Youth Services Blog

Spotlight Series: Zita the Spacegirl

Hello, Everyone!

Now that summer is over and school is back in session, we’re back with another round of our famous (wildly so in some corners of Tuscany and Albania) Spotlight Series!

This time, we will focus on an awesome graphic novel called Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.

Zita the Spacegirl

In Zita the Spacegirl, (J GN HAT) Zita and her friend Joseph are cast far away, across the galaxy, to another planet where a group of aliens called the Scriptorians are holding Joseph hostage. In order to get her friend back, and to have any hope of getting home, Zita will have to team up with some pretty unlikely friends, including a giant mouse who hates his name, a robot named Randy, and a wizard named Piper.

Together, they will face terrible enemies, including giant mechanized spiders, the Scriptorians, and another kind of alien called the Screed. Will Zita save Joseph and get them both home? Will they make it before a terrible asteroid destroys the planet? And what in the universe is Door Paste?

Find out in Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, recommended for ages 8 and up. There are also two sequels, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl and The Return of Zita the Spacegirl.


Make alien balloons! (Based on this craft: http://www.parents.com/fun/birthdays/themes/alien/?page=2#page=2 )

Materials Needed:
1 Pack of Party balloons, or balloons left over from a birthday party or other activity
Glue sticks
Assorted construction paper
Safety scissors

Step 1: Blow up some fun balloons in different colors; green looks especially cool.
Step 2: Use the safety scissors to cut fun shapes out of the construction paper, to look like alien eyes.
Step 3: Using the glue sticks, attach the alien eyes to the balloons. Let dry, and enjoy your cool/creepy aliens!
Snack: Make-Your-Own-Planets or Moons! (adapted from http://www.thingstoshareandremember.com/eat-the-moon-space-snack/)

You will need:
Rice Cakes (unsalted)
Cream Cheese

Instructions: Spread cream cheese on rice cakes and top with fruit to form continents or craters to your heart’s content! You could also use different kinds of fruit cut in fun shapes, or raisins for moon rocks.

Tune in next time when we will continue our series with another fun title. Happy Autumn, everyone!

Spotlight Series: Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

Amelia Bedelia

This week, we will continue our Spotlight Series with a great Easy Reader: Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish.

Amelia Bedelia (ER PAR) is about a sweet but funny lady named Amelia Bedelia who goes to work for Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. They leave her a list of chores to do, but she has some pretty unusual ideas about how to interpret the list! Never fear, though; Amelia Bedelia’s pies can always be counted upon to be delicious.

This book is excellent for beginning readers up through second grade. NOTE: Reading this book may make you hungry for pie!


Speaking of pie, here’s one of our librarian’s favorite family recipes:

Chocolate Ice Cream Pie


  • 1/2 gallon of your favorite flavor of ice cream
  • 1 package of chocolate sandwich cookies
  • Chocolate syrup, to taste
  • Candy, cookies, etc. for decoration.

Directions: Set ice cream out on the counter to soften. Put chocolate sandwich cookies into a gallon-size freezer bag and crush. One of the most fun ways to do this is to smack the bag on the kitchen counter or table, then pound out the rest with a rolling pin.
Put the crushed cookies in the bottom of a 9”x13” pan. They should cover the bottom of the pan. Then, pour chocolate syrup over the crushed cookies, and spoon in the softened ice cream on top of that. Top, as desired, with more syrup, cookies, or other treats, and eat immediately! Any leftovers can be stored in the freezer.

Brain-Busters: Figures of Speech

Amelia Bedelia makes delicious pie, but she always seems to take things literally. This means that she takes “change the towels” to mean changing how the dirty towels look, rather than replacing them with clean towels.

Likewise, when Amelia hears a figure of speech, such as “hit the road”, she thinks it means to take a stick and smack the road with it! (To “hit the road” actually means to start traveling.) How many figures of speech do you know? Try making a list with your family, and see how many you can put down!

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Full of beans (means to not know what one is talking about.)
  • Face the music (means to take responsibility for one’s actions.)
  • Drive someone up a wall (means to irritate someone.)
  • Make someone’s day (means to do something kind that makes someone else happy.)

Have a great rest of the summer—or what’s left of it—and don’t forget to visit the library before school starts!

