Thursday, July 2, 2015

4th July Alice Anniversary

The fourth of July marks the anniversary of the day in 1862 when Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)  and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the Isis River with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. The middle daughter was ten year old Alice. During the journey Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a girl named Alice who goes looking for adventure. The next day he started writing the story down.  Several versions and trips later on 26th November, 1864 Dodgson gave a handwritten manuscript to Alice  as a Christmas present. Then in 1865 it was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with illustrations by John Tenniel, so this year marks its 150 anniversary.

The story has become more popular with age as its fantasy world of peculiar anthropomorphic creatures, its structure and narrative course have undertaken much analysis and literary criticism and have thus its characters and imagery have influenced popular culture and literature. There are hundreds of versions available to children and adults. They range from preschool versions such as the board book by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver, through many of the abridged versions by publishers such as Usborne and Ladybird, picture book versions such as the one by Eric Puybaret,  beautifully illustrated versions by renowned illustrators such as Antony Browne, Emma Chichester Clark, Lizbeth Zwerger, Helen Oxenbury and Robert Ingpen right through to annotated versions such as Elucidating Alice for adults and spoofs such as Fifty Shades of Alice. It has inspired musicals, films, stage productions, sculptures, artworks and gardens.

I have collected all the versions in the library and put together a celebratory display. (Photo to come)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

25th June Books Light Up Our World

The school holidays have begun, but my planning for next term has begun too. Next term we will celebrate Book Week in Australia and I am programming for lessons and planning the library displays. The theme is Books Light Up Our World. Initially I thought this was a hard theme to get across to under 8s, but the more I mind mapped and explored 'light' the more tangents I went off on. There were all the picture books that featured moonlight and the sun. There were folktales that featured the sun. There were fairytales such as Aladdin that had lamps. There were all the stories associated with festivals such as Divali, New Year, Hannukah, Easter and the Pascal candle. There were wonderful biographies about people such as Florence Nightingale and her lamp, Farnsworth and the invention of television, Edison and Franklin. There are hundreds of nonfiction possibilities to do with sources of light -  'light', 'fire', 'sun', 'stars' etc.

Our school's motto is 'Let Your Light Shine', so then I went off on all the possibilities to do with this and how students could read books that allowed them to follow up with actual practical acts of kindness, helpfulness or a display of their own talents.

Just where to go and how to keep it contained? While doing the bulk loans for classrooms I removed anything that remotely fitted the theme and ended up with piles and piles of books, some of which hadn't left the library for quite a while. I couldn't believe how many picture books had a 'torch' on the cover and even more with one inside!  (see my Pinterest page) Add to that all the First Discoveries Torchlight books and the new series of Shine-a-Light books by Carron Brown and I was really excited about the possibilities.

One of the picture books that I found was  Wonderful Life by Helen Ward. It had been borrowed only once so I sat and read it to find out why it hadn't been more popular. After all, the illustrations were glorious. This is the story of Snutt, a creature who is desperate to explore all worlds, see new things and travel more than any of his kind. It really is  a story that epitomises the theme! It is about creativity, friendship, the environment and following your dreams. I will certainly be promoting it. The vocabulary is worth discussing. What are 'euphoric florifors', tufters' and 'flewimols'? Illustrations such as this one would make a fantastic See Think Wonder discussion. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

21st June Meerkats

The meerkat toy is the most borrowed toy in the library. I bought it to go with Emily Gravett's Meerkat Mail,  but now Richard Byrne's Millicent and Meer and Jan Latta's Mia the Meerkat are borrowed just as much.

20th June Lemurs

Because skunks (14th June) and sloths (20th October) have their own days on which to celebrate and lemurs and meerkats don't at this stage I plan to share the wonderful picture books available to accompany the cuddly toys available for these two interesting animals. Firstly lemurs - the two most recent have great pictures and are such fun.

Follow Me  by Ellie Sandall
Lemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmas

14th June Skunk Day

There are no skunks, sloths, meerkats or lemurs in Australia, but toys and picture books have certainly made them popular animals with the children that frequent the library. We have just purchased Mac Barnett and Patrick McDonnell''s new book The Skunk to add to the books that can go home with the skunk toy and it went home the first day it was on display, Skunk Day!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

9th June Molly Idle

Today while shelving a large number of textless books that we have been using this term as part of a wide-reading contract (if completed the reward is lunch with the principal in the secret garden on the roof), I stopped to peak once again at Molly Idle's beautiful books about Flora and her interactions with a flamingo and a penguin. I wondered when her birthday was so that I could include her in my birthday celebration calendar. I came home to google her and 'lo and behold' Eric from Happy Birthday Author had written about her today because it is her birthday tomorrow. How freaky is that! I will just send you to his website and here you will get all you need, and you will see that Molly Idle has so much on      offer picture-book wise.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

30th May Puffin Day

As far as I know there is no such thing as Puffin Day. I'm instigating one! It was Puffin Fest in Scotland from the 15th - 25th May. I have a good friend who is off hunting puffins in Scotland at the moment. She has seen some, sat in a bus stop decorated with puffin paraphernalia and written about her adventures. I can't help but feel a little jealous. Then yesterday I bought a new puffin picture book and thought about my friend as I did so, to add to the library's already extensive collection - The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young. This book will really make you smile. The puffin in the story shares an exhibit at the zoo with penguins and has to listen to the visitors talk about him as 'that kooky little penguin', 'that funny-looking penguin' etc, and he is on a mission to make the visitors read and take note of his characteristics and how different he is from the penguins. It is a fun way to learn about the differences and to learn about an arctic bird that children in Australia are not likely to see. The reader gets the puffin's point of view. He is persuasive and it mixes graphics, speech bubbles for the visitors and text for the puffin's thoughts. Lots to talk about, use for teaching and just fun to read! See the trailer here.

Next week I'll get the library's books and puffin toy out, we'll celebrate puffins and practise using the word 'auk'! I love that word!