Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Bee-bim Bop

I’ve been on the sto­ry­time cir­cuit this last month as I have a new pic­ture book of my very own. Read­ers of this col­umn know how much I adore sto­ry­time, so wher­ev­er I’ve gone to read my book, I’ve asked if I can do a whole sto­ry­time, the bet­ter to read oth­er pic­ture books, as well. Usu­al­ly the reg­u­lar belea­guered sto­ry­time read­ers are hap­py to have this hap­pen.

So I’ve set up a lit­tle sto­ry­time that cen­ters loose­ly around the themes of food, fam­i­ly, food, com­mu­ni­ty, food, fun, food…. What can I say? I love read­ing and writ­ing about food, so this is an easy sto­ry­time for me to put togeth­er!

I’ve had great fun, in par­tic­u­lar, read­ing Lin­da Sue Park’s Bee-bim Bop! It’s a made-for-sto­ry­time-read because it has that mag­i­cal refrain “Bee-bim Bop” on near­ly every page. So fun to say! Even the youngest among us can join in for Bee-bim Bop! I hard­ly have to cue them….

Almost time for sup­per

Rush­ing to the store

Mama buys the gro­ceries—

More, Mama, more!

 

Hur­ry, Mama, hur­ry

Got­ta shop shop shop!

Hun­gry hun­gry hun­gry

For some BEE-BIM BOP! 

The plot is sim­ple: a lit­tle girl and her Mama are mak­ing din­ner. They’re mak­ing the tra­di­tion­al Kore­an dish bibim­bap (var­i­ous­ly Eng­lish-ised as bee-bim-bap, bi-bim-bop, etc.) There are eggs to stir fry and flip high…rice to boil…garlic and green onion and skin­ny meat strips to chop…spinach, sprouts and car­rots to slice. There’s a detailed recipe in the back of the book—all sim­ple steps, many quite kid-friend­ly.

Bowls go on the table

Big ones striped in blue

I help set the glass­es out

Spoons and chop­sticks too.  

The illus­tra­tions by Ho Baek Lee match the ener­getic rhythm of get­ting sup­per on the table—three gen­er­a­tions and a dog dance around each oth­er get­ting every­thing togeth­er. Then they gath­er around the table, paus­ing for a qui­et moment of thanks. And then they make the bee-bim bop!

Bee-bim means “mixed up” and bop is the Kore­an word for rice. Each one makes their own bowl with rice in the mid­dle, and all the top­pings that have been prepared—a lit­tle meat, lots of veg­gies, an egg, and spicy kim­chi, too—on top. Every­thing is stirred togeth­er and a deli­cious col­or­ful meal results.

When I read this book I always ask, “Who here has eat­en bee-bim bop?” If it’s a younger group (under three) they all eager­ly raise their hands.  Such won­der­ful­ly open palettes—especially since many of their par­ents haven’t tried it! Tod­dlers seek­ing out new foods and fla­vors! Ter­rif­ic! This is what hap­pens when you take your kids to sto­ry­time, my friends!

At the last sto­ry­time I did, a lit­tle boy turned the ques­tion on me: “Do you like bee-bim bop?” he asked, giv­ing the bop extra empha­sis, and bop­ping my knee as he said it. I had to admit I’d not tried it, though I was sure I’d like it because I like all the things in it…. He all but rolled his eyes. It was obvi­ous I lost a lit­tle cred­i­bil­i­ty with him.

I thought about mak­ing it from the recipe in the book, but my hus­band and I decid­ed we would go to a good Kore­an place known for its authen­tic­i­ty for our first go around. It was deli­cious, just as I knew it would be. I hope to recre­ate it in my own kitchen this week.

Hur­ry, fam­i­ly, hur­ry

Got­ta hop hop hop

Dinner’s on the table

And it’s BEE-BIM BOP!

 

Read more...

Pass the Ps Please – an Evening with Dav Pilkey

Pos­i­tiv­i­ty, prac­tice and per­sis­tence… a pow­er­ful approach to over­com­ing a mul­ti­tude of chal­lenges and unbe­liev­ably bad school expe­ri­ences. The one and only, Dav Pilkey, shared sev­er­al heart­felt sto­ries to inspire kids (and adults) dur­ing his recent stop in St. Paul as part of his “Dog Man, Do Good Tour.”

Dav Pilkey's Do Good Tour

With humor and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, Dav explained that as a kid with both ADHD and dyslex­ia, read­ing was any­thing but pleas­ant. To make mat­ters worse, his 2nd and 3rd grade teach­ers showed lit­tle com­pas­sion or under­stand­ing for fid­gety, day dream­ing, class clowns like Dav.  One of those teach­ers actu­al­ly made fun of him in front of his class­mates for read­ing slow. Unbe­liev­able, but true.

Dav Pilkey and several of the boys from Room 212Giv­ing tremen­dous cred­it to his mom for instill­ing the three “Ps,” Dav point­ed out that we all need some­one in our life who believes in us. Some­one who makes us want to be bet­ter peo­ple. Some­one who ulti­mate­ly helps us make the world a bet­ter place. Dav’s mom taught her son to ask him­self one impor­tant ques­tion any­time he was faced with some­thing bad, “How can I turn this into some­thing good?”

With an obvi­ous tal­ent for draw­ing and lots of time in the hall­way after being removed from the class­room, Dav did just that. Tap­ping into his cre­ativ­i­ty, famil­iar­i­ty with unkind teach­ers and a pen­chant for pulling pranks, he would go onto to make a mul­ti­tude of books loved by kids every­where (80 mil­lion have sold world­wide!).

