Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Annotated Websites In A Cloud

In 2011 the American Association of School Librarians included on their list Best Websites for Teaching and Learning under the Standards for the 20th-Century Learners, Manage and Organize a web 2.0 application that is more sophisticated than bookmarking enhancing your saving and sharing experience.  This site, iCyte, is free to a student or faculty member of an educational institution.  It allows users to to create cytes saving web pages and PDFs on their server, highlighting special sections retrievable from any computer.  Once made cytes can be searched and shared. 

To create an account enter in your first and last name, a valid educational email address, a password and agree to the iCyte privacy policy and EULA.  If your email address does not fulfill their criteria simply send them an email explaining your educational status.  I received a reply within 24 hours. 

A welcome page appears on the screen when your account information is completed and accepted.  At this page you are guided through installing the iCyte plug-in to your browser tool bar.  iCyte can be added to Internet Explorer and Firefox.  (According to their web site a bookmarklet can be addeded to Safari, Chrome and Firefox. When installation is complete your browser will close and when re-opened a screen appears immediately directing you in the creation of a cyte.

When you log in and are at your Dashboard you will be able to see the number of cytes, tags, projects and persons.  You can toggle between your Dashboard, Cytes, Settings or Logout.  What you are seeing is the overview.  If you desire you can click on Get Started for a simple three step tutorial on how to cyte a web page.

If you select the MORE button in the center of the page you are taken to a more detailed page which is the same as clicking on the Cytes tab at the top right of the Dashboard page.  This page allows the user to view cytes by projects, tags or users as well as sort existing cytes by date, email the cyte, copy the cyte or export the cyte into Excel or Word.  Actions can be done to individual cytes or to groups of cytes.  Cytes can be filtered by typing in keywords.

When you click on the VIEW CYTE button an individual cyte will appear.  At this point the cyte title, project title, tags or notes can be changed.  This cyte can be copied to another project already created or which you can add at that time.  Cytes can be shared via email, social network (Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) or embedded using an HTML code.  Highlights on web pages can be hidden, headers can be expanded or collapsed and the source website can be viewed.

I decided to create a project of websites used in writing reviews.  I try to include a little information about authors and illustrators in the posts for my blog. 

When you find a web page that you want to save or specific text within that page you want to highlight do so with your mouse.  Then click on the iCyte icon located on your browser tool bar.  A small inset appears asking for for the title of the cyte, the project in which you want it placed, tags and any notes.  Then simply click save.

 At any time if you want to see a list of your cytes as you are working, click on the icon to the right of the iCyte icon on the tool bar.  Your cytes will be listed in a column to the left of your screen beginning with the most recent.  Thumbnails of each of the web pages saved, the title, project, and tags will appear.  At that time you can edit those cytes or copy them.

Here is an example of a cyte that I created for the review that appeared on this blog yesterday about illustrator, Dan Santat, and the title, Tom's Tweet for which he provided the visuals,

When you click on the thumbnail you are taken to the web page.

When working on any type of project involving research, whether professional or personal, this tool is amazing.  I most certainly would recommend this to students gathering information for individual or group assignments.  When a staff member is working on a lesson including online resources, wanting to focus on a particular aspect of a site, this is the application to use.  Collaboration is as easy as filling in an email address.

Monday, January 30, 2012

If Laughter Is The Best Medicine, Then I'm Going To Live Forever

I started laughing as soon as I saw the front and back covers; big ole' cat a toothy grin smeared across his face, a glazed look in his eyes, a clueless baby bird ripe for the taking smack dab in front of him.  Leaves and burrs clinging all over his fur have readers asking, "What is going on?"  Front endpapers sporting the tiny chirper beak wide open too many tweets to count issuing forth.  Back endpapers covered in tweets a large top half of the cat's face, ears ringing and eyes showing him on the verge of going bonkers paints a pretty clear picture.

Tom's Tweet written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Dan Santat is a testament to the limits of
patience and its eventual rewards.  On an early morning stroll after a storm crusin' for a bite, Tom spots what he believes to be a tasty little morsel.  Upon closer inspection he finds that he is unable to eat this pathetic specimen.  To his amazement he feels obligated to plop it back into its nest. 

