Sunday, July 26, 2015

You Can Be a Hero

This year's Summer Reading Club theme is "Every Hero Has a Story".  And most libraries are using Superheroes to bring in kids.  It's such a kid friendly theme!

Not all heroes are super heroes.  Every one of us can be a hero - at least, sometime.  Doing the small things like smiling at someone who smiles at you - even when you feel grumpy - can feel heroic sometimes.

On Wednesday, I will tell stories about Every Day Heroes at a local library.  The audiences there are usually fairly young, so telling historic stories of heroes of the past may not work.  I want the children to see that simple things - telling the truth, picking up trash, being kind - can make the world a better place.

I decided to search for "simple ways to change the world" online and I got a lot of things like:
1. Be present.
2. Be grateful.
3. Be kind to yourself.

Hmmm, explaining gratitude to a 4-year-old is hard.  And these kids are as present as anyone can be.

But one simple action, Plant something, caught my attention.

So here are my 5 Simple Ways to Change the World:
1.  Keep your own space clean and neat.  (I don't follow this advice very well myself.)
    The world space belongs to us all so this includes your house and your neighborhood.
2.  Speak the truth.  Hmmm, this is never as easy as it seems.  People use their words so cleverly.  Use YOUR words for good.
3.  Smile.  Yep.  That.
4.  Plant something.  Grow something.  In a can on the windowsill - caring for a living thing is good   
for you and the plant will clean the air around it.
5.  Keep the peace.  It is so tempting to be hurtful when we feel down or when someone is hurtful to us.  If we can't find a way to bring peace to our attacker, we should just walk away from them.  I am talking about every day attacks, not life threatening events.

There you go.  Johnny Appleseed, Wangari Maathai, Elzeard Bouffier are all heroes who planted trees.   I think at least one of them should make it into my program.  I'll let you know how it goes.




Friday, July 24, 2015

TOON at last

 Picture

Windmill Dragons :A Leah and Alan Adventure by David Nytra is a celebration of the imagination in detailed black and white.  Leah tells Alan a story that starts with windmills that turn into dragons.  Suddenly, Leah and Alan are fighting these monsters.   A giant chicken, St. George, a trick with a bit of string and a man-eating boat lead Alan and Leah on a wild adventure.  Just wait until you see what caused all the ruckus.
    Nytra adds an illustrated bibliography of sorts to help his readers understand some of the literary references in this wild and crazy comic book.

The Suspended Castle : a Philemon Adventure  by FRED.  OK. Philemon and his adventures make me itchy.  But if you enjoy the surreal, you will love Philemon.  Back in the 1960s, Philemon fell down a well and into a land that was shaped like an "A".  With the help of Mr. Bartholomew, Philemon got back to France.
     Now, Mr. Bartholomew is so bored, he wants to return to his life on a letter in the middle of the ocean (on a globe - you know one those spinning things?  I told you - surreal! Or maybe it was on a map.)  Thank goodness, Phil's Uncle Felix knows what to do.  You see, he just gets Phil to inflate this seashell....
     Well, Bartholomew and Phil both end up on the dot on the letter "i" and from there it just gets wilder and crazier - with owls that turn into lighthouses and whales with oars and mutinies and buccaneers who sail the skies in wooden pelican bills - or something - and of course, the suspended castle from the title.
   The artwork is colorful and suitably cartoonish.  The last two pages gives a bio of Fred (Frederic Othon Aristides) and background on his inspirations for this story. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Just the titles, ma'am.

I will just list the titles of books I've read this week.

Flunked by Jen Calonita.  Fairy Tale Reform School?

Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood, a Miss Phryne Fisher mystery - for adults.  I love the PBS series and the books are, well, almost as good - and occasionally better.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones.  With a title like that, how could I resist?

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall.  Well, finally, here's a family that I can love as much as Hilary McKay's Casson family and without as much worry.  The Penderwick parents are a bit less scattered than the Casson parents. 

More on these and on the last two TOON books in my stack.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Busy like a beaver!

I have been telling stories and having so much fun in the last two weeks that I have not had time to post here. I promised you TOON reviews and with the Eisner Awards recently announced, I must comply.
  
TOON will NOT be left behind. They have produced  Little Nemo's Big New Dreams, edited by Josh O'Neil, Andrew Carl and Chris Stevens.   Poor Little Nemo! He's been having incredibly active dreams since 1905 when his comic strip was first designed by Windsor McCay.

Little Nemo's Big New Dreams: A TOON GraphicEach double page spread of Big New Dreams offers a Little Nemo Slumberland adventure as envisioned by a different graphic artist.  Most are paneled but some are simply large illustrations that still manage to tell a story.  Little Nemo is clearly identified in each story but the artists' styles vary widely.

I can imagine so many different ways to use this colorful book - besides just reading the stories. 

Well, I have another telling event this evening and need to prepare so stay TOON for my next TOON review and a possible GIVEAWAY!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Life is a roller coaster! Personal post

NOTE: This post is political and personal.  It is not about books, or storytelling, or crafts.   It IS about change and my thoughts on all the change that is going on right now in the Untied States.

A week and a half ago, a young man sat with a Bible study group for an hour and then killed nine of the members.  He chose this group on purpose.  He had a plan.  Suddenly, the hatred, obstinacy, and irrational craziness that many Americans subscribed to since an African American became president was exposed for what it was.  Racism.  Bigotry.  Cruelty.  Evil.  Fear.

Since then:
1. The Confederate flag has been demonized - rightly so.  It should never have been flown on public land after the Civil War. (Private rights are another thing.)  It's just a piece of cloth, but it's significance in the war against equality is now clear.

2.  The Supreme Court has outlawed housing discrimination - again - upholding broad discrimination claims.

3.  The Supreme Court made marriage among all people - same sex, two sexes - a law in 50 states.  This means people everywhere in the United States have the right to not be lonely anymore regardless of whom they love.

4. The Affordable Health Care Act survived and was approved, I guess, by the Supreme Court.  Health Care for everyone!

5. Our president delivered the speech of his lifetime when he delivered the eulogy for Clementa Pinckney - a speech that showed his intelligence, his confidence, his empathy, and his faith.

People were shocked into their senses again.  Politicians had to admit that their party loyalty just might be counterproductive, if not downright anti-American.

The battle to be a better country is not over.  Hate crimes are still being committed. Guns are too readily available.  The Equal Rights Act needs to come to fruition.  But, my dwindling hope has rebounded.  There are good people here - on both sides of the aisle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Toon! Toon! TOON!

Bless you, TOON Books, for the lovely box of new graphic novels!  You publish some of the best highly illustrated kids' lit out there.

Written and Drawn by Henrietta, a TOON Book by LINIERS, is my favorite of this bunch.  "A box of colored pencils is as close as you can get to owning a piece of the rainbow", Henrietta tells her cat, Fellini.  Henrietta sits down to write and draw the amazing story of "The Monster with Three Heads and Two Hats."  We see Henrietta's drawings and we see her reactions to her own imagination and the whole thing is fun and funny and delightful. 

Flop to the Top!, a TOON book by Eleanor Davis & Drew Weing.  Wanda is a Superstar and she knows it.  When she goes online and posts a picture with her floppy dog, Wilbur, the Internet goes crazy.  Wilbur is a HUGE hit.  Wanda is not happy for his fame.  Young readers will get a kick out of attention hog Wanda's disappointment and of Wilbur's response to fame and fortune.  The ending is super cool, too.

Check back soon for reviews of my other TOON swag.


Friday, June 19, 2015

GoFundMe

This graphic is the property of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling guild and was designed by Kutztown University students.
The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild does a lot with kids.  We have a Children's Series of performances.  This past year one of our members planned a Teen Story Jam.  And we host the Pennsylvania Youth Storytelling Showcase.  What we don't have yet is a group of young members.

So, some other storytellers and I are starting the Young Tellers Guild of the Lehigh Valley.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  We need meeting places.  And resources.  And time and travel.  And coaching supplies.  And most of all, we need kids.

I have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to provide resources, to find meeting spaces, to encourage libraries and schools to hosts meetings and to pay travel expenses for storytellers who work with these groups.

Please support these efforts to share the oldest form of entertainment, education and enrichment with the newest tellers.

www.gofundme.com/ytglv

Thanks.