Tag Archives: Narrative Skills

And the Caldecott goes to: In my completely uneducated, non-humble opinion

21 Dec

Children’s book award season will soon be upon us.  On January 18, 2010, librarians, authors, and children’s literature enthusiasts will be glued to their computers (those of us not lucky enough to attend the announcements in person) to find out the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré and other youth media awards bestowed by the American Library Association.  As I am both a librarian and an enthusiast, I thought I would share with you my completely non-scientific, uneducated, random, gut-feeling picks for two of the awards:

When You Reach Me

  • Newbery Medal:  Stead, Rebecca.  When You Reach Me.  I would have LOVED this book as a girl.  As an adult, I loved it.  Miranda, a New York City 6th grader, relates certain incidents in her life after being asked to do so in four strange anonymous notes.  Who’s sent the notes, why do they want her to write a letter, and why does this person know things about Miranda’s life, her friends, and the future?  The story is like nothing I’ve ever read before, and yet, I felt something warm and familiar about the characters and story.  Confusing, heartwarming, realistic and fantastical all at the same time.  Read it, and see if you can figure it out.

The Lion and The Mouse

  • Caldecott Medal:  Pinkney, Jerry.  The Lion and the Mouse.  In a nearly wordless picture book, Pinkney retells the Aesop’s fable about a mouse who returns a lion’s favor when the lion finds himself trapped in a net.  The gorgeous watercolor illustrations give us all the information we need without words, and as the Caldecott medal is all about the illustrations, this one should be a shoe-in for at least an honor.  It’s simply a beautiful book, one of those that you’d buy for your kids and hang on to for years, even after they’ve long grown up.  It’s a share-with-your-grandkids kind of book (which I will share with mine, if I ever have any).  Oh, and as there are so few words, it’s a great one for a child to “read” to an adult (hello, narrative skills!).

I’m often completely off base, nor have I read all of the books that are getting awards buzz, so by no means should you go to Vegas put any wagers on my picks.  This is just what I liked best.  What are your picks?  I didn’t do the Printz because I haven’t read enough YA (I’m still waiting on my copy of Catching Fire), but I’d be interested to hear what you think!

The best way to combat illness: a storytime!

11 Dec

Given that we’re all paying extra attention to staying germ-free right now, I thought it was time for a “sick” storytime.  No, I’m not reading those books my former boss and I always joked about including in an “inappropriate stories” storytime (Don’t Call Me Little Bunny, anyone?), but rather stories about feeling ill and getting better.

We start with my little gorilla puppet, Frankie, who has a tissue attached to his hand by a poorly-hidden rubberband.  Frankie sneezes a few times, covering his sneeze with his kleenex.  This is the perfect time to remind ourselves that we cover our coughs and sneezes with our elbow!

On to the books: I use a selection of these (again, the larger number is so that I have a options based on attention spans, amount of settling time, ages of group, etc.).

  • Yolen, Jane.  How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? Can’t go wrong with dinosaurs.  Plus, I get to whine.
  • Wilson, Karma.  Bear Feels Sick. I love all of these bear books.  The refrain “And the bear feels sick” allows the kids to join in, building narrative skills.  I do a LOT of question-asking during storytime (dialogic reading!) and we talk about why bear’s friends get sick (did you notice he doesn’t cover his sneeze in one illustration?).
  • Charlip, Remy.  Mother, Mother, I Feel Sick, Send for the Doctor, Quick, Quick, Quick! An oldie, but a very goodie.  Mom calls the doctor because her son has a stomach ache and looks like he’s swallowed a beach ball.  Turns out, he HAS swallowed a ball, along with a bunch of other non-food items!  There’s lots of opportunity for the kids to interact with the story here, as they get to figure out what the boy ate based on the sillouette-shadow-puppet illustrations.
  • Rostocker-Gruber, Karen.  Rooster Can’t Cock-a-dooodle-doo. When Rooster develops a sore throat he’s unable to wake the other animals and the farmer.  What will they do?  While the illustrations (totally silly, by the way) are a little smaller than I would usually choose for storytime, the story is so cute — especially when Farmer Ted sets Rooster up in a lawn chair with a cup of tea.
  • Tankard, Jeremy.  Boo Hoo Bird. I am a big fan of Bird, even though he is a bit of a drama king.  When playing catch with Raccoon, Bird gets bonked on the head.  His friends try all kinds of things to make him feel better — hugs, kisses, cookies, even a band-aid — but nothing works.  Not even the COOKIE, my friends.  What will they do to stop his crying?  A longer review I wrote can be found here. While techinically, this is not a book about being sick, it IS a story about getting well.  My storytime, my rules.

As a break in between the stories we share this action rhyme, which I found in the listing for the “Feeling Sick” box from the King County Library’s Books to Grow On service.  Sometimes, if the kids aren’t too young or too wiggly, after we say the rhyme we talk about the words in it that rhymed.  Practicing rhyming words is a great way for young kids to learn to hear the smaller sounds made up in words, which will help them sound out words when they start to read on their own:

Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick [hold hands over stomach as if ill]

So she called for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick [pretend to call]

The doctor came with her bag [pretend to hold bag handle] and hat [hand on head]

And she knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat [knock on door]

She looked at the dolly and she shook her head [shake head]

She said, “Miss Polly, put her straight to bed.” [shake finger]

She wrote on the paper for a pill, pill, pill [pretend to write on paper]

“I’ll be back in the morning with my bill, bill bill [hold out hand]

I feel better already!  What are your favorite “sick” stories?

Tiny and Hercules by Amy Schwartz

20 Aug

Tiny (an elephant) and Hercules (a mouse, natch) are the best of friends.  In this collection of 5 short stories, Tiny and Hercules try new things, conquer fears, and solve problems in creative ways.  Tiny is invited to an ice-skating party, but doesn’t know how to skate (and Hercules lives up to his name).  Hercules’ Uncle Roy is turning 103 and so the mouse decides to throw him a party, complete with a large cake with 103 candles.  The friends set up a lemonade and cookie stand, but Tiny is discouraged when a customer complains.  Reader and listener might want to talk about how to solve the problem before turning to the last page of the story to see what Tiny and Hercules have done.  The ending of four of the stories is told by illustration only, providing another chance at conversation: “what did they do?”  “How does this solve the problem?”  These are delightful stories of a cooperative friendship, and I have already added this to my list of friends-themed storytime books.  My one quibble? An art teacher who declares: “Art is GRAND.  Art is BIG.  Art is STUPENDOUS.”  Says who?  Art is subjective.

Schwartz, Amy.  Tiny and Hercules.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009.  ISBN: 9781596432536

Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban

7 Aug

Mouse is mad.  Hopping mad, in fact.  But, according to rabbit, his hopping is ridiculous.  Rabbit shows him how to hop properly, and when mouse tries again, he lands in a mud puddle.  This makes him even madder.  STOMPING mad, in fact.  But bear has an opinion about mouse’s stomping ability.  One by one, the animals criticize mouse’s actions, making him more and more mad, until mouse finds a way to be mad that no one can top.  Of course, the admiration he receives from the other animals cures his bad mood.  This delightful book would be fun to follow up by talking about feelings, and what we do when we feel mad (and when it’s okay to stomp or scream), or sad, or happy.  Children can feel frustrated if they don’t yet have the words to express how they feel, so giving them that vocabulary, especially in a safe, loving situation like a one-on-one reading session, can really help ease their frustration.

Urban, Linda.  Mouse Was Mad.  Illus. by Henry Cole.  New York, Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009.  ISBN: 9780152053376

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