Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Twenty-four Hours In Twitterville #7

There has been lots of action on Twitter lately...enjoy.

Mo Willems has been busy.  Check out the latest on Mo Willems Doodles via The Pigeon.

Via Publishers Weekly, The Globe and Mail posted an article titled Book apps:  A reading revolution, or the end of reading? by John Barber.  It's an interesting take on the impact of apps and the appeal of them based upon design. 

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson talk about their new animated film The Adventures of Tintin at Comic-Con 2011.  This promises to be one of the best in its genre.  I can't wait to see this.  The release date is December 23, 2011.
Meriden, Connecticut has renamed their children's library The Tomie dePaola Childrens Library to honor their home town hero and his commitment to their city.  Tomie dePaola is the most recent recipient of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for the contributions that his works have made to literature.

School Library Journal tweeted The 2011 Eisner Award Winners.  Comics and graphic novels rule!  Check out the Best Publication for Kids and Best Publication for Teens.

Julie Danielson on her blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, posts an article called Seven Crazy Realities Everyone Should Know about Literacyhead.com.  Literacyhead.com in their own words states:  A Literacyhead is someone who is intensely serious about exercising creative literacy, making connections across multiple literacies, pursuing thoughtful literacy as an individual and as a teacher, and constantly searching for ideas.  Literacyheads may have expertise in different areas of literacy. but all are committed to children's literacy, passionate about the arts, incessant thinkers, and display a propensity for fun.  I truly can not wait to visit this site again and again.

Random House tweets about a link to Shelf Awareness, Quotation of the Day.  Stephen King shares his #ThankYouLibrarian book.

YALSA, the Hub, tweets about a new article, More Powerful Than a Locomotive.  This article addresses the impact of graphic novels on struggling male readers.  I know this to be true.  They can not be kept on the shelves.

Library Journal has an article titled, Using the Cube to Bring Back the Book.  A nonprofit group is going to be placing lightweight modular structures about New York and Boston this fall.  In their words:  will bring books and various programs to public spaces and underserved neighborhoods.  It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Friday, July 29, 2011

ClassTools Rules!

ClassTools is a site created by Russel Tarr, Head of History at the International School of Toulouse, France.  This site houses a variety of templates, free of charge, that allows for the generation of educational resources that can be used in the classroom immediately without registration.  The classroom aids that educators design from this series of templates can be saved as a HTML file or as a Widget that can be embedded in a blog or wiki.  An Internet connection would still be necessary to communicate with the ClassTools site.  As long as a file is used during a 12 month time period it will be saved permanently on their server.

Given the popularity of Facebook, even by my students too young to participate (cringing here), I decided to design a template using Fakebook.

Fakebook allows users to design a page around a real or imaginary character.  Begin by entering in the name--Click Here To Enter Name.  Once the submit button is clicked Fakebook will find a profile picture or the user can upload one of their choice.  I recommend uploading one of your choice based upon personal experience.

As much profile information as necessary can be included.  It can be edited.  Friends can be named on the left along with an uploaded photo or one chosen by Fakebook.

When a post is added there is a box for the poster's name, text of post, date of post and for an image.  Postings can be deleted, moved with drag and drop and edited.  Viewers of the page can make comments.
By just saying likes this or dislikes this a thumbs up or thumbs down will show.

Using the tool bar to the right of the Fakebook page a new page can be started, the current page can be saved, printed, embedded, or downloaded.  In order to receive the embed code the page must first be saved.  The search icon looks for previously made pages while the browse icon lists recently produced pages. 

Each Fakebook page has a unique URL when it is saved.  At that time the user is asked if they want the page to become part of the Fakebook Public Directory.

Fakebook pages can be used in author or illustrator study, to study characters in a class read or for individual responses to books read, to highlight a particular event or just about anything in the same manner as Facebook.

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Create your own

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Water +Cats = Gobs of Giggles

Who wouldn't love a cooling dip in a pool during this summer heat wave, Splat, that's who!  This cat is back in a new episode, Splish, Splash, Splat! Author/illustrator Rob Scotton has delivered another dose of delight.

Splat is awakened from a sleep filled with dreams of candy fish floating within his grasp when his Mom opens the curtains and announces that Spike is coming over after Cat school for a play date.  Splat is none too happy about that.  Spike breaks his toys, eats too many candy fish, calls Splat names and is a show-off.  To make matters worse his Mom wants him to take a bath.  Splat does not like water---Water is horrible.  It's scary and wet and makes me soggy. 

What is it they say about bad luck coming in threes?  Splat's outlook of the day ahead is already sinking but when his Mom says that swimming lessons are beginning at school, his spirits dip down, way down. 

Mrs. Wimpydimple takes the class to the pool.  True to form Spike announces to the class that Splat forgot his swim trunks; Splat says that they are just black and furry.  Plank jumps right in with the rest of the class following slowly.  Who are the last two on the edge of the pool?  Surprisingly enough, it's Spike and Splat.    Splat is amazed to discover that he and Spike have more in common than he thought; well at least when it comes to water. Splat and Seymour hatch a tasty plan that works wonders.

In creating the Splat the Cat books, Rob Scotton makes liberal use of white space; his comic characters pop off the page ringed by bold colorful accents.  Soft, fine lines underscore Splat's fuzzy fur, his spindly legs and his long crooked tail which is uniquely his and his alone.  Scotton's attention to detail just adds to the humor; the fish wallpaper in the hallway outside the bathroom, the labels on the pool side--NOT DEEP,  GETTING DEEPER and UH-OH, and Seymour's attire mirroring that of Splat.

Another of Scotton's gifts is depiction of expression.  One of my two favorite pages is when Splat's Mom announces that Spike is coming over for a playdate.  Splat and  his mouse friend, Seymour are shocked into open-mouthed exclamations while lying in bed; Spike's toy duck runs off the page squawking.  When Splat is supposed to be taking his bath, he is gripping with all four paws the sides of the tub holding himself above determined not to get a single drop of water on this fur. 

Splish, Splash, Splat! by Rob Scotton is our feline friend at his endearing funniest and finest.  Like the other books in this series what happens to Splat could happen to any one of us.  Enjoy.  Be cool.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How-To Was Never Easier

If designing a step-by-step set of how-to instructions is what one wishes to do, then the web 2.0 application, Tildee is the perfect solution. 

Tildee offers users the ability to share their own personal tutorial on anything under the sun with others at no cost and without registration.  Just click on the +Create a new tutorial.  Type in the title of your tutorial, then begin with an explanation of step 1.  When that is completed a Google map, video or image can be inserted.  Multiple steps can be added.  The tutorial can be emailed, printed and shared using an unique URL generated for each tutorial.  There is an amazing number of social networks and online applications listed when the +Share button is clicked.

If you wish to modify this tutorial then entering in your email address is required.  A username and password will need to be selected. Once registered your Tildee can also be deleted.  There does not appear to be any age restrictions.  The policy of what may be posted is very strict and provides for a safe setting.

There is a search function if a user wishes to see other Tildee creations.

At the Tildee home page new Tildees, the best Tildees, your tutorials, your favorite tutorials and a newsfeed option can be chosen.

This is the first of many Tildees that I plan on creating.  Just click the link to find instructions to get materials to the Charlevoix Public Library by using MEL, the Michigan eLibrary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There are heroes and then there are HEROES.

Jack D. Ferraiolo, author of The Big Splash, which is going to the top of my reading stacks, has another winner in Sidekicks.  As my eyes were racing across the lines much like the pace of the action in the story, I kept thinking again and again---my students are going to love this book; guys and gals.  When a book's opening paragraph sets the tone as Ferraiolo does in Sidekicks, readers know that they need to hang on and hang on tight because they are in for one rushing ride.

I'm sitting on a filthy chimney, eighty stories above street level, watching from the shadows as one of my personal top five dumbest villains tries his best to wrap his mind around a hostage situation of his own creation.  His name is Rogue Warrior, and he's six feet five inches of bad skin and steroid-fueled muscles.  His hostage, an attractive woman (of course, she's attractive...it's kind of hard to get money for an ugly hostage), is going with the traditional "scream my way to freedom" attempt.  It's not going well for either of them.

The narrator is Scott Hutchinson by day a student at Harbinger Preparatory School much like the other celebrity-type teenagers attending that institution.  But by night he is Bright Boy, sidekick to Phantom Justice.  Phantom is by day Trent Clancy, the man who took Scott into his home when orphaned, providing him with every opportunity for a plus/plus to live up to his true potential. 

There are those people that have plus or super powers; speed, strength and intelligence.  Some are heroes.  Others are villains.  Most are plus/plus speed and strength or only plus intelligence.  No one knows (or admits) that anyone has all three. 

Dr. Chaotic, their arch nemesis and a plus intelligence, has escaped from prison.  They confront him with his sidekick, Monkeywrench, several times before the unthinkable happens.  Scott, Bright Boy, begins a fight early instead of adhering to the sidekick code attacking Monkeywrench.  They crash through a wall with the fight escalating to the rooftops until a weakened roof has them falling.

As they pick themselves up, they discover that Monkeywrench's mask has fallen off.  He, it would seem, is a she.  And not just any she but a student, Allison Mendes, at Scott's school.  Before Scott can stop her she has taken his mask off.  Sworn enemies, yes, but they still pledge to keep the secret of each other's identity. 

It is said that there is a fine line between hate and love.  These two sidekicks cross that line having close conversational (sometimes) encounters in the closet at school, racing, flipping and jumping across rooftops in New York City, discussions about what is good and what is evil and capturing the notice of people down in the street one evening when they kiss.  The sidekicks have moved into the spotlight.  And that is not a good thing for them or their "fathers".

Least you think this is a mushy-gushy romance, it is not.  But it is about the sheer joy of first love, trust between friends and most definitely about how appearances can be deceiving.  Evil lurks in the least likely places as does goodness.

Ferraiolo has given us a novel that reads like a comic book without the graphics; I should know as a collector of comics myself.  The action is high octane, pulse pounding and chock full of unexpected twists.  Dialogue between the teen characters is spot on filled with attitude, doubt, conviction and betrayal.  As a teenager discovering who you are presents a life full of ups and downs and if you are a superhero, those highs and lows can have drastic results. 

