Books & Beyond

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Jun 26, 2014 by amandap

Join us on Friday, June 27th at 10:00 a.m. for our summer program kick-off concert!

Two full months of summer library programs for children of all ages begin with an out-of-this-world concert with the Toe Jam Puppet Band. Get ready to take a rocket ship to outer space. All aboard!... Countdown...4-3-2-1-zero... Blast off! ... into outer space with the band. The show features a spacey dress-up puppet show and some crazy anti-gravity dancing! Children of all ages and their families are invited to this high energy kickoff to summer. Sponsored by the Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library. 

We've got a huge summer planned, with craft programs, science projects, storytellers, music, reading and more! Take a look at our summer events page for information on what's going on in the library. Looking for summer reading? Try our Summer Reading Challenge and see the Quincy Public Schools summer reading lists. And for some fun things to try online and at home, take a look at our online fun page and our blog!

Jun 23, 2014 by amandap

Welcome to Fizz, Boom, Read at the Thomas Crane Public Library! Join us this summer for plenty of science-themed activities, stories and crafts.


When you can't get to your local library, or if you want to try something a little messy at home, take a look at the activities and experiments we'll be posting here each week this summer and take a look at the book list below for nonfiction summer science reading!

  • See all the colors that make up black ink with coffee filter chromatography: Instructions here and here.
  • Explore static electricity: Ideas here and here.
  • Make a science journal - Use a store-bought journal or use blank paper to make your own and record your summer science discoveries inside.

Take a look here for our summer events and summer reading program and check back each Monday for more summer science. 


Jun 12, 2014 by amandap

Science fiction and fiction about science aren't necessarily the same thing but we read both this month for the Phoenix Book Club.

Science and Sci-Fi

Some kids chose real sci-fi books with futuristic plots full of fictional technology and other planets where others chose books with real science or at least a basis in real science and stories that take place in the real world. We tried a little of everything to get ready for this summer's nation-wide summer reading theme: Fizz, Bang, Read!

Reactions to the books were mixed, but that's only reasonable since we had such a huge range to pick from. The denser books weren't as popular as the lighter, funnier fare but no one took home anything they outright didn't like. Even the harder books weren't so much disliked as just too heavy to get through at the end of the school year when projects and tests rule the day. Take a look at the list to the right to see not only what kids took home but also the other books we looked at for our theme.

For July and August the Phoenix Book Club shifts to Wednesday nights at the Wollaston Branch Library and we'll all be reading the same book. July's book is Ungifted by Gordon Korman, about a troublemaker who finds himself mistakenly sent to join the robotics team at a school for the gifted instead of the detention he was supposed to get. Pick up a copy at the library or bring your own to join us in the discussion on Wednesday, July 9th at 7:00 p.m. at Wollaston.

May 29, 2014 by amandap

Mad Science is all wet this month with Wacky Waves: A program about water, waves and oceans.

Ocean Books

Water covers most of our planet. We travel on it, swim and play in it and drink it. We're lucky here in Quincy to have beaches right in our own city. Take a trip to Wollaston beach or any of the other beaches nearby and explore tides, tide pools, waves, currents and more. Or stay home and try out some water experiments in your own kitchen or bathroom:

Come in for our Mad Science programs and learn about how oil spills are cleaned up, how waves work and more. Sign ups for our June 21st programs begin on Monday, June 2nd.

May 19, 2014 by amandap

Picture books aren't just for little kids. This month the Phoenix Book Club read from our Oversize collection of picture books for big kids.

Oversize Books

Most of the picture books in the Children's Room are intended for younger readers, though there's no reason big kids can't grab an old favorite and read it when the mood strikes! We have, however, a special collection of picture books that are intended for older readers. Some of them are simply too long to go in with the regular picture books. Some are too spooky or creepy. Some are on serious topics and go into more depth than younger readers are prepared for. Last month the members of the Phoenix Book Club got to browse this special section near the chapter books and pick out a handful of Oversize books to take a look at. In general the kids liked them! The addition of full color illustrations to a story meant for an older reader made for a fun and interesting read for many. Others liked that what seemed like a short story was far more complex with the illustrations added. Overall it was a nice easy theme for a busy month.