Spotlight Series: Jamberry

As the dog days of summer approach, we’re going to try a fun new project here at the Youth Services Bulletin: from time to time, we’ll feature one of our favorite stories, along with some fun activities to go along with the themes of the book.

Eventually, we hope to cover picture books, Easy Readers, and J fiction and non-fiction for different reading levels. Today, we will start with a great picture book: Jamberry!

Book: Jamberry, by Bruce Degen


Jamberry (E DEG), tells a fun story about a little boy and a bear who are, as the text says, "looking for berries, berries for jam." Beautiful illustrations accompany the whimsical rhyming text as Boy and Bear search for blueberries, blackberries, and more, all while having adventures along the way.

The story includes waterfalls, strawberry ponies, jam-skating elephants, and much more! It makes a good, short read-aloud for everyone from infants to Kindergarteners.

Activities: One of the best ways to enjoy a good book like Jamberry is to read it together! The more animated the reader’s voice, the more exciting the rhythmic verses become for little ones. You might also read it in a silly voice, too. WARNING: Extreme giggles and general hilarity may result from reading in silly voices. You have been warned.

Berry Parfaits
(serves 4; can easily be doubled or even tripled.)

One great recipe to go along with the story is this one for Berry Parfaits! These are super easy to make, and even the smallest hands can help make them. They are a delicious treat for snack or dessert.

2 c. of your favorite vanilla- or berry-flavored yogurt
2 pints each of the yummiest berries you can find (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are all good choices)
1 c. of your favorite granola or crushed graham crackers
4 glasses or bowls

Directions: Take turns layering berries, yogurt, and granola or graham crackers in the glasses or bowls. Your only limit is what the container will hold! Variation: grown-ups might like to add a few mint leaves for a pretty garnish.

Jam, Jam, Berry Game (Like Duck, Duck, Goose)

To Play:
Everyone sits in a circle, and one person is declared It. It goes around the circle tapping each person on the head while saying "jam, jam, jam…" and finally picking someone to be the Berry. The Berry gets up and chases It around the circle, trying to tag him or her. It, in turn, tries to go all the way around the circle to the Berry's old spot. If It makes it, the Berry becomes the new It. If the original It is tagged before reaching the Berry's spot, he or she has to go sit in the "Jam Pot" in the middle of the circle, until someone else is tagged. The Berry then becomes the new It, and the next round starts.
There you have it: a great book and some fun, berry-themed activities for a rainy day! If you ever need more suggestions, the librarians are always happy to help! Have a great summer, and don't forget to drink plenty of water.


A Library Treasure Hunt

Treasure map

Are you not sure what to read next? Stuck reading the same books over and over? Has even Google failed to help you discover a fresh new favorite?

Never fear! Your friendly neighborhood librarians are here to help! Try some of these suggestions, and you’ll be polishing off that reading log in no time.

  1. Use the online catalog to find a nonfiction book about a subject you’ve always wanted to master (cooking, origami, sewing, etc.;) check it out, and cross one more item off your bucket list. If you’re not familiar with the catalog, that’s okay! Just ask one of our friendly librarians for help.
  2. Love the movie Holes? How about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? They’re both based off of books, as are many other good films. Try using this website (http://www.mymcpl.org/books-movies-music/based-book) to see which of your favorite movies are book-based, and read the stories that inspired the cinematic magic!
  3. Check out several titles that look interesting. When you get home, put their names into a hat and pick one at random to determine the order in which to read them.
  4. Read a biography about one of your heroes.
  5. Try a brand new book!
  6. Check out one of our summer staff picks, then talk about it with the librarian who recommended the book. We love talking about our favorites!
  7. Use the catalog to search for additional books by one of your favorite authors. Some, like Gail Carson Levine, Suzanne Collins, or Richard Peck, have written lots of good books. Gregor the Overlander, for example, might help with Hunger Games withdrawal.
  8. Try a book from a new genre: some examples include realistic fiction; fantasy; historical fiction; mystery; or science fiction.
  9. Read a book of poetry. How about Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends? Have you read Something BIG Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky?
  10. Check out a book about your favorite animal, and see what cool facts you can learn!
  11. Put on your best detective hat and try to solve the mystery in Graeme Base’s The Eleventh Hour. Better yet, divide up your family into teams, and see who can crack the case first!
  12. Read a book of trivia. (They’re in nonfiction.) Stump your friends and astound your enemies!
  13. Try getting an old favorite on audio! Sometimes, a good narrator can make even the most familiar story come alive in new ways.
  14. Try a book with a dog on the cover.
  15. Come and spin the globe in the Youth Services department. (It’s on the desk next to the iPad, across from the main Youth Services desk.) Stop the globe and put your finger on a random country. Check out a book on that country, and see what fun facts you can discover!
  16. Check out a magazine.
  17. Pick a bookshelf, and choose a book from the bottom shelf.

