Moving 10,000 Books: Part One…

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Lots of hard hats were on the scene this morning as the head of school capped off our new building with our official cow weathervane.  And although there is lots of work to be done, the plans for the actual move have begun.  In the Library, we are talking about how to label the boxes that the moving company will pack and move in two steps: first into something our business manager refers to as a pod (which is probably a truck, but I like saying “pod” because it sounds very sci-fi!), and then later this summer from the pod to the new library.

The official movers will do most of the heavy lifting, but we want the kids to participate.  This was the plan: Inly’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students each selected one book from the library. We asked them to choose their favorite – the book they wanted to be certain made the move from one building to the other.  The kids wrote their names on post-it notes, and then after packing the book, they wrote their name on the box.  Part Two comes in September – when each student will unpack their book and shelve it in its new home!

Here are some pictures from packing day!




The most interesting part is to look at the books they chose!




And from the Department of Other Things…..

These unposed pictures taken in the library this week show how loved Mo Willems is!



Finally….heard in the Library –


A child returning this book announces: “This is a really good book about the New England Patriots!”  I need to read it again. I clearly missed the page about Tom Brady in this book about Negro League baseball players!


A Picture Book and More Pictures…



There’s a new picture book on bookstore and library shelves, and as Mary Poppins would say, “it’s practically perfect.”  A Fire Truck Named Red by Randall de Seve and illustrated by Bob Staake is about a red toy truck, but it’s also a warm and nostalgic story about family and memories.

Rowan, the little boy at the center, is hoping for a shiny new fire truck for his birthday. Instead, he gets Red, a rather tired-looking truck from his grandfather’s childhood. Rowan’s grandfather assures his clearly disappointed grandson that he will repair the truck, but as the truck gets a makeover, the grandfather tells Rowan about the imaginary adventures he shared with Red. At first, Rowan only pretends to be interested because “he knew how to be polite.”

As the grandfather talks, his memories are portrayed in sepia tones and look like they’re being projected on a movie screen above them. Hard to explain, but it looks like this:


Rowan, of course, begins to get caught up in the stories – until he’s quite literally part of them.  A Fire Truck Named Red is a wonderful intergenerational story that belongs on every truck lover’s shelf.


Two pictures of book covers….

I was in Barnes and Noble last week and these three books were on display:


Clearly, other WWII-based novels are hoping to repeat the success of Anthony Doerr’s  All the Light We Cannot See. The Nightingale continues to be a bestseller.  I wonder if the “blue and black magic” will continue for Chris Cleave’s new novel, Everyone Brave is Forgiven.

Walking around a different bookstore yesterday, I looked down to see that I was holding these three books:


I was looking for a gift, but something was pulling me towards red – rather than blue and black!

Today’s picture of Inly’s new library is the first I’ve taken from inside.  It’s hard to imagine I’ll soon be looking at this view every day —


Finally, this student made himself a fort-like reading nook. Looking around the corner, I saw his cozy structure —


Happy Reading!

Books in Bloom and Book Projects…

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So many photos to share today….

On Saturday, I went to the James Library in Norwell to see the annual Books in Bloom display. Here are a few highlights of the colorful and whimsical displays:






Earlier this week, some of Inly’s 4th, 5th and 6th grade students presented their book projects.  The kids designed board games, drew pictures, and made cool little people and desks!






Update on the new school library – shingles!


All out of pictures for today….stay tuned!

Benji Davies

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My current obsession in the children’s book world is illustrations by Benji Davies.  Two years ago when I read The Storm Whale, the first book Davies both wrote and illustrated, I briefly considered tearing pages out of enough copies to make wallpaper. The story of a friendship between a boy and a whale is quiet, but moving and beautiful.   Look at this picture of Noi, the little boy, and his dad in their kitchen. To me, this is a scene of total contentment:


Next, Davies illustrated Big Friends by Linda Sarah. I bought this book because Davies name was on the cover. Smart decision. Big Friends is a perfect read aloud, and it confirmed my membership in the Davies fan club.


The story of three boys and a cardboard box, optimism shines through on every page.  Kids enjoy it because it’s about a situation they recognize. Two friends are playing happily with a big box.  They imagine their box is a space ship and a pirate ship and it’s all good fun  – until a third boy arrives and wants to join in.  Sad feelings happen and then there’s a happy resolution that, of course, involves a big box.


And now – Grandad’s Island, another book that Davies has both written and illustrated. This one is totally different. Grandad’s Island is about the special relationship between Syd, a young boy, and his grandfather.  You can feel their love for one another on every colorful page.


But this is a story about loss.  The two of them embark on a trip to a fantastical island, but when it’s time to return home, the grandfather tells Syd “I’m thinking of staying.”


Syd goes back to his granddad’s house, and although there is a sign that his grandfather is happy, Syd knows that things won’t be the same.

I don’t think a young child would read this story as being about death, but an older child definitely would. Grandad’s Island is one of those books that may be different for every reader.  I’m going to dedicate some open space next to Davies’ books on the library shelf – with my fingers crossed that it will be filled by more books!



