Don’t Get Fooled!

Do you find yourself hesitating a bit before reading news online? Are you no longer sure what to believe on social media? Access to information is a vital part of our democracy, but let’s all resolve in 2018 to be a little smarter about how we absorb and pass on information from the Internet. For many years, librarians have been working hard to educate people about the importance of verifying sources. This is even more important when we spend so much time online where the information has not always gone through a vetting or editorial process. We all should be responsible in checking that our “news” is factual before passing it on!

Here are some basic tips for verifying online information:

  • Read through all of the content that you are thinking of re-posting. Don’t re-post just based on a headline! The headline may not reflect the content of the article, or the article may be from an organization that publishes satire rather than facts.
  • Check the URL of the website. Most of us have been doing this, but remember that websites have become trickier! Look for “extra” characters in the URL. Legitimate news sites will have very simple URLs. You can find out who created the website at:
  • The author of the article should be identified. Go to the “About Us” tab of an organization’s web page to learn more about the group. Is it an individual, a board, a non-profit, etc.? Do an Internet search for the organization or individual author.
  • Look online to see if other reputable sources are covering the same story.
  • Use a fact-checking organization. You can find a list here.
  • Verify images. You can save an image and then upload it to As an example, this photograph was labeled on a Facebook post as a portion of a wall between Mexico and Guatemala. By verifying the image, you can learn that the image is actually part of the Israeli -Palestinian border. 
  • Check the currency of the news item. Fake stories are a bit like bad pennies – they keep turning up.

Making the effort to verify information is something we can all do! For more articles on the topic of “Fake News”, read a few of the articles on this page from the American Library Association.

Pourquoi? Why?

Young children never stop asking, “Why?” For thousands of years, people in different cultures have also asked this. Why does the giraffe have a long neck? Why does the sun seem to move across the sky? Why are there lights in the northern sky? Stories were created to explain things in nature that could not be understood any other way. These stories offer us insight into the customs and resources that were important to cultures all over the world.

You can find these stories in collections of legends, in creation myths, and in many picture books. These are often called “Pourquoi” stories from the French word for “why.” Reading these tales is a wonderful way to take your family on a reading trip around the world. They are also a great jumping off point for informational books that tell the actual science behind these things.

We have a terrific collection of Pourquoi tales collected and retold by Margaret Mayo. With stories from Australia, Africa, Iceland, Central America and other places, When the World Was Young is a great sampler of the genre. Each story is 4-5 pages long with only a few pictures, so it works well for kids who have a decent attention span. I love the author’s note in the back that tells about the source of each story.

When the World was Young by Margaret Mayo

Many of our other Pourquoi books are in a picture book format and are great to share with even very young kids.  Here are a few of my favorites.

The Blizzard's Robe by Robert Sabuda  Why the Sky is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale by Mary-Joan Gerson

Robert Sabuda has become world-renowned for his pop-up books, but the batik illustrations in The Blizzard’s Robe are stunning! Why the Sky is Far Away uses art in a Nigerian folk style to relate an important lesson about protecting our resources.

Tomie dePaola wrote three picture books telling the legends of wildflowers. These are all beautiful stories and can also be found in Tomie dePaola’s Big Book of Favorite Legends.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola  The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola  The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

Gerald McDermott wrote a series of picture-book trickster tales. They are fun to read, because different cultures have developed groups of tales portraying certain animals as tricky or sly. These two books also serve as pourquoi tales, telling the origin of the sun and explaining why the tortoise’s shell looks cracked.


You may be familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories. Kipling created these stories to tell to his daughter. Although they are not traditional folklore, they fit the mold of explaining the various characteristics of animals.


If you have ever wondered about strawberries or stars or chipmunks, we have a book for you!


If this type of folklore appeals to you, you can also look for pourquoi tales tucked into larger story collections such as Kwi-na the Eagle and Other Indian Tales and Cloud Weavers: Ancient Chinese Legends.

