Fabulous Fridays: Drawing Program

The Program 

As you know summer reading can be crazy. Knowing this, Alyssa & I planned this program knowing we would need a low prep program that would act as  break for us to refresh. I am so thankful we did it this way. Since we are in charge of doing multiple programs a week, the break was needed!

For this program we called upon one of our coworkers Mr. J. (who also works at a local university as an art teacher) for help.  He graciously agreed to help us with this program.

Upon planning for this program, we did not have much in mind for it. It was just meant to be an open ended program where we wanted to encourage our tweens to meet other tweens with the same interest and maybe exchange some drawing tips.

With Mr. J. as our leader, we were able to turn this program into something much more.  Which just goes to show how awesome that collaboration is!

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Instead of just having it as an open ended program, Mr. J., turned into more of a drawing workshop. He opened the program with showing us how to draw simple shapes. He followed up with making the point that everything is made up of shapes. If you can draw a shape, you can draw anything! I think this really inspired a lot of our kids, and it also inspired me as well.

After that, Mr. J. asked for questions. One of our participants wanted to learn how to draw people. Mr. J. spent the rest of the time interacting with the kids to show them the basics on how to draw people & the shapes that make up individuals. 

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How It Went 

This program went over very well. At first, we did not have many kids show up for the program. That was a little disappointing, but as the program went on we had more and more kids file in & want to participate. It seemed like the participants that came were passionate about drawing and wanted to learn more. 

What We Learned

I am amazed at how easily a program can be adapted to the library & how the most simple programs can be the most successful. As the library moves to becoming a community center, I need to be aware that not all programs have to be lavish & all out. Sometimes, all you need is regular programming to build success & create a center for tweens to go.

In the future, I think this could potentially be a club that the library could successfully implement.  I think part of its success is due to the tween need to explore their interests and to make friends with similar interests. This allows them to develop an understanding of who they are.

With this success, I would like to repeat a program like this in the future & I think it is a very easy program that anyone could replicate. 

Some of you may not be as blessed as we are to have a great art teacher working at their library, but I think this is a program that one could adjust & be able to direct it with little or no art experience.

I think if you create an environment with drawing supplies and go over the basic shapes, I think the kids would build on it from there & help each other. Another option you could use is to invite older teens who are passionate about art to help with the program.  I think with these adjustments anyone could do this program. :) All you would need is some pencils, paper, and a little imagination.

Until next time,


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
By Victoria Avyard


Series: Red Queen (Book 1)
Age: 14 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 10, 2015)

Book Summary

 From the Library School Journal
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Mare Barrow lives in a world where one's lot in life is determined by the color of one's blood. She was born a Red and has to make a living by pickpocketing and trying to dodge "the conscription" and being sent off to fight an ongoing war. Mare's resigned herself to the fact that she'll always serve the Silver, a genetically gifted group of people with supernatural abilities. A chance encounter with the prince causes Mare to suddenly find herself at the royal palace as a servant, where she discovers in front of everyone that she also has a unique gift. She is Red and Silver, and could be just the spark the Reds need to rise up against the oppressive Silvers. The king and queen quickly cover up Mare's anomaly by presenting her to the rest of the Silvers as a long-lost princess and betroth her to their second-born son. Now Mare is torn between playing the part of a Silver, and helping out the Scarlet Guard rebellion. 


I have not been this excited for a dystopian book since the Hunger Games. It is very plot driven book, but it isn't as violently graphic as An Ember in Ashes.  One thing I think I like most is that  it reminded me of Hunger Games series. For instance Mara kind of becomes the spark for the revolution like Katiness, but unlike Katiness, Mara has super powers. I like to think of  Red Queen as a Hunger Games on steroids.  It is perfect book if you are in a Hunger Games book hangover. So I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a read alike for this book. I feel like it is among the same appropriateness.

I don't want to give too much of the story away, but I challenge you to read this book. I think it will become a the newest YA book to sweep in & take the spotlight.

 I also just found out this is becoming a movie. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. The author is a screen writer so you just know it will be amazing!

Have you read  Red Queen? What did you think of it?

- Pamela

Fabulous Fridays: Mario Kart Program

The Program

The description for our program read: "Do you have what it takes to be the best "Mario Kart" racer? Put your skills to the test for a chance to win the ultimate title! Play games and chat with other Nintendo fans while you wait to compete."

