The Penderwicks at Last

penderwicks againAs many of you know, this spring, the fifth and final Penderwicks book was released. When the books began, Batty was a mere 4 years-old. Now she’s in college and the Penderwick family has expanded quite a bit!

I first discovered these books in 2010, when I interviewed Jeanne Birdsall for my webcast. I loved the series from the very beginning, and have really and truly enjoyed growing alongside the characters. So today, I offer my humble tribute to the first book, a summer snapshot of four sisters, a very interesting boy, and perhaps the most lovable literary dog of all time, Hound.

Jeannie, your books are beautiful, amazing, and full of love and light. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Or, as Mr. Penderwick would say, gratias tibi.

Pop Turns Five (and Ian Says Goodbye)

pop turns 5It’s August! It’s Pop‘s fifth birthday! That’s right…5 years and 422 posts strong we be. Five years is also how long Ian has worked at our library, but ladies and gentleman, it is a bittersweet announcement I’m making today.

Ian, our Curatorial Assistant, is moving on.

But being Ian, he is moving along in the most awesome, stylin’ way possible. He completed his library degree at Rutgers AND is a newly minted Fulbright Student (he was also awarded a scholarship to Rare Books school in London this summer!). In short, Ian is shining, and we are so very proud of him.

So today’s post is a retrospective of all the things we convinced this intellectual powerhouse to do for the blog. But if you’re just here to see him smash birthday cupcake in my face, skip to the bottom of the post.

ian walks the dogWe first met Ian in this 2013 post. Usually, it only takes a couple weeks for me to ask people to start doing ridiculous things for me (like walk box dogs on invisible leashes). Ian made it 4 months. But once the flood gates opened…

ian

Ian tests printable tattoos

spreading the loveIan strews hearts

groverIan jams on pan pipes

penguin 1Ian is photobombed by a penguin

ians-cameoIan encounters the paparazzi

pudding taste testIan taste tests Harry Potter pudding

i heart robotAnd the grand finale…Ian gets shoved in a robot costume with low visibility and questionable foot gear. For the 5th birthday post/ Ian retrospective, we thought it appropriate to ask him 5 questions:


Where are you off to, Ian?

I’m off to Baku, Azerbaijan. For the other geography nerds out there: Azerbaijan is a small country on the eastern side of the Caucasus between Iran and Russia, and Baku is the country’s bustling capital on the west bank of the Caspian Sea.

Why Azerbaijan?

I chose to pursue my Fulbright in Azerbaijan because I am fascinated by the complexities of the region. Azerbaijan is a land of mixing and clashing cultures, a border land of influences and diversity since antiquity, positioned at a crossroads of migration, colonization, and cultural exchange. I wanted to be in a modern city, but one with an ancient and medieval past. I wanted to be some place less familiar and rewardingly challenging.

What will you miss about our library?

It has been a true privilege and a joy to work with the rare books and other materials here at Cotsen. Every day is filled with new discoveries, new learning, color, art, and mystery. I forget sometimes how lucky I am to get to experience what “old books” can show us and how the chance to do what I do for a living is rare indeed. I’m not sure I’ll ever work in an “office” this fun again. And I will miss my colleagues at Cotsen most of all because one will always miss their friends when they move away.

What was your favorite thing you did for Pop Goes the Page?

Definitely the time I got crammed into a robot costume. Not only did I get to dance the robot dressed as a robot, I was also really happy to be part of a story time activity featuring a really sweet book. The kids liked it too, I got a lot of hugs that day!

Who is cooler, Dr. Dana or Katie?

Dang, honestly I think they’re both nerds! Good thing for them that at the library, nerds are cool!


A birthday is nothing without sugared toppings, so I grabbed a couple cupcakes for Ian’s final blog photo shoot. Except that meant there were extra cupcakes sitting around. To be smashed into my face. Before final consumption.

cupcake smash montage

Ian, we are really going to miss you. Best of luck in your world travels, academic pursuits, hopes, and dreams! Waves of love and joy from us, your friends, to you – Ian the Indomitable.

Big Tree Library, Little Tree Library

big tree library, little tree library

Bookscape, our library’s gallery, has a giant tree kids can walk into and read (or take the secret stairs to the second floor and curl up with some pillows). The tree is so iconic, we are often referred to as the “tree library.” So when we were presented with an adorable picture book that featured a library in a tree, well, we just had to send a little of the magic home!

We read Red Knit Cap and the Reading Tree by Naoko Stoop (Little, Brown, 2014).
Red Knit Cap Girl and White Bunny are happily reading when Squirrel drops by to show them something interesting – a big, hollow oak tree. They have a brilliant idea. Why not turn the tree into a library? Soon all the animals are dropping things off (except Sly Fox – she keeps sneaking off with stuff). Beaver makes some shelves, Sheep brings snugly blankets, and Owl and Moon make a sign for the new Library. Now everyone can share a love of reading, even Sly Fox!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (we used a 10″ diameter cake circle)
  • Brown wrapping or packing paper
  • A selection of construction paper
  • A selection of poster board
  • White paper
  • 6 mini craft sticks (ours were 2.5″ long)
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Markers for decorating
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Hot glue

finished tree library

First, cut the lid or bottom off your box, and hot glue it to a corrugated cardboard base.

tree library step 1Next, crumble up a swath of brown packing paper (ours was 25″ x 36″). The more wrinkly it is, the more it will look like bark! Wrap the paper around the sides of the box, anchoring it tape or hot glue. Hot glue the paper to the base as well. One thing to note – you want the brown paper to extend about 14″ – 16″ above the top of the box. This will give you nice, fat branches on your tree.

tree library step 2Cut sections into the paper, then twist the sections tightly to create branches. Notice in the photo below that the branch sections end 4-5″ above the top of the box. If you cut them too close to the top of the box, your branches will droop.

tree library step 3Add some green construction paper leaves, and your tree is done! We used the box lid to create shelves for the library, tucked a couple felt blankets in place, added a patterned paper rug, and made a library sign. Here’s a shot of our library’s interior.

interior of tree libraryWe wanted the library books to sit solidly on the shelves, so we hot glued mini craft stick spines to 2.75″ x 4″ pieces of poster board, then hot glued a couple 2.25″ x 3.25″ pages on top. It worked great!

tree library booksIt takes a little time to make the books, and we really wanted to fill the shelves, so we prepped 6 books per kid in advance (132 books total!). Behold the fruits of our labors…

buckets o books Finally, your library readers! We fashioned ours after the characters in the book, using 2 toilet paper tubes and construction paper. We couldn’t help making a red knit felt cap for the girl, too.

red knit cap girl and bunnyOur library tree has red lanterns so those were the final touch to our project. We recycled them from this Creepy Underwear project and hung them on the branches with ornament hooks.

finished tree libraryThis project is adorable, but it has special significance too. Like this robot project, Red Knit Cap and the Reading Tree was selected by a little girl who was a die-hard story time regular and was moving out of New Jersey. So we asked her to share a very, very special book with us, and this was what she selected. This project’s for you Vivian!

Want to see a real-life library tree? You’ll find it here!