I hope that you get to read both of these books.
I just love reading new children's books and I just love, love to share new, special titles that should be a part of every household. Here's two of them...
Alfie: (The Turtle that Disappeared) by Thyra Heder is just such a darling, expressive picture book story. It is told through two points of view: Nia the new pet owner and Alfie the new pet turtle. As Nia's enthusiasm for her pet wanes, Alfie begins a journey to find the best gift he can locate for his new owner and friend. What ensues is a delightful story of amusing and sincere moments through a year's journey. Altogether this is a yummy book that will be treasured by many.
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is one of those simple chapter books that is simply marvelous and perfect for people of all ages. Red is not only an old oak tree but the neighborhood "wishtree," (following in the tradition of trees that hold cloth or paper wishes tied on to them.) When an unwelcome piece of graffiti is written about a new girl in the neighborhood, Red along with his crow friend, Bongo, and other animals, try to help her find a friend and rectify the hatred that follows. What follows is a story of friendship, stewardship and tolerance.
I hope that you get to read both of these books.
After reading about Michael and his love of collecting words from the book, The Very Inappropriate Word, by Jim Tobin, our library has a new poster named, "The Very Appropriate Word." Third graders have been invited to share their newly found special and interesting words and their meanings such as, VOID, PUTRID and FOE.
After searching through our library collection I found many other books to share with the children about the amazing use of words in our English language. We read puzzle word books such as, Mr Putney's Quacking Dog and A Huge Hog is a Big Pig. We read a story, Baloney, Henry P. that uses the Latvian word ZIMULIS to replace the English word pencil. We learned a zillion rhyming words for baguette and about word idioms such as, "Hold Your Tongue."
Other book titles we might not get around to but celebrate the joy of words and language are:
...all about the importance of using commas
...all about the use of wordles as opposed to homonyms (groups of words that sound the same but mean different things.)
...all about letters turned into nautical codes (signal flags, morse code, semaphore)
As this library unit is ending, we'll finish with the read aloud,
all about the author, Noah Webster, and his creation of the first American dictionary.
P.S. If we had even more library time I'd read this one. (I hope you do and can share this with your child.) It's the beautifully illustrated biography of Peter Mark Roget called, The Right Word and it's all about the creation of the thesaurus.
Two books remained with me from my summer reading.
One was a very interesting memoir, that I read for my adult book club, Learning to Die in Miami by Carlos Eire. As one of fourteen thousand unaccompanied children airlifted to America in the nineteen sixties, Eire captures his boyhood experiences as a Cuban exile. Through humorous, spiritually touching and some emotionally, difficult vignettes we watch as Carlos finds himself and his way in a new world.
While I found the history fascinating, the fact that the book contains one of the most sincere tributes to the institution of libraries endeared it to me:
“Then we hit pay dirt, by accident. Tony [his older brother] discovers a public library…and the next thing you know we’re in there just about every single evening during the week…We can read books in there, or check them out. Our library cards become our new passports…Mine actually works as a passport to the past and the future, and eventually it gains me admittance to my chosen profession…The world that opens up to me in that library has no boundaries whatsoever. It's infinite and eternal. And that boundless expanse calls to me, louder and louder with every passing day…” (p.150)
The second book, a children's picture book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy just cried out with its powerful message.
When the village of La Paz becomes too noisy they fire the mayor and replace him with a law that says, “No loud singing in public, por favor.” More laws follow and the town becomes, “as silent as a tomb.” When after seven very quiet years a rooster comes and sings his, “Kee-kee-Ree-Kee” he is met by the current ruler who obstinately places more severe obstacles in the rooster’s path trying to get him to stop singing. WIth each block in his path the rooster responds, “How can I keep from singing?…I sing for those who dare not sing - or have forgotten how.” By the end, the villagers have recovered their voices with the help of the rooster and the streets of the village became very noisy once again.
While trying to find a common thread between each of my two summer reads I realized that they resonated for me because of this special time and place. These two books reminded me of the importance of my work and where I conduct it. This is the beginning of our 2017-2018 school year and I have a sacred task as a teacher librarian to offer my students a safe place, within the Aaron Kushner Library, to find their voices and for their voices to be heard as they proceed to take their next steps on their life's journey.
With so much in the news these days about immigrants and United States immigration policy, I thought I’d share this new picture book with you, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: a Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh. In this book, created for young children, folkloric art is combined with contemporary realities. While I usually use my own words to describe the books I thought that the author/illustrator’s words from his blog expressed them best. (https://duncantonatiuh.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/pancho-rabbit-and-the-coyote/).