Do yourself a favor.  Pick up Sidekicks and get ready to laugh out loud, grip the book with tension and gasp with disbelief.  Fun has never been so good.  I am most certainly looking forward to a sequel which I hope is in the works.

Be sure to check out the book's trailer at Jack D. Ferraiolo's blog linked above.  It gives insight into the fantastic imagination of an author to be watched.

Evolution of the Sidekicks Jacket is a great blog post about the artistic changes in developing the cover for this book.  Thanks to TheHappyNappyBookseller for posting this link.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Promise Is Kept

I have a new favorite dog book; yes I do!   A couple of days ago Eric Rohmann's new release (July 19th), Bone Dog, found its way into my possession. As he did in his 2003 Caldecott Award winning book, My Friend Rabbit, Rohmann employs a printmaking technique for his illustrations.  Here is a quote from his web site about that artistic style:

After making two books using large two page spreads painted with oils I had the idea to try something different....So I went back to a kind of artmaking I’d done in school — printmaking, deciding to make the book with hand colored relief prints—bold color and a chunky, jaunty line — to illustrate the silly story of a overly enthusiastic rabbit and his reliable friend, Mouse, who always mops up after him....

I am so thankful that Eric Rohmann was kind enough to respond to an email I sent asking about the art employed in Bone Dog.  He says:

The illustrations were made just about the same way as with MF Rabbit. I made the key image in relief (the black line), printed it with oil based inks and added the color with watercolor. With Rabbit I tried to give a feel for a woodcut with the color. I had the idea to make the entire thing with relief printmaking but did not have the facilities. With B. Dog I used looser washes and a more subdued palette.
I try to use the medium which best serves the story. Rabbit was supposed to be comic, and for slightly younger readers, so I decided on a chunky, jaunty cut line and bright color.

Using warm, soft colors associated with autumn and the changing of seasons (which are a mirror for changes in our lives) framed with heavy black lines, Rohmann's two page panoramic pictures depict the uplifting story of a boy, his dog and a bone-tingling Halloween night.

The cover and the translucent overlay (which is sheer genius) on the title page are clearly a foreshadowing of the loss that begins this tale.  Ella, the dog and her boy, Gus have been friends for so long that as they sit beneath a full moon one evening she says:  "I'm an old dog and won't be around much longer.  But no matter what happens, I'll always be with you."

It's hard for Gus to leave the house, do his chores or go out trick or treating without Ella but he does.  It's on his way home, bag heavy with treats, that Gus walks through the graveyard.  It's dark and when the moon is covered by clouds, it gets even darker.  On Halloween the dark opens a door releasing things into the night; shivery things like skeletons. 

Surrounded by boisterous, bony bodies who want him to do stuff that skeletons do, Gus reveals that he is a boy dressed up as a skeleton.  Yikes!  Gus is in trouble now. 

..."And you know what that means?"
"Bone appetit!!"
They lunged at Gus.
"You've got guts kid...but not for long!"

As the clouds pass from the moon and the wind stills a smaller skeleton runs through the air---it's Ella.  The bone clacking gang issues derisive remarks at the pair until Gus joins Ella barking, growling and howling.  In the distance answering howls are heard. 

Everyone knows what dogs love best.

As Gus and Bone Dog, Ella, sit under the full moon together again, before vanishing, she tells him what she said before, "A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken."

Eric Rohmann reminds us through his spare but clever text paired with heart-warming, joyous, sad, spooky and humorous visuals, which truly tell a story of their own, that some bonds are never broken. 

I love absolutely everything about this book. It's about loss, friendship, love, promises and it's about the unexpected that can happen on Halloween night.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Covering The Covers and a Jelly Harry

Multiple bloggers (Larry Ferlazzo of Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day and Julie (Jules) Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast  to name a couple) have been mentioning a relatively new web site called Uncovered Cover Art.

Heidi, a children's book editor and art lover started this site because she believes that the illustrations in children’s books are one of the last publicly celebrated art forms.  She further states on the site's introduction that this site is for not only people who love children's books and their illustrations, but for those artist's who wish to display their work, for people looking for new talent or for artwork that can be used to illustrate a children's book.

For those wishing to submit art for the site choose a classic or new children's book.  Illustrate the cover in your own unique way creating your interpretation of the story through that cover; entice the reader to pick up that book and read it.

View the submissions at the site and vote for your favorites.  The artwork is stunning and original.

In the classroom this would be a fantastic idea for the interpretation of a book's central theme.  It would be a focal point for a writing exercise.  More artistic students could pair with students better at writing to design a unique book response with each required to increase their skills based upon teaching and collaboration one with the other.

