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Come fly with me?

As one of the children’s librarians I have a bunch of fun.  Children, in case you aren’t aware, think differently than grownups.  But why?  Well according to various “child experts” I’ve listened to over the years, there’s a very good and simple reason.  Small children don’t have the experience and knowledge to figure things out that grownups do.

For instance, if you as an adult are going on a trip by plane, and you’re told that you’ll need to “change planes” you know that you’ll be landing at an airport, walking down the steps, entering the airport and (hopefully) getting on the next plane at another gate.  But a child who’s never flown before wouldn’t know this and would have to try to figure things out with what they know about “change” and “planes.”  I once heard a story about a family who was going to move across the country.  Their young son was very excited about the move once he knew that he got to take all of his stuff, he’d have a big new bedroom, a backyard, and therefore a dog.  As the time for the move drew near and they began to talk of the flight, the little boy didn’t want to go anymore and would cry and scream at the mere mention of it.  Finally they asked him why.  He answered that he didn’t want to have to walk across the wings from one plane to the other because he was afraid he’d fall.  With his limited knowledge about planes he’d decided that changing planes meant…midair and that they would all climb out on the wing then jump to the wing of the other plane to continue their trip.  I would cry and scream too if that were the case.

Everyday we see children of all ages for storytimes, After School Center, various programs, class visits or just to pick out books.  Sometimes they walk right up to our desk and ask for what they’d like.  Sometimes they hide behind mom or dad and get them to ask us.  Sometimes they’re crying.  Sometimes they’re singing.  Sometimes they’re juuuuuust learning to walk and take full advantage of our long aisles to practice, which is about the most fun of all to watch.

Whatever stage your child is in, we undoubtably have programs going on for them.  We have storytimes for babies from birth to 5 years of age.  We have After School Center for children 6 years old to 8th grade.  High school students volunteer their time to help younger students practice their reading and older students with their homework.

To find out about our full schedule go to or sign up for our online newsletter here.

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More than shushing

More often than not, when asked in casual conversation “What do you do for work?” the answer “I’m a librarian” usually brings the enthusiastic response, “Oh! I LOVE to read!  It must be so wonderful to read all day!”  Like most of you, we do our reading at home.  But the many other things we do are equally fun!

If you’ve ever been to Sunnyvale Library you know that we are usually a hoppin’ happenin’ place!  If we are at the public service desk we’re answering questions that range from, “Where’s the bathroom?” to “How do I get my printout”, to “I remember this book I read when I was a child…it had three kids in it…they lived by themselves…no parents…Oh…and there was a spaceship in it too…”  But if we’re in the back out of sight there is plenty for us to do.  We order the various parts of the collection assigned to us, plan programs for the public, put together booklists, work on the library webpage,  get info out to the public about library goings-on via Constant Contact, the newsletters, Facebook, Twitter…, contact presenters for future programs, visit local elementary and high schools for talks about using the library, provide outreach services to homebound patrons, visit the Senior Center to teach classes about how to use the newest electronic resources, watch webinars or attend local workshops that will help us offer new and better services, prepare presentations to share what we’ve learned with other librarians, find, apply for, and implement grants to help us offer new technology and services, and take part in city-wide committees that help the city run better and safer.  And as they say in the infomercials “and MUCH MUCH more!”

Oh, and we hardly ever shush people anymore.

So come join the crowd and check out the Sunnyvale Library!

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The Odyssey…not just for Homer anymore.

I just finished reading the best book EVER!  Okay…pretty much every other book I read is the best book ever.  I tend to like reading realistic fiction…whether it’s historical or present day, I prefer to read about things that can really happen.  But then, when I read the review of Zip, it seemed maybe a little improbable but possible.  Lyssa Lee’s wonderful, adventurous, magical mother, singer Ana Lee has died and Lyssa’s step father Michael has moved them from Austin, Texas to Kirkland, Washington.  There’s no more magic, no more adventures and Michael is making her wear shoes and go to real school

The death of one or both parents is a common theme in children’s literature.  It’s kind of hard to have epic adventures when you have to do your homework, eat dinner with the family, or go to school everyday…think Harry Potter or Huck Finn.  So when Lyssa learns that her childhood home in Austin is scheduled to be torn down by the developer who bought it, but that there’s going to be a big concert/protest to try to stop it…she knows she has to go.  She convinces herself that Michael, being her stepfather and all, won’t really miss her all that much.

