Friday, October 5, 2018

Book trailer

Can a wall keep you safe?  Well, that all depends.

Jon Agee's The Wall in the Middle of the Book shows young readers that a wall can keep bad stuff OUT but it can also keep bad stuff IN.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hey, Kiddo - on sale Oct. 9th - Order today.

Update:  On Goodreads, the date mentioned for publication is September 25th.  I mistakenly assumed that was the correct date.  Not.  October 9th is the publication date for this book.

I met Jarrett J. Krosoczka years ago when he visited the little library for which I worked.  (Grammar lovers, you are welcome.)  His picture book, Annie Was Warned, had just come out.  He stopped by the library, spoke to a bunch of kids and did some line drawings - 15 years ago.

With his Lunch Lady series, Krosoczka has achieved Kid Book Author stardom.

Now, Krosoczka enters a whole new arena of book greatness - the graphic memoir*.  Krosoczka's Hey, Kiddo recounts his childhood and teen years being raised by his grandparents.  His relationship with his mother is strained, and geographically challenged, since she spends most of his life in treatment or prison for drugs and addiction. Kroscozka met his father when he was in late high school. His grandparents, though loving and supportive, are by no means perfect.

As trying as Krosoczka's childhood was, this graphic memoir wins at telling the story in a matter-of-fact voice.  This was his normal.  For many, many children, this kind of fragmented family life IS normal. The story is painful to read and, yet, it reflects the confusion that pervades childhood.  The questions are always the same; who am I? where am I going? what am I good at?  In a family like Krosoczka's, the answers are so much harder to achieve.

The message that family comes from the people who give you support makes this book a triumph.    Always, no matter how acid mouthed his grandmother could be, no how many secrets his grandfather kept from him, they honored his talents and helped him flourish.

One virtue this book offers its readers is hope - hope that by staying in school, by following their talents, they can do okay.  And then there is forgiveness.  In the end, Jarrett forgave his Mom and his Dad and his grandparents - for being human. 

Hey, Kiddo has been longlisted for the National Book Award.  It's on sale soon.  Buy a copy.  Read every page.  It's all good.

*BTW, this is not a book for young readers.  The language reflects how teenage boys sometimes speak.   There are scenes of illegal activities and sexual behavior - though never shown in detail.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Back to School Calendars - and more!

The first day of the third year of D's public school career was Monday. She was pumped and soooo happy when she came out the Big Kid door.  Second grade will be awesome!

"Why don't we have an Advent Calendar for Back-to-School?" she asked.

I think the calendar idea is stellar.
If you like the idea of a calendar that marks the days in special ways, here are some websites to visit.

Learning To Give is a teacher resource page with the mission of teaching kindness and responsibility across the curriculum.  Spend some time on the page to see all that it offers. You can find lesson plans for all ages K through 12.  I am linking to their printable school calendar.  It only gives one mini-challenge per month but it's a good starting point.

Kiddy Charts is an online resource based in Britain that offers calendars, reward charts, coloring pages, etc.  Check out the adorable printable calendar for next year.   Each month has a little blurb explaining what is happening in nature during the month - to give you ideas for what you might want to put on your calendar.

Woo Jr.! offers all kinds of printables for ages 1 through teen.  Check out the different calendar ideas here.    I like the calendar jar, myself.

Do you want to know what National- Day- of  is celebrated on a particular day?  Check out the The National Day calendar.  I linked to September 2018.  Go back to the Home page to find links to Weekly Observances, and International Observances.  Religious holidays do not appear to be listed.

Another source for special holidays is the 2018 Holiday Calendar.  This list includes holidays from various cultures and faiths along with notable events, such as Wright Brothers Day.   

A quick search engine hunt will lead you to endless printable calendars and countless lists of special events.

OR go to the library and look at Chase's Calendar, a resource that lists ALL the special days, commercial, national, religious and facetious that have been named in the English-speaking world and beyond.  The book is EXPENSIVE ($90 approximately) and access to their website comes with a purchase of the annual publication.  Your library may have Chase's online.  Believe me.  It's worth a look for entertainment value alone.

So how do you set up an activity calendar?  

Life is complicated so simple is better!   Your calendar doesn't have to have something every single day.  You might decide that a certain day of the week needs a lift.   You can put stars throughout the month's calendar page to randomly assign fun things to do.

Make sure that YOU have ideas to suggest on these special days.  If time is short, pick activities that can be done quickly, or on the run.

If you use a calendar jar, you can assign a day as Calendar Day and children can pick from all the ideas below.   That's what I'm doing!

 Community Action Day -
1. Pick up litter on your block.
2. Go through your cupboard and set aside duplicate soups for the soup kitchen.
3. Make a box to collect used markers to return to Crayola, com for recycling.
4.  Visit the food bank, soup kitchen, or the animal shelter just to find out what they do.  Look at their websites for hours of operation and directions.

 Family Day
1.  Play a game that can include everyone in your family.
2.  Make a meal together.
3.  Learn how to do string figures like Cat's Cradle.  So many videos are available for string figures.
4. Take a walk together.
5.  Make up a story together with each family member adding a sentence until the story is done.

 Kindness Day -
1.  Remind your family to smile at people, even people they don't know well.
2.  Children can write nice notes and hand them to people they meet - even to family members.  Here are printables to make this easier.
3.  Go over kindness rules such as holding the door open for others; helping people carry things; picking things up when others drop them; speaking to classmates who might be left out.  This Cootie Catcher, also from Coffee Cups and Crayons, can help with the discussion,
4. Visit The Hunger Site to donate with your click.  You can do this every day.

 Learning Day.
1.  Learn how to say hello in another language.
2.  Go outside and look at leaves and grass with a magnifying glass.
3.  Pick a word from a dictionary that starts with the first letter of your name and find out what it means.
4. Go to the library!  Or visit the library's website to check out audio books, use online research resources.
5.  Do a simple science experiment.  Pinterest can help with that.
6.  Spin the globe and then look up the country or area your finger landed on.  It might be part of an ocean - the globe has lots of them.
7.  When it's dark, go outside and try to find constellations you can recognize.

Make one day Silliness Day.  Tell jokes.  Wear costumes.  Do silly walks.

How about Prize Box Day?  Keep a box with small surprises; pencils, dollar store notebooks, ribbons, keychains, snacks, Happy Meal toys - stuff like that!

Or Food Day.  Try new recipes.

Or Arts Day.  Use a different medium.  Create an art gallery.  Put on a recital.

Or Sports day.  Run.  Ride your bike.  Play wiffle ball, or corn hole, or bocce, or bowls. 

OR I Love You Day.  Say something special about each other.  Hug!

I better get busy making my calendar.  Have fun.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

LBBReviews - Mac B. Kid Spy

37825392  Nana got Mac B. Kid Spy #1 by Mac Barnett in the mail.  It took her no time at all to discover all kinds of things about Mac B., Kid Spy.  His mother's boyfriend sounds like a jerk - just saying.  He lo-o-oves his Gameboy.  And he learned a lot about the world when the Queen of England called him up and gave him his first - though probably NOT his last - spy mission.

I told D about it and Nana read a bit to her.  Then D sat down and read the rest. (Win! winwinwinwin!)

However, we (D and me) have our doubts.  We would very much like to see photographic evidence that Mac B. actually was a spy when he was a kid - all those many long years ago.  He says that the book is entirely true - like one of those memory things people write that possible?  And why wouldn't the Queen of England asked an Englander kid to do the spy stuff?  Many, many questions...

 D is 6 years old and I am even younger still because of the toy thing.  Mac B. Kid Spy is written for kids three years - or more - older than D is.  There were things in the book that we had trouble understanding.  How many 6-year-olds know what the KGB is?  Or what the Cyrillic alphabet looks like?  And, what is a Gameboy?  And why isn't there a GameGIRL...or a GameBUNNY?

So this book is a winner on many levels.
1.  Kid Spy!!! Duh!
2.  Actual reliable factual pieces of background in here.  I estimate that 95% of the time that Mac B. tells the reader to look something up the looked up thing is an actual fact.  It's hard to tell with this author though.  He's tricky.
3.  Great drawings - especially the drawings that take place in the USSR.
4.  Funny!  Don't take my word on it.  Read the book!  (When it comes out - which is on September 11th, 2018.)

Downside!  None!  Because guess what?  Mac B. and his mom have bunnies for pets. 

Little Blue Bunny signing off.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer! We Hardly Know Ye!

Yesterday, D and I wandered over to her house and her lovely pool to hang.  D does not get a lot of time to hang in her own space - no more than her parents do.  But yesterday, Little Blue Bunny watched D practice getting her face wet, swimming to the deep end and back.  He was super impressed.  He tried to get his face wet and it scared him.  Poor bunny!

We made him a boat from a juice carton and he lazed while we dunked underneath the water and paddled and just messed around.  Then we went indoors and D found something to do.  So did I.  It was the most relaxed afternoon we've had in months.

Summer has changed. 
Long ago, we slept in. We did our chores and then we went outside.  Everything else was left up to chance; bikes, puddles, clouds, lightning bugs.  We played capture the flag and shadow tag under the streetlamps.
We joined the summer reading club and picked out books we weren't "allowed" to read during the school year.  Nancy Drew!!!  Cherry Ames!!! Hardy Boys!!  GooseBumps (not my generation, but still a sturdy series).

Summer was a huge blank canvas.  Now summer looks like a paint-by-numbers scene.

Day camps - known as daycare during the school year - arts camps, gymnastics camps, dance camps, science camps, sports camps- that's where our kids spend the summer days.  They have to get up as early as they do during the school year because their parents have to work.    If they are lucky, they have friends at camp.  Or, they have grandparents or caregivers who come in to help care for them.  More likely than not, kids are hustled off to care arrangements.

I think that summer leisure is encoded in our DNA as a necessary part of life.  We want the rhythm to change with the seasons.   When we don't get a chance to control our days, we get anxious and testy.  Or, - and this is worse, - we lose the ability to find things to do, retreating into screen time, food or whatever we are told to do by others, whether we want to do those things or not.  BLAH!

Kids don't know or care that summers are different until they start reading books that show children enjoying freedom!  Like The Penderwicks!  Or The Swallows and AmazonsGone-Away Lake or  even One Crazy Summer  (OK, that one IS about a summer camp in a hot crowded city but there's a lot of free time in there.)

So, are summers just different or worse or better or something else entirely?  How can things change for the better?

Ah, well, that's fodder for another post.

Let me know about your favorite summer book in the comments.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Let's Not Forget! Philip Reeve

Some authors became Darlings of the Moment.  But once they have proven themselves, book people just take them for granted.  Sad but true. 

Philip Reeve, a former Darling of mine, dropped from my radar.  A scan of my "read" books list reminded me of Reeve's splendid awesomeness.

His Mortal Engines series (once known as Hungry Cities) is ground breaking, combining dystopia with steampunk and sci-fi with lots of BIG landscape gobbling cities.  (Also, "ground breaking"! Good, huh?)  Peter Jackson is turning the book, Mortal Engines into a movie.  Trailer!  Release date is December of this year.

My favorite Reeve title is Larklight and its sequels because the characters are Victorian and modern all at one go.

When you are looking for a riveting adventure to read this summer, DON'T FORGET PHILIP REEVE!  Not just for steampunk aficianados - Philip Reeve writes for all of us.