Friday, September 28, 2012

Outreach Round-up, 9/19/12 - 9/28/12

I haven't done one of our regular drop-in story times in over a week, which is why there haven't been many blog posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. I just sat down to count them up and realized I have read to seven different classes or groups in the last eight weekdays! I've been to the local rec. center and two elementary schools, and I've had three Catholic school classes and one after care group come to me. Every single one of the groups has been lovely, but since I repeated a lot of the same material, it would have been too redundant - not to mention time-consuming -  to post about each of the eight sessions individually. Therefore, I present my first Outreach Round-Up. Depending on how busy my outreach schedule becomes, this might be a regular feature from here on out.

Rec. Center Cooperative Play Program: Wednesday, 9/19

Catholic School Pre-K: Thursday, 9/20

Public School Pre-K: Monday, 9/24

Public School Kindergarten After Care: Thursday, 9/27 

Public School Pre-K: Friday, 9/28 

Catholic School First Grade: Friday, 9/28 

Catholic School Third Grade: Friday, 9/28
  • Book: Apples to Oregon
  • Notes: 100% perfect for this age group. The kids were engaged from beginning to end, and they laughed in all the right places. 

Flannel Friday: Mommy is Asleep

I have been thinking lately about finding more effective ways of using the flannel board. I have grown weary of many of my "five little whatevers" rhymes and songs, and I really wanted to start using the flannel board to tell actual stories, rather than just to fill the time between stories. I started looking for picture books that would make good flannels, and then realized many of the ones I was most excited about would be too much for my very young under-two audiences. So when I was at work last Saturday, I sat down and wrote a few very basic stories of my own, for which I knew I could also make my own flannel board pieces. This post is the second one I made, but I saved the first one for next week since it's for Halloween.

This one is called Mommy is Asleep. (I don't mind if you use this story or create your own version, but if you post my words anywhere, please credit me. Thanks!)

Mommy is asleep.

"Wake up!" says Charlie. 

Mommy is still asleep. 

"Wake up!" says Ella. 

Mommy is still asleep. 

"Wake up!" says Daddy. 

Mommy is still asleep. 

"Woof! Woof! Woof!" says Spot. 

Mommy is awake! 

How I Wrote It: 

I want to thank Cate from Storytiming for her very useful post from last November, entitled Flannelizable, Defined (Finally!). It was the first thing I read when I decided to create my own flannel stories, and I found her advice really helpful. I loved her discussion of using protagonists, concepts, and repetition, and actually managed to work these into each of the stories I came up with.

In terms of the actual content of this particular story, I decided to go with a bedtime theme since I had Pajama Story Time this week, and the concept of Mommy sleeping just sort of popped into my head. I started out thinking Daddy would be the one to wake Mommy up, but it's more fun when it's the dog. My audiences always love a little unexpected twist like that at the end, and asking the kids to bark with me will make it that much more interactive and exciting.

How I Made It:

For sleeping Mommy, awake Mommy and Daddy, I used this paper doll template. For the kids, I used a smaller template (which, I later realized, has six fingers on each hand.)

I used paper doll clothes from this website. For the kids, I shrunk the clothes about 67% using the "format picture" function in Microsoft Word (I had to do some math to do this, and when all was said and done, I made them just a little bit too small. It might be easier to just find a second set of paper dolls with the clothes already properly sized.) 

I colored everything with crayons, except the hair, which I drew freehand on construction paper and then cut out. (I just guessed at how big it would need to be, then cut it down when it came time to glue it to the paper dolls.)

I kept the faces simple - two dots for eyes, no nose, smiling mouth. For the sleeping version of Mommy, I made sure her eyes were closed and her mouth was a little bit different.

I glued everything together, then covered it contact paper to make it more durable.

Add velcro - and voila! Instant flannel board!

