Nonfiction Monday

Listen to the Wind:  The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen is a lovely nonfiction picture book:

I haven’t read the adult book from which this picture book came, but I’m familiar with the story.  The collage-type pictures here are darling and the story itself is a tearjerker in a good way.  For this reader and maybe others, it begs the question, “What can I do in my community?”  And that’s a good question to ask.

That’s the end of that!

Well, yesterday was my last day at the public library.  I wonder if I’ll ever work in one again?  (Hopefully I’ll volunteer.)  My favorite part is doing readers’ advisory.  It helps me grow as a reader, myself, to see what other people find interesting.  And although I know you aren’t supposed to just push books you like (hey, I have even suggested Twilight and the Warrior Kitties series), I have boosted the check outs for several of my favorites:

Theodore Boone:  Kid Lawyer, by John Grisham.  I see on blogs that a lot of people didn’t like this, but I was wholly satisfied.  It was suspenseful to the very end.

Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant, or any of her other titles.  The nearest and dearest to my heart really is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, but I don’t recommend that to just anyone.  I think you have to be ready for it – having had some sort of loss in your life – to really appreciate it.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen – or any of his other children’s books.  I absolutely love the “Easter eggs” that are included for those who have also read his adult books (let’s hope and those readers are adults – a bit risque for kids).  I like that his themes of Florida, environmental protection, and the bad guy getting it in the end are consistent no matter the level, and I also like that he doesn’t talk down to the young reader.  He’s just fantastic and I’ve read all his books.

My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen is one of the few autobiographies for children out there.  Truthfully, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and certainly one of the top two children’s books I’ve read (with Love That Dog by Sharon Creech).  I recommend it to the kids looking for a dog book, and there are plenty.  It’s a very popular Dewey section!

Flotsam by David Wiesner is just a fabulous picture book – for children or adults.  The pictures are exquisitely detailed and I love that there is such a detailed storyline without any words.  I used this book in my student teaching with 5th graders, having them write a story to go along with the pictures.  Wordless books are great for kids learning to read because they can interact with the book without tripping on the print.  This has definitely been my favorite picture book, until . . .

Chalk by Bill Thomson came along.  Talk about exquisite!  I cannot believe that it didn’t win a Caldecott.  The others were fine, but not even close to this one, in this non-artist’s opinion.  In fact, I was going to base my ALA president’s election vote on whoever was NOT on the Caldecott committee this year – if one of the two were on it, they lost my vote.  Alas, neither were and had to choose otherwise (hint, one seems to be much more technological than the other, considering websites and such – she got my vote).
Anyway, look at this interior shot of Chalk:
INCREDIBLE!  David Wiesner, I believe you’ve met your match.

Choo Choo! All Aboard!

Monday I finally did a storytime I’d had prepared for some time, a perennial favorite with kids of all ages:  trains!

We read:

Two Little Trains by Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon (took out the reference to an “old black man singing in the West” – not offensive so much as unnecessary),

The Train Ride by June Crebbin, pictures by Stephen Lambert,
All Aboard!  A True Train Story, written and photographed by Susan Kuklin (loved it when I explained that most trains today don’t look like the old-fashioned ones pictured here, and a preschooler corrected me and said that the Harry Potter looks like this!),
and Trains:  Steaming!  Puffing!  Huffing! by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy.
We did the requisite train songs (Choo choo, the big train, is coming down the tracks! and of course,  Down by the station) and pretended we were on trains and were trains.  I also did a PSA warning the children to never, never play on train tracks, and in fact, had them raise their right hand (or whichever one they felt like 🙂 to say, “I will never, ever play near train tracks.” 

Alas, this is my last storytime at the public library.  I’ve accepted a position as a K-12 teacher-librarian and begin in July.  But in the meantime, I need to finish my practicum, pass my cataloging class plus my three summer classes, and my comprehensive tests.  We’re trying to find a house to buy, getting ready to sell ours, and everything else, so for once, I can (sort of) concentrate on my classes.  I’ll miss doing storytimes, but my school has a preschool, too, so I fully intend to do storytime, if even once a month.  I can’t wait!

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To

In my Readers Advisory class, I am reading a different genre every week (this week, romance – – eeeew!) and then writing a review.  I figured that would be a good thing to include here for many reasons, not the least of which, maybe later I’ll want to remember what book I read, but won’t have access to the course online anymore.  For now, I want to share the book The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by D.C. Pierson.  I personally hope this becomes a movie because it would be fabulous, as long as it stays true to the book.
THE BOY WHO COULDN’T SLEEP AND NEVER HAD TO, by D. C. Pierson. New York: Vintage Books, 2010. 226 pp. 978-0-307-47461-2. The prologue begins compellingly: “All the newspapers and TV pundits are calling this fall’s freshman college class the ‘Symnitol Generation.’” Symnitol, we find out, is a pharmacological solution to man’s desire to stay awake, to have more hours in the day, and this is the story of how this came to be. When the action in this fast-paced, action-driven novel begins, the narrator, Darren, tells about his passion for drawing but also for staying out of sight at high school. This is shattered when Eric, a very strange boy with an oddly mature presence, takes note of Darren’s drawing and they become quick friends as they work on a comic book-movie-video game project. When Eric tells Darren about his “thing” – not having the ability or need to sleep – Darren is incredulous but then a believer. When the two realize the extent of Eric’s powers, their worst fears of “The Man” become reality, and the action really begins. The ending is unsettling and yet satisfying as the book comes full circle. Surprisingly slated as adult fiction, this title appropriately won an Alex Award, as teens will delight in this book. Graphic novel fans that want to read a traditional book will enjoy this fast-paced title with lots of twists and turns.

Author interview can be found here.

PU! What’s that smell?

Evening storytime last night was lots of fun!  Started with the welcome song, then introduced the theme – what do you get when you mix melted snow + dirt?  That’s right, MUD!  So we talked about dirty, stinky, and smelly stuff.  You might call it the anti-spring cleaning.  I had a fantastic group of kids and parents who were so engaged, you gotta love it!
Dirt Boy by Erik Jon Slangerup
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
Big Smelly Bear by Britta Teckentrup
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemsha, and of course, I had to end with:
I Stink! by Kate & Jim McMullan
We also sang Barney’s clean-up song (I didn’t call it that – do kids watch Barney anymore?), did wishy-washy-wee from Kindermusik fame, and a rhyme about 5 green garbage trucks (had the kids come up and help with that).  I considered Oscar the Grouch’s “I Like Trash,” but opted for more fingerplays and less recordings. 
This was my last evening storytime before I start my job in July as a K-12 teacher librarian.  My elementary practicum cooperating librarian is also a K12TL, and she does storytimes with fingerplays in her preschools and kindergarten.  So I will still get to have fun with these little ones!  And not to brag (okay, maybe a little), they actually applauded.  What the heck!  But the greatest was when I got hugs from like six different kids.  That absolutely rocks.

What’s new, buckaroo?

I hadn’t done storytime for a few weeks and this week I’m doing it four times (two themes)!  My first theme was “What’s New?” and it featured picture books all published in 2011.
Hello Goodbye and a Very Little Lie by Christianne Jones
Monster Day at Work by Sarah Dyer
Penny Loves Pink by Cori Doerrfeld
Mr. Duck Means Business by Tammi Sauer
Cat Secrets by Jeff Czejak
Rhymes and fingerplays were “Five elephants in the bathtub” which was new for me, from the filing cabinet, and then two fun ones from the ladies at the Hennepin County Librarian up north:
Mmmmm!  Delicioso!