Thursday, December 20, 2007

Olive, the other Reindeer

Olive, the other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J.otto Seibold, Deluxe Edition, Chronicle Books, 2007

Subbing at a local elementary yesterday, I noted the DVD of Olive, the other Reindeer was in heavy rotation on the video tower sign-up list. The singing and dancing characters visible on the monitor from my desk were not endearing the story to me. I made myself avert my eyes because I have a deep affection for this book as it is a year round favorite with kids.

No other Christmas carol has such a hold on children's imaginations as "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." (*see note) Even the youngest child understands the joke of this book's title.

When a little dog named Olive hears the lyrics "All of the other reindeer..." she thinks the line is, "Olive, the other reindeer" and concludes that she is in fact, a reindeer, not a dog. Hi-jinks ensue.

This tenth anniversary edition has scratch and sniff gumdrops, flaps to open, levers to pull and a pop-up scene at the end. Reading the "otto-biography" of Seibold on the Chronicle Books site, I learned that the names of his children (and their images) are tucked into the illustrations, shades of Marc Brown and his Arthur books.

Skip the video and enjoy this book. It is a charmer.


When I got the call to sub, the librarian asked me what I wanted to do with the kids. I asked her to let me read. Dragon and I haven't read to a group of kids in a while and if we go too long, we get down-right twitchy.

Also Dragon needed to get out and about. He did a recent star turn in the high school choir madrigal dinner and the acclaim and greetings from former students in the high school corridors along with the positive reviews of his performance have inflated his already preposterous ego and made him unbearable here at home. His demands for celebrity treatment, including a star on the door to his bedroom, have just been too much.

This fun story was on the lesson plan for kindergarten.

A Creature was Stirring by Clement Clarke Moore with additional story and illustrations by Carter Goodrich, Simon & Schuster, 2006

A small boy knows he is supposed to be asleep on Christmas eve but he risks the "naughty" list in order to get a peek out the window when Santa's sleigh arrives.

Moore's well known poem chronicles Santa's visit on the left page while the boy's adventure with Santa's precariously parked sleigh develops on the opposing page.

One alert kindergarten lad pointed out that the boy's words were printed in white while Moore's poem is printed in gold. I was so pleased he had noticed and it makes the last page of the story even more fun.

Lovely golden end papers open the book. I'm an end papers kind of girl. A set of lovely end papers will make me much more likely to appreciate the story between them.
Goodrich's illustrations are humorous and the kids followed the story easily. It was a fun read.

*Note: As usual when Santa calls the names of his reindeer, "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!...etc." the kids ALWAYS ask, "Where's Rudolph?" This year I had a good answer pop into my head, "He hasn't been born yet."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Public Service


As I say to my kinder all the time, just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean "they" are not out to get me.

Found myself staring at the "made in China" little Christmas mugs we recently unpacked from the decoration storage boxes.

Me: "Entling no. 2, go to the hardware store and get one of those "lead testing kits."

Entling no. 2, after returning from store with said kit and carefully following directions to use it: "Uh-oh, the strips are all turning pink!"

Onomatopoeia : "chunk-clink"--sound of mugs hitting the trash bin.

Check your holiday ware!

Game On!

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. --
Psalm 96:11

Entling no. 3 has just run three laps around the outside of the house exulting and shrieking with joy!
Entling no. 2 has grabbed her phone and speed dialed everyone in her phone book.

This just in from ABC News via the ever vigilant Treebeard:
Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have reached agreement to make J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," a planned prequel to the blockbuster trilogy "The Lord of the Rings."

Monday, December 17, 2007

The American Story

The American Story: 100 true tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong, illustrations by Roger Roth, Random House, 2006

Conversation with the 5th grade ent-nephew this past summer:

Me: Do you like history?
Ent-nephew: Nooooo.... It is borrrrring.
Me: How can it be boring? Story is part of the word Hi-story! Don't your teachers ever tell you the stories from history?
Ent-nephew: Stories?
Me: How do they teach history and social studies at your school?
Ent-nephew: --shrugs--
Me: Do you do a lot of worksheets and vocabulary lists?
Ent-nephew: How did you know? Did my mom tell you?

How did I know?
Because worksheets and vocabulary definitions are what passes for social studies education in many classrooms today. The emphasis on test scores in reading, math and now science, seems to have blown, what should be one of the most interesting subjects in school, right out of the water.

It does NOT have to be this way... reading, writing, math and science skills should be/could be part of the social studies curriculum. Sadly, too often, it is tagged on at the end of the day or slotted in like an airline standby passenger.

"Any hope for getting on this flight?"
"Ummm...we have to looks pretty full today."

