Friday, October 30, 2009

Well, I have spent the hours since I blogging last working on the article on booktalking and I am a bit saddened by the lack of support I see in the data from HS teachers for booktalking. Most of them did enjoy listening to the booktalks and do see booktalking as an effective reading incentive activity but only a couple of them actually said they might try it themselves. I hope my YA lit students are proactive and go out there and train more booktalkers at the schools they become school librarians in. At UHCL we made YA lit a required course of alternative licensure students getting secondary certification and what a great group of students they were to teach. I loved seeing these guys start out with their arms crossed and "yeah-right!" looks on their face to emailing me after they had classrooms of their own to tell me how they were booktalking in their classrooms. I loved it!
And, since I was a bit frustrated after I finished the rough draft of the article I started going through picture books as I knew there was no way I could stay grumpy if I read picture books. :-)

With Halloween tomorrow I had to read a book about owls. My all time favorite owl book is Jane Yolen's Owl Moon It is both the rhythmic text and the wonderful snowy night illustrations by John Schoenherr that makes this the most wonderful father and daughter story for those of us who grew up in cold country where we were so bundled up that we could hardly walk, but would have walked through the snow as long as needed to spend time with our fathers. This may be set it New England, but it may as well have been the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I grew up where the Great Horned Owl hoot can also be heard in the dead of the night.

I have found a new beloved title in Jennifer A. Ericsson's Whoo Goes There? illustrated by Bert Kitchen. As with Owl Moon B&N indicates ages 4-8 for this book but I am a lot older than that and this one stays with me! I will share it with lots of folks, old and young, but I won't give my copy to anyone. The illustrations are so beautiful I thought of buying another copy so I could frame some of them. The predictable text is an absolute delight - Owl is listening and watching for his evening meal. He is hoping for a mouse but it turns out to be a slinking Siamese cat - not a fit dinner for Owl. Something moving under the brush - perhaps a squirrel for dinner but it is a skunk - Owl didn't want skunk for his dinner. And so the evening goes as Owl predicts what the sound might mean but he is wrong each time and the man scares him away and little mouse can find his evening meal. A wonderful title for teaching little ones about the various animals who search for food at night as well as prediction skills. A must have for every primary school collection and public library. What a great storytime book to support the science curriculum or just as a fun Autumn read.

I really did want to like it, but Tim Hopgood's Wow! Said the Owl is not going to be on my recommended. list. I have real problems with books that are meant to teach colors and they are not clearly the color indicated. The pink looks lavender to me and the orange ranges from almost red to gold. When teaching little ones colors we need to have very true colors and these are not. The indigo looks black and the red looks orange and I just ended up being frustrated. I will not share this one with my grandchildren as they will as confused as I am by how these colors came about.

And, since I was feeling grumpy I just had to add The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Andrew Joyner my reading pile because the grumpy bear on the front reflected how I was feeling. But, soon I was laughing out loud at all of the animals running for fear of the Terrible PLOP! The rabbits were dining on chocolate cake and carrots by the lake when they heard the Terrible PLOP! And off they went, just like Henny Penny and her fear of the sky falling, in fear of the Terrible PLOP! The rhyming text is as delightful as the illustrations. "Up jump the rabbits ' Hop, hop, hop! They shout to each other, "Run! Don't stop! We must get away From the Terrible PLOP!" Bear is not happy about having his time in the sun being interrupted so he grabs the slowest little bunny by the ears and insists he sees where the terrible PLOP! happened. So, there they are at the lake, the apple swaying in the breeze when it happens again. The little bunny knows what caused the Terrible PLOP! but Bear is on the run in abject fear. It is hilarious and a great companion to other books that address the "sky is falling" wherever it happens to be!

They are all boy! Kegan is sitting on big brother Michael's back. Wish they lived closer so I could see them all dressed up for Halloween. I need to remind Mary she needs to take pictures of all three kids in costume.

