Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Death Knell for Show-and-Tell

 The Death Knell for Show-and-Tell
For  Library Card Sign-Up Month, I visit every Kindergarten class in town.  I talk about all the great reasons to have a library card, drop off applications for each student, and read a book - preferably a funny one.  Because I visit at least 12 different classrooms, I usually bring an assortment of books so I don't get bored reading the same one in each class.

This year, I brought Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson (not funny, but a perfect choice for pitching libraries!) A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell (the "what not to do with your library book" book), and Elise Parsley's, If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!.

If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't (2015, Little, Brown) is a new book that I find hilarious.   A little girl brings her alligator to school for show-and-tell, and all havoc breaks loose.  I thought it would bring some giggles to Kindergarten kids.  At my first visit, I asked the teacher if the kids had begun show-and-tell yet. I wanted to make sure they would get the joke.  I was told that the new, more rigorous Kindergarten curriculum did not allow the time necessary for the rather lengthy process of show-and-tell.  The teacher suggested that the book would be best shared with preschoolers as they are the only ones with time for show-and-tell.  How sad.

This isn't an individual teacher's decision, it is a by-product of strict, standards-based education.  I get it.  I truly do, but I am glad that I am not a child today.  Today's body of knowledge is so much greater than it was when I was in school, and the process of educating children has moved to a business-like model.  These factors combine to remove much of the joy of early learning - free play, music, art, and show-and-tell.

If you're a parent or librarian or teacher with a few minutes of free time, spread some joy wherever you can.  Life is hard - even in Kindergarten. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Banned Books Week 2015

If everyone adhered to this great advice from Dav Pilkey, there would be no need to call attention to Banned Books Week!  Grab a good book and celebrate your freedom to read.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Beast of Cretacea - a review

The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser 
(Candlewick, 2015)

Seventeen-year-old Ishmael has volunteered for a dangerous assignment - a vaguely outlined stint on Cretacea, where he will work with other adventurers in an untamed environment, harvesting resources bound for Earth. Only the dismal outlook on Earth makes this option seem appealing. Stripped of its natural resources, covered in a perpetual shroud, and dangerously low on breathable air, Earth holds few attractions for Ishmael. His foster family is his only concern, but his foster brother is now headed for assignment, too, and Ishmael hopes to earn enough money on Cretacea to pay for passage from Earth for his foster parents. 

On Cretacea, a prophetic warning from an old neighbor haunts Ishmael as he works onboard the Pequod under the command of the mad Captain Ahab who has set the ship's course to capture the Great Terrafin, a deadly sea creature of near mythical proportions. For Ishmael and his onboard companions, adventures abound in this cleverly crafted homage to Moby Dick. References to Moby Dick (for those familiar with them) are plentiful; however, despite its similarities to Melville's classic, The Beast of Cretacea is a sci-fi book for the modern age. The Beast of Cretacea confronts modern issues of environmental degradation, resource depletion, wealth and privilege, scientific possibility, and of course, the transcendent coming-of-age issue. Breathtaking excitement is measured with thought-provoking ideas, a rich plotline, and occasional flashbacks. At least one great twist awaits. 

For ponderers, sci-fi enthusiasts, and adventure fans seeking a little something extra. Best for ages 12 and up.

On a shelf near you 10/13/15

Members of my monthly book club recently Skyped with Todd Strasser.  They were impressed by his perseverance (only a summer's worth of reading kept him from repeating the 3rd grade!) and the sheer volume of his work (more than 140 books!). They appreciated his affability and willingness to delay an afternoon of surfing to accommodate us.  As an added bonus, when his daughter (who created the beast on the book's cover) accidentally passed in camera view, he introduced us and gave us a short lesson in the evolution of a book's cover art.

I have two copies of The Beast of Cretacea.  One was provided at my request from Todd Strasser, and the other was subsequently provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers.  Both will given to members of my book club who cannot wait to read it!!

 More fun Beast of Cretacea content:

A Beast of Cretacea Quiz created by the author: 

A humorous video trailer:

The Beast of Cretacea from todd strasser on Vimeo.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Storytime picks for Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, I try to do something new for Hispanic Heritage Month at the library.

This year, I fell in love with Susan Middleton Elya's, Little Roja Riding Hood (Putnam, 2014), so I based a program around that title.  We had a fun time retelling the classic story as we knew it, recreating it with felt board pieces,  reading Susan Middleton Elya's version, using the globe to find Spanish-speaking countries, playing a game of Color, Colorcito, and finally some free play with the felt board pieces and a rojo coloring page.

Below is a slide show with reviews of other bilingual favorites that I've used for storytime.  I also have a list of fun preschool songs, music, and activities for Hispanic Heritage Month.  Feel free to ask me about them.  If you have trouble seeing the slideshow, you can access it on Riffle. []