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Marjorie Flack – Children’s Literature Author and Illustrator

Image Credit: exodusbooks.com

Marjorie Flack began drawing as a child and went on to  pursue an education in the arts. She became a children’s literature author and illustrator.  She was well known for her animal illustrations. Many of her illustrations were done in simple black and white pencil sketches, but she also used ink, paint, crayon, watercolor, and tempera to create her work. Marjorie’s book Boats on the River was awarded the title of a Caldecott Medal Honor Book in 1947. One of her most famous books was The Story About Ping which told of the adventures of a small yellow duck after he gets lost on the Yangtze River in China. This book was written by Marjorie Flack, but illustrated by Kurt Wiese, who had lived and traveled through China. The National Education Association named The Story About Ping as one of the Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children in 2007. Some of her most recognizable books are about a Scottish terrier known as Angus.

Angus and the Cat, Image Credit: theanimalarium.blogspot.com

Fun fact:  Many of Marjorie Flacks animal characters were inspired from animals in her life. She modeled the Angus the dog after her own Scottish Terrier and a mouse that lived in her studio was the basis for her book Walter, the Lazy Mouse.


The Alameda County Library has many of Marjorie Flack’s books in our collection. Take a look here.

Creative Thursdays at the Library

What can you do with a cardboard box? No! The question is, what CAN’T you do with a cardboard box? With a little imagination it can be:

a house

a castle

a car!

How about a covered wagon






   and a horse to pull it? 



Don’t have a big box? How about a doll bed

 or parking garage?



Just sit in a cardboard box and use your imagination, or get fancy with paper, crayons, paint, fabric — the sky’s the limit!

First, ask for permission to use the box! You might need supervision to use scissors and sharp knives. And be sure to clean up after yourself!  Then, have fun! And check out these books at the Library:

Garth Williams – Children’s Literature Illustrator

Image Credit: Harper Collins Publishers

I’d like to put a spotlight on one of my favorite illustrators, Garth Williams. Even if you’re not familiar with  his name you’ve certainly seen his artwork. Garth Williams was a well-known illustrator of children’s literature with over 60 books to his credit. He got his start in illustration in 1945, with a commission from editor Ursula Nordstrom to work on E.B. White’s Stuart Little. Garth Williams illustrated the works of many famous authors as well as writing and illustrating some of his own books. Garth Williams illustrated books written by E.B. White, George Seldon, Margaret Wise Brown, Russel Hoban, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Many of the books featuring William’s illustrations are recognized today as children’s classics. Garth Williams is most recognized for his illustrations of Wilbur the Pig and the Little House series. William’s illustrations were mainly completed with pencil, ink, and charcoal sketches. His artwork features soft lines and warm colors that have a charming and whimsical nature and create a warm and cozy feeling. Many of his illustrations feature animals.

 Fun Fact: Garth Williams often made his work personal in nature. He modeled the character of Fern in Charlotte’s Web after his own daughter. Before he illustrated the Little House series, he met Laura Ingalls Wilder personally and traveled through the Midwest to the different locations where the Ingalls family had lived,  including the famous Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

The Alameda County Library has many of  Garth Williams‘ books in the collection, and many more that feature his wonderful illustrations, take a look:

Polar Bear Fun

polar bear craftDo you like polar bears?  Well, I do.  I think they are beautiful animals.  Here’s your chance to make your very own polar bear!  Follow this link and find out how: http://www.easy-crafts-for-kids.com/easy-winter-crafts-for-kids.html  Check out the supplies you’ll need before you start, so you will have everything you need to create your own special polar bear. The supplies are easy to find at a local craft store, and are fairly inexpensive.  There are eight steps to follow, so younger kids will probably need some adult help to make their bear. Have fun, use your imagination and creativity!

After you finish the craft, why don’t you visit the library to find out about polar bears?  You will learn a lot!  Here’s a link to a listing of polar bear books: http://encore.aclibrary.org/iii/encore/search/C__Spolar%20bears__Orightresult__U1?lang=eng.  You are sure to find one you will enjoy.

Sweet Shooters

Summer is almost behind us, and I know you are getting REALLY board at this point. So, here’s a DIY project for you to occupy your idle hours and annoy the heck out of your sibling!

Marshmallow Shooter
Here’s what you’ll need:
PVC pipe, 1/2′, 4′ lengths (12) and 6′ lengths (2).
PVC pipe fittings, 1/2′, slip-fit: tees (4), elbows (4), and end caps (4)
Marshmallows, mini
PVC pipe cutter if you’re cutting your own PVC (Some hardware stores will have one you can use)
Vise if cutting your own PVC
Your favorite colors of duct tape to decorate shooter

On the PVC pipe, measure and mark one 6″ length of pipe and five 4″ lengths. Wrap a small piece of paper evenly around the pipe at each mark and use the paper’s edge as a guide to mark the pipe all the way around.
Use a hacksaw to cut the pipe evenly along the marks you made. Hold the pipe in a vise during cutting, or clamp it to the edge of a table. Either way, it should be secured right next to the cut line. Cut with even strokes and slight pressure against the PVC.
Use a file or sandpaper to square the cut ends of the PVC, smooth away sharp edges, and remove burrs.
Lay out your pieces as shown in the plan and assemble them. Just press them together firmly. Friction should hold them all together.
Use duct tape to decorate.

Directions and photos are available on: http://makezine.com/projects/marshmallow-shooter/

If this is a bit too much for you to undertake, then you can always order a pair of shooters from the Maker Shed for $20. Then you and your sibling or a friend can annoy your parents!


