Thursday, January 17, 2013

When Librarians Take to the Roof!

This may be a new present for my school principals!  Attached will be a note:  Prep the ladder!  and send pizza!

M.G. King writes the true tale of Librarian RoseAleta Laurell who sought to bring in the library's reason for being - the children.

From the book: When RoseAleta Laurell begins her new job at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas, she is surprised that the children of the town think the library is for adults.

She vows to raise the money for a children's section and spends a week living and working on the library roof, even surviving a dangerous storm.

With the help of the entire town, RoseAleta raises over $39,000 from within the community and across the country.

Today if you look through the front window of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library, you will see shelves stacked full with children's books and tables and chairs just the right size. You will see artwork on the walls, and a row of busy computers.

Best of all, you will always find crowds of children who love to read and learn inside the walls of the oldest library in Texas. 

It seems unfathomable to me that a library would not be about the children.  For adults only?  I have always seen public, and even school libraries, as serving the community.  All people, all ages.  Even within my k-6 elementary schools we have books that are meant to be read-alouds for parents and students.  We have dual language books to promote reading between new arrivals and older generations who may not speak English.  Books are for imparting information, stimulating creativity, teaching literacy and critical thinking.  Books are for bonding, forming relationships with characters and those we read with.  Books help us make memories. Books help us escape a bad day and imagine what wonders tomorrow could bring.  There are no age limits on these things - they apply to the very youngest and very oldest of us all.  For a library to ignore part of the population seems so against the very nature of what a library is.   Librarian on the Roof!  is a great story showing that libraries are  meant to be used and be allowed to bring so much value to it's patrons.

More than a "library" story, this book can be used to inspire our students to create change in their own schools, communities, and world.  It shows what the dedication and determination of an individual can achieve.  It also shows that recognizing a problem exists is not enough...that there are ways to make changes.  
Ms. Laurell on the roof of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in  Lockhart, Texas.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Instant Reading Nook for kids!

Found this on Pintrest...great idea!  And mobile!

Blue Spruce 2013 titles

Larf by Ashley Spires

A cute story about a happy, hermited Sasquatch  his pet bunny, Eric and what happens when he decides to seek out another Sasquatch.
No one believes Larf exists, and he likes it that way. Larf, you see, is a sasquatch, the only sasquatch in the world (or so it seems). He has a very pleasant, and very private, life in the woods, where on any given day he might be found jogging, gardening or walking Eric, his pet bunny. But everything changes one morning when Larf discovers that another sasquatch is scheduled to make an appearance in the nearby city of Hunderfitz. What?! That must mean he's not the only sasquatch in the world! Excited by the prospect of having a friend to share hair grooming tips with (and let's face it, teeter-tottering alone is no fun), Larf disguises himself as a city slicker and heads for Hunderfitz -- where he's in for a couple enormous surprises.
Similar in feel to Melanie Watts' Scaredy Squirrel series, Larf explores how leaving his comfort zone will change his life...will it be too scary? a disaster? or maybe, could it possible mean a new friend and a better life?  The illustrations are fun with many subtle teases and details for those paying attention.  I hope to see Larf and Eric again in a sequel!

 Don't Laugh at Giraffe by Rebecca Bender

A second installment for my favorite characters from last years Blue Spruce entry!  In a story about understanding another's feelings and what being a friend means, Rebecca Bender returns bringing another tale from Giraffe and Bird.
 There’s nothing Bird likes more than to have a laugh at the expense of his lanky friend, and one dry day at the pond, he gets his chance. Giraffe’s awkward attempt to reach the water without getting his hooves wet raises a cackle from a flamingo, a chortle from the zebra, then a howl from the hippo. Soon everyone is having a good laugh... especially Bird. In fact, Bird is having a ball until he realizes that his mortified friend has left the pond without quenching his thirst. Now Bird is sorry. How will he get Giraffe back? 
I absolutely LOVE the illustrations and the complex relationship between these two friends. The colours are vibrant and complement the emotions, the squabbling and bond of the characters. I can't wait for their next adventure!

 Kate & Pippin by Martin Springett
When Pippin, a fawn abandoned by her mother, cries out for help, she is found by author Isobel Springett. After carrying the tiny fawn back to her home, Isobel places Pippin next to Kate, a Great Dane who has never had puppies of her own.
A very sweet and simple story of honest friendship and the lessons that nature can teach us.  Beautiful photographs tell the story better than words ever could leaving a warm, squishy feeling that is all things good in the heart of this reader.

Nicolas Oldland brings us another tale, this time about our relationship with the world around us and our responsibility in taking care of it and its other inhabitants.  It's a story that reminds young readers that we all have an impact on the world around us.
The busy but careless beaver spends his days following random impulses, rarely thinking things through and leaving in his wake a devastated forest filled with stumps, half-nibbled trees and injured, homeless animals. But then one day the beaver finds himself on the wrong side of a falling tree, which as it turns out, is just the thing to knock some sense into him. After reflecting on his behavior, he decides to make some changes. Soon, the now wiser and gentler beaver is getting down to the business of making things right.   

