Books & Beyond

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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:

Nov 19, 2013 by amandap
Ghost Stories

Halloween came right in between our October and November meetings, so to keep in the spooky spirit (see what I did there?) we read ghost stories for November. Ghost stories, though, don't have to be strictly scary. We found scary stories sure, but also sad and silly stories as well. And some stories are combinations. Not all ghosts are humans and of course some books involve ghosts but aren't necessarily stories about them. In addition to all that variety, we also had some traditional folk tale ghost stories, the kind told around a campfire or at a sleepover. The group was split down the middle when it comes to preferences. Some of us like a scary story and some of us prefer something less spooky. How about you?

For December we're going for format instead of theme and reading graphic novels. American, French, Japanese, long, short, serialized, original, adaptation, it doesn't matter. So long as it's a graphic novel, comic book, manga or a similar format, pick it up and read it for our December meeting. We've got a collection of graphic novels and comic books in the Children's room and all of our branches have similar shelves. Browse through what we have or bring something from home. Interested 5th through 8th graders are welcome to join us in the Children's room on December 10th at 7:00 p.m.

Oct 29, 2013 by amandap

With the start of a new school year comes a return of our monthly Mad Science workshops on the third Saturdays of each month. This year, however, we're running two workshops: One for children ages 6-10 and now one for children ages 3-5, because science can be fun for all ages!

For November both age groups will dig into the world of dinosaurs. Keep digging into the topic with this site about fossils, or take a look at some facts about different dinosaurs. You can try playing some dinosaur games too, or find some paleontology activities to do at home.

Or take a look at some great books about dinosaurs! Read a story or look up some dinosaur facts, crafts or jokes:

Dinosaur Stories: Dinosaur Info:
Oct 24, 2013 by amandap
Magic Tricks

Join us for a special Halloween program this year! We have magician Mike Bent presenting his Spooky Kooky Halloween Magic Show. This program is aimed at children over 4, accompanied by an adult and will be in the Main Library Meeting Room on Saturday, October 26th at 10:00 a.m. Join us for 45 minutes of magic, comedy, thrills and surprises! Want to try some magic tricks of your own? Take a look at our magic trick book collection in the Children's Room under the call number 793.8, or take a look a list of our books online and place a hold or two. We always love seeing some new magic tricks in the Children's Room, so practice your favorites and come in and show us! We guarantee we'll be impressed - magic isn't just tricks, it's tricky!

Spooky Tales

Feeling more spooky than magical? Take a look at some of our spooky (and sometimes funny) stories about ghosts, monsters and bumps in the night, and also some of our Halloween stories. What are you dressing up as this year? Come on into the Children's Room and show or tell us. Who knows? If you come in on Halloween maybe you'll see a space alien or a witch behind the desk!

Oct 24, 2013 by amandap
Greek Mythology

After a summer full of reading, the Phoenix Book Club started back up with a summer reading recap in September to introduce new members to the group. With summer behind us, we turned to Greek mythology for the fall, reading books based on or drawing from myths as well as some of the myths themselves. Plenty of books look to stories from ancient Greece for inspiration. Some are obvious, like the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, but others are a little more subtle. Did you realize that J.K. Rowling used classic creatures from Greek mythology in the Harry Potter books? How often have you seen a fantasy novel mention a pegasus or a nymph? Those are from Greek myths too. Take a look at the list on the right to find books of Greek myths and books based on or using those myths and the characters and creatures from them.

For November we're getting haunted and reading ghost stories. Not just any horror or supernatural tale will do! It's got to have at least one ghost in it. They don't have to be scary, or even human (we've got a couple with ghost dogs!), but they do have to be spirits. If you know a 5th - 8th grader who might be interested, come take a look at the books I've put aside in the Children's Room or find a ghost story of your own and join us on November 12th at 7:00 p.m.

Sep 3, 2013 by julier

Celebrate the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds and the power of creativity. Sunday, September 15th is International Dot Day but we have had too many ideas to limit our celebration to just one day so children of all ages are invited to celebrate circles and dots with us all month long at all Thomas Crane Public Library locations.

