Book Review | Mr. Bunny’s Adventure by Alisha Ricks

mrbunnysadventureMr. Bunny’s Adventure tells the tale, including illustrations, of a bunny in search of his lost carrot. This adventure is quite simple: While riding on an airplane, a rabbit drops his carrot into a forest. There is said to be a resident giant, thus presenting potential danger in carrot retrieval for said rabbit. (adventure ensues)…

Unfortunately, this book is not as polished as I was hoping. As other reviewers have noted, the illustrations are simplistic and repetitive, not adding much to this picture book. The text is also lacking, not just in the story itself, which may have been more appropriately turned into a poem, but in grammar and correctness. I would consider reading this book to a child who cannot read, but for learning to read, this book may be more of a hindrance than a teaching tool. This is certainly my own opinion, but may be of use to other parents looking for books to improve literacy. Check for a copy from a library near you or find the ebook online.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.


Book Review | The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

book cover the storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

The Storm is about a school age boy excited for a weekend trip to the beach. When a storm threatens to ruin the family’s plans, he dreams up a solution.

I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. It is the new (April 2016) English language translation of the Japanese story published by the author in 2009. I was impressed with the hardcover’s physical quality when it arrived. The story itself was just alright. As other readers have mentioned, the drawings are of more interest than the plot. While the story could maintain the interest of a small child, it’s not interesting enough for an adult to really want to reread it. Though there isn’t much text, it wouldn’t be a great beginner book for learning to read because of some difficult words. Although not aimed at older children, they may possibly gain inspiration from the many detailed drawings. Check out this new release from a library near you!

Film Review | Infinitely Polar Bear starring Mark Ruffalo

pbcThis movie is one of the best I’ve seen this year. It’s no secret that I am a big Ruffalo fan, but that wasn’t enough to get me to like Foxcatcher, Spotlight or Thanks for Sharing. Infinitely Polar Bear shares the story of two girls growing up in Boston in the 70’s with a bipolar father caring for them while mom is pursuing her MBA in New York City. Dealing with living in poverty and being a stay at home Dad and single parent are two of the movie’s themes. The film gives a keyhole perspective likely unknown to those unfamiliar with manic depression.

I laughed out loud, cried once and generally experienced a wide range of emotions while viewing this film. All four of the main characters do an excellent job getting into character and making their feelings palpable. The movie was instantly entertaining and kept my attention for the duration. I recommend this film to anyone who is or has a bipolar partner or is going through long distance relationship issues. It would also be of interest to a much broader audience, so give it a shot even if you don’t fit into either of those two categories. Check it out from a library near you.

Manhattan Schools Pilot New Visual Thinking Strategies Curriculum

The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is an important part of Kansas State University and impacts the community by helping “individuals think anew about personal experiences, sense of place, and the world of knowledge.” As part of their mission to use art as a teaching tool, Kathrine Schlageck, the Beach’s Senior Educator, has undergone training and commenced conducting Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) curriculum sessions in Manhattan Public Schools. As an Education Department volunteer, I accompanied her as an observer this week for the first 5th grade session at Bluemont Elementary School.
Curandera (Mexican Healer) painting by Carmen Lomas GarzaThis painting, Curandera (Mexican Healer), by Carmen Lomas Garza was the first image that the students were asked to discuss. Their conversation revolved around what they thought was going on in the image as a result of their visual observations – with the best part being that there were no wrong answers. I was amazed at how anxious almost all of the students were to share their thoughts with their class members. Some students took longer to form their thoughts about the images than others, but almost everyone was involved in the discussion at some point. Ideas about what was happening in the pieces varied widely and students backed up the assertions using visual clues in the artwork. I was interested in the diverse cultural interpretations that surfaced and how students collaborated to take their peers’ ideas further. Schlageck did an excellent job of fostering the conversation by moderating and echoing the students’ points without correcting or judging.

