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Trailblazing Illustrator, Elizabeth Shippen Green

Elizabeth Shippen Green

Eliz­a­beth Ship­pen Green

Younger read­ers may not ful­ly appre­ci­ate how dif­fi­cult it was for women to break into the high­ly com­pet­i­tive field of illus­tra­tion. For many years, men were rou­tine­ly hired for adver­tis­ing art, news­pa­per and mag­a­zine illus­tra­tion, and children’s book illus­tra­tion. 

Eliz­a­beth Ship­pen Green, born in 1871 and dying in 1954, was one of the ear­li­est female illus­tra­tors to win high regard, help­ing to open the door a lit­tle wider for the women who fol­lowed her,

Her father was an artist-cor­re­spon­dent dur­ing the Civ­il War. He encour­aged her to study art, sup­port­ing her as she attend­ed var­i­ous art schools.

Elizabeth Shippen GreenShe stud­ied with Thomas Anshutz, Robert Von­noh, Thomas Eakins, and Howard Pyle. “She cred­it­ed Pyle with teach­ing her the impor­tance of visu­al­iz­ing, then real­iz­ing, the dra­mat­ic moment key to illus­trat­ing a nar­ra­tive text.” (Library of Con­gress)

While study­ing with Pyle at the Brandy­wine School, Eliz­a­beth met Jessie Will­cox Smith and Vio­let Oak­ley. The three of them became fast friends, sup­port­ive of each other’s careers in illus­tra­tion. They moved into The Red Rose Inn in Vil­lano­va, Penn­syl­va­nia, with Hen­ri­et­ta Coz­ens as their house­keep­er.

The Five Little PigsLat­er, they moved to Cogslea in the Mount Airy neigh­bor­hood of Philadel­phia. Because of their res­i­dence togeth­er, they were referred to ever after as The Red Rose Girls. These three and sev­er­al oth­er women formed The Plas­tic Club, meant to encour­age one anoth­er pro­fes­sion­al­ly. 

Eliz­a­beth was one of the most rec­og­nized illus­tra­tors in the coun­try because of her assign­ments for St. Nicholas Mag­a­zine, Woman’s Home Com­pan­ion, The Sat­ur­day Evening Post, and a 23-year exclu­sive con­tract with Harper’s Mag­a­zine. In 1922, she illus­trat­ed a beau­ti­ful edi­tion of Tales from Shake­speare by Charles and Mary Lamb.

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Read more about Eliz­a­beth Ship­pen Green:

The Red Rose Girls: an Uncom­mon Sto­ry of Art and Love, by Alice A. Carter

By a Woman’s Hand: Illus­tra­tors of the Gold­en Age, ed. by Mary Car­olyn Wal­drep, Dover Fine Art

Nation­al Muse­um of Amer­i­can Illus­tra­tion

Library of Con­gress, “A Petal from the Rose” exhib­it

Some of her work in the Library of Con­gress’ col­lec­tion

Amer­i­can Art Archives, show­ing some of her adver­tis­ing art

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A Story for the Ages

For the past two years my hus­band and I have had the good for­tune to spend the wan­ing days of sum­mer in Door Coun­ty, Wis­con­sin. There we have dis­cov­ered a vibrant arts com­mu­ni­ty. A boun­ty of the­atre, music, and fine arts is there for the pick­ing.