As you enter the main library from the parking lot take a few minutes to read The Dot, posted on the children’s room windows, as you walk along the covered walkway.

The Main Library Children's Room will host a series of dot and circle activities through out the month. Beginning on Tuesday, September 3rd stop by the children’s room to participate in the 100 Dot Project.  Each person is invited to decorate and sign 1 of 100 cardboard dots which we will then use to create a giant 3 dimensional dot sculpture.

Saturday, September 7th stop by the children’s room any time from 10:00 to noon to make your very own dot wreath.

Monday, September 9th from 2:00 – 4:00 stop by the children’s room and create your own framed piece of circle art.

 Monday, September 16th from 2:00 -4:00 stop by the children’s room and create a craft.  This will be a grab bag style program featuring a number of dot and circle crafts.  Limit one craft per child.

 Monday, September 23rd from 2:00 – 4:00 stop by the children’s room and try your hand at a dot to dot puzzle or play a dot game.

 Create a framed masterpiece, do a dot to dot puzzle and help decorate our fall tree with colored circles when you visit the Adams Shore Branch in September.

 All month long the North Quincy Branch will feature a library-size connect the dots quest and a drop in art project to see what you can create with 10 black dots.

 Do a connect the dots puzzle and add your fingerprints to a giant dot when you visit the Wollaston Branch this month. We will be using these dots to create an art installation.

We will conclude our celebration of The Dot and begin our fall storytimes with two Dots and Spots storytimes for children ages 3-5, Friday, September 27th at 10:00 in the main library children’s room and on Monday, September 30th at 10:00 at the North Quincy branch. We will be reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds, 10 Black Dots by Donald Crews and Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier. A polka dot craft will be provided afterwards and plenty of dot coloring and connect the dots pages.

Aug 16, 2013 by julier

Remember to turn in your A-Z Summer Reading Challenge by this Friday, August 30th. Collect your certificate when you turn in your challenge sheet and join us in Septemebr for the medal ceremony.

We certainly hope you have had fun exploring the library collection for authors from A to Z.

Jul 25, 2013 by julier

How high do you think you can go? The task is simple: in eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.  Try your hand at this construction challenge  on Thursday, Aug. 22nd at 2:00 pm at the Adams Shore Branch Library.

Family and Friends are invited to watch and cheer on their team but builders must be ages 7 and older. Registration is required. Beginning Thursday, August 1st register by clicking August 22nd on the online calendar at our website, stopping by the Adams Shore Branch or calling 617-376-1325.  Due to space limitations, this program is limited to Quincy residents.  Sponsored by the Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library.


Jul 12, 2013 by amandap

Magician Steve Rudolph will be at our North Quincy branch this Monday, the 15th, at 2:00 p.m. Help Steve dig for a leprechaun's pot of gold, grow carrots by magic, find a pirate's buried treasure and coax a rabbit out of his hole. You'll get to see all these tricks and more at Magic You'll Dig.

This is an exciting show full of comedy, chances for audience participation and amazing tricks and best of all, you don't have to sign up ahead of time. Just head on down to the North Quincy branch on Monday afternoon to join in the fun.The show is geared towards kids ages 4 years old and up but if you've got a younger sibling to bring too that's fine!

If you're feeling more magical after the show take a look at our selection of magic trick books in our nonfiction section. Look under the number 793.8 for books on card tricks, coin tricks, sleight of hand and more. Practice your tricks and come into the library to show us what you've learned! We always love seeing some magic, both from professionals and beginners.

Jul 10, 2013 by amandap

Come in for our summer storytellers on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. or our Pajama Storytimes for pre-schoolers on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

Summer Storytellers - Tuesdays
7/16 - Rona Leventhal
7/23 - Diane Edgecomb
7/30 - Debbie O'Carroll
8/6 - Rosalita's Puppets
8/13 - The Activated Storytellers

Every summer we invite a wide variety of storytellers to come and entertain children at the library. On Tuesdays we have a different storyteller each week for six weeks, mostly geared towards an audience of children aged 5 and up. But don't think we've forgotten about the younger kids! Just because you're not in school yet doesn't mean you can't have a fun summer vacation. On Wednesday nights we are thrilled to have storyteller Cheryl Dunford, whom you may recognize from our Second Saturday storytimes during the school year, presenting a pajama storytime for the 2-5 year olds.

Pajama Storytimes - Wednesdays
July 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st
August 7th and 14th

Our Tuesday evening programs begin at 7:00 p.m. and run for about an hour. Our Wednesday evening programs begin a little earlier, at 6:30, and run from 45 minutes to an hour. We had our first program last night but take a look at the box to the right for the rest of the dates and click on a storyteller's name to see what sorts of stories you'll hear from them.

We hope we'll see you in the evenings this summer!

Jul 10, 2013 by julier

I Dig Vehicles Day at Adams Shore will go on as scheduled today from 2:00-4:00 pm.

Due to rainy forecasts for both today and tomorrow we have redesigned this program.  Join us inside at Adams Shore any time between 2:00 and 4:00 pm this afternoon for a variety of indoor construction activities--make a construction hat and dump truck, build with blocks, try your skill at the dump truck bean bag toss and get your picture taken as a construction worker.

Weather permitting the DPW may still show up with a couple of pieces of apparatus that we can see up close and learn about what they do.

This program is for truck lovers of all ages.  Parents please bring along a camera for some great pictures.

Jun 17, 2013 by julier

Are you ready for a challenge? Have fun this summer and explore the whole library as you read (or listen) your way through the alphabet.  Pick up your Challenge record booklet at any library location and begin your summer of fun.

It's simple, for each letter of he alphabet read (or listen) to a book by an author whose last name begins with that letter.  You may read any kind of books you like: fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, picture books, etc.

When you complete the challenge turn in your reading record at the library and you will get a certificate, in September we will have a ceremony where each person who completes the challenge will receive a medal.

This is a program for the whole family so be sure to pick up a booklet for each family member or work as a team to complete the challenge.    

May 14, 2013 by amandap
Bottom Shelf Books

For May we explored an oft-ignored part of the library's collection: The bottom shelves. The top shelves of our chapter book sections are always well-browsed. They're at eye-level, easy to see, easy to poke through, easy to find something new on. The bottom shelves, on the other hand, just don't get much attention at all. You've got to crouch, or even sit down to really look at what's down there, but that doesn't mean the books are bad! It's just a simple matter of alphabetical order. There are treasures on the bottom shelves, if you bother to look there. Of course, not every book is going to be perfect for every reader, so we had some hits and we had some misses, but it was a good chance for everyone to take a look at books they might otherwise have missed.

For June we're going (relatively) easy and reading picture books! No, not the bedtime stories you'd read a pre-schooler. We have a special collection of picture books for upper elementary and middle school readers. We call them "oversize" books. Some of them are in this collection because they're a little too long. Some are there because they're creepy or scary. Some are simply about subjects little kids aren't interested in. If you know a 5th - 8th grader who might be interested, come take a look at our Oversize collection and join us on June 11th at 7:00 p.m.

Special note! Traditionally, the Phoenix Book Club has a pizza party in June to celebrate the end of the school year. 4th graders who will be entering 5th grade at the end of the coming summer are welcome to join us, but please let us know so we know how much pizza to get!

Apr 29, 2013 by amandap

Our fourth Saturday program in April was a Manga drawing workshop for children aged 8 and up. Massachusetts-based artist Shauna Leva led the workshop, which focused on teaching the kids how to use manga and anime art styles to make their own cartoons. The kids had a great time learning to draw faces and characters and came into the Children's Room after to show off their work.

If you missed the workshop but are interested in this style of comic drawing, take a look at some of our drawing guides in the 740 section of our nonfiction.

If videos are more helpful for you, there are a lot of tutorials online. Try this one to start and look around for more.

And if you'd like to get some suggestions for kid-friendly manga titles, check out this page of titles and resources.

We hope you've had some artistic inspiration and invite you to join us for May's fourth Saturday program, an origami workshop for aged 8 and up. Registration begins on May 6th.