On July 18th a post appeared on the Everyday Food Blog--MarthaStewart.com titled Fancy Food show 2011.  The writer and a companion went to the annual show in Washington DC.  Check out this mosaic using Jelly Belly's Bertie Botts Beans.  Imagine the hours it took to make this.  Plus if I were one of the artists it would have gone something like this...one for the mosaic, two for my mouth, two for the mosaic, a handful for my mouth, etc.    Thanks to Carla Lalli Music for allowing me to post these pictures.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Twenty-four Hours in Twitterville #6

At the SloDive web site an article, 25 Brilliant Optical Illusions for Kids, written by Sualini Rana highlights new and familiar optical illustions that might just add a spark to the beginning or ending of a class period.  They can be used to illustrate the importance of attention to detail.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo of Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day.

According to an article found in The Globe and Mail, How Harry Potter Rewrote the Book on Reading by John Barber, there is a continued trend for more children and young adults to be reading as a result of the wave created by the J. K. Rowling books.  Even more interesting is the trend of adults to be reading more young adult books than young adults.  Thanks to Publishers Weekly for this tweet.

A boatload of book trailers were featured on the School Library Journal blog, A Fuse # 8 Production as well as this photo of the entrance to the Children's Section at the Cerritos Millennium Library in Cerritos, California.  This is beyond cool; this is awesome and it is going on my bucket list!

Via  YALSA's The Hub: Your Connection to Teen Reads check out the article, On the Road Again-Audiobooks Perfect for Summer Road Trips for a very good list to make those long stretches from point A to point B more tolerable.

What if your library was delivered to you on the back of a burro?  Check out this short PBS video about how one man is making a difference in the lives of the children in his small corner of the world.
Thanks to ALA Booklist for this link.

Check out the latest answers to questions about the Pottermore web site via Pottermore Insider.


As much as many of us love summertime, especially those of us who have had long, cold winters, there is not anything so irritating as pesky mosquitoes.  Those silly, dilly men, Alan Katz and David Catrow, have delivered another volume destined to ignite an explosion of laughter.  Mosquitoes Are Ruining My Summer! And Other Silly Dilly Camp Songs (Margaret K. McElderry Books, April 26, 2011) will have readers singing with gusto and grins.

All the bases are covered here:  the ride to camp, the unlikely bunkmates, meals three times a day which should be food, swarms of mosquitoes, waiting for mail that never arrives, lack of clean clothes, the inevitable camp talent show, muddled arts and crafts, sporting in the water that is only inches deep, the LIMBO, scary stories 'round the campfire, that one kid more odorous than all the rest, the terrors of hiking and finally home again letter in hand that should have been sent days ago.

Sample these excerpts.

To the tune of "Yankee Doodle"
On the bus ride
off to camp,
alone with fifty strangers.
Kids are crying,
Seats are damp.
Ahead...who knows what dangers?...

To the tune of "Skip to My Lou"
...Skip, skip, skip every meal.
Skip, skip, skip every meal.
Skip, skip, skip every meal.
Skip every meal, I warn you!
Lunch---a treat---
mystery goo.
Slurp it up---
no need to chew.
For dessert: devil's food shoe.
Somebody send a pizza!...

To the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel!"
...Dirty, smelly, and I suspect
his armpits will soon flower.
This kid needs to disinfect.
Jim needs a shower....

Fourteen wacky, funny bone tickling verses themselves a delight, elevate to the height of hilarity when sung to traditional American tunes and childhood favorites. 

The vivid and bright, pen, colored pencil and watercolor illustrations of Catrow cajole readers to partake in his exaggerated depiction of life at summer camp.  No one is better at capturing every nuance of expression perfect for the moment at hand.

I envision some bouncing, jazzy, singing story times followed by our own poem creations or perhaps a story of other summer camp days gone awry.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Virtual Post-It Boards-Tempting Tempest

Content Collaboration, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, 1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within a learning community. 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners, is the main focus of Edistorm which made the Top 25 list for 2011 as selected by the American Association of School Librarians.

Edistorm is an application that allows for online sticky note collaboration with multiple users in real time.  As an educator the service is free to make one private storm at a time.  When that storm is closed or archived it becomes read only.  Another storm can then be created.  If multiple storms within a classroom(s) with additional functions are desired there is educational pricing.

When signing up to use Edistorm a first and last name, email address, username and password need to be given.  Users must be 13 years old.

The first window that appears when creating a storm asks for the storm name, type of storm template (interesting templates for educators; IE. Venn diagrams) to be used, how many votes per person will be allowed, privacy, a private storm URL is shown for that storm, and an invitation to users box where email addresses are entered. Once the Create button is clicked a new screen pops up.  On this screen text, an image or a video can be added.  These can be edited, deleted or the color of the notes can be changed.  Please note that when I was using IE8 the edit and delete option were not available.  I had to switch to Google Chrome.

Invited users can vote on which idea or ideas they favor the most as well as leave comments.

A storm can be exported to XLS , PDF or a Report Summary can be generated.  These can be saved or printed.

 A legend of all the note colors is on the left.  Each color can be named to represent a different type of idea.  Ideas can be sorted by the top chosen, no votes, new ideas, old ideas, recently commented, my ideas, my votes and recently modified.

This looks to be another stellar example of online collaboration that can be utilized well in or out of the classroom.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I had no idea what to expect when I began Revolver by Marcus Sedwick.  I did know that it is one of four recipients of the Michael Printz Honor Award 2011 For Excellence in Young Adult Literature. 

