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1. Two poetry books you must have before we leave SLJ

As of tomorrow, June 1st, Practically Paradise will no longer be hosted on the SLJ page, but instead on our new domain site at www.practicallyparadise.org I am very excited about the new opportunity and cannot wait for you to follow us over there. Please pop in and leave a comment.

In the meantime, I cannot leave without mentioning two of my favorite poetry titles this year.

The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems edited by Georgbia Heard and illustrated by Antoine Guilloppe. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. ISBN 9781596436657. $16.99

This slim collection of poems is best for upper elementary and middle school students. It was fascinating to read and contemplate where these ideas originated, but it would be more meaningful to produce our own found poems. The rules were simply stated on the website. Now we sit back and see how this collection came into being through the rules stated in the introduction.

My favorite poem in this  book was by  Laura Purdie Salas. She created a poem Top Ten Rules for Our Zoo Field Trip by listing some titles of picture books she ran across on a library shelf. An example is

  • Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus
  • Please don’t feed the bears
  • Don’t go pet a porcupine, etc.

The other book of poetry I simply cannot neglect is by Gail Carson Levine and is called Forgive Me I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems. I traded someone for this title. It is wonderfully wicked. As Gail Carson Levine points out, you have to be mean to read and enjoy these. Seems I have that ability.

Inspired by William Carlos Williams’ work, this collection of poems follow the sequence and rhyme structure of the original poem “This Is Just to Say”.  I was so worried that no one would be listening to me read this when suddenly it became popular. There is a little touch of meanness in everyone and this book provides the opportunity to creatively slam every person you’ve ever wanted and dazzle others with your ability use a formula to invent false apologies?

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2. Two poetry books you must have before we leave SLJ

As of tomorrow, June 1st, Practically Paradise will no longer be hosted on the SLJ page, but instead on our new domain site at www.practicallyparadise.org I am very excited about the new opportunity and cannot wait for you to follow us over there. Please pop in and leave a comment.

arrow Two poetry books you must have before we leave SLJIn the meantime, I cannot leave without mentioning two of my favorite poetry titles this year.

The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems edited by Georgbia Heard and illustrated by Antoine Guilloppe. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. ISBN 9781596436657. $16.99

This slim collection of poems is best for upper elementary and middle school students. It was fascinating to read and contemplate where these ideas originated, but it would be more meaningful to produce our own found poems. The rules were simply stated on the website. Now we sit back and see how this collection came into being through the rules stated in the introduction.

My favorite poem in this  book was by  Laura Purdie Salas. She created a poem Top Ten Rules for Our Zoo Field Trip by listing some titles of picture books she ran across on a library shelf. An example of a couple lines from this poem:

  • Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus
  • Please don’t feed the bears
  • Don’t go pet a porcupine, etc.

forgive me color Two poetry books you must have before we leave SLJThe other book of poetry I simply cannot neglect is by Gail Carson Levine and is called Forgive Me I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems. I traded someone for this title. It is wonderfully wicked. As Gail Carson Levine points out, you have to be mean to read and enjoy these. Seems I have that ability.

Inspired by William Carlos Williams’ work, this collection of poems follow the sequence and rhyme structure of the original poem “This Is Just to Say”.  I was so worried that no one would be listening to me read this when suddenly it became popular. There is a little touch of meanness in everyone and this book provides the opportunity to creatively slam every person you’ve ever wanted and dazzle others with your ability use a formula to invent false apologies.

Perfect for middle school and upper elementary collections where the teacher enjoys leading the class in a little mayhem and madness, I’d definitely add this title.

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3. Privacy and Getting ebooks on your reader

Students come to peer over my shoulder and see what books are on my Kindle Fire. Sometimes I’m willing to show them, sometimes I’m not. Many of my Kindle ebook titles are lendable. I obtain many to share with students and my new grandchildren. However…, I have some titles that are for adult eyes only. During the day, I keep those in the Cloud and download them in the privacy of my home.

While discussing this with some former students of mine who are now in high school, we were able to talk about the need for privacy in reading choices. We agreed that digital downloading ebooks made it easier to obtain books that they didn’t want their friends to read. I used this as an opportunity to talk about ALA’s Choose Privacy week.

One example of a title I didn’t want everyone to know I was reading was

The Founding Fathers: American Legends by Charles River Editors. I love history and reading about heroes and legends. I discovered this title through a service called PIXEL OF INK. I am loving my emails from Pixel of Ink. Every day they email me titles that are temporarily available for free downloading from the Amazon store for my kindle. I specified that I wanted to receive their adult fiction, and their young edition. Here’s the description they provided for  The Founding Fathers: American Legends.


The Founding Fathers have held a special place in American society since the nation gained its freedom, and many of them had become national heroes even before then. Over 200 years later, Americans still look with reverence to these men, often debating with each other what the Founding Fathers would think about a certain issue, or how they would judge a certain law or legislation. In many respects, these men have become icons, whose words, thoughts and deeds are rarely questioned.

Like all legends, the staggering accomplishments of the Founding Fathers not only earned them monuments and memorials but helped enshrine their legacies, to the point that they are looked at almost as demigods above reproach. The Founding Fathers examines all of the colossal events and actions these men took, but it also analyzes what these men were really like, and how their personalities and passions helped shape the destiny of the country they founded and led.

Another title that has totally fascinated me has been Chemistry for Everyone by Suzanne Lahl and illustrated by  Cris Qualiana. In high school, I loved chemistry taught by Mrs. Pope. I found chemistry finally made mathematics useful and interesting. I was also thrilled to have a female science teacher and admired her greatly. When my #1 son decided to take Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry in high school, I was so thrilled to be able to share this love of science with him. Imagine my surprise when I saw just how far the field had gone since my studies 20 years earlier. His textbook resembled the college textbooks  I drooled over in the college bookstore

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4. Privacy and Getting ebooks on your reader

Students come to peer over my shoulder and see what books are on my Kindle Fire. Sometimes I’m willing to show them, sometimes I’m not. Many of my Kindle ebook titles are lendable. I obtain many to share with students and my new grandchildren. However…, I have some titles that are for adult eyes only. During the day, I keep those in the Cloud and download them in the privacy of my home.

While discussing this with some former students of mine who are now in high school, we were able to talk about the need for privacy in reading choices. We agreed that digital downloading ebooks made it easier to obtain books that they didn’t want their friends to read. I used this as an opportunity to talk about ALA’s Choose Privacy week.

One example of a title I didn’t want everyone to know I was reading was

The Founding Fathers: American Legends by Charles River Editors. I love history and reading about heroes and legends. I discovered this title through a service called PIXEL OF INK.Founding 150x150 Privacy and Getting ebooks on your reader I am loving my emails from Pixel of Ink. Every day they email me titles that are temporarily available for free downloading from the Amazon store for my kindle. I specified that I wanted to receive their adult fiction, and their young edition. Here’s the description they provided for  The Founding Fathers: American Legends.


The Founding Fathers have held a special place in American society since the nation gained its freedom, and many of them had become national heroes even before then. Over 200 years later, Americans still look with reverence to these men, often debating with each other what the Founding Fathers would think about a certain issue, or how they would judge a certain law or legislation. In many respects, these men have become icons, whose words, thoughts and deeds are rarely questioned.

Like all legends, the staggering accomplishments of the Founding Fathers not only earned them monuments and memorials but helped enshrine their legacies, to the point that they are looked at almost as demigods above reproach. The Founding Fathers examines all of the colossal events and actions these men took, but it also analyzes what these men were really like, and how their personalities and passions helped shape the destiny of the country they founded and led.

