Great Graphic Novels: School’s Now in Session

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of going “back to school.”  A new school year is full of possibilities—things to learn, friends to meet, and challenges to face.  Here are some graphic novels that capture that fresh beginning feeling,  in which the characters head back to school and start to study up on ghosts, zombies, friendships, gaming, and more!

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

el deafo

Delightful graphic novel about a little girl (bunny) growing up, experiencing the normal challenges of starting school, making friends, and for her especially, navigating her loss of hearing.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

anyas ghost

A girl falls down a well and comes back up with a ghost. No, this isn’t The Addams Family meets Lassie.  After immigrating from Russia, Anya works hard to become an “American teen,” while also dealing with typical teen problems like an impossible crush, gym class, and an annoying little brother. Her life gets much more complicated after the incident at the well….

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow


This novel is a snappy examination of gaming ethics and economics.  At school Anda learns about and eventually joins a massive multi-player role-playing game, gaining friends, confidence and a few life lessons as she connects with others around the world–including a teen in China who plays the game for a living.

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

friend with boys

After being home schooled her entire life, Maggie enrolls in public school for her first year of high school. Will she make friends?  Will her loving family heal from a recent heartbreak? Will that pesky ghost stop haunting her? Will she (and you) fall for the mysterious mohawked guy by the end of the book? Read to find out!

My Boyfriend is a Monster:  I love him to pieces by Evonne Tsangmy boyfriend monster

When an outgoing, beautiful jock is paired with an introverted, handsome geek for a school science project, bats will swing, fungus will infect, and romance will prevail. For readers who like to laugh, swoon, and cry “yuck!” in equal quantities when reading.

A Beekeeper, A Congressman and The Library

Kitsap needs bees. Kitsap needs new farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to help.

What has this got to do with the library? We know things. We know people. And connecting people that can help each other is one of the most joyful things we do.

"Bee on flower (9527705578)" by James Petts from London, England - Bee on flower. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

More than two years ago, Congressman Derek Kilmer sent one of his staff to me for an appointment to learn about the library’s services to nonprofits through the Foundation Center of NY, the better to help WA residents coming through the Congressman’s doors for help with funding for nonprofits. In that exchange, I learned that an aide in the Congressman’s office could help Kitsap residents navigate the often daunting process of qualifying and applying for government funding at all levels, state or federal.

Recently, a Kitsap resident made an appointment with me to discuss his dreams of being a new farmer and beekeeper, and asked about funding. Thanks to Congressman Kilmer’s office, I was able to directly connect this beekeeper with one of Kilmer’s staff who will sit down with him, helping him every step of the way from qualification through application, even making the connection to someone at the USDA they know personally, to help shepherd his funding request at the Federal government level.

Cocktail parties for networking? Well, that’s OK, too, but what you really want to do is come to the library. We know things. We know people. And we want to be part of your network. We go for the joy.

How to start? Just Make an Appointment, tell us what you are working on and where you would like to meet, and let the joy begin. Sweet!

Nonfiction books so fun, kids may not even notice that they’re learning

As kids and educators get into gear this new school year, let’s keep in mind that some of the best learning happens on our own time. As a youth services librarian, I was always impressed by how pumped 3rd graders visiting the library would get over juicy facts and information. They’d clamor to see photos of the world’s largest pizza, almost jump out of their seats with hands raised to give the name of the world’s largest spider, or debate in quiet whispers (or not) about which of them would consider eating a beetle, grasshopper, or grub. Who could blame them? Nonfiction is interesting, thought provoking, and fun.

And in the publishing world, we’re seeing more quality nonfiction titles than ever before. Perhaps motivated by current Common Core standards that include  reading informational texts,  we’re seeing more literary nonfiction and historical, scientific, and technical texts than in the past with better layout,  photos, and graphics that appeal to children and adults alike.

But most importantly, fun and engaging nonfiction titles are a great way to engage struggling readers. Old standards like record and fact-based books are quick reads with shorter segments. Plus the visual components, interesting comparisons, and unbelievable but true facts command a reader’s attention. These nonfiction books build reading confidence and are a bridge to texts that require more sustained and focused reading. A win – win all around!

