Advertisement. Click on the ad for more information.
Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Archive | Reading Ahead

Hands-on History for Spatial Learners

Making HistoryWhen I was in elementary school, I was never more excited than when the teacher told us we could make a diorama or a miniature scene of a pioneer settlement. The concept, planning, and building were thrilling for me. Even though my finished work seldom approached the dazzling display I could see in my head, I learned a great deal about history, engineering, science, and cardboard from my forays into building a small world in three dimensions.

We know that some kids learn best this way. They are not only hands-on, but they are spatial and visual learners, people who learn best by seeing and doing.

If you know children like this, they’ll be delighted with Making History: Have a Blast with 15 Crafts (written by Wendy Freshman and Kristin Jansson), published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

With a short historical lesson, thorough supplies list, excellent photographs, and step-by-step instructions that include a call-out for adult involvement (using scissors or a hot glue gun) your favorite kids can make a Makak Generation Basket or an Ice House (model) or a Día de Los Muertos Nichos (a small shadowbox with skeletons depicted on them for the Day honoring the Dead).

metal repousse pendant

Introducing a Metal Foil Repoussé Pendant, the authors share that Alice and Florence LeDuc formed Hastings Needlework in 1888 to create and sell embroidered household items that were treasured by many as artwork. Bought by influential families and featured on magazine covers, their needlework was known worldwide. The Minnesota Historical Society has more than 800 of their patterns in its archives.

With metal foil, a foam sheet, and household supplies such as a pencil, pen, and scissors, your students can make a necklace or box ornament from a Hastings Needlework pattern, included in the book and thoughtfully supplied online.

Paul Bunyan Action FigureFor your visual and spatial learners, building a Twister Tornado (did you know that the Mayo Clinic was founded as the result of a tornado?) or a Paul Bunyan Action Figure is a sneaky but effective way to make learning memorable and engaging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more...

Reading Ahead: Levitate Your Brother!

Big Magic for Little Hands

by Vicki Palmquist

We recently hosted a Harry Potter party for adults for which everyone was asked to perform a magic trick. Some people fiercely addressed the challenge. Some people panicked. Some people bought a trick off the internet. I turned to Joshua Jay’s Big Magic for Little Hands (Workman Publishing Co).

Citing all the benefits of learning to perform magic, the author reveals that he wasn’t a reader until he needed to know about magic. Learning magic tricks and performing them gives a child confidence and helps with public speaking skills. “Others have integrated magic into their jobs, using effects to break the ice or complete a sale or relax a jury.”

There are diagrams and terminology and suggested stage setups. There are helpful hints (overcoming stage fright). There are lists of materials needed for each feat of prestidigitation.

With compelling black, white, and red illustrations, the diagrams are easy to follow, convincing even the most skeptical that they could make these tricks work.

The writing is not just step-by-step instructional–Jay writes with humor and an appreciation of what’s practical.

The materials are items you probably have on hand in your household. When one list includes a top hat, Jay writes “A top hat works great, but you could also decorate an empty tissue box and use that, or use your dad’s cowboy hat. (Note: This only works if your dad is a cowboy.)”

Perhaps most of all, I enjoyed the real-life stories of magic such as “Houdini’s Great Plane Escape.” When Houdini was filming the movie The Grim Game, a stunt required climbing by rope from one plane to the other. During the stunt, the two planes collided and crashed to the ground. What happened? Well, that would be telling. According to Jay, a good magician never shares a secret or tells how it is done. Big Magic for Little Hands will tell you but I won’t.

Highly recommended for kids aged 8 and older (and the adults in their lives who will be just as fascinated). It’s a large format book with a big heart and plenty of fascination between its covers. A great gift. A good, readable, and hours-of-fun addition to your library.

