Halloween is my *favorite* holiday of the year, which means of all the holidays I have soft spot in my heart for Halloween picture books. This year, I fell hard for No Such Thing, by first time picture book author, Ella Bailey.
As Halloween nears, young Georgia notices bizarre happenings around her house. A vase falls out of nowhere. (Must be the cat.) Her socks go missing. (Must be mice.) Her crayons go missing and pictures appear on the walls. (Must be little brother.) Georgia always finds some type of logical deduction to explain these occurrence, determined there are no such things as ghosts.
A nice element of surprise to this book is that until the very end, there are ghosts hidden on almost every page. If you didn’t happen to notice, at the end the reader is prompted to go back and search for them. Frequently, I have children that come to the library that are easily scared. With it’s playful, smiley ghosts, No Such Thing is a great Halloween pick for those who tend to become uncomfortable or frightened by ghoulish holiday staples.
Since sharing this book with my 4-year-old daughter, she has been ghost crazy and is frequently found creating her own not-so-spooky renditions at her art table:
She was having such a good time making her own ghosts, that I thought we’d try going 3-D and construct friendly cheese cloth ghosts. We kinda-sorta followed this tutorial from Martha and once dry, cut the eyes and mouth out of felt and adhered using fabric glue.
For Spontaneous Storytime, an initiative to conduct random storytimes on the fly in the library, I have been playing around with the idea of reading a featured book of the day several times to kids throughout my shift and having an extension activity available to explore after the reading. So, I brought in a few of the cheese cloth ghosts L and I made and hid them behind displayed books. After reading No Such Thing, the kids went on a ghost hunt in the library! The ghosts decided they enjoy the library so much that they’re going to hide out and cause mischief until Halloween…
Recently, I found out that the library has a REAL resident ghost named Eugene. Hope he enjoys his new buddies in the Kids Room!
For more fun Halloween activities in the library, check out:
A couple other easy-peasy ghost crafts that look like all the fun:
Source of Book Reviewed: The wonderful folks at Flying Eye Books!
Jane Johnston is an artist and a poet. She also happens to be an adored former children’s librarian who invoked a sense of wonder and whimsy while working at the library. She continues to encourage the imagination of children with her very first, independently published picture book: Miss Lucy Jane:
“The fanciful Miss Lucy Jane is “full of dreams and flap-doodle schemes” as she creates a wonderful week of amazing adventures. From building “rainbow smiles on a stilt” to “collecting one wish off a fin of each fish” to lassoing “Mars just to measure the stars,” she makes each day delightfully her own. Search every picture for a mouse that goes along for the ride! Miss Lucy Jane, told with Jane Willis Johnston’s lyrical words and Emmeline Hall’s whimsical illustrations, promises to become a read-aloud favorite for bedtimes, storytimes, and classrooms.I have invited her to share a few ways to share her new picture book, Miss Lucy Jane with you.”
I’ve invited Jane to share ways the many ways readers can enjoy Miss Lucy Jane with you here. We’ve very much enjoyed reading her book and making rainbow smiles (instructions below) during an episode of creating art early this morning.
More Ways to Explore Miss Lucy Jane
Thank you for reading and listening to Miss Lucy Jane. Here are a few suggestions for exploring her world as you share her adventures every day of one wonderful week.
Find the mouse in every picture. He is very small and can be good at hiding. Does the mouse ever see a mouse friend?
Search each picture for something that leads to the next picture. Sometimes the connection is very strong, other times it might seem a little bit tricky.
For example, notice what Miss Lucy Jane is carrying in her bag in the first picture. Did you find some things of different colors? These things connect to what she makes in the next picture, because she does something with colors, and also with what she leaves on the sidewalk in the last picture in the book.
In the first Sunday picture Miss Lucy Jane is at the ocean shore. Do you see anything in the sky that connects to the next picture?
Some pictures may have two or even three connections. Look at the first Wednesday picture. What is the cat doing with her tail? What kind of bushes do you find in the next picture? Who else is sitting on the hat with the cat? Where have you seen them before and where do you see them after the hat picture?
In the second Thursday picture, can you find something in the river that runs under the square trees that connects with the big Friday picture?
For the second Saturday picture, find out two names the bear constellation is called.