Packing her knapsack with a few essentials, she pushes off on her faithful scooter Zip.  Yes, she plans to get to Austin, Texas from Kirkland, Washington…on a scooter…in five days.  Still, I was able to suspend my disbelief and keep reading.  Which was how I discovered that there was actually a long bus ride in her plans…but the bus station was closed due to a huge rainstorm.  Next, I’d say good fortune befell her but it was the other way around.  Peering over a dock to look for something, she fell…in with a group of runaway teens who had more technology than one would think a group of runaway teens living under a dock would have.  They befriended her, gave her a blanket and a place to sleep, and in the morning diverted the police so she could make her getaway to the bus station.  And she hadn’t even left town yet!  Once on her way, she met cowgirls, a sightless seer who channeled her mom, singing mermaids, an tall elderly woman who was none of those things, and many other interesting and sometimes dangerous characters.  She discovered that her mother’s maracas were filled with magic seeds and that some of her mother’s magic was just covering up reality.  But also she found friends, truths, and…her voice.  A really beautiful voice.

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Two years ago in May, I went home to Maine for a visit.  With an eye toward brightening up my parents’ yard, I bought some flowers to plant.  Thinking they might also enjoy a freshly grown tomato or two, I bought a tomato plant and put it in a pot near a window so they could easily monitor its progress.  Last year I went home about the same time.  This time my mother had gotten their old garden area (approx. 30 ft. x 36 ft.) rototilled and was ready for me.  We visited every nursery in our area and some farther away.  The revived garden began to take shape.  We planted all sorts of seedlings:  tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, hubbard squash, and a few other things.  At the same time my sister and brother-in-law were planting their annual vegetable garden.  We regularly compared notes.  Soon my vacation came to an end.  Then I got updates by phone all summer.  I heard when they picked the first tomato, and ate the first cucumber for lunch.  Mom helped my sister and brother-in-law make marinara sauce and put up pickles from their own harvest.

Same time this year I went home again.  The garden was once again ready to be planted.  We hit all of the same nurseries.  And again I’ve gotten updates on the progress.  They’ve just finished canning several jars of marinara sauce, making apple jelly, blackberry jam, and blueberry jam.  They’re getting ready to make pickles.  The four of them also enjoyed a zucchini parmesan from one of the giant zucchinis.  It was a banner year for both gardens!

I’ll be going home for Thanksgiving, which will be at my sister’s house.  This year, as part of the Thanksgiving feast, my sister will serve tomato sauce made from her own tomatoes, various pickles made from veggies from both gardens, and probably a pie made from a squash from our parents’ garden.  Just the other day my mother called and asked me if I would please find her a recipe for sweet gherkins.  She’d had to pick a large quantity of tiny cucumbers to save them from a predicted possible frost.  As canning is a bit of a lost art I expected I would have to look online for this.  I should’ve known  better.  For one thing, it appears that canning is making a comeback.  For another, if you’ve ever ventured over to that section you know that we have a very robust cookbook collection at the Sunnyvale Library.  In that collection there are several books about canning, preserving and pickling food.  Among those is a brand new title:  Food in Jars  by Marisa McClellan.  This is not your grandmother’s food preservation cookbook:  tomato jam, rhubarb chutney, pickled garlic scapes, and cranberry ketchup are just a few of the featured recipes.

(Mom and I are already talking about what we’ll plant next spring!)

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Crabacus and Penguinchworms and Asparagoose…oh my!

Yes, I know last month was National Poetry Month but we got a new book of Jack Prelutsky’s poetry this month.  And I love, love, love Jack Prelutsky’s poetry!  I think of him as being from the Ogden Nash school of poetry…if there is such a thing.  As with Nash (and let us not forget Uncle Shelby…Shel Silverstein) there are made-up people, animals and things.  I’ve Lost My Hippopotomus is packed with poems about plants, interesting family members and animals…some real, some imagined.  There’s the crabacus…part crab, part abacus, who counts the grains of sand on the beach until the tide comes in then he starts over.  And there are appleopards (ap-ill-EH-purdz)…spotted apples that bite back.  But my favorite is:

My Snake Can Do Arithmetic

My snake can do arithmetic,

My snake is far from dumb.

My snake can take two numbers

And come up with a sum.

She can’t subtract, which makes her sad,

And two things make her sadder…

She can’t divide or multiply—

My snake is just an adder.

You might try reading some poetry to the kids at bedtime.   When they ask for five books you could offer instead to read them seven poems.  Win/win.  They get more than the five they asked for and you get a few extra minutes after you tuck them in to maybe…finish the book that you’re reading.

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