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Emerging from my cocoon

7 Jan

I spent the last two weeks in a delightful cocoon of my own making, filled with books and knitting.

It is hard going back.

But, back I must go.

I read several wonderful picture books during the break that touched my heart. One of them was Adrian Simcox Does Not Have A Horse  by Marcy Campbell.

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From the Author’s Website: Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse–the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.

But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?

The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.

Can I just say that this is the book we all need to read these days, when we are so quick to judge and spout our opinions. This is a book about empathy – getting to know ‘the other” and seeing their perspective. It teaches us that being right isn’t always the most important thing.

Corinna Luyken’s illustrations — in black ink, colored pencils, and watercolor — remind me of books published when I was young and makes the book feel timeless.

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Your part matters

6 Nov

The cold and rain have returned to the Pacific Northwest. I put flannel sheets on my bed and baked cranberry-pumpkin bread this weekend. When Lucy and I went out for a walk, few people were on the street and Lucy turned right around and headed for home as soon as she had done her business.

I was warm and cozy at home when I heard about the latest tragedy.   Fortunately, the characters of Come With Me, written by Holly M. McGhee and illustrated by Pascal Lemaître, reminded me, and younger readers,  that it is important to get out of my cozy comfort zone and be a positive part of the world.

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Publisher’s Summary:

McGhee’s website has a great explanation of the story behind the book. It is worth reading.

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This week’s booktalks 9/5-9/8

8 Sep

After the summer break, I am back to book talks.

Last year, I ran into a little problem. As the end of the year approached, I couldn’t remember which books I had already book-talked. At the beginning of the year, I wrote them in my planner, but somewhere along the way, less than a month into school, I stopped. This year, I plan on writing the date of the booktalk in the back of the book.  It violates many of my personal rules, but it will be helpful – if I can keep it up.

Wednesday, I introduced our first read aloud: Posted by John David Anderson. This is a great read aloud…I had their attention. Even the kid who was reading his book under the table closed his book to listen!

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Wednesday, I booktalked Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. By their reactions, it is clear that some of my students also consider The One and Only Ivan a heart book.

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Today’s book will be Refugee by Alan Gratz. I haven’t written about this one yet, but will soon.

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We need this book

18 Aug

What I didn’t tell you about in my blog posts about the ALA conference, was how delightful it was to meet Katherine Applegate.

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When I descended the stairs to the room where the MacMillan dinner was being hosted, she was the only person there. She explained that the hosts had stepped out for a moment to take care of some business and she was left in charge. She was a wonderful hostess and an easy conversationalist.

I had already received an advance reader’s copy of her new novel, Wishtree,  so I got the one I received that evening personalized for my sister, who I felt bad about abandoning that evening. We have both read our books and both loved it. We both cried.

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Publisher’s Summary: Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.

This is a beautiful story. It is one of the books on my Mock  Newbery list and it would make an excellent beginning of the year read aloud.  It doesn’t come out until September 26th,  and it skews slightly younger than my students, but I am still thinking about reading it to my students. It is just that beautiful.

 

 

Happy birthday to we!

23 Dec

My sister and I turn 52 today. It makes me giggle to say this because, although my body has given me some trouble lately, my mind feels young. Maybe that is because I work with you people. Who knows. I don’t have a ton of pictures of myself as a tiny tot, but this is one of my sister and I with Mamère, our maternal French-Canadian grandmother.

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She passed away not long after this and I have no memory of ever meeting her. There are very few shots of me smiling as little person.

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It surprises people to learn that I didn’t grow up surrounded by books. We went to the library and we had books in the house, but I wasn’t obsessed as a child the way I am now. I blame that on Mrs. Lew, the New Hamburg Children’s Librarian.

The year I was born, 1964, saw the publication of a few children’s books now considered classics.

Believe it or not, Flat Stanley, who is still being sent and photographed around the world, first appeared in 1964. He’s had many incarnations, but the story remains well-loved.

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Charlie and the Chocolate factory also appeared in 1964. It, too has seen many covers.

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Harriet the Spy has also evolved.

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Other books came out that year:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  by Ian Fleming

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Across Five Aprils  by Irene Hunt

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The Pushcart War  by Jean Merrill

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The Giving Tree  by Shel Silverstein

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This week’s book talks

6 Nov

No theme to the book talks I gave this week. Just good books.

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Why we read

2 Oct

In 2013, Neil Gaiman delivered a speech entitled “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming” to The Reading Agency in London. You can watch the speech on Youtube,  listen watch and read the text on The Reading Agency’s website, or simply hold the text in your hands and read it, along with many other essays, in Gaiman’s recent collection of essays, The View From the Cheap Seats. 

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I highly recommend that you make the effort to see what Gaiman has t say on this topic. You will nod your head in agreement because, if you read this blog, you are a reader.

Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston clearly believe in the same power of books and reading. His new picture boo, A Child of Books,  says the same thing as Gaiman, though in simpler language.

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Publisher’s Summary: New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

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