Saturday, February 28, 2015

February Storytime Briefly 2015

American Library Association Awards, Chinese New Year, and storytelling -- there was much to talk about in February and great stories to read.

We talked about the Geisel Award and the Caldecott Award.  We read

  • You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant;
  • The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre; and
  • The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat.
I pulled out other award-winning books from 2014, and a cheer erupted when I announced that Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen) had been given a Caldecott Honor.  Yep, they liked that book.

Our school holds a storytelling event in the month of February where students tell stories in their classrooms.  Each teacher then selects a student to represent her classroom at a school-wide assembly.  While the kids were preparing their stories, I decided to tell one of my own, so we celebrated Chinese New Year with following stories:

After hearing "The Fox Borrow's the Tiger's Fierceness," one boy commented on the story's similarity to The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.  Similar it is.

We continued our celebration of Chinese New Year with Japanese stories:
  • The Paper Crane by Molly Bang and
  • "Little One Inch."
I used Steve Light's storybox to tell "Little One Inch."  (When you look at the storybox, be sure to watch the video of Steve Light telling the story.  Brilliant.)  When I finished, a girl said, "Oh that was great!  If you were doing the storytelling festival, you would win."  All credit for that goes to Mr. Light.  Thank you, sir.  As an added bonus, I overheard my five year old telling the story this week with her brother's dinosaurs and bear.  "Lemme out! Lemme out! Lemme out!"

We talked about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  We read
  • Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution by Don Brown and
  • Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the Revolution by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch.
I loved pairing these books because while the art and storytelling styles are different, the themes are similar.  And the students loved the stylized art in Gingerbread for Liberty!  It was a great way to end the month.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Resolution (and a Story) for the Lunar New Year

Things have been awfully quiet around here lately, but I'm still here and resolving to get back to more regular posting.  Today is Chinese New Year and the perfect day to share a Chinese story, so share this story (adapted from the Record of the Warring States) or a favorite of your own.

恭喜发财! (Gongxi facai!)

The Fox Borrows the Tiger’s Fierceness

Tiger was hunting in the forest when he spotted a fox just walking around minding his own business.  Mmm, thought Tiger, that fox looks like he would make a tasty snack.  And springing with his powerful legs, Tiger pounced and caught the fox under his large paw.  Fox knew he was in grave danger, but not wanting to be someone’s dinner and being very clever, he thought quickly.

“How dare you attack me!” he cried.

This caught Tiger by surprise, so instead of sinking his teeth into Fox, he asked, “Why shouldn't I enjoy a little snack?  I caught you fair and square.” 

Fox made his voice a little louder and a little bolder and said, “You have no right to kill me!  I am king of the forest.” 

Tiger laughed, “You? King of the forest?  You are nothing more than a scrawny creature--how can you be king of anything?”

Fox was ready with his answer.  “I will prove it to you.  Walk with me in my forest, and you will see how frightened all the animals are of me.  Then you will know that I am king of the forest.”

Now Tiger didn't really believe that Fox was king of the forest, but the little fellow spoke so loudly and so boldly that Tiger wanted to see how the experiment would go, so he released Fox.  Then, Fox, holding his head high, proudly walked deeper into the forest with Tiger right behind him.

After they had gone a short way, Fox called, “Hello!” to a rabbit that was munching on grass.  The rabbit caught sight of Fox (which was frightening enough), and then he saw Tiger following closely behind.  The rabbit’s eyes grew wide, and his ears began to tremble, and he hopped quickly away into the long grass.

Of course that little rabbit would run from Fox, Tiger thought.  Fox would eat him if he got the chance.

So with Tiger still suspicious, the pair walked even deeper into the forest.

“Hello,” Fox called to a monkey that was chattering in the tree tops.  The monkey swung down to chatter at Fox, but when he saw Tiger, his eyes grew wide and his tail began to tremble, and grabbing a kudzu vine, he swung away through the trees.

Tiger thought, Perhaps Fox is fiercer than I supposed.  Still, he can’t possibly frighten all the animals and be king of the forest.

The two continued walking and hadn't gone much farther when Fox called, “Hello!” to a boar that was wallowing in the mud.  “Ugh,” grunted the boar, and looking up, he saw Fox with Tiger walking after him.  The boar’s eyes grew wide, and his tusks began to tremble, and he crashed off into the underbrush leaving a trail of mud behind him.

That is surprising! thought Tiger.  Boar is afraid of Fox.

But before he had time to wonder at the strangeness of it, Fox was greeting a crocodile sunning himself by the river.

“Hello,” called Fox.  And the crocodile turned to snap at the little fox for bothering him while he was enjoying the afternoon sun, but seeing Tiger made the crocodile’s eyes grow wide (just a little), and his thick leathery skin began to tremble (just a little).  And the crocodile slunk slowly into the river and swam away.

Tiger was so shocked, he couldn't say a word, but Fox could.  Fox stood straight and tall, looked up at Tiger and in his boldest voice declared, “You see?  All the animals flee from me.  I am truly king of the forest.”

Tiger had to agree it was true, and bowing his head, he turned and left Fox to rule over his forest.

And that is how Fox borrowed the Tiger’s fierceness.