Unfortunately for Tom, Mama bird flies home just as he makes it halfway up the tree.  Barely escaping by skulking through the garden, Tom still has the young bird tweeting like no tomorrow between his teeth.  What to do?  Why won't this frenzied fledgling be silent?

Does it need a nest?  Certainly it does not need one like his architecturally challenged creation.  Is it hungry?  Digging deep for worms does not work.  Ugh!  Only when he chews them into mushy, sliminess does the tweeting stop.

Satisfied the little babe snuggles under his armpit.  Despite his resistance, Tom, too, drifts off to dreamland with his new charge.  When mama bird flies to forage, Tom takes him home to his siblings. 

Tom's sleep that night is restless. Could it be he misses that pesky pest?  Sunrise brings surprises and satisfaction.

Jill Esbaum's sharp, snappy narrative snares readers from page one maintaining its hold as the most unlikely of situations unfolds.  Just the simple fact of a cat becoming attached to a baby bird is humorous enough but Tom's frustrated dialogue takes it over the top.

"Consarn it," Tom grumbled.  "Now what do I do?  Just my luck to get stuck with a tweet."

Tom scritch-scratched and dug in the storm-puddled mud for the juiciest worms he could find.  But the tweet wouldn't eat; it was waiting for...something.  Tom gasped, "Are you out of your mind?"

Within a twenty-four hour time span, as readers snort and squeal with laughter, Tom goes from snack searcher to napping nanny.

Dan Santat is an absolute king of comedic illustration.  Using Photoshop for his pictures humor is evident in every line, color choice, graphic size and placement on the page.  His interpretation of the text using exaggerated gestures and facial expressions doubles the hilarity.  Santat must have laughter running in his veins extending from his fingertips to the printed page; the close-up of the crestfallen tweet eyes mirroring the retreating Tom, mama bird attacking Tom with the tweet gingerly held in his teeth, Tom's extended arm below ground searching for worms and the two new friends napping on the patio.

Jill Esbaum and Dan Santat are a match made in heaven; a collaborative combo we need to see more of as soon as possible.  I can't wait to read this aloud to each and every one of my classes.  This kind of funny is meant to be shared and shared often.  Lucky me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Twitterville Talk #33

There was so much excitement this week with the culmination of a year's worth of work by authors, illustrators, librarians, readers, people involved in all aspects of the literary fields and committees who strive to continually put as we were taught repeatedly in college, To give the right book to the right reader at the right time.  Awards, lists, the best ways to introduce technology to students and integrate it into our classrooms as well as extraordinary resources takes center stage.  Enjoy and have a great weekend.

Book trailers have become a big hook in getting readers to the right title;  Trailee Award Winners Announced at ALA Midwinter MeetingThere are some real beauties here that snagged honors and rightly so.
Thanks to John Schumacher, K-5 Librarian of extraordinary talent, at Watch. Connect. Read.

Thanks to Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer:  Awakening The Inner Reader In Every Child for the following links and tweets.

How do you fit into this infographic, Profile of a Twitter User?

No truer words have ever been spoken in this quote:  "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen.  "The man who never reads lives only one."---George R. R. Martin

Courtesy of Edutopia, Free Classroom Guides and Educational Downloads for 2012.

Thanks to Kyle Pace, Instructional Technology Specialist,  for tweeting, Four Creative Commons Photo Sites You Should Know About, a post by Keith Ferrell at Ed Tech Ideas.

Joyce Valenza, blogger at Neverendingsearch, School Library Journal, posts about a resource that is simply amazing, "Every survivor has a story to tell. " Introducing IWitness & its 1000 storiesThis outstanding site contains 1000 video testimonials of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.

In September of 2011 School Library Journal conducted an interview, Jack Gantos:  Should I Stay or Should I go?  Grab a copy of Dead End in Norvelt, the 2012 Newbery Award winner if you have not read it yet.

In August of 2011 School Library Journal conducted an interview, A Garden of Memories, with Lane Smith regarding his 2012 Caldecott Honor Medal title, Grandpa's Garden.

A Chat With Newbery, Caldecott Winners at School Library Journal gives readers more insight into two fine artists in their respective fields.

Jonathan Hunt, blogger at School Library Journal, Heavy Medal:  A Mock Newbery, gives a glowing tribute to author Susan Cooper winner of the 2012 Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.

No surprise here, as USA Today reports, Librarians lure students back during Wikipedia blackout.

John Corey Whaley, 28, discusses his Printz Award and what's next in an interview at the Los Angeles Times/Books/Jacket Copy site.

How Dr. Seuss Got His Start On "Mulberry Street" essay at NPR Books.

The Guardian posts an article, Anyone for Quidditch?  Harry Potter game kicks off at OxfordThis makes me want to go back to college... on the other side of The Pond.

Publishers Weekly interviews three award winners, Gantos, Raschka, Whaley: Where They Were When the Award Call Came.
Thanks to Children's Bookshelf of Publishers Weekly for these tweets.

At Mo Willems doodles!, readers are treated to his Thank YOU video for his Geisel Honor award given for An Elephant & Piggie Book, I Broke My Trunk!
Thanks Pigeon for this information.

To think that readers got a sneak peek of A Ball For Daisy, the Caldecott Medal Winner for 2012, in a interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, blog by Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Interviews Before Before Breakfast #83:  Chris Raschka, back in 2009.

Black History Just A Sidebar In History Books? NPR interview with 2012 Coretta Scott King Award recipient, Kadir Nelson for Heart and Soul:  The Story of America and African Americans.

ALSC, Association for Library Service to Children has posted their 2012 Notable Children's Books.

YALSA, Young Adult Library Services Association, has posted their Best Fiction for Young Adults for 2012. Check out the left sidebar for additional lists of titles which are really too good too miss.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Singular But Not Alone

Toward the end of November through the month of March handmade snowflakes, keepsakes, some more than twenty-five years old, hang above both entrances and the circulation desk in our library media center.  Students marvel at their intricate patterns amazed by the variety.  Not surprisingly enough I learned through my connection with picture books that no two snowflakes are alike.  If I had learned it somewhere along in my studies in grade school, high school or college, it was tucked away in the back corner of my mind to be resurrected with the publication of Snowflake Bentley, a Caldecott Medal winner in 1999 written by Jacquelin Briggs Martin and illustrated with woodcut designs by Mary Azarian.

Again I am reminded of this marvel in nature with the newest title written and illustrated by Keith Baker, No Two Alike.  An evergreen frosted in snow against a chilly winter sky, snowflakes softly falling, is the resting place of two perky red birds chirping away, a single illustration spanning the front and back covers.  Endpapers thick with snowflakes (I tried to find two alike) introduce readers to the red-feathered fliers as they venture out from their birdhouse to explore the frozen landscape.

Adventures begin, discoveries are made and questions are answered as these words follow the companions:

No two snowflakes are alike,
almost, almost...
but not quite.

The duo soars, completes aerial loops, tries to catch falling flakes, feather-tickles a slumbering squirrel, skis on pine needles, snacks on leaves, and taunts a passing fox.  Throughout their travels using spare, lilting, rhythmic verse Baker recites that nests, tracks in the snow, branches, leaves, forests, fences, roads, bridges, houses, and friends may be similar but each, in their pleasingly particular pattern, are unique.  His closing two page spread against the lacy falling flakes shows two large red feathers falling, identical except for the black tip on the one.

In response to an email Keith Baker states that his digitally rendered illustrations are first sketched in pencil.  Sketches are then scanned into Photoshop.  He draws and adds color with a stylus and Wacom Tablet.  None of his images are imported unless they have been drawn first by hand.  He wishes all his pictures to have a hand-crafted look rather than the super realism or 3-D style. My thanks go to Keith Baker for responding to my request.

To this reader's eye the visuals created by Baker are as fresh and crisp as the season which they depict but there is a softness to them; a feel of collage, a careful placement.  A subtle silence permeates from the pages despite the playful ventures of the two feathered friends.  The choice of red for the birds, that warmth, among the cooler colors of this time of year, when Mother Nature is at rest, draws readers into the narrative.  As he did in his New Times Bestseller, LMNO Peas, small bits of humor are woven into his visuals such as the birds making a pile of snowballs, calling out to the fox, ready to send one sailing through the air.

