Tuesday, November 19, 2013

20th November Christmas Folktales

I have been having so much fun reading with my Kindergarten classes this term. We have been studying folktales and for the last four weeks we have looked closely at folktales that are set at Christmas. They are perfect for teaching students to make text-to-text connections. We started by looking at the Ukrainian tales which tell why spiders are hung on Christmas trees in the Ukraine and then compared it to the German Cobweb Christmas where we found out about the origins of tinsel. Next we looked at gift-bearers in Italy and Russia by comparing Old Befana and Baboushka and then to finish off we went to Mexico to learn why poinsettias abound as Christmas decorations.

These books are in my school library so they were the ones I used, but I am sure there are others.

 The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie dePaola
The Tale of Baboushka: A Traditional Christmas Story by Elena Pasquali
Baboushka by Arthur Scholey (we have two versions, same words different illustrations)
Babushka by Sandra Ann Horn
Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo
A Christmas Spider's Miracle by Trinka Hakes Noble
The Spider's Gift: A Ukranian Christmas Story by Eric A. Kimmel
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
The Miracle of the First Poinsettia: A Mexican Christmas Story by Joanne Oppenheim



Saturday, November 9, 2013

10th November National Adoption Week

It is National Adoption Week in Australia from 10th -17th November.  This week is designed to raise community awareness of adoption and the issues surrounding it in Australia.  It  aims to increase insight and empathy, remove the stigma, and work towards a more positive adoption environment because every child has the  right to a family. 

The figures on the website show that the number of adoptions in Australia is decreasing but there are still a large number of children in need of positive and permanent homes. The subject of adoption is not one I have thought about at length, but lately I have had reason to search in my library for books for families and teachers on just this topic. Presently there are at least six children at school who have been adopted from overseas and they do like to see themselves in stories. This was brought home to me while I was reading a group of Year 2s, Randall Jarrell's The Animal Family  and one of the students wrote a very moving piece in her journal making text to self connections between herself and the bear cub who the hunter and mermaid 'adopt'.


I was surprised how many books were in the library that could be used to discuss adoption, so I have put them together on a pinterest page.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

8th November World Radiography Day


World Radiography Day 



is celebrated on 8 November each year. The date marks the anniversary of the discovery of x-radiation by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895.

I was pleased to see that there is a day to celebrate radiography because I have discovered this year that an early childhood library can never have too many books about x-rays. After sharks, snakes and dinosaurs, x-rays and bones would be the next most popular topic with 4 to 6 year old boys in my library. They especially like the books with the acetate pages that show what is under the skin or what is on the x-rays. If you are looking for books this is what is most popular in my library:

Jessica's X-ray  by Pat Zora
You Can't See Your Bones With Binoculars by Harriet Ziefert
X-treme X-ray by Nick Veasey
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins

Saturday, October 19, 2013

21st October Apple Day

Apple Day is an annual celebration, held in October, of apples and orchards. It is celebrated mainly in the United Kingdom where it is Autumn and harvest time. The first Apple Day was held in 1990. Given that the Granny Smith green apple originated in Australia in 1868 and apples are popular as snacks in Australian school lunchboxes we should celebrate it here too.

Apples and their place in our language and life could make for some interesting discussions with children, even a whole unit of study. Look at how many sayings there are. Just some that come to mind:
• an apple for the teacher
• an apple a day keeps the doctor away
• that apple didn't fall far from the tree
• rotten to the core
• you are the apple of my eye
• don't upset the apple cart
• don't let one rotten apple spoil the whole barrel.

Scrolling through my library catalogue there were more than thirty picture books which highlighted apples. Some were sheer celebrations of the apple such as Apple by Nikki McClure and Little Apple: A Book of Thanks by Brigitte Weninger; others such as The Apple Trees by Vivian French, One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert, Apples Apples Apples  by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, From Seed to Apple  by Anita Ganeri and Apples Grow on a Tree by Mari Schuh explain the lifecycle of apples in an illustrated format suitable for young readers; some tell the benefits of and how to make apple pies (Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie; How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World) and yet others are just great stories for young children to enjoy and marvel at.

The most recent acquisition that sent me on this search for an Apple Day is The Apple Orchard Riddle  by Margaret McNamara and Brian Karas. I bought this because their earlier book How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? had been such a success with the teachers and this story is also about teacher, Mr Tiffin and his class, and in it they go on a trip to an orchard and learn a lot about apples while trying to solve a riddle as well.

