Thursday, April 23, 2015

25th April World Penguin Day

Every day is Penguin Day for me. I love them. The children I teach love learning about them and they are very popular as topics and characters in children's books. I have written about them before for Penguin Awareness Day in January and listed many of my favourite books.

Last term Year 2 and I read Jill Tomlinson's short novel, Penguin's Progress (The Penguin Who Wanted to Find Out) over several weeks and as we read, we checked to see if the information she had given us about Emperor penguins was indeed correct. In the process the students handled many non-fiction books, looked online at film clips and websites and chose themselves to borrow picture books and short novels which had penguins as characters.  The library had over a hundred penguin books and they were well-borrowed. We looked at penguins' habitat, lifecycles, food and enemies. The students were not happy when we added 'man' to the list of enemies. This came about when we read Solo  by Paul Geraghty, a heart-wrenching family story where the students felt sure that the father and mother penguin would not come back to feed baby Solo. Ulco Glimmerveen's A Tale of Antarctica  also showed students the impact humans have on the pristine environment of Antarctica.

With the topic of penguins it is so hard to know where to start reading with children because there is just so much worth reading! But these are musts!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

12th April Gianna Marino

Happy birthday Gianna Marino. Her picture books are very special. She writes about a variety of things but all her books feature animals and she illustrates them beautifully and endearingly. I especially like the expressions she manages to imbue the wales with in her most recent book, Following papa's Song.

Monday, April 6, 2015

5th April Richard Peck (1934)

Some websites say today is Richard Peck's birthday, others including Wikipedia say it is on the 10th April. Whenever it is, it is worth celebrating, both for his wonderful books and this poem which has as it's title, every teacher's catchphrase,  'please read for twenty minutes a day'.

Twenty Minutes A Day
by Richard Peck 

Read to your children, twenty minutes a day;
You have the time, And so do they.
Read while the laundry is in the machine;
Read while the dinner cooks;
Tuck a child in the crook of your arm
And reach for the library books.
Hide the remote,
Let the computer games cool,
For one day your children will be off to school.
"Remedial?" "Gifted?" You have the choice; Let them hear their first tales
In the sound of your voice.
Read in the morning;
Read over noon;
Read by the light of Goodnight Moon.
Turn the pages together,
Sitting close as you'll fit,
Till a small voice beside you
says, "Hey, don't quit."

My favourite of his books are his two delightful books about mice, Secrets at Sea and its sequel The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail. These are adventure stories set in the past in Britain and they have a similar feel to stories such as The Borrowers where small characters are able to have  adventures of their own amongst humans.                        

Friday, April 3, 2015

4th April Happy Easter with Betty Bunny

I have a family at school who discovered Betty Bunny on a visit to the library. They are regular and prolific borrowers, a mother and her two young sons who are now 4 and 6, but who have been visiting the library for over two years. When they read and love a book they come in looking for more 'by that author 'or 'more about this character'. And this is how their love for Betty Bunny began. The library only had Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake when they first borrowed it and wanted more. While I waited for another to arrive they borrowed the chocolate cake book again and again. So as each new title has been published I've made sure we have purchased them. Just before Easter, Betty Bunny Loves Easter arrived. We hurriedly covered and catalogued it and sent it home on the second last day of school with the boys for Easter. On the last day there were two excited boys at the library who just had to give me a very excited rundown about Betty's Easter book. This is what makes the job of a teacher librarian in a Prep School so special!

Betty Bunny is your typical, if somewhat precocious preschooler, so preschool children can laugh at her and her misdemeanours. There is always plenty to discuss as the result of her behaviour too. In Betty Bunny Didn't Do It, Betty tries to blame the Tooth Fairy for breaking a lamp, but Mum is always a step of Betty despite Betty's negotiating skills. Here is an interview with Betty Bunny's creator Michael B. Kaplan explaining how the series came about. The books are illustrated by Belgian born, Canadian illustrator Stephane Jorisch.

Presently there are five books and a Betty Bunny toy:
Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake
Betty Bunny Wants Everything
Betty Bunny Didn't Do It
Betty Bunny Wants a Goal
Betty Bunny Loves Easter

Thursday, April 2, 2015

3rd April Happy Easter

It's finally school holidays and I can fall in a heap. The family is all at home so the house is full. It's raining like it often is at Easter. We've eaten copious amounts of hot cross buns which I love and we are planning to cook kedgeree which is a family tradition for Good Friday.

The last week of school was very busy with Easter services and hat parades and an International Day, but in amongst all this in the last couple of weeks, I did have time to read some of my favourite Easter books, Muddy Footprints by Mary Small; Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco; Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells and The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Tale by Nette Hilton. But I have a new favourite, The Easter Bunny's Assistant  by Jan Thomas. This book is a real hoot. I read it to preschool classes with the assistance of their teacher. Like Mark Sommerset's Baa Baa Smart Sheep and Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie  books this book is written for two speakers, the Easter bunny and his assistant, Skunk. Each class teacher and I hammed up the respective parts to make a wonderful reader's theatre rendition of the book. The students loved the fact that skunk smelled and joined in with the humour, holding their noses and warning the Easter bunny about what was going to happen. They even predicted the peg ending. An added bonus of the book is a well set out procedure for decorating and dying hard boiled eggs. This book is such good value all round!