Sep 10, 2021

"Do you have any scary books?"

As a child of the 90s, I remember Goosebumps books being everywhere. I was always more of a historical fiction girl, but I have clear middle school memories of visiting my school's snack cart before the morning bell and being able to check out Goosebumps books and buy WarHeads candy (the two are forever linked my mind). We get requests year-round for scary books, but the Goosebumps series is just one option. Below are some classic and new titles to send shivers down your spine as we approach the fall season.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Schwartz’s iconic series of scary folklore has entertained and spooked generations. There's something for everyone: skeletons, haunted houses, vampires, mad killers, witches, and more. Short stories range from creepy to silly to haunting, and the illustrations by Stephen Gammel set the tone with a chilly and eerie vibe. 

Don't Turn Out the Lights by Jonathan Maberry
Featuring stories from R.L. Stine and Madeleine Roux, this horror anthology is a tribute to Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. So turn off your lamps, click on your flashlights, and prepare (if you dare) to be utterly spooked by these 35 tales. 

Hide and Don't Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories by Anica Mrose Rissi
A game of hide-and-seek goes on far too long. A look-alike doll makes itself right at home. A talent show act leaves the audience aghast. In another ode to Alvin Schwartz, Rissi has created a contemporary collection of short stories sure to elicit chills, laughs, and screams. 

The Puppet's Payback and Other Chilling Tales by Mary Downing Hahn
Hahn is a go-to whenever a reader is looking for ghost stories and other scary tales. She is a master at stretching out suspense, mixing thrills with chills, and keeping plots fast-paced and riveting with creepy descriptions of the settings and realistic characters. In the Puppet’s Payback, each tale turns something ordinary, like a pigeon, a white dress, or a stranger on the bus, into a sinister link to the supernatural. 

Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe by Josh Allen
13 ordinary kids. 13 ordinary towns. Danger lurks around every corner and spooky things hide in plain sight. Debut author Josh Allen concocts 13 short horror stories similar in style to R.L. Stine. 

The Monsters of Rookhaven by Padraig Kenny
Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world. But when something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see. 
The Sleepover by Michael Regina
When the Russo family returns home from vacation to discover their nanny has unexpectedly passed away, Matthew takes the news the hardest. His best friends decide to cheer him up with a night of junk food, prank calls, and scary movies. Matthew’s mother hires a new nanny on the fly to watch over him and his younger sister, and the nanny is all too happy to have Matthew's friends over. Although she seems like the perfect babysitter, there’s something about her that Matthew doesn’t trust. This new graphic novel is perfect for fans of Stranger Things

A World Full of Spooky Stories by Angela McAllister
This collection features spooky stories from all over the world. Feel your pulse race and your skin tingle as you read about the fearsome witch Baba Yaga, the serpent woman from Spain, the rescue of Tam Lin from the bewitching Queen of the Fairies, how Father Death gets caught in the Enchanted Apple Tree, and the water dwelling Bunyip from Australia.  

The List of Unspeakable Fears by J. Kasper Kramer 
The War That Saved My Life meets Coraline in this historical horror. Essie O’Neill is afraid of everything: cats, electric lights, a family heirloom, her nightmares. Soon Essie discovers more to fear. Her mother has remarried and they must move from their dilapidated tenement in the Bronx to North Brother Island where Essie’s new stepfather runs a quarantine hospital. Essie knows the island is plagued with tragedy so she begins investigating her terrifying new house, stepfather, and her own painful history. 

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectors, a somewhat inept ghost hunting team, but Cass herself can really see ghosts. In fact, her best friend Jacob is a ghost. When The Inspectors head to Edinburgh, Scotland for their new TV show, Cass finds herself surrounded by ghosts… and not all of them are friendly. When she meets Lara, a girl who can also see ghosts, the two find themselves in the center of an epic fight between the worlds of the living and the dead.  

Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories by Max Brallier
A lot scary books are geared towards middle graders and it can be difficult to find the right mix of scary for young readers. For beginning readers looking for scary-but-not-too-scary stories, Brallier’s Mister Shivers series is a great place to start. 5 authentically scary stories, easy-to-read text, and creepy, colorful artwork help boost reading fluency and elicit shivers. Other notable series for early elementary readers include Ballier's Eerie Elementary and The Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings. I've also found younger readers responding well to the Bunnicula series by Deborah Howe. For readers looking for more adventure and just a small amount of horror, Bralliers' The Last Kids on Earth series is a great option.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness like a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, and a ghost who hunts them through the snow. 

Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie
Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour… he’s gone. Claire tries to brush off the incident, but then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her. 
Thornhill by Pam Smy
Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it’s closing down for good. When a bully goes too far, Mary’s revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself. Years later, Ella moves to a new town where she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute. Determined to befriend the mysterious, evasive girl she sees there, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s history and uncover its secrets. Part text, part art, Ella’s story is told through striking art and Mary’s is told through diary entries, eventually intersecting and revealing the truth behind the Thornhill Institute.  
The Gathering by Dan Poblocki
Some houses are more than just haunted, they’re hungry. Dash, Dylan, Poppy, Marcus, and Azumi don’t realize this at first. They think they’ve been summoned to Shadow House for innocent reasons, but there’s nothing innocent about Shadow House. Something within its walls is wickedly wrong. Nothing and nobody can be trusted. Hallways move, doors vanish, ghosts appear, and children disappear. The way out? That’s disappeared too. This is the first book in the Shadow House series. 
The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith
12-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens, the ones who take people and do experiments. When he’s too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens, dark and foreboding. Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?

Aug 20, 2021

Fall Books Preview

The summer reading prizes have been awarded and it's been hot and humid for weeks. I'm ready for fall. Aside from the obvious crisp air, sweaters, and pumpkins, fall also brings us some of the best books of the year. Below is a short list of titles I'm looking forward to reading. You'll find picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, even a few nonfiction works. Some beloved, classic authors are returning with new books so keep an eye on our shelves. You can expect these newbies to appear anytime between September and November. 

Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest by Phoebe Wahl
Wahl never disappoints when it comes to creating the delicate textures and cozy colors of nature. In four tales that follow the seasons, Wahl introduces us to Little Witch Hazel. She's a midwife, an intrepid explorer, a hard worker, and a kind friend to creatures big and small. Little Witch Hazel rescues an orphaned egg, goes sailing on a raft, solves the mystery of a haunted stump, and makes house calls to fellow forest dwellers. But when Little Witch Hazel needs help herself, will she get it in time? 

Dear Little One by Nina Laden
From the treasure of flowers to the mystery of insects, there is wonder everywhere you look in the natural world. By personifying Mother Nature, this gentle, lyrical picture book encourages children to explore the natural world and embrace all the possibilities that surround us. 

Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Seeger has already shown us the ways in which color evokes emotion in her award winning Green and Blue. In Red, she continues this journey by sharing the anger, fear, hostility, and ultimately love of a fox trying to return to his family. 

If You Want to Knit Some Mittens by Laura Purdie Salas
How do you knit a pair of mittens? The first step is to get a sheep of course! In this playful picture book, a girl follows 18 steps to knit mittens. From spinning and dying wool to knitting mittens, her mischievous sheep creates chaos and ultimately wins her heart. 

Wildfire! by Ashley Wolff
Wildfires have been a constant in the news for the past few years. This picture book takes readers into the heart of a forest fire and shows how animal survive, how heroic first responders curb the flames, and how life gradually returns to the forest. Detailed notes at the end about forest fires and firefighting tools and techniques make this book a perfect resource about our natural spaces. 

Egg Marks the Spot by Amy Timberlake
Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen are back with the second book in their Skunk and Badger series. Buried in the heart of every animal is a secret treasure. For rock scientist Badger, it's the Spider Eye Agate he found as a cub, stolen years ago by a crafty cousin. For Skunk, it's Sundays with the New Yak Times Book Review. When an old acquaintance, Mr. G. Hedgehog, announces his plan to come for the Book Review as soon as it thumps on the doorstep, Skunk decides an adventure will solve Badger's problems as well as his own. Surprisingly, Badger agrees and they set off on an agate-finding expedition at Badger's favorite lake. But all is not as it seems at their campsite. 

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo
Highly acclaimed heavyweight author DiCamillo has created a fantastical story about fate, love, and the power of words to spell the world. In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled up in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all, for the king of the land seeks just such a girl and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why. 

