Wednesday, December 12, 2018

13th December World Violin Day

Unfortunately there is no one at school to celebrate Violin Day. We are already on summer holidays, but at my school all of Year 2 take part in a 'strings program' where they learn to play the violin or cello. When they first begin, being in the room next door at school, is excruciating but by the time the end of year concert comes round I am amazed at how good they sound, so next year when the Year 2 students are allocated their new instrument I am going to do a display in the library of all these wonderful 'violin' books.
Patrick by Quentin Blake. When Patrick plays his violin extraordinary things happen.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss and Marjorie Priceman among other things this is a fun introduction to the orchestra
A Violin for Elva by Mary Lyn Ray and Tricia Tusa. Elva wants a violin but her parents say no.
The Pear Violin by Bingo and Gumi. A clever squirrel turns half a pear into a violin and makes beautiful music in the forest.
Hana Hashimoto: Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng. Hana has had three violin lessons when she decides to enter a talent quest.
The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson and Dusan Petricic tells the story of Joshua Bell, a famous classical violinist who gave a free concert in a subway in Washington.
The Violin Man  by Colin Thompson is about Oscar who plays his violin outside a theatre but longs to play inside the theatre.
The Anzac Violin by Jennifer Beck and Robyn Belton is the true story of New Zealand soldier, Alexander Aitken who took his violin everywhere he went.
Ada's Violin by Susan Hood and Sally Were Comport tells the amazing story of a group of children who play musical instruments built from recycled rubbish in Paraguay.
The Magic Violin by Victor Kelleher. Jimbo plays the violin just like Year 2 do at the beginning...terribly.
Kizmet and the Case of the Smashed Violin  by Frank Woodley is a short chapter book that has Kizmet trying to find out who is smashed a priceless Stradivarius violin.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

11th December International Mountain Day

The theme for 2018 International Mountain Day is Mountains Matter. The website states

'Considering the crucial role they play in providing key ecosystem goods and services to the planet and their vulnerability in the face of climate change, we need to step up and raise attention to mountains.'

To raise attention of anything, I turn to books and in particular picture books so here I want to highlight two, an old one and a new one.

Mountain Dance by Thomas Locker (2001)  This poetic text is accompanied by intense oil paintings that reveal geological details from the base to the tip of mountains. It is accompanied by Water Dance and Cloud Dance but stands alone as a testament to the beauty of mountains. We turned these books into a dance performance for a K -2 school concert. It was stunning.

• Mountains of the World by Dieter Braun (2018) This is a beautifully detailed and illustrated collection of the mountains of the world, part of the new range from Flying Eye Books.

If you haven't access to these two books in your library, of course there are others which will help children be enthralled by mountains. These two will help:

How Mountains are Made by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Mountains  by Seymour Simon

If you want to be more specific, these two books allow students to 'feel' the Himalayas:

The Top of the World Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins
Our Village in the Sky by Janeen Brian and Anne Spudvilas

And for two new stories with magnificent illustrations

Up the Mountain by Marianne Dubuc
Secrets of the Mountain by Libby Walden and Richard Jones

Sunday, November 25, 2018

13th November World Kindness Day

On the days before 13th November, I couldn't get into my blog and I wasn't feeling 'kind' towards my computer at all and then I went away. Now I'm back and I can once again get into my blog. Not sure what was going on. I had collected together the books I wanted to mention, so I'm doing it now ready for next year.

World Kindness Day is celebrated on the 13th November because this was when it came to be in 1998.

The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion; and realise we are citizens of the world. As world citizens we have a commonality, and must realise that if progress is to be made in human relations and endeavours, if we are to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence, we must focus on what we have in common. When we find likenesses we begin to experience empathy, and in such a state we can fully relate to that person or those people. While we may think of people from other cultures as being ‘different’ when we compare them with our own customs and beliefs, it doesn’t mean that we are any better than they are. When we become friends with someone from a different culture we discover that despite some obvious differences, there are many similarities.

There are so many picture books that could be used in classrooms to support this purpose. Any book that encourages us to think deeply about others, any book that encourages us to empathise with others, any book that makes us question our role and others' role in the world, any book that makes us feel uncomfortable about our position in the world, any book that causes us to pause...

I have written about this day before and focussed on books for young children about being kind, but today I just want to share some new titles that have been added to the library that will encourage you to pause and think.

24th November Fairy Bread Day

The 24th November is Fairy Bread Day everywhere, but it means more to Australians because fairy bread is native to Australia — something we can all be very proud of. 

Fairy bread is sliced white bread spread with margarine or butter and covered with hundreds and thousands, which adhere to the bread. It is typically cut into two triangles. It dates back to the 1920s in Australia, and is first recorded in The Hobart Mercury, which describes children consuming the food at a party. It continues to be popular at children's birthday parties and every Australian adult will have fond memories of fairy bread parties. A dear friend of mine actually has her birthday on the 24th November so I'm sure she'll be having fairy bread parties for quite some time yet. 

If you are reading a book set in Australia and a birthday is celebrated there may well be mention of fairy bread, but Ursula Dubosarsky took the iconic Australian party food and made it the focus of a whole book for beginning readers. Becky wants lots of fairy bread at her party, but there is too much. It is amazing all the things she thinks to do with it. For the readers in my library it is a favourite in the Nibbles series. 

Another beginning novel that is out of print but likely to be in many Australian school libraries is Bob the Builder and the Elves by Gillian Rubinstein. In this delightful story messy Bob has elves who clean for him and when they leave they leave him fairy bread to eat. He wants these elves gone from his house and enlists the help of his friendly neighbour, librarian Lily Sweet. Even some of the boys at school enjoy this story. Blake Education has teaching activities to go with this book.

There must be other Australian stories that feature fairy bread. Can you think of any? Interestingly the most iconic Australian book featuring food, Possum Magic doesn't feature it.

The name 'fairy bread' supposedly came about from a line in a poem, Scottish-born novelist  Robert Louis Stevenson published in 1885. It is poem 37 in 

A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods. 

37. Fairy Bread
COME up here, O dusty feet!
  Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
  Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom         
  And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

7th November Diwali

Today Diwali is being celebrated in Australia. This is the festival of lights, one of the most celebrated festivals in India. It has many beautiful traditions attached to it it and the children in Year 1 at school who are celebrating festivals this term enjoy this one immensely. They make lamps, design rangoon with coloured chalk on the playground and enjoy Indian sweets. For this reason the library now has a good collection of books to spread among the four classes. Among them are these:

Friday, November 2, 2018

3rd November Jellyfish Day

It is Jellyfish Day! This event is meant to honour our slightly slimy counterparts that can sometimes cause a bit of consternation at the beach.
It is celebrated in springtime, as this is the season when jellyfish will begin their migration to the shores of the northern hemisphere. Although an apparently very simple invertebrate they are beautiful creatures, that fascinate students and allow for some very creative artwork.

I have written about this day before here, but today I was reading about them again and marvelling at them in these pictures that show very clearly that they are not all the same.

And, one of the most popular series in the library at the moment is about an unlikely friendship between a narwhal and a jellyfish, Ben Clanton's Narwhal and Jelly series. Books 1 to 3 are available and Book 4 will be here in February. Also I just bought a set of puppets so the students can make up their own Narwhal and Jelly conversations.

3rd November World Numbat Day

The numbat is one of those unique Australian animals. I know we have so many and this is not one that students generally know a lot about, so why not celebrate World Numbat Day? This website tells students what they need to know and shows them visually what makes them special. As well look for these in your school library  to use for a display and student reading.