If you happen to like this sort of run-down on themes, then you might want to check out my 2017 and 2018 posts.

I mention Natasia throughout this post quite a few times. In case you’re unaware of who she is, she was my right-hand creative rock star who did the vast majority of the concept and creation of what you’ll be seeing (including photos of her own work). A few weeks ago we said goodbye as she moved on to a non-library job. She is deeply missed.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me in any way to get more details or answers to your questions about anything. I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Now on to the themes!!!

January: Dragon Magic

This was a simple, but very effective theme. As kids approached the door, they’d see a magical book, and when they stepped inside, they’d be greeted by this large dragon (who came out of the book).

Our community’s mascot is a dragon, and so this was quite popular. We had a wide variety of dragon-themed books on display, and the display was always nearly empty.

Thankfully, Natasia’s beautiful dragon found a home within a Gretna teacher’s classroom once this month was over. We do that a lot with parts of our themes: giving them away at the end of the month. Sometimes it’s through social media contests, or more often than not, when someone inquires about it.

February: Febru-bear-y

BEARS!!!! Goodness knows we had enough bear-related items to put out at our reading bench display.

That bear waving “hi” and “bye” to everyone was just the sweetest. He got a good number of high-fives from kids on their way into the library.

This also marks the first facts display created by Natasia. Our team would have a blast when she’d show off all of the cool facts she’d compiled for the themes. It was also really nice to hear kids and their caregivers talking about all of the posted information.

March: Farm Fun

For many years, our city has been the fastest growing city in Nebraska. While we are right next to Omaha, we still have farmland to the south and west of us. So anytime we do anything farm-related, it tends to be a hit with both kids and adults.

It was also fun to see kids notice the cow in our front window’s barn. We decided to box it in since the toy would be within arms reach of almost any curious kiddo.

April & May: For the Birds

We put out bird coloring sheets for the kids in April and then filled the windows with their creations in May. Neither Natasia nor myself remembered to get a picture of the entire front display, but you get the general idea of it with the top photo. What you can’t see is the power poles Natasia created where the twine is attached so it looks like the birds are perched on power lines. There were also flying birds, but the perchers easily won the popularity contest.

The cut paper she used to create the birds on the inside display was really cool. The little feather tufts you see were somehow tucked into the main portion of the birds giving them a depth and texture.

June & July: CSLP’s Universe of Stories

Natasia (who you catch a glimpse of in the 3rd picture down) found this great rocket template on Etsy. I believe that it’s this one. She also found a simple star template and hung those around as well. She used discarded books and other paper that we had on hand to create a space super-highway across our ceiling.

I wish that you could get a better feel for how large the blue and white rocket was. I’d estimate it at around 3 feet tall. We gave it away in a Facebook post, so there’s one lucky kid out there who has a sweet rocket in his or her room.

August: Science!

Our two summer teen interns wanted their focus to be on being Creative Directors, so they helped design August’s scientific theme. They put together the display sign using the periodic table to spell out a phrase (which I can’t seem to find!!!), gave Natasia the concept of oversized science things using colorful pieces of cellophane, and wanted the facts board to be about female scientists.

The cellophane was such a cool effect that we’ll have to try using it again with something in the future.

September: Reading ‘Round the World

The above photo shows how tight the workspace is here. Anything that’s large needs to be able to move in an instant in case someone needs help or access to a space in the library. Natasia was fantastic at making that happen.

The heart in the above sign was made using flags from around the world.

I loved the recycled book hot air balloons so much that three of them float above my desk.

October: Creepy Carrots

Author Aaron Reynolds visited our schools back in 2017, and the kids here continue to be huge fans. So when Natasia asked if she could do a Creepy Carrots themed October, I was totally for it.

I truly love what she did here. From the dead-on replication of the artwork, to creating the “Wall-O-Creepy Carrots,” she nailed it. And in terms of the whiteboard, the kids would decorate a carrot and then come up and ask for the googly eyes.

Oh – and the scavenger hunt!!! Natasia made the creepy underwear (the spikes are from leftover cellophane from the previous month), and I scanned them in to make prize stickers. It was one of our most popular scavenger hunts of the year.

November: Nutty About Books

I’m going to jump in here to let you know a bit more about this display. Natasia had it up and looking fabulous, when I walked by and yelled “SQUIRREL!” and then started laughing. I told Natasia that I thought we should have Dug from Disney’s Up! yelling his famous line somewhere in the display. So Natasia very graciously made it happen.


