Yesterday was our Life-Sized – not “life-seized” as I posted on Wednesday; proofreading’s dumb – Candyland and it was a success! We have been planning this for a few months with our Volunteen Advisory Board (VAB). In the fall, we asked them if they wanted to put on a life-sized board game for little kids and they thought Candyland would be really fun. I had seen a few libraries that had done it on Pinterest and was especially inspired by the Villa Park Library, the Wayne County Library, and Teen Librarian Toolbox’s roundup of live action games for this event. Thanks all for your great ideas! So we’ve been working on it in our VAB meetings since December. Sadly, a lot of the VAB kids who started working on it weren’t able to make it but it still was a great success!

We had six amazing teen volunteers who came to help us set up and run the program and about a dozen or more kids who played through the game. Tuesday Clare made the lollipops and I spent Wednesday morning doing final crafting while Clare graciously covered my desk shift. Thursday afternoon we scrambled to assemble it. Clare made signs and did the whole layout and finishing touches.

I was up here for like 3 hours working on it Wednesday.

I was up here for like 3 hours working on it Wednesday.

Lollipop/Peppermint forests; ice cream sea; assorted candies.

Lollipop/Peppermint forests; ice cream sea; assorted candies.

Despite the fact that this was a lot of work, it wasn’t really that expensive in the grand scheme of things. We used a lot of craft supplies that we had lying around the teen office like cotton batting from a summer program for the fluffy ice cream sea waves, some balloons, wrapping paper roll wrappers from coworkers, wigs and hats we had, and costumes we brought in ourselves. We had our Volunteen Advisory Board members make the game path/tiles out of construction paper and the cardboard rectangles that come in our book deliveries. For the craft supplies that we purchased it was the cellophane for wrapping, jars and modeling clay to hold up the lollipops, and plates for the peppermints. I wasn’t keeping track but I’d say we maybe spent like $75/85? Not too bad for a bigger, more elaborate program.

We used a house the Children's room had an candy-fied it.

We used a haunted house the Children’s room had (that’s why the window says, “ahh!”) and candy-fied it. That’s Clare in the background in her daughter’s old prom dress and my Effie Trinket wig!

We didn’t have all of the locations and characters from Candyland but we did have the Lollipop Woods, Peppermint Forest (couldn’t these be combined, Candyland?), the Candy Castle, the Ice Cream Sea, and Gloppy, the molasses swamp creature of nightmares. I think our Gloppy is pretty cute though:

Made with boxes, chairs, an old brown blanket, and construction paper eyes. Easy peasy.

Made with boxes, chairs, an old brown blanket, and construction paper eyes. Easy peasy.

We had teens dressed up as Princess Lolly (with my senior prom dress making a cameo!), King Candy, Lord Licorice, and Queen Frostine played by Beth, our head of Children’s Services who is amazing and helped with the little kids, and then Clare, my spectacular fellow teen librarian. I offered but they beat me to it! I also made the gingerbread me-me* cutouts for the kids to wear as they played.

I didn't have any parents' permission to post these so everyone gets candy faces!

I didn’t have any parents’ permission to post these so everyone gets candy faces! Princess Lolly is in the yellow dress next to the Lollipop Woods. Gloppy and Leah, who is passing out the deck of cards, and the ice cream sea are in the background.

It was a great time. It made this week a bit stressful between the TARDIS-building Wednesday and this yesterday but it was really fun. I think the kids and teens had a good time and it did look really cute. A lot of staff members including our boss and administration said that it was cute and that we did a nice job. That’s always nice to hear!

Happily I’m off today since I’m working tomorrow. I was pretty exhausted yesterday after all of the prep and running around.

If you’re thinking of doing this or another life-sized board game at your library I’d say go for it. We are going to save a lot of it so we can do it again. Just make sure you have enough time and help to pull it off. It doesn’t have to be costly; you can do a lot with paper, cellophane, and some general crafting supplies!

So get going. You’ll have a blast!

*I always called the things you move around the board in “Sorry!” and other games me-mes. I’m not sure how Child Anna would spell that but that makes sense. I asked my board game expert boyfriend what they are usually called and he said tokens or “meeples.” “Meeple?” I’ll like with me-me.

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TARDIS preview

FRIENDS. Look at how cute this is:

Before and after

Before and after

The teens made it in the library today! They did such a good job. I’ll write about this soon after our Life-Sized Candyland tomorrow! More pictures to come!

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So happy to be awarded . . . with another snowstorm

JUST KIDDING. I won an actual award that I am happy about. Check it: YALSA honors four members with YALSA writing award!

