Batty About Books

<img class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-6245″ src=”https://hafuboti.wpcomstaging.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/baseball-bat.jpg?w=700″ alt=”Batty About Books | Having a punny fun October theme at the Children’s Library featuring baseball bats! | Hafuboti.com” width=”700″ height=”478″>

Several months ago I did something that would have shocked me even a year ago: I trolled <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/groups/storytimeunderground/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>an online youth services Facebook group</a>.&nbsp;My intentions with that post was to hopefully cause youth service librarians take a fresh look at how and why they promote holidays (particularly Christmas). I wanted others to try and consider another person’s feelings and not blindly do something just because it’s popular in their communities.

Ultimately, my post had very mixed results, and I find myself wondering if it made a positive impact on anyone. If you missed the kerfuffle, then know that it was beautifully summarized by Lisa Nowlain in <a href=”http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2015/09/to-holiday-or-not-to-holiday-caption-contest/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>this&nbsp;post on the ALSC blog</a>. I also must say&nbsp;that things have really gotten surreal with the whole Trump weighing in on the Starbucks’ cup thing. Life is awesomely weird like that.

I promise that I’m getting to a point.

Whenever this particular discussion happens there’s almost always someone who will say something like this: <em>how will I ever decorate during the month of a holiday without it being dull and lame?!&nbsp;</em>That’s the one response that will make me swoon with frustration because <em>do we not love our jobs for the creativity that they afford us if we’re lucky enough to have a job that supports our creativity?</em>

And, because the universe has a&nbsp;wicked sense of humor&nbsp;- I soon realized that it was time to plan October’s theme. As you can tell from <a href=”http://hafuboti.wpcomstaging.com/2013/10/03/getting-caught-up/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>past</a> <a href=”http://hafuboti.wpcomstaging.com/2014/10/06/the-mostest-with-the-ghostests/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>posts</a>, I freaking love doing spooky things for October (because I freaking love Halloween). But not this time around. This time around I wanted to figure out a creative way to avoid doing anything truly holidayriffic. I’m hoping that this will help others consider doing something besides taking an&nbsp;easier route.

It’s a bit challenging to write about&nbsp;my personal process when it comes to creating&nbsp;themes. I suspect that my process&nbsp;has a lot to do with how random my brain can be and the huge benefit of having a kick-booty team. Here’s sorta how my thought process went this time around:

<strong><em>What can be somewhat related to the season without being a love letter to Halloween?</em> </strong>Somehow my brain latched onto bats. Perhaps I saw a copy of <em>Stellaluna&nbsp;</em>on our returns cart? And then it was like, <strong><em>OH – but the bats could be reading books on baseball! They’d be “baseball bats!” Now what haven’t we done before decor-wise? Hmm…those crepe paper ball&nbsp;things!</em></strong> *looks up cost of crepe paper ball&nbsp;things* <strong><em>Um – NO. But maybe I can take the theme of “baseball bats” a little further?</em> </strong>*looks up kid-sized baseballs* <strong><em>Nope, not whiffle balls…but what’s that suggested item? <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Dozen-Inflatable-Baseballs-Party-Favor/dp/B00KLS99VC/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Inflatable baseballs</a>? OH! Oh yes</em></strong> *temples fingers* <strong><em>that will do nicely. We can even reuse them this upcoming summer for the sports-themed programming!</em></strong>

It wasn’t until I shared my idea with the team that someone helpfully mentioned that the World Series was in October. I wish that I could take credit for such an epic thematic choice tying into a major sports event, but I cannot – it was sheer coincidence. But I tend to embrace and run with coincidence.

Anywho.

I believe that this is the first time that I designed what the bats would look like, and was able to translate it into reality. Here’s the mockup I made and that adorned our calendar (I also turned it into coloring sheets):

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I then took this design and made templates for the eyes, nose, mouth, and wings for my Silhouette cutter. I also designed a template for smaller/simpler version of these baseball bats for our front windows and reading bench area. The Silhouette saved me vast quantities&nbsp;of time. If you have one and would like my files, then just reach out to me and I’ll send them your way.

