Get Carried Away with Books!

The Great St. Louis Balloon Race, the oldest and most well attended balloon race, will be held September 19-20 in Forest Park. The Balloon Glow on Friday night will allow your kids to get up close to see the inside of the gondolas and speak with the balloonists! Before you go, stop by your neighborhood branch of the St. Louis Public Library to check out these titles and more. And remember, although the events are free, you don’t have to attend the race on Saturday afternoon to enjoy the view. Just look up to see the St. Louis sky sprinkled with balloons!


Max & Maddy and the Bursting Balloons Mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith
Max and Maddy Twist have a flair for solving crimes. When an eccentric balloonist enlists their help in finding out who is sabotaging a hot air balloon race, Max and Maddy not only take the case–they take to the air! But will they be able to find the culprit before their balloon becomes the next target?

The Mystery of the Hot Air Balloon, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Benny wants adventure and finds it as he and the other Alden children help uncover the plan of those who would prevent ballooning from coming to Lloyd’s Landing.

Hot Air: the (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride, by Marjorie Priceman
The first “manned” hot-air balloon is about to take off! But what are those noises coming from the basket? Based on the (possibly) true report of a day in 1783, this is the story of (perhaps) the bravest collection of flyers the world has ever seen, as (sort of) told by a duck, rooster, and sheep.

How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?, by Buffy Silverman
Hot air balloons are huge and colorful. They’re lots of fun to watch. But how do they fly? And how do people control where the hot air balloon goes? Read this book to find out!

The Hot Air Balloon Book: Build and Launch Kongming Lanterns, Solar Tetroons, and More, by Clive Catterall
More than a century before the Wright brothers’ first flight, humans were taking to the skies in hot air balloons. Today, with basic craft skills, you can build and safely launch your own balloons using inexpensive, readily available materials. This book provides illustrated, step-by-step instructions for eight different homemade models, as well as the science and history behind them.


After reading books about balloons and how they work, kids can fly up, up, and away in their own paper mache hot-air balloon. The process takes a couple of days to dry, so start early. Thanks to First Palette for sharing this craft! See you in the air!

Meet Reading Pays author Kate DiCamillo!

Kate DiCamillo will speak and sign books at Central Library on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 11 a.m. Books will be available for purchase from Classroom Library.

Kate is the St. Louis Public Library, Reading Pays, author for fall 2014. Children in grades 2-3 may pick up a FREE copy of DiCamillo’s book, Bink & Gollie, and those in grades 4-5 may receive a FREE copy of The Magician’s Elephant from any St. Louis Public Library, while supplies last. Books will be available at all SLPL locations late next week, drop by to pick up a copy after Sept. 20th!


Kate DiCamillo has been named the 2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress to raise awareness of the importance of literature in promoting lifelong literacy and education and to improve the lives of young people.

DiCamillo is the 2014 recipient of the Newbery Medal for her latest book, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. The author is no stranger to the Newbery, which is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. She also won the Newbery Medal in 2004 for The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread and a 2001 Newbery Honor for her first published novel, Because of Winn Dixie.

To School Around the World

Back to school routines take a long time to get used to as we ease into September. Casual mornings sipping tea on the back porch turn into snatch, grab, and eat what you can from the pantry.  Long summer evenings turn into homework crunch frenzy festivals. However your routine has changed from August to September, remember to take time for you and your family to just enjoy the change of the seasons and the change of routine. As your family transitions, you and your family may also want to consider how children around the world attend school. These books offer endless possibilities for exploration. How fun would it be to go to school in a tree house?


Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World by Susan Hughes
How fun would it be to go to school in a treehouse? Chapters are divided by common characteristics. Why a treehouse? Parents, educators, and children will enjoy the map and resources page. Challenge your children to look around their community and school environment and think about how their school is the same or different.

My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children around the World by Margriet Ruurs
Arranged alphabetically by country, examples are presented of the various modes of transportation used to get books in the hands of children. By boat, truck, mule, bicycle, and camel are just a few of those ways.

My School in the Rain Forest: How Children Attend School around the World by Margriet Ruurs
Arranged alphabetically by country, examples are presented of schools situated in various challenging climate environments. In one community in Cambodia, families live in floating houses. There is a floating school as well.

Going to School in India by Lisa Heydlauff
The vast and diverse peoples and cultures of India are presented in this scrapbook style adventure. Dozens of children are featured throughout India as they pursue education in each of their communities.

This Is the Way We Go To School by Laine Falk
Children will feel part of a global community. Discuss the different ways in which children in your community travel to school: by foot, car, bus, train, carpool. You and your children can design a scrapbook telling your own family story of school.

Book Weekend – Unicorns!


Some great new picture books have come out lately about a new cool magical creature.  Unicorns are not just characters from My Little Pony any more.  These first two picture books target both boys and girls with themes of friendship and personal understanding.  The last choice offers a classic story in a cute retro style for serious fans.

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Goat explains all the reasons he doesn’t like that show-off, Unicorn.  When Unicorn makes rainbows and cupcakes, Goat huffs and frowns.  But once the two talk, he’s surprised to discover that being Unicorn isn’t all that great.  That pearly pointy horn can be problem when head butting a soccer ball.  In fact, Unicorn thinks Goats pretty cool himself, with his curly horns and awesome Goat Milk Cheese making powers.  The two realized that a team-up makes them even better!

BigLilyLily The Unicorn by Dallas Clayton

Manic, energetic, super positive, Lily can do anything and demonstrates her pink & blue powers for all to see.  Colorful details pack the pages with items for readers to pour over.  But then Lily meets Rodger the Penguin.  He’s a short dark and frowny guy with issues.  He doesn’t want to do anything, and thinks all of Lily’s plans are dumb. When Lily presses him  for a reason, he hunts around, but mostly his reason’s are rooted in fear.  Can Lily be the friend he needs to step out of his rut?


Uni The Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.Uni

Uni the Unicorn believes in magic.  Her purple mane and sparkly eyes are not that different than the other unicorns in her family, but unlike them, she believes the make-believe stories about a creature called Girl. Uni is sure that a strong smart wonderful little girl is out there waiting for her.  Her quest to find this magical friend is fulfilled by a golden-haired stranger.  The 1960’s style illustrations capture a charming retro feel that matches this sweet story about believing in dreams.

The Ultimate St. Louis Tourist Essay Contest

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission is sponsoring an essay contest for students in grades 3-12!


As St. Louisans we are fortunate to enjoy amazing attractions and many of them are free!  To enter, students need to visit at least three St. Louis attractions and write a 500 word essay about their experience. Plus, they can add photos and videos to illustrate their experience.

Each winner will receive $500 and be featured on and in the 2015 Official St. Louis Visitors Guide! Entries can be submitted until September 2, 2014 by visiting

School Days

Looking for some fun activities to help ease your family back into the school flow?  Scholastic’s Story Starters allows kids to express their creative talents.  Have a case of writer’s block? Don’t worry, Story Starters is here to help!  First, select a story theme, then spin the story wheel for a story topic. After you’ve finished writing your story, draw your own characters and print the finished product to show off!

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 3.30.58 PM

Still have writer’s block?  Try making a pencil topper to keep you company while you wait for inspiration to strike.  Kids at Central Children’s Library created writers’ buddies recently using felt, googly eyes and pipe cleaners:

pencil trio



Back to School!

Whether your kiddo is starting school for the very first time or returning after summer vacation, these picture books are a fun way to get youngsters ready for the upcoming school year.


Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum
A five-year-old boy, ready and eager on his first day at “the big kids’ school,” must calm his very worried mother.

Dinosaur vs. School by Bob Shea
Fearless Dinosaur takes on new challenges as he starts preschool, from meeting new friends to pasting glitter and googly eyes, but one task requires assistance from everyone.

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson
A young girl’s talented but untamed tresses do not impress her strict first-grade teacher, who has rules for everything, including hair.

David Goes to School by David Shannon
David’s activities in school include chewing gum, talking out of turn, and engaging in a food fight, causing his teacher to say over and over, “No, David!”.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
After Unhei moves from Korea to the United States, her new classmates help her decide what her name should be.

Create some popsicle-stick pencil magnets to keep this year’s important assignments and notices posted on your refrigerator at home!  Instructions available from Silly Eagle Books.