Other stories that I have shared with preschool or kindergarten classes to great effect are:
Mr Brown's Magnificent Apple Tree  by Yvonne Winer and Maya Winters
A New House for Mouse by Petr Horacek
Red Panda's Toffee Apples by Ruth Paul
The Very Helpful Hedgehog by Rosie Wellesley
 The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall and Shari Halpern
The Apple Tree by Lynley Dodd
and two picture books with more 'meat' and things to talk about
Hubert and the Apple Tree by Bruno Hachler and Albrecht Rissler
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting and Ted Lewin. This story also features an excursion to an apple orchard, but the main character here is Farah, a Muslim immigrant who is new to the class.




Saturday, October 12, 2013

15th October National Grouch Day


I don't know the origin of this day and national means America, but some say it is in honour of Sesame Street's famous grouch Oscar. Whatever its origin this day is a day for grouches and they have an excuse to be grouchy all day long. A grouch's mission in life is to be miserable and as grouchy as possible and then to pass that feeling on to everyone else.

Perhaps the signature grouch in children's literature is the grouchy ladybug in Eric Carle's The Grouchy Ladybug. I get very cross when Americans change the title of Australian and English titles that they import and this is an example where we have done the same to an American title and renamed it The Bad-Tempered Ladybird. Why did we do this? Is 'grouchy' the same as 'bad-tempered'? I think not. Luckily there are both versions in my library. The American version is a larger picture book and better for sharing with classes. Looking up grouchy in three thesauruses, they listed 'ill-tempered' and 'short-tempered' but not 'bad tempered'. As well there were words such as, grumpy, grumbling, grizzly, crabby and cranky. Aren't they lovely sounding words, all the 'gr' and 'cr' sounds that we associate with crying and whining.

There are so many picture books to display for this day that I have been collecting them together over the last week in anticipation. There is:
 The Grunt and the Grouch by Tracey Corderoy and Lee Wildish   (There are four short chapter books about these two characters as well)
Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbours by Norman Bridwell
Maya was Grumpy by Courtney Pippin- Mathur
Grumpy Bird  by Jeremy Tankard
What Are You So Grumpy About?  by Tom Lichtenheld
 Greedy Grumpy Hippo by Stuart Trotter
Grumpy Cat by Britta Teckentrup
Grumpy Little King by Michel Streich
The Three Grumpies by Tamra Wight and Ross Collins
Grumpy Badger's Christmas by Paul Bright and Jane Chapman
 Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist
Grumpy Gloria by Anna Dewdney
Grizzly Dad by Joanna Harrison
Gruff the Grump  by Steve Smallman and Cee Biscoe
The Grump  by Sarah Garson
Crabby Pants by Julie Gassman
Olive's Bad Mood  by Tor Freeman
The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
The Bad Mood! by Moritz Petz and Amelie Jackowski
Big Rabbit's Bad Mood by Ramona Badescu
Danny in the Toybox by Richard Tulloch and Armin Greder


Monday, October 7, 2013

7th - 11th October Humphrey's Pyjama Week




This week across the UK,  children will be wearing their pyjamas to school and preschool.  Each child donates £2 to wear their pjs and all the money raised goes towards The Children's Trust, a charity that provides care, education and therapy to children with disabilities and complex health needs. The children will participate in a number of fun and educational themed activities. Humphrey from Humphrey's Corner,  a book by Sally Hunter is the mascot and inspiration for the day.
I wish this was something we did in Australia. The children who frequent my library love Humphrey, his books and the two toys we have for borrowing. Last term the teachers wore their pyjamas to school one day as reward for raising so much money for the Heart Foundation. On a whim we said to the children if you raise x amount of money, which was a very large amount and we thought unachievable we would wear pyjamas to school and what do you know the children did it so we had to wear pjs. It was lots of fun!
If wearing pjs to school is out of the question, then at least get the Humphrey books out on display and read picture books that feature pyjamas like:
Llama Llama Red Pyjama by Anna Dewdney
Polly Jean Pyjama Queen by Steve Webb
Polly's Pink Pyjamas by Vivian French and Sue Heap
Timothy and the Strong Pyjamas by Vivianne Schwarz 
Whose Pyjamas? by Maisie Munro and Leonie Worthington 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

6th October Jeanette Winter (1939)

