Tuesday, March 13, 2018

15th March Shoe the World Day

Each day over 500 million children, teens and adults around the world do not have a pair of shoes to wear, and despite the terrain and the climate, they have to walk barefoot everywhere. It is a struggle each day that we cannot begin to imagine. So yes we do need this Shoe the World Day. Talking to my students this week we compared their trip to school with that of Anna in Alma Fullerton's A Cloud of Dust and talked at length about how many pairs of shoes they had compared to what they needed. 

While this book Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson is somewhat heavy-handed and lacks the beautiful art work of the other books listed here, this is indeed what we want our students to do, we want them to empathise with people who live very different lives from theirs.

Here are some picture books that feature shoes that really make a difference to the way students may see the world. 

 • Running Shoes  by Frederick Lipp. This powerful story tells of how a very poor Cambodian child, Sophy's life changes as the result of getting a pair of shoes.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams tells the story of two young girls, Lina and Feroza who are living in a refugee camp in Pakistan. When relief workers bring around some clothing they both want this pair of shoes.

One Red Shoe by Karin Gruss is also set in the middle east in a war zone. This is based on a real life experience of a reporter in a war zone and best suited to older students.

Rebel! by Allan Baillie. This book is out of print but worth seeking out in a library. It tells the story of a child in Burma who is extremely brave during a General's visit to his village. I have had some wonderful class discussions with this book with older students. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

26th February Pistachio Day

Pistachio Day celebrates the popular nut, which are native to the Middle East. The largest producer of pistachio nuts today is Iran but they are also grown in other areas, including California and Mediterranean Europe. The Chinese are the greatest consumers of the nut. It is thought that pistachio nuts have been eaten by humans for at least 9000 years.

Pistachio nuts are not something that is popular in the plots of children's books and other than The Pistachio Prescription, the well-known novel about Cassie who felt better when she ate these nuts by Paula Danziger any others really aren't worth recommending.

However there are three little books for those readers just starting on chapters that are popular in my library and they have the word pistachio in their titles. All three are about Princess Pistachio, her pesty baby sister Penny and her dog. They were originally published in French, are written and beautifully illustrated in colour by Canadian Marie-Louise Gay and have been translated into English by her son, Jacob Homel.

No pistachio nuts here, but fun for beginning readers. There are:

Princess Pistachio
• Princess Pistachio and the Pest, and
Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent.

Friday, February 23, 2018

23rd February Play Tennis Day

Although tennis is not often a sport I get asked for books about, there are always a few very keen tennis players in my under eight years old cohort. Tennis has been in existence for a long time, but the collection of books in the library is small. This is what we have and the two marked with ** are by far the most popular:

Let's Play Tennis by Kate Simkins
Tennis School by Naia Bray Moffatt
Let's Have a Hit: Max Plays Tennis by Benjamin Sullivan

Diary of a Tennis Prodigy by Shamini Flint **
Sporty Kids: Tennis by Felice Arena **
Alice the Tennis Fairy by Daisy Meadows
Boys Rule! Tennis Ace  by Felice Arena
Too Cool: Tennis Ace by Phil Kettle
Girlz Rock: Doubles Trouble by Shey Kettle

and for the extra keen, a bibliography
Martina and Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sport  by Phil Bildner

Saturday, February 17, 2018

19th February Tug-of-War Day

All children know what tug-of-war is, because it is a fun activity on school sport or picnic day. Schools may not always play it the 'formal' way that international competitions use, but it is meant to be fun.

The concept of tug-a-war has been treated admirably by picture books, most of which have  African animals 'warring' to see who is strongest. 

In John Agard's version a rhino and an elephant are tricked by Brer Rabbit into staging a tug-o-war which ends in a dead heat. Brer Rabbit teaches them that 'friendship is longer than rope'. 

In John Burningham's tale an elephant and a hippo tease poor hare constantly, until fed up the hare challenges each of them to a tug-of-war. As before, he tricks them and proves that brains can be better than brute strength.

 Beverley Naidoo takes the African setting further giving the animals African names befitting the Nigerian folktale upon which the story is based.
'Mmutla the hare tricks Tlou the elephant and Kubu the hippo into having an epic tug of war. The whole savanna is soon laughing at their foolishness. However small animals should not make fun of big animals and King Lion, together with Tswhene the baboon and wise old Khudu the tortoise set out to teach Mmutla a lesson - but the clever hare is always one step ahead.'


And in the newest version by Naomi Howarth, it is the tortoise who challenges Elephant and Hippo to a tug-of-war. As in the other stories they end up fighting each other.

All these fables about wit and wisdom being more important than physical size or strength and how friendship matters most are masterfully told and beautifully illustrated.

17th February Pangolin Day

Today is World Pangolin Day. I have written about these unusual creatures before, but not on 'their' day, so I am just noting the day and sending you here. Here are three newer books that I didn't mention in the other post that you might have in your library.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

4th February Too loud!

Always at the beginning of the school year, but even more so this year I have had requests from teachers about 'books that deal with too loud voices' or 'what to do with a child who doesn't like noise'. This is always a challenge, but there are some books in the library that teachers can use to start discussions about noise, inside voices, when outside voices are appropriate etc.

So Loud it Hurts! is a book that helps with students who are sensitive to noise and are not sure what to do about it. At our school the hand dryers in the toilets make too much noise for some sensitive children!

Too Loud Lily by Sophie Laguna, Not So Loud, Oliver by Tony Maddox,  Shouty Arthur by Angie Morgan, Loud Daniel O'Dowd by Julie Fulton and Loud Emily by Alexis O'Neill are books that clearly demonstrate when too loud is appropriate and when it is not. If it is not only that a child is loud but also interrupts and calls out all the time add My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook to your list of helpful books.

With very young students it can be fun to plan activities to accompany Deborah Underwood's The Quiet Book and The Loud Book.

If it is a short chapter book you are after so that the discussion and idea lingers longer, look at reading Loudmouth Louis by Anne Fine or Super Loud Sam by Jo Simmons.

If the noise is occurring in the library and you need help with the concept of using an inside voice or a whisper there are books to begin discussions too. I start with Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen with my Kindergarten classes and we discuss why quiet voices are best in the library. Then for fun there's The Not So Quiet Library  by Zachariah O'Hora. And this book You Can Control Your Voice...Loud or Quiet? allows you and the class to choose different endings and discuss the ramifications.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

1st February Blue Moon

Recently some of us had the experience of seeing a blue moon. It is not something I thought much about, but was surprised by the number of requests for books about a blue moon. I could find small amounts in books about the moon, but very quickly realised the best place to look was on the web at sites like the ABC. However it was a good excuse to talk about the adage 'once in a blue moon' and what it means and I discovered three fiction titles that helped support the concept.