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.

 

 

 

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

12/10 | ELLEN LAFURN TRIO

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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

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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

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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

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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.
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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!

12/4 | THE BALLANTINE MANSION AT THE NEWARK MUSEUM 

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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

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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.

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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.

 

12/7 | DYNAMIC DRAWING: FUN WITH COMPOSITION

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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.”
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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights of the Week: Get Lit Casual Book Club & Understanding Your Thyroid

 

11/28 | GET LIT CASUAL BOOK CLUB

What gives life purpose?  What brings meaning to one’s existence? How does one go from being a doctor healing the sick to becoming a patient overnight? How can one live fully knowing that death is right around the corner?  These are a few of the questions the group tackled as they discussed Paul Kalanithi’s incredibly moving, thought provoking memoir, When Breath Becomes Air.  

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Paul spent years studying to become a neurosurgeon, followed by years of tending to patients before he, at the age of 36, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  He continued to live his life to the fullest and had to decide what makes life worth living in the face of his own imminent death. Ultimately, he came to the realization that living fully means accepting suffering. Get Lit group members were so touched by Paul’s courage that they felt comfortable enough to share their own personal trials and lessons learned.  As the group’s moderator, librarian Gina Vaccaro states, “There were tissues on the table, but group members handled the serious, somber topic with humor and grace, making this discussion one that will not be forgotten soon.”


The Get Lit Book Club is discussing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for their December meeting.


 

11/30 | COMMUNITY HEALTH LECTURE: UNDERSTANDING YOUR THYROID

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Met by a full house, Dr. Tess Jacob from Summit Medical Group gave a talk on thyroid health in which she used a slide presentation to examine all the implications of the thyroid on our physiology, deeper looks into thyroid problems, hypothyroidism, thyroid nodules, how problems are diagnosed through blood tests, and finally, common courses of treatment.

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Tess Jacob, MD is a member of Summit Medical Group’s Endocrinology team. Dr. Jacob treats patients with endocrine disorders and has particular interest in thyroid, pituitary, diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. She is specially trained to perform in-office fine needle aspiration biopsies of thyroid nodules and also performs thyroid ultrasounds.

 

Register for the second community health lecture, Sleeping Better, Naturally, on December 14th.  Dr. Marianna Shimelfarb will explore natural ways to promote healthy, sound, restorative sleep.

Highlights of the Week: Night at the Library, Tea and Tai Chi, and Little Listeners

11/18 | NIGHT AT THE LIBRARY: NATIONAL TREASURE

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Seventy-six teens in grades 6-12 had the library to themselves for an after-hours treasure hunt inspired by the popular movie, National Treasure. The movie focuses around a historian searching for the legendary treasure left behind by the Knights Templar and in order find it, he has to follow clues created by the Founding Fathers. 

Much like the movie, teen players had to work in teams in order to find pieces of the Declaration of Independence hidden around the library. Each piece contained a clue written on the back, leading players closer to the elusive treasure.

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To make things more difficult, players also needed to get past the Knights Templar– volunteers from the library’s teen advisory board– who guarded the clues and challenged the teams to duel before they could have access to the pieces.

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After successfully completing the events, participants got to relax and enjoy snacks while they watched the movie National Treasure

 


 

11/19 | TEA AND TAI CHI

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Led by Chuantong Lin, an award-winning Tai Chi master, and presenter Angel Li– both teachers at the Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi school in Warren, NJ– it’s no surprise that this program held a full-house of one-hundred and twenty-eight people. There were people of all ages ranging from pre-teens to a few people who identified themselves as “past 80.”
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Master Chauntong began the program with a few Kung Fu moves before switching over to a recorded presentation with an explanation of  various physical and calming benefits through Tai Chi movements. To better explain his points, he had the audience stand up and go through specific moves.


Some audience members were already experienced in Tai Chi with one woman commenting that “he is a very patient teacher.” Following the Tai Chi demonstration, Angel Li spoke about the history of tea, including the legend of Emperor Shen Nung and the story that he discovered tea over 5,000 years ago when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water.
She performed a traditional tea ceremony, joined by several audience members who got to taste six varieties of Chinese tea: green, black, yellow, oolong, dark tea, and white. The rest of the audience was invited to tastings at the tables set along the side of the room with Master Chauntong serving and talking with people.


Our librarians, Hongmei Liu and John Sitnik, as well as some library assistants at the Circulation Desk, commented that they found the program educational and entertaining. A woman that attended the program even called the next day to add her thanks and tell us that the library is a “real treasure for Livingston.”


*Photos courtesy of Youxian Zhao, husband to Livingston librarian, Hongmei.

 


 

11/20 | LITTLE LISTENERS

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This week’s Little Listeners story-time session was the last of a six-week program for the Fall.  Preschoolers ages two to five years old, along with their caregivers, enjoyed stories told using books, puppets, flannel board, folders, and music.

The Listeners enjoyed new versions of old favorites, such as “The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk” and a folder story called Old MacDonald Buys a Truck.  They also had fun singing along while Joe O’Brien, a member of the Youth Department, played Little Listener favorites, “The More We Read Together” and “The Library is the Place for Me”.  

 

To incorporate education with entertainment, Amanda included both fact and fiction stories, teaching the kids that squirrels have only four teeth and chew branches to keep them clean, and also teaching them how pumpkins are grown through the story One Child One Seed.