Although it makes my heart hurt to think that he, and oth­ers like him, have to suf­fer through so many mis­er­able years at school, being a part of Dav’s audi­ence was indeed a treat. And although I sup­pose some teach­ers take issue with the neg­a­tive car­i­ca­tures of the evil edu­ca­tors found in his books, I am grate­ful for Dav and for his work. I am grate­ful that kids who deal with ADHD and/or dyslex­ia can see them­selves and all of their tremen­dous poten­tial, in some­one like Dav Pilkey.  I am grate­ful he had such a wise and car­ing mom.

I was for­tu­nate to be able to share this momen­tous event with six boys from Room 212. Their lev­el of excite­ment, smiles, screams and sheer delight, could quite eas­i­ly be com­pared to the thrill and fren­zy of fans who greet­ed the Bea­t­les on a Feb­ru­ary day back in 1964. The pho­tos and mem­o­ries are price­less and I can only hope that Dav’s mes­sage leaves a last­ing impres­sion. We could all use a gen­er­ous help­ing of the three Ps!

Several of the boys from Room 212

Read more...

Constance Van Hoven and Her Reading Team
October 2019

Nikhil and the dust jacket for Grumpy MonkeyThis addi­tion to Rais­ing Star Read­ers fea­tures the theme “If you read it, they will come.”

As Con­nie (Gigi to her grand­chil­dren) explains: “Our read­ing team hit a bump in the road! On a recent trip to Col­orado, I intro­duced the pic­ture book Grumpy Mon­key (writ­ten by Suzanne Lang and illus­trat­ed by Max Lang) to Priya (now 2½) and Nikhil (now 10 months). This is a fun­ny, sweet sto­ry about allow­ing your­self to have a bad day every once in a while for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son.

Nikhil absolute­ly did not want to sit on my lap to look at the book. He did, how­ev­er, want to man­han­dle the bright red shiny dust jack­et.

Grandpa and Priya reading Grumpy MonkeyPriya did not want to sit and read either, though she was intrigued by the title. She kept repeat­ing, “grumpy mon­key” as she put­tered around the porch with her arm­ful of toys. It wasn’t until Grand­pa picked up the book, began to read aloud, and clear­ly enjoyed the sto­ry, that Priya couldn’t resist com­ing in for a look. Hence the moral of the sto­ry: If you read it, they will come!

With the addi­tion of Grand­pa, our read­ing team has now grown by one. And Priya’s dad reports that since we left, Grumpy Mon­key is Priya’s most request­ed bed­time sto­ry. It seems she has added Jim Panzee, Marabou, and Nor­man to her list of beloved book friends.”

Con­nie is a for­mer buy­er for Cre­ative Kid­stuff stores in Min­neapo­lis. She cur­rent­ly lives in Mon­tana, where she enjoys the great out­doors with her fam­i­ly and one extra-ener­getic dog. She is the author of sev­er­al pic­ture books, includ­ing Rare and Blue: Find­ing Nature’s Trea­sures, forth­com­ing from Charles­bridge on June 16, 2020. Con­nie feels sure that Priya and Nikhil will be cap­ti­vat­ed by Alan Marks’ stun­ning illus­tra­tions for the book. You can find Con­nie online at www.constancevanhoven.com.

_______________________

Bookol­o­gy is always look­ing for new Read­ing Teams to help us cel­e­brate the joys of read­ing aloud togeth­er. Con­tact Lisa Bullard for fur­ther infor­ma­tion if you’re inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Read more...

No Wraiths or Fetches Necessary

To cel­e­brate our for­ti­eth anniver­sary this year, we decid­ed to take a Big Trip. My hus­band sug­gest­ed Paris. “Corn­wall,” I said. “Some­place old.” Not that Paris isn’t old. Instead of a crowd­ed city, I want­ed win­kles and pasties, lost gar­dens and stand­ing stones, piskies and Tin­tagel cas­tle. He agreed and I began putting togeth­er a trip that would send us back in time.

Hubble's BubbleMy motives weren’t entire­ly pure. True, I’ve been an Anglophile ever since I read the British children’s fan­ta­sy Hubble’s Bub­ble at the age of eleven and start­ed sav­ing pen­nies to go to Wales and Scot­land. Cur­rent­ly I’m writ­ing my first mag­i­cal real­ism mid­dle-grade nov­el. Build­ing the world of my sto­ry has tak­en near­ly three years, yet the book’s foun­da­tion feels as sta­ble as shiv­er­ing sands. By tramp­ing over ancient lands, I hoped Cornwall’s mythol­o­gy would seep through the soles of my Sketch­ers and I’d bring some back with me.

As much as I love America’s his­to­ry and var­ied land­scapes, I fret that the U.S. isn’t—well, Britain. Amer­i­ca has, as New Eng­land fan­ta­sy writer Jane Lang­ton once wrote, “less his­to­ry to draw on … It is bald of mythol­o­gy, bare of folk tale. Its open fields are not marked by stand­ing stones.” We do have Native Amer­i­can folk­lore and the tall tale adven­tures of larg­er-than-life char­ac­ters such as Paul Bun­yan and John Hen­ry. But those sto­ries are not part of my back­ground.