Lately, as I have reviewed my calendar, in readiness for planning displays and lessons I have found a few mistakes. Previously I have written about Jeanette Winter and have celebrated her birthday on 6th September. I also said she was born in 1939 but have recently found another reference that says 1933, but irrespective of when her birthday is or how old she is, it is certainly well worth the effort of gathering up her wonderful books for a reread. On holiday in New Zealand last week I went into The Dorothy Butler Children's Bookshop and found a copy of her latest book, Henri's Scissors. This is a picture book biography of Henri Matisse. Although it starts with Henri as a small boy who drew pictures everywhere, and tells how he moved to Paris and became a famous painter,` the title and a large part of the story focusses on Matisse's later life when a serious illness confined him to a wheelchair and he took up cutting paper into enormous shapes to create breathtaking collages. Winter has included quotes from  Matisse and a note of her own at the end of the story explaining where her inspiration came from. On Winter's motivation for writing and illustrating there is an interesting interview here where her son Jonah Winter, who is also a writer, asks his mother questions. Many of Jeanette Winter's books are in fact biographies. See my pinterest page for other titles by her and her son, Jonah Winter.






http://www.pinterest.com/kinderbookboard/picture-book-biographies/

Saturday, September 21, 2013

21st September World Alzheimer's Day

September is World Alzheimer's Month and today, 21st September is World Alzheimer's Day, a day when we need to raise awareness about Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, and the need for more education, support and research. While there are now a few books that overtly explain this disease to young children, some of the more subtle picture books which depict older people and memories give teachers the ideal way in to discuss ageing, dementia and what their students know about it and have experienced first-hand. Five books that come to mind are
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
Remember Me  by Margaret Wild and Dee Huxley
Mile -High Apple Pie  by Laura Langston and Lindsey Gardiner
Still My Grandma by Veroni Van den Abeele and Claude K. Dubois
The Memory Box by Mary Bahr and David Cunningham
The Memory Box is particularly good and I was pleased to see that someone agrees with me here.



Friday, September 20, 2013

20th September Arthur Geisert (1941)

American Arthur Geisert, trained as a sculptor, but is now an illustrator and storyteller who has a fascination with etching and pigs. I too, love etchings and the detail that is possible with black lines. His books are often textless or have very minimal text so they rely on the reader to create  their own story. My favourite story of his, Ice is textless and features pigs. This community of pigs is suffering because it is so hot and they go in search of ice. It then becomes a tale of inventiveness, change and adventure. My favourite illustrations though are in the sequel to Ice, The Giant Seed,  where this time, the pigs need to get creative when their home is destroyed by a volcano. Luckily, beforehand they had buried a large mysterious seed. This seed features on the cover and I would dearly love to own a copy of that particular etching.  His books highlight themes such as ingenuity, problem-solving, creative thinking and coping with change. Great for circle time, group discussion and thinking routines. They just need to be published as big books!

Unlike Dick King-Smith, Geisert was not a pig farmer, but who would have thought you could make porcine creatures so endearing.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

16th September Joanne Ryder (1946)

Joanne Ryder is an American, nature-loving children's author. My library had several of her books but I didn't really notice them until Panda Kindergarten became a very popular book in the library and I went in search of other books by her. Earthdance and Every Living Thing go to Year 2 when they are doing the environment, The Snail's Spell and Where Butterflies Grow to Year 1 when they study minibeasts, but Panda Kindergarten  is borrowed by children! They seem to have a fascination with pandas and so it seems does Joanne. Harper Collins, her publisher says she 'has always loved pandas, starting with the very first small panda toy she had as a child. She has continued to be fascinated by these rare and wonderful animals   throughout her career as a writer.'  Pair this book with Sandra Markle's  How Many Baby Pandas? and you will have students who want to read every panda book in the library.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2nd August Alex T. Smith (1985)

I know I've done it again, an entry on the wrong date, but I'm recording this here so that I remember to celebrate Alex T. Smith's birthday next year. Oh to be so young and so talented!  Alex T. Smith is the author and illustrator of the fabulous series that started with Claude in the City which is very popular in my library because these books about the beret-wearing dog are the perfect bridging novels for my readers moving onto chapter books. He has also done picture books and illustrated books for other authors. While my research revealed his birth date it didn't tell me what the T stands for and two children have asked me. I love Ella, an insect version of Cinderella, and Egg so I'm off to get the sequel  to Egg, Catch Us If You Can-Can.



