Poet-Tree Display

I wanted to do something fun to celebrate National Poetry Month. I specialized in poetry in my undergrad program, so it holds a special place in my heart.


I stole the idea for this display from Pinterest (a great resource for book displays). The only difference is that I’m turning our “tree” into a contest. Each tween or teen will write their contact info on the back of an ornament; their poem will go on the front. At the end of the month, the librarians and I will judge the poems. The winner will get a Barnes & Noble gift certificate. 🙂

I also put out some verse novels to complement the tree. All and all, I think it turned out well. Happy National Poet-Tree Month!


Frozen Movie Party

frozen movie party

One of the biggest lures in children’s and teen programming is movies. Especially if that movie happens to feature not one but two Disney princesses. Since we knew the kiddos would be going stir-crazy during Spring Break, we decided to host a showing of Disney’s Frozen.  So I thought I’d be that librarian, brag, and share the photos here.


Front Display:DSC01655

Because we always want to include a literary component, even when we show movies, we pulled a few Frozen books (along with other princess stories). We arranged them at the front of the room with our cardboard Olaf standee. The kids then perused the books and took pictures with Olaf.

Station 1: Snowflake Cookies

I spent three, unholy hours baking snowflake sugar cookies. We provided vanilla frosting and blue sprinkles so the cookies would look “snowy.” Each child was allowed to have one cookie to decorate.


Station 2: Tiaras, Antlers, and Coloring Sheets

We pre-cut antler and tiara “hats” out of construction paper. We borrowed the templates for them from My Sister’s Suitcase. Each child decorated the hat of their choice, then we helped them fit it to their head. We also provided Frozen coloring sheets that we were able to download online. Those sheets were especially useful because they kept our fidgety little ones busy while their older siblings watched the movie.




Station 4: Movie Time

We arranged the chairs into rows with an aisle, leaving a big space in the front so little ones could sit on the floor if they chose. Then we fired up our old-timey popcorn maker, turned off the lights, and “let it go!”




In total, we had 175 children and parents attend! Not bad for a Spring Break program. 🙂

Caminar Giveaway: And the Winner is…..


After a highly sophisticated selection technique, in which I dropped all the names of the entrants in to a bowl and had a third party (my boyfriend) draw one, I’m pleased to say the winner of a signed copy of Caminar is…


A.B. Westrick!

Anne, please email me at theloudmouthlibrarian@gmail.com with your snail mail address to confirm.

Don’t forget: if you didn’t win, you can still purchase Skila’s novel at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Author Interview and Book Giveaway with Skila Brown

Caminar-hi-res-180x271It’s here! The launch day of Caminar! To celebrate, I’m interviewing the lovely Skila Brown! Skila is a fellow alumna of Vermont College of Fine Arts and Caminar is her debut novel.

We’ll also be giving away a signed copy of her book to one lucky commenter! So read on and leave a thoughtful response in the next 24 hours for a chance to win!

Here’s the official synopsis:

Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

“Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet—he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist.

Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.”

Powerful stuff, to say the least. And now, on to Skila! 🙂

What inspired you to write Caminar?skila

 “After over a decade of researching the story of Guatemala’s violent conflict, the story of Carlos was just bursting to come out. I didn’t set out to write it, but found I couldn’t write anything else until I did. I was certainly inspired by actual massacres perpetrated by the army in Guatemala and the accounts of survivors, especially children, from that period. I think the story of survival is a universal story that every reader, no matter the age or background, can identify with.”

What made you decide to write the novel in verse instead of prose?  How did this decision affect your writing process?

“Caminar came to me as poems. I assumed I’d be taking those poems and turning them into prose, but the poems just kept coming and they seemed to be a good fit. My drafting process quickly became: Hand-write the beginnings of a poem in a notebook. Move on and do the same thing with other poems. Return to notebook and reread. Find one poem to further develop. Keep working on it until I can see the shape of the poem in my head. Type it into the computer. And then repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I write out of order which can be frustrating at times and messy, but also refreshing and fun.”

Caminar is written from the prospective of Carlos: a Guatemalan boy. Did you experience any challenges while writing across gender and culture?

