Summer

I, like every other children’s librarian in North America, have been insanely busy, and for me, I’ve been crazy busy even by usual summer standards. This was the summer I decided we really need to offer a ton of programs, and since all my staff feel programmed out when they do more then 4 or 5 per month, that left me. Friends, I did 29 programs in two months, not including an awful lot of outreach. So yes, I’m very tired, but it was definitely worthwhile!

Here are a few of my favourite things from this summer:

This program, which is making kaleidoscopes, and is really cool. It takes a lot more prep work than I would usually do for this kind of program, but is well worth it. Even the parents were really impressed by how well the kaleidoscopes worked. A note for those in Canada: the mirror board is available at Michaels (in the one-sheet-at-a-time scrapbook paper section), but in Canadian dollars it costs almost $4 per piece with tax, and I could not figure out how to get more than 7 scopes per piece, even with making some of the 3-sided pieces in 2, 3, or even 4 pieces, taped together. So it’s a pricey program compared to my usual free one-time programs, which usually just use whatever we have in the cupboards.

Wonderworks again, for the second summer in a row. This summer I did it as a straight drop in, and it was crazy popular, attracting anywhere from 20-50 people per week, which for an August program here, where almost everyone goes on vacation in August, is incredible. We did this one, Does It Absorb, and it was literally one of the best programs I’ve ever done. Everyone got damp but mostly not soaking, and cleanup was relatively easy (we have a hard floor and lots of plastic), and everyone had such a blast! Do a water program at your library next summer if you can, it’s fabulous!

We’ve also started having colouring pages and pencil crayons available at the Children’s Information Desk, and it’s really been awesome. Sometimes kids give us their art, and we hang it on our ugly and dull concrete pillars, which helps make the place look more child friendly, which we have a problem with. Our little kid room is nice and kid-friendly, but the rest is not, and we’re always having people forget that the whole floor is for children and teens, so a little messy colouring is really helpful!

I also realized something I’ve been inching towards, which is that while I love teaching technology to kids (3D printing, coding, Raspberry Pi, etc.), our normal program sizes are just too big. This summer I had two Robot Petting programs, where kids could play with Dot and Dash and Cubelets and Blue Bot, the first of which was 16 kids (which drove me insane, even with someone helping me), and the second of which was 7 kids (which was fantastic and fun). So I’ve decided never to run another technology program for more than 10 kids.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about this blog, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time I varied things a bit, so I’m going to start posting more often, but also more randomly, just about whatever I’m reading, or making, or enjoying, whatever it may be. Plus, I can have more photos if it’s my stuff (our program photos are mostly not shareable for me), which is more fun. So look out for hopefully weekly posts about more things!

 

 

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2016 Book Reviews

Sorry, been a crazy, crazy Fall/Winter, and I may just have to give up on this blog thing. However, for now, here are the 2016 reviews that I wrote for my library’s website, and one bonus 2017 review that hasn’t been published yet–I know, such a gift 😉

As a 2nd bonus, the ones I absolutely, 100% recommend unreservedly from a personal perspective are asterisked–I read a lot of books that I don’t love, but I know someone will.

Children’s Titles

*Clover’s Luck, by Caillie George

Despite her name, Clover has always felt decidedly unlucky. So when she stumbles upon a mysterious cottage in the Woods, she can hardly believe her good fortune. It’s the Magical Animal Adoption Agency, and it houses creatures of all kinds. Fairy horses, unicorns, and a fiery young dragon are just the beginning! Mr. Jams, the Agency’s owner, agrees to hire her as summer helper and Clover hopes her luck has finally changed. But when she’s left alone to care for the Agency, a sneaky witch comes after the magical creatures! Will Clover outsmart her in time to protect the animals?

Ramona Forever, by Beverley Cleary

Did you know that Beverly Cleary turned 100 years old in April? So it’s the perfect time to read her books! In Ramona Forever, Ramona is in grade 3, and starting to feel more grown-up. She and Beezus still stay with Howie Kemp’s grandmother till their parents get home, but now that Beezus is almost a teenager, the girls convince their parents that they can be at home alone after school instead of going to the Kemps. That’s only the first of the many big changes coming to the Quimby family, but while things get different with weddings, funerals and new babies, there’s one thing you can always count on, which is Ramona being Ramona forever!

*Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Mrs. Jane Tabby can’t imagine why her kittens were born with wings. Cats don’t have wings! But Thelma, Harriet, James and Roger do, and soon it becomes clear that cats with wings can’t live underneath a dumpster the way ordinary cats can. Fortunately, cats with wings can fly, so the Catwings fly away, till they reach the country, where things are very different, and where maybe James, Harriet, Roger and Thelma can find a place where they belong.

YA Titles

The Dogs, by Alan Stratton

Cameron and his mom have been running away for years. Cameron never knows if he’ll come home from his new school to find his mom in the car, all ready to move to a new town in another part of North America. Cameron’s dad is looking for them, and Cameron’s mom knows he mustn’t find them. Cameron isn’t sure though. Was his dad really that bad? Then they move to a remote haunted house in the Prairies, and as Cameron unravels the mystery of what happened to the boy whose ghost haunts the property, he starts on a terrifying path that may end in his becoming the second ghost to haunt the house. This is an atmospheric, frightening, and gripping Canadian title.

Trouble is a Friend of Mine, by Stephanie Tromley

Zoe has just moved to a new town, and somehow she’s already acquired a friend, Digby. The only thing is, she doesn’t want to be Digby’s friend. Somehow, though, she ends up helping Digby investigate a mysterious disappearance eight years ago, an investigation which includes a lot of things Zoe would never in a million years have done before she met Digby, including a lot of things that aren’t exactly legal. Is Digby crazy? Or could he be a hero? One thing for sure, Zoe’s life will never be the same, no matter which it is.

The Kiss of Deception, by Mary Pearson

Lia is a princess on the run from an arranged marriage. After her escape, she gets a job as a barmaid in a seaside tavern and enjoys life as a nobody greatly. When two young men, Kaden and Rafe arrive in town, she finds herself taken with both of them. What she doesn’t know? One of them is the prince she was supposed to marry, the other an assassin hired to kill her. The thrilling and romantic first book of a planned trilogy, the Remnant Chronicles.

*You Know Me Well, by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Mark and Kate are classmates, but they’ve never spoken. Until they meet at a gay club during San Francisco Pride, where Mark and his best friend (and secret crush) Ryan, are celebrating their first Pride, and where Ryan seems to be getting on very well with another boy. Kate, on the other hand, is running away from a meeting with the girl she’s wanted to meet forever. Their friendship is sudden, but everyone needs a friend in time of trouble, and for now, Mark and Kate are exactly what each other needs.

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Willowdean Dixon knows she’s fat, and that other people are made uncomfortable by that. But she isn’t. She knows who you are is more important than what you weigh. Unfortunately, in Clover City, Texas, home of the oldest beauty pageant in Texas, it can feel like people don’t know that fat doesn’t matter. Especially when your mother is a former beauty queen, and runs the annual pageant. But Willowdean does her best to ignore that, and lives her life, going to school, hanging out with her best friend, and working at a burger joint with her crush, Bo. But then Bo and Willowdean kiss, and she finds herself suddenly uncomfortable with her size. Willowdean has always had plenty to deal with, and now is no different, but she’s never felt uncomfortable with herself before. Can she find a way to make peace with herself, get the guy, and still be the fabulous person she is?

*Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

Six messed up but super talented, outcast kids, members of The Dregs, a criminal organization. One giant mission: to rescue a prisoner from the world’s most secure prison. And maybe save the world, too. This is an incredible, cliff-hanger of an adventure/fantasy/mystery crossover, and you should not miss it! The sequel, Crooked Kingdom, is out and is a worthy successor.

And the bonus review!

inquisitor

*The Inquisitor’s Tale, by Adam Gidwitz

The story of three possibly miraculous children and their saintly dog, told by many people assembled in an inn, all of who have met the children, and seen the miracles they perform. But are they miracles, or tricks and lies, or something evil? No one is quite sure: Jeanne the peasant girl who sees visions, William, a hugely strong monk-in-training who’s the child of an African woman and a European crusader, and Jacob, a Jewish boy who seems to have healing powers seem an unlikely group of saints, to say nothing of the dog, Gwenforte, who is rumoured to have returned from the dead to look after Jeanne, seem an unlikely group to have miraculous powers of good.

This is a beautifully illustrated tale of medieval times in France, of truth and lies, of three brave children, their dog, and a (bonus!) farting dragon.

 

Excellent Canadian Children’s and Teen Books of 2015

Some 2015 Children’s and Teen books that I really liked. Neither complete nor based on anything other than the fact that I liked them a lot.

