Wednesday, April 19, 2017

19th April Banana Day

Banana Day is held annually on the third Wednesday of April.  

There are so many books you could use to celebrate Banana Day. These are only the ones in my library with the words banana or bananas in the title. There are many more where they are in the illustrations. 

Most of the books feature bananas as fruit, but a few look at 'going bananas' an idiom which means acting irrationally or crazy, something completely different and unrelated to the fruit. Where did this idiom come from? 

Young audiences will laugh at Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, love the riddles in What Do You Call a Gorilla with a Banana in Each Ear? , be able to learn where bananas come from in  Juliana's Bananas and  thoroughly enjoy the poems in Michael Rosen's anthology of poems Bananas in My Ears

Saturday, April 15, 2017

17th April Haiku Poetry Day

Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan and for hundreds of years, school children in Japan have been introduced to poetry through the work of Issa. He was born in central Japan in 1763 and began writing poetry as a young child. Issa had a deep love for the natural world and it is the natural world that is the subject of not only his poems, but most traditional haiku. The book Cool Melons is a classic introduction to Issa's poems and an inspirational book about haiku, nature and life.

Traditionally haiku consist of 17 on ("syllables"), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on respectively. They take nature as their subject and include  the juxtaposition of two images or ideas.Today's haiku play with the format, but usually stick to the three lines and about 17 syllables. See this lesson on youtube.

The teachers at my school make good use of the books of haiku that I have in the library, so I am happy to add new ones if I know they will be used. We have these.There is something for everyone here and quite a range. Betsy Snyder writes haiku for the very young, even for board books. There is a couple of 'how to' books, anthologies of poems and stories told in haiku.

 If you are looking for  beautiful books that use haiku as an integral part of their storytelling technique, read  Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth and Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young. Whether  studying haiku or just just sharing a good book these two are worth the effort.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

7th April International Beaver Day

It is nice that there is an International Beaver Day, but I do wonder why because not everywhere has beavers. We certainly don't in Australia. For me they fall in the same category as otters and raccoons, cute looking and make great book characters, but I've never seen a real one. I'd like a plush toy one to go with the books in the library. It is always easier to get a book to leave the library if it has an accompanying toy.

We have these books and all have a good story with a message to impart that is worthwhile, but not heavy handed.

Monday, April 3, 2017

4th April World Rat Day

Tomorrow is World Rat Day. Not sure I want to celebrate rats but there are a couple of families at school with pet rats and people do say that they make good pets. What I can't believe is how many children's books have rats in them...and I do love The Rats of NIMH. When I looked up the catalogue today I found it hard to believe that we had over 80 books with 'rats' as a subject heading and that was in a library just for 3 to 8 year olds. When I added the other two libraries at school there were many, many more so they are a popular animal in children's books. So off you go to the library and borrow a story that features rats. Enjoy!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Too Wet March

Well in February we sweltered because it was too hot. Now in March it is so wet and very often humid as well. The weather in Sydney has certainly been extreme. Just as well we have lots of books about 'rain'. Even without doing floods or any other extreme weather events we managed to find 30 books for a display. There are two exceptionally good new ones Rain by Sam Usher  and Watersong by Tim McCanna. Both of these are for very young children. They both feature stunning illustrations.
Watersong is a celebration of onomatopoeia. Rain is a narrative about Sam and his grandfather's adventure in the rain. If you are teaching preschool combine these with Who Likes Rain? by Herbert Yee. If you have older students revisit Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault's  beautiful word images in their poem Listen to the Rain. 

The children I teach often ask where do the animals go when it rains, so books such as Gerda Muller's  Where Do They Go in the Rain? and Harriet Ziefert's Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? help address this question.

Just when the students start to whinge about not being able to go outside it is time to share Rain School by James Rumford and if you can find a copy, Children of the Yangtze River by Otto S. Svend because they will then appreciate their own school and ability to stay dry. These two stories show children as capable problem solvers, hard workers and useful in a time of difficulty.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

21st March World Poetry Day

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. W. H. Auden 

I try to share poetry on Tuesday 21st March every year, sometimes just with the classes I teach, sometimes in assembly or sometimes I organise a whole school celebration. At my school the whole school is involved in eSmart Week events so unfortunately poetry will come off second best. All the more reason why my lessons in the library this week will all involve sharing poetry.