Retrieved on 7/30/13 from: http://makezine.com/projects/marshmallow-shooter/

It’s Almost the Weekend!

The Tech Museum – photo from wikipedia.com. Taken by Photographer: Elizabeth B. Thomsen 201 South Market St. San Jose, CA 95113
Photo from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Tech_Museum_of_Innovation_01718.JPG#filelinks

Photo from wikipedia

We’re here again with another installment of fun things to do in the Bay Area over a weekend. The Tech Museum of Innovation is San Jose is another cool place to explore science and technology. They have special exhibits fairly often. Coming up this fall, there will be an all new Star Wars exhibit opening at The Tech. The site says that they will have original costumes from the movie sets on display, as well as information about the technology in the films and what technology will be possible to create in our future. The other cool thing at The Tech (besides all the exhibits of course!) is the Imax theater. Movies play everyday at various times. You can check the website for movie times and info.

The Tech also offers hands-on after school programs for elementary, middle and highs school students. The labs hold 32 students and look like a lot of fun! I would love to attend the lab entitled Boom! It’s all about sound waves and each student participates in a variety of experiments and get to make their own sound device.

You can print out a free pass to The Tech Museum using Alameda County Library’s Discover & Go program. You need to have a library card to reserve passes (two passes per person at a time). The person that reserves the pass must go to the museum (you will be asked to show ID).

It’s Almost the Weekend!

logo_1002Next up on places to visit with kids: the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I have not had a chance to visit their new location at Pier 15, but I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can visit. I loved visiting the museum at it’s previous location in San Francisco. It is a hands-on museum; kids are allowed to play with many of the exhibits and explore all kinds of different concepts. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday; hours vary, so please check the website before you visit.

This exhibit looks particularly fun to me. Build a course to move marbles, much like a domino layout, and the design is completely up to you? Fun! And you can check out the exploratorium’s instagram account for up-to-date photos from people visiting the museum.

As an added bonus? Once a month, the museum offers After Dark, a program designed specifically for adults. Kids are not allowed for the after hours programs, but adults have a chance to explore cool topics and exhibits all on their own, from 6-10 pm on the first Thursday of the month.

Alameda County’s Discover & Go program should have tickets for the Exploratorium sometime in the near future. For now,  children 5 years and under are free, and children ages 6-17 years are $19.  We hope that you’ll take some time to explore some of the Bay Area’s wonderful museums. If you do visit, leave a comment and let us know what you thought!

It’s almost the weekend!

Oakland Zoo logoWe’re back with another great Bay Area locale to visit with kids. If you are looking for a fun place to take kids, look no further than the Oakland Zoo. The Oakland Zoo has so many cool exhibits and very knowledgable staff to answer questions about the animals in the park. You might even see some uninvited guests (wild turkeys) running throughout the park.

The zoo is open:

Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday*, Sunday & Holidays: 10:00am – 5:30pm
*closed June 22 for Walk in the Wild


Our favorite animals to visit? The ring-tailed lemurs! We love standing around watching the group and their antics. The zoo also has a fun train ride, some cars rides and more. And remember: Alameda County residents that have a library card can print a free pass to the Oakland Museum through our Discover & Go program. Card holders must be adults 18 years and older and you can only have two passes on a card at a time. The Oakland Zoo offers a Family Pass: Free admission for 1 adult (ages 15 and up) and 2 children (ages 2-14). Children under 2 are free. Free parking for 1 car included. Valid Mon-Fri Only. Please note that you may only use one pass through Discover & Go for the Oakland Zoo per year.

Keep Cool – Make a Fan!

Japanese paper fan

Japanese paper fan (Photo credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

We’re going through a heat wave here in Alameda County!  Keep a breeze going by making a fun and functional fan!

Supplies needed:

2 sheets of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper
Crayons, markers, or colored pencils

How to make a fun and pretty fan:

  1.  Color one sheet of paper – the design does not matter!  Use lots of colors and cover the whole page.
  2. Fold the other sheet of paper in half hamburger-way (make it short and fat), then hot-dog-way (long and skinny), then hamburger way again.
  3. Carefully use the scissors to cut shapes into the folded paper, making sure not to cut completely through the folded sides (this is like making snowflakes!)
  4. Open up the folded paper to see your cool design.
  5. Cover the colored-in paper with a thin layer of glue.
  6. Stick the cut-out paper on top of the glue and let dry for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Fold the now-stuck-together papers like an accordion and use a paperclip to secure the end (about 1″ up from the end of the end)

Voila!  You have a paper fan!


It’s Almost the Weekend!

CAS_Logo_VerticalColor_bigWe’re back with another suggested activity for this weekend! If you’ve never been to the California Academy of Sciences, I highly recommend a visit. My husband and I went in January, and it was fabulous (if not a little cold up on the roof!) During the summer months it should be beautiful in the city, and the living roof of the museum offers some nice views of Golden Gate Park.

My favorite exhibit is the Rainforest Room. It is a giant dome in the center of the museum, and it contains a real rainforest. It is very humid inside, but the wildlife and plants are stuning. Search for tiny frogs among the leaves and branches as you walk by on the ramps, and listen to bird calls all around you. Be careful where you step – butterflies tend to land all over the place!

Best yet, you can reserve a free pass to the California Academy of Sciences through the Discover & Go program through the Alameda County Library system. You must use an adult library card to reserve the pass, and passes are often booked out for many months. You can reserve up to two passes at a time using the Discover & Go program. In most cases, you must be a resident of Alameda County to reserve the passes.



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