The Rabbits Wedding by Garth WilliamsThis year, as I scanned the pos­si­bil­i­ties for our vis­it, I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in the Penin­su­la Play­ers’ Mid­west pre­mière of a new play by Ken­neth Jones called Alaba­ma Sto­ry. The play comes from actu­al events which occurred in Alaba­ma in 1959. Based on the Amer­i­can Library Association’s rec­om­men­da­tion, State Librar­i­an Emi­ly Whee­lock Reed pur­chased copies of the pic­ture book, The Rab­bits’ Wed­ding by Garth Williams, for state libraries. The Rab­bits’ Wed­ding con­cerns a black rab­bit and a white rab­bit who mar­ry. Though Williams, an artist, chose the col­ors of the rab­bits for the con­trast they would pro­vide in his illus­tra­tions, they became sym­bol­ic of much more when seg­re­ga­tion­ist Sen­a­tor E.O. Eddins demand­ed that the book be removed from all state library shelves. Eddins believed that the book pro­mot­ed the mix­ing of races. Alaba­ma Sto­ry tells this sto­ry of cen­sor­ship, jux­ta­posed with the sto­ry of a bira­cial rela­tion­ship.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellMy hus­band and I both had tears in our eyes sev­er­al times through­out the August 31st per­for­mance of Alaba­ma Sto­ry. Cen­sor­ship was some­thing we know inti­mate­ly. Though Alaba­ma Sto­ry takes place in 1959, it could have tak­en place in 2013 in Anoka, Min­neso­ta, with a teen book enti­tled Eleanor & Park by Rain­bow Row­ell. My high school Library Media Spe­cial­ist col­leagues and I had planned a dis­trict-wide com­mu­ni­ty read for the sum­mer of 2013. Based on our own read­ing of the book, and based on the fact that the book had received starred reviews across the board and was on many “best” lists for 2013, we chose Eleanor & Park as the book for the sum­mer pro­gram. All stu­dents who vol­un­teered to par­tic­i­pate received a free copy of the book. Rain­bow Row­ell agreed to vis­it in the fall for a day of fol­low-up with the par­tic­i­pants. Short­ly after the books were hand­ed out, just pri­or to our sum­mer break, par­ents of one of the par­tic­i­pants, along with the Par­ents’ Action League (deemed a hate group by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter) reg­is­tered a chal­lenge against the book. Their com­plaint had to do with the lan­guage that they deemed inap­pro­pri­ate in the book and with the sex­u­al con­tent in the book. They demand­ed that the par­ents of all par­tic­i­pants be informed that their child had been “exposed” to the book (they were not), that Rain­bow Rowell’s vis­it be can­celled (it was), that copies of the book be removed from the shelves of all dis­trict schools (they were not), that our selec­tion pol­i­cy be rewrit­ten (it was), and that the Library Media Spe­cial­ists be dis­ci­plined (we received a let­ter). The sto­ry gained nation­al atten­tion in the late sum­mer and fall of 2013. 

Emily Wheelock ReadOne of the most strik­ing aspects of Emi­ly Whee­lock Reed’s sto­ry was the sense of iso­la­tion she felt. She received no sup­port, par­tic­u­lar­ly from the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion who had pub­lished the list of rec­om­men­da­tions which she used to pur­chase new books for Alaba­ma state libraries. These feel­ings of iso­la­tion were famil­iar to me. Though my col­leagues turned to each oth­er for sup­port, we received no sup­port from the dis­trict school board or the dis­trict admin­is­tra­tion. This was the most dif­fi­cult time in my thir­ty-six career as a high school edu­ca­tor. Though I had won the district’s Teacher Out­stand­ing Per­for­mance award, was a final­ist for Min­neso­ta Teacher of the Year, and won the Lars Steltzn­er Intel­lec­tu­al Free­dom award, choos­ing Eleanor & Park as the selec­tion for a vol­un­tary sum­mer read­ing pro­gram felt like a threat to my career and to my job. As Toby Gra­ham, Uni­ver­si­ty of Georgia’s Uni­ver­si­ty Librar­i­an, asks in a video for the Free­dom to Read Orga­ni­za­tion, “Who are the Emi­ly Reeds of today, and who will stand up with them in their pur­suit to insure our right to read?” Thank­ful­ly, the media, the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter, our local teach­ers’ union, and oth­ers were sup­port­ive in many ways. In addi­tion, the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion, the Free­dom to Read Orga­ni­za­tion, and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions now offer tools ded­i­cat­ed to Library Media Spe­cial­ists who find them­selves in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions.

Eleanor & Park went on to be named a Michael J. Printz Hon­or book—the gold stan­dard for young adult lit­er­a­ture. It is the mov­ing sto­ry of two out­cast teens who meet on the school bus. Eleanor is red-head­ed, poor, white, bul­lied, and the vic­tim of abuse. Park is a bira­cial boy who sur­vives by fly­ing under the radar. The two even­tu­al­ly devel­op trust in each oth­er as the world swirls around them. They them­selves don’t use foul lan­guage. They use music as a way to hold the rest of the world at bay. They fall in love and con­sid­er hav­ing an inti­mate rela­tion­ship but decide, very mature­ly, that they are not ready for sex. As a Library Media Spe­cial­ist, there were “Eleanors” and “Parks” who walked into my media cen­ter each and every day. Their sto­ry need­ed to be on the shelf in my library, so that they could see them­selves reflect­ed in its pages, to know that the world saw them and val­ued them, even if their lives were messy. For those more for­tu­nate than these Eleanors and Parks, the sto­ry was impor­tant as well. By look­ing into the lives of oth­ers via books, we devel­op empa­thy and under­stand­ing, even when the view­points reflect­ed there are not our own.