Read some of these books with your family and the next time your child asks “Why…”, challenge them to create a story explains the reason.



Cinderella Around the World

No, this is not a travelogue of Cinderella on a Grand Tour adventure! Instead, think of this as a way to explore other cultures through a certain type of story. Cinderella stories usually have these features in common: an evil stepmother and stepsisters, a father who fails to stop Cinderella’s mistreatment, a mutual attraction with a person of a higher social status, a ball or other community gathering, and a lost object. The Cinderella-type story has been traced back to Yeh Shen, the heroine of a ninth century Chinese tale.

Yeh Shen: a Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie

Part of the fun of reading these stories comes from noticing the way the details vary based on the setting. Our print collection of books includes Cinderella stories from Egypt, Korea, Persia, Ireland, Africa and more. The main character is usually female, but there are exceptions such as The Irish CinderLad by Shirley Climo.

The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo   The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: an African Tale by John Steptoe   The Golden Sandal: a Middle Eastern Cinderella by Rebecca Hickox

Sootface: an Ojibwa Cinderella by Robert San Souci   The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo

I like to check in the back of the book or on the dust jacket to find out if the author is retelling a traditional tale. Authors have also written original Cinderella tales, placing the same plot elements in new cultures. For example, Robert San Souci wrote a Caribbean version and Alan Schroeder placed Cinderella in the middle of Appalachia.

Cendrillon by Robert San Souci     Smoky Mountain rose by Alan Schroeder

Those just begin to the scratch the surface! There are many Cinderellas that fall into the “fractured fairy-tale” category, featuring diverse casts of characters like cowgirls, penguins, or skeletons. Maybe you already have a favorite!

Cindy Ellen: a Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell   Cinderella Penguin, or the Little Glass Flipper by Janet Perlman

Chickerella by Mary Jane Auch   Cinderella Skeleton by Robert San Souci

If the Shoe Fits: Voices from Cinderella by Laura Whipple presents the familiar story from different perspectives in 33 poems. How can you resist a book like this? Haven’t you ever wondered what the glass slipper thought as so many maidens struggled to squeeze their feet into place?

If the Shoe Fits: Voices From Cinderella by Laura Whipple

Cinderella stories are not just for children! You can find similar stories for all ages up through adults. Just ask and we’ll find you one that is perfect for your reading tastes. You can find much more information online about Cinderellas stories, including on the American Library association website:



Animation Christmas Celebration

Everyone loves a good Christmas animation movie! Whether you’re 2 and can’t fully understand what’s going on or whether you’re 65 with your grandchildren! A good Christmas animation is good for the soul! Below is a list of some of my top favorite Christmas Animation movies available here at the library!

Shrek the Halls

Shrek and his group of rascals put their own spin on Christmas traditions! Just a little laughter to start off my Christmas season. Shrek is perfect for every season, but he’s even more amazing for the Christmas season!

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

A mailman tells the origin story of Santa Claus. Everyone has to watch this the second Christmas season comes! It’s a classic and is definitely one of my most beloved.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, discovers Christmas and tries to bring it to his town! This movie is perfect for Halloween and Christmas, my two favorite Holidays!!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Grinch who lives on the outskirts of Whoville, thinks to teach the Whos a lesson by stealing Christmas! I only like the one with Jim Carrey in it just because of his portrayal of the Grinch! He did such a wonderful job!!

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

The misfit Reindeer Rudolph journeys to find himself with a group of misfit friends. This classic tale has always been one of my favorites because who doesn’t love the tale of Rudolph!?

Disney’s A Christmas Carol

The classic animated tale of a scrooge on a tale of redemption. I only like Disney’s version, not any other kind, mainly because of how Disney took the story and made it wild and wonderful!