The Statewide Summer Reading theme for 2014 is Fizz, Boom, Read, focusing on science all summer long, so we'll be gearing up for summer by reading science books for June's book club meeting. Science fiction, science fact, books about science fairs and scientific discovery, they all count. Pick up a book from the selections behind the desk at the Main Library Children's Room and join us on June 10th at 7:00 p.m. Note: In June we welcome kids who will be entering 5th grade in September 2014! We will also be having a pizza party. So please let us know if you will be coming and make your pizza preference known when you sign up so we have enough!

May 2, 2014 by amandap

We've got two awesome topics for Mad Science this month!

Eye to Eye: For the younger children come join us for a look at your eyes and how they work. Find out about the parts of the eye, then use magnifying lenses, kaleidoscopes and more to see how our eyes see things and can play tricks on us. Want to try some vision exploration on your own? Try making a simple kaleidoscope at home or make your own red/blue 3D glasses.

Energy Blast: For older children we've got a program all about energy and motion. Learn some basics about how energy is generated, how it's conserved and how we use it. Take a look at some energy facts or try making a rubber-band powered paddle boat at home.

Both of these programs will be on Saturday, May 17th. Eye to Eye is for 3-5 year olds and begins at 9:30 a.m. Energy Blast is for 6-10 year olds and begins at 10:30. Registration begins on Monday, May 5th at 9:00 a.m.

May 2, 2014 by amandap

For April's book club we celebrated National Poetry Month.


Sure, some poetry can be boring, but the same is true of all kinds of literature! When we picked books for our poetry discussion there were more than a few reluctant readers, unsure they'd like anything we had to choose from. By the time we got back together to talk about our books, however, attitudes had changed! Everyone had found at least one poem they enjoyed and some had read through multiple books of poems and went looking for more. We all read some our favorite poems out to the group and they ranged from funny to serious to truly bizarre. We had rhymes and free verse and concrete and even a wonderful poem for two voices, read by two people at the same time (yes, they had to practice a little).

For May we're taking a look at what we call Oversize books in the Children's Room. Not all picture books are intended for little kids. Some books are spooky, long, tackle serious subjects or are just plain not interesting to a five year old. But they're great for an older reader who still wants to read a book with pictures. Know a 5th through 8th grader who might be interested? Grab an Oversize book from the collection in the Children's Room and join us on May 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Children's Room.

Apr 16, 2014 by julier

On Thursday, April 24th from 10 am to noon in the atrium at the main library discover “Whales in your Backyard” hosted by Anne-Marie Runfola, volunteer program coordinator at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the sanctuary ambassador team.  During the program you will be able to tour a life size North Atlantic right whale calf, learn how to eat like a whale, try on a blubber glove, fish for Sanctuary facts, make whale origami and more

Geared for children ages 4-12 and their families. Come for the full event or stop by for just a few minutes to try an activity or listen to a story. No registration is required.

Want to learn more about whales or read a story about whales check out our whale book list.  This is just a few of the books about whales that we have here at the library. 


Check the internet for more whale facts here

Right whales are the rarest of the large whales learn more about them here.

Whalenet an interactive educational site about whales and marine research

The kids page at the NOAA FIsheries website has whale facts and a humpback whale migration game to play

National Gepographic has a collection of whale videos, check themout to see different types of whales close up.

Apr 3, 2014 by amandap

Blast off into outer space in our April Mad Science programs!

Outer Space

Explore our solar system or take off for deep space, or maybe just stay at home but get a good look at the night sky and see what's visible from Earth. You can look at constellations in your own backyard even if you don't have a telescope! There's plenty to do to explore outer space without leaving our home planet behind. Look at the stars, learn about the planets and dwarf planets in our solar system, find out about the amazing robots and satellites we're using to explore places we can't go yet.

Sign-ups for our April 19th Mad Science programs start on April 7th. Take a look at the books on the right for stories and information about outer space and check out the links below for more:

Apr 3, 2014 by amandap

Celebrate National Poetry Month with us! Whether you read a single poem, read a bunch or try your hand at writing one, take a look at poetry this month.