Here are five newish books that are well worth adding to any collection:
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
This story celebrates poetry found in the world around us.  What is poetry? It is glistening morning dew. It is crisp leaves crunching. If you look and listen, it's all around you.
All the World a Poem by  Gilles Tibo
Also for young children this is a tribute to poetry. Each poem is illustrated with paper collage art which is child-like and takes poetry to the level of the child.
 A Great Big Cuddle Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell.
This wonderful book has just been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award. Enough said.
Macavity The Mystery Cat by T.S.Eliot and Arthur Robins
This is a picture book version of this great poem. Arthur Robins has now done four of the cat poems as picture books...see Mr Mistoffelees, Skimbleshanks and Jellicle Cats as well.
A Poem for Every Night edited by Allie Esiri.
This is a magnificent collection of 366 poems for older children, one to share ever night of the year. The poems - together with introductory paragraphs - have a link to the date on which they appear.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

16th March National Hiccup Day

Yesterday I collected together all the books in the library catalogue that had 'hiccups' in the title. I couldn't believe there were 17 books! I have put a picture of 16 of them below. We also had Nette Hilton's short novel The Hiccups. Often around Halloween I share Lee Weatherly's The Scariest Monster in the World. In this story the monster gets a bad case of hiccups and the other creatures try all the cures! The children love this story especially how he finally does get rid of the hiccups. If you have this story it is the perfect story for Hiccups Day! What causes hiccups anyway? I'll look tomorrow in one of the nonfiction books in the display.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

13th March Janeen Brian

Janeen Brian will celebrate her birthday on the 13th March and I will get out her books for my preschool classes that visit on that day. I'm a Dirty Dinosaur  is such a favourite. The children love joining in with all the verbs. I have just purchased her new book, Little Chicken Chickabee  and I am eager to try it out. It too, has opportunities for joining in.

Of course she writes for older children as well. She has written several books for the Solo series for beginning readers, biographies for the Meet... series and novels for older readers. She is extremely versatile.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

8th March International Women's Day

Each year in the library we put together a display for International Women's Day. Usually it focusses upon the many picture book biographies that we have added to the library's collection. See all the female biographies listed here. But as well I try to share books that have a strong 'gender' theme or are anti stereotype. I feel that this is as necessary as it has ever been and reading 'that The wWorld Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186', we still have a long way to go.Here are three newer picture books that I haven't written about before.

The Ricker Racker Club by Patrick Guest and Nathaniel Eckstrom really made me smile as at times the characters and situations sounded like the children I teach.The boys have created a club. Poppy really wants to be in the club and does everything the boys ask her to do. Finally the boys, Max and Ollie acknowledge Poppy's bravery and make her an equal partner in the club. Poppy succeeds, in the process showing how capable and spirited she can be. Use the illustration of the sign on the back cover of the book to start a discussion with the class before you even open the book to read.

"So much to like in this book; the rhythm of the text, the bountiful illustrations, the well defined characters and the strong messages of acceptance and empathy.  The story sets an ideal child’s adventure world as the ideal place to learn and grow emotionally..."   Reviewed by Chris Dayman

 Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon.

Here there are some extremely cute (read dressed in pink and very girly) animals. When Karen's sandcastle is destroyed by three boys, Skylar, Mike and Trent, her friends are not daunted. They rally and come up with plan after plan to thwart the boys. What they build will not be destroyed and it involves driving a bulldozer!

Beautiful  by Stacy McAnulty and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff.
This book is purely a celebration of girls and what they are capable of...'beautiful girls deserve compliments because they make the world...BEAUTIFUL.'

So many wonderful books to share with young children on a day well worth promoting.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Too hot February!

We have sweltered at school since the term began. The heat and humidity seem interminable. It doesn't make for productive teaching when everyone just wants to get cool. Why aren't schools air-conditioned? I tried the 'power of suggestion' by putting together library displays about swimming and ice cream.

Many of the preschool classes have been to the library for the first time and it is a long walk (not really but they think it is) so we pretended to eat ice cream, acted out an ice cream poem and read Sam Lloyd's Two Little Aliens . In this story two aliens find ice cream and don't know what to do with it. It always makes the children feel so knowledgeable and they laugh at the aliens.

The displays worked. All the ice cream books left the library very promptly.They went before I even had the chance to share Bob Graham's Vanilla Ice Cream or Peter Sis' Ice Cream Summer. I always  enjoy sharing Mr Plunkett's Pool too, as there are so many scenarios that arise and can then be  discussed by the children, especially with my students who think that everyone has a pool or lives near the beach.