Carmen Roman as librarian Emily Wheelock Reed, a librarian who stood her ground for the right to read during the onset of the civil rights movement and refused to remove "The Rabbit's Wedding" from the shelves. Photo by Len Villano for The Peninsula Players

Car­men Roman as librar­i­an Emi­ly Whee­lock Reed, a librar­i­an who stood her ground for the right to read dur­ing the onset of the civ­il rights move­ment and refused to remove The Rabbit’s Wed­ding from the shelves. Pho­to by Len Vil­lano for The Penin­su­la Play­ers

As artists—teachers, writ­ers, actors, musi­cians, painters, dancers, and sculptors—it is our job to tell and pre­serve sto­ries, the sto­ries of all indi­vid­u­als, even when they rep­re­sent beliefs dif­fer­ent from our own. Knowl­edge tru­ly is pow­er. When we cen­sor sto­ries, we take away pow­er. One need only look at his­to­ry, and the burn­ing of books and the destruc­tion of libraries by those in pow­er, for exam­ples of the dan­gers of cen­sor­ship. As we cel­e­brate Banned Books Week (Sep­tem­ber 25th–October 1st), it is impor­tant to reflect on the val­ue of artis­tic free­dom and on the val­ue of our free­dom to read.

Though Garth Williams did not intend for The Rab­bits’ Wed­ding to be a sto­ry about race and, thus, become a sym­bol of the Civ­il Rights Move­ment, it did. Though Rain­bow Row­ell did not intend for Eleanor & Park to become a sym­bol of cen­sor­ship, it did. Alaba­ma Sto­ry took place in 1959 but could just have eas­i­ly tak­en place in 2001 with a book called Har­ry Pot­ter, or in 2006 with a book called And Tan­go Makes Three, or … in 2013 with a book called Eleanor & Park. Cen­sor­ship still occurs in 2016.

Peninsula Players, Door County

Penin­su­la Play­ers The­atre host­ed Door Coun­ty library staff to a dress rehearsal of the Mid­west pre­mière of “Alaba­ma Sto­ry” by Ken­neth Jones. Jones was inspired by librar­i­an Emi­ly Whee­lock Reed’s defense of a children’s book in 1959, Mont­gomery, Alaba­ma. From left are cast mem­bers and librar­i­ans Byron Glenn Willis, actor; Tra­cy Vreeke, Stur­geon Bay Library; Pat Strom, Fish Creek Library; Hol­ly Somer­halder, Fish Creek Library; Greg Vin­kler, Penin­su­la Play­ers Artis­tic Direc­tor; Kathy White, Stur­geon Bay Library; Har­ter Cling­man, actor; Hol­ly Cole, Egg Har­bor Library; James Leam­ing, actor; Car­men Roman, actor and Kather­ine Keber­lein, actor. Vis­it www.peninsulaplayers.com Pho­to by Len Vil­lano.

As the audi­ence stood that evening, my hus­band and I applaud­ed the Penin­su­la Play­ers’ artis­tic staff, cast, and crew for telling Emi­ly Whee­lock Reed’s sto­ry. It is a sto­ry that needs to be told over and over again—for every “Eleanor” and every “Park” among us.

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Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer

Charles Gigna

Charles Ghigna (pho­to: Scott Pierce)

This month Charles Ghigna, well-known as the poet Father Goose, offers “Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer.” There is much to pon­der here, no mat­ter what your age might be, but young writ­ers espe­cial­ly will find these words of encour­age­ment to be use­ful and inspi­ra­tional. For exam­ple:

Trust
your instincts
to write.

Ques­tion
your rea­sons
not to.

How many times do you tell your­self you shouldn’t be writ­ing poet­ry? When that’s what you real­ly want to do?

Enjoy these poems and take them to heart: you, too, are a poet.

Do you teach chil­dren to write poet­ry? The stan­zas of “Dear Poet” are short gems that will give you and your stu­dents good ideas for dis­cus­sions.

Charles is a pro­lif­ic poet, pub­lish­ing books for chil­dren, teens, and adults, who lives and writes in Alaba­ma. Here are some of his recent titles.

Charles Ghigna Books

 

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Theater: “The Story of Crow Boy”

 

Story of Crow Boy Bruce Silcox Minneapolis Star Tribune

In the Heart of the Beast play In the Heart of the Beast, pho­to cred­it: Bruce Sil­cox, Min­neapo­lis Star­Tri­bune

There are sev­er­al excel­lent, insight­ful reviews of The Sto­ry of Crow Boy, on stage Feb­ru­ary 18–28, 2016, at Min­neapo­lis’ (MN) In the Heart of the Beast Pup­pet and Mask The­atre. Links to these reviews are below, and I won’t restate their con­tent here except to reit­er­ate that the work tells the sto­ry of the Calde­cott Hon­or (1956) book Crow Boy’s author and illus­tra­tor, Taro Yashima (the pen name of Atsushi Iwa­mat­su).

