Quote of the Month

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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Twitterville Talk #94

Whoever said time flies when you're having fun hit it right when it comes to Twitter.  The constant stream of discussions between virtual and real colleagues happens all day, everyday and before you know it, an hour has passed.  I still can't get over being privy to the sharing of ideas between authors and illustrators.  It's a huge bonus to be able to talk with student readers about these conversations.  I hope everyone had a great week.  I know some returned to school after spring break, others had a week of vacation and for many in Michigan the break has just started.  Enjoy the wrap-up, look for the giveaways (three this week to celebrate our spring break) and take time for reading.

As the weeks have passed so to has the School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books.  Even though the end is getting closer it still might be fun to do this with students after it's over to see how they vote as opposed to the judges' decisions.  School Library Journal has provided a page of downloadable graphics to use in designing your own brackets.  Each match appears as a PDF file.

Thanks to School Library Journal for these graphics and this tweet.

With every tweet about a new book trailer I can easily envision my book pile getting larger and my bank account getting smaller but the book trailers are very convincing.  Here are some of those appearing in our feed this week courtesy of Mr. Schu.

This interview of author Shana Corey by Mr. Schu appeared this week on the Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month.  It is jam-packed with information.  Don't miss it.

For the next #SharpSchu book club on April 24th during National Poetry Month, authors and titles featured are Sharon Creech's  Love That Dog and Caroline Starr Rose's May B.: A Novel.  Inspired by Love That Dog and Sharon Creech, Caroline Starr Rose wrote a poem which was posted on Watch. Connect. Read. on Monday. It's beyond beautiful.

Don't miss these great links for National Poetry Month; here  here, and here.

Printable PDF titled 50 Things Kids Will Miss If They Don't Have A School Librarian In Their School.

Here's another outstanding resource gathered by Mr. Schu on his blog.  In this series of videosstep by step, viewers are taken through the process of creating a book.  In these we see how Lauren Oliver's The Spindlers was made.

Here are fifteen movies featuring bookstores.  Did you guess any of them?  Can you think of more?

Fans of Katherine Applegate's Newbery Award Medal winning,  The One and Only Ivan, will be thrilled with this news.  It's huge.

Thanks to John Schumacher, teacher librarian, 2011 Library Journal Movers & Shakers, member of the 2014 Newbery Award committee and blogger at Watch. Connect. Read. for all these tweets.

Now this is a book all members of the #nerdybookclub can read and love, A History of Reading, highlighted at Brain Pickings.

Thank to author and educator, Christoper Lehman, for this tweet.

When a colleague on Twitter says Wow more than once in a single tweet, you take notice.
This video would be great to use during National Poetry Month.

Thanks to Katie Clark, 6th grade ELA teacher for this tweet.

One of my favorite sites to follow is Free Technology for Teachers.  This week Richard Byrne had a post titled A Short Guide to Terms Commonly Used in Blogging which is worth reading as is A Simple But Powerful Student Blogging Activity.

Thanks to Richard for these posts and the tweets.

I just finished reading a short story author Kate Messner wrote for the Scholastic Storyworks site.  They Might Be Dangerous is amazing; downloadable as a PDF with lots of additional activities.

This is Kate's blog post--- A Suggested Response to Amazon's Acquisition of Goodreads

Thanks to Kate Messner for these tweets and providing her readers with another great tale.

If you missed #titletalk last Sunday or want to review all the great book suggestions under the heading of humor the archive has been posted.

Thanks to Cindy Minnich, educator, curator of the Nerdy Book Club and blogger at Charting By The Stars for this tweet and for compiling the archive.

How would you like to win a Skype visit with Molly Idle?  To celebrate the launch of her new book, Tea Rex, she is offering this, plus some extra goodies, to those who comment on her blog.

Thanks to Molly Idle for this tweet and this opportunity.

On the heels of #titletalk on Sunday this article says it all, Healthwatch: Stanford Study Shows How Humor Activates Child's Brain.

Thanks to educator and blogger at Finding Ways for All Kids to Flourish Joan Young for this tweet.

Have you heard about this, Meet the scientific accident that could change the world?  This is mind-blowing technology.
To the first person who can name this invention I will send a copy of Doug TenNapel's graphic novel, Bad Island. Please DM me on Twitter or leave the answer in the comments below. (This title has been won.)

Thanks to Kelly Tenkely, educator and blogger at iLearn Technology for this tweet.

Greg Heffley is going to be in print again, Abrams Announces Wimpy Kid #8.  I wonder if the illustration offers a clue as to the title.

Thanks to Children's Bookshelf of Publishers Weekly for this tweet.

Thanks to author Melissa Stewart for this tweet and developing these tables, CCSS ELA-RIT: Easy-to-Understand Tables of Standards.

I wish on a daily basis the people controlling the money would read this, Do Schools Need Libraries?

With so many apps being released it's hard to know which one will be best for you.  This article does a good job, Evernote vs Google Keep: Which Does More?

For all you book nerds check out this article, What the #Nerdybookclub Taught Me About Reading.

Thanks to Colby Sharp, teacher, co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club and blogger at sharpread, for these tweets.

