Friday, November 15, 2013

Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug! by Mem Fox - PPBF

Later today I'll be sitting on a #kidlit panel on Ethics in literature at The Reader's Loft Bookstore. As part of the Ethics Day events, I was asked to compile a list of books for kids that deal with moral/ethical issues and share with parents.

Of course, as I was compiling the list, something struck me. While there are so many amazing and great books out there that get kids thinking about ethics and goodness and values and all, there are also so many other functions of books.

Like......fun? 
Enjoyment? 
Entertainment?

And books for kids should be for kids, right?
(Pondering this reminds me a recent Rate Your Story post, where Joan Donaldson writes about shoving the parents aside in your own story to make it child-centric.)

Tonight, as I share my selections at the kidlit panel, I will be sure to highlight many books that children will find enjoyable and engaging, showing the parents how books with good values don't have to be outright "about" ethics or overly didactic or written with an imperative tone. And I'll be sure to remind them that if we don't give our kids some strictly "fun" books in addition to "learning moment" books, we risk turning them off to reading. And that's an ethical dilemma in and of itself.

So today's Perfect Picture Book is one that is super enjoyable. It's not on my Ethics Day list, but it is one that reminds me of the importance to share all kinds of books with all kinds of kids. My own children beg to read this one again and again, just for fun. It is...

YOO-HOO, LADYBUG!


Title: Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug!
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Laura Ljungkvist
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2013
Genre/Category: Fiction, picture book
Age: 2-6
Synopsis (taken from jacketflap): Ladybug loves to hide. Can you find her?

First page: Ladybug loves to hide.

Why I chose this book: It's just pure fun! The rhyme is splendid! The colors are bright and hold kids' attention!

Resources: I don't want to be a spoil-sport, but sometimes I think we should just read a book with our kids and not extend it with all kinds of other learning activities. Just read it again. Maybe sing it! Memorize it! Write their own verses/pages. Or, read another book. JUST. FOR. FUN.

(P.S. See Susanna Leonard Hill's blog if you're not familiar with Perfect Picture Book Fridays.)


If you live in Wisconsin and want to attend tonight's storytime and Ethics Day panel session (11/15) at the Reader's Loft, it's at 6:30 p.m. Visit www.readersloft.com for directions. And don't forget, local SCBWI-Wisconsin writers, tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. at The Reader's Loft is our fall meet-up with three guest speakers!

Have a great weekend (reading just for fun)!


Friday, November 8, 2013

The Cloud Spinner - Perfect Picture Book Friday

Last weekend, after my usually-mild-mannered daughter had an "episode" in the car over something she NEEDED SO BAD and RIGHT NOW, I responded like this:

"Young lady, we need to have a talk about needs and wants."

She replied something to the effect of [**sigh**] "I know the difference, Mom."

"How do you know the difference?" I asked.

"Well, no one has ever told me directly," (yes, she really speaks that way), "but you hear teachers and grown-ups saying stuff like that all the time."

Good, I thought to myself. But I gave her a direct lecture about needs and wants anyway, just to be sure.

Little did I know, my 4-year-old son was quietly absorbing it all from the car seat behind me. (He was probably stunned and speechless that he wasn't being the one lectured for once.)

The next morning at breakfast, when his sister grabbed for extra pieces of bacon while singing a sort of a makeshift ode to bacon, my son felt the need to speak up.

"You know, bacon isn't a need. Nobody needs bacon to live."

And then his sister responded, cleverly, as always.

"Yeah? But without bacon, what kind of life is that?"

My 4-year-old was rendered speechless for the second time in 24 hours, thinking about what a life without bacon might really be like. Within a minute, he reached for another piece of bacon and they both began singing the love of bacon song. I stared at my plate, wondering what to make of the whole situation.
4 snapshots from this year's Mother's Day gift;
glad my love and kindness got in there somewhere.
As I reflected on the weekend, my thoughts brought a picture book to mind—one we had really fallen in love with a few months ago. It was the perfect story to re-read and continue our little "needs vs. wants" discussion in a beautiful, engaging, and non-lectury way.

So that brings me to today's PERFECT PICTURE BOOK selection:




Title: The Cloud Spinner

Author: Michael Catchpool

Illustrator: Alison Jay

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012 (originally published in slightly different form in Great Britain as Cloth from the Clouds by Gullane Children's Books, London, 2012)

Genre: Folk Tale / Myth, Fiction, Picture Book

Age: 4-8

Topics: Needs vs. Wants, Cautionary Tale, Nature, Folk Tale, Conscience, Conservation

Sypnosis (I took this from the jacketflap)—"A magical tale about the beauty and fragility of our natural world, and the wisdom and courage needed to protect it."

Opening line: "There once was a boy who could weave cloth from the clouds."

Why I chose this book: Besides what I shared in the post above, this book is an instant classic. It has all of the wisdom and truth and magic of any great story, and despite it's obvious "lesson" or "moral," it doesn't seem heavy handed because of the fact that Catchpool makes the adult characters less wise than the children, who end up saving the day. Anyone who has children or pays attention to them closely knows that most often, they are much wiser, more honest, and more open than the rest of us.

The language and art are beautiful, and this book gives me hope that there's still room in the trade market for quiet books with poetic language and a timely message for our world.

Additional Resources:

In the book, the clouds are depicted in all sorts of colors, depending on how the sunlight is reflecting off of them. This might be a great way for a science teacher to introduce what clouds are really made of, or an art teacher to begin a unit on imitating nature in watercolor. Here are some cloud resource pages for kids:

For scientific info and activities on real clouds:
http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-clouds.htm (scroll to bottom for activities!)

For creative art projects featuring different ways to "make" clouds:
http://www.atozkidsstuff.com/clouds.html

This book is also an obvious segue to discussions about environmental conversation. National Geographic has a character named Zippy who will give your kids a few tips on being green:

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/spacescience/green-tips/

Of course, don't forget the possible tie-ins to actual spinning. Since I live just a few miles away from an amazing living history museum called Heritage Hill, my children have gotten to card wool and watch artisans spin, knit, and crochet. But if your children haven't gotten the chance to see it, here's a 2-minute video!



And then, if you want to "spin" something more creative than yarn, there's always cotton candy—sure to be a hit with any classroom. Here's how to make it without a machine:




Have a great weekend! Comments are open!



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