VTS logo

The program is being assessed and after the pilot sessions are completed, the district will use the data to make a decision about signing up for VTS. Pre and post session tests will be used to gauge the program’s outcome along with teachers’ observational notes. VTS has seen success in communities in California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, among others. For more information grab the December 11th copy of the Manhattan Mercury for their cover story entitled “Program teaches students to draw conclusions, back them up“. Learn more about Visual Thinking Strategies from the VTS website. For additional ways to participate in happenings with the Beach Museum, check their Participate webpage.

Corning-Painted Post third graders visit Rakow Library

CPP group working on puzzle

CPP group working on puzzle

In addition to providing traditional library services, the Rakow Library understands the importance of inviting the local community into its home. Each spring or fall, third grade classes from the Corning-Painted Post school district visit the Museum. During the Library visit, librarians teach students why the Rakow Library is special, what types of materials it has, and what services it offers. In addition, librarians and docents work together to conduct two unique learning activities.

Children gaze in awe at a leather-bound 15th century manuscript that survived the 1972 flood. When we bring the oversized tome down to eye-level, their faces light up and a chorus of “wow” is generally audible.

De situ orbis (manuscsript)

De situ orbis

Two favorite activities are the glass matching game and completing the large 1882 Corning map puzzle. Using a word bank, students identify glass objects that used to be common, but today are a bit tricky. They are quick to identify the glass shoes, necktie and pen, but stumble most with small antique hair gel jars shaped like bears. Librarians explain that before hair gel became what it is today, people used to slick their hair back with bear grease. This draws comments of “ew” and “gross,” and then it’s time to move on to the map puzzle!

We use the Corning map to show what methods of transportation were available in 1882 and how they influenced the development of Corning as a glass production hub. Focusing on the railroads and Chemung River, we talk about shipping and the importance of being able to bring in raw materials and send out finished glass goods. Working in groups, children assemble the approximately three foot wide map puzzle. Upon completion, if there’s time remaining, students figure out where the Museum would be located.

1882 Corning map

1882 Corning map

Approximately 275 third graders will visit the Library this November and December, including the groups who visited us this past spring in March and April. Each librarian and docent pair covers the same material in a slightly different way. Working with the visiting school groups is an exciting part of our day that we really look forward to. This program has happened each fall and spring for the past five years, and we anticipate continuing the tradition. If you are interested in bringing a school or other group to the Rakow Library, request a program online or e-mail us for more information.

The Rakow Research Library is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday
Telephone: 607.438.5300 | Email (general inquiries):

Great Lakes Literacy Principles

Awarded “Site of the Month” by Great Lakes Information Net-work (GLIN), Great Lakes Literacy Principles, prepared by the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, is a website that explains “essential principles and fundamental concepts for Great Lakes learning” and further matches those concepts with Ocean Literacy ones. It breaks down eight specific concepts about the Great Lakes and helps to explain the importance of peoples’ interactions with the lakes.

The eight areas which are broken down range from what are the Great Lakes and how were they formed, to the influence of climate and weather on the lakes, to the types of species that inhabit the lakes, to connections between the lakes and what can be learned from the Great Lakes. The site also has a handy pdf brochure that explains the concept of Great Lakes Literacy and the eight areas from the website. This site is endorsed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Sea Grant and can be a helpful resource for teaching or learning about the Great Lakes.

Image from

Book Review | A Vampire Book with a PG Rating

Vampires have become a vibrant aspect of today’s media culture. Are your kids asking you to let them watch or read the Twilight Series or see the HBO series True Blood? Perhaps you’ve had trouble explaining to your children why some vampire books, shows or movies aren’t quite appropriate for them. Here is a book that may be able to help you.

Though this book was not recently published, this vampire tale is still a worthy read. “My Friend the Vampire” by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg is the first book in “The Little Vampire” series of several tales about the nine year old boy Tony and his vampire friend Rudolph. This book begins with Rudolph visiting Tony’s room, and continues on as their friendship develops and they go on small adventures together. Meant for middle-aged readers, this book as well as the other books in the series, is a good fit for that age group. Parents would find no cause for worry in passing this book on to their child. This series would also serve well as a read-aloud book since chapters are fairly short, and the story is engaging enough to entertain adult readers.

If you like this book, also check out the library’s copies of “The Vampire Moves In” and “The Vampire in Love.”