Posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Staff Picks, Uncategorized

Code-Switching in Children’s Literature

Code-switching is becoming an increasingly popular practice in writing children’s literature.  Code-switching happens when one moves fluidly between two languages within written or spoken dialogue.  It is often used when a word cannot be directly translated or loses meaning in translation, or as a way of better illustrating themes where another language may describe something better or be more appropriate than English. Spanglish is a common word used when referring to the code-switching between English and Spanish.

Children’s books are an enjoyable way to introduce your child (or yourself) to another language.  If you are looking to incorporate a second language into your daily life or to keep a language alive in the home, books that use two languages are a good place to begin.  They often include a glossary with translations and use repetition to emphasize words that are in the language other than English. These books can be found in a variety of languages, but the most common are English to Spanish.  Below are a selection of favorites from Mead Public Library’s children’s collection (descriptions provided are taken from the book publishers):

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya

The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling, winner of the Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration.

El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree.

The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . .

Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Bookish Bingo: Read a Book with a Connection to a Song Written in 2000

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This morning I awoke with Dua Lipa’s “Love Again” playing in my head, and gawdamn, it’s got me singing the song, again.  Lately, between that and Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits”… I know I should swear off pop music, but I won’t.

My brain is forever a jukebox that is often playing songs that I may have heard recently or haven’t heard in years—maybe I dreamed about it?  There isn’t always a rhyme or reason, but there is one constant, a song is playing. Once in a while, a song even gets stuck on repeat.  (After singing “Mack the Knife” in a college jazz concert, I frequently found myself humming and singing, “Oh the shaaark haaas, prrretty teeeth, Deeear, and he shows themmm, PEHHRRRly white…”)

It’s for this reason that I tend to despise earworm songs—even the term creates a disgusting visual for me, and brainworm is enough to induce the heebie-jeebies.  One of my most hated earworms is Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, because the only thing worse than an earworm is one that mocks you! (By the way, there is a real term for this condition: Involuntary Musical Imagery or INMI, and Mental Floss offers a cure!)

Earworms aside, I am a music lover.  I enjoy most genres, or at least some songs from each, but alas, as I am recognizing a sign of aging, I feel nostalgic listening to music from the 90’s and early oughts, my teenage and college years.

One of our Mead Bookish Bingo challenges this year is to read a book that has a connection to a song released in the year 2000.  This can mean that the book or title was inspired by a song from that year or that the song from that year was inspired by a book from any time.

This is one of our most challenging challenges, if you will.  I did some deep digging for this one, and here are a few literary options for you.  This list is not exclusive, so if you have additional suggestions, please share them on our Goodreads discussion board.

“Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
(This is technically a poem, but the poem was made into a children’s book, so it counts.)
Inspired “The Gladdest Thing” by Deb Talan

This whimsical poem expresses the joys of being out in the natural world as “the gladdest thing under the sun.”

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Inspired “Haunted” by Poe

This story focuses on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
(This story, which was inspirited by L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also inspired an entire musical in 2003.) Inspired seven songs on the Hannah Fury album The Thing That Feels

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Inspired “Animal in Man” by Dead Prez

Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges…

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Inspired “Brave New World” by Iron Maiden

Brave New World is Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel. Borrowing from The Tempest , Huxley imagines a genetically-engineered future where life is pain-free but meaningless. The book heavily influenced George Orwell’s 1984 and science-fiction in general.

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Inspired “La Cruz de Santiago” by Mägo de Oz

It is the height of Spain’s celebrated golden century – but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years’ War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after being wounded in battle, he returns home to live the comparatively tame – though hardly quiet – life of a swordsman-for-hire. In this dangerous city where a thrust of steel settles all matters, there is no stronger blade than Alatriste’s.” The captain is approached with an offer of work that involves giving a scare to some strangers soon to arrive in Madrid. But on the night of the attack, it becomes clear that these aren’t ordinary travelers – and that someone is out for their blood. What happens next is the first in a series of riveting twists, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Inspired “Ode to Harry” by Switchblade Kittens

Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

During my research, I also discovered that Artists for Literacy began a fundraising campaign in the year 2000 to recruit literary-influenced songs by top artists to inspire new readers and support free tutoring programs.  2000 was indeed a great year for the literature-music connection.


