Monday, October 20, 2014

24th October Monica Brown

Monica Brown writes fantastic picture book biographies of people with Latino heritage. I have four of them in my library and use them when we do a biography unit with Year 2 students. They give white Anglo children an insight into people from cultures they may know little about and they expose them to the Spanish language as well.

I often wondered why someone with a surname like "Brown" seemed so knowledgable about South America so I went searching. Her website enlightened me:

Monica's books are inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and desire to share Latino/a stories with children. "I write from a place of deep passion, joy, and commitment to producing the highest possible quality of literature for children. In my biographies, the lives of my subjects are so interesting and transformational that I am simply giving them voice for a young audience. I don't think it is ever too early to introduce children to the concepts of magical realism, social justice, and dreaming big!" 

It was also interesting to learn that Monica is a professor of English at Northern Arizona University, specialising in Latino Literature and Multicultural Literature. She also has written picture books that are not biographies. A particular favourite of mine is about a non-conformist girl called Marisol McDonald. She really makes me smile. Marisol is a Peruvian-Scottish-American girl who just doesn't match! I wonder how autobiographical the story is?  Below are her two books about Marisol and two of her biographies, a stunningly beautiful one about poet Pablo Neruda and her newest about Pablo Picasso.

Monica's website will show you all her books, give you resources for teaching, film clips, book trailers and a very quick way to get to know her work. I'm not sure when Monica was born. I have taken the date 24/10 from Eric at Happy Birthday Author.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

21st October Apple Day

I have written about Apple Day before, but when I started pulling books off the shelf for a display I realised there were many more than I had mentioned, especially if it was broadened to include books about apple pies. Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown is a newer title worth looking at and if you want to have fun with a class you can't go past The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky. Children love it.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

15th October Emma Chichester Clark (1955)

Just when you think Emma Chichester Clark can't possibly do anything better than she has already done she does something new that has you just staring with awe and wondering how she can keep doing such beautiful books. Just last month there was the new picture book Bears Don't Read which reviews say is a "story of friendship to power the imagination and encourage children (and bears!) towards a lifelong love of reading."

And this month Plumdog, a book which has evolved from Emma's blog about her dog Plum. I love the way she writes and draws about Plum putting words in his mouth about herself and their relationship.

Last weekend I met a friend at the local bookshop where her children were spending birthday money. I was browsing as a I always do, saying in my head that I am not to buy anything for the school library. Well I didn't but I fell in love with a book, Classic Shakespeare Verse selected by Gina Pollinger and guess what it was illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark. What a find...a quote for every occasion, and another classic to add to my ECC collection, along with Grimm's, Hans Christian Andersen, Alice and Pinocchio.







Happy birthday Emma Chichester Clark. I love your work!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

16th October World Dictionary Day

October 16, the birthday of Noah Webster, is World Dictionary Day. Show your appreciation for this most useful of reference books by celebrating Dictionary Day with children --learn some new words, learn how dictionaries came to be, spruce up your dictionary skills, or even create your own dictionary! Look here for lots of ideas on how to have fun with words.

In Australia we are more likely to use an Oxford, a Collins or a Macquarie dictionary than a Webster's, but nevertheless Webster is worth celebrating. There is Noah Webster and His Words  a picture book biography that will be in many libraries and it is an ideal way to introduce young children to Noah Webster. If this creates plenty of discussion you might like to also introduce students to the life of Peter Mark Roget, the thesaurus guru whose life is featured in this new book, The Right Word by Jen Bryant and with wonderful illustrations by Melissa Sweet.



Friday, October 3, 2014

4th October World Animal Day St Francis of Assisi


 World Animal Day is an international day of action celebrated annually on October 4, the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. It started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy who wished to highlight the plight of endangered species.

"Saint Francis of Assisi has always held a fascination for members of all faiths, and his story continues to inspire and motivate us more than seven hundred years after his death. Born into a wealthy family, he led a dissolute life as a young man. Then one day he had a conversion experience while passing a poor leper's hut. From that day on, Francis dedicated his life to helping the poor and outcasts of society and to teaching respect for all living things. He was joined by a noblewoman, Clare, who was soon known as Sister Moon to Francis's Brother Sun." (Amazon) He is responsible for the famous prayer that begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.", the Canticle of the Sun and many stories about how he tamed a wolf and talked to animals. 

Below is a collage of all the wonderful picture books that feature Saint Francis. Lots of well-known authors and illustrators have presented their view of this favoured saint. See Tomie dePaola, Brian Wildsmith, Fiona French, Pat Mora, Demi, Margaret Mayo, Reeve Lindberg and Katherine Patterson. You might even be able to find a favourite of mine, the very old and now out-of-print How St Francis Tamed the Wolf by Gerald Rose.


There are so many wonderful books about animals, including Walker's wonderful Nature Storybooks, anything by Steve Jenkins, those large, beautifully illustrated books with flaps by Francesco Pittau Gervais, anything fro National Geographic... World Animal Day is such a good excuse for a display in the library.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

3rd October World Smile Day

World Smile Day is celebrated on the first Friday in the month of October every year. The idea of World Smile Day was coined and initiated by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, MassachusettsHarvey Ball is known to have created the Smiley Face in 1963.[1] The World's first World Smile Day was held in the year 1999 and has been held annually since.
After Harvey died in 2001, the "Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation" was created to honour his name and memory. The slogan of the Smile Foundation is "improving this world, one smile at a time." The Foundation continues as the official sponsor of World Smile Day each year.
The message of the World Smile Day 2010 is "Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile." (Wikipedia)

This day makes me a little sad because my son finished high school and shortly after had that yellow smiley face tattooed onto his body, saying, "well no teacher ever gave me one so I got myself one!" I was devastated to know that teachers, their stamps and stickers or lack there of could have such dire effect on a child, and every time he takes his shirt off I am now reminded of the power of teachers.

I have put together a reading list of picture books that feature smiles before. See this entry, and I would like to add The Smile That Went Around the World by Patrice Karst, the author of that book all kindergarten teachers use called The Invisible String.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

31st August International Bat Night

The 18th International Bat Night will take place this weekend. The last weekend in August has been set aside to celebrate bats since 1997. While people who live with bats in their neighbourhood may not be that enamoured of them there are good reasons to ensure their continued existence. Although this may be questioned since the linking in the news of fruit bats and the Ebola outbreak. While this is supposedly an International event, it appears to be about preserving colonies of European bats and Australian Bat Night is celebrated in March.

The children I teach are nearly as interested in bats as they are in sharks, maybe because they fly but aren't birds and maybe because they are fascinated with the way they hang upside down and use echolocation. Consequently the library has nearly as many bat books as shark books. Of course the most popular stories are the series by Brian Lies that started with Bats in the Library, Janell Cannon's Stellaluna  for which we have toys or puppets, Jeanne Willis' Daft Bat and the very old Robert Dickins' Boris the Bat, but many of the non-fiction readers are just as popular. Nicola Davies' Bat Loves the Night, one of the Nature Storybooks series is one of my favourites. Below are the most popular titles.