Saturday, May 28, 2011

27th May Lynn Sweat (1934)

Lynn Sweat is an artist and writer who is best known to young readers as the man who creates the illustrations to the "Amelia Bedelia" books. These were started by Peggy Parish, but she ended the series after a decade. Amelia's adventures were then restarted by Parish's nephew, Herman Parish, for a new generation of readers. Sweat has illustrated the entire series, much to the approval of both critics and readers. The children who use the library still enjoy Amelia Bedelia even though I think of them as old-fashioned. Lynn Sweat feels that these days his illustration work is secondary to his work as an artist from which he makes his living.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

26th May Adrienne Kennaway (1945)

Adrienne Kennaway was born in New Zealand, grew up in Kenya and now lives in Ireland. While living in Africa she developed an interest in drawing and wildlife and most of her books therefore are about wildlife and the best selling ones, about African wildlife. She illustrates Mwenye Hadithi's alliteratively-titled African animal stories which explain a certain aspect of each animal's behaviour. Crafty Chameleon won her the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1987, but the children I teach like Hungry Hyena and Greedy Zebra best when asked to vote for their favourite. She also is the illustrator of Miriam Moss' series This is the..., the most recent being This is the Mountain, as well as a few animal stories that she has authored herself, such as An Otter's First Swim.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

24th May Brother's Day

It is interesting that today is designated as Brother's Day because with my enrichment group today the word 'brother' was a topic of discussion because one of the group had read Gerald Rose's book How St Frances Tamed the Wolf and in the text St Francis called the wolf, Brother Wolf and she wanted to know why. A very fruitful discussion followed about how words could have meanings other than their literal one or common one and that they could also have 'shades of meaning'. I thought this of particular interest because the group of children were all five or six years old.

On the subject of brothers, in the more regular sense, my favourite books are Penny Dale's Big Brother, Little Brother and Margaret Mahy's The Seven Chinese Brothers. None of these three books are new, but all are well worth searching a library for.

Monday, May 16, 2011

16th May Love a Tree Day

Today the new library that I work in opened to the parents and children for the first time! It was a wonderful day, full of compliments, appreciative users and a renewed enthusiasm for the joy that my job can bring. You may remember that I started keeping this blog because I knew that it would be the last year in the space the library was in. The K - 12 school that I teach at was restructuring its two campuses and the Early Childhood and Primary School were going to be on one site and the secondary school on the other. Initially, discussions occurred pondering amalgamating the Junior School Library and the Early Childhood Library, then housing them adjacent to each other but operating separately. I was keen to stay on ground level so that families with prams had access to the library and eventually this is what happened. In the new purpose-built Early Childhood facility a space was designated 'library'. I was excited because while the space I was in was functional, cosy and easily managed it was cramped and so crowded at times that accidents occurred. It would be so good to have shelves that were not groaning, a work space with more than two chairs and bench space wide-enough to cover books, room for a lounge and child-height displays. Well five terms later we have it and it is truly wonderful. We have all of those things and and natural light in abundance and through those windows we have my favourite things...trees! And at the moment it is Autumn and those trees are losing their leaves. Soon they will be bare and then the children and I will be able to watch them sprout buds and bloom again, an everchanging vista. So as you can see Love a Tree Day was the perfect day for the new library to become fully operational.

16th May Bruce Coville (1950)

American author Bruce Coville used to be a favourite author with my good Year 2 readers a few years ago. They read Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, one of his Magic Shop series and then went on to read the other four books. The same children read Araminta Spook by Angie Sage, Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi and the Far Flung Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. However since the advent of series such as Astrosaurs, Dinosaur Cove, Beast Quest, Rainbow Magic and the like, my best readers plough endlessly through this 'fodder' rather than sustain reading on longer more sophisticated plots, and while I am happy that they are reading, I am disappointed that because the very young readers have so many other pursuits vying for their leisure time they opt for the easier road. Hopefully they will meet them later in their reading timeline because the Magic Shop series which were first written over twenty years ago is well worth the effort.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

14th May International Migratory Bird Day

International Migratory Bird Day or World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of May, to draw attention to the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats.

This year’s theme is ‘Land use changes from a bird’s-eye view’ and aims to raise awareness of the effects of human land use on migratory birds. There is a trailer and a copy of this year's poster here.

I can think of many books that feature bird migration. Colin Thiele does Australian birds very well for Australian children's literature. Mary Small's Night of the Muttonbirds is worth a read too. When I was a child Dutch author Meindert de Jong, won the Newbery Medal with The Wheel on the School a wonderful story about migrating storks. Holly Keller's Grandfather's Dream has a similiar migrating stork theme to the De Jong story but is a picture book. And of course there is Paul Gallico's Snow Goose. Two other picture books about migrating geese that come to mind are John Birmingham's Borka and Father Goose by William Lishman.

Friday, May 13, 2011

13th May Bernadette Watts (1942)

English illustrator, Bernadette Watts comes to mind whenever I go in search of fairy tale books for teachers. She has done many of the better-known ones in large-formats that teachers can share easily and rewardingly with early childhood classes. They have colourful detailed illustrations that remind me of Brian Wildsmith... I just looked at her website and guess what Wildsmith taught her at art school!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

12th May International Nurses Day Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910)

International Nurses Day is the perfect time to celebrate the contribution these health-workers make to the community. It is celebrated on this day to commemorate the birth of English nurse, Florence Nightingale in 1820. Florence, so named because she was born in Florence, was famous for her work during the Crimean War and the tuition of her fellow nurses. She epitomised commitment and devotion to her patients and quality care, something nurses still aspire to today. She became known as 'the lady with the lamp' because she even tended to her patients at night by lamp light.

Florence was an educated woman and she disliked the lack of opportunity for females in her social circle. She began to visit the poor and look after those who were ill and although this was not seen as a noble act she persevered and came to raise the reputation of nursing as a role for women. There are many non-fiction children's books about nurses and Florence Nightingale in particular. Two that fit the bill are Florence Nightingale by Lucy Lethbridge, one of the titles in the Usborne series 'Famous Lives' and We Need Nurses one of the numerous books in a series about community workers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10th May Linda Glaser

Linda Glaser is an American author who understands how difficult it is for some children to learn to read. She says on her website that 'when I was a kid, I used to say I hated reading. That's because it was so hard for me. I struggled and struggled and sometimes feared I’d never get the hang of it. However, I loved books! Some of my fondest memories are of being read to by my mother. I still love being read to. But I did finally learn to read on my own - in third grade.' Linda has a keen interest in the environment and immigration and the themes of her books reflect this. Her books are not so easy to find in Australia, but my library has her long poem Our Big Home; An Earth Poem which is illustrated by Elisa Kleven and it is a gem. I hope Emma's Poem comes here too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

9th May Eleanor Estes (1906 - 1988) William Pene Du Bois (1916 - 1993) Richard Adams (1920) Roger Hargreaves (1935 - 1988)

So many birthdays today. Last year I wrote about J.M.Barrie, the author of Peter Pan and Harry Horse the author/illustrator of a delightful series of books about Little Rabbit. This year I want to mention all the others who have a birthday today.

Eleanor Estes is the American author of the classic book The Hundred Dresses. This story first published in 1944 is one of the first children's books that deals overtly with bullying, especially the exclusion kind that girls are so good at. She wrote other books for young readers, some of which were illustrated by the great English illustrator, Edward Ardizzone and are still in print.

William Pene Du Bois was born to French artists and he migrated to America, where he became both an author and illustrator. He won the Newbery Medal for his novel Twenty-one Balloons but in my early childhood library he is better known for his illustrations in the classic picture book William's Doll which was written by Charlotte Zolotow.

Richard Adams is the English author of the classic Watership Down, a story that very few of my clientele could read independently, but many know because of parents and movies. This story like so many of the best tales began as something Adams told to his daughters.

And last, but of course not least, it is Roger Hargreaves' birthday. He is the author/illustrator of those infamous Mr Men and Little Miss books that have spurned all sorts of marketing ventures. I am nort sure that we could call Mr Tickle a classic, but this first Mr Men book, created in answer to something Hargreaves' son Adam asked him as a child, has probably sold just as many copies as something such as Watership Down which has been labelled a classic.

