Monday, February 16, 2015

And Your Cat Can Sing: Ground Control to Major Tom Cat

Here are a few picture books for people who like singing cats:

 Barrett, Ron. Cats Got Talent. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2014. Print.

 Donaldson, Julia, and Axel Scheffler. Tabby McTat, the Musical Cat. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012. Print.

Jaunn, Adele. Caruso's Song to the Moon. South Melbourne, Vic: Lothian Books, 2004. Print.

Litwin, Eric, and James Dean. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. New York, NY: Harper, 2012. Print.

My cat is a pretty good singer. He got lost once, and the folks who found him named him Piper because of his musical abilities. His real name is Kitty.

Here's a short clip of Kitty singing David Bowie's Space Oddity with me. (If you don't see the video box below, click here or go to
to view.)

"Ground Control to Major Tom Cat."

ps. I highly recommend buying David Bowie's music at my friend Al's record store, Exile on Main Street in Branford, Connecticut. You can even shop

pps. Back in the 80's, Al was my boss at Cutler's Records in New Haven. The Cutlers were really nice. They had a cat named Sheba who lived in the store.

ppps. The song Space Oddity is covered by two of my favorite actors in two of my favorite movies. Adam Sandler covers the song in Mr. Deeds, and Kristin Wiig sings it in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

pppps. Whoa! Here's a coincidence that never occurred to me before typing the previous sentence . . . James Thurber's short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty takes place in New Milford, Connecticut, and some of the scenes of Mr. Deeds were filmed in New Milford, Connecticut! I'll have to ask my cousin Allen Covert if he ever noticed the connection. 

ppppps. The last time I saw Allen was Christmas Day in 2000, so he might not remember me. 

pppppps. Here is a video clip of Adam Sandler singing Space Oddity in Mr. Deeds, and here is a clip of Kristen Wiig singing along with the David Bowie recording.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More books to match your costume

My post on finding a book to match your costume is featured in this morning's ALSC blog. Here are a few more ideas:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Record Store Day & National Library Week

Since Record Store Day and National Library Week collided this year on April 19th, I celebrated by gathering  library quotes from some of my favorite record players.

I met my wife Elizabeth when she was a library assistant in college I frequented the library often and my grades went up. 
--Mike Bortke

As a wee Beatle-infected child at home in my room, reading about music was the perfect companion to listening TO music … especially after the parental units had yelled in the direction of my record player: "Turn that DOWN!" Once I "grew up" (sort of) and became an actual music maker myself though, the library was always the ideal place on the road on tour to settle down and let ones ears cool off. Until whoever was driving the van would yell "C'mon Gary, let's Go! We're LATE!"
--Gary Pig Gold

I used to read Rolling Stone in my school library. It was there that I first saw pictures of the CBGB crowd....some of whom are my friends to this day!
--Richard Citroen

 I had two greet aunts who were Oakland librarians for over forty years each. One became head of purchasing as well as the History archives. She dropped out of high school to work at the library. The other was branch librarian. The love of libraries runs in the family.
-- Christie Eikeberg Sulaiman

Without books and films, I would never have picked up a pen in earnest…
--Alan Moore

ps. Don't worry if you missed Record Store Day. To make up for it, I recommend pre-ordering the new Camper Van Beethoven album, El Camino Real. Every day is a good day to buy music.

Friday, April 18, 2014

National Library Week 2014

Happy National Library Week! To celebrate, I asked some of my music friends how libraries have influenced their lives.

I couldn't afford sheet music in high school. The public library was the source of probably 75% of the music I learned to play during those years.
 --Jessica Auck
Jessica Auck

Literature is the single biggest influence in my life. There really is such a thing as a time machine. It's called a book. Our band has incorporated famous literary quotes and classic poetry into all our albums. One of our most popular songs is "I'm in Love with a Librarian."
 --Doug Fredericksen
Doug Fredericksen

I used to go to the University of Oregon library and copy old folk songs out of a few books they had there. Old English ballads and whatnot.
--Joel Swensen
Joel Swensen, my brother

I started playing guitar after I became a teacher some 25 years ago. I soon realized how many poems and stories I could bring to life through song. I had a parent that suggested I play for a story night at our public library. I did and it became a regular thing. It lead to a radio show on public radio and a band I play in plays annually for the library's Fall Festival. The library is a wonderful place for community and the written, and spoken word. I love the way stories cater to all ages.
--Kevin Barry
Kevin Barry

I know a lot about the history of Rock & Roll through reading, and it helps on my radio show. Go to WMFO.ORG Saturdays 1pm to 4pm.
--Brian Young
Brian Young

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance . . . It changed me.
--Jason Ohiyesa Crossman

Hooked on Phonics changed my life!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

David Díaz is coming to town!

Thanks to a generous gift from the Charles P. Ferro Foundation, renowned children's book illustrator David Díaz is coming to the NSU Alvin Sherman Library next month to help us celebrate Children's Book Week. Click here for program details.

David Díaz was awarded the most prestigious illustration honor in the United States--the American Library Association’s Caldecott Medal*--for his groundbreaking 1995 picture book, Smoky Night. Since then, Díaz has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children including Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert winner of the 2012 Pura Belpré Medal, and The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, which received a Newbery Honor, and Pura Belpré Honor Award winning titles The Pot that Juan Built, Me, Frida, and Diego: Bigger Than Life.

*I am honored to be on the ballot for the 2016 Caldecott Book Award Committee. If you are a member of ALSC, please vote for me. Thank you!

Telling Tales

Brown, Marcia, and Robert L. Egolf. Stone Soup: An Old Tale. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1947.

A couple of weeks ago I read and told folktales to a group of visiting kindergartners. The children really surprised me with their reactions. I started with one of my childhood favorites Stone Soup
about three hungry French soldiers who visit a town in search of a bite to eat. I asked the kids how they could tell it was an old story. I was expecting them to mention that the villagers didn't keep their food in a refrigerator, or that the streets were made of stones instead of cement, or that they cooked over a fire instead of an oven. Instead, one of the children shouted out "because there were Nazis!" Next I told the class a story from Ghana about Anansi the Spider, and they thought I had said "Nazi the Spider."

Kimmel, Eric A, and Janet Stevens. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. New York: Holiday House, 1988.

It turned out that the children (kindergartners!) had recently learned about the Holocaust. I decided to switch my lesson plans around a bit and told the story of The Three Little Pigs. Afterward, we discussed who was meaner--Anansi the trickster or the Big Bad Wolf. (I left Hitler out of it.)

Galdone, Paul. The Three Little Pigs: A Folk Tale Classic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.