Aurora Public Library Blog

Welcome to Aurora Public Library’s Blog. A place where our library staff share their thoughts, insider knowledge and overall love of all things book and community.

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December 2017 - Posts

Post by Laura R. 

Your Next Favorite Author-Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds

It’s been a big year for Jason Reynolds.  The author’s third book to be published this fall, Long Way Down, was released at the end of October.  The book faces topical issues of race and gun violence head on, and cements Reynolds’ reign over the young adult literary scene.  Written in free verse, the novel narrates 15-year-old Will Holloman’s seven-floor descent in an elevator, as he grapples with the gang murder of his older brother.  Intent on taking revenge on his brother’s killer, Will must re-evaluate his mission as each floor introduces new characters, and new revelations.  The book was longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature.

Reynolds made his name in 2014 with his novel When I Was the Greatest, followed quickly by The Boy in the Black Suit, and the Long Way Down absolute stunner, All-American Boys (co-written with Brandon Kiely).  The latter was my first introduction to Reynolds, and evangelized me for life—I suggest his books to nearly every kid at the library looking for a recommendation.  Reynolds books have ended up on the New York Times Bestseller list (Long Way Down debuted at number four) and have earned multiple Coretta Scott King Awards honors.

Reynolds recounts that as a struggling young author, he really got his start when a friend of his, writer Christopher Myers, suggested he write in a “natural tongue.”  The result is prose that is full of heart and authenticity, affirming African-American culture and experience, and never shying away from honest stories.  Reynolds says of presenting experiences of violence and trauma to young readers, “It’s my responsibility to honor young people with honesty, even if their parents are uncomfortable. They are human beings with feelings. They also have the internet, and they come with their own set of trauma. Why should I be disrespectful to the young reader by shielding them from what they already know?”

Published in 2015 as the debate around police brutality was very much at the fore of the national conversation, All-American Boys follows the twin stories of Rashad, a black teen who is falsely accused of stealing and subsequently beaten by a police officer untilAll American Boys he ends up in the hospital, and Quinn, Rashad’s white classmate who witnesses the incident.  I loved All-American Boys not only for its candid take on the violent realities faced by young African-Americans in the US today, but also because it’s a story told through the eyes of two relatable characters dealing with more mundane teenage challenges: Rashad would rather draw than listen to his dad’s lectures on joining the army, and Quinn is busy gearing up for basketball season, hoping to land a college scholarship.

Reynolds also writes for middle graders; the second installment of his “Track” series, Patina, was released at the end of August this year.  Ghost and Patina each follow one member of an elite middle school track team.  Ghost (real name: Castle Crenshaw) is the fastest sprinter Coach has ever seen, but is struggling with memories of his violent father.  Patina, or Patty, as her friends call her, smokes the other girls during the four hundred meter dash even as she’s weighed down with caring for her six-year-old sister and diabetic-amputee mother.  Despite the difficult home lives of these characters, the Track series is laced with sparkling adolescent humor and colorful supporting characters, making for truly un-put-downable reads.   

ghostReynolds himself makes it a point to visit schools and talk to young people.  He often tells his audiences that he didn’t read a book cover to cover until he was seventeen.  He stresses the importance of writing stories that are relatable to kids today.  He told an audience of middle schoolers of the time teachers tried to get him to read Moby Dick: “The teacher was like, ‘Read this book about this man chasing a whale,’ and I’m like, bruh… I don’t know if I can connect to a man chasing a whale when I’ve never seen a whale. Nothing that’s happening in these books is happening in my neighborhood.” 

Kids can see themselves and their neighborhoods mirrored in Reynolds’ books.  As a library professional working with children in Aurora’s uber-diverse center, I find Reynolds’ stories to be a rich and necessary addition to young people’s literature.  Don’t miss any of his books! 

Washington Post     National Book Foundation     Twitter      BookList Online 

Posted by  On Dec 27, 2017 at 10:29 AM

Post By: Leigh R. 

Get Cozy With
Holiday Picture Books

I think we can all agree that the holidays can be hectic. Scratch that. The holidays are hectic. Shopping for presents, attending the kids’ various plays and concerts, holiday parties, shopping, preparing for family visits, dealing with those family visits, trying not to eat too many sugary goodies, and of course, more shopping to find that thing you didn’t know a certain someone wanted until the last minute. In this busy and beautiful season, don’t forget to carve out some special quiet time for you and your family. The library can help you with this! We have wonderful books for children to help celebrate the season. So grab a cozy spot in your house, your favorite blanket for cuddling and a yummy mug of hot chocolate as you enjoy these holiday picture book reads for kids. 