125 Cool Inventions: Supersmart Machines and Wacky Gadgets You Never Knew You Wanted! by Crispin Boyer

125 Cool Inventions


Guinness World Records 2016

Guinness World Records

Lego Awesome Ideas by Daniel Lipkowitz

Lego Awesome Ideas

The Octopus Scientists by Sy Montgomery

Octopus Scientists

Night Sky Detective by Ben Morgan

Night Sky Detective

Untamed: the wild life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey


Hacks for Minecrafters by Megan Miller

hacks for minecrafters

Eyewitness knight by Christopher Gravett

DK Eyewitness - Knight

Knowledge Encyclopedia

knowledge encylcopedia

Halloween Events at Your Friendly Local Library

As the weather cools and fall looms I begin to think about Halloween. At my house Halloween is a BIG DEAL. My highly creative engineer husband (who was obviously a movie set designer in a previous life) loves to decorate the house for Halloween and create a faux cemetery in the front yard (complete with a skeleton clawing its way out of a grave). I, on the other hand, prefer the cozier, gentler side of Halloween. We usually meet in the middle and compromise by having a combination of scary and cozy decorations.


Fortunately, you, as a library patron, do not have to compromise when it comes to Halloween; Kitsap Regional Library System offers a number of Halloween programs for children and teens (some slightly scary and some very gentle). If you’re like me and sketching out your Fall calendar now, consider some of the following spooktacular options:

On Wednesday, October 14 from 3:30-4:30 the Little Boston Library is offering a Movable Mummies workshop. Learn to make a miniature movable mummy. All materials provided. All ages are welcome. Registration is required-please call 360-297-2670 to register.

On Friday, October 30 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. the Poulsbo Library will feature its annual cosplay/Halloween party for teens. Come dressed as your favorite superhero, anime or steampunk character (or just dress up). The library will provide an evening of games and snacks as well as a chance to show off your incredible costume. Costumes are encouraged but not required and must be family friendly. For ages 12-18.

On Friday, October 30 from 10-11:00 a.m. and 11:30-12:30 p.m. the Sylvan Way Library will feature not-so-spooky stories and songs in lieu of their regularly scheduled family storytime. Afterwards families are invited to go trick-or-treating in the different departments of the library. Costumes are encouraged but not necessary. This program will happen at 10:00 a.m. and again at 11:30 in order to avoid congestion. We ask that you please attend just one time slot during this event so that all interested families may have a chance to participate.

Also on Friday, October 30 from 4:00-6:00 the Sylvan Way Library will show “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as a family event. Bring the whole family down for a screening of Tim Burton’s 1995 favorite. Rated PG.

Also on Friday, October 30 from 7-9:30 p.m. the Bainbridge Island Library’s Island Film Group will offer a Halloween double feature film event: ‘The Serpent and the Rainbow’ and ‘The Body Snatchers.’

On Saturday, October 31 from 6:00-8:00 the Port Orchard Library will offer a family friendly Haunted Library from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 31. Then, after the children go home, the library will feature Teen Screams: Library of the Macabre from 8:00-10:00 p.m. Prepare for a terrifying look at the library after dark. Ghoulish frights will be taking over the night. Step into the haunted stacks at your own risk (ages 12-18). Cue the maniacal laughter!

Meet Kate Breslin — an inspirational new Kitsap author!

I don’t know if you realize it or not, but we are surrounded by amazing authors here in Kitsap County, and it was my pleasure to discover a new name on the scene — Kate Breslin.

The author

Kate is a Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She lives with her husband, John, and a very spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written several travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her first manuscript, a Scottish historical romance, was a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest.

Kate & Esther in downtown Bremerton.
Kate & Esther in downtown Bremerton.

These days, when she’s not writing inspirational fiction, she’s reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following her husband’s musical career as his #1 fan. Kate’s also a traveler, teaming up with her intrepid mom to visit exotic locales like Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, even a day trip to Turkey.

She’s always looking for the next story idea! Maybe she’ll even find one in downtown Bremerton!

The books


For Such a Time (2014)
In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Thus begins Stella’s story, told in line with the biblical tale of Esther. As her employer shows signs of hope and compassion, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp, and battles a growing attraction to the man she should despise. Yet, as they both struggle with physical and mental demons, they are brought to the point of ultimate sacrifice.

I’m reading this now and I just want to lock myself away in order to finish it! The story of Stella and Aric is fierce and real and full of emotion. Set amidst a horrifying and detailed backdrop, the tale remains intimate and heartfelt. It is no wonder that this book was nominated by the Romance Writer’s of America for the best first book and best inspirational romance for 2015. When I finish this I’m moving right into her latest book that came out this month.


Not By Sight (August 2015)
With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country’s cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she’ll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them–or the faith they’ll need to maintain hope.

