Highlights of the Week: Makers Day, Eco Friendly Lawn Care, Stuffed Animal Story Time & More!

3/1 & 3/3 | Story Coders Grades K-1

To start the program, kindergartners, first graders, and parents worked together to solve the tangram challenges.  Using the seven shapes, children and parents had to recreate the shapes shown on the challenge sheet.

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For the next activity, the children practiced breaking down tasks into smaller steps. Joseph, pretending to be a robot, explained that there was a problem with the code, (directions he used to complete the “get ready for bed” activity) and he needed their help to rewrite it.  The children had to use step-by-step directions to tell “Robot Joseph” how to use a brush, read a book, use toothbrush and toothpaste, and drink a glass of water. With guidance from parents, Amanda, and Joseph, the children learned that their directions to a robot needed to be more specific than when they give directions to another person.  

The library’s new Code & Go Mouse Bot was also revealed, which was a hit with the kids.  Amanda explained that the mouse bot needed to be given directions using different color directional arrows.  The mouse bot could be directed to go forward, backward, turn left, and turn right. While reading the story “The Journey” by Arnold Lobel, Amanda helped the kids retell the story by directing the mouse to move from picture to picture in the maze, with each picture representing a different part of the story. The children planned out how the mouse should move using arrow cards for each part of the maze, then Joseph input the commands into the mouse bot.  Just like the mouse in the story, the mouse bot navigated the maze to go home and have some cheese!



3/10 | Makers Day


Despite a recent snowstorm and trees down in the parking lot, the library’s third annual Makers Day was a huge success! Approximately 500 people participated in the event, making slime, drawing spin art using LEGO machines, viewing robotics demonstrations, looking through telescopes, and more.

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The Library benefited from partnerships with the high school robotics team, Livingston Robotics Club, Morris Museum Astronomical Society, Montclair Learning Center, and Bricks 4 Kidz to make this the best attended Makers Day at Livingston.


3/11 | Eco Friendly Lawn Care 

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This was the second installment in our “Know Your Garden” series with presenter, Marc Zukovich, a professor of horticulture at County College of Morris and a storehouse of knowledge on all gardening and botanical matters. 

He began by saying that the lawn is America’s contribution to landscape architecture and is a $40 billion industry in the USA. Marc’s talk focused on the cultural practices associated with lawn care and gave many useful tips on conscientious lawn care and maintenance.

Mowing, aeration, seeding and over seeding, watering, topdressing, dethatching and soil texture analysis, which are different elements in lawn care, were highlighted.  Marc spoke of the importance of soil testing and advised all lawn owners to use the services of the Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory.  The lab will analyse the nutrients and PH levels of a sample of soil from your yard, which is extremely beneficial when creating your lawn care regimen.  

The  importance of nitrogen to plants, how to read fertilizer labels (numbers like 5-10-5), types of fertilizers (organic vs inorganic), and when and how to fertilize was discussed. Marc also recommended environmental friendly organic products, such as Epsoma fertilizers and using corn gluten as a weed killer.  He spoke of the environmental dangers of using synthetic fertilizers, especially “weed and feed” brands. 

Read more about lawn care in a Rodale’s Organic Life article that was distributed, titled The Dark Side of Lawns.



3/12 & 3/13  | Stuffed Animal Story Time & Craft 

Children, ages two-years-old to seven-years-old, along with their stuffed animal friends, enjoyed a special Story Time with Miss Amanda.  They listened to stories about a girl who learns to love a pink, stuffed armadillo that her grandmother knitted, and a story about a rescued dog who can’t sleep without her collection of stuffed toys.  The children counted teddy bears that fell out of bed as Miss Amanda sang the song “Rollover” and named the colors of a teddy bear’s clothing as he got dressed. 

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For the craft, the children chose the colors they wanted to use.  With help, they put together the bear ears and paper strips to construct their teddy bear headband.  Teen volunteer Lizzi Tesoriero helped the children with the craft.


3/14  | Creativity Blooms: Making Book Page Blossoms


Artist and instructor Donna Drew led a workshop using sustainable design concepts and showed the audience how to turn discarded book pages into pretty paper flowers.  Using pages from recycled books, a flower template, and materials like a thin wire hook, glue, brushes and pens, she instructed the eager participants in cutting, folding, gluing and shaping the pages into petaled blooms.

Thought parts of the craft were challenging, everyone had an enjoyable experience, appeared engaged in the process, and each one took home a pretty paper flower. One participant commented that “this library has such great programs, offers a lot, and I love it!”