Make a list of the sets of rhyming words in each verse just to make sure you hear the rhymes. Find your favorite set of rhyming words and see if you can think of a third word and maybe even a fourth word to rhyme with them.
Which day’s adventure would you choose to go on with Miss Lucy Jane and why?
Read Miss Lucy Jane at least two times, maybe even three, to feel the rhythm.
Good Ideas for Storytime and Craft
I have had success and great fun presenting Miss Lucy Jane in a storytime setting to children from two to twelve years old and all ages of adults. I had two teenage helpers who were intrigued by the book, as well, so Miss Lucy Jane appears to appeal to all ages.
I believe in opening many doors and windows into the books I read to children as some children are more inclined to focus on sounds, some on visuals, some on my facial expressions, some on my hand movements, or some simply to the turning of the pages of the book.
Below you will find rather lengthy description of how I enjoy reading this book to children. You can, of course, just read it straight through and that will work wonderfully, too!
In order to be sure I keep all ages connected to Miss Lucy Jane, I start with a basket of objects to identity and to watch for in the illustrations. Study the book and put together your own collection. I include some sidewalk chalk, a rainbow colored on cardstock and cut out,* a red ball, a real banana (real things are always attention-getters!), a plastic horse, a small stuffed animal cat, a fabric butterfly, a paper kite made from cardstock, a toy rowboat, a rubber fish, some paper stars, a small stuffed animal black bear (standing on all four feet, not a teddy bear)…and a small stuffed animal mouse. (*When I show the rainbow, I do talk about the arch shape, turn it over to make it a smile shape, and call it a “rainbow smile.”)
I talk about the book briefly, that it is about a girl who likes to find adventures in every day and that this book takes us along on one week in her busy life. I say it is fun to look for things as we read the book…so then I hold up each object in random order and we all identify them. I hold up the mouse last and say that he is too small for the children to see from so far away, but that when they check out the book and take it home to look at the pictures closely, they will find the mouse!
Before I start reading, we review in chorus the days of the week.
I announce we are going to read the book twice, once a little slowly with some extra words I will use, and once a little faster after we have heard the words once and have felt the rhymes and rhythm of the poem that makes the story of Miss Lucy Jane.
Then I read the book, stopping to ask what day of the week Miss Lucy Jane is ready for, sometimes saying all of the days of the week up to that day. In the first picture, where Lucy Jane is on her scooter, I mention that she is carrying a bag of lots of colors of chalk and to remember that. Sometimes throughout the reading I note other objects we talked about. When we get to the last page and picture, I ask what she did with her chalk and we talk about the sidewalk drawings from all the things she did in her wonderful week.
We have a discussion about what were some favorite pictures and adventures and days. We talk about some of the rhyme sets. We try to think of more words that rhyme with the sets. Then we read it again, straight through, listening for the rhymes and being carried along by the rhythm as we watch the pictures that create the world of Miss Lucy Jane.
Rainbow Smiles Craft for Miss Lucy Jane
Make rainbow smiles on sticks!
Supplies: 6” lightweight white paper plates, cut in half and trimmed in the center to create a rainbow curve; markers; colored jumbo craft sticks (6“x ¾”); double stick tape.
Color your rainbow, turn it upside down into a smile, and tape it to the end of a stick. You could also make a starry night smile, or a flower power smile, or a scribble and spot smile, or a letters and numbers smile, and/or any kind of smile that makes you smile!
Use your smile to keep yourself happy! Stand in front of a mirror and hold it up to your face.
Use it like a puppet and make it dance to music.
Use it to make up a story about anything that comes into your head!
Rainbow smiles and many thanks to Jane for sharing the wonderful world of Miss Lucy Jane with us!
Farm Stand Storytime is a new outreach program created by myself and Anna Chill of Crabtree Farms as an outlet for children to foster a healthy curiosity of the natural world around them, as well as their place in the local food system. Back in August, I took my girls to Crabtree Farms to admire their sunflowers and found myself immediately attracted to the farm. It had the same intoxicating effect on my children. We were high on fresh air and blue skies for days. Seeing all the joy that walking around the property brought to my family, I wanted to share that same experience with other families. Thus, Farm Stand Storytime was born with the inaugural storytime taking place last week. So far it is a monthly program scheduled for September, October, and November with themes dependent upon the crops and seasons. September’s theme was “Fall & Harvest” and it couldn’t have taken place on a more perfect day just after the autumnal equinox.
