Monday, February 28, 2011

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1997.

The novel Tangerine is a story about a middle schooler who has recently moved to a strange new town in Florida. In Tangerine County, Florida, a sinkhole swallows the local middle school, lightning strikes at the same place everyday, and underground muck fires blaze everywhere. When the main character, Paul Fisher, learns the dark secrets of his conceited older brother, he learns to stand up for himself and his beliefs.

I personally loved the book. It has a lot of suspense and is a very easy, laid-back read. Tangerine is great to read aloud and has many exciting themes.
~Review by my niece G, age 13
  • American Library Association Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, 1998
  • Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination for Best Young Adult Novel, 1998
  • American Booksellers Association Pick of the List, 1997
  • New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, 1997
Source: The Official Site of Author Edward Bloor

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why I'm Obsessed with Audio Books

I am obsessed with audio books and so are my kids.  So much to the point now that they won’t even listen to music and I’m considering an audio book ban for a week. But, they are one of the best things I have introduced to my children.

Audio books open up literature in a way that is completely different than print. While pictures from a well-illustrated book can make a story come alive for one child, a well-read audio book can do the same for another.  We all know that children love to be read to by their parents, but it is not always possible for me to read as much as I would like.  Audio books are a great way to fill in the gaps.
Audio books can be a lifesaver for a reluctant or struggling reader, allowing them to enjoy the book without the pressure of having to read every word. They can still participate in classroom discussions and not feel left out. As the audio book is reading they can read along in their own book, which will help them to learn vocabulary and pronunciation.  After listening to an audio book the reader can go back and enjoy the print book with less stress. S has listened to me read aloud every Harry Potter book, listened to them all on CD, and he’s now reading them on his own -- and he’s enjoyed them every time!

Audio books allow for wonderful family discussions since we are all “reading” the same thing. Every time we get into the car we review what happened the last time we listened to the story.  I love to hear what my kids remember and what they are getting out of the story.  We easily listen to two or three books a week since we are in our car so much. Some of the books we listen to are advanced for my four year old or may be too easy for my eight year old, but the second I turn on that book there is silence in my car!

Today most libraries provide audio book downloads right from their web pages and you can also check them out on CD.

Audio books all my kids have loved: the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary; the Geronimo Stilton series; the A to Z mystery series by Rob Roy; the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo; and the Bunnicula series by James and Deborah Howe.

Do you have a favorite audio book?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Comment on Commenting

As I hope this to be an interactive blog; a brief comment on commenting.  Click on the  "0 Comments" button at the bottom of a post. Next to "Comment as" there is a pull down menu.  Use the pull down menu to select either "Name/URL" or "Anonymous" When the next menu comes up type in your name, (don't worry about the URL part) and press continue. You can then type your comment and post.  I will then receive an e-mail letting me know there is a new post. Once read it will be posted on the blog.


The Giant Jam Sandwich

"One hot summer in Itching Down, Four Million Wasps Flew into town."

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord.  This fabulous book, first published in 1972, tells the story of the town of Itching Down which must deal with the terrible problem of four million wasps!  The townspeople come together and solve their problem in a wonderfully unique way.  Told in rhyming verse that rolls of the tongue this is a great read aloud. The illustrations are quirky and maybe a little old-fashioned, but work well with the story. A classic my children love.

Reading Magic by Mem Fox

Reading Magic by Mem Fox

I just finished reading Mem Fox’s excellent book Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.  It is a short, quick read full of wonderful tips and ideas about reading aloud to your children. Here were a few of my favorites:

1.  If you want your kids to love books, show them you love books.
2.    How can you expect your reluctant reader to read if you do not or if you show no enthusiasm for reading?
3.    Dads—read aloud to your kids!
4.    When your child is reading aloud don’t make them sound out every word, just tell them the word and move on with the story. 
5.    Don’t stop reading aloud even when your children can read themselves.

When trying to encourage your child to read it seems only natural to stop and have them sound out a challenging word they don’t know -- thus teaching them the word.  Fox suggests telling them the word to keep the story flowing smoothly along and chances are they will remember the word the next time they see it. This will keep the child’s interest and eliminate boredom and frustration for both child and parent. After reading this idea I tried it out on my daughter and I was amazed at how beautifully it worked.  When reading a wonderful story aloud who wants to be bogged down by the tedious sounding out of words?

My husband can read Spider-Man comics like no one else, well pretty much because I refuse and our son loves them.  He does all the voices for Spidey, the villans, and the POW, ZZBBPPT, and WABTTT.  I’m not saying he loves reading them, but he knows that S loves them so reads with enthusiasm.  (He also reads Strawberry Shortcakes Berry Wonderful Day with enthusiasm.) Fox states in her book that having both Mom and Dad read aloud can make a huge difference in a child’s desire to read. 

Fox stresses the importance of continuing to read aloud to your children even after they can read themselves. You can always read them more challenging books or books they would never pick up on their own. I will always remember my dad reading us Poe’s The Raven, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when I was seven or eight.  I plan to read aloud to my children until they leave the house--if they let me.

How to get started:

The Read Aloud Handbook: Jim Trelease (6th edition)—this book and others by Trelease are the perfect place to find some books to get started.

