Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More Wisdom from Lemony Snicket

“If you are a student
you should always get a good nights sleep
 unless you have come
 to the good part of  your book,
and then you should stay up all night
 and let your schoolwork fall by the wayside,
 a phrase which means 'flunk'.”

-Lemony Snicket

(Series of Unfortunate Events)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oh Poop!

Ah poop. The humor of the middle school boys, now spread to children's literature.
Who can deny that poop is funny? Farting is funny too, right? So of course the subject would book worthy.

The first entry in this genre that I remember is:

Everyone Poops
by Taro Gomi

First published in 1977 in Japan, released here in the U.S. in 1992. Ever popular at my house and still chosen when young nephews come over to read books with me.
This book really has no plot except to say that we ALL do it, and to catalog what it looks like, and where we do it.
Great illustrations (a little titter worthy) such as:

This was followed by the every popular

The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts
by Shinta Cho
Pointless, but true.

Several Other books that my son received from his uncle and cousin (true story):

The Bear on the Bed
by Ruth Miller

This bear is a real joker. He comes over, plays the banjo, dances around and eventually poops on the bed.
However I will note that kids find this book to be hysterical.

The most interesting thing about this book to me is that a woman wrote it. Really? I have a hard time not believing a man came up with this plot line.

Also the ever popular:
The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit
by Werner Holzwarth
(see I knew it, a man wrote this one. Not like that other book where some guy said his wife did it...)

One day a little mole pokes his head out of his hole to have a look at the day, and plop, something lands on his head.

You can guess where it goes from here. Of course the rest of the story entails checking out other animal poop and determining if it matches what is on his head.

Needless to say the little mole solves the crime and retaliates.
This one is quite popular too. Not only with kids but with uncles and cousins.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tasty Junkfood and Origami Yoda

Most days we try to eat well, fruits, vegetables, nice dinners etc. Some days though you may just want something like Taco Bell or a handful of Cheetos. Of course it wouldn't be healthy to live off of Cheetos, but a few just now and then? Yummy.

Reading choice can be similar. I usually extol the classics, seeking out the best of the best. I prefer well written, strong characters, excellent plotlines, but I will admit that some times a funny book (a Cheeto) or some other light reading can be really enjoyable. It is good for children to have some moments of reading "junk food". Surely we wouldn't want them to only read that, but a "handful" every now and again can be just for pleasure.

I just read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1)
Charles Dickens this is not, but it is really a fun story.

It looks like a journal with entries by different kids. It is their "case files" investigating the the case of origami Yoda and his great advice.

The story is of a group of boys in sixth-grade, the odd-ball type kids, who find that one friend's origami Yoda dispenses wonderful wise advice. The creator of the Yoda origami, Dwight, is especially odd, and too clueless they decide, to be the one dispensing the great wisdom.

It is a fun, quick read. It deals with typical middle school angst - not performing well in phy. ed., being one of the "uncool" kids, sitting in a group desperately trying to gain the attention of girls etc. etc. Cute.

I particularly liked the part where they are shushed in the library and the Librarian tells them the library is not a playground...I've heard that almost exact thing be told to students weekly.

There is also directions and pictures to fold your own origami Yoda.
Read this book you must.

There are also two subsequent books, I haven't read yet, but that continue this theme:
1. Darth Paper Strikes Back
Darth Paper Strikes Back (Origami Yoda #2)

2. The Secret of the Fortune Wookie
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee  (Origami Yoda #3)

Here's a quick video of the author creating an origami Yoda:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pacifist Bulls and Wee Gillis

It's been a minute since I posted on here. Things were going at such a nice pace (summer) and then I took a giant step into the whirlwind of fall and back to school. I look outside now and the leaves are on the ground and the chill is in the air. Seems like only yesterday I was floating in the pool and reading books...

Thankfully there are always more books to read. I cannot get through them fast enough. Since school started I have been reading more of the books that are popular in my library. Not always necessarily what I would personally choose to read.

But for the moment I want to celebrate one of my favorite author/illustrator duos: Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson.

One of my favorite picture books is The Story of Ferdinand. (1936)
Ferdinand Cover

Leaf says that he quickly jotted the story down as a platform to showcase the art work of his friend Robert Lawson. What magic these two create together.

Do you know this story? If not, run right out and pick it up. The story is wonderful and the illustrations are marvelous.

The story takes place in Spain.

It is the story of a bull that prefers to sit and smell the flowers.

He doesn't like to fight and play like the other bulls, but prefers to sit under his favorite cork tree and smell the flowers.

 Of course he is a bull, and he grows BIG and strong, and looks very scary.

 And when one day a group of men come looking for the fiercest bulls to take to the bullfighting ring in Madrid, events happen that causes Ferdinand to catch their attention (thanks to a little bumblebee that Ferdinand accidentally sits upon).

He is taken into the city for bull fights. Some of the illustrations throughout this section are especially wonderful. Like some of these:


Whatta cutie!

(this illustration is my absolute favorite!)

Of course I won't tell you the ending of the story, instead I will encourage you to pick up a copy and read it for yourself. Take a minute to really study the details in the illustrations.

Of course the story is about pacifism. There are many articles and interpretations of all the aspects of the story. In 1936 the start of the Spanish Civil War had just begun, and many saw it as Leaf's statement of his political views. He insisted it was only a story about a bull that liked to smell the flowers.

These two also collaborated on Wee Gillis. (1939)

Wee Gillis lives in Scotland. He is an orphan, and splits his year between his mother's family in the lowlands and his father's family in the highlands. In the Lowlands, he tends their Highland Cattle (Hairy Coos) and learns to call them, even in the densest fog (developing very strong lungs). In the highlands he learn to stalk stag, requiring him to learn to hold his breath for long periods of time.

Both sides of his family press him to choose to live in the highlands or the lowlands, but one day he discovers bagpipes, and realizes his training has equipped him to play them. Everything perfectly falls into place for Wee Gillis from that point on.

You truly can't go wrong with anything either of these two had a hand in.
Munro Leaf also wrote some fabulous books on manners, such as:
ALL fabulous!
Robert Lawson also wrote (and won a Newbery Award in 1944) for Rabbit Hill.
A really beautiful story.

And They Were Strong and Good
Caldecott Medal, 1940