*Book descriptions and images are from Goodreads.com, except for the Harry Potter series description, which is from Wikipedia

Posted in Adult, Kids 5-12, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Back to School!

Summer continues to simmer as we fall into Autumn. Our students, teachers, parents and caregivers prepare for another new and unusual year of learning, returning to a school schedule into a new grade – all while still navigating the pandemic. This year brings us a mixture of school anxiety and excitement as we build relationships and grow as we learn together. We wanted to share some books from our Monarch system, as well as local and national online resources to assist in making the transition to this new year a little easier with enjoyable, engaging tools sprinkled in. The books listed below are available for request through the Monarch library catalog. (Descriptions provided are taken from the book publishers.) Be sure to take a look at the additional resources we included as well. We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable school year!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

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Posted in Fiction, Kids 5-12, Uncategorized

Alternative Series for Junie B. Jones Lovers (or Haters)

I often receive requests from young patrons wanting to find Junie B. Jones books. Young readers seem to really enjoy reading her series. She has a spunky personality that kids find hilarious. Not all grown-ups seem to love her though (she is pretty sassy)! I have some alternative series recommendations from our children’s library for Junie B. Jones fans (or for those needing a break from her) that will appeal to new readers just starting to read chapter books. These are all shorter chapter books with illustrations and relatable characters that are appealing to kids building up their reading stamina. Whether you share the love for the popular Junie B. or not, we have many options your new readers will enjoy.

Ivy + Bean series by Annie Barrows

Second graders, Ivy and Bean, are a likeable pair of best friends. They have very different personalities and at first, didn’t even want to be friends with each other! They discover that their differences actually complement each other to make them a dynamic duo. You will enjoy their creative problem solving and humorous adventures, which don’t always go as planned – despite their good intentions. The large font, short chapters, and humorous illustrations will appeal to early readers of this series.

Continue reading “Alternative Series for Junie B. Jones Lovers (or Haters)”
Posted in Adult, Historical, Romance, Uncategorized

While You Wait for The Four Winds

With a whopping 200 holds on its various formats, The Four Winds has topped hundreds of people’s summer reading lists. Kristin Hannah’s tale of a woman’s struggle to keep her farm, family, and marriage alive through the Dust Bowl has hooked readers with deft writing and details of the gritty reality of 1930s rural life. But what to do if you’re still waiting for your copy to turn up?

Below are 5 titles to tide you over while you wait.

Continue reading “While You Wait for The Four Winds
Posted in Uncategorized

Summer Reading Survival

Are you looking for books for your middle grade reader to spice up their summer reading list? Consider including some survival stories! Survival stories keep readers on the edge of their seat with their dramatic twists and turns. Readers vicariously experience obstacles and witness the strength of the human spirit through the perspective of the characters involved in their struggle to survive. I have some recommendations from our children’s library below that will keep readers in suspense and anxious to find out what happens next.

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

You will not be able to put this book down! The chapters in this book alternate between characters: 9 year old Brandon on September 11, 2001, and 11 year old Reshmina in 2019. Brandon is supposed to spend the day with his father while he works on the top floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. Brandon winds up on a different floor of the tower from his father when the tower is hit by a plane, and he doesn’t initially understand what is happening. The full scope of what happened unfolds as Brandon tries to make his way through the building in an effort to get back to his father, but then realizes he must make his way out of the building in order to survive. Readers are introduced to Reshmina as she tries to convince her twin brother he shouldn’t join the Taliban, while living in their small village in Afghanistan. Events unfold that lead to Reshmina risking the safety of everyone in her village by taking in a wounded American soldier. Both Brandon and Reshmina experience extreme danger and witness horrific events, all in one day. Their stories, while absolutely riveting, seem to be unconnected at first. As the story progresses, readers uncover how connected they actually are. These are fictional characters, but their stories are based on true events. There is an author’s note at the end of the book that provides further information on the history of the WTC, details on the attacks occurring on that day, the terrorists involved, the war in Afghanistan, and the way life has changed in America as well.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Additional Resources for Helping Kids Process Troubling News Events

