Barren Lives (1938) covers a brief period of time in the life of a family as they try to eke out a living as farm hands on a ranch in a small village.Barren Lives (1938) covers a brief period of time in the life of a family as they try to eke out a living as farm hands on a ranch in a small village. Thematically the book reminds me of The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck except that the family is more hopeful in Barren Lives because they are still on the move at the end of the book. Steinbeck's family reaches the promised land (California) only to find poverty and exploitation.
The book is written in a straightforward manner. The text is as barren as the farm lands have been rendered by the drought. This simplicity makes the drought seem all the more real and the plight of the farming family more poignant. ...more
I read Lin Yi's Lantern by Brenda Williams as part of that astronomy themed book project I did. It teaches children about the Chinese Moon Festival thI read Lin Yi's Lantern by Brenda Williams as part of that astronomy themed book project I did. It teaches children about the Chinese Moon Festival through a story, an art project and through the myth of the moon goddess.
Lin Yi is sent to town with money to purchase supplies for the night's Moon Festival by his mother. If he has any money left over he can purchase a red lantern shaped like a bunny. He goes through the entire market buying what his mother needs but just doesn't have enough for his lantern. His friendly demeanor though inspires someone else to get it for him as a gift.
The next section is a step by step art project that teaches children how to make a simple paper lantern. This is a great bonus for teachers, librarians or homeschooling parents looking for moon festival projects.
The final piece is a short retelling of the moon goddess legend. It teaches the background to the moon festival. I would recommend anyone teaching this book read the myth first and then the main story unless students are already familiar with the mythology....more
Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet is the first in a new series by Graham Salisbury. Trouble always seems to find Calvin even when he's doing his best toCalvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet is the first in a new series by Graham Salisbury. Trouble always seems to find Calvin even when he's doing his best to avoid it. At home he has to give up his room to a girl from Texas. At school he's got a couple of bullies to avoid. To make matters worse, one of the bullies has a crush on the girl from Texas!
The Calvin Coconut books are set on the island of Oahu. As Graham Salisbury explains on the series website, he has set the books in his old elementary school. What this means is that the characters in Calvin Coconut seem real without being an obvious lesson on Hawaiian multiculturalism.
Instead of focusing on Hawaiian culture being different, Calvin and his friends learn through trial and error how different Texas culture. What strikes them as normal strikes Calvin's house guest as weird. Being in a Pacific rim state too, I find Hawaiian culture more normal than Texan, so I can relate to Calvin's bewilderment.
The books are best for children in second through fifth grade. There are delightful illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers to accompany the silliest of the scenes in the book.
There are four books planned and I've read two. I hope to read the others....more
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan was inspired by her own childhood as a younger sister who desperately wanted to go with her sister to a birthday parBig Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan was inspired by her own childhood as a younger sister who desperately wanted to go with her sister to a birthday party even though she wasn't invited. It's told from Rubina, the oldest sister's point of view. She is invited to a birthday party, something her immigrant mother has never heard of and she tries to explain that only she is invited. Her mother though says she can only go if she can take her middle sister.
Things don't go well and Rubina isn't invited to many parties after that. When the middle sister is ultimately invited to a birthday party, Rubina steps in and convinces their mother to leave the youngest sister at home to avoid a repeat.
The story gave me pause, not over the realization that birthday parties are a very Western thing, but over the fact that where I live all of the siblings are typically invited. We live in a very diverse neighborhood and until I read Big Red Lollipop I never wondered if diversity had anything to do with the inclusion of siblings at birthday events. Whatever the reason, I'm glad we typically invite everybody....more
In Horrible Harry Goes to the Moon by Suzy Kline, Harry and his friends learn about astronomy, especially the moon, and hold a bake sale to make theirIn Horrible Harry Goes to the Moon by Suzy Kline, Harry and his friends learn about astronomy, especially the moon, and hold a bake sale to make their trip to the moon possible.
An argument over who gets to sit on the moon patterned couch starts a class-wide research project on the moon. The students learn about the lower gravity on the moon by doing a hopping experiment in front of the blackboard. Harry decides the class needs to go to the moon. Since getting a field trip in a rocket isn't possible, he convinces the class to hold a bake sale to purchase a used telescope. To celebrate their success, the children host a moon viewing party. The book introduces students to recent research into there being water (in the form of ice) on the moon. It also has information on the geography of the lunar landscape and what can be seen through a telescope.
I originally chose this book for my astronomy materials project. While a little dated here and there, it still holds up. It's an entertaining introduction to basic astronomy. ...more
Usually the illustrations in these nursery rhyme collections have dull, rathery samey, uninspired illustrations. Not here. These are works of art, donUsually the illustrations in these nursery rhyme collections have dull, rathery samey, uninspired illustrations. Not here. These are works of art, done with naturally dyed wool, beads, buttons, lace and embroidery. They are amazing!
The poetry collection itself is a nice collection of things you'd expect to find as well as some ones you might not expect. Folk song fans will see some old favorites tucked in with the more traditional rhymes.