What a simple, but very popular theme! The simple garland that was draped across the windows was a nice change from our typically large scale displays. And the book display was almost always completely checked out which was a pleasant surprise.

December: Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary

Typically we celebrate a children’s book artist during the month (we affectionately call it Decemberley after Ed Emberley), but this year we went a different direction. Since it was Sesame Street‘s 50th anniversary, we wanted to do something special, and we only had December left in terms of decor openings in 2019.

Again, Natasia’s work was a beautiful sight to behold. Oscar was my absolute favorite since his trashcan was made using metallic silver tissue paper, and he had Slimey with him. But the younger crowd was so excited to see their favorite Muppets – it was a delight to behold.

I created the sign for the reading bench display, using a digital file from Etsy (which is no longer available), and changing the street’s name to Winter Reads.

And there you have it: our 2019 Children’s Library themes!

The Joy of Arting

tl;dr for naturally artistic-types: posterize smaller images you want to use and then use a large window as a big ol’ lightbox.

This is a post that I have wanted to write since 2015, and I am delighted to finally be sharing this with y’all. Basically, I want to show you how to do this:

Don’t panic!!! I believe that you can do this.

What I’ll be sharing with you is something that my husband Bruce introduced me to: lightboxes.

Here’s a picture of the lightbox that Bruce used as a child:

Nowadays you can search “tracing lightbox” to see more examples of sleeker versions that many different types of artists use.

Okay. Here’s the cool thing: you already have free lightboxes at work and at home – your windows! I know that many of you will read this and think, “I have a projector which basically does the same thing.” True. But usually you need to be in a dimly lit room, and your hand can get in the way of what you’re wanting to trace. My technique can be done during work hours in full view of the public, and both parents and kids get a kick out of learning about what you’re doing.

Without further ado, here’s a step-by-step on how I created the above window display (and how you can, too!):

Find an image that you’d like to enlarge. Once you find something, then you can use whatever computer program you have that can print a “poster.” You’ll have options on sizes, so pick whichever will work best in your space. I opted to do a four-page poster using ledger paper.

After printing it out, you could simply cut and tape the paper together and hang it up that way, but it could look so much better. Like, people might think that you hired a professional artist to create your art.

The most likely limitation you may experience is having large enough paper available to cover your posterized image. Fortunately for me, the large roll of white paper that we use to cover our activity tables happens to be the perfect size.

Once you have your poster taped up onto a window so that it doesn’t move around, then you can cut a larger single sheet of paper to go over what you just taped up. Again, use enough tape to make sure that your top paper doesn’t shift while you work on it.

It’s tough to see in this picture, but I have all four corners of the big sheet taped down.

Next you do a heckuva lotta tracing.

highly recommend using Sharpie Brush pens – they don’t bleed as much as regular Sharpies, and they easily let you flow from thicker to thinner lines (or vice-versa). And for the larger black areas, I recommend the Sharpie Magnum – it’s a great time-saver.

Now you have the option to complete the entire tracing on the window, or once you get the outlines done, you can take it down and finish up the lines on a flat surface.

If the image is going on a non-transparent surface like a wall, then you’re done! But if it’s going in a window, then you’ll want to flip the paper over. You can either take down your taped-together poster and flip your sheet backwards (taping it up again) in the window to trace the same image, OR if the marker bled through enough, then you can trace it on a flat surface.

Cut out the completed artwork however you’d like. I left a bit of white around the edges to give a nice buffer between the image and the comic book paper. That’s what’s filling out the window: randomly torn up pieces from leftover Free Comic Book Day comics stuck up with many, many small cut-up pieces of packing tape. Many.

And there you have it: an attainable way to make yourself look like an artiste extraordinaire!

2017 Children’s Library Themes

2017 Library Decor Themes at the Gretna Children's Library. From 'Appy New Year to Pigeon wanting to drive a zamboni! | Hafuboti.com

I am so woefully behind on sharing with y’all what we’ve been doing at our Children’s Library that drastic measures are called for in order to catch you up. So this post is designed to be a fast ‘n furious update with minimal text. If you have any questions whatsoever about anything you see here, there, or anywhere on my blog, then don’t hesitate to ask me! Either in the comments, on social media, or at hafuboti@gmail.com.

Now onto the themes!

January 2017: ‘Appy New Year!

I’ve already written about this, but here’s a quick visual for ya.

