Monday, December 8, 2008

Local Illustarator Nora Thompson

We're so proud of our local authors and illustrators!

Pittsburgh illustrator Nora Thompson has a new book out.

Yikes! Wow! Yuck! offers dozens of science fair ideas, accompanied by detailed, energetic, and engaging iluustratons.

Sodapop explodes from a two-liter bottle. Pieces of fruit hang mysteriously suspended in green Jello. Multi-colored candy spills temptingly from a bag. These pictures do more than show us what the science experiments are about. They depict the action and excitement of scientific discovery.

Some of the illustratios reflect the title. Check out the rotting jack-o-lantern on the back cover. Yiles!

Click here to visit Nora Thompson's webstie.
Click here to request your copy of Yikes! Wow! Yuck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Local Author Rebecca O'Connell

We're proud of our local authors!

Pittsburgher Rebecca O'Connell is Storypockets' Miss Rebecca -- me!

And I'm proud to tell you about my new book.

In Penina Levine Is a Potato Pancake, sixth-grader Penina is having the worst Hanukkah ever. Her beloved teacher is abandoning her. Her best friend is deserting her, and her little sister is hogging all the Hanukkah candles. Can Penina turn this holiday around? She's going to try, with a zillion zillion hand-cut snowflakes, a game of chance, and a plate of delicious potato pancakes.

You're invited to the Launch Party for Penina Levine Is a Potato Pancake on Saturday, December 6, 1:00-3:00 at the Lawrenceville Branch Library. Enjoy some cookies and cider and get your own signed copy of the book. I'd love to see you there!

Click here to request Penina Levine Is a Potato Pancake.

Click here to visit my website.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dancing With Our Stars!

Oh, you hop a little on your little left shoe,
You hop a little on your right one, too.

You kick a button like the Scots kids do,

It's the Hop-



Music at KinderPrep can help tell the story,

or it can help us to learn together --

or to learn alone --

or to just jam with a friend.

You can sing way up high,

or beat way down low.
However you move --
it's the KinderPrep Boogie!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Carnegie Museums $1.00 Admission with ACCESS Card

ACCESS/EBT Card participants, come visit the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. If you show your card and a photo ID, museum admission is $1.00 per person. This includes Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Warhol.

Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Museum of Natural History are right next door to the library, so please make sure to stop by and say hi before or after your museum adventure.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Local Author Sydelle Pearl

We're proud of our local authors.
Pittsbugher Sydelle Pearl wrote Books for the World, The Story of Jella Lepman.
After World War Two, the children of Germany were cold, and homeless, and starving, but they were also hungry for books.
Sydelle Pearl's book tells the true story of how Jella Lepman, a German Jew who escaped the Nazis, brought books to the children who needed them.
"If one is to believe in peaceful coexistence, the first messangers of that peace will be these children's books," Jella explains.
Books for Children of the World brings Jella's words--and her work--to life.
Click here for your copy of Books for Children of the World.
Clilck here to visit Sydelle Pearl's webiste.

Monday, November 10, 2008


What can you do with food in the library?
You can read about it, or --

You can talk about it, or --

you can paint with it, or --

you can build with it, or --

you can arrange it, or --

you can create with it, or --

you can conserve it very carefully, or --

you can share it with friends, or --

you can savor every morsel!
What began as a simple snack to energize active children has become a highlighted activity at KinderPrep. Hence, the term, "snacktivity" (as coined by Miss Constance), is another way to engage pre-kindergartners with Pennsylvania Learning Standards. Whether they are organizing their fruit alphabetically, or identifying the food groups in this thing called a "pyramid", these children are involved in the preparation and presentation, as well as in the eating, of a simple snack.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

She Touched the World

She Touched The World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer by local authors Sally Alexander and Robert Alexander has been selected for the New York Public Library's list: Children's Books 2008--100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.

Congratulations, Sally and Robert. Our Pittsburgh authors make us proud!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bad hair days might require...

... a new color,

a new hat,

or just a thorough cover-up!
This past week, KinderPrep-ers tried on some different hats and wigs, did their self-portraits, and then started their autobiographies. All of these things help to develop their personal and social skills.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Terrific Trick-or-Treaters!

