Monday, April 29, 2013

29th April Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Thanks to Eric at Happy Birthday Author I now know that today is author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal's birthday. Every time she publishes a new book I am amazed all over again. She is so clever. Where does she get her ideas? Each book is so unique! The children in the my library love Spoon and Chopsticks. What eating implement will be next? Amy obviously likes wordplay. Even her website has interactive features based on words for readers to play with. Do you want it to be windy or rainy? Choose the ambience you would prefer. It is not always easy to find her books in Australia. Her newest I Scream for Icecream is here already, but I still haven't seen Exclamation Mark. This trailer really whet my appetite and I want to see the whole thing. Just as each of her books are unique often the message in her books, whatever the main character may be, is that each of us is special and has much to offer. We shouldn't be discouraged by others or feel that they are better than us. Now that I know I also have to acquaint myself with her books for adults and organise something special display-wise for next year.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

29th April E.L.Konigsburg (10/2/1930 - 20/4/2013)

Oh no, very sad news. I have just read that author, E.L. Konigsburg  died recently. So many of my favourite stories were written by her. I first read Jennifer Hecate Macbeth and Me when I first started teaching many years ago. I then serialised From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler to many classes, none of whom seemed bothered that we lived so far from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Perhaps it made it even more exciting. When I finally got there only a few years ago, I wandered around looking for things mentioned in the book and thought constantly about Claudia and Jamie. The museum was so big compared to Australian museums so I had no trouble envisaging the fact that they hid successfully for several days.

More recently I read A View from Saturday and wasn't disappointed. Everyone of her stories is so different from the one before, yet equally memorable.

The article about Mrs Konigsburg in the New York Times finishes with a wonderful quote which tells us just how important she thought children's books were despite starting her working life as a chemist:
'Children’s books, she once said, are “the key to the accumulated wisdom, wit, gossip, truth, myth, history, philosophy, and recipes for salting potatoes during the past 6,000 years of civilization.”'

It is also interesting to see that in the article she is  referred to as Mrs Konigsburg. The children I teach and I have always called her that, never feeling that we could call her E.L in the same way that children say J.K for J.K.Rowling, or use her christian name, Elaine . She was just too special, too revered. May her books continue to be popular.

Friday, April 26, 2013

28th April Screen Free Day

Screen Free Day (Week) - what a good idea! This is a day (or week) when you choose to turn off all screens that are part of your everyday life...your mobile, your computer, your iPad, your television, your game console etc.

Sometimes I wish I could manage the library without a computer and then we have a blackout or some problem and I have to write all the loans down and enter them manually later and it is such a chore so I know I don't really want to. However it would be nice not to read email or do research on a computer just for a day, to turn off when you leave work, so here's our chance. Turn off and read a book, or go outside, explore in the dirt, run, stroll on the beach...dream. All of the books above and those here will inspire you to

  If you don't know the Library Dragon books by Carmen Agra Deedy search out the second one Return of the Library Dragon. Every librarian needs this book! Miss Lotty, the book-reading librarian is retiring and she is to be replaced by Mike Krochip and computers. All the books are gone. There are some beautiful one-liners on why the books should be returned and the endpapers have the best 'book' quotes. It  ends with "but our kids need a library where they can UNPLUG, for the love of books." My library hasn't any computers for the children to use except the one used as an inquiry terminal, so when the children are in the library they are unplugged and choose to READ.

“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” — HERBERT SIMON, recipient of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

“Children need to experience the real world, not just media world. Make this week the beginning of that experience.” Dr Mike Brody

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

25th April Anzac Day

It is Anzac Day, a day when all Australians and New Zealanders remember their countrymen who have fought in wars, beginning with WW1. It is a holiday in Australia so any celebration done at school is usually before or after the actual day. This year it is right at the end of the school holidays so it will be afterwards. I have collected together all the picture books in my library ready for teachers and parents to borrow on Monday. Once it was hard to find books for early childhood aged children, but now there are so many wonderful picture books just right for sharing and discussing with young children.

Here's our collection:
• The Bantam and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck and Robyn Bolton
Lone Pine by Susie Brown and Margaret Warner  
Why Are You Marching, Daddy? by Di Burke
The Fair Dinkum War by David Cox
Memorial by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan
Anzac Biscuits by Phil Cummings and Owen Swan
Grandad's Medals by Tracy Duncan and Bruce Potter
A Day to Remember by Jackie French and Mark Wilson
The Donkey of Gallipoli by Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac
The Red Poppy by David Hill and Fifi Colson
My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy and Benjamin Johnson
Anzac Day Parade by Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen
In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen and Brian Harrison-Lever
Harry and the Anzac Poppy by John Lockyer
My Mother's Eyes: The Story of an Australian Boy Soldier by Mark Wilson

Some of these are fairly new, such as Anzac Biscuits and Lone Pine which are particularly moving and provide plenty of food for thought. These books have been written about on many websites and many come with teaching notes.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

22nd April Jelly Bean Day

Oh what fun a day! Who needs an excuse to celebrate jelly beans, one of my favourite lollies? According to the web page that goes with the day, no one knows for sure who invented them or where they came from. Some think they developed from Turkish Delight and that they have existed since the mid 19th century. They think you should celebrate by having a 'how many jelly beans in the jar' competition, doing craft activities using jellybeans or simply eating lots of jelly beans, but here's some other ways and of course they enlist the help of good picture books.

