Friday, October 21, 2016

24th - 31st October Honey Week

It is Honey Week in the UK, but I thought I'd dig out books that feature honey, put them out on display and celebrate in the library anyway.
All the pizza books went on the first day so I am hoping these will be borrowed too. Besides it's a good excuse to revisit Elizabeth Honey's poem Honey Sandwich which is in her book of poetry by the same name. There are masses of books about bees (see pinterest page here) but here I've included only the books that have honey in their title and where honey means that wonderful tasting golden syrup that bees produce, not someone's name.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

18th October Vampire series for beginning readers

Well just as I thought I was doing a good job of encouraging the children to borrow all the witch and wizard series in the library, I got 'but where are the vampire books?' Ten years ago this age group did not know about vampires or werewolves, but now these two are sometimes asked for. Is it television or older siblings?

Well luckily after a quick search I came up with two series:
• Mona the Vampire by Hiawyn Oram. This series is old, out of print currently, and mine have two different covers depending on whether they were published before or after it was a television series, but they are still borrowed and read as 'readers' for Year 1 students. we have four titles.

Vampire School  by Peter Bently.  These are newer, about the same length and there are six books in the series. They are set in a school called St Orlok's which you have to be a vampire to attend. Lee, Bella and Billy are students in Miss Gargoyle's class. We appear to have a mixture of covers from two different issues of this series as well.

Then recently I purchased a new series of books about Isadora Moon which are written and illustrated by Harriet Muncaster. Isadora is half fairy and half vampire because her mother was a fairy and her father a vampire. These four stories are attractive beginning chapter books from Oxford and like many of the new books for newly fluent readers these feature one colour and here it is pink. They stayed on the shelf this morning for less than ten minutes! So far they are popular, let's see if they continue to walk out the door with very little upselling.

I also have
Three Little Vampires by Georgie Adams
Daisy and the Trouble With Vampires by Kes Gray
Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire  by Francesca Simon
Jake Cake The Visiting Vampire by Michael Broad

Saturday, October 15, 2016

16th October Chooks in Space

On the 13th October Speech Pathology Australia announced their winning books of the year. The books relevant to the age groups I teach are the winner for 3 to 5 year olds, Something Wonderful and the winner for 5 to 8 year olds, Funky Chicken: Chooks in Space. When I read this I thought to myself why are chickens in picture books so much lately? Are they fashionable? We've had a lot of books about sloths, lemurs and skunks but somehow chickens don't seem to have the same 'cutesy' appeal. Nevertheless these five books are worth a look. Each has a message about creativity, determination, perseverance and problem solving. Four are Australian and they are FUN.

This year I have purchased three books about adventurous chickens going into space!
Chooks in Space by Chris Colin and Megan Kitchin. Funky Chicken is back and this time wants to go into space. There is a bonus CD with this one.

Chicken in Space by Adam Lehrhaupt and Shahar Kober.
Zoey, the chicken is determined to make it into space. Together with her friend, Sam, a pig she plans her adventure.

Zelda's Big Adventure by Marie Alafaci and Shane McG. Just like the other two, there is a plucky chicken determined to get into space.

Something Wonderful by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair is not about a chook although there is one on the front cover. It is a bout a daydreaming boy called Sam who loves to make things. He makes a machine that will do his chores for him. That is the something wonderful. This book is quite inspirational for children and parents as it shows how children can be effective problem solvers and fill in their time without technology.

It is technology that is part of the message in Nick Bland's new chicken picture book too. In The Fabulous Friend MachinePopcorn, the chicken finds a new friend in the barn and wants to be friends with the pictures on the screen. Can she?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

14th October Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize

The first thing I heard on the news as I woke this morning was that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As I like Dylan's songs and know so many of the lyrics I thought it was highly appropriate that he win for his poetry, but as I have listened to the radio today I see that not everyone agrees that he should win a prize for writing. Too bad, I say, because his words definitely are worth sharing and I will make sure that the students I teach know who Dylan is and some of what he has written. I will do this by sharing the picture books in our library that have his words accompanied by wonderful artwork.

Starting with this biography of his younger life, the children will discover that the American poet Bob Dylan was born Bob Zimmerman in rural Minnesota. He changed his surname to Dylan after his favourite poet, Dylan Thomas. He pursued his love of music in New York where he met and was mentored by Woody Guthrie.

