Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Storytime Briefly 2014

Yesterday was the last day of the school year.  While I am ready to have my kids home for summer break, I will miss the first graders and second graders who shared so many stories with me this year.

In May, we talked about siblings.  We read
  • Maple by Lori Nichols
  • "Brother" by Mary Ann Hoberman
  • Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall, illustrated by Matt Phelan
I love the illustrations in Maple--they remind me of summer afternoons, resting in the park and listening to my mom read Mary Poppins.  (I'm waiting for the red maple in my backyard to grow bigger so we can enjoy its shade.)  The first-graders were delighted to make the connection between the trees and the sisters' names.

A couple of days after I listened to the second graders read their own fractured fairy tales at the Second-Grade Book Bonanza, we talked about the gift of story.  We read
  • Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
  • Hansel and Gretel illustrated by Sybille Schenker
The first graders went to the zoo, so we read books about zoos and zoo animals:
  • Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Matt Phelan
  • My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Jules Feiffer
  • How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens
After we read My Side of the Car, the second graders told me about their first-grade bus breaking down on their way to the zoo the previous year.  (I got to hear the same story from the first graders who were relieved their bus had made to the zoo without mishap.)

We talked about hats (because I wanted an excuse to share these books.)  We read
  • I Want My Back by Jon Klassen
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • Milo's Hat Trick by Jon Agee
We talked about names and read
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • My Name Is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
  • Nelly May Has Her Say by Cynthia DeFelice, illustrated by Henry Cole
When I took my kids to the library to meet Kevin Henkes, I realized that we hadn't read any of his mouse books for storytime this year.  It was time to fix that! 

And then for our final storytime of the school year, we read books about things to do during the summer:
  • Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
  • At Night by Jonathan Bean
  • Step Gently Out by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder
  • Wolves by Emily Gravett
Okay, I admit that Wolves by Emily Gravett was a small stretch for a summertime activity but it sure was a fun way to end the year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

tara recommends The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

The One Safe Place is an unexpected and engaging dystopian novel set in a world where the rich rule and the poor stay out of their way.  More than the larger social commentary, however, this story explores the life of homeless orphans and a society that exploits them.  Slightly reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies or Among The Hidden, children take matters into their own hands when they discover the truth behind their isolated world.

Devin is a boy who lives on a secluded farm with his loving grandfather.  When his grandfather dies, however, he isn't able to maintain the farm by himself and sets off to a city he has never seen to find help.  Unfortunately, he  quickly realizes he has lived a very sheltered life and the security he has known is tenuous for a city orphan.  A kind act attracts the attention of an older boy, Roman, who invites Devin to live in a special home for children.  Devin and his new friend, Kit, eagerly trust Roman and travel to the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood.

At first glance, the Home has everything a child could ever want or imagine.  But, after the initial sparkle has worn off, Devin realizes something is not quite right and nobody is allowed to leave.  While he and his new friends at the Home search for a way out, they also try to solve the mysteries surrounding the sinister Administrator and the "Visitors" that observe the children.

This gripping adventure is also somewhat creepy, but will keep you turning pages looking for the happy ending.  While geared to a YA audience, I would recommend The One Safe Place to anyone looking for a good read with a grim twist.

The One Safe Place
by Tania Unsworth
published by Algonquin Young Readers
April 2014
recommended for ages 12 and up