Pamela: The goal of this program was to try and provide a fun program for tween boys. We decided on this program, because Ms. V tried it with the teens last year and found that mostly tweens showed up. This was an indication to me that we were missing something in our programming for this group, So we decided to try it with the tweens, and it turned out to be really successful.

Supplies & Stations

Pamela: From our previous programs, we know that stations are successful with this age group. So we wanted to provide other activities for the participants to do while a group played the Wii. 


Using Pinterest, I was able to find these Bingo cards. 

If anyone wanted to watch the contestants play, we invited these watchers a chance to play BINGO. While they watched, they would try and find the characters or items on their card in the game. If they saw something on their card, they could mark it off.  When the watcher got BINGO, they would receive a piece of candy. This made just watching other people play a little more fun.

Coloring Pages

Mario Coloring Pages

We printed off these pages and set up a station just to color. This was popular with both the boys & girls. Many wanted to color one to hang up in their room. It was sweet to watch the kids talk to one another as they colored. I felt like this was a nice station to break the ice & allow the kids to meet each other. 

Just like teens need food, tweens need candy. It is no surprise that our candy stash was cleaned out by the end of the program, but it was fun to have candy for our BINGO game and to have a way for us to introduce ourselves to the kids as we went around the room. 

Board Games

To provide extra activities, we set out board games that we had in the children's department. This was a nice way for us to have an extra activity with out a lot of prep. The kids seemed to really enjoy it as well. Many tween girls flocked to this station and entertained themselves while they waited to play. I thought it was interesting that they enjoyed this so much. Maybe we need to do a game day in the future? 

How it Went
Alyssa: We just thought our numbers were record breaking for our Nuclear glow party. The Mario Kart Competition shattered them entirely with twenty-seven kids attending! This is undoubtedly a program we will repeat one day.

Pamela: I feel like this would make an excellent after school passive program.  The kids were really more interested in free play. We had a few competitive ones, but the program was really about just playing together & enjoying this fun game. Instead of doing an organized program, I think this would be a better passive program to do whenever we see a lot of tweens in the department. It would make a great organized program if we had another Wii, but I didn't feel like the kids got to play as much as they wanted to. We just had more then what we were expecting show up. 

What We Learned 

Alyssa: More than one gaming system is best for a program like this. Also, with that many participants, you need more than just a few stations for the kids waiting their turn to play.

Pamela: The start of this program was pretty stressful. I was running to this program from another job, and had to quickly get things set up. After working  most of the day already and battling traffic, this was not fun. I was pretty grumpy. (Pam is crazy! If we were all that nice when we were grumpy, it would be a much happier world...)

From my teaching days, I was always taught to have a backup plan. I remember my mentor teacher telling me to ALWAYS  have a backup plan, especially when using technology. I always find her advice to be true. 

Of course I didn't have anything ready &.....the T.V. wouldn't work. In addition, several of the Wii remotes were dead & the games were all in the wrong cases.  

I felt like it was a case of Murphy's Law. Whatever could go wrong would go wrong,  but thankfully it didn't. After we got another T.V., things started to calm down.

It really taught me how unpredictable technology is. Since I own a Wii, I thought it would be an easy set up & took the prep for granted. 
I now know when doing a program such as this one, you really need to carefully check to make sure everything works & everything is in order. With summer reading, this can be hard. I think if we have things ready though, we will be more calm & it will be more of positive experience all around.

 That prep is just essential!

Overall, the kids really made this experience fun for me & made my day.  After everyone competed, I got to play the game with them, and  I really enjoyed it. I also learned how to play the game Sorry! and a card game called Liar. 

 It really continued to drive home the point to me that we need to be involved with the kids when we do the program. Not only do you have a blast, but it makes that experience more fun for the kids. I hope our programs continue to be as successful. 

Are you doing some game programs at your library? How did it go?


Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan by Cynthia Rylant

Warning! This post contains many personal opinions irrationally related to my love for a book when I was ten and is not objective in the least...

Goodreads Synopsis:

Stumpy the Squirrel and friends team up to save the day in this charming standalone companion to the beloved Gooseberry Park, from Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant and illustrator Arthur Howard.

There has been no rain for months, and all of the animals in Gooseberry Park are in danger. Can the gang of dear friends come up with a brilliant solution in time to save the day? Absolutely!


In my review of Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins, I mentioned my favorite childhood book, Gooseberry Park. In it, I also mentioned that a sequel had recently been released and that I was looking quite forward to reading and reviewing it. I take that back. Originally, I was going to post this as a "Tweens Read Thursdays," but after reading it, did not feel like it fit with the tween age group. 

