The Zine Scene

Chicago Zine Fest takes place this weekend, from March 14-15, with readings from zines at Hairpin Arts Center and exhibitions at Columbia College. What's a zine, you may ask? Whatcha Mean This book explains exactly what a zine is in the style and format of a small, self-published work, or zine. It provides a great […]

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Strong And Spunky Pint-Size Heroines

Women's history month is about honoring strong and independent women, whether they are famous or everyday heroines. You can also celebrate strong and independent girls! Here are a few fictional pint-size tough and spunky females you might want to get to know. Ella Sarah Gets Dressed: Ella Sarah really, really wants to wear “my pink polka-dot pants, my […]

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Create, Don’t Procrastinate!

With the wintry weather lately, it's no wonder that National Procrastination Week is March 8-14. Why don't you fight the urge to put it off by dipping into your productive and creative side? Bird by Bird contains  some of the most practical advice for creativity and life in general I've ever read. Taking its namesake from advice her […]

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U.S. Presidents Aren’t Boring

Statue of Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln Memorial

Try these tween books on U.S. presidents to find out something you won't learn in school. Two Miserable Presidents: Steve Sheinkin's guide to obscure Civil War history is well researched, yet thoroughly entertaining. It includes grisly details like Senator Charles Sumner's speech claiming the pro-slavery soldiers were "picked from the drunken spew and vomit," and how he […]

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What’s a B-Movie, Anyway?


Every year, nerds descend on Northwestern University in Chicago to watch B-movies for 24 hours. Like subjects of the show Mystery Science Theater 3000, they cope with watching terrible movies by wisecracking about on-screen events. But why are so many people willing to lose sleep and smell so bad? And what exactly *is* a B-movie, anyway? Ed Wood: A lot […]

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The Biggest Oscar Upsets

Sylvester Stallone's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

American movie fans seem to have a love-hate relationship with the annual announcement of Oscar nominees. Time has vindicated the Academy with several flicks that have become cherished classics, but isn't it more fun to remember Hollywood's biggest upsets? Here are a few controversial choices for best picture from history's annals. Dances with Wolves over Goodfellas, […]

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Food for Thought

If you are anything like me, you are quick to make New Year's resolutions, many revolving around health. If, like me, you are also motivated by guilt, here are a few films about food that should scare you straight. Forks over Knives: This challenging documentary makes the bold claim that many American diseases, like diabetes, cancer and heart […]

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MLK Day For Pre-K

metal peace sign

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day can be a difficult subject to introduce to young readers since it encompasses such large themes. Yet we receive many parent, caregiver and teacher requests for this vital topic around this time of year. Here are some picture books I would recommend to address the themes of unity, peace and diversity that […]

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Beyond Magic Tree House: Transitional Reading Magic

Source: Stories from the Ballads Told to the Children by Mary MacGregor, by illustrator Katharine Cameron

Skinny, short or beginning chapter books—or as we called them in library school, "transitional chapter books"—are essential to bridging that gap between early readers and the next level. Many of them come in popular and well-loved series like Ivy and Bean and Magic Tree House. However, there are a wealth of these wonderful books published […]

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Native Tales: Not Just for November

We experience a flurry of readers seeking informational books and folklore during November, Native American History Month. Here are a few of my favorite readalouds written by Native authors. Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith: The narrative revolves around the cultural keystones of a powwow and a jingle dance. The repetitive rhythm of the text lends […]

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