Immediately two Australian books came to mind, The Sad Little Monster and the Jelly Bean Queen by Kym Lardner and Picasso the Green Tree Frog by Amanda Graham and John Siox. I was going to say that unfortunately they are both out of print and you will need to search in a library, but I have just looked at Kym Lardner's website and learned that you can buy this book and the whole story is on his website for you to read! It is the story of a princess who eats 'jelly beans for breakfast, lunch and tea', but she decides she would like to share her jelly beans and goes off in search of someone to share them with.

The other, Picasso the Green Tree Frog is about a frog who falls into a jar of jellybeans and becomes multicoloured, the colours of the jelly beans. It too, is good fun and you can still buy this book and find Picasso on this Era interactive website.

A newer book about jelly beans is How Many Jelly Beans?  by Andrea Menotti and Yancey Labat. This oversized book with lovely thick paper and bright illustrations appeals greatly to small hands. It is about two children Aiden and Emma who are trying to decide how many jelly beans are enough. So it would be perfect  to share while eating jelly beans!

21st April Kindergarten Day Friedrich Froebel (1782 -1852)

Kindergarten Day is celebrated on the 21st April because this is the anniversary of the date when the founder of kindergartens, Friedrich Froebel was born in 1782. The first Kindergarten started in Germany in 1837. According to John Cech
"The school was built upon a series of innovative principles that used the innate curiosity and interests of children to guide them to see what Froebel believed to be the harmonious, interconnectedness of all things -- through song and play (which was unheard of in earlier schools); daily lessons in drawing, design, and other artistic activities; and learning through active doing and close contacts with the natural world -- many of the kindergartens actually had real gardens attached to them that the children tended and in doing so, Froebel believed, cultivated their own inner lives."

Many of the best kindergartens still do this and there has been a move more recently to reconnect children again with their natural worlds using gardens, visits to the bush and taking part in activities that use natural or found objects, such as sticks, stones and leaves. This move is because many kindergartens have "become simply smaller first grades, teaching numbers and letters and giving tests and homework." Children of this technological age do need to be reconnected to play, activity and creativity.

What better way to explore 'kindergarten' than through books and play. When I think of kindergarten I often think of Rosemary Wells and her stories about Timothy and Yoko starting school. Kindergarten is such a momentous occasion in a parent's life. Now that my children are adults I still remember vividly their Kindergarten classes and teachers. Hoewever, their schooling after that is becoming a bit blurred and it seemed to have gone very quickly.

For a comprehensive list of picture books about starting school look here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

19th April Melissa Sweet

It is Melissa Sweet's birthday and as she is a favourite illustrator of mine I have written about her on this blog many times before. Recently I discovered that I had incorrectly celebrated her birthday on the 18th April so I need to write about her birthday again in order to correct my mistake.

Seeing this illustration from Google images which is in fact from Melissa's blog, you can understand why she would be a favourite with any librarian. Her kind of art, some of which, makes extensive use of collage appeals immensely. I first discovered her books when Jane Yolen's Baby Bear books became so popular with the children in my library, but then I went looking for more books by her and discovered that there were a large number of other titles in the library, such as Moonlight,  Love and Kisses, all the Charlotte books and the wonderful Carmine.

More recently when I began a unit of work using picture book biographies with my Year 2 Book Club I discovered more Melissa Sweet titles such as The Boy Who Drew Birds,  Balloons Over Broadway, and Girls Think of Everything and more recently I purchased two new books to add  to this unit Brave Girl  and Mrs Harkness and the Panda.

The best way to learn more about Melissa is to read her own writing on her website and her facebook page because you will see there all the things she is involved in. I was so envious when I read that she had recently done a workshop at the Eric Carle Museum. I wish she had been there the day I visited. I would even have forgone the blue sky, long green grass and heavily fruit-laden apple trees I saw, for the snow and kite flying!

Now I  need to order Spike  (so I can use those wonderful bookmarks) and A Splash of Red to add to the biography unit. And I need to hound the publisher to get Baby Bear's Books  back in print. It is one of the few books that has 'walked' from my library, so you know it is good. Must dash, off to go bike riding or walking by the beach with my librarian friend. see bikes and librarians are important!

Monday, April 15, 2013

15th - 21st Gardening Week 16th - 22nd April Bread Week

It is Bread Week in the UK.  It is also Gardening Week. The UK certainly knows what to celebrate. Gardens and bread are two things that I love!

There are so many wonderful picture books that could be used to celebrate these two topics. I have a Pinterest board on gardening and any book I would recommend is likely to be there. I have written about picture books that celebrate bread on this blog before, but I would like to add this new celebration of bread and the things we do with it, Hooray for Bread by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman.

