How much will his stories cost? "Whatever you think," said Rufus. "Surprise me." Rufus writes and illustrates four stories that are included in this book: Orange is the best color, The Wallet and the cat, Annie and the dancing teapot, Button, buttons, buttons. Here's a book that tells you how to imagine, read, write and illustrate. A perfect introduction to the joys of being a child author and illustrator.
Note** These three titles are recommended for the Upper School (Grades 4+):
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley
The Seventh Most Important Things by Shelley Pearsall
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
During December vacation I did indeed read most of the books that I listed in my previous blog entry. It was wonderful just to sit and read at my leisure. What follows is information about three chapter book gems.
Who would have guessed that gathering the seven most important things, (light bulbs, foil, mirrors, pieces of wood, glass bottles, coffee cans, cardboard) would bring about valuable life lessons. Arthur Owen, a thirteen year old boy, is grieving for his dead father when he sees a man wearing his father's motorcycle hat. Without thinking, Arthur loses control, throws a brick at him and harms the older man. Instead of juvenile jail, Arthur must work for the man. collecting what other people would call junk. During the process, over a year, Arthur learns quite a lot about himself and the junk man. "Some things in this world were meant to remain a mystery...He thought about how almost a whole year had gone by...He felt like a different person. It felt like a different life. A lot of people had done worse things with their lives than taking ugliness and turning it into something beautiful."
The older man in the book was James Hampton, artist, who created a most extraordinary piece of art that is now in the Smithsonian Museum, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly.
This is a powerful story of children's lives saved by their evacuation from London to the countryside during WWII. Ada, crippled by her bad right foot, is physically and emotionally abused by her mother. She and her younger brother are saved by a loving woman and are able to grow in their new home. The description of the War and bombs and shelters are strong. This applies as well to the awful power of abuse and its traumatic aftermath. Bradley gives Ada an authentic, angry and hurt voice. She also gives her beautiful and simple words that express Ada's new discoveries of her life far from the slums of her childhood: "I saw something strange from the top of the hill. Far away. Like grass, stretched out a long way, and flat, but different- blue and gray. When the sun hit, it looked shiny." "That's the ocean," Miss Smith said.
When I read The Invention of Hugo Cabret many years ago to library classes we were all mesmerized by the combination of stunning illustrations and mysterious story. The Marvels manages to do this again, so expertly! This story within a story tells of a very successful theatrical family and then of a contemporary boy who has run away from school to his uncle's home. Upon arriving he tries to find out how he fits in to this long line of actors. As we turn the pages at the beginning of the book we are drawn into atmospheric illustrations that recount the family's success in the theater. Then the written story begins and we are caught up again in the unraveling of this tale and the truth behind the family's story. Selznick brings sensitive themes of family life, the AIDS disease, death, and friendship into one supreme story of shipwrecks, actors, and adventure. The black and white illustrations will linger in your mind's eye and the story will have you yearn for much more. The Uncle's house is based on the Dennis Severs' House at 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London. To find out more about this book, to see a trailer, to view the house, to hear about theater and actors please go to http://www.themarvelsthebook.com/about_book.htm
It's no secret that I love children's books. Last week I was in seventh heaven at a workshop, "What's New in Children's Literature," given by Judy Freeman. It was pure delight to sit there and hear about the best of the best children's books over the past year and to learn strategies for using them in my library program. I soaked up every book, poem, reader's theater, and song. I jotted down copious notes and perused through the resource handbook during my lunch break and at home. For every title mentioned there were at least 10 additional related titles. It was great! The presenter shared 53 of her top books (but wrote about 150 of the more than 20,000 new children's books published in 2015.) Some I knew I would definitely purchase for our Schechter Aaron Kushner Library. Others I have borrowed from my local public library to read over the December vacation. I won't go into details about them now but I thought I'd share the titles of the gems with you, (and give you subject headings) in case you want to look for some of these fabulous books as well.
