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.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

18th July Mandela Day

Thursday, July 18, is Mandela Day, a day of service that recognizes South African activist and former president Nelson Mandela's birthday.
This year, Mandela, who was born in 1918,  has suffered several health complications and remains in hospital for his 95th birthday.

There are a considerable number of books about this freedom fighter. Two biographies for young children that you will find in the library are:

Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom (this is longer, comprehensive, gives a particularly detailed account and can be dipped into rather than read in its entirety in one sitting)

Peaceful Protest The Life of Nelson Mandela (this reads more like a story, but the illustrations are dark and hard to see from a distance)
and this book is about to be reissued in paperback to coincide with Mandela's birthday.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

13th July Sheep Day

This week there is a Cow Appreciation Day (the second Friday in July) and I got to thinking why isn't there a Sheep Appreciation Day, so I went searching and apparently there is on the 27th April, not that I have celebrated it here or at school before. Then I read Anita Silvey's blog and saw that it was Sheep Day in Ohio today. So I sat and made a list of sheep books that the children and I enjoy and there are quite a few. My preschool classes always start with Baa Baa Black Sheep, probably the nursery rhyme they know best, and then we branch out from there.

In some they are connected to counting and sleeping.
One More Sheep  by Mij Kelly
When Sheep Cannot Sleep by Satoshi Kitamura
The 108th Sheep by Ayamo Imai
The Sleep Sheep by Anna McQuinn

In others they just make the reader laugh!
 Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark Sommerset
Pete the Sheep by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
The Great Sheep Shenanigans by Peter Bently
Elfrida by Klara Fell
Bea Rocks the Flock by Victoria Jamieson  
Baa For Beginners by Deborah Fajerman  

There are those that reflect parables, fables, fairytales or have an important message.
The Black Sheep by Elizabeth Heck (need to explain the saying?)
The Lost Lamb by Melody Carlson (the parable)
Prince Charming and Baabarella by Angela Glitz  (Cinderella story with sheep)
Sheep in Wolves' Clothing by Satoshi Kitamura
The Lamb Who Came to Dinner  by Steve Smallman
Rocky and the Lamb by Greg Gormley
The Lamb-a-roo  by Diana Kimpton (adoption theme)

There are stories where sheep behave like real sheep as all farm animals do in Kim Lewis' books.
Little Baa by Kim Lewis
Emma's Lamb by Kim Lewis

And of course there is the classic Australian book for toddlers Where is the Green Sheep? and Rob Scotton's series about Russell the Sheep, the sheep who is always different from the rest of the flock.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

6th July International Kissing Day

Yes, there's even a day to celebrate kissing. In the context that I work in, kissing probably has somewhat different connotations from those that International Kissing Day celebrates, but nevertheless they are something that young children have an opinion about. They often hate them publicly, but crave them when unsure, anxious, about to go to sleep or need reassurance from loved ones and are away from peers. Kisses are given to say hello; say goodbye; say goodnight; and to say 'I love you' and all of these appear in picture books. Here is a collage of those in my library and as well as all those reasons mentioned they also cover the 'yucky' and the 'too many'.