Sunday, November 15, 2009

News From The Library--November 16, 2009

Several summers ago, I stopped at Manzanar on my way to a vacation in Mammoth and was struck by the eerie, solemn sense of the place. I took several pictures and when I returned did some research and put together a lesson to go with a touching and important picture book written by renowned children's book author Eve Bunting. The book is called So Far From the Sea and is the story of a Japanese American family in present day who is moving from California to Boston. They travel to Manzanar one last time to pay tribute to their grandfather who lies buried there. Their story is woven with facts about Pearl Harbor and the ensuing imprisonment of Japansese Americans in internment camps. Prior to reading the book to the students I showed a Keyote slideshow I made incorporating my present day photos with historical photos I obtained from the internet and from a wonderful site created by the state of California and UC Berkeley called Calisphere. After seeing the slide presentation, sixth graders had a context for the story and later we had an interesting and lively discussion . One of the most interesting comments centered around the care we should take not to overreact to fear, and understanding that this historical part of California's history is not an easy "black or white" issue with one side right and the other wrong, something that is very touchingly told by the father in the story who was himself a child at Manzanar. Students also had a chance to see the other books we have in our Library about this subject including two other wonderful picture books, The Bracelet by and Baseball Saved Us by , and two novels by Yoshiko Uchida , Journey to Topaz and Journey Home.

It was a short week in the Library due to Veteran's Day on Wednesday....

Kindergarten--If you're a frog and you want to jog then you must have the right jogging suit. Finkehopper Frog gets just that in story of the same name but he find that the other joggers continually tease him because he hops not jogs. Poor Finklehopper is so discouraged until along comes a rabbit who explains that hopping is just as good as jogging, maybe even better! A gentle lesson on tolerance that fits right in with our No Place for Hate program.

First Grade--Just in time for the holiday season....we read Too Many Toys by David Shannon. As Spencer and his mother negotiate over toys to be given away he finds that in the end the best toy of all is....the cardboard box the old toys were gathered in! A good lesson about using one's imagination and turning what seems like nothing into the best toy of all.

Second Grade--It was another week for our favorite party dog Stanley but this time he's entered into a Dog Beauty Contest by his people. Unfortunately in all the preparations they forget to feed poor Stanley and his hunger gets the best of him as well as all the prizes. Stanley's Beauty Contest by Linda Bailey scored another hit with grade two!

Third Grade--The late William Steig is one of my all time favorite children's authors. His books never talk down to children and encourage them to figure out wonderful words like flabbergasted and dawdling. Third graders heard Gorky Rises and chuckle to the adventures of a frog and his magic potion. They are also surprised to learn that Mr. Steig is the original creator of Shrek. (And I must confess I much prefer his version!)

Fourth Grade--How is a civilization formed? That's the theme of the wonderful book, Weslandia, by Paul Fleischman. Students are intrigued as they watch Wesley, an outcast from his own society, create an entire civilization from plants that grow from a seed that lands in his garden. From shelter, to clothing, to food, a business, and games, Wesley creates the entire thing, finally even inventing a language and written alphabet to document it. This is one of those priceless picture books that is both entertaining and educational. The students love it!

Fifth Grade--no library this week due to the holiday

Sixth Grade--See opening post.

On a personal note, this week was the one year anniversary of the Tea Fire in which I lost my home. I'm happy to say that I have settled comfortably into my new home and I'm looking forward to a happy holiday season this year. I am so thankful for all the good wishes and sympathy from many of you who read this blog. That, along with the incredible support from my community, was the proverbial "silver lining" in this tragic event.

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