Friday, September 6, 2013

5th August Christina Balit (1961)

I know it isn't the 5th August, but as a result of Momo's comment on my last entry I tried to come up with my list of top ten illustrators and came up with top 9 fairly quickly and then couldn't decide about who to put as number 10. I had about 10 on my list to choose from for that spot and British illustrator, Christina Balit was one of those ten. When I started reading up on her I learned that her birthday was 5th August and that I had not already included her on my calendar. Thus, this entry. Our library has many of Christina's books...  Atlantis, Hercules and Odysseus  are well used by Year 2 when they do their unit on Greek Mythology. The ones about the solar system are used by Year 1 when they do a unit on Space. Many of these are written by astronomer, Jacqueline Mitton. The Studies of Religion teacher often borrows bible stories, many written by Mary Hoffman, Lois Rock and Mary Joslin. I have a lovely ceramic plate based on one of her illustrations in My Sister Shahrazad that a parent at school did for me because she loved that book. Whatever Christina chooses to illustrate, her style is distinctive, colourful, detailed and memorable. Escape From Pompeii and Atlantis: the Legend of a Lost City, two of my favourites, both written and illustrated by Christina are a good place to start if you don't know her work.


Friday, August 30, 2013

30th August Julie Paschkis (1957)

I was so happy to find out that it was Julie Paschkis's birthday as she is up there in my top ten favourite illustrators and she wasn't on my birthday calendar. With my Year 2 Book Club we have been reading picture book biographies and four of the books have illustrations by Julie Paschkis. Of course she illustrates other genres as well but these four books are wonderful examples of her art. On her website you can see her other talents such as papercuts, fabric and paintings. Hopefully, like me you will be amazed.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

20th August David Walliams (1971)

The children at school today were excited because it is David Walliams' birthday. Adults know him best as a British comedian, actor and television presenter, but the children I teach who are under 8 years old know him as an author. 'He wrote Gangsta Granny  and I love that book.' Coincidentally it was Grandparents Day at school too. My favourite is The Boy in the Dress, but there are also Billionaire Boy, Mr Stink and Ratburger. 'Mr Stink is even better than The Twits'. It is interesting that the children are making connections between David Walliams and Roald Dahl. The parents at my school are obviously enjoying serialising Walliams' books.



10th - 18th National Science Week.

Last week it was National Science Week here in Australia and compared to so many other weeks, this one is so well advertised. There are events at museums, in parks and on television. We put together a display of books in the library. What's the Matter in Mr Whiskers' Room? as usual was popular.  I think every child secretly wishes Mr Whiskers was their teacher. The books full of experiments were the most popular for browsing and borrowing.


20th August Judy Schachner (1951)

Today the copy of Skippyjon Jones Lost in Spice that I had ordered arrived and I thought Judy Schachner's birthday is one we haven't celebrated at school, I wonder when it is. On searching I found out it is today! What a coincidence. Skippyjon Jones is newly discovered by the children quite regularly and he was again recently. We didn't have Lost in Spice  and it fits in well with my Book Week display of aliens, reading and space to accompany the Book Week theme Read Across the Universe, so I ordered it. I got the one with a CD because I am not good at the Spanish accent and the kids love it on CD. Judy Schachner is so clever being able to combine writing and illustrating and at the same time as extending readers' horizons. She even does the reading for the CD. The wordplay is an added bonus in her stories too. We will be celebrating tomorrow and I will look out for other titles of Judy's. We have none of her non-Skippyjon Jones titles.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

11th August Play in the Sand Day

I am sure Play in the Sand Day is in August to cater for the northern hemisphere where it is summer, but given that the temperature was 24 degrees here in Sydney today there were plenty of people at the beach playing in the sand. The winter weather here has been glorious. The children I teach are lucky enough to live near the beach, but the large sandpit at school is well used, and some of it turns up each day on the carpet in the library courtesy of their shoes. Use this day to explore the possibilities of sand building-wise, find out how sand happens to be, go to the beach to play or read about all three.

















5th - 11th August Biography Week

It is Biography Week at the State Library of NSW. I think this is a week that should be celebrated more widely, especially as there is now so many wonderful picture book biographies for young children. My Year 2 Book Club are having a wonderful term reading one a week and coming to literature circles with lots to discuss. They are ideal for discussions that make connections between self and text and the world and text and then when a whole term of reading is nearing the end text to text connections too.

