Celebrate World Read Aloud Day

World Read Aloud Day is an international initiative of Litworld a non-profit literacy organization that believes that the world’s children “have the right to read, to write, and to share their stories.”

Read a story aloud today to someone you love.  And don’t forget to consider helping to create that same opportunity for others in our world community who lack the resources we are so fortunate to have.

Here are two delightful stories brimming with alliteration that I plan to read to my not-yet-two-year-old granddaughter today.

Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That by Victoria Allenby and illustrated by Tara Anderson, is a perfect read for a little one who is fascinated by felines. It features a rhyming story that children will love to chant along to and adorable illustrations of a kitten’s energetic efforts to get Nat the Cat’s attention…

Nat can sleep in dresser drawers,

Or in front of bedroom doors.

Under blankets, on a stair,

Upside-down on someone’s chair-

Have You Seen Birds by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by the talented Barbara Reid