Friday, May 22, 2020

Student Showcase!

Poetry!  Puppetry!  Cooking!  Students have been working very hard...and very creatively...on library challenges!  Here is just a *small* sampling:

Thanks to everyone who has been participating in our library challenges, whether pictured here or not.  Trying new things, expressing yourself, using your imagination, good humor, playing with language, finding and creating story everywhere, sharing with friends...that's all at the heart of library and the heart of learning!  So, so very proud of you, my brave, inventive and wonderful students!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Jog-in-Place Event Today!

Stone Students, please join me and my Resource Team friends this afternoon for our Jog-In-Place event!
Choose your favorite activities from a menu of fun!
See you soon...


Thanks to everyone who attended!  What a turn-out!!!
You warmed Grabby's carrot-shaped heart with all his new puppet friends,
and I hope those who attended the cooking demonstration had an EGG-cellent time and learned some easy recipes you can replicate.
Please email me (and Grabby) pictures of you and your puppet
or you and your kitchen adventures!
It was a pleasure and delight to see your smiling faces! xoxo

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Story Time! Leila in Saffron

Today's story is realistic fiction about a little girl who is a good cook, but needs to learn to love herself as much as her family loves her.   
Such sumptuous illustrations!  

I hope that when you look in a mirror, 
you see all the wonderful things that I see when I look at you.

Saffron is a very special and expensive spice, fragrant and delicate.  If you are ever lucky enough to happen to come across some, here's an easy recipe for saffron rice.  This particular recipe is actually from the Jewish tradition. You could also try this East Asian saffron chicken curry recipe, which uses lots of wonderful spices. Just like the cilantro mentioned in the story, saffron is used in countries and cuisines all over the world!  (I know some of my friends are fasting this week, but the recipes will be waiting for you after Ramadan.)

If you are interested in the Arabic language used in the books on Laila's shelves, check this out:
Mahmoud Tamman has turned Arabic lettering into the animals they spell.  How beautiful!

Ramadan Mubarak to those who celebrate!  
Let us always celebrate and embrace all cultures and people through books!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Cookbook Confidential

Artwork by Adelina Lirius

I have a reading secret!  As you know (because I've told you), one of my favorite sections in the library is the nonfiction section.  I love the history, the biographies, the nature guides, the fairy tales, the drawing books...but there is one special nonfiction guilty reading pleasure I have that isn't on any shelf...


I love, love, LOVE looking at menus!  One of my greatest delights is to walk down the street in a new city and read all the menus I come across (they are usually posted in the restaurant windows)!  When I can't travel, I go online and research restaurants and imagine what I would order!  A good menu is fun to read.  It is well organized, has appetizing little lilts of language and descriptive prowess.  And when I can't read a menu, I love to read...


I didn't really know how to cook until I was in my twenties and someone explained to me that cooking is really a reading skill.  I have found it's true:  if you can read carefully and follow directions, you can cook!  Appreciate that writing cookbooks well takes a special skill, too:  you have to be very clear and detail-oriented and put things in a sensible order.

Old recipes in families are sometimes written down in handwriting from grandparents and are very beloved, like the people who wrote them.  Even though book care is important, you can tell when a recipe or cookbook is good because of the oil stains, dried frosting and gravy drips that come from being used often in a lively kitchen!  I bet someone in your family has a cooking specialty or a recipe that is so delicious that it is made again and again!

Here are a few of the books on my kitchen table when I eat breakfast:

La Bible de Sauces by Jerome Ferrer.  The title, in French, means "sauce bible."  I got this book in the city of Montreal in Canada and when I saw it, I was so excited I hopped up and down, because it is all in French and very hard to find in the United States.  It has over 1,000 recipes in it!  In the unlikely event I ever retire, I will make as many sauces as I can.  Meanwhile, sometimes I look at it to brush up on my French.

Speaking of French, I enjoy my big, honking copy of La Cuisine de France by Mapie, The Countess de Toulouse-Lautrec. That means "French kitchen." I read a lot of fancy French cookbooks and menus even though I mostly eat Mexican and Asian food, isn't that funny?  I got this one at a used book sale.  It's from the 1960's and has recipes that are unusual to me, like fish with bananas and roast Argentinian rabbit (which Grabby Bunny does not like at all).  I don't usually cook from this book because so many of the recipes are so ambitious, but I do like to read it and think about how cooking and eating change with the times.  Besides, wouldn't it be fun to be a count or a countess, like the author?  You can call yourself that, nobody will really know otherwise these days.

Leave Me Alone with the Recipes:  The Life, Art and Cookbook of Cipe Pineles edited by Sarah Rich and friends is a mix of a cookbook and the life story of a woman who not only liked to cook but liked to draw pictures of food!  If you have ever been lucky enough to go to a farmer's market, maybe you noticed that food can be very beautiful.  Have you ever tried to draw a fruit or vegetable or a loaf of bread like Cipe did?  Food sits still, so it makes a very good model.