Poetry Books

Starting in 1996 the Academy of American Poets has supported a month-long celebration of poetry in its many forms. And oh, poetry comes in so many shapes and sizes and formats! There are short poems like haiku and long epic poems, poems that look like animals and poems that tell stories. Some poems rhyme, some poems don't. Some poems have short lines and some have lines that go on and on. Poems can be silly or serious, they can be about any topic you can imagine. Different cultures all over the world have devloped their own unique poetic forms. You've probably heard of sonnets and haiku, but what about ghazals, pantoums or ekphrasis?

We have tons of poetry books in the Children's collections at the Main Library and at all three branch libraries. Take a look under 811 for American poets, 821 for British poets and the later 800s for children's versions of epic poems like the Odyssey and the Illiad and poetry from other countries. Or ask a librarian for help finding novels in poem form, like Love That Dog and Hugging the Rock. Check out the list on the right for some poetry book suggestions. You never know what type of poem is right for you if you don't look!

Mar 13, 2014 by amandap

We took trips back and forth in time travel books for March.

Time Travel

Some of the books we picked were fantasy, some were science fiction, one was steampunk. Some went back in time and others went forward. A couple went back and forth between different time periods. Some traveled hundreds of years, some only a few minutes at a time. So what did we lean in our travels?

Time travel is a tricky subject! You might think that the books would all have a lot in common, but it turns out that time travel is more of a storytelling device for some books. In a couple of the books the method of time travel was the point of the plot, but in others it was just a way to get the characters into a different time period to tell a story that took place there. In general it seemed like many of the books that went back in time were more historical fiction than anything else, whereas the ones with devices or magic powers that let people go forward in time were about the traveling. So, think you know about time travel? Maybe not! Take a look at the books we read for a wide variety of stories about time.

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? Help us celebrate by taking a look in the 811s and 821s in our nonfiction section and choosing a book of poems to read for our April meeting. We promise there's more to poetry than rhymes and meter. We've got silly, serious, shaped and stories, all in poem form. Know a 5th through 8th grader who might be interested? Grab a poetry book and join us on April 8th at 7:00 p.m. in the Children's Room.

Feb 25, 2014 by amandap

They may sound dangerous, but acids and bases are all around us! Find out more about them and see them at work at this month's Mad Science programs.

Acids & Bases

Sure, some acids and bases can burn you, but there are plenty of them all around us every day. We eat them, drink them and use them all the time. Your soda has acid in it and if you use baking soda when you bake you're using a base. Have you ever seen someone make a homemade volcano "erupt" on television? They probably used vinegar (an acid) and baking soda (a base). Put an acid and a base together and they react!

Sign-ups for our March 15th Mad Science programs start on March 3rd. Take a look at some of the experiments in the books on the right and check out the websites below for some acid and base science ideas you can do at home:

Feb 25, 2014 by amandap

Should it have won? That's the question we asked about the books we read for February.

Award Winners

Everyone picked a Newbery Medal winner or honor book from a previous year. Most of what we picked were from the past five years, but a few older titles made their ways into our discussion this month. We talked about why a book might have won over others and how the Newbery Medal is given out. Just because a book won doesn't mean it's always going to appeal to every reader, and the Newbery committee knows that and doesn't pick something just because it has wide appeal.

Overall, we agreed that most of the books we read were very good, if not to everyone's taste. There were a few that didn't interest everyone in the group and one or two that different participants had very different opinions on. The closest we came to a universal winner was Savvy by Ingrid Law, but take a look at the list on the right to see what else we read this month.

For March take a trip through time with a time travel book. Pick a science fiction book about time machines or a fantasy book with magic that sends characters to another time and place. Go into the future or into the past, or both! Sound interesting? Know a 5th through 8th grader who might want to join us? Pick up any time travel book (selections are available in the Main Library Children's Room) and join us on March 11th at 7:00 p.m. to talk about it.

Feb 12, 2014 by julier

During February school vacation week join us at all library locations for puppets, crafts and movies.  Check out the schedule below for details.