Below are some of the books we put out on display.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

14th February Library Lovers Day

I had fun at school today! I wrapped a book up in a parcel for each class and left it on the teacher's chair in the classroom for the class to find at the start of the day. I pasted the Library Lovers Day heart and International Book Giving Day logo on the parcel with a heart-shaped  note suggesting that they enjoy sharing the contents. All of the books I chose were about reading for pleasure and they were given out at random to my twelve K - 2 classes. Four of the teachers gave me very positive feedback and several children came to the library to thank me for their book. They guessed they were library books because of the spine labels and covering! Yes, it was a bit of an effort, but well worth it, if the students respond positively to the library, books and reading.

Friday, February 10, 2017

12th February Darwin Day

While he was in Australia, Charles Darwin saw animals that lead him to think about how animals came to be and natural selection and thus began his thinking and work that lead to his Theory of Evolution.

Talking about this anniversary on Charles Darwin's birthday with students always elicits much discussion and there are always requests for books so they can read more. 

These three books are a good start but there are many picture books on evolution that are easy enough for eight year olds to begin an interest. Also see here for two other other books.

Friday, February 3, 2017

3rd February Bubblegum Day

The first Friday in February is Bubblegum Day. It began in 2006 when children's author Ruth Spiro decided that there needed to be a day to celebrate education, philanthropy and bubblegum! She has written a book called Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist, but I have not seen it. If I was looking for a book about bubblegum in my library I would resurrect my favourite B is For Bubbles  by Pamela Shrapnel and Noela Young. It is long out of print, but I have kept my library's very tatty copy on my shelf of 'specials'. It is perfect for Year 1 children who have lost teeth and just cannot blow bubbles with gum.

If you haven't got this book then the much more recent  Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler  is lots of fun to share with children and Chavela and the Magic Bubble  allows for a much deeper discussion about diversity and ecology.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

31st January Bryan Collier (1967)

Bryan Collier is an American children's picture book illustrator whose work is not well known in Australia, but those that I have seen are particularly memorable. His better-known books are biographies of very famous black Americans such as Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks and Mohammed Ali.

I like telling my students about how Collier became interested in art at a very early age and  was inspired by the picture books of Ezra Jack Keats such as  The Snowy Day  and Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Look for these in the library:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

23rd January Georgia O'Keeffe (15/11/1887 - 6/3/1986)

Georgia O'Keeffe is a most amazing American artist and there is an exhibition of some of her work visiting Australia at the moment. Last week I was fortunate to see it and I was not disappointed. It is part of an exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne. Her works are displayed with well known Australian woman artists Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith whose body of work are much easier to see if you live in Sydney.

Georgia made up her mind to be an artist at ten years old  and there are some wonderful picture book biographies about her so it is easy to share her work with young children. They are fascinated that she was so young when she decided on her vocation. They like the bones and the sheer size of her flower paintings. We have three biographies:
My Name is Georgia  by Jeanette Winter
Georgia's Bones by Jen Bryant and Bethanne Anderson
Through Georgia's Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez and Julie Paschkis
and a new one has just been published by Tate Publishing
Meet Georgia by Marina Muun

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way – things I had no words for. (Georgia O'Keeffe)

22nd January Brian Wildsmith (1930 - 2016)

Brian Wildsmith was born on the 22nd January 1930 and unfortunately died last year on 31st August. He has always been a favourite of mine and as school begins for yet another year I have promised myself to do more with his wonderful picture books this year. It is always easy to share his Easter and Christmas titles, but I thought I would make a bigger effort to use his fables and fairytales. This started when I pulled off The Bremen Town Musicians while I was looking for rooster books. I am also particularly fond of Professor Noah's Spaceship and what it says about air pollution. It is just as relevant or even more relevant than when he wrote it. I also like Hunter and His Dog and as the library year is starting with a display of books about sticks and stones this one will be included there because of how the dog always brings the hunter sticks instead of the wounded birds. Plenty to discuss with Year 2.  Cat on the Mat is the best beginning reader there is! Perfect layout, perfect picture clues and sight words with a worthwhile predictable story.  Publishers please bring back many of Brian's out of print titles, starting with Jack and the Meanstalk and The Rich Man and the Shoemaker.

