Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Reading Club: Inspiration from People Who Made Waves

Make Waves at your library can be a very inspirational message to teens this summer. Teens like to be noticed at least some of them do, on occasion. It sometimes can be amazing how much more in tuned they are about the world around them than we give them credit. It is inspiring to hear them talk about the causes that are important to them from the environment, to pro-life issues to gays in the military. Their ideas are as wide and varied as they are. This idea of making waves in a community, or a movement or in profession is not a new concept. Let’s face it, if we didn’t have an Edison we might be still using candles all the time. Here’s a challenge for your tweens and teens, have them pick out a quick picture book biography of someone who made “waves” in the world. A co-worker of mine complained that this was too “academic” for the teens during summer, after all they have been in school all year round, give the kids a break! This may be true, but what is wrong with a teeny bit of learning? Why do parents take their children to Washington D.C. if not to teach them about the great history of the United States. With this in mind, trick the tweens and teens into learning about someone famous. A picture book is perfect for accomplishing this because it condenses the life story making it a quick read. It often has trivia facts that just may come in handy when there playing Trivial Pursuit. Often times I have found inspirational quotes from these famous people. Finally, it may spark the dream that ignites young minds to learn more so that they too can make waves in our world. Without further ado, here are a dozen titles that really stood out as educational (groan) and entertaining (yeah!) and enlightening (inspriation!)

A Picture Book of John and Abigail Adams / David A. Adler 2010

America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle / David A. Adler 2000

Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star / Lesa Cline-Ransome 2007

Young Thomas Edison / Michael Dooling 2005

What To Do About Alice? / Barbara Kerley 2008

Houdini: World Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King / Kathleen Krull 2005

Lincoln Tells A Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country too!) / Kathleen Krull 2010

Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum / Robert Andrew Parker 2008

Big George: How A Shy Boy Became President of the United States / Anne Rockwell

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right Vote / Tanya Lee Stone 2007

Dizzy / Jonah Winter 2006

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau / Dan Yaccarino 2009

Of course, this may lead tweens and teens to begin picking out other titles on a particular person. If it does, great. If it doesn't that's good too. The point of this exercise in reading is to have fun while getting a teeny bit of learning in during summer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Reading Club: Mermaids Splash Around At The Library

Mermaids are those mystical creatures that have fascinated readers and dreamers for centuries. With this year's theme of Make A Splash!@Your Library there is so much to learn about mermaids and believe it or not quite of few good books out there too! Here are some facts about mermaids and other fantastical sea creatures that may inspire a Children Librarian to do a program or two.

Traditionally Mermaids are seen as beautiful creatures with lovely faces, long hair and signing voices that could lure brave, strong men to their watery grave. Mermen on the other hand, are not as good looking nor do they possess the singing talents as their female counterparts. Let's be honest, is there really anything "beautiful" in a species that is half human, half fish? It must be true that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

The stories of mermaids came from sailors who claim to have seen these beautiful creatures and spun their tales when they returned home after a long voyage. Ah, but did they really see mermaids? Or had they been out to sea for far too long? If one were practical, it could be suggested that the poor sailors mistook a manatee or seal for a human like creature? Then again, does it really matter? The story of the menfolks have entertained for years. Sometimes, practicality has to be thrown out the window.

Where is the first mention of mermaids and mermen? Back to Greek mythology. A little test, do you remember the name of the Greek god who was a merman? Give up? It was Triton. Of course his father would have to be the God of the Seas, Poseidon. His mother was a nymph, Amphitrite. The tools of Triton were a trident and a conch shell that was used as a horn. Eventually it seems as though there were many Tritons because Greek mythology tells the tales of how Poseidon would have merman blow their conch upon his arrival and they were also given the task of pulling Aphrodite's chariot across the waters.

In Ireland mermaids are known as Merrows. In some folklore, merrows would marry humans and live happily ever after. Offspring from this union would have webbed fingers and toes. What does that matter when a family home is filled with love and bliss?

