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Her narrowed eyes and balled up fists were only two manifestations of the rage which poured off her in heat waves. At 15, my sister Antoinette was almost obsessively neat and organized, while I, three years younger, was none of the above. The blouses and skirts she had so carefully laundered and ironed on Saturday, in preparation for the coming week, were mine also by divine right—or so I thought. After all, I was the youngest.  “Spoiled rotten!” was what my six older sisters thought of me and “jealous cats” was what I frequently called them.  Most of the time my parents only intervened if it became physical.

Siblings are an interesting group of intimates; most of the time they fight ferociously among themselves but stand back-to-back against all outsiders.  This same sister comforted me when I ran to her classroom because first grade was such a horrible place to be and held my hand when I was taunted by some bullies. However sibling rivalry is a very real issue in homes where there are two or more children, no matter how much they love each other (deep, deep, deep, deep down). Blended families come with other challenges;  just ask Cinderella and her stepsisters.

Rivalry, by its very definition, indicates there is a struggle to gain an advantage and in families it’s often a competition for parental favor; grades, sports, looks and helpfulness are all grist for the mill. Numerous books have been written which help parents foster the idea that “Love is like a flame. No matter how many candles you light with it, the flame is never diminished.” This, of course, means that parents have no favorites. Uh huh. Loving Each One Best speaks to parents who find their world “an exhausting haze of competing demands and perpetual squabbling.”  A couple of other helpful books are Preventing Sibling Rivalry and Truce: Ending Sibling War.  My personal favorite, however, is “Mom, Jason’s Breathing on Me!” Anyone who has ridden with or driven siblings (including teens), knows that nothing short of a squirt gun will make them simmer down.

The all knowing “they” tell me that only children are lonely children. Perhaps that’s true. However I’ll wager their parents  enjoy a peaceful dinnertime.

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On Monday, the American Library Association gave the John Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book.

I was pleasantly surprised by this year’s choice because the Newbery doesn’t often go to fantasies and because of the frequent tendency for Newbery books to be ‘good’ books, as in good-for-you. Even Mr. Gaiman seemed surprised, saying that “there are books that are best sellers and books that are winners.” Popularity is not a consideration for the Newbery award (and rightly so), but there’s been a lot of debate in the library world recently about the obscurity of the most recent winners.

As a child I resisted reading ‘good’ books, preferring escapism to character-building.  As an adult, I know that I missed out on some excellent stories the child-me would have loved. As a librarian,  I’m trying to get those excellent stories to children who are just as reluctant as I was to read a ‘good’ book.  So I’m happy that this year’s Newbery choice means the good and the popular are on the same page.

I always love looking at the Caldecott books and this year the award for the most distinguished picture book for children goes to The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson.

The ALA makes lots of other awards as well, including the Odyssey Award for audiobooks.  One of this year’s Odyssey Honor nominees is Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, written and narrated by local author and DCPL favorite Carmen Agra Deedy. Congratulations to Ms. Deedy, Mr. Gaiman, Ms. Krommes and all the other winners and nominees!

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Nov 10 2008

What to Read When You’re Expecting

by Nolan R

 

Planning for a new baby can be an overwhelming experience.  Not to worry–there are lots of books out there to guide you along your way, whether you’re a first-time parent, a grandparent-to-be, or even a seasoned veteran looking to brush up on the newest trends in pregnancy and parenthood.

Here are my thoughts on a few of the many titles from DCPL’s collection:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff

Considered by many expectant moms to be the pregnancy bible, this book has been around for over twenty years, but a new 2008 edition has just been published.  The book guides you week by week through your pregnancy, and reveals “what to expect” along the way.  The phrasing is a little cutesy for some people (like my husband!), but the information is useful and easy to understand.

The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide by Heather Maclean with Hollie Schultz

Nothing is more overwhelming for a first-time parent than the endless array of consumer goods available for your new baby.  Some are more necessary than others (cribs, car seats, and diaper bags) but do you really need a baby activity center or a baby backpack?  What about the safety of walkers, wipe warmers, or crib bedding?  These ladies have tried it all and they give it to you straight (with much humor) and tell you what they love (and don’t) about every product.  Check out their website for actual product reviews.

  [read the rest of this post…]

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Aug 27 2008

Nursery Rhymes and Fingerplays

by Ginny C

Most parents know the value of reading to children. But did you also know that nursery rhymes and fingerplays are equally important? They increase vocabulary, introduce rhyming and rhythm, develop motor skills and coordination, and introduce phonetic awareness (the different sounds that make up a word.) And besides all that, they’re fun. I’ve listed a few nursery rhyme and fingerplay books to get you started. As always, ask your librarian for more recommendations.

My Very First Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie: A collection of more than sixty nursery rhymes including “Hey Diddle, Diddle,” “Pat-a-Cake,” “Little Jack Horner,” and “Pussycat, Pussycat.”

Mother Goose’s Storytime Nursery Rhymes by Axel Scheffler: An illustrated collection of more than one hundred nursery rhymes, interspersed with vignettes about Mother Goose and her three young goslings, Boo, Lucy, and Small.

This Little Piggy: lap songs, finger plays, clapping games and pantomine rhymes edited by Jane Yolen: A collection of singing games and nursery rhymes involving various parts of the body, to be used with very young children.

Do Your Ears Hang Low? Fifty more musical fingerplays by Tom Glazer: Presents words and music to 50 songs with directions for accompanying fingerplays.

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Jul 16 2008

Baseball for Kids

by Ginny C

The Major League Baseball All-Star game was last night, which means the 2008 baseball season is half finished. That means it’s not too late for those of us who still haven’t made it to Turner Field this year to see the Braves play. It’s never too late, however, to sharpen your baseball skills and improve your game. We have several books and dvds for children and coaches on how to be a better baseball player.

Here are some good books to get you started. Play Ball Like the Hall of Famers features tips from baseball greats such as George Brett and Johnny Bench. Derek Jeter, Pedro Martinez and others offer suggestions on how to play the game in Play Ball Like the Pros. The Kids’ Baseball Workout gives ideas for how to start and structure a workout to help improve your game.

For all the parents who coach their kid’s baseball team or those that just want to help their child improve, we have stuff for you, too. Baseball Drills for Young People and Backyard Baseball Drills are worth looking into. And regardless of your skill level, remember to have fun!

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Jun 18 2008

Summer Camp

by Ginny C

Are you struggling to find something for your kids to do now that school’s out?  It’s not too late to register for some of the summer camps being offered around Atlanta.  There are plenty available.  Most last 5 days and are offered through July.  The majority are for children age 5 through 17, but there are a few for pre-schoolers.

Atlanta Parent has an extensive list of day camps in the Atlanta area as well as overnight camps sorted by state.  Day camps are organized by interest, including art, sports and drama among others.

Atlanta Moms also has a list of day camps in the area.  Many of them are in the northern part of the city, but it does include some in Stone Mountain, Decatur and Lithonia.

Don’t forget to check out local universities which also might be hosting camps this summer.  Oglethorpe, Emory, and Georgia Tech are all offering day camps for children.

There are plenty of summer camps in Atlanta and DeKalb County.  Whether your child is interested in cooking, basketball, computers, gymnastics or something else, you’re sure to find a camp for them through one of these sites.

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