No Two Alike written and illustrated by the mind and hand of Keith Baker is a charming, refreshing, winter journey taken by two likable birds affirming our individuality with exhilaration.  This is going to be a perfect title to share during these January days aloud to groups of students who I know will beg to hear it again.  I will quickly comply with a smile.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Dive into the sea of thought, and find there pearls beyond price"

More possibilities are appearing on the web for users to collect, curate if you will, what they find in order to save it and to share and collaborate with others.  Pearltrees is one such site that states:

Why use Pearltrees?
  • To cultivate your interests.
  • Pearltrees is a place to collect, organize and share everything you like on the web.
  • You can keep at hand the web pages you like and enrich your account with Pearltrees from other members of the community.
Pearltrees is a free service.  Users can browse and access Pearltrees without creating an account but to create new pearls and pearltrees an account is necessary.  Users must be 18 years of age or have guardian or parental permission to use this application.  To create an account choose a username, enter in your email address and create a password.  The terms of service must be accepted.

When you are registered you are taken to a page which asks you to fill in optional information to complete your profile:  your real name, location, website, mini bio, preferred language (French or English, this company is based in France) and whether you wish to upload an avatar.

Next you are asked if you wish to connect to Twitter and Facebook the pearls you add as well as the new pearltrees.  It also asks if you wish to add pearls as links to what you post or tweet.  The final option connects everything.  Being the new kid on the block, I did not connect anything.

Step three is the installation of the pearler, an extension on Internet Explorer. Once installation is complete three icons appear on your browser tool bar:  the pearl icon, an icon showing which pearltree is open giving the user the ability to work within that pearltree, others that have been previously created or a new one and the final icon representing going to your account.

With the beginning of a reading incentive tied to the Iditarod at our middle school, The Idita-Read, I decided to make a pearltree including the official Iditarod web site along with several musher web sites. 
I went to the individual web sites clicking on the pearl icon on the web browser tool bar to add them to the pearltree named Iditarod.  I was also able to create another pearltree named Official Iditarod Website pages which I was able to drag and attach to the Official Iditarod website pearl. 

Within the Pearltrees user page are a variety of tools to enhance your experience.  The tool bar across the top allows for searching for related interests, checking on team and pearltree events, search pearltrees, a listing of your pearltrees, settings (identity, account, language, notifications, password, the ability to import web sites from Delicious, the ability to export your pearltrees by changing them into a W3C-compliant RDF file or invite people) and a help section.

The inset which appears in a current pearltree can be minimized but it allows you to embed a pearltree with HTML code in four different sizes, create a tiny URL or an original URL link of a pearltree, email a pearltree, tweet on Twitter or post on Facebook your pearltree and you can recommend pearls and pearltrees to people already a part of your team or who have picked your pearltrees.  You can also edit individual pearls by deleting, duplicating or moving them. 

Any time you click on an individual pearl (website) it becomes the inset.  By clicking on that image you are taken to that web page.  You can move through all the individual pearls using the previous and next arrows along the top or go back to the Pearltrees site where you are working.

At the bottom of the screen a series of icons provide the installing of the pearler, adding a new pearl or pearltree, invite, connect to Twitter or Facebook or connect to a mind-mapping pearltree.  You can increase or decrease the appearance of your pearltree on the page or delete and recover it.

This curation tool is simply amazing.  I am happy to have discovered it through a tweet by Literacyhead last week.

The quote used for the title of this post is by poet Moses Ibn Ezra.

Iditarod and Official Iditarod Website pages in (perennialpassion)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Ghostly Friendship Frees The Light

I don't know what took me so long to make this decision but, after reading thousands of books, from now on I am collecting first lines.  They, like a first paragraph or first chapter, can take the reader away to another time and place within moments.  Whether introducing a character, setting the stage, raising expectations or providing the perfect lure, first lines are the stuff of power.  Lauren Oliver, in her first title for middle grade readers, delivers a stunner in Liesl & Po.

On the third night after the day her father died, Liesl saw the ghost.