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Here Comes Santa Cat coverHere Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Here comes the Christmas version of such a cute and funny series following the adventures of Cat as he helps out the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and in this story, Santa Claus! Cat doesn’t always get things right but that’s what makes him so charming. He also doesn’t say much but draws pictures that the reader must interpret to help tell the story.

Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook cover
 Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook
based on the story written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, illustrated by Kim Smith
You know and love the movie but have you read the picture book version? Readers will love the funny and brightly illustrated pages of this wonderful book that completely captures the wild and crazy adventure Kevin has as he tries to get rid of those two, pesky bad guys.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama cover
Llama Llama Holiday Drama
by Anna Dewdney
This little llama, a favorite character of many, is stressed out from the holidays. Lots of shopping with Mama Llama, cookie baking and craft making are making it hard for him to be patient; that is, until Mama Llama reminds him that spending time with family is more important than presents.

My First Kwanzaa cover
My First Kwanzaa
by Karen Katz
Bright and colorful, Katz’s books for the youngest ones are short and sweet but always offer a warm and delightful story, perfect for babies and toddlers. In this holiday board book, a little girl teaches readers about the special traditions of Kwanzaa.

Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf coverShmelf the Hanukkah Elf
by Greg Wolfe, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
I know what you’re thinking. Shmelf…really? Trust me, this rhyming mash-up of Christmas and Hanukkah fun is a great introduction to Hanukkah traditions. It begins with an elf named Shmelf who is shocked when he learns that not all kids celebrate Christmas. He decides to visit some Jewish families and is fascinated when he learns about the story of Hanukkah and how some kids celebrate the holiday.

Stranger in the Woods coverStranger in the Woods
by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
A stranger arrives in the woods in the shape of a snowman, and all the animals in the forest are curious to discover more about this mysterious visitor. The artists use real photographs to showcase deer and other creatures in this beautiful, magical winter wonderland that will make you want to get out there and do some exploring with your family!

The Christmas Boot coverThe Christmas Boot
by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
If there was an award for the illustrator who creates the “coziest” images, this recipient of the Caldecott Medal many times over, Jerry Pinkney, surely wins the prize! He beautifully captures Wheeler’s story about an older lady who lives alone in the wilderness and the magic boot she finds one day. When a mysterious visitor comes to reclaim his boot, the two “talked of everything and nothing, deep into the night”. He grants her wish before he leaves in this original, feel-good story.

The Itsy Bitsy DreidelThe Itsy Bitsy Dreidel by Jeffrey Burton and Chani Tornow, illustrated by Sanja Rešček
Sing the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” as you share this board book with little ones. The cheerful pictures capture a Hanukkah night as a family of Dreidel characters read from the Torah, make latkes and light candles to celebrate the holiday.

The Night Before Christmas: A Brick Story coverThe Night Before Christmas: A Brick Story
by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Amanda Brack.
Based on the classic poem, this newer version of the story is perfect for the little LEGO lover in your life! The illustrator does a great job constructing the scenes through LEGO bricks and characters. Kids will have fun pouring over the pages and noticing the tiny details and surprises that await them.

The Twelve Prayers of Christmas coverThe Twelve Prayers of Christmas
by Candy Chand, illustrated by James Bernardin
Beautiful illustrations and a reimagining of that first Christmas night tell the story of the birth of Jesus. What’s different about this version is that it’s written in twelve separate prayers or poems, and tells the perspectives of the different people and animals who witnessed the event, from a Wise Man to a donkey.

Turkey Claus coverTurkey Claus
by Wendy Silvano, illustrated by Lee Harper
Turkey makes his first appearance in the Thanksgiving story, Turkey Trouble, by the same author. In this sequel he is once again on a mission to save his turkey legs from becoming dinner for the farmer and his wife. Just like the first book, Turkey tries to disguise himself but this time he hopes to find Santa to make his Christmas wish come true. Will he make it in time to escape Christmas dinner? This book will incite laughs from little ones, and they will also be drawn to the fun illustrations.

Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah Tale in Chelm coverWay Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah Tale in Chelm by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Aleksandar Zolotic
Set in the fictional village of Chelm, popular in Jewish folklore, this book tells a cumulative story of a woman who forgets how to make latkes for Hanukkah. When her husband asks the Rabbi for help, their problem only grows…literally. Beautiful illustrations with funny facial expressions add to this new Hanukkah tale.

Come into the library to check out any number of these books and prepare for a cozy holiday break!

Cover images used from Amazon.

Posted by  On Dec 20, 2017 at 11:11 AM

Post By: Elizabeth B


Deck the Halls:
Educational Family Games
Fun and Games

The holidays are here! That means nights are longer, the world is colder, and Great-Aunt Gertrude is packing her bags for her annual visit. Whether you have eight celebrations planned or are foregoing all holidays in favor of naps, you may be getting calls from loved ones asking when you can get together. Don't spend your winter dreading another conversation about politics over pie. Your local library has your back with six awesome, educational, and family-friendly games to fill those gaps in conversation with good memories instead.  

Each one is:  

  • Playable in 30 minutes
  • Builds important literacy skills
  • Available at Aurora Public Library to try!

1) For Kids Who Pore Over Picture Books: Dixit 


Whether your kids can read yet or not, they'll love Dixit, a cheerful card game filled with fairy-tale imagery. One player names a prompt, like "music" or "The Little Mermaid." Everyone then chooses one of their cards that they think best represents the theme. Afterwards, all players try to guess what card the prompt-giver picked. With rabbit-shaped game pieces and lush illustrations, Dixit will leave you marveling at cuteness instead of stressing over winning.  

Recommended Ages: 6 and older 

Playtime: 30 minutes 

Literacy skills: Creativity, story-telling, communication 


2). For Your Niece Who Sleeps in a Tutu: Sparkle Kitty 
Sparkle Kitty

Cross Candy Land with Uno and you have this sugar-sweet game. The evil Queen Sparkle Kitty has locked the princesses of the land in towers! To escape, players must match cards and shout silly phrases to free themselves. Younger kids will love the bright colors and princess theme, while adults will enjoy the deck's diverse representation and vocabulary. (Plus, who says adults won't laugh over magic phrases like "Otter Devastation?")  

Recommended Ages: 6 or older. Younger kids may need a parent's help to read the words. 

Playtime: 15-20 minutes 

Literacy Skills: Colors, shapes, vocabulary 


3). For the Artist who Doodles in Notebooks: Tsuro 

Game play is marvelously simple: each player builds a path for their token, winding across the board. Players must avoid bumping into other players or falling off the edge of the board...but, as the board fills with paths, this gets harder and harder to do! Play it once and you'll know the rules. Play it twice and your friends will be placing tiles down with a conniving glint in their eyes.  

Recommended Ages: 8 and older. 

Playtime: 15-20 minutes 

Literacy skills: Strategy, spatial reasoning 


4). For Ralph the Reptile Lover: Coloretto 

Match colorful chameleons to win in this award-winning German card game. Players want to match one color with another, but beware: you don't want more than three different chameleon colors! Wordless and bright, the whole family will like this fast-paced card game. 

Recommended Ages: 8 and older 

Playtime: 30 minutes 

Literacy skills: Colors, counting 


5). For the Teen Who Loves to Yell: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking

Want to scratch that “spy” itch and strengthen communication skills at the same time? Teens at Mission Viejo and Iliff Square can’t get enough of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. The game’s premise is simple: only one player can see the bomb. They must explain what they see to anyone else playing, who desperately scour a rulebook looking for ways to defuse the bomb. Fail three times, and a loud explosion signals that it’s “Game Over.” Players can focus on reading, asking questions, or describing symbols, depending on their skills and confidence level.

 Recommended Ages: 12 and older, though younger kids can play with help.

Playtime: 5 minutes for a quick game, though I promise no one will quit after the first round

Literacy skills: Communication, advanced vocabulary, Morse code (yes, really)


6). For Anyone Who Won't Wash Dishes: Overcooked  

Everyone could stand to help a little more with household chores. And what better way to prompt that than by turning work into a fun game? In Overcooked, players must work together to cook various meals for their restaurant, passing burger patties and dirty dishes across the counters. The trick? You might be cooking on a moving truck, on an iceberg, in a spaceship, or with a flamethrower. Overcooked won multiple game awards for "Best Cooperative Game" in 2016, and after testing it with teens, young adults, and moms, I can confirm it's fun for video game addicts and novices alike.  