'Appy New Year: January 2017's theme at the Gretna Children's Library featuring ebooks and emojis | Hafuboti.com

'Appy New Year: January 2017's theme at the Gretna Children's Library featuring our reading bench display | Hafuboti.com

This theme is one of the most loudly commented-upon by kids. I lost count of how many kids would come into our library and excitedly tell us how much they love emojis. We also had ample opportunities to discuss our ebook resource with patrons.

February 2017: Toss Kindness Like Confetti

This is the only 2017 theme that neither Natasia, our resident artist and creator of our decor, nor I remembered to get a picture of anything. ::trombone wah wah:: You can get a bit of information in this previous post.

March 2017: Nebraska Sesquicentennial

All Nebraska librarians learned to say the word “sesquicentennial” when our state celebrated it’s 150th birthday.

March 2017's theme at Gretna Children's Library was all about the Nebraska state sesquicentennial | Hafuboti.com

March 2017's theme at Gretna Children's Library was all about the Nebraska state sesquicentennial: Happy 150th display at the reading bench | Hafuboti.com

The bunting is made out of an atlas that was in our Friends’ book sale with yellow circles in-between.

April 2017: Artsy April

This time around for Artsy April, I asked Natasia to show off her personal artistic style. And let me tell you what: this has been the most popular window display EVER.

Artsy April: April 2017's theme at the Gretna Children's Library featuring artwork by our talented team member Natasia. Blue, purple, and gold circles | Hafuboti.com

Both children and adults alike where enamored with Natasia’s beautiful work. What you can’t tell from the photos is that the smaller circles are gold leaf. For reals. It shimmered and created gorgeous effects. Pure. Magic.

The other dots were tissue paper.

Artsy April: April 2017's theme at the Gretna Children's Library featuring artwork by our talented team member Natasia. Blue, purple, and gold circles | Hafuboti.com

May 2017: The final LEGO MAY-nia

We decided that 2017 would be the last time that we celebrated all things LEGO in May. We felt like we were giving a lot of free advertising to the LEGO company. Plus, we had plenty of other things we wanted to do instead. All that said, we went out with quite a LEGO bang!

The fifth and final LEGO MAY-nia decor theme at Gretna Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

Plastic table cloths and cardstock et voilà! Window display with impact!

The fifth and final LEGO MAY-nia decor theme at Gretna Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

The fifth and final LEGO MAY-nia decor theme at Gretna Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

We put up real LEGOs on our wall to hide all of the paint damage from sticky tack. ::side eyes sticky tack::

The fifth and final LEGO MAY-nia decor theme at Gretna Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

We affixed ultra-brief bios of each real-life “Master Builder” underneath their LEGO Mini Figs so that people could sit on the bench and look up to learn something.

The fifth and final LEGO MAY-nia decor theme at Gretna Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

We loved these giant LEGO bricks that Natasia made so much that we decided to group them in a smaller space so that they’d have a bigger impact. We generally don’t decorate around our activity area, but this was perfect.

The fifth and final LEGO MAY-nia decor theme at Gretna Children's Library | Hafuboti.comAnd although LEGO MAY-nia is over, we will forever do our most popular passive program: The Little Library LEGO Club. A HUGE shout-out to S Bryce Kozla for this program. This year we finally decided to not put batteries into the base (the tower would get too heavy to spin), and let the kids turn the platform to find the perfect spot. This has been a wonderful change that I wish we’d done from the beginning.

June & July 2017: CSLP’s Build a Better World

Natasia did an incredible job with our decor for the summer. Her use of tissue paper is mind-blowing. And with this front exterior, she did a beautiful blend of both tissue paper and cardstock.

The only issue with this decor was that the summer sun beats down on our building for the first half of the day. Instead of sweltering in silence, Natasia opted to go with the flow, and actually ended up getting more compliments on her gears since her solution made them really pop:

Lightly-colored shadows were cast onto the white paper by the tissue paper gears in direct sunlight. It looked super-cool.

Those 3D gears actually did turn if you were gentle.

August 2017: The Ocean

The main paper cutout of the shark was popular with kids. So popular, in fact, that many would come up and smack the window where it was at, scaring the bejebus out of us. It also looked creepy when kids had their hands on the outside windows (little shadowy hannnnds…).