It is 1910.  A solitary cabin surrounded by snow sits at the edge of a lake, 68 latitude north, some 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The cold is a living, breathing thing as powerful as the death it brings quickly to the unfortunate or unwise...or the frightened. 

Within the four walls of this one-room dwelling sits Sig, short for Sigfried, next to his father, Einar, lying frozen, dead, on the table.  With only his thoughts and silence for company, his sister Anna and step-mother Nadya having gone for help, Sig mulls over their family's daily life and the events that led to his discovery of his father's body on the ice.  Night comes and the new morning does not bring his sister and step-mother home, it brings a knock on the door.  That sound changes everything.

A man, a stranger to Sig, is filling the doorway.  He is a giant of a man like nothing Sig has ever seen before.

His features were coarse, his eyes far apart, his nose broad, his mouth hidden by a rough beard of ginger and white.  His head, when he removed his fur hat, was shaven to his scalp.  His skull was a disturbing shape, flat at the back, his ears too small.  It was not a face stroked into creation by God's loving hand, but battered into shape by the Devil's hammer.

This man, Gunther Wolff, has been tracking the Andersson family for ten years since the Gold Rush days in Nome, Alaska where Sig's and Anna's father was an assay clerk  Intent on obtaining a fortune in gold he believes they have, nothing, not even murder, will stay the hand of this brutal, chilling presence.

As the bits and pieces of those ten years are gathered together in alternating chapters 14 year old Sig, as well as readers, will weigh good versus evil, the Biblical teachings of his mother and step-mother versus the more practical advice of his father.

Know what you will of the world.  Know what you can, know what men are and the things they do.  Understand what God is to you, understand what you are to your loved ones.  Love, sing, cry, and fight, but all the time, seek to know everything you can about the earth upon which you stand, till your time is done.

Knowing that his father's revolver, a Colt Single Action Army, 1873 model, The Peacemaker, is within his reach fills him with hope and fear.  "A gun is not a weapon," Einar once said to Sig.  "It's an answer.  It's an answer to the questions life throws at you when there's no one else to help."

Profound thoughts, crisp, descriptive dialogue and concise chapters entrap readers, as Sig and Anna are by Wolff, speeding quickly to a resolution that defines home, family, faith, hope and love.

Even the dead tell stories is the compelling first line of this thriller but it is also the means to an end; an end that readers may not see coming.

Recommendations for this story are high and I'm adding mine to the growing number.  Readers from grade seven on up will not be able to put it down until they have finished.  Then they will close the cover and say ever so quietly, "Wow".  Around the dinner table, in classrooms or in book groups discussions will abound.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Appetite For Flowers

It is a well known fact that goats will quickly devour just about anything put before them.  Huck is a mountain goat and while he will eat cardboard boxes, woolly gloves and birds' nests, what really makes his taste buds tingle are flowers; lots and lots of flowers.  When he gets a whiff of those delectable delicacies Huck Runs Amuck!  Author Sean Taylor starts this tale as Huck faces a serious dilemma.  It would seem that he is not the only goat that enjoys such a meal.  His mountainside is nearly devoid of flowers except for a clump at the tippy-top of a narrow, needle-pointed peak. 

And---UH-OH...he's not going to try that impossible climb, is he?

But of course he does. Then the rollicking, laugh-out loud escapade gets into full bumping and thumping motion.  From the mountainside, to the village of Polkadot, up on Mrs. Tuppleton's clothesline, down to a pile of boxes outside Mr. Hartwig's General Store, up to a bridge, then down to a boy on a bicycle, then up to a church spire Huck pursues flowers in every shape and form---fresh, fake or printed---he can not resist.

Listeners and readers alike will also not be able to resist chiming in each time a floral opportunity is presented to Huck with the questioning and answering refrain.  Is our blundering billy doomed to a flowerless fate?  At the pinnacle point in the plot will Huck consume or zoom into the waiting arms of Mrs. Spooner?  Sean Taylor delivers a sometimes rhyming, sometimes repetitious but always flat out fun frolic from cover to cover.

Peter H. Reynolds, author and illustrator of Ish, The Dot, The North Star and So Few of Me, has combined tea, watercolor and ink to give Huck his large bug-eyed, buck-toothed, bearded appearance that is nothing short of hilarious.  Huck has an air of exaggerated goofiness that invites, no demands, laughter.  And laugh you will again and again.

Both you and I know that just because the final page is turned and the cover is closed, that one, two or  perhaps a whole bunch of voices will call out---Read it again!  Read it again!  Please!

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's A Bookprint?

The Standards for 21st Century Learner include a section on Social Networking and CommunicationStandards 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners, 4.1.7 Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information, and 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person are mirrored in the online web site, You Are What You Read.  This site is another of the top 25 chosen by the American Association of School Librarians, 2011.

You Are What You Read is a site developed and maintained by Scholastic.  In their About section for adults they state:  At Scholastic, we believe that literacy is the pathway to success and to realizing a complete life.  Books play an important role in shaping who we are and who we will become.  This site is an opportunity for people of all ages to leave their bookprints and connect with other readers around the world. A bookprint, as defined by Dr. Alfred Tatum, professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, is our textual lineage.  Our textual lineage is a reading and writing biography which shows that who you are is in part developed through the stories and information you've experienced.