Crow Boy, Taro YashimaWhat I do wish to remark upon in this lit­er­ary venue is the gen­e­sis of this show, a seed plant­ed decades ago through the pages of a pic­ture book into the cre­ative, bril­liant, inspired mind and spir­it of a teenaged Sandy Spiel­er (one of the founders of In the Heart of the Beast Pup­pet and Mask The­atre, and its artis­tic direc­tor since 1976). The book even­tu­al­ly brought Spiel­er to the larg­er sto­ry of its author/illustrator, which she and her amaz­ing col­lab­o­ra­tors bring to joy­ful, painful, pierc­ing, and ulti­mate­ly hope­ful life on the stage.

Take heed and take heart, those of you who are mak­ers of books for the young. Your sto­ries mat­ter, these works of first Art you cre­ate for chil­dren through text and through pic­tures. Write and draw truth and joy and friend­ship and pow­er and over­com­ing and the exquis­ite nat­ur­al world and human expe­ri­ence. Your sto­ries bur­row and blos­som in still-mal­leable young minds; they are busy nur­tur­ing roots of strength and pur­pose and hope and trans­for­ma­tion long after you have turned your own atten­tion toward oth­er tales.97

If you are able to attend the Heart of the Beast show, please know that there are some extreme­ly intense and soul sear­ing seg­ments in the work, doc­u­ment­ing por­tions of this world’s evil his­to­ry that must be remem­bered. The stag­ing expands our under­stand­ing of atroc­i­ties as they affect indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies, even though we can’t pos­si­bly com­pre­hend the true mag­ni­tude of loss and dev­as­ta­tion behind those flash­es with which we are pre­sent­ed. The show is def­i­nite­ly not for chil­dren. (The theatre’s pub­lic­i­ty states that the “show is rec­om­mend­ed for age 11 and old­er.”)

The intri­cate inter­play of pup­petry, pro­jec­tions, masks, human actors, and music in the show is seam­less, inspired and often mag­i­cal. Small moments such as the book-lov­ing boy pup­pet Taro snug­gling to sleep lit­er­al­ly between the cov­ers of a book, and lat­er launch­ing into a brief moment of flight from his perch on the pages will trans­fix any bibliophile’s heart.

The Story of Crow BoyThe pro­gram notes cite Taro Yashima’s ded­i­ca­tion “against all odds, to a tena­cious belief in the abil­i­ty of art to trans­form the world.” Cer­tain­ly Art that is made espe­cial­ly for children—and actu­al­ly for children—does have this capac­i­ty, since chil­dren are the ones who may be able to ulti­mate­ly trans­form this world. Thank you, children’s book mak­ers, for giv­ing them seeds of inspi­ra­tion and strength through your books.

At Heart of the Beast, a Children’s Book Grows Up” by Euan Kerr, Min­neso­ta Pub­lic Radio News

Crow Boy Takes Flight at Heart of the Beast,” by Gray­don Roye, Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bune

Heart of the Beast Pup­pet The­ater Takes Flight with Crow Boy,” by Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pio­neer Press

HOBT’s Much Antic­i­pat­ed The Sto­ry of Crow Boy on Stage Feb 18–28,” press release, Phillips West News

A descrip­tion of the play from In the Heart of the Beast’s web­site:

The Sto­ry of Crow Boy explores the intrigu­ing life sto­ry of Taro Yashima who wres­tled with human bru­tal­i­ty, racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, and the rav­ages of WWII to build work of social con­science, com­pas­sion­ate insight, poet­ic visu­al form, and ultimately—of joy. Yashima reminds us what it means to be human, and offers under­stand­ing into the com­plex­i­ties of cul­tur­al sur­vival. This pro­duc­tion draws on his auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal and fic­tion­al books includ­ing the Calde­cott Hon­or Award-win­ning Crow Boy (1956) about a young boy who learns to sing the “voic­es of crows” in defi­ance of his years of being bul­lied.

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In Memoriam

2015 saw the pass­ing of sev­er­al authors and illus­tra­tors of Eng­lish-lan­guage children’s books. We share this in their hon­or and to say “thank-you” once again.

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USBBY Reflections

by Nan­cy Bo Flood 

Books can help read­ers heal. Sto­ries can cre­ate com­pas­sion. Every one needs to find “their sto­ry” in books.

flood_USBBY_Logo_1The Unit­ed States Board on Books for Young Peo­ple (USBBY) is part of The Inter­na­tion­al Board on Books for Young Peo­ple (IBBY), a world-wide orga­ni­za­tion that works to build bridges of under­stand­ing through children’s and young adult books.  “A child who reads will be an adult who thinks.”

