Saturday, March 26, 2016

27th March Ame Dyckman

I am always happy to add a new birthday celebration to the library calendar. Thank you Eric from Happy Birthday Author. I can now add Ame Dyckman. We have three of her books and each of them is very special in its own way and nothing like each other. Each has a different illustrator which makes them appear very different too. If you don't know them borrow them and enjoy what the very best picture books have to offer.

Friday, March 25, 2016

30th March Manatee Appreciation Day

We have a toy walrus in the library and we only have one book on walruses to loan out with it. We have more books on manatees, but no toy. We even have books on dugongs. This dilemma started me on a search and I found out about Manatee Appreciation Day. Manatees and dugongs are sirena and both need appreciation so as to be protected from becoming extinct. On Tuesday I will make sure these books are put out on display in the library. And I need to continue my search for a toy manatee or dugong and some more books about walruses!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

10th March Ruby's Wish

Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges and Sophie Blackall gives both a historical view of education for girls and a Chinese view. Ruby lives in a compound in China with all her cousins, aunts, uncles and grandfather. She stands out because she loves the colour red and wears it whenever she can. It is a wealthy family because Ruby's grandfather pays a teacher to come to the house to give lessons to all of the children who want to attend.  Ruby revels in the lessons and works very hard in class as well as completing all the tasks she is expected to undertake as a girl in this household. One day she writes a poem:

Alas, bad luck to be born a girl; worse luck to be
born into this house where only boys are cared for.

Ruby's grandfather worried about what Ruby has written,  summons her to his office. Ruby doesn't want to upset her grandfather but finally she tells him that she doesn't want to finish school and get married. She wants to go to university. The story has a wonderful ending. Ruby is accepted into university and Shirin informs the reader that this is a true story about her grandmother, Ruby who was one of the first female university students.

This is a very powerful story. My Year 2 girls find it very hard to believe that girls haven't always gone to school and thus have lots of questions when reading this story. The photo embedded in the illustration on the last page is a lovely touch which makes it impossible not to be so very pleased about the conclusion.

9th March Seven Chinese Sisters

This week I'm continuing to look at picture books that empower girls to see themselves as very capable.  The Seven Chinese Sisters  by Kathy Tucker and Grace Lin is a favourite from my library. While this is an update or innovation on the Chinese folktale, The Seven Chinese Brothers that Margaret Mahy retells so eloquently, it is welcome, as it gives girls the chance to shine, solve problems, be proactive and to have the special powers. Each of the sisters has a special talent that they use cooperatively to thwart a dragon which has snatched baby Seventh Sister.

The sisters'  talents are ones that the girls I teach all would like to have and we have great debates over which sister they would choose to be. Unlike the brother's talents which really are unlikely, these girls have skills children relate to. The First Sister can ride a scooter as fast as the wind, the Second Sister is good at karate, the Third Sister can count beyond five hundred, the Fifth Sister is good at catching balls and the Sixth Sister cooks delicious noodle soup. Read and enjoy.

Monday, March 7, 2016

8th March I'm a Girl

Happy International Women's Day. I have had big success with the staff, parents and students today. So many of the books in my 'Inspiring Women' Display were loaned and one of the kindergarten teachers read I'm a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail to her class.

This is such a good book for today. It challenges gender roles and stereotypes. The 'girl' in the story is an aardvark, Yasmeen says, not a donkey. She dresses in shorts and a t-shirt. She likes to win.  The text says

I'm supposed to be made of sugar and spice 
and all things nice.
But I'm sweet and sour
and not a little flower.

I'm a girl! I'm a girl! I'm a girl!

and it celebrates difference, perfect for today and sending girls and boys the right message, we are who we are and we are not restricted by gender stereotypes. We should celebrate our strengths and our individuality.

If you haven't seen the book take a peek  here at the trailer.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

8th March International Women's Day

It will soon be International Women's Day and unlike when I first started teaching, when there were very few picture books that I could read to the girls to empower them to move beyond their immediate family and school community, now there is a myriad of wonderful examples. There are biographies about many very successful women who broke away from the low expectations that parents and society  had for them and so now I can really enjoy sharing books about inspiring women, be they scientists, activists, artists, musicians, inventors or authors.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

- John Quincy Adams -

Here are 25 women depicted in picture book biographies from my library. I have used them for a display in the library this week. What inspiring, incredible and creative women! Hopefully many students and parents will feel inclined to share at least one story this week.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine  by Laurie Wallmark. Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron but she developed her creativity through maths and science. Working with Charles Babbage who invented the first mechanical computer, Ada wrote the first computer program for the machine.

