Sunday, May 20, 2012

20th May 2012 Million Paws Walk

The Million Paws Walk is a national activity by the RSPCA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) held in May in Australia. Owners take their dogs walking on designated routes in various cities across Australia, with the aim of getting 250,000 animals participating and thus one million paws.

The first walk occurred in Queensland in 1994 and it became national in 1996. It began as a way to raise money and community awareness for disadvantaged animals.

Recently a new series of books RSPCA Animal Tales was issued by Random House. The first book in the series is called The Million Paws Puppy. The main character nine year old Cassie Bannerman and her dog Ripper actually take part in this annual fundraiser. So far there is four books in the series and they will certainly appeal to my Year 2 girls who can't seem to get enough of animal stories in the vain of Jenny Dale's Puppy Tales and Kitten Tales and Lucy Daniels' Little Animal Ark and these at least are Australian and have the added bonus of fact files in the back.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

12th May Kite Day

I read somewhere that it is Kite Day on the 12th May, but on further reading there seems to be a lot of different Kite Days. Flying kites can be such fun for young children and making them even more fun so you probably don't need an excuse to share books about kites at all. In Sydney we have the Festival of Winds in September and I have written about it before here. I wrote here too about my all time favourite kite book, Marcia Vaughan and Patricia Mullins' The Sea Breeze Hotel, but your library might have it. While you are searching look for Marty and Mei-Ling by Phil Cummings and Craig Smith. It too is out of print but also has kite flying as a wonderful community-building catalyst. Two newer books which might inspire you to make and fly kites are:
Kite Flying by Grace Lim and
Kite Day by Will Hillenbrand
And while trawling through Google images I found this art work, great to initiate a discussion of the whole role of kites in Japanese culture and to pull out beautiful picture books about Japan.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

9th May Maurice Sendak (10/6/1928 - 8/5/2012)

I just read the sad news. The world will be a poorer place with the passing of Maurice Sendak. We needed him to keep the fire in children's literature. Together with Tomi Ungerer he has kept debate alive about what children need, are capable of coping with and what critics need to back off about. In an odd sort of way Sendak is the reason I pursued children's literature as my area of further study. I had seen the power of literature using Where the Wild Things Are and Aidan Chambers' Booktalk questions and I wanted to know more. See my birthday entry for the 10th June. Also see the NY Times article and this article where it includes Sendak's wonderful quote about his view of ebooks. Interesting timing as today I just finished writing in the library newsletter about ebooks and apps.

Ebooks - "I hate them. It's like making believe there's another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of book! A book is a book is a book."

8th May

As Mother's Day approaches and I watch what is borrowed from the Mothers' Day display in the library I note the difference between what mothers borrow and what their children borrow. I love Sarah Garland's books because I could always relate to the frazzled mother she depicts in her wonderful series of books for preschoolers, but my clientele of mothers don't relate to her in the same way that my generation of mothers did. Kate Kellaway wrote about Sarah Garland in The Guardian in December 2007:

Sarah Garland's books could not find a French publisher because her mothers were judged insufficiently chic. What French madame would be seen in a shapeless green duffel coat, pushing a buggy uphill, with the baby's bottle (lid off) peeping out of her pocket? Garland is one of the best and most sympathetic chroniclers of English family life precisely because her pencil doesn't lie about the slog of bringing up children. She has a loving, unsentimental eye. She can be festive but is never false. I have always been profoundly grateful to her for drawing a mother I can relate to - as have millions of others who adore her work.

All the more reason to love her I say. Interestingly, mothers do borrow books where Dad is in charge or the children are 'pitching in'. These have been borrowed:
• Tucking Mummy In by Morag Loh and Donna Rawlins
When Dad Did the Washing by Ronda and David Armitage
Mr Large in Charge by Jill Murphy (but not Mother Know Best also by Jill Murphy)
Mums Don't Get Sick by Marilyn Hafner

Saturday, May 5, 2012

6th May Randall Jarrell (1914 - 1965)

Today would have been Randall Jarrell's birthday! I wrote about him here in 2010 when I first started this blog and I don't often write about an author again unless I am writing about a new book, but on Thursday I finished reading The Animal Family with my Year 2 Book Club and it doesn't matter that it is about the tenth time that I have read it with a group of children, it still is such a wonderful experience. It is subtle, beautiful, different, implausible, thought-provoking and gentle all at once despite the fact that it has a hunter, a fully-grown wild bear and a playful lynx in it, all living in a cottage with a mermaid and a baby boy. Sounds unlikely, but it works! The children are rivetted and hang on every word. At no stage did anyone ask how can a mermaid live on land or how can a bear live in a house. The reader just accepts the premise and gets on with enjoying the wonder of this 'unnatural' family behaving in such 'natural' family ways. If you haven't read it dig it out soon. Why did Randall Jarrell wait till he was over fifty to write this book? We needed him to write more children's classics.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

4th May International Firefighters' Day Greenpeace launched 1971

On this day in 1971 Greenpeace was launched so what better day to share Simon James' Dear Greenpeace. In thispicture book Emily corresponds with Greenpeace about a whale in her pond. Read it and then bounce off into a bigger discussion of what Greenpeace does.

May 4th is also International Firefighters' Day, a day to remember all the good things that firefighters do to help people and communities. This is extremely important in Australia given the number of serious bushfires we experience. There are a large number of nonfiction books about firemen and they are always popular with young boys who think that is what they want to do when they grow up. As soon as the firetruck visits the preschool or school I have lots of children asking for books about firemen. Some picture books in the library that feature firemen and firetrucks are:
The Firefighters by Sue Whiting and Donna Rawlins. Here a group of preschoolers have fun playing firefighters with their teacher.
Tito, the Firefighter by Tim Hoppey is the story of a New York firefighter who gets help from a Spanish speaking boy when he attends a fire.
A Day in the Life of a Firefighter by Linda Hayward is part of the DK series of books about Jobs People Do so perfect for that unit of work many classes do on Community Helpers.
Firefighters by Katie Daynes is one of that wonderful series Usborne Beginners.
Where There's Smoke by Robin Lovell and David Miller is the story of an Australian bushfire.
Flick the Fire Engine by Jamie lawrence and Mark Russel. There is a series of three adventures about Flick, a fire engine from New Zealand.

1st May Save the Rhino Day

Today I went looking in the library for books about rhinos and found...well not much. It seems that the rhinoceros is not an animal chosen by authors as a character for children's picture books. Is it because they are not seen as having endearing qualities physically or emotionally? But rhinos, especially black rhinos are endangered and we do need to make sure that they survive and thus, the need for Save the Rhino Day.

With my Year 2 classes at the moment we are researching animals of the African savannah and for most animals I have about ten good books. For rhinos only two, which are:
• Black Rhino by Rod Theodorou
Black Rhino by Malcolm Perry
For reading for pleasure, Shoo Rayner's series that retells Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories are favourites with my young readers , so search out • How the Rhino Got His Skin. I also found The Cross-with-us Rhinoceros a well borrowed story by John Bush and Paul Geraghty.

And good news two new books about rhinos:
My Rhinoceros by Jon Agee and
Running Rhino a new title in that wonderful series by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway.