Banned Books Week – 30 Years of Liberating Literature

Posted October 4, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

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We’re nearing the end of Banned Books Week, but it’s never too late to speak up for the freedom and right to read. So get on the “banned” wagon while there’s still time.

I’ve included a few websites I found to be useful and informative.

Timeline: 30 Years of Liberating Literature

Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out!

Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century

Frequently challenged Books of the 21st Century

A Family that Reads and Reviews Together

Judith Krug Fought Ban on Books

Banned Books Boards on Pinterest

Reading for Sanity:  A Book Review Blog:  Banned Books Week 2012

17 Banned Books You Read As A Child (or may have)

Pictured are some children’s books that stand proudly in our library that have been banned or challenged. The reasons run the gamut, including nudity, profanity, sexual situations, inappropriate, frightening, animals that use human language, racially offensive, unruly behavior, magic and witchcraft, lewd and twisted, violent, and sexually explicit language.

Celebrate Banned Books Week and the freedom and right to read. Read a banned/challenged book today!

The Man Behind the Name on the Beer

Posted September 27, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

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Sam Adams coming right up! I’m not talking about the beer brewed in Boston. I’m talking about the man brewed in Boston.

Today is Samuel Adams’ two hundred ninetieth birthday. Here are some fast facts about the man of the day.

  • Born in Boston, MA
  • Went to Boston Latin School
  • Graduated from Harvard College – now Harvard University
  • Second cousin to John Adams — the Second President of the United States
  • One of America’s Founding Fathers
  • Political Activist
  • Organized the Boston Tea Party
  • Delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774
  • Signed the Declaration of Independence
  • Signed the Articles of Confederation
  • Governor of Massachusetts
  • Buried in Granary Burying Ground in Boston

Although inept in his business ventures, including the brewery he inherited from his father (How ironic!), Sam Adams was a man among men when it came to politics and action. He spoke out against the harsh laws imposed upon the colonists by England and was on King George’s “most wanted” list. As his gravestone says, Samuel Adams was “… A Leader of Men and an Ardent Patriot.”

Before your children assume Sam Adams is just a beer, introduce them to the real Sam Adams in the very informative biography, Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? It’s written by Jean Fritz, a master of historical biographies, and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Another excellent picture book biography is A Picture Book of Samuel Adams written by David A. Adler/Michael S. Adler and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

Then raise your glass – preferably a glass of Sam Adams beer – and give three cheers for Samuel Adams on his birthday!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

O-Pun the Book

Posted September 20, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Writing

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Samuel Johnson said, “Puns are the lowest form of humor.” If this is true, then my humor is stuck on the bottom of a barrel. I love puns. I love to hear them. I love to use them. I love to read them. They’re jest punny.

I especially enjoy reading books by authors who use puns in their writing. For me, that makes reading the book aloud to a group twice as much fun. It’s also a perfect way to introduce wordplay to students. Here are three of my favorites.

O-pun Book One

On Tuesday I read Library Dragon written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Michael P. White to my third graders. Before beginning, we discussed puns and wordplay. I had a burning desire for my students to appreciate Deedy’s humor. I fired them up by throwing out a few puns of my own.

Library Dragon is filled with creative wordplay. When a school advertises for a librarian who is thick-skinned, is on fire with enthusiasm, and will help stop book damage and loss, Miss Lotta Scales is hired. The problem is Miss Lotta Scales is a real dragon and takes her job description literally. She refuses to let anyone touch a book. Teachers are hot under the collar about the situation. When a little girl teaches Miss Scales the value of sharing a book and a story, the librarian sheds her scales, and the children warm up to her. Deedy and White both have a knack for using wordplay in text and illustrations to make this one hot book!

O-pun Book Two

You haven’t seen a real silly billy until you’ve seen The Three Silly Billies written by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Barry Moser.  When Troll at the Trollgate Plaza won’t let the Three Silly Billies cross the bridge because they don’t have enough “cents,” the Silly Billies decide to form a car pool to share the toll. They blow up a pool, jump in, and wait for others to join them. Troll thinks they’re all wet. But when the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack all jump into the car pool, enough money is collected to cross the bridge, and the grumpy Troll is left to deal with a Giant problem of his own. Palatini’s text is filled with catchy language and moves along quickly to maintain interest. This book will tickle your punny bone!

O-pun Book Three

Candace Fleming is prolific when it comes to writing picture books, novels, stories, and biographies. She knows how to entertain readers. One of my favorite books is The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School. Talk about punny! The author has filled the pages with colorful characters such as Mr. Frost, who has white hair, Ms. Bucky, who grinds her teeth, Miss Playwright, the drama teacher, Ham Samitch, who loves to eat, Victoria Sovaine, who loves herself, and Ms. Paige Turner, the librarian. Then there’s the new teacher, Mr. Jupiter, who is there to whip the challenging fourth grade class into shape. He’s an out-of-this-world teacher! At the end of each chapter, readers will find a moral as Candace Fleming takes them on a hilarious romp through the halls of Aesop Elementary School.

Ms. Paige Turner might agree the moral of this blog post is to grab a book you enjoy and read it!

Imagination: Don’t Leave Home without It

Posted September 13, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Picture Books

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“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” ~Muhammad Ali

Tuesday was my birthday and I imagined the numbers in my age were transposed. I immediately felt younger. I bounced around like a kid. I had more energy than usual. My mind was sharp, and my tongue was froth with wit. It was a magical day.

That evening when I looked into the mirror, I no longer saw that fresh young face I had worn all day long. I saw my mother! I guess that was her birthday gift to me – to carry on the family genes. Age happens, but imagination rocks!

Without an imagination, you’re stuck. You have no place to go – nothing to fill the empty spaces of your day. Think what this world would be like if we didn’t have “imaginators” like Walt Disney, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Georgia O’Keeffe,  Benjamin Franklin …

Everyone needs an imagination. From early on, children’s minds need to be stimulated to help them develop their creativity and play. How can this be accomplished?  The picture book!

The picture book is an amazing tool. The pictures, words, sounds, characters, and story all work together to expand a child’s imagination and play. The more books children are exposed to the wider their world becomes. Children begin to develop language skills and make connections between what they see and hear. And don’t forget the emotional bond derived from sitting in the lap of a loved one, sharing the whole experience of reading a book together.

Here are some great picture books, both old and new, to get you and your child started on the road to imagination.

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

The Hello, Goodbye Window  written by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Roxaboxen written by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Tuesday by David Wiesner

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Iggy Peck, Architect  written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds


Posted September 7, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Writing

Tags: , ,

Kevin Henkes wrote and illustrated a charming book called Wemberly Worried. Wemberly worried about everything. She worried about big things, little things, and everything in between. She worried about the crack in the wall, the hissing radiator, and the tree in the yard. Then came a new worry – school. Despite all Wemberly’s worries, she finds out there is one thing she doesn’t have to worry about anymore. And that’s school.

Sometimes I feel like Wemberly. There are lots of big and little things to worry about – family, work, dust bunnies …

Another thing I worry about is finding enough time in the day to do all that I want to do. I love writing my blog, but sometimes I feel I’m not doing it justice. So I’ve made an executive decision. I will no longer be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays.

But DON’T WORRY!  I’ll be posting on Thursdays from now on, continuing to inform and entertain the masses. Tune in next Thursday to see what’s up!

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” ~John Lubbock


Posted September 4, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Middle-Grade Books

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I’m always looking for great books to encourage my library students to read. I recently finished reading Capture the Flag written by Kate Messner. Mystery, history, and intrigue make this book a winner for my third through fifth graders.

The story begins with a gala reception taking place at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Three seventh grade students on winter break are in attendance. Anna, daughter of a senator, is a budding writer for her school newspaper in Vermont and is hoping to interview a senator who is running for president in the next election. José, whose mother worked on the restoration of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is more interested in reading his book than the goings-on at the gala. Then there’s Henry who is glued to his video game on his computer and could care less about the artifacts and history his Aunt Lucinda has been immersing him in all week long.

They three become unwitting accomplices when a freak snow storm leaves them stranded at a Washington, D.C. airport and they learn “The Star-Spangled Banner” flag has been stolen. Anna believes that the thieves are snowed in, too, and convinces José and Henry to help find who took the flag and return it to its rightful place.

Kate Messner does an excellent job ramping up the tension as events unfold. A man with a snake tattoo, a politician gone bad, a Secret Society, and a young boy and his dog all come into play. Readers are sure to get caught up in the action as Anna, José, and Henry cooperate with one another and use their talents and ingenuity to catch the thieves. Recovery of the flag and unexpected friendships make for a satisfying ending.

Check out Kate Messner’s website and blog here.

Ready, Set, Read!

Posted August 31, 2012 by cathyso3
Categories: Avatar Friday

Tags: , , ,

School starts Tuesday morning at 8:05. I’m ready. The library is ready. I hope the kids are ready!

Here’s what they’re thinking.

When teachers get old, like over fifty-five, they’re always in a bad mood. ~Lindsey, age 8

If you do badly on a report card or test that you take home on a Friday, you should wait until Sunday night to ask your parents to sign it. ~Hannah, age 14

When teachers are mad, they don’t blink. ~William, age 12

You should not mess with the principal. ~Nicholas, age 9

For more funny quotes, check this out.

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