-What's the title of the new Percy Jackson book?
-What are the names of the series Beverly Clearly has written?
-What's the name of Magic Tree House book #17?
-Can you give me a full list of all the original Nancy Drew books in order?
-I've read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Which book is next?
-What's the sequel to The Name of this Book is Secret?
-How many Babysitter's Club books were written before they went out of print?
-I'm looking for funny books. Can you recommend a good series?
I get these kinds of questions at the reference desk all the time. And I'm guessing that you and your kids have them too. Are you frequently trying to figure out what book in a series to read next? Where should you look for the answer if you don't have a handy children's librarian around?
Try this fantastic (and free) Juvenile Series and Sequels database created by the Mid-Continent Public Library in Missouri. It's got the answers to all the questions above, plus many more you never even thought to ask.
Here's the answers to the questions above with the links to where I found them (in case you're curious).
-The Last Olympian
-Series by Beverly Cleary: Beezus, Henry Huggins, Jimmy and Janet, Ralph S. Mouse, Ramona Quimby and Ribsy
-Tonight on the Titanic
-List of the original Nancy Drew books
-Would you like to read the Narnia books in chronological order or the order in which they were published?
-If You're Reading This, It's Too Late
-Try these humorous series
This database is a librarian's (and a parent's) best friend. Enjoy!
Try saying the words "Peggy Babcock" five times fast. Can you do it?
Don't feel bad if the answer is no. Peggy Babcock is one of the hardest combinations of words to say in the English language.
I've been having a lot of fun with tongue twisters lately. They're great to read aloud with kids. Here's a recent favorite of mine from Orangutan Tongs by Jon Agee. I was amazed that I was able to mesmerize several 5th grade classes merely by saying the words below out loud (very, very fast).
Walter Witter called a waiter: "Waiter, over here!
I want some water, waiter. Water, waiter! Is that clear?
The waiter brought some water. Walter Witter shouted: "WRONG!
This water's really watered-down! I like my water strong
The waiter brought more water. Walter Witter was upset.
"This water's dry!" said Walter. "I like my water wet!
Bring me wetter water, waiter!" Walter Witter said.
The waiter brought a pitcherful and poured it on his head."
Did you find that one difficult? It's just a warm-up for Bubble Trouble, a terrific tongue twisting poem by Margaret Mahy. It was recently released as a picture book with illustrations by Polly Dunbar and it's probably the hardest book I've ever tried to read aloud. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here's a sample:
"Little Mabel blew a bubble, and it caused a lot of trouble...
Such a lot of bubble trouble in a bibble-bobble way.
For it broke away from Mabel as it bobbed across the table,
where it bobbled over Baby and it wafted him away."
And that's just the first page!
For more great tongue twisters, look no further than the good doctor. Seuss, that is. Open up Fox in Socks to one of my all time favorites, and "let's have a little talk about tweetle beetles:"
"When beetles fight these battles
in a bottle with their paddles and
the bottle's on a poodle and
the poodle's eating noodles...
they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle."
If you've mastered Fox in Socks, you can graduate to Dr. Seuss' Oh Say Can you Say? Amazingly, it's got even harder tongue twisters:
"Fritz needs Fred and Fred needs Fritz.
Fritz feeds Fred and Fred feeds Fritz.
Fred feeds Fritz with ritzy Fred food.
Fritz feeds Fred with ritzy Fritz food.
And Fritz, when fed, has often said,
"I'm a Fred-fed Fritz. Fred's a Fritz-fed Fred."
For the true classics, try Alvin Schwartz's book: A Twister of Twists, A Tangler of Tongues. (It's out of print, but you can find it in a library.) In addition to lots of fun tongue twisters, he also provides great notes and folklore history. I love the great tidbits of information he's uncovered. For example, Peter Piper originally appeared in an undated pamphlet called Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation. Here's the one from that pamphlet that we all know (there have been some slight variations over the years):
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper.
A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper,
Where is the peck of pickled pepper that Peter Piper picked?
Each tongue twister in the pamphlet was about an unusual occupation and began with the a different letter . Here's the entry for Q. It's done in the exact same format as Peter Piper.
"Questing Quidnunc quizzed a queerish question.
Did Questing Quidnunc quiz a queerish question?
If Questing Quidnunc quizzed a queering queerish question,
what's the queerish question Questing Quidnunc quizzed?
I don't know about you, but I'm kind of grateful that Peter became more famous than Quidnunc.
Schwartz also provides a sample of one of the earliest known written tongue twisters, published in 1674, in Grammatica Linguae Anglicanae by John Wallis:
"When a Twister, a twisting, will twist him a twist
For the twisting of his twist, he three times doth intwist.