This week author/illustrator Patricia Polacco sent out two tweets offering new videos to give readers the inside scoop on how she gets inspiration for her books.  These would both be good for an author study.  Thank you, Patricia Polacco.
For the giveaway this is a hard one.  In one of these videos Patricia Polacco names her new Christmas book.  What is the title?  The correct answer will get you a book written and illustrated by another Michigan author/illustrator, Wendy Anderson Halperin.  Her beautiful new book is Peace. DM me your answer on Twitter or leave it in the comments below. (This title has been won.)

Just in time Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator of I'm Bored, has a new printable, an Easter version (note card) which is adorable.

To the first person who can tell me what the object in the basket is saying in this illustration, I will send a copy of Philippa Leather's new book, The Black Rabbit.
Leave your answer in the comments below or via DM on Twitter.

Many thanks to Debbie for this tweet and sharing her talents further with her readers.

Have you heard about these new literacy awards?  This is some serious money being awarded here.

Thanks to author Susan Hood for this tweet.

Certainly glad to see this post yesterday, Poetry Friday: In A Messy Room.  Get your spine poems to Travis by April 2.

Thanks to Travis Jonker, teacher librarian, member of the 2014 Caldecott Award committee and blogger at 100 Scope Notes for this tweet.  

A new book trailer was released into the wild yesterday by Dan Santat for the book, Because I'm Your Dad.

Thanks to illustrator/author Dan Santat for this tweet.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes, thoughts and pure fun from Twitter this week.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Riddles And Rhythms

Of all the large cities I've visited, north and south, east and west, the one I've enjoyed the most and returned to again and again is Chicago.  The history, architecture, museums, theaters, restaurants, parks,  libraries, big stores and small shops along the shore of Lake Michigan populated with people from all walks of life are interesting, entertaining and simply amazing.  Considering I'm happiest hiking the hilly forests of northern Michigan without a soul in sight, that's saying quite a bit.

When an author chooses to place their book in a setting familiar to a reader, there's an immediate connection, a sense of coming home.  In her first fiction book Blue Balliett selected her own community on the south side of Chicago, Hyde Park.  This title, Chasing Vermeer, earned her numerous awards two of which are the Edgar Award and the Agatha Award.

The other two books in this trilogy, The Wright 3 and The Calder Game are either set in Chicago or begin there with her cast of familiar characters.  A town in Michigan, Three Oaks, is the setting for her third book, The Danger Box (reviewed here). By now as a reader I have a vested interest in the books of Blue Balliett drawn to them first for the place in which the well-told stories unfold.  I was thrilled to find the setting of her fifth book, Hold Fast (Scholastic), back in the city of Chicago.

It was the bitterest, meanest, darkest, coldest winter in anyone's memory, even in one of the forgotten neighborhoods of Chicago.
Light and warmth seem gone for good; mountains of gray
snow and sheets of ice destroyed the geometry of sidewalk and

On this day, in the heart of winter, a man disappears leaving behind his bicycle, groceries and a pocket notebook.  The man is Dashel Pearl, husband of Summer and father to eleven-year-old daughter, Early and Jubilation, a younger son. He is a man who loves words and books, a page at the Harold Washington, the public library in downtown Chicago.

Dreams, a love of the writing of Langston Hughes, and hope are the glue binding this family together.  When Dash begins cataloging books for an unknown buyer, the extra money is welcome.  This money for Dash's college education will help them realize their desire to live in their own house.  But now their small living quarters are no longer filled with laughter and plans for a brighter future.  Despair descends as the police tell their tale and leave the three minus one.

Inquiries made of the wrong people lead to masked intruders stealing all they own, destroying their tiny one room apartment.  Fearing for their lives, Sum, Early and Jubilation leave in the dead of night with nowhere to go but a shelter for the homeless.  It seems the definition of bad has become much worse for the three Pearls.

To add insult to injury the police are trying to implicate Dash in a larger crime rather than simply being missing.  An unsolved European diamond heist, smuggling and kidnapping swirl around the threesome as they attempt to adjust to their new circumstances.  It is eleven-year-old Early, a thinker, a lover of words and riddles like her father, who knows it is up to her to solve the mystery of  his disappearance.

Life at the shelter brings countless rules, crowded conditions, a new school for Early and an air of hopelessness into their world.  With grit and determination Early begins to gather available resources disregarding the taunts of classmates and the lack of support from the police using the assistance of her father's old high school teacher and a tutor at the shelter.  The hardest thing has become knowing who to trust.

Crooks and cons are lurking and listening.  Death is waiting in the wings.  More money than the Pearls can imagine is at stake.  And how does The First Book of Rhythms by Langston Hughes tie this all together?

The language used in telling this tale of the plight of the homeless, the plight of the Pearls and the peril facing them at the hands of a ring of criminals is brimming with realism. Every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter is strung together artfully and with purpose.  Chapter headings are single words; ice, click, crash, cling, clutch, circle, crimp, crack, chase, catch, cover, cast, click and ice.  Each is defined as a noun and a verb, at times with completely different meanings depending on the culture in which they are used, on the first page of the chapter.  For careful readers these words become clues.

Beautiful descriptions of place, characters' personalities and thoughts fill the pages of this story.  For this reason readers are immersed in the emotions, the tension, caused by each event as the action escalates.  Almost without being aware we watch, we listen, we dream, we think, we write and we plan with Early.  Here are a couple of many passages I highlighted with my ever-present sticky notes.

