Saturday, December 30, 2017

31st December Michael Morpurgo Queen's Honour

How nice to hear that another stalwart of the children's book world has been honoured with a knighthood. Not sure I think they should exist, but it does worry me that so many entertainers and sports people get them and so few children's writers and illustrators. So, congratulations to Sir Michael Morpurgo. I love his books, especially the ones that deal with animals 'at risk'. Wonderful to see that his work with Farms for City Children is highlighted in a picture book illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

15th October Worm Day

Last week Australia made a momentous decision to allow same-sex marriage and we were talking in the library about what books we could put out on display to celebrate this. We thought of Worm Loves Worm and the lovely conversation in it about who will be the bride and who will be the groom. Then we went off on a tangent and started chatting about how many picture books had worms as main characters or as the topic. I then thought surely there is a 'worm day' and looked it up. It was on the 15th October and we missed it! So here I am writing it up so that next year we will be well prepared to celebrate it.

These books are in our library and they are perfect for celebrating worms. Firstly picture books:
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin and  Harry Bliss
The Worm Who Knew Karate by Jill Lever and Terry Denton
Worm  by Nicki Greenberg
Worm Weather by Jean Taft and Matt Hunt
I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt
Noodle and Lou by Liz Garton Scanlon and Arthur Howard
•  I Won't Eat That by Christopher Silas Neal
Superworm by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Rooting For You by Susan Hood and Matthew Cordell
Yucky Worms by Vivian French and Jessica Ahlberg
•  The Worm by Elise Gravel

Then there's all the chapter books:
Snail and Worm by Tina Kugler (series)
Boobela and Worm by Joe Friedman and Sam Childs (series)
Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner and Brian Floca
Dirty Bertie Worms by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts
Yuck's Pet Worm by Matt and Dave
They Didn't Teach Me This in Worm School  by Simone Lia
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Now add some great non-fiction with amazing worm photographs, a book with instructions for making a worm farm, some books on compost and you'll have a great display.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

11th November Origami Day

Origami Day was first observed in Japan. It honours the ancient art of creating objects from square pieces of paper.

The origami crane is one of the most recognized origami models around the world.

Amazing objects have been made that are indeed works of art, but at school we will be celebrating by making much simpler animals and having the children who are adept at origami teach their peers. When they have made a recognisable animal there is such a sense of achievement. 

We have a large number of books in the craft section of the library which give students ideas about what is possible, but we also have books where origami is central to the story or poetry in the book. Of course we have Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes  in picture book format but there are other picture books as well. See these:
Origami Heart by Binny
Wild Weather  by Thomas Kingsley Troupe (this is one book in a series called Origami Science Adventures)
Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George and Lauren Stringer
• The Paper Crane by Molly Bang
Yoko's Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells 
Little Oh by Laura Krauss Melmed
Tree of Cranes by Allen Say (just perfect for the run-up to Christmas)
• Peace Crane by Sheila Hamanaka
More-igami by Dori Kieber
Butterflies for Kiri by Cathryn Falwell
Float  by Daniel Miyares
The Fog by Kyo Maclear and Kennard Pak
Mole and the Newspaper by Laurence Bourguignon

Origami, Poems and Pictures  by The British Museum would make a wonderful present as it comes with the paper and it becomes a family reading, viewing and doing activity.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

4th November World Numbat Day

What is a numbat? It is a small marsupial that is now only native to Western Australia. It was once found across most of Southern Australia, but now it is in threat of extinction. So on World Numbat Day we celebrate Western Australia's unique mammal emblem and are encouraged to conserve the species. Like many of Australia's smaller marsupials it is threatened by foxes, feral cats and loss of habitat. Project Numbat works tirelessly to promote community awareness. Tomorrow in the library I will put these books out on display to remind the students about this interesting marsupial and its place in our unique fauna.

Friday, November 3, 2017

3rd November Jellyfish Day

Jellyfish Day is  not  a day many people will be celebrating, I'm sure, but at school the Kindergarten classes spend the term exploring things that live in the sea and one of the Kindergarten teachers really has 'a thing' about jellyfish and wanted her class to do some 'jellyfish art'. There is so much on pinterest and the web suggesting art projects for young students and she had decided what she wanted to do, but we had very few books in the library that she could use to research jellyfish with her class. So three years ago I was on a quest to find some. Now the library has these four and all are worth having. The photos in Jellies: The Life of Jellyfish by Twig C. George are superb. Jellyfish  by Mari Schuh has just the right amount of reading for Kindergarten and the the other two Jellyfish by Louise Spilsbury and Jellyfish by Valerie Boden are good examples of information texts for young children.