Friday, May 6, 2011

7th May Nonny Hogrogian (1932) Peter Carey (1943)

Nonny Hogrogian is an American author/illustrator who has won the Caldecott Award twice, once for her very first book, Always Room For One More and secondly for One Fine Day, a retelling of an Armenian tale.

Peter Carey is an Australian novelist, best known for his adult novels which have won many awards. He has won the Booker Prize twice and the Miles Franklin Award three times, but he has written a children's novel, The Big Bazoohley, a story about nine year old pyjama-clad Sam who is locked out of the hotel room he is staying in with his parents. This story is such a success with children that it is a shame Carey hasn't written more for children in the way Tim Winton has.

Interestingly, Carey lives in New York and teaches at Hunter College and Nonny Hogrogian, who was born in New York is a graduate of Hunter College!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

4th May Don Wood (1945) Rod Campbell (1945) Doug Cushman (1953)

Don Wood is an American author illustrator best known for the many books he has collaborated on with his wife Audrey Wood. Everyone knows and loves the cumulative tale, The Napping House.

Doug Cushman is also American. He is an illustrator, best known in Australia probably for his Aunt Eater series of I Can Read books and his illustrations in Douglas Wood's 'The Can't Do' series, but I like to display the book of poems he illustrated for Jack Prelutsky What a Day it was at School!

And the third birthday belongs to the preschool book expert Rod Campbell. Every baby, toddler and school child has loved playing the guess-what-is-under-the-flap games that his books invite. Books such as Dear Zoo quietly teach children to look for patterns, to expect repetition, to enjoy rhythm and to know that books can be fun. And with this comes a need to repeat the experience. Rod campbell pioneered the interactive book and now children have so many interactive books, some very sophisticated, like the -ology books (eg. Egyptology, Oceanology), but Rod Campbell's still draw in the readers of the future.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3rd May Suekichi Akaba (1910 - 1990) Ian Whybrow (1961)

Suekichi Akaba is a Hans Christian Andersen award winning, Japanese -born illustrator who had the centenary of his birth last year. He said, A picture book is not a picture gallery. Displaying good pictures one by one will not make a good picture book. What is important is the flow and the drama created by turning the pages. How true this is! He was 50 when he had his first picture book published. This was based on an old folktale and his subsequent books continued to be based on folktales. I have read that his illustrations use many different kinds of Japanese paper, each fulfilling a specific function or communicating specific moods and that he liked bright colours, but I have only seen Suho's White Horse so I cannot say this for myself.

In contrast Ian Whybrow is a very contemporary children's author from Britain who has written many books and has other people illustrate them. He used to be an English teacher and he certainly seems to know what children enjoy to read. He is best known in my library because of Harry and the Dinosaurs but there are other books just as worthy of mention. I particularly like Little Wolf from Little Wolf's Book of Badness fame and his series of beginning novels known as Books for Boys. He has just released a new junior novel called Meerkat Madness which I am sure will be a hit with my readers because they all seem to be besotted with meerkats. The real ones at Taronga Zoo are pretty special and very funny!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

1st May Mother Goose Day! Daniel Kirk (1952)

Mother Goose Day is a day that I always try to plan something for because children do not know their nursery rhymes like they did when I first started teaching and because there are so many great language activities that you can do using nursery rhymes. I wrote about them on this day last year so I don't want to dwell on them here. I have bikes and New York on my mind because my daughter is riding in the Five Buro Bike Ride today and I am envious.

So today I want to highlight five books, with very tenuous links...they are about New York or bikes and one, The Magic Bicycle by Brian Patten and Arthur Robins even manages to include both! The others are:
This is New York by Miroslav Sasek
A Walk in New York by Salvatore Rubbino
Larry Gets Lost in New York City by Michael Mullin and John Skewes. Here a dog named Larry manages to visit all five buroughs of New York! and
The Magical Bicycle by Berlie Doherty and Christian Birmingham

P.S I have just learned that it is Daniel Kirk's birthday and as he is the author/illustrator of Library Mouse he should rate a mention. His website has good activities for this book so check it out.