Langton’s essay is more than thir­ty years old and much has changed. Many fan­tasies today give read­ers pass­ports to worlds beyond medieval Europe, inspired by African, Asian, and indige­nous Amer­i­can cul­tures. My book is set in Vir­ginia, deeply linked to my Eng­lish roots, a place and voice I know. But Vir­ginia has no dead kings buried with bro­ken swords, no sleep­ing drag­ons under the hill, no fairies. How will I sat­u­rate the land­scape with mag­ic?

Seven-Day MagicWhen I think back, I didn’t always notice the set­tings of child­hood books. The open­ing line of Edward Eager’s Sev­en-Day Mag­ic hooked me right away. “‘The best kind of book,’” said Barn­a­by, “‘is a mag­ic book.’” I agreed and ripped through the Half-Mag­ic series, not car­ing that the books are placed vague­ly in Amer­i­ca (Ohio and Con­necti­cut, Eager’s stomp­ing grounds).

Mid­west­ern­er Eager grew up with the Oz books, the first true Amer­i­can fan­tasies for chil­dren. When he had his own chil­dren, he dis­cov­ered E. Nesbit’s books, which he praised for the “daili­ness of the mag­ic. Here is no land of drag­ons and ogres or Mock Tur­tles and Tin Wood­men … The world of E. Nes­bit is the ordi­nary or gar­den world we know, with just the right pinch of mag­ic added.” Every­day mag­ic, set wher­ev­er, suit­ed me fine.

A Diamond in the WindowYet when I found Jane Langton’s A Dia­mond in the Win­dow, I met an open­ing that left no ques­tion about its set­ting: “Edward Hall sat under the front porch of the big house on Walden Street in Con­cord, Mass­a­chu­setts, and thought about his two ambi­tions in life.” By page 4, I’d learned Con­cord was the site of the first bat­tle of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War, Walden Pond was near­by, and Ralph Wal­do Emer­son, Louisa May Alcott, and Hen­ry David Thore­au, who­ev­er they were, had lived there. This Vir­ginia kid, clue­less about New Eng­land, was intrigued. Not far into the story—a delight­ful com­bi­na­tion of fan­ta­sy and mystery—the children’s naïve Uncle Fred­dy quotes Emer­son to the trash col­lec­tor:

 “Oh, call not Nature dumb!
The trees and stones are audi­ble to me …”

It’s a fun­ny scene, but the quote set me to won­der­ing. I’d often thought trees talked (it turns out they do!) and some­times wor­ried when I walked on rocks—did they hurt? The Dia­mond in the Win­dow has mag­ic, but it also has nature, which was more acces­si­ble to me. As a child, there was so much I want­ed to know about the ground beneath my feet, the trees stretch­ing toward the sky, the clouds and weath­er.

The Magic CityIn Langton’s essay, she admits British fan­ta­sy writ­ers can tap into “the thick inter­twin­ing of field and for­est with myth and his­to­ry.” She men­tions that Scot­tish writer Mol­lie Hunter once told her that fan­ta­sy “could only be com­posed by some­one stand­ing upon a coun­try­side drenched in myth and folk­lore.” Real­ly? I went fly­ing to an essay by Mol­lie Hunter in which she cred­its leg­ends, “a suc­ces­sion of folk mem­o­ries fil­tered through the storyteller’s imag­i­na­tion,” as the basis for true fan­tasies.

Vir­ginia, I’m afraid, sad­ly lacks super­nat­ur­al beings such as Celtic fetch­es and wraiths. But it has an abun­dance of nature, the kind E.B. White tapped into by watch­ing ordi­nary spi­ders and pigs and rats at his Maine farm. Lang­ton argues that “nature tak­en pure, nature in its sim­plic­i­ty and silent grandeur” car­ries its own brand of mag­ic. Instead of long­ing for stand­ing stones, I’ll be hap­py to extract “mar­veling won­der­ment” from the seashell-capped Blue Ridge Moun­tains, horse-pas­tured Pied­mont, and osprey-nest­ed Chesa­peake Bay.

As for Corn­wall, we dis­cov­ered that the five-hour car trip after an overnight flight to Heathrow, in which the only age-qual­i­fied dri­ver (who can bare­ly park her small pick­up) would nev­er man­age dri­ving stick-shift from the left seat on the left-hand side of the road. It’s okay. We will glad­ly take a bus from Lon­don to Stone­henge. My Sketch­ers will nev­er know the dif­fer­ence.

Read more...

Why Writers Love Their Agents!

Read more...

Winning the Road Race?

When I work with ded­i­cat­ed young writ­ers, there’s almost always a point where they ask how they can get pub­lished.

This is a tough ques­tion for me, because my instinct is to pro­tect young peo­ple. And I know first­hand how much dis­ap­point­ment, rejec­tion, and self-doubt often accom­pa­nies the quest for pub­li­ca­tion. Writ­ing was hon­est­ly a lot more fun for me before I was focused on writ­ing for pub­li­ca­tion.

Pre-Teen Writer. Source: ©Drobot Dean - Adobe StockThe two things—the act of writ­ing, and being published—are not the same thing. But in a soci­ety where we place so much empha­sis on win­ning and finan­cial suc­cess, it’s easy to get caught up in equat­ing “get­ting pub­lished” with “win­ning the writ­ing race.” With assum­ing there’s no val­ue in writ­ing some­thing that doesn’t lead to an official “look what I did” prod­uct.

And trust me, I total­ly get the allure of see­ing one’s name in print. It’s the same each time a box of author’s copies of a new book arrive. If past expe­ri­ence means any­thing, I will like­ly leave the box in my front entry for a few days (weeks?) so that each time I walk into my liv­ing room I feel that same buzz of excite­ment: it’s a book! A real, check-it-out-from- the-library book! And I wrote it!