Brave Girl by Michelle Markel tells the story of Clara Lemlich who was young Ukranian immigrant. She led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history because she believed that girls should not be treated badly and paid little for their labour.

Coco Chanel  by Ana Albero is part of a new series called Little People Big Dreams and tells the story of designer Coco from her time in an orphanage right through to her success as a designer. see also Coco and the Little Black Dress and Different Like Coco.

Daredevil Betty by Meghan McCarthy tells the story of Betty Skelton, who was a young girl in the 1930s when girls were not encouraged to take an interest in aviation or motor racing. Betty loved watching planes and cars and lived for adventure.

Dare the Wind  by Tracey E. Fern tells the story of Ellen Prentiss who accompanied and navigated for her clipper-sailing husband on a record-breaking journey from New York to San Francisco.

Drum Dream Girl  by Margarita Engle tells a story based on the life of a Chinese-African-Cuban girl, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga who broke Cuba's taboo against female drummers.

Florence Nightingale by Demi tells how Florence stood up to her wealthy family to become a pioneer in the world of nursing and medicine as we know it.

For the Right to Learn  by Rebecca Lanston-George tells about the life of Malala Yousafzai who fought for the right to an education. Students will find Malala life very inspiring because she is still alive and her story happened in their lifetime. There are other biographies about Malala too. See Jeanette Winter's  Malala: a Brave Girl from Pakistan and Malala Yousafzai by Karen Leggett Abouraya.

The House that Jane Built by Tanya Lee Stone tells the story of Jane Addams who transformed a poor neighbourhood in Chicago by opening her house as a community centre, thus becoming the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Imogen: the Mother of Modernism and Three Boys  by Amy Novesky tells the story of Imogen Cunningham one of the finest photographers of the 20th century. She was inspirational too because she was the epitome of the working mother juggling two roles.

Life in the Ocean by Claire A Nivola tells the story of world-famous oceanographer Sylvia Earle who is known both for exploration and advocacy.

Look Up!  by Robert Burleigh tells the story of Henrietta Swan Levant who was a pioneer astronomer. She changed the course of astronomy when she was just 25 years old while working a the Harvard College Observatory.

Luna and Me  by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw tells the story of Julia Butterfly Hill and Luna, a redwood tree that she lived in for two years until she was sure of its survival.

Maria's Comet by Deborah Hopkinson tells how Maria Mitchell longed to be an astronomer after looking through her father's telescope and does become America's first female astronomer.

Marvellous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully tells the story of Margaret E. Knight who became a prolific inventor after a childhood spent with a sketchbook and tool box.

Mermaid Queen  by Shana Corey tells the story of Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman. My girls love this book probably because they take swimming for granted.

• Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough. Long ago children couldn't borrow from libraries and then Anne Carroll Moore changed that when she created  the children's room at the New York Public Library.

Mrs Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter tells the story of Ruth Harkness who inherited an expedition from her husband, a trek in China to find a panda and bring it home to America.

My Name is Gabriela byMonica Brown is a bilingual biography about Chilean poet and teacher Gabriela Mistral who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Rachel by Amy Ehrlich tells of Rachel Carson's love for the outdoors, her curiosity and her work that started environmentalism. See also Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World.

Stone Girl Bone Girl by Laurence Anhalt tells the story of Mary Fanning who as a ten year old child found a fossilised sea monster which was a major prehistoric discovery at the time. See also The Fossil Girl by Catherine Brighton and Mary Anning by Kay Barnham.

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins tells the story of Kate Sessions who helped turn San Diego from a dry dessert town to a leafy city of parks and gardens.

The Watcher by Jeanette Winter and Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell tell the story of Jane Goodall and how she came to be with the chimpanzees and thus a renowned conservationist and environmentalist.

Wangari Maathai by Aurelia Fronty is the newest picture book biography about this remarkable woman who planted trees in Africa and won the Nobel Prize. There are many others such as Seeds of Change; Mama Miti; Wangari's Trees of Peace  and Planting the Trees of Kenya.

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors by Tanya Lee Stone is the story of Elizabeth Blackwell who refused to be told women could not be doctors. She persevered under extreme pressures and graduated as a doctor and practised medicine.

Of course this list is not exhaustive. I have not included any writers, artists, musicians, ballerinas, no Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Vera Wang, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Annie Sullivan, Sonia Sotomayor...the list could go on and on.