Pax, Journey Home by Sara Pennypacker
The long-awaited sequel to Pax is finally here. It's been a year since Peter and his pet fox Pax have seen each other. Once inseparable, they now lead very different lives. Pax and his mate have welcomed a litter of kits and Peter, newly orphaned after the war, joins the Water Warriors, a group dedicated to healing the land from the scars of war. When one of Pax's kits falls seriously ill, he turns to the one human he knows he can trust. Pax and Peter find themselves on a journey toward home and healing.  

How to Train Your Dad by Gary Paulsen
Carl is fed up with his father's pursuit of an off-the-grid existence. His dad may be brilliant, but dumpster-diving for food, scouring through trash for salvageable junk, and wearing clothes from garage sales is getting old. Increasingly worried about how his schoolmates think of his circumstances, Carl adopts the principles set forth in a randomly discovered puppy training pamphlet to "retrain" his dad's mindset... with some very unintentional results.

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
Relocating to a new planet after Earth is destroyed, Petra Pena's suspended animation fails during the 370 year journey. When all the other children are mysteriously reprogrammed and the adults purged, Petra becomes the lone bringer of Earth's now forbidden stories and her grandmother's Mexican folklore to a changing humanity. 

Marshmallow and Jordan by Alina Chau
Jordan's days as a star basketball player end when an accident leaves her paralyzed from the waist down. Jordan is still her team's captain, but her competition days seem to be behind her... until an encounter with a mysterious elephant named Marshmallow helps Jordan discover a new sport. 

Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen
Garlic feels as though she's always doing the wrong thing. No matter how much her friend Carrot and kindly Witch Agnes encourage her, Garlic just wants to tend her own garden where it's nice and safe. But when her village of vegetable folk learns that a bloodthirsty vampire has moved into the nearby castle, they all agree that Garlic is the obvious choice to confront him. Garlic reluctantly agrees to face the mysterious vampire, hoping she has what it takes. After all, garlic drives away vampires... right?

Living Ghosts and Mischievous Monsters: Chilling American Indian Stories by Dan SaSuweh Jones
A dark figure in the night. An owl's cry on the wind. Monsters watching from the edge of the wood. Hungry skeletons. Witches and walking dolls. Some of the creatures in these pages might only have a message for you, but some are the stuff of nightmares. These 32 stories are collected from the thriving tradition of ghost stories from American Indian cultures across North America. 

Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems
Willems takes a dramatic departure from what he's known for with this concept book. Is this light? Is this dark? Is this soft? Is this hard? Using colors, shapes, lines, and textures, Willems invites readers to explore abstract concepts through eye-popping, emotive paintings and simple, open-ended questions. 

Picturing a Nation: The Great Depression's Finest Photographers Introduce America to Itself 
by Martin W. Sandler
Through 140 photographs, Sandler unpacks the United States Farm Security Administration's (FSA) sweeping visual record of the Great Depression. In 1935, with the nation bent under unprecedented unemployment and economic hardship, the FSA sent ten photographers on the road trip of a lifetime. The images they logged revealed the daily lives of Southern sharecroppers, Dust Bowl farmers in the Midwest, Western migrant farmers, and families scraping by in Northeast cities. Using their cameras as weapons against poverty and racism, these talented photographers created not only a collective work of art, but a national treasure in service of hope, courage, and human dignity.  

History Smashers: Plagues and Pandemics by Kate Messner
During the Black Death in the 14th century, plague doctors wore creepy beaked masks filled with herbs, right? Wrong! Those masks were from a plague outbreak centuries later and most doctors never wore anything like that at all! With a mix of sidebars, illustrations, photos, and graphic panels, Messner delivers another gem in her History Smashers series about the bubonic plague, cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, polio, influenza, and COVID-19. 

Jul 22, 2021

Miss Kari's Favorite Storytime Books

Our talented, lovely storytellers for the summer are Miss Maggie and Miss Katie, but I'll be returning to family storytimes in the fall. As I was thinking about potential themes, songs, and games this week, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite picture books that I gravitate towards again and again for storytimes. 