Ages: 12 and older.  

Playtime: 5 minutes for a quick game, though finishing every stage might take all winter. 

Literacy skills: Cooperation, time management 


Want more games? Or want to give these a test drive before committing?
 Check out our Tabletop Gaming Clubs at Mission Viejo and Iliff Square: 

Mission Viejo: Wednesdays, 4:30 PM: December 13, January 10, January 24
Iliff Square: Saturdays, 3 PM: December 2, December 16, January 6, January 20

Posted by  On Dec 11, 2017 at 12:03 PM

Paper snoflakes

Craft Time! Paper Snowflakes

Post by Justine C

With winter here and snow days waiting to happen, you might be wondering how you can keep kids occupied when it’s too cold for them to play outside. It certainly won’t do to put them in front of the TV or computer screen for hours on end. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun crafts you can do in the comfort of your own home with materials you most likely already own. All you need to make your own snowflakes is a white sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, some tape or glue, and yarn!


  • A white sheet of paper cut into a square (try coffee filters if you don't have a piece of paper)
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • A ball of yarn or string

Instructions (see below for a visual of each step):

  1. Fold your sheet of paper in half diagonally until it’s in a triangle shape.
  2. Fold it in half again so the pointed ends meet and it makes an even smaller triangle.
  3. Now fold the triangle into thirds. You’ll want them to be even, so make sure to do your adjustments before creating the creases.
  4. Cut across the bottom of the paper to create a triangle.
  5. Cut patterns into the newly formed triangle. Be creative! Just don’t cut it clean across - you’ll need to be able to unfold it.
  6. Unfold the paper completely and carefully. Now you have a unique snowflake of your very own!
  7. Cut a piece of yarn at least a foot long.
  8. With tape or glue, attach the yarn to one of the edges of your snowflake.
  9. Hang up your snowflake from the ceiling, in the window or somewhere else that could use some winterizing!

Snowflake Craft Visual How-To

This fun and easy craft is suitable for any child who’s comfortable using scissors and is something every member of the family can get in on! Once you’ve tried the way described here, try and make specific designs such as hearts or moons, or search the internet for extreme patterns that you can follow. Try starting with this Google search! Don’t take my word for it - try it out and be sure to share your results on Instagram or Twitter @APLReadingRocks!

Happy crafting!

Posted by  On Dec 06, 2017 at 11:30 AM


This Blog is for You


Post by Brittni E. 

Do you ever get that feeling of when you finish a book and feel so emotionally drained that you cannot even fathom reading a new book or series? That is a feeling I get all the time. I always feel incredibly invested in all of the characters that line the pages of the book I am reading that when I finally finish that last page-I can barely handle not having them in my life anymore. Recently, I re-read a Young Adult series that I had read when I was a teenager by Meg Cabot-the Mediator Series-and I devoured all 7 books within days. I instantly felt myself lost inside the words and characters of this series that when I finished-it felt impossible to not know what else Jesse and Susanna (trust me, read this series) were up to next. There was a hole in my world-which certainly only the characters of this series could fill-I NEEDED MORE. 

Nevertheless-the series was done and I knew I had to move on. But how do you start a new book-standalone or series-just like that. How could any other book possibly be as good and as invigorating? Of course, we all know this feeling eventually subsides right? We succumb to the fact that we must move on and start the search for our next great read. Do you struggle finding your next great read? Because honestly, I do. I’m a librarian and love books but I often find myself in a book rut-not knowing what to read next. 

This feeling-this fleeting, awful, disgusting feeling is something this blog aims to help you lose all together. Looking for your next great read? Look no further than our blog. Not only will our blog encapsulate family fun, book recommendations, author profiles, and all things library but it will (we hope) be a great avenue and forum for you and others to enjoy sharing, commenting, and growing through shared connections with others. 

Welcome to Aurora Public Library’s Blog. We are pleased to offer this site that showcases posts written and created for you by our library staff. Each week, expect to read new posts that will not only captivate you as a reader but also engage your family as well. This blog is for you-we hope you enjoy it. 

Posted by  On Dec 04, 2017 at 1:22 PM
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