Sometimes I despair.

This is why I have such a tender spot in my heart for books that share stories from our past. In this splendid volume, Jennifer Armstrong tells some well known (although now-a-days that is not a given) and not so well know tales from our country's past.

I consider myself a student of American history but I did not know that long before the 1938 Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast, The New York Journal "reported" their own sequel to that book, in 1897, in daily installments called "Edison's Conquest of Mars."

I did not know the story of Thaddeus Lowe and his contributions to aerial surveillance for the Union during the Civil War. In one of the many, many author notes following the story, Armstrong explains that Lowe Observatory near Pasadena California is named for him.

The scope of stories is diverse. Spindletop, Typhoid Mary, Mount Saint Helens, the Rumble in the Jungle, Custer, ENIAC, Carrie Nation, the Chicago fire, Popé and the Pueblo revolt, and Asser Levy are names and events that we should know.

The stories are related chronologically, in three page bites, perfect for reading aloud and Roth's illustrations complement the stories. At the back, there is an extensive bibliography and index. The chapters are also grouped by "story arc" categories, such as, "Steel," "Cuba," "Government and Law," "the Moon and Stars" and whimsically, "Bananas." I do wish the page numbers had been included here. It takes an extra step to find the story in the table-of-contents or index.

As a librarian, I found myself matching these chapters with more books on the subject.

1927 The Spirit of St. Louis = Flight by Robert Burleigh
1954 Brown v. Board of Education = Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
1884 Hold Your Horses, Here Come the Elephants = Twenty-One Elephants by Phil Bildner
1938 War of the Worlds = Meghan McCarthy's wonderful and entertaining Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account Of The 1938 War Of The Worlds Radio Broadcast
1925 Mush = Togo by Robert J. Blake
1846 I'm Not Leaving this Jail = Henry Builds a Cabin and the other Henry books by D.B. Johnson

There are so many more.

That is one of the great things about being the school librarian, YOU can be the storyteller and share the tales that shaped our nation.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Verry verry intrresting

As previously noted here, the Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society has come to the defense of Steve Vander Ark, the creator of the Harry Potter Lexicon in the lawsuit filed against him by JKRowling and Warner Bros.

School Library Journal has an interview with Anthony Falcone about the Fair Use Project's involvement in the lawsuit

What’s the legal issue here?

It’s a critical, free-expression issue. The real issue it poses is the extent to which fans are going to have the right to participate in the content and fan community, and the extent to which they do so.

JKR and Co. say they are going to do their own definitive reference book. Is Vander Ark creating a whole new work or is he copying directly from Rowling's text? Did Rowling get the idea for a "lexicon" from Vander Ark? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Sold to...

Amazon won the auction at Sotheby's for the only copy available to the public of J. K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard. They paid £1,950,000.

The Telegraph reports:

Bidding for "The Tales of Beedle the Bard", of which there are only seven copies in existence, was frenetic at Sotheby's on Thursday and experts were shocked at the huge winning bid for the book, which had been expected to sell for £50,000.

Amazon has already posted pictures and a review, with spoilers. I didn't read it in hopes that someday, I will get to read the stories. The book is just beautiful to behold. I chuckled when I read the book was decorated with moonstones. Several years ago Rowling posted a note on her site about having just read The Moonstone by Wilke Collins for the first time. She described it as a "cracking read."

Don't you love the white gloves? It is a rare book, indeed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Movie: City of Ember

Some stills from City of Ember movie were sent to CinemaBlend.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dinosaur Books

Dinosaurs: the most complete, up-to-date encyclopedia for dinosaur lovers of all ages by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., illustrated by Luis V. Rey, with contributions by thirty-three of the world's leading paleontologists, Random House, 2007

With a title like that it has to be good.
It is.

This book is for the dino-connoisseur, the tyranno-gourmand, the read-all-about-it-a-saurus. The book covers all things dinosaur from a review of geologic time and the history of fossil discoveries to dinosaur babies and dinosaur dung.
Forty-two chapters and 472 pages examine every branch of the dinosaur family tree.
In-depth chapters on coelurosaurs, prosauropods, tyrannosauroids, ceratopsids, (and the list goes on) are enhanced with colorful illustrations that "flesh-out" the detailed drawings of the skeletons which also accompany the chapter.

Personal essays from 33 paleontologist provide extensions to the chapters. Dr. Scott D. Sampson discusses "Male and Female Dinosaurs--Can we tell the difference?" and Dr. Matthew T. Carrano writes about "Walking and Running Dinosaurs." Dr. Luis Chiappe reviews the origins of birds during the Mesozoic Era. All of these essays are one page in length and very engaging and readable. They bring the scientist to the reader to explain their interests and passion for the subject.

