Monday, November 3, 2014

Two new alphabet picture books-Once Upon An Alphabet and Take Away the A, An Alphabeast of a book

I had a very nice time at Kidsbooks this week checking out some of the new picture books.  I am a lover of picture books and it is always fun to see new ones.

Once Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers has great short stories for all the letters.  Jeffers had a run away hit with The Day the Crayons Quit, and I liked this one as well.  How creative he is!  I loved this video about his creative process!  Even with older kids I think it would be fun to talk about the elements of a short story and have them create a short story about an alphabet letter.  A great starting point might be to read The Day the Crayons Quit for a bit of inspiration.  After that it would be great to share Jeffers' alphabet stories.  Or you could even read the A story and then have them pick a letter to work on…
Here is a sample from the book,
"Victor was used to being victorious.
But recently he was defeated
and retreated into hiding under
stairs where he sits, plotting
his vengeance"

And again there is a whole story which could be elaborated by the students-how was he defeated, by whom, and how we he get his revenge???  Lots of possibilities with this book!!!

Another fun alphabet book is Take Away the A, An Alphabeast of a book!  This one is written by Michael Escoffier  and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo.  And to give you a taste here is a video!

It is really clever and imaginative as you see the bride without a b go for a ride on a ferris wheel or a a chair without a c grow hair.  An aunt without a u becomes an ant.  This is a book that can really encourage word play and imagination.  The illustrations are totally wonderful.  I can see kids having fun coming up with their own Take Away the _____  Also with younger children a great way to get them to really notice letters and the differences they make!

I have more books to share so stay tuned!!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ashley Spires' The Most Magnificent Thing and other book treasures

I have been longing to write about picture books, but I was so upset about the teachers' strike that started in June and didn't end until late September, it was hard to write about anything else.

The strike is over, if not the issues so I am finally going to  write about picture books.

The last Sunday in September,  I went to Word on the Street, a fun event that takes place in major cities across Canada to celebrate reading.  There are lots of books, and authors reading books, and you can make books etc.  When I skimmed down the list of authors, I was pleased to discover Ashley Spires was speaking.  I fell in love with Ashley's book, Penguin and the Cupcake, when I was a consultant and there was a lovely little children's bookstore near me, on Main Street. called Once Upon A Huckleberry, and I was able to hear her speak there.  She just seemed so creative and fun.  I loved the finger puppets she made that went with her book.

Ashley moved to Saskatchewan, the store closed, and I became a grade six/seven teacher, but I still loved her books.  So it was great to see her again  at Word on the Street and to find out about her latest books.  And I was also please to find out that she was living in the Lower Mainland again.

She spoke mainly about two of her newest books Sunday.  The first was The Most Magificent Thing.  She was inspired to write this book having seen children at schools frustrated by their drawing so she wanted to help kids to realize that you don't have to create perfection.  It's a delightful book as the girl tries to create something magnificent but is not satisfied with each creation though in the end a use is found for all her creations.  To hear a bit more about this book and the hackable books she gave away at this presentation as well, just check out this video.

The book even inspired  the Property Brothers!

She also  talked about her popular graphic novel series Binky the Space Cat, the astronaut who never actually leaves home and her plans for a new series.

The other new book she shared was Edie's Ensembles.  Edie is so busy creating incredible outfits that she kind of forgets about her best friend.  And she gave out paper dolls of Edie with some of her ensembles!  She has plans for a sequel about Edie's friend, Andrew.

I just love Ashley's creativity, and I have been after my friends to arrange school visits!  For contact information just check her website.

Just a note- I have often used picture books with intermediate students, sometimes as a model for their own picture book writing or as part of a theme.  I think The Magnicent Thing Could be used in a variety of ways!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How one family baked to help local teachers!

I have read so many wonderful stories during the very long teachers'  strike that just ended.  It was as if there were sparks of light in the darkness.  This was one of my favourite stories from BC Voters Supporting BC Teachers and Public Education.  I am quoting Brooke Vasconseles and using her name only with her permission that this may inspire others to support/affect change.  Her note is addressed to teachers.

"Whatever you choose to vote today, you have my support completely. My 3 kids and I wanted to show appreciation for your efforts and support for your hardship fund and I wanted to let you guys know how it went. 

We offered to bake and sell some chocolate chip cookies as a fundraiser and the response was overwhelming. We spent a week in the kitchen and sold over 700 cookies! I wrote a cheque for $581 yesterday and we dropped it at our local Teachers Association office for deposit into the hardship fund. 

I have been awakened to the state of our public school system and the efforts of the teachers in it to provide my kids with the education that they deserve.

 I won't stop at baking cookies. I hope that this page remains open and continues to unify us in our efforts to better the conditions for our teachers and children. In short: thank you, thank you, thank you."
When I told a friend that it had been hard on teachers not being paid for five weeks plus, she answered that since they were on strike no wonder they were not paid.  I assured her that no teacher I knew would sooner be on a picket line than in a classroom teaching, but they felt that this was what they had to do.  Thanks to people like Brooke who really empathized and were patient, and supportive!