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Some audience members admired the jewelry made and worn by Donna and asked about having her back for a jewelry class. You can view more of Donna’s art on her Triangle Designs Facebook Page.


Highlights of the Week: Library Mini Golf Fundraiser, Chinese Culture Day & More!

2/16 | Senior Happening

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“At Long Last Love” was the theme of a post-Valentine’s Day Senior Happening at the Library. Over 100 seniors enjoyed a program of appropriate love songs from the Great American Songbook, sung by Soprano Jean McClelland, accompanied by her husband, pianist Bill McClelland.
Many of the songs were familiar from the Broadway musicals BrigadoonGuys and Dolls, and Showboat. Others were from composers like Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner, or Irving Berlin. Berlin, known as Mr. Tin Pan Alley, wrote over 1,500 songs between 1907 and the 1960s. “Blue Skies” and “How Deep is the Ocean” were two of his songs that Jean sang.
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Other selections for the afternoon’s program included “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “Summertime” from Showboat, “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “S Wonderful,” “Wouldn’t It be Lovely,” and “In the Still of the Night.”

2/20 & 2/22 |Coffee and Crime
This week’s discussion was on the book Time’s Up by Janey Mack, a light, frothy mystery about a young woman from a cop family who becomes a meter maid to prove she’s tough enough to join the police force.
There were twenty five attendees in total and the two groups had surprisingly different reactions to the book: the night owls enjoyed the book’s slapstick humor, broadly drawn characters, and steamy romance (perfect for Valentine’s Day!). The early birds were critical of the book’s stereotypes, which did seem dated since its publication two years earlier before #MeToo and other social movements had taken off.
Our librarian, Ariel Zeitlin, who leads the group, played a clip from the children’s movie Zootopia, which has a strikingly similar plot to the book. And longtime member Helen Farber brought her own delicious homemade cookie bars to the evening meeting, which were devoured by all.

2/22 |Library Mini Golf Fundraiser
The Livingston Community came together for an evening of fun and fundraising at LPL’s first mini golf event. Cheers and laughter could be heard throughout the children’s department as players aimed for the illusive hole-in-one on a whimsical golf course created entirely by volunteers. The groups who volunteered were the Weeblos Troop 12, Livingston High School Twin Club, Emerald Knights Robotics, Italian Club, National Art Honor Society, and the Livingston Library Teen Advisory Board.  All Proceeds Benefited  Friends of the Livingston Library and the ALA disaster Relief Fund.
Check out this cute video from the program.

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2/24 |Chinese Culture Day at LHS
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The Livingston Library booth for Chinese Culture Day at the Livingston High School drew a large crowd. Kids who attended loved our free toys, the free Chinese magazines we gave out were very popular as well. Over one hundred bags of toys, eighty Chinese magazines, and dozens of pens were given out.

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2/20, 2/26 & 2/27 | Little Listeners


During the winter session of Little Listeners, children ages two to five years old and their caregivers, reinforced their knowledge of basic concepts while enjoying stories, songs, and books.  When Amanda read stories about winter, the children loved practicing shape names as they participated in the flannel board story “Where is the Snowball?”. The children learned about the value of sharing and problem-solving in Lost, a book about a bear who loses his mitten. The children also practiced counting and colors in the flannel board story “Ten Rabbits”, in which rabbits gather ingredients to make vegetable soup.








Amanda shared songs related to the different storytime themes and the kids enjoyed a special visit from Guitar Joe who sung Jewel’s “That’s What I’d Do.”  




2/26 | Teen Crafters


Teens attending the Library’s annual Teen Crafters Program learned to crochet and/or knit. Over the course of the six-week program, the crafters practiced basic skills while making a small project such as a scarf, bracelet, or mini hat. Once the projects are complete the teens will choose to keep their creation or to donate them to a local charity such as Emily’s Hats for Hope or Woman’s Heart Scarves program.

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2/27 | X-treme Readers

The group read one of Gina’s favorite books of  recent years, the National Book Award winner and 2015 Newbery Honor Book, Brown Girl Dreaming written by the National Ambassador to Young People’s Literature for 2018, Jacqueline Woodson. The children commented how they loved her poetic use of language and how descriptive the author was in her storytelling– these are some of the same reasons Gina loved the book so much. The readers shared stories of their family history, the story of their names, discussed the Civil Rights Movement, and figured out their “thing,” a.k.a the one thing  they do well.

