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.