Tuesday, August 30, 2011

31st August Erica S. Perl

Today is Erica S. Perl's birthday, she of Chicken Butt fame!

Holey moley, I think it is funny how I can be so besotted by an animal I have never seen. In Australia we do not have moles, but pictures and literature make them seem so endearing, despite their bad eyesight, and the fact that they are nocturnal and live underground. Maybe you can be besotted by wombats or bilbies if you live in a country that doesn't have them! Recently I discovered Roslyn Schwartz's The Mole Sisters and wished I had known them for longer and as separate books rather than a bindup of all ten stories in one book. This book obviously added to my besottedness which had already begun and been fuelled by books such as Vanessa Cabban's mole in Jonathan Emmett's four books, one for each season: Diamond in the Snow; Bringing Down the Moon; The Best Gift of All and No Place Like Home and Rosalind Beardshaw's mole in David Bedford's two mole stories, Mole's in Love and Mole's Babies and of course the beautiful mole in Jeanne Willis and Sarah Fox-Davies' Mole's Sunrise. This got me thinking display and buy puppets. I have purchased two of the finger puppets that accompany The Mole Sisters and we already have the mole puppet that accompanies the Gustav Mole musical stories by Kathryn Meyrick that come from Childsplay, and now I can put together a display. Of course I will add the other mole stories that are in the library:
* Mouse, Mole and the Falling Star by A.H.Benjamin and John Bendall-Brunello
* One Mole Digging by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt
* Mole's Hill by Lois Ehlert
* Mole and the Baby Bird by Marjorie Newman and Patrick Benson
* The Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch
* Holey Moley by Marcus Pfister
There are some chapter books to add as well as Wind in the Willows
* Little Gentleman by Philippa Pearce
* Meet the Molesons and four other titles about the Molesons, a family of moles by Burny Bos and Hans de Beer

Monday, August 29, 2011

29th August More Herbs Less Salt Day

This morning one of the Kindergarten teachers came into the library to get books about growing herbs. Her class had grown bulbs successfully and their daffodils had been harvested so they were looking to start the growing process again. We have an abundance of gardening and 'growing' books so it wasn't hard to satisfy her request. I was amazed to read this afternoon, though that it was More herbs Less Salt Day. What a coincidence! This day sounds like it was instigated by the Heart Foundation, but whoever it was it is a good plan. Here are some of the books that helped this morning.

29th August Joseph Jacobs (1854 - 1916)

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, the renowned author, folklorist, and reteller of English fairytales, Joseph Jacobs was born in Australia to English immigrant parents. He attended Sydney Grammar School where he was school captain in 1871 and then studied at Sydney University before leaving Australia to study at Cambridge. This was news to me so more should be made of this in Australia. He wrote at length about Jewish literary concerns and published books of fables and fairytales.

Jacobs was concerned that English children were growing up with French (Perrault) and German (Grimm) fairytales. His books meant that children came to see some of the fairytales as being 'English'. Tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk; The Three Bears; The Three Pigs; Henny Penny; and Tom Thumb became well known and other lesser known ones such as The Three Sillies; Teeny-Tiny Woman and Tom Tit Tot were only found in English collections. Our library has Edward Ardizzone's English Fairy Tales which pays homage to Joseph Jacob's contribution to English children's folklore.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

25th August Charles Ghigna (1946) Lane Smith (1959)

Two birthdays of note today as well as Ian Falconer who I wrote about last year. It is American poet Charles Ghigna's birthday and American illustrator/author Lane Smith's birthday too.

Charles Ghigna (aka Father Goose) is the award-winning poet responsible for some absolute favourite children's poems...

What's A Poem?

A whisper,
a shout,
thoughts turned
inside out.

A laugh,
a sigh,
an echo
passing by.

A rhythm,
a rhyme,
a moment
caught in time.

A moon,
a star,
a glimpse
of who you are.

Wild Romance

I love ewe.
I'm not lion.
I really gopher you.
I never gnu this would happen.
You are so deer to me.
It's more than I can bear.
Let us seal our love with a kiss.
I will always bee yours.
I will never have any egrets.
You are my one and only gull.
Owl always love you.

Note all the things that can be used for teaching. The vocabulary and wordplay is wonderful.

Lane Smith is the illustrator who brought us that book that is destined to be a classic one day...It's a Book. Hopefully books won't have to fight with technology, but will continue to live alongside it, bringing pleasure to many new readers. I see this pleasure on a daily basis in the library watching my 3 to 8 year olds pore over books, carry them around, hug them and finally read them before rushing back to the library to repeat that pleasure with another book. Previous to this book Lane Smith has worked collaboratively with Jon Scieszka and other authors on many memorable books. I particularly like Seen Art? It is easy to make the focus of an art unit of work or display. And last year Lane Smith illustrated a chapter book for literary legend Judith Viorst, Lulu and the Brontosaurus.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

23rd August Melvin Berger (1927)

On the Scholastic website it says this about Melvin Berger

Melvin Berger was born in 1927 and grew up during the Great Depression. While his parents struggled to keep food on the table, they encouraged their son to develop his talents with whatever resources were available, and young Melvin found escape from daily troubles in playing music and reading all the books in the local library. In college he studied electrical engineering as well as music, and afterwards played viola professionally before getting a Master's degree in music education. His first book for children, Science and Music, combined his interests perfectly, and set the stage for a long career writing fascinating nonfiction for young people.

Melvin certainly was versatile and no wonder he seems to write non-fiction in a way that you can't help but be interested. So many of the good non-fiction books written for the very young are authored by Melvin alone or together with his wife.We have books from each of these non-fiction series:
•Let's Read and Find Out Science
• Scholastic Question and Answers
• Scholastic True or False

Saturday, August 20, 2011

19th August National Potato Day

Sadly, Potato Day is an American national day, but never mind I did a quick display using all the potato books in the library and at the end of the day only two were still in the library and they were nonfiction information books about potatoes and how they are grown and used. I put out together with expository texts about potatoes:
* One Potato by Diana Pomeroy, a lovely counting book which also includes a section about potato printing and how to do it.
* The Potato People by Pamela Allen. This story about Jack and his grandma is fun and includes the inspiration to make people from potatoes as a craft activity on a rainy day.
* The Best Chip by Kate Leake is a fun read with illustrations reminiscent of Lauren Child.
* Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato, an Irish folktale by Tomie de Paola.
* Potato Joe by Keith Baker. Who can resist these illustrations? It was the first to go!
* The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis is a spin-off of The Enormous Turnip using a potato instead of a turnip as the vegetable.
* Math Potatoes by Greg Tan, a book that uses visual tricks with vegetables and food to show readers how to make maths faster and easier.

20th August Jeff Brown (1926 - 2003) National Bookshop Day Children's Book Week

Today is the first of what is to be an annual event in Australia, National Bookshop Day. Each bookshop will celebrate in its own way. They will host activities such as author visits, book signings, children's fun and just generally let it be known that they are an important part of each local community and or shopping precinct and that the staff there can help you in a way that a website cannot. It is a great time to have it as it is also the beginning of Children's Book Week, the longest running children's book event in Australia. This week is run by the Children's Book Council of Australia. It celebrates the children's books that were published in Australia last year, in particular the winning titles and the ones that made the shortlists, but it also allows schools, libraries and bookshops to celebrate children's books in general and to organise some memorable events for children. My school is having a classroom expo based on the theme One World Many Stories and as we have just moved into new classrooms this year it will be the ideal time to show the rooms off as it is combined with Grandparents' Day.

It is Jeff Brown's birthday. He is the author of the series of books about Stanley who is flattened when the painting hanging on the wall above his bed falls and flattens him. The concept of One World Many Stories ties in very well with Jeff Brown's well-loved books about Flat Stanley as many teachers all over the world have been involved in sending cutouts of the character, Flat Stanley on to other schools in another country where that class writes about where Stanley is and then sends him on. This project was started by Dale Hubert in Canada. The original book was illustrated by Tomi Ungerer, but the tiles available for purchase now are illustrated by Scott Nash and the original even comes in picture-book format as well as the chapter book. New titles are still arriving in bookshops even though Jeff Brown died in 2003. They are written by other authors and are known as Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

18th August Joan Carris

Today is the birthday of
Joan Carris an American author. She has written the series of books known as Bed and Biscuit. Presently there are three books in the series and they are very suitable for the Year 1 and 2 able readers. The series centres around Grampa Bender who runs the Bed and Biscuit, an animal boarding house. Living there are Ernest the pig, Gabby the mynah bird and Milly the cat. Into the mix arrives Sir Walter a puppy and the original animals worry that Grampa's affections have moved. The series has very endearing illustrations by Noah Z. Jones.