This display was a team effort between Natasia and Adina. All of those ocean creature silhouettes strategically hid sticky tack scars. ::stink eyes the sticky tack::

It was a lot of fun to see people notice the jellyfish – usually when the air vent was blowing and their tentacles gently moved. Natasia made these using paper lanterns cut in half, paint, and plastic bags.

September 2017: Monarch Butterflies

It’s rare for me to declare a theme, but I couldn’t help myself with this one. I have adored monarch butterflies since I was a child, and had begun rearing them from egg to adult. What Natasia did with my request was absolutely stunning. Everything (except the green leaves) were made from black poster board and tissue paper.

I kept the above caterpillar and have him in my home. The rest went to a local high school teacher for her classroom.

I haven’t talked about our fabulous team member Adina enough on this blog. She’s revolutionized our decor over at our Main Library, and lends a helping hand at Children’s now-and-then. She created this cheery scene with paper, scissors, and paper punches. Wow!!!!!

Ashlynn created this neat display on our whiteboard that showed the life cycle of monarchs. LOVE.

October 2017: Creatures of the Night

We continue to enjoy not being constrained by holidays in terms of decor, though that doesn’t mean that we don’t have fun with it. Our focus was on nocturnal critters, and Natasia knocked it out of the park using scissors, an x-acto knife, and black poster board.

::sings:: Gooooogly Eyyyyyes!!!

November 2017: The Return of Dinovember

Typically we don’t like to repeat themes, but since Natasia wasn’t part of our team during our first Dinovember, we thought it’d be fun to have her take a whack at it. She decided to do a “doodle” version of dinos à la Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the like.

December 2017: Decemberley featuring Mo Willems

Ok y’all. I know that we’re in the wrong in the world of copyright. But there are times where I can be a bit of a petulant child (sorry, Hyperion Books for Children and Mr. Willems). When I had the thought of “Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Zamboni,” I knew that we had to celebrate Mo Willems’ work for our annual Decemberley celebration. And I think that it was a good choice because we could hear kids shouting their favorite characters’ names as they approached our front door. Duckling got a ton of love.

I was unable to photograph the cool ice effect that Natasia achieved after some trial and error. The ice is made up of long strips of packing tape that have been covered in different sizes of glitter. It looked amazing in the sunlight. Sooooo sparkly.

My favorite part of our decor was when I realized that we could hang images of all the things that the Pigeon wants (as chronicled in both Pigeon Wants a Puppy and Duckling Gets a Cookie!?). It was irreverent, fun, and a ton of fun when either people figured it out or asked us what was the deal with the cookies, hotdogs, french fry robots, etc. Plus they would spin, and at least once a year I want things hanging/spinning from our ceiling. What can I say? It makes me happy.

Another big shout-out to Angie Manfredi for her Winter Reading Program idea. It continues to be very popular and is a good idea.

Finally, I blew up the How to Draw Pigeon instructions from PigeonPresents.com for our white board.


Hooray! You made it through my most epic post ever. And as a reward for making it to the end, I’ve included the images that I created (or just colored in) for our Mo Willems celebration. Click on the image below to get a pdf of both sides of the following images: a cookie, hot dog, walrus, iceberg, puppy, bus, and french fry robot. You can use these images however you’d like – enjoy!

Disclaimer: no pigeons were harmed in the making of this post. 



Sign After Sign

Sign After Sign: sharing three behavioral expectation signs that we have at our Children's Library: age, cell phones, and clothing | Hafuboti.com

Oh hai!

To say the very least: my life has ramped up intensity almost to my breaking point. But I miss blogging! But blogging takes time and energy – two things that I have very little of right now! It’s a Catch-Shmoopitty-Shmoo!

But I’ve had a handful of library workers, from Nebraska and beyond, reach out to me about our policies and signs. And when I hear a question regularly or notice a consistent issue, then I know that whatever it is is something that should be addressed one way or another. So after I shared our info with them, I thought that I should share this with you!

I’ve written about my seeing the signs previously, and have continued to try and be aware of when a sign may be of help (and not passive-aggressive). We’ve had a pair of signs at our Children’s Library for years now that I never thought to share here. They’re on both of our exterior doors:

Our library's age policy in terms of how old you must be before you're allowed to be in the library alone | Hafuboti.com

Our Children's Library's "no cell phone calls" sign that is posted at both entrances/exits | Hafuboti.com

It really does help to have these signs posted in order to point them out to either children or their caregivers (though we still get shocked/offended parents who are embarrassed that they got called out on policy violations).