USBBY/IBBY brings togeth­er authors and illus­tra­tors, edi­tors, librar­i­ans, teach­ers, and read­ers who sup­port the cre­ation of books that speak to chil­dren and their par­ents what­ev­er their home coun­try or lan­guage. IBBY’s Hans Chris­t­ian Ander­sen Medal cel­e­brates the best world-wide author and illus­tra­tor whose words and images excite imag­i­na­tion, and its Astrid Lind­gren Memo­r­i­al award is giv­en to authors, illus­tra­tors, sto­ry­tellers, and per­sons and orga­ni­za­tions that work to pro­mote lit­er­a­cy. Each award is select­ed from the nom­i­na­tions of over a 100 par­tic­i­pat­ing region­al units, such as USBBY.

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Kate DiCamil­lo ® speak­ing at the open­ing USBBY ses­sion.

This year’s USBBY con­fer­ence was held in New York City, low­er Man­hat­tan. The con­fer­ence is kept small, under 300 atten­dees, so the atmos­phere is friend­ly, like old friends com­ing togeth­er to share new ideas, new trends, and new award-win­ning books from around the world. What a cel­e­bra­tion of books! This year the open­ing speak­er was our very own Nation­al Ambas­sador for Young People’s Lit­er­a­ture, Kate DiCamil­lo. She spoke about her jour­ney from writer to pub­lished author.

ph_flood_dicamillo

Kate DiCamil­lo signed books and took the time to chat with each per­son, even me.

Per­sis­tence! Kate affirmed that with­in each of us we have sto­ries to tell. But to suc­cess­ful­ly move from that first page to a pub­lished book, one needs to believe in one­self, write and re-write, and stub­born­ly pur­sue the quest of find­ing the right edi­tor. With humor Kate described her ini­tial ten years of first think­ing about writ­ing before actu­al­ly hav­ing the courage to put pen to paper and write. Then came 470 rejec­tion let­ters. Now Kate has 22 mil­lion books in print world-wide, trans­lat­ed into 41 lan­guages. She calls her­self a “late-bloomer.” Her first book was pub­lished a few years before she turned forty. Even today, Kate is “still sur­prised that I ever got pub­lished.” When asked why her books are read by all ages of read­ers in coun­tries on every con­ti­nent, she imag­ines that some­how the sto­ries she writes have uni­ver­sal appeal because she writes hon­est­ly of expe­ri­ences and emo­tions we all share – fears and hopes, dis­ap­point­ments and sor­rows. Kate asserts, that “the love of sto­ry is in the core of humankind.” Through sto­ry we step into the heart of anoth­er and walk with­in their jour­ney. Kate also affirms that “every child has the right to learn to read.”

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Susan Coop­er sign­ing at USBBY.

This uni­ver­sal love of sto­ry was reit­er­at­ed in a lat­er talk by Susan Coop­er, one of England’s great­est sto­ry­tellers (The Dark is Ris­ing), a cre­ator of many worlds, a writer of fan­ta­sy. Susan asked, “is it pos­si­ble for sto­ry­telling, this basic love of sto­ry that all cul­tures share, to be a way to heal the divi­sions of our world? Through the mag­ic of enter­ing anoth­er place, anoth­er cul­ture, can we increase com­pas­sion and come to accept dif­fer­ences, erase prej­u­dices based on igno­rance?” Yes, both Susan and Kate con­tend, books can build bridges. They can tell uni­ver­sal truths. They can let us walk with­in the heart and skin of anoth­er per­son and feel “both joy and sor­row as sharp as stones.”

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(l-r) Hol­ly Thomp­son, Mar­gari­ta Engle, Pad­ma Venka­tra­man pre­sent­ed a pan­el on verse nov­els.

A child might sit in a class­room, on a park bench, or snug­gled under bed cov­ers with a flash­light, and become lost in a book. Or a child might sit in front of a tent in a refugee camp or a deten­tion cen­ter near a bor­der cross­ing. Books let us enter new worlds, con­sid­er new ideas, rethink old hates. Both Kate DiCamil­lo and Susan Coop­er agree that sto­ries help us laugh and give us hope.

Flood_war panel

(l-r) The war pan­el: me, Lyn Miller-Lach­man, and Ter­ry Far­ish.