Pocket FullAnderson, R.J. A Pocket Full of Murder. Charming, steampunk-ish mystery/fantasy. Fantastic strong female character, the only thing I didn’t like is that the language of the invented world is a bit clunky at times. (Children’s, ages 10+).

PrincessBeaton, Kate. The Princess and the Pony. Go and get this hilarious and delightful picture book about a Viking princess who’s trying to stop getting crappy princessy presents and wants some real Vikingy presents right now! (and while you’re at it–if you’re an adult–save yourself some time and buy Kate Beaton’s books of cartoons, because you want to read them) (Children’s, ages 4+)

HenryBradley, Sandra. Henry Holton Takes the Ice. Henry Holton’s family is all hockey-mad, and Henry loves to skate, but somehow hockey just doesn’t feel right. A sweet, funny book emphasizing that there are other things to do with skates than play hockey (a lesson many Canadians may need). (Children’s, ages 4+).

Prairie fireE.K. Johnston. Prairie Fire. Sequel to The Story of Owen (a Excellent Canadian teen book of 2014). Fantastic, heartbreaking, will make you want to strangle the author AND worship at her shrine. Oh lord it’s good (but be prepared to stay up all night weeping). (Teen, ages 14+)

Thousand Nights—. A Thousand Nights. You know you want to read this fantastic and mysterious retelling of the 1001 Arabian Nights–not the 1001 stories, but the linking story of the girl who tells stories in order to save her life. This one will merely make you want to worship at Johnston’s shrine, not strangle her. (Teen, ages 12+)

TruthJuby, Susan. The Truth Commission. A funny but powerful story about three friends at an arty high school and their attempt to allow their classmates and teachers to experience the freeing power of the truth (and how everything goes wrong). (Teen, ages 12+)

NestOppel, Kenneth. The Nest. Absolutely fantastic and horrifyingly creepy. Do not read this right before bed, it may lead to terrifying dreams. Prepare yourself if you have a deep fear of wasps. (Children’s, ages 10+)

 

TroubleTromley, Stephanie. Trouble is a Friend of Mine. Oh my this is funny! Absolutely read this if you think teen books about serious things are always depressing, because this is, and it isn’t. Don’t give up if you read a hundred pages and go “meh”; I did too, but I promise it’s worth persevering! (Teen, ages 12+)

Summer Reading

So, like other children’s librarians everywhere, I have been insanely busy with the summer reading program. We’ve still got almost a month to go, so no end in sight, but it’s going well–our file boxes of cards for registered kids are more full than ever, so we’re hopefully well up from last year. What are we doing? Well, we do our normal thing, kids register, read books in threes, tell us about one of each three, and get a little prize. It’s good, it seems to work well for most of our kids, but we’ve always got a few non-readers or crazy readers who finish in the first week (finishing is twelve books). So this year, inspired by many fine blog posts from libraries about their redesign last summer, we added this:

SRC

We call it the Activity Path (and the usual model is the Reading Path). Kids can do it instead of or as well as the Reading Path, but we prefer that they not take both at the same time–start one, do a level, than start the other. If you’re going to be away all summer we’re happy to give you both, but if you’re coming back every week, we’d rather one at a time.

The Activity Path is somewhat popular as an alternative to the Reading Path, and very popular indeed after the Reading Path has been completed. I suspected that we were maybe losing people because reading twelve books was too little, and I think I was right. The Activity Path requires more actual work, if you’re a serious reader, because for pretty much everything you do have to do something; even if it’s reading, you mostly have to do something with your reading afterwards, like read a science book and then do an experiment based on the book–kids who are hoping to do it all in the library in one afternoon are disappointed, and I’m okay with that. Everything shouldn’t be easy 🙂

We also have this adorable summer reading video, made by a design intern we had in the spring, and we have a 3D printed model of the mascot, who’s name (we had a contest) is Mr. Bruce Sparkington!

So yeah, work is really busy (because guess where the kids go if they aren’t in school/camp/on vacation), but pretty good. And I’m going on vacation soon!

My exciting new fantasy booklist

We’re redoing the booklists at my library, and finally my manager had the sense to assign me the fantasy and sci-fi ones (in both genres I am the queen of readers’ advisors for middle grade/middle school/YA). So I’m going to cheat and share my fantasy list, because it’s really so awesome (IMHO, at least).