A Fresh Look at Arabian Nights

Although using traditional fairy tales as the basis for teen books has been popular for a while, most of these books have used European tales as a starting point. For example, Alex Flinn has written lots of fairy tale versions, including Beastly (Beauty and the Beast), A Kiss in Time (Sleeping Beauty), and Towering (Rapunzel). That’s why I was delighted to find these two books based on the stories of One Thousand and One Nights.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh   The Rose & the Dagger b y Renn Ahdieh

One Thousand and One Nights (often known in English as The Arabian Nights) is a collection of stories by many authors and can be traced back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian and Jewish folklore.  Although collections of these stories can vary in content, the tales are told within the framework of Scheherazade who soothes her evil husband with her storytelling skills.

Marie Lu, author of Legend, described The Wrath & the Dawn as “an intoxicating gem of a story,” and added, “Don’t be surprised if the pages melt away and you find yourself racing through warm, golden sands or drinking spiced wine in cool marble courtyards,”  so buckle up for an exciting journey through Middle Eastern culture.

If your only connection to Arabian Nights comes from Disney’s Aladdin and the Prince of Persia movie or video game, you may want to brush up on some of the original stories. The Thousand Nights and One Night by Jan Pienkowski is a beautiful introduction to the most well-known stories. You might be surprised to learn that the stories of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sinbad the Sailor were not initially included in collections of One Thousand and One Nights. Although they are from the same geographical area, these were added later by European translators.

The Thousand Nights and One Night by Jan Pienkowski

Why not begin a reading Grand Tour, traveling the globe in search of stories from other cultures? The Wrath & the Dawn can be your first stop along the way.

Cooking With Shelby

Hi, everyone! I’m Shelby and I’m a Library Assistant at the Aurora Public Library District. I’m sure I’ve seen you around our branches! I’ve been married and on my own for about a year and a half now, so I thought I might as well start trying to get my act together and adult.

One of the most important criteria to meet as an adult is to be able to cook for yourself. I don’t mean frozen pizza rolls or grilled cheese sandwiches; I mean the ability to be able to mix individual ingredients together and create something edible (and delicious) out of nothing. What better way to do that than to check out cookbooks from the library to see if I’m even capable of following directions and provide a meal for my husband and myself? I thought that there must be more people out there like myself, who are trying to figure out this whole adult thing, too. I wanted to document my attempt to make recipes straight from the cookbooks we keep on our shelves physically and digitally, complete with pictures of my experiences, both good and bad.

So here’s my first attempt! I found The Ultimate Brownie Book: Thousands of Ways to Make America’s Favorite Treat, Including Blondies, Frosting, and Doctored Brownie Mixes,  and on page sixty was a recipe for simple Fudge Brownies. Because I am an adult, I decided that brownies count as grown-up food, so I decided to make this recipe from scratch, just to test that I could actually follow directions and make something edible.

Here’s what the recipe called for:

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and (with only one small fire mishap; don’t ask) began the recipe!

Step One:

Instead of using cooking spray to grease the pan, I used butter and cocoa powder. In my opinion, butter and flour/cocoa powder works better than aerosol cooking spray when you’re trying to ensure that nothing sticks to the pan.

Step Two:

By using a homemade double boiler (A pot of simmering water underneath a heat-safe glass bowl full of chocolate and butter), I started to melt both kinds of chocolate and the butter. The recipe said to keep it on the heat and stir until only half the chocolate was melted, then to take it off the heat and keep stirring until everything melts together. I set the chocolate aside to cool for ten minutes.

Step Three:

This one was kind of tricky. The recipe called for two whole eggs and one egg yolk. The best way I could figure out to separate an egg yolk from the egg white was to just do it by hand.

Step Four:

I whipped the sugar and the eggs together until the mixture was thick. Then I beat in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until it was smooth.

Step Five:

I stirred in the salt and the flour until they were just mixed in with the rest of the ingredients. I didn’t want to work the batter too much, so I used a rubber spatula instead of the mixer. Then I poured the batter into the pan and baked it in the oven for about thirty minutes. My oven is weird, so it took a little longer for the brownies to bake, but I just kept an eye on them.