There is a separate page for adults and children.  The page for children is safe, secure and content appropriate.  The kids' page is part of THE STACKS, an online book community just for them.

When you go to the home page, you are asked to enter the month and date of your birth and then click on the Get Started tab.  You will then be taken to either the adults' or kids' pages.
Be careful when entering in the date.  I wanted to see the difference between the adults' and kids' pages.  To view the adult page I entered in the correct year.  To view the kid page I entered in another birth year.  Now my computer automatically goes to the kid page.  It will not allow me to view the adult page.  It must have something to do with cookies.

On the adult page you can sign in using Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, LinkedIn, MySpace or your Scholastic account.  You only need to sign in when clicking on the My Profile tab but this is where you leave your bookprint and begin to design your contacts.  Your bookprint is five books and five books only that have special meaning; that have influenced who you are today.  To use the Books, People, What's Hot, About and Pass It On tabs you need not be signed in.

The Books tab is self-explanatory; it has a search feature for finding books.  The People tab is a search feature for finding Names You Know, Authors, Educators or LibrariansWhat's Hot contains information about the latest news, blog posts, interviews and videos.  About gives information concerning the purpose of You Are What You Read.  The Pass It On feature is very unique.  If you want to give a book you have enjoyed to a friend, someone in need or just leave it out and about for someone to find, you can print out a bookplate to put inside that book.  The books that you pass on will be listed in your favorite section within your profile.  If you desire they can be tracked on a map.

For educators there is a handy guide with sample activities for separate age groups, a great long term lesson and an example of a letter to be sent home to parents.

Get started today by connecting with other readers who have similar bookprints.  For me, it is going to be hard to think of only five books that have special meaning.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Horton Who?

What happened to the Luggertuck diamond?
Why is a group of swashbuckling pirates landlocked without a ship?
Who meets with Old Lord Emberly in the library at night?
What happens when the Purple Bell rings?
Will Horton Halfpott be free?

Are Bump, Blight, and Blemish a disease or first rate sleuths?
Will  Miss Neversly continue to be the spoon wielding kitchen witch or will Cupid's arrow pierce her heart?
Why is the evil Luther Luggertuck lurking in secret passages?
Will detective Portnoy St. Pomfrey solve the mysteries or will he continue to shovel anchovy stuffed deviled eggs into his mouth at every opportunity?
Who will catch Celia's fancy?
What is a corset and why did M'Lady Luggertuck loosen hers?

There is only one place where all these questions can be answered; in a very special book, of course.

Tom Angleberger, author of the bestselling The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, has another sure fire winner,
Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset.  As an unseen narrator addresses Dear Reader a tale unravels replete with a cast of characters that boggle the mind, employing a Dickens' inspired style of narration revealing mad-cap mystery and suspense liberally laced with humor. 

The short lively chapters use language that rolls off the tongue whether in the reader's mind or a listener's ear.  It propels the plot forward in a manner that engages the reader completely urging them to discover what is happening next to whom.  I found myself turning the pages quickly.  At each chapter's end I was smiling if not quietly laughing. 

Here are just a few examples of Angleberger's use of words.

Crotty was a tiny old thing, but she could pull those corset strings tighter than a hangman's noose.

And in the kitchen...the iron rule of law was felt to be just a little rusty.

Love---yes, Love---was about to buffet the weathered stone of the manor; whose musty corridors had gone many fine years without it.

Tom Angleberger's distinctive artwork that decorates the endpapers, chapter beginnings, a cast of characters and a map of Smugwick Manor and Environs is the whipped cream and cherry on top of a book that reads like a finely wrought play; a mind-watering dessert sensation.  When it comes to meals, my students and I like to eat dessert first. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Twenty-four Hours In Twitterville #5

In the online Time Magazine Arts section there is an engaging article written by Jeff Kinney, author of the increasingly popular Diary of A Wimpy Kid series.  He talks about his ideas of books that are interesting to children; books that make them want to read.

And to honor the final Harry Potter movie to be released this week check out this article, British Farmer Builds Harry Potter Maze with One Million Plants and the amazing photograph.  Can you find the difference?

The first trailer for the Martin Scorsese film adaption of The Invention of Hugo Cabret is out. And I for one can not wait to see this movie.

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for these tweets.

Larry Ferlazzo, author of Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day,  has an updated version to his The Best Places to Learn Web 2.0 Basics.  He has included some great resources that bear checking out to increase the use of technology within classroom curriculum.

Ferlazzo has also updated his Best Web 2.0 Applications for Educators in 2011(so far).

 Via another tweet Ferlazzo spoke of an infographic titled---The State of the Internet 2011.  It is a very impressive, animated site that is constantly being updated.  This is a must see.

Today Ferlazzo has a tweet referencing a good list titled 80 Online Tools, References and Resources from the Edutopia site

Read the oh-so-true article in the Wall Street Journal by Norman Lebrecht titled How Harry Saved Reading.  By authoring the Harry Potter books J. K. Rowling brought parents and children together reading in a way that I have yet to see to that extent in my entire career. Thanks to the Young Adult Library Services Association for this tweet.