Another title that has totally fascinated me has been Chemistry for Everyone by Suzanne Lahl chemistry 150x150 Privacy and Getting ebooks on your reader and illustrated by  Cris Qualiana. In high school, I loved chemistry taught by Mrs. Pope. I found chemistry finally made mathematics useful and interesting. I was also thrilled to have a female science teacher and admired her greatly. When my #1 son decided to take Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry in high school, I was so thrilled to be able to share this love of science with him. Imagine my surprise when I saw just how far the field had gone since my studies 20 years earlier. His textbook resembled the college textbooks  I drooled over in the college bookstore. I wanted to read his entire book, yet thought I wouldn’t be able to bridge the gap.

Allow came Chemistry for Everyone. It is intended to provide a big picture of chemistry for those who want to take a chemistry class in high school or in college. The author encourages the reader to read this during the summer before class to have time to absorb some of the concepts and to contemplate the larger world.

Last night I was reading aloud Chemistry for Everyone to my husband while we sat drinking coffee in a local Waffle House. I couldn’t contain my excitement over quickly grasping and refreshing myself on chemistry topics. I couldn’t wait to share this with my friends. I got so excited over contemplating Mole and Molarity, Solubility, and Bonding that I looked up and said it was making me shiver with glee. Then I asked the question we librarians should never ask, “Does liking this make me a geek?” The answer is always yes, so why do I even bother to ask?

Back to why I like getting my ebooks on my Kindle Fire reader — PRIVACY. Those at Waffle House listening to my mesmerizing read-aloud at eleven p.m. last night may not always appreciate my choices, but through my device, no one else has to know what’s exciting me.

Pixel of Ink Badge 125x125 Privacy and Getting ebooks on your readerIf you haven’t checked out Pixel of Ink or similar services, please do give them a look. They save me a great deal of time and have provided a wide variety of titles available free of charge for limited times. They save me time looking and lots of money sampling. If I like the first title in a series, I do go back and buy the rest of the series. I think authors and publishers who offer these freely are doing a good job marketing their titles. While libraries have to worry about those publishers charging ten times what a title costs a general citizen, services like Pixel of Ink help fill in my reading gaps at greatly reduced or free rates.

Already this summer I’ve read 22 adult titles with dystopian worlds, disasters, zombies, and more. Some of these include: Ruling Passion by Alyxandra Harvey (one of my favorite romantic without any naughty stuff vampire titles for teens), Zomblog, The Last Jump: A Novel of WWII, Bad Waters, The Walking People, Sector C by Phoenix Sullivan, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Smoke and Magic, Murder on a Girl’s Night Out by the late Anne George, Sleepers, Breathless, Algebra Unplugged, Star Wars Lost Tribe of the Sith,Christine Feehan’s The Leopard Series Books 1-3, and a few others I choose not to name.

Pixel of Ink offers several different lists on their blog as indicated below.

Fiction

Children’s Books

Non-Fiction

You can sign up to receive one, some, or all; alternately you can just visit their site daily or follow them on facebook and twitter. I chose Free & Bargain Books plus the Pixel of Ink Young Edition. If you receive notice about something else that looks great from a different list, be sure to share it on my new blog domain as of tomorrow:   www.practicallyparadise.org

Libraries are all about sharing and I don’t mind paying for a good book if you recommend it.

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5. Is Flocabulary the “Schoolhouse Rock” for Today’s Students?

Have you heard anything about Flocabulary? I received an email advertisement that’s subject stated “The “Schoolhouse Rock” for Today’s Students” yet in the advertisement at the bottom it clearly states that it is not affiliated with The Schoolhouse Rock.

I am definitely a child of Schoolhouse Rock. Meet me at the ALA Conference and sing the beginning of any of their tunes, and I’ll chime right in with you. Could there be something as good for this generation? Here’s the advertisement I received:

transparency 20wide Is Flocabulary the Schoolhouse Rock for Todays Students?
focab small logo Is Flocabulary the Schoolhouse Rock for Todays Students? week in rap small logo Is Flocabulary the Schoolhouse Rock for Todays Students?
transparency 20wide Is Flocabulary the Schoolhouse Rock for Todays Students?

15,000 Schools Can’t Be Wrong

  • Standards-aligned content for all subjects, K-12
  • Unlimited access for all teachers and all students
  • Any device – at school or at home – 24 hours a day

Learn more or get a quote here: flocabulary.com/schools

Over 15,000 schools use Flocabulary to engage students, increase achievement and make learning exciting. Songs, videos and research-based lessons increase retention of key academic content and help teachers connect with their students.

Preview free videos from across the curriculum.

* Flocabulary is not associated with or endorsed by Schoolhouse Rock.

Flocabulary
55 Washington Street Ste.#259
Brooklyn, NY 11201

When I visited the website to try out the videos, my first thoughts were that the topics were for older students than elementary. Middle and high school could gain the most here. Schoolhouse rock was for a much younger crowd. These topics were middle school and up. FOr example, the video  Week in Rap May 11th, includes topics as diverse as Guantánamo Bay Trial & Same-Sex Marriage.

I was much more excited about the video on the five elements of a story which included this rephrain. I can see myself using this one next year. How about you?

Plot, Character, Conflict, Theme,
Setting, yes these are the 5 things
That you’re going to be needing
When you’re reading or writing
A short story that’s mad exciting.

I still want to hear your opinion. In case the commenting feature doesn’t work in June on SLJ since we are moving, , we anticate any comments will go on my new domain name blog www.practicallyparadise.org

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6. We Made You Out of Love

We Made You Out of Love: The Answer to the Number One Question on Every Child’s Mind: “Where Did I Come From?”  written by Dr. Greg Marconi & Michael Marconi. www.FlyingMarconiBros.com

Twenty-one years ago when I was expecting #2 son, doctors told us to use anatomically correct words in explaining where babies come from. For two year old #1 son, that meant when others would ask if he was excited about the baby growing in his mommy’s tummy, he’d reply “Actually, the baby is growing in her uterus. Your stomach is where food goes.”

Today, parents can use this book to explain where babies come from. Written for children the authors suggest are too young to be burdened with technical terms and too many details about the facts of life, this book does actually state that the baby grew in mommy’s tummy. One tiny detail that doesn’t prevent me from liking this title greatly.

The authors have managed to take a controversial subject and treat it with enough distracting humor and various facts that  parents can decide how much additional information they choose to provide. This title will become a standard for all public library collections and preschool-1 collections.

I watched as a parent shared this with her second and fifth grader. They were intently listening, laughing along, and looking at the illustrations. They wanted to hear the story again and to look at the pictures themselves. They particularly loved the illustrations because they were digitally familiar, like in a videogame. See this one below:

jeffreychemlab 300x266 We Made You Out of Love

SPOILER ALERT!

The fifth grader did laugh and ask, “Wait a minute! Does that mean you are making babies everytime you stand close to the daddy?”" The second grader said, “Of course not, there has to be some of that yucky stuff, too, like kissing.”

Fortunately for their mom, they were still laughing over all the funny ideas Jeffrey had as possibilities for where he came from, and they were distracted.

I enjoyed this story because it was heartwarming and loving. Two parents talking to their young son about making him from love and acknowledging that he is the best thing they ever made to become a family. This was sweet, yet not too icky-sweet.

