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.