Tuesday, March 03, 2015

If March Is Here, Can Spring Be Far Behind?

March arrived like the proverbial lion, with snow Sunday night, but yesterday was rather lamb-like with bright sunshine and a bit of warmth.

It is especially hard on kids (and dogs), who haven't been able to play outside in months! But, spring is coming. Enjoy one of these with your kids, and before long, spring dreams will become reality:

Monday, March 02, 2015

Crows--Einsteins of the Bird World

We've always suspected that crows are smart, but how smart are they? Watch this video about crows that leave "gifts" for a young girl in Seattle.

I have a fondness for crows, but some people, especially farmers, may consider them pests. It's too bad, since, in human beings' attempts at correcting "problems," they often make things worse!

In California, crows have moved into urban areas, and are currently shaking up the people of Santa Cruz; click here to read more.

There are quite a number of children's books about crows, ravens, and blackbirds in our collection, including these:

Check out this older post about crows, and be sure to watch the short video clip!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Poetry Friday--Happy Birthday, Mr. Longfellow!

On this day in 1807, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine. He lived a good portion of his life in a big yellow house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The site, now a national park, is known as Longfellow House--Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site.
Longfellow House--Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site preserves the home of Henry W. Longfellow, one of the world’s foremost 19th century poets. The house also served as headquarters for General George Washington during the Siege of Boston, July 1775 - April 1776. In addition to its rich history, the site offers unique opportunities to explore 19th century literature and arts.

Longfellow is known primarily for his poems, "Tales of a Wayside Inn, The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride" (better known as "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere"), "The Song of Hiawatha," and "The Village Blacksmith," among others (all found in The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [811.3 LON]).

His poems told stories that held their readers and listeners enthralled. "Paul Revere's Ride" begins with these lines:
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

We have in our collection, a small volume titled, Dear Mr. Longfellow: Letters to and from the Children's Poet, by Sydelle Pearl [811.3 PEA].
During his lifetime, Henry received over six thousand letters from relatives, friends, and strangers who enjoyed reading his poetry. His poems were read, recited, and sung in schools and homes across the United States of America. They were translated into different languages and known thoughout the world. Between the years 1880 and 1882, when he was seventy-three to seventy-five years old, he received 786 birthday greetings, many of them from children.

So, on this, his 208th birthday, here's one of the birthday letters (admittedly a belated birthday letter):
Bangor March 5 1882

Dear Mr Longfellow

I thought I would write you a letter why I did not write to you on your birthday was because I heard you were sick first I must tell you my name it is Charlotte Roberts daughter of General Charles W Roberts Our teacher put on the blackboard that it was your 75th birthday I am very fond of your poems especially the wreck of the Hesperus The rainy day is another one which I am very fond of. It was my cat's birthday yesterday he was five years old I wish you could see him his name is Buff he is yellow and white O he is so dear to me I have seen your house though I have not seen you You know that piece of poetry you wrote about the ropewalk is it that one at Castine if it is that one I know all about it. My little sister Jenny want me to say something about her she has a dog named Gyp. I think I must close now please answer this letter

Your New friend Charlotte
Charlotte also added her "Adress" at the bottom.

Dear Mr. Longfellow is a book to take your time with. The author places facts and concepts in context for a 21st century reader.

Some of the letters found in the book are housed at Harvard's Houghton Library. In browsing through the Houghton's online offerings, I came upon this:

Happy Birthday, Mr. Longfellow!

There's plenty more to celebrate this week, not the least of which is we're one day closer to SPRING!. The Poetry Friday posts are being rounded up by Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe!

Yes, There Is Something New Under the Sun!

You would think that everything there is to know about the earth and its creatures has been discovered. Not so! Only recently, the fossil remains of two small mammals were discovered in China. The creatures were named Docofossor, seen on the left in the photo below, and Agilodocodon, on the right. One lived underground, the other in trees. And the time in which they lived? Agilodocodon, 165 million years ago and Docofossor, a mere 160 million years!

The discovery was featured in a Science Daily report. You can read the Science Daily report, or this version from the University of Chicago to learn more.

New fossils are being discovered all the time it seems! In the fall we read about a new dinosaur that was even larger than T. Rex! Its name is Spinosaurus. The new discoveries will undoubtedly be the subject of forthcoming books, which means, it will be a while before we have more information on our shelf. However, online sources like Science Daily, should keep you informed and up-to-date with its "Fossil News."

Since discoveries still remain to be made, your kids could grow up to become paleontologists! Here's a book to get them started: Bones Rock!: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Paleontologist by Peter L. Larson [J 560 LAR].

