Thursday, February 23, 2012

It isn't often that an informational text compels me to pick it off the shelf.  When I pull a nonfiction book off of the shelf it is usually because I "need" to.  I need a book about trees for a program, or I need to check some facts about penguins, for example.  It is a rare, rare time that I take a book out of sheer curiosity and desire.

One World, One Day is one of those informational books that I just had to open, and read, and then read again.   Is it any surprise that such an evocative book is published by National Geographic.  Written by Barbara Kerley, the poetic voice behind a series of children's books for National Geographic, this book describes a typical day from sunrise to sunset (breakfast, school, play, work, dinner, family, sleep).  Every activity is elaborated through photographs of children in countries around the world.  Spanish, Australian, and Bengali children eat breakfast.  In Yunnan Province, children walk to school.  Iraqi children play on a slide.  In Amazonas, Brazil children fall asleep in hammocks at the end of the day.  At the end of the book, each photograph is briefly described.

Children will delight in recognizing their own routine (story!) being told in the book, and in making comparisons between the photographs and between their own experiences.  Adults will appreciate the opportunity to talk about other countries, cultures, and communities.  One World, One Day gently introduces young children to the immensity of the world around them, at the same validating the importance of their existence and activities.  They may not be the center of the universe, but they certainly have a place in it...and it is a very hopeful place.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Artfully Illustrated...

My friend, Danelle consistently sends me the best-looking new books.  She's like a one-woman Caldecott committee.  She just has an eye for them.  And she certainly wasn't wrong about Inga Moore's, A House in the Woods.  Published last autumn by Candlewick Press, Moore's story about two pigs, a bear, and a moose who build their dream house in the woods (with the help of a crew of beavers) is a beautiful book.
A great read?  No, I don't think so.  But I could look at it all day long.

Moore is an illustrator who loves Art (with a capital A).  She delights in the subtleties of light and shadow on the forest floor, the challenge of representing the texture of pine needles, compositions that pull the viewer deep into her woodsy glen.  Moore describes her medium as pencil, pastel, and wash... Oil or chalk pastel?  Watercolor wash?  No matter what, she manipulates the disharmony of dry and wet, hard graphite and soft pastel, oil and water superbly.  Moore rises to every challenge of light and fog and fur!  I really, really could look at these pictures for hours.  I love them.

I wish I loved her story as much.  It's a good length, and it has a good pace for read-alouds.  But it fizzles.  Perhaps it is the complete lack of drama and suspense.  It's just one big, hunkey-dorey day for these animals, and I found myself wondering "Now, what was the point of that?" School Library Journal has a different take on the lack of confrontation in the story, so be sure to check out their review, too.

School Library Journal Review: A House in the Woods by Inga Moore

Friday, February 10, 2012

Zoo and Animals

Zoo storytimes are a dime-a-dozen, but since I was just at the zoo today, Goodnight Gorilla, is on my mind.  And yes, it was a very cold, gray, slightly snowy day to be at the zoo.  I am envisioning a story time for a cold, snowy day when little people are stuck indoors.   I'm thinking about a story time that let's everyone wiggle a little bit more than usual.


Intro Song:

If you're happy and you know it flap your wings..
If you're happy and you know it swing your trunk...
If you're happy and you know it roar out loud...
(Whatever animal antics you can think of!)


A Mouse in My House by Nancy Van Laan and Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

This is the story of a little boy and the (imaginary) animal friends in his house.  He has a whole zoo!  Read it once through, than invite children to act out the animals just like the little boy.

Group Activity:

Okay...definitely best for small groups where the kids are mostly the same age!  Show children a place on the carpet.  This is the "spiderweb."  Start with one child, and repeat until all of the children are bouncing and dancing in the spiderweb. 

One elephant went out to play,
upon a spiders web one day,
he found it such enormous fun that he called for another elephant to come.
Elephant!! Elephant!! (all call together)
2 elephants went out to play
upon a spiders web one day
It's short, fast, and fun. Kids will pick up on the repeating verse and the rhyming. And shucks, it's just that kind of day, so why not let the kids act out the animal jumps, arm shaking, and roaring while you read.     
Closing Activity:
Instead of sitting still for Goodnight Gorilla, assign each child an animal and let them pick a "cage" in the room. Ssshhhh....As you visit each "cage" tell the children to follow you. Of course, start with the gorilla, then zig and zag around to everyone. When everyone is out of the cages you can take a lap or two around the programming or children's area before heading back to the story time carpet for "bed." Good night everyone!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

When You Are Camping

My newest book "When You Are Camping"(published by Kane/Miller and imprint of EDC) is in print!  I am thinking about author visits now and creating a program to share with audiences.  I thought I might as well share it here first!


Intro Rhyme:

I am going camping.
(point thumbs proudly to chest)
Time to pack
(point to wristwatch)
My tent, my bedroll,
(Make tent with hands; then fold hands to cheek.)
And a snack.
(Pretend to eat)
I'll sit by the campfire
(warm hands over fire.)
Its glow so bright.
(Fan and wiggle fingers to resemble fire.)
Then snooze in my tent
(Pretend to snore.)
'Til the morning light!

(Open eyes wide, forming sun over head.)


 Looking Closely Through the Forest by Frank Serafini

I love Serafini's "Looking Closely" series.  This newest title would be a perfect fit for a camping program, but "Looking Closely Around the Pond" or even "...At the Beach" will work!  I've blogged about Serafini before.  The books are just so good for storytimes.  They work with kids of almost any age and they generate audience participation.  You can't go wrong here.

When You Are Camping by Anne Lee 

Published by Kane Miller and available in March 2012.  When You Are Camping is the story of two little girls out in the woods.  When it rains, they splash in puddles.  When it is sunny, they go swimming.  They see bugs, rabbits, and a deer.  Anything can happen when you are camping!  This book was written for a preschool audience, but will work for toddler storytimes, and older children will enjoy talking about camping and outdoor adventures, too.

Final Song:

Camping Hokey-Pokey

You put one marshmallow in, you take one marshmallow out.
You put one marshmallow in, and you shake it all about.
Then you do the hokey-pokey and you turn yourself around.  
That's what it's all about.

You put two marshmallows in, you take two marshmallows out.


Pack-the-Backpack relay race or station

Make nature journals 

Animal and Pawprint Matching