17th August Myra Cohn Livingston (1926 - 1996)

Myra Cohn Livingston is a very well known American poet and poetry anthologist who also did many other things that give reason for us to revere her highly.

Recently I read Can You Hear the Sea? by Judy Cumberbatch and Ken Wilson-Max and shared this Myra Cohn Livingston poem.


When it was time
for Show and Tell,
Adam brought a big pink shell.

He told about
the ocean roar
and walking on the sandy shore.

And then he passed
the shell around.
We listened to the water sound.

And that's the first time
I could hear
the wild waves calling to my ear.

I also love to revisit her poem Give Me a Book, a poem that explains my idyllic school-holiday childhood and her anthology Cat Poems because it has many of my favourite cat poems. There is a beautifully illustrated version of her poem Calendar by Will Hillenbrand, but this doesn't work in Australia because all the season references are for the northern hemisphere.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

16th August Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (1914 - 2000) Marchette Chute (1909 - 1994) Eileen Spinelli (1942)

This is the birthday of poets! Each of these three women has written poetry that school children should remember, recite and revisit. I wrote about Beatrice Schenk de Regniers last year here.

Marchette Chute is an American author who is well known as the author of biographies about other writers such as Shakespeare, Chaucer and Ben Jonson. While these are for older audiences, she is also a children's poet. Her verses are usually short ideal for handwriting practice, vocabulary discussion and teaching rhyme with very young children.
See examples such as these:

My Family
Part of my family is grown up tall.
Part of my family is little and small.
I'm in the middle and pleased with them all.

Squelch and squirt and squiggle,
Drizzle and drip and drain-
Such a lot of water
Comes down with the rain!

The third poet, also American, is Eileen Spinelli. She is responsible for many collections of poems published in picture book format. Her website has a section entitled 'Poem of the Month' so that each time you visit you will find something new. I love her collection of poems, Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savour as I have a collection of teapots and love to make a cup of tea and read. The children at school love Sophie's Masterpiece, a story about a spider who is devoted to her webmaking craft and The Best Story, a book to help when discussing writing and what to put in a story, but she is probably best known for her story, Somebody Loves You, Mr Hatch about a community working together to make someone feel valued.

Monday, August 15, 2011

15th August RSPCA Cupcake Day

Today is Cupcake Day, a fundraiser for the RSPCA, a wonderful Australian organisation that looks after the welfare of animals. It is a good excuse to get out some cooking books, be they recipe books such as the Women's Weekly Cupcakes and Fairycakes, books that combine recipes and story or stories that involve cake making.
In my library we have two new books that combine story and recipes:
1. My Grandma's Kitchen by Louise Fulton Keats. This book is authored by the legendary Australian cook, Margaret Fulton's granddaughter. It is a beautiful book, with exquisite endpapers, 'scrapbook-like' artwork and recipes from her grandma's kitchen. It would be the perfect gift for any grandchild or grandma.
2. The Fairies Cupcake Ball a book in the Flossie Crums series by Helen Nathan. Although I am not a fan of the artwork in this series, the idea is novel and young girls do seem to like them.
And just because they are about cupcakes:
1. Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser
2. Ruby's Cupcakes by Rosemary Wells
or making cakes:
1. It's My Birthday by Helen Oxenbury

Thursday, August 11, 2011

11th August Steven Kroll (1941 - 2011)

I wrote about Steven Kroll last year, but sadly he didn't get to celebrate his birthday this year. He died on 8th March, aged 69.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

9th August Jose Aruego (1932)

Last August, 9th I wrote about four stalwarts of children's literature, P.L.Travers, Tove Jansson, Seymour Simon and Nick Sharratt, but I didn't know that it was also the birthday of Jose Aruego. A Filipino-born illustrator, he has been a favourite since I first shared Leo the Late Bloomer and Milton the Early Riser with children. Subsequently, I have learned that he has many more gems to his credit and that he now lives in New York, not the Philippines. Although his characters amuse and do humorous things, Aruego takes his writing and drawing for children very seriously. He says that 'he feels he is still learning his craft and getting to know his audience. Each project teaches me something new and makes me a better artist. Each book brings me closer to children.'

Aruego's most well-known books are probably those that are written by Robert Kraus and illustrated with his ex-wife Ariane Dewey, but he has also worked with Judy Sierra, Crescent Dragonwagon and Joseph Bruchac, the writer who has written about his Abenaki Native Indian heritage.