Too bad today is not trick or treat day as we are supposed to have temperatures as high as the low 70s today. It is already 65 this early in the morning. But, then it will get cold and rainy. Perhaps a duck costume! I love Halloween and have the Today Show on because they are all dressed up as characters from Star Wars. Al Roker said he saw Star Wars three times in the same day when it first came out. In some ways it is difficult to watch this as Mic was an avid Star Wars fan and had just about every figure and prop there was. Sadly, we sold them at a garage sale when we left Alaska. I would love to have all of that now. Hindsight is always 20/20. No matter what generation you are from you know recognize the major Star Wars characters. Yoda is my favorite.

We had a wonderful chat with Suzanne Crowley last night. It was very clear she had done her research for The Stolen One  and we were all intrigued by the details. Imagine an entire warehouse next to the wharf to store Queen Elizabeth's close to 2,000 gowns. Many of them were encrusted with real jewels. Not Halloween costumes I'd like to wear though I love the elaborate costumes of Tudor England. It is unusual for an author to have input as to the cover art for their books, but Crowley chose the dress and even got to keep the gorgeous necklace. She has begun to collect pears, which do have a role of their own in The Stolen One. Wild red-haired Kat never met her parents, but she knows she isn't ready to settle down as the wife of a local farmer. She escapes to London, taking her less than willing sister along, playing the role of her maid. Soon Kat is one of the Queen's maids of honor and a confidant to Elizabeth. The rumors swirl through court that she is the illegitimate daughter of the Queen. Kat is in more danger than she realizes. Fans of historical fiction will be right there with Kat due to the lush descriptions of the settings and the wardrobes of the characters. When booktalking this novel, I wouldn't even say it is historical fiction - I'd focus on Kat and her quest to find out why her adoptive mother will not talk about her birth parents and the dangers she faces at court. Booktalks with teens is all about finding an element of the book that relates to teens today and that can be done with any genre, including historical fiction. There are plenty of teenage girls who will relate to feisty Kat.

Crowley's family history suggests that she is a descendent of Lady Jane Grey who was beheaded. Ann Rinaldi's Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey  would be a good compliment to The Stolen One. Offer it to the readers who bring back Crowley's book and want to read more about the Tudors. Jane Grey lived during the reign of Henry the VIII and lived in his court, developing a close relationship Katherine Parr and playing with Elizabeth and Edward. The intrigue of the Tudor court is fascinating and to think that if Elizabeth had been crowned queen instead of Jane Grey, and beheaded just days after being crowned queen, the future of England would have been drastically changed. I read Rinaldi's book when it came out in 2005 and I was fascinated by the intrigue and how the members of the court could start a rumor and destroy a life.

All of the cool costumes on the Today Show has me thinking of costumes for kids. A great book character Halloween costume would be Olivia, from Ian Falconer's delight series of books about a vivacious and imaginative young pig,  There are several picture books and board books to introduce your own vivacious little girl to Olivia. My granddaughter McKinley would be a very good Olivia as I can see her drawing all over the walls and trying on every outfit in her closet as she gets ready for school. Falconer used red as the only color in the first Olivia title and focuses on a different color in each book. A great set of books to introduce colors to preschoolers.

So, when I saw the cover of Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell I immediately thought of Falconer's books as it is illustrated in a very similar minimalist style and has a very feisty piglet main character. We now have a little boy piglet book for the boys who don't want to been seen with the Olivia books. Ruben is bored because it is raining outside. Mom tells him to go play with his little brother Julius and his cars. He proceeds to be a very loud ambulance and mother asked him to be quieter. But that doesn't deter Ruben for entertaining himself, if not Julius. His red Superpig cape does not keep him from landing with a THUMP! on a small couch pillow when he leaps off the arm of couch. Julius, in his round frame glasses, just quietly sit by and watches his older brother's antics. Of course, Grammy had an answer - GUM! Ruben teaches Julius how to chew gum with a smak, smak, smak while laying down, balancing on his head, etc. And, of course he swallows it. Mom said no more but Grammy reminds her that she too swallowed her gum when she was a piglet so Ruben was given another piece. Ruben's further antics will elicit giggles and even a few snort laughs from you and the youngsters you share this book with. And, of course there is a bubble disaster with Ruben delightfully shouting, "GUM!".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Isn't this just the cutest picture of Michael, McKinley and Kegan at the pumpkin patch? Well, Kegan looks like he may be sitting on a pumpkin stem, but I still love it! It wasn't long after this picture was taken that WI had a dusting of snow. BRRR!!
We are having wonderful weather in Lexington, but I am in no shape to enjoy it. Lucky me - I caught the flu from a guy next to me at physical therapy last Friday who was snuffling and coughing and then literally sneezed on me! When that happened I had a feeling it was going to be a lost cause and it was. I am starting to feel a bit better, but just taking a shower wore me out. I can't imagine being a child and feeling like an elephant sat on you. Mary said Michael has been sick with this wicked flu and said he was too sore to walk. Poor kiddo. On top of the flu he has been having nose bleeds from the cold dry weather in Green Bay.

Speaking of Michael, his teacher told Mary he is the second best reader in his First Grade class. Happy Gramma!! Her Parent Teacher conference was the same day of the book fair (Of course - smart librarian!) and Mary treated Michael to two new books. She has fallen in love with The Library Lion by Michelle Knudson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes  I don't know where my copy is, but I would never have given away a book both about a lion and the library. Mary is so enchanted with the illustrations that she has claimed ownership of this one and doesn't mind reading it over and over again. The other book Michael picked out is Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton,  which is quite hilarious. I need to send Michael a copy of Merry Christmas, Splat  as I love any Christmas book and a book about a this funny cat and Christmas. What could be better?

Speaking of Christmas, Steve did the sweetest thing for me last night. He had to run to the store and when I went to crawl back into bed there was a very large lump in my side of the bed. Warming my side of the bed was the cutest stuffed Christmas moose you've ever seen. He has the plaid flannel ear-flap caps that many a male Finn wore when I was growing up. It made me think of my dad and uncles as they got ready to go deer hunting, all bundled up. Never could figure out how they walked in all those clothes! So Merry Moose and I spent the day in bed emailing students about their Spring 2010 course schedules. Out of the corner of my eye I was watching a day long marathon of my favorite 1980s TV series with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman - Beauty and the Beast  I remember avidly watching this on my roommate's tiny little b/w TV while I was going to school for my MLS at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. I'd love to have my own copy of the series as it is such a cool show! I just can't see Ron Pearlman as Hellboy as he will always be the lion-like Vincent to me. I'd take a small DVD player and this series with me on a vacation for sure.

I noted that I mentioned Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games  in my last post. I have the perfect book to suggest to the readers who want another book like it - Maurice Gee's Salt . This fascinating dystopian tale published by Orca will reach stores this month. This is the first title in a trilogy by a New Zealand author who has many accolades and has come out of retirement to write this trilogy. It took less than a handful of pages for me to be hooked as I could visualize the dark and brutal world of the Burrows where the dark skinned folks like Hari and his father fought for every bite of food and every bit of warmth. Hari often snuck into the Company compounds to spy on the families who ate their fill and dressed in sumptuous clothes, not rags. It is when Hari's father is captured and sent to the Salt that Hari sets out on a journey to rescue his father. At the same time, Radiant Pearl of the Deep Blue Sea was fleeing from an arranged marriage to a despicable older man, Ottmar of the Salt. It is the mysterious Tealeaf, who used her powers to ensure Radiant chose her as her maid years before and trained the young girl to defend herself, who leads her young charge away from the privileged life. As the reader anticipates, the two teens end up together as they escape poverty and privilege and join forces to rescue the men who have been sent to mine an ore that can destroy with just a few drops, but also eats away at the men who dig for it. Once you begin reading Salt, there is no way to not keep reading as you have to know if Hari rescues his father and if the two young people will overcome their differences. Now I have to wait for volume 2!!