Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fall Festival of Children's Books: Save the Date!

We recently got word about the upcoming Fall Festival of Children' Books. This event is for adults and usually comes with Act 48 continuing education credits. Put it on your calendar!

Hello, All The Fall Festival of Children's Books Friday October 17 2008 will feature T.A. Barron, author of the Heroes series, and Pat Cummings, illustrator and Coretta Scott King Awardee. Possible 3rd presenter will be Leonard Marcus who writes about children's authors. The event will take place at the Children's Museum including the lectures (the Hazlett will not be used in 2008).

October 16 2009 is the tentative date for the following FF.

Book Review: We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Here in Pittsburgh, there are fewer signs of spring that are welcomed with more pleasure and excitement than the beginning of baseball season. If you aren't able to make it out to PNC park for a game, then we have the book for you -- We Are The Ship is a evocative, fascinating homage to a too-often overlooked part of baseball history that'll make anyone wanna break out the bats and gloves.

Kadir Nelson made an interesting choice for this book -- rather than using the standard "disembodied voice" found in most non-fiction, he chose to write it from the perspective of an "Everyplayer," in order to capture the essence of the independent spirit of the Leagues. "When there was no way, they made a way," Nelson writes in an author's note.

This decision gives the book a folksy, intimate feel, as if you're sitting on the back porch with an old ballplayer, listening to his best stories about the Good Old Days. Here's a sample

When Satchel [Paige] pitched, he raised his big foot up high, let it come
down, and then whipped the ball by you. Satchel was nothing but
fastball. Even his slow stuff was fast. We knew what was coming, but
we still couldn't hit it. The ball would be moving so fast it looked like
a little white pill by the time it got to the plate. And it would jump
just a little bit before it got to you, just enough to make you miss it.

Nelson -- who spent eight years researching the Leagues for this book -- has an intuitive sense for details about history that fully flesh out the time period (roughly the 20s through the 40s) for young readers. The life of the ballplayers is vividly rendered -- from the sweet success of playing for a packed stadium in the East-West classic, to the gritty reality of being bussed nonstop from one game to another. Nelson also doesn't flinch at describing the challenges and indignities these players had to endure, or the sometimes seedy connections that owners and managers kept (many teams were covers for a "numbers racket") but the overall focus is on the positive. Best of all, the personalities and physical prowess of the League's most famous players (Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Jackie Robinson) are cunningly described. There's something for any kind of baseball fan here, whether an occasional observer or bonafide ballpark nut.

And the paintings! Let's not forget about the other half of what makes this book significant -- Nelson has created a plethora of lavish oil paintings that grant this book near-masterpiece status. Nelson renders the players (and a few managers and umpires) powerfully, with large, expressive hands and stern, serious faces. Bold, bright primary colors wrap around the figures -- they inhabit a baseball fantasy-land, where the skies are always blue, the sun always shining.

As a bonus for Pittsburghers, I'll have you know that there are full portraits of both the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords -- although, I will say that my personal favorite is a picture of Willie Foster surrounded by a group of kids in the Hill District, circa 1932.

With its large, coffee-table-sized printing and excellent book design, We Are The Ship is a perfect read not just for baseball fans, but for anyone interested in Pittsburgh history or perhaps looking for a great Father's Day gift. This one's a hit out of the park!

My Storymaker

If you and your child haven't tried out the my StoryMaker yet, come to the library! This is a fun piece of software that guides your child through the writing and illustration of his or her very own story. Creating stories is a powerful way to build literacy and school readiness. Not only that, but children get a great big boost of confidence and self-esteem when they see that they are a "published author!"

Here at Main Library we also have a cute little purple kiosk where children can walk up, touch the screen, and read the stories that other children have written. We even have some stories in Spanish!

From the CLP Kids' webpage:

Can a lion share a cupcake with an astronaut?
What happens when a pirate meets a fox in the woods? If you are visiting Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, you have the power to decide -- meeting new characters, going on great adventures and creating your very own story along the way.

my StoryMaker lets you control characters and objects - and creates sentences for you! Once you are done with your story, save it online or print it out in the Library.

my StoryMaker is available only on Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh computers.

Click here to find a library location near you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We'll miss you Ms. Brooke!

Tomorrow is Ms. Brooke's last day at the library! We'll miss you, Ms. Brooke!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We still don't have the Summer Citiparks Magazine!

Every Summer, Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation puts out a magazine filled with information about all of the Cinema in the Park showings, activities like summer day camps and lawn bowling, community services, farmers markets, events, competitions, and more.
The Library usually gets copies of the magazine to give to customers, and we have gotten many requests for it! Unfortunately, it hasn't shown up yet!
When we get it, I'll post about it here on the blog. In the meantime, you can click on the magazine cover to get a pdf of the magazine, or click on the link above to get to the right website.

Friday, May 23, 2008

How to draw "The" Pigeon!

When Mo Willems came to speak in Pittsburgh last November he taught us all how to draw his pigeon. Well, Miss Julie took some really good notes and I thought it would be a great idea to post them. If you click on the photo, you can enlarge it and read what she's written.
He taught us how to do this the same day he told us about the new book he had coming out. He didn't tell us the name, because he had a contest going on to see who could guess it and win a school visit from him along with a collection of his books! Well, the book is out now! The title has been announced and you can....
Seriously people, put this on hold because all of our copies are checked out, plus there are holds on the book and it will be quite a while before you will be able to walk into the library and just pull it off the shelf!
Have fun drawing your own pigeons!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book Review: Waiting for Normal

A sweet story of enduring hardships and crazy family with endless optimism. Little Addie has apparently hit bottom: her flake's-flake of a mother lost everything in the divorce except Addie. They now live in a junky trailer underneath a train overpass in Schnectady. Mommers surfs the Web all day, relies on Addie for cooking and cleaning, and takes off whenever she feels like it. Addie misses her responsible, loving ex-stepfather and his two daughters. Will Addie be able to find "normal" again? Connors' portrait of a quiet, resilient girl who manages to endure a parent's neglect is bleak, but it manages to be funny and heartwarming as well.