It took me over an hour to make the entire family, but I was sitting at the desk answering lots of questions, so the amount of work was probably a lot less than that. I think using paper dolls is a great alternative for people who might not have the budget to buy a lot of felt - or people like me who just find it difficult to cut pieces out of felt.

This week's host is Storytime Katie. More about Flannel Friday can be found on the official website.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Drop-In Story Time, 9/18/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here

Donald Crews is one of the few authors or illustrators who holds the attention of the nannies at my story times. I decided to read three of his books in one session, and it worked out very well.

Book: Sail Away by Donald Crews (1995)To make this book interactive, I asked grown ups to say the "putt putt putt" sounds with me.

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Book: Freight Train by Donald Crews (1978)
When we got the page that says, "Freight train," I asked everyone to make their best train sound. 

Fingerplay: Here is the Engine 

Book: Flying by Donald Crews (1986)
For this book, every time the plane flew over something, we all said, "Whoosh!"

Action Rhyme: The Airplane

Letter of the Day: Letter F
  • Song (with puppet): I’m a Little Green Frog 
  • Song: Hurry, Hurry Drive the Firetruck 
  • Song: (with ukulele and flannel board): Old MacDonald Had a Farm 
  • Song (with flannel board): Ten Little Friends (just like Ten Little Indians, but it ends "ten little friends boys and girls.")
    Note: For this last song, I used the faces shown in my Flannel Friday post for The Doorbell Rang.
Song: ABCs/Twinkle Twinkle / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Song: Bumpin’ Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon

Song: Gray Squirrel

Song: Sing a Happy Song 

Song: Chickadee

Drop-In Story Time, 9/14/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here

Book: Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli (2003)

Song: Noisy Nora

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake

Book: Splash! by Flora McDonnell

Letter of the Day: Letter E 
Song (with ukulele): ABCs / Twinkle / Baa Baa Black Sheep
Song: Sing a Happy Song
Song: Wheels on the Bus
Song: Chickadee 

Caldecott Challenge Post #49

Bill Peet: An Autobiography. by Bill Peet. Published 1989. Caldecott Honor 1990. ISBN: 9780395689820

I don’t know many of Bill Peet’s books, but that did not prevent me from enjoying his autobiography, a significant portion of which is devoted to his years working for Walt Disney. I loved following the story of how he rose through the ranks at Disney, and the anecdotes of his personal relationship with Walt Disney himself. The most incredible thing about this book is that there is an illustration on every single page. Each drawing is wonderful and brings to life a memory from Peet’s past.

Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell. Published 2011. Caldecott Honor 2012. ISBN: 9780395689820

This is a great picture book biography, and it especially pleases me because it is appropriate for younger audiences - even as young as two or three. I love the incorporation of Jane Goodall’s own childhood papers into the illustrations, and the relationship between her stuffed toy monkey and the real chimpanzee shown with her on the final page of the book. Every detail in this book is in the right place, and the ending gives the reader a nice warm and fuzzy sensation.

Dave the Potter. by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier. ISBN: 9780316107310

I couldn’t help but think that Dave looks like Craig Robinson on some pages of this book. That was somewhat distracting to realize, but it didn’t ruin the book for me. My favorite illustration is the pull-out paneled spread which shows Dave’s hands shaping a pot. I think kids like to hear stories about unsung talents, and Dave the Potter is a perfect example. Kids have a strong sense of justice, and they will appreciate seeing Dave get the credit he is due for his work.

Rosa. by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier. ISBN: 9780805071061

This book elevates Rosa Parks almost to sainthood in a way that sounds very false to me. It’s nice to have a picture book biography that gives the background of her life and how that led her to her famous act of civil disobedience, but the language is over the top and Parks is depicted as a flawless heroine who never does anything wrong. It just doesn’t sit right with me. Great illustrations, though. I’m especially fond of the endpapers.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Caldecott Challenge Post #48

Moses. by Carole Boston Weatherford. illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Published 2006. Caldecott Honor 2007. ISBN: 9780786851751