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap
As a shy introvert, this book captured my heart immediately and remains one of my absolute favorites. Crunch is a very sweet but shy dinosaur, and he needs a little kindness and patience in order to warm up to new friends. Softly saying hello, maintaining a healthy distance, sitting quietly together, and even singing Happy Birthday (it's Crunch's favorite song) are all ways we can make him feel comfortable. What a gentle, interactive way to introduce the concepts of personal space and shyness.  

Polar Bear's Underwear by Tupera Tupera
Oh no! Polar Bear has lost his underwear! Is it that pair with the colorful stripes? No, that pair of underwear belongs to Zebra. What about the teeny tiny pair with flowers on it? Oops, those belong to Butterfly. Full of cutouts and silly reveals, this book works great as an interactive flannel board. Place Polar Bear on the board and give each child a pair of underwear. When their pair is revealed in the book, have them come up and see if the underwear is the right size or style for Polar Bear (Lots of laughs are guaranteed for Butterfly's underwear). The clever ending will keep your storytime littles entertained. 

A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
A very hungry lion meets an adorable group of animals. What do you think happens next? I have a particular fondness for this one since it was one of the first books I ever read for a storytime. I was filling in for a fellow librarian and she had this gem listed as a potential title for a zoo theme. I laughed out loud the first time I read it, and whenever I read it now it usually gets big laughs from both children and parents. In addition to being entertaining, it also works an example for an early literacy tip. Picture books use lots and lots of different words, words that tend not to appear in typical day-to-day conversations, like "dwindling." Instead of skipping over them or replacing them with easier, more common words, talking about what they mean is a great way to build a diverse vocabulary. Ask your storytime littles what they think the word means before starting the book, then ask again after they notice what's happening to the animals. If you enjoy Cummins' subtle, wry humor, make sure to check out her newest picture book entitled Vampenguin

Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness by Loryn Brantz
I have yet to use this book for an in-person storytime, but it was super fun to use for a virtual one this past winter. We grabbed our favorite blankets and followed along napping in burritos, hiding in igloos, and flying as beautiful butterflies. We're having a family fort night in the fall, and I'm thinking of testing this one out with a live, pajama-clad audience. Brantz writes with a lot of humor and positivity. This is a great title to illustrate how children can learn through play and imagination.  

One Red Sock by Jennifer Sattler
Hippo has quite the dilemma: She can't find a match for her red sock! From blue to green to gray to white, nothing matches. What's a hippo to do? Sometimes imperfection is perfection. And confidence is the best thing you can ever wear. Hippo is very expressive so young readers will be able to feel her frustration and panic. I really like how the book includes colors that aren't typical favorites of young readers (everyone likes red or talks about green). You can use this book as a flannel board, or create your own sock matching game to encourage pattern and color matching.

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe
There was the slingshot and other mishaps, but the biggest mistake Pokko's parents made was giving her a drum. After loudly drumming day and night, Pokko's father encourages her to take her music outside and soon Pokko attracts a crowd of musical followers. This book a gorgeous watercolor confection. The expressions of Pokko's parents and the deadpan humor in the text will have you chuckling out loud. I love using frogs as a storytime theme, but this picture book goes beyond frogs. Pokko is talented and a bold leader, and she perfectly illustrates the importance of marching to the beat of your own drum. 

Once Upon a Unicorn's Horn by Beatrice Blue
Flying horses, ice cream, an enchanted forest, what more could you ask for in a picture book? Do you ever wonder how unicorns got their horns? It all started when a little girl named June discovered a group of horses learning to fly. When one horse can't seem to get the hang of it, June and her parents come up with a magical solution. For whatever reason this book reminds me of the 1970 stop motion movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town; the movie explains the all mythology behind Santa Claus and Christmas traditions in fun, sweet ways, and this book is no different when explaining the mystery behind beautiful unicorn horns. 

Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro
I'm a fan of winter so I need no convincing of its beauty and fun, but the mice in Silvestro's book need a little encouragement. When Lucy decides to leave the cozy, warm burrow one winter day, she discovers so much joy in catching snowflakes on her tongue, making snow angels, and building snow mice. When she tries to convince her friends to join her, they quickly decline. What could Lucy do to get them to venture outside? This charming read encourages trying new things, and it recognizes the joy of a often dreaded season. Plus, Silvestro can write cheese puns like nobody's business. Be sure to check out another favorite of mine by Silvestro, Bunny's Book Club

Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer
Have you ever had a grumpy day for no reason? Penguin is in a very bad mood and can't shake his grumpiness. He stomps around and tries several things to feel better. After taking a bath, sipping some hot chocolate, and snuggling with his favorite book and stuffed animal, he starts to feel a tiny bit better and thinks that tomorrow won't be so bad. Ask your storytime littles what makes them smile on sad or grumpy days. A very sweet read about emotions and self-care. 

Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
Jam, orange juice, grass, ice cream, paint, what a mess! Dog is white with one black spot on his ear, but by the end of the day, Dog has several spots on his coat. Another book that works well as a flannel board, the spots always seem to end up on Dog's face or butt when we read this during storytime, making my giggly group even more hysterical. Simple illustrations, descriptive language, and tons of themes make this a versatile read: Count the number of spots together for a numbers storytime, talk about primary colors, the color wheel, or simply favorite colors for an art storytime, or use it when talking about messes!   

Jul 1, 2021

Pride Picks

Pride month may be over, but we believe you should always take pride in who you are! Below, we have included titles that feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, and gender nonbinary characters. Whether you identify with one of these groups, are an ally trying to either educate yourself, or just looking for a great new read, these titles are for you. Remember that you are loved, you are worthy, you deserve a great love story, there is only one you, and the world would be a dull place without you in it

Off the Record by Camryn Garrett
Our main character, Josie Wright, is a journalist who is given the incredible opportunity to write a profile for new and upcoming star, Marius Canet, which also means going on a multi-city tour. Then, one of the supporting actresses shares a terrible secret with Josie that challenges her thinking as a writer and as a self proclaimed fat, bisexual Black woman.

*Side note: I just finished this book and WOW! I laughed, I cried, I felt all the things. This is such an empowering book for me as a midsize woman, an ally, and as a cisgender white woman trying to understand the trials that Black people go through every day. 

Spin with Me by Ami Polonsky 
In this dual narrative, Essie is a thirteen year old girl who is counting down the days until she can head back home after her father’s teaching position. Then, she meets Ollie, who is ninbinary and her countdown goes from how long until she goes home to how much time she has left to spend with Ollie. Meanwhile, Ollie is experiencing a crush of their own.. On Essie. Can the two unwind their merry-go-round of feelings before it’s too late? 

Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi 
CeCe Ross and her girlfriend, Sylvie are social media influencers with countless fans and followers, known for their cute outfits and #relationship goals. But when Slyvie breaks up with her, CeCe is left to deal with the loss of her first love and the fear of losing followers.
Things get messier when CeCe meets Josh, a new boy in town who has no idea that she is internet famous. CeCe isn’t surprised to be falling for a guy; she's always known she was bi. And Josh is sweet and smart with excellent taste in donuts so CeCe kind of wants to keep her internet fame a secret. But when CeCe’s secrets catch up to her, she finds herself in the middle of an online storm, where she will have to confront the blurriness of private versus public life, and figure out what it means to speak her truth.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen year old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now, Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he is pushed out-- without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Book 2, Leah on the Offbeat, features a female bisexual main character.

George by Alex Gino
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows that she is a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this secret forever. Then, her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part… because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte-- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake 
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen's house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm--and what's worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing. Mysteriously, Ivy's drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks--and hopes--that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

Did you know that each of the colors on a pride flag represent different emotional and spiritual aspects of the psyche?

Red means life
Orange means healing
Yellow means sunlight
Green means nature
Turquoise means magic and art
Royal blue means serenity
Violet means spirit

Jun 16, 2021

Nature Play Activities

Sweet, sweet summertime. With the lifting of Ohio's health mandates and the gorgeous weather we've been having, we're really enjoying our summer of Tails and Tales. To join the fun, download the Beanstack Tracker app on your mobile device or visit the Library's Beanstack URL here. Create an account listing all your readers and join the 2021 reading and recreation challenge that fits your needs best. With challenges for babies and toddlers, children, teens, adults, and even families this year, everyone can learn and explore. 