Visit their website flyingmarconibros.com to see a video with the authors explaining their choices in creating this story.

I’m happy to see at least one book about making babies that won’t be challenged by parents or staff.

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7. How the Troll Hunters helped with grieving

Skyfall by Micahel Dahl. #1 Troll Hunters series. Stone Arch Books, 2012. ISBN: 9781434233073. $17.99. Reading Level: 2-3; Interest Level: 5-9. 112 pages.

Librarianship is a wondrous profession. Seeking and receiving information, matching it to the needs of patrons, and watching interests grow is a wonderful thing. One disadvantage to being in a school library is the end of the school year when all checkouts stop. Public libraries never have to close down yearly to inventory, put their books exactly in order, and cease checkout.

This year because I was part of the related arts team and served as teacher’s planning release, I had classes even the last day of school but had to shift classes to the computer lab instead of the library. Unfortunately, checkout stops ten days before then and we are expected to get our inventory done, shelves in order, and the end of the year reports turned in. (Mine isn’t finished yet, ahem!) School librarians often have the textbooks for classrooms to be returned and inventoried; moreover, the  technology must be returned, repaired, and surplussed.

This is the only time of year when I allow my volunteers and library assistant to get territorial and tell the kids not to touch the books. If I had my way, I’d be paid for a week extra to stay and put things in order. Since I don’t and my working next week is volunteering, I compromise and watch the shelves fill up with all the titles that we haven’t seen on the shelves all year. This is a mixed blessing because the students sneak in to view all the books in their place and marvel at titles they were waiting for all year. They always discover something new — maybe a new series, the rest of the books by an author they liked, an entire shelf of baseball books that “magically” appeared. And they beg. They plead. They bargain. Please, Mrs. Kelly, let me just checkout this one book.

This year a fourth grade  African-American boy quietly slipped in the library and wandered the shelves one morning. Finally, he stood at the desk with my assistant and just waited. When she asked what he wanted, he said he had just hoped to check out something. Through their conversation we discovered his beloved grandfather who was practically raising him, had just died. He’d had to move back in with his mother. He was at school but trying to deal with his emotions. He just needed to read something.

How can you help grieving children? Love, care, listening? Being there? Of course, but I helplessly clutched at the one thing I am good at doing – offering a book. I knew this boy had read the Library of Doom by Michael Dahl and was systematically reading everything Michael Dahl had written. I happened to have the new series Troll Hunters #1 and #2 to review on my desk, so I quickly grapped Skyfall and pressed it into his hands, asking him to tell me what he thought.

He loved it. He came back three times during the day to update me on where he was in reading. He asked if he could have the second and how quickly I could get the others. His teacher stopped me in the hall and said she had allowed him to just sit and read for two hours straight while he was coping. When we asked him for details about the book, he talked about how exciting it was. How quickly the action happened. How there was so much going on to keep track of.

We even had a funny moment when he pointed out Doctor Hoo was in the book. He knows how much I love the Doctor Who tv series so we had a giggle while we guessed Michael Dahl is a Doctor Who fan, too.

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8. How the Troll Hunters helped with grieving

Skyfall 211x300 How the Troll Hunters helped with grievingSkyfall by Micahel Dahl. #1 Troll Hunters series. Stone Arch Books, 2012. ISBN: 9781434233073. $17.99. Reading Level: 2-3; Interest Level: 5-9. 112 pages.

Librarianship is a wondrous profession. Seeking and receiving information, matching it to the needs of patrons, and watching interests grow is a wonderful thing. One disadvantage to being in a school library is the end of the school year when all checkouts stop. Public libraries never have to close down yearly to inventory, put their books exactly in order, and cease checkout.

This year because I was part of the related arts team and served as teacher’s planning release, I had classes even the last day of school but had to shift classes to the computer lab instead of the library. Unfortunately, checkout stops ten days before then and we are expected to get our inventory done, shelves in order, and the end of the year reports turned in. (Mine isn’t finished yet, ahem!) School librarians often have the textbooks for classrooms to be returned and inventoried; moreover, the  technology must be returned, repaired, and surplussed.

This is the only time of year when I allow my volunteers and library assistant to get territorial and tell the kids not to touch the books. If I had my way, I’d be paid for a week extra to stay and put things in order. Since I don’t and my working next week is volunteering, I compromise and watch the shelves fill up with all the titles that we haven’t seen on the shelves all year. This is a mixed blessing because the students sneak in to view all the books in their place and marvel at titles they were waiting for all year. They always discover something new — maybe a new series, the rest of the books by an author they liked, an entire shelf of baseball books that “magically” appeared. And they beg. They plead. They bargain. Please, Mrs. Kelly, let me just checkout this one book.

This year a fourth grade  African-American boy quietly slipped in the library and wandered the shelves one morning. Finally, he stood at the desk with my assistant and just waited. When she asked what he wanted, he said he had just hoped to check out something. Through their conversation we discovered his beloved grandfather who was practically raising him, had just died. He’d had to move back in with his mother. He was at school but trying to deal with his emotions. He just needed to read something.

How can you help grieving children? Love, care, listening? Being there? Of course, but I helplessly clutched at the one thing I am good at doing – offering a book. I knew this boy had read the Library of Doom by Michael Dahl and was systematically reading everything Michael Dahl had written. I happened to have the new series Troll Hunters #1 and #2 to review on my desk, so I quickly grapped Skyfall and pressed it into his hands, asking him to tell me what he thought.

He loved it. He came back three times during the day to update me on where he was in reading. He asked if he could have the second and how quickly I could get the others. His teacher stopped me in the hall and said she had allowed him to just sit and read for two hours straight while he was coping. When we asked him for details about the book, he talked about how exciting it was. How quickly the action happened. How there was so much going on to keep track of.

We even had a funny moment when he pointed out Doctor Hoo was in the book. He knows how much I love the Doctor Who tv series so we had a giggle while we guessed Michael Dahl is a Doctor Who fan, too.

colorsample 300x214 How the Troll Hunters helped with grievingHe showed me how interesting the color pages are in the front and back and that they made this book feel special and old-like. He liked the illustrations because they were scary. I pulled out my camera and showed his a real photo of Michael Dahl to compare to the artistic rendering in the back. He even mentioned to me that he liked the feel of the pages. I pointed out that these books were all printed in the U.S.A. in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and he mentioned that his grandfather would have been proud that he was reading a book made in the USA.

Coming in and chatting about Troll Hunters kept this sweet young man interested and involved throughout the chaos of the last days of school and the various “celebrations” that occur for milestones. We talked about questions we would like to ask Michael Dahl and about having a Skype session with him in the fall. When he realized he’d be at the middle school by then, he asked if he could come by to join in. He wanted me to pass on to the author that these books are exciting and easy to read and that they hook you. Finally, as he was getting on the bus the last day, he hollered out the window (yes, hollered, we are in the South) and said he would come by to visit me to help review books next year.

I cannot take away the pain of my students’ lives. I can help them escape, learn more, and get involved in reading and living someone else’s life.

How did I like the Troll Hunters? Troll Hunters is going to be the most sought after new series for my reluctant readers in fourth grade. The vocabulary is accessible, the action intense, and the characters intriguing. darktower 212x300 How the Troll Hunters helped with grievingThe second book Dark Tower Rising is my favorite because it introduced constellation mythology.

Both titles I read involve science and applying scientific ideals to myths from the past. I’m already seeking new constellation titles like the one pictured here contellations How the Troll Hunters helped with grievingto satisfy the growing interest in mythology.