So telling young writ­ers that get­ting pub­lished doesn’t matt‚er would be tru­ly disin­gen­u­ous of me. I just want to help them sep­a­rate the qui­et entice­ment of writ­ing as an impor­tant form of self-expres­sion from the admit­ted thrill of get­ting pub­lished.

Where does that leave me when I’m faced with the “how do I get pub­lished” ques­tion? I try real­ly hard to make sure stu­dents under­stand what a joy the act of writ­ing, in and of itself, is for me. I remind them that their fam­i­ly and friends, their most impor­tant audi­ence, will trea­sure any­thing they write from their hearts.

And then for the per­sis­tent ones, I point to some of the places where young writ­ers can sub­mit their work to mag­a­zines, online jour­nals, and con­tests. Here’s a fair­ly com­pre­hen­sive list of con­tests and sub­mis­sion des­ti­na­tions from New Pages.

The race might be tough, and win­ning isn’t everything—but run­ning races we might nev­er win is also a sig­nif­i­cant part of the human expe­ri­ence.

Read more...

Riding a Donkey Backwards

Riding a Donkey BackwardsRid­ing a Don­key Back­wards:
Wise and Fool­ish Tales of Mul­la Nas­rud­din

Retold by Sean Tay­lor and The Khay­al The­atre
illus­trat­ed by Shirin Adl
Can­dlewick Press, 2019
ISBN 978−1−5362−0507−7

The wise fool or the fool­ish wise man? As the authors explain, “Nas­rud­din is the wis­est man in the vil­lage and also the biggest fool. … If he does­n’t make you laugh, he will cer­tain­ly make you think—and per­haps think side­ways instead of straight ahead.” Mul­la Nas­rud­din is an ancient Per­sian folk char­ac­ter, dis­cussed in Sufi stud­ies, famil­iar through­out India, Syr­ia, Turkey, Iran, and the Mid­dle East.

These two-page sto­ries are just right for read­ing out loud and then talk­ing over what hap­pened. You can have great dis­cus­sions about rea­son­ing, log­ic, and cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing. This will work with young read­ers as well as col­lege stu­dents and adults, per­haps in an ELL class.

When a man across the riv­er asks Mul­la Nas­rud­din how to get to the oth­er side, Nas­rud­din mut­ters, “What a bird­brain.” Then he shouts, “You are on the oth­er side.”

These are two-page sto­ries, each of which will pro­duce an eye roll, but always encour­ag­ing ques­tions. Side­ways think­ing indeed!

The illus­tra­tions in this book are wor­thy of close exam­i­na­tion, iden­ti­fy­ing the many objects the artist includes. The riv­er is rep­re­sent­ed by glass beads and paper. There are paper fish and a stick from a tree for a fish­ing rod. In anoth­er spread, the camel’s sad­dle is bead­ed, as is his teth­er. There are rich fab­rics, cro­cheted pieces, woven rugs, bas­kets, and cloth bags. The result is both con­tem­po­rary and ancient.

Why is the Mul­la rid­ing a don­key back­wards? The last page reveals all.

Mul­la Nas­rud­din should be on your book­shelves!

Read more...

Birds

Watch­ing birds is one of the joys of the out­door year (or the indoor year, giv­en the right win­dow place­ment). Emi­ly Dick­in­son notes the “inde­pen­dent ecsta­sy” of their songs. And we can dis­cern per­son­al­i­ties in cer­tain birds. Jays will peremp­to­ri­ly take over a feed­ing sta­tion. Chick­adees perk­i­ly fly in for a seed or two or a sip of water. Spar­rows seem to eat any­thing and make up in num­bers for their drab gar­ments. With the com­ing of fall we have migra­tion. Many birds are on the move.

Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own BackyardSo it seems a good time to look at books about birds. For those who are think­ing about notic­ing more in the bird world, Look Up! Bird Watch­ing In Your Own Back­yard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Can­dlewick, 2013) is a good place to start. Cate tells us she is not an expert—even her binoc­u­lars don’t work quite right—she just loves watch­ing birds. This cap­ti­vat­ing book is a com­bi­na­tion of car­toon and prose. Begin­ning with “Bird-Watch­ing Do’s and Don’ts” a graph­ic sec­tion starts us out with an instruc­tion to “Do only go to places you know are safe. Do be respect­ful of birds, nature, and oth­er bird­watch­ers.” And con­tin­ues to “Don’t sit on poi­son ivy. Don’t tread on del­i­cate plants.”

Slight­ly snarky black­birds reg­u­lar­ly com­ment on the prose, adding a touch of humor and expand­ing on the infor­ma­tion in the text. Cate is clear on the rea­son for watch­ing birds. First, it can be fun. And it reminds is that “No mat­ter where you live, you are a part of the nat­ur­al world, just as the birds and oth­er crea­tures are.”

Cate opens the door to bird-watch­ing for read­ers of all ages. “You may not have a yard, but you do have a sky.” And the book takes us through the col­ors of birds, the shapes of birds, the sounds of birds, offers a close look at spar­rows and a dis­cus­sion of bird habi­tat.