While looking for jellyfish books though I was surprised to find the library already had five books where a main character was actually a jellyfish. Who would have thought to choose a jellyfish as a character? Not me!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

28th October Hug a Sheep Day

What a wonderful creature a sheep is...certainly huggable. We need to thank them for wool, cheese and lanolin among other things. The last Saturday in October is Hug a Sheep Day so head off to a farm or petting zoo to thank a sheep. In Australia we won't have a wooly jumper on, but we may have a fine merino singlet top or t-shirt.

There's some very endearing sheep in children's picture books, besides Shaun and the Green Sheep and a few dictatorial ones too!
Look for:

Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton
Baa Baa Smart Sheep  by Mark & Rowan Sommerset
• The Sheep Who Hatched an Egg by Gemma Merino 

Louis 1 King of the Sheep by Olivier Tallec

Elfrida by Klara Fall & Heide Stollinger  
• Bea Rocks the Flock  by Victoria Jamieson   

Prince Charming and Baabarella by Angela Glitz  
Funny Machines for George the Sheep by Geraldine Elschner & Remi Saillard   

Saturday, October 21, 2017

21st October Apple Day

Yesterday was Apple Day which is celebrated in Australia and it was the day of the Granny Smith Festival here in Sydney. This festival is held on the third Saturday of October to commemorate 19th-century pioneer Maria Ann "Granny" Smith, credited with producing the Granny Smith apple.  So last week we had 'apple' picture books, including stories, information books and even some apple craft books on display and I enjoyed reading and acting out Mr Brown's Magnificent Apple Tree with some preschool classes.

A new apple book that was added just recently is Enough Apples  by Kim Kane and Lucia Masciullo. It is a good book to add to your collection because it not only deals with apples, apple pies and cooking with apples.  It  also is one to add to your list of sustainability resources. Here is the booksellers blurb:

'When an orchardist's apple trees are crowded out by looming development, he learns how to transform his altered world so he can continue to bake the perfect apple pie. An inspiring story about urban greening and creative adaptation to change.'

  I have written about Apple Day before  so to see more of the books we displayed look here. And something to be happy about Apple Pigs  by Ruth Orbach is back in print and easy to buy once again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

10th October Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is held every year on the second Tuesday of October. This is not her birthday. That is on 10th December, too close to school holidays and Christmas to celebrate then. Today is a day to celebrate inspirational women in science, technology, maths and engineering, in the hope that by shining a light on such people and increasing their visibility, they can inspire future generations. 

There is so much written about Ada's personal life. She has been the subject of novels, plays and now a large number of picture book biographies.This means that a large number of young children get to know about her 'mathematical genius' and she has become quite a mentor for young girls who enjoy STEM subjects.If you are looking to add books to your library for children as young as eight, these are perfect.

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Hallmark & April Chu 

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley & Jessie Hartland
and look out for these which will be here early in the new year

Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers  by Tanya Lee Stone & Marjorie Priceman

Ada Lovelace by Isabel  &   (part of the Little People Big Dreams series)

And there is a new series of bridging novels just available about an eight year old, third grade  student with a knack for maths, science and solving mysteries with technology.  Written by Emily Ada Lace, On the Case is book 1 in the series.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

6th October Badger Day

National Badger Day is celebrated on the 6th October annually. I find badgers beguiling. On a recent trip to Britain I was desperate to see one and when I asked where to see one this well-meaning woman said to me, "Oh dear, the only place you'll see one is dead on the side of the road." I continued my road trip and didn't give this comment too much more thought until the last day when about a kilometre from the airport as we were about to return our hire car I saw a badger, dead on the side of the road. In Australia we are quite used to 'roadkill' so my reaction I thought was completely out of character. I was a blubbering mess. 

Probably the first time I thought about badgers, as we don't have them in Australia, was when reading Wind in the Willows. Then when I started teaching Susan Varley's Badger's Parting Gifts was in every classroom and it made me sad. I wanted badger books that were happier and found Nick Butterworth's Percy the Park Keeper series where forest animals appeared so appealing. 

Now there are many more books to choose from in my library and I could put together a lovely display to celebrate today, starting with a plush badger bought at IKEA of all places. Jane Chapman's badgers always look friendly and fun in her illustrations for Karma Wilson's Bear stories. Her badger  in Paul Bright's  Grumpy Badger's Christmas even makes me smile.

The children in my library enjoy three 'badger' series:
• Suzanne  Chiew and Caroline Pedler's  Badger and the Great Storm, Badger and the Great Rescue, and Badger and the Great Journey

• The Mr Badger and Mrs Fox series by Brigitte Luciani  and Eve Tharlet. These five picture books are popular with my children who like the graphic novel format but are looking for shorter stories with coloured pictures.

• And of course there is Leigh Hobbs'  Mr Badger books which have dedicated Year 1 and 2 boy followers.

There are other stand alone picture books, but those above  will get you started on  a good display.

4th October Taco Day

Tacos are the Mexican equivalent of a sandwich and they are very popular with children so it is only fitting that there is a day to celebrate their existence. The two Dragons Love Tacos books by Adam Rubin together with the toy dragon are popular in my library and are often off visiting a family. Read them tomorrow and enjoy a taco filled with your favourite filling.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

16th September International Red Panda Day

Red Panda Day celebrates that smaller panda that is found in the Himalayas. It looks cute, but it features in children's books far less than the bigger black and white panda. In my library there is only one fiction book, Red Panda's Candy Apples and it is written by a New Zealand author Ruth Paul. It is the sequel to Hedgehog's Magic Tricks in which the red panda is a characterA new fiction book, Amy the Red Panda is Writing the Best Story in the World by Colleen Venable will be published in November. The blurb on websites says

An exuberant, hilarious guessing game about storytelling, creativity, friendship, and patience-with the most adorable animal menagerie you'll find anywhere! Amy the Red Panda starts to tell her best friend Mervin the Sloth a story when-uh-oh-a rainstorm of letters pours down! When it stops, Amy reads a sentence in the sky: Amy the Red Panda is writing the best story in the world... Marvin is there to give Amy just the right inspiration. A companion to Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World, this funny-bone-tickling picture book brings back a cast of zany, irresistible animal friends and an inventive, playful format."

There are more nonfiction titles. Among them, these three:


Saturday, September 2, 2017

2nd September World Beard Day

World Beard Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in September and it is not something I have ever given much thought to, but when I read that it was occurring, I thought I should. I am the daughter of a man with a beard, the wife of a man with a beard and the mother of a son who looks like a bushranger, his beard is so bushy. My brother has a beard too, so it seems as if I can't get away from thinking it is the norm for a male to have a beard.

Then I thought I'd look to see what the library had that I could put out on display and guess what there was more than I thought there would be. I immediately thought of Margaret Wild and Margaret Power's Creatures in the Beard which makes the students giggle because there is a robin , a mouse and a baby possum living in Nicholas's father's beard. This book was borrowed last week as it was part of a Fathers' Day display of picture books. As well there were

 • The Lumberjack's Beard by Duncan Beedie. It is a more recent version of this book, in that the lumberjack saves the animals in the trees by keeping them in his beard. It will be easier to find. It has a green message as well.

My Dad Has a Beard  by Kellen Roggenbuck

My Sister has a Big Black Beard and other quirky verse by Duncan Ball and Kerry Millard and

Blackbeard the Pirate by Mick Gowar (one of the Hopscotch readers)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

31st August Book Week 2017

When the Picture Book of the Year shortlist came out I read the books and wondered what I was going to do with my Year 2 classes this year as I thought many of the list would need too much scaffolding to share with them successfully. I read The Patchwork Bike and could see a myriad of possibilities and it reminded me of of many other bicycle books that I had read that were also set in Africa. I then thought about the theme Escape to Everywhere  and thought about whether we could 'escape on a bicycle in Africa'. Mind mapping all these books and possibilities I put together a six week (one lesson a week) study which looked at the role of bicycles in Africa and how it differs from here. We started with looking at the role of bicycles in their own lives, where they come from, what they are used for, how much they cost, how many did each family have and who actually had one and could ride one. We recorded this anecdotally. Then we read these books, located the places on a map and talked at length about the main characters, the places and the bikes in the stories:

Emmanuel's Dream which is a biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a disabled boy who grew up in West Ghana, overcame great difficulties and went on to inspire others. (See Emmanuel talking about his life here.)

My Rows and Piles of Coins is the story of a Saruni who helps his mother carry everything to market in Tanzania each week and realises that a bicycle would change his and his mothers life for the better so he saves his money in order to buy one. He has a lot of coins but learns that it is still nowhere near enough to buy a bike.

The Red Bicycle has a bicycle as the main character.It starts life in  i in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy.  His bicycle is donated  to an organisation that ships bicycles to Africa and is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family's sorghum field and to the market and then is repurposes as an ambulance.(If you have All Aboard For the Bobo Road, it is also set in Burkina Faso and shows the role of bikes well in the illustrations.)

In A Cloud of Dust tells the story of Anna who has a long walk to and  from school in Tanzania until the school is visited by a bicycle library. At this point I asked the children whether there was any aspect of Emmanuel, Saruni, Alisetta or Anna's life that they thought they would enjoy or like to try. The discussion was amazing. Many students thought these children had a degree of freedom and independence that they did not, some wanted to try working for money and some of the girls commented on liking to live 'without technology'.