There you have it! Of course, should this list not be enough, the librarians are always happy to make recommendations. Have a happy summer, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Smiling Sun wearing sunglasses

17 Fun Things to Do This Summer


Okay, so, school is out, the sun is shining, and the allure of video games and sleeping in has officially worn off. If you're constantly hearing a chorus of "I'm bored!" "Bored!" "There's nothing to do!" and "I'm SO BOOORED!" you have come to the right place! Here is a list of fun things to do throughout the summertime:

  • 1. Sign up for summer reading! Everyone, from the new baby to Great-Grandma, is eligible. If you've already done this, great! Make sure to turn in your logs to get fun prizes.
  • 2. Design your own comic strip. Check out a book on drawing or cartooning from the library, and have fun making your own characters and storyline!
  • 3. Have a water balloon fight.
  • 4. Check out a random cookbook and making a recipe from it.
  • 5. Alternatively, (or additionally) you can always have ice cream! Try this fun, easy method for homemade ice cream that doesn't require any special equipment:
  • (From http://coupon-wizards.com/homemade-ice-cream-in-a-bag/ ) Please also note that we have not yet had the chance to test this recipe.
  • Homemade Ice Cream Ingredients
    • a. Ice
    • b. 1 cup Kosher/Coarse Salt
    • c. 4 Tbsp. Sugar
    • d. 2 Cups Half & Half
    • e. 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
    • f. Gallon-Size Ziploc Bag
    • g. Quart-Size Ziploc Bag
    • 1. Mix Sugar, Half & Half and Vanilla Extract and pour into a quart-size Ziploc bag.
    • 2. Place ice and 1/2 cup of coarse salt in gallon-size Ziploc bag, place bag of ingredients on top of ice. Pour more ice and remainder 1/2 cup of salt and seal bag.
    • 3. SHAKE-SHAKE-SHAKE for 7-10 minutes
  • 6. Stop by the library again and check out our 30-second dance party buttons! See who can do the funkiest dance.
  • 7. Try a blind taste-test! Get three new types of seasonal fruit, breakfast cereal, or another food and put a little of each into a bowl or cup. Divide into teams, and take turns tasting a little of each food while blindfolded. Try to guess which is which. The losing team washes the dishes after dinner!
  • 8. Go on a nature walk in the backyard! Bring along notebooks and record the plants and animals you find. Draw pictures, write descriptions, or do both.
  • 9. Wait for a windy day, and go fly a kite! Make sure there are few trees around...they tend to like to eat kites.
  • 10. Build a tower with uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows. (Hint: triangles are strong shapes...)
  • 11. Make a blanket or pillow fort and read there by flashlight.
  • 12. Have a family read-aloud night. Pick a book to read together, and snuggle up on the couch after baths and teeth brushing. Not sure what to read? Come ask at the Youth Services desk! We're always happy to recommend great titles.
  • 13. Play freeze-dance! Clear a space in the living room, pump up your favorite tunes, and dance until someone pauses the music. Then, everyone freezes! If you move, you're out.
  • 14. Check out a book on constellations from the library, and go stargazing. Make sure to bring a grown-up, along with the bug spray and flashlights!
  • 15. Make homemade popsicles: pour your favorite juice into small cups, and cover the tops with foil. Poke a craft/popsicle stick into each cup (you can find these at craft stores like Hobby Lobby, or just run sticks left over from store-bought popsicles through the dishwasher,) and freeze overnight. In the morning, run the cups under hot water for a few seconds to loosen the pops, and enjoy! You can also make yogurt pops by sticking popsicle sticks into single-serving yogurt cups and freezing those overnight, too.
  • 16. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon at the park.
  • 17. Find someplace to watch the sunset together. Don't forget the bug spray!

There you have it; 17 fun family activities to help you stay cool and free from boredom all summer. We hope you will make visiting the library part of your summer fun, too!

Smiling Sun wearing sunglasses