A group of Upper Elementary students is hearing The Little Prince in three languages. One of their teachers is reading the original French , and a rotating group of visitors are reading The Little Prince or El Principito. Last week I read two chapters (in English, of course) and the experience of hearing three languages reading the same words one after the other is really interesting.


During the French reading, I enjoyed listening to the language and recognizing “Le Petit Prince” being said every so often.  During the Spanish reading, I shared my English version with a student sitting nearby, and we pointed to where we thought the reader was in the text. The student recognized more words than I did, but I caught rojo!


After hearing the three readings, the students talked about words they recognized or those they wanted to hear again. It’s a beautiful way to begin the school day.


The Wild Robot by Peter Brown



As I compile Inly’s summer reading list and get ready to talk with kids about their selections, I’ve been immersed in middle grade fiction. Much of it I’ve loved, especially Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor. But during dinner with a librarian friend last week, I told her about a few books that I expected to love more than I did.  Then she asked if I had read Peter Brown’s first middle grade novel, The Wild Robot. It was in my bag – the next book on my “to read” list.  Read it, she urged. I did. And, as always, she was right.


Since then, I’ve purchased a signed copy at a local bookstore and plan to encourage as many kids and adults as I know to add it to their summer reading list. To me, it reads as a parable about technology and nature. But Brown’s novel also presents thoughts about adaptation and family and community.

Roz is the only robot to survive after a cargo ship sinks. She floats to shore and, powered by solar energy and programmed to serve others, Roz finds herself on an island populated only by animals.  After watching how the animals survive in their environment, Roz learns their language and how to contribute to her new community. She also adopts an abandoned gosling which leads to some of the books most moving passages.


I was already a fan of Brown’s picture books, especially Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.  His new book about a robot who “goes wild” will stay with me – literally and figuratively.


The picture above was taken in the library last week. It was not set-up.


The book they are looking at: Mudball by Matt Tavares.  It’s baseball season!


More Magic from Kate DiCamillo….

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Last week had elements of magic. It was book fair week, the new school library is more beautiful every day, and at night I was reading Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo’s new novel.

As always, there were memorable moments at the book fair. One of my favorites was a group of middle school students putting books aside to look at later. Here are some of their “hold” piles:


A seventh grade girl asked for my help in narrowing her selection. We made categories: books on the summer reading list; depressing novels that middle school students like; People magazine in book form (the teen version of airplane reading); dystopian fiction; and well reviewed books that I’m encouraged to read and would probably enjoy.


My advice was to select books from different categories – we all need a varied reading diet.  It was somewhat arduous, but she got there and is ready for summer reading season….


Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo will enter a group of memorable characters: Opal, Despereaux, Mercy Watson, Bink and Gollie, Flora – and now Raymie. At the opening of DiCamillo’s new middle grade novel, Raymie’s father has left town with a dental hygienist. Raymie’s plan to get him back is to win the Miss Central Florida Tire pageant. She thinks that if her dad sees her picture in the newspaper, he will return home.  Of course, things don’t go according to plan, but as always in DiCamillo’s fiction, the wisdom and optimism shine through.

Central to Raymie’s plan to win the pageant is taking baton twirling lessons. It’s there that she meets two quirky girls: Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski. Like Raymie, Louisiana and Beverly have lost something and although the three girls are very different, they form a valuable friendship that allows them to navigate their individual tragedies.


Raymie Nightingale is reminiscent of Because of Winn-Dixie. In both books, a young girl dealing with loss learns that love and hope have power to overcome life’s inevitable sadnesses.

The magic continues outside of my window at school as we watch the new Library going up – there are windows!  During these warm days, I can step outside and imagine sharing a new space with Opal and Raymie, Wilbur and Charlotte, Harry and Hermione and thousands of other characters….




A Poem and a Party…


I have two new picture books to tell you about – both of which belong on every school library shelf and maybe even a young child’s own bookshelf because they will be read repeatedly.


First, a beautiful introduction to poetry combined with a delightful animal story.  Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer is the story of a young boy who, while walking through the park, sees a sign advertising an upcoming poetry event. But, Daniel has a question: “What is poetry?”  He spends the week asking his animal friends for their definitions. “To me,” the spider says, “poetry is when morning dew glistens.”  After hearing lyrical answers from the animals he encounters, Daniel learns that poetry is all around us – and by the following Sunday, he’s ready for the poetry reading at the park.

This is the perfect book to inspire young readers and writers to look closely at the world around them.

Where’s the Party? by Ruth Chan has a storyline you’ve heard before. A cat named Georgie wants to have a party for his friends, but everyone seems to be mysteriously busy. As it turns out though….his friends have been planning a surprise.  But wait. Look at this cat:


It’s the pictures of Georgie and his friends that make this book irresistible. Where’s the Party? is a predictable story, but cleverly told with memorable illustrations – no easy task, and this is Chan’s first picture book!  It’s witty and bright. For example, the excuses Georgie’s friends make for not coming to his party made me laugh out loud. My favorite from a dog named Feta: “I have to make my pickles.”

A guaranteed crowd pleaser, Where’s the Party? deserves a place on every read-aloud shelf.

A picture from school. These kids are looking at a picture book during library class, but I love that they invited Piggie to join their group: