Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Champions Read 5 - Music, Dance and Theatre

I had fun wandering around the library collecting together biographies for this category. Once again I found quite a few and had to sit and reread many of them. How inspiring!

For music I found:
Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Barbara Nichol
I, Vivaldi by Janice Shefelman & Tom Schefelman
Play, Mozart, Play! by Peter Sis
Mozart: The Wonder Child by Diane Stanley
For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart by Elizabeth Rusch, Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher
Dizzy by Jonah Winter & Sean Qualls (story of Dizzy Gillespie)
The Red Piano by Andre Leblanc (the story of pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei, who grew up in China during the cultural revolution)
Song of the Dove by Errol Broome & Sonia Kretschmer (story of composer Bellini after he has written his tenth opera)

For mime:
Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime by Gloria Speilman & Manon Gauthier

For dance:
The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin and Anne Spudvilas
I Dreamed I was a Ballerina by Anna Pavlova & Edgar Degas

For performing:
The Little Refugee by Anh Do, Suzanne Do and Bruce Whatley (story of Australian comedian)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Champions Read 4 - Literature

A great champion of children's literature died this week. Vale Margaret Mahy. She is the New Zealand author that most of us know well because of her abundance of books, ranging from picture books such as the ever-popular Great White Man-eating Shark, through great beginning chapter books such as The Great Piratical Rumbustification and The Dentist's Promise to her award-winning novels The Haunting and The Changeover. And in there as well there are anthologies of poetry and short stories. She is a popular author study choice with my teachers and so we purchased Questions Kids Ask Margaret Mahy.

There are books of this type and other straight biographies about many children's authors. Look for them on Roald Dahl, A.A.Milne, Beatrix Potter, Jacqueline Wilson and Dr Seuss. Mem Fox has even penned her own, Memories which is ideal for use with very young readers who are doing an author study on her, but if you want to look at picture book biographies that do a bit more than outline the chronology of their lives here are some suggestions:
• for Dr Seuss
The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull, Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.
• for Beatrix Potter
My Dear Noel by Jane Johnson
Beatrix Potter by Alexandra Wallner
• for Wanda Gag
Wanda Gag : The Girl Who Lived to Draw by Deborah Kogan Ray
• for Roald Dahl
D is for Dahl by Wendy Cooling and Quentin Blake

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Champions Read 3 - Art Champions

As there was for science and the environment, there is a large number of picture book biographies about artists. There are also books, that while strictly speaking they are not biographies, they are very close because they tell about an artist's life or a famous painting. Laurence Anholt's Artists series does this. Brenda Northeast also does this and Nina Laden likes to illuminate artists' lives in picture book format.

* Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Rodriguez & Julie Paschkis
* Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains by P.I. Maltbie & Jos. A. Smith
* Just Behave, Pablo Picasso by Jonah Winter & Kevin Hawkes
* Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder by Tanya Lee Stone & Boris Kulikov
* Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg, Sandra Jordan & Robert Andrew Parker (Jackson Pollock)
* My Name is Georgia by Jeanette Winter (Georgia O'Keefe)
* Through Georgia's Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez & Julie Paschkis (Georgia O'Keefe)
* Me, Frida by Amy Novesky & David Diaz (Frida Kahlo)
* Frida by Jonah Winter & Anna Juan (Frida Kahlo)
* Dali and the Path of Dreams by Anna Obiols & Subi (Salvador Dali)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

17th July Suzanne McGuinness

Today is author/illustrator Suzanne McGuinness' birthday. I learned this courtesy of Eric at the Happy Birthday Author blog. It was fortuitous as I am planning my term's reading and one of the books on our Book Week shortlist is Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge's beautiful book No Bears. I wanted to read this to my classes but also wanted to look at a book with a bear in it, that was published recently too. I chose My Bear Griz by Suzanne McGuinness because while it has a similar warmth for young children and an obvious point of view and storyteller, it has a very different style of illustration and is not Australian. I love the bear and despite knowing grizzly bears are dangerous, as someone who lives in a country without bears I do want to hug Griz. I am really looking forward to sharing these two books, identifying visual jokes and talking about similarities and differences with the students. I learned from Eric that this is Suzanne's first picture book so I will now stop looking for more as I have been doing. I thought she was English, but have learned that she is American. Now Suzanne we need more of your beautiful illustrations. You can see some on her website and blog.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Champions Read 2 - Environment Champions

There are so many picture book biographies that could be included here, that it is hard to know where to start or when to stop. So here is some that spring to mind:

Rachel Carson was a curious young girl who loved being outdoors and when she wrote her first book 'Silent Spring' it was considered to be the beginning of the environmental movement.
Jacques Cousteau, oceanographer
* Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and Eric Puybaret
Sylvia Earle, oceanographer
Jane Goodall, chimpanzee watcher
* The Watcher by Jeanette Winter
* Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Wangari Maathai founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Peace Prize recipient
* Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola
* Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli & Kadir Nelson
* Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
* Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson & Sonia Lynn Sadler
John Muir

Friday, July 13, 2012

Champions Read 1 - Science Champions

In Australia the theme for Book Week this year is Champions Read, probably partly because of its close proximity to the Olympic Games. As I only teach very young children from 3 to 8 years old, this theme didn't strike me as being that exciting and I wasn't all that enthusiastic, but the more I have thought about it and the wider I am able to make the definition of 'champion' the better I feel about it. I have been putting together a reading list of picture book biographies for teachers and my Year 2 Book Club group and have decided to spread them out over several blog entries. I plan to look at Champions of Science; Champions of the Environment; Champions of Art; Champions of Literature and others as well as Champions of Sport.