I gave this book the most scathing review I have ever publicly posted on Goodreads, because I was so severely disappointed in this book; however, I will attempt to be more objective here. My first issue with the book is that Gooseberry Park is a middle grade novel. It's so called sequel (okay, so that wasn't very objective..) is an early chapter book, comparable in level to Magic Tree House books. 

Secondly, the plot is thin and sometimes attempts to imitate the first book too closely. The charm of Gooseberry Park is almost completely and utterly lacking. Third, my beloved characters are slightly obnoxious. (What did they do to you, Murray?)  Finally, this is not a story, it is a new age/eastern mysticism/you can do it sermon thinly veiled as a story. (Nevermind. I don't truly want to try being objective about this horrid book). I probably should not say anymore. My ten year old self is crushed and is refusing to be objective. Moral of the story? Read Gooseberry Park. Love it. Cherish it. Read it over and over again. Forget that Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan ever existed. 

Or, go read a review by someone else who didn't have unrealistically high hopes for this sequel...


The Mesmer Menace by Kersten Hamilton

Tweens Read Thursdays

Goodreads Synopsis:

Welcome to the Amazing Automated Inn, home of twelve-year-old inventor Wally Kennewickett, his genius scientist parents, and his dashing dog, Noodles. From the lightning harvester on the roof to the labs full of experiments in the dungeon, the inn is a wonderful place for a curious boy and his loyal dog to live. That is, until President Theodore Roosevelt himself calls the elder Kennewicketts away, leaving Wally and Noodles to face the evil Mesmers, horrible hypnotists bent on controlling the minds of powerful people. It seems the inn is their first stop on the way to world domination . . . and only an ingenious boy, a staff of automatons, and a brave dachshund stand in their way!


Noodles is undoubtedly an extraordinary dachshund who endeavors to always keep his master, Wally, safe from the many dangers that befall a scatter-brained genius. Moreover, Noodles has an especial distaste for pigeons, despite the fact that a portrait of one of the foul birds hangs over the mantlepiece. There is something about them that does not seem completely right. Besides, anything that garners so much attention from Wally's nasty cousins Melvin and Prissy must be abominable in some form or fashion. Generally, Noodles does an excellent job keeping the peace; however, he may have to face more than he bargained for in order to ensure a happy ending for everyone.  

The Mesmer Menace is a light mystery story with a steampunk flavor. Noodles the Narrator uses a plethora of interesting vocabulary words and explains the meaning of each word as he tells the story. As a word lover and indirect educator, I quite enjoyed this aspect of the book; however, I felt that it was repeated a few too many times. At a certain point, the definitions stopped feeling like having fun and learning at the same time and, instead, just felt didactic. This tale was extremely fluffy and could have had better character depth and plot progression. Some of this is owing to the level of the material. (However, level of material never hindered Kate DiCamillo's genius). Nonetheless, The Mesmer Menaces is a delightfully quirky beginning to a series that is sure to amuse. This tasty tome will likely tempt the literary appetite of the youngest readers on the tween age spectrum.

Fabulous Fridays: Nuclear Glow Heroes Vs. Villains Program

Fabulous Fridays: Nuclear Glow Heroes Vs. Villains Party

The Program

We wanted a way to kick off summer reading with our tweens. As we were brainstorming, we came up with the idea of a glow party. To fit into summer reading, we thought we would give it a heroes versus villains theme. Our main goal was to create an atmosphere where the kids could have fun and meet new friends. To do this, we decided we needed glow sticks- a lot of glow sticks.


This was a fairly low cost program. The only supplies we had to buy were glow sticks from the Dollar Tree and glow-in-the-dark balloons from Wal-Mart.We spent about $15 on the whole program.

For the music, we simply streamed Radio Disney over the internet. This was perfect for this age group. Most parents would consider the content of the music appropriate, but yet it still has the teen edge the tweens crave.

The Stations

Alyssa and I (Pamela) knew that it would be difficult to get the tweens to dance. To help to curve this problem, we set up some stations for the attendees to do.

The stations were: 

(1). The Nuclear Vat

The first station we directed the kids to was a nuclear vat we built out of multi-purpose foam blocks that have been sitting in our storage closet since the dawn of creation. When the kids "fell" into the vat of nuclear waste, they got to choose whether they wanted to make a mustache and become a villain or make a mask and become a hero. The main goal of this station was for the kids to choose a team. The kids spent a great deal of time at this station deciding what team they wanted to be on, and I (Pamela) spend a great deal of time trying to recruit them to the villain side. (mwhahahaha).  From there, we had several other small stations.

