Interview Alert: Children’s Librarians Jenny and Emily

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Children’s Librarians (from left to right) Emily and Jennifer

Two of the busiest staff members at the Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville are the children’s librarians, Jenny Burke and Emily Wormuth. They’re gearing up for the craziest time of the year, summer, when the Library draws in hundreds of kids for the Summer Reading Program. Right now, Jenny and Emily are in the midst of visiting local schools, telling the kids all about the myriad of events and activities the Library has lined up–all summer long–from the end of June until the end of August. School visits are also a great time to introduce the kids to some of the cool things the Library has to offer everyday.

Of course, Jenny and Emily are busy the rest of the year too, presenting daily story times, special themed events, and lots of opportunities for kids to engage in reading, learning, crafting, dancing, and having fun. They also help patrons find just the right books.

Aside from all of that, they make purchasing decisions, choosing books and media that they believe will be good additions to the Library’s children’s collection. Picture books make up a large portion of the items that they order. Lucky for us, Jenny and Emily found some time to answer a few questions about picture books!

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Q. How do you decide whether or not to purchase a particular picture book for the library’s collection? What criteria do you use?

Jenny: I follow my library’s collection development policy in choosing books to purchase for the Children’s Collection. I want to ensure our collection meets the needs of our community, is well rounded, and appeals to a variety of people. I focus on books I know will be popular with kids, whether it’s because of a subject area, popular author or series.

Q. How important are reviews, such as those found in Kirkus Reviews or School Library Journal, in making a purchasing decision?

Jenny: Pretty important. I’d say the majority of my book selections come from reviews in Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal. Like most public libraries, I have a set budget for the year that I need to adhere to, so I want to focus monies on books that are well-reviewed or that I know our patrons will want. But, the review journals are just a guiding point. I will purchase books that kids ask for, or I know are popular series.

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Q. How do you use picture books in story-time settings? And for different age groups?

Jenny: No matter how old they are, kids love being read aloud to! At the library, I do story time for ages 0-5 and one for preschoolers ages 3-5. For these ages, I choose picture books with a rhyming quality, or sing-along books – they love those! Basically, you want less text and engaging illustrations, so you can talk about what is going on in the story. For older age groups, I still use that model, but will pick picture books that may be longer. You can’t lose with a funny story, I’ve found!

Emily: The best picture books for story time are the ones with big, beautiful pictures and an easy-to-follow story. Our story times are organized by age, so we choose books that are appropriate for that particular age. I present the Babies and Books story time, so I’m looking for books with fewer words, bolder pictures and repetitive language. I love it when the kids can read the book along with me.

Q. How do you choose your story-time themes? Do you always have a theme?

Jenny: Themes are a guiding point for me. I pick them based upon the season, what I’ve done in the past that’s successful, or sometimes I’ll find books and base a theme upon the book. I don’t always have a theme, but when I do, it helps me plan my songs, rhymes, and crafts. That being said, I don’t let the theme dictate what I’m doing in story time. Sometimes I find books that I just want to read aloud and I go with it!

Emily: I find it easier to put a story time together if I’m working with a theme. I can then choose books, music and activities that follow that theme. I think it’s easier for the children to actively participate if there’s a theme. “What animal are we going to sing about today?” “Elephants!” shout the toddlers. After doing this for a few years, Jenny and I both have a pretty good idea of what books and materials we have to support a theme, so that helps when we’re choosing themes. It’s best not to get too complicated; animal, trucks and seasonal themes all work well. For example, we always do an Apple Picking story time in the fall because that’s an activity many kids are doing.

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Q. Is there anything you’d like to see more of in picture books published today-either fiction or nonfiction (e.g. subject matter, characters, settings, themes, concepts, etc.)?

Jenny: With the We Need Diverse Books campaign, I’ve seen some great books – both fiction and nonfiction – that have been published in the past couple of years. Keep ‘em coming! We need their stories, now more than ever.

Emily: I love books about girls doing things we (traditionally, unfairly) associate with boys. Bring on the books about women truck drivers and construction workers. And kids love books about misbehaving children, but they’re often too often boys. 

Thank you, Jenny and Emily, for taking time out of your busy schedules to talk picture books! Hooray for children’s librarians and all that they do for kids in our communities!

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Picture Books At The Library 151

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I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Mama and little Toad help their friends who are stranded on the road.

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Caroline is distracted all day at school because her parents are bringing home someone very special for her to meet.

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As Max and Marla set out for the perfect picnic, they learn that getting along isn’t always easy, but best friends can’t stay mad for long. Nice art!

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The bears are enjoying a picnic until a feisty wind swoops their kites away and the little bears too. Adorable addition to this series!