Where Do Birds Live?An inter­est in birds in our own neigh­bor­hoods may also spark an inter­est in birds who do not live where we live. Clau­dia McGehee’s Where Do Birds Live (Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa Press, 2010) takes read­ers on a tour of “four­teen habi­tats where birds live in the sum­mer months.” Each spread offers a page of infor­ma­tion on a spe­cif­ic bird in a habi­tat (for exam­ple the bobolink in the Tall­grass Prairie) and an illus­tra­tion that includes oth­er res­i­dents of that habi­tat. Read­ers trav­el from the Tall­grass Prairie to the West­ern Moun­tain Mead­ow (Moun­tain Blue­bird) to the Pacif­ic Rain­for­est (Com­mon Raven) through habi­tats all over the Unit­ed States to end in a Mid­west­ern Back­yard, which fea­tures the Ruby-Throat­ed Hum­ming­bird and the back­yard in the book adjoins a house that looks very much like McGehee’s house, includ­ing her cat. Read­ers will want to find their own region of the coun­try but will also enjoy “trav­el­ing” to find the birds in oth­er regions.

How to Paint a BirdPhyl­lis: I’ve been watch­ing the hum­ming­bird come to the feed­er in my urban back­yard this sum­mer, and a neigh­bor saw a goshawk one night. What do birds need? Food, water, shel­ter. Even in a small back­yard it’s pos­si­ble to offer those things, then sit back and enjoy vis­i­tors. And if you want to paint a bird, Jacques Prévert has some advice in a fic­tion­al book apt­ly titled, How to Paint the Por­trait of A Bird, trans­lat­ed from the French and illus­trat­ed by Morde­cai Ger­stein. In spare and lyri­cal text Prévert tells us that we must first paint a cage with an open door and paint some­thing inside for the bird, “some­thing use­ful and beau­ti­ful, but sim­ple.” Then take the pic­ture out­side, put it under a tree, hide, and wait “years, if nec­es­sary.” If a bird does come, wait some more while it enters the cage, then close the cage door with your brush, care­ful­ly erase the case and paint the por­trait of the tree “with the pret­ti­est branch for the bird.” Paint “the green leaves and the sum­mer breeze…the smell of the sun­shine and the flow­ers and the songs of the bees and the but­ter­flies.” (It’s hard not to quote the whole, brief, love­ly book.) If the bird doesn’t sing, you tried your best, but if the bird sings, sign the por­trait, take it home, and hang it in your room. The last spread shows a sleep­ing boy and the bird fly­ing out the win­dow while the text tells us, “(Tomor­row you can paint anoth­er one.)” I first came across this book in the Amer­i­can Folk Art Muse­um in New York City and have since giv­en it away mul­ti­ple times to fel­low writ­ers. I can’t think of a bet­ter descrip­tion, not just of paint­ing a bird’s por­trait, but also of the whole cre­ative endeav­or. Tomor­row we can always write anoth­er one.

Ostrich and LarkOstrich and Lark, by the poet Mar­i­lyn Nel­son, is beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed by the San artists of the Kuru Art Project of Botswana, peo­ple who live in the Kalarhari desert and whose hunter-gath­er­er way of life has been slow­ly dis­placed by devel­op­ment, as we learn in a note at the begin­ning of the book. Nelson’s pro­ceeds from the book are donat­ed to the Kuru Art Project. The bril­liant­ly col­ored art is one rea­son alone to buy this book, but Nelson’s orig­i­nal tale is anoth­er.

Ostrich and Lark begin each day togeth­er “at first light, day in and day out.” They nib­ble an ongo­ing meal “every day, all day, over the cicada’s drone, a driz­zle of buzzings…and a down­pour of bird­song.” Every day Lark, too, sings, but Ostrich is silent. Some­times at night Ostrich dreams of “singing the sky full of stars,” but every­day he is silent until, one evening, Ostrich booms TWOO-WOO-WOOOT, “like thun­der­storms on the horizon…like the rain­storm that ends the dusty months of thirst, like the promise of jubi­lant green…Ostrich boomed Lark right off his perch.” Ostrich had found his voice, “his own beau­ty, his big, ter­rif­ic self.” The com­bi­na­tion of vivid words and vivid art bring me back to this book again and again.

Fic­tion­al and non-fic­tion­al, our feath­ered friends delight us. Put out a feed­er, a bowl of water. Sit back. Wait. Who knows who might come? If a bird comes, watch it. Paint it. Write a poem about it. Boom about it in your own big, ter­rif­ic voice.

And if no bird comes today, maybe tomor­row.

Read more...

Brenda Sederberg and Her Reading Team
September 2019

Bookol­o­gy read­ers first met Bren­da Sederberg’s Read­ing Team part­ner Sylvie when she was only two days old. At that time the two were shar­ing one of their very first read-alouds. Now Gram and Sylvie have had the chance to share a whole won­der­ful year of read­ing togeth­er!

To cel­e­brate Sylvie’s first birth­day, Bren­da is high­light­ing the three books that have become Sylvie’s favorites over that spe­cial year. As Bren­da says, “Sylvie now brings books to me to read—which is such a joy for me, both as a for­mer ele­men­tary school teacher and as Gram.” Sylvie’s First Birth­day Favorites are: The House in the Night, writ­ten by Susan Marie Swan­son and illus­trat­ed by Beth Krommes; Big Red Barn, writ­ten by Mar­garet Wise Brown and illus­trat­ed by Feli­cia Bond; and “More More More,” Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams.

Bren­da con­tin­ues, “Sylvie loves being read to: when she isn’t feel­ing well, before a nap, and just any­time!”