To be purchased: (pb=picture book, ch=chapter book)
Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin (art, pb)
How to Read a Story by Kate Messner (books +reading, pb)
I Don't Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty (frogs, pb)
I Really Like Slop by Mo Willems (food habits, pb)
I Yam a Donkey by Cece Bell (grammar, pb)
Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed by Leslea Newman (music, pb)
Leo, a Ghost Story by Mac Barnett (friendship, pb)
Look! by Jeff Mack (books and reading, pb)
Maya's Blanket/La Manta de Maya by Monica Brown (something from nothing, pb)
A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara (poetry, pb)
Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry (best friends, pb)
Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins (point of view, pb)
We Forgot Brock! by Carter Goodrich (imaginary playmates, pb)
When Sophie's Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang (emotions, pb)
Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon (imaginary playmates, pb)
Hamster Princess by Ursula Vernon (humorous adventure, ch)
Izzy Barr, Running Star by Claudia Mills (athletes, ch)
The Trouble with Ants by Claudia Mills (science, ch)
Earmuffs for Everyone! by Meghan McCarthy (inventions,pb)
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick (Winnie-the-Pooh, pb)
Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares (baseball, pb)
Hippos are Huge by Jonathan London (hippopotamus, pb)
How To Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins (procedural writing, pb)
I Don't Like Snakes by Nicola Davies (reptiles, pb)
Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul (water, pb)
We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey (worms, pb)
Those on my kitchen table waiting to be read: (pb=picture book, ch=chapter book)
Crane Boy by Diana Cohn (endangered animals, pb)
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins (change over time, pb)
Inside this Book (Are Three Books) by Barney Saltzberg (books and reading, pb)
My Three Best Friends and Me by Cari Best (differences, pb)
Waiting by Kevin Henkes (waiting, pb)
Book Scavenger by Jennifer C. Bertman (books and reading, ch)
The Boy Who Fell Off The Mayflower by P.J. Lynch (historical, pb)
Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon (fantasy, ch)
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (death, ch)
Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas (imaginary playmates, ch)
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (realistic fiction, ch)
Detective Gordon:The First Case by Ulf Nilsson (mystery, ch)
Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville (diaries, ch)
Finding the Worm by Mark Goldblatt (conduct of life, ch)
Fish in a Tree by Lynda M. Hunt (dyslexia, ch)
George by Alex Gino (gender, ch)
Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson (forgiveness,pb)
Hilo, Book 1:The Boy Who Crashed To Earth by Judd Winick
(friendship, graphic novel)
The Marvels by Brian Selznick (actors, ch)
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter (family life, ch)
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall (community service, ch)
Story Thieves by James Riley ( adventure, ch)
The Sword of Summer : Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgaard by Rick Riordan ( Norse, ch)
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley B. Bradley (WWII, ch)
Elvis: the Story of the Rock and Roll King by Bonnie Christensen (biography, pb)
Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess (poetry, pb)
A Passion for Elephants:the Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss by Tony Buzzeo (zoologists, pb)
Poet:the remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate (African American, pb)
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews (music, pb)
Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey (nature study, pb)
Over hte Hills and Far Away by Elizabeth Hammill (global poetry, pb)
Books I won't read because I'm too scared, but don't let that stop you:
The Imaginary Friend by A.F. Harrold (supernatural, ch)
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel (abnormalities, ch)
Stay tuned after vacation for updates in my New Arrival list and for individual blogs about certain titles that I can't resist sharing.
What a book! what a story! These popular authors say it best:
“The pranks, the brotherhood, the art, the heart! What’s not to love about the Terrible Two?”
—Sara Pennypacker, author of the Clementine series
“This book is terrible! Terribly funny, terribly full of pranks, and terribly wonderful.”
—Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and the Frank Einstein series
In the Aaron Kushner Library we have thoroughly loved two picture books written by Mac Barnett: Extra Yarn and Sam & Dave Dig A Hole. It is a treat to now have a chapter book filled with a very mischievous story that also deals with fitting in and finding a new friend. Miles Murphy, known as the best prankster in his old school now has to prove his abilities against his new school's best prankster. They are both excellent at this job! I'm certain that this book will become a favorite with our third grade students.
Big Red is a bicycle that Leo has outgrown. "Leo wants to give Big Red to someone who will love the bicycle as much as he does." He gives it to an organization that sends repaired bicycles to Africa and shares them with those who cannot afford one. In Burkina Faso, West Africa, Alisetta uses it to transport sorghum from her family's field to the market. When the spokes are broken, she in turn gives it to a medical clinic where a volunteer, Haridata, adds a stretcher to it and the bicycle becomes an ambulance. After bringing a little boy with a broken leg to clinic, "Haridata pats Big Red's seat as she leaves. "Good work," she says quietly."