Neither Troll Hunter title I read tries to answer all questions, wrap up all the problems, or even provide happy endings. The action keeps the reader involved and leaves lots of storyline possibilities open.

The series is giving my students something to look forward. I contemplated the correlations to the Common Core Standards including:

  • Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. Subskill: Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).
  • Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
  • Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

These are skills I can work with informally and formally as students read through the series. The Tennessee skills I can focus on include:

  • Predict and determine the sequence of events in a story including possible problems and solutions.
  • Identify the conflict of the plot.
  • Continue to identify how point of view (i.e., first person or third person, limited and omniscient) shapes the plot of the story or the perspective of the characters and audience.
  • Identify and interpret the main incidents of a plot, their causes, how they influence future actions, and how they are resolved.

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9. Board Books – A Color Game for Chester Raccoon

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon Written by Audrey Penn. Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. Tanglewood Publishing, May 2012. Board book, 14 pages, Ages 1-3, $7.95 ISBN: 978-1-933718-58-3. Guided reading level: G; Grade level: 1; Reading Recovery level: 11-12

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn takes our friend Chester once again down to the board book level with this title focusing on colors found in a forest. Most board books that focus on color are simplified with one large colored item or several same colored items for each page. Not so here. In A Color Game for Chester Raccoon, the reader must use observation skills to identify colors within the forest. There are not too many colors on the page to make this difficult, but to those children just guessing by pointing at objects, this will be more challenging. I can see this helping parents prepare preschoolers.

The first page has Chester Raccoon gleefully pointing out a bird with white feathers. Astute children may notice that the background of this and all following pages is white. Since some of the bird’s feathers are other colors, there are opportunities for calling forth more vocabulary. The bird has black feathers with white spots and striped brown and tan feathers, also. While the author focuses on white, blue, yellow, orange, brown, black, and red, sharp parents will point out a color present on each page that isn’t identified – a pale forest GREEN.

I like this title because it encourages observation and suggests parents help children make color identification a game. Learning to play with a child is not always instinctive so this is an excellent choice for new parents. I can’t wait to take this north to Michigan for my new step-daughters’ baby shower. Since she’s having a boy, I am having a wonderful time choosing board book titles that I can’t wait to share with you. I think I could get the hand on being a grandma. I’m not even worried about them calling me anything other than grandma. I like it!

There is a moment of the kissing hand being given to both Chester and Ronny Raccoon. I love The Kissing Hand, and others in this series: A Pocketful of Kisses, A Kiss Goodbye, Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully, Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories, and the board book A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon. I am still waiting for an adapted version of The Kissing Hand for babies in board book format. I have used the stickers from The Kissing Hand and created my own stickers for kindergarten class’ storytime early in the year. For some of my students, simple affection like a heart-shaped sticker in their hand or a quick-politically-correct-one-arm-hug may be the most they receive in a day.

I was thinking about this recently while kissing wounded elbows and toes of my other new grandchildren. Just how many body parts do parents kiss while they are teaching? Fingers, chin, eyes, nose, cheeks, knees, elbows and toes? Perhaps we could produce the new parents guide to boo-boo’s and owies? Next, I’d like to buy the Chester Raccoon puppet to help in storytime. I hope that Audrey Penn continues to help Chester Raccoon face life as he grows.


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10. Board Books – A Color Game for Chester Raccoon

colorgame1 150x150 Board Books   A Color Game for Chester RaccoonA Color Game for Chester Raccoon Written by Audrey Penn. Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. Tanglewood Publishing, May 2012. Board book, 14 pages, Ages 1-3, $7.95 ISBN: 978-1-933718-58-3. Guided reading level: G; Grade level: 1; Reading Recovery level: 11-12

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn takes our friend Chester once again down to the board book level with this title focusing on colors found in a forest. Most board books that focus on color are simplified with one large colored item or several same colored items for each page. Not so here. In A Color Game for Chester Raccoon, the reader must use observation skills to identify colors within the forest. There are not too many colors on the page to make this difficult, but to those children just guessing by pointing at objects, this will be more challenging. I can see this helping parents prepare preschoolers.

The first page has Chester Raccoon gleefully pointing out a bird with white feathers. Astute children may notice that the background of this and all following pages is white. Since some of the bird’s feathers are other colors, there are opportunities for calling forth more vocabulary. The bird has black feathers with white spots and striped brown and tan feathers, also. While the author focuses on white, blue, yellow, orange, brown, black, and red, sharp parents will point out a color present on each page that isn’t identified – a pale forest GREEN.

I like this title because it encourages observation and suggests parents help children make color identification a game. Learning to play with a child is not always instinctive so this is an excellent choice for new parents. I can’t wait to take this north to Michigan for my new step-daughters’ baby shower. Since she’s having a boy, I am having a wonderful time choosing board book titles that I can’t wait to share with you. I think I could get the hand on being a grandma. I’m not even worried about them calling me anything other than grandma. I like it!

There is a moment of the kissing hand being given to both Chester and Ronny Raccoon. I love The Kissing Hand, and others in this series: A Pocketful of Kisses, A Kiss Goodbye, Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully, Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories, and the board book A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon. I am still waiting for an adapted version of The Kissing Hand for babies in board book format. I have used the stickers from The Kissing Hand and created my own stickers for kindergarten class’ storytime early in the year. For some of my students, simple affection like a heart-shaped sticker in their hand or a quick-politically-correct-one-arm-hug may be the most they receive in a day.

I was thinking about this recently while kissing wounded elbows and toes of my other new grandchildren. Just how many body parts do parents kiss while they are teaching? Fingers, chin, eyes, nose, cheeks, knees, elbows and toes? Perhaps we could produce the new parents guide to boo-boo’s and owies? Next, I’d like to buy the Chester Raccoon puppet to help in storytime. I hope that Audrey Penn continues to help Chester Raccoon face life as he grows.


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11. Fundraisers and School Libraries

Are fundraisers worth it anymore for school libraries? In Tennessee we can only have two tax-free fundraisers a year in a school. After that all fundraisers – even those occurring earlier in the year are taxable. If I have a bookfair and charge tax as I’m legally supposed to do then the PTO can only hold one more fundraiser in the year. That means one taxed fundraiser and one untaxed fundraiser. If I tried to hold two untaxed and the bookfair, both of the others would be taxed. It just doesn’t make sense anymore.

My Book Fairs do not earn much over $1000 cash profit. The PTO candy sales can earn $5000 easily. So why do I still bother with a book fair?

I believe the value of our bookfair is not just in the cash profit we earn, but in the entire experience of the bookfair. We try to make it an event with decorations, contests, family participation, food, and with building excitement about reading. We integrate standards into booktalks and mini-lessons. We read aloud from some of the titles and watch students eagerly purchase that title for their own collection. We talk books. We talk authors. We talk series. We talk about matching our personal interests with reading.

You cannot do those things with a candy bar or lollipop. So even though we don’t make much profit, we will continue to want to hold the event.

I am wondering though if schools will open their eyes in the future though and decide that our profit is too small to justify giving up a slot to the bookfair.

How does your state handle fundraisers?

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12. Fundraisers and School Libraries

Are fundraisers worth it anymore for school libraries? In Tennessee we can only have two tax-free fundraisers a year in a school. After that all fundraisers – even those occurring earlier in the year are taxable. If I have a bookfair and charge tax as I’m legally supposed to do then the PTO can only hold one more fundraiser in the year. That means one taxed fundraiser and one untaxed fundraiser. If I tried to hold two untaxed and the bookfair, both of the others would be taxed. It just doesn’t make sense anymore.

