Sunday, March 31, 2013

4th April International Carrot Day

International Carrot Day or Carrot Day is celebrated every year on April 4th and it is the pinnacle for carrot lovers all around the world. It is the day when the carrot is celebrated and what better way to do that than to eat carrots, read about carrots or read stories that feature carrots. Here's what's in my library, but I am sure there are more.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

3rd April Jane Goodall (1934)

There are many non-fiction biographies for young children on the subject of Jane Goodall, the noted primatologist and anthropologist who worked with chimpanzees in the forests of Africa. She dreamed of working with animals while still a child, so her story is particularly inspiring to young children. For my young audience I prefer to use beautiful picture book biographies together with these factual, photographic timeline books. Our library has Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell and The Watcher by Jeanette Winter, both of which start with Jane as a child.

Friday, March 22, 2013

22nd March Chinua Achebe (16/11/1930 - 22/3/2013)

This rivetting children's story was written by the Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe who is famous for his adult novels, and sadly, yesterday he died.  The story is a fable based on an earlier story told by John Iroaganachi and it includes a poem by Christopher Okigbo who was killed in the Nigerian civil war so it is very much a story of the context of Nigeria's political system at the time.  It has been reillustrated for this version by Mary GrandPre and the illustrations are as dramatic as the writing.

Next week I will revisit this  beautiful book with my children as we have been doing a unit of work looking at various African pourquoi stories and this will make a fitting conclusion and allow for spirited discussion.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

19th March Steve Light (1970)

Last Wednesday I attended a fabulous conference, The  Creativity Project that was put on in Sydney by Big Fat Smile, an organisation that is a community owned, non-profit organisation that started on the South Coast to help and inspire families and children. There were some truly inspirational speakers. The first was the author, John Marsden and it was so good to hear him talk about teaching writing in the way that works for writers rather than to purely do well in a standardised test. He mentioned one of my favourite writers, Jane Gardham and I was motivated to come home and pull out some of her stories to reread. I was amazed too, to read that she is now in her eighties, but still writing.

The final speaker was Richard Gill and as usual his passion for creativity, teaching and the arts oozed from him. He makes you want to race back to school and be as zealous as possible. Of course there were other wonderful speakers as well, but these two were my highlights, together with the unstoppable MC Annabel Crabb, another truly inspiring role-model.

I am looking at illustrators and writers of picture books with new eyes too. At the moment I am very enamoured of three very creative books, Zephyr Takes Flight  by Steve Light,  Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford and Gabi Swiatkowska, and You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim. Each of these books is extremely original, idea-wise and art-wise. They call out to be examined closely and to be revisited regularly, my criteria for very good books.

As an added bonus I have just learned from Happy Birthday Author that it  happens to be Steve Light's birthday today. I need to look for other books by each of these authors and illustrators because they are all 'firsts' for me.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

8th March International Women's Day

International Women's Day, the one day of the year that we devote to celebrating all things female. From the progress we've made, to the dreams we have for the future.

The day was designed to inspire women and celebrate their achievements, so in assembly on Friday I had fun talking about women and their achievements. Of course I took a children's book as a focus, Seven Chinese Sistersand it is one where the women have special skills, but as it came about because of the wonderful story  The Seven Chinese Brothers, it was a good choice to highlight that girls can do anything as well or better than boys!

Then in the library we made a display of biographies about successful, pioneering women who achieved despite the odds stacked against them. Among others we used:
Me and Momma and Big John  by Mara Rockliff is a good story to show girls and boys that women can do anything they want to, even a job that appears to be 'male'.
Fossil Girl  by Catherine Brighton, and Stone Girl Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt, both are the story of Mary Anning who was the first person to find dinosaur bones in England.
Mrs Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter and Melissa Sweet which tells about how in 1934 Ruth Harkness continued the work that her husband started, went on an expedition in China and brought a panda to America.
Marvellous Mattie  by Emily Arnold McCully which tells the story of inventor Margaret Knight.
Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh and  Melissa Sweet which highlights many female inventors.
• Rachel  by Amy Ehrlich and Rachel Carson and the Book That Changed the World by Lawrie Lawlor tell of pioneering environmentalist, Rachel Carson.
Life in the Ocean by Claire A. Nivola tells of the life of oceanographer Sylvia Earle.

Also in your library there will be picture books about other wonderful women such as Rosa Parks, Madame Curie, Annie Sullivan, Florence Nightingale, Jane Goodall and Wangari Maathai, some of whom I have written of before in this blog. See pinterest page for more biographies.