2. The Dance Section

This program was all about ambiance! I (Alyssa) brought my amazing disco ball to add the the colorful, nighttime atmosphere. In addition, we scattered approximately eighty glow sticks on the floor, which created a really neat effect! As the kids came in, we told them they were welcome to take the glow sticks. As you can imagine, the glowing floor was extremely short lived, (but the kids had some awesome bling!)  We also had glow in the dark balloons around the room. The tweens ended up playing with these and discovered that if they held the balloons over the black light, it temporarily charged the balloon and made it glow brighter. Ultimately the balloons were used for a game that involved keeping the balloon up in the air without letting it touching the ground.

3. Black Light Messages

We used a black light that was provided by a coworker and placed a large piece of white paper on the table. We invited the kids to write messages and draw pictures using highlighters. It created a fun glowing effect! The tweens really enjoyed this and as you can see they embraced their hero and villain personas. We found quite a bit of heroes versus villains smack talk on the paper at the end of the program along with other messages. My (Alyssa) favorite said, "Fun Party." I love that the kids had such a good time!

In addition to these, we also had several small stations. We had glow in the dark ring toss (which we purchased at Dollar tree) and  glow in the dark bowling.  For the bowling, we just used recycled water bottles a small light-up bouncy ball. To go with our atmosphere, we place glow sticks into the water bottles to make them glow.

4. Comic

We wanted a way for the heroes and villains to compete in a safe way, so we decided to have each team compete to create a giant comic strip. The winner of the comic competition would win the heroes versus villains battle! I (Pamela) lead my villains into battle. We (the villains) made a comic depicting a giant asteroid landing on earth that made everyone evil. I (Alyssa) fought for Truth! Justice! and the American Way! with an awesomely epic comic strip about a giant pumpkin and rainbow minions that attack a city, but are thwarted by the unstoppable Taco Man! The kids spent a large portion of the time carefully depicting their stories and comics. Ms. V. came into judge the comics for us. In the end, Truth, Justice, and Taco Man triumphed and the heroes won the day!

How it Went
Our numbers were record breaking for this program. We had sixteen kids attend! I think the success was due to the shameless promoting we did. Every time we handed out a summer reading card to a tween, we would give them a flier that listed our summer programs for tweens. This had a huge impact on our numbers and I felt like with these numbers it made the program go more smoothly.

The tweens were very receptive to our activities, the other participants, and to us. I do wish we had included another station. We almost did glow in the dark slime, but ran out of time. If we repeat a program like this, I would definitely add more stations.

I (Pamela) think that the tweens really respond well to a free flowing program with many stations. Knowing that works with our tweens, we want to make sure to repeat this format.

What We Learned

The biggest thing I (Pamela) learned was that you just have to get in there and do the activities with the kids. I am finding that talking to them is great, but it is better when you are more involved with the activities. Once I  started to hang out with the tweens and did the activities with them, they started to open up to me.  I felt like I made a bigger impact in this way. We know now that we cannot direct the activities and just make the rounds talking to them, but really need to be doing it with the kids. I hope to continue this throughout the summer in hopes of getting to know our tweens better. We are hoping it will establish a regular tween crowd and are excited for the rest of our Fabulous Friday Programs! (We just finished our Mario Kart program and will blog about that soon.) Next up: Drawing!

What are some tween programs that you are doing this summer?

Until next time,

Pamela and Alyssa

Rump: The True story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

        Rump: The True story of Rumpelstiltskin·    


          Age Range: 8 - 12 years
·         Grade Level: 3 - 7
·         Paperback: 272 pages
·         Published: April 2013
In a faraway kingdom, where your name is your destiny, twelve-year-old Rump is an outsider. His mother died before she could say his full name. With a name like Rump nobody (including Rump) thinks he has much of a future. One day everything changes, Rump finds a spinning wheel, and Rump is drawn to the spinning wheel despite his grandmother and best friend’s objections.

As he starts to spin, he learns that he can turn straw into gold. Rump begins to think that his future is starting to turn around, but he soon realizes that all magic comes with a price. With every straw Rump weaves into gold, he weaves himself deeper into a curse. The only way out of the curse is to go on a quest to find his full name. Rump must find out his full name before the curse destroys him, and hurts the people he loves most.