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pet Play

I'm sure your dog is happy to see the kids this vacation week. Dogs generally love attention and play. Cats, maybe not so much. Of course, you'll want to reward your pet for desired behavior, so you can also explore creating your own doggie treats.

Here are some items to use with your pets, and hopefully, all involved will enjoy the experience!

Borgenicht, Joe. Doggy Days: Dozens and Dozens of Indoor and Outdoor Activities for You and Your Best Friend: Tricks and Games, Arts and Crafts, Stories and Songs, and Much More! [636.7 BOR]

Christensen, Wendy. Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to Do What You Want. [636.8 CHR]

Dogs, Man's Best Friend. [DVD 636.7 DOG]

Geller, Tamar. The Loved Dog: The Playful, Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior. [636.7 GEL]

Hodgson, Sarah. Dog Tricks for Dummies. [636.7 HOD]

Moore, Arden. Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes to Please the Canine Gastronome. [636.7 MOO]

Price, Pamela S. Cool Pet Treats: Easy Recipes for Kids to Bake. [636.7 PRI]

Rosen, Michael J. My Dog!: A Kids' Guide to Keeping a Happy and Healthy Pet. [636.7 ROS]

Whitehead, Sarah. How to Speak Dog! [J 636.7 WHI]

Here's a great treat dispenser that you can make (use smaller bottles for a cat or small dog). It exercises the brain of a dog or cat!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


The organization, Audubon: National Audubon Society, has decided to piggyback on the interest in the book, and movie, Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James [F JAM and DVD FIF]. They've created a page titled "Fifty Shades of Grey (Bird Edition)" that is devoted to beautifully photographed pictures of gray feathered birds.

This might be a good week to explore the world of birds while your kids are home on vacation. You can borrow a general guide like Sibley's Birding Basics by David Sibley [598 SIB] or look for one of these:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Yay! It's School Vacation!

Yikes! So what do you do with the kids since it's too yucky to go outside and play?

One thing you can do is arts and crafts. We have hundreds of art and crafts titles for all ages:

Stop by and visit us for these and other titles for keeping your kids busy!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Poetry Friday--Remembering Philip Levine

Several years ago, I was fortunate to have heard poet Philip Levine read from his work. I was taken by his down-to-earth character and the accessibility of his poetry. Levine passed away last Saturday. For today, I've selected a seasonal poem, which I find absolutely stunning.

Today the snow is drifting
on Belle Isle, and the ducks
are searching for some opening
to the filthy waters of the their river.
On Grand River Avenue, which is not
in Venice but in Detroit, Michigan,
the traffic has slowed to a standstill
and yet a sober man has hit a parked car
and swears to the police he was
not guilty. The bright squads of children
on their way to school howl
at the foolishness of the world
they will try not to inherit.
Seen from inside a window,
even a filthy one like those
at Automotive Supply Company, the snow,
which has been falling for hours,
is more beautiful than even the spring
grass which once unfurled here
before the invention of steel and fire,
for spring grass is what the earth sang
in answer to the new sun, to
melting snow, and the dark rain
of spring nights.

But snow is nothing.
It has no melody of form, it
is as though the tears of all
the lost souls rose to heaven
and were finally heard and blessed
with substance and the power of flight
and, given their choice, chose then
to return to earth, to lay their
great pale cheek against the burning
cheek of earth and say, "There, there, child."

I found the above online. We have two collections of Levine's work in 811.54 LEV, and his poems have been widely anthologized.

Head westward to the Poetry Friday Round-Up being hosted at Teacher Dance.

Next week is Winter Break Week!

To keep the kids happy and occupied while on their break, please visit us. We have thousands of books, DVDs, and musical CDs to provide hours of entertainment and instruction.

We also are hosting Wildlife Encounters on Tuesday the 24th at 1:00 pm. Wildlife Encounters will be presenting a live animal show featuring a diverse selection of Ambassador animals that will take the audience on an imaginary safari around the world in 60 minutes. This program is for children ages 4 and up (no exceptions) and sign-ups are required as space is limited. Call 432-7154 to reserve a spot for your child.

Some of the animals that may be visiting us are an alligator, a Fennec fox, a skunk, or a woodchuck (also known as a groundhog).

Study up ahead of time by looking for one of these:

Kallen, Stuart A. Alligators. [J 597.98 KAL]

Petrie, Kristin. Fennec Foxes. [J 599.776 PET]

Phillips, Dee. Groundhog's Burrow. [J 599.366 PHI]

Souza, D. M. Skunks Do More Than Stink. [J 599.768 SOU]