X-Treme Readers proudly display their name art.

The readers then created word art of their names, using calligraphy and bubble letter templates to simulate ‘graffiti,’ (the author was caught by her uncle as she tried to spray paint her tag.)  As the children were writing, Gina played YouTube interviews of Jacqueline Woodson on the Chromebook for the children to listen to.  One of the girls took it to the next level by including #xtreme in her ‘tag.’

Finally, the group (and some of their parents) enjoyed the last few minutes of the Livingston Listens Lecture, Understanding Your Child’s Racial Identity.  


2/28 |Children’s Chess


Chess classes this winter were led by LHS Chess Club member Varun Maheshwari with assistance from other members of the chess club.  Having the class led by a teen volunteer provided a wonderful opportunity for the children to interact with members of the LHS Chess Club, a group which the children chess players will one day have a chance to participate in.  



The well-attended chess class for children in grade 2 to grade 5 included experienced chess players as well as players learning chess for the first time.  Children reviewed chess basics and chess strategy by listening and answering questions during lessons led by Varun using a demonstration chessboard.  Varun and the teen volunteers also challenged the children with chess puzzles that the children solved using the class chess sets and chessboards (purchased by the Friends of the Livingston Library).  




Highlights of the Week: Selling Your Home in 2018, Lunar New Year, Paper Mill Playhouse Jr. & More!

2/10 | Paper Mill Playhouse Children’s Theatre on Tour: Alice in Wonderland

The Paper Mill Playhouse Children’s Theatre on Tour returned to the Library to perform Alice in Wonderland, Jr to a full house!
To experience some of the show time magic, enjoy a short clip from the show.



2/11 | Selling Your Home in 2018

Realtor Suzy Minken spent a good two hours sharing the elements of a “winning strategy” for achieving the highest price when selling your home.

Using a Power Point presentation, Ms. Minken discussed competitive market trends, evaluating a home’s worth relative to other homes on the market, the importance of
“right pricing” home staging and maintenance, and so much more. She even included a series of “before and after” photos of design changes that optimize the value of your home.
Here’s an example of the knowledge she shared:




2/13  | Lunar New Year Celebration 


Children and adults were greeted to a festively decorated room for the Library’s first Lunar New Year Tri-lingual Story Time.  

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In celebration of the Year of the Dog, the excited audience listened as Children’s Librarian Amanda Winter read a story in English about a dog who is a loyal friend.  The children also heard a colorful story in Chinese and English about a silly dog who needed a bath.  Librarian Hongmei Liu told the story in Chinese, while Amanda simultaneously told the story in English.  Children and parents loved acting out the songs “The Three Bears” and “Cuteness” as Youth Services Assistant Diane Choi sang the words in Korean.  Attendees learned about some of the different decorations and preparations people make to celebrate while listening to the story, “Bringing in the New Year,” which was told in Chinese and English.  


Hongmei and Diane each talked a little about how the holiday is celebrated in China and South Korea.  Hongmei brought in a lantern decoration and a qi pao dress to show the children.  Diane shared pictures of foods and activities associated with the holiday in South Korea while dressed in a traditional dress, han bok.

In addition to learning about the holiday, participants learned the Korean words for ‘cuteness’ (gwi gomi) and ‘bear’ (gom) and the Chinese words for ‘dog’ (gou) and the color ‘red’ (hong.)

After the stories and songs, children colored and decorated dragon masks.



2/13  | Get Lit Casual Book Club 

Our fun, lively group discussed Sherman Alexie’s brilliant, brutally honest, occasionally hilarious memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.  YouDon'tHaveToLoveMeCover
Alexie’s gifted storytelling allowed readers an intimate look into his childhood on and off the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, in addition to the relationships with his family, particularly his mother.  Group members thoroughly enjoyed sharing Alexie’s sorrows, joys, and life stories and comparing his experiences to their own families.  All group members learned many new things about the Indian culture.
As a special treat, one of our steady book discussion members shared big, fluffy, chocolate brownies with our group in addition to the cookies usually served.

For more on Sherman Alexie, listen to his 6/20/2017 interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.



2/13  | Living a Heart Healthy Life

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Cardiologist Dr. Liliana Cohen gave an informative presentation on “Living a Heart Healthy Life” in collaboration with the Summit Medical Group.

Some of the topics she she covered include: an overview of Cardiovascular Disease and its prevalence, symptoms of heart disease and the different symptoms experienced by men and women, risk factors, how to eat healthy , importance of physical activity and weight management, blood pressure, hypertension, and how to lower heart disease risk.