Even with an extremely large population of homeschooled children in Chattanooga, the age of kids who attended was much younger than I had expected. I’m thankful I brought a variety of books and had to be flexible with my songs and activities. I have a feeling I’m going to have to prepare for a wide age range each time until a regular following is established.
Here is the outline for the first Farm Stand Storytime “Fall & Harvest”:
Fall & Harvest Storytime
Welcome: Anna from Crabtree welcomed everyone and talked a little bit about the farm, the events, and how everyone is welcome to use it as a public park. After, I jumped in and introduced myself, welcomed everyone again and thanked them for joining us on such a beautiful day. I explained that after storytime kids will have the option to do an activity, run and play on the farm, or both, and then went into this “Wiggle My Fingers” rhyme, but modified it a bit to this:
I wiggle my fingers,
I wiggle my toes.
I wriggle my shoulders,
I wiggle my nose.
I give my hands a clap,
I put them in my lap.
The Wondering Box: Then I asked the kids if we should take a look inside “the wondering box” to see what we will be learning about that day. The wondering box is a prop I created inspired by the show Tumble Leaf and is my new favorite way to kick things off for a storytime. I first face the box towards me, look inside, and then close it very quickly to build intrigue. I do this a couple times and then open slowly open it and turn it to the group..
I talked about how inside the wondering box were seasonal vegetables freshly harvested from the farm, and how fall is a very important time of the year because it is a time when farms are gathering all the foods like these up before winter. We also talked about how Tuesday was the first day of fall, and that for storytime we’re going to talk a little bit about the fall season, growing food, and harvest.
Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley
As suggested by Anne Clark (So Tomorrow) and Cate Levinson (Storytiming), I read a fun fall favorite, Fall is Not Easy. I also made sure to create a flannel board to go along with it. I stared by asking the kids if they notice changes about the fall season and the leaves on the trees and that this is a rather silly book about one tree that has a difficult time with its leaves changing colors.
I read the book without using the flannel until the part in the story when the leaves change colors. I set the book down and kept putting up the different leaf scenes asking the kids if that was how fall is suppose to look. “Noooooooo!” they would say They laughed and laughed! By the time the (SPOILER) leaves begin to fall off, I picked the book up and started at that part and read from the book until the end. It was a hit. Thanks for the suggestion, Anne & Cate!
The Leaves on the Trees Are Falling Down By Irmagard Guertges, modified by Rebecca Z Dunn
(To the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”)
The leaves of the trees are orange and red
orange and red, orange and red.
The leaves of the trees are orange and red
All through the town.
The leaves on the trees are falling down,
falling down, falling down.
The leaves of the trees are falling down,
All through the town.
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
Swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
All through the town.
What is “Harvest”? – After singing a song I held up a sign I made with the word “HARVEST” on it. I asked the the kids if they could say the letters in this word with me and then I said the word a couple times. The first time I slowly moved my finger over the word, and then went a little faster subsequent times. Then I explained that harvest is a process or period of time when crops, like the ones seen on the farm we were at, are gathered. That fall is a very important time for harvesting before the cold winter months come.
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Originally I was going to read How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry, but the crowd was younger, so I opted for this story instead about the growing, harvesting, and eating of vegetables. Not as in-depth as I would have preferred, but it did the job. As I read, I invited the kids pretend to do the activities that were being described in the book (plant seeds, pick vegetables, etc.). After the book was finished we sang a few more songs/fingerplays about harvest:
Harvest Time by Unknown
(Sung to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)
Harvest time is here again
In the garden we must dig
Carrots, radishes, onions too
All so fresh and yummy too.
Harvest time is here again
Won’t be long till you know when!! (Guess upcoming fall holidays)
Lunch Fingerplay By Jane Willis Johnston
Rabbits eat carrots with a crunch, crunch, crunch.
(Hold your hands on your head and make floppy rabbit ears, then make your hands into fists and hold one on top of the other in front of your mouth to make a carrot to crunch.)
Monkeys eat bananas by the bunch, bunch, bunch.
(Hold your fists over your ears too make monkey ears, then flop your hands, fingers down, in front of your mouth to make banana bunches.)