In Scotland, there is a creature that is similar to the mermaid but is called a Selkie. Selikies are part human, part seal. As the tales goes, Selkies are seals in the water, but once they reach shore, they may shed their fur and become a beautiful woman. Any many who wished to make this stunning creature his wife would steal the fur, thus trapping her in her human form. Once the Selkie is trapped, she is forced to live a sad life longing for the sea home.

Have you heard the story of Melusine? This story comes from France, and it has a very sad ending because it begins with a curse. A fairy who has married a gentleman has been cursed to live one day a week as a mermaid. Her husband is blissfully unaware of this because every Saturday she turns into a mermaid and she mad him promise to go away for the day. After keeping the promise for many years, he begins to be curious as to why Melusine would want him gone. He sneaks back to the house and takes a quick peak. When Melusine realizes that her secret has been revealed she leaves her husband.

In Japan a mermaid is known as Ninygo. A slight difference in their version is that the body is all fish but the head is human. They generally give warning to humans about bad storms approaching.

Haitians have a story of a man who was lured into the sea by a long silver-haired mermaid. His friends saw him go into the sea and were frightened when he did not immediately return. After several months, the man found himself floating on the ocean and returned home. It seems that the mermaid knew he was missing his friends and family, and allowed him to return.

Whether mermaids are friendly, luring, or nasty, they are fun to read about. Here is a list of books that you many want to consider for your summer reading pleasure.

Juvenile and Young Readers Fiction

The Little Mermaid / Hans Christian Andersen

Mermaid Dance / Marjorie Hakala

The Tail of Emily Windsnap / Liz Kessler (Series)

Sukey and the Mermaid / Robert D. San Souci

Young Adult Fiction

Midnight Pearls (Once Upon A Time Series)/ Debbie Viguie

Ingo, (series) / Helen Dunmore

The Girl With the Mermaid Hair / Delia Ephron

The Daughters of Sea: Hannah / Kathryn Lasky

Sirena / Donna Jo Napoli

Selkie Girl / Laurie Brooks

Mermaid Park / Beth Mayall

Adult Fiction

False Mermaid / Erin Hart

It was a wonderful trip through the seas and back. Each tale had a unique spin on mermaids and sea creatures that it makes one wonder that perhaps these creatures really do exist! For a complete list of books, craft ideas and programs please email me at I'll leave with an old shanty that truly makes one believe the sea faring folks did indeed see mermaids on their voyage.

The Mermaid (Folksong circa 1700)
words and music Traditional
Twas Friday morn when we set sail

And we were not far from the land

When the captain, he spied a lovely mermaid

With a comb and a glass in her hand

O the ocean's waves will roll

And the stormy winds will blow

While we poor sailors go skipping to the top

And the landlubbers lie down below (below, below)

And the landlubbers lie down below

Then up spoke the captain of our gallant ship,

And a brave old man was he,

He said, "This fishy mermaid has warned me of our doom:

We shall sink to the bottom of the sea!"


And up spoke the mate of our gallant ship

And a well-spoken man was he

I have me a wife in Salem by the sea

And tonight she a widow will be

And up spoke the cookie of our gallant ship

And a red hot cookie was he

Saying I care much more for my pots and my pans

Than I do for the bottom of the sea

Then up spoke the cabinboy, of our gallant ship

And a nasty little lad was he.

I'm not quite sure I can spell "mermaid"

But I'm going to the bottom of the sea.

Then up spoke the cannibal who snuck aboard our ship

And a hungry mad invader was he

You can drown right now beneath the cold ocean waves

Or you can be dinner for three, your choice

Then up spoke the parrot of our gallant ship

And a smartarse parrot was she

Brawk, you're going to drown, your going to drown, Brawk

And flew to the shore for her safety

Then three times around went our gallant ship

And three times around went she
hree times around went our gallant ship

And she sank to the bottom of the sea