This summer is the first time in about two years where we’ve added to these expectations signs:

A simple yet punny sign stating our library's policy on what's expected in terms of patrons being fully clothed to be in our library | Hafuboti.com

I must say that I had a blast looking at baby goat images – especially the ones in pajamas. I ended up cobbling together the image using doggie shoes, vest, and a toddler’s pair of pants.

I had several librarian friends share concerns that some snarky patrons would bring in actual baby goats in clothes, and I was like “OMG DO YOU THINK THEY WILL?! HECK YEAH!!!!!” I’ll be sure to update here if that ever happens (and I really want that to happen).

But back to the point!

I thought y’all might like to see how we post our signs so that you can see how small they are, and how they’re placed. The ones at the front entrance routinely get moved around depending on how we decorate the windows – which I think is a bonus since signs posted and left in the same position become a piece of the background for our regulars.

How we place some of our behavior expectations/policies at the Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

And yes – you’re getting a sneak peak of what we’ve done with our decor for the summer theme Libraries Rock!


Enhanced closeup of the behavior expectations/policies near our front entrance at the Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

And our side entrance:

The side entrance of our Children's Library where we post the same behavior expectation signs as we have at our front entrance | Hafuboti.com

In case you don’t know what the Mister Rogers & Friends mini window display is: check it out.


Closeup view of our behavior expectations signs on the side entrance of our Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

As always, feel free to use/modify any of the images/signs in this post! And also as always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions however you’re most comfortable (in comments, email, Facebook, etc).

January 2017: ‘appy New Year!

'APPY NEW YEAR!!! Having some emoji fun while highlighting our ebook collection. It's a fun way to kick off a new year! | Hafuboti.com

I thought of possibly trying to just sort of publish this post and say nothing about how it’s a year old!!!!! But yeah. You can tell that I decided against that. Instead, I’m highlighting this fact, shrugging my shoulders, and reframing it so that I can embrace it and be all “YEAAAAH!!! FINALLY GETTIN’ IT DONE!!!”

My life and career have become very intense as of late, and blogging has obviously gone on the back burner. So what I’m hoping to do is share what we did last year in one post followed by another post sharing what we’ve done this year. Trying to keep up with the months should give me a goal to reach for while getting this here blog caught up on all of our shenanigans. Theoretically.

Here goes nothing!

I had the idea for the ‘appy New Year theme during Holly Storck-Post’s (of Let the Wild Rumpus Start Storytime Underground fame) presentation about early literacy apps at the 2016 Nevada Library Association conference. She talked about her library’s Appy Hour program and I was like “I KNOW JANUARY’S THEME!” I even drew stars and hearts around this idea in the small notebook that I had for notetaking.

And a few months later – voila! It was our theme!

Our fabulously talented Natasia had a fun time putting together the front window display featuring emojis. This was long before the Emoji Movie existed and we were taken aback at how popular this theme was. I lost count of how many kids would come in and say something like “I LOVE EMOJIS!!!”

Get 'Appy! Celebrating great apps for kids and families during January's 'Appy New Year theme at the Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

The biggest app that we highlighted was our library’s account with Overdrive to help both parents and kids know that we had a wonderful resource for them. In fact, we made finding 2D ereaders our scavenger hunt.

An 'Appy New Year passive scavenger hunt program encouraging kids to practice their writing skills | Hafuboti.comThis particular scavenger hunt was a bit more challenging in that we wanted to have kids work on their writing skills. We don’t always make our passive programs this challenging for our youngest patrons, but we try and push them now and then. Needless to say, we chose books with shorter titles.

I wish that we had kept copies of the ebook scavenger hunt files to share with you, but unfortunately they are nowhere to be found. But, while searching for them, I discovered that we did keep our simple but very popular coloring sheet. Click on the image below to get a letter-sized version without my logo on it:

An incredibly simple and popular emoji coloring sheet | Hafuboti.comFinally, Natasia made a bright sign for our reading bench display. We showcased our books about computer science, technology, and video games. This proved to be a tough display to keep stocked! <<<a great problem to have!

An 'appy New Year book display featuring books on computer science, technology, and video games! | Hafuboti.com

I you look closely, you can see one of our eBook scavenger hunt pieces in the middle of our clock. It’s a Curious George eBook with a circled number on its lower right hand side.

And that’s how we kicked off 2017. I can hardly wait to show you what we did for 2018 – and hopefully I’ll be showing off much sooner than later!