Rosalita’s Puppets
Tuesday, February 18th at 10:30 in the large meeting room at the main library join Charlotte Dore of Rosalita’s Puppets for a marionette puppet show featuring a princess a unicorn, a dog and more. In Search of the Unicorn, a princess dreams of unicorns and finally proves to her uncle that they truly do exist. This show's many puppets include a fairy, a unicorn and a dog. For families with children ages 4 and older.

Drop in Craft
Make a crown fit for a King or Queen. Stop by the library this week and design a royal topper. Pick the day and time that works best for you. This project is suitable for all ages, make your crown as simple of as elaborate as you like. Materials will be available at the Adams Shore branch on Tuesday afternoon, the 18th from 2-4. Make your crown at the Wollaston branch on Wednesday evening the 19th from 6-8. On Thursday afternoon the 20th make a crown before or after the movie at the North Quincy materials will be available from 2-4. Crown supplies will ba available at the Main Library on Friday morning the 21st from 10-12.

Thursday, Febrruary 20th at 10:00 am join us in the large meeting room at the Main Library for a showing of Disney’s Planes. Dusty Crophopper is a little cropduster plane with a fear of heights and a crazy dream of being a racer. While his friends need convincing, Dusty gets the training he needs from Skipper, a veteran fighter, and qualifies for the Wings Across the World race. In the event, Dusty finds competitors who soon learn that there is something special about this underdog as he is tested to his physical and emotional limits. In doing so, Dusty soon finds enemies, and more importantly friends, who are inspired by his dream. In the face of all obstacles, the winner of this air race will be anyone's guess.
Run Time 92 minutes, rated PG

Thursday, February 20th at 2:30 pm join us at the North Quincy Branch Library for a showing of Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure. This year’s Autumn Revelry promises to be something special. A blue harvest moon will rise, allowing the fairies to restore the Pixie Dust Tree- the source of all their magic. But when Tinker Bell accidentally puts all of Pixie Hollow in jeopardy, she mist venture out across the sea on a secret quest to set things right. Tink with some help from her friend Terence and a charming, rascally firefly named Blaze braves an astonishing new world and discovers the greatest treasure of all.
Run Time 80 minutes, rated G

No registration is required for any of these school vacation week programs. All programs sponsored by the Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library.

Jan 31, 2014 by amandap

Your eyes will play tricks on you at Mad Science this month as we explore optical illusions.

Optical Illusion Books

Look at an optical illusion for long enough and you might see something that isn't there, or see something different from what it looked like at the start. You can find lots of books on optical illusions and you can even make your own. Sometimes they're based on colors, sometimes on patterns, sometimes on carefully drawn pictures that have two images in them (or more). Registration starts on February 3rd for our Mad Science programs on February 15th. Sign up for the 9:30 a.m. program for children aged 3-5 or the 10:30 a.m. program for children aged 6-10.

Can't make it to Mad Science? Want to take a look at some optical illusions at home? Take a look at the sites below for online illusions and activities to try on your own.

Jan 27, 2014 by amandap

The 2014 Newbery and Caldecott Medals have been announced, along with the winners and honors recipients for all of the many other awards the American Library Association gives out each year.

Award winners for younger readers:


Award winners for older readers:

The 2014 award winners and honors were announced this morning at the ALA Midwinder Meeting. Awards given include the well-known Newbery and Caldecott medals as well as many others. You might recognize the stickers for the Coretta Scott King awards, which are given for illustration, writing, new talent and lifetime achievement. You might not recognize the stickers for the Batchelder Award for children's books originally written in a language other than English, or the Schneider Family Book Award for books about the disability experience, but those books can be found on our shelves! Amongst the winners and honors are books for children of all ages as well as teens.

For some suggestions from this year's winners and honors books for children, take a look at the lists to the right. Some of the nonfiction titles on the list for older readers were winners of an award for young adults, but the books themselves aren't just for teens.

To learn more about the many awards the American Library Association gives out, please take a look at their awards page here. You can also find lists of all past winners, in some cases going back many decades. If you'd like to see what Newbery and Caldecott winners we own here, take a look at these lists here.

