Lately at the Library ~ Owl Babies, Brontorina, and Enemy Pie

   Story time at the library sounds like a good idea, right?  It's free, educational, and fun...right?  Well, it should be.  My four-and-a-half year old, Little Girl is finally at an age where she's interested enough to sit still (pictured below right), listen, and even engage in the songs and stories.  At two-and-a-half, however, Baby Girl will not.  She will not sit still (pictured below left), she will not listen, and she will only engage in the songs if she hears a really catchy one as she's slipping out the exit or throwing a tantrum in the corner.   She then resumes her antics when the song ends.

   Needless to say, we don't make it to story time on a regular basis.  But as I was leaving the gym a few weeks ago, I heard one of the other moms asking her kids if they'd like to go to the library for story time.  Usually I end up sweating more by chasing them around the library than I do at the gym.  Luckily, we went anyway and I was pleasantly surprised with our morning, thanks to one special book, Owl Babies.

   The crosshatching talents of Patrick Benson and the storytelling skills of Martin Waddell combine and illuminate one frightful night when three owlets, Sarah, Percy, and Bill, try to comfort one another after waking and realizing their mommy is goneJulia Eccleshare wrote this synopsis in The Guardian, "Martin Waddell's Owl Babies with its superb illustrations by Patrick Benson has long been regarded as a classic because of the poignant simplicity and emotional integrity of its storyline and the way it is matched by its illustrations.  The story of how three little owlets manage to keep their spirits up while their mother is out hunting for food for them is full of tension and anxiety. The older owlets support their youngest sibling with assurances that their mother will return; while they do a good job, they cannot completely disguise their fear. Ultimately, however, she does and all is well."

   Coincidentally, I had already spotted this book in the library before we headed into story time.  I glanced through it, thought it was cute but, unconvinced, put it back on the shelf.  I was a little surprised that story time's theme of the day was owls and that Owl Babies was the first selection.  When our librarian started to read it, and after I witnessed the children's enthusiastic reaction, I was humbled and intrigued.  So I have two children, am still a kid at heart, and have a passion for children's books...so what?  I'm no expert. 

   With a slight change of pitch, our highly-skilled librarian turned Owl Babies from "cute" to "priceless."  At the end of each page, following an explanation or rationalization between the two oldest owlets as to where their mother could have disappeared to, the youngest of the three discounts their reasoning and exclaims, "I want my mommy!"  Only the librarian didn't read it like I had in my head earlier or as it was recorded in the video below.  Instead of a tender, innocent baby voice, she used a high-pitched, slightly desperate shriek/baby's cry when Bill says, "I want my mommy!"  The whole room erupted in laughter and grinned in anticipation of the next time he would screech!  Of course this requires comedic timing and a little extra effort, but let me tell you- it's worth it!  We ended up checking it out three more times and the girls laughed hysterically each time I read, "I want my mommy!" even after the element of surprise was gone.

   Owl Babies would be a great choice for a bedtime story and for Mother's day (since it centers around the separation anxiety, recovery, and reinforcement within the relationship between a mother and her babies)!  Click here for math, science, music/poetry, and fine motor skills lesson plans; here for visual aids including life cycle posters and a word bank; here for 17 owl babies resources (mask, coloring pages, alphabet, numbers, keywords, stick puppets, worksheets and many more great printables); and here for preschool lesson and activities!  Owl Babies is available as a picture book, a board book (1+), a big book if you will be reading to a large group, and en espanol- Las Lechucitas.  (Ages 2-7)

   Following the sweet success of an enjoyable story time, the girls decorated some owl coloring pages and we found a few more favorites to bring home, including BrontorinaRandy Cecil's charming illustrations bring humor to James Howe's adorable story about problem-solving, overcoming adversity, following your dreams, being supported by your teacher, and gaining acceptance from peers!

   As reviewed in Hooray for Books!, "All Brontorina Apatosaurus wants to do is dance ballet. The problem is, she is an enormous dinosaur! When Madame Lucille lets her participate in a class, poor Brontorina realizes she is too large to dance in the studio. Her tail flies everywhere and she comes dangerously close to squashing the piano! Not to mention the trouble she has finding ballet slippers! Will the darling dino be able to achieve her dream? Don’t miss this opportunity to see a dinosaur do an arabesque!"  (Purchase Brontorina here.  Ages 2-7.)

   Before we left the library that day, I found another a clever story about a boy who finds a way to handle his arch nemesis one summer in Enemy Pie, written by Derek Munson and illustrated by Tara Calahan King (a Reading Rainbow pick you can download on iTunes here).

   It was all good until Jeremy Ross moved into the neighborhood, right next door to my best friend Stanley.  I did not like Jeremy Ross.  He laughed at me when he struck me out in a baseball game.  He had a party on his trampoline, and I wasn't even invited.  But my best friend Stanley was.

  He and his dad discuss the wretched topic of enemies and devise a plan to fix him for good.  His dad possessed a secret recipe for "Enemy Pie" and, if he could somehow get Jeremy Ross to eat it, it would do the trick!  After offering up several disgusting ingredients to this mysterious Enemy Pie, he heads outside to shoot hoops while his dad finishes assembling and baking their sweet revenge.  Finally, it was done!  Only, it smelled delicious.  Huh??  He was a little confused as to how this Enemy Pie would work.

   While the pie cooled, he filled me in on my job.  He talked quietly, "There is one part of Enemy Pie that I can't do.  In order for it to work, you have to spend the day with your enemy.  Even worse, you have to be nice to him.  It's not easy.  But that's the only way that Enemy Pie can work.  Are you sure you want to go through with this?"  Of course I was.

   The ending is fantastic, as you can imagine!  Visit its official site here to buy the book, for the author's bio, lesson plan ideas about friends and enemies, and resources for young authors!  (Ages 3-8)

   Thanks for stopping by! 
I hope you enjoy our picks from Lately at the Library as much as we did!
Here are a couple more (poor quality) phone shots from the morning!


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