The library now has an enviable resource of bigraphies. See here for those that the school has.
As Random House says:


Biography
There is no better way to connect young people with history than by reading the life stories of intriguing people.
A well-written biography has the same elements as any great story: characters
that face challenges and difficulties, situations that excite and inspire, and
narratives that urge the reader to keep turning the pages until the story’s conclusion.
What young person doesn’t love being armed with an arsenal of fun facts
about artists, sports figures, famous folks, and ordinary people?


Saturday, August 10, 2013

9th August International Art Appreciation Day

Today is International Art Appreciation Day. When I was a child I knew nothing about art until high school. I didn't go to an art gallery till then either and there wasn't the abundance of beautifully illustrated picture books for children that there is today. I started my art education very late.



Luckily the children I teach have it very differently. They start their art education very young. In fact research shows that preschoolers are the ready foundation for art appreciation and that it should start then. Courses such as  Art Appreciation 101 for Young Children are flourishing and they teach that learning about art helps children improve their ability to observe things around them.  Using paintings, sculptures and pieces of architecture as prompts for thinking routines such as See Think Wonder help children to express creative ideas, communicate and develop language skills, use problem solving and reasoning skills.

If you don't use the Harvard Thinking routines it is as simple as asking children What do you see? What do you think of when you see this piece of art? How does it make you feel? What part of the story is this painting? Do you like it?

There are a myriad of ways to celebrate art that involves appreciation of it.
1. Visit a gallery or exhibition. I made a point of visiting my local gallery today. Last week I went to an exhibition put on by local printmakers.

2. Share picture books, especially those that feature the works of artists eg. Willy's Pictures by Anthony Browne,  Dan's Angel by Alexander Sturgis and Lauren Child or any of the Anholt's artists series by Laurence Anholt.

3. Look at books designed specifically for children which have large reproductions of famous paintings like those by Lucy Micklethwait. Her I Spy series also makes the art appreciation fun. Gillian Wolfe has a series that all have Look! in the title and similarly Gladys Blizzard has  a series Come Look With Me.

4. Look at books that go with a gallery and do things to draw you into a close study of their paintings. The Queensland Art Gallery does this in 21st Century Art for Kids.  Roy and Matilda: the Gallery Mice books by Susan Venn do this for the NSW Art Gallery, the Victorian Gallery and the Queensland Gallery. The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra has books it has published for themselves that introduce very young children to art that is in their gallery. Further afield the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York  is an expert at this.

5. If you have never experienced a book published by Prestel for children you must. You will not be disappointed.










Tuesday, August 6, 2013

7th August Play Day

In the UK 7th August is Play Day. It seems amazing that we need to encourage children to play, but we do.


The campaign recognises that:
  • Children should feel welcomed where they live and feel part of their communities.
  • Parents want their children to be able to play outside.
  • Public space should be designed and managed with children's play in mind.
  • Children and young people need to be involved in planning the places and spaces where they play.

Each year the campaign has a theme and this year it is Playful Places. With these aims in mind and because Kindergarten at school are currently doing a unit on 'building', I thought it would be good to collect together books that would help the students plan their own playgrounds.  Starting with the Oxfam book  Come and Play With Us which looks at children playing all over the world, students could list some of the things they think are important for play.

Next compare the type of play in Noella Young's  Keep Out or Tess Brady's Nobody's Granny and that in Playground Day by Jennifer Merz to look at how play has changed for children today from impromptu child-constructed outdoor games and cubby building to organised playgrounds. 

Lastly share books such as Let's Build a Playground by Michael J. Rosen or  My Dream Playgound by Kate Becker and Jed Henry to encourage some student designing of their own. Perhaps part of this could also include an evaluation of an existing playground they use!






5th -11th August Dental Health Week; Shark Week

There are so MANY weeks to celebrate at the moment. It is Dental Health Week  and coincidentally Shark Week as well. Someone had a sense of humour combining sharks and teeth! Many mothers who visit my library ask about 'teeth cleaning' books and I always try to give them ones which are fun as well as discussion starters. The Discovery Channel is having a whole week of shark documentaries, many which my students would love but may give them nightmares. Here I've just put some of the popular, but lighthearted stories with sharks. If you want to combine the two topics look for Never Take a Shark to the Dentist  by Judith Barrett and John Nickle.