"What's a printing?" Early had asked.  She loved the way her father shared information; his tone always made a plain old fact feel like something special.

It was odd how quickly each Pearl learned that wishing aloud made everything worse.  Survival was a matter of adapting, of learning how to hide in plain sight.

Understanding what she meant, Sum sighed. "I guess I am.  Reading is a tool no one can take away. A million bad things may happen in life and it'll still be with you, like a flashlight that never needs a battery.  Reading can offer a crack of light on the blackest of nights.

After you've read the final page, the note and acknowledgements you will quickly hold this book and, with a speed which can only be noted as fast, begin to think of all the people who you believe will want to read this book.  The number will be considerable.  Hold Fast written by Blue Balliett is a timely volume speaking to readers on more than one level; a story of family, homelessness, mystery and the power of the human mind and spirit.

Be sure to visit Blue Balliett's website linked to her name above.  It's one of the better sites filled with information about all of her books with a special section for educators.  This is a link to the Scholastic website for Blue Balliett.  Here is a link to a recent interview in TimeOutChicagoKids about this title.

Enjoy this interview where Balliett speaks about why and how she writes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Only Place On Earth....

Even though the third month in this new year is winding down,  I still have many books published in 2012 which I will not leave unread.  In December 2012 a title appeared on the Nerdy Book Club Award Nominees list which began receiving starred reviews as early as July despite a September publication; four starred reviews in total.  When the National Science Teachers Association released their Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12: 2013 (Books published in 2012), this title was on the list.

This book takes readers to one of the most unusual places on the planet.  Many of those animals calling it home are found no where else.  Fascinating, factual and filled with gorgeous paintings, Island: A Story of the Galapagos (Roaring Brook Press, A Neal Porter Book) written and illustrated by Jason Chin, is more than worthy of every ounce of praise and recognition.

The sun is rising over a lonely group of islands more than six hundred miles away from the nearest continent. The air is still and the sea is calm, but beneath the water something is stirring.

With that opening we follow an island through four stages of life.  Six million years ago through a series of volcanic eruptions it is born and grows layer by layer.  Eventually, through the course of nature, a seed becomes a tree, a bird lands and stays and marine iguanas swim from a older island to the newborn.

Though the length of time is hard to imagine one million years pass; the island is in its childhood phase.    Teeming with life the land and waters surrounding it create a unique ecosystem.  Another million years passes with the island developing different climate zones due to varying elevations.

As the island grows into adulthood other islands have been born; larger islands.  Due to the specific water and land conditions creatures normally found in other parts of the globe migrate and take up residence; birds, sea lions and tortoises.  For the sake of survival their original physical characteristics over a period of years shift to match this island's environment.

Five million years have brought numerous changes to the land and its inhabitants.  Due to its shrinking size and flattening some have left; others still call it home.  One day the waters advance; the island sinks from sight.  Six million years have now passed.

Though this land mass is no longer visible, others in the group still exist to be discovered, explored and have the abundant and singular life documented.  A ship, the HMS Beagle, arrives in 1835 carrying a passenger who will change the world's thinking.  Charles Darwin is that passenger.

In his author's note Chin states:

This story is based on science, but brought to life through my imagination, and I hope that it will excite and inspire readers just as the remarkable islands of the Galapagos have excited and inspired me.  

Naming four authorities in the field who assisted in his research gives Chin a sound basis upon which to build his narrative.  Very few, if any, of the students I know or have known will ever have the opportunity to visit the Galapagos.

But with this accessible, informative text they can, as I have several times, not only make the trip but be inspired by this beautiful place.  The technique of assigning biographical divisions to the life of the island is an open invitation to explore its amazing adaptive changes.  The delivery of the details, the spacing of the various progressions, attracts and maintains interest.

The majesty and mystery of the Galapagos Islands captivates readers immediately with the double page spread across the jacket and cover displaying the varied flora and fauna.  The warm natural hues of greens, blues, browns and golds seen here are replaced with the cooler but still stunning blues, greens, whites, and grays found on the land and sea of the island during its lifespan.  The opening endpapers done in shades of golden brown feature framed portraits of thirty-six species of The Galapagos.  Using the same colors a close-up map of the islands plus an inset showing its position relative to South America is shown on the closing endpapers.

Jason Chin has painted all of the illustrations.  His one and two page visuals bleed to the page edges, drawing in the reader.  White space frames a series of smaller illustrations on alternate pages when he chooses to showcase the passage of time, the arrival  of animal populations and their growth or changes in their physical characteristics.  Layout and design combine to create a pictorially pleasing flow of events.  His final two page spread is breathtaking.

In a word, marvelous best sums up Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin.  As to his goal of generating excitement for this beautiful place, I say mission accomplished and then some.  With the same care found in his narrative and paintings he includes a page each about Charles Darwin and the Galapagos, The Galapagos Islands and Endemic Species of the Galapagos.  

This valuable volume peaked my interest to the point where I created a new Lino which includes links to his website, the publisher page with extra illustrations, a video and a nice assortment of web pages with information and lessons.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Virtual Post-It Boards-Lino

Nothing beats the quickness of connecting, of being privy to the instant thoughts of those in your PLN, like Twitter.  We all benefit from the conferences and professional development of our colleagues.  When the following tweet appeared in my feed a month ago, it looked like the type of application which might benefit staff and students given it was coming from a teacher librarian I follow and who follows me.

