Friday, January 28, 2011
Lloyd Alexander was an award-winning American author who was best known for writinf fantasies such as the Prydain Chronicles which began with The Book of Three. These chronicles are set in an enchanted kingdom which is something like Wales as he was researching Wales mythology for another book when he had the idea for these. He wrote novels and only two picture books which were also about Prydain, none of which are suitable for my clientele or in my library, but if you teach older children and you like fantasy or want a change from Susan Cooper or Madeleine L'Engle you will enjoy Lloyd Alexander.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Percy Trezise was a remarkable Australian. He was a pilot with the airforce during World War II and then after the war he flew for Ansett Airlines and the Aerial Ambulance Service. He was also a renowned landscape artist and while working in the Northern parts of Australia he became interested in Aboriginal rock art. He brought the Quinkan Aboriginal sites to public attention and spent many years photographing them. In this time he built strong relationships with the Aboriginal peopleIn 1962 at Karumba, an Ansett destination in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Percy met Dick Roughsey (Goobalathaldin), a Lardil man from Mornington Island. (At the time, Percy was painting a mermaid on the bottom of the Karumba Lodge swimming pool.) He encouraged Dick to paint professionally and they embarked on a close friendship and collaboration in art and writing that lasted until Dick's death in 1985. Percy said that his friendship with Dick Roughsey OBE was a key inspiration of his life." Percy and Dick collaborated on many children's picture books which give insights into Aboriginal life and retell Dreamtime stories. Unfortunately very few of their books are still in print and you will need to find them in libraries.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
27th January Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898) Harry Allard (1928) Julius Lester (1939) Krista Bell (1950)
Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll. He was an English mathematician, photographer and author, who was best known for the classic fantasy stories Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass. In their day these books were considered children's literature, while today there are many who would debate this and say that they are novels in which children appear. Neither book is really accessible to my age group unless they read a very abridged version of the story or see it as a media text.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
It's Australia Day, a holiday in Australia, when Australians celebrate what is great about Australia and being Australian. It is celebrated on the 26th January because that is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of convict ships who came from England to settle at Sydney Cove in 1788. If you want picture books that look at this event, read The Peopling of Australia by Percy Trezise; An Uncommonly Fine Day by J.A.King or The First Fleet by Alan Boardman and Roland Harvey. These three books are old and out of print, but a good school library may still have copies.
On 28th January it will be American artist, Jackson Pollock's birthday. He was a painter of large abstract paintings, many of which he made by dripping paint onto canvas from above. The picture book biography Action Jackson written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker covers the two month period in the artist's life while he is creating his famous painting 'Lavender Mist'. Although it focusses solely on this painting, the text includes information about his childhood influences, his studio and his techniques. The methods he uses to paint are also clearly outlined by Pollock himself in the filmclip here. Pollock's most well-known, and some say best painting, 'Blue Poles: Number 11' is in the National Art Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Many of my students have seen it, so reading this book makes for animated discussions.
Monday, January 24, 2011
According to many calendars, yesterday, 23rd January was Measure Your Feet Day. Why I do not know, but when I started to think about books that you could use on a day with this moniker, there were plenty that leant themselves to having fun with this topic. If you want to plan an activity-based lesson for very young children, Aliki's My Feet would be a good starting point. You could also have fun with Dr Seuss' The Foot Book. Two good stories to read which look at feet, their size and gumboots are Alfie's Feet by Shirley Hughes and Muddy Footprints by Mary Small. For children who like ballet, Belinda Ballerina is the star of a series of books by Amy Young. Belinda wants to be a ballerina but she has a problem, two very big feet! And, lastly just because it is a story everyone should read and it is about feet, Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Three birthdays! Firstly, Blair Lent, the American illustrator of Arlene Mosel's classics Tikki Tikki Tembo and The Funny Little Woman and Elphinstone Dayrell's African folk tale Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky. Some sources say his birthday is the 20th, others 22nd and I have no way of confirming which at the moment.
Last Sunday, January 16th 2011, was the 3rd Sunday of January and that means that it was celebrated worldwide as “World Religion Day”. We are on school holidays at the moment and this day is always on a Sunday, but during term I often put together a display of books about religion, especially ones that stress their similarities rather than differences. There is a lesson plan for ESL teachers on the web here, and from it I have borrowed this to use as part of that display :
It is a good idea to understand how similar the great world religions are in their beliefs. Look at these writings from different religions. Are they similar to your own religion’s teaching? Buddhism states: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” This is similar to Christianity, which teaches us to: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” and Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man.” The Baha’I Faith tells us that: “Blessed is he who prefers his brother before himself.” This teaching is very similar to Islam, which says: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” In Sikhism "No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend."
Books that I might put on display are:
* Faith by Maya Ajmera
* What I Believe by Alan Brown
* A Faith Like Mine by Laura Buller
* The Story of Religion by Betsy and Guilio Maestro
* Many Ways by Shelley Rotner
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
American author illustrator Tedd Arnold has a very high profile in the library because no one can resist Fly Guy. He is very popular and in fact for many boys they are the books that really turn them onto reading or convince them that they can in fact read independently. We have a Fly Guy toy that is always going home and not enough of the books because the box is always empty! I have just looked at Tedd Arnold's website though and found that he has two new books that we don't yet have, Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl! and Buzz Boy and Fly Guy. Hopefully they will be on Book Club this year. There is a great poster about Fly Guy and reading that you can download from the website too. Of course Arnold has other picture books such as the series about Huggly, a loveable monster and another series Parts, that starts with a boy who is falling apart and losing body parts, but I must say I didn't twig to these until after I had discovered Fly Guy.
Today is the artist Paul Cezanne's birthday. He was born in France in 1839 and died in 1906. He was one of the well-known artists who were known as the Post Impressionists. He painted still-lifes, landscapes and portraits with distinctive short-brushstrokes and thick brightly coloured oil paint. Two books where children can read about Cezanne and learn about his life and paintings are: