Saturday, July 29, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Make-Do Stories

One of the things I loved about Robbie Branscum's stories is that the main characters were well-versed at making-do.   Not a single Robbie Branscum title can be found in the four libraries in my area consortium.  I'm not surprised.  Her work was geographically specific to the folks living in the woods of Arkansas. Her last book was published decades ago.  I hope we don't forget her.

Making-do stories - books about poorer people who manage to create what they need from what they have - appeal on so many levels.

1. Lots of modern families are secret make-do families. The obsession with "life hacks" is experiential proof of that. Think of left-overs, hand-me-downs, re-engineered bicycles and toys.  The books show modern readers families who have to make-do with less. 

2.  We learn from them.  Who knew you could make a sling from thread scraps and a stick?  I'm sure I'll never need to know how to do that but what if?  Right?

3.  Make-do stories are on a par with the survival shows that are so popular on reality TV.  We read and wonder, how will they fix that?  How will they survive?

4.  These stories inspire us.  When the Five Little Peppers manage to surprise their mother with a birthday cake and decorations made from scrap paper, it makes the reader wonder why she ever made a fuss over not getting a new whatever on HER birthday.  And if the reader is a child, he might also wonder if his own mother would like a birthday surprise.  Surprise!

5. Make-do stories encourage pride in being inventive!  They also encourage perseverance and independence.

Here are some of my favorite "making-do" stories.  (I don't think that making-do is an actual subject heading, btw.)

Ike and Mama series by Carol Snyder.  In the tenements of New York, during the early 1900s, Isaac lives with his mother and father and faces the difficulties that come with making-do.  The stories reflect the diversity of the tenements and the untrammeled hope that immigrants had.

Five Little Peppers
The Moffats
Little Women
A Certain Small Shepherd

I will add more when I run across them.

Way too busy

...until now.  Since the 4th of July, I have told stories, taught storytelling, told more stories - done more storytelling workshops, performed musical storytimes with Dan, practiced for all the afore-mentioned events, and babysat.  And, honestly?  When I had time to sit, I read.  (Also, a wedding and a funeral.) 
I rock the socks with my old squeezebox.  Too busy to take an in focus photo.

Here is a glimpse into my to-do list for August:

1.  Jack and the Beanstalk Storytelling Performance at Allentown Public Library on August 2nd at 6 pm.  Expect "growing" beanstalks, giggling performers, silliness and a cow!

2.  Teen Storytelling Workshop Performance, August 8th at 7 pm at the Emmaus Public Library.  This workshop has been so much fun.  Come out and cheer! for the young tellers - oh, and me and Sue Monroe, the awesome-est Youth Librarian west of Allentown.

3.  Star Gazing Stories at the Trexler Game Preserve on August 12th around 8: 30 pm.  Maybe later!  An astronomer will be there to help the campers find and follow the Perseid Meteor Shower.  S'mores will happen.  Contact the Wildlands Conservancy about this event.

Here is what I HOPE to do in August (hahahahaha!):

1.  Practice my accordion every day.
2.  Write down the music for the songs I "made up" this year.  (I am very nervous about time signatures.)
3.  Move my sizable photo collection to disc or drive by category.  (This will take years!)
4.  Send off "Little Aliens" to a publisher.
5.  Read six books, including Viva, Rose, Lock and Key, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, The Wonderling, and The Story of Freginald.  The sixth book is anybody's guess.  I hope to read MORE than six books.  We will see.

Now, I expect YOU to hold ME accountable.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Double "E" Authors

Today we tip our hats to three double "E" authors,  - Edward Eager, Elizabeth Enright, Eleanor Estes.  Old-fashioned, magical, a taste of a simpler time - here are three authors that I thoroughly enjoy.

Half Magic (Tales of Magic, #1)In the mid 1960s, I picked up Half Magic by Edward Eager ( 1911- 1964) and discovered magic that was NOT consigned to the long ago and the far away.  The magic coin that four children find only grants half of each wish -  a desert-but-NOT-an-island, a-cat-who-talks-but-can't-be-understood, and a trip home for their mother that only gets her half way home.  The children lived in a recognizable relatively modern (to me) world.  I was hooked.  Quirky and fun, Eager's novels have stood the test of time.
NOTE:  I had already discovered E. Nesbit (an E author but NOT a double E) and her "magic in the modern world" novels.  HER modern world was my long ago and far away world so, to me, Edward Eager's books were a revelation.

This cover is the first edition, drawn by the author.
Elizabeth Enright.  I found The Saturdays when my son was young.  We read the entire Melendy family series in a swoop.  Years later, I borrowed an audio book of Gone Away Lake - what an adventure.  Enright's children are not run-of-the-mill children.  They are slightly precocious, or brighter than most, or somewhat talented, or overly shy.  Each character has something about them that makes them appealing to young readers.  Their adventures are the leaving-the-house-without-telling-anyone type of adventures, with unexpected rewards and appropriate repercussions.  Or in the case of A Spiderweb for Two, adventures created by a loving older sibling for the younger ones left at home.  Love!!!💕
Enright won a Newbery Medal for Thimble Summer, written in 1939 and a Newbery Honor Award for Gone-away Lake.

Eleanor Estes  - Much to our neighbors chagrin, my son and his friends decided to build a museum on the front porch.  They include artifacts left over from a nearby construction site, and dug up in the garden.  It was lovely and fun and kids from blocks away stopped by to see what the boys dug up.  I wonder, (chin tapping ensues) where my son got that idea.  FROM THE MOFFATS, another lovely free-range family with a wonderful parent.   It is toss-up - for me - whether Rufus M.  (in which Rufus gets his first library card - more hearts here!💞) or The Moffat Museum is the best book in the series.
We can't forget Estes' awards, a Newbery for Ginger Pye and Caldecott honors for The Hundred Dresses, illustrated by Louis Slobdokin and the aforementioned Moffat titles.  The Hundred Dresses is a heart wrenching story of how a child is laughed at because of her poverty and how the main character just sits by and watches.  The book is often held up as a opening into a discussion of bullying. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chopped! for Kids' Crafts. Challenge me!

School bus ?  Stone Henge?  Castle Greyskull? Dinosaur?

So, here's my idea.  Someone sends someone - me or even you - a box of random recyclables of the sort that we use for children's crafts.  Cardboard tubes, jar lids, paper plates, paper bags, straws, small plastic bottles, corks, string, milk cartons etc.  Surprise me!

The second part of the challenge is this. The recipient will record the process of opening the box and MUST come up with a children's crafts that uses the stuff in the box.  The recipient makes something and records the finished product. The challeng-ee can even record their attempts.    To do this right, all participants should reference sites and books that are used to find ideas.  Recording COULD be video, but photos are good.

What do you think?

This might make a good program for tweens and teens.  Make unboxing videos with your book club.  You can even use a book theme.  For instance, they have to use the items in the box as resources in a Hunger Games challenge.  Or, the items in the box must be used to create a character or item from a popular series.  Don't just think adventure or fantasy series, either.

The best thing is that the person putting the box together just throws things in.  It's up to the opener to be creative.  OH!  I love it. 

Nothing perishable or hazardous.
The unboxer can add or use the following items: scissors, hole punch, glue, tape, color-adding technology (crayons, markers, colored pencils or paints) string or yarn or ribbons, rubber bands, fabric scraps, and scrap paper.  Googly eyes or pompoms? Not sure about the googly eyes or pompoms.

If you want to challenge me, just send me a list of the random items.  I will box - and unbox - them myself. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ooh! I WANT One!

It's a tea dragon.  The leaves sprouting from its branch-like horns can be brewed as tea.  This is BRILLIANT!   The genius behind this idea - and the graphic novel that stars these little (insert cooing, baby smooching noises here) creatures - is Katie O'Neill, the Kiwi artist who also created Princess Princess Ever After.

Click here to find out how you might win a copy of Tea Dragon Society (it is also a web comic) and a copy of Princess Princess Ever After.  Thanks, Diamond Book Distributors, for bringing these books to the USA.

Shelf Awareness - my favorite site for scoping out new books - posted this on their Maximum Shelf edition for today.  How could I NOT share THIS little (unintelligible coochy-coo noises) sweetie with all of you??

  My heart is melting!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

6 Things I Did Last Week

1.  Moravian Academy Reader's Theater workshops!  15 kids, paper hats, original scripts - all based on Jack tales.  Why, oh why, didn't I take photos?
A meager showing of the awesome hats.  The rest went home with the makers.

2. Took over the Universe.  Trixie, evil genius, and Grumpy Girl (me), captured the entire Universe.  Why stop at the world, am I right?
3. Froze chard for winter use.  So much chard!
4. Read the following books; Geekerella, Magpie Murders, I Hate Everyone But You, Caleb and Kit.
5. Bought an action camera and almost immediately regretted it.  I. Will. Learn. How. To. Use. This.
6.  Went to a wedding and saw the bride vanquish the groom in a sword fight.  Beat that!! 

I also lost my high school roommate and foster sister to ovarian cancer, and gained a great-niece.  Life goes on.

Reviews will follow but here's the nutshell.  Geekerella 👍, Magpie Murders 👍. The other two get possible thumbs ups but require discussion.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Artemis Fowl

Is it too early to "remember" Artemis Fowl?  A coworker brought Artemis out for a young reader who wanted fantasy AND adventure all rolled into one.  And I remembered the total rush of WOW! that I experienced when I read the first book.  (BTW, what happened to the movie plans?)

Artemis is your typical evil- genius- with- a- soul.  Heir to a multi-million dollar criminal empire, Artemis must save his father from kidnappers.  His mother is lost in a haze of depression.  Their money is inaccessible to Artemis so he decides to steal a hoard of fairy gold.

Yep.  He's Irish - in Ireland - where caches of fairy gold are rumored to abound.  Oh, Artemis, you know not what you are about to unleash.  Those "little folk" live in the 21st century and they have the technology to prove it.

Gosh, I L.O.V.E. these books.  It is time to re-read them.

Eoin Colfer has a several other books to his credit.  He has just started a new series, W.A.R.P., that features a time traveler from the Victoria era who is swept up into an intelligence nightmare.  Be still, my reader's heart.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How Does He DO That?

Chronicle Books presents "How to Draw A Maze" by Sean C. Jackson, the author of "From Here to There".  And it's amazing.  (See what I did there?)

I've been away.  Did you miss me?  I've read some awesome books. More later.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hattifant Minion Card

I love to craft even though my results are less than perfect.  My dream life would be equal parts reading, crafting, and being outside in all weathers (preferably sheltered).  (Note:  I did not mention eating because that would just be embarrassing.)

I subscribe to Hattifant, a marvelous paper engineering site.  Every few days, I get a link to a new download for a paper toy or ornament or coloring page.  I don't always take advantage of these offers.  The videos are often enough.

Here is the latest.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth, everyone!  🎆🎇

Enjoy the fireworks and be careful with those sparklers! If the excitement gets too much for you...if you look around and wonder how we got where we are - good or bad - here's a book to read.

The Fragile Flag by Jane Langton.   The president wants to build a bomb - a huge world-ending bomb.  To garner support, his administration runs an essay contest in the schools.  Then, the president and his government try to redesign the flag, adding sparkles and glitz. 

In Concord, Massachusetts, Georgie Hall and her cousins decide to carry an old cherished flag, one said to infuse the viewer with patriotic visions, from their home to Washington D.C. on foot.  Even though they gather followers on the way, they also meet challenges. They wonder if their protest will have any effect at all.

Published in 1984, toward the end of the Cold War, this book might sound dated in its political setting (historical fiction!).  In 2002, Kathleen Karr, another favorite author, wrote that the book was not "appropriate for our political climate".  She wrote her critique right after 9/11 and might have been referring to our, at that time, friendly relationship with Russia.  Things had changed since 1984 but the pendulum kept swinging.

Personally, the danger of patriotic fervor turning into nationalistic insanity is all too real.  This book's message is true.  Read it and let me know how you feel.

More on Jane Langton, here.

Over at literacious, Laura has put together a Revolutionary War reading list for your middle grade - and older - readers.  Enjoy.