Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cybils Finalists 2014

Well, I've read my last YA nonfiction book, for this year at least.  Serving on the Young Adult Nonfiction panel for the Cybils has kept me busy for the past few months, and you can see the finalists for that category and all the Cybils categories on their website.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

tara recommends Blizzard by John Rocco

For me, winter doesn't live up to its name unless the world has a nice covering of white, glistening snow.  Gentle snowflakes falling, building snowmen and shoveling walks are all part of a magical, sometimes slightly inconvenient, winter experience.  But, what happens if the snowfall is so extreme, you can't even leave your house?

Blizzard by John Rocco is based on the author's true experiences in the blizzard of '78 that blanketed his town in forty inches of snow when he was a boy.  A snowstorm that trapped people inside their homes, canceled school (obviously), and left a community watching for snowplows to clear the roads and release them from their snow prison.

On page one (before the title page), creative pictures cover a small boy with snow, inch by inch, pulling you into a snowy wonderland that transformed everything in an instant.  Snow-covered pictures look like a real blizzard has enveloped the pages and the clever use of everyday items, such as the stop sign almost entirely buried in a snow bank, bring home the seriousness of the storm.

The passage of time is expertly laid out as each day is identified in a different way.  Tracks in the snow, raisins on the floor and the top of a grocery list are a few ways Rocco counts down the weeklong adventure.

When rations get low, young John decides to implement the training gleaned from his "Arctic Survival Guide" and he sets off with tennis rackets on his feet and a sled to carry supplies on a journey to the neighborhood market.  A sense of adventure carries him along as he checks in with neighbors and makes a list of things to pick up at the store.  The neighborhood connectivity and historical details (the clerk uses the store phone to call John's parents, letting them know he is on his way) create a charming and heartwarming glimpse into the past.

Rocco deftly recalls a personal "heroic" story filled with charm, nostalgia and adventure that will appeal to all readers.  This is a must have for  any winter library.

by John Rocco
published by Disney-Hyperion

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dog on Good Books 2014

If you haven't tired of lists yet, we have one more for you to peruse--our favorites.  These are 2014 books that we read, re-read, shared, and bought for our personal library shelves.  Every title is a keeper!

Picture Books:
  • How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
  • Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated Melissa Sweet
  • On the Wing by David Elliott, illustrated by Becca Stadlander

Friday, December 19, 2014

December Storytime Briefly 2014

This December, I was hoping for a big snow storm so I could have an excuse to share some of my favorite snow books.  But our weather has been unseasonably warm, so I gave up on waiting for snow and read the books anyway.

We talked about snow storms and read
  • Big Snow by Jonathan Bean and
  • Blizzard by John Rocco
I brought one of my favorite childhood books, Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton to show the kids, and we looked at the map of the city and the picture of the snow-covered city.  We discussed similarities in the pictures of David's town in Big Snow.  The students also enjoyed finding the days of the week in the illustrations for Blizzard.

We talked about the Christmas truce during World War I and read
  • Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix
I appreciated the author's note at the end of the story that led to an interesting discussion as we discussed the question many of the students asked: Why didn't the soldiers just make peace if they wanted to stop fighting?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Storytime Briefly 2014

The weather is turning cold, the kids are turning restless, and since we were talking about nonfiction books in the library, I read fiction for storytime.  Although, for one week I did return to what is becoming one my favorite themes: inventions.

We read books illustrated by Jon Klassen:
  • Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen;
  • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen; and
  • This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.
We talked about the importance of the text and the illustrations in a picture book and how they work together to tell the story.  We also talked about the possible endings for Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

We talked about inventions with steel.  We read
  • the poem "Skyscraper" by Dennis Lee and
  • Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford.
We talked about the first skyscraper in 1885 that rose 10 stories high and skyscrapers today that reach up over 2,000 feet.  We marveled at Ferris wheel passenger cars that held 40 velvet seats.

We talked about wishing and read
  • The Witch's Walking Stick by Susan Meddaugh and
  • Joha Makes a Wish: A Middle Eastern Tale by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Omar Rayyan.
I asked, "If you had one wish what would it be?"  One student wanted to fly, another wanted to be rich, and then there was my favorite: "I would wish to be a shape shifter."

Friday, November 28, 2014

When All Is Said and Done . . .

We had a great month reading and re-reading the animal books in our library, and as we wrap up our Fabulous 590s, we consider, Was it a success?  Every book we booktalked was checked out and some now have multiple holds on them.  We filled our wall with student recommendations.  Students crowded around our 590s section and left our shelves depleted.  But the real questions in my mind are these: Will students choose nonfiction books for leisure reading in the future?  Will they continue to check out these excellent books in the months ahead?  Will the current enthusiasm build into a life-long love for some students?

Here's hoping the answers are Yes!

Two weeks into the event, our shelves are looking bare.
Our student recommendation wall.
You can find previous Fabulous 590s posts here, here, here, and here.