Lino is a free service for those thirteen years or older.  When accessing the home page users note the application can be used on their PC computer, iPhone or iPad and their Android (beta). Some features include:

  • taking notes immediately
  • reminders of special days or deadlines
  • layout of pictures and videos (free of charge)
  • create groups for sharing
  • files can be attached to the notes and
  • use from smartphones.
Popular canvases and recently updated canvases are highlighted.

Begin by selecting the large orange button, Give it a shot!  A new window opens taking you to a board (trial canvas) with a variety of suggestions already posted.  There are no scroll bars for moving within the canvas.  Click and drag to see all the posted items.

In the upper right-hand corner is a square of tools (the palette) to be used in creating stickies for your particular board.  In the far corner are icons for help, login and sign up.  To begin there are four colors for notes.

Beneath those are symbols for adding images from your computer and including videos from YouTube, Vimeo or Ustream.  Files can be uploaded from your computer (attached to a sticky) and transparent notes can be placed over other items.  If you select Highlight New, with each mouse click it takes you to any new items in the order they were added.  If you've marked something private on a sticky it will be shown if you choose Show Private.

In the lower right-hand corner is another transparent box which shows you where your screen is in relation to the overall board plus a calendar; handy for setting dates on notes.  You can click on the square in this box, move it and it takes you to that position on the canvas. Every single sticky has a series of tiny icons in the lower right-hand corner.  They allow the user to edit, choose a due date, peel off the sticky and size the sticky.

In adding items to each canvas I found the uploading of images to be very easy.  When adding a video from YouTube it's necessary to use the URL at the top of the page rather than from the share line beneath the video.  Videos from Vimeo worked perfectly using the link from their share feature. 

It was great to discover that when URLs were added to notes the links were active.  When you pin one of your sticky notes (click in the center at the top), it can be copied but the other options disappear.   You can unpin it to again move, edit, add a date or delete it.

You do need to register to save your canvas by selecting a username and password, entering in your email address and agreeing to the Terms of Use.  When this is completed another transparent box (the dock) appears in the lower left-hand corner giving you a thumbnail of your boards.  New icons will appear in your palette also; from left to right, my page, information, help and log out.

When you click on information, share possibilities appear above in a new window.   On the right you are given a URL for the canvas, HTML code for linking to the canvas and HTML code for embedding the canvas in your blog or web site.  On the left are the basic preferences for this canvas.

You can also name your canvas now by choosing the words Trial Canvas.  Another window (preferences) opens allowing for the name change, selection of backgrounds (you can upload your own), and determining access (private, people can see stickies, people can see and post stickies).  Depending on the access selected you can chose to show this canvas on the dock, create a sticky via email, generate a RSS feed for the canvas, or allow others to copy your stickies.  Be sure to save any changes.

The entire canvas can be deleted at this point.  From here you can go back to your canvas, your page, all your canvases, your groups, favorites, tasks and trash.  I did explore the help section also.  It is very extensive but easy to understand.  Lino does have a bookmarklet which can added to your browser toolbar.

When it comes to virtual post-it boards, I rate Lino with high marks.  It has all the things I enjoy when using this type of  application; ease of use, great help section, active hyperlinks, multiple options in the preference section and collaboration.  Here is a canvas I designed to get ready for a Nursery Rhyme unit during National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Who's Talking Now?

In the land of fairy tales expect the unexpected.  In the world of poetry anticipate the unanticipated.  When fairy tales and poetry meet anticipate the unexpected; relish the shifts in perspective, giving voice to those previously silent.

In 2010 author Marilyn Singer introduced a new poetic form, the reverso.  In her title Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse (Dutton Children's Books) for the first time we read two poems side by side (the reverso); same words in each but on the left we read from top to bottom, on the right using the same order from bottom to top.  The only alterations were in punctuation and capitalization.  She put a whole refreshing spin on fairy tales we thought we knew.

Last month a companion title, Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems (Dial Books for Young Readers, February 7, 2013), illustrated again by Josee Masse was released.  Twelve folktales accompanied by an introduction and conclusion are altered with Marilyn Singer's special brand of vision.  She leads and we follow...follow.

...so here goes:
I beg your pardon---
fairies helped.

Fairies helped?
I beg your pardon!
So, here goes   ...

Readers are challenged to see both sides of wishing, the nakedness of an emperor, a princess who may or may not laugh, and the mindset of Aesop's most famous racers.  The test to find a real princess, the choice to loose your voice to gain love, the bravado of a cat and the consequences of a debt unpaid take you down and then up again, always changing the outcome.  Sometimes we read the words of more than one character.  Decisions we never understood before are revealed through a single person's musings.

Have you ever stopped to consider how the mole might feel down in his hole, alone?  Or the third pig in his house of bricks at the demise of the greedy wolf?  What of the emperor who discovers nearly too late the true worth of song?  As a soldier sleeps, princesses wish him slumber but a father wishes him awake.

With each reading of these fourteen reverso poems your admiration can't help but grow at the adept use of language, the placement of words to form two distinct interpretations of a single tale.  It's hard to imagine the time, the care, needed to get every single syllable in its perfect position.  When read silently it gently touches, but read aloud the rhythm of each is prevalent and strong.  Marilyn Singer's creativeness, her gift, shines in this inventive style.