I am not happy about being awarded more snow. That is a terrible prize so I’m glad that’s not what YALSA is giving away. There’s almost 6 feet of snow on the ground and it’s all been in the last three weeks. It’s usually fairly snowy here in MA but we’re no Buffalo or Rochester, so it’s still a big deal. I swear, come September/October Massachusetts is either going to be #1 in the country for divorces or babies. We’re all spending a lot of time inside.

But anyway, YALSA was lovely enough to honor me with their writing award for my post, Books for Boys that aren’t “Books for Boys”, on the Hub. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: If you like teen books and you’re not reading the Hub, you’re a dummy. And that’s not just because I write for them and they gave me an award! It’s really great!

So thank you YALSA and the YALSA Writing Award Committee! I got a little teary when I found out. Writing – whether it be for the Hub, here, my NaNoWriMo Teen Zombie Novel that is languishing on my laptop, or wherever – is really important to me. It’s nice to know that other people like it. Thanks again.

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ALA’s Youth Media Awards 2015 (and another blizzard)

Sunday was a pretty great day. This happened:

I admit to not seeing this happen at first because I was too nervous and thought the Pats were going to lose.

I admit to not seeing this happen initially because I was too nervous and thought the Pats were going to lose.

And simultaneously this happened:



And yes, the Patriots won the Superbowl and there was much rejoicing in New England! Then my library closed for Monday because there was another 8-12 inches of snow headed our way. For some schools Monday was the fifth snow day in a row since school hadn’t been open since last Monday before the bigger storm Tuesday. I think there are even schools closed today. It’s a crazy amount of snow in only a week!

This left me snuggled on my couch Monday morning drinking coffee and eating peanut blossoms watching the live stream of the ALA Youth Media Awards with my cat on my lap. Not a bad way to start the day.


Beverly Crusher Cat likes to snuggle and is sitting next to me as I write.

The Youth Media Awards are the fancy foil stickers you see on books that will soon live in the “Newbery Winners” shelf of your public or school library. There are a good number of awards and some of them are more recognizable to non-librarians. Newbery and Caldecott you probably have heard of and are awarded for the best book for children (usually a middle grade book) and best illustration of a picture book, respectively. Then there is the Printz award – which is like the Newbery for teens – awarded for “excellence in literature for young adults.” They are others such as a series of Coretta Scott King awards for books about the African American experience, the Schneider family book awards which honor books about children with disabilities, the Pura Belpre for Latino and Latina authors and illustrators, and more. There’s a whole bunch and all of the honorees and winners are so well deserving!

I hadn’t even watched the live stream before and it was really fun. It was like a combination of the Super Bowl and the Oscars for youth book nerds. I had a great time following other librarians and book people tweeting about it, too. The president of ALA Courtney Jones retweeted one of my tweets and I felt that excited feeling you get when someone cool and famous notices you, or so I imagine. I’ve never really had anyone famous notice me before. Also, it’s funny how I get so giddy when I get to interact with a cool librarian or YA author . . . and then realize no one else outside our little book bubble of a world knows who these people are. Oh well.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 8.21.35 AMI will admit to not having read too many of the books honored this year. But I did read Grasshopper Jungle which received a Printz honor and loved it. I was a little sad that Lies We Tell Ourselves didn’t win anything because it was really great. I also recently read Celeste Ng’s novel for adults, Everything I Never Told You, and thought it was beautiful and sad and so well written. It won an Alex Award for books written for adults but that have teen appeal. Such a great book! To go off on a little tangent here, I love how she incorporates her mother’s 1968 Betty Crocker Cookbook into the story. I grew up learning how to make cookies from my mom’s 1972 Betty Crocker cookbook and it has a very special place in my heart. I think the chocolate chip cookies were on page 54 or 55 and had many years of greasy, be-cookied fingerprints on those pages. I remember finding this gem of sexism in the book (same as in Celeste Ng’s mothers’) and thinking it ridiculous: The man you marry will know the way he likes his eggs. And chances are he’ll be fussy about them. So it behooves a good wife to know how to make an egg behave in six basic ways.

Of course it IS ridiculous but it gave me some insight into how life was for my mom growing up before and during the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation Movements. It makes me very grateful for her and the way that she told me I can be whoever I want and if I want to still make cookies that’s okay. My mom’s way of getting out of making cookies is to say that she’s not very good at it and that my sister and I are better. Every Christmas she makes dozens of our family’s traditional Serbian cookies and other desserts, but she always says our chocolate chip cookies are better. It’s very cute.