Friday, January 13, 2017

13th January Preparing for Chinese New Year

The movable celebration of Chinese New Year this year starts on  28th January and it is the Year of the Rooster. I began thinking about 'rooster' picture books. There's not a huge number, but what there is, have some very interesting roosters as characters. They don't all fit the Chinese rooster who is   "...very observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous, and talented. Roosters are very confident in themselves", but they make interesting reading and should create lively discussions. There are books about the Chinese Zodiac which will include information about the rooster, but the best book is probably The Magical Rooster. This book is part of the series on the Chinese Zodiac animals by Li Jian. His books are beautiful, informative, bilingual and a big hit in my library with native Chinese speakers and Anglo children alike.

Then take a tangent and look at how roosters are portrayed in picture books. Could we use the same adjectives for these book characters? Start with the rooster in The Bremen Town Musicians who started off as a reject but ends up triumphant. The rooster and his friends were certainly resourceful and courageous.

The cockerel or rooster in Helen Ward's book The Rooster and the Fox (the book exists with two titles depending upon where it was published) is vain and self centred, but also triumphs by being courageous and resourceful. This is a beautiful book based on Chaucer's Chanticleer story.

Henry, the rooster in Chris Wormell's story, Henry and the Fox  cannot crow, is a squib and not at all confident, but with help manages to appear heroic. 

Eric Carle's rooster in Rooster's Off to See the World is adventurous and confident and keen to travel. He heads up an expedition with friends but makes no provisions for food or shelter so his friends leave him. What does he do then?

Rooster's Revenge  is part 3 of a series of wordless books by Beatrice Rodriguez which started with The Chicken Thief. Rooster and his friends leave the chicken to go home but get caught in a storm at sea. Which adjectives would you use to describe him?

The other titles below, Kip, Bob and  The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet all explore the noise that roosters make and whether it is appropriate for where they live. If you can find them in your library they are fun to read and make good readalouds with young children. Last year when Year 1 and I were looking at stereotypes in traditional stories with chickens and foxes we made lists of adjectives for characters and had a substantial list for roosters. Because in many traditional tales a rooster is referred to as a 'cock', one boy suddenly said "now I know where the word 'cocky' comes from". Most children had never heard the word so this comment started a whole new vocabulary discussion. It was impromptu, but fantastic and the students will remember the word 'cocky'.

Happy New Year. One more week and I'll be back at school... thinking about getting as many books off those shelves and into readers' hands as possible.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

11th January Brian Floca

American author illustrator Brian Floca celebrates his birthday on the 11th January. He won the Caldecott Medal in 2014 for his detailed, but beautiful nonfiction book Locomotive. The books he both writes and illustrates seem to be about transport and things that he says he was interested in as a child, but he has also illustrated picture books for other authors. My favourite is Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox. This story is based on a true story about Elizabeth, an elephant seal who keeps coming ashore in Christchurch, New Zealand and lies on the road and no matter how far away the boats take her she keeps coming back. It makes me smile and the children I have read it to love it. And thirdly, he illustrates chapter books. This began while he was studying under illustrator, David Macaulay who introduced him to the author Avi. This led to Floca illustrating all six of the Poppy books, wonderful stories about Poppy, a mouse, and her friend, Ereth, a porcupine as well as other more recent books also written by Avi. There is a very informative interview with Brian here.

Look for picture books by Brian Floca:
The Racecar Alphabet
Five Trucks

Picture books illustrated by Brian Floca:
Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas  by Lynne Cox
Ballet for Martha  by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan

Chapter book series:
Max and Mo a set of early readers by Patricia Lakin about two hamsters who live in the art room at a school.
• The Tales from Dimwood Forest  series of six books about a mouse called Poppy, and her family's problems with the owl Mr Ocax.
Marty McGuire a series of books about third grade tomboy Marty written by Kate Messner and ideal for middle grade readers.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

7th January Old Rock Day

Old Rock Day is an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate old rocks and fossils. Perhaps you can start a rock collection. You can go in search of fossils. You can read about rocks or, if you choose, you can just play with old rocks. Not only geologists like rocks. In fact, I'm starting the year off with a display of rocks in the library and all the associated books. Below are some of the books from that display, but you could go further and look at fossil fuels as well. If you do, don't forget Molly Bang and Penny Chisolm's wonderful book Buried Sunlight.

By definition, fossils are old rocks. Jewellery stones are old rocks. And, coal is an old rock, too. You can celebrate any or all of these old rocks today!