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.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

January Braille Literacy Awareness Month

January is Braille Literacy Awareness Month. It is designated as such in honour of  Louis Braille who originally developed the Braille code that enables blind people to read.  Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809. 

Literacy plays such a big role in both my private and working life that I would be devastated to lose the ability to read or write. To be born blind and not be able to read is something I only get to contemplate through reading. It has fascinated me though as a topic for picture books and I have shared many wonderful books with the young children I teach.  My Year 2 students are fascinated by the story of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller and these two books, Helen's Big World  by Doreen Rappaport and Annie and Helen  by Deborah Hopkinson are borrowed often. Because of this I purchased Six Dots, the picture book about Braille by Jen Bryant and it too has been popular. Up until this beautiful book was published anything my students gleaned about Braille came from some crusty old readers or from the internet. We do however have a couple of books which feature Braille.
Look for:
The Black Book of Colours  by Menena Cottin
This book has remarkable illustrations done with raised lines. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers.

Private and Confidential by Marion Ripley
Here Laura learns Braille so that she can send her blind penpal a letter.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

31st December Michael Morpurgo Queen's Honour

How nice to hear that another stalwart of the children's book world has been honoured with a knighthood. Not sure I think they should exist, but it does worry me that so many entertainers and sports people get them and so few children's writers and illustrators. So, congratulations to Sir Michael Morpurgo. I love his books, especially the ones that deal with animals 'at risk'. Wonderful to see that his work with Farms for City Children is highlighted in a picture book illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

15th October Worm Day

Last week Australia made a momentous decision to allow same-sex marriage and we were talking in the library about what books we could put out on display to celebrate this. We thought of Worm Loves Worm and the lovely conversation in it about who will be the bride and who will be the groom. Then we went off on a tangent and started chatting about how many picture books had worms as main characters or as the topic. I then thought surely there is a 'worm day' and looked it up. It was on the 15th October and we missed it! So here I am writing it up so that next year we will be well prepared to celebrate it.

These books are in our library and they are perfect for celebrating worms. Firstly picture books:
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin and  Harry Bliss
The Worm Who Knew Karate by Jill Lever and Terry Denton
Worm  by Nicki Greenberg
Worm Weather by Jean Taft and Matt Hunt
I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt
Noodle and Lou by Liz Garton Scanlon and Arthur Howard
•  I Won't Eat That by Christopher Silas Neal
Superworm by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Rooting For You by Susan Hood and Matthew Cordell
Yucky Worms by Vivian French and Jessica Ahlberg
•  The Worm by Elise Gravel

Then there's all the chapter books:
Snail and Worm by Tina Kugler (series)
Boobela and Worm by Joe Friedman and Sam Childs (series)
Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner and Brian Floca
Dirty Bertie Worms by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts
Yuck's Pet Worm by Matt and Dave
They Didn't Teach Me This in Worm School  by Simone Lia
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Now add some great non-fiction with amazing worm photographs, a book with instructions for making a worm farm, some books on compost and you'll have a great display.