It would not be overstating the impact of the last year to think about each day as a fresh catastrophe. No one would try to deny that current events have been especially challenging to negotiate, even as a fully grown adult. What has it been like for children? Their shorter time on the planet means they do not possess the needed context to process the numerous crises that continue to wash over us with each news cycle. We published a resource guide early in January in the wake of the capitol insurgence, which you can read HERE. We also assembled a list of anti-racist resources, which you can read HERE. This post expands upon those resources with a focus on anti-racism and social justice. Let’s give our children the tools to approach the world with knowledge and compassion.

Picture Books for Younger Children

Learn more about the context for this book from a brief interview with the author, Marianne Celano HERE.

Books for Older Readers (8-12)

For Parents

Articles

Websites

A huge THANK YOU to Susan and Erica for assembling this list of resources. All listed books can be found in the Monarch catalog. Do not hesitate to reach out for troubleshooting help requesting material or for additional anti-racist resources.

Posted in Kids 5-12, Nonfiction, Science, Uncategorized

Love Your Mother Earth

Environmental issues have been receiving increasing attention in recent years. Earth is facing a lot of problems, many as a direct result of human activity. With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, this is a great time to remember to bring awareness to the issues our planet is facing and what we can do as individuals and communities to help care for our planet and keep it healthy. Have a conversation with the kids in your life about what it would mean to them to have a healthy place to live and what they can do to help make that happen. Take this day as an opportunity to show Mother Earth some love and participate in an environmentally friendly activity together. Some fun and easy ideas you may want to consider trying include: taking a walk and picking up trash around your neighborhood, planting a tree, planting a pollinator garden, repurposing unwanted items, doing a closet cleanout and donating no longer needed items for others to use, or creating an art masterpiece from recycled materials. Remember, the kindness we show our planet doesn’t have to take place on just one day. We can take steps to reduce our negative impact each day through simple acts. Supplement your environmentally friendly activity with a book that covers an environmental issue of interest. I have some nonfiction children’s book recommendations from our library that will educate and inspire kids to find ways they can help our planet and prevent issues from worsening.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, Oscar! by Mary Lindeen

Sesame Street fans will appreciate the basic information given in this book that introduces younger readers to the concepts of recycling, reusing, and reducing in an effort to care for the environment. Sesame Street characters provide explanations for why we need to do these things, along with clear examples of how we can easily do them. Abby Cadabby gives readers the idea to reuse a can to hold pens, Oscar recommends eating foods that don’t have wrappers to reduce waste, and Rosita shows us a set of chairs that are made from recycled plastic. Delightful illustrations also include photographs of children demonstrating ways they help to take care of the environment.

Continue reading “Love Your Mother Earth”
Posted in Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Film, Uncategorized

Bookish Bingo Challenge: Watch a Movie with Subtitles on Kanopy

I don’t know about you but I have closed captioning on my TV at all times. Whether it’s due to my hearing, or wonky volume settings on the actual television, I can’t make hide nor hair of certain programs without subtitles. Since I like to have CC on anyway, I’m baffled when people won’t watch a foreign film because they “don’t want to read a movie”. Hey to each her own. This leads me to the latest installment of blog posts related to a square on Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenge bingo card: Watch a Movie with Subtitles on Kanopy. If you have never used Kanopy before, why not give it a try and knock off a bingo square at the same time? Below, I listed several excellent films that as of this post’s writing, are available on Kanopy.

