Thursday, March 31, 2011

Booktalk: O, Say Can You See? [Cool America; 3]

We have such a cool country, and we also have some pretty cool symbols to highlight our values: freedom, liberty, and democracy. As you know, a symbol is something that stands for something else. Symbols can be places, objects, or words. Which bird is our national symbol? [Wait for response.] Right, the bald eagle. But did you know that Ben Franklin actually wanted our national bird to be a wild turkey? It may be hard to believe, but he thought bald eagles were lazy thieves. Luckily, he lost the battle, and we got the bald eagle instead. The bald eagle symbolizes power and strength. Another cool American symbol is the Statue of Liberty. Did you know that she used to be light brown? She’s green now. She was made in France, and her inner skeleton was built in Paris [show p. 24]. To get her to America, they had to carefully take apart every single piece of her, label it, and ship it to this country, where it was an important gift to us. Can you imagine re-assembling the Statue of Liberty, piece by piece? That is tough work, but it was worth it. Another symbol you might not know as much about it is Uncle Sam [show pp. 36-37]. You know those “I Want You” pictures with his face? Those were used to recruit men to fight in World War I and II. But the original Uncle Sam was based on a man named Sam Wilson who fought in the American Revolution and worked as a meatpacker. There’s more to that story, which you can read about it O, Say Can You See? America’s Symbols, Landmarks, and Inspiring Words by Sheila Keenan.

O, Say Can You See? America’s Symbols, Landmarks, and Inspiring Words by Sheila Keenan. Scholastic, 2004. 64 p. Booktalk to elementary, intermediate grades.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Booktalk: The Scrambled States of America [Cool America; 2]

Have you ever gotten really tired of where you live, or even of where you sit in class? [Show page {3}]. Kansas woke up one morning in a really bad mood. Some of the states were still sleeping [point to the west coast states on that same page], some were yawning and rubbing their eyes [point to the Midwestern states], and some were eating their cereal and reading the newspaper [point to the east coast states]. Not Kansas, though. “I never get to go anywhere!” he moaned to his best friend, Nebraska. But suddenly, Kansas had a great idea: why not have a party and invite all the other states? Every state could bring his/her favorite food, and there could be music and dancing! So they planned the party. At last, the big day came, and the states started to meet each other. They laughed, and ate, and danced, and partied. Idaho and Virginia even decided to switch places. Yes, you heard me correctly. Switch places. I mean, both of them could now see a new part of the country. Pretty soon the idea caught on and all the states decided to switch places. Now, I can’t give away what happened. I can only give you one juicy detail: Florida had switched spots with Minnesota and was freezing in his new, cold northern climate. And poor Minnesota forgot to take sunblock to Florida’s place down south and got really, really sunburned. Alaska got into a really bad mood, but I can’t tell you why. I don’t want Alaska getting mad at me. You don’t mess with Alaska. To find out what happened in the big experiment, read The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Heller.

The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Heller. Henry Holt and Company, 1998. Unpaged. Booktalk to elementary school, intermediate grades.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Booktalk: The United Tweets of America [Cool America; 1]

Each bird has a personality, just like a dog or cat. You may not believe me, but it’s true. Some birds are kind of show-offy, like the mockingbird. [Show Missippi, found on p. {29}]. Now, every state has a state bird. The mockingbird is the state bird of Mississippi, and he’s one of the greatest singers of all the state birds. As you can see here, he’s dressed up as Elvis Presley, singing for the lovely ladies, nestled among the state flower, the magnolia. He thinks he’s hot stuff, clearly. A bird with a more down-to-earth personality is the robin [Show Wisconsin, found on p.{54}. In this picture, the robin has a huge cheese wedge on his head and is riding a motorcycle. Why is that? Well, Wisconsin is known for its cheese, and Milwaukee is the home of Harley-Davidson motorcyles. If you actually see a robin doing this in public, please let me know. Some of the other state birds featured in this book are equally crazy. This hilarious book has great trivia about the states, the rundown on the state birds, and some really funny jokes and drawings. The United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds by Hudson Talbott.

The United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds, Their Stories, Their Glories by Hudson Talbott. Unpaged [64 p.]. Putnam Juvenile, 2008. Booktalk to K-6.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Booktalk: Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians [All things library; 3]

Here’s a term you don’t often hear: “evil librarians.” Evil librarians?! Are you serious? In this graphic novel, Lunch Lady and her sidekick Betty discover a plot by the League of Librarians. They are four librarians who want to blow up a shipment of the brand new, ultra-cool video game consoles, the X-Station 5000. What a waste, right? These librarians are so opposed to video games that they’re willing to deal with high-powered weapons, like dictionaries! But don’t worry. Lunch Lady, as much as she loves reading, is not going to stand for that. And she has tools she’s going to use: taco-vision night goggles; the spork phone; hover pizzas; a sense of humor; a linguini lasso; and a huge celery stick. Can a world with both books and video games co-exist in peace and harmony? Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Unpaged. 2009: Alfred A. Knopf. Booktalk to intermediate grades [grades 2-5].

Monday, March 21, 2011

Booktalk: Library Lion [All things library; 2]

Imagine you’re in a library, minding your own business, and you see a lion walking around, sniffing snuff, rubbing his head against the new books [show pp. {5-6}], and taking a nap in the children’s story corner. You’d be freaked out, right? I’d be! A librarian spotted him and ran to tell Miss Merriweather, the head librarian [show picture on p. {4}]. She said the lion could stay as long as he wasn’t breaking any rules. The lion actually behaved himself when Miss Merriweather put on storytime for the children! He liked the stories so much that he gave a tremendous roar when storytime was over. Okay, now he broke the rules. Miss Merriweather told him if he did that again, he couldn’t stay in the library. Poor lion actually looked sad. Clearly, he loves the library, and he loves storytime. Who doesn’t? Miss Merriweather even gives him little jobs to do, like licking envelopes and helping children get the books on the higher shelves by sitting on his back. But lions are capable of great strength and courage, and library lion has not yet passed the true test of his abilities. Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. Candlewick Press, 2006. Unpaged. Booktalk to K-3.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Booktalk: Dewey the Library Cat [All things library; 1]

People who work in libraries are used to finding all sorts of stuff in the library drop box: you know what that is, right? You’re outside the library, and you open up the slot and put your books in and you hear them drop into a bin. People mostly put their returned books in the bin, but sometimes people use it as a trash receptacle … or worse. A librarian named Vicki Myron and her colleague were extremely surprised one day to find a tiny, semi-frozen, frightened little kitten in their bin. Someone had put this tiny, neglected, half-starved kitten in the drop box. They found out the kitten was 8 weeks old, but it looked 8 days old. You could see the poor kitten’s every rib: it was that thin. Vicki gave the kitten food, a warm bath, lots of care, and love. The kitten survived, and lived in her library! They named the kitten Dewey, after the Dewey decimal system which libraries use. The patrons who came into the library loved Dewey. Often, he’d find someone in a bad mood. He’d plop himself right down on that person’s lap and take a nap. How can you be in a bad mood with a beautiful cat snoozing on your lap? It’s impossible. Dewey considered every part of the library to belong to him, and children and their parents would come in just to see him. Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story by Vicki Myron.

Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. 214 p. Little, Brown, 2010. Booktalk to intermediate grades, middle school.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Booktalk: Don't Forget Your Etiquette! [Manners; 3]

You know how dangerous bad advice can be? Well, this is a book of manners – also called etiquette – written in poems. No, the poems are not dangerous in and of themselves. It’s what’s in the poems: advice about how to misbehave, written by this really wild girl with glasses, Miss Information. Get it? Misinformation, also known as bad information. If you follow Miss Information’s etiquette, this is how you behave in the family bathroom when people are waiting to use it [show pages titled, “Bathroom Etiquette]:

1). Lock the bathroom door and ignore the pleading of your brothers and sisters.
2). Take a couple of hours to practice your trombone in the bathroom.
3). Bring a lot of reading material for when you sit on the throne.
4). Order in a pizza.
5). Pedicure your dog.
6). Let your siblings in in a few weeks.
7). Take your time, really.

Yep, there’s some really good bathroom etiquette there for ya. I don’t even want to show the etiquette about behaving around the babysitter, dressing yourself, or eating. So, if you want a great guide on how not to behave, check out Don’t Forget Your Etiquette! by David Greenberg.

Don’t Forget Your Etiquette! The Essential Guide to Misbehavior by David Greenberg. Unpaged. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2006. Booktalk to K-6th grades.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Booktalk: Manners Can Be Fun [Manners; 2]

If I lived on a desert island with no other people, I would not need to have manners. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. However, I do not live on a desert island, and neither do you. We need manners to function. A lot of our manners are automatic. For example, when your friend says hi to you, you say hi back. Other manners are not so automatic: you have to work on them. For example, if your friend is talking, you shouldn’t interrupt him or her, even if you just thought of the coolest thing ever. Wait until your friend is done talking! This one can take work and patience. [Show pp. 40-41]. Another one: when you visit someone else’s house, you don’t want to be like the Noiseys, the Pigs, Me First, the Whineys, Smash-Rip-Ruin, or the Snoopers. That’s a fast way of never being asked back to that person’s house. Remember to thank them and say goodbye when you leave. Manners Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf.

Manners Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf. 50 p. Universe: Copyright 1936, rep. 2004. Booktalk to younger elementary [pre-K through 2nd].

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Booktalk: Dude, That's Rude! [Manners; 1]

[Hold up prop, like a holiday-themed sweater you don’t like or an ugly vase.] I love my grandmother, but every year for the holidays I get a sweater that is way too big. What’s worse, I have to unwrap it right in front of her. Now, I’m going to tell you a secret. I don’t like this sweater at all. What should I say to her when I open it? [Wait for responses.] Okay, who said, “Grandma, you have awful taste?” Dude, that’s rude! [Hold up book cover.] You guessed the title of my book: Dude, That’s Rude. It’s a manners guide, but it’s hilarious. Guess what it told me. It told me that some sincere “thank you” is the only acceptable response. Your family deserves your best manners, no matter what. I don’t have to love the sweater or even keep it. I do have to show grandma that I appreciate her kindness.

Now, that was the tame part of the book. Part of this I can’t read you: it deals with passing gas, cellphone manners, IM manners, use of bad words, and …. toilet etiquette. It’s stuff you need to know but other people might be too afraid to tell you. It’s all funny but true, and it teaches you how to get out of some tricky situations. Dude, That’s Rude! Get Some Manners by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick.

Dude, That’s Rude! Get Some Manners by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick. 117 p. Free Spirit Publishing, 2007. Booktalk to 3rd through middle school.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Booktalk: How to Heal a Broken Wing [Birds; 3]

Cities are full of tall, glass buildings, and sometimes poor birds fly into the glass and hurt themselves [show pp. {1-2}]. No one saw this poor bird fall [show pp. {3-4}], but little Will spotted him lying on the sidewalk, his wing broken. A bird with a broken wing cannot survive for long in the wild. Will and his parents took the bird home. They gave the bird food, water, a safe place, and time. It takes a long time to heal a broken wing. Read about this bird's recovery in How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham.

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham. Unpaged. Candlewick: 2008. Booktalk to pre-k, younger elementary.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Booktalk: What Bluebirds Do [Birds; 2]

[Bookmark the following pages: pp. 6-7, pp. 14-15].

[Start by showing off the cover.] Have you ever seen a bluebird? They are not bluejays: bluejays don’t have any orange, and they’re a lot bigger. Bluebirds are much harder to spot, plus they’re very shy. The author of this book is a photographer who has a bluebird nest in her yard. She watched as a male bluebird and female bluebird chose a nest and raised a family [show pp. 6-7]. The eggs might look big in this photo, but in real life they are so tiny [show pp. 14-15]. Like other bird parents, these two bluebirds eventually had to teach their fledglings how to fly and how to fend for themselves. The photographs are amazing, and you get to see how the babies grow up. What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby.

What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby. 48 p. 2009 Boyds Mill Press. Booktalk to elementary school [K-3].