For me a champion is:
• someone who surpasses all rivals,
• someone who commits an act and is worthy of positive recognition for such an act,
• someone who vigorously supports a cause.

To start with Science Champions:
Mary Anning (1799 - 1847) fossil collector
As a young girl in Lyme Regis, England she collected fossils along the shoreline. She is believed to have been the first to find the bones of an Ichthyosaurus. There are two picture books that tell her story:
* The Fossil Girl by Catherine Brighton, and
* Stone Girl Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt who also lives in Lyme Regis.

Eratosthenes - (276 BC - 194BC)
Greek philosopher and scientist who compiled the first geography book and accurately measured the globe's circumference. This book tells his story:
* The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky
* Starry Messenger by Peter Sis
* I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen
John Tebbutt (1834 - 1916) Australian astronomer
* Bright Star by Gary Crew and Anne Spudvilas. This book tells the story of Alicia whose life is influence by John Tebbutt.
* Reaching For the Moon by Buzz Aldrin

Charles Darwin - naturalist
There are a large number of picture books about Darwin's life, but these three are in my library and offer the opportunity for a thorough examination of his work and life with wonderful illustrations.
* What Mr Darwin Saw by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom
* One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky
* The Tree of Life by Peter Sis

The students who are interested in Darwin will also like this biography about the geneticist, Mendel.
* Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe

And lastly, although I am sure there are many more that you would add, a book about Thomas Edison.
* Odd Boy Out by Don Brown

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

14th July Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918)

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian artist who is probably most famous for his use of gold-leaf. His paintings that use it glow and have a richness that cannot be ignored. While some people think that his famous painting The Kiss is not suitable for young children there are plenty of other paintings that are. The Year 2 teachers at school incorporate Klimt's Tree of Life into a unit of work that looks at friendship and they cooperatively make a large class collage of it that entwines their names and groups. There is a 6 year old drawing it here. While the classes are involved in Klimt art activities they read:
* Klimt and His Cat by Bernice Capatti. This is a story but through the narrative children learn about Klimt's life.
* Gustav Klimt: A Painted Fairy Tale by Stephen Koja. This is one of the books from publisher Prestel's fantastic series, Adventures in Art.

Monday, July 9, 2012

12th July Paper Bag Day

On July 12, 1859, the paper bag manufacturing machine was patented by William Goodale in Massachusetts. The paper bag was a wonderful invention. It's useful for limitless purposes and makes a great craft item! It is back in vogue too since plastic bags have become so non grata. Below is a list of books, the first three have fun with paper bags and the other two warn of the dangers associated with plastic bags. All have much to offer a library collection.

1. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
2. The Paperbag Prince by Colin Thompson
3. The Night of the Paper Bag Monsters by Helen Craig
4. Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser and Barry Root
5. Theo and the Giant Plastic Ball by The United Nations Environment Program

10th July Teddy Bears' Picnic Day and more soup.

Some sites say that today is Teddy Bears' Picnic Day. I have written about teddy bears before and haven't come across any new books that I feel compelled to write about. However this day exists because of the song The Teddy Bears Picnic. This song started life as a tune, just the music written in 1907 by American John Bratton. Then in 1907, Irish lyricist Jimmy Kennedy was asked to write lyrics for the tune for a children's pantomime that was planned for a performance in London. The song has appeared in picture book format over the years. Michael Hague's version which is still in print is probably the best known.

Yesterday I chanced upon another soup book while browsing in a book shop on my way home from the ALEA conference. It is called Soup For One and is written and illustrated by Ethan Long, someone whose work I am not familiar with. However this book is fun and I can see myself reading it with my preschool classes because it has plenty of opportunity for them to join in. It has counting. It has rhyme and onomatopoeia. All of this and humour!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

7th July ALEA Conference

Last night at the ALEA Conference I heard Dr Steve Layne enthuse about ensuring we match students to books, the right books, and that we teach them how to choose books for themselves, that is not assume that they know how. It made me feel good that my whole teaching life hadn't been in vane, as this is something I have been endeavouring to do for so long. My library has as many book covers as possible showing, the displays change often, some every day, and we do our utmost to promote books and reading. I advertise books in assembly, and this term because of the National Year of Reading and the Book Week theme, 'Champions Read' each teacher will have a turn at 'selling' her picks in assembly too. We have posters up around the school for the staff saying what they read. He was so passionate, you couldn't fail to want to race off and do what he recommended. He read from one of his picture books, Love the Baby, a story of sibling rivalry when a toddler feels usurped by a new baby, so of course I had to buy it, get it signed, and I can't wait to tell my students at the first assembly all about the book and meeting a 'real' author during my school holidays.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th July Soup Day

I don't think such a day exists but it has been very cold here in Sydney the last few days and it feels like soup weather so it should exist. A group of teacher friends and I had a soup lunch. It was wonderful exchanging teacher stories over warm soup, crusty bread, cake and coffee. It made me think of winter displays for the library and while I always do snow and winter sports I got to thinking was there enough books to do a soup display?

And there is! There are several different versions of Stone Soup of course, but as well there was:
1. Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
2. Making Minestrone by Stella Blackstone and Nan Brooks
3. Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
4. Carrot Soup by John Segal
5. Watch Out For Chicken Feet in Your Soup by Tomie dePaola
6. Alphabet Soup by Kate Banks and Peter Sis
7. Everybody Serves Soup by Norah Dooley and Peter J. Thornton
Many of these have soup recipes at the back of the story and while looking for pictures I learned there is in fact a book called Soup Day by Melissa Iwai which also sounds ideal for my clientele, so I need to add it to my shopping list.