Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Picks of the Week - March 26-30

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Little Sal and her mother go out blueberry picking one afternoon. So do Little Bear and his mother. Little Sal and Little Bear are so busy eating blueberries that they get separated from their mothers. Although they manage to find a mother in the blueberry bushes, is it the right mother?

I remember having my own mother read this to me when I was a Little Rebecca. It won the Caldecott Honor for its wonderful black-and-white illustrations.

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Jared, Simon and Mallory Grace have just moved with their mother to an old house that belonged to a great-aunt. When they go exploring, the children find a secret attic room that contains a Field Guide to creatures that none of them have seen...yet!

The first in a series of 5 books, The Field Guide is a fantastic introduction to the world of the Grace children and all the creatures that exist around them. Exciting adventures await!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Novel Hatchet may have helped save boy's life

It so happens that Michael Auberry, a 12-year-old Boy Scout who was missing in the North Carolina wilderness for 4 days last week, read the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen a few years ago, which his father believes helped him to survive.

Auberry said he took comfort that his son spent weeks a few years ago reading
the novel "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen, a survival adventure story about a boy
stranded alone on a Canadian island after a plane crash.

"I think he's got some of that book on his mind," Auberry said. The book is required reading for students in Michael's school district.

Read the CNN news article.

Friday, March 09, 2007

School newsletter and calendar

The school newsletters have been sent home, but now you can also view them online. I have linked to them below.

March Newsletter (PDF file - you will need Adobe Reader to view this file, which you can download for free)

March Calendar (PDF file)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Picks of the Week: March 5 - 9

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Selina Hastings and Juan Wijngaard

Sir Gawain is a young knight of King Arthur's court. When he jumps at the chance to protect the king from a bizarre stranger, it leads him on adventures and quests that he could hardly have imagined. This is a simple retelling of the classic tale and gorgeously illustrated.

Jacob Two-Two meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler

Jacob Two-Two is two plus two plus two years old, and is the youngest child in his family. He is not happy with the fact that everyone considers him too young to help out so when his father finally gives in and sends him on an errand to get two pounds of firm tomatoes, Jacob Two-Two leaps at the chance to prove himself.

Unfortunately, Jacob's habit of repeating everything he says (because nobody ever hears him the first time) doesn't go over well with the grocer and Jacob runs away in humiliation. The next day, he finds himself in court and sentenced to two years, two months, two days, two hours, and two minutes in the most vicious children's prison in the nation. What secrets lie behind the jail doors? And who will risk it all to save Jacob and the rest of the imprisoned children?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lunar eclipse Saturday night

On Saturday night, the moon will look something like this:

Tomorrow night viewers in our region will be treated (weather permitting) to a lunar eclipse. According to this article in the Globe & Mail, the moon will appear reddish or brownish in colour as it rises above the horizon in the Earth's shadow. This will be the first total eclipse of the moon since October 2004.

Totality (or the total coverage of the moon by Earth's shadow) starts at 6:44 pm and continues until 7:58 pm on Saturday night.

**UPDATE: Did you get to see it? We in Nova Scotia were very lucky to have almost no clouds in the sky on Saturday night during the eclipse. I thought it was more browny than coppery in colour though - it almost looked murky. What did you think?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New set of World Books!

A set of 2006 World Book encyclopedias arrived today, hooray! Thanks so much to Mrs. C. who generously purchased them with school funds!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Picks of the Week - February 19-23

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

The boy in a yellow suit and hat is off on an adventure, with brains in his head and feet in his shoes. Even though things get tough for him sometimes, he gets through and keeps on going.

Great for any and all ages, Oh, the Places You'll Go! is fun and typical Dr. Seuss silliness with more than a touch of inspirational life advice.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Ten-year-old Mary is an orphan sent to England after her mother died, and she is none too pleased about it. Living in a manor on the moors with her uncle, Mary soon discovers that some of the rooms are not as empty as she thought, and that there are secrets and refuges in the garden as well.

This, unlike Burnett's book A Little Princess which I only discovered as an adult, is one of my favourite childhood books. I can still remember my mother reading it to me and getting entirely wrapped up in the magic of Mary's garden.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Library Corner - February Column

**I have started a column in the Parrsboro School Newsletter called (oh-so-originally) Library Corner. My aim is to provide parents with information and tools to support their child's literacy development. The first column is replicated below, along with resources and links that may not have been found in the Newsletter.