 

This year at the con­fer­ence I was part of a “war pan­el.” The smil­ing trio in the pho­to, “the war pan­el,” pre­sent­ed dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives about war and the effects on chil­dren. Today over forty mil­lion chil­dren live as refugees. Here in the Unit­ed States, more veterans—mothers and fathers of children—die from sui­cide than from com­bat. How do their chil­dren make sense of war? We need well-writ­ten books about war so chil­dren can find their sto­ries and begin to heal.

Thank you, Col­orado Author’s League, for sup­port­ing me with a trav­el grant to attend this USBBY con­fer­ence. I encour­age writ­ers and illus­tra­tors to become a mem­ber of this inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion. Through­out the year USBBY is involved in a vari­ety of projects that bring appro­pri­ate books to chil­dren and par­ents. As Kate DiCamil­lo stat­ed: “Every child has the right to read.”

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Slideshow: Block Print Illustration

Eric Rohmann’s won­der­ful illus­tra­tions for Bulldozer’s Big Day were made using block prints, also called relief prints.  This tech­nique has long been used to illus­trate children’s books, espe­cial­ly ear­ly ABC books such as the The Lad­der to Learn­ing by Miss Lovechild, pub­lished in 1852 by the New York firm R.H. Pease.

Ladder

The Bookol­o­gist has put togeth­er a slide show of some of our more recent print-illus­trat­ed books. Many of these are Calde­cott medal or hon­or books. You can find an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion of Calde­cott books illus­trat­ed with print­mak­ing tech­niques here.

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More from the 1950s: Polio

Anoth­er threat besides com­mu­nism ter­ri­fied peo­ple in the 1950s, espe­cial­ly because it pri­mar­i­ly affect­ed chil­dren: polio. 1952 saw the largest epi­dem­ic in US his­to­ry: 57,879 peo­ple con­tract­ed polio that sum­mer, and more than 3000 of died. By the end of the decade the dis­ease was near­ly erad­i­cat­ed in the US thanks to two forms of vac­cines devel­oped by Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. Here are a few titles that help us under­stand this part of the recent past.

 

bk_chasing  

Chas­ing Ori­on

Kathryn Lasky
Can­dlewick 2012 

From the New­bery Hon­or author (Sug­ar­ing Time). 11 year old Georgie and her fam­i­ly have just moved into a new house. It’s the sum­mer of 1952 and pools, parks, and oth­er gath­er­ing spots are closed due to the polio epi­dem­ic. Georgie makes friends with the teenage girl next door, Phyl­lis, who is now in an iron lung as a result of the dis­ease.  Kirkus star.

 

Epi­dem­ic: The Bat­tle Against Polio

Stephanie Drap­er
Bench­mark Books, 2005

Pho­to illus­trat­ed sur­vey of the his­to­ry of the dis­ease, includ­ing a sec­tion on the debate over whether FDR’s paral­y­sis was caused by polio or some oth­er dis­ease. Includes time­line of polio-relat­ed events.

 

Fleabrain Loves Fran­ny

Joanne Rock­lin
Amulet Books, 2015

Pitts­burgh, 1952. 11-year-old Fran­ny has polio and is under­go­ing exten­sive ther­a­py. She befriends a genius flea and falls in love with a brand new book, Charlotte’s Web. Includes author’s note, bib­li­og­ra­phy, and dis­cus­sion guide. Bank Street Col­lege of Education’s “The Best Children’s Books of the Year,” Ages 9–12.

 

Jonas Salk and the Polio Vac­cine

Kather­ine Krohn and Al Mil­grom (illus.)
Cap­stone Press, 2007

A graph­ic nov­el that focus­es on the efforts to find a vac­cine. Back mat­ter includes a con­densed his­to­ry of the dis­ease and biog­ra­phy of Salk. Exten­sive bib­li­og­ra­phy. Part of the Inven­tions and Dis­cov­er­ies Graph­ic Library series.

 

King of the Mound (My Sum­mer with Satchel Paige)

Wes Tooke
Simon and Schus­ter, 2012

When Nick is released from the hos­pi­tal after suf­fer­ing from polio, he is sure that his father will nev­er look at him in the same way again. Once the best pitch­er in youth league, Nick now walks with a limp and is depen­dent on a heavy leg brace.  Things look up when he gets to hang out at the local semi-pro ball park, where he meets the great Satchel Paige.

 

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Peg Kehret
Albert Whit­man, 2006 anniver­sary edi­tion

The author of numer­ous state-award-win­ning children’s books (includ­ing Night­mare Moun­tain, The Ghost’s Grave, Stolen Chil­dren) describes her bat­tle against polio when she was thir­teen and her efforts to over­come its debil­i­tat­ing effects. Small Steps has also won many state reader’s choice awards.

