Maeve Visser Knoth: 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Our School's Book Fair

We're in the midst of our school's book fair, so I'm posting an email I sent out to the school email list, describing some of our offerings (we use a local company to provide books and facilitate the fair, which allows us to offer great, just-published books.)

Here's the email...

What should you look for whan you visit the book fair?

Do you need any gifts for new babies? Is there a toddler on your holiday gift list?

Look for Rosemary Wells' charming Max's ABC or Marla Frazee's Walk On!, a celebration of that huge accomplishment in the life of a baby.

Do you have a fantasy reader?

Last year the intriguing, original novel Magyk was a big hit. You'll find the sequel, Flyte on the table this year. Of course we have the first book for those who haven't yet begun this series.

One of the best new short novels (perfect for many of our first, second and third graders) is titled Clementine. Read the first page and you'll be hooked. Clementine is a spunky, creative child who finds herself in the principal's office evey day of the week.

We sold out today on a brilliant new math puzzle/history/fun with numbers book titled Go Figure: A Totally Cool Book About Numbers. We have many more copies arriving. This is a book that appeals to 3rd graders as much as it appeals to 7th graders.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Picture Books Told in Rhyme

"Where the mountains meet the prairie-
Where the men are wild and hairy-
There's a little ranch where Rosie Jones is boss."

I don't know how many times my husband and I read aloud "Rosie and the Rustlers" by Roy Gerrard to our two children but I can still, 6 years later, recite long sections of it by heart. There is something satisfying about a book that romps along- rhyming verse that moves a story. There is a reason that college students still read "Beowulf".

I don't pretend to know the true appeal of rhyme and rhythm in literature. Maybe we enjoy listening to words that pound like our own hearts. Whatever the reason, parents and children both request books that rhyme.

I must say that there are way too many children's books told in rhyme. When the rhyme forces the writer to use words that don't make sense or when the rhythm determines the pace of the book rather than the story itself having control, I know a writer doesn't have control over the rhyme.

So beware...look for stories where the rhythm contributes to the story rather than detracts from it. Look for authors who know how and when to break a driving rhythm. Look for interesting words and interesting rhythms. Try these stories:

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Aardema
Black is Brown is Tan by Adoff
Each Peach Pear Plum by Ahlberg
The Jolly Postman by Ahlberg
Where's My Teddy? by Alborough
Old Black Fly by Aylesworth
The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Barracca
Everybody Needs a Rock by Baylor
Madeline by Bemelmans
All Join In by Blake
Big Red barn by Brown
Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear by Carlstrom
Who's Sick Today by Cherry
Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree by Christelow
Everett Anderson Nine Months Long by Clifton
Jamberry by Degen
Wheel Away by Dodds
Drummer Hoff by Emberley
As I was Crossing Boston Common by Farber
Shoes From Grandpa by Fox
Tailypo by Galdone
Sir Cedric Rides Agair by Gerrard
Is Your Mama a Llama? by Guarino
The Maggie B. by Haas
A House is a House for Me by Hoberman
The Duchess bakes a Cake by Kahl
Earl's Too Cool For Me by Komaiko
The Owl and the Pussy-cat by Lear
Johnny Appleseed by Lindbergh
17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Mahy
The Adventures of Isabel by Nash
Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight by Nash
Randy's Dandy Lions by Peet
The Piggy in the Puddle by Pomerantz
If I Ran the Zoo by Seuss
Sheep in a Jeep by Shaw
Possum Come a-Knocking by Van Laan
Shy Charles by Wells
The Napping House by Wood

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fiction for Gifted or Advanced Middle School Readers

What to do with all those voracious readers out there? Teachers and parents are often stumped when they are making recommendations to fifth, sixth, and seventh graders who already read all the time. They have often read all the most current fiction. They know the Newbery Award books and the titles offered by Scholastic Book Club fliers. They listen to the suggestions of classmates and happily delve into 500 page fantasy novels as fast as they are published.

Teachers and parents find themselves in a hard spot and might make what I consider to be just the wrong decision. I don't suggest that you move a child into the young adult collections unless you really know how your library decides if a book belongs in the young adult collection. In many libraries, the "young adult" sticker is put on books because the content is sophisticated, not because the writing is more complex. When I ma looking for something challenging for fifth, sixth and seventh graders, I tend to look for books that were published more than ten years ago. Your enthusiastic reader may know all the current books, but is likely unfamiliar with some of the older titles. British children's books are often (note that this is a gross generalization) written in a more complex style than books written by American writers. Generally, the older the book, the more complex the writing style.

Below are some of my suggestions for kids who are looking for something to sink their teeth into:

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (How many kids think they know this story since they have seen a movie version? They will be delighted by the real novel.)
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
Grace by Jill Paton Walsh
The Five Children and it by E. Nesbit
The Pirate's Son by Geraldine McCaughrean
Little Men by Louise May Alcott
The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Number Devil by Hans Enzenberger
The Goats by Brock Cole
Bat 6 by Virginia Euwer Wolff (This is a fairly recent title but is best enjoyed by a strong reader who can keep track of the many points of view.)
Child of the Owl by Laurence Yep
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Cheaper by the Dozen by Ernestine and Frank Gilbreth
The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston
Freddy Goes Camping by Walter Brooks
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond

Have fun with these selections and look for other titles by these authors for your voracious readers.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Picture Books for Preschoolers and Older

There are so many wonderful picture books that any list feels like a drop in the proverbial bucket. So, feel free to look at this list and exclaim "What!? My favorite author is not even represented here!" I know. Many of my favorite authors are not here either. Still, I hope you will enjoy the books that are on this list. Many are perfectly wonderful read-alouds for a group of children and others are great for poring over on a lap.

Travelling to Tondo by Aardema
The Fortunetellers by Alexander
Mom’s Best Friend by Alexander
How A Book Is Made by Aliki
The Stupids by Allard
Dawn by Bang
The Sailor Dog by Brown
The Tub People by Conrad
Miss Rumphius by Cooney
Growing Vegetable Soup by Ehlert
The Letter Jesters by Falwell
Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge by Fox
Millions of Cats by Gag
Jamaica and Brianna by Havill
The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Heide
Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Henkes
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Hopkinson
All About Alfie by Hughes
Mama Don’t Allow by Hurd
Brave Horace by Keller
Tales of a Gambling Grandma by Khalsa
All Pigs Are Beautiful by King-Smith
The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Kuskin
Zelda and Ivy by Kvasnosky
Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand by Levine
Johnny Appleseed by Lindbergh
The Story of Imelda Who Was Small by Lurie
Every Time I Climb a Tree by McCord
Roxaboxen by McLerran
Night of the Pufflings by McMillan
The Great White Man Eating Shark by Mahy
The Cut-Ups Cut Loose by Marshall
Sophie and Lou by Mather
Martha Speaks by Meddaugh
Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Paterson
Home Lovely by Perkins
Alvin Ailey by Pinkney
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Rathmann
Cowboys by Rounds
Under the Table by Russo
When I Was Young in the Mountains by Rylant
Annabelle Swift, Kindergartener by Schwartz
Caps For Sale by Slobodkin
Doctor DeSoto by Steig
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by Steptoe
Mailing May by Tunnell
Bearsie Bear and the Sleep Over Party by Waber
Max’s Dragon Shirt by Wells
Three Days on the River in a Red Canoe by Williams
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Williams
Crow Boy by Yashima
Roses Sing on New Snow by Yee
The Hating Book by Zolotow