This is NOT an Eyewitness book with different reading levels and distinct blocks of text but the illustrations are captioned and sections are headed in uppercase titles. The text is laid out in two columns with a nicely sized type and good white space.

Extensive dinosaur genus charts at the back refer the reader to the matching chapters. If you know a dinosaur fanatic, this is the book for them.

Robert Sabuda's and Matthew Reinhart pushed the pop-up book genre to a new level with their amazing Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs (2006.) Dinosaurs literally spring up from the pages in this book. Facts and information abound too.

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick, 2001

This is the true story of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. An Englishman, he was really one of the first paleoartists when he accepted a commission from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to design and build life-sized models of dinosaurs for the opening of the Crystal Palace. He was a fascinating man and Kerley's biographical sketch and Selznick's illustrations make this book a home run in every way.

Movie: Inkheart

Now, the trailer is officially out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Inside the Teenage Brain

Just finished watching the PBS Frontline program Inside the Teenage Brain. This should be required viewing for parents, junior high, middle school, and high school teachers, principals, school board members. If you missed it you can watch it online here.

Cartoonist, Jim Borgman added commentary along with strips from his true-to-life comic strip, Zits.

Which A.A. Milne character are you?

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Verry intrresting

I just keep thinking of that Craig Ferguson skit...

Stanford Law Group enters fray...

A group of crusading intellectual property lawyers at Stanford Law School say they will help defend a small publishing house being sued by author J.K. Rowling over its plan to print an unauthorized companion guide to her Harry Potter series.

The Fair Use Project at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society announced Tuesday that it had signed on to aid the defense of Michigan-based RDR Books, which had planned to release "The Harry Potter Lexicon" this fall. (read the rest)

The Dark Librarian

A public librarian's dream?

The Stranger

Those of you in northern climes are going to laugh at this but I thought it was very exciting.

Yesterday when we departed the homestead for our appointed rounds, there was a light sheen of frost on all the roof tops and the grass sparkled as tiny ice crystals caught and reflected the morning sunlight. The temperature had brushed down to the low thirties the night before and the air had that fresh cold sense that winter was actually a possibility here on the Gulf coast.

I had just noticed on Sunday that some trees were finally displaying orange, red and deep purple leaves. I immediately thought of Chris VanAllsburg's The Stranger. What a morning to read that book with kids!

Poor Farmer Bailey is horrified when he realizes that his truck has hit something. A dazed man lies in the road so Farmer Bailey takes him home to be cared for. The doctor cannot discover anything wrong with him (he cannot even get a temperature reading because his thermometer seems to be stuck at the bottom) but the poor man has lost his memory. He is a gentle spirit though and settles in to life on the farm. Fall has arrived in the surrounding countryside but summer seems without end on the Bailey farm. Despite his contentment with the Baileys, wisps of memory are tugging at the stranger's mind. This is a delightful mystery that will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin, 1986

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Suggestions

Author Tamora Pierce has a great list of some of her favorite fantasy and science fiction reads. Entling no. 3 is a huge Pierce fan. I'm pointing her to this list.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Why I think he is a rockstar

You may know that I've long admired Rick Riordan's writing and his Percy Jackson series which have been the gateway into books for many kids that I know. I've been lucky enough to meet him and I am always impressed by his kind and gracious manner toward his young fans and goggle-eyed librarians.

I think I started thinking of him as "Rockstar Rick Riordan" from the moment I turned the last page of The Lightning Thief. I knew I was holding reading gold* in my hands. "The man is a rockstar!" I thought.

Read his post about school visits.
Is there a title beyond "rockstar" I can apply to him?

*reading gold: a book that will convince a non-reader that there ARE some books worth reading for just the sheer pleasure of the experience.

Author: Meg Cabot

This week I spent the better part of an afternoon and evening with Entling no. 3 at the Pre Area All-State Choir Audition where to my delight I met and visited with another choir member who was reading Meg Cabot's Big Boned. She was down to the last 50 pages and told me she couldn't wait to finish her sight reading so she could get back to the book.

"I just love the way she writes. She writes the way I think!" she told me. I told her about Meg's blog.

Honestly, I was so THRILLED to meet another highschooler (besides Entling no. 3) who had packed a book I was overwhelmed. (It might also have been the resigned misery and fear on the faces of all the kids as they marched off for their sight reading auditions that was moving me to tears.)

Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for this delightful video of Meg Cabot retelling moments from Little Women. I love the "Masterpiece Theater" background and the picture over the fireplace.