Library Corner

Did you know that many children experience a decline in reading habits in approximately grade 4 and/or grade 9? These are two major transition periods in literacy development: around grade 4 children progress from picture books and easy readers to novels, and around grade 9 they move from juvenile fiction into more substantial teen or adult fare.

During both transitions it is normal for children to fall back on reading material that is comfortable to them and easy for them to read, perhaps favourite picture books from their young childhood. This need not (and should not) be discouraged as it boosts their confidence to tackle newer, tougher books and materials.

You can help your child progress through these transitions by modeling and encouraging positive reading behaviours that include:

  • Letting them see you read anything from magazines to novels, from the newspaper to cereal boxes.

  • Reading aloud to your child should, in fact, continue until they are into their teens as it enforces the value of reading. You may want to consider borrowing audio books from the public library and listening to them with your child in the car or during the evening.

  • Limiting computer and television use and designating time for reading also contributes to positive reading habits.

  • Finally, ask your child questions about what he or she is reading and discuss what you are reading as well.

If you have any further questions, concerns, or want to know what kind of books your child might enjoy, please feel free to email me.

Suggested resources

An excellent resource is Paul Kropp’s book How to make your child a reader for life (2000) which is full of tips and suggestions for you and your child.
*Available for purchase from Chapters.
*Also available to borrow from the Cumberland Regional Library.

Another fantastic book is Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook (2006) which has lists of books for every age as well as many tips and advice about reading aloud to your child.
*Available for purchase from Chapters.
*I have requested that the Cumberland Regional Library purchase this book for their collection, so keep an eye out!

Further information

Publisher's Weekly has an excellent article about reading declines in older children.

A Statistics Canada study found links between a child's early reading skills and later literacy success.

Since teen boys' reading in particular tends to decline, this article seeks out why and what can be done to help. Although it is aimed at school librarians, it contains information (and a book list) that is helpful for parents as well.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Picks of the Week - February 5-9

The Man who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein

There was once a man who lived in New York City. He performed tricks, like juggling and tightrope walking, for audiences in the park. One day, he looked up and saw two towers being built and thought, "I wonder if I could walk on a tightrope between them, hundreds of feet in the air?"

Beautifully illustrated (it won the Caldecott Medal in 2004), this book tells the story of Philippe Petit and his tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of New York City.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Jesse lives on a farm with his parents and sisters, and he loves to run. When a new family moves in next door - and the girl, Leslie, also likes to run - he has someone new to play with. Jess and Leslie invent a world called Terabithia in the woods behind their homes and spend countless hours there until the unthinkable happens.

I have read this book on at least 3 occasions and thoroughly enjoy it every single time. It remains one of my favourite books, even as a grown-up.

Visit the site for the new Disney movie.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Picks of the Week - Jan. 29 - Feb. 2

The Golden Goose by Barbara Reid

There is a girl named Gwendolyn who never smiles, even though her father tries very hard to make her smile. There is also a young woodman who daydreams and who finds a golden goose in the forest one day. What happens when he picks up the goose and heads to town?

This twist on the classic Grimm fairy tale puts it in the modern day and is beautifully illustrated by Reid's plasticine creations.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Winnie Foster is a lonely girl who lives on the edge of the forest. One day a stranger comes to visit, which sets a series of events in motion - including Winnie's kidnapping and her introduction to the Tuck family. The secret the Tucks are keeping is exactly why the stranger is in town and up to no good. Will Winnie ever see her family again, and when the Tucks give her a choice what will she choose?

This book has been a favourite of mine for years. The lush atmosphere combined with the mystery and excitement of the story has made this book a classic.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Children's literature awards announced

The Caldecott Medal and the Giesel Award recipients were announced recently at the American Library Association (ALA) mid-winter conference in Seattle.

The Caldecott Medal

The Caldecott, according to the ALA, "was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children." It has been awarded since 1938.

Previous winners include Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (1982), Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say (1994), and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1964).

2007 Caldecott Medal recipient:
Flotsam by David Wiesner

2007 Caldecott Honor recipients:
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Gone Wild: an Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans

The Geisel Award

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award was established in 2004 to acknowledge the "author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year." It is named for the man known as Dr. Seuss and is awarded annually.