And they were delicious! My coworkers can attest that I can follow directions pretty well to make something that actually tasted good. They were gone within the day!

Since I am a grown-up now it would probably be in my best interest not to eat so many brownies, so my next Cooking With Shelby post will definitely involve something more substantial. If you would like to place a hold on The Ultimate Brownie Book, just click on the link.

Until next time! I wonder what I’ll make next?

Christmas Movies That Aren’t Full of Christmas Cheer

We all like Christmas movies. The cheer and the festivities in them bring us all happiness, but sometimes there’s only so much cheer we can take. Sometimes, watching Christmas movie after Christmas movie gets old. Don’t feel bad about it! 

Below is a list I compiled for those people tired of the same Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movies! The movies generated below aren’t your typical Christmas movies, but they do revolve around Christmas!

The Family Stone

Starring Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, and Dermot Mulroney, this Christmas movie is filled to the brink with dysfunctional family drama. (APL)

Four Christmases

Starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, not only is the family dysfunctional (is there a theme here?) but it’s a comedy as well! (BOTH APL AND DPL)

The Holiday

Starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Jack Black. Two women needing a break from their lives, decide to switch houses and lives during Christmastime.  (BOTH APL AND DPL)

Little Women

An iconic movie based on the classic written by Louisa May Alcott. This movie is filled with Christmas cheer as well as Christmas Tragedy. (APL)

Love Actually

Follows the lives of nine very different people whose lives intertwine because of one emotion: LOVE. (APL)

The Family Man

A workaholic gets the chance to see what his life could have been if he’d stayed with his college sweetheart Kate. (APL)

Any movies I missed that you think should be on here? Feel free to comment below!!

Locations of the movies are located at the end of their description in bold

If I don’t see you beforehand, 

DIY Holiday Gifts

The Aurora Public Library District has wonderful resources to get you in the crafty mood for the holidays. Maybe you’re on a budget but still want to get gifts for everyone on your list this year. A DIY gift is the perfect way to add a personal touch to your gifts without going over your budget, and the Aurora Public Library District is a great place to get started, whether you’re a beginner or an expert crafter.

We have plenty of materials on crafting with your children, like Ceramics for Kids, Super Simple Sewing for Kids, The Little Hands Big Fun Craft Book, and so much more! Make lasting memories with your children by creating crafts for your loved ones. (Or kids can even do some of these crafts by themselves to give to you!)

We have step-by-step books about crafting your own ceramics, knitting, macrame, stitchery, origami, jewelry, and more for beginners. We have books about painting rocks, creating sand art, “green,” or environmentally friendly, crafts, books about nature crafts, yarn crafts, creating bags and accessories, photography. There are books on hand weaving, whittling and wood carving, drawing and painting, cooking and baking, and so much more. Whatever you’re in the mood to craft, I’m sure we’ve got the how-to, whether you’re browsing the shelves at the library or browsing virtually with the Indiana Digital Download Center.

You can save a few bucks without looking cheap in front of your family and friends with these DIY gifts. You can add your own personal flair and make each gift personal and special. If you don’t see the kind of craft book you want to make on our shelves, we can always make a request through Interlibrary Loan.

Happy Crafting! Be sure to post pictures of your crafts in the comment section of this blog, or tag us and share with us on Facebook!

Picture Books About Scientists

Children are naturally curious about the world around them! As parents, we always want to find ways to nurture that curiosity. We can provide them with a wide variety of learning activities, including lots of books that lead to more and more questions for us to explore with them. Here are some great picture books about famous scientists, paired with a related storybook.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamda relates the story of a young boy from Malawi who brought electricity to his village by building a windmill out of scraps. It would be a perfect book to share after a day of playing with Legos or blocks with your child. Dreaming Up pairs block play with famous buildings around the world in a celebration of creativity.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba   Dreaming Up by Christy Hale

Big Al by Andrew Clements is a story of friendship and will also introduce kids to fish that live around a coral reef. Follow the story up with Manfish by Jennifer Berne, a book about legendary marine scientist Jacques Cousteau.