The dress up fun begins early at the library! And marching to the music in the costume parade uses our gross motor skills, taps into the musical, kinesthetic part of our learning. Plus... it's fun!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Run, run, fast as you can to Jan Brett's 2008 Gingerbread Tour

Jan Brett’s 2008 Gingerbread Tour Bus is headed to our neighborhood. On Saturday morning, November 1st, at 10:30, Jan will be in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Lecture Hall sharing her stories and intricately detailed, culturally diverse illustrations. When her talk is over she’ll sign copies of her books in the Children’s Department. As usual, cookies and punch will be served. Visit Jan’s website for a taste of what’s in store for you on Saturday morning: For tickets or for more information contact Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures: or 412-622-8866.
Thank you to our friends at Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures for bringing our favorite children’s book authors and illustrators to town for Black White & Read All Over. Next to visit will be Mark Teague on November 22nd.
Which authors or illustrators would you like to have pay us a visit?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Getting the pig over the stile is a team effort! The children are using their narrative skills and dramatic talents to demonstrate the domino effect in the folktale of The Old Woman and Her Pig.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Friendly Bats

Bat, Bat, come under my hat
and I'll give you a piece of bacon.
And when I bake, I'll give you a cake
if I am not mistaken.
At this time of the year, Halloween vampires and horror movies reinforce our cultural dislike for bats. This is sad and ironic, as these small flying mammals are extremely beneficial to us. I was fortunate to watch the awesome exodus of a colony of Mexican free-tail bats out of Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico) at dusk last summer. About 300,000 bats spiral out of the mouth of the cave then head off to spend the night eating insects. It can take up to half an hour for them to exit the cave! Insect-eating bats can eat up to half their body weight in mosquitoes and other pests. Other bats play an essential role in pollination or seed dispersal.

Come on into the library and find out more about friendly bats!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Terrific Toddlers do some cracking good counting!

I love to do this counting rhyme every week at T4! Here you go Mimi!

Potato Counting Rhyme

One potato, two potato, three potato, four! (count with your fingers)
Well, I made a batch of hot potatoes (bend forward and stir as in a big pot)
Dropped 'em on the floor!! (look shocked, and put hands on face in surprise)

Five potato, six potato, seven potato, eight! (count with your fingers)
So I stomped 'em into mashed potatoes (stomp the potatoes!)
And plopped 'em on a plate (hands out like plopping potatoes on a plate!)

Nine potato, ten potato, (count with your fingers)
Can't believe my eyes! (cover and uncover eyes in surprise)
The children ate 'em up and now they want some french fries!!!
French fries! (jump up and reach over head to sky on 10)

Miss Heather made a video of it for us, just in case you wish to see it in action!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Local Author Jonah Winter

We're proud of our local authors!

Pittsburgher Jonah Winter has a new book out.

"In Steel Town, it's always dark

and the street-lamps are always lit."

Does that sound like anyplace you know? It's the Pittsburgh of our grandparents or great-grandparents, lovingly and lyrically re-created in Steel Town.

Steel Town takes us into iron mill and the steel mill, where we're on the job with the Hot Blast Operator, the Monkey Boss, the Crane Man.

We see the imposing Hot Blast Furnace, and watch a river of hot pig iron gush down a gutter in the floor. Terry Widener's illustrations show us the power of molten metal flowing into the Open Hearth Furnace and the peace of a whispered prayer in an onion-domed church.

Click here to request a copy of Steel Town.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

" Oddly oddly onker my first conker"

Have you ever found one of these intriguing little nuts on the ground in Autumn?

They are known as buckeyes, horse-chestnuts, or conkers. While these nuts are not suitable for humans to eat, they do have a use that is much more entertaining: the game of Conkers. The game originated in Britain but has spread throughout Europe, as well as other parts of the world.

To play the game, you first need two players and two conkers that are symmetrical with no apparent cracks. Make a hole through the middle of each conker. Take a piece of string that is about ten inches in length and thread it through the hole. Tie a knot at the end of the string to make sure that it won’t pull through. Once your conkers are ready, the fun begins. The rules of the game are simple: take turns hitting each other’s conker until one breaks.

To learn more about Conkers, take a look at the following link:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Lovers of children's literature: A triple treat is headed your way. The 2008 Fall Festival of Children's Books will be held at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum this Friday, October 17.

Featured speakers are author and illustrator Pat Cummings, children's and young adult author T.A. Barron and writer and children's literature historian Leonard S. Marcus. In addition to the author talks there will be workshops, a panel discussion and book sales and signings.

For more information contact the Pittsburgh Children's Museum or visit their website:

I'm currently reading Leonard S. Marcus's Minders of Make-Believe: idealists, entrepreneurs, and the shaping of America's children's literature.

Do you have a favorites book or books penned or illustrated by one of these talented folks? If so, tell us about it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fun free show from Squonk Opera!

I've had the pleasure of seeing Squonk Opera perform, and they are great! Not too mention unique. They will be performing right outside the library in a free performance October 15-18. I thought you should know!