But, if one of the twists of the twist do untwist,
The twine that untwisteth, untwisted the twist."
For some great tongue twisty additions to well known classics and nursery rhymes, take a look at Ira Trapani's Rufus and Friends: Rhyme Time. Here's a new stanza for Peter Piper:
"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
But Patty Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers quicker.
Into a pickled pepper pot she packed the pack of peppers,
For Patty was a quicker pickled pepper packer-picker."
Enjoy tangling your tongue! And in the words of Dr. Seuss:
"Now is your tongue numb?"
Let's take a new look at a book you've probably read a hundred times.
Go to your bookshelf and pull out your copy of Where the Wild Things Are.
Can't find it? Don't worry. I'll wait here while you go to the library.
What took you so long?
Got the book in your hands? Great. Now follow me.
Look at the picture of Max making mischief. Not the picture itself, but the size of the picture. It's pretty small, isn't it? Most of the page is taken up by white space. And on the left hand side, there's only that one line of black text to break up all the white.
Beep. (That sound means it's time to turn the page.)
As Max chases the dog (notice the Wild Thing picture on the wall), the size of the illustration gets bigger.
Peeb. (Beep spelled backward. Turn the page back.)
Do you see how much larger the box is than the page before?
Beep. Now go forward again.
Now turn the pages without reading the words. Watch as the box gets bigger and bigger. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Are you on the page where Max's ceiling is hung with vines? Good. Do you see how the picture takes over the entire right side of the page? The box is gone. Beep.
As Max sails in his private boat, the illustration can't be contained to one page. It starts spreading out and breaks into the white space on the left side of the page. Beep. The illustration gets a bit bigger as Max sails in and out of weeks. Beep.
When he comes to the place where the wild things are, the illustrations take over until they're covering the entire top of both pages. Look at how much white space is left on the bottom for the words. Beep.
The white space shrinks lower. Beep. And lower still. By the time Max is made king of wild things, there's only a thin space for the words. The white space has been reduced by half from the picture where Max arrived. Beep.
The wild rumpus has begun and lasts for three pages. Words are no longer adequate to tell the story. Beep. Beep. Beep.
When Max cries "stop," the illustrations start to recede. Beep.
As his boat sails off, there's the same amount of white space as there was when his boat landed. Beep. As he sails back over a year, the picture retreats even more. Beep.
When he arrives in his room, the picture only covers the right side of the page, but it covers it completely. What a contrast to the first page in the book, where the picture only took up a small amount of the page. Beep.
For the line "and it was still hot," the illustrations have faded away completely. We're left with five small black words in a sea of white. Beep.
Take a look at the endpapers, and then close the book and look at the cover. Beep.
The illustration takes up most of the space. But, the words are there, above and below, surrounding the image. When you're holding the book in your hand, the image is even more powerful. The edges of the book act as a physical frame to keep the pictures in.
Does the front cover image mean something different to you now than it did a few minutes ago? Sometimes, it's worth taking a look at something familiar from another perspective.
Why does the design matter so much? Take a look at this quote from Brian Selznick's fantastic Caldecott acceptance speech for The Invention of Hugo Cabret:
"Think about the wild rumpus in Where the Wild Things Are. The pictures grow until they take over the entire book and there is no more room for words. Only the reader turning the page can move the story forward. We are put in charge at the exact moment Max himself takes charge. We become Max, all because of the page turns."
Isn't it amazing how much power the turn of the page gives the reader? To see this play out in a much longer format, pick up The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Don't worry, I won't go page by page with you (too many beeps!) but take a close look. It's incredible.
Never underestimate how important book design is to a picture book.
It inspired me to try and find other fabulous cakes. Here's a few of my favorite ones. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. All the pictures are from Cake Central, unless otherwise noted.
Have you ever wanted to curl up with a good book and a yummy desert? Take a look at this cake.
I love the creativity in this 1st birthday cake. The top tier was made for the birthday kid to smash. The baker made a model of her son who looks like he's actually crawling up the cake (and wreaking the inevitable damage).
Check out this cake of the Three Little Pigs.
These houses are made out of gingerbread!
These Dr. Seuss cookies look delectable.
Dr. Seuss cakes were easy to find, but I thought this one was particularly exceptional. I was so impressed with the vertical hat covered with iced sketch marks and the clothesline strung between Truffula trees.
The top of the hat is the kicker.
I lost my heart to this caterpillar cupcake mosaic.
Take a closer look, and then check out the step by step photos on the baker's blog.
And, of course, I had to find a Harry Potter cake. After quite a bit of searching, I found this fantastic cake of Hogwarts. Truly breathtaking. And it's made from Rice Krispie treats!
The moral of this post is: you can have your cake and read it too.