Thanks to a tweet from the Book Maven a link is provided to the Troy Public Library (right here in Michigan) where 97 letters written in 1971 from some very notable persons to the children can be viewed.  These letters stress the importance of libraries and offer congratulations on the opening of the new library.

Richard Byrne tweeted a reminder (as if we needed it) that the summer is half over.  He offers his 77 Resources for Teachers to Explore This Summer as a great way to delve into what is available online to increase use of technology in a variety of subject areas.

Jubilee and Jane

I own, enjoy and treasure these books, The Gift of Nothing, Art, Just Like Heaven, Hug Time, South and Wag! by author/illustrator, Patrick McDonnell . McDonnell is the brilliant artist of the acclaimed Mutts comic strip.  He is passionately involved in organizations for the protection of animals and the preservation of our planet, Earth. Having admired Dr. Jane Goodall, McDonnell read her autobiography, Reason for Hope:  A Spiritual Journey.  In that autobiography is a picture of her holding her childhood friend, Jubilee, a stuffed toy chimpanzee.  That was the spark for the fire that became Patrick McDonnell's beautiful title, Me...Jane.

I think I've mentioned before that I am one of those people that take joy in the entire package known as the book.  For me the book jacket is like the ribbon, the cover is like the wrapping paper, the endpapers represent the box and inside the box is the story.  Me...Jane is a true representation of the saying, a book is a present that one can open again and again.

Warm, soft, amber-toned  watercolor illustrations spread across a cover that imitates a journal, scrapbook or photo album beckoning the viewer to be part of something personal. Jane is in the center with the animals looking at her but at this point she is not part of their environment but a photograph.

In removing the jacket the cover maintains the journal, scrapbook or album motif but instead of McDonnell's portrayal of Jane the photograph that inspired this book is pictured among naturalistic engravings from the 19th and 20th century with two tiny touches of McDonnell's own artwork.  The endpapers are the same comforting brown color as the book's corners and spine with an additional light brown done in an African tribal design.

McDonnell begins Jane's story with the gift of Jubilee.  Jubilee is ever at her side as she roams outdoors watching with keen eyes all the life big and small in her world as a young girl.  By reading books she increases her knowledge at every opportunity.  He highlights her observation of a chicken laying an egg; which answered her question on the origin of eggs. 

For most of the book McDonnell has the engravings stamped beneath the text on the left with his original illustrations on the right.  It is his two page spreads that are so endearing, memorable and uplifting.  There are four; two with his own artwork, the third a combination of engravings and his watercolor and India ink visuals and the fourth is Jane's original drawings as a young girl for her club, The Alligator Society.  It is the second of the four that is the book's center; Jane is shown climbing her favorite tree named Beech on the right with engravings on the left that bleed across the center.  It is this blending of the precise with the creative that McDonnell says accentuates Jane Goodall's character as a scientist and an artist. 

As this part of Jane Goodall's early life is told to us by McDonnell it will become clear through his specific word choice, that gift he has of saying so much with so few words, that Jane made her dreams come true and she did it with heart. 

She would lay her cheek against its trunk and seem to feel the sap flowing beneath the bark.

For those fans of the Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, yes, this book's title is a result of Jane's fondness for those tales. 

Take a moment to enter the life of young Jane Goodall as told to us in words and pictures by Patrick McDonnell.  This is not just a biographical portrait but a tribute to a woman who has inspired many and will continue to do so for generations to come. 

At the book's end is more information about Dr. Goodall, a letter from her and a piece of artwork, a cartoon, that she drew.  By clicking on Patrick McDonnell's name you are linked to his books' web site where there is a video interview with him about Me...Jane. If you click on Jane Goodall's name the link will take you to her web site for the Jane Goodall Institute.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Tool for Telling Tales

PicLits is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture.

This free online application found its way to the American Association of School Librarians list under the Digital Storytelling, Standards for the 21st Century Learner, 4.1.7 Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information. 4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning. and 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person heading. 

To register for use, as with most applications, an email address is necessary, a password needs to be given and a pen name needs to be chosen.  Once the user is registered two options are available for creating a PicLit---Drag-n-drop (using only words that are listed beneath the photograph) or Freestyle (writing your own words on a page watching them appear on the picture as you type).

It is advisable to select the Learn It button at the top of the screen before attempting to pen a PicLit.  A screen appears with Write It, Rhyme It and Master It icons.  The Write It icon guides users in the basics of sentence structure up to writing a complete paragraph.  Word rhyming, poems in general and similes are discussed in Rhyme It.  Master It includes full blown lesson plans regarding poetry and the writing of poetry.

There is a large gallery of photographs from which to choose that provide ample inspiration.  To the right of the PicLit screen are four tools--Save, Blog or Share, Email or New PicLit.  When a PicLit is saved it is housed in a cloud online.  When retrieved it can be edited, shared, emailed or deleted.

To use as a group brainstorming lesson or for individual writing pieces nothing could be simpler.