 

Read more...
Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

There is a silly debate taking place about whether adults who read children’s books, including young adult books, are infantile and should have their driver’s licenses revoked because they’re obviously not mature enough to play dodge ‘em cars on the freeway and text while their two thousand pound vehicle hurtles down the road. Grown up, […]

Read more...
Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge

Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge

In downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, spanning the Mississippi River, there is a “Stone Arch Bridge” that resembles a roman viaduct with its 23 arches. Built at a time when Minneapolis was a primary grain-milling and wood-producing center for the United States, Empire Builder James J. Hill wanted the bridge built to help his railroad reach the […]

Read more...
Gravity

Gravity

What is gravity? I have a notion (after many years of school) that it keeps my feet touching the ground. When I jump into the air, I am defying gravity. What is Gravity? A book. Written and illustrated by Jason Chin, who previously gifted us with Redwoods and Coral Island and Galapagos. He has a […]

Read more...
Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

The woman who cuts my hair, Amy, had a particularly hard summer the year her boys had just learned to read. Their school asked that she keep them reading over the summer, but there were only so many Magic Treehouse books she wanted them to read. What other books would be suitable? The minutes flew […]

Read more...
I Am Cow, Hear Me MOO!

I Am Cow, Hear Me MOO!

There has been a lot written about the bravery of cows (no, there hasn’t). Some of it has startled us with the sheer audacity of amazing feats of derring-do of which cows are capable (News at 10!). Young children everywhere are pinning up cow posters on their bedroom walls, hoping to one day be as […]

Read more...
All Different Now

All Different Now

Do you know how sometimes your hands hover over a book, wanting to open it, sensing that this will be an important book, and you hesitate, wanting to prolong your interaction? I did that, turning All Different Now this way and that, then examining the title page, the jacket flaps … and finally allowing myself […]

Read more...
bk_fourteenthgoldfish_140

The Fourteenth Goldfish

The versatile Jennifer L. Holm pens a fantasy this time around, but it’s a story suffused with humor and science, deftly asking a mind-blowing question: is it a good thing to grow old? So what happens when a 13-year-old boy shows up on your doorstep, arguing with your mom, who invites him in, and it […]

Read more...
Planet Kindergarten

Planet Kindergarten

Books about getting ready for kindergarten and the first day in that Strange New Land are plentiful, but I can’t recall one that has drawn me into the experience as fully as Planet Kindergarten does. Every aspect of this book, from word choice to story to the detailed and clever drawings, puts this book at […]

Read more...
The Scraps Book

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life

Sometimes I want to walk right into the pages of a book, know everything the author knows, share their lifetime of experiences, and be able to emulate their creativity. Scraps: Notes from a Colorful Life makes me feel that way. I’ve even enjoyed the feeling and texture of the paper because I want in! For […]

Read more...
Return of Zita the Spacegirl

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

Ben Hatke can’t conceive of, write, and draw these stories fast enough for me—and a host of other fans. Just released, this book follows Zita the Spacegirl (2010) and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (2012). Doing the math, I know I won’t be reading the next installment until 2016. Whahhh. I’ve read so many stories […]

Read more...
bk_shadowhero_140.jpg

My New Hero

I am a fan of superhero comics. After reading about talking ducks, precocious teens at Riverdale High, and an equally precocious rich kid, I wanted something with a real story, not a situation. I wasn’t allowed to buy comic books, so I had to rely on the kindness of cousins. Whatever I could scrounge up […]

Read more...
bk_spacetaxi_140.jpg

Space Taxi

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer, illus by Elise Gravel Little, Brown Books for Young Readers What a hoot! When eight-year-old Archie Morningstar gets up early in the morning for his first Take Your Kid to Work Day, he never imagines that his taxi-driving dad in their rickety cab is actually […]

Read more...
bk_thecrossover_140.jpg

The Crossover

The Crossover Kwame Alexander Houghton Mifflin Harcourt From the moment I began reading this poetry collection, I knew it was a different type of book because the rhythms, the cadence, were infused with energy and awareness. The Crossover is primarily free verse, with a few hiphop, rhythmic poems that change up the action. The narrator, […]