This summer, we're giving budding scientists and animal lovers the chance to explore nature closeup with our Nature Play Series. Since the series is full, we'll be sharing some of the activities we're doing so you can explore at home. Check out the details below for pollinator gardens, butterfly feeders, bug hotels, and papier mache wasp nests.

We received 37 caterpillars from Insect Lore around May 7. Miss Maggie and Miss Kari named all the caterpillars, set up their special food, and watched them eat for about a week. Once they had their fill of food and grew to be fluffy and chubby, they formed chrysalides. It took another week or so for the caterpillars to emerge as Painted Lady Butterflies. 27 of the caterpillars successfully metamorphosed. One caterpillar made his chrysalis in his food so when he emerged, his wings were curved and wouldn't fully open. We fed the butterflies fresh fruit until June 8 when we released them outside.    

About 75% of the world's flowering plants need to be pollinated so they can reproduce. Butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators carry pollen from plant to plant when they eat nectar. You can make a pollinator garden to attract these helpful critters and encourage the work they do.

Cardboard egg carton
Potting soil
Seeds that attract pollinators, such as Milkweed, Black-Eyed Susan, Lavender, Mint, Aster, or Zinnia
Spray bottle

Cut the lid off your cardboard egg carton. Fill each individual egg cup with soil. Use one finger to create a hole in the center of each cup. Place one or two seeds in each hole and cover. 

Use a spray bottle to water the newly planted seeds. Place the egg carton in a warm, indoor location with plenty of sunlight until the seeds begin to sprout. Keep the soil very moist. 

Once the seeds have sprouted into small seedlings, you can transfer them outside. Move them into a large pot or plant the whole pollinator garden, egg carton included, into your backyard. 

You can also make a simple feeder to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. Thanks to PBS Kids for Parents for this awesome project! 

Plastic bottle with lid. We used 16 oz. Pepsi bottles.
Cotton ball
Rubber band
Flowers (optional)

If you'd like, you can decorate your plastic bottle with sharpies, washi tape, stickers, or more. When you're ready, slide the rubber band around the middle of the bottle.

Tie a piece of yarn to the rubber band on both sides of the bottle. This will create the feeder's handle. If you'd like, you can place flowers under the rubber band to help attract butterflies to your feeder.  

With help from a grownup, cut a small hole in the plastic lid. Place the cotton ball through the hole. Dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in 1 cup of warm water to make butterfly food. Pour the butterfly food into the bottle and screw the cap back on. The mixture will saturate the cotton ball so butterflies and hummingbirds can drink it. Change the butterfly food, cotton ball, and flowers every few days. You can also use a sponge instead of a cotton ball.  

Bugs need warm, safe places to rest just like humans. Bug hotels are a fantastic project because they can be as simple or elaborate as you desire. They attract healthy bugs to your garden, such as bees, ladybugs, and ants, and provide plenty of closeup observation opportunities for your little ones. Find out how we constructed ours at the Library below.

2 liter plastic bottles or gallon milk cartons
Toilet paper rolls  
Paper or plastic straws
Cupcake liners
Glue or tape
Lots of leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, pinecones, flowers, and more

Cut an opening in your plastic bottle or milk carton to serve as the entrance of your bug hotel. 

Fill your hotel with a variety of recyclable materials and items collected from outside. We walked the Library's Trail Tale and we collected plenty of fallen leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, and more goodies to place in our bug hotels. We rolled newspaper into tubes and placed them inside along with straws and toilet paper rolls. Let your imagination run wild and create a home that you think would be perfectly comfy for bugs! 

Paper wasps bite pieces of old wood from houses or fences, and chew them with water until they make a pulpy kind of paste. The paste is then layered until they create a colony for a home. Here's what you need to create a papier mache wasp nest.

String or yarn 
Paint and brushes

Mix equal parts of water and flour to make a papier mache paste. We did a 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. Add more flour if the paste is too thin. Add more water if the paste is too thick. 

Blow up the balloon and tie a long piece of yarn or string at the end. Use the string to hang the balloon in an area where you can work. Dip newspaper strips in the paste and stick them onto the balloon. Cover the whole balloon, overlapping the newspaper strips in a variety of directions. 

Let your papier mache nest dry overnight. Once it is dry, gently pop the balloon and pull it out of the wasp nest. Use paint, stickers, or more to decorate the outside of your nest.