“Oh, yes. I don’t know how I could answer this question succinctly and do it justice, but by far this was my biggest struggle. First with the issue of whether or not I should even be telling this story and then later with making sure I was telling it in a way that was respectful and of service to the culture it represents. It was something I thought about at every step of the process, with every word I wrote, and with every revision I did. It’s something I think about still.”

skila-childSince it’s set during the Guatemalan Civil War, what sort of research did you do for Caminar?

“I’ve read numerous books, both secondary accounts and primary ones, written by survivors of the violence, and perused many news articles. I spoke with many people who lived through that period of turmoil, and I had the good fortune to have some of them read my story and offer up a critique on the cultural nuances of it. Living in Guatemala for a bit allowed me the chance to tangibly experience Carlos’s setting in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.”

How did you maintain the balance between realistically portraying Carlos’ wartime experiences without overwhelming younger readers?

“This was certainly a challenge. I had a few descriptive lines about the violence that were hard to let go of, but I knew they would be too much for the youngest of readers. I tried to really make use of white space and metaphors instead of spelling things out with sharp, concrete words. Poetry, I think, also allows readers to digest the story at a level that’s appropriate for them. A younger reader will get the gist of what’s happening without extreme detail, while teens and adult readers can read between the lines and really absorb the tragedy that unfolded.”

What advice do you have for aspiring writers of historical and/or multicultural fiction?

“Researching historical fiction can sometimes be overwhelming. How do you know what to read? When to start writing? I think a good rule of thumb is to start with secondary sources, which can give you a good overview of the time period and also provide a framework for any controversies you’ll encounter among the research. Once you have an overview, dig right into primary accounts, whenever possible. Keep a journal and write down whatever details interest you. You don’t know what you’ll use at that point and it doesn’t matter. This is all really the brainstorming stage. After you have a story in your head and you can see it, you might be ready to write. But you’re definitely not done with research. You can keep your research going, even while you’re drafting, this time on a targeted level, looking for the specific details you need in a particular scene.”

If there’s one thing you’d like readers to take away from your novel, what would it be?

“Remembering is powerful. It can keep alive what others try to silence.”

Any new projects on the horizon?

“I just finished up another verse novel, also historical, this time YA, set in the 1840s. And I’m getting ready to dive into a new historical YA novel that I’ve been researching for several months. I don’t think this one will be in verse, so I’m excited to see how my writing process might be different.”


Many thanks to Skila for letting me interview her!  It was an absolute pleasure. Happy Book Birthday and best of luck on your continued writing journey.

Don’t forget to comment today for a chance to win a signed copy of Caminar. And, in case you don’t win, Skila’s novel can be purchased from:




How to Make A Cardboard Standee

Yes. Teens like standees too. Especially if they're zombies.

Yes. Teens like standees too. Especially if they’re zombies.

Whether it’s for book bashes, birthday parties, or other fan-based events, cardboard standees are a wonderful way to add that special “something” to your shindig. Kids of all ages – even teens – love posing and taking pictures with standees. It’s a great way to make them feel like they’re “living” the book and help the story come alive for them.

The trouble with standees is that they’re usually expensive. Especially if the series you’re fangirling/fanboying over is an extremely popular one (i.e. The Hunger Games). Such standees can easily go for $20 a pop or more, which can quickly eat through your program budget if you’re not careful.

The solution? It’s simple: make your own standee. It’s ridiculously cheap, especially if you already have the supplies on hand. Admittedly, you have to have a smidge of artistic ability in order to pull this off. Or at least have a friend with a smidge of ability who can be easily guilted into helping you. 😉

I’ve posted my tutorial on how to make cardboard standees below. I’d recommend starting simple (ex: cartoon characters) before trying anything harder. Once you’ve got the hang of it, let your imagination run wild. Plants, animals, buildings: anything’s up for grabs as long as its made of cardboard.


2 large pieces of cardboard (refrigerator boxes are the perfect size)

1 box cutter

1 bottle of wood glue

1 pencil

1 sharpie marker

Bottles of paint in various colors

Paint brushes in various sizes (both small and large)

Step 1: Draw your character

Since we’re had a Frozen movie party this week for Spring Break, I decided to make an Olaf standee so the kids could take pictures with him. I found a picture of Olaf on the Internet and drew him as best I could. Then I outlined him with a black sharpie marker so he was easier to see.