Sunday, August 4, 2013

5th August Fibonacci Day

Today is August, 5th 2013 which will be written on many school notebooks today as 5-8-13. This sequence of numbers is part of the Fibonacci sequence where the sum of the first two numbers adds to make the third number. The next Fibonacci Day would not occur till 8-13-21 and as we do not have thirteen months in a year it will not occur. How special then is today?

The 23rd November is often used to celebrate Fibonacci Day, but today is more special. Who was Fibonacci?  He was Leonardo da Pisa, born in Pisa in 1175AD, the son of a merchant who travelled widely as a customs officer in North Africa. He used the knowledge he gained on his travels to write and he introduced the Latin-speaking world to the decimal number system, and thus we too now use the  numbers 0 to 9 to make every other number we need.

I love patterns and have enjoyed teaching children to constantly be on the lookout for patterns both in maths and writing as well as in nature. My father was a maths teacher who also revelled in them and I have a daughter who uses them every day in her chosen career. My library has quite a collection of books that introduce students to the wonders of Fibonacci, so that they can then be inspired to count the petals on flowers, peas in pea pods, apply their new knowledge to the art of Leonardo da Vinci Here are just a few:

Blockhead the Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D' Agnese and John O'Brien is a biography of Leonardo. It includes his childhood and how his peers treated him at school when he didn't think in the same was they did.

Wild Fibonacci: Nature's Secret Code Revealed  by Joy N. Hulme and Carol Schwartz  looks at the places the Fibonacci sequence appears in nature.

Growing Patterns  by Sarah C. Campbell does a similar thing but is perhaps simpler.

Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere: A Fibonacci Tale  by Ann McCallum and Gideon Kendall embeds how quickly rabbits breed into a fun story and relates this to the Fibonacci sequence. You could read this alongside Emily Gravett's wonderful The Rabbit Problem.

Fibonacci's Cows by Ray Galvin. This New Zealand title is a high interest easy read short novel, ideal for students who have an interest in maths.




Saturday, August 3, 2013

5th - 11th August Homeless Person's Week


Homeless Persons' Week (HPW) is an annual themed week coordinated by Homelessness Australia.  It is used to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and the surrounding issues. It is held in the first full week of August each year. And while it is not a topic I would usually embrace explicitly with the young children I teach there are books that I might read to and discuss with them that highlight how important it is to have a home. While talking I might also touch upon how important it is to have a private place, a space that you can call your own, and how for many people, children included this is difficult because of the home they live in. It may be overcrowded, under-resourced, lacking in adult supervision or just too temporary.

These books do some of these things:
Way Home  by Libby Hathorn and Gregory Rogers. This classic prize-winner was published after Margaret Wild and Gregory Rogers' Space Travellers which also dealt with homelessness, but this time the 'aura' of the book was much more convincing. A young boy Shane appears to be wandering the city streets at night. He finds a cat and takes it home with him. Home, as you find out at the end of the story is a makeshift cubbyhole. The tenderness Shane shows to the cat highlights what being 'human' is about and gives the reader hope. The illustrations are rich visually and choosing one of the double page spreads would make a good stimulus for a See Think Wonder routine or the Making Thinking Visible routine that looks at what comes before and after this picture.

Flyaway Home  by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler tells the story of a young boy and his father who live in an airport and have to keep moving from terminal to terminal to avoid being noticed. The boy observes a trapped bird who finally finds freedom and this gives the boy hope for the future. So just like Shane who reaches out to the cat, this boy empathises with the bird.

Broken Beaks  by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer and Robert Ingpen. This is the story of friendship between a sparrow and a homeless man who suffers from a mental illness. It uses the metaphor of broken beaks to explain disabilities.
It is interesting that like the two stories above that need for love and being with other living things is also highlighted through friendship with an animal.

--Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE; Founder the Jane Goodall Institute; UN Messenger of Peace
"Enchanting, moving, and beautifully written. Broken Beaks is a brilliant way to help young children begin to understand the tragedy of the homeless."


Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams, Khadra Mohammed and Doug Chayka. This story is set in a refugee camp in Pakistan where families are waiting to be resettled. When some clothing is delivered two young girls find one sandal each and would like to find its partner. In the process Lina and Feroza meet and begin to understand the meaning of sacrifice and friendship. 

One Hen by Katie Smith Milway and Eugenie Fernandes. In this story of a young Ghanian boy, named Kojo, he is not homeless, but extremely poor. With a small loan he buys a chicken and then sells his eggs and thus becomes able to sustain himself and eventually others. This inspiring story shows children what can happen with hard work, the desire to change and help given for the right things. It is also based on a true story and the real-life story of Kojo is at the back of the book.