Bright, lush colors beckon to readers from the front cover and jacket.  The artistic, skillful blending of two visuals into a complete illustration, used for each, poem begins here.  Spring green endpapers match the greens used in the title page visual.  Wide two-tone pale blue stripes, the background for the title page, verso and dedication page, are widened to showcase the two poems of each reverso.  

It's easy to move into the realm of make-believe through the pictures rendered in acrylics by Josee Masse.  Shades and hues, striking color palettes, especially blues, greens, golds and reds, add a richness to the verses.  The tiniest of details within the layers extends interest; the snail beside the tortoise, the odorous fish coming out of the cat's bag, and the portraits of the two pigs on pig three's wall.  Royal purple endpapers fittingly close this volume.

Words inviting wisdom, creating wonder, penned with purpose on the pages of Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer are elevated by the rich pictorial portrayals of illustrator, Josee Masse.  Readers will be drawn to the magic of the reverso; its ability to capture and convey every nuance known or unknown about these tales.  Of equal beauty are the two poems opening and closing the collection; author reflections on writing, fairies and children.

Singer includes a short explanation of the reverso as well as each tale on the final page. Links to her site and Josee Masse are embedded in their names.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Who Me?

Raise your hand if you've ever been accused of committing an act in which you had absolutely nothing to do with it...whatsoever.  It's bad enough when you may have been an observer and tried to stop the perpetrator, but even worse if you weren't even present when the deed was done.  Despite all your protests to the contrary, the blame has fallen squarely on your shoulders; you're the oldest, smartest, smallest or tallest.  The list of reasons is endless.

Imagine how frustrating it must be for one without the ability to communicate.  It's hard to know what to do when trouble follows like a shadow.  The cheerful protagonist, Lily, introduced to readers in Silly Doggy! (reviewed here) has returned in Adam Stower's latest title, Naughty Kitty! (Templar Publishing).

Lily wanted a doggy,
but her mum said dogs were too messy,
too smelly, and far too much trouble.
So she got Lily something else...

Even though this newest addition to Lily's daily routine will not perform tricks, he's as cute as a button.  How hard is it going to be to feed and pet until he purrs, this sweet little cat?  Within minutes Lily is rethinking her original assessment of her fresh feline friendship.

Utter destruction greets Lily after leaving the kitty alone in the kitchen. How could so much happen in such a short time and where did all the food go?  One minute alone in the living room, yields the same results.  There are rips and tears everywhere.

 As soon as Lily gets one mess picked up, it's replaced by another.  The muss is escalating by the minute.  The cat door is ripped off its hinges, poor King Kong (the goldfish) is terrified, Lily's sausages disappear off her fork as she is watching kitty, there's hairy hair on the beds and phew! what's that stuff on the rug?

On a trip outside to the garbage container Lily and the tiny trouble-maker are startled by the next door neighbor's dog, running into the yard barking.  Picking up the kitten, eyes closed Lily calls for help.  Why, it's a miracle!  Kitty has saved the day...or has he.

There is nothing funnier for readers than text which is contradictory to the illustrations.  Adam Stower has a knack for portraying Lily's thoughts through dialogue and narration in perfect sync with each page turn.  Her lack of understanding, downright bewilderment, at the cause of all these catastrophes is the type of humor appealing to the child in all of us.  Here's a sample of dialogue followed by a thought.

"How could you?
Eight fish fingers, all the sticky biscuits,
plums, pickles, Mum's pink party cake,
Dad's pork chop, the orange pop, two teaspoons
and a washing up sponge!"

And she's just fed him
a whole bowl of Kittibix!

Although the front jacket and cover offer readers a huge clue as to the true culprit (the small kitty sitting on a large paw print), the back jacket and cover tell the tale (a large orange and brown striped tail is curled from beneath the curtain).  The opening and closing endpapers done in shades of blue and gray, much like blueprints, give us more clues as to how the story will unfold and continue even after the conclusion.  Stower has used a letter, postcard, notice and newspaper on the front porch providing an enticing introduction followed at the end with a newspaper resting across a table set for tea proclaiming further hilarity.

Full color illustrations vary in their coverage, two pages or a single page with smaller insets among white space galore.  Dialogue is shown in speech bubbles of different sizes for emphasis. The expressions on the kitty, a true innocent, are priceless.  Subtle and not so subtle hints as to the identity of the real king of disaster are found on the edge of the hedge, along the window ledge, coming in through a doorway, looking over the table top, or in the news coverage on the television.  Hard to miss large paw prints are plentiful.  My favorite illustration is that for the words ...and the bad dog ran away.  Lily is holding the cat by its shoulders staring in amazement, oblivious to the tiger looming over the fence behind her.  The kitten knows though, looking above.

Whether you read this book once or one hundred times, the results will be the same...guaranteed; laughter and grins.  Naughty Kitty! written and illustrated by Adam Stower is the perfect partner for its predecessor, Silly Doggy!  The play on words gives readers an unexpected twist at the end; hinting at the possibility of a third book featuring Lily and her blissful ignorance.

As far as I know this title has not been released in the US yet.  I couldn't wait and received my copy from the UK.  Two different web sites linked in Adam Stower's name above provide information and additional illustrations.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Twitterville Talk #93

This week there was lots of chatting about books and reading which is sheer heaven and typical fare for those I follow and who follow me.  For some reason it seemed more videos were posted this week but those are great to use in our classrooms to excite and enhance.  Take time this weekend to pause, read and relax.  Look for the giveaways.

