The Worm Project

We’re starting a new STEAM project in the library — vermicomposting! Soon we’ll be home to a bin of wriggling red wiggler worms (Eisenia foetida). We’ve been getting ready by preparing our worm bin.

The worm bin and a worm pail.
Getting ready for our worms.

Ook hopes they like their bedding. We have coarsely-shredded newspaper, a little old potting soil, a bit of mud, some old leaves and flower petals, and a couple of apple cores and banana peels to get them started.

Damp shredded newspaper bedding.
Damp shredded newspaper bedding.

We froze the apple cores and banana peels first, because that’s supposed to kill any fruit fly eggs or larvae.
Here’s what the bin looks like in the library.

The worm bin lid.
The worm bin.

I hope the worms will be happy!
Thanks to Lindsey Murray for giving us some worms to get started with.

My Heart Fills With Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

My Heart Fills With Happiness is a simple and charming board book to share with your baby or toddler. The beautiful illustrations by Flett show small children engaged joyously in everyday things – watching bannock bake, singing with an older sibling, dancing in the sun, holding a parent’s hand, while the text repeats, “My heart fills with happiness when …” every few pages. As is usual with Flett’s illustrations, there are lots of details to linger over, providing good opportunities for conversation and language-building interaction. Look! Do you see the puppy? What’s it doing? Can you find the ladybugs in the flowers? What’s that? Is it a frog? Do you think the boy sees the frog? It ends by addressing the child directly, “What fills your heart with happiness?” leaving room for more conversation and reflection.

Camp X: Enigma, by Eric Walters

Teenage brothers Jack and George are back in another Second World War spy thriller for young readers. In this one, the Canadian boys travel with their family to Britain and plunge back into a world of intrigue overseen by “Little Bill”, William Stephenson, while their code-breaker mother serves at Bletchley Park. As with previous novels in the series, history and action-packed fiction are well-balanced, from the start, where they escort a German naval Enigma machine to Bletchley to an ending of high-adrenaline drama with a German spy. Many historical figures cross their path; the author’s afterword expands a little on these people. Though the teens’ involvement is improbable, it doesn’t tax the bounds of imaginative plausibility. George’s first person narrative is able to explain unfamiliar things to younger readers without seeming to lecture. This would be a great read for teens and older children.

Visions of Sugar Plums, by Janet Evanovich

The “Stephanie Plum” series of thriller/comedy/romances has been going strong for over twenty volumes since One for the Money first introduced bounty-hunter Stephanie and her romantic entanglements with police detective Joe Morelli and ex-special forces mystery man Ranger. Back in 2002 Evanovich began a side series of shorter novels or novellas about Stephanie, with themes tied to holidays. Unlike the books in the main series, which stick strictly to the real world, these holiday novels plunge into the lighter side of the supernatural and humans with minor superpowers. They also throw a third (sexy, of course) man into Stephanie’s life, Diesel, who has the irritating habit of showing up in Stephanie’s locked apartment to disrupt her already chaotic life with missions of his own. Visions of Sugar Plums is the first of these. Stephanie’s after a toy-maker named Sandy Claws who skipped out on his bail; Diesel claims he’s been sent to bring her the spirit of Christmas, which is sadly lacking in her life, but he’s taking quite an interest in Sandy Claws and wild Grandma Mazur’s electrifying new boyfriend too, and not to bring them the spirit of Christmas. (Diesel was then spun off into his own series about cupcakes and a quest for seven magic stones …)

Bird Books for Kids

Do you have a birdfeeder? Do you watch the birds at it with your pre-school children? Talk to them about the birds. Ask them questions: what colour is that bird? How many birds are there? Count them together. Are those two birds the same, or different? Why are they different? What are those birds doing? What do you think the birds are thinking about? Are they happy? Are they afraid? Are they hungry? What do these birds like to eat?

These kinds of conversations with your children happen every day. They’re part of how those little minds learn and grow.

At the library, we have children’s books about birds. Some, like Have You Seen Birds? by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrator Barbara Reid, are books you can read aloud to pre-schoolers or which a beginning reader can read to you. Oppenheim’s rhymes and Reid’s famous plasticine illustrations make it great for bedtime storytime. Other books, like Look Up: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate, are books you can read with a school-age child or which your older child can explore alone. Look Up has loads of scientific facts presented in an engaging, conversational way, with cheerful, chatty illustrations that manage to be cartoony sketches while preserving the essential details necessary for scientific accuracy in the species portrayed. It also has a bibliography to guide you to more detailed reference books, and an index, making this book a great resource for finding specific information as well as something to read cover to cover to learn about birds and bird-watching.