I borrowed this from the library but I would seriously love to own a copy some day....more
Once Upon a Starry Night by Jacqueline Mitton was one of the books I chose for an astronomy themed project last semester. The goal was to come up withOnce Upon a Starry Night by Jacqueline Mitton was one of the books I chose for an astronomy themed project last semester. The goal was to come up with twelve age appropriate books on a certain topic. In this case the age range was ages 5 to 8 which by itself ended up being extremely difficult. I don't plan on reviewing every single book from the project but Mitton's book was one of my favorites.
Once Upon a Starry Night is an introduction to the lesser known constellations. It's a companion book two others: Zodiac, which covers the twelve best known constellations, and Zoo in the Sky, which covers the animal constellations.
Mitton provides short, easy to read summaries of the stories behind each of the constellations included in the book. Where appropriate she includes hints on pronunciation.
What makes this book though are Christina Balit's illustrations. They remind me of Roman mosaics. The stars are done with a gold foil and really catch the eye. ...more
Whenever I write a review post I start by looking for other blog reviews of the book. In the case of Hard Hat Area by Susan L Roth I'm surprised thatWhenever I write a review post I start by looking for other blog reviews of the book. In the case of Hard Hat Area by Susan L Roth I'm surprised that I can't find any.
Hard Hat Area is a walk through of how a skyscraper is built and many of the different jobs that go into such an undertaking. The book follows an ironworks apprentice as she goes through the day running errands and doing odd jobs across the site. This is how all apprentices learn the ropes before the begin to specialize.
In the end notes, the author includes biographical information about the real Kristen who inspired the book. I love that this book is a straight up construction book. It will appeal to any child interested in learning how things are built. The fact that the main character is a real woman working in construction is just icing on an otherwise delightful book.
The illustrations are done in a style similar to Eric Carle's. It has visual appeal especially for children who have been raised on Carle's books. At the same time though, there is enough detail shown that with the provided labels, children (and adults) can learn the terminology....more
Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals by Ellyssa Kroski was one of the first books I found in the early days of my Patron 2.0 researchWeb 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals by Ellyssa Kroski was one of the first books I found in the early days of my Patron 2.0 research paper. Having "Web 2.0" in the title made it easy to find when I wasn't quite sure yet what direction my paper was going to take.
Kroski's book is first a description of what web 2.0 is and a brief history of its development. Next it is a descriptive catalog of current (as of 2008) technologies at use for librarians. It includes examples of how to use each of the listed technologies.
For my research the book was useful for seeing what was available. Although I'm fairly savvy with social technology it was good to have a list to check against as I was following links to blogs mentioned in other research. For library professionals the book would offer a good reference for offering Library 2.0 services.
Ellyssa Kroski lectures sometimes at San José State, the school I am currently attending. I have not taken any of her courses....more
I am currently a library and information science student. I read This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson as part of my research for my Patron 2.0 papI am currently a library and information science student. I read This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson as part of my research for my Patron 2.0 paper. Even if I weren't a library student right now I would have read the book as I'm such a fan of libraries, especially public ones.
For me, therefore, Chapter 4: "The Blog People" was of the most interest. It looks at the history of blogging and especially blogging by librarians. Library blogs can be divided into three main groups: blogs run by libraries (usually a group effort), blogs run by library organizations (such as the ALA) and blogs run by librarians. They are written for one of two main audiences: individuals (typically library patrons) or as a method of peer to peer communication (blogs are becoming more commonplace as a method for long distance communication during conferences).
The other chapter that really piqued my interest was Chapter 1: "The Frontier." It describes how librarianship has evolved in the last hundred years and how it's now spreading into Second Life. Before I started working on my MLIS I had never tried Second Life. I had done the text-based equivalent in the 1990s when I was an undergrad and I felt like I had gotten it out of my system. Since Second Life's inception, librarians have been setting up virtual libraries and colleges have been setting up virtual campuses. My own school has a virtual campus, which for school I've had to visit more times than I have the actual campus (my coursework is completely done on the computer). That said, I still find Second Life something I don't think I'd use beyond what I may end up having to do for my work as a librarian (when that time comes)....more
In A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C Stead won the 2011 Caldecott Medal. Amos McGee is an elderly zookeeper dedicated to his work. He loves his joIn A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C Stead won the 2011 Caldecott Medal. Amos McGee is an elderly zookeeper dedicated to his work. He loves his job and the zoo animals love him. The book is about a day when Amos can't go to work and what happens next.
Amos has a daily routine that involves chess with an elephant, a footrace with a tortoise and bedtime stories with an owl who is scared of the dark. When he has stay home with a cold, his animal friends come to repay the kindness and take care of him.
Erin Stead uses woodblocks and colored pencils in her illustrations which bring to mind the classic illustrations of earlier picture books. They fit the quiet mood of the story perfectly. Children will learn about the value of friendship and extended families.
I read this book originally for the materials for children ages 5 to 8 class I took during the Spring 2011 semester....more