Tuesday, June 22, 2010

24th June John Ciardi (1916 - 1986) Kathryn Lasky (1944)

John Ciardi was an American poet who published over forty volumes of poetry. He is known to teachers and children because many of his poems were written for children. The best known of them, such as Mummy Slept Late and Daddy Fixed Breakfast; The Reason for the Pelican; and About the Teeth of Sharks are humorous, often absurd and depend heavily on wordplay. Ciardi believed in poetry for the masses and not only for the scholarly. He began writing children's poetry in order to get his own children interested in reading. He inherently knew that children respond to rhythm, rhyme, humour and everyday themes. Many children's poetry anthologies include poems by Ciardi, but a good starting point is For Laughing Out Loud: poems to tickle your funnybone an anthology of poems selected by Jack Prelutsky.

Kathryn Lasky is an American author who has a wide repertoire, writing novels, series and picture books. Two picture books in my library that I particularly like are Humphrey, Albert and the Flying Machine and The Librarian Who Measured the Earth. The first is a fractured fairytale which includes brothers Humphrey and Albert, a princess, Briar Rose, a hundred year sleep, kissing to break a curse and the inventor Daniel Bernoulli (of the Bernoulli Effect). Science meets fairytale! The second combines history, geography and librarianship as it is about the Greek philosopher and scientist, Eratosthenes who becomes the chief librarian of Alexandria.

A True Person by Gabiann Marin and Jacqui Grantford is the title for Refugee Week. It is the story of Zallah, a young girl who arrives in Australia by boat and finds herself, with her mother, in a detention centre. The story is told from Zallah's point of view, which enables young readers to empathise with her and to imagine being in her position. Reading this story with a class enables you to introduce the concept of detention centres and their history for child refugees in Australia. It also allows for meaningful discussion about what constitutes a 'true person'.

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