Thursday, July 28, 2011

27th July Richard Cowdrey Parents' Day

Richard Cowdrey is the Americanillustrator responsible for making John Grogan's Marley, the dog that every young child wants to read about. Marley is mischievous and loveable at the same time and now there are a large number of picture books about him to choose from. Of course Cowdrey illustrates other things and has a lot of book covers to his credit too, but it is his Marley books that attract the children in my library.

I am not sure the children I teach think they need Parents' Day. 'Isn't Mothers Day and Fathers Day enough?' said one of my charmers once. But it is a good excuse to look at three books which make children laugh.
Wanted: Perfect Parents by John Kimmelman
My Mum and Dad Make Me Laugh by Nick Sharratt
Weird Parents by Audrey Wood

Saturday, July 23, 2011

24th July Amelia Earhart (1897 - 1939)

I have a daughter who has always been fascinated by flying. In primary school whenever there was a free-choice project, she would always do hers on something to do with flight and it always included a model that she made. Photos of one of these projects which was about Amelia Earhart made it to the regional newsletter for schools so no wonder she read everything she could get on Amelia then and since. My library had some picture books that she used to start off her research way back then. They were:
I Wish I Had Flown the Atlantic With Amelia Earhart by Leonie Young, Avril Jenks and Tohby Riddle
Amelia Earhart: Alone Across the Ocean by Leonie Young, Avril Jenks and Tohby Riddle
Mysterious Journey: Amelia Earhart's last Flight by Martha Wickham and David Lund

But now you can add some new ones:
You Can't Do That, Amelia! by Kimberly Wagner Klier and Kathleen Kemly
Flying Ace: The Story of Amelia Earhart by Angela Bull
Amelia Earhart: A Biography by Tanya Lee Stone
Night Flight by Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor

23rd July Patricia Coombs (1926)

When I read that it was Patricia Coombs' birthday I had yearnings for some new copies of her books about Dorrie the Little Witch. It is such a shame that they are out of print and unavailable in Australia. Recently I reluctantly threw out the three that the library still had. They were in such disrepair and so stained that no one would borrow them when there are so many newer, more attractive witch books. But, they certainly are not better stories. One year I had a class of third grade girls who couldn't get enough of Dorrie and Mildred, Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch. They devoured them. I never had all twenty titles but enough to endear Dorrie to my class. The fact that her hat was always crooked and her stockings didn't match meant she was 'a role model' they could aspire to.

Friday, July 22, 2011

22nd July Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976) Kady MacDonald Denton (1941)

Alexander Calder, known as Sandy, is the American sculptor who made mobiles famous. His father and grandfather were also Alexander and sculptors and his mother was a painter so it may have been inevitable that after initially studying engineering, Calder a brilliant mathematician became a sculptor who combined all his loves to make amazingly balanced mobiles and installations. There's not a lot of books around about Calder that are suitable for very young children, but he is one of the sculptors in 13 Sculptures Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel. There is a work of fiction, Sandy's Circus by Tanya Lee Stone. If you have children who like mobiles and want to read about them, see Counting Chickens by Flensted which isn't Calder, but those from Denmark.

Kady MacDonald Denton is the illustrator responsible for those very endearing bears in Bonny Becker's series of books. She is Canadian and writes as well as illustrates books. Another recent book that she has illustrated is Tim Wadham's The Queen of France. These authors are fortunate to have Kady heighten their profile.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

21st July Tug-of-War Day

What a great excuse to read Beverley Naidoo's fantastic story, The Great Tug of War about how a hare tricks hippo and elephant into a pulling contest with one another. There are many other versions of this story around, especially in beginning reading schemes, but this one is a short novella format which the children love and it uses the language of Botswana. It is perfect for the Book Week theme too, if you are looking for stories from Africa.

Interestingly, one of the books on the Early Childhood Book Week shortlist, The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies also has a tug of war, albeit an impromptu one. In this story the tall man is inadvertently locked outside his apartment with six of the babies and the cat, while
the other six babies are still in the apartment with the keys. He attempts to climb through the catflap and gets stuck. He asks the babies on both ends of him to pull and a tug of war ensues, obviously not the way to dislodge him. The preschoolers I have read the story to this week have found it very funny and had plenty of suggestions as to what he should have done! This amusing story by Tom Champion and his mother, Kilmeny Niland and illustrated by his aunt Deborah Niland is definitely worth reading to the very young.

Monday, July 18, 2011

19th July Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917)

Edgar Degas was a French realist painter and sculptor who is best known for his 'ballerinas' and because so many children, especially girls have an interest in ballet he has become the subject of many picture books. Choose from:
Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari (fiction)
Bijou, Bonbon and Beau: The Kittens Who Danced For Degas by Joan Sweeney and Leslie Wu (fiction)
Degas and the Little Dancer Laurence Anholt (fiction)
Dancing With Degas by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober (board book)
Edgar Degas: Paintings that Dance by Maryann Cocca-Leffler (non-fiction)
Edgar Degas: Dance Like a Butterfly by Angela Wenzel ( Adventures in Art series) (non-fiction)
And coming in September Little Ballerina: A Children's Book Inspired by Edgar Degas by Helene Kerillis and Lucie Albon. It too looks as if it could be good.