The connection

Kitsap County is so lucky to be blessed with great authors who love libraries! Kate says:

“Kitsap County booksellers and libraries are the best! Both have been so incredibly supportive of our local authors and especially with my own novels, For Such A Time and Not By Sight.”

Kate also loves book groups! She’s happy to make a personal visit, connect via Skype, or take part in an email discussion of her novels.

For more information please visit Kate’s website:

Reading Aloud and the Love of Reading

Reading aloud to your child is very important in relation to the development of their early literacy skills. In fact, reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to ensure reading success. It is easy to become very focused on children knowing how to read, but what about helping children develop a love of reading? Knowing how to read and having a love of reading do not always go hand in hand. One way to help develop children’s love of reading is to continue reading aloud to them even after they have become proficient readers.

There are definite benefits to continue reading aloud to older children. The experience of reading aloud is typically a positive one and this helps children associate positive feelings with reading, thus further developing a love of reading. Reading aloud also strengthens them as independent readers. A recent study by Scholastic found a correlation between children being read to and the frequency of their independent reading. Reading aloud is not only a way to develop your child’s love of reading but it is a great way to spend time together as a family. It is also a springboard for having discussions about various issues and opening up lines of communication in a family.

It is never too late to start or restart reading aloud to children. Books are always a wonderful choice for reading aloud, but as children get older you could also read magazine and newspaper articles or short stories. So, how do you find a good read aloud book? The Youth Services Librarians at Kitsap Regional Library are always happy to help you in your search and we also have a booklist available online called Read Alouds. Read Aloud America also has a great selection of recommendations for reading aloud that range in age from infancy to high school.

Some of my favorite memories from early and later childhood are being read to by my parents and teachers. I will leave you with a list of some of my favorites that I discovered as a child and some that I have discovered as a youth services librarian:

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (All ages)


The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (All ages)

motorcycle mouse

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle  by Betty MacDonald (All ages)

mrs.piggle wiggle

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (Grade1 and up)


Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (All ages)


The BFG by Roald Dahl (Grade1 and up)


Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Grade 4 and up)


Let’s get reading with early literacy skills!

SDC10496The Kitsap Regional Library is offering some fantastic programs just for kids, and those programs all promote literacy in different ways and encourage reading. Reading! That’s definitely literacy. But what about our pre-readers? I’ve got five super simple things that you can do with your baby, toddler or preschooler to increase early literacy and I’ll bet you are already doing most of them.

  1. Talk—Talk to your baby. You already do this, but how can you be more intentional about it without taking up more of your very busy day? When you visit the grocery store, point out and name fruits and vegetables. Hey, you could even name the colors while you’re at it! Another great thing to do is to look for shapes when you are walking around. If your child is talking already, ask them to name the shapes that they see. Learning and practicing words, rhymes and sounds is fun and great for developing vocabulary. Babies learn these sounds by listening to and mimicking the adults that they hear, so the more you talk to your baby, the more they are learning.SDC10503
  2. Sing—Singing lots of songs with your little one is a great way to share special times with one another. It is also a great way to introduce new words to your child. The drawn out vowel sounds and musical tones make it easier to distinguish the different sounds the letters make. The best part? They don’t care whether or not you’re on key.storywalk
  3. Read—Of course! Reading is an important part of early literacy. Reading together with your child models how the technology of a book works. We read top to bottom and left to right. They also get to practice their fine motor skills by turning pages. Not all babies will sit still for reading time, but that’s okay! We all learn in different ways, and just because they are moving around it doesn’t mean they’re not listening and learning.
  4. Write—Writing? With babies? You must think I’m being ridiculous, but I’m not! There are lots of ways to practice writing without really writing with a pencil or pen. Baby and toddler hands are not always ready for skinny pens and pencils like we use. Play pat-a-cake with your baby and draw letters in the air with your hands. Put some shaving cream in a plastic freezer bag, squeeze out any extra air and use it as a squishable writing surface for your finger. Maybe even try to make letter shapes out of modeling dance party
  5. Play—Play with your baby! Play is important work for babies and all children. Imaginative play, creative play, and physical play are all fun and help children build connections. Playing with blocks alongside your child can be lots of fun! Build a tower and then knock it down. Peek-a-boo is a great game to play with babies and requires no extra supplies. What are your favorite play time activities?

Our library locations offer a variety of different storytimes, including special storytimes for babies aged 0-18 months and their grown-ups. Our storytimes emphasize lots of different early literacy practices and our youth services librarians try to have something for everyone to get excited about during storytime. We hope to see you this fall!


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