Squonk Opera's "Astro-rama"
October 15-18, 8 pm

The Pittsburgh debut of the new work from local performance masters Squonk Opera will take place over four nights in Oakland. All performances are FREE and fun for the whole family!

It's our Terrific Sculptors!

Today we had stories and rhymes about dogs, and we had a sculpture of a dog, too!

It's a guy holding a balloon!

It's a cable car! Way to go!

Mmmm, ice cream. "Good job," Joshua told himself!

Today we had fun with the letter D.

One of our young artists wished to be the photographer, not the photographee. Good job, Tellie!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Play Dough at the library

Play dough is a lot of fun! Not only is it fun to play with, it is lots of fun to make, too. You can make a really great toy at home with your kids and secretly teach them! Smaller children can dump in the ingredients and mix with their hands, using their gross motor skills. Older children can practice measuring skills. They can use their fine motor skills to manipulate and shape the dough. Maybe you will bring out the cookie cutters and can talk about shapes. Maybe you will use food coloring to tint the dough. Maybe you will use more than one color so that they can mix the colored doughs to see what color they end up with! I bet you’ll come up with even more ideas!

Here’s how you can make some at home.

Play Dough Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1.5 cups salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water

Optional stuff to color it:
Kool-Aid or other drink mix
food coloring

If you have a standing mixer with a dough hook, I recommend using it for this project. Otherwise, make sure someone is standing by with an emergency arm massage. The dough is very stiff!

Put the flour and salt into the bowl and turn the mixer on low. If you will be using Kool-Aid drink mix, add it with the dry ingredients. With the mixer running, add the vegetable oil, then the water in a stream. Let it run for about a minute. You want the dough to come together in one ball. If it looks dry - kinda clumpy or sandy and won't smooth out- add more water and a tiny splash of oil. If you overdo it on the wet stuff, add more flour a spoonful at a time until it looks right.

The salt adds structure but doesn't seem to melt. I would have thought that it would, but you can still feel the edges of the salt inside the dough. When you knead the dough with your hands, you can feel how plasticy and moldable it is. I was expecting that I would have to do lots of experimenting and overbought on the flour. I was expecting it to feel like bread dough. But it was way more like commercial play dough than I would have thought. Play-Doh probably has more stabilisers in it and all, but this is pretty awesome.

The advantage to commercial Play-Doh are the colors. They are much brighter, and they even sell "Sprinkle," "Sparkle," and "Sand" cans. You can color the play dough you make at home with unsweetened drink mix, aka "Kool-Aid" or drops of food coloring. I mixed a packet of Cherry flavored off brand drink mix (really, it was less than half the price). Well, it is barely pink. Barely. The cool thing is that now it smells like Cherry flavor.

The Grape drink mix made a terrible grey color, not like purple at all. I ended up opening up the drink mix packets and wetting the powder a tiny bit to see what color it would turn. Once I found the red ones, I dumped them all in! You can see from the picture how it turned out.

For Mystery Dough:
Make a batch of plain colored dough. Divide the dough and hide the drops of food coloring in the middle and pinch everything closed. Give it to the children in a plastic bag and let them knead it to mix the colors. For this type of coloring, drops work better than the drink mix powder.

I hope that you get to make this at home! If you have any questions, leave a comment! If you have done this before with your kids, leave a comment!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Passport to the World: Morocco!

This Saturday our friend Miss Noufissa from the First Floor's New and Featured Department will share with us the culture of her native Morocco! She'll teach us some Arabic, share stories, show us what a real souk looks like, let us play dress up in some beautiful Moroccan garments, and share some couscous!
Please call us at the Children's Department at 412-622-3122 to register, or send us email at

Pittsburgh Authors and Illustrators for Halloween

We're so proud of our local authors and illustrators.

Two Pittsburghers have new books out, just in time for Halloween.

Where's My Mummy? --written by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by Pittsburgher John Manders-- is a spooky (and funny!) bedtime story. Little Baby Mummy meets many mysterious neighbors in a late-night game of hide and seek. John Manders' illustrations show us the silly side of the creepy creatures Little Baby Mummy meets. Manders makes Little Baby Mummy's wrapped-up face sweetly expressive, and Big Mama Mummy has got to be the prettiest mommy in all the graveyard.

Halloween Night--written by Pittsburgher Marjorie Dennis Murray and illustrated by Brandon Dorman--is a rollicking rhyme just perfect for a spooky read-aloud. Little listeners will squeal with delight as they hear how the witch and some zombies, a ghost and several green creepies prepare for the most surprising Halloween party ever.
Click here to request your copy of Where's My Mummy?
Cllick here to request your copy of Halloween Night.