Some thirteen months ago when her father was hospitalized with a strange illness, Liesl was locked in an attic room by her conniving, toad-like stepmother, Augusta, who proclaimed profusely that it was for her protection.  Strange her own daughter, Vera, was free to enjoy the fruits of Liesl's father's labors along with Augusta.

Neither boy nor girl, Po, has been drawn from the Other Side to the Living Side along with his constant companion, Bundle, neither dog nor cat.  Liesl and Po need one another for reasons more clear to the one than the other.  As a bargain is sealed between the two, the threads of friendship began to form.

Unbeknownst to Liesl, Will, an orphan, has become assistant to an alchemist dabbling in magic best left alone but which will assure him a status of great power if he succeeds.  As Will runs errands on many still, dark nights, he often pauses beneath Liesl's attic window gazing upward hoping to meet her, to become her friend and protector.  Through no fault of his own, other than exhaustion, Will commits an error.

Coincidences; mix-ups; harmless mistakes and switches.  And so a story is born.

Will was entrusted by the alchemist to deliver a box of huge magic, the biggest the alchemist had ever made or attempted to make, to the Lady Premiere.  He was instructed to go there first, then to Mr. Gray, the undertaker.  He does not.  That is why Liesl's household is in possession of the box of magic and the Lady Premiere has a box filled with the ashes of Liesl's recently deceased father. 

Liesl, Po, Bundle and Will escape the confines placed upon them by life (or the afterlife) to begin a journey attempting to fulfill the request of a dearly departed.  The alchemist, Augusta and the Lady Premiere are in hot pursuit with murder on their minds.  Thrown into the mix is a kindly, cat-loving guard of Lady Premiere's, Mo, who only wants to give Will a hat.

Lauren Oliver as she did in Delirium, previously reviewed here, is the true alchemist in this tale; using language to conjure an effect radiating characters for which readers will cheer or come to loath, a sense of place unlike any previously known and the pure, overwhelming joy at knowing there are people on whom you can rely through life and even beyond in death.

As he had walked down empty street after empty street, past row after row of darkened houses, in silence so thick it was like a syrup that dragged his footsteps away into echoes before he had placed a heel to the ground, he had imagined it perfectly:  how he would come around the corner and see that tiny square of light so many stories above him, and see her face floating there like a single star.

From the courtyard he heard a man calling out, "Where are you, you useless, worthless shrivel-head? When I find you, I swear, I'll cook you for dinner and turn your innards to meat loaf?"  He recognized the man's voice:  It was the one with the dripping nose, the man who had introduced himself as the alchemist.

Liesl managed to smile at him.  She liked that word:  we.  It sounded warm and open, like a hug.

Black and white illustrations that appear to be done in pencil and charcoal mirror the flow, the fiction, the flavor of this story in every respect.  Kei Acedera splendidly portrays the visions formed by the words of Oliver.

Certainly, frequently, a comedy of error, suspense at every turn, supposed kindness that takes a cruel turn but most assuredly this is a tale of wonder, of darkness overcome by a magical glowing light, a light released by friendship and love.  Liesl & Po written by the hand and most assuredly by the heart of Lauren Oliver is a fantasy that touches the very core of your soul; that will resonate in your mind for years to come.

I invite you to explore Lauren Oliver's web site and the web site of Liesl & Po for a treasure trove of goodies, videos, icons, wallpaper and a study guide to name a few.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Share and Share Alike, Privately

Just over six months ago a photo-sharing web 2.0 application came on the scene, 7MomentsIn the Help section they state:

With 7Moments you can easily share and exchange photos in a safe and private environment.  You create an Album, upload and import photos and invite others that can contribute to the album as well.

Still running in beta this service can be used by invitation only.  My invitation arrived in under a week.

To receive an invitation go to their site and enter in your email address.  Your invitation received by email includes a link.  The link takes you to their site where you are asked to enter in your name, a password and a check to accept their terms and conditions.

When you are logged in you can create a new album or adjust your settings (name, email address and password).  When you create a new album first determine a name for that album.   If you make a mistake in the naming of an album you can click on that title, as if it is a text box, and make changes.  You are then taken to what I would call the work space.

