. The project at Jordan Middle School was started by school librarian Annie McQueen, who retired this year. For the full story, see: .

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Read-Alikes for Lois Lowry’s The Giver

GiverRead-alikes for Lois Lowry’s The Giver:

 Albin, Gennifer. Crewel. Square Fish, 2013.

 Booraem, Ellen. The Unnameables. Harcourt, 2008.

 Brown, Rachel M. and Sherwood Smith. Stranger. Viking, 2014.

 Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008.

 Condie, Allyson Braithwaite. Matched. Dutton, 2010.

 Dashner, James. The Maze Runner. Delacorte, 2009.

 DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember. Random, 2003.

 Fama, Elizabeth. Plus One. FSG, 2014.

 Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpion. Atheneum, 2002.

 Fells, Kat. Dark Life. Scholastic, 2010.

 Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron. Dial, 2010.

 Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden. S&S, 1998.

 Hall, Teri. The Line. Dial, 2010.

 Hautman, Pete. Hole in the Sky. S&S, 2001.

 Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Houghton, 1993.

               Gathering Blue. Houghton, 2000.

               Gossamer. Houghton, 2006.

               Son. Houghton, 2012.

 Lubar, David. Hidden Talents. Starscape, 2003.

 Matson, Lynne. Nil. Holt, 2014.

 Oliver, Lauren. Delirium. HarperCollins, 2011.

 Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn. HarperCollins, 2004.

 Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life As We Knew It. Harcourt, 2006.

 Shusterman, Neal. Unwind. S&S, 2007.

 Stahler, David. Truesight. Perfection Learning, 2005.

 Swain, H.A. Hungry. Feiwel, 2014.

 Unsworth, Tania. The One Safe Place. Algonquin, 2014.

 Wilkinson, Kerry. Reckoning. St. Martin’s, 2014.

Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ. School of Information Science

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