The blog or share it feature does not seem to be working at this time but PicLits can be viewed in the gallery.  When you click on the Explore The Gallery heading you can search by newest, highest rated, sample PicLits, by picture and by author which is an alphabetical listing of usernames. I am going to link to my two "creations".  The first  link is a PicLit using their words.  The second  illustrates how you can use your own thoughts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Peppermint Patties Are Real Trouble

Without a doubt readers acquainted with Babymouse, Poppy, Ralph S. Mouse, Celeste, Despereaux, Stuart Little, the characters created by Kevin Henkes and Brian Jacques have a new friend and hero in Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt.   

Fredle is a member of one of several families living in the walls behind the pantry in the farm house of Missus, Mister, the baby, two dogs, Sadie and Angus and one very sneaky, very quiet cat, Patches. Fredle is a mouse; not a cellar mouse or an attic mouse but an inside kitchen mouse.  Specific rules and traditions govern the activities of kitchen mice.  Fredle's questioning nature coupled with his cousin, Axle's adventurous spirit and the tantalizing aroma of a peppermint pattie lead the two into serious trouble.

What's a mouse to do when he finds himself on the outside?  No one has ever been on the outside and returned to tell about it.  That's just what Fredle yearns to do in the worst way; get back to his family. 

Wishing his life to be as before doesn't make it happen.  Between wishing and doing Fredle observes such visions of beauty, encounters creatures false, true, wry of humor and terrifying and learns so many new words that he is able to put his acute loneliness aside sometimes, just for a little while.

The black air above him was filled with white specks that winked and blinked and trembled.  They gave no light.  Instead, they sparkled, brightly.  Fredle had never seen anything like it before, but it wasn't frightening.  It was too beautiful to scare him.  His eyes wanted to keep on looking up at all the white brightness, to discover if there was any design in them, to see if they moved, to wonder about them.

Between adventures on the outside Fredle has more than enough time to reflect on his life.  Much like his human counterparts he is growing and developing his own life philosophy. 

What was Fredle supposed to do about all this changing that was being forced on him?  He guessed that all he could do was enjoy the good things and endure the bad things....And since the brightnesses were very good things, Fredle stayed where he was, staring up into the dark air, where they glittered and glimmered.

Seeing the world through Fredle's eyes, readers will remember the glee of discovery, of seeing something for the first time which since has been taken for granted.  This description of flowers is especially memorable.  It depicts the curious soul of our tiny hero.

He looked up at the smooth-sided cups and then his eyes ran down the long green stems, then they flew up on the winglike dark green leaves.  Did those cups catch the rain when it fell?  he wondered.  Were they there for the humans to bend and drink out of?  He thought that the water held in those cups, especially the white ones, would have a power no other water could match.

When Fredle is captured by the Rowdy Boys, a crew of rascally raccoons, readers will be glued to the pages wondering as does Fredle when his final hour will be.  But the young mouse is becoming more "streetwise" carefully piecing together each new idea, new piece of information and new task conquered to reach his goal. 

Louise Yates, award-winning illustrator and author of Dog Loves Books, uses pen, pencil and paint so well that the pictures scattered about this tale make Fredle and the cast of characters even more endearing (or in the case of cats, raccoons and snakes more wicked ) to us all.

Cynthia Voigt through her narration and Louise Yates through her art change our perspective of this world in which we live, give us joy in the moment, heart-pounding panic and the sense of freedom that comes with being true to yourself.  Young Fredle is a tale to be savored whether read individually or shared with others.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Square This and Square That

On September 18, 2010 I posted for the Elementary Pick of the Week, Michael Hall's book, My Heart Is Like A Zoo.  In that post I said, Hearts like love can assume many forms.  Come explore the metaphoric feelings, shapes and colors galore while wandering through the digital art of Michael Hall's animal world.  That book as is the My Heart is Like a Zoo web site are delighful, inventive and collaborative.

Perfect Square, the newest title by Hall is his previous book's equal and then some.  There is so much to love about this book.  Eye-catching and bold cover colors, book shape and size are inviting but the real hook is the white smile on the red square.  Why, readers ask, is the book smiling?

The first two pages explain that the red square of paper is perfect.  It has four equal sides and corners that are alike.  On the next two pages readers read---And it was perfectly happy.  The red square is smiling.

As readers follow the red square through the days of the week beginning with Monday it changes shape and then color through no actions of its own but those of unseen hands, initially.  Much like the quote, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, our (see how I have taken ownership in the reading of this story) red, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, purple, and then red again squares chooses to create objects, places or natural formations from those alterations.

It is on Sunday, finding itself red again and waiting, that the brilliant choice of the square is what binds all the weekly modifications together into a spectacular view of how parts can make a pleasing whole.

Michael Hall's book, Perfect Square, is perfect and readers will be perfectly happy reading it again and again.  I can envision it now, readers of all ages will be heading to their craft boxes, craft cupboards or piles of colored paper to let their imaginations go where they may.  For educators this, as does My Heart is Like a Zoo, offers numerous opportunities for combining writing with creative energy.  Please follow this link to the publisher's website to view interior pages in this title.  Enjoy using this Teaching Guide for several of Michael Hall's titles.