Clicking the option on the right of the screen, at the top of the screen and beneath your title, you can add photographs from your computer or import them from Facebook.  Photographs are uploaded from your computer by clicking on the white arrow to the center right of your screen.  If you want to see your uploaded selections as a group click the white arrow to the center left. 

If you want to view a single selection click on it.  You can then move through your photographs like a slide show.  Once at 7Moments a single image can be added to your selection, rotated left, rotated right downloaded or deleted.  To get back to the work space click on the esc key. 

At the bottom of the screen is a small row of tiles icon.  When you click on that it brings into view all the photographs in your album.  By clicking on any image in your album it appears in the center of the work space.

Across the top of the work space are a series of tabs allowing for:   the addition of photos and people, downloading the entire album (to a zip file on your computer) or your loved photographs, or viewing recently added, most loved, date taken and contributors.  At any time you can create a new album.  Each time you create a new album an email is sent with a link to that group of photographs.  Each time you log in to 7Moments the albums you have created will appear with the option of deleting them completely or working on them further.

Currently there are six styles available for an album:  Uptown Girl, Crystals, Jingle Bells, Fresh Powder, Golden Season and Winter Wonderland. 

Users of 7Moments must be 18 years or older.  The only sharing option at this site is private.  Albums can only be viewed with an authentication key through album owner invitation.  At any point you, as the album creator, can send an email invitation which includes a link to a specific album.  Only you can send out invitations. 

When an invitation is received a user will need to register to view and contribute by entering in their name, email address, selection of a password and accepting the terms and conditions of the site. 

An album is restricted to 100 users and one GB of disk space.  7Moments stands by their privacy; photos cannot be found by search engines.  Only people receiving an email can access the photographs. 

I have created two albums, Autumn Memories and Views of School Library Media Centers.  Whether working professionally or personally, group sharing could be done with complete confidence that only those invited would be viewing the album. For an educator this would be a way to share photographs with parents about activities in the classroom without posting them on a Facebook page or a less than private venue.

7Moments states that very soon photographs may be added via email.  They are also exploring about using 7Moments on an iPad, iPhone or Android device. (Please note:  As of December 1, 2013 this site will be closed.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

ALA Youth Media Awards 2012

It's not every day when you get to attend a prestigious award ceremony wearing your pink flannel pajamas covered in sock monkeys but that's the beauty of technology and an Ice Day courtesy of Mother Nature.  Here I sit in front of my computer listening and watching the ALA Youth Media Awards event taking place real time in Dallas, Texas.  Twitter is on fire as followers are tweeting each other about every award.  The energy and excitement is oozing out from the screen.

It's now nearly 10AM and all the award announcements have been made.  For complete information about all of the awards please follow this link.  Much like the Academy Awards in film they waited until the end for the final two awards to be announced, the Randolph Caldecott Medal which is celebrating 75 years of selecting the most distinguished American picture book for children and the John Newbery Medal for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Randolph Caldecott Honor---2012

Blackout written and illustrated by John Rocco
Grandpa Green written and illustrated by Lane Smith
Me...Jane written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

Randolph Caldecott Medal---2012

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

John Newbery Honor---2012

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

John Newbery Medal---2012
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

The links embedded in those titles noted above have been reviewed on this blog.  I've read them all except for one.  Another title which I will gladly add to my TBR pile.  Congratulations to all the winners of all the awards; so much this year for readers to enjoy and savor again and again. 

An Icy Ride Ends Well

It's not hard to imagine frigid temperatures here in northern Michigan as winter has finally wrapped her chilly fingers around our lakes and forests.  But what is hard to imagine is a dog surviving for several days on an ice floe floating on a river swiftly moving toward a large body of water.  On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean on the continent of Europe in the country of Poland that is exactly what happened as the whole world watched.

On January 23, 2010 when glacial temperatures were the norm, a small dog was first spotted on the ice in the Vistula River at the town of Grudziadz; the Baltic Sea its destination.  Little Dog Lost:  The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic written and illustrated by Monica Carnesi captivatingly portrays the events surrounding Baltic's journey.