Note: The decision to use sharpie or not is entirely up to you. If you’re not careful, the sharpie can bleed through your paint if you’re using lighter colors. In my case, I wanted the lines to bleed through so I could see them and re-trace them in black paint. If you’re worried about it, I’d recommend sticking with just pencil.

Step 2: Paint.


If you’re messy like me, I highly recommend washable paints.  Also, be prepared to do multiple coats if you’re using lighter colors. I had to paint Olaf’s body four times to take him from cardboard brown to white.

Step 3: Cut out your character using a box cutter


Go slowly while doing this, as in “so slow you might be mistaken for a turtle.” Otherwise, you may accidentally slice into your character and have to start all over. If you have small, detailed parts (like hands) leave extra space around them so that you can go back and take even more time on those sections.

Step 4: Create the back support

In order for your character to stand upright, there has to be a piece of cardboard attached to its back in perpendicular fashion. So take your second piece of cardboard and follow the directions below:

1) Cut the cardboard until it’s just a little bit shorter than your character

2) Draw a “Giant Boot Shape” on this piece of cardboard. Cut out your giant boot using the box cutter.

3) Fold the right side of your “boot” in about two inches. This will create a flat surface for adhering it to your standee.

2nd cardboard piece

2nd cardboard piece

Giant boot shape

Giant boot shape

Finished product (with folded right side)

Finished product (with folded right side)

Step 5: Attach the back support

Trace the outline of the 2 inch, flat section of your support piece onto the back of your character. Make sure that you’ve centered the support in the middle of your character’s body. After you’re done tracing, fill in what you’ve drawn with wood glue. Then apply the 2 inch section of the support to the glue and press down firmly. Weigh it down with several heavy objects and let it sit overnight.

Adding wood glue to the tracing

Adding wood glue to the tracing

Press firmly

Pressing firmly

Weigh down 2-inch section with heavy objects.

Weighing down 2-inch section with heavy objects.

Step 6: Strike a pose!




I hope this tutorial has been helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!

❤ – The Loudmouth

Children’s Craft: March Flower Pot

DSC01611Spring has sprung! Or, at least it will have by the end of the month. Which means it’s time for our annual spring-themed craft!


-terra cotta pots



-potting soil


We provided the kids with paint and brushes and let them decorate the pots however they wanted. Then we filled the pots with dirt and let the kids plant the flower or herb of their choice!

This was a very well attended craft. We had twenty kiddos show up! In the future, I think I’d like to incorporate a spring story time with this craft. Otherwise, it was a tremendous success. I’m looking forward to doing this one again. 🙂




Divergent Book Bash

Teen Volunteers/Faction Leaders

It’s finally here: the post you’ve all been waiting for. I managed to survive my Divergent Book Bash and snagged a few photos in the process!

I believe librarians, just like teachers, should beg, borrow, and steal from one another. So feel free to use any of the ideas you see here for your own programs (though I’d love a shout out if you do).

Choosing Ceremony

I had the teens take a personality quiz to see what faction they belonged in, then sent them off to their home factions. Each student received a “Mission Card” with five tasks: one task for each faction. In order to be eligible for my Divergent raffle, they had to complete all five tasks. At the end of the afternoon, I gave away a copy of the trilogy and tickets to go see the movie next weekend.

DSC01553        DSC01555


Dauntless Station

In Dauntless, teens had to do two things: choose a temporary tattoo and play a round of Super Smash Bros on the Wii. Given Dauntless’ fondness for both tattoos and fighting, I thought these tasks were appropriate. 🙂

DSC01557               DSC01596


Erudite Station

In Erudite, the teens had to work as a team with their fellow faction members. Each teen was given a library scavenger hunt with seven clues. These clues took them all over the library in search of seven envelopes. Inside the envelopes, were puzzle pieces. Once the teens found all the envelopes and completed their hunt, they raced back to Erudite Station to put their puzzles together. I had the puzzles made by Printer Studio for only $4.99 a piece.

DSC01566        DSC01508 20140315_150002

Amity Station

For Amity, I wanted to capture the fact that this faction houses both farmers and artists. So teens painted flower pots and then planted a flower or herb of their choice.

