Sunday, September 17, 2017

16th September International Red Panda Day

Red Panda Day celebrates that smaller panda that is found in the Himalayas. It looks cute, but it features in children's books far less than the bigger black and white panda. In my library there is only one fiction book, Red Panda's Candy Apples and it is written by a New Zealand author Ruth Paul. It is the sequel to Hedgehog's Magic Tricks in which the red panda is a characterA new fiction book, Amy the Red Panda is Writing the Best Story in the World by Colleen Venable will be published in November. The blurb on websites says

An exuberant, hilarious guessing game about storytelling, creativity, friendship, and patience-with the most adorable animal menagerie you'll find anywhere! Amy the Red Panda starts to tell her best friend Mervin the Sloth a story when-uh-oh-a rainstorm of letters pours down! When it stops, Amy reads a sentence in the sky: Amy the Red Panda is writing the best story in the world... Marvin is there to give Amy just the right inspiration. A companion to Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World, this funny-bone-tickling picture book brings back a cast of zany, irresistible animal friends and an inventive, playful format."


There are more nonfiction titles. Among them, these three:




 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

2nd September World Beard Day

World Beard Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in September and it is not something I have ever given much thought to, but when I read that it was occurring, I thought I should. I am the daughter of a man with a beard, the wife of a man with a beard and the mother of a son who looks like a bushranger, his beard is so bushy. My brother has a beard too, so it seems as if I can't get away from thinking it is the norm for a male to have a beard.

Then I thought I'd look to see what the library had that I could put out on display and guess what there was more than I thought there would be. I immediately thought of Margaret Wild and Margaret Power's Creatures in the Beard which makes the students giggle because there is a robin , a mouse and a baby possum living in Nicholas's father's beard. This book was borrowed last week as it was part of a Fathers' Day display of picture books. As well there were

 • The Lumberjack's Beard by Duncan Beedie. It is a more recent version of this book, in that the lumberjack saves the animals in the trees by keeping them in his beard. It will be easier to find. It has a green message as well.


My Dad Has a Beard  by Kellen Roggenbuck

My Sister has a Big Black Beard and other quirky verse by Duncan Ball and Kerry Millard and

Blackbeard the Pirate by Mick Gowar (one of the Hopscotch readers)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

31st August Book Week 2017

When the Picture Book of the Year shortlist came out I read the books and wondered what I was going to do with my Year 2 classes this year as I thought many of the list would need too much scaffolding to share with them successfully. I read The Patchwork Bike and could see a myriad of possibilities and it reminded me of of many other bicycle books that I had read that were also set in Africa. I then thought about the theme Escape to Everywhere  and thought about whether we could 'escape on a bicycle in Africa'. Mind mapping all these books and possibilities I put together a six week (one lesson a week) study which looked at the role of bicycles in Africa and how it differs from here. We started with looking at the role of bicycles in their own lives, where they come from, what they are used for, how much they cost, how many did each family have and who actually had one and could ride one. We recorded this anecdotally. Then we read these books, located the places on a map and talked at length about the main characters, the places and the bikes in the stories:

Emmanuel's Dream which is a biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a disabled boy who grew up in West Ghana, overcame great difficulties and went on to inspire others. (See Emmanuel talking about his life here.)

My Rows and Piles of Coins is the story of a Saruni who helps his mother carry everything to market in Tanzania each week and realises that a bicycle would change his and his mothers life for the better so he saves his money in order to buy one. He has a lot of coins but learns that it is still nowhere near enough to buy a bike.

The Red Bicycle has a bicycle as the main character.It starts life in  i in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy.  His bicycle is donated  to an organisation that ships bicycles to Africa and is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family's sorghum field and to the market and then is repurposes as an ambulance.(If you have All Aboard For the Bobo Road, it is also set in Burkina Faso and shows the role of bikes well in the illustrations.)

In A Cloud of Dust tells the story of Anna who has a long walk to and  from school in Tanzania until the school is visited by a bicycle library. At this point I asked the children whether there was any aspect of Emmanuel, Saruni, Alisetta or Anna's life that they thought they would enjoy or like to try. The discussion was amazing. Many students thought these children had a degree of freedom and independence that they did not, some wanted to try working for money and some of the girls commented on liking to live 'without technology'.

Then we read The Patchwork Bike and watched both Maxine Beneba Clark read it on Youtube and it read on Story Box Library where we could see the illustrations in great detail because of their size on the smartboard. The students were fascinated by the way the illustrations were done on cardboard from a box. We talked about what we could use to make a bike. The students designed and drew up plans. I had time to read one class Galimoto too and this class made bikes from cardboard and wire. I was impressed with their  perseverance and their readiness to help each other.

