I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird

Robert Haas is a photographer for National Geographic, a publication known for its striking photojournalistic essays, and has thankfully published this beautiful book for children on how photography plays a roll in understanding wildlife around the world.  The photographs are breath-taking and entertaining at the same time, and children will learn about the derring-do required of a photographer to capture these images as well as facts about the animals and habitats.  Have fun looking for shapes and patterns among the groups and landscape.  Haas goes over land and sea to find his subjects–bears, whales, crocodiles, zebras.  One of the more incredible photographs shows a flock of flamingoes clustered into a shape of a flamingo!

Where else do you find patterns in nature?  Take a walk around your neighborhood, local park, or zoo with a camera and see what you can capture.


Introducing…Jane Goodall

Two great picture book biographies were published in April 2011 on the life of primatologist Jane Goodall.  Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell focuses on Jane’s young life as an animal lover and avid reader.  McDonnell uses stories taken from Goodall’s autobiography and peppers the story with actual artifacts from Jane Goodall’s life. 


The Watcher by Jeanette Winter covers Jane’s life as she grows up to when she begins to study the chimpanzees in Tanzania.  Readers learn about the patience she had to embody in order to get the chimps to trust her and let her near to their group.

The New York Times recently posted a great video interview with the authors of both books and Jane Goodall.  The authors discuss the inspiration and respect they find in Jane’s life and example, and Jane recounts her experiences in a male-dominated field and explores the role of women in the study of science. 

For those inspired by the work of Jane Goodall, children should check out Roots and Shoots, a youth organization designed by the Jane Goodall Institute.  The organization encourages youth to create and take action in the needs of their community.

Gross Out!

Let’s face it, kids often find gross things cool. St. Louis Public Library has two great non-fiction series—The Amazingly Gross Human Body and Gross Body Science—where readers will find all sorts of gruesome facts about the hard-working human body. For fun and perplexing conversation starters, you can also check out Would You Rather? Gross Out—one in a series that poses all sort of outrageous questions such as “Would you rather have an Adam’s apple the size of a watermelon or have feet as long as you are tall?”

It wouldn’t be a party without the following revolting songs. These are favorites of mine from childhood and can be found all over youtube.com if you need the tune. These are truly gross and delightful! (Lines in italics are spoken. You can leave out the 3rd and 4th verses  of the bumblebee song to make a less disgusting version.)

  • I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee
  • (cup hands as if holding a bee)
  • Won’t my mommy be so proud of me
  • I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee
  • Ouch! It stung me!
  • I’m squishing up a baby bumblebee
  • (mash hands together)
  • Won’t my mommy be so proud of me
  • I’m squishing up a baby bumblebee
  • Ew! What a mess! I’m lickin’ up baby bumblebee
  • (pretend to lick hands)
  • Won’t my mommy be so proud of me
  • I’m lickin’ up a baby bumblebee
  • Ick! I feel sick! I’m pukin’ up a baby bumblebee
  • (hold stomach and pretend to heave)
  • Won’t my mommy be so proud of me
  • I’m pukin’ up a baby bumblebee
  • Yuck! It’s everywhere!
  • I’m wipin’ up a baby bumblebee
  • (make mopping motions, or if omitting previous verses, wipe hands on thighs)
  • Won’t my mommy be so proud of me
  • I’m wipin’ up a baby bumblebee
  • Now my mommy won’t be mad at me!


  • Great big globs of greasy grimy gopher guts
  • Mutilated monkey meat
  • Little dirty birdy feet
  • French fried eyeballs swimming in a pool of blood
  • And me without a spoon!
  • But I got a straw…


  • Nobody loves me
  • Everybody hates me
  • Guess I’ll go eat worms
  • Long, thin, slimy ones
  • Fat, short, juicy ones
  • Itsy bitsy fuzzy wuzzy worms!

–Lindsay Beckman

Celebrate Chinese Culture!

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Are you headed for the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chinese Culture Days this weekend?  Check out a few books to bring the spirit of the festival home with you.

  • Ginnie Lo’s Mahjong All Day Long introduces young readers to the classic tile game of mahjong.
  • Demi’s The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching offers a mystical look into the philosopher’s life and work. 
  • The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine gives the classic tale of “The Talking Pot” a Chinese New Year twist.
  • The Ballad of Mulan by Song Nan Zhang and China’s Bravest Girl: The Legend of Hua Mu Lan by Charlie Chin recount versions of the legendary woman warrior.
  • Grace Lin has penned several picture and chapter books with Chinese cultural themes worth reading.  The Newbery Honor  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon draws from Chinese folklore to create an epic journey of a young girl’s struggle to help her family.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Greg Heffley is trying to become a popular boy in his middle school. The harder he tries the worse the result. He eventually loses his only friend over the popularity at his school. Because Rowley, his friend, seem to be able to fit in the school Greg grows more frustrated. This movie is about being a teen trying to adapt to an unfamiliar environment, middle school.

–Adeline Chow

Graphic Novels Are Books, Too

“‘And what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’”

While we Youth Services staff love all kinds of books, this question posed in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland brings to mind the rapidly growing popularity and relevance of graphic novels for children and teenagers. We would like to bring your attention the wide variety of graphic novels we carry–not just superheroes, but realistic fiction, history, biography and memoir, drama (graphic novels of Shakespeare exist in both the original early Modern English as well as abridged forms), and folklore, to name a few genres. As always, feel free to contact us or come into the library for suggestions.

In the meantime, check out these following websites. Deborah Ford, resource librarian for the San Diego Unified School District, talks about the importance of graphic novels and her invitation to speak at the 2010 Comic-Con. No Flying, No Tights provides a lot of helpful suggestions not only of classic superhero comics (the likes of DC and Marvel) but of many other genres as well.

–Lindsay Beckman

Early Years Are Learning Years

Hand Print Poem

This is to remind you

When I have grown so tall,

That once I was quite little

And my hands were very small.

Directions: Have children dip their hand in watered down paint and place the print on construction paper. Have the above poem preprinted and cut into squares. Glue the poem next to the handprint. Write the date of the activity for a parent’s keepsake.

Special Special (tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

Special special special me
How I wonder what I’ll be
In this big world I can be
Anything I want to be
Special special special me
How I wonder what I’ll be

Thumbprint Art

Let children create a picture with thumbprints. Roll thumbs in washable poster paint.

The caption: “Made by Thumbody Special!”


Farmer McPeepers and His Missing Milk Cows  Katy S. Duffield                  

Put It On the List!  by Kristen Darbyshire             

The Red Hen Rebecca Emberley           

It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny Marilyn Sadler

Bed Hogs Kelly S. Dipucchio

Not a Box Antoinette Portis. 

I Like Myself Karen Beaumont

The OK Book Amy Krause Rosenthal

Who Sank the Boat Pamela Allen

Whose Baby Am I John Butler

Over in The Meadow Jane Cabrera

–Sara Northern + the Early Childhood Committee