Something is moving in the water!
What is it?
Is it a bird?
A fish?
It's a DOG!

Initially when the dog is spotted by a group of children their cries bring a group of firefighters forming a chain into the waters of the river.  A fast moving current speeds him out of reach.  For two nights and days no rescue is made as the dog moves toward the river's end. 

When the little brown and white dog is next spotted he is fifteen miles away from land out in the Baltic Sea.  At first the crew of the ship believes him to be a seal.  He will not leave the ice to jump into a long-handled net; falling off the ice into the freezing waters.

Those on board are unable to glimpse him, fearing he may have drowned.  After determined efforts bring him once again to the ice floe the relieved crew places a small boat in the water, moving gently toward his precarious position.  A seaman is able to grab the dog, bringing him into the sanctuary of his craft. 

Once dry and warm the little dog seeks out his rescuers enjoying a sausage breakfast with them.  Attaching himself to the man who plucked him from the ice, the little dog receives a new name and a new home, Baltic of the Baltica.

Using spare text alternating between the telling of the tale and those who are speaking directly to the dog, readers are held in suspense throughout.  Using her watercolor, pen and ink illustrations Carnesi brings readers into that narrative holding them there until the satisfying ending.  The blending of the two is flowing and flawless.

Endpapers done in a cool, pale purple gray (Brrrr...) picture Baltic as an inset on a map of the Vistula River as it flows toward the Baltic Sea.  A smaller map of Poland, in its entirety, is tucked into this visual.  On the front and back of the title page readers are given a possibility of how Baltic may have found himself on the ice in the river.

Carnesi's delicate artwork spreads across two pages, appears as a single framed page or bleeding off a page, a small uneven-edged inset or multiple frames within a single page depending on what she wishes to convey.  Color choices not only reflect winter's descending in this part of the world but the emotions of the characters as the story develops.  Readers will identify with and cheer for this little dog that beat the odds.

Monica Carnesi, in this first picture book, Little Dog Lost:  The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic, gives readers a glimpse into the heart of this courageous canine and those that saved him.  There is nothing little about the impact of this book; it is storytelling the way it is meant to be.  I can hear the sighs and ohs already once it has been shared with the children; the loudest will probably be me.

Monica Carnesi does include more information in her Author's Note at the book's end as well as at her web site linked above.  She has a fun little Baltic paper doll (dog) that can be printed and stood up.  Here are a couple of other links about this truly amazing journey.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 2012 #2

It most certainly is a very good thing that this Caldecott Challenge:  1938 to present is a stress-free challenge.  I have been trying to read as many as I can during the evenings but apparently the writers and illustrators of the world are unaware; they keep creating new books that are so enticing that I am continually juggling between several books at one time.  Oh, the joy of it all!

I am also going to try to shorten my notes about each only because of time constraints; I truly do like researching background information about the illustrators.

1941 Medal Winner--They Were Strong and Good written and illustrated by Robert Lawson

According to my sources Lawson used brush and ink to fashion his illustrations.  There is no denying the fine detail and caricature quality of his characters.  There appears to be more definition in some of his drawings than in others.  I wonder about this inconsistency.  An example would be the picture of the sailor in the storm with fewer lines compared to the illustration of the woman with the nun working with the bees exhibiting the most intricate of details.  There is a charming pictorial of his family tree on the endpapers.  This book is a genealogy of his parents and grandparents told with pride; the statements within are a reflection of his beliefs.

1941 Honor Winner--April's Kittens by Claire Turlay Newberry
Using watercolor, charcoal and ink Newberry creates delightful, charming kittens and that's not easy for a dog person to admit.  There is an interesting use of red in an otherwise black and white illustrated story.  While the parents play an important role in the plot they are never pictured.  There is only one picture of the young girl, April.  All of the other illustrations are of the kittens which I dearly wished I could cuddle. 
The message has stood the test of time; parents trying to make a decision involving the child's love of pets.  At one point I felt that the parents were disengaged but all ends well.