At this time of year, when we begin to outwardly think and speak about gratefulness and miracles through the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, this book gives us an opportunity. As we are bombarded with store displays and ads to buy everything and anything for gifts, The Red Bicycle, offers us a chance to talk with our children about sharing and caring, recycling and tzedakah. We are reminded that "a child's desire to make a difference--can change lives across the world."
Just a FYI to let you know that we have added some new books to our collection. Check out the NEW ARRIVALS page of this web site to find out about a few of them.
How can you pass by a book that begins like this?
"Here is a story that's stranger than strange."
You quickly meet a little girl by the name of Katrina Katrell,
"While everyone else was busy or bored,
This one little girl should not be ignored."
Katrina is threatened by her guardian, Mrs. Krabone.
"Old Krabby, you see, was a bit of a witch.
In the pit of her heart was a serious glitch."
On her way home, in an underground subway, Katrina meets Morty, a Zorgle.
A zorgle?! you ask. Now, don't be absurd!
A zorgle's not real! it's not even a word!
The zorgles are creatures fantastic and rare.
On their heads they have horns and disorderly hair.
So what do I love about this book Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston:
1. The story is written in rhyme with words that leap off the page. The pace is energetic and begs to be read aloud.
2. Adventurous Katrina and shy Morty are a great team as they try to solve the problem of the missing Zorgles.
3. The story is creative and original with just a bit of Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl and Lemony Snickett added into the telling.
I hope you get a chance to ;
"Join them as they journey from the earth to the Moon
..on an adventure that's eerie, daring and full of
What are you waiting for...
"Now turn to page one, for it's time to commence..."
Meet this unnamed girl and her dog in the picture book, "The Most Magnificent Thing." The girl has decided she is going to make, "the most magnificent thing." She knows exactly what it will look like and how it will work. But making it is not an easy thing. As the girl tries over and over again to create it, she is offered support by her dog. The girl's anger and frustration is very evident; she even tries to quit. But perseverance, effort and creativity along with STEAM thinking prevail: a perfect combination with a Growth Mindset approach.
Now meet Sydney and Simon, two twin mice on a mission in the early chapter book, Full Steam Ahead! In order to solve the problem of their wilting flowers, the two question, predict and experiment to solve their dilemma. What follows is a celebration of STEAM thinking within a positive Growth Mindset frame of mind.
These two stories are perfect for sharing the importance of putting effort and time into creating something. They reassure the reader that it's okay to make mistakes. They will spur kids on to creating their own wonderful inventions.
They are the perfect duo for talking to children about Growth Mindset and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.)
"I made a book about vegetable leaves and leaves that you can eat. I made the book because I thought it would be interesting. I put a Caldecott medal on the front of my book because I thought my book had the best pictures ever."
These words came from Sophie S., a kindergarten student. She totally surprised me in the library with a delightful book that she created at home. It's a tiny book about 2 1/2" square. What impressed me the most was that Sophie took the Caldecott Medal that she is learning about during library class seriously. Notice her use of a dime for the medal!
Every year all the children in the lower school do the Caldecott Medal unit. They put on their Caldecott glasses and look for details in the pictures of the books. They look to see how the illustrations make use of color, expression, movement, design and style. They are looking to see which illustrations in a book are a perfect fit with the story. This year we are looking at five Caldecott nominees and at the end of the unit, just before Passover, each child will vote for their personal Caldecott Gold Medal winner. Stay tuned!
During this unit we will look at the following books:
Nana in the City
The Noisy Paint Box
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
The Adventures of Beekle
The Right Word
Sometimes magical occurrences happen in the library. While searching for a second grade read aloud that had a strong Black American character I found the picture book, The Secret River. Its author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, well known for her classic book, The Yearling, won a Newbery Honor for this other book in 1956. From the moment I reconnected with the book and opened up its pages I knew that the children would be as captivated as I was. Not only were the illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon gorgeous, they were also highly imaginative.
The story rolls along as Calpurnia and her little dog Buggy-horse try to find a way to end the hard times that have come to the forest. With the help of Mother Albirtha, she locates the secret river that will help her community.
The inclusion of little poems
we had fish.
Then hard times would end.
But I am not the least bit worried \because
everybody be's my friend.
and a trio of semi-scary animals makes this story both endearing, adventurous and totally amazing.
The children were enthralled by this read aloud. I hope that you too get a chance to experience it as well.
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.