My Book Fairs do not earn much over $1000 cash profit. The PTO candy sales can earn $5000 easily. So why do I still bother with a book fair?

I believe the value of our bookfair is not just in the cash profit we earn, but in the entire experience of the bookfair. We try to make it an event with decorations, contests, family participation, food, and with building excitement about reading. We integrate standards into booktalks and mini-lessons. We read aloud from some of the titles and watch students eagerly purchase that title for their own collection. We talk books. We talk authors. We talk series. We talk about matching our personal interests with reading.

You cannot do those things with a candy bar or lollipop. So even though we don’t make much profit, we will continue to want to hold the event.

I am wondering though if schools will open their eyes in the future though and decide that our profit is too small to justify giving up a slot to the bookfair.

How does your state handle fundraisers?

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13. Limitless Libraries and Weeding lists

The day has arrived. It looks like Nashville’s budget is going to include the elementary school libraries in the Limitless Library program next year. This will add tremendous access to the Nashville Public Libraries to our collections. It has been a wonderful program at the high school and middle school level. I am very supportive and excited to be part of this.

At the same time the program is geared towards cleaning up collections to weed out older materials and create gaps or opportunities for the public library to help the school library. One of the first steps involves the public library using Karen Lowe’s weeding formulas to create lists of materials to either keep, evaluate, or discard. These are simply quick guidelines and it is still up to the school librarian to make the final decisions. They are formula based on the copyright age only.

I received my lists last week. When I came to my school this year, I realized the reference collection needed serious weeding. I took out the worst offenders, but left some series since the principal was concerned that I not take all without replacing. To comply with the weeding lists, my principal is going to be shocked at how little is left.

I purchased the Britannica Student Encyclopedia this year and have been teaching all my encyclopedia skills through it and my online sets of Britannica and World Book. That expense took a major portion of my budget and I couldn’t afford any other reference sources.

When I received the weeding list for reference, only five titles are listed in the keep section. All the others are listed as to be evaluated or discarded. I can discard the 167 other titles and I will be left with these five titles.

  • The World Book dictionary from 2007
  • 2006 World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia
  • 2008 World Book Encyclopedia
  • Britannica student encyclopedia 2012
  • Titanic by Jenkins, Martin. 2008 (although I think it’s only in reference because it’s oversized).

All the science encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, atlases, dictionaries, thesaurus, picture dictionaries, and even the only Tennessee biographical dictionary are slated for removal. Do I take a leap of faith and just get rid of all of those?

I had left the endangered species encyclopedia set from 1995 since next year the entire school will have a theme of dinosaurs and endangered/extinct animals as their PBL (project based learning project) for nine weeks. My thoughts were those sets would at least provide names of animals for my students to research whether they continue to be on the endangered and extinct list or whether their status had improved. If I simply go with the weeding lists, I will have nothing.

My school is a STEM school – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I need access to up-to-date reference materials and nonfiction. Will the public library budget be able to replace titles to meet our needs? I will keep you informed as we progress.

I don’t even want to mention how ridiculous the list is for easy books. According to a computer formula, all old picture books would go including Newbery and Caldecott winners, early Berenstain bear titles, Miss Nelson is Missing and more. I’m glad that I will be able to use my own judgement on these lists because a computer will never be able to replace the brain of a librarian.

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14. Limitless Libraries and Weeding lists

The day has arrived. It looks like Nashville’s budget is going to include the elementary school libraries in the Limitless Library program next year. This will add tremendous access to the Nashville Public Libraries to our collections. It has been a wonderful program at the high school and middle school level. I am very supportive and excited to be part of this.

At the same time the program is geared towards cleaning up collections to weed out older materials and create gaps or opportunities for the public library to help the school library. One of the first steps involves the public library using Karen Lowe’s weeding formulas to create lists of materials to either keep, evaluate, or discard. These are simply quick guidelines and it is still up to the school librarian to make the final decisions. They are formula based on the copyright age only.

I received my lists last week. When I came to my school this year, I realized the reference collection needed serious weeding. I took out the worst offenders, but left some series since the principal was concerned that I not take all without replacing. To comply with the weeding lists, my principal is going to be shocked at how little is left.

I purchased the Britannica Student Encyclopedia this year and have been teaching all my encyclopedia skills through it and my online sets of Britannica and World Book. That expense took a major portion of my budget and I couldn’t afford any other reference sources.

When I received the weeding list for reference, only five titles are listed in the keep section. All the others are listed as to be evaluated or discarded. I can discard the 167 other titles and I will be left with these five titles.

  • The World Book dictionary from 2007
  • 2006 World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia
  • 2008 World Book Encyclopedia
  • Britannica student encyclopedia 2012
  • Titanic by Jenkins, Martin. 2008 (although I think it’s only in reference because it’s oversized).

All the science encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, atlases, dictionaries, thesaurus, picture dictionaries, and even the only Tennessee biographical dictionary are slated for removal. Do I take a leap of faith and just get rid of all of those?

I had left the endangered species encyclopedia set from 1995 since next year the entire school will have a theme of dinosaurs and endangered/extinct animals as their PBL (project based learning project) for nine weeks. My thoughts were those sets would at least provide names of animals for my students to research whether they continue to be on the endangered and extinct list or whether their status had improved. If I simply go with the weeding lists, I will have nothing.

My school is a STEM school – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I need access to up-to-date reference materials and nonfiction. Will the public library budget be able to replace titles to meet our needs? I will keep you informed as we progress.

I don’t even want to mention how ridiculous the list is for easy books. According to a computer formula, all old picture books would go including Newbery and Caldecott winners, early Berenstain bear titles, Miss Nelson is Missing and more. I’m glad that I will be able to use my own judgement on these lists because a computer will never be able to replace the brain of a librarian.

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15. Spring books

Springtime and Easter present challenges. Most librarians have spent their book budgets, yet students get spring-book-fever and want new titles. What should you add to your list?

10hungryrabbits Spring books10 Hungry Rabbits: Counting & Color Concepts by Anita Lobel. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-375-86864-1. $9.99.

10 Easter Egg Hunters: a holiday counting book by Janet Schulman; illustrated by Linda Davick. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. ISBN 978-0-375-86787-3. $8.99.

Home for a Bunny (A Little Golden Book) by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Garth Williams. Random House Little Golden Books Classic, 1989. ISBN: 978-0-307-93009-5. $3.99.

The Bunny’s Night-Light: A Glow-in-the-Dark Search by Geoffrey Hayes. Random House, 2012. $11.99, 32 page. ISBN 9780375869266.

10 Hungry Rabbits. I’ve been a fan of Anita Lobel’s since she illustrated Princess Furball and spoke at a literature symposium in Illinois in the early 90′s. When I saw 10 Hungry Rabbits, I knew there would be little artistic touches added to each page. While not as elaborate as the flowers in Allison’s Zinnia or as amazing as her recent paintings of flowers in gouache on rice paper, Anita Lobel creates and hides beautiful flowers throughout the scenes of 10 Hungry Rabbits. She correlates colors of vegetables with the colors of each rabbits clothes while she counts vegetables. The most unusual food item is the page with ten black peppercorns. I’m glad I keep peppercorns on hand for grinding to show to students.