This book is catalogued in my library as a biography, but the author’s note clearly calls it fiction. It’s a reimagining of Harriet Tubman’s journey to freedom that likens her to Moses leading his people out of Egypt. I love how big the pages are, and how the illustrations fill every corner, with no white space. The text is very dreamlike, and I think it might be confusing for readers who don’t already know of Harriet Tubman, but for kids who are familiar with her story, it makes a nice supplemental read.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. by John Steptoe. Published 1987. Caldecott Honor 1988. ISBN: 9780688040451

I thought I remembered this book being read aloud to me in 5th grade, but apparently I have been remembering the wrong story! I had it conflated somehow with Moss Gown, which isn’t by the same author or illustrator. I did still like this story, though, and I’m glad to have read it again so I could clear up my confusion. I love the way the king tests the daughters to see how they will treat him when he is not a king, but a small boy, or an old woman.

The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney. Published 1999. Caldecott Honor 2000. ISBN: 9780688159320

I appreciate Jerry Pinkney’s talent, but I’m not big on nature or animal books, so I find it hard to get excited about stories like this one. I used to like the message of the ugly duckling story when I was a kid, but as an adult, I find it irritating. I love the way Pinkney plays with perspective in some of the illustrations, showing us things from the dog’s point of view, or a duck’s, or even from underwater.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cybils 2012

It's that time of year again... time for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (CYBILS) to get underway. These awards are given each year by bloggers for the year's best children's and young adult titles in a variety of categories. Nominations will open on October 1, but before they do, make sure you check out the Cybils blog to find out who is judging in each of the categories this year.

I was a first-round panelist in the Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book Category last year, and I'm very excited to be a panelist in the same category in 2012. Joining me on the panel this year are:

In January, we will hand our short list off to these five judges: 

Our category chair, Terry Doherty, has written up a great post with little biographies of all of us, which is definitely worth checking out. 

I can't wait to see what gets nominated this year in my category as well as the others! Books published between October 16, 2011 and October 15, 2012 are eligible, and anyone is welcome to nominate between October 1 and October 15.

To learn more about Cybils, visit the official FAQ page

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kindergarten Class Visit, 9/12/12 and Pre-K Class Visit, 9/14/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here

School is back in full swing, and my class visits to Pre-K and K classes have begun.

Wednesday morning's visit to the kindergarten class at our neighborhood Catholic school was my first class visit of the year, and it was so much fun! I repeated most of what I did for National Library Week last year, but I switched out D.W.'s Library Card for We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems. This resulted in the kids calling me "Banana" for the rest of the session, and again when they visited the library as a class on Friday.

I was thrilled to see that some of the Pre-K kids from last year were in this class and remembered all the songs I taught them. It also melted my heart when, during their class visit to the library, they asked when I would be back and came running to me with books they wanted me to read to them. I love kindergarteners!

My Pre-K visit on Friday was not quite as successful, mostly because I forgot how little they really are at the beginning of the year.  I decided to come up with a new repertoire for Pre-K classes since I'll have quite a few in the next month, and I was getting tired of my old stuff, but I might have overdone it slightly. Here's how it looked:

Book: The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore

Poem: "Good Books, Good Times"
I turned this poem into a call and response chant, and tried to keep the rhythm on my knees as I chanted it, but I didn't have it quite as well memorized as I thought, and the kids' motor skills were not up to the task of keeping time. This is a really good idea, and I think it will definitely work if I use it with a K or First Grade class, but it's too hard for kids who are only just turning four.

Book: Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson
A huge hit, as always. They loved Otto and Ernest!
Book: Read It, Don't Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr

Song: These Are My Glasses 

When it came time to sing the goodbye song, all the kids knew it really well, and the teacher told me that she stole it from me after hearing it last year! I was thrilled and told them I hope they'll keep singing it all year long. I'll be visiting this class once a month all year long - I already can't wait to schedule October's date!