Alexander, William. Goblin Secrets

Rownie is the youngest child among Graba’s stray children. Graba is a witch with mechanical chicken legs, and she uses the children to run errands for her. Rownie is stray because his older brother, Rowan, disappeared after performing in a play. Acting is illegal in Zombay, unless you’re a goblin, one of the Changed, because acting changes who you are, as the Change does. Rownie sees a goblin play while on an errand for Graba, and finds himself on stage, as a giant who turns into a bird. When the goblins promise to teach him their secrets and help him find Rowan, he leaves Graba and her strays behind, and starts a quest to discover Rowan and the secrets that lie in the heart of Zombay.

Fforde, Jasper. The Last Dragonslayer

In the old days, magic was freely available, magic users (wizards, sorcerers, soothsayers, etc.) could do spells without even thinking about it, and everyone used all the magic they liked, any time they liked. Until the magic started draining away, no one knows why. Now magic is strictly regulated, and can only be used if you’ve received the proper approvals. Jennifer Strange works for Kazam, an employment agency for magic users. Need a Soothsayer or a Magic Carpeteer? Call Kazam. But strange things are happening at Kazam and in the world around them. The soothsayers are predicting strange things, and even people who don’t usually see visions are seeing them, and all of them make it clear that something big will happen soon, something involving Jennifer and lots of Big Magic, magic of a kind for which you definitely can’t get approval!

Goodman, Alison. Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Eon has a secret. On the surface, Eon is a twelve-year-old boy with a limp who can see the Imperial Dragons and who therefore, limp or not, can enter the contest to become a Dragoneye, apprentice to the human embodiment of one of the twelve dragons, and one of the most powerful men in the empire. But what no one must ever know is that Eon is actually a sixteen year old girl, not a twelve year old boy. There are no female Dragoneyes, but nothing can change the fact that Eon sees the twelve dragons better than anyone else, so she must enter the contest as a boy. Magic is uncertain, perhaps Eon can be chosen, girl or not. If she isn’t, certainly there’s not much to look forward to in life as a servant girl with a limp.

Grove, S.E. The Glass Sentence

Almost a 100 year ago, the Great Disruption occurred. The world, which in 1799 had all been moving along normally, suddenly broke apart, and now countries and even entire continents are moving in different times. You might find yourself among the dinosaurs in one country, only to encounter the year 3005 in the next. Sophia Tims comes from a family of renowned explorers and cartologers (map-makers of the post-Disruption world), and so knows these difficulties well, especially since her parents disappeared on their travels between worlds and times. Now she lives in Boston, with her uncle Shadrack, the most famous Cartologer of them all. Unfortunately, someone sinister seems to need a cartologer, and that someone has kidnapped Uncle Shadrack. Now with only the help of Theo, another child, a refugee from the West, Sophia must try to rescue her uncle and save the world from the power of the Glass Sentence.

Haskell, Merrie. The Princess Curse

Reveka, a herbalist’s apprentic,  is drawn into a mystery which involves twelve princesses, a charming and unsettling stranger, and a dying land. Can she save the princesses, the land and live happily ever after? Only if she can break the mysterious curse that lies on the land and the stranger, and that could take everything she values from her, and still not allow her to win. A wonderful mix of fairy tales and myths with a fabulous heroine and an excellent romance.

Ibbotson, Eva. The Secret of Platform 13

Platform 13 is an ordinary train platform in King’s Cross station, London, England. Or is it? Actually, it’s a long-forgotten doorway to a long lost magical land. And if you encounter it on the one day in every nine years when it opens, you might meet a wizard, an ogre, a witch and a fairy who have come looking for a young prince, who was stolen the last time the gateway was open. Unfortunately, since then, the prince seems to have become a horrible brat named Raymond, and it’s going to take all the magic this quartet can call on to take him back to the lost island and make him behave like a fairy tale prince!

Meloy, Colin. Wildwood

Prue (Prudence) McKeel is an ordinary kid with an ordinary life. Until her baby brother is kidnapped by a crow and carried off to the Impassable Wilderness that surrounds Portland, Oregon. The worst thing? It’s kind of Prue’s fault. So of course Prue sets off to rescue her brother, with the help of a boy named Curtis. What they find in the Impassable Wilderness is impossibly wild: magic both good and bad, talking animals both friendly and not, and some very exciting bandits. A fabulous, scary, intriguing adventure! Book 1 of an excellent trilogy.