ReadingChick 300x176 Spring books

This idea for creating flannelboards to tell the tale of 10 Hungry Rabbits is perfect for spring storytime.
http://storytime.readingchick.com/?p=2079 I am a big fan of Reading Chick’s flannelboard blog posts. Here is a photo from her take on this tale.

Kirkus reviews notes the details in their review of 10 Hungry Rabbits, too.

There is an interesting tie-in between these two counting books. Anita Lobel dedicates her book to Janet Schulman “fine author, excellent editor, and very good friend. With love always.”

Janet Schulman’s rhymes in 10 Easter Egg Hunters are what caused this title to be added to my list. While I may not be a big fan of creepy teeth kids in the Linda Davick illustrations, I did find many hidden treasures (and eggs) in the photos. I can imagine reading this to a small group, possibly 2-4 students and having them find eggs in the illustration that are not referenced by the words until later on in the story. When students become accustomed to facts and details being strained out so they only focus on the “correct” image or answer, it can be disconcerting to be exposed to the larger picture throughout the book and having to focus oneself.

Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Garth Williams remains one of the classic Little Golden Books. For tiny toddlers, looking for a bunny home under a rock, under a stone, under a log, or under the ground becomes a chant throughout this tale. Garth Williams sweet bunnies will always remind me of spring. He created such happy animals that the reader couldn’t help but feel happy for spring.

As for the book, The Bunny’s Night-Light: A Glow-in-the-Dark Search, I think Angie Mangino nailed this title with her review at the City Book Review Bunnynight Spring booksat http://citybookreview.com/2012/04/the-bunnys-night-light-a-glow-in-the-dark-search/. The publisher description isn’t as sweet.

“When Little Bunny can’t sleep because “there’s too much dark at night,” it’s up to Papa to find just the right night-light for his little bunny. The pair go for a walk around the woods and Papa points out the possibilities. Perhaps the moon is the ideal night-light? Or maybe the fireflies will be able to help? Or even the little glowworm? Featuring luminescent nighttime illustrations that glow in the dark, and a comforting text, this bedtime story will resonate with little bunnies and their parents.”

This was the last of a group of titles I picked up because my first impression was that it was just a gimmicky book of glow in the dark pictures. I was sooooo wrong! This is truly a reassuring bedtime story that is perfect for daddies to read to their little ones. The illustrations have the perfect balance of sweetness with variations in expression that will keep little ones looking at pictures again and again. The wording is perfectly paced with gentle rhythm and repetition.

I first read the story in the daytime and was very satisfied. Later at night I pulled out my flashlight to watch the pages glow around the edges and with aspects of night that naturally have light. As PaPa tries to find the perfect light to reassure Bunny, Bunny easily points out the flaws in each suggestion. At the same time, Bunny is opening his eyes to the night objects that glow or produce light. This will help toddlers realize that the night is not all dark.

The Bunny’s Night-Light is such a charmer that I have to take it with me to Michigan to show #3 grandchild while we wait the arrival of #4. I am prepared for the necessity of producing a nightlight after reading and anticipate shopping for a three year old. Will he want a bunny light or perhaps some type of monster truck light? Perhaps the glow in the dark objects will be a better gift to accompany this story. Whatever we follow up with, I am most anticipating that sweet moment of cuddling and reading. We’ll reach the end when Papa and Mama say Good Night and then we’ll go back to read it again.

Hopefully you are taking note of these titles to add to your collection so you’ll be ready next year when the bunny season arrives. Good luck.

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16. The Only Good Part of Testing

is that students cannot wait for the testing to end so they can read.

Imagine a 55 minute test that has 95% of the students finished in 20. What will they do after testing? Nothing. They cannot read a book. They cannot turn their tests in early. They cannot write. They cannot draw. They must simply sit there. If they put their head down on the desk, fall asleep and drool – the teacher is in trouble for ruining the answer sheet.

Even during their ten minute break between parts 1 & 2 (AKA Parts A & B), they are not allowed to read. The inhumanity! Today was our fourth and final day of testing for third and fourth graders. Before the test started several had shown me their books they were currently reading. Many of the children were pleading to use their downtime to read. Some had checked their tests over 2 and 3 times and weren’t going to do any better with the extra time.

As soon as the test ended, they cheered with one arm and drug out books with the other. They couldn’t wait to get back to reading and learning something. They were fidgeting because they wanted out of those chairs and to be allowed back in the library to get new books. I watched as they stacked 4-5 titles each instead of the district’s suggested 2 titles. They had reading to catch up on and had been deprived by four days of testing.

So what did I do? I reminded them that when they grew up, they could become politicians and remember that testing was never as important as reading. They could vote to provide access to more reading materials and waste less time on testing materials if they believed reading was more important.

Shoutout! Hey, Michael Dahl, the students in Ms T’s third grade class want you to know that they think the Library of Doom serious is awesome, incredible, and very exciting. One even called it spine-tingling scary but not the kind that kept you up at night. I found homemade bookmarks and notes they sent each other describing where the books “lived” in the library and how to request a book be reserved.

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17. The Only Good Part of Testing

is that students cannot wait for the testing to end so they can read.

Imagine a 55 minute test that has 95% of the students finished in 20. What will they do after testing? Nothing. They cannot read a book. They cannot turn their tests in early. They cannot write. They cannot draw. They must simply sit there. If they put their head down on the desk, fall asleep and drool – the teacher is in trouble for ruining the answer sheet.

Even during their ten minute break between parts 1 & 2 (AKA Parts A & B), they are not allowed to read. The inhumanity! Today was our fourth and final day of testing for third and fourth graders. Before the test started several had shown me their books they were currently reading. Many of the children were pleading to use their downtime to read. Some had checked their tests over 2 and 3 times and weren’t going to do any better with the extra time.

As soon as the test ended, they cheered with one arm and drug out books with the other. They couldn’t wait to get back to reading and learning something. They were fidgeting because they wanted out of those chairs and to be allowed back in the library to get new books. I watched as they stacked 4-5 titles each instead of the district’s suggested 2 titles. They had reading to catch up on and had been deprived by four days of testing.

So what did I do? I reminded them that when they grew up, they could become politicians and remember that testing was never as important as reading. They could vote to provide access to more reading materials and waste less time on testing materials if they believed reading was more important.

Shoutout! Hey, Michael Dahl, the students in Ms T’s third grade class want you to know that they think the Library of Doom serious is awesome, incredible, and very exciting. One even called it spine-tingling scary but not the kind that kept you up at night. I found homemade bookmarks and notes they sent each other describing where the books “lived” in the library and how to request a book be reserved.

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18. Planning an event “they” say will fail

Have you ever planned something and been so excited about it, but all along the way there are “those” who just shake their heads and say “This is going to be a disaster!”

Fortunately, I am good at pretending to never hear the naysayer’s so I can continue on to do what I think will help promote reading. Here are some examples:

our bookfair. My school hadn’t had one in over ten years. With over 99% poverty rates, “everyone” told me not to be disappointed if it flopped and was a waste of my time. Instead we sold over $4000 worth of books at reduced costs. We added in a RIF event and every student received a free book. We held Read Me Week and demonstrated why reading was important. We read in the hallways and watched the second grade team teachers suddenly grab Dr. Seuss books and start reading aloud to children.  We had 100 people show up for a breakfast event of donuts(I provided), coffee, and juice. They bought books and TALKED to their children about reading.

our cookies and books night. The PTO provided cookies. I provided plates, napkins, cups, etc. We used the Scholastic Book Fair Klutz-Build-a-Book kits and provided space. We had 75 students and family members participating. It was standing room only at one point. We had lines waiting for table and chair space to create. The event was supposed to end at 7:30 and at 8p.m. I was still shooing little ones home with their kits in the plastic bags I provided.

our trip to the Nashville Sounds and the Ozzie Reading program. Oh, wait, we haven’t gone there yet. Our students have been reading to get to the different bases to earn a ticket to the Nashville Sounds game this month. I just turned in our order for over 400 student tickets. The P.E. teachers extraordinaire have worked with me to help track reading and to arrange for busses. The PTO is paying for the busses for the school to attend. I am tracking and filling out paperwork so I don’t miss anyone.

The day of the game we will leave in time to get to the stadium, have to eat our sack lunches outside on the sidewalk since we cannot take food in to the stadium, march these 400 students from our school around the outfield in celebration of reading, and find our seats amongst the other elementary schools attending. I’m trying to keep concerns to a minimum, yet there are naysayer’s that keep saying this is going to be a disaster.

Pray for me in what ever manner you choose so this event will be a success. I feel it is already a success because we have students setting goals and reading to meet them. As one little boy told me, the ticket is nice, but the best part is being one of the kids that read ten books a base. He told me he would never have tried some of those Stone Arch chapter books if I hadn’t urged (okay, he said nagged) him to keep reading to move to another base.

How do you handle the naysayer’s?

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19. Topics for Women’s History Month

Are you following the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month posts? Here are some of the most recent post topics:

March 20 Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa and Book Giveaway!

March 19 A Q&A with Deborah Kogan Ray: Sarah Winnemucca, Paiute Princess

March 18 Beryl Markham: Feminist Hero? or Heroic Female?

March 17 Joan of Arc: an early feminist

March 16 Before Girls Could Play

March 15 What I Learned from Emily and Georgia

March 14 Women in the Footnotes of History by Sylvia Branzei-Velasquez

March 13 Ancient Queens and Modern “Sluts”

March 12 “Failure Is Impossible”: My Hero Susan B. Anthony

March 11 Margaret Knight, aka “Lady Edison”

March 10 Role Models

March 9 Margaret Chase Smith — Independence of Thought

March 8 Women in Science – Trailblazers Before the 20th Century

March 7 (Un)Celebrated Women of 2012

March 6 A Place at the Campfire

March 5 Emily and Carlo by Marty Rhodes Figley

March 4 Annie Sullivan: Miss Spitfire

March 3 Every-Day Dress-Up

March 2  Writing about Wangari Maathai

March 1 Stopping by Seneca Falls

I continue to be amazed and humbled by the achievements of these women, but also about the ability of these bloggers and authors who make our history so vitally relevant and important. Thank you to everyone who has posted.

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20. A woman explorer & Giant Panda mythbuster

I am blogging for the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History site today and cross-posting here.

Quick! Name ten explorers. How many of them were women? Perhaps you listed Sacagawea or Amelia Earhart? Did you include Delia Akeley, Christina Dodwell, Mary Kingsley, Florence Baker, Alexandrine Tinne, Gertrude Bell, Alexandra David-Neel, Florence Von Sass Baker, Isabella Bird Bishop, Annie Peck, Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Eva Dickson, Marie-Anne Gaboury, Jeanne Baret, Josephine Diebitsch Peary, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Freya Stark, Valentina Tereshkova, Robyn Davidson, Liv Arnesen, Kira Salak, Ida Laura Pfeiffer, Harriet Chalmers Adams, or Ruth Harkness?

If it weren’t for Alicia Potter’s sharing the story of Ruth Harkness in Mrs. Harkness and the Panda, I would not have begun to seek names of women explorers. Melissa Sweet illustrates this gem from Alfred Knopf, 2012. This picturebook retelling of the story of Ruth Harkness’ expedition to China to bring back the first live panda inspired me to delve more into women explorers, particularly Ruth Harkness.

Deborah Watson-Novacek (http://deborah-watson-novacek.com/) created pages on squidoo for Female Explorers. http://www.squidoo.com/femaleexplorers Her article aided my exploration and helped provide many helpful links. I was able to read several accounts of Ruth Harkness’ achievements including

I have often wondered why some people in history had such a strong desire to travel, to wander, and to explore that they were willing to give all in their efforts. What qualities did these people possess that enabled them to achieve more than others? None of these people were perfect. Most had conflicts in their personal lives and many did not reap great benefits from their explorations.

The article in the Christian Science Monitor by Adelle Waldman on August 9, 2005, “How a party girl went in search of a panda: The true tale of a 1930s New York socialite who trekked Tibet determined to bring home a c

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21. Top Teen Titles #1

#1 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown and Company, 2005. ISBN:  9780316015844, 235 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.

Quotes from Readers: “Romance for teens that is thrilling and safe.”

“The most popular title for teens since 2005″

“This title caused busy teenage girls to stop and read.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: Georgia Peach Book Award (2007), Kentucky Bluegrass Award for 9-12 (2007), An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2006), Prijs van de Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen (2008), Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Older Readers (2009); West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Older Reader Award (2008), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2008), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2008), Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for High School (2007), Gateway Awards (2007), Golden Sower Award for Young Adult (2009), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Adult Category (2007), The Flume: New Hampshire Teen Reader’s Choice Award (2007), Garden State Teen Book Award for Fiction (Grades 9-12) (2008), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Young Adult (2008), Rhode Island Teen Book Award (2007), Evergreen Young Adult Book Award (2008), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2006), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2006), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010), Iowa High School Book Award (2008), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006), Abraham Lincoln Award (2008)

Diane’s note: Romance lives on and takes the #1 slot for Top Teen Titles. This makes sense when you consider the factors that make a Top Teen list as opposed to a children’s book list. Look at the complete list to see the themes of growing up, realistic fiction, drama, and fantasy as a higher level.

Twilight continues to woo new readers every year. Romance became popular again when Twilight was released. Would you believe the http://thetwilightsaga.com/ page has 503,149 members?  I can recall trying to find romance as a teen and giving up. I read Harlequin Romances, Silhouettes, and more from seventh grade on. My grandmother received hers in the mail so I knew I could always borrow 20-30 a week to read and get me through study hall. I can recall blushing a few times and giggling out loud.

As an adult, there are many titles of paranormal romance available not suitable for early teens. I’ve just recently finished reading 23 books in one series by Christine Feehan and I am a big fan of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series. But when teens would ask me for romance books, I’d struggle to find something that didn’t focus on the sexuality as much as the romance. Twilight was an answer to prayers for romance reader’s guid

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22. Top Teen Titles #2

#2 Outsiders, The — S. E. Hinton. Viking Children’s Books, 1967.  ISBN: 9780670532575 , 192  pp. Available today from Viking Children’s; 40th Anniversary edition (September 6, 2007) ISBN: 978-0670062515.

Publisher’s Description: First published by Viking in 1967, The Outsiders immediately resonated with young adults. This groundbreaking novel was like nothing else out there—it was honest and gritty, and was a deeply sympathetic portrayal of Ponyboy, a young man who finds himself on the outside of regular society. Forty years later, with over thirteen million copies sold, the story is as fresh and powerful to teenagers today as it ever was.

Quotes from Readers: “Timeless”

“A list like this needs something classic, and I feel like The Outsiders captures a certain vocabulary of past teens even better than The Catcher in the Rye.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads.

Awards: Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Secondary (1991), ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1975); ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2006.03|Criminal Elements, 2006); ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000; ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999 ; 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Susan Eloise Hinton was the first recipient of the YASD/ SLJ Author Achievement Award created to honor an author whose work has been taken to heart by young adults over a period of years, providing an “authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.” When you visit the ALA YALSA website for the now named 1988 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner, you can read “S.E. Hinton’s books have shown, over the past twenty-one years, the “lasting ability to speak to the young adult experience, to help reader to become more aware of themselves and of the world around them.” In presenting this award to S.E. Hinton for The Outsiders; That Was Then This Is Now; Rumble Fish and Tex, the Young Adult Services Division recognizes that these books provide a window through which young adults can view their world. In them a young adult may explore the need for independence and simultaneously the need for loyalty and belonging, the need to care for others, and the need to be cared for by them.”

Diane’s note: In the 1960’s fifteen year-old Susan Eloise Hinton was frustrated with the only books for teens revolving around prom an

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23. The Dreaded Display Case

Why did I insist they get a locksmith and unlock that large glass display case? Now I have to create innovative displays frequently and I need ideas. I’m struggling with finding a compromise between a fantastic looking glass cage and a working, innovative learning idea center.

While I was searching I started reading other website ideas like:

eHow’s Ideas for Library Display Cases which suggested things like a Local Author or Creature Showcase.

This post on Squidoo had some excellent photographs and links to other blogs with ideas.

This led me to the Creative Library Display blog with posts like this one on I’d rather be travelling the world.   I’d like to try that, but we keep receiving the memo not to hang anything from the ceiling since it sets off the security alarm.  There is an amazing display for Summer love by Anita, with books that I would need an entire crew to help create.

I especially appreciated the page of Display tips from including  3 ways to attract attention:

  1. colour
  2. hologram card or shiny materials like gold, silver, metal, curling ribbons etc.
  3. movement

Marketing the Library Display suggests “With book displays and bulletin boards you an draw attention to new books, special collections, under-circulated titles and services that are offered within the library that often go unnoticed.”

I hadn’t though about marketing the services we provide. I wonder if anyone has done that in a school library. One of my concerns has been when I books in a glass case display, they are less accessible for checkout. Some teachers will ask for books in the display, but seldom to students. They see closed glass shelves meaning “Don’t touch!”

Despite those links, I was still frustrated. I need more visual ideas including photographs. Fortunately, I found Informania and Three For: Awesome Ideas for Library Displays. They included links to Flickr images of displays and Pinterest. Exactly what I needed!

Elaine Pearson writes the blog Library Displays: Creative Ideas to Promote Books from your Library Collection. Her ideas are frequently cross-posted and she has some useful links.

Do you have other sites to share?

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24. Spring Board Books

While I appreciate so many of my friends and colleagues getting pregnant just so I can prepare board book baskets for them, I’m always struggling to find new titles that are just right. Betsy Bird pointed out that board books must be good “Cause when you read something 500 times, you’re either going to go insane or you’ll internalize it to the point where it’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever read.”

Here are a trio of titles for spring board books:

In the Garden by Elizabeth Spurr illustrated by Manelle Oliphant – a board book. Peachtree Publishers, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-56145-581-2 $6.95

The Fuzzy Duckling (a Golden baby book) – a board book. Jane Werner Watson; illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. Random House Golden Books, 2012. ISBN 978-0-307-92966-2. $ 6.99.

Duck & Goose Here Comes the Easter Bunny! by Tad Hills – a board book. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. ISBN 978-0-375-7280-8. $6.99.

In the Garden takes the concept of a young boy planting a garden and waiting for his plants to grow. It takes great cleverness to be able to write only two words on a page, yet create a rhyming book that can be read over and over. To read In the Garden, a parent might race through each page quickly to hear the rhyme, then return to read and savor each pastel-colored illustration. Words like shade and earth may take more parent vocabulary to describe, but as I read, I found myself adding many words the second and third time through to point out parts. I would pause to count the sprouts, compare whether something was in the shade or the sun, ask questions like “Why did the boy shout?” and basically take the time to strengthen observation when reading.

Parents who are nature-conscious will love this title, as will budding scientist families. I’d place it in the basket of any of my STEM teacher colleagues. Hmmm. I hope Cara Wade isn’t reading this so she’ll be surprised to open her baby basket with In the Garden, seeds to plant, and fake safe plants.

Here is the publisher’s description of In the Garden:

Simple and evocative language and charming illustrations describe a boy’s experience in the garden. In this gently rhyming board book, a young boy creates a garden, one small action at a time. First he digs in the dirt and plants seeds, then he adds soil, water, and some patience. With time, the seeds grow and the boy excitedly discovers what he has helped to make. Along the way, readers learn the words for simple objects related to the garden and nature. Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant together create a perfect sit-in-your-lap reading experience for toddlers.

The Fuzzy Duckling remains a favorite Little Golden book so I wa

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25. Polly Horvath translates Rabbit to bring us Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Extraordinaire! by Mrs. Bunny

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Mrs. Bunny translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-375-86755-2 $16.99

Have you experienced that moment when you are reading a new book and suddenly wished you had a class of students in front of you so you could read aloud and share the rush of fun? Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! is such a book, simply hysterically fun and meant to be shared.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny book is deceptive! It is surprising! It is quick reading with lively banter and vocabulary that tickles your tongue. The cover is quite misleading. I was expecting a simple third or fourth grade chapter book featuring animals. Instead, I find plucky, practical fifth grader Madeline who possesses the skills to fend for herself and care for her hippie parents. This is an adventure story that happens to be divided not-so-neatly between human and animal characters.

Who could resist picking up a book with a letter on the back from “The Enemy” using the phrase “Mwa-haha?” I cannot resist reading aloud Mwa-haha. In fact, while I write now, my four dogs are staring at me wondering why I keep saying Mwa-haha yet aren’t causing any visible trouble.

Madeline and her parents live in Canada near Vancouver and Hornby Island. Of course, as all practical and plucky characters must be, Madeline is SMART and looks forward to Prince Charles’ presenting her three graduation awards. While she is diligently working to earn money to buy the shoes she needs for graduation, sinister forces – err… sinister foxes are at work. How do we find out? We read “Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Madeline, back at her house, sinister forces were at work.” Now that’s the kind of sentence we can inspire dreamers with.

Who are these sinister beings? Why, foxes, of course! When Madeline’s father Flo expresses his surprise that foxes are so commercial, the Grand Poobah replies, “Foxes are titans of industry! Have you never heard of Fox Studios? Fox Television? You didn’t think it was owned by hoomans, did you?”

Aha! This explains much of the evil doings of our world. The foxes are behind them. Of course, if I had been a bunny like Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, I would have known to beware foxes long ago. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have recently moved from a mountain hutch to a new home in  Rabbitville in Cowichan Valley. Mrs. Bunny believes foxes “regard the houses in Rabbitville as a strip of fast-food joints.” and doesn’t “want to be someone’s Big Mac.”

When Madeline’s parents are kidnapped, Madeline needs a combination of animal and human helpers to survive. Since Mrs. Bunny is easily bored and they both look so dashing in fedoras, Mr and Mrs. Bunny have decided to become detectives. Soon Madeline and the Bunny’s join forces in this mystery adventure filled with slapstick moments and joyful banter.

You’ll have to pick up a copy of this wacky wonderful tale and share your joy with others. Be sure to read every bit of the last chapter. You won’t want to miss a moment of this extraordinary adventure.

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