Read more...
bk_atimetodance.jpg

A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance Padma Venkatraman Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Putnam Disclaimer: I’m a fan of Padma Venkatraman’s books. Each one has charmed me. I know I can always expect a reading experience unlike any I’ve had before. Her new book does not disappoint. In A Time to Dance, teenaged Veda has already dedicated […]

Read more...
bk_childrensbookaday_180.jpg

Gifted: Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac

Anita Silvey writes, among other things, books that help us find good books. And not only does she help us find more books that we or our children or our students will enjoy, but she tells us the story behind those books. Oh, what fun it is to know that Charles Dickens had to publish […]

Read more...
bk_secretsshakespearesgrave.jpg

Gifted: Up All Night

My mother had the knack of giving me a book every Christmas that kept me up all night … after I had opened it on Christmas Eve. I particularly remember the “oh-boy-it’s-dark-outside” year that I received The Lord of the Rings and accompanied the hobbits into Woody End where they first meet the Nazgul, the […]

Read more...
ph_rolandmesnier.jpg

Gifted: So, You Want to Be a Chef?

So, You Want to Be a Chef? How to Get Started in the World of Culinary Arts Be What You Want series J.M. Bedell Beyond Words/Aladdin, October 2013 Introduction If your child or teen is often caught watching cooking shows, they’re not alone. In 2010, Melissa Kossler Dutton on ParentDish.com wrote, “Every month, 12 million […]

Read more...
ill_matchboxdiary.jpg

Gifted: The Matchbox Diary

When a young girl visits her great-grandfather for the first time, her imagination swirls with everything she sees in his antique shop. He asks her to pick out her favorite item and he will tell her a story about it. She chooses a cigar box filled with match boxes. As it turns out, this is […]

Read more...
ill_flyingship.jpg

Gifted: Under the North Light

Under the North Light The Life and Times of Maud and Miska Petersham written by Lawrence Webster foreword by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead Woodstock Arts, 2012 info@woodstockarts.com ISBN 978-0-9679268-6-5 My husband, Steve, and I have worked together for the last 25 years. We have been married for 32 years, so it took […]

Read more...
farmer_interiorpage.jpg

Gifted: Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin afterword by Will Allen Readers to Eaters, 2013 Introduction My second passion in life after books and reading is sustainable agriculture and organic farming. There are a few good books for children on this topic, but I’m always delighted […]

Read more...
bk_goods_cover.jpg

Books Plus: The Goods by McSweeney’s

The Goods by McSweeney’s: Games and Activities for Big Kids, Little Kids, and Medium-Size Kids edited by Mac Barnett and Brian McMullen featuring Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, and more Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2013 For your holiday gift-giving consideration … An oversized book filled with every imaginable distraction, this should be […]

Read more...
bk_givingthanks_interior02.jpg

Gifted: Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs for Thanksgiving edited and with reflections by Katherine Paterson illustrations by Pamela Dalton Handprint Books / Chronicle Books, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-4521-1339-5 The season when we focus on giving thanks will quickly be here. If you are looking for a gift to take to your hosts, to give to […]

Read more...
bk_walkthisworld.jpg

Gifted: Walk This World

Walk This World: a Celebration of Life in a Day Lotta Nieminen, a Finnish-born graphic designer and art director Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press, November 2013 As you consider gifts for this holiday season, we suggest … (book #2 in our Gifted recommendations) … Visit 10 countries in one book! This stylish […]

Read more...
spike-animal-shelter.jpg

Gifted: Spike, Ugliest Dog in the Universe

Spike, Ugliest Dog in the Universe Debra Frasier, author and illustrator Beach Lane Books, October 2013 Ever since I saw my 10-year-old niece pose in front of the television, trying to imitate the supermodels at the end of the runway, my awareness of the beauty culture in this country has been acute. We took her […]

Read more...
bk_arlo_cover.jpg

Gifted: Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventure!

Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventures! written and illustrated by David LaRochelle Sterling Children’s Publishing, 2013 If you’re considering gifts for the holiday season … (book #1 in our series of Gifted recommendations) … No matter how uninteresting Arlo’s elderly relative insists on making their trip to the museum with her warnings to be serious and quiet and […]

Read more...
gr_toppsleague.jpg

Anatomy of a Series: Topps League Books

We’re in post-season, when a lot of fans start to look wild-eyed, wondering how they’ll hang on for three months until spring training starts in February. Here in Minnesota, it’s tough for sandlot baseball or Little League games to be played in the snow with an icy baseline. Young fans can keep up the momentum […]

Read more...
bk_betsytacytib.jpg

Discussing the Books We’ve Loved: Déjà Vu

As I ready this article for publication, I am sitting in the coffee shop where I first met Heather Vogel Frederick, now a much-admired author of some of my favorite books. I still enjoy getting caught up in a series, accepting the likeable and not-so-likeable characters as my new-found circle of friends, anticipating the treat […]

Read more...
bk_ice140.jpg

Alongside the Books We’ve Loved: Venom and the River

This week, join me as we continue to look at books that orbit the constellations of children’s series books much-loved by adults: Louisa May Alcott’s books, the Little House books, the Anne of Green Gables books, and Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books. A brand new novel, Venom on the River, is now available from my favorite […]

Read more...
bk_darlingdahlias.jpg

Behind the Books We’ve Loved: A Wilder Rose

Growing up, I loved to read mysteries, biographies, but especially series books. I didn’t read Nancy Drew or Anne of Green Gables (not until I was an adult), but I followed most every other series character. I read Cherry Ames, Sue Barton, Trixie Belden, Beany Malone, Janet Lennon, but especially Louisa May Alcott’s books, the […]

Read more...
bk_campingtrip_180.jpg

Packing up the tent?

Summer Reading No. 2 Many of you are making plans to get out of Dodge when your kids are out of school for the summer. I imagine thousands of people making a list: tent, sleeping bags, mini-grill, rain ponchos, clothesline (from our camping experience, someplace to hang things up to dry is essential), cooler, GPS, […]

Read more...
8_truckstop_diner.jpg

Best Truck Stop Ever

Summer Reading No. 1 Travel season begins now. Resorts and roadside attractions and Dairy Queens are all spruced up. The OPEN signs are once again flipped to the side that matters. Will you be traveling the highways and backroads, looking for adventure? I’ve read a new picture book that made me look differently at something […]

Read more...
Vicki-19-reading-360.jpg

… who taught me to love books

I’ve just begun reading Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. Many people have recommended it to me, aghast that I have not already eaten it up. I’ve gotten as far as the dedication: For my parents—Vivian Taylor Turnage and A.C. Turnage, Jr.—who taught me to love books. What a gift. How big-hearted and understanding of […]

Read more...
oldebook.jpg

No book to print book to e-book to …

Publishers Weekly reported today that Neil Gaiman addressed the fifth London Book Fair Digital Minds Conference by saying, “People ask me what my predictions are for publishing and how digital is changing things and I tell them my only real prediction is that is it’s all changing,” Gaiman said. “Amazon, Google and all of those […]

Read more...
4books.jpg

Cooking up a bookstorm

One of my favorite genres of reading is cookbooks. It all began when I was ten, the Christmas of 1963. My mother gave me Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls, originally published in 1957 by Golden Books, illustrated by Gloria Kamen, and written by, well, Betty Crocker, of course! A lot of cooking […]

Read more...
creepybear.jpg

Chapter & Verse picks the winners … or not

In CLN’s Chapter & Verse, with six of our bookstores reporting, we had no clear winners for our mock Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz Awards. Steve and I have visited many of these locations, talking with the book club members. Each book club has its own character. The members bring different life experiences, different reading preferences, […]

Read more...
Boy Reading

Doing it Yourself

In the ten years that CLN has existed, one of our greatest challenges has been self-published books. Do we include them or don’t we? The rules of publishing are changing in seismic ways. We’re watching the shifting trends. CLN believes in presenting books that can fit the credo “the right book at the right time […]