 

Warm Springs: Traces of a Child­hood at FDR’s Polio Haven

Susan Richards Shreve
Houghton Mif­flin, 2007 

Just after her eleventh birth­day, at the height of the fright­en­ing child­hood polio epi­dem­ic, the future best-sell­ing author of many books for adults and chil­dren (The Flunk­ing of Joshua T. Bates, Ghost Cat) was sent as a patient to the san­i­tar­i­um at Warm Springs, Geor­gia. It was a place famous­ly found­ed by FDR, “a per­fect set­ting in time and place and strange­ness for a hos­pi­tal of crip­pled chil­dren.” For old­er read­ers and adults.

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Teaching K-2 Science with Confidence

Per­fect Pairs: Using Fic­tion and Non­fic­tion Books to Teach Life Sci­ence, K-2
Melis­sa Stew­art and Nan­cy Ches­ley
Sten­house Books, 2014

Authen­tic sci­ence always begins with a ques­tion, with a fleet­ing thought, with a curi­ous per­son. That curi­ous per­son has an idea, won­ders if it is valid, and then tries to find out. Because won­der­ing is at the heart of dis­cov­ery, each Per­fect Pairs les­son starts with a Won­der State­ment that we’ve care­ful­ly craft­ed to address one Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards Per­for­mance Expec­ta­tion. It is fol­lowed by a Learn­ing Goal, which clear­ly spec­i­fies the new knowl­edge and essen­tial under­stand­ing stu­dents will gain from the les­son. Togeth­er, the Won­der State­ment, Learn­ing Goal, and fic­tion-non­fic­tion book pair launch stu­dents into a fun and mean­ing­ful inves­tiga­tive process. (Per­fect Pairs, pg. 8)

Perfect PairsMelis­sa Stew­art, you and edu­ca­tor Nan­cy Ches­ley cre­at­ed Per­fect Pairs for teach­ers because you felt that children’s lit­er­a­ture could be a fun and effec­tive start­ing point for teach­ing life sci­ence to stu­dents in grades K-2.

In your intro­duc­tion, you state that “many ele­men­tary teach­ers do not have a strong sci­ence back­ground. Some even report being intim­i­dat­ed by their school’s sci­ence cur­ricu­lum and feel ill-equipped to teach basic sci­ence con­cepts. Build­ing sci­ence lessons around children’s books enables many ele­men­tary edu­ca­tors to approach sci­ence instruc­tion with greater con­fi­dence.”

Why does this mat­ter to you?

Because stu­dents can tell when their teach­ers are com­fort­able and con­fi­dent, and when they’re hav­ing fun. If a teacher has a pos­i­tive atti­tude, his or her stu­dents are more like­ly to stay engaged and embrace the con­tent.

So many adults are turned off by or even afraid of sci­ence. They say, “Oh, that’s hard. That’s not for me.” But sci­ence is just the study of how our won­der­ful world works. It affects every­thing we do every day. I hope that Per­fect Pairs will help teach­ers and stu­dents to see that.

What type of sci­ence edu­ca­tion did you receive that pro­pels you to pro­vide this aid to edu­ca­tors?

I do have a degree in biol­o­gy, but my sci­ence edu­ca­tion real­ly began at home with my par­ents. My dad was an engi­neer and my mom worked in a med­ical lab­o­ra­to­ry. From a very young age, they helped me see that sci­ence is part of our lives every day.

As a children’s book author, my goal is to share the beau­ty and won­der of the nat­ur­al world with young read­ers. Per­fect Pairs is an exten­sion of that mis­sion. Nan­cy and I have cre­at­ed a resource to help teach­ers bring that mes­sage to their stu­dents.

For each les­son, where did you start mak­ing your choic­es, with the top­ic, the fic­tion book, or the non­fic­tion book?

We began with the NGSS Per­for­mance Expec­ta­tions, which out­line the con­cepts and skills stu­dents are expect­ed to mas­ter at each grade lev­el.  Each PE has three parts—a dis­ci­pli­nary core idea (the con­tent), a prac­tice (behav­iors young sci­en­tists should engage in, such as ask­ing ques­tions, devel­op­ing mod­els, plan­ning and car­ry­ing out inves­ti­ga­tions, con­struct­ing expla­na­tions, etc.), and a cross-cut­ting con­cept (pat­tern, cause and effect, struc­ture and func­tion, etc.) that bridges all areas of sci­ence and engi­neer­ing. Here’s a sam­ple PE for kinder­garten: “Use obser­va­tions to describe [prac­tice] pat­terns [cross­cut­ting con­cept] of what plants and ani­mals (includ­ing humans) need to sur­vive. [DCI]

Just Like My Papa and Bluebirds Do ItNext, we searched for fic­tion and non­fic­tion books that could be used to help stu­dents gain an under­stand­ing of the tar­get PE. The books became the heart of a care­ful­ly scaf­fold­ed les­son that ful­ly addressed the PE.