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Audience members had many questions about diet and medications, all of which Dr. Cohen patiently answered. At the end of the program, everyone was given a heart shaped ice pack and an article by Dr. Cohen herself.

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For anyone who wants more information or wasn’t able to attend, Dr. Cohen recommended visiting  the website Life’s Simple 7 to start making seven simple changes to improve heart health.


Highlights of the Week: Valentine’s Pop Up Event, Exquisite Corpse Collage & More!

2/5 | Valentine’s Pop Up Event

Love was in the air at the Library!
Eighty children, teens, and adults stopped in during the two hour Valentine’s Pop-Up event to make Valentine’s cards.  Our theme was “we provide the hearts and glue; the rest is up to you!” which allowed participants to add their own creative flair to their Valentine’s cards.
There were many wonderful designs, including pop-up and 3D designs. One mom who had previously attended the library’s miniature book making workshop made miniature Valentine books for her son’s classmates.


2/6  | Yakety Yak 



This month’s Yakety Yak Book Discussion Group, made up of second and third graders, got together to talk about Douglas Evans’, The Elevator Family.  Amanda started the discussion by asking whether or not the author’s choice of having most of the action take place in an elevator was a good one. Some children loved that the author had chosen such an unusual setting and suggested other unusual locations at which the family should stay next. Others in the group felt that the setting made the story seem to move more slowly.  When asked what they would bring on vacation if they were staying in an elevator, the children’s ideas included: yarn, a giant couch, books, paintings to hang inside the elevator, and snacks.

After the discussion, everyone was split into groups to make an elevator craft.  Using paper tubes, string, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and scotch tape, the kids had fun working in groups as they chose which materials to use and how best to put them together to create their elevator.  

Next month’s book will be Birdbrain Amos by Michael Delaney.                   



2/6  | Exquisite Corpse Collage

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Amy Tingle and Maya Stein of The Creativity Caravan led a group of fifteen adults in a fun, creative, and collaborative collage workshop based on the “Exquisite Corpse” method. Exquisite corpse (from the original French term Cadavre Exquis) is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled, with each collaborator adding to a composition in sequence.
The participants were each given two 11×17 inches of thick drawing paper, and asked to paint whatever they wanted in free form using the supplies on the table, including acrylic paints, crayons, markers, and colored pencils.

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After painting, everyone’s pieces were mixed up in order for each person to then pick two pieces at random. They then drew and cut out shapes and patterns inspired from nature, which served in creating collaborative collages in groups of two.
Comments from participants included:  It was a lot of fun! it was relaxing to put paint on paper and assemble the collage.” One person said the best part was not knowing what the collage would look like at the end since it was created from mixed up pieces created by others.


2/8  | Play With Your Food Day

Elle Bernardo, the Registered Dietitian at ShopRite of Livingston returned to the library to talk about healthy eating, teach us about sugar, and create fun, Valentine’s Day treats!

Children (and their parents!) were surprised to learn that the daily recommended serving of sugar is less than 24 grams, or 6 teaspoons. Elle introduced a game to see if the children could guess how much sugar a serving of various food had, such as Ginger Ale (52 grams), Raisin Bran (18 grams), and Cocoa Puffs (13 grams). Next, the children made Valentine’s Day treats using strawberries dipped in almond yogurt and chocolate, topped with sprinkles and granola. Yum!


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Highlights of the Week: How-to Houseplants, Non-Alcoholic Mixology & More!

1/28 | How-to: Houseplants (Know Your Garden Series)


The first program in our planned “Know Your Garden” series was a success!  We had a very interested audience of forty people who peppered the presenter, Mr. Marc Zukovich, with questions right from the start. 

Marc shared his vast knowledge in an engaging and interactive full two hour session. He gave a lot of handy tips and recommendations on indoor plant care, both of the flowering and non flowering kind. Topics covered included watering, fertilization, re-potting, lighting and temperature control, and so on. 

Marc brought handouts (we had to make more copies!), patiently answered all questions, and even distributed some candy. At the end of the program, he gave out his number and said he would be more than happy to give gardening-related advice to anyone with more questions.



Members of the audience found the program to be very educational, stating that it would help them take better care of their indoor plants.  One participant mentioned that this session with the colorful slides had “rekindled [her] interest in having plants inside the house again.” 

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Marc’s next program is scheduled for March 11th on Eco-friendly Lawn Care.


1/29 |  Dr. Michael Sunga’s LHS’s Class Visit


The Library welcomed Livingston High School teacher Dr. Michael Sunga’s Public Speech & Debate class on Monday morning.  Dr. Sunga assigned students the task of selecting a picture book to read out loud with a Kindergarten ESL ‘book buddy.’  Youth Services Librarian Gina Vaccaro gave the students a tour of the Children’s section of the library, guided the students to the picture book section, and helped the class find fun, age appropriate books to read aloud.


1/29  | Mocktails – Non-Alcoholic Mixology


Vanessa Young, founder of the Thirsty Radish, talked about how to spice up non-alcoholic drinks. She encouraged attendees to explore their own family history and traditions with food. She also pointed out certain ingredients to be creative with when experimenting with mocktails in order to keep them fresh and festive.

The audience was treated to delicious samples of Vanessa’s Vanilla Cider Punch and Candied Orange Margarita mocktails.

1/30  | X-Treme Readers Book Club for grades 4-5


The inter-generational Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech was the group’s topic for discussion this month. The X-Treme readers talked about friendships and conflict resolution, food, cooking with family, and what foods they suggest eating as comfort foods (chocolate ice cream was a favorite).

For our snack, the group enjoyed one of Miss Gina’s favorite winter comfort foods, her homemade vegetable soup with pastina!


Highlights of the Week: Livingston Listens Lecture, Collage Workshop, Book Clubs and More!

1/16 |  Healing Hands Collage Workshop

Artist and art instructor Mansa Mussa led a group of fifteen adults in a colorful and fun “Healing Hands” collage workshop in which they learned to create vibrant 8×10 inch collages using a variety of wallpaper samples and traced images of their hands.

For the collages, Mansa instructed the participants to use techniques found in  collage painter, Romare Bearden’s, works: these techniques included adding various cut geometric pieces, colorful hearts, flowers, word stickers, and various textures and layers to create a dynamic composition.  Calling collage the “most democratic” art form, Mansa urged the attendees to create a narrative through their collages and to “break at least one rule” in the process.
A couple of participants took up the option of using digital pictures in their collage –Mansa took a picture from their phone and used a photo printer to make a copy– which made the collages more “personalized.” Students walked away with beautiful, unique collages and expressed how much they not only enjoyed the program, but that they would like to have Mansa come back.


1/16 |  Get Lit Adult Book Club

This week’s group read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. In this chilling, dystopian narrative, women have lost all of their rights and must live under the extreme religious society’s patriarchal rule.  In the fictional world of Gilead, it is illegal for women to work, have money and read.  The women are also expected to eat what they are given and do whatever they are told, or pay dire consequences.  As expected, our lively group had a lot to say about this!

Group members were interested to learn that Margaret Atwood was quoted to say that she had “invented nothing” in Gilead.  All of the extreme acts of violence and oppression against women were indeed happening in parts of the world when she wrote the book in the 1980’s.  The group was also fascinated to learn that the popular quote from the book, “Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum,” a phrase that has been loosely translated to mean “Don’t let the bastards grind you down,” is actually a joke from Atwood’s Latin classes!

Now that they have read the book, the group is excited to watch the highly acclaimed award winning series.


1/23 |  Understanding Race in America with Dr. Khyati Joshi

Dr. Khyati Joshi presented a historical narrative that helped to provide and understanding of how Supreme Court decisions and immigration laws have contributed to our society as we know it today.  Dr. Joshi entertained questions and comments from the audience regarding these issues.

This program was the first lecture of the Livingston Public Library’s Livingston Listens Series: A Series of Programs on Inclusion, Representation, and Social Justice.  Livingston Listens is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Livingston Library.

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Joshi back on Tuesday, February 27th for the second lecture in our series, Understanding Your Child’s Racial Identity.

1/23 & 1/25 |  Coffee and Crime

Our first set of Coffee & Crime Mystery Book Club meetings for 2018 started off with a bang.  Thirty-one members in total (nineteen in the daytime and twelve in the evening) came to the local history room to talk about Keigo Higashino’s literary thriller, Malice. Reference librarian Ariel Zeitlin, the group’s facilitator, served dry roasted edamame to go with the Japanese setting, but they were eclipsed at the evening meeting by member Nancy Pearl’s amazing home-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Because of the novel’s “unreliable narrator,” the group listened to an audio clip about how to construct the perfect lie. A few members resented the author’s skillful manipulation of the reader, while others were spellbound by his mastery, but as usual, everyone had a great discussion.


1/25  |  “Nutty by Nature” Improv Comedy Troupe

Sponsored by the Friends of the LibraryThink Theater” series, eleven actors arrived to perform hilarious improv skits for a crowd of fifty-two people, including three children.

While Livingston resident and professional actor Robert Sapoff is the founder of the troupe, it was Elaine Brodie of Caldwell that led the show.  The other actors joining them were Michael J. Foy, Christina Mastroeni, Alex Bernstein, Tarek Salib and Charles (Chuck) Tsocanos of Bloomfield, Ray Brandess, Bruce Mejia, Tiffany Bizub, Nat Gennace, and Doug Pinkowsky.

In one of the skits, a “husband and wife” were pantomiming barbecuing a steak on a grill and were told to do it in various emotional states, such as anger, depression, love, etc. The audience couldn’t stop laughing when the fuming wife slathered BBQ sauce over the steak while the furious husband shouted out that she very well knew he only liked salt and pepper and the “argument” escalated. It was so funny to see how quickly they could jump from one emotion to another and had the audience in stitches.

In another skit, they asked the public to call out names of various professions and two actors had to perform how those occupations would work together. When the actors chose how a leprechaun (not actually a profession, but let’s pretend it is) was paired off with an astronaut in an office on the moon, some people were left in literal tears from laughing so hard. All in all, it was a wonderfully entertaining evening in which winter doldrums were set aside and good times were had by all.

Highlights of the Week: Charcoal Sketch Workshop, Live Guitar Story Time, Garden State Children Book Awards & more!

1/4 | Garden State Children Book Awards


Every Fall, a list of nominated books (published three years before the award) is created by a committee that is part of NJLA’s Children Services Section. According to the GSCBA’s page, members of the committee select these books based on their “literary merit and appeal to readers.”  The four award categories for author and illustrator are: “Easy to Read”, “Fiction Series”, “Fiction”, and “Nonfiction.”

The winning books are announced at the NJLA conference in late spring where children then have an opportunity to vote at the Livingston Library– or at their public school in Livingston– for their favorite nominated book. Children who vote at the library are entered into a random drawing for a prize, with this Fall’s winner being Samay Malde!

The Livingston votes have been counted!  Here are the top three titles for each category:

Easy Readers

Prince Fly Guy by Ted Arnold

I will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems

Hot Rod Hamster and the Awesome ATV Adventure by Cynthia Lord


Fiction Series

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney

Babymouse: Bad Babysitter by Jennifer Holm

Captain Underpants and the sensational saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot : the twelfth epic novel by Dav Pilkey



The Rat with the Human Face by Tom Angleberger

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Eva Sees a Ghost by Rebecca Elliott



The Founding Fathers! : those horse-ridin’, fiddle-playin’, book-readin’, gun-totin’ gentlemen who started America by Jonah Winter

Hippos are Huge! by Jonathan London

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page



1/6 & 1/11 | Story Coders


Second and third graders, along with their parents, enjoyed learning some coding basics using the Finch Bot and ScratchJr.  The well-attended program was divided into three parts and the children and parents played tic-tac-toe as an icebreaker activity.  

After introductions, Amanda and Joseph invited the group onto the story mat for the Finch Bot activity.  The story mat was set up for the story If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff.  The Finch Bot acted as the mouse in the story and the children had to direct the “mouse” from picture to picture following the sequence of the story.  For this activity, the Finch Bot was only capable of moving straight.  

Joseph explained that sensors on the front of the bot acted as the bot’s eyes.  The children could direct the bot to turn left or right by placing special cards in front of the bot. Children took turns figuring out how many space the bot should move straight and which direction it needed to turn in order to reach the next picture.

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For the second activity, Joseph demonstrated how to make a simple story following the If You Give a Mouse a Brownie pattern.  The children and parents worked on  creating their own versions of the story while Amanda and Joseph answered questions as needed.  At the end of the class, the children had an opportunity to share their stories.  



1/8 | Charcoal Sketch Workshop

 A cold, snowy day didn’t discourage this group of eager artists to show up for our Charcoal Sketch Workshop led by Livingston Art Teacher extraordinaire, Christine Wittlinger.


Many of the students were using charcoal for the first time; they followed the teacher’s detailed instructions on how to hold the charcoal, where to draw the lines, how dark to make each line, and how to use the blending tool to create the desired effect.

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1/9 | Yakety Yak


The well-attended book club for second and third graders discussed Asia Citro’s Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows.  One of the reasons the children gave for liking the story was that it mixed fantasy and science. They liked that the story was both fun and educational.

During the story, Zoey made and tested hypotheses to figure out what the dragon liked to eat and how to make him better. For the activity, children used modeling clay to create their own dragon eggs and decorated them using food dye and beads.  



1/11 | Story Time with Live Guitar Music


Guitar Joe sang songs and told musically-based stories, accompanied by his acoustic guitar and a small bongo-like drum. Anna helped by showing picture books & puppets based on some of the songs.

The kids were encouraged to participate, such as helping with the distribution of maracas during the reading of “Drum Dream Girl,” which describes different forms of percussion, and encouraging the children to match the various rhythms in the story.  The children responded enthusiastically (though, thankfully, not too rambunctiously) to both the music and the stories, all while receiving lessons in subjects like counting, spelling, and gender equality.

Watch a video of the performance of Guitar Joe’s version of We’re Going To Be Friends.




Highlights of the Week: Toddler Art Time




Three separate crafts were available in the Children’s Room for our Toddler Winter Art Craft program designed for ages 2-5. Youth Librarian Gina Vaccaro, along with Library Assistant Diane and Teen Volunteer Matt, happily welcomed droves of children to our program. They directed the children to create a snow scene with a snow family with craft supplies found on the tables. 

Snowflakes were created with q-tips dipped in white paint, a fun hot chocolate mug face was topped big, fluffy marshmallows made of cotton balls, and a snowman in a baggie sensory toy was the final touch. As can be seen in the photos, the kids had a blast!

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 ***Happy Holidays!!

Highlights of the Week: Ellen LaFurn Trio, Paws to Read, Coffee and Crime, & more!



Vocalist Ellen LaFurn, accompanied by Ron Naspo on bass and Vic Cenicola on guitar, added a jazz vibe to selections from The Great American Songbook. They played their own take of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” and treated the audience to songs from the 1930s to the 1950s. Other artists they played songs from included Cab Calloway, Judy Garland, Jo Stafford, Fred Astaire, and many others.

LaFurn also included two of America’s most popular holiday songs, “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” where she then told a touching anecdote about the latter:

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” introduced by Bing Crosby in 1943, held a special place for families with loved ones serving in the armed services. In December of 1965, astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program. As they returned to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft, NASA asked if they wanted any particular music piped up to them. The crew requested Bing Crosby’s recording of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” making it the first song broadcast into space.

12/12 | PAWS TO READ


Back for another great session, kids grades K-2 had the opportunity to practice their reading with trained therapy dogs. Each child was given a fifteen minute time slot, picking their own book and reading aloud to the patient dog sitting next to them.

With a furry friend that doesn’t judge the children for any mistakes, but rather quietly sits or lays next to them while they read, it encourages them to continue practicing. And of course, getting to pet a cute, fluffy pup is a plus too.

12/13 | MUSIC OPEN PLAY  | 3 to 23 month olds


The babies came out in the dozens to play! Youth Services Librarian Gina Vaccaro and Library Assistant Diane Choi organized the new furniture in the Children’s Room to accommodate the droves of families that were in attendance for our December Music Open Play session.

Babies from age 3 to 23 months were treated to an open play session where they were introduced to various musical instruments– including a giant sized keyboard for the babies to crawl on– drums, maracas, bells, a triangle, a xylophone, and other percussion toys.In addition to the music, families were also reading books to their little ones, enjoying educational computer games, building with blocks, and having a fun time together.

The library welcomed a few families to the library for the first time and all in attendance were happy to have an indoor event to share with their babies together.

12/7 & 12/14 | COFFEE & CRIME


Despite the cold weather and overlap of dates with Hanukkah, the Coffee & Crime Mystery Book Group had a great turnout on both days: fifteen people on Tuesday in the daytime and sixteen on Thursday in the evening. This month, the group discussed Daniel Friedman’s Don’t Ever Get Old, about a cranky old Jewish ex-detective (and WWII vet) and his yuppie grandson Tequila (“It’s a fraternity thing”) who chase down a treasure hoard of Nazi gold.

Both days were full of lively discussions with passages from the book, such as this one: “’I never thought I would hear you expound the virtues of caring about people.’ I frowned. ‘I care about people. I just don’t like them.’” 

Ariel Zeitlin, the reference librarian who facilitates the group, played an audio version of the author describing his own grandfather who inspired the book, as well as audio clips from GI JEWS, a forthcoming documentary film about Jewish American soldiers in WWII. The group also enjoyed delicious Hanukkah gelt in honor of the book’s treasure theme.

Highlights of the Week: Dynamic Drawing, X-Treme Readers Book Club, The Ballantine Mansion, & more!


Ballantine House for Ariel & Steffi

Sue Smith, chairwoman of the Newark Museum’s Speaker’s Bureau, gave an informative presentation on the Ballantine mansion to a room of fifty-two people.
She started off by telling the story of how the house came to be a museum, having been built by Louis Bamberger, which eventually became a National Landmark in 1985. The Museum originally occupied the upper floors of the Newark Public Library, but John Cotton Dana felt that the Museum should be part of a community, so it was moved to its present location of 49 Washington Street in Newark.
The mansion itself was built in 1885 and the Ballantine family lived there until 1919. It once contained a whopping twenty-five rooms and sixteen fireplaces! In addition to the latest in hot air/central air conditioning and five bathrooms, the house had parquet floors, ornamental plaster-work ceilings and stained glass windows. The mansion was then sold to an insurance company for office space, which surprised many people during the presentation.
Sue showed slides of each room, making sure to point out specific details, such as a fireplace in one of the rooms with English pink tiles , or that it contained a stained glass window done by Tiffany that cost $450 (a small fortune back then). One of the more unusual slides was a scene of eight headless figures, dressed in period clothes, seated around an elaborately set dining room table.
For those interested in visiting the mansion, Sue Smith finished off the presentation by mentioning that in January 2018, the lobby will be completely remodeled with floor to ceiling windows.




12/5 | X-TREME READERS BOOK CLUB | Grades 4-5


The X-Treme Readers Book Club met to discuss the winner of both the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Newbery Medal, Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again. The book takes place in 1975 and details a year in the life of 10 year old Vietnamese refugee, Hà and her family’s journey from their home in Vietnam, to refugee camps in Guam and Florida until settling in Alabama.

To help set the story, Gina showed pictures of Vietnam and the natural beauty it possesses.  To help the children understand the journey that Vietnam refugees traveled, the group used Google Maps to chart the expedition across the ocean, from the river in Saigon where the family in the story escaped across the Pacific Ocean to the refugee camps, to Alabama.


In the discussion, Gina became aware that over half of the group had learned English as a second language and the majority of the group actively speak another language at home.  In all seriousness, the children asked, “Why didn’t  use Google Translate?” It is hard for them to understand a world without the technology that they are growing up with.

As the group enjoyed a snack, Gina played a YouTube video of  author Thanhha Lai reading her book at the National Book Awards Finalists Reading.  The young readers enjoyed the book, however, hearing the author read her written words in her own voice really helped to bring the powerful story to life.

In January, the X-treme Readers Book Club is discussing Sharon Creech’s beloved Granny Torrelli Makes Soup.

12/5 & 12/6 | SEASONAL PRINTING 
Teen Librarian Karen deWilde and Head of Youth Services Anna Coats held three Seasonal Printing workshops this week.  Children in grades K-2, 3-5 & 6-8, created colorful, layered beautiful festive designs using Gel Printing Plates.



Dynamic Drawing Fun With Composition 054

Fine artist, Sarah Canfield (www.sarahcanfield.com) led this fun workshop where she helped the twenty-five participants understand the creative process that happens before a painting or drawing is started. She discussed the essential lines in a composition that create a basic structure for drawing or painting. One of these ideas was explored through sketching compositions using smartphone photography.

According to Sarah, “photography is a straightforward and spontaneous way to record ideas for your art in addition to preparatory sketches.  When used thoughtfully, it can be a useful tool to incorporate into your repertoire and can save valuable time in the planning process.”
Dynamic Drawing Fun With Composition 027
After covering the fundamentals of composition using images of paintings from her iPad, Sarah had everyone take pictures with their phones of the three still-life arrangements she had put up on the center of the work tables.  She then asked them to pick an image or two, crop or edit them as needed, and use the image to start composing a sketch of the still life using the newsprint sheets, compressed charcoal sticks, and soft graphite pencils provided.
Participants appeared very involved in their sketching and produced some great drawings/sketches, which were shared at the end in a critique session. Many attendees mentioned that they hadn’t sketched or drawn in years, and this workshop made them realize how much fun it is!