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Today at the library we celebrated a mashup (a Monster Diya Mash?) of the upcoming Diwali and Halloween holidays! The materials used were sidewalk chalk and colored sand, to make Rangoli as well as general Halloweeny spookiness.

Fun was had by all who participated.  ( Not to mention the requisite colored-sand-and-chalk-streaked hands)!

P.S. You will notice that our astute Diwalloween witch – a true collaborative creation of the teens, kids, and librarians – loves BOOKS! Don’t be scared. She has a heart of gold.(Or at least, of pink.)

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Recently we have been the lucky recipients of some amazing thank you letters from several classes that visited the library. So we thought we’d thank the kids for the presents of their presence at the library. (sorry for the bad pun!) A sample (and my personal favorite) letter is below, along with our display of the other letters.


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Book: Shadows by Robin McKinley
Genre(s): Fantasy, Alternative Reality
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication date: 2013
Hardcover: 368 pages
Other: Chosen as one of Brooklyn Public Library’s Summer Reading 2014 books for Teens


Shadows by Robin McKinley

Booktalk: Maggie’s story starts off, as she says, “like something out of a fairy tale.” She is a regular 16 year old teen who loves dogs, origami, and her friends and family. Well, except for her weird stepfather. She lives in present day Newworld, a world much like ours, but with these differences:

Magic is real. Magic is dangerous. It is so dangerous, in fact, that it was outlawed a couple of generations ago – in fact, the “magic genes” were removed from any and all families that were known carriers, including Maggie’s own grandmother and her descendants.

In Newworld, where Maggie lives, magic is thought to cause cobeys, slang for “cohesion breaks,” which are huge rips in the universe which threaten the existence of the whole planet, from Newworld to Farworld and everything in between.

Maggie’s stepfather bugs her. Something is way off about him, not just because he is from Oldworld, where magic is actually not only allowed – it is used as a tool to fight cobeys. And it’s not just his odd looks, or accent, nor is it his distinctly weird clothing. It’s the SHADOWS that accompany him everywhere, shadows which it seems only Maggie can see.  From the very first time she meets him, she sees “…something freaky about the shadow of his arm against the wall—a sudden sharp ragged line along the line of his forearm…” Soon these shadows seem to be trying to follow and communicate with her, and she is totally freaked out.

Maggie tries to find solace in the company of her dog Mongo and her part time job at the local animal shelter, and also in her friends Jill and Taks. And there is her origami – a long time ago, Taks taught Maggie how to make kami—origami creatures which are kind of a good luck charm to ward off evil. Although Maggie resolutely doesn’t believe in magic, making kami to ward off Val’s dark creepy shadows can’t hurt, can it?

Lately, though, it seems that things are getting worse and worse. Maggie has a bad feeling that is only heightened when the first cobey in years opens up in a nearby town.  Somehow, she thinks Val may have something to do with all this bad mojo. Maybe he’s brought illegal magic with him. And now there are all these anti-Cobey army units, which also bring bad vibes.

Mixed in with all this bad stuff there’s the welcome distraction of the super-handsome college student Casimir… but he too comes from old world, and seems to think that only magic can help with cobeys. What is right? Who is right? What are those strange sentient shadows that wriggle and wave to Maggie from over Val’s shoulder? What are they trying to tell her? What will happen to her world if cobeys rip it apart? Could it be possible that the anti-cobey patrol units end up causing more harm than good?

Read Robin McKinley’s Shadows to learn all this and more.

To whom will this appeal?~
The ideal reader of this book would love:
  • Animals, especially dogs
  • Magic
  • Origami
  • Fantasy set in a modern setting, replete with pizza, cars, and high school
  • Adventure wherein a female character and her friends come into their own just in time to help save their world

I would give this book to people who like to read about the juxtaposition of Magic and Science in a modern day setting, books like Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, the Rithmatist or even White Cat by Holly Black…  The reason that I chose Harry Potter and A Wrinkle in Time as two of the readalikes for this book is that, like these books, Shadows reads a little on the younger YA side…

Except for the romantic bits closer to the end, of course. Ahem.