I then had a mental moment where I was like: <em><strong>BAT-IK! I CAN MAKE SOME BATS USING BATIK PRINTS!!! But wait, would I be the only one to get it? Probably. BUT I STILL WANNA DO IT!</strong> </em>So I did 🙂 I also found a simple batik tutorial that I printed off and put out with our reading bench display (which was full of both baseball and Halloween books). I hoped that it would help people get the joke.

I never did get a clear picture of them, but you get the general idea here (and you can kinda see the batik tutorial that I put out as a handout for those who wanted). With these, I bent the wings a bit to give it a 3D effect. I had one mom ask me how I did the bats (she had to touch them to realize it was paper):

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In the front windows I made the baseball bats from photocopies of pages from books about bats (you can kind of see them several photos down in this post). I sort of wish that I’d used batik patterns instead – they’re way brighter and funner.

I also used this<a href=”http://www.dafont.com/batfont.font” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”> Batman ’66 style font</a> for the&nbsp;<em>Batty About Books&nbsp;</em>lettering that I put in our front door. Again, I knew that I’d likely be the only one to get this joke (well, at least until I wrote about it here). I printed off batik patterns on the front and back of card stock and then fed it through the Silhouette. The double-printed card stock proved to be super-slippery in the machine, and so I had to gently hold the paper in place while it cut (otherwise it would get off-track and absolutely destroy the paper – which happened 3 times).

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The assembling of the 3D bats took two of us to complete. I glued on the eyes and mouth/nose, and then taped on the wings (because the glue would not hold their weight). I did some right side up and some upside down (based on where the air plug was). I also discovered that putting the baseballs in a shallow bowl helped me a ton in terms of stabilizing them while I worked on them:

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Since taking them down, I’m happy to let y’all know that the glued-on bits came off easily without leaving residue. The taped bits? Sticky residue-palooza. I’ll need to see if it’ll come off with a stickiness remover product.

We photocopied the front and back of some of our baseball-related books, and then would either sandwich them on card stock paper to prevent curling and give a little weight. We also made a few ones where the “book” was open. We quickly&nbsp;realized that you’d be able to see the inside of the book once they were hung. So I wrote out the lyrics to <em>Take Me Out to the Ballgame&nbsp;</em>inside of the first one. It took a long time. I then realized that we&nbsp;should just photocopy the insides of several books and stick that inside instead. MUCH better.<img class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-2900″ src=”https://hafuboti.wpcomstaging.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/bats5.jpg?w=584″ alt=”” width=”584″ height=”376″>

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We then used fishing wire to hang them from the ceiling.

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To go along with my new commitment of being more forthcoming about things I’d typically leave out of a post: here’s the one thing that I had to make peace with. And y’all are gonna laugh.

One of our newest team members jumped on board and helped a&nbsp;<em>ton&nbsp;</em>on this. My fibromyalgia was being extra horrible to me, and she was <em>invaluable</em> in making sure that these baseball bats were finished and hung.

So, in my mind we had two types of bats: those who were flying and carrying their books with them, and those who were upside-down and reading. Therefore, the books were either dangling below (held by invisible feet) or in the bats’ wings as they read them upside-down.

My team member got creative:

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It gave variety to the bats and looked great. But. From the moment I saw some like that I had an internal whine of&nbsp;<strong><em>but…they can’t fly if they’re holding onto the books like that!&nbsp;</em></strong>

<em>YES I KNOW THAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT INFLATABLE BASEBALLS AS BATS! But apparently I have some sort of crazy logic when it comes to this.</em>

It took me a few days to make peace with this very valid/fun artistic choice – and I’m beyond thrilled with how everything turned out. I just felt the need to share this since it’s honest even if it is a little crazy.

We did have a scavenger hunt, but it was rather complex (involving word scrambles), and had a mediocre response (I’d guess because of the complexity). But we tried something different, and now we know to keep things on the simple side.

I’ve gotta say that we had a really good response from this theme. I was beyond tickled by the numbers of both kids and adults who would come in, look up, and then laugh when they got the joke. Quite a few told us that they thought it was really cute. It’s a rarity to get comments on our decor, so it’s a thrill when even one person compliments us (even if it’s not directly).

And that’s about it!

Please let me know if you have any questions about this. This was a pretty wordy post about a pretty simple theme, so I know that there’s a good chance that I missed sharing something. Oh – and I’d love to know if any of you decide to use this theme at your library!

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