Saturday, October 30, 2010

Young Willamette Writers

The Willamette Writers is the largest writers' organization in Oregon, and one of the largest in the U.S. They also host the "Young Willamette Writers" for youth who are interested in writing. My daughter attends these monthly meetings with several of her friends from her critique group that she started at her school (Veritas School in Newberg).

I'm particularly excited about November's meeting this Tuesday, as I get to be the guest speaker. I'll be using my cliffhanger stories for some fun writing activities. After I read a story, we'll have a few kids tell the ending aloud. That's always what gets the kids in the mood to have their imaginations run wild (see "Alien Ants"). We'll write some story endings and share them with each other, and spend a few minutes talking about the benefits of critique groups for aspiring authors. I'm really looking forward to this!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This Week at the Library

Preschool Storytime

It was another one of those weeks where I had more books than I had time. Sometimes I wish Storytime could go for an hour. But I don't think I'd have an audience by the end of it.

Our theme was "Scary Things" this week in honor of Halloween. Some little ones are frightened by the images around them this time of year, so I thought some stories that reassure would be appropriate. We read:

Can't You Sleep Little Bear, by Martin Waddell. Little Bear (he's the little bear) is scared of the dark, and Big Bear (he's the big bear) can't figure out what to do about it, until he remembers the moon and the stars that light up the dark outside.
Scaredy Cat, by Joan Rankin. Scaredy Cat is scared of lots of things, until he plucks up his courage and swats that hairy spider.
Wemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes. Wemberly worries and worries, especially about the first day of school. There she finds a friend who helps her forget (most of) her worries.
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. The kids got to be Wild Things and roar and gnash and roll and show all their scary parts.
Dinosaurs' Halloween, by Liza Donnelly. A little boy and his dog dress up as dinosaurs, then meet a real dinosaur who trick-or-treats with him. Some bullies try to take their candy, and the little dino calls for help from the big dinos, who chase away the bad boys.

Toddler Time

You all were great Hokey Pokey-ers this week! Our stories were:

Cookie's Week, by Cindy Ward. I always get a big laugh from the first page. "On Monday, Cookie fell in the toilet." One boy decided every page was just as funny, which was even funnier than the book!
My Car, by Byron Barton. The kids had fun saying "Hi Sam! Bye Sam!" and learning to say "pedestrian."

Baby Time

We had to say goodbye to a parent going back to work next week. No fair! We should all be allowed to take 18 years off to enjoy raising our kids. That would be okay, wouldn't it?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why Don't I Own This Book?

I discovered the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg, long ago when I was teaching school. (If that author sounds familiar, he wrote The Polar Express, and Jumanji.) As it is one of my favorite books of all time, I'm wondering why on earth I don't own it. I think I'll fix that soon.

The premise of the book is that Harris Burdick, an author/illustrator, brought a portfolio of his work to a children's book publisher. He said he had fourteen stories, and brought one illustration from each to show the publisher. As said publisher was very interested, Mr. Burdick agreed to return the next day with the stories. He was never seen again. What follows in this picture book are the drawings "left behind" by Harris Burdick, each one with a title and caption. These illustrations are phenomenal, as befits a Caldecott winning artist. A full page drawing of something mysterious or fantastic draws you in, while the title and caption spark your curiousity and imagination. One of my favorites shows the inside of a towering gothic cathedral. A nun, sitting in a chair, floats high in the air above two priests' heads. The title reads "The Seven Chairs." The caption says, "The fifth one ended up in France." What's the story? How did that nun in the chair get there? What happened next?

I think this book was in the back of my mind when I started writing my own stories that will be in Cliffhanger Writing Prompts. I imagined a picture book where each page turn would show a new story with a full-color illustration. Well, that concept didn't fly, but stories that leave the reader to imagine what happens next did. I'm looking forward to teachers using my book in the classroom the same way I used The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. And that is very cool!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Week at the Library

Another great week down, and I'm looking forward to "Scary Things" next week.

Preschool Storytime

This week was all about Turtles. We learned the difference between turtles and tortoises, and that real turtles can't take their shells off the way Franklin does. We looked at pictures of lots of different kinds of turtles, including that funny one that wiggles its tongue to attract fish. We did the turtle rhyme:

There Was a Little Turtle

There was a little turtle
Who lived in a box
It swam in the water
And it climbed on the rocks.

It snapped at a mosquito
It snapped at a flea
It snapped at a minnow
And it snapped at me.

It caught the mosquito
It caught the flea
It caught the minnow
But it didn't catch me.

We read:

Franklin in the Dark, by Paulette Bourgeois. Franklin asks friends for help when he's afraid to crawl in his shell. He finally gathers up his courage, crawls in, and turns on his nightlight.
Time to Sleep, by Denise Fleming. The forest animals relay the message that it's time to sleep for the winter, until ladybug wakes up bear to tell her "Time to sleep!"
Splash!, by Ann Jonas. This is a simple counting book, but can be a challenging math book when you ask the kids to figure out in their heads "How many are in my pond?"

I told the African folktale "Unwungelema" on the flannelboard. In a time of famine, all the animals want the fruit from a magic tree. The fruit will only fall if someone says the name of the tree, only no one can remember what its name is. Turtle saves the day when he journeys to the king, gets the name, and remembers it all the way home.

Toddler Time

I can't wait to be a grandmother. I just think two and three year olds are the cutest things on the planet. Yes, they hand me boogers, but it's quite innocent, so I think even that's kind of cute - as long as the parent is the one who actually deals with the booger.

Our stories this week were:

The Chick and the Duckling, by Mirra Ginsburg. Baby's first peer pressure book.
How Do I Put it On?, by Shigeo Watanabe. The Tuesday and Thursday crowd laughed and yelled "NO!" at this book. The Wednesday group was silently captivated. Not a sound.

Baby Time

Our group is growing. I think we had nine babies today. Their faces as they watched the bubbles were adorable. We had a new book today called Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson that everyone seemed to enjoy. It had a great rhythm to it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Please Vote for the Library Levy

Just wanted to say that I'd sure like it if the library levy passed. The last time it didn't pass we had a year or two of shortened library hours, and Storytime had to get moved around. We had fewer storytimes then, and I'm afraid if we cut back on hours this time, some storytimes might have to be cut.

The "new" levy just continues the old levy, with no increases in rates. It is only a replacement. Please vote yes!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This Week at the Library

This is the type of weather that is so beautiful outside, and gets so uncomfortable inside. Inside our "community room," that is. It's cool enough outside that the building's air conditioner doesn't come on. Yet those wonderful huge windows that face the morning sun make the room a greenhouse and it gets really warm sometimes. Dress in layers when you come!

Preschool Storytime

In preparation for Halloween, we had a "Monsters" theme. Some of these books are big favorites of mine.

There's a Nightmare in My Closet, by Mercer Mayer. The dreaded monster in the closet! Actually he's a big crybaby.
Go Away, Big Green Monster!, by Ed Emberly. Yay! Nobody cried when the kids screamed "Go away!" I think this book is very empowering.
The Very Worst Monster, by Pat Hutchins. It's kind of fun to think being really, really bad is good!

The fourth book I read was different on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday's book was:

Jeremy Draws a Monster, by Peter McCarty. Jeremy is the ultimate introvert, and when he draws a monster that comes to life and behaves badly, Jeremy ends up having to go outside and join the real world.

Wednesday's book was:

No Such Thing, by Jacki French Koller. I LOVE this book. Again, it's so empowering to a child to be able to prove he's right and the grownups are wrong. This book allows that in a humorous, respectful way, plus has the added benefit of showing that even if there is a monster under your bed, he's probably a playmate in the making.

We had a great time acting out the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. We learned how to tell/act out the story at home with the Horrible Mean Troll saying "Who's that trip-trapping over my bridge?" and "I'm coming up to eat you!"

Toddler Time

Good singers on Thursday! I love it when parents really get into the songs and fingerplays. Our books this week were:

Spots, Feathers and Curly Tails, by Nancy Tafuri. The kids love this guessing-game book.
Dinosaur Roar, by Paul Stickland. This is a genius of a book, combining dinosaurs, fun pictures and opposites.

Baby Time

Today four of the five babies were there for the first time. Plus we had a dad! Lots of smiles and wide eyes at the bubbles.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Week at the Library

I guess I was a failure this week. At the end of Preschool Storytime (which I thought had gone swimmingly), two boys were standing in front of me, waiting for their hand stamps. One boy said to the other, "I didn't like Storytime today." His friend said, "Yeah, I didn't either. It was boring." First boy said, "Yeah. It was boring." Sigh........

Preschool Storytime

So I'll be looking for some better books on elephants now. I thought they were pretty good, but maybe I spent a little too much time teaching them the difference between Asian elephants (small ears, heart shaped head) and African elephants (big ears, round heads).

Elmer, by David McKee. I love making the kids jump when Elmer says, "BOOOO!"
A Turtle in the Toilet, by Jonathan Emmett. Pop-up books are a hit every time.
Little Elephant, by Miela Ford. We talked about the difference between real and pretend in our books. The elephant in this book is real because the pictures are photographs of a real elephant.
Just a Little Bit, by Ann Tompert. This book is pretend because the elephant is wearing clothes and sitting on a swing. I like the gentle lesson this book teaches about the value of every effort, no matter how small. We also noticed the mistake in this book - the lion has a mane, but the text refers to it as "she."

We had fun with the song "Animal Action" from my Greg and Steve CD. You can find the full title in the labels to the right.

Toddler Time

I just love how joyful the children are! If only we could capture and hold on to that joy over simple things into adulthood. I sometimes tell my own children, "Never lose your sense of play."

We read:

Clip-Clop, by Nicola Smee. Books like this amaze me with their ability to create a story arc and suspense in about 500 words.
Pete's a Pizza, by William Steig. It's interesting how the two-year-olds can't quite figure out if Pete really was made into a pizza, and the three-year-olds totally get the joke.

Baby Time

Friendships formed and milestones celebrated. Need I say more?