Book Trailer 


I have always enjoyed the story of Rumpelstiltskin. I was very excited to read this Mark Twain nominee in particular. Who doesn't love a twisted fairy tale? I did find this one to be quit entertaining, and I was surprised that it did not go in the direction I thought it would. Tweens really enjoy twisted fairy tales. So I think this will be a hit for that crowd. It also has a theme of “if you find yourself, you will set yourself free.”  I enjoyed that aspect of it, and I liked that it wasn't all fluffy. It does have some darker elements to it. (Which can be expected from a  retelling of Grimm fairy tale).  If you have any very particular parents, I would mention that to them. There are some elements of kidnapping, torture, death, and a little violence. Nothing is graphic. I feel like it is very appropriate for a middle grade reader, but it is something to be aware of.

Overall, I felt like it was a fun read. I enjoyed the magical elements to it such as a the witches, pixies, and the curse.  It brought in a lot of fantasy elements that I crave together with a great twisted fairy tale. I look forward to reading her next book & to do this book in our upcoming book discussions. 

Discussion Questions

In the story, being 12 years old is to be considered an adult. How does this rule effect Rump?  How old do you think you have to be to be considered an adult? What makes someone an adult?

What is a destiny? Rump must discover his destiny to discover his full name. How did he find his destiny? How do you think you discover your passion / destiny?

Why are names so important in this book? Do names hold this much power in real life?  In the book, the people of the mountains do not name their animals. Do you think it is a good idea for us to name our pets? Why do we name them?
*Bonus- call on someone to tell a story about how they named their pet*

Why do pixies like gold? What is the purpose of the pixies in the story? Do you think the story could have done without this element?

Knowing the consequences of lying, the Miller decides to lie to the king. Why did the Miller lie to the king? Do you think he wanted to save Rump or did he have other selfish reason behind his lie?  

When Rump offers his gold, he is cursed to accept any offer given to him. Why do you think this is part of the curse? Is Rump greedy?

In this book, all magic has consequences. Why is this? Shouldn’t magic make things easier?

Did you know the story of "Rumpelstiltskin" before you read this? If you knew the story,  what version did you like better? Why do you think the author chose to change the story? If you have never read this story,  do you want to read this story?

When Rump discovered his true name the curse was broken! Why did knowing  his name break the curse?  

 Knowing Rump’s mom story, do you think she could have been saved? What are some things she could have done differently?

Books Like This One

- Pamela

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes 

By Sabaa Tahir 


     Age Range: 14 & up 
·         Grade Level: 9-12
·         Paperback: 464 Pages
·         Published: April 2015

The Story 

Told in alternate perspectives, the story of An Ember in the Ashes follows two characters namede Laia and Elias. These characters live in a harsh society  where a group called the masks rule. Laia's family is a supporter of the resistance, and Elias is a mask himself. 

One night while Laia is at home with her grandparents and her brother, the masks break into her home. The masks brutally kill her grandparents & place her brother under arrest. Laia is able to get away, but the only people she can turn to for help is the resistance leaders who were responsible for her parent's death. In order to save her brother, Laia works with the resistance and goes undercover as a slave in Empire's greatest military academy. There she meets Elias. 

Elias is a mask, but he would give anything to run away and give it all up. On the day of his graduation to become a mask, it is announced that trails will be held to find the new emperor of the empire. Elias and his graduating class are the only contestants in this trail. In order to find freedom, Elias must compete in the trails to become emperor, but if he fails, he will die. Laia and Elias soon realize that the are each others only hope to becoming free & to getting what they want. 


With such an overwhelming buzz, I was drawn to this book.  I found the story  to be very action packed and suspenseful. It starts out with Laia's house being invaded and it follows the characters all the way up to the end of the trials. It will leave readers on the edge of their seat.  With the trails, and the idea that Elias has to fight his classmates to the death,  it reminded me of a very grown up hunger games. I think it is key to mention that it is very grown up. With the setting, it naturally has a great deal of violence.  One scene that left me particularity uncomfortable was a scene where Laia is branded as a slave with a knife, and in another scene where Laia is nearly rapped. There were also some  disturbing scenes as Elias tries to overcome the trials as well.  This is just my take on it. Please note that not everyone might feel this way, but I do feel like it is important to note this for reader's advisory.  I feel like this is a great fantasy to recommend to older teens and young 20 somethings, but I would not hand this book to a tween without a great deal of caution.  Overall, I did enjoy this book very much. It took about 100 pages for the story to completely set up, but after those 100 pages I was hooked. I will be on the lookout & hope that this book has a sequel. 

Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it? 

- Pamela