1942 Medal Winner--Make Way for Ducklings illustrated and written by Robert McCloskey, edited by May Massee

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard settle on a spot for a nest, an island in the Charles River,  but its not where they want to live, the Public Garden of Boston,  so a city halts as Mrs. Mallard seeks her husband as all Make Way for Ducklings.  McCloskey's illustrations done in lithographic crayon on stone are just as appealing as they were 70 years ago.  In an article at the Society of Illustrators web site, it states that McCloskey purchased some ducks following them around his apartment to get the most lifelike quality for these creatures in his book. 

1942 Honor Winner--In My Mother's House illustrating by Velino Herrera, written by Ann Nolan Clark

The medium used in these illustrations is not known but they clearly depict the life of the Pueblo Indians and are a true enhancement to the poetic text of Nolan.  The publication of this title influenced government education policies for the next twenty years.
Herrera was born in Zia Pueblo, New Mexico, educated at Santa Fe Indian Boarding School and was an educator at the Albuquerque Indian School in painting.  He was commissioned to paint 2,200 feet of murals at the U. S. Department of the Interior Building in Washington, D. C. in 1939.

1942 Honor Winner--Paddle-To-The-Sea by Holling C. Holling

On the one hand it is amazing that many of these titles have stood the test of time (I had a student request this title last week) but considering the award bestowed up them maybe it's not so surprising. 

Holling used full color oil paintings to illustrate the journey, from the mountains of Nipigon above the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, of a hand-carved Native American figure in a one foot long canoe .  Framing the informative story-like text are black and white drawings that provide additional facts. 

More information about Holling by his numerous fans can be found at this link.   I had forgotten he was born in Jackson County, Michigan.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Twitterville Talk #32

It's that time of year when one announcement after another are proclaiming the award winners; many are listed here but Monday will tell the tale for the Newbery and Caldecott.  Feast your eyes on beautiful libraries from all corners of the world, laugh about those "library moments" captured on film, imagine all those changes coming our way via eBooks and look forward to all the wonderful new titles popping up in the spring.

Interesting two minute video clip from Open Road Integrated Media talking with Newbery Award winners, Virginia Hamilton for M. C. Higgins the Great and Jean Craighead George for Julie of the Wolves.  Newbery fever is peaking with the selections being announced at ALA on Monday January 23, 2012.

The winner of the 2012 Charlotte Zolotow Award has been announced---Patrick McDonnell for Me...Jane.

Me...Jane wins Calling Caldecott vote on a blog featuring, over many months, exciting exchanges on the merits of book titles as possible Caldecott winners.

Jack Gantos for Dead End in Norvelt is the recipient of the 2012 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.
Thanks to The Horn Book for these links and tips.

Courtesy of KNSTRCT Weekly Roundup: Libraries feast your eyes on these beautiful examples of libraries, that quite frankly, I could live in.

For those of you that just can't get enough of the War Horse buzz (that would be me), here is War Horse:   From page to stage and screen on CBS Sunday Morning.

Today the Mystery Writers of America announced nominations for their Edgar Awards.  I've read two of the five Edgar Nominations 2012 for Best Juvenile and one for the best Young Adult mystery title.  How many have you read?
Children's Bookshelf of Publishers Weekly provided these links.

"The Numberlys" app for the iPad:  Storytelling of the future, what do you think?

It has never been more critical than it is now that those holding the purse strings be made aware again and again of the results of these studies, Is the Library Important?  Multivariate Studies at the National and International Level.

School Library Journal provides a listing of resources prior to the commemoration of Charles Dickens's 200th birthday anniversary, Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens.

Guys and gals get those creative minds working, Google announces fifth Doodle contest for K-12 grade students.

Elizabeth Bird, blogger for School Library Journal, at A Fuse #8 Production has done it again---Librarian Preview:  Albert Whitman & Company (Spring 2012).  Now all I need to do is find that packet of seeds for money trees.  I need a whole orchard.
Tip of the hat to School Library Journal.

For those lovers of libraries out there, Larry Ferlazzo of Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day provided a link to this video.

Blowing Up the Book, is a very thought-provoking article in The Wall Street Journal about the development of eBooks.  Thanks to LF.

Readers of fairy tales are about to have the tried and true fractured yet again by none other than Mo Willems.  At his blog today he announced that in the fall of 2012 Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs will be released.