Read more...
thechild.jpg

When Thunder Comes

Just in time for the Martin Luther King remembrance on Monday, J. Patrick Lewis has a challenging new poetry book, When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders. The title captured my attention and held me: Mr. Lewis is including me as a civil rights leader. Each of us. All of us. By including his readers, […]

Read more...
cover-bill-the-boy-wonder-medium.jpg

A matter of character

I enjoy so many types of books, marveling that a writer or comic artist or architect or journalist or cook or explorer thought long and studied hard and wrote and revised and gave countless hours to the creation of their book. After all, how do you count the hours a book’s author spends dreaming, observing, […]

Read more...
No-Crystal-Stair-cover.jpg

A stellar book of fiction or nonfiction?

Nonfiction is getting a rocket lift-off into the consciousness of educators … and publishers … throughout the United States. Why? The Common Core State Standards require that nonfiction text is included in the classroom. I, of course, am cheering over this. I haven’t put the list of books I’ve read on a scale, nonfiction on […]

Read more...
hvf_120px_72dpi.jpg

Fan Fervor for 70-Year-Old Books

Yesterday we attended the Betsy-Tacy Convention presentations at the Children’s Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota, a/k/a the Kerlan Collection. There was SRO in a room that was set up for about 150 people (best guess). Kathleen Baxter was the host of the soirée, enthusiastically welcoming everyone to this meaningful setting for the […]

Read more...
book_by_book.jpg

Peace

Peace is elusive. It is a goal of some people at some time in some parts of the world. As John Lennon wrote: “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people sharing all the world …” Is […]

Read more...
Schmidt.jpg

An Artful Storyteller

In person, Gary D. Schmidt is a storyteller. Sometimes that’s an internal aspect of an author and it doesn’t extend to conversation or presentations. Gary shared a story at Spotlight on Books that came from his growing-up neighborhood on Long Island, NY. He engaged his listeners by giving them the responsibility for preserving the story, […]

Read more...
whenIwasyourage.jpg

When I Was Your Age

When I was a small child, I spent a lot of time around adults. Having no brothers or sisters, no cousins living nearby, and spending summers and vacations with my grandparents, I went where they visited. Many of those people were their age. So I heard this phrase often: “When I was your age …” […]

Read more...
bk_showme.jpg

Show, Don’t Tell

I am frequently reminded in our Chapter & Verse meetings that people read a book, look at the illustrations, but may not consider the illustrations. Study them. Wonder about them. Unless an illustrator sits at your elbow as you turn the page of a picture book or illustrated book, explaining the motivation and technique behind […]

Read more...
DSC00389.jpg

A Busy Day

We’ve been getting ready for weeks and finally the CLN Books for Breakfast is tomorrow. Steve and I are still printing handouts, stuffing folders, creating the Powerpoint, and it’s only three hours until we need to walk out the door. It’s unbelievable to me how many people’s efforts go into this three-hour event. We host […]

Read more...
Reading Ahead

A Streak of Gold in the Reading Pile

There are times when the reading pile provides a streak of can’t-put-the-book-down reading. It gets me all whipped up about reading, writing, authors, illustrators … and I respect all the players in this equation, the creators as well as the readers who get to play in the words. I’ve just recently been on such a […]

Read more...
dreamstime_250052-225x300.jpg

This is a wonderful book but …

I hear this all the time from our book club members. “This is a wonderful book but I could never get kids to read it.” Why? That’s my immediate and fierce reaction. Why? Some of the books we’ve discussed in Chapter & Verse are Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, The Green Glass Sea […]

Read more...
bk_dairy.jpg

Farm livin’ is the life for me

If you recognize that quote,* you might have a somewhat warped idea of what living on a farm is all about. It’s the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, which lasts for 12 days, and began 147 years ago as an homage to farming and all the ways we depend on The Land. In […]

Read more...