Bren­da and Sylvie con­duct their read-alouds in Min­neso­ta. Bren­da also shares her pas­sion for children’s lit­er­a­ture by read­ing to an ele­men­tary class­room and by belong­ing to the Duluth branch of Bookol­o­gy’s Chap­ter & Verse Book Clubs, which meets at the Book­store at Fitger’s.

_______________________

Bookol­o­gy is always look­ing for new Read­ing Teams to help us cel­e­brate the joys of read­ing aloud togeth­er. Con­tact Lisa Bullard for fur­ther infor­ma­tion about how to par­tic­i­pate.

About Rais­ing Star Read­ers

The orig­i­nal inspi­ra­tion for this col­umn was Mar­i­on Dane Bauer’s book The Stuff of Stars and her sug­ges­tion for using that book as an ongo­ing scrap­book to doc­u­ment read­ing aloud with a child. More details about that sug­ges­tion can be found on this PDF. The Stuff of Stars is illus­trat­ed by Ekua Holmes and pub­lished by Can­dlewick Press. Bren­da has been hav­ing fun putting togeth­er just such a scrap­book for Sylvie and is delight­ed to share this peek at it with Bookol­o­gy read­ers.

Read more...

Try Something New, Have a Blast!

A few months ago my daugh­ter, Aliza, came over after an evening out with her work friends. Aliza told us she and her friends had gone to the Min­neapo­lis Boul­der­ing Project or MBP, an indoor climb­ing gym where peo­ple climb “cir­cuits” of up to 17 feet high with­out ropes or har­ness­es. She was so excit­ed about it—they’d had a blast!

She said she couldn’t wait to go again, which didn’t sur­prise me.

Aliza tops out a wall

Aliza tops out a wall at the Min­neapo­lis Boul­der­ing Project.

Then she said I need­ed to try it, too, which sur­prised me a lot. After all, I am afraid of heights and climbing—without ropes—well, that wasn’t my thing. What was she think­ing?

After I bit of cajol­ing over the next few days, I final­ly agreed to go to MBP. Believe me, I was plen­ty ner­vous. I wasn’t sure if I’d like “boul­der­ing” or if the younger peo­ple in the gym would like shar­ing their space with some­one their par­ents’ age. (Isn’t it fun­ny the things we wor­ry about?) My oth­er daugh­ter, Mau­reen, said she would join us, too. At least it would be good “girl time” I told myself. I thought I would go just this once, be seen as a good sport, and leave the climb­ing to the young folks after that.

When we arrived at MBP, a staff mem­ber gave us a quick tour. He explained that boul­der­ing cir­cuits have col­or-cod­ed holds. The col­or of the holds defines the degree of dif­fi­cul­ty for each cir­cuit. There are a lot of cir­cuits for begin­ners, he told us, so we would find plen­ty to do. (As climbers get stronger, more flex­i­ble, and more con­fi­dent, they progress through the col­ors.)

MBP pro­vid­ed us with climb­ing shoes—special shoes that hug your feet and mush your toes. Rub­ber on the toes, soles, and heels pro­vides a bet­ter grip as you climb. Climbers use chalk on their hands, too, like gym­nasts do, to keep their hands from slip­ping. No oth­er spe­cial equip­ment is need­ed.

We now have our own special climbing shoes.

We now have our own spe­cial climb­ing shoes.

Applying chalk

apply­ing chalk

Aliza, Mau­reen, and I strapped on our climb­ing shoes and looked around. The gym was full of climbers of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Some looked like they were just learn­ing; oth­ers were so good they looked like they could give Spi­der­man a run for his mon­ey.

Let’s go!” Aliza said. We head­ed for a yel­low begin­ner cir­cuit.

Aliza demonstrates how to start a circuit.

Aliza demon­strates how to start a cir­cuit.

We climbed. We fell. We “topped out.” We cel­e­brat­ed.

And, need­less to say, we had a blast!

Why? Well, boul­der­ing is so much more than just exer­cis­ing. For starters, it requires a will­ing­ness to try some­thing daunt­ing, to look a lit­tle sil­ly at times, and to fail. The entire gym floor is cov­ered in a cush­ioned mat about 18 inch­es thick, which is good if you fall – and you will fall!

Boul­der­ing requires prob­lem solv­ing. All of the cir­cuits are dif­fer­ent and even the cir­cuits with­in the same col­or group­ing require dif­fer­ent skills: bal­ance, flex­i­bil­i­ty, grip strength, abil­i­ty to stand on tiny toe holds. This means you always have to think about what you’re doing. It also leads to cama­raderie among the climbers in the gym. Strangers will give you tips or show you how they’ve over­come a climb­ing hur­dle. It’s true team work. I love that.

Boul­der­ing also requires per­sis­tence. My daugh­ters and I try to give a new cir­cuit at least three tries before we move on. Often, that third try ends in suc­cess. And if it doesn’t, we’re right back at it the next time we’re there, usu­al­ly after talk­ing, mim­ing, and dream­ing about the cir­cuit over the course of the next few days. (I kid you not—at some time or anoth­er all three of us have dreamed of climb­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly hard route only to come up with a new idea about how to approach it.)

Aimee Bissonette climbing one of the walls at the Minneapolis Bouldering Project.

Aimee Bis­sonette climb­ing a wall at the Min­neapo­lis Boul­der­ing Project.