Friday, April 12, 2013

14th April Annie Sullivan (1866 - 1936)


Annie Sullivan is best known as the teacher of the blind girl Helen Keller. In fact books written about her, often refer to her as 'The Miracle Worker'. She had her own challenges in life too, including loosing her sight which was later restored as the result of operations, but after studying for herself she became the very persistent, but patient talented teacher and confidante of Helen. There have always been 'readers' about Anne and Helen, but recently two beautiful picture books have done much more justice to their lives, their successes and struggles. The first,  Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport and Matt Travares provides a very accessible introduction for young readers to learn about these two women whose lives have become inspirational to others. The second,  Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson and Raul Colon also provides an insight into their relationship, but also includes excerpts from letters written by Annie about her work with Helen and therefore seems to highlight Annie's achievements more.  Biographies such as these add status to the topic when compared to 'readers' that pare the facts down to a minimum and control the vocabulary to fit a certain level. For older children in primary school there is also an impressive photobiography from  National Geographic book, Helen's Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's Teacher by Marfe Ferguson Delano.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

10th April World Sibling Day

World Sibling Day is a day for sibling revelry rather than rivalry. Get in touch with your siblings now. Think of all the good things you've done together.

Recently I had a birthday, and one of the nice things about the day was that everyone of my siblings got in touch. That is one of the pleasures that comes with having quite a few siblings. Of course, as children we weren't always that amicable and some of us got on better than others. Another pleasure for me is seeing whole families use my library so that I get to know the younger siblings long before they start school. Teaching each member of a family is quite an honour I feel.

There are so many wonderful books about siblings and their relationships, some of them quite famous in fact. Among others there is:
• Alfie and Annie Rose     Shirley Hughes.
• Frances and Gloria          Russell Hoban.
• Max and Ruby                Rosemary Wells
• Horrid Henry and Perfect Peter         Francesca Simon
• Judy Moody and Stink    Megan McDonald
• Ramona and Beezus       Beverly Cleary
• Anastasia and Sam          Lois Lowry
• The Pain and the Great One              Judy Blume
Each of these series hooks readers in, to keep reading more and more about what these children are doing to and with each other.

For very young children where it is more about sibling rivalry there are picture book series like these:
My Big Brother, Boris; My Little Sister, Doris by Liz Pichon
The Very Worst Monster; Silly Billy; Three Star Billy; It's My Birthday stories about Hazel and Billy by Pat Hutchins
Share With Brother; Stay With Sister; Baby by Steven Layne

A common request in my library is for a book for a toddler about welcoming a new baby. There are many but I can't always remember one quickly when asked on the hop. Here are a few that are in my library that I pull out for this purpose:
A Baby for Grace  by Ian Whybrow
How to be a Me, the Big Sister by Sally Lloyd-Jones
One Special Day by Lola M. Schaefer
I'm a Big Sister by Ronne Randall
Big Brother Little Brother by Penny Dale

And just in case, you'd rather do the whole sibling thing with animals instead, there is a book by the fabulous Steve Jenkins and his wife Robin Page, Brothers and Sisters, Sibling Relationships in the Animal World.

10th April Richard Peck (1934)

Richard Peck is best known for his novels for middle grades and young adults. He won the Newbery Award in 2001 for A Year Down Yonder. However he has more recently written Secrets at Sea, an  irresistible adventure story which features mice as its main characters. These mice are secretly living among humans and when in 1887, the humans undertake a voyage from New York to London by sea, the mice go too. Many of my good Year 2 readers have read and enjoyed this book. For a more extensive review and ideas about its possibilities, read about this book here at Momo Celebrating Time to Read .

Also while researching Richard Peck I learned that he had written an autobiography which included these wonderful words which every school librarian likes to hear.
"I read because one life isn't enough, and in the page of a book I can be anybody;
I read because the words that build the story become mine, to build my life;
I read not for happy endings but for new beginnings; I'm just beginning myself, and I wouldn't mind a map;
I read because I have friends who don't, and young though they are, they're beginning to run out of material;
I read because every journey begins at the library, and it's time for me to start packing;
I read because one of these days I'm going to get out of this town, and I'm going to go everywhere and meet everybody, and I want to be ready."
As I write this, it is Friday night and the second last week of term and I am feeling very tired because the library has just been so busy this term. In fact since school began at the beginning of February we have already loaned more than ten thousand books. But the purple words above make it all worthwhile!
This video of Richard Peck talking about why we need to read to children if we want them to write would be good for a parent night at school if I needed to stress the partnership between parents and school when creating readers and writers. The statistics tell me that my parents are very good library borrowers but I guess there's always some I haven't yet convinced.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

6th April International Pillow Fight Day

On Saturday April 6th 2013, there will be massive pillow fights in cities around the world, including here in Sydney. It looks to be lots of fun and perhaps that is why pillow fights seem to occur in children's picture books. Three books that immediately came to my mind were all Australian and by authors and illustrators who have won Children's Book Council awards.  Here they are, a Deborah Niland, a Catherine Jinks and Andrew McLean and a Jan Ormerod book, but I'm sure there must be more. Do you know a good pillow fight book?