This book has a lot going for it: Addie is the quintessential cock-eyed optimist, but she never comes off as cloying or goody-goody. She's just sweet and loveable; the quietish kid you liked sitting next to in the lunchroom. It's refreshing to see a book with good fathering -- Dwight the ex-step is rock-solid, but believable. You can see he's a good guy, but he's also flawed just enough to make it plausible that he ever hooked up with Mommers in the first place.

If there are any complaints to be had, it's with the plot. This thing is darn predictable. What's that? Mommers says she's definitely going to be at Addie's Christmas concert? And then she ruins the whole thing? No surprises there. Soula the eccentric minimart owner belts out a cough in an early chapter, and it is later revealed that she has terminal cancer. Not that shocking. But I'm betting that most kids picking up this book won't be nearly as jaded as I am, so just ignore my patter and fire up this puppy for one tear-jerker of a read.


Miss Heather found this great chant about potatoes on Gayle's Preschool Rainbow website. To get the words click on the link above. It's called "Counting Fingerplay." Want to know how to sing it? Watch the video! Miss Heather made this especially for us!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Library closed May 25 & 26

In observance of Memorial Day the library will be closed Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Children's Librarians & Children's Authors -- Elva Smith

Storypockets looks at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s rich tradition of author-librarians . Our previous installments featured Sorche Nic Leodhas and Laura Cathon. This week, we focus on Elva Smith.

Elva Smith (1871-1965) “was a prolific writer of stories, poems, history, and legends for children, articles for journals, and guides for librarians.” (Contemporary Authors.) She was a children’s librarian, cataloger, and Professor of Children’s Services at Carnegie Library School.

Next week, Storypockets features author-librarian Margaret Hodges.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Baby Lapsit Summer Dates are here!

The ever-popular Baby Lapsit will continue through summer! Join us Monday mornings at 10:30 June 16 to July 28 for Baby Lapsit!

Friday, May 16, 2008


This little llama was just the softest guy! And he should be back on Saturday, just in time for you to read "llama llama mad at mama" by Anna Dewdney. The little llama does not want to do any Saturday shopping with Mama, but she knows just how to make things fun!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Join us for our Puppet Shows!

Now showing at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main (Oakland) it's....

Anansi the Spider! Come see that tricky spider Anansi star in two of his most fabulous tales Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock and Anansi Goes Fishing.

All shows are at 10:30 am unless otherwise indicated. Please call 412-622-3122 to register or email

Show dates:
Friday May 16
Saturday May 17
Sunday May 18, 12:30
Tuesday May 20
Wednesday May 21
Thursday May 22
Friday May 23
Tuesday May 27
Wednesday May 28
Thursday May 29

Special showing for the Summer Reading Extravaganza!
June 8 at 1:30pm and 3pm

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The International Children's Festival 2008 is being held in Oakland this year. They've got all kinds of activities, crafts and performances.

Best of all, they also have... baby animals! Here's one little lamb really trying to Catch the Reading Bug while chewing on Miss Julie's id badge!

More Sheep!

And for those of you who are towards the end of your hardworking day and who could use a little lift, I give you, our readers, the following. Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Children's Librarians & Children's Authors: Laura Cathon

Storypockets looks at the rich tradition of author-librarians at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Our previous installment featured LeClaire Alger, AKA Sorche Nic Leodhas. This week, we focus on Laura Cathon.

Laura Cathon (1908-1991) Wasn’t just a children’s librarian. She was head of the Children’s Department in the Main Library. She taught classes in reference service at Carnegie Library School and was active in the American Library Association.

In addition to writing book reviews and professional articles, Laura Cathon edited folklore collections wrote the animal adventure story Tot Botot and his Little Flute.

Next week, Storypockets features author-librarian Elva Smith.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Children's Librarians & Children's Authors: Leclaire Alger

What do Avi, Beverly Cleary , and Megan McDonald all have in common?

Well, besides being the authors of beloved and award-winning children’s books, they have all three been librarians. Authors Among Us has an impressive list of author-librarians.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh also has an impressive list of author-librarians. Over the years, many of our children's librarians have also been children’s authors.

Today, Storypockets begins a weekly series of profling Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s author-librarians.

Leclaire Alger (1898-1969) had a library career spanning several decades and various library positions, including page and branch librarian. She is best known for her research and retelling of Scottish folktales. She wrote under the name Sorche Nic Leodhas, Gaelic for “Claire, daughter of Louis.” As Sorche Nic Leodhas, she received a Newbery Honor for Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland.

Next week, Storypockets features author-librarian Laura Cathon.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Nature Detectives: Bugs, Birds, Bats, and Plants Up Close

Come join Nature Detectives as we look at pollination! Miss Debbie has a wonderful special guest botanist to join us. We'll have lots of specimens, a demonstration of how flowers bring bees to the right spot for nectar, and show how pollination works to help plants grow.

She'll lead us all in making our own journals to press specimens which everyone will be able to make and enjoy at home!

Day: Saturday
Date: May 10
Time: 2pm

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Today is Free Comic Book Day!

Look at this cool thing that I just found out about!
It's Free Comic Book Day!
What is it?
"Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free* to anyone who comes into their stores. "

* Each retailer will decide the guidelines for receiving comics.


UPDATE: When I went down the street to check things out at Phantom of the Attic, the proprietor made me a great big bag of comics to bring back for the children. They're on the kiosk! You can't check them out, but you can certainly read them while you're here!