 

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Big Brown Bear’s cave just doesn’t feel like home, so he fills it with stuff–all sorts of stuff.

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Izzy gets frustrated when her inventions fail to work, but when she finds an injured crow, she knows just what to do to help.

 

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Hot Dog is chilling out on his comfy bread with some corn and a couple of fries when disaster strikes. Cute!

A Lemur In The Library: Part Five

A LEMUR IN THE LIBRARY
Part Five
by Lauri Fortino

Lemur

“Let’s hope it likes bananas,” said the librarian, as she retrieved the one she was saving for lunch.
She broke it into a half dozen pieces.
“Ready?” she asked the page.
He nodded.
They placed five chunks of the banana in a trail leading from the periodical section, where the lemur was lounging on a bed of shredded magazines and newspapers, to the storage closet.
The librarian tossed the sixth into the middle of the closet.
Then she and the page hid inside a nearby meeting room and waited.
Within minutes, the lemur detected the sweet aroma of ripe banana.
It scrambled down from the magazine rack, bits of torn paper flying everywhere, and followed the scent to the first chunk, which it swallowed in one bite.
It didn’t take long for the lemur to find and devour all five pieces.
Then it stood in front of the open closet, nose twitching.
“Almost there,” whispered the librarian.
The page gripped the net tightly.
Suddenly, the lemur took off toward the captivating glow of the public computers, all of which had been hastily abandoned midsession by library patrons.
“It’s smart,” said the page.
“Too smart,” said the librarian.
TO BE CONTINUED

*This story originally appeared in the newsletter of the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville.

Click here for Part One

Click here for Part Two

Click here for Part Three

Click here for Part Four

Picture Books At The Library 150

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Dogs engage in all sorts of fun activities at the dog park.

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A boy is determined to catch the ball even if it takes a bit of imagination.

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An older brother encourages his younger brother to take a leap of faith.

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A young mouse ventures out on his own to find the most wonderful words.

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Stanley the spider likes to collect things, but he soon finds out that nothing lasts forever.

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Quincy wants to blend in at chameleon school, but his daydreams always make him stand out.

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Greedy Greenbackboy’s got an idea for a game; he wants Snowboy to help him cut down all the trees in the forest.

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A fox is caught burglarizing a house by the owners, the three bears. Fantastic illustrations!

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Follow a group of friends as they go sailing, explore an island, and return home to tell their tale. Cute art!

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Animals love playing sports. Clever concept book!

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When two of Moose’s letters come loose, he vanishes, but his best friend Cow has a plan. Fun!

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A toad is bumped, bounced, and blown along a bustling road. Fun read aloud!

Children’s Book Academy Courses

CBA

Are you an aspiring children’s book author or illustrator? Are you searching for classes that will help get you started or elevate you to the next level? Then check out the fabulous lineup of classes offered by Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. Mira’s got classes on picture books, chapter books, middle grade, self publishing, creating author websites, and much more–all online. And many of her classes are packed full of practical lessons, webinars, video tutorials, and help from industry professionals, not to mention bonuses and submission opportunities.

Coming up in August is The Craft & Business of Illustrating Children’s Picture Books. This class is perfect for illustrators or author/illustrators who are searching for an interactive e-course that teaches tons about illustrating children’s books, getting illustration work, building a platform, and selling your work. CLICK HERE for more information.

Take a look! As a Children’s Book Academy graduate myself, I can almost guarantee, you won’t be disappointed. (P.S. Mira is a super sweet lady, too, who truly cares about her students and their success. 🙂 )

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@Mira Reisberg

#CBICB18

@ChildrensBookAc

A Lemur In The Library: Part Four

A LEMUR IN THE LIBRARY
Part Four
by Lauri Fortino

Lemur

The librarian slowly opened the office door and stuck her head out.
The lemur was nowhere in sight.
“What’s taking animal control so long?” she said, as she cautiously stepped out into the library.
She heard a strange shuffling coming from the periodical section, and tiptoed toward the sound.
She froze when she spotted the lemur on top of the magazine rack.
It was stretched out on its back tearing the latest issue of National Geographic to shreds.
“I have an idea,” whispered the page, coming up behind the librarian. “Let’s set a trap.”
“What kind of trap?” answered the librarian.
The page motioned for the librarian to follow him back to the office.
“We can use this,” he said, as he held up a large butterfly net, a prop left behind after a recent children’s nature event.
“How?” asked the librarian, a bit doubtful.
“We lure the lemur into the storage closet with some food. Then while it’s cornered, we snare it with the net and put it in a box.”
“It might work,” said the librarian. “You’re in charge of the net.”
“I am?” asked the page.
“It was your idea.”
The page turned pale.
“Don’t worry,” said the librarian, “I’ll help.”
TO BE CONTINUED

*This story originally appeared in the newsletter of the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville.