Then we read The Patchwork Bike and watched both Maxine Beneba Clark read it on Youtube and it read on Story Box Library where we could see the illustrations in great detail because of their size on the smartboard. The students were fascinated by the way the illustrations were done on cardboard from a box. We talked about what we could use to make a bike. The students designed and drew up plans. I had time to read one class Galimoto too and this class made bikes from cardboard and wire. I was impressed with their  perseverance and their readiness to help each other.

Overall the Year 2 students and I have had a very interesting time in library lessons this term. We have used maps, turned the library into a makerspace to design and make, read good literature, put ourselves in others' shoes, watched film clips and been surprised at just what is happening charity and bike-wise.

Monday, August 28, 2017

28th August Book Week 2017

Well, Book Week 2017 has come and gone. The Early Childhood list of books didn't particularly inspire me to do great things with the books and children, but we did read them. As predicted Chip by Kylie Howarth was the big winner with the children in Kindergarten and Year 1. The library now has masses of seagulls flying 'aerobatically' around the library. It was interesting the connections the children made between the books. The biggest connection was one I hadn't predicted or planned for... and it was that three of the titles The Snow Wombat, Go Home Cheeky Animals  and Gary all had a map in them. Maps are in the new Geography syllabus and Kindergarten were right into following the trail of Gary and the wombat. They were very keen to discuss whether Gary and the wombat took the quickest routes home and if they didn't, why not? When I shared Snow Wombat I also shared Penelope the Pygmy Possum as it too is set in the high country, and the children were keen to draw a map to show where Penelope's partner went to get back to her.

The reading of the road signs in The Snow Wombat  also set the children off on a tangent about what they meant and Kindergarten who had studied Australian animals last term wanted to revisit Sebastian Lives in a Hat  and Wilhelmina Wombat, two books about orphaned wombats. 

The thing that surprised me most sharing the shortlisted books was how little my city-living 5 to 7 year olds knew about living on a farm, living a long way from a city or what it meant to live with a drought. These experiences are just so far removed from any experiences they have had. They are well-travelled but not within Australia. They loved the 'mud' page in All I Want for Christmas is Rain and given more time I think doing an art activity that involved painting with mud or a collage  like those in Nannie Loves would have been worthwhile.

Other events, such as  tabloid reading activities that all the teachers, class and specialists got involved in were well-received  and the children were quick to tell me where they had been and what was read. The teachers all wrote a Book Week message to go with their chosen book and then the books were displayed in the library for loan.

Oh well, now for Book Week 2018 and its Early Childhood Shortlist. Let's hope there's more to work with and a little more depth. It tends to sell the children it is supposed to be for, very short.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August Platypus Month

If you live in the Australian Capital Territory during August you can be on a platypus watch. How exciting. These animals are  special, but elusive, so to see one in its natural habitat would be so memorable. There is a good summary of what to know about platypuses here.

There is not an abundance of picture books about the platypus. Unlike echidnas, possums, wombats, kangaroos, bilbies and koalas who feature in stories and expository texts, platypus don't  and when they do they are often not written or illustrated by Australians.

Sue Whiting and Mark Jackson's  Platypus  is the most recent and the best. This book is part of the wonderful Nature Storybook series where there is two fonts, one telling a narrative and the other giving facts about the animal.  These other three are older, but they will add to your knowledge and allow the reader to see the platypus as a story character and learn some of the Aboriginal Dreamtime connection it has and they are published in Australia.

Little Platypus by Nette Hilton and Nina Rycroft
• The Platypus What is it? by Jo Brice and Gregory Rogers
The Little Platypus and the Fire Spirit by Mundara Koran

12th August World Elephant Day

On August 12 World Elephant Day asks us to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face.

It is not hard to feel empathy for elephants. It is not hard to get very young children interested in elephants either. There are so many picture books and  short novels for young children that introduce them to some of the difficulties faced by elephants. Recently a group of students and I shared Queenie by Corinne Fenton and we had a long discussion about whether or not elephants should be used to 'ferry' people around zoos. The World's Greatest Elephant by Ralph Helfer is a good book to share to discuss whether elephants should be part of a circus. One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly and Faithful Elephants  by Yukio Tsuchiya allow children to see how elephants can be innocent bystanders in a war.

Two chapter books that my Year 2 and 3 readers enjoy, but are moved to talk about are Tua and the Elephant  by Randall Harris and Akimbo and the Elephants by Alexander McCall Smith.

There are so many wonderful books to introduce children to the marvels of elephants, both expository texts and faction, where they can learn about their life in the wild and what threatens their existence.

For more elephant picture books look here.