Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31st October Halloween

Well Halloween is here, finally.

 Bong goes the bell in the rickety tower,
 Twelve times...that means it's Spooky Hour.

 Listen! Hush! Oooh, what's that sound?
 The midnight spooks are coming round.

 Hubble bubble, what's that smell?
 Eleven witches stir their spell.

 It starts to fizz. They shriek, "Tee-hee!"
 Then off they zoom on broomsticks, wheeeeee!

 Out of the darkness, what's this here?
 Ten funny, floaty ghosts appear,

 Swirling, whirling, singing, "Whoo-ooooo!
 Watch out, witches. We're after you-ooooooo!"

This is the first three double spreads of a fabulous book called Spooky Countdown to Halloween by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees. It is a rollicking, rhyming story with plenty of  things to talk about, not least of which is the language. It would make a great mentor text for creative writing. There is onomatopoeia, great verbs, exclamations, questions, appeals to the senses, direct speech and exaggeration. I bought it today and can't wait to try it out.

PS I got to school the next day and thought I would just have a look at Spookyrumpus another book by this talented duo. Something in my consciousness must have been niggling. Guess what it is the same book, just rebranded for Australian audiences. I've been jipped! Oh well they'll both get used.

30th October Monsterfeast

With the run up to Halloween, I have been having fun with my preschool classes. We have been sharing monster stories and talking about what makes a monster, a monster, what makes them scary and how can you tell if they are scary? Of course the monster picture books in my library are not ones that are likely to give the children nightmares and most of the time the children thought they looked friendly 'because they are smiling'. It was good to see them interpret body language as well as their behaviour and spoken words.

First, we read with The Snagglegrollop by Daniel Postgate and Nick Price. The children loved identifying the parts he had - a nose like an elephant, horns like a goat, warts like a frog! Then in the story he meets a Quibblesnuff and they fall in love. The children were rolling on the floor. Then they decided they weren't at all interested in scaring children.

Secondly, we read The Scariest Monster in the World by Lee Weatherly and Algy Craig Hall. This monster smiled on the cover and rubbed his head like he was thinking. 'Not scary' the children predicted. He gets the hiccups and the children had great fun making the hiccup noises. He needs to be scared and the animals show him a mirror which fixes him. The children really liked this solution.

Next I thought we might turn the tables and read about monsters who were scared of children. We read Pog by Lynn Lee and Kim Gamble where the monster is scared of children. This Australian book is out of print, so if you can't find it in a library you could substitute Billy Monster's Daymare by Alan Durant and Ross Collins which is based on the same idea.

All in all the monster books have been very popular, frequently borrowed and a big success. Today in browsing time I caught a group of Kindergarten children poring over The Monster Shop by Julie Beech and trying to decide which monster they liked best and would buy given the choice.

Other popular monster books in the library are:
Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere
No Monsters Allowed! by Tracey Hammet and Jan McCafferty
A Rumpus in the Night! and Another Rumpus by Nick Ward
Stomp! by Jeanne Willis and Paul Howard
If You're a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberley
• There Was an Old Monster by Rebecca Emberley

Thursday, October 25, 2012

26th October Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice)

Eid ul-Adha is a Muslim festival celebrated every year on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja on the lunar Islamic calendar. By western reckoning that is from sunset October 25th to sunset on October 26th in 2012. It is a time of feasting and family get togethers, gift giving and special prayers to commemorate Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son to prove his obedience to Allah.

It is also timed to coincide with the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia which all Muslims are required to perform at least once in their lifetime. If not going to Mecca, families don their finest clothes, visit their mosque  and enjoy community dinners.

To celebrate with your class read Going to Mecca by Na'ima B. Robert and say "Eid Murbarak!" to wish Muslims holiday blessings.

26th October World Teachers' Day

World Teachers' Day! Anyone who signs up to teach now must really want to do it because it is getting harder by the day. Everyone wants to tell you how to do your job, parents, people in the street, politicians. I want to be treated professionally and trusted to do my job well. I don't tell my dentist or doctor how to do their job. So why do so many people question what teachers do and whether they are qualified to do it. Thank heavens for the children because they really make my day. Today one of my cherubs told me I wasn't old, just mature! Bless him. Another told me he would like to recommend the book he was reading to Roald Dahl because he was sure it would make him laugh! Today I also taught a class of preschoolers all of whom start school next year and they are super keen to be there. We talked about their expectations of school and read Pog by Lynn Lee where a monster starting school is scared of children. They thought that was very funny.