To access films with subtitles, log in and click on “BROWSE”. Hover over “MOVIES” and select “WORLD CINEMA” from the drop down menu. The following screen will provide lists of films by world region or interest area such as “Award Winners”.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) directed by Ana Lily Amirpour

Vampire movies are pretty sweet, right? Nothing better UNLESS it’s an Iranian vampire movie with a feminist tilt. Shot in sumptuous black and white, the girl, of walking home alone at night fame, is actually an undead eldritch horror wandering the streets of Bad City and eating people. The compelling and beautiful cinematography is punctuated by alternating scenes of horrific violence and/or tender understanding between adrift souls, and those who lack them. The Middle Eastern Cinema section of Kanopy contains dozens and dozens of movie titles that have probably never played at an American cinema, and certainly not in Sheboygan. I, for one, relish the chance to see a story narrated in an unfamiliar tongue, and still understand what the hell is going on, all praise be to subtitles. 

Here are some other films from the Middle Eastern Cinema collection on Kanopy:

  • Halfaouine (1995) directed by Ferid Boughedir
  • Timbuktu (2014) directed by Abderrahmane Sissako
  • The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) directed by Abbas Kiarostami
  • The Women’s Balcony (2016) directed by Emil Ben-Shimon
  • Women Without Men (2009) directed by Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari

Inferno (1980) directed by Dario Argento

Singling out a Dario Argento film to talk about Italian cinema is kind of fudging things since his productions lacked, how do you say? Ah yes, continuity, when it came to the language being spoken on-screen. His actors would often not speak the language in the script or even be able to talk to one another, and had to phonetically memorize lines only to have them overdubbed in post-production. The result is that single scenes careen back and forth from English to Italian and back without the actors breaking stride. Inferno is Argento at his creepy giallo best. See also: Suspiria (1977), also available on Kanopy. Similar to Inferno, Suspiria is light on plot, heavy on gorgeous color-saturated framing, and an insane prog-rock soundtrack courtesy of Goblin. Oh! And Udo Kier shows up eventually (heart eyes emoji).

Here are some other Italian-language films available on Kanopy:

  • 8 ½ (1963) directed by Federico Fellini
  • The Dinner (2014) directed by Ivano de Matteo
  • Il Posto (1961) directed by Ermanno Olmi
  • Love And Anarchy (1973) directed by Lina Wertmuller
  • Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963) directed by Vittorio De Sica

The Host (2006) directed by Bong Joon-ho 

Ope! Looks like I managed to talk about all horror movies again! Sorry, totally not sorry. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, who won a bunch of Oscars for 2019’s Parasite, The Host represents his third outing as a director. It broke screen and attendance records when it was released in Korea and remains one of their top-grossing films to this day. And, much like Parasite, thinking about The Host in hindsight feels like finding new secrets in a puzzlebox. Elements of slapstick, horror, melodrama, political satire, and more are in the fabric of this production. Those who love their monster movies with a huge dose of heart and humor will be delighted by The Host.

Here are some other Korean-language films available on Kanopy:

  • I Saw the Devil (2011) directed by Ji-woon Kim
  • Lady Vengeance (2005) directed by Park Chan-wook
  • Mother (2010) directed by Bong Joon-ho
  • The Royal Tailor (2014) directed by Wonsuk Lee
  • Seoul Station (2014) directed by Sang-ho Yeon

Fear not, Kanopy has non-horror movies for the non-spooky population. It’s just the direction my personal gravity has been pointing these days. Check back with the Mead blog often to get suggestions for other bingo squares throughout the year. As always, do not hesitate to reach out for troubleshooting help with tech stuff, or for additional recommendations. Before you know it, you’ll have a BINGO!

Posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Nonfiction, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Children’s Award Books 2021

The American Library Association recently announced the winners of the 2021 Youth Media Awards. High quality media for teens and children were awarded for their excellence under different categories. I’ve listed some of these remarkable award winners below and included links to our catalog so you can reserve your copies today!

John Newbery Medal

The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year’s winner is When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller. In this story, a magical tiger from Korean folklore appears to Lily after she moves in with her dying grandmother. Something was stolen from the tiger long ago and an incredible deal is offered for its return.

Five Newbery Honor Books were named this year:

Continue reading “Children’s Award Books 2021”