Pajama Story Time, 9/11/12 (at another branch) and 9/12/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big 

Book: Dance By the Light of the Moon by Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Guy Francis

Song: Moon Moon Moon

Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers

Book: Ten Little Sleepyheads by Elizabeth Provost, illustrated by Donald Saaf

Song: Five in the Bed
Book: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson
This was a huge hit with parents at the other branch, and a big hit with a preschool boy at my branch, who kept making adorable owl sounds. 

Rhyme: There's a Wide-Eyed Owl 

Book: Little Donkey Close Your Eyes by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
To make this book more interactive, I asked everyone to say "close your eyes" along with me every time it came up.

Song: Goodnight

Preschool Story Time, 9/7/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here

This story time came at the end of a very difficult week, on the most difficult day of that week, and I have to admit it was kind of a disaster. Three different kids asked the adults with them if they could leave. ("I don't like this." "This is for babies.") The books I chose that seemed so perfect when I pulled them from the shelves went over like lead balloons, and because I had a splitting headache, I didn't do as great a job with the songs as I could have. That said, three or four kids got really into with me and we managed to make it through the story time. I am also pleased to report that the following week, when it was not my turn to do this story time, lots of kids came and things went a lot more smoothly. When it's my turn again, I have no doubt it will improve greatly. In the meantime, here is my numbers-themed story time.

Book: Every Buddy Counts by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Fiona Dunbar

Rhyme: I Have Ten Fingers

Book: Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh 

Book: Let's Count Goats by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas

Flannel Board: The Doorbell Rang
This was very successful. I'll definitely use this one again. 

Song: The Number March 
I printed the document, put it on a music stand, and turned the pages as we sang. 

Book: Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Scott Nash

Song: One Little Monster

Drop-In Story Time, 9/7/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Book: 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle

Song: Rain, Rain, Go Away (with zoo animal puppets)
I like this adaptation because it gives me a chance to incorporate zoo animals, even if they don't make a particular sound.

Song: Sunny Day

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Book: Garden of Opposites by Nancy Davis

Letter of the Day: Letter D

Song (with ukulele): ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Chickadee

Pajama Story Time, 9/5/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words.

I didn't have any notes for this story time, and I waited so long to post about it that I can barely remember everything I did. This was during my crazy week working alone in the children's room, so everything is basically just a blur. I know that in addition to reading these books, we sang Laurie Berkner Band's Goodnight and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Tiger Can't Sleep by S.J. Fore, illustrated by R.W. Alley
I thought this story was silly enough that kids wouldn't be scared of it, but I was wrong - a three-year-old spent the entire story time with his fingers in his ears, as though the tiger might make a scary sound at any moment. 

I don't think this is a very good read-aloud.

The Noisy Way to Bed by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeker

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Caldecott Challenge Post #47

A Ball for Daisy. by Chris Raschka. Published 2011. Caldecott Medal 2012. Schwartz and Wade. ISBN: 9780375858611

This was the 2012 Caldecott Winner. I sometimes like Chris Raschka’s works, and sometimes not. This book is not a favorite for me. I find the lines and splotches of color to be difficult to discern on the page, and though I like wordless picture books, I couldn’t get into this one. Not very much happens in the story, and I didn’t really feel satisfied at the end of the book.

Sector 7. by David Wiesner. Published 1999. Caldecott Honor 2000.  Clarion. ISBN: 9780395746561

David Wiesner has one heck of an imagination. This time, he imagines a sector high in the sky where artists draw the shapes of the clouds. When the clouds get too boring, a little boy floats up there to liven them up with some underwater creatures. I won’t even begin to pretend that I understand this book, but I like it - and I think kids who like graphic novels will too. This book reminded me somewhat of one of the 1957 Caldecott Honor books, Lion by William Pene du Bois.