Scrawny Cat by Phyllis Root and Alison Friend. This story is much more lightweight than the others, but very suitable for a discussion about home and being homeless with very young children. Here a lost, scrawny, and hungry cat finds himself alone in the world after having once been loved by someone who scratched behind his ears and used his name. Now he is lonely and everyone just tells him to 'get out of here'. Finally he finds someone who takes him in.







Friday, August 2, 2013

4th August Louis Armstrong (1901 - 1971)

Louis Armstrong was a famous jazz musician. There is a considerable number of expository texts written about his life, but This Jazz Man is a tribute to nine well-known jazz musicians in a format very accessible to very young children. The song 'This Old Man' gets a toe-tapping makeover and it features nine of the best jazz musicians. Satchmo (Louis Armstrong's nickname) plays one, Bojangles plays two and so on until the ninth featured musician. As well as counting, dancing and swaying to the song the book includes a brief biography on each musician. Our library's copy has an accompanying CD to make it even easier to sing and dance along with.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

1st August Horse's Birthday

There is Cow Day and I decided to do books to support a Sheep Day, but it appears as if there is no National Horse Day, so I am making the 1st August, when every horse in Australia has a birthday, Horse Day.

All thoroughbred horses have the same birthday so as to standardise their ages for racing. In the Northern hemisphere all horses have their birthday on 1st January, but here it is 1st August.

This appears odd when a horse born at the end of July is already considered a yearling in August and then a 2 year old after its second August 1 even though it is really only one year and a few days.

Horses are very popular in children's literature, especially in novels for young readers. There are many horse-mad young girls visiting my library.



This collage shows some of the books that are popular. Except for Princess Evie's Ponies and the Bonny and Sam books these are not series. Aussie Nibbles and Aussie Bites both have several titles which feature horses.

In Australia, Alison Lester's books show her great love of horses and illustrator Patricia Mullins is often called upon when the title features horses because she too has a strong affinity with horses. Lightning Jack, her most recent title illustrated for author Glenda Millard is on the Picture Book of the Year shortlist. There are teacher's notes to accompany it here. Look for horse stories by American illustrator, Susan Jeffers as well because she too draws beautiful horses. See her picture book version of Black Beauty.

Monday, July 29, 2013

30th July Peter Gouldthorpe (1954)


Today is author illustrator Peter Gouldthorpe's birthday and although I have written about it before I want to 'sell' three of his books that have been published since then. Peter seems to be having a 'love affair' with Antarctica. While on holiday in Tasmania I went to an exhibition of his paintings and felt so in awe of the way he could make snow look so appealing, even if scary, and different in every painting and I feel this way too about his illustrations in No Return and Ice, Wind, Rock. The first tells the story of English explorer Captain Robert Scott's quest to be the first to reach the South Pole.  The second, in a way a companion book,  is the story of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's journey to the pole. Mawson is important in Australian history as he is on the $100 dollar note. He was firstly a lecturer in geology at Adelaide University. His interest in rocks led him to join Shackleton, an English explorer who had gone with Scott on his first expedition when he went to Antarctica. Gouldthorpe has managed to show these men's courage, strength and heroism in a very inhospitable place. His illustrations are powerful and very detailed. There are teachers notes to accompany Ice Wind, Rock  and there is a biography of Sir Douglas Mawson here.





Another book,  Lyrebird! A True Story  illustrated by Peter and written by Jackie Kerin is another Australian story that brings the past to life for young children.



Lyrebird! A True Story is based on the real tale of Edith Wilkinson and a a lyrebird she called 'James' who danced in Edith's Dandenongs garden in the 1930s. At the time, Superb Lyrebirds were believed to be shy and elusive, but James tolerated human audiences and performed for bird-watchers and ornithologists who arrived from around the globe. Upon a platform built on Edith's verandah rail, he became one of the first lyrebirds to be captured on film, and helped spread the reputation of these birds as uncanny imitators of the sounds around them.

This book is on the shortlist this year for the Eve Pownall Award and well worth sharing with children. Museum Victoria has footage of Edith and James and information here that will help when planning lessons to share this wonderful story.

Peter Gouldthorpe successfully brings true stories and history to life for young children in a way that no history textbook will ever manage.