Boul­der­ing is a favorite activ­i­ty now. We go two or three times a week and we’re get­ting pret­ty good! It nev­er gets dull. The staff at MBP changes out the cir­cuits every week. Just when you think you’ve mas­tered all of the green cir­cuits in the 40,000 square foot gym, you arrive to find a whole new set to tack­le. We cheer each oth­er on and push each oth­er just a lit­tle. Aliza is espe­cial­ly good at get­ting us to try cir­cuits we think might be beyond our reach. We all ride home laugh­ing and exhaust­ed. (Did I men­tion what a great stress reliev­er it is?)

Could boul­der­ing be your thing, too? Maybe. But even if it’s not, con­sid­er this. The next time a fam­i­ly mem­ber or friend sug­gests doing some­thing out­side your com­fort zone, you could say “yes.”

Agree to go once.

Be a good sport.

Then be pre­pared … you just might have a blast!

Read more...

Dogman© Unleashed

Encour­age kids to be cre­ative with­out wor­ry­ing about being per­fect.

—Dav Pilkey

 At the start of the fall pro­gram sea­son, I asked our youngest patrons what pro­grams they would like the library to offer. I heard a child yell out, “DOGMAN”! I smiled and I told him that was a great idea. Dog­man© is a graph­ic nov­el series writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Dav Pilkey that tells the sto­ry of George and Harold’s new­ly cre­at­ed hero of jus­tice. Dog­man© is part dog, part man, sniff­ing out crime to save the world.  The series is hilar­i­ous and it helps read­ers learn the impor­tance of empa­thy and hav­ing con­fi­dence. We launched our first Dog­man© pro­gram on Wednes­day, Sep­tem­ber 4, 2019. The fol­low­ing pro­vides the objec­tive and steps you can take to cre­ate your own pro­gram.

Dav Pilkey books

Vis­it Dav Pilkey’s web­site for a full list of book titles and series.

Pro­gram Objec­tive:  Our Dog­man© pro­gram pro­vides chil­dren the oppor­tu­ni­ty to read the sto­ry aloud with oth­er fans and to design and cre­ate their own graph­ic nov­el based on the series. Cur­rent­ly, the pro­gram occurs once a month and lasts between 1 to 1.5 hrs. It is geared for chil­dren in grades 2 to 4, but we wel­come all Dog­man© fans and those who are inter­est­ed.

DogmanSup­plies: Dog­man© books, com­put­ers, mark­ers, pen­cils, pens, LEGO© bricks, and plain paper.

Steps:

  1. Read Aloud: At the start of the pro­gram, have chil­dren read aloud to the group from one of the Dog­man© titles. Let them know that if they strug­gle with a word to ask for assis­tance. 
  1. Brain­storm: Encour­age the chil­dren to use Pilkey’s sto­ries as inspi­ra­tion for their sto­ry. Dur­ing this step, chil­dren will devel­op their char­ac­ters, choose a plot and set­ting. They can expand on one of Pilkey’s sto­ries or cre­ate an entire­ly new sto­ry. They can draw or sketch their ideas. I pro­vide LEGO© bricks as an option if they want to cre­ate 3D mod­els. It is impor­tant to let chil­dren know that per­fec­tion is not the key.  Encour­age them to have fun and explore their imag­i­na­tion.
  1. LEGO© Sto­ryS­tarter: LEGO© Sto­ryS­tarter is part of LEGO© Edu­ca­tion, pro­vid­ing a vari­ety of cre­ative writ­ing tem­plates for chil­dren to cre­ate, doc­u­ment, and share their sto­ries. It is a free down­load. After the brain­storm­ing stage, chil­dren will use the Sto­ryS­tarter pro­gram to for­mat their sto­ry and use LEGOs©, their draw­ings, or a free image web­site such as Pix­a­by for char­ac­ters and scenes.  They can upload every­thing to Sto­ryS­tarter and every­thing can be saved to a desk­top or flash dri­ve. View this video for more infor­ma­tion: LEGO Edu­ca­tion Sto­ryS­tarter Build­ing the Sto­ry.
  1. Print and Share: At the com­ple­tion of this pro­gram, print the sto­ries off and have chil­dren share them with the group. I plan to cre­ate a com­mu­ni­ty open-house where their sto­ries can be on dis­play for the pub­lic to read and enjoy.

Arti­cles Sup­port­ing the Impor­tance of Graph­ic Nov­els:

  1. 5 Great Rea­sons to Read Graph­ic Nov­els from Play­ful Learn­ing
  2. The Research Behind Graph­ic Nov­els and Young Learn­ers by Leslie Mor­ri­son
  3. The Case for Graph­ic Nov­els in Edu­ca­tion by Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion
  4. In Defense of Graph­ic Nov­els by Dr. Kathryn Strong Hansen

Mr. Z’s Graph­ic Nov­el Top Picks:

  1. Dog­man by Dav Pilkey
  2. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
  3. Per­cy Jack­son series by Rick Rior­dan
  4. Smile by Raina Tel­ge­meier
  5. El Deafo by Cece Bell
  6. Bone by Jeff Smith
  7. Cora­line by Neil Gaiman
  8. Sand War­rior by Alex­is Siegel
  9. Lunch Lady by Jar­rett Krosocz­ka
  10. Roller Girl by Vic­to­ria Jamieson

Books to Gen­er­ate Ideas:

Dav Pilkey books

Read more...

Beethoven in Paradise

Beethoven in ParadiseFresh Lookol­o­gy fea­tures books pub­lished sev­er­al years ago that are too good to lan­guish on the shelf.