18th July Ai-Ling Louie (1949)

Today I put out a display of all the versions of Cinderella that I could find. I started with Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story From China and then collected all the others including fiction such as Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters and Cinder Edna. I was doing this display to go with our Book Week theme, 'One World Many Stories'. Then when I came home I saw that it was the birthday of the author of Yeh-Shen, Ai-Ling Louie. What a coincidence? It is hard to believe that this book is 25 years old either. It is an especially good starting point for looking at other versions of well-known European fairytales, as it is based on ancient Chinese manuscripts that were written a thousand years before the first European version. For a good review of the book see Papertigers. I'll take a photo of the books tomorrow, but meanwhile here are some of the books in the display.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

17th July National Zoo Keeper Week

National Zoo Keeper Week is of course American, but it would be good to have it here in Australia too. It is held during the third week of July each year to recognise the role of educators and wildlife ambassadors now that we need to protect and preserve our wildlife and vanishing habitats.

Even though these three books are not about preserving wildlife they are a fun way to look at zookeepers. Get them out to share with your children this week:
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. In this fun book the animals follow the zookeeper home unobserved and then have fun with his keys.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead. Here the animals visit the zookeeper, Amos McGee while he is off work because he is sick.
What's that Noise? by Mary and Robert Roennfeldt. This story about George, a hapless zookeeper who doesn't realise the animals are out of their pens is old now, but may be in your library. The pictures tell the story here, not the text.

16th July Eve Titus (1922 - 2002)

Eve Titus was the author of a large number of books which feature anthropomorphic mice. The most famous was Anatole, a French mouse. There were several picture books about Anatole, but only two remain in print, Anatole and Anatole and the Cat, both of which were Caldecott Honor Books in the years of their publication, 1956 and 1957. This series was illustrated by Paul Galdone. Anatole celebrated his fiftieth anniversary in 2006, so this classic of the 1950s appears dated and difficult to my children. Nevertheless, they have some appeal to older children and when being read by and discussed with an adult. Her other series featured a mouse detective, Basil of Baker Street who behaved somewhat like Sherlock Holmes.

15th July Cow Appreciation Day

I like that there is such a day as Cow Appreciation Day because I love getting out all the 'cow' fiction and putting together a display, with Sandra Boynton's cow puppet/book, Moo Cow Book as a centrepiece. There are so many picture books, but my all time favourite has to be the one that has been around the longest, The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky and Peter Spier. This story about a cow, Hendrika who lives on a farm on a canal near Amsterdam shows children what it is like to really want something and then have it not go perfectly.

Other picture books are:
Cow by Malachy Doyle and Angelo Rinaldi
Kiss the Cow! by Phyllis Root and Will Hillenbrand
The Best Cow in Show and The Cow that Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill and Russell Ayto
Hamish the Highland Cow by Natalie Russell
Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Meow Said the Cow by Emma Dodd

Chapter books:
• The very clever series Cows in Action (CIA) by Steve Cole
The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow! by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

15th July Rembrandt (1606 - 4/10/1669)

The Dutch painter Rembrandt features in many picture books suitable for prep-school-aged children, but most of them are like Jayne Woodhouse's Rembrandt van Rijn and will be found among the art books in the non-fiction section of the library. However, Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs by Molly Blaisdell and Nancy Lane is fiction and tells of the relationship between Rembrandt and his young son, Titus who wants to become a painter like his father. Initially Rembrandt refuses to help Titus, but he is enthusiastic and persistent and Rembrandt does teach him to draw. The book takes readers back to the Amsterdam of the mid seventeenth century.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

14th July Bastille Day

The 14th July is Bastille Day, the French
holiday that celebrates the storming of the Bastille which took place on 14th July, 1789. This date and occasion marked the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of absolute power for the reigning monarch, Louis the 16th. And although this concept is probably beyond the children I teach, they do learn French. It is the language taught to 3 to 8 year olds by very gifted teachers who make French live. The library has a large number of picture books in French. We have a box full of Madeleine books and another of Babar as well as books about France, but today I thought it would be good to highlight three more recent picture books that you may be less likely to know.

The Queen of France by Tim Wadham and Kady MacDonald Denton is not really about France at all, but about a very creative child, named rose who imagines herself a queen and her parents go along with the game.

Moi and Marie Antoinette by Lyn Cullen and Amy Young. This story is told by Marie Antoinette's dog and it concentrates on the princess's early life from a child in Austria up to her marriage to Louis XVI.

The Day We Danced in Underpants by Sarah Wilson and Catherine Stock. Here the King and Queen of France invite guests to picnic with them. A man has a clothing malfunction and his underwear is exposed. The result is very funny and an important lesson is learned from the embarrassing event.

13th July Hug Week begins

The PBS reading calendar says that today is the beginning of Hug Week. How appropriate. I have had so much fun this term with my preschool classes reading Hugless Douglas by David Melling whose books I love. This book elicited lots of talk about hugs and how nice they are as well as lots of miming of the types of hugs illustrated on the rear endpages. And just as we were sharing this book the sequel about Douglas and his hat, Don't Worry Douglas! became available in the shops so we had to read it too. It had a very real childhood dilemma for the children to discuss. What would you do if you broke or damaged something that had just been given to you by your father? It was interesting what the children decided. It gave me a real insight into how they thought and the relationship they had with their fathers.

One of the children asked if there were anymore 'hug' books so we went off in search of some. I was surprised to find so many. Here are some:
Hug by Jez Alborough
Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell
The Perfect Hug by Joanna Walsh & Judi Abbot
Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland
Too Hot to Hug by Steve Smallman & Cee Biscoe