Archive for June 2013

Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

June 27, 2013

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.” ─ Helen Keller

Today is Helen Keller’s birthday. Her life’s achievements continue to be an inspiration. She lived during a time in history when women had to fight for their rights and negative attitudes persisted about those with disabilities. She overcame tremendous obstacles with the help and support of her family and life-long companion, Annie Sullivan, and became a world-renowned personality.

“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”─ Helen Keller

This remarkable woman didn’t let her disabilities stop her. Instead, she was on the cutting edge of her time. She was politically active and became a world-famous lecturer and author. Among the many causes she supported were a woman’s right to vote, birth control, and she was a champion for those with disabilities. Courage, determination, and drive are characteristics demonstrated by Helen Keller. Embrace these qualities and celebrate the life of an extraordinary woman.

Many books have been written by and about Helen Keller, but these three are worth a good look.

FC9780786808908[1]Helen’s Big World The Life of Helen Keller written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares (Disney-Hyperion, 2012)

9780375857065[1]Annie and Helen written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Raul Colon (Schwartz & Wade, 2012)

9780393057447[1]The Story of My Life written by Helen Keller (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003)

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Jesse Klausmeier: Creative Author, Creative Book

June 20, 2013

When someone says “open this little book,” do it – especially when it’s Jesse Klausmeier talking to you!

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Open This Little Book, published by Chronicle Books, is a charming picture book written by the very talented Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by the equally talented Suzy Lee.

Last Friday, Jesse was at the local library for an author presentation. Her beaming smile and warm personality made everyone feel welcome.

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Jesse launched her program by having the audience  join her in singing her favorite song – the theme song from “Reading Rainbow.”  She watched this program as a young child which helped instill her love of reading. Jesse dedicated her book to her parents, grandparents, and LeVar Burton, host of “Reading Rainbow.”

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Open This Little Book is based on a book Jesse wrote when she was five years old. Thanks to her teacher parents and her grandmother, Jesse learned to love reading and writing books at a very young age. At bedtime Jesse wanted more than just one story read to her so she devised a clever way to entice her parents into reading more. She placed small books inside a larger book. When her parents opened the larger book – surprise – there were more books to read. Open This Little Book is like that. There are books within a book! Each character, Ladybug, Frog, Rabbit, Bear, and Giant, has his own book.

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Jesse read her book to us and then got the youngsters in the audience involved. As she read, a child would play a different instrument to represent each character.

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Then she had everyone take a closer look at the book and Suzy Lee’s illustrations. Jesse read the book again and had a different set of children use a prop that went along with each character. They sipped tea, tipped a hat, looked at the time, carried an umbrella, and waved a giant hand.

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Included in Jesse’s presentation were tidbits about each character’s size as compared to the size of each book inside. She spoke about the problem and solution in the story and commented about the end pages.

During the Q & A time, a little girl presented Jesse with a book she had made about how to write a book. It had excellent advice!

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And one little boy offered up a very profound question:  Why did the chicken cross the road?

Open This Little Book is a MUST HAVE book. It received two starred reviews and won a 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor for Excellence in Children’s Literature. Though spare in text, this book opens a whole new world of sharing, making new friends, and reading. Suzy Lee’s delightful illustrations fill the pages with clever details and surprises.

Jesse is a person to watch. She’s intelligent, talented, and witty. Her presentation was informative and entertaining. She displayed a wonderful sense of humor as she kept the adorable, roly-poly youngsters and adults actively involved. I give Jesse Klausmeier and her book a starred review! I can’t wait to see more.

Where to find Jesse Klausmeier:

The ALA Conference in Chicago at the Chronicle booth signing books on Saturday, June 29th from 12:30 – 1:30

Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL on Sunday, June 30th along with Chris Raschka, Molly Idle, and Loren Long at 1:00

Website: www.JesseKlausmeier.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmklausmeier

Twitter: @JesseKlausmeier

Buster Keaton Eyes

June 13, 2013

You may have heard the song “Bette Davis Eyes” sung by Kim Carnes.  It would be nice to have Bette Davis eyes, but I have I Buster Keaton eyes – and that’s nothing to sing about. Buster Keaton was a vaudeville performer, screen star, and director. In all, he was an extremely talented man. His eyes and facial expressions had much to do with his fame.

Eyes can be beautiful and expressive. I’ve always liked my hazel eyes, but the other day I noticed a little baggage accumulating there. Take a look at Keaton’s eyes in his later years. Not to be impolite, but bags under my eyes are beginning to look very similar to his. Unlike Keaton, my eyes and facial expressions have nothing to do with any fame. It’s time to get out the cold compresses, cucumbers, tea bags, and creams and trash those bags. Or maybe it’s time for an eye lift. Now that would be a real eye-opener!

Here are some eyes that will have you seeing funny!

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The Eye Book is written by Theo.LeSieg (Dr. Seuss) and illustrated by Joe Mathieu. The simple text includes humor and rhyme which encourages young children to read along. Mathieu’s illustrations are colorful and add to the fun of the book. Open your eyes and see what you can see!

You might also look at these books by Dr. Seuss:

The Foot Book

The Tooth Book

The End

June 6, 2013

The end is here. It really isn’t the end because the end always leads back to the beginning.

Take the school year. It has ended. The school library is on hiatus for the summer. Pleasant memories passed through my mind as I wished each of my students a happily ever after vacation.

Preparing for the end of the school year takes time. I plan for the upcoming year, order supplies, inventory books, and weed out books that are tired and worn. When I’m finished with all my tasks, I turn out the lights, give a sigh of relief, and go off into the summer sunset with books in hand to read until the new year begins. So you see the end always leads to a beginning.

This experience reminds me of the picture book, The End, written by David La Rochelle and illustrated by Richard Egielski. It’s a cause and effect story – or if you’re doing it backwards maybe it an effect and cause story. Does that make any sense? Maybe not, but that is my school library story. It begins at the end of the year and ends at the beginning of the new school year and continues on a never-ending and beginning reel.

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The End

Written by Cathy Ogren and not illustrated by Cathy Ogren

The children went off to enjoy the warm summer days, but wherever they went they carried their favorite book and read happily ever after.

They read happily ever after because …

The librarian stepped forward and gave the students books of humor, adventure, mystery, and fantasy because …

No matter what magic the teachers did, the children were bored because …

By the end of the year, the teachers were tired because …

Each morning the students dashed through the school doors with high energy and exhausted the teachers because …

Parents told their children to “Go forth and challenge your teacher, and your teacher will challenge you!” because …

Everyone knows the job of a teacher is to keep students motivated and stimulated, which is not always easy because …

Students learn in a variety of ways because …

Variety is the spice of life because …

The librarian knew what would spice up a child’s life, and she knew by the end of the school year, the teachers would need a well-deserved rest because …

Once upon a time a resourceful school librarian endeavored to teach her students to love reading and books.

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To all the wonderful teachers in the world:  Enjoy your quiet moments and look forward to exciting years filled with new challenges!


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