Apr 29, 2013 by amandap
Sports Books

The Phoenix Book Club is our book discussion group for kids in grades 5 through 8. In this group we all read different books from the same theme, then meet to tell each other about what we read. Themes range from genres to subjects to character types and change every month.

For April the Phoenix Book Club celebrated the birthday of two of our members by having some cupcakes before we talked about our books. Some special events happening elsewhere meant a smaller-than-usual group, but we had a lively discussion all the same. Maybe it was because the books themselves were so full of activity? Soccer was the sport of choice for most of our readers, but it was joined by dog agility, white water rafting and even Quidditch.

For May we're moving away from reading a specific subject and instead going for geography. Namely, the geography of the library. Everyone picked a book from a bottom shelf of our chapter book section.  Our poor bottom shelves. No one thinks to look down there but they're full of hidden treasures! If you know a 5th - 8th grader who might be interested, grab a bottom shelf book and join us on May 14th at 7:00 p.m.

Apr 29, 2013 by amandap

In April our Mad Science Workshop for ages 4-8 investigated creepy crawly (and useful and interesting!) bugs. Sure, no one likes a mosquito bite, but bugs can be fascinating and also helpful! Take a look for bugs outside then see what you can learn about them in a book or online.

For some great bug stories and bug information, try looking in our catalog.

For more bugs online, try these sites:

Take a look at this Insect Field Guide to identify any bugs you find.

Check out National Geographic's bug pages.

Did you know you can eat bugs? Read about the bugs people eat here, then, if you're feeling adventurous, check out some insect recipes.

Think you know a lot about bugs? Take this insect quiz to see how much you've learned.

Have fun this month learning about bugs. Next month's Mad Science topic is rockets. We hope we'll see you there!

Mar 28, 2013 by julier

Our fourth Saturday program for 8 and up this month was an Egg Decorating Eggstravaganza.  Eggs are a classic symbol of spring, but if you eat them regularly, you can have free crafting all year long.

All of the eggs we used were blown eggs; removing the insides from the intact eggshell means you can have your eggs and eat them too.  You take a pin (I prefer a corsage pin) and make a very small hole in the top, a larger hole in the bottom, then use the pin to prick the egg inside.  Hold the egg over a bowl, and blow into the small hole.  The insides can then be used for your scrambled eggs, omelets, or mixed into the brownies.  Rinse out the eggshell and let it dry.  The blown eggs will not rot, and can be saved forever. These instructions include a video.

Eggs can be colored, painted, glued, decorated in any way. Glitter and stickers seemed especially popular, but we had some amazing designs by the children using many techniques.  A sharpie marker is a great and waterproof way to make the most elaborate artwork.  Scrapbooking supplies, or just anything around the house to glue onto the shells can embellish the eggs and provide a very fun crafting time.

Mar 20, 2013 by julier

In March our Mad Science Workshop for ages 4-8 investigated polymers, better known to our young scientists as "ooze, goop and slime."  This workshop always makes me think of Dr. Seuss's Bartholomew and the Oobleck a terrific oozy story to read before you begin your experiments.

A simple and fun polymer science experiment to play with is oobleck. Mix 2 parts cornstarch with 1 part water in a large bowl or dishpan and watch what happens.  Now poke it, pick it up, roll it into a ball and generally just get your hands deep into it and see what happens.  This can get messy as the scientists attempt to pick up the oobleck and play with it. Cleans up with soap and water but to minimize the drips place your bowl of oobleck in the sink or bathtub to play. 

For more experiments to try at home check out these books:

Cool Chemistry Concoctions: 50 formulas that fizz, foam, splatter & ooze  lots of fun but can be messy

Plastics and Polymers: science fair projects using hair gel, soda bottles and slimy stuff  experiments and projects best suited to older children

Mudpies activity book and More mudpies  and Mudpies to Magnets  are especially good to use with preschoolers

There are many great polymer experiments available online here are a few to get you started

Make your own slime  the title says it all

Make your own bouncy ball with Bouncy Polymer Chemistry

You can even make your own glue using milk using a recipe from this site

Have fun this month experimenting with polymers. Next month's Mad Science topic is bugs we'll see you then for more science fun.

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