Friday, December 19, 2014

December Storytime Briefly 2014

This December, I was hoping for a big snow storm so I could have an excuse to share some of my favorite snow books.  But our weather has been unseasonably warm, so I gave up on waiting for snow and read the books anyway.

We talked about snow storms and read
  • Big Snow by Jonathan Bean and
  • Blizzard by John Rocco
I brought one of my favorite childhood books, Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton to show the kids, and we looked at the map of the city and the picture of the snow-covered city.  We discussed similarities in the pictures of David's town in Big Snow.  The students also enjoyed finding the days of the week in the illustrations for Blizzard.

We talked about the Christmas truce during World War I and read
  • Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix
I appreciated the author's note at the end of the story that led to an interesting discussion as we discussed the question many of the students asked: Why didn't the soldiers just make peace if they wanted to stop fighting?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Storytime Briefly 2014

The weather is turning cold, the kids are turning restless, and since we were talking about nonfiction books in the library, I read fiction for storytime.  Although, for one week I did return to what is becoming one my favorite themes: inventions.

We read books illustrated by Jon Klassen:
  • Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen;
  • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen; and
  • This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.
We talked about the importance of the text and the illustrations in a picture book and how they work together to tell the story.  We also talked about the possible endings for Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

We talked about inventions with steel.  We read
  • the poem "Skyscraper" by Dennis Lee and
  • Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford.
We talked about the first skyscraper in 1885 that rose 10 stories high and skyscrapers today that reach up over 2,000 feet.  We marveled at Ferris wheel passenger cars that held 40 velvet seats.

We talked about wishing and read
  • The Witch's Walking Stick by Susan Meddaugh and
  • Joha Makes a Wish: A Middle Eastern Tale by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Omar Rayyan.
I asked, "If you had one wish what would it be?"  One student wanted to fly, another wanted to be rich, and then there was my favorite: "I would wish to be a shape shifter."

Friday, November 28, 2014

When All Is Said and Done . . .

We had a great month reading and re-reading the animal books in our library, and as we wrap up our Fabulous 590s, we consider, Was it a success?  Every book we booktalked was checked out and some now have multiple holds on them.  We filled our wall with student recommendations.  Students crowded around our 590s section and left our shelves depleted.  But the real questions in my mind are these: Will students choose nonfiction books for leisure reading in the future?  Will they continue to check out these excellent books in the months ahead?  Will the current enthusiasm build into a life-long love for some students?

Here's hoping the answers are Yes!

Two weeks into the event, our shelves are looking bare.
Our student recommendation wall.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fabulous 590s and Steve Jenkins

Did you know that the most deadly animal to humans is the mosquito?  Did you know that one of every four animals on earth is a beetle?  Did you know that when black widow spiders hatch, they begin to eat their brothers and sisters?  You can find these amazing facts and many others in Steve Jenkins's books.  We have a dozen titles by Steve Jenkins in our 590s, and we talked about them all.  No book was more popular than Never Smile at a Monkey which now has double-digit holds.  I shared it with a third-grade class, and before I made it through the first page, a boy had a question: "This isn't nonfiction--these are just supposed to be funny, right?"  After assuring him that it was all true, I continued, but still got a few incredulous looks.

Jenkins is a master of paper collage, and to my mind, one of his most striking pictures is the Siberian tiger in Actual Size (a title we pulled from our picture book section for this event).  We looked at the fur, the eyes, and the amazing detail as we talked about how Jenkins makes his pictures.  Nothing sums up the overall feeling as well as the comment made by a boy who was flipping through the pages of his book as he waited in line to check out:  "I can't believe he made these with paper!"

Here are a couple of student recommendations:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fabulous 590s and Nic Bishop

Laser detectors, flash guns, and hand-built shutters help Nic Bishop take phenomenal animal photos, but that's probably not what readers are thinking about when they pick up his books.  In fact, the photos are so captivating that you don't really think about a person being involved in their creation at all.  Instead, each feels like a unique story that you have happened upon just by turning a page.  Whether it's a baby koala waiting for his mother to wake up, a snake swallowing an egg, or a basilisk darting across a pond, Nic Bishop's photos express the action and emotion of you-are-there moments.

Nic Bishop has a great website with information about his photography, his research, his books, and his life.  These resources, combined with the notes at the back of his books, make booktalking his books a cinch.

I was sharing Nic Bishop Lizards with a fourth-grade class when one of the girls pointed to our display of books and asked, "Did he take the pictures for ALL these books?'

"Yes," I assured her, "He took them all."

"Really?  Even for the spider book?"

"Yep, even for the spider book."

I quickly changed my plan for that class and began telling them how Mr. Bishop had kept several of the spiders in his home and had even taken them "on holiday . . . if they needed special care".  Then I opened Nic Bishop Spiders to the title page.  That same girl took one look at the gorgeous crab spider camouflaged on goldenrod flowers, and her hand shot up again.  "Did he take THAT picture?"

"Yes, he took that picture."

Almost unbelievable . . . but true.

Here are a few student recommendations:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Naming the Best of 2014 -- Lists!

It's that time of year when "best of " lists start popping up, and I love them!

The winners of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books for 2014 were chosen by an illustrious panel of judges--Jennifer M. Brown, Brian Floca, and Jerry Pinkney.

The ten titles on the National Book Awards Longlist for Young People's Literature were announced clear back in September.  And the finalists on the shortlist were announced in October.  Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson and Brown Girl Dreaming for winning the award this week.  Click here to read the lists, the winners, and interviews with the authors.

Publisher's Weekly has announced their Best Books 2014 lists.  Check out the choices for Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult.  This is the list that convinced me to finally pick up The Witch's Boy--oh, so good.

One of my favorite lists of the year is School Library Journal's: Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Nonfiction.

I was thrilled to see My Grandfather's Coat, Firefly July, and Rules of Summer on both PW's and SLJ's lists.  I also heartily agree with the inclusion of Revolution, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Port Chicago 50, and The Family Romanov--best books all!  And now I really need to find a copy of The Crossover.