How I Learned Geography. by Uri Shulevitz. Published 2008. Caldecott Honor 2009. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 9780374334994

This book is a celebration of resilience and the ways kids can use imagination to overcome adversity. Some of the imagined sequences remind me of Where the Wild Things Are, in their colors, and in the way they take up more than one page. This would be a good picture book for older kids, especially as an introduction to a topic like the Warsaw blitz. This would also be a must-read for any child doing an author study of Uri Shulevitz.

Tibet Through the Red Box. by Peter Sis. Published 1998. Caldecott Honor 1999. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  ISBN: 9780374375522
In this book, Peter Sis recounts stories from his father’s life in the 1950s, when he was gone for a long period because he was stranded in Tibet. The overarching story is of Sis himself going through his father’s red box, which contains his diary, and then each of his father’s stories is a shorter chapter within the book, told in his father’s voice. The illustrations are very detailed and complex, and they drew me into the story, even if the subject matter is not my typical cup of tea.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Caldecott Challenge Post #46

Raven. by Gerald McDermott. Published 1993. Caldecott Honor 1994. ISBN: 9780152024499  

When the raven becomes a child, he looks like the main character in Tony Baloney to me. I thought the fact that he came into the world because a girl drank a pine needle was weird, but I guess that’s not any stranger than the idea of a stork, and it’s definitely more kid-friendly than a lot of the alternatives. I definitely think the illustrations outshine the story in this case, however. The story didn’t feel logical to me.

Arrow to the Sun. by Gerald McDermott. Published 1974. Caldecott Medal 1975. Puffin. ISBN: 9780140502114

The art in this one is stronger than in Raven, as is the story. I did notice some similarities in both stories, but since they are folk tales, I don’t think the author necessarily recycled his own story. I just think that many folk tales are similar. My favorite page in the entire book is the two-page spread where the boy, as the arrow, is shot into the sun. I love all the geometric patterns and the brightness of the colors.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. by Wanda Gag. Published 1938. Caldecott Honor 1939. Faber. ISBN: 9780571064960

I love the tiny lines of the Gag’s illustrations in her retelling of Snow White. This version is a bit wordy for sharing with really young kids, but it tells the full story rather than the Disney-fied short form, which  I think focuses more on the romance than the wickedness of the queen. I was surprised at how late in the story the prince turns up!

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Caldecott Challenge Post #45

Gillespie and the Guards. by Benjamin Elkin, illustrated by James Daugherty. Published 1956. Caldecott Honor 1957. Viking Children's Books. ISBN: 9780670340835

This is among my favorite of the older Caldecott titles. I love the way the boy is able to outsmart the guards by smuggling things in right under their noses. I like the color palette used for the illustrations, though none especially stood out as favorites.

Yonie Wondernose. by Marguerite de Angeli. Published 1944. Caldecott Honor 1945. Doubleday. ISBN: 9780385075732 

This story about Yonie, who is very nosy, becomes very exciting when the barn catches on fire. I like that Yonie doesn’t overcome all his imperfections overnight, but that he is still able to become a hero and impress his father. I also enjoyed getting a glimpse into the Amish lifestyle.

Mister Penny's Race Horse by Marie Hall Ets. Published 1956. Caldecott Honor 1957. Publisher. ISBN: 9780670481422

I read this book at the Library of Congress and I didn’t have my laptop with me to take notes, so I can’t remember much of what I thought about it at this point. I do remember thinking it reminded me of Charlotte’s Web, and I loved the notion that the animals would be allowed to ride on the ferris wheel. That was definitely my favorite illustration - seeing the animals enjoying themselves on the ride.

The Wild Birthday Cake. by Lavinia Davis, illustrated by Hildegard Woodward. Published 1949. Caldecott Honor 1950. Doubleday. 

This story resonated with me because it sticks close to home and finds fun in the everyday. This is a long story, but it’s great for kids who are interested in nature and caring for animals. I also liked Johnny’s relationships with his older neighbors. The illustrations in this one are not my favorite, since they’re so old-fashioned, but the writing is much more descriptive than most contemporary picture books.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.
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