Monday, April 24, 2017

27th April World Tapir Day



What is a tapir? This is a question I was constantly asked in the late 1990s when my students were very keen on a series of books about Howard, a hippo and his friends that was written by Colin West. Howard has a 'special friend called Lucy. She's a tapir.' Back then I found it hard to find any books about tapirs and we couldn't just 'google' tapirs. We looked them up in an encyclopedia. 

I hadn't given tapirs a lot of thought for quite a while but then Polly Faber's Mango and Bambang burst onto the scene. It was so popular and I began to get that question again...what is a tapir? How do I say this word? So I went looking again. Now I can google and quickly satisfy my readers' curiosity. 

Imagine my surprise then when I read that there was a World Tapir Day. We had better celebrate it, especially now that there are four Mango and Bambang books in the series and they are so popular. Last week I picked up a new Phillip Gwynne picture book at the book shop called Brothers from a Different Mother  and guess what it was about a tapir. 
On the World Tapir Day website it said,





Despite their size, history and ecological importance, tapirs remain one of the least recognised species of animals.  In comparison with other animals, tapirs feature little in the collective consciousness and are frequently misidentified by zoo visitors.  Even in their home ranges, tapirs receive little attention, with exotic species featuring more prominently in zoos, children's books and the media.

So authors are doing something about it, it would appear. Will tapirs soon be as popular as sloths and lemurs have become in children's books? Here's what I found in my library to make a display for the first day back at school this term.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

19th April Banana Day

Banana Day is held annually on the third Wednesday of April.  

There are so many books you could use to celebrate Banana Day. These are only the ones in my library with the words banana or bananas in the title. There are many more where they are in the illustrations. 

Most of the books feature bananas as fruit, but a few look at 'going bananas' an idiom which means acting irrationally or crazy, something completely different and unrelated to the fruit. Where did this idiom come from? 

Young audiences will laugh at Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, love the riddles in What Do You Call a Gorilla with a Banana in Each Ear? , be able to learn where bananas come from in  Juliana's Bananas and  thoroughly enjoy the poems in Michael Rosen's anthology of poems Bananas in My Ears

Saturday, April 15, 2017

17th April Haiku Poetry Day


Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan and for hundreds of years, school children in Japan have been introduced to poetry through the work of Issa. He was born in central Japan in 1763 and began writing poetry as a young child. Issa had a deep love for the natural world and it is the natural world that is the subject of not only his poems, but most traditional haiku. The book Cool Melons is a classic introduction to Issa's poems and an inspirational book about haiku, nature and life.

Traditionally haiku consist of 17 on ("syllables"), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on respectively. They take nature as their subject and include  the juxtaposition of two images or ideas.Today's haiku play with the format, but usually stick to the three lines and about 17 syllables. See this lesson on youtube.

The teachers at my school make good use of the books of haiku that I have in the library, so I am happy to add new ones if I know they will be used. We have these.There is something for everyone here and quite a range. Betsy Snyder writes haiku for the very young, even for board books. There is a couple of 'how to' books, anthologies of poems and stories told in haiku.


 If you are looking for  beautiful books that use haiku as an integral part of their storytelling technique, read  Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth and Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young. Whether  studying haiku or just just sharing a good book these two are worth the effort.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

7th April International Beaver Day



It is nice that there is an International Beaver Day, but I do wonder why because not everywhere has beavers. We certainly don't in Australia. For me they fall in the same category as otters and raccoons, cute looking and make great book characters, but I've never seen a real one. I'd like a plush toy one to go with the books in the library. It is always easier to get a book to leave the library if it has an accompanying toy.

We have these books and all have a good story with a message to impart that is worthwhile, but not heavy handed.





Monday, April 3, 2017

4th April World Rat Day

Tomorrow is World Rat Day. Not sure I want to celebrate rats but there are a couple of families at school with pet rats and people do say that they make good pets. What I can't believe is how many children's books have rats in them...and I do love The Rats of NIMH. When I looked up the catalogue today I found it hard to believe that we had over 80 books with 'rats' as a subject heading and that was in a library just for 3 to 8 year olds. When I added the other two libraries at school there were many, many more so they are a popular animal in children's books. So off you go to the library and borrow a story that features rats. Enjoy!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Too Wet March

Well in February we sweltered because it was too hot. Now in March it is so wet and very often humid as well. The weather in Sydney has certainly been extreme. Just as well we have lots of books about 'rain'. Even without doing floods or any other extreme weather events we managed to find 30 books for a display. There are two exceptionally good new ones Rain by Sam Usher  and Watersong by Tim McCanna. Both of these are for very young children. They both feature stunning illustrations.
Watersong is a celebration of onomatopoeia. Rain is a narrative about Sam and his grandfather's adventure in the rain. If you are teaching preschool combine these with Who Likes Rain? by Herbert Yee. If you have older students revisit Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault's  beautiful word images in their poem Listen to the Rain. 


The children I teach often ask where do the animals go when it rains, so books such as Gerda Muller's  Where Do They Go in the Rain? and Harriet Ziefert's Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? help address this question.

Just when the students start to whinge about not being able to go outside it is time to share Rain School by James Rumford and if you can find a copy, Children of the Yangtze River by Otto S. Svend because they will then appreciate their own school and ability to stay dry. These two stories show children as capable problem solvers, hard workers and useful in a time of difficulty.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

21st March World Poetry Day



A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. W. H. Auden 


I try to share poetry on Tuesday 21st March every year, sometimes just with the classes I teach, sometimes in assembly or sometimes I organise a whole school celebration. At my school the whole school is involved in eSmart Week events so unfortunately poetry will come off second best. All the more reason why my lessons in the library this week will all involve sharing poetry.

Here are five newish books that are well worth adding to any collection:
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
This story celebrates poetry found in the world around us.  What is poetry? It is glistening morning dew. It is crisp leaves crunching. If you look and listen, it's all around you.
All the World a Poem by  Gilles Tibo
Also for young children this is a tribute to poetry. Each poem is illustrated with paper collage art which is child-like and takes poetry to the level of the child.
 A Great Big Cuddle Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell.
This wonderful book has just been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award. Enough said.
Macavity The Mystery Cat by T.S.Eliot and Arthur Robins
This is a picture book version of this great poem. Arthur Robins has now done four of the cat poems as picture books...see Mr Mistoffelees, Skimbleshanks and Jellicle Cats as well.
A Poem for Every Night edited by Allie Esiri.
This is a magnificent collection of 366 poems for older children, one to share ever night of the year. The poems - together with introductory paragraphs - have a link to the date on which they appear.