From the man of many faces, comes an announcement and one of my favorite lines about reading with children, Carrey Gets Serious About Career, Grandparenthood.

Thanks to Children's Bookshelf of Publisher's Weekly for this tweet.

Here are some of the book trailers Mr. Schu posted on Twitter this week.

Pam Allyn, American literacy expert and author as well as the executive director and founder of LitWorld (World Read Aloud Day) has a series of videos about reading: reading across genres, reading volume, and a message for parents.

Unfortunately with all the budget cuts in districts across the United States many are having to think about resumes.  Head over to the recommendations of Richard Byrne at this post, Top Tools for Upgrading Your Resumes|Cool Tools.  

You'll never guess which title has been selected for the October 3, 2013 Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign.  To the first person who can tell me the title name, I will send a copy of The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks with illustrations by Georg Hallensleben.  DM the answer on Twitter or leave a comment below. (This title has been won.)

Thanks to John Schumacher, teacher librarian, 2011 Library Journal Movers & Shakers, and blogger at Watch. Connect. Read. for these tweets.

Last Sunday the first of several amazing posts for the week entered my Twitter feed.  This post, And I Would Read 10,000 Hours, should be required reading for all educators and administrators.

Thanks to Jen Vincent, teacher extraordinaire and blogger at Teach Mentor Texts, for this post and this tweet.

Here is the second article which stresses in the best possible way the importance and value of Twitter Modes

Thanks to Cynthia Alaniz teacher extraordinaire and blogger at Teaching in Cute Shoes for this tweet and post.

I know it's barely officially spring but the Fall 2013 Sneak Previews went out over the wire last week at Publisher's Weekly.  

Classify this under it had to happen, The Dog Ate My e-Reader.

Thanks to Travis Jonker, teacher librarian and blogger at 100 Scope Notes for the posts and tweets.

For fans of the Origami Yoda books author/illustrator Tom Angleberger tweeted about extras available regarding the newest title, Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling.

Thanks to Tom Angleberger for the post and tweet.

Here's another fun site devoted to the latest Origami Yoda entry, May The Doodles Be With You.

Thanks to Teresa Rolfe Kravtin, southeast Publisher Rep and blogger at A Rep Reading.

Author/illustrator Jan Brett posted last week about how to draw the newest character in her November 2013 release, Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella.

Thank to Jan Brett for this tweet.

This video by author Neil Gaiman relative to his Calendar of Tales project, books and art is fantastic.

The second video is from the weekly Mental Floss hosted by John Green, 35 Facts About Mr. Fred Rogers

Thanks for these tweets goes to Katherine Sokolowski, teacher extraordinaire and blogger at Read. Write. Reflect 

School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books continues.  The judges essays while thorough and insightful are clearly not what everyone is expecting based on tweets this week.  Be sure to check out the five decisions in Round One and Round Two.

Here they are the Library Journal Movers & Shakers 2013 !

Thanks to School Library Journal for the tweets this week.

Are you ready to celebrate School Lunch Superhero Day?  Here's the new video posted by author Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series.  Thanks for this tweet.

This is another of those posts which I believe anyone who cares about children and reading needs to read and read right now, In The Classroom, Whose Taste Matters?

The selections have been chosen for the April #SharpSchu book club.  Make note of the date, April 24th 8PM EST. To the first person who can can tell me the selections for this month's discussion I will send a copy of Karen Cushman's newest title, Will Sparrow's Road. Please DM the answer on Twitter or in the comments below. (This title has been won.)

Don't miss #titletalk tomorrow.  Check out the topic and agenda.

Thanks to Colby Sharp, educator extraordinaire and blogger at sharpread for these posts and tweets.

Hang on to your hats Calvin and Hobbes fans---If There Were a Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon, This Is What It Would Probably Look Like. Well, we can dream.  This is one fine video.

Thanks to author and illustrator, Dan Santat for this tweet.

Creative Commons Infographic:  Licenses Explained  This is an important and timely infographic; worth reading and posting.

Thanks for this tweet goes to Jennifer LaGarde, librarian, 2012 Library Journal Movers & Shakers and blogger at The Adventures of Library Girl.

People tweet about the most amazing and touching everyday things.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Peril At Sea

Over the years, living near lakes, seas or oceans, enjoying recreational boating or making a living in fishing or transportation, one tends to develop a healthy respect for the combination of these bodies of water and the weather.  When a storm strikes, whether you are an observer or unwilling participant, the wind and waves are a beautiful, powerful and sometimes...deadly force.  There is nothing more terrifying than being aboard a vessel at the mercy of elements beyond the control of those in charge.

A continuous fascination with students for titles about shipwrecks especially the Titanic never seems to diminish.  Running a close second to those books are titles focusing on daring rescues made during the height of Nature's fury.  Author Elisa Carbone has selected one such true event for her new historical fiction, Heroes of the Surf: A rescue story based on true events (Viking, May 2012) illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.

May 13, 1882
Our steamship, Pliny, left Brazil three weeks ago on April 22---I know because I wrote it in my pirate logbook.