DSC01568     20140315_144101


Abnegation Station

Since Abnegation’s focus is selflessness, I really wanted this station to be meaningful.  During a Google search, I stumbled on a wonderful organization called Send Kids the World. This group provides postal address for children with terminal or long-term illnesses. Individuals can then create cards for these sick children to cheer them up. So all of my teens in Amity were given the photo and story of a child. They then worked together to create custom cards to let these little ones know they matter.

DSC01562          20140315_144228 20140315_145939

Candor Station

Since Candor’s main quality is truth, what better way to test your honesty with a round of Divergent “Truth or Dare”? My biggest concern here was that I wanted the game to be fun – not cruel or embarrassing. So I made Truth and Dare cards with pre-selected topics. I had teens take turns and roll a dice to determine their fate. Evens = Truth. Odds = Dare. Teens could switch from Truth to Dare, but not the other way around. The teen with the most truth cards at the end won the game.

DSC01563      DSC01564 




I tried really hard to capture the favorite foods of each faction. Ex: soda for Erudite, chocolate cake for Dauntless, etc. Candor’s ice cream was too hard to manage for a two hour event, so I went with Oreo cookies instead since they’re black and white (Candor’s colors).


Dauntless Cupcakes

Dauntless Cupcakes

Amity Apples and Peace Bread

Amity Apples and Peace Bread

Abnegation Appetizers

Abnegation Appetizers

Erudite Soda

Erudite Soda

Candor Cookies

All in all, I had forty-four tweens and teens turn out: a record breaking number for our small, seaside library. I’m absolutely ecstatic with how things went. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or would like some advice on throwing a Divergent shindig of your own!

Divergent Book Bash Teaser

I’m currently in the process of prepping for my Divergent Book Bash, which will be held March 15 (the weekend before the movie is released in theaters). I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of some of the things we’re doing. I’ll post more photos and details when I come up for air next week.

Obviously, one of the key parts of the Divergent series is figuring out your faction. So I thought it would be fun to divide the teens into one of the five groups. I made a print version of the Faction Quiz from divergentfans.com. Each student will take it when they enter to figure out what faction they’re in.

P.S. Forgive the “Abnegation” typo in the image. I promise I know how to spell it! 🙂

Faction Quiz

After they’ve been sorted (excuse the Harry Potter reference), each teen will go through the Choosing Ceremony. There, they will receive a button with their faction symbol after retrieving it from the appropriate bowl. I had the buttons custom made by wackybuttons.com for about $30.

I made sure to follow the book as closely as I could, modeling each bowl after the ones described in the actual text. Candor got glass beads,  Abnegation got pebbles, Dauntless got coals, and so on.

faction cups

DSC01549  DSC01547

DSC01545  DSC01541


I’m really excited and I think the teens will get a kick out of it. Drop me a comment and let me know what faction you’re in! I’d love to hear from you!

Coming Soon: Book Giveaway and Author Interview with Skila Brown

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that on March 25th, I’ll be posting an interview with the lovely Skila Brown!

We’ll be exploring her inspiration and writing process for her debut novel, Caminar, which launches the very same day. So to celebrate her book birthday, we’re doing a giveaway! Anyone who reads and posts a thoughtful comment will have a chance to win a signed copy of Caminar.

Yes, you read that right. A signed copy!

For now, I’ll leave you with a synopsis and a few notable blurbs. Caminar is already receiving a great deal of critical acclaim and I’m greatly looking forward to sharing it – and Skila – with you!


Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

– from Amazon.com

Exquisitely crafted poems are the basis of an unusually fine verse novel…”

–Horn Book, starred review

“…a much-needed addition to Latin American-themed middle grade fiction.”

–School Library Journal, starred review

A moving introduction to a subject seldom covered in fiction for youth… A promising debut.”


You know you want to read it. So be sure to stop by and comment on the 25th for a chance to win it!!

“Blind Date with A Book” Display

So I know it isn’t February anymore, but I couldn’t help myself. Our BDWOB winner came in today and she was so giddy and excited that I thought I should share her cute face. And my cute display.

I wrapped each book up like a Valentine’s Day present, complete with nerdy, literary pick-up line. Teens then picked the book that looked the most interesting, read it, and wrote a short review. At the end of the month, I did a drawing from all of the submissions and gave away a Barnes & Noble gift card.

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All in all, it was a lot of fun and the kiddos seemed to enjoy it. We’ll definitely be doing it again next year. 🙂