In Les­son 1.7,How Young Ani­mals Are Like Their Par­ents,” you paired Toni Buzzeo’s fic­tion title Just Like My Papa with Pamela F. Kirby’s non­fic­tion title, What Blue­birds Do. For this les­son, the Won­der State­ment is “I won­der how young ani­mals are like their par­ents.” Your les­son focus­es on Inher­i­tance of Traits and Vari­a­tion of Traits, look­ing at sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences.

With each les­son, you pro­vide tips for les­son prepa­ra­tion, engag­ing stu­dents, explor­ing with stu­dents, and encour­ag­ing stu­dents to draw con­clu­sions. What process is this estab­lish­ing for teach­ers?

We hope that our three-step inves­tiga­tive process (engag­ing stu­dents, explor­ing with stu­dents, and encour­ag­ing stu­dents to draw con­clu­sions) is some­thing that teach­ers will inter­nal­ize and adopt as they devel­op more sci­ence lessons in the future. The first step focus­es on whet­ting stu­dents’ appetites with a fun activ­i­ty or game. Dur­ing the sec­ond step, teach­ers read the books aloud and work with stu­dents to extract and orga­nize key con­tent from the fic­tion and non­fic­tion texts. Then, dur­ing the final step, stu­dents syn­the­size the infor­ma­tion from the books and     do a fun minds-on activ­i­ty that involves the NGSS prac­tice asso­ci­at­ed with the PE. The prac­tices are impor­tant because research shows that chil­dren learn bet­ter when they actu­al­ly “do” sci­ence.

This Wonder Journal entry shows what a student thinks a young bluebird might look like, pg 149.

This Won­der Jour­nal entry shows what a stu­dent thinks a young blue­bird might look like, pg 149.

In many cas­es, you’ve not only pro­vid­ed ques­tions that teach­ers can ask their stu­dents, but you’ve includ­ed the answers.  Is this the only pos­si­ble answer to the ques­tion?  

In many cas­es, we’ve includ­ed answers to help the teacher learn the sci­ence before work­ing with his or her class. Many ele­men­tary teach­ers have a lim­it­ed sci­ence back­ground and need the sup­port we’ve pro­vid­ed.

Our answers may not be the only ones that stu­dents sug­gest, but they are the ones teach­ers should guide their class to con­sid­er because they devel­op stu­dent think­ing in the right direc­tion for the con­cepts we are tar­get­ing in that par­tic­u­lar les­son.

Establishing a STEM bookshelf in your classroom is one way to promote reading these books as a special experience.

Estab­lish­ing a STEM book­shelf in your class­room is one way to pro­mote read­ing these books as a spe­cial expe­ri­ence.

I appre­ci­ate the pho­tos and exam­ples and kids’ draw­ings you’ve includ­ed through­out the book. How did you go about col­lect­ing these visu­als?

Nan­cy test­ed all the lessons in the book at Pow­nal Ele­men­tary School in Maine. She took the pho­tographs as she was work­ing with the stu­dents, and the stu­dent work in the book was cre­at­ed by those chil­dren. I love the pho­tos because you can tell that the chil­dren are real­ly enjoy­ing them­selves.

Students play the seed-plant Concentration game, pg. 225

Stu­dents play the seed-plant Con­cen­tra­tion game, pg. 225

You pro­vide more than 70 repro­ducibles to accom­pa­ny the lessons in your book, from Won­der Jour­nal Labels to Read­ers’ The­ater Script to sam­ple Data Tables to draw­ing tem­plates. How did you decide which items to pro­vide to teach­ers using your book?

Writ­ing can be a chal­lenge for K-2 stu­dents. We cre­at­ed the Won­der Jour­nal Labels to min­i­mize the amount of writ­ing the chil­dren would have to do. The goal of the oth­er repro­ducibles was to help teach­ers as much as pos­si­ble and reduce their prep time. It was impor­tant to us to cre­ate lessons that were easy and inex­pen­sive to imple­ment.

Lesson 1.7 Wonder Journal Labels, pg. 299

Les­son 1.7 Won­der Jour­nal Labels, pg. 299

To Melis­sa and Nan­cy, I express my grat­i­tude for thought­ful­ly prepar­ing this guide, Per­fect Pairs, that will make sci­ence lessons an approach­able part of les­son plan­ning. Thank you!

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