Jan 16, 2014 by amandap

Instead of a theme this month, everyone read both The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and at least one story from The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, then came up with an idea for a story based on one of the illustrations. While a couple of the group's members had done something similar before for school, not everyone had, and those who'd done it before picked new illustrations to be inspired by. The great thing about The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is that there are so many different pictures and so many different directions to go with them. A couple of the kids wrote down their stories or story ideas. Others had given it a lot of thought. No one came up with the same ideas for their illustrations as the professional authors did for The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

Amongst our stories we had some horror and some humor and some illustrations were more popular than others. Leading the pack was the illustration for Just Desert (yes, that's spelled right), which depicts a woman about to cut into a glowing pumpkin. Also a popular one was The House on Maple Street, which depicts a house taking off from its street corner into the air. The other illustrations used were A Strange Day in July, Under the Rug, The Seven Chairs, The Third Floor Bedroom, Unexpected Guests, Mr. Linden's Library and Another Place, Another Time.

For February we'll be reading the Newbery Medal winners and honors books from the past five years. Since the 2014 Newbery Medal winner and honors recipients will be announced on January 27th, by the time we meet in February we'll be able to talk about both the older winners and the new ones if anyone's already read them. Sound interesting? Know someone in 5th through 8th grade who might want to join? Meet with us on February 11th at 7:00 p.m. in the Children's Room. And check back here after the awards announcements have been made for a list of winning titles, authors and illustrators.

Dec 20, 2013 by amandap

Feel the pull of magnetism in January with our two Mad Science programs for kids.

Magnet Books

Magnets will be the topic for both the 3-5 year olds and the 6-10 year olds this month. Both groups will get some hands-on experience with magnets and get to play with magnetic fields. But one cool thing about magnets is that they're all over the place. It's easy to find some magnets of your own to play with at home. Find some at the supermarket, the craft store or just take some off your fridge and see how much fun they can be.

Take a look at some of our books about magnets listed to the right, or look online to learn more about magnets and why they work. There is plenty of information about magnets here, here and here. Want some ideas for magnet activities to do at home? Try a magnet jar or levitating magnets with younger kids. For some more involved activities for older kids (with parental supervision, of course) try some cool magnet experiments with food and batteries.


Dec 12, 2013 by amandap
Graphic Novels

Towards the end of the year things get busy for older kids. Projects wrap up, winter concerts take place, there's plenty to do. So to keep things easy we all read graphic novels for December. We all picked something a little different, some choosing adaptations, others choosing original works. A couple of kids took several short volumes and others took a single longer book. Opinions were mixed on the specific books picked by each reader but overall the group agreed that there's so much variety, the graphic novel and comic book format can't be judged on just one book.

While a couple of the kids had read the adaptation of The Lightning Thief and didn't much like the changes made for the graphic novel, they did agree that the artwork was good. We even got to talk a little about the differences between adapting a book for a graphic novel and adapting a book for a movie. Maybe some time in the future we'll do all adaptations and continue that discussion.

In January we'll be doing something a little different. In 1984 children's author Chris van Allsburg wrote a book titled The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, claiming that the 14 unrelated illustrations and their accompanying titles and captions had been written and abandoned by a mysterious man named Harris Burdick. In 2011 a collection of short stories inspired by those images was published. For January, kids will be looking through the illustrations, reading at least one story and then coming up with an idea for a story of their own. Write it out or just jot down an idea to share with the group. Sound interesting? Know a 5th through 8th grader who might be inspired? Grab copies of both The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and The Chronicles of Harris Burdick in the Children's Room and join us on January 14th at 7:00 p.m.

Dec 6, 2013 by amandap

Coming up in December we have another set of Mad Science programs, one for 3-5 year olds and one for 6-10 year olds. Both of this coming month's programs will be on unlocking the mysteries of chemistry. You might remember chemistry from high school or college, but chemistry is all around us and you can do some fun chemistry activities at home! Bake a cake and you've not only done some chemistry but you've got a treat to eat when you're done.

Take a look in our science project section under 507.8, our chemistry section in the 540s and check out some of these sites for activities and experiments to try at home:

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