The children loved participating as they used rhyming clues to guess the different truck colors in Old MacDonald Buys a Truck and acted out the different parts of The Little Old Lady who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything.  Using finger puppets and flannel board pieces, Amanda helped the children practice their subtraction and addition skills as they counted turkeys, apples, and trucks.  

 

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To end the program, the Listeners learned about all of the different things to be thankful for as they listened to Amanda read Thanks for Thanksgiving and the flannel board story, The Thankful Turkey.  

***The Little Listeners program will return in January.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights of the Week: BookFEST!, Trick or Treat, Nature Heals Workshop, and More!

10/26-29: BOOKFEST 

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Run by the Friends of the Library, BookFEST! is our biggest sale of the year. Just like last year, crowds filled the room each day of the event.  The program room was arranged with tables full of books, puzzles, toys, video games, dvds, art, and other miscellaneous items.  BookFEST! may be centered around books, but there was definitely something for everyone!

Although it was raining, our most popular day was Bag Day on Sunday: customers could buy a Friends bag, fill it up with books instead of purchasing the individual items.  Talk about a good deal!

Proceeds from the sale support great library programs for children and adults all year long.



10/30: CODERGALS 

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An exceptional program led by LHS female coder volunteers, Codergals started on October 16th, and continues on until November 6th. In this program, girls in grades 3-5 learn new coding techniques each week, such as creating their own emojis, opening their own blogs using WIX, exploring objects & variables in coding with the dancing Yeti project, and this most recent week, in the spirit of Halloween, the group practiced their coding skills with a zombie game.  They also began learning about app coding using the bitsbox system.

On the last day of the class, they will present their completed blogs containing all of their work.  With the technical field expanding and growing every year, this is a fun opportunity for girls to learn about some of the latest programs, apps, and pages used for coding.



10/31: TRICK OR TREAT AT THE LIBRARY

If you were looking for a fun place to visit on Halloween, the library was it. Our librarians dressed up for the occasion, many donning traditional witch hats to celebrate the day.  Hundreds of kids showed up in costume, said the magic words– “trick or treat”– and received candy either at the circulation or the children’s desk.  Kids with allergies and food restrictions were given non-sweet treats.  Make sure to keep the library in mind when planning your Halloween adventures next year!



11/1: NATURE HEALS WORKSHOP: SEASONAL EATING AND HERBS FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT 

 

 

Run by herbal specialist Jenna Henry Hansen and yoga instructor/nutritional therapist Jenn Dorney, this incredibly informative workshop focused on the ideas of ancient eating, specifically the practices of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine.  Jenna and Jenn went over specific grocery items to purchase based on the season, including sample recipes for everyone to take home with them and sample foods and drinks to try at the event itself.  There were also many packets handed out with information on the properties of many foods and herbs with information on how they help strengthen the immune system.

Here is an immune boosting recipe from last night’s program that you may find useful as we head into the colder months.  Be sure to let us know if you try it out!

ZESTY IMMUNE-BOOST ELDERBERRY SYRUP

Take 1 tsp 3-4x daily at the first sign of a cold.

INGREDIENTS:
1 Cup fresh or 1/2 Cup dried elderberries
1/4 Cup rose hips
1 Cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
2-3 Whole cloves
Zest of one orange
3 Cups water
1 Cup organic raw honey

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Place the berries, rose hips, cinnamon, orange zest, clove and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and mash up the mixture.
4. Strain the mixture though a cheesecloth or strainer, making sure to squeeze out all the goodness from the herbs.
5. Stir in honey. Add more or less to taste.
6. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.



11/2: TEEN ADVISORY BOARD

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Did you think that those awesome teen programs happen by themselves?  Of course not! That’s why we’re giving you an inside look into a planning meeting of the Teen Advisory Board.  They are working to finalize the plans for Night at the Library: National Treasure.  The group tested the puzzles, worked on the clues and ensured that the event will be fun for all!



11/2: MARTY SCHNEIT LECTURE – THE BORSCHT BELT

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Historian Martin Schneit lectured to a packed house about the Borscht Belt, the  nickname for the summer resorts that existed in the Catskill Mountains in parts of Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties in New York.  He displayed many colorful slides of Grossinger’s Hotel, with its grand dining room and indoor swimming pool.  Marty shared stories from his time as a busboy at Grossinger’s;  displaying a photo of Bess Myerson,  the 1st Jewish “Miss America,” being crowned in 1945, sitting at one of the tables.  He dazzled the crowd with interesting facts, such as basketball player Wilt Chamberlain worked as a bellhop at Kutsher’s Hotel.  The crowd enjoyed musical clips of Eddie Fisher singing “Sunrise, Sunset,” and of Jimmy Durante singing “Make Someone Happy.”  Marty had the audience heartily laughing along to jokes originally told by Rodney Dangerfield and George Burns.

This fantastic trip down memory lane was made possible by the Friends of the Livingston Public Library.

Don’t miss Marty Schneit’s next lecture on November 16th, about New York City During World War II, also sponsored by the Friends.


11/3: ONLINE BUSINESS & NJ TAX

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Representatives from the New Jersey Division of Taxation, as part of the Taxation University Series, in cooperation with the New Jersey State Library presented Online Business & New Jersey Tax to small business owners.
They explained the NJ Sales and Use Tax, how to properly report and pay taxes, helpful publications and useful contact information.  Participants were able to ask questions and both representatives provided useful information.

This is the first in the It’s Your Business Series of business and personal finance programs. Registration is open for the next program in the series, Fundamentals of New Jersey Sales Tax.