So begins the story of the voyage fated for peril prior to completion.  Our narrator, young Anthony, goes on to state that Captain Mitchell has informed him the ship is close to 300 feet long weighing over 1,000 tons.  Manned by thirty-six crew she carries passengers, men, women and children, numbering twenty-five.

Anthony and his friend Pedro have occupied themselves during this trip pretending to be pirates.  This evening their play is interrupted as they are ordered below by the captain, skies darkening with storm clouds.  The two are spending the night together with Pedro's father in his cabin as the craft rides up and down the steep waves.

Sometime later cries of Breakers! Breakers ahead! awaken Anthony.  He and Pedro make their way to the deck to find the seaman working feverishly to keep the boat on course.  Suddenly with a loud noise and a earth-shaking shudder the ship is stuck on a shoal.

Lifeboats are shattered by the waves before anyone can climb aboard them.  The inky swirling sky is momentarily lighted with a signal for help.  Then in the light of the approaching dawn Anthony and Pedro see land and a cannon---pirates?

Within several heartbeats a resounding BOOM! fills the air.  A weight and rope fly overhead followed by a life preserver with attached shorts.  One by one the passengers are pulled shoreward across and over the stormy waters by the members of the United States Life-Saving Service. 

The details of research used by Elisa Carbone within the narrative create a sense of authenticity. Intensifying the events of this date is her use of dialog by the narrator and other members aboard the Pliny.  Word choices, nautical terms and phrases filled with action, make this a completely engrossing read from cover to cover; readers feeling as if they are shipboard themselves.  Here is an excerpt from the book.

From the forecastle deck a rocket shoots into the air, red with fire.
"The captain is signaling for help," says Pedro.  His teeth are 
chattering with cold and fear.
Then, over the pounding of the waves, over the howling of 
the wind, over the shouts of the sailors and the wailing of the
children, I hear it:  the silence.

The front and back (vignette of surfmen on shore pulling the survivors toward them) jacket and cover illustrations lure readers to the story with the promise of action.  As Carbone did with the text, Nancy Carpenter portrays the steamship, clothing of crew, passengers and rescuers exactly as it would have been in 1882.  She varies the size of her pictures, accommodating the text, extending them to the page edges.

Although her palette is full color, during the storm the darker shades of blues, grays, browns and blacks  take precedence.  The fine lines seen on the front jacket and cover, are used throughout the book (especially in the sea scenes) causing the reader to feel as if they are looking at old historical photographs.  At different points in the story the characters' facial expressions clearly capture the emotional mood of the moment.  One of my favorite two page spreads is a close-up of Anthony and Pedro on deck pointing toward the land believing real pirates are about to attack the floundering steamship.

Facts adeptly blended with fiction coupled with lively, realistic artwork based upon the wreck of the steamship Pliny in 1882 makes Heroes of the Surf by Elisa Carbone with illustrations by Nancy Carpenter a gripping story.  I venture to guess whether read one on one or with a group listeners, all will be collectively leaning in until the final page is turned, then releasing a sigh of relief.  In an afterword Carbone explains the facts versus the story in this title.  Please visit Elisa Carbone's official website by following the link embedded in her name.  I believe this would be a great title to pair with the lengthier book also based upon a true story, The Wreck of the Ethie by Hilary Hyland with pictures by Paul Bachem.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

And They're Off...

You'd never know it from looking out the window but yesterday, March 20, 2013 was the official first day of spring.  In the past forty-eight hours we went from a winter weather advisory to a winter storm warning to a lake effect snow advisory.  Due to the gusty breezes off Lake Michigan our wind chills have been in the single digits and the foot deep snow drifts are commonplace again.

At times like this the best thing to do is build a roaring fire in the fireplace, drink hot chocolate and read a cheerful, new book release featuring green grass, trees with leaves, yellow butterflies and forest youngsters.  With the same gift for portraying animal antics as she did in Red Sled (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, November 2011)(reviewed here) Lita Judge's new title Red Hat (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) takes us to the familiar setting in a new season.  Curiosity and opportunity converge creating another wild romp.

As soon as the front cover is opened we are greeted with the title page picturing the child clad in a red hat running across a meadow, yellow flower in hand, the small brown cottage in the background, as four rabbits watch from the lower corner.  On the next two pages we see a wash tub has been placed on the grass in front of the cottage; the child washing the hat.  Three baby rabbits and their mother scamper closer for a look.

Swish swash swish swash

On a line stretched between a pine and birch tree the now clean hat hangs, rabbits jumping beneath as a baby bear and mother bear approach.  Temptation being too great, the younger bear snags the hat from its perch galloping away in delight.  With the flash and dash other animals join the chase, a porcupine and raccoon.  Of the two with a squint and reach, the bandit grabs the tasseled end.

Now the hat has switched to another wearer only this time it's started to unravel, what with all the tugging and pulling.  With vocal glee, Yoo-ha!, a tiny mouse grabs on for the ride of his life.  His wide-eyed wonder turns to worry the run escalating, whipping him around trees, as another flop-eared friend grips on for the trip, too.

What's that?  Possession has been reclaimed by the bear as he heads over a hill.  Then...all the frivolity comes to a screeching halt.  Where once there was a hat, red yarn is strung about clothespins.  With a Tink-a-tink tink a pleasing conclusion is fashioned for more than one.