Click here for Part One

Click here for Part Two

Click here for Part Three

Picture Books At The Library 149

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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When an old fountain in their neighborhood is restored, three siblings decide it’s the perfect place to send their goldfish on vacation.

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Rescue worries that he’s not up to the task of being a service dog, but then he meets Jessica and it’s a perfect match.

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Ruby struggles at ninja school and becomes homesick.

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A family prepares for a day at the food truck festival, while at the same time, the food truck crews get ready for the event.

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A celebration of the similarities and differences in the unique animals that share our world.

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A little boy in the sleeping car of a train counts train cars instead of sheep to go to sleep. Lovely illustrations!

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When the star-making rabbit who lives on the moon decides to visit earth, no one is left to make stars. Beautiful art!

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A young girl tries to persuade her father that he is the one who should sleep in a little bed while she shares the big bed with Mommy. Funny!

A Lemur In The Library: Part Three

A LEMUR IN THE LIBRARY
Part Three
by Lauri Fortino

Lemur

The librarian picked up the vase of orchids at exactly the same time the lemur realized the ficus was not the delicious snack he expected.
It discarded the branch it was holding and sprung down from the synthetic tree in one fluid motion.
Despite the lemur’s nimbleness, the force rocked the six-foot plant and it toppled over, narrowly missing the window.
The crash startled the librarian, causing the vase to slip from her hands and shatter on the marblesque floor.
The unfazed primate turned its gleaming amber eyes toward the librarian and the page.
“It’s coming closer!” said the page, scooping up the nearest item, the Blu-ray version of Tropic Thunder, and pitching it at the lemur before fleeing to the safety of the office.
The librarian joined the page and shut the door behind them.
Meanwhile, the lemur ignored the unenticing feature film that had, seconds earlier, flown past its head and made a dash for the orchids that were heaped on the floor.
It carefully picked through the broken glass and helped itself to every last blossom.
“We should do something,” said the librarian. “There may still be patrons in the library.”
“Isn’t there a story hour going on in the children’s room?” said the page.
“Oh no!”
TO BE CONTINUED

*This story originally appeared in the newsletter of the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville.

Click here for Part One

Click here for Part Two

Picture Books At The Library 148

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Wendell imagines what it would be like to have a walrus as a pet.

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When a little boy gets a dinosaur costume for his birthday, it opens up a prehistoric world of imagination.

A little elephant gets separated from his mother during a storm and must try to outrun a tiger. Beautiful art!

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Two siblings build jetpacks and fly off for an adventure that includes visiting Nana and outer space.

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A family sees many amazing sights at the park, from bugs and frogs to skaters and fishermen.

After the loss of her grandmother, Mina finds solace in stories told by family and friends.

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God made light to cut through the darkness and bring vision and hope to all. That same light grows inside every child. Sweet!

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As a girl sits alone in her new house, she can hear kids playing outside, but she’s not brave enough to join them. Super imaginative!

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A story about a big bunny gets out of control.

Two kids have fun with their grandfather as he tries to remember the old rhyme about sugar and spice and everything nice. Fun!

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A young girl experiences her first funeral and all of the rituals that go along with it.

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A little girl learns that it’s okay to make mistakes. Cute and colorful!

 

A Lemur In The Library: Part Two

A LEMUR IN THE LIBRARY
Part Two
by Lauri Fortino

Lemur

“This is animal control,” said the voice on the other end of the line.
“We have a lemur in the library!” said the librarian. “It’s disturbing our patrons and destroying property. Can you send someone right away?”
“A lemur? I’m not sure we have the right equipment for that, but we’ll swing by.”
“Thanks, and please hurry!”
Meanwhile, the lemur spied a potted plant. Abandoning the half-eaten paperback, it jumped down from the table and sashayed across the floor on all fours, its tail held high behind it.
It stopped at the Noteworthy Nonfiction display to sniff the cover of Real Food/Fake Food by Larry Olmsted. Then it poked at a copy of Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin before resuming its course.
The librarian returned from the office just in time to see the lemur scurry up the ficus tree.
It managed to free a branch from the trunk and began chewing on a leaf.
“It doesn’t know it’s artificial,” said the page who’d been observing the animal.
“Let’s move the flowers off the reference desk,” said the librarian, “before—”
“It’s too late,” interrupted the page. “It’s looking this way!”
TO BE CONTINUED

*This story originally appeared in the newsletter of the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville.

Click here for Part One