Then we have four books which feature his words. They are:
* Blowin' in the Wind illustrated by Jon J. Muth.
* Man Gave Names to All the Animals illustrated by Jim Arnosky
* If Dogs Run Free  illustrated by Scott Campbell
* If Not For You  illustrated by David Walker


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

10th October World Mental Health Day

This week is Mental Health Week. Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and mental health is certainly something that teachers need to be more aware of than we were in the past. Every class has children who struggle with anxiety, who worry excessively, who have anger issues and who appear especially despondent or unengaged, but the good thing is that because teachers now worry about emotional intelligence as well as academic and social intelligences, they plan for the teaching of it and have much better protocols for identifying and remedying these concerns.

Teachers program for and conduct Circle Time in their classrooms. They encourage students to talk about their feelings, to express their feelings through play, drama and art. They read and discuss wonderful stories that highlight feelings and strategies for overcoming feelings.

In the last couple of years four books have been published about feelings which allow for children to understand that everyone feels a gambit of emotions and that this is normal. These are:

* Feelings: Inside My Heart and in My Head...
 by Libby Walden and Richard Jones.
* In My Heart A Book of Feelings  by Jo Witek
* The Great Big Book of Feelings by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
* A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino

While these are certainly not the only books that may be useful, these do cover more than one feeling in one book. There is a myriad of purpose written series about emotions with one emotion per book.

With the young children I teach I like to look at the expressions a fish can have in Mies Van Hout's illustrations in her book Happy and then discuss the emotion illustrated by connecting it back to themselves and when they have felt this way.

Another approach is to read a picture book where a character is having a particularly sad time and look at what happens to the character before discussing this situation. Two recent books that do this are:
* Mr Huff by Anna Walker,    and
* Willy and the Cloud by Anthony Browne.


Friday, October 7, 2016

8th - 12th October Cephalopod Awareness Days

'Every year from the 8th to the 12th of October, International Cephalopod Awareness Days come around to teach the world about cephalopods. This event is all about celebrating and sharing how fascinating and incredible they are!

Cephalopods are a class of marine invertebrates that are easy to recognize by all their arms and tentacles. They are part of the Phylum Mollusca, which means they’re related to other animals with soft bodies and shells, like snails and clams. Unlike the other molluscs, though, cephalopods have large brains and are known for their intelligence. Cephalopods are also interesting because they have three hearts and blue blood. They have highly developed eyes, and they have an amazing ability to camouflage because their skin can quickly change color and texture.'

Each of the days is designated:
October 8 – Octopus Day, for all the eight-armed species
October 9 – Nautilus Night, a time for all the lesser-known extant cephalopods
October 10 – Squid Day/Cuttlefish Day, or Squidturday, covering the tentacular species
October 11 – Myths and Legends Day, for all the fantastical cephalopods of movies, literature and legend. Release the Kraken!

October 12 – Fossil Day (to coincide with National Fossil Day), for all the incredible suckers that have gone extinct.

Kindergarten's unit of enquiry this term is to do with the sea, so there isn't anything left in my library to display, but if I could these books would be there to borrow:
Two that I especially like are new and they do what a lot of good nonfiction for younger children does so well. Look for Octopuses One to Ten by Ellen Jackson and Robin Page and Octopus Escapes Again by Laurie Ellen Angus.
And I would really like to see this one, Giant Squid because I am a fan of Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann and I'm sure it will be good.

We have a lovely octopus toy so I will need to do this display at some time earlier in the year.

P.S. Why do we spell molluscs with a 'c' and Americans put a 'k' so it is mollusks?


Thursday, October 6, 2016

October Pizza Month

October is Pizza Month in the USA. The children I teach love pizza, so much so that if I want to reward them for finishing something like the Premier's Reading Challenge we have a pizza party in the library. The students love the thought of eating in the library even if the reality isn't what they think it will be! We read Adam Rubin's Secret Pizza Party and everyone is sworn to secrecy so that the students who weren't there have to keep wondering what it was like.

My students will be back at school next week after two week's holiday when they probably ate plenty of pizza, but nevertheless I have put out a table full of these resources (all the pizza books in the library) to celebrate Pizza Month. I will also add some cook books which have pizza making.

Monday, October 3, 2016

3rd October Wizards - series for beginning readers

There's nowhere near the number of wizard series as there was for witches, and what there is, is extremely light-weight by comparison, but I do have boys who will ask for a chapter book about wizards. These are the three series that I suggest they choose from:

1. Woozy the Wizard by Elli Woodward. The three titles in this series are written in rhyming text and readers who can cope with the text, like Woozy, a confused old wizard who while meaning well does some very silly things.