Big Al by Andrew Clements   Manfish: The Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne

If you and your family enjoy watching birds at a feeder, these next two books are perfect for you! Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward explores all ways that birds build their homes. For the Birds shares the story of Roger Tory Peterson, the creator of many bird guidebooks.

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward   For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson by Peggy Thomas

Creativity is the name of the game in Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. When you’re through playing with boxes, read about a scientist who thought outside the box in On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein, another biography by Jennifer Berne.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis   On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne

Trees are always interesting to kids, for playing under and around. Share A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, then read about The Tree Lady who changed San Diego from a desert town to a garden-filled oasis.

A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry   The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins

These are all book pairs that work well with younger kids. The following picture book biographies are better suited for upper elementary students or older. There is a new research study that shows that teens who read about the struggles of famous scientists do better in their science classes, so keep the books coming and keep talking about the way that scientists persevere through many mistakes!

   Look Up! The Story of the First Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh  


Let’s Take a Moment: Salt to the Sea

As I begin this blog post, I wanted to explain why it’s called, ‘Let’s Take a Moment’. I’m one of many people I know who thoroughly enjoy talking and recommending books to people. Just talking about a book I just recently read fills me with elation! Most times, once I’m done reading a book, I’ll just check it back in to the library or forget about it. Sometimes though, I find that amazing book that’s just so powerful and spellbinding that I feel a desperate urge to take a moment and talk about the book to anyone willing to listen.

So, Let’s Take a Moment to talk about Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea.

In Salt to the Sea, the story focuses on WWII and shines a light on one of the most devastating tragedies of naval history. The war is drawing closer every day to a close and in East Prussia, thousands of refugees are on a desperate journey to freedom. Among these refugees are four teenagers: Joana, Emilia, Florian, and Alfred, each from very different walks of life. Joana, Emilia, and Florian’s paths cross as they journey to the one ship that offers thousands salvation: the ‘Wilhelm Gustoff’. Forced to unite, the three find their courage, their strength, and their trust in each other tested with each and every step they take. Just when the freedom and safety are within their grasp, tragedy and devastation strikes. In a world where being different is dangerous and possibly deadly, in this moment of devastation, nothing matters besides survival.

Such a breathtaking tale of survival captured within a short 393 pages.

Where most authors would make the center point of their story the main characters, Sepetys went beyond that. Not only did she include intricate details of the main character’s lives, but the supporting characters as well. By the middle of the story, my heart was full of love for each and every character within the story.

Some authors would have lost touch with the historical side of their story, Sepetys touches the history side deeper than any author I’d read before. Each page was filled with some type of historical knowledge, and not too much to hide the story.

This book captured me on a level I didn’t know possible. It kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more. Now that I’ve finished the book, I can’t stop thinking about it or talking about it. This book is a masterpiece and deserves so much more publicity than it’s gotten. Though a lot of people believe that Sepetys’ other books outshine this one, I disagree. This book is filled with everything any reader would want! She delves into the lives of her characters during a time of despair and proves that love and humanity can prevail.

For fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize Winning ‘All the Light We Cannot See,’ and Elizabeth Win’s ‘Code Name Verity,’ this masterpiece of historical fiction is inspired by real tragedy.

This year, Salt to the Sea was nominated for the Eliot Rosewater Award, which is a High School book award chosen annually by students across Indiana in grades 9-12. The winner will be chosen at the end of April/beginning of May in 2018.


” [Sepetys is] a master of YA fiction she once again anchors a panoramic view of epic tragedy in perspectives that feel deeply textured and immediate.” -Wall Street Journal

“Riveting…powerful…haunting.” -Entertainment Weekly