Cary Fagan brings a story about friendship, sharing, and thinking beyond your own wants to empathize with and help others achieve their wishes.
One day, Ella May finds a stone that has a line going all-all-all the way around it. Surely a stone this special must grant wishes, she decides. Soon she is busy making wishes and bragging about them. When her friends want to share the fun, Ella May objects. But she soon learns that keeping the stone for herself is a sure way to lose friends. By using her imagination – much more powerful than any stone – she is able to grant everybody’s wishes, including her own.
While I appreciate the message of this book, it will not be one of my favorites as I did not find it as engaging as others on this list.  

Here Comes Hortense...and here comes jealousy  rivalry and eventually acceptance and the knowledge that you can share a person and still have all the love there is!  
Nana and her new husband take her grandson to a theme park. But the fun is spoiled when Nana and Bob announce that they’ve planned a surprise: they are going to be joined by Bob’s granddaughter, Hortense. It turns out to be the worst surprise ever. Nana shares her room with Hortense instead of her disgruntled little grandson. She sings her special good-night song to Hortense. She goes on all the scary rides with Hortense. And, worst of all, Hortense has a special name for Nana.

Cindy Winters loves to play hockey. When her family's basement apartment is flooded and the floor freezes, she's even happy to skate on the concrete. Her parents are too poor to enroll her in a league, but she's resourceful and does odd jobs until she has earned enough money to play. Armed with her mother's old equipment, she is thrilled to join a team. But her happiness doesn't last long. Among her teammates are the horrible Blister Sisters. They make her life miserable. And worse, Cindy's sidelined by the coach, who just happens to be Mrs. Blister. It looks like she'll be spending the season cleaning equipment, instead of playing on the ice. Cindy's luck changes when her Fairy Goaltender appears and saves the day.  
I am a big fan of fractured fairy tales and girls playing hockey.  Overall, this book works, but I hesitate to give it a thumbs up due to it's aggressive feel in places.  I suspect I am being overly sensitive about this but, for me, it took away from my enjoyment of the story despite being an clever and original take on the classic tale.

Jane Barclay delivers a story about growing and the different ways that growth occurs and is measured. How big you are is just about your height or is more importantly about the size of your heart and your will to make something happen.
Children are eager to grow bigger, and JoJo is no exception. He always asks his mother the same question: “How much did I grow today?” No matter how often his mother assures him that good things come in small packages, he is desperate to be bigger. 

Charlie is very close to his grandfather, who loves to tell fanciful stories about pirates, witches, and gnomes that amuse Charlie to no end. But lately, Charlie's grandpa doesn't have any new stories to tell — in fact, some days grandpa doesn't even recognize Charlie. A disease has stolen grandpa's memories, his appetite, and even his smile.
Charlie wants so much to make his grandpa smile again that he comes up with a plan to tell him stories — the same ones that grandpa used to tell Charlie to make him laugh! Without shying away from the inevitable heartache that comes from watching loved ones suffer, Really and Truly is a spirited book for young readers struggling to remain optimistic during troubling times.

I really liked this book.  It brings a sensitive and emotional topic that is not often explored in children's literature, certainly it is rarely seen in  picture books.  As our population ages and as society becomes more comfortable bringing such family issues into conversation, Emilie Rivard has created a gentle introduction of dementia and its effects of the individual and the family.  Uplifting and hopeful, with colourful illustrations and a feeling of understanding and acceptance, Really and Truly earns a place on my bookshelf.

  From You Are Stardust begins by introducing the idea that every tiny atom in our bodies came from a star that exploded long before we were born. From its opening pages, the book suggests that we are intimately connected to the natural world; it compares the way we learn to speak to the way baby birds learn to sing, and the growth of human bodies to the growth of forests. Award-winning author Elin Kelsey — along with a number of concerned parents and educators around the world — believes children are losing touch with nature. This innovative picture book aims to reintroduce children to their innate relationship with the world around them by sharing many of the surprising ways that we are all connected to the natural world. 

Grounded in current science, this extraordinary picture book provides opportunities for children to use their imaginations and wonder about some big ideas. Soyeon Kim’s incredible diorama art enhances the poetic text, and her creative process is explored in full on the reverse side of the book’s jacket, which features comments from the artist. Young readers will want to pore over each page of this book, exploring the detailed artwork and pondering the message of the text, excited to find out just how connected to the Earth they really are.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

End of Days by Eric Walters

It's 2012 and the world's most renowned astrophysicists, astronomers, and theoretical mathematicians have all died within the same 12-month period. But as these scientists discover, none of them are really dead after all. They have been taken hostage by alien forces. And while their family and friends are mourning their passing, and with the help of a 16-year-old with rare gifts, they face the ultimate struggle of prevailing over evil and returning themselves--and the earth--to safety.
End of Days

Working in elementary school libraries, I have skimmed about half of Eric Walters titles.  While I recognize good writing and the popularity of his work with students, I, myself, have not been a great fan of his stories.  End of Days has become an exception.  Stopping at page 33 to answer my phone, I remember thinking that this book was "really good!".  I stopped again at page 165 to grab a glass of water and not again until the last page.  

Gripping from the first page, I enjoyed the dual story lines, anticipating the moment they would merge.  Well laid out, the plot was interesting, tense and allowed readers time to digest the technical information but didn't drown them in it.  It felt as though I was reading    an action-packed movie.