Nimmo, Jenny. Midnight for Charlie Bone

Charlie Bone is a normal kid, except that he isn’t. He comes from a long line of magicians, and when his father’s family discover that Charlie has magic of his own, they send him to Bloor’s Academy, a school for wealthy smart people, but also for magicians in training. Suddenly appearing at a wealthy genius school when everyone knows you’re poor and thinks you’re stupid isn’t easy, but mysterious voices are telling Charlie that he has a quest to fulfill, and so clearly the only thing to do is ignore everyone and get on with learning magic so he can complete the quest. Book one in a fabulous eight book series that is the perfect thing to read if you couldn’t get enough of Harry Potter.

Pratchett, Terry. A Hat Full of Sky

Tiffany Aching is a witch, or at least she will be when she’s been trained. Unfortunately, the nasty things that lie in wait for girls who have untrained power aren’t going to wait. When one of them takes over Tiffany’s body, she’s very much left out in the cold, and it isn’t clear that even with the help of some real witches and Tiffany’s notorious but loyal friends, the Nac Mac Feegle (little blue fairies with Scottish accents who love fighting and stealing), that Tiffany will ever get herself back.

Valente, Catherynne M. The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making

When the Green Wind comes and offers to carry September (a girl from Omaha) to the gates of Fairyland, of course September says yes (wouldn’t you?). Whatever September expected (and she isn’t sure what that was) Fairyland isn’t it. Fairyland has rules and regulations, forms that must be filled out, and procedures that must be followed, or at least it does since the Marquess took over. September is not a rules and regulations kind of girl, especially not if they include chaining the wings of her new friend A-L, a Wyvern (cousin to a dragon), because only leopards and licenced ragweed stalks are allowed to fly in Fairyland under the new rules. So of course, September decides to rescue Fairyland from the Marquess, and of course, she meets new friends (and a few enemies) and has many adventures, which continue in books 2 and 3 of this fabulous series.

Reflections on 3D printing outreach

So, we’re all done our 3D printer outreach to the schools for now. Seven schools, about 1500 kids, and a lot of PLA filiment later, here are a few things I wish I’d known when we started out, and also some random interesting stuff!

1. Age: we ran this program for grades 2-8, because we assumed the technology was a little over the heads of anyone under age 7. It totally is (in fact, it is over the heads of anyone under age 9 at least), but the younger grades still had a blast, even if they don’t get it. I will definitely be offering it to K and Grade 1 as well in the Autumn. Also, the grade 8s, and to some extent the grade 7s, were pretty lame. With the exception of a handful of nerds, they are far too cool for 3D printing (although you can see when they come watch the printer up close that it’s just a pose, as you would expect!), and it’s pretty hard to get them interested in designing a mascot on 123D Sculpt. I’d probably skip that part with grade 8s in future, and maybe just give them a CAD lesson.

2. Male teachers are such a pain with a technology program! No offense, men, but if you’re in charge of a group of kids, it’s your role to sit back and make them behave themselves if necessary. Not ignore them and try to hijack the whole program and make it in line with your interests! (a couple of women did this too, but all the men did, and since we saw 6-8 male teachers vs about 45 female, that’s telling)

3. I did know this, but I wish I’d thought about it more: schools vary widely in the availability of technology and their willingness to try to help you/allow you to use it. We needed a projector and screen (or a smart board), wi-fi if possible and at least two outlets to plug the laptop and the printer into. This was made very clear when we sent out the invitations, and again when we booked and confirmed the visits. I would say about half of the schools made an effort to provide everything we needed. 1/4 of the others let us know in advance what they couldn’t provide, and the others made no effort at all, so we spent the first 10-15 running around getting everything organized, finding projectors, extension cords and so on. And several of the teachers didn’t believe they could log us onto the wi-fi, even though they were on the school board network that we’d been logged into in dozens of other classes!

4. If I were organizing it again, I’d want to send an interest survey out to teachers, to try and find out how interested their kids were, and so schedule the right amount of time. Yes, I know, at least 80% wouldn’t have time to fill it out, but if we’d known that for even a few classes, it would have been a big help. We asked for an hour, but in some cases we got as little as 25 minutes, and invariably, those were the most passionately interested classes!

Percy Jackson Readalikes

I’m sure we’re not the only library around that continually needs Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan generally readalikes. Such books are one of my guilty pleasures, so I’m here to share what I consider is a pretty good list. I read a lot of this kind of thing, and I enjoy it, so here goes. These are all highly readable, amusing, exciting, boy-friendly books, all of which share something with the Percy Jackson books. Undoubtedly you and your readers will be familiar with some of these, but hopefully not all! Links are to Amazon, because where else will you find so much information, useful and not?

Sorry if the spacing is off, it seems to work fine in some browsers some of the time, and others not at all!

Armstrong, Kelly and M.A. Marr, Loki’s WolvesLoki

Virtually indistinguishable from Percy Jackson except that it’s about   Norse mythology and has more female presence (and may be slightly better written). It’s book one in an ongoing series.

 

SavageSadda, Charwat. The Savage Fortress

Indian myths and demons, for a nice change! All my Percy Jackson loving kids have gobbled this and the sequel right up!

 

Gregor the OverlanderCollins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander

Also really good for kids who want to read the Hunger Games, but their parents aren’t ready for all the YA stuff.

Gregor thinks he’s an ordinary New York City kid, until he’s contacted by giant cockroaches who live in a world under the city, and who believe he can save their world from destruction.

 

Pendragon  MacHale, D.J. The Merchant of Death

Bobby Pendragon is a pretty normal middle-schooler. Then he gets swept into a multi-  dimensional adventure and learns he may be the guy who has to save the universe.

 

Gods  Mebus, Scott. The Gods of Manhattan

Rory discovers the alternate world of Manhattana, where giant rats, kung-fu-fighting  squrrels, and long-dead people co-exist. However, the world of Manhattana is out of balance, and soon Rory’s world may be too, if he can’t rescue some trapped spirits and set them free.

 

Hound  Neff, Henry. The Hound of Rowan

Max McDaniels is a mostly ordinary kid, until he sees things in an old tapestry and then finds himself studying magic and combat at Rowan Academy, preparing to fight an ancient and incredibly powerful demon. Very Percy Jackson, but with an international cast of folkloric characters.

 

ShaUrsu, Anne. The Shadow Thieves

Cousins Charlotte and Zee must save the world from the denizens of the Underworld and a really nasty guy named Phil.

 

There are more, but those are my favourites, and those that work best for readers 9-14.

A fabulous program

Not much time to blog currently, but if you do craft programs at a library, please consider this program: https://blogs.princeton.edu/popgoesthepage/cinderella-story/

I tried it on Thursday, ran it after school and called it The Fairy Godmother Workshop, and it was totally awesome. You will want to charge a small fee if you can, it’s a program that rises or falls largely based on how good your craft supplies are, so I charged $5 per kid and bought some really fabulous stickers, fancy paper, ribbon and netting, as well as raiding the library’s supply of lace and ribbon. Some things I learned:

You need at least two staff people who know exactly what they’re doing, no matter how many parents and helpers you have.

Doing dresses and crowns is too much, one or the other would be plenty.

Allow at least 2 hours for this program (I didn’t, and very much regret it).

Remind everyone at least three times that they have to leave the holes clear for lacing it up!

Have fun and be glamorous!

Puppets!

Had an awesome program today, modelled on one I used to run weekly in my old job. It’s a puppet program, and the main point is just to let the kids hang out with puppets! So we started with all the library’s puppets on the floor on one half of our program room, and the kids got to explore them. They had tons of fun figuring out how the owl’s eyes blinked and cramming the frog back inside the prince, and making the shark eat the chicks. Then we went over to the other side of the room, and made puppets! I was worried that some of the older kids (this was an age 4-10 program) would sneer at paper bag puppets or very simple finger puppets, but I need not have. Everyone had an awesome time, and we ended with an utterly chaotic puppet show (performed using a fabulous table on its side with cloth draped over it as a puppet theatre) in which I performed the handsome but extremely cowardly Prince Edward, the oldest girl in the room performed Princess Pom Pom, a double-faced pom pom hanging from marionette strings who was supposed to be rescued by Prince Edward but actually rescued him more often than not, and everyone else performed things that frightened Prince Edward so badly that he disgraced himself and fell off his horse! It was a huge hit, and almost everyone asked me when the next one would be. I wish I had pictures to share, but the problem with running a program by yourself is that it’s hard to take pictures. Anyway, if you have a nice puppet collection that you don’t mind sharing a bit, I highly recommend this kind of program. Kids really get a kick out of it!