Friday, November 28, 2014

29th November Jon Klassen (1981)

Jon Klassen is the Canadian writer and illustrator of children's books who won both the American Caldecott Medal and the British Kate Greenaway Medal for children's book illustration, for his 2012 picture book This is Not My Hat.  He is the first person to win both awards for the same work. This is a wonderful book, but he has been involved in the publication of many other fabulous books such as I Want My Hat Back and the very recent one Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, which he did with American author Mac Barnett.  Like Klassen, Barnett is young. He was born on 23rd August 1982.

Recently the two of them appeared on a television show where they talked about their new book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and they looked like they were enjoying themselves so much that it is easy to see why together their books work so well with young audiences. A hole seems like an unlikely subject for a very successful book, but add the diamond and the visual humour that goes with them missing it and it turns into a book that the children 'just get'. The trailer is very funny too! I'm sure there will be much more yet to come from this duo both separately and together.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

23rd November The Twelve Days of Christmas

Browsing through the Christmas picture books I noticed that Alison Jay has done a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas and I picked it up for perusal, and while it does have beautiful artwork in her trademark style, I did wonder how many copies one library needs of this song, especially a school library like mine where school finishes for the summer holidays three weeks before Christmas and the teachers do so little Christmas-wise with their classes. Some very well known children's illustrators seem to have enjoyed creating their own version - see among others Susan Jeffers, Rachel Isadora, Brian Wildsmith, Jane Ray, Jan Brett, Robert Sabuda, Britta Teckentrup and Jane Cabrera.

One of the most popular holiday songs of all time, 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' probably originated in France during the late Middle Ages and became popular in England as a chant sung without music. The 12 days are traditionally those following Christmas, with the last day being the end of the season. Over the years the lyrics have changed but the song remains a perennial favourite. 

I sometimes use the song to explain to students that the twelve days are the twelve days after Christmas Day that take us up to Epiphany, the day when the three kings went to visit baby Jesus and the day when traditionally we take down our Christmas tree and decorations.

As well there are many spin offs designed to suit a particular place. There are African (A Stork in a Baobab) and Latino (A PiƱata in a Pine Tree) versions and here in Australia there are a myriad of innovations, with emus, kookaburras and platypuses up gum trees and even an underwater version by Kim Michelle Toft. The original by June Williams and John McIntosh is gentle and almost reverent, the newer ones such as the Heath McKenzie version and the Colin Buchanan version are loud and boisterous. At the Lifeline Book Fair this weekend near my home I could have bought a number of each version for as little as fifty cents each! Perhaps good for compare and contrast activities and as background to making your own.

Monday, November 10, 2014

12th November WOW (Wear Orange Wednesday)

It is Wear Orange Wednesday in celebration of everything the SES (State Emergency Services) do to help those in need. The children I teach have probably had little to do with the SES, but I thought it a good excuse to look for ways of celebrating 'orange' through books. This is what I found:

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater is an oldie but goodie that explores the themes of creativity and individuality.
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco is perfect for this time of year as it is a Christmas story based on the traditions of Polacco's own family.
Otto's Orange Day by Jay Lynch is one of the very popular titles from the Toon series of books.
It's an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall. A fabulous new book, it explores colour, has great holes and lends itself to lots of creative fun.
Big Wolf and Little Wolf, Such a Beautiful Orange by Nadine Brun-Cosme. One in a series of three books about a great friendship between two wolves who share adventures.
Once Upon an Alphabet, Short stories for all the letters by Oliver Jeffers. This is not about anything orange, but it has a spectacular orange cover and it is an absolute wonder.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

10th November Neil Gaiman (1960)

Happy birthday to English author Neil Gaiman. Neil's best known books are beyond the reading capabilities of my clientele, but there are some picture books and easier chapter books for my under 8s. Hopefully having read these they will be keen to read books such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book when they are older.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October missed birthdays

I have found four October birthdays that I haven't celebrated at school. I am writing them here so that next year I can remember to highlight them

3rd October 1948   Marilyn Singer
The American author responsible for a series of picture books about Talulah, a child ballerina. My girls love her, but even better known for her wonderful poetry, See Mirror Mirror; A Stick is an Excellent Thing  and A Strange Place to Call Home.

4th October 1944 Susan Meddaugh
The American author/illustrator of the series of books about a dog called Martha e.g. Martha Speaks. My favourite of her books Cinderella's Rat.

7th October  Andrea Beaty
The author of the outstanding Iggy Peck Architect  and Rosie Revere Engineer

18th October 1956 Eugene Yelchin
Is a Russian born American illustrator. See Lee Wardlaw's haiku Won Ton and the wonderful poetry book for two voices written by Carole Gerber Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More!