Anyway, back to the awards. In some ways, our country has been having a series of discussions about race this year. There were shootings in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland and many other places, the We Need Diverse Books campaign picked up, and the Oscar nominees disappointed in terms of racial representation.* So in light of the fact that a lot of us are talking about the state of racial issues and racism in the U.S. I was happy to see that the award committees of ALA honored and awarded some really wonderfully diverse books. Not in a “oh we had a lot of ‘racial’ stuff happen this year so we better nominate diverse books’ way, but in a ‘yeah, this books are great and they speak to those who can be voiceless or unheard’ sort of way. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping. Take a look at the list and see how many writers of color and other minorities such as LGBTQ writers and disabled writers are represented. It doesn’t mean that the state of children’s and teen books today is perfect but recognizing and celebrating diverse talent in high profile awards is a really good step.

I was also happy to see more graphic novels and comics represented in the awards. I’ve really become a big fan of comics and graphic novels other the last few months. I had liked some graphic novels before but am really liking them now. And the sequential fun of comics is great. I happened to have This One Summer home with me this weekend and read it after it got Printz and Caldecott honors. I was surprised at the Caldecott honor since it reads more “teen/YA” to me. I suppose you could make a case for it being a bridge-type book from older elementary to middle school or high school. It does have some f-words and mentions teen sex and pregnancy, so be aware. It’s really wonderful and the illustrations are quite incredible.

Did you watch the Youth Media awards and have opinions? Or are you looking for some great recommendations? Check those out. It’s a good place to start!

*I think I’m going to go see Selma tomorrow since it’s my day off. I’m really glad it’s still in some theaters.

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Trivia night success and snowmageddon 2015

Coming to you live from the Blizzard of 2015! There were least two feet of drifts outside my door this morning, so needless to say my library is closed. As you can see in the picture I had to dig myself a pathway out, and that door across the way? The one that is basically clear? That’s how everyone in the big house gets in and out. Ugh. Upper class snobs. Truly my carriage house is servants’ quarters.


SNOW. (Also if the dude who is parked right there moves all that snow into my walkway, I’m going to be pissed.)

So anyway, I’m holed up here with books, records, coffee, and Netflix. Not a bad way to spend the day.

My only complaint is that my cat is upstairs sleeping on my bed, not downstairs sleeping on me to keep me warm. Jerk.

My only complaint is that my cat is upstairs sleeping on my bed, not downstairs sleeping on me to keep me warm. Jerk.

But, let’s talk about trivia last week! Ladies and dudes: it went so well! We had about 25 people there and while three of the 8 teams were somehow friends of the library staff or library staff themselves, I thought it was amazing! My questions were a bit on the easy side, but no one seemed to mind! Patrons asked if we were going to do it again and I think that we brought in a lot of business for the hosting restaurant. It was a Tuesday night – not a historically big night for drinking – and so I bet us being there was good for their bottom line. And it was so good for the library to be seen as something that is engaged in the community and is more than just a repository for books. (Unlike this douchecanoe – sorry for the insult perhaps he is really a nice guy but honestly, the he seems like a whole canoe-full of doucheness – from the “Cooperative Library of Boxford” which seeks to not support a tax increase for the very wealthy MA town to get a new library building to replace their current falling down, mold-ridden building that has had to be closed because it is dangerous.)*

So anyway: trivia was a success and fun was had by all. I was the MC and my colleague Curtis set up all the AV equipment and kept score. We are hopefully going to do it again in the spring, most likely April or May. I’d love to be able to do it every month but we’d have to probably buy questions from a trivia place to do that. It’s just too hard to write 20 questions every month. It’s a lot of work!

I’m so happy that we took a risk and it worked out. I’m really proud of us for trying something new. Yay MHL! Thanks to those friends of mine who came out to play – you are amazing!

What new library things have you tried? Do you want to rant with me about this dumb Boxford guy? Meet me in the comments!

*I might add that if the people don’t support new taxes to build a new library the Boxford library will continue it’s process of being de-certified and will not be able to participate in our consortium of libraries. Not only does this mean that the people of Boxford will not be able to have their own library, they will not be able to use a Massachusetts library anywhere! Currently, if you have a library card in your home town you can use an Massachusetts library. But you have to have a card where you live. If not, NO LENDING LIBRARY SERVICES AT ALL. Some town libraries may not even really want Boxford residents at their programs. It some ways it makes sense; if you don’t support library services in your own town, it doesn’t seem fair for you to take your kid to story time in Topsfield….but that is a discussion for another day. And don’t even get me started on this guys’ “plan” to circulate old, crappy e-readers with free e-books on them. HAHAHA DRM will come for you and your family!

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