“The book can be read on two levels. On the surface it is a story that reads like a fable, a bit like the Little Red Riding Hood or the Gingerbread Man. But the book is also an allegory of the terrible journey that undocumented immigrants go through in order to reach the U.S.”
“Immigration comes in and out of the news cycle. But when it is discussed, it is usually in abstract terms. Instead of focusing on the experience of actual people politicians discuss immigrants as a statistic in the economy. Or worse, when we hear of immigrants in the media, it is with negative and sensational tones. Undocumented immigrants are often equated with terrorists and drug traffickers, when in reality almost all immigrants are hard working people trying to provide for their families.”
“Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote has been well received by teachers, librarians, professors and parents. Some people have called the book liberal propaganda though. My book does not advocate for open borders or for a giant border fence protected by drones. Instead, it tries to focus on the terrible journey that migrants go through and the separation that families experience. Some people have said that Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote is inappropriate for children. I disagree. I have read the book to children in schools and libraries in different parts of the U.S. Young kids enjoy the story the way they would enjoy a classic fable or a folk tale. Older kids are able to understand and discuss the second layer of meaning in the book.”
This book is worth reading!
I don’t often write about adult books but this non-fiction book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism, by Ron Suskind, both opened my eyes and made me cry. If we were to have a staff summer reading book, this is the one I would recommend. It tells the story of Owen Suskind, a child with autism, his incredible mom, dad and older brother and their life journey of over 20 years, as they help Owen discover himself. It is through Disney movies, characters, and dialogue that they are able to reach Owen and help him learn to express himself and navigate the world. It is quite amazing how they communicate.
Owen’s father, Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, ably shares their story so that it will be an example to others. He reached me! As an educator, I am always conscious that I want to reach each child where they are. Through anecdotes and analysis, Suskind challenged me, “to a better understanding of what’s possible in the lives of many people who are challenged. Affinity to Capability to Possibility.” But here’s the thing, what I read in this book, applies not only to a child with autism, but also to all children. As one reviewer, Don Oldenburg, wrote, “Owen is every reader’s son.” In my eyes, he is every teacher’s student! There is much to learn from this special book.
Click her to view the trailer for the documentary that just came out.
What a delight to read about Frank and his dog Lucy! Check out this absolutely perfect opening line for this picture book, Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins:
“One day when Frank could not win for losing, he got Lucky.”
Both Human and Dog have a lot to learn. “Lucky went to school ten times. Frank went to his school thousands of times.” There’s not an area of school, that Frank and Lucy don’t explore. Here they are reading. Lucky could listen to a read aloud more than anyone.
Here they are learning about Botany and Entomology. Each plant and bug that has landed on Lucky’s fur is labeled.
Other subjects that Frank and Lucky are schooled in include Astronomy, Taxonomy, Science, Math, History, Art, Geography, Foreign Languages, and essentially, “the whole wide world.” The pen, ink and watercolor illustrations joyfully vary their size, color and style from page to page. They truly engage us as we romp through a most marvelous education.
I’m like a kid in a candy shop. I just returned from a professional development workshop last Thursday, “What’s New in Children’s Literature." I’m chomping at the bit to thoroughly read through the titles presented by the fabulously energetic presenter, Judy Freeman. I've got a huge stack of them already from my local library. Good news is that I was up to date with many of the titles and had purchased some of them already for the Kushner Library. Of the new ones that were recommended comes a tribute to all stories that have ever been told or written, I Am A Story by D. Yaccarino. Beginning with, “I am a story. I was told around a campfire,” it then continues to include a history of stories, including the ones that were censored, banned and burned.
Here are some of the other recommended titles:
Bonesville by J.L. Fromental – a combination humorous, detective book and a look at the different bones of the human body
Have You Seen my Trumpet? by M. Escoffier – “a play on words within words book”
Ideas All Around by P. Stead – If you’re wondering where you can find ideas for a story go take a walk because it's waiting right there for you.
Lions Lessons by J. Agee- Oh so funny! A boy wants to take lessons, not just any lessons, so he signs up for Lion Lessons that comes with 7 easy steps.
Nanette’s Baguette by M. Willems – You won't believe how many words rhyme with baguette in the English language.
The Night Gardener by T. and E. Fan – Ohh so gorgeous! Grim Grimloch Lane becomes lively with the creation of fabulous topiaries.
