Thursday, December 22, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Growing patterns: Fibonacci numbers in nature by Sarah Campbell (512.72 CAG 2010 PIC BK) or
A star in my orange: looking for nature’s shapes by Dana Meachen Rau (516.1 RAS 2002 PIC BK) for complementary pairings in math or science. If you have access to the Doucette Library collection, look for the ammonite specimen (564.53 AM 2006 A/V) or the pine cone kit (512.72 Fi 2011 A/V) for real life examples of natural spirals.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
After I finished reading it, I kept thinking it reminded me of another book and realized it was Stormy Night by Michele Lemieux (823 L543S PIC BK). In Stormy Night a little girl lies in her bed at night asking all the big (and small and silly and profound) questions about life.
Then I read The Sound of Colors again and it started to evoke some of the same feelings I had when I read The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (823 T155L PIC BK) about a boy finding a very peculiar object that few others can even see, especially adults, and trying to find the proper place to take it. Along the way he questions how things get lost and why it is that older people can’t see all these ‘lost’ objects.
Trains rumble and clank and rush past me.Which is the right one? It’s easy to get lost underground.I wonder where I am and where I’m going,and if I’m getting closer to what I’m searching for.A little boy asks me how to get home.“I’m looking, too,” I tell him.
Monday, December 5, 2011
If you know anything about Harriet Tubman, then you probably know that she was an escaped slave who became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, bringing many slaves to safety at great risk to herself. She was strong and she was brave.
But less well-known is that she acted as a spy for the North during the American Civil War. Many of her activities are unknown, or unconfirmed, with only a few sources documenting Harriet Tubman’s spy work. Apparently, there is little surviving documentation, from either the North or the South, about intelligence work as much of it was destroyed to protect agents from reprisals. (This insight could make for an interesting discussion about doing research under such conditions.)
Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: how daring slaves and free Blacks spied for the Union during the Civil War by Thomas B. Allen (973.71 AlH 2009) gives us a full picture of this time period: what it meant to be a slave; the risks to both self and those who assisted if a slave decided to escape ; the Abolitionist movement; the Underground Railroad; the Fugitive Slave Act; Southerners fear of a black uprising; key figures such as John Brown and Frederick Douglass, amongst many others, as well as the role spies played in the Civil War.
Harriet Tubman was only one of many whites, blacks, freemen and slaves in the service of the government of the North. Confederate General Robert E. Lee recognized that slaves were the source of the most significant leaks of information. It’s not difficult to imagine what the consequences were for a slave if caught passing information.
The book includes a 'cast of characters' that helps young readers track significant players. It has fantastic illustrations (woodcuts, photographs) from the 1800s plus contemporary pictures, as well, maps, a timeline, appendices for footnotes, sources and bibliography and an index. Throughout the book are encrypted secret messages which can be decoded using the cipher (p.172) Elizabeth Van Lew devised when smuggling messages to the Union army.
The book itself feels like an old text that could have come directly from this era, with its small size, Caslon Antique font and illustrations.
This is an intriguing read about a lesser known element of the American Civil War that I would recommend for grades 6 and up.
Today's Nonfiction Monday event is being held at Gathering Books. Stop by to find a list of children's literature focused on nonfiction.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
In preparing for this outing, I’ve been getting caught up with a few shorter novels/early reader-type chapter books. I’ve discovered that not all of these kinds of books are created equal. Some are just boring or have a message that hits you over the head. Ouch!
The following titles are the ones I enjoyed the most. It wasn't until I compile this list that I noticed the emphasis on humour in this selection.
Iggy and me by Jenny Valentine
I love this author’s young adult books and was curious about this one. Sweet family-life story focused on two sisters. Well-written.
Justin Case: school, drool, and other daily disasters by Rachel Vail
I can totally relate to Justin, a worry-wart of profound proportions. This was me in elementary school. Well, ok -- maybe I didn't have a 'bjillion' worries like Justin but it would have seemed like it. I'm sure that me and Justin aren't the only ones.
Sideways stories from Wayside school by Louis Sachar (823 Sa138S 2003 FIC)
This is not a new book -- but some how I’ve managed to miss the Wayside school stories. I can’t say I thought it uproariously hilarious but I did enjoy the silly, dark humour. I can see why kids love these books.
The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (823 P3837T FIC)
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I love Clementine and her quirky character. She even takes herself to the principal when she thinks she might be in trouble. I particularly like the ending where Clementine is appreciated for her true talents.
The Trouble with chickens by Doreen Cronin (823 C881T FIC)
I’m curious what kids will make of this one. The humour is sly and witty and has the feel of Sam Spade as played by Humphrey Bogart. J.J. Tully, a retired search and rescue dog turned detective, tells this story of missing (kidnapped?) chicks.
I’ve also revisited a few older favorites:
The Dragon’s boy by Jane Yolen (823 Y78D1 FIC)
A version of the King Arthur story. 13-year-old Artos meets up with an old ‘dragon’ who teaches him the value of friendship, honesty and courage. The twist at the end is interesting.
Rats on the roof by James Marshall (823 M356R FIC)
Totally ridiculous stories! Animal characters who, intentionally and unintentionally outsmart each other. Goofiness galore.
The Time Travel Trio series by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (823 Sci27K FIC)
Again, with the humour!!! Nerdy, goofy boys always ending up where they don’t want to be, having near-misses while experiencing high adventure. The illustrations are just as enjoyable as the narrative. Great boy books.