2007 Geisel Award recipient:
Zelda and Ivy: the Runaways by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

2007 Geisel Honor recipients:
Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride by Kate DiCamillo (author) and Chris Van Dusen (illustrator)
Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont (author) and Jane Dyer (illustrator)
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

View the list of all Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC) award winners, including the Newbery.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ms. Bartlett's Picks of the Week - Jan. 22-26

You can't tell with the picture at this size, but Bob has sunglasses on.

Dinosaur Bob and his adventures with the family Lazardo by William Joyce

Young Scotty Lazardo finds a dinosaur in Africa, who is promptly named Bob. Bob returns to California with the Lazardos but manages to get into some trouble with the police who want to send him back. What trick does Bob have up his sleeve that might save him?

The pictures in this book (which I recently discovered) are clean, bright, and absolutely charming. The story is clever and subtle and Bob's facial expressions are fantastic. Besides all that, who wouldn't want a dinosaur as a pet?

Pinky & Stinky by James Kochalka

Pinky and Stinky are two piglets sent into space on a mission to Pluto. Stinky isn't treating things as seriously as Pinky would like, and disaster soon strikes when the piglets' spacecraft hits and asteroid and hurtles out of control towards the moon.

The piglets find themselves in a bit of a pickle when they land and it is up to Stinky to develop a plan to save them. During the course of their adventures the two piglets encounter Moon-Men, human astronauts, a talking rocket, and a princess who thinks they're "cuties."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ms. Bartlett's Picks of the Week - January 8-12

Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Howard Fine

Gritch the Witch is hungry and has a hankering for a piggie pie. She checks her cupboards and has all the ingredients except...piggies! She hops on her broom and heads to Old MacDonald's farm to find some piggies for her pie, but where have they all gone?

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

It's Omri's birthday and his friend Patrick gives him a plastic toy Indian. Omri is not very thrilled about that until he locks the toy in his new cupboard and wakes up to the sound of...what? Someone moving around in the cupboard? What Omri finds when he unlocks the cupboard door will change his life and the adventures will begin.

This was one of my favourite stories growing up. I remember my mother reading it aloud to me and my little brother and just being on the edge of my seat with excitement the entire time. If you've ever dreamed of your toys coming to life, this is a book for you.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Wonder of the Web - KidsHealth

Want to know what to do if you get stung by a bee? Wish you could do something about your nightmares? Curious about puke? Kidshealth.com is the place for you!

KidsHealth is a website of the Nemours Foundation, which "is dedicated to improving the health and spirit of children," and is the most visited children's health site on the Internet. The site is easy to navigate and every article is reviewed by a medical expert in the field.

The site has lots of cool features. The Kids' Talk section answers questions like "Why do I yawn?" and "What happens to swallowed gum?" The site also has information about People, Places and Things that Help Me, such as physical therapists and dialysis, has sections on the health problems of both children and adults, and the Watch Out section tells children how to play safe in a variety of scenarios.

One of the best features is the Recipes section, which provides recipes for children with diabetes, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and lactose intolerance.

KidsHealth is a wonderful and really interesting site, and I encourage you to check it out!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More new books!

I was very happy to discover a box of new books when I arrived in the PRES library this morning - here they are!

(And yes, the books are almost exclusively either sports or Remembrance Day books.)

One on One by Cathy Beveridge

On Juno Beach: Canada's D-Day Heroes by Hugh Brewster

True stories of the Blitz by Henry Brook

Body Check
Cool as Ice
Ice Magic all by Matt Christopher

Artemis Fowl: the Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

In Flander's Fields: the story of the poem by John McCrae and
Where Poppies Grow: a World War I companion both by Linda Granfield

The Girls they Left Behind by Bernice Thurman Hunter

Daniel's Story by Carol Matas

A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson

Fantastic donated collection now in library

The Mary Norah Sophia Kernohan collection is now available in the library. It is a wonderful collection of beautiful books - make sure to take a look at them!

To Be a Kid by Sophia Ajmera

Holiday! Celebration Days around the World by Deborah Chancellor

Robots by Clive Gifford

Into the Sky
Robots Slither
Cross a Bridge
Dig a Tunnel
Take Off!
all by Ryan Ann Hunter

A Second is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins

A Life like Mine: How Children Live around the World published by Dorling Kindersley

100 Things you should know about the Human Body by Steve Parker

Staying Healthy by Angela Royston

If the World were a Village: a book about the world's people by David Smith

My Body by S. R. Turnbull