Reading Together: Everything you Need to Know to Raise a Child who Loves to Read by Diane W Frankenstein.

What do you love to read aloud to your child?  What do you remember being read aloud as a child?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2011 Award Winners Announced!

Each January the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) awards those children's books it deems the best of the year. I don't always love every one, but they are a great place to find out about new exciting books and authors.  Below is a description of the type of award and the winners for this year.  The link at the bottom will take you to the American Library Association page and you can look at winners from past years.  Have fun!

Newbery Medal -- The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
WinnerMoon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
HonorsTurtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm, Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Caldecott Medal -- The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
WinnerA Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Philip C. Stead
HonorsDave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill, Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein

Sibert Medal -- The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois. 
WinnerKakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot, written by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Nic Bishop
HonersBallet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca, Lafayette and the American Revolution, written by Russell Freedman

(Theodor Suess) Geisel Award -- The Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.  
Winner -- Bink and Gollie, written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGee, illustrated by Tony Fucile, 
Honors: Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!, written and illustrated by Grace Lin, We Are in a Book!, written and illustrated by Mo Willems

The Wilder Award -- The Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.

Winner: Author/Illustrator Tomie dePaola is the winner of the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. His numerous works include 26 Fairmont Avenue (1999), Strega Nona (1975), and The Legend of the Poinsettia (1994).

Source: American Library Association (ALA)

Do you have a favorite award winning book?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin Caldecott Winner

A perfect snow day book! Tells the story of William Bentley who studied water and specifically snow crystals his entire life.  When he was a teenager Willie's parents used all their savings to buy a special camera to allow Willie to capture images of snowflakes.  After much trial and error Willie took his first photographs of snowflakes and discovered each snowflake is unique. His extensive work with snow is still used by scientists today.  The beautiful wood-cut illustrations add to the magic of this engrossing non-fiction story.  At the end of the book several of Bentley's beautiful photographs are shown. After reading this book teach your kids how to make paper snowflakes, showing them that no two are ever the same.  Read up about snow crystals online.  Go outside and gather snow to investigate.

Cinderella-Don't Stop with Disney!

Cinderella is a universal theme: a sweet young girl, who is giving and compassionate, put into a demeaning position and with the help of magic or her own resources and intelligence triumphs in the end.  There are three types of Cinderella stories: the classic Cinderella story based on the Charles Perrault story, The Little Glass Slipper, the multi-cultural Cinderella stories coming from many different countries and the entertaining stories telling the Cinderella story with a twist.  The first of these types are usually retold with illustrations in mind.  The story is already known, but each illustrator puts on their own unique spin.  The second type, some of my favorites, allow children to compare how similar and different Cinderella stories are from many different cultures. The third type, sometimes called fractured, provide many interesting and entertaining stories that could inspire someone to write their own version of Cinderella.

Some of my favorites in each category:
The Little Glass Slipper
Cinderella by K. Y. Craft  --breathtaking illustrations inspired by the lavish styles of 17th and 18th century France make this one of my favorite versions of Cinderella. Check out other books this author has illustrated including King Midas and the Golden Touch and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Cinderella by Ruth Sanderson -- With beautiful, detailed illustrations this story integrates aspects of both the Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm versions of Cinderella.
Cinderella by Barbara McClintock -- Set in France during the reign of King Louis the XIV, exquisite attention is given to both the dress and architecture of the time. Look for Cinderella's little grey cat hiding on each page.  Winner of the Golden Kite Award given by the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. 

(Can you tell I like opulent versions of Cinderella?)
Multi-Cultural Cinderella

Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo --  one of the first known Cinderella stories. Tells the story of Rodophis, a greek girl stolen by pirates and sold into slavery in Egypt.  Based on fact and fiction, the story follows the traditional Cinderella story line, but what is fact is that a Greek slave girl married Pharaoh Amasis around 570 B.C. and became his queen.
Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin-- a Native American Cinderella story where the Rough-Faced Girl triumphs by looking to nature.  Beautiful illustrations.  One of my kids' and my favorites!
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe -- An African Cinderella story that won a Caldacott Honor for its illustrations. Another one of my favorites!
Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo -- Originally a story from The Arabian Nights. A pari, or fairy, helps Settareh to win the prince. 
Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo -- This retelling is based on three different variations of Korean Cinderella stories.

Cinderella with a Twist or Fractured Cinderellas
Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson- a funny engaging story about two very different neighbors, Cinderella and Cinder Edna, who wish for two very different types of princes.
Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck- a unique retelling with beautiful muted illustrations.  Princess Furball runs away from a father who wants to marry her to an ogre.  She takes refuge as a maid in another castle.  Using three magic objects -- left to her by her mother-- and her resourcefulness; she wins the hand of the prince.

Traditional and multi-cultural Cinderella stories can be found at the library under the non-fiction section 398.2 -- folk and fairytale books. Fractured Cinderella books are in the picture book section under the author's last name. This lovely website categorizes Cinderella picture books by traditional, multicultural, and fractured.

One last note: My boys love the multi-cultural and fractured Cinderella stories just as much as my daughter!
What's your favorite Cinderella story?