2. Wizzbang Wizard by Scoular Anderson. There are only two books in this series. They tell readers the story of of Freddy Frogpurse who goes to visit his Great Uncle Sneezer to learn to become a wizard.

3. Oliver Moon by Sue Mongredien. This is the most popular of the series. There are twelve titles in this series and I have children who will read them all. Oliver Moon is the hardest working wizard at Magic School, but at home he has problems dealing with his unmagical parents.

The picture books about wizards are much better, (e.g.  Little Wizard by Kazuno Kohara, The Princess and the Wizard by Julia Donaldson) but my good readers want chapter books and they really don't mind if they are formulaic or a bit 'twee'. The boys who are keen soon move onto Kate McMullan's Dragon Slayer's Academy and become engrossed in the adventures of Wiglaf.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

2nd October Witches - series for beginning readers

Last post I wrote about beginning chapter books about ghosts and here I want to tell you about what is popular in the library for my students who love to read about witches. There is plenty to excite those who are fluent readers but not yet ready for the more sophisticated series such as Araminta Spook, Septimus Heap, Ottoline, Goth GirlWitchworld or Harry Potter. 

I was a witch fan when I was a young reader and there wasn't a lot to choose from. E.L. Konigsburg's Jennifer, Hecate Macbeth, William McKinlay and and Me, Elizabeth and Eva Ibbotson's Which Witch?though are still favourite books of mine. The witch fans at school start of course with picture books like  Meg and Mog and Valerie Thomas' Winnie the Witch series and as they start to read for themselves they borrow Deborah Hautzig's  Little Witch and Rose Impey's Titchy Witch, which has just been reimaged and reissued.  So here, in roughly increasing difficulty and length is ten other series witch fans will love.

1. Witch in Training by Maeve Friels. Jessica the heroine here is learning to be a witch and there are eight books in which you get to know her well.

2. Heidi Hecklebeck by Wanda Coven. Eight year old Heidi has a secret. She is a witch in disguise and only the family is meant to know. There are currently 16 books in this series  and it is probably the most popular series with the Year 1 girls once they have read all of Billie B. Brown and Ella and Olivia.

3. Dorrie the Little Witch  by Patricia Coombs. This series of books was popular when I started teaching but then they disappeared. They are now back and at least four have been reissued with the original endearing black and white illustrations,  but in hardback. It is a pity the publishers didn't increase the size of the print because my readers are put off by small font size even though there is not too much text on each page.

4. Winnie the Witch by Laura Owen and Korky Paul. These stories originated as a spin-off from the picture books by Valerie Thomas. Recently when I tried to replace a missing copy I saw that these have also been remerged and are now called Winnie and Wilbur. Wilbur is Winnie's cat.

5. Rumblewick's Diary by Hiawyn Oram. Like Wilbur, Rumblewick is a witch's cat. He is tasked with turning Haggy Aggy his unwilling witch into a credible witch. He records in his diary all the problems he has with her. There are two picture books in this series too, with wonderful illustrations by Sarah Warburton.

6. Hubble Bubble by Tracey Corderoy. Pandora's granny is a witch. We meet her first in a picture book with illustrations by Joe Berger, but there are five chapter books for beginning readers, that are full of mayhem and a little magic.

7. Witch Baby and Me by Debi Gliori.  The narrator, Lily is nine and she has a one year old sister, Daisy. She is no ordinary baby. She is a witch baby and nobody knows this except Lily who sees her make the fridge float and turn people into slugs.  There are four books about these sisters.

8. Bella Donna by Ruth Symes. Bella Donna is a witchling – a young witch who must keep her powers a secret, and only use magic when she’s at home in the enchanted Coven Road. There are six books in this series.

9. Monstrous Maud by A.B. Saddlewick. There are six books about Maud and Rotwood where she goes to school. She has a pet rat called Quentin and a perfect twin sister, Milly.

10. The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy is a series everyone should read. Mildred Hubble attends a boarding school for witches and has many mishaps, lots of friend and teacher problems just like Harry Potter, but it is for much younger readers and it was written long before Harry Potter. Some of my Year 2 readers struggle to get into these because the sentences are longer and more complex, but once someone reads them some or they listen to the audio book they are hooked. There are now seven books in this series.

Are there any good witch series for this age group, that I have missed?