Raccoons eat sweet corn with a munch, munch, munch.
(Hold your hands like glasses over your eyes to make the raccoon’s mask, then shape your hands in a long ear of corn in front of your mouth and move it from left to right.)
And I eat ______________________ for my lunch, lunch, lunch!
(Point to yourself, then call out the name of a food you like to eat, hold your hands up to your mouth and pretend to eat your lunch!)
Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre
This was also a suggestion by the wonderful Cate from Storytiming and was so much fun to read and really was the perfect story for the storytime theme and location.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Storytime concluded with a personal favorite, which was also the segue into the post-storytime extension activity. After reading it I talked about how you never know what you might find if you look closely at the world around, especially during a time when the seasons are in transition (a fancy word for changing). I thanked everyone for coming to storytime, and shared with them the optional activity, making ephemeral art.
Ephemeral Leaf Art
As mentioned before, I have been deeply inspired by nature and the Reggio education pedagogy over the past several months. After storytime, I invited the kids and their caregivers to create pictures inspired by natural items found around the farm. Before storytime I had gathered leaves and acorns and such from my backyard, and Anna collected items found around the farm.
I laid out old picture frames and small mirrors purchased from Dollar Tree on picnic tables not far from where the storytime was held. Piles of nature’s treasures that Anna and I found earlier were grouped around on the ground near the tables, plus the kids could use whatever else they found around them. These are some of the images they created:
What would I have done differently? I wish I had time to make this wonderful fall time flannel from Mel’s Desk, but I ran out of time. It too would have been perfect for the age group! Next time! The upcoming theme for October is composting, and I plan on featuring songs and stories about pumpkins and how to compost just in time for jack-o-lantern season!
Crabtree Farms Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cups maple syrup
- 1 cup butternut squash puree
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups white whole wheat pastry flour/unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and maple syrup till smooth and fluffy. Add squash, puree, egg, vanilla, and mix until blended. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl, add the wet ingredients and stir to combine all ingredients. It will be a soft batter. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop using small ice cream scoop (generous tablespoon) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until toothpick comes out almost clean.
There is a new Pages to Projects up over on Library as Incubator Project! Check out how to make seasonal Ephemeral Leaf Art inspired by Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man HERE! I’ve also been busy updated the Pages to Projects Pinboard with more ideas for fall time stories and projects too. More about the storytime that inspired this project COMING SOON.
The Bookmaking Station and Kids’ Library are two new provocations I have created that have become a popular fixture for kids of all ages (as well as adults). This idea stemmed from my daughter’s sudden interest in creating her own books. This is one of her earlier creations that is “for kids at the library, but they have to bring it back”:
After watching the process she goes through in making her own books several times and 6 weeks into conducting the The Picture Show, I thought it might be an interesting experiment to create a space where the sole purpose is creating stories that become permeant fixtures in the library. I started collecting items I found around the library that I thought the kids would enjoy using for their bookmaking. The local history department donated all kinds of old library equipment: due date cards, card catalogue cards, envelopes, lots of stamps, a book-mending stapler, and a stamp pad. I found an old paper file and a lot of odds and ends around my own department and set up shop in the kids’ room.
The idea behind the Kids’ Library is that it would be a place to share the books made with other library patrons. It’s a non-circulating (books cannot be checked out) library entirely of books created by patrons. So far, 100% of the books have been created in-house. The images are of the library when it first opened and boy, oh boy, has the collection grown!
Like The Picture Show, the Bookmaking provocation has become a place for self expression and community storytelling. Kids too young to write their stories down in text draw illustrations to depict their tale, or dictate their stories to caregivers. Those old enough to write leave story after story in books that sometimes are all text and sometimes text paired with illustrations. They thumb through other handmade books in the Kids’ Library, curious of the stories held there. The concept of shared story, whether it be physical or oral, is innate and goes back in time to the earliest social interactions. What is your story? How do we learn for one another? How do we grow from one another?
The bookmaking station has reminded me a great deal of Lois Ehlert’s picture book autobiography, Scraps. She describes a time during her childhood when she had a space to grow creatively:
It doesn’t take much, but we all need space to grow. It is my hope that this little wooden table in the library’s children’s room serves as a safe space for their dreams and creative exploration for all who visit it.