Monday, June 17, 2013

20th June World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is held every year on June 20. It is a special day when the world takes time to recognise the resilience of forcibly displaced people throughout the world.

On World Refugee Day 2013, we are focussing on the impact of conflict on families through the theme of ‘1 Family Torn Apart by War is Too Many’.

I have written about Refugee Week at length in the past, highlighting a book each day in both 2012 and in 2010.  Except for drawing attention to Sarah Garland's more recent Azzi in Between, I don't have any books I want to write about here. Zoe at Playing By the Book  has written at length about this book here. What was encouraging was the number of people who turned up in Melbourne to support asylum seekers and the comments made in Parliament today by retiring MP Judi Moylan reminding us about how many children are still detained in Refugee Camps in Australia. It should not be acceptable for any child's freedom to be curtailed in this way.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

19th June Gregory Rogers (1957 - 2013)

Australian illustrator Gregory Rogers would have celebrated his birthday on the 19th June, but sadly he died on the 1st May, long before he should have. He was the first Australian to win the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. He won in 1995 for Libby Hathorn's Way Home, a controversial and very different picture book at the time, about a homeless boy and where he called 'home'.

Greg then went on to produce his wonderful wordless series of three books, the last The 
Hero of Little   Street, winning the Australian Picture Book of the Year in 2010 among other awards.

I was pleased to see a new book today at the bookshop, What's Wrong With the Wobbegong?  written by Phillip Gwynne and illustrated by Gregory Rogers. I thought the illustrations were funny and was pleased to see that this review agreed with me. Wobbegong sharks, so Australian, black humour and a pertinent message...what more could we want?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

15th June Global Wind Day

 Global Wind Day is the international annual day for discovering wind power. It’s a day for taking the energy debate – switching to renewables from fossil fuels, supporting wind power – out of the realm of policy and in to the real world.
So says the website for the day.

One way to show children the power of wind energy is to share these two fabulous picture books with them.

1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.
This is the true story of young William Kamkwamba's childhood in a drought-ravaged Malawi. His family was poor and hungry. He had to give up school because his parents could not afford the fees for High School. Instead he took himself to the library, read science books and worked out how to make a windmill from scrap and salvaged materials. he wanted the windmill to produce electricity because his village had none and  pump water so that they would be able to grow crops. At just fourteen years old and using a tractor fan and a wheel from a broken bicycle he managed to do that. This is a truly inspiring story for children.

2. Energy Island; How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World by Allan Drummond. This is also a true story. It tells of Samso, an island in Denmark. It was an ordinary place except for the fact that it was very windy. The Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy chose Samso as an ideal place to become independent of nonrenewable energy and a teacher named Soren Hermansen was selected to lead the project. This was the beginning of a very communal project which created wind turbines to produce energy for the island.

These books have a mixture of story, factual information and science and both have amazing illustrations to keep even the youngest children interested.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

15th June The Power of a Smile Day

This week I have put together a small display highlighting how important it is to smile and the effect it can have because I wanted to celebrate Smile Power Day. I thought about doing this display after reading David Ezra Stein's book Because Amelia Smiled which tells about the pay forward concept that came about in New York when a small girl, Amelia smiled and this smile precipitated events all around the world. Walker Books says of it, 'David Ezra Stein's charmingly illustrated story reminds us that adding even a little kindness into the world is sure to spur more and more kindness, which could eventually make its way back to you!'

When I looked I found the library had all these other books about smiles too, among them:
Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner
Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson
It's Lovely When You Smile by Sam McBratney and Charles Fuge
Where's Your Smile, Crocodile? by Claire Freedman and Sean Julian
The Girl Who Lost Her Smile by Karim Alrawi and Stefan Czernecki
Melrose and Croc Find a Smile  by Emma Chichester Clark

And at school this morning when I got the books off the shelves to display I shared Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy by Scott Menchin and talked about what did make us smile. The opening words ...'I miss your smile today, Sweet Pea. What would make you happy?' asks the mother and then by the end Sweet Pea tells her  'I'm happy when I ...' and she lists off all the things that make her smile. I also read the afterword where Scott Menchin talks about his motives for writing the story and how he came to realise that 'what made me happy was doing what I enjoyed most.' Such a great book to get children thinking about the small things in life and how to make lists.

Remember to give everyone a big smile today as smiling can be contagious! Just watch this trailer and you'll see the power of picture books to make you smile.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

12th June Hilary McKay

Anita Silvey's Almanac says that it is award-winning British author Hilary McKay's birthday on the 12th June. I can't seem to find out what year. Hilary McKay is in the spotlight in my library at the moment because not long ago I purchased a set of the Lulu books and my girls are devouring them. I was looking for series that my Ivy and Bean; Violet Mackerel; Brigid Lucy; Henrietta; Clementine,  aficionados could read and it seems to have worked because they are being circulated very quickly. Thank you Hilary.

Because they are working I am going to also promote her series about Charlie - he's trouble to my boys this week. I have had them for quite a while but they have been forgotten by the boys who are engrossed in series which have  more titles.

The good thing about hooking 7 and 8 year olds onto Hilary's books is that as they get older there will always be other series written by her that they can read later. I didn't know about Paradise House, but it looks to be suitable for my under 8s too so I need to search it out.