These days, I work in a library branch where there are fewer patrons who don’t speak English… but today I had a Spanish-speaking patron looking for a particular book that the library doesn’t have… Here is the conversation we had… After the conversation below, I led him to the appropriate section in the foreign language collection, and he found a book with a different title but similar topic.


While it’s still in progress, this Gargantuan Poet-Tree was begging to be photographed today. Plus, today, in Teen Tech Time, tweens and teens used our fancy-shmancy computer/screen combo in the Info Commons Lab to write Poems with an Audience! As one of the teens announced, it’s cool to mix up old school antiquated technology like crayons with the Internet and poems! They used websites like Magnetic Poetry and Scholastic’s Poetry Idea Engine to get started, but soon, they were riffing on their own, on paper and word processor too!

We will be adding to this tree~ one parent of a teen asked if she could cut some extra leaves for our somewhat newly budding tree… So expect more greenery (and poems) tomorrow!

Mighty Poet-tree

Mighty Poet-tree, sing us your song

Other teens rapt as Teen Poet creates

Other teens rapt as Teen Poet creates

Our Mighty Poetry Will one day Stand

Our Mighty Poetry Will one day Stand

Poems nestle amongst the leaves

Poems nestle amongst the leaves

Poems, tree, books - a harmonious team

Poems, tree, books – a harmonious team

Poet Tree in Progress

Poet Tree in Progress

So Tall Tree - may trim it tomorrow

So Tall Tree – may trim it tomorrow

Teen Poetry in Progress

Teen Poetry in Progress

Teen writing online magnetic poem with an audience

Teen writing online magnetic poem with an audience

Tween cutting leaves for Poet-Tree

Tween cutting leaves for Poet-Tree

So excited to have found this great page on FB: 101 Indian Children’s Books We Love. There is a lot to peruse and discover on that page – check it out!

Many thanks to Mathu, who introduced me to the following cool rhymes book, and who herself, by the way, has an awesome and important YA book coming out soon!

image of book - Oluguti Toluguti: Indian Rhymes to Read and Recite

Oluguti Toluguti: Indian Rhymes to Read and Recite

 Oluguti Toluguti: Indian Rhymes to Read and Recite in turn led me down an internet rabbit-hole whereby I read further into publisher Tulika’s website, (they also have a site based in America, in New England), which then led me, via a hop, skip, and jump, to 101 Indian Children’s Books We Love

And many thanks also to Elaine, whose inquiry about good chapter books with Indian characters, led me through this mini-journey of discovery!

And now I’m out of breath!


Oh wait: Here is a link to Mathu’s (aka Mathangi Subramanian’s) upcoming new book: Bullying: The Ultimate Teen Guide. More on this soon!


the number Pi on the library's wall

gif of the number Pi on the library’s wall

Last week, in honor of Pi Day (3/14) and Pi Month (3 aka March 2014) we made Pi at the library… or at least as much Pi as would fit along the wall of the Youth Wing! In the end, that turned out to be 316 numbers (including the initial 3.14). That’s a lot of Pi!

We made “Gingerbread”  houses again, as last year’s program was so popular. Some folks got very architectural with them, while others favored the giant pom pom approach. Or a viking-like boat on the roof. There’s even a snowman who looks suspiciously like a yeti.

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I feel so happy right now, I just had to share. I was just speaking with one of our regular patrons. She’s a mother of two girls, and she and the girls are often to be seen doing homework, reading, and participating in programs. A few weeks ago she and I had spoken about the job market and how difficult it is to find the kind of job you are best suited for. She just shared with me that she had taken my suggestion to use our “book a librarian” service to meet with a Business and Careers librarian at our Business Library and has gotten a job as a result of advice given to her by that librarian!


Kids, teens – and even a few adults – joined to create Rangoli designs in the courtyard leading to the Children’s Entrance of Brooklyn Public Library on November 4th, 2013.

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December 2019
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