We have four student teachers at school at the moment and they are enthusiastic, energetic and very committed to their future vocation which is wonderful. So as I write and think that often I am cynical and jaded, I remember why I chose to be a teacher and then a teacher librarian, and I smile at all the good experiences I have had, all the wonderful children I have taught and all the gifted teachers I have had the pleasure to work with and teach. I got out Mr Ouchy's First Day and Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten and had a read to myself and revelled in why I teach.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

22nd October National Bird Week 22-28 October 2012

It is National Bird week here in Australia!  Every October, Bird Life Australia organises and promotes Bird Week with the goal of inspiring Australians to take action and get involved in bird conservation. For almost 100 years, October 28 has been designated ‘Bird Day’ across Australia. The theme and poster pose the question 'Who's nesting where?'   It is always fun to do a unit of work on birds because Australia has the most amazing native birds. We can look at emus, cassowaries, cockatoos, galahs, lorikeets, budgerigars, kookaburras, lyrebirds, pelicans and owls. All the expat students always comment on how big and how noisy they are. 

To coincide with this focus question, I tried to limit the books I displayed to Australian books and Australian birds. Among them were these fiction titles. There is a large range in length, tone and difficulty here.

* Enoch the Emu   by   Gordon Winch & Doreen Gritswood
* Edward the Emu  and Edwina the Emu by Sheena Knowles & Rod Clement
* The Penguin Shore  by Tim O'Brien & Mark Wilson
* Silly Galah by Janeen Brian  (poems)
* One, Two, Cockatoo by Sarah Garson
* Cassowary's Egg by Garry Fleming
* The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay; The Hunt; High Above the Sea and Fox and Fine Feathers  by Narelle Oliver (she does birds so well!)
* Kookaburra School by Jill Morris
* Enora and the Black Crane by Arone Raymond Meeks
* Hello Barney by Mary Pershall & Mark Wilson 
* Mozzie and Midgie by Doug McLeod & Sandra Okayli (spoonbills)
* The Rainbirds  by David Metzethen & Sally Rippin (currawongs)
* Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds by Anthony Hill & Jane Tanner (lorikeets)
* Little Tawny by Kim Dale (tawny frogmouths)
* Storm Boy  and Pannikin and Pinta by Colin Thiele (these two stories about pelicans make great serials for young children because of their illustrations. There is an illustrated version of Pinquo, his story about little penguins and their nesting habits too.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

16th October Peter McCarty (1966)

It is the birthday of author/illustrator Peter McCarty. It is timely that his birthday is now because he has a couple of picture books about monsters ideal in these pre-Halloween days. See Jeremy Draws a Monster  and  The Monster Returns.  In my library though he is known for his lovely book about pets, a dog Hondo and a cat, Fabian. And just recently he has published a new book Chloe, revisiting a character from one of his earlier books. All of these are worth checking out!

16th October World Bread Day

World Bread Day provides us with the opportunity to talk about bread and bakers, to find out about their history, their importance and their future. It also gave me an excuse today to put together a very hurried display of books on the topic of bread. While the library had quite a few nonfiction books about bread as food, bread as a cooking or craft activity and bakers I was more interested in finding some fiction titles. I found quite a few:
Everybody Bakes Bread by Norah Dooley
Brown Bread and Honey by Pamela Allen
Mr McGee and the Big Bag of Bread by Pamela Allen
Mr Belinsky's Bagels by ellen Schwartz
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
 Monsieur Saguette and his Baguette by Frank Asch
Zed's Bread by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom
Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven
Tony's Bread by Tomie dePaola
• Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

12th October Christopher Columbus

While Columbus Day it is not a holiday in Australia and we do not celebrate the anniversary of his arrival in the Americas on 12th October, 1492, given that I have spent so much time with picture book biographies lately, I thought I would look at two books that are in my library about Columbus.

They are both well worth reading.
The First Voyage of Christopher Columbus 1492 by Barry Smith, is the easier of the two so it is suitable for a younger audience. It tells the story from the point of view of a sailor who goes on the journey with Columbus. This is not the journey where Columbus reaches the Americas, but it gives the reader a feel for the time and the uncertainty of  exploration. It also has a large fold out map at the back to chart the journey.

Follow the Dream the Story of Christopher Columbus by Peter Sis does not have a lot of text but the illustrations probably appeal more to older children and adults. It too, examines the uncertainty of exploration, the beliefs that there was more to the world and the adventurous nature of Columbus.