Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Julia Donaldson: The New Children's Laureate!

The list of British Children's Laureates includes some of my personal favorite authors and the most recent addition, Julia Donaldson, is no exception! I was so pleased to see a recent article announcing her appointment.

Best known for her beloved Gruffalo picture books, Donaldson is also the prolific author of chapter books for beginning readers, middle grade students and teens - not to mention plays, poems and songs!

She is a busy woman overflowing with creativity, which will serve her well in her tenure as she devotes the next two years to promoting literacy, supporting libraries and generally spreading the joy of reading. If you only know her for the Gruffalo, you are in for a treat as you explore some of her other writing.

In the US, we have a National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. In case you missed it, check out this earlier blog post about Katherine Paterson!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Spine Poetry

In 5th grade we finished off the year by making book spine poems during library class! The students impressed me with their boundless energy and creativity as they rushed about the library cleverly putting together books to create funny, creepy, thoughtful and intriguing poetry.

We ended up many wonderful poems that I hoped to show you, but I ran into frustrating formatting issues with adding photos to the blog and regretfully had to limit what I've shared to the following... [My apologies for the erratic spacing - after wrestling with this for some time, I have decided to send this post out into the world as is!]

Why not raid your bookshelves and try creating some book spine poems of your own?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Break 2011 Reading Guide

Also view my profile on Goodreads and my SWIFT and Sharepoint pages for more reading ideas! On this blog, look at the “labels” menu on the lower left for categories such as “reading lists” and “awards.”

Happy summer break & happy reading!
Ms. Simeon

Picture books for all ages

Bigfoot Cinderrrrrella by Tony Johnston – Enjoy this jolly romp through a Pacific Northwest forest with a hairy prince and his Bigfoot brrrrride!

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore – Be warned: this book will make you hungry! Read the story, then use the recipe to try making pancit at home!

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston – In a remote part of the United States, a dedicated woman loaded up a green van every day and drove the mountain roads to bring books to grateful readers, including the author of this book!

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett – There’s a different rabbit problem every month of the year in this hilarious book!

The Strange Case of the Missing Sheep by Mircea Catusanu – Unique illustrations highlight this clever mystery with a surprise ending!

Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World’s Smartest Horse by Emily Arnold McCully – An inspirational tale showing the human/animal bond at its best.

Chapter books - e

A Finder’s Magic by Philippa Pearce – A charming short illustrated chapter book about a boy whose beloved dog goes missing and the magical helper who comes to his aid.

Smarter Than Squirrels by Lucy Nolan – A funny beginning chapter book in the Down Girl and Sit series about two dogs who think they know exactly how the human world works!

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm – Times are tough and Turtle’s mama has to pack her off to stay with a gang of cousins in Key West. That’s when the adventure begins!

Chapter books - elementary/middle school

Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve – Great fun for those who like a dash of magic and mystery in their books.

I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson – This is the summer that Emma figures out that, despite her name, she is NOT a freak!

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Lanesha has always been able to talk with spirits, and that’s what helps her survive when Hurricane Katrina comes and the waters start to rise.

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez – What would you do if you found out your parents were breaking the law…?

Chapter books - middle/high school

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins – When Ry’s summer camp is cancelled, his summer turns out to be more wildly adventurous than he ever could have dreamed!

Backwater by Joan Bauer – Finding the mysterious aunt no one wants to talk about helps Ivy figure out her own place in the family where she doesn’t quite fit in.

Peace, Love and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle – No one writes smart chick lit like Myracle! The title says it all.

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury – It all started off as the perfect summer vacation: two guys, their bikes and the open road. But that’s not how it ended…


The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton (grades 3-6) – An entertaining science book about the unexpected discoveries made by two brothers that have an impact on all our lives.

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (grades 5 and up) – History comes to life through the words of young Germans who share what it was like to grow up in the Third Reich.

Making Amazing Art!: 40 Activities Using the 7 Elements of Art Design by Sandi Henry (grades 2-8) – A great art book that teaches theory and technique as well as providing many activities to try.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (grades 2-4) – A beautiful true story about the power of learning and human connection.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meet Satoshi Kitamura

One of the delights of the picture book genre is the way that someone who is a truly gifted artist and illustrator can create works that bring great joy to readers of all ages. Satoshi Kitamura is just such an individual. A native of Japan who lived for many years in London and who has won multiple literary awards in the English-speaking world, his books number among my favorites.

Take a look at this gallery of some of his art, including a page from my personal favorite, Sheep in Wolves' Clothing. You can also read his Postcard from Japan, about his experiences during and after the recent earthquake.

The whimsy, creativity and exuberance of an artist such as Kitamura are real gifts to readers of all ages. If you are not familiar with his work, give yourself a treat and take a moment to explore his work!