Harry Potter Casts a Spell on the Livingston Library

Harry Potter fans were able to celebrate their wizard love at two Livingston Library events.

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Close to 500 fans, some in costume, attended our Harry Potter Family Halloween event.  Children went from station to station to create Mini Monster Books, Edible Wizard Hats, Charms Practice (a.k.a. Dementor Bowling) and complete a Riddle Challenge to free Dobby from danger.  The night would not be complete without a family photo op on Platform 9 3/4.

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Teens had the library to themselves on a Saturday night as they competed in house events, earning points for prizes while the library was closed!  Houses Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin played Quidditch, mixed potions, answered HP trivia questions and conducted a Horcrux Hunt as they searched for the seven pieces of Voldemort’s fragmented soul.

After the House Competition, teens enjoyed snacks of wizard hats and homemade butterbeer while viewing the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the big screen.

The winning house members earned special prizes, a few special participants earned door prizes and all other wizard fans reached into the giant cauldron for a goodie bag.

The foam on the butterbeer of the night: the Livingston Library Teen Advisory Board planned, organized and helped run the event.

—  Gina Vaccaro, Youth Services Librarian 

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Highlights of the Week: Sleeping Better Naturally, Senior Happening, and St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

3/15 | Sleeping Better, Naturally

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The third in our series of community health lectures in collaboration with the Summit Medical Group, Dr. Mairanna Shimelfarb, MD, who specializes in Integrative Family Medicine, addressed the epidemic of sleeplessness and enlightened the audience about natural ways to get sound, restorative sleep.

Her talk, which was coincidentally held on the eve of World Sleep Day, discussed why you need to sleep, why you cant get good sleep, why it’s important to do something about it, and how to do it naturally!

Dr. Shimelfarb spoke about the stages of sleep, different types of insomnia, causes of sleep trouble, and the different factors that can help contribute to a good night’s sleep, including a healthy diet, and reducing mind noise (disconnecting from electronic devices).
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Along with other ways to relax, Dr. Shimelfarb did a video demonstration of two effective relaxation methods , including a 4:7:8 breathing exercise pioneered by Dr Andrew Weill, and an introduction to the Pranayama breathing technique as shown by Yogi Nora.
Dr. Shimelfarb’s presentation, Sleep Better, Naturally, can be viewed in it’s entirety.

 


 

3/16 | Senior Happening: The Great Lady Songwriters

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Fred Miller performed one of his lectures-in-song, “Great Lady Songwriters,” in honor of Women’s History Month. Guests also got in the spirit of wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day.

Miller explained that many women, including four of the most notable ( Dorothy Fields, Kay Swift, Dana Suesse and Ann Ronnell), were prolific composers and lyricists. Though they never gained as much notoriety as the Gershwin brothers or Irving Berlin, their work was the core of Tin Pan Alley.

As the 1920s brought many changes in American culture, music moved ahead with inventions like the phonograph, radio, and sound movies. Jazz also transformed the music industry. New York City, with its concentration of theaters and publishing houses, became the center of the music world and at the center of the city was a small area called Tin Pan Alley. The musicians of Tin Pan Alley blended ragtime, jazz, and ballads to create a new brand of song that was witty and sophisticated. Fields, who was born in Allenhurst, NJ, brought us “The Way You Look Tonight”, “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” — just a few of more than 400 songs she wrote for Broadway musicals and films.

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Carolyn Leigh teamed with Cy Coleman and other songwriters to write songs for Mary Martin in Peter Pan, including “I’m Flying” and “I Won’t Grow Up.” Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett also sang Leigh tunes, such as “Witchcraft,” “Young at Heart,” and “The Best is Yet to Come.” Leigh also wrote “Hey Look Me Over,” for Lucille Ball in Wildcat.

Miller ended the program with another prolific female songwriter, Peggy Lee. Lee may be better known for her smooth and smoky voice, her career as singer, songwriter, composer, and actress spanned six decades. After leaving the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Lee teamed with her husband to write songs in the 1950s, then worked on her own. She wrote for Disney Studios, and sang some of her own songs in Lady and the Tramp. 

Senior Happening is funded by Friends of the Library with a grant awarded by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, administered by the Essex County Department of Cultural and Historic Affairs.

 


 

3/20 | The Shannachie of Glendunbun Ballybeg

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Even though it was sleeting, about thirty people attended the program, including one couple who drove all the down from Sussex County.

 

 

 

 

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

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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

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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.  

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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:

TOP STAGING TIPS WHEN SELLING YOUR HOME_Feb 2018-page-001

 

 


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.  

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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

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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 

 

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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: 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

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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

 

Fiction

The Rat with the Human Face by Tom Angleberger

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Eva Sees a Ghost by Rebecca Elliott

 

Nonfiction

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

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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

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 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

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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

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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.