Overall the Year 2 students and I have had a very interesting time in library lessons this term. We have used maps, turned the library into a makerspace to design and make, read good literature, put ourselves in others' shoes, watched film clips and been surprised at just what is happening charity and bike-wise.


Monday, August 28, 2017

28th August Book Week 2017

Well, Book Week 2017 has come and gone. The Early Childhood list of books didn't particularly inspire me to do great things with the books and children, but we did read them. As predicted Chip by Kylie Howarth was the big winner with the children in Kindergarten and Year 1. The library now has masses of seagulls flying 'aerobatically' around the library. It was interesting the connections the children made between the books. The biggest connection was one I hadn't predicted or planned for... and it was that three of the titles The Snow Wombat, Go Home Cheeky Animals  and Gary all had a map in them. Maps are in the new Geography syllabus and Kindergarten were right into following the trail of Gary and the wombat. They were very keen to discuss whether Gary and the wombat took the quickest routes home and if they didn't, why not? When I shared Snow Wombat I also shared Penelope the Pygmy Possum as it too is set in the high country, and the children were keen to draw a map to show where Penelope's partner went to get back to her.

The reading of the road signs in The Snow Wombat  also set the children off on a tangent about what they meant and Kindergarten who had studied Australian animals last term wanted to revisit Sebastian Lives in a Hat  and Wilhelmina Wombat, two books about orphaned wombats. 

The thing that surprised me most sharing the shortlisted books was how little my city-living 5 to 7 year olds knew about living on a farm, living a long way from a city or what it meant to live with a drought. These experiences are just so far removed from any experiences they have had. They are well-travelled but not within Australia. They loved the 'mud' page in All I Want for Christmas is Rain and given more time I think doing an art activity that involved painting with mud or a collage  like those in Nannie Loves would have been worthwhile.

Other events, such as  tabloid reading activities that all the teachers, class and specialists got involved in were well-received  and the children were quick to tell me where they had been and what was read. The teachers all wrote a Book Week message to go with their chosen book and then the books were displayed in the library for loan.

Oh well, now for Book Week 2018 and its Early Childhood Shortlist. Let's hope there's more to work with and a little more depth. It tends to sell the children it is supposed to be for, very short.








Saturday, August 12, 2017

August Platypus Month

If you live in the Australian Capital Territory during August you can be on a platypus watch. How exciting. These animals are  special, but elusive, so to see one in its natural habitat would be so memorable. There is a good summary of what to know about platypuses here.

There is not an abundance of picture books about the platypus. Unlike echidnas, possums, wombats, kangaroos, bilbies and koalas who feature in stories and expository texts, platypus don't  and when they do they are often not written or illustrated by Australians.

Sue Whiting and Mark Jackson's  Platypus  is the most recent and the best. This book is part of the wonderful Nature Storybook series where there is two fonts, one telling a narrative and the other giving facts about the animal.  These other three are older, but they will add to your knowledge and allow the reader to see the platypus as a story character and learn some of the Aboriginal Dreamtime connection it has and they are published in Australia.

Little Platypus by Nette Hilton and Nina Rycroft
• The Platypus What is it? by Jo Brice and Gregory Rogers
The Little Platypus and the Fire Spirit by Mundara Koran



12th August World Elephant Day

On August 12 World Elephant Day asks us to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face.



It is not hard to feel empathy for elephants. It is not hard to get very young children interested in elephants either. There are so many picture books and  short novels for young children that introduce them to some of the difficulties faced by elephants. Recently a group of students and I shared Queenie by Corinne Fenton and we had a long discussion about whether or not elephants should be used to 'ferry' people around zoos. The World's Greatest Elephant by Ralph Helfer is a good book to share to discuss whether elephants should be part of a circus. One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly and Faithful Elephants  by Yukio Tsuchiya allow children to see how elephants can be innocent bystanders in a war.

Two chapter books that my Year 2 and 3 readers enjoy, but are moved to talk about are Tua and the Elephant  by Randall Harris and Akimbo and the Elephants by Alexander McCall Smith.

There are so many wonderful books to introduce children to the marvels of elephants, both expository texts and faction, where they can learn about their life in the wild and what threatens their existence.





For more elephant picture books look here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

29th July International Tiger Day

I have written about this celebration before here, but I need to tell you about some tiger books that have been added to the library since then and two of them are never in the library. As soon as they are returned, they leave again. They are:
• There's a Tiger in the Garden  by Lizzy Stewart
• Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago.

As well, this year I have purchased these
Cinnamon  a fable by Neil Gaiman.
Never Tickle a Tiger by Pamela Butchart
Goodnight Tiger  by Timothy Knapman
Tiger Tiger  by Jonny Lambert

There are 125 fiction books in the library featuring tigers as well as several lovely nonfiction titles, so come the end of the month the library will be roaring with tigers!