Rules of the House by M. Myers- One sibling follows rules while the other does not. One runs away and then returns to save his sister from being eaten by the monsters.
Steamboat School by D. Hopkinson – We should never take education for granted!
The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by D. Weing – Trolls, vampires and ghouls romp around in this graphic novel.
Need more titles? Just write or call. Ask me. Anita Silvey says that those of us in love with Children's Literature are Book Warriors. We just want to share stories so that they will indeed live forever.
Every four years we have a mock election in the lower school on the same day as the presidential election. As part of gathering resource materials for the teachers and students to use I put together an annotated bibliography of the books we have as part of our library collection. One book moved me deeply as it did the first time I read it when it was first published a year ago.
Granddaddy's Turn: a journey to the ballot box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein is a very touching, historical story about our country's struggle for equal voting rights at the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Michael's life on the family farm alternates between hard, sweaty work and precious play time which always includes Granddaddy time and his wise sayings, especially one about having patience as you go about your life. When one morning Granddaddy appears in his best suit and it is not a church going day, Michael knows that something important is up. Grandma says, "It's our time, and you got to look your best!" Michael doesn't want to miss out on what's going to happen, even though he hasn't a clue about where they are going. Excitedly he joins his grandfather to document the big event with a photograph. Michael is taken by surprise when Granddaddy takes him to vote. "Nobody in my family had ever voted before...I never knew anyone who had voted before." When his grandfather finally gets his ballot, after being repeatedly cut in front of, Michael snaps a photo.
"The happiest day of his life," turns ugly very quickly when the polling officials administer a so-called literacy test. When Granddaddy leaves, with tears in his eyes, something Michael has never ever seen before, Michael says, "Don't worry, Granddaddy. I'll vote for you one day." And when we skip ahead in the picture book, we see Michael as a young man on line to vote, holding onto the photograph of his grandfather taken all those years earlier.
The story line is simple but ever so powerful. The illustrations, by James E. Ransome, have rich earthy tones and a rural, small town look to them. Taken together, this is one very tender book that brings forth an important message for this time, to never take voting for granted.
I was sincerely struck by how Armstrong, the little mouse from the book, Armstrong : the Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann, strongly
personifies the definition of GRIT. According to Angela Duckworth, the author of GRIT, "Grit has two components: passion and perseverance." I read her book as part of our Schechter summer professional reading through a generous gift from The B'Yadenu Project.
Armstong, one focused mouse, has a passion for rocketry. You first meet him through the lens of a telescope where you see the wonder in his eyes as he gazes at the starry sky. He tries to explain to his fellow mice what he has discovered about the moon but they stubbornly believe that it is truly made of cheese, their favorite food. We follow Armstrong as he pursues his explorations and education as they take him to a Grand Central type train station, the Smithsonian Museum, and into a Harvard style classroom. He tries and tries and tries again to create the best space suit and space catapult, each time realizing that there are, "So many problems to be solved." He adds something different each time to help him reach his goal, even when he fails.
As Dan Chambliss says in Duckworth's book, "Greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each one of them is doable." Armstrong deliberately concentrates, reflects and refines his practice until his rocket does in fact blast off and make its way to the moon where he takes, "one small step for a mouse," just like his human counterpart Neil Armstrong.
Duckworth writes, "To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight." Armstrong, the mouse, epitomizes this and the words and illustrations gloriously, intricately, humorously and emphatically show this perfectly. I am excited about sharing this book with our students as it translates Duckworth's educational statement, "This is all you can do to Who knows what you can do?" through magnificent pictures and words. To whet your appetite go to the intriguing video link below.
Both the Caldecott Medal Committee and the Schechter students in the Lower School voted, Finding Winnie: the true story of the world's most famous bear, as this year's Caldecott Gold Medal winner. Children said, "It is adventchitive." "It was two stories put together and the words matched the pictures." "It fitted perfectly." "You could feel Winnie's soft fur." "I was not in the library anymore but somewhere else."
When I asked the children what they thought about the whole school Caldecott Medal unit their responses were:
"It's fun to put your Caldecott glasses on.
You get to compare books.
It's fun to vote like you're a real librarian.
You're free to make decisions and express your feelings about a book.
You see a variety of books and illustrations. They are all cool in a way."
I hope you get to read them too!
My students call me "Lori the Librarian." For the past 24 years I have had the best job as School Librarian in the Aaron Kushner Library for grades K-3 at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston.