Friday, April 28, 2017

1st May Mother Goose Day

Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

Jack's mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.

At school we have celebrated Mother Goose Day before. I have a talking Mother Goose plush toy which recites nursery rhymes and as a prep school library that caters for 3 to 8 year olds we have quite a few anthologies of nursery rhymes. These are not borrowed by parents or children. The parents all think their children are past that and that nursery rhymes are for babies. I find this sad, because the students I teach do not know their nursery rhymes, beyond Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; Humpty Dumpty; Incy Wincy Spider; Little Miss Muffet; and Baa Baa Black Sheep. If I say the opening lines of many others, they can't always finish them.

This year I decided to put together a display for Mother Goose Day of nursery rhyme mashup stories, that is stories that have characters from nursery rhymes but not the usual words. Then when parents borrow these to read with their child, perhaps through discussion they will realise their child does not know the original rhymes and will then come back to the library looking for books that give the original rhymes and further verses beyond what they know.  I would love it if they knew The Grand Old Duke of York; Cobbler Cobbler; Hickety Pickety; Hickory Dickory Dock; Sing a Song of Sixpence and many more.Of course there are preschool children who do know them and they are very good at completing rhymes, predicting rhyming words and are well on their way to reading.

When I started to collect books together for the display I found the library had 94 books with 'nursery rhyme - fiction' as a subject heading so it wasn't hard to find suitable reading material for my audience. Here is a pinterest page of what I found.

Monday, April 24, 2017

27th April World Tapir Day

What is a tapir? This is a question I was constantly asked in the late 1990s when my students were very keen on a series of books about Howard, a hippo and his friends that was written by Colin West. Howard has a 'special friend called Lucy. She's a tapir.' Back then I found it hard to find any books about tapirs and we couldn't just 'google' tapirs. We looked them up in an encyclopedia. 

I hadn't given tapirs a lot of thought for quite a while but then Polly Faber's Mango and Bambang burst onto the scene. It was so popular and I began to get that question again...what is a tapir? How do I say this word? So I went looking again. Now I can google and quickly satisfy my readers' curiosity. 

Imagine my surprise then when I read that there was a World Tapir Day. We had better celebrate it, especially now that there are four Mango and Bambang books in the series and they are so popular. Last week I picked up a new Phillip Gwynne picture book at the book shop called Brothers from a Different Mother  and guess what it was about a tapir. 
On the World Tapir Day website it said,

Despite their size, history and ecological importance, tapirs remain one of the least recognised species of animals.  In comparison with other animals, tapirs feature little in the collective consciousness and are frequently misidentified by zoo visitors.  Even in their home ranges, tapirs receive little attention, with exotic species featuring more prominently in zoos, children's books and the media.

So authors are doing something about it, it would appear. Will tapirs soon be as popular as sloths and lemurs have become in children's books? Here's what I found in my library to make a display for the first day back at school this term.

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!