Using only a minimum of words, onomatopoeic sounds or brief exclamations, Lita Judge's illustrations tell her story.  Rendered in pencil and watercolor there is an undercurrent of barely concealed mirth evident on all the pages.  A glowing warmth shines from the abundance of green, the hues of browns, the white, the yellow and splashes of red.  You can almost feel the sun on your face.

The animation on each of the characters' faces is brimming with expression; glee, curiosity, exuberance, satisfaction, concern, guilt and nonchalance.  Judge alternates the view for her readers;  closing in to show just the paws pulling the hat from the clothesline or the mouse grabbing the yarn but then pulling back to show all of the animals running with or holding on to the hat.  The tiniest of details add to the laughter readers will not be able to contain when reading; the mouse grasping the porcupine's quill after his fall or a rabbit's ears tied in a knot.

Each of the two page spreads throughout is framed with a pencil line, then a larger white border.  To show movement characters or the yarn will break out of the frame into the white space.  My favorite illustration is when the critters crazy caper is stopped and we readers are looking at their upturned faces.

Red Hat written and illustrated by Lita Judge is pure, perfect fun from beginning to end.  It's as if she has happiness stored in a bottle sprinkling it over her pages so when readers open the book it wraps around us.  It doesn't get any better than that.

Follow the link embedded in Lita Judge's name above to view her official website.  She has many pictures from this book there for your enjoyment plus she has a red hat contest.  Select Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to read her interview.  Enjoy this video chat with Lita Judge and book trailer for Red Hat.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Listing The Web

Previously I've posted about services such as Symbaloo, Weblist, and Bundlenut which all provide users with the ability to list websites in a single place centered around a topic.  Each of these have strengths.  Symbaloo is designed to give the user an at-a-glance visual representation through a group of tiles (looking like rows of buttons) of all the websites saved.  A simple click on a tile and a new window opens to the linked site.  Providing a no-frill list with descriptions of each site Bundlenut takes the user to the website without opening a new window.  There is the ability to scroll through the websites, left to right, and superimpose the bundle list on top of any of the open web sites.  Weblist is by far the most sophisticated of the three.  In generating a list web pages, images, text, documents, videos and files can be added.

This fall one of my preferred places to get the latest, Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... hosted a post about a new web 2.0 app which Ferlazzo claimed was his current favorite for creating lists of web pages to be used in Internet Scavenger Hunts. Three months later it appeared on his year end The Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education 2012.  Urlist as described on the home page is:

a social platform for organising, sharing and discovering links. Collect your links individually or collaboratively, make lists about topics you love and access your resources anywhere, anytime.

This free service features the option to design three kinds of lists: draft list, reference list and chart list.  The draft list is for quickly saving links you plan to organize later.  They are saved in chronological order.   Links can be divided into sections using the reference list.  Your best list on any given topic is generated using chart list.  Additional features on the home page are:  you can take links from other lists to add to your own, there is a Urlist button which can be placed on your toolbar for grabbing web pages, you can flip through your links like a slide show, and you can invite others to add links to a list.

To start click on the green Make Your List! button.   A new window appears over the current page asking you to register using Facebook, Google + or by entering in an email address and password.  Although in the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy no age is mentioned I would get permission before having those under 13 years of age use the site.  A confirmation email with a link to activate your account is sent immediately.

It's interesting to note once your account is created you can still log in using those other platforms including Twitter.  When you log in you are taken to your dashboard (home) to begin generating your first list.  At this page you can manage your account keeping track of links, lists, followers and those you are following (if you desire). There is also a search box for entering in a key word to discover links and lists within the application.

To begin a list I selected the blue New List! button.  A new window pops up asking which of the three lists, draft, reference or chart,  you would like to create.  You can make up to 6 draft lists.

I decided to make a reference list for the 2013 Newbery and Caldecott award-winning authors and illustrators.  First enter in a title of your list when prompted, followed by clicking Create.  A new window opens.

If you click on the List Settings button in the upper left-hand corner you can edit the title, add a description, invite contributors, or change the type of list.  To add a link first click on the line to open up the field before you type or paste in the URL.  Prior to including any more links I clicked on Edit Sections to name the first section and add another.

After each link is added when mousing over the field, three choices appear.  Under options you can delete or share the link on Google+, Facebook or Twitter. Edit allows you to change the name of the link and add a note. You can relist or copy the link to another list at this point.

Comments can be added to the list by going to the bottom.  A completed list can be shared via email, Twitter, Facebook or Google+.  When you click on the green Play List button on the right, a new window opens.  Each web page can be viewed in its entirety.  From this venue each site can be relisted or shared on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ as well as being deleted or edited by selecting the arrow in the upper right-hand corner.

I added links to YouTube videos which worked very well.  Links to Vimeo were also operable.  Linking to songs created in UJAM played perfectly.  While links to Google maps won't open in the play venue they will open in a new tab when clicked.

Each generated list is assigned it's own unique URL.  Here is the link to my list, 2013 Newbery and Caldecott Award Winners.  In looking for ease of use, results which users can understand and view and time needed to complete a task, this application scores well on all accounts.  There are always different points within the process when the same tasks can be done, which is a huge plus.  I agree wholeheartedly with Larry Ferlazzo about Urlist.  It's going into my virtual toolbox.

Update:  As of December 31, 2104 this application will leave the Internet.  I was informed of this via an email.