Did you know there are lots of good cookbooks just for kids?  They usually have really clear instructions and not too many ingredients.  I'm sure you could be a better cook than I was at your age. Just make sure you that you have an adult's permission to work in the kitchen, learn with an adult nearby and please be extra careful around stoves and knives (which aren't too dangerous once you learn to use them, but they are part of why you need a grown-up's help at first). Then have a look at these:

Pretend Soup by Molly Katzen.  Read the E-book here.  The author ran a famous vegetarian restaurant called The Moosewood.  If you have never ever ever used a cookbook before, this is a great place to start.  Anyone can cook using this book, even kids in kindergarten, because it has clear pictures for every step. You barely need to know how to read! If you like it, she wrote two more:  Honest Pretzels and Salad People.  

Another good place to start to learn to cook is by using the books by Deanna F. Cook (isn't that a great name for a cook book author?),  Cooking Class and Baking Class.  Her directions are so clear and there are photographs to help guide you.  It's like going to a fancy cooking class in a book!  


Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls is old-fashioned, but you know I like things that are oldies but goodies.  There is a sensible mix of recipes, from basic sandwiches to imaginative celebrations, and the cakes inside will make you want to throw a party!  There are lots of very clear step-by-step illustrations.  You can impress and delight your family with what you learn in this book.

Maybe you have noticed in your remote learning adventure that when you really dive into something you are really interested in and go deep, all the subjects are connected.  Cooking is tied to history, travel, culture and adventure, math (for measuring) and science (cooking and baking are chemistry in action!) and our relationships with animals and everything that grows.  In the coming week, I will share with you more books about food and the people who prepare it.

Meanwhile, please consider taking the school library Cookbook Challenge, or share a photo of yourself with your favorite cookbook or recipe!  And remember, reading is all around us, not just in chapter books.

Happy reading and eating!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Jog-In-Place with the Library!

Can't wait to see you at our Jog-In-Place event this coming Thursday, May 21, starring all your favorite resource teachers!  Complete schedule and Google Meet links are here!

Grades K-3, at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 21st, you may log in with a home made puppet to participate in our Grabby Greeting Meeting!  Our library mascot, Grabby Bunny, has been remote learning with Mrs. Foxx for months now and is eager to make some new friends.  We'll also have a hoppy spring story tucked in!

Grades 3-5 at 3:40 and grades 6-8 at 4:20 on Thursday, May 21st, you may log in for Cooking With Books, a cooking demonstration featuring egg basics.  Maybe even some green eggs with (or without) ham!  Feel free to bring your Cookbook Challenge projects to showcase, or just join us for a handy how-to! 

Attendance is optional, but be there or be square!  There are lots of wonderful choices for fun things to do.   If you choose a different program, it won't hurt my feelings, but of course, if you attend, I will be so happy to see you (and yes, Grabby will be happy, too).

Looking forward!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day!

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day!  The only thing that improves a good book in one hand is a cookie in another!

In honor of this holiday, you can read an ebook of Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar by Bonnie Lass and Philemon Sturges here!  Big kids, please read to little kids, thank you!

This special day also gives me a chance to introduce you to one of my very favorite blogs on the internet, Jama's Alphabet Soup, which combines reading and eating and today features a beautiful baking poem, "Working in Flour" by Jeff Friedman. She also has a wonderful post about collecting cookie jars...the third grade did their hobby reports not so long ago, isn't collecting cookie jars an interesting hobby?  Enjoy!

Photograph by and provided by Jama Kim Rattigan

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Special Treat: Stretchy Cats from Author/Illustrator Judy Schachner!

Judy Schachner, author and illustrator of the popular Skippyjon Jones series and more recently Stretchy McHandsome and Sarabella's Thinking Cap, has shared a very special video with us so that we may learn how to make our own stretchy cat...and learn a little bit about the artist's process!

A stretchy cat also makes a very nice puppet!  I'm sure Grabby Bunny would like to meet your stretchy cat or any puppet you make next week at the Grabby Greeting Meeting being planned next Thursday at 3!
Details to come!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Thundercake Reading by Patricia Polacco!

The weather report over the next couple of days calls for stormy skies.  When you hear the thunder, do you know how to tell how far the lightning was when it struck?  Thundercake explains how to count miles in a delicious way...snuggle up to the story read by the legendary author/illustrator Patricia Polacco!

Thunder cake recipe here!  
It has tomato sauce in it, which seems unusual in a chocolate cake.  I have made it before and the flavor is surprisingly sweet, not saucy.  It's very delicious and rich, like a fudgy brownie!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Cookbook Challenge!

Artwork by Marilyn Hafner

The COOKBOOK CHALLENGE is to choose at least ONE of the following activities:

Recipe reading is real reading!  With the help and permission of a grown-up for safety, make a recipe from a cookbook!  Send me a photo of your masterpiece and please let me know the recipe and cookbook you used.  Bonus points if you can tie it in to a children's book (honey cake for Winnie the Pooh?  Fruit salad for the Very Hungry Caterpillar?) 

If you had your own restaurant or bakery, what would you serve?  What would it cost? Does it have appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, main courses and desserts, or does it just serve a few specialities well? Would it feature food from a particular part of the world?  You can make it a real menu full of your favorite dishes, or you can make it a fantasy menu for a particular location or customer (Menu for a volcanic island?  Menu for an animal rescue shelter?  Menu for royalty?  Menu for a planetarium?). Design a menu for your own restaurant so that it looks like it is ready to hand to a hungry customer!  Pictures or page decorations always make things more appetizing.  Serve it up to me in a photo, scan or document.  

