Books We Love: Jinx

Jinx coverJinx” is a juvenile fiction book that was first brought to my attention when participants in DBRL’s own Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery program decided it their winner last year. Its win nudged me into giving it a read, and I am so glad I did.

Jinx” is the story of an orphan (of course he is an orphan, you have to get those pesky parents out of the way so that our young characters can have any sort of adventures, right?) who lives in a magical world with fantastical facets presented though humorously matter-of-fact narration. The story kicks off with a stepfather attempting to leave young Jinx in a dense and dangerous forest, called the Urwald, that surrounds all of the cities in Jinx’s world. After an unlikely rescue by a grumpy old wizard named Simon, Jinx finds himself a wizard’s apprentice and gathers some sidekicks along the way. Adventure naturally ensues, and the story does a lovely job of examining the fact that “good” versus “bad” is not always a black-and-white concept. Jinx’s internal ruminations on the subject are particularly touching. Continue reading

Don’t Call It “Terrible Twos”

Toddler having tantrumHave you ever heard a parent say “I just want to skip past the “terrible twos”? While toddler-hood might be one of the most challenging ages (perhaps second only to the treacherous teen years), would anyone really want to skip a portion of their child’s life? I’d like to think not. Below are some ways to both better understand what toddlers are going through and also to help everyone in the family adapt to the changes that a toddler brings. And be sure to check out our many resources on toddler development at our library.

Routines and Repetition

While many adults crave variety, a toddler needs repeated activities both to help learn expectations and also to experiment. The repetitive pattern of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” for example, is popular because the child knows what to expect and can add different sounds/animals as the child’s knowledge develops. This is also why your child may want you to read the same story over and over again, night after night. Being able to predict what characters are going to do is a skill toddlers don’t immediately possess, so knowing what comes next is the fun part. Routines also help children learn what to expect. Toothbrushing and a story right before bedtime can teach children when bedtime is to be expected. Continue reading

Classics for Kids: The Secret Garden

The Secret GardenWhen I was a little girl, I must have read Francis Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” at least ten times. I was absolutely fascinated by almost everything about it. The old house with a name (Misselwaithe Manor? Why didn’t I think of this, let’s name our house! Suffice it to say, whatever title I dreamed up didn’t catch on in my childhood home) that was gigantic enough to make it hard to know who all lived there, the overgrown garden that had been locked up for mysterious reasons, the way the British lived in India, the sensory descriptions of how bringing the garden back to life felt and smelled…I ate it all up. It was like a fairy tale that could actually happen, and the story felt both nostalgic and exotic at the same time. I had never heard of a moor, and I had certainly never encountered phonetic spelling of a thick Yorkshire accent like that of the the undermaid, Martha. Continue reading

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall – So Can You!

It’s so great to show my baby fall for the first time. The weather is cooler and we’re going on long stroller walks, visiting pumpkin patches, playing with leaves (while making sure the baby doesn’t try and eat them) and many more fun fall activities. While we all have busy schedules, don’t let this colorful season pass your family by – try to do some of these fall family activities.

fun with leaves Continue reading

Fantastic and Frightful Fall Reads

Fall brings with it longer nights and more opportunities for reading while surrounded by the dark. When I was a preteen, I loved and hated being afraid. When the theme song for the television show “The Twilight Zone” came on, I would unsuccessfully implore my mom to change the channel. Of course, I couldn’t help myself – I always stayed in the room and watched the episode.

When “The Twilight Zone” wasn’t airing, I could always count on books to provide me with that jolt of adrenaline. The Goosebumps series (which is still being published) was a reliable provider of horror. But I also remember being terrified by the child-loathing antagonists of the Roald Dahl classic “The Witches” and the seemingly sentient dolls in Betty Ren Wright’s “The Dollhouse Murders.” Here are some recent scary titles for preteens (more recent that my childhood, anyway):

The Book of Bad ThingsBook cover for The Book of Bad Things” by Dan Poblocki
12-year-old Cassidy Bean is a city kid in the suburbs for the summer. After the neighborhood hoarder dies, ghosts and monsters start appearing. Cassidy and her new summer friend investigate the eerie happenings.

The Night Gardener: A Scary Story” by Jonathan Auxier
A Victorian ghost story with the requisite orphans, forbidden rooms, and an evil gardener. The book has several fantastically creepy illustrations and a lesson about greed that stays with you long after you finish the book. Continue reading