Archive for November 2012

Picture Book Month: A-CHOO!

November 29, 2012

Stand back! I’m going to sneeze! Those children of mine – those cute little kiddos who sit on the library rug every Tuesday – gave me a special gift for Thanksgiving. Cold germs! So on Thanksgiving Day I wasn’t at the top of my game. There was no clever repartee from this girl, and my appetite just wasn’t there for all that yummy food. Oh, pshaw!

Seeing the expressions on family faces as I was about to sneeze was priceless. It brought back fond memories of a book that was a family favorite. Stand Back,” Said The Elephant, “I’m Going To Sneeze!” *

The original version, as seen above, was published in 1971. This entertaining book was written by Patricia Thomas and illustrated by Wallace Tripp. The rhyming text flows easily, and humor abounds as the water buffalo, monkeys, parrot, bees, bear, crocodile, and a bevy of other animals politely ask the elephant not to sneeze. As the animals run for cover to escape the aftermath of the sneeze, a little gray mouse scares the elephant — eek — and stops the sneeze. When the elephant realizes the mouse doesn’t want to hurt him, the pachyderm has a shivering, shaking, quivering, quaking laugh that causes chaos among the animals. Tripp’s illustrations, done in black and white with shades of yellow and green, provide humor for everyone.

This past Tuesday my sneezes were animated and real as I shared this classic story with my students. This book is nothing to sneeze at!

*This is the 1990 full-color version of the book.

Picture Book Month: Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2012

Wishing everyone a bountiful Thanksgiving!

And don’t forget to thank Sarah Hale, the woman who saved Thanksgiving.

Thank You, Sarah The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving was written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Matt Faulkner.

This book is a wonderful nonfiction addition to Thanksgiving stories. Laurie Halse Anderson cleverly tells the story of Sarah Hale, a superhero, who set out to right the wrongs in our society and make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Anderson reveals how Sarah Hale wrote thousands of letters to politicians and presidents, trying to convince them to make Thanksgiving a day everyone in America celebrated together. It took her thirty-eight years, and, finally, President Abraham Lincoln agreed! Anderson’s story and Matt Faulkner’s humorous illustrations beg readers to keep turning the pages. Anderson has also included “A Feast of Facts” at the end of the story which is filled with a bounty of information. This book gives readers a lot to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Picture Book Month: It’s a Bear!

November 15, 2012

I was pawing through some books when I came across one of my all-time favorite bear books, Winnie-The-Pooh, written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. I hold this book close to my heart. It has charming characters and many pearls of wisdom. If you’ve never read it, do it!

I can “bearly” contain my excitement when it comes to a good bear book. Bear Snores On, a winner of multiple awards, is one of them. It was written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. This book deserves a big bear hug! Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in 2002, this delightful story is told in rhyme. As the bear snores on, little critters sneak into the bear’s cave. Each brings something to share, and soon they’re having a great time as the bear snores on. When the bear is awakened, he grumbles and growls then whimpers and moans because he missed the party. The critters are more than happy to share. As a new day dawns, the bear is wide awake, but his new-found friends snore on. Jane Chapman used whites and blues to depict the outside scenes. Scenes inside the cave are done in earth tones, giving an otherwise cold, dark cave a warm feeling – just like the book!

Another bear book I’d like to roar about is Baby Bear Sees Blue written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This charming book was published in February of this year by Beach Lane Books. Wolff does an excellent job of portraying Mama Bear and Baby Bear as loveable creatures. Each page turn shows Baby Bear discovering different signs and colors found in nature. The illustration of Mama Bear and Baby Bear admiring a rainbow is sweet, but I adore the double spread of Baby Bear and the butterflies! This is a perfect book to introduce and reinforce colors while enjoying a romp through nature with Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Four paws up for this one!

Picture Book Month: Classic and Contemporary

November 8, 2012

In honor of Picture Book Month, I thought it would be fun to compare a classic picture book to a more recent one. I happened to be shelving Goodnight, Goodnight,  written and illustrated by Eve Rice, when it occurred to me the cover was very similar to the 2009 Caldecott Award-winning book, The House in the Night, written by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

Goodnight, Goodnight, which was first published in 1980 by Greenwillow Books, takes place in an urban setting. The reader sees members of the neighborhood community wishing each other goodnight as they go about their evening routines. There’s the chestnut vendor, the baker, the fireman, the policeman, ordinary people, and a little cat that isn’t quite ready to go to bed.

This is an excellent bedtime story. It’s calming, and the text is simple. The book allows youngsters to become an active part of the story as they repeat the word, goodnight.

The illustrations are done with a minimal use of color – black, white, and yellow. A lithographic crayon, black pencil, and pen and ink were used by Rice. She added yellow to each page, which gives the windows, the lights, and the moon a glow that evokes a feeling of warmth. She has included a multitude of details that children can point out at each page turn.

The House in the Night, published in 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Company, is another bedtime story with simple text that is also calming. In comparison to the previous book, this book takes place in a suburban setting. It’s a cumulative story that begins with a simple object – a key – that is given to a child.  The story continues with the inclusion of other simple objects – light, bed, book, bird. When the bird takes flight with the child, an entire world of whimsy opens up and then circles back to the simplicity of the beginning.

Once again, the use of color is minimal – black, white, and yellow. Beth Krommes used a scratchboard technique with the addition of yellow to effectively create a feeling of coziness and warmth on each page.

Both of these books are delightful. The simplicity of the texts encourages children to read along, and the illustrations beg for children to point out details found on each page. Goodnight, Goodnight and The House in the Night make perfect lap books or bedtime books. Make it a good night and read one!

Superheroes to the Rescue!

November 1, 2012

Last Wednesday in honor of our students reaching their magazine sales goal, the teachers dressed up as superheroes for the day. Batman, Batwoman, Superman, Ninja Turtle, Underdog, Spiderman, and Flash were just a few of the superheroes roaming the halls.

Unfortunately, that same morning there was an accident on the road that curves around our school. It’s a well-traveled county highway. Very quickly there was a backup in traffic as police and rescue vehicles blocked off access.

For those in the know, there is a shortcut through our school property. Many cars began sneaking through to avoid the accident and delays. This was NOT GOOD! Teachers, students, and buses were arriving. This created a safety hazard for all involved.

Never fear! Superheroes here! Our principal, dressed as Batman, and our technology teacher, dressed as Superman, were on the scene in a flash ready to remedy the situation.

Batman and Superman positioned themselves at the school’s entries along with an official policeman. They worked together to keep unwanted traffic out while providing a safe entry for school buses and children. It’s the American way!

We may look like a motley crew, but we’re teachers — we’re superheroes!

Check out these superhero books.

Superhero ABC written and illustrated by Bob McLeod

Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero written by Anne Cottringer and illustrated by Alex T. Smith

Dex The Heart of a Hero written by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner

Timothy and the Strong Pajamas written and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz


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