This is an extra challenging one!  It can be an imaginary cookbook (a cookbook for jungle animals, space aliens, ancient Egyptians, ghosts, baseball players, fairy tale characters, for example) or a real one (family recipes, favorite desserts, breakfasts, party planning, for example).  Decide on a theme and run with it!  It's not due until the 30th, so take your time and make it a good one!  Illustrations always make everything better. If you use real favorite recipes from other cookbooks, please use more than one book and give credit to the original books and authors. At least 6 pages, please.  You can send me photos, scans or documents.

Even though many restaurants are closed and certain foods may be harder to find during the pandemic, this is a great chance to use our imaginations and let books fill our minds like meals fill our bellies!  Next week, we are going to be exploring cookbooks, books that celebrate the history of food, books about famous chefs, books about food from many countries from around the world...a reading and eating culinary tour!  Save your appetite!  

 Artwork by LorĂ© Pemberton

Slowing the Infodemic: How to Check Sources!

Middle schoolers have heard me like a broken record, "cite your sources, cite your sources."  I'm going to keep playing that record because I love that song!  Now, more than ever, it's important for us as citizens and learners to think about credibility of information.  Where does the information we receive come from?  What and whom should we trust?   Here's a short video of helpful, real-world hints from Reuters and the National Association of Media Literacy Education:

Knowledge is power!  Flex those critical thinking muscles, cyber citizens!

Mnemonic courtesy of

Monday, May 11, 2020

Zoom Meeting with Newbery Award Winning Graphic Novelist Jerry Craft!

CPS welcomes Coretta Scott King and Newbery Award-winning Author Jerry Craft
author and illustrator of New Kid!
CPS students have the opportunity to enjoy a live CPS webinar today Monday, May 11th from 11:00-11:30am! New Kid is the first graphic novel to win a Newbery Award. Wow!
Click here to participate in the Zoom webinar!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Greek Mythology Mania!

The 3rd grade is studying Greek Mythology, but myths are exciting adventures to be enjoyed across all the grade levels, into high school and beyond!  Myths are ancient stories that helped people explain phenomena in nature back in the day, before people understood that thunder and lightning were not from giant monster Cyclops banging hammers and that people don't fall in love because they are shot with Cupid's arrow.  Their explanations may not be scientifically correct, but they sure are imaginative. 

Many novels these days are written based on famous myths, but it helps to become acquainted with the original stories and characters.  Here are a half dozen picks to help you get started!

The D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths is the gold standard for Greek Mythology for children!  Even though these stories may seem wild to us now, it is important to approach them with some reverence.  They were believed to be true and considered religion at one point in history, temples were built to honor the characters we are reading about.  That's why these books are on the nonfiction shelves.  This title gives the myths the respect they deserve and is one of your librarian's very favorite books in the whole world! Available on Ebook through the Chicago Public Library!

The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan is one of the most popular spinoffs on Greek mythology.  The Lightning Thief is the first in the series and is available in graphic novel form, illustrated by Attila Futaki.  Available on Ebook through the Chicago Public Schools Virtual Library!

Meet the mischievous God of Nature in I Am Pan by Mordicai Gerstein, Available on Ebook through the Chicago Public Library!

Echo, Echo: Reverso Poems About Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse.  Reading down to up tells one version of the myth, but read up to down, there's always a twist!

Isn't it funny to imagine the characters from ancient mythology in modern situations?  Enjoy Mount Olympus Basketball by Kevin O'Malley.  Available on Ebook at the National Emergency Library.

Though this author's work is a little harder to find, Marcia Williams' rich and colorful comic version of Greek Myths is worth the hunt.  All of her books give us unique glimpses into history and literature and are a great way to get the know the classics. 

The king of mythology fiction is Rick Riordan, who is most famous for his page-turning Percy Jackson series, though he also explores Egyptian mythology in the Kane Chronicles and Norse Mythology in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.  Rick Riordan has launched a line of books, "Rick Riordan Presents," celebrating mythology from other cultures, including East Indian mythology in Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Choksi, African mythology Tristan Strong by Kwame Imbalia, and Mexican mythology in the Storm Runner trilogy by J.C. Cervantes.  Author Grace Lin has award-winning novels based on Asian mythology, and Neil Gaiman has an action-packed collection of Norse Mythology.  All of these make great read-alouds as well. 

Books are ambrosia!  Happy reading!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Sign Up for Sunday Ha-Ha!

Author/illustrator Mika Song has started Sunday Ha-Ha!  
Sign up by clicking here to get kid-friendly comics in your email every Sunday.
I know a lot of you graphic novel fans are going to love this!
What a great way to bookend your week with a laugh.

Thank you for all the kindness during Teacher Appreciation Week!
Speaking of comics, a friend of mine sent me this awesome flip book cartoon as a thank-you.  Isn't it inventive and cool!  I love it!  If you're inspired, the author of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey, can show you how to make your own flip-book here