Mar­tin Pittman takes a reader’s heart and runs with it. He lives in a trail­er park called Par­adise, but his home life is any­thing but. Martin’s father is abu­sive, his moth­er com­plete­ly cowed. He has no sib­lings. His grand­ma, Haze­line, who comes on Sun­days to take him to the Howard John­son Prince of Wales buf­fet, is quite a character—one the read­er is unsure of at first. She’s a leath­ery, give-you-a-piece-of-my-mind, smok­ing, cack­ling sort of grandmother—but she’s on Martin’s side, thank good­ness. So is his reclu­sive friend Wylene, a grown woman who can tol­er­ate only Martin’s gen­tle pres­ence in her trail­er and her life. And so is Sybil, the new girl who comes into town—Sybil is unlike any­one Mar­tin has ever met before.

Mar­tin needs these good peo­ple on his side. He faces bul­ly­ing at school, in town, and on the base­ball field, in addi­tion to the abuse at home. What keeps him going is music. Mar­tin loves music—all kinds—listening to it, mak­ing up tunes in his head, play­ing his har­mon­i­ca. Wylene says he has a gift. Haze­line and Sybil echo this encour­age­ment. Mar­tin wants to play a real instru­ment like a piano or a vio­lin, and when a vio­lin shows up at the local pawn shop, he can think of lit­tle else out­side of mak­ing it his own.

The prob­lem is his father. For some rea­son Ed Pittman thinks music—and espe­cial­ly the play­ing of it—is for sissies. He’s furi­ous with Mar­tin for his lack of base­ball skill, his love of music, and his friend­ship with Wylene. He’s furi­ous with life, real­ly. Haze­line con­firms this for Mar­tin. Ed doesn’t like any­one, she says—not Mar­tin, not him­self.

In the course of this short novel—and with the help of Haze­line, Wylene, and Sybil—Martin learns that, although he can’t change his father, he can learn to stick up for him­self. He can live into being who he real­ly is. He can find a way to make music.

There are many jump­ing off points in this nov­el for social-emo­tion­al learn­ing. Beethoven in Par­adise is replete with scenes show­ing empa­thy, anger, sad­ness, hap­pi­ness, and wor­ry. It’s all about new and unex­pect­ed friend­ships. Although there is bul­ly­ing and abuse, Mar­tin expe­ri­ences kind­ness­es and shows kind­ness to oth­ers, as well. He learns that he can’t change peo­ple, but he can change how he reacts to them. He does not have to become like his father.

A class, read­ing group, or book­club could have fun learn­ing about dif­fer­ent kinds of music. Wylene and Mar­tin lis­ten to a diverse array of music, which is men­tioned by title/composer/performer—easy to look up and play. There are inter­est­ing details about har­mon­i­ca play­ing, musi­cal prac­tice (Mar­tin plays by ear), vio­lin, sax­o­phone, and Beethoven, as well. Music might actu­al­ly be con­sid­ered a char­ac­ter in this book.

Beethoven in Par­adise was pub­lished in 1997, but its timelessness—in theme, cir­cum­stance, and emotion—makes it an excel­lent pick for read­ing with mid­dle-grad­er read­ers today. With good humor, hon­est looks at hard things, and a won­der­ful cast of char­ac­ters, Bar­bara O’Connor gives us a com­ing-of-age sto­ry of friend­ship, com­mu­ni­ty, and genius that deserves a Fresh Lookol­o­gy here in 2019! 

Read more...

The Night the Forest Came to Town

The Night the Forest Came to TownThe Night the For­est Came to Town
Charles Ghigna
illus­trat­ed by Annie Wilkin­son
Orca Book Pub­lish­ers, 2018
ISBN 978−1−4598−1650−3

A city can be all hard sur­faces, con­crete, brick, pave­ment, and glass. Adults can be pre­oc­cu­pied with their devices. Bill­boards, street lights, every kind of dis­trac­tion. There’s a dis­tinct sep­a­ra­tion from nature, a dis­con­nect.

In this semi-mag­i­cal book, nature blows into town overnight, wind-borne seeds take root, and birds and ani­mals fol­low. A cen­ter spread gives us a glimpse into apart­ment win­dows where we see indi­vid­u­als engaged in their arts, notic­ing what’s chang­ing out­side their win­dows.

Ghig­na’s rhyming poet­ry invites read­ers and sto­ry­tellers to turn the pages. 

Beneath the swirling shroud of night
A fer­tile field was found
Where once there was a vacant lot
new seedlings held their ground.”

He helps us notice details with his descrip­tive lan­guage, his rev­er­ence for nature.

Wilkin­son cre­ates a shad­ow-filled, deeply-toned night­time city. Her tex­tures evoke a tac­tile expe­ri­ence. Touch these pages, reach into nature, appre­ci­ate the star-filled sky, the life-sprout­ing rain, the charm­ing ani­mals. But it’s the panoply of flow­ers, sophis­ti­cat­ed but rem­i­nis­cent of those a child would draw that tie togeth­er text and images into a sooth­ing, con­tem­pla­tive sto­ry of the dif­fer­ence nature brings into our lives.

Com­bine the read­ing of this book with plan­ning for a school or com­mu­ni­ty gar­den. Plant a flower seed that will grow indoors and can be tak­en home once it’s estab­lished. Take pho­tos of your neigh­bor­hood and print them out on full sheets of paper so stu­dents can add their own flow­ers and ani­mals and trees. Then have them try a poem with Ghig­na’s struc­ture to tell the sto­ry of their own vision of the for­est com­ing to town.

This is a charm­ing book.

Read more...