Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Zoo I Drew

The Zoo I DrewThe Zoo I Drew by Todd H. Doodler. Random House, 2009

An ABC book of animals at the zoo, (C for Camel, D for Deer, etc.) on double page spreads with vivid colors and strong graphic design.  Doodler's aka Todd Goldman animals look out at the reader with large circle eyes  (that recall Southpark characters to this reader.)
 Poetry quatrains describe each animal.
The newt is small and slimy
It's a type of salamander.
It lives on the forest floor
Where it's easier to meander. 
This is not the detailed, research based poetry of the  splendiferous Douglas Florian but  the pages are bright and eye-catching.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Little Chimp's Big Day

Little Chimp's Big DayLittle Chimp's Big Day by Lisa Schroeder, illustrated by Lisa McCue, Sterling, 2010 (review copy from publisher)

What-if  Curious George had NOT met the Man in the Yellow Hat.

A sweet faced baby chimp explores the jungle, seemingly alone for the first time, while wondering "where could Mother be?"  "She said she would be right back". The chimp rides on a hippo's back, finds bananas to eat, swings on vines to escape a jungle cat then settles down to sleep after his busy day. Mother is there and has been all along, hidden but watching over her chimp on each page. 
The action sequences are described in groups of rhyming gerunds,
"bumping, chasing, jumping, racing" and " roaring, gripping, soaring, zipping."  Even though the story is pitched towards little guys, the book would be useful for illustrating gerunds. 
McCue excels at lovable, furry-fuzzy animals. Her chimpanzee is expressive and endearing.

Lisa Schroeder's website
Lisa McCue's website

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Contests: Judy Blume Journal Contest

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.Judy Blume Journal Contest

"Tell us your Judy Blume story or memory and enter to WIN an iPod Touch®, personalized message from Judy Blume, iTunes® gift card, and a collection of audiobooks! The five entries with the most votes will become finalists."

  • Contest is open to all legal residents of U.S. and Canada (excluding Québec) who are age 13 years or older as of January 3, 2011.
  • Contest will run from Jan. 3, 2011 - Feb. 18, 2011
More information

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Perchance to Re-read?

I may not get to them all but this year I want to re-read:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Movie: The Eagle

I  saw this trailer at the movies and thought, "hey, I know this story." I've started a list of re-reads for the year. I'm adding this one.
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff was first published in 1954. 

The Eagle of the Ninth (The Roman Britain Trilogy)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pearls before Swine Comic

Pearls Before Swine
Yes, we are VERY serious.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Boots on the Ground: Breadcrumbs

Library subbing today.
The lesson plans asked me to show the students the new Destiny OPAC interface and point out the new features and accessibility of the system, while performing some sample searches.  Specifically, the librarian wanted me to point out the "breadcrumb navigation" at the top of the page and demonstrate how to use it.

Happily, this is not a lesson I have to prepare for too much as I have taught searching and OPAC usage too many times to count.  I always start by pointing out that they have to use their minds before they can use the computer. I am a sort of improv school librarian though so, today, when I arrived at the "breadcrumbs" moment, I asked the class why the navigation path might be called breadcrumbs. 


Now, these were 5th graders, always a tough audience, post-winter break.  I asked them if they had ever heard of a story where breadcrumbs were an important part of the plot. Bless them, in each class there was ONE student who suggested Hansel and Gretel. As I did not see the light bulb click-on in their faces, I launched into a quick retelling of the story, thinking I would just highlight the point of the story where the children are lost in the forest  and had to find their way back home.  As I talked though, I noticed that every child had swiveled away from the smart board and was watching and listening to me, eyes wide.

The power of story. A simple fairytale, a story most of them knew (although, I think this may have been the first time for a few of them) but they were completely immersed in the tale.   

I am quite sure that the concept of "breadcrumbs" is solidly in place in the minds of those fourth and fifth grade classes, now. 

Kendall Haven,"story-teller and story-engineer" has researched the way our brains process information and how we are hardwired to learn through stories. I attended his workshop at TLA last spring and it was an inspiration. 

Storytelling is teaching, teaching should be storytelling.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Comment Challenge

In the beginning there were the blogs.  
They were the only way we had of looking around and saying, "Hey, there ARE other people out here who love and adore and are passionate about children's and young adult books." 

And we said, "This is cool!" and we read each others thoughts and we commented and build a community that is today the KidLitosphere.  Then came Facebook and Twitter and a listserv and the Cybils and an annual conference and we had so many other ways of communicating and sharing that the blog commenting was no longer the primary way of discussing and discoursing.

In January, MotherReader offers us the chance to revive and return to the venue that brought us together, the Comment Box.   Sign up now at MotherReader's post about the event and start commenting.  There are prizes! Lee Wind also writes about the challenge and his post will energize you for sure.

I Like Big Books

Librarian Teresa Schauer @Pettus ISD shared this. Teresa blogs at Pettus Secondary Library Blog and is also the caretaker and shepherd of Book Trailers 4 All.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Delacorte, 2010
(review copy provided by publisher)

Revolution kept me turning pages and dialing up the audiobook, nonstop, until I finished. It is one of the most intriguing books I read in 2010.

Andi's little brother, Truman, has been killed (the reader does not know how or why) and she believes it is her fault. She wears a key that belonged to him around her neck on a red ribbon. Is it a tender remembrance or is it penance?  Her mother has sunk into deep grief and compulsively paints portraits of the boy on the walls of their home, neglecting everything and everyone else.

When her father, a world famous scientist and absentee father, learns that Andi is about to flunk out of her private high school, he takes her to Paris where he is participating in a scientific examination of DNA of a preserved heart, reputed to be that of the dauphin, Louis-Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Coincidently (or maybe not) Andi discovers the diary of a young woman, hidden in an antique guitar case.  Alexandrine Paradis, the author of the diary, was the companion of the same Louis-Charles. Andi is caught up in the events of the French Revolution as she reads the diary and Alexandrine's story merges with Andi's causing Andi (and the reader) to question what is really happening. Is there really a fantastical connection to the events in the past or is her mind reacting to medication and to her brother's death?

In the present, Andi meets a young cab driver and musician named Virgil (one of many allusions to Dante's Divine Comedy which is also quoted at the start of each section.) He shares her passion for music and her interest in him gives her a lift from her depression and an anchor in the present.

Still, her fury with her father, her depression and thoughts of suicide are painful.   As a reader, I wanted to reach into the story and stop her hand as she downs the prescription anti-depressants that are probably exacerbating those thoughts. Donnelly does provide some well timed, comic relief through Andi's best friend in the States, Vijay Gupta, who is seeking input from world leaders for his senior thesis

As gifted musician and guitarist herself, Andi has chosen an 18th century composer, Amadé Malherbeau, for her senior thesis. She is supposed to be researching him while in Paris.  This story is infused with music theory and music history, rap, and classical guitar.  Even though Malherbeau is fictional, Donnelly provides such a solid musical grounding for him that readers will want to believe in his historical existence.

Donnelly truly captures Revolutionary Paris and the Paris of today. The officious library clerk that Andi encounters at the library/archives is the quintessential French bureaucrat.  The French Revolution is not a happy or easy period to recreate. An extensive bibliography of print and online sources appears at the end as a testament to the author's research.

Physically, the design of the book, including the typeface, margins and page trim evoke texts from my own French major literature studies. The book jacket captures the essence of the tale with a photo of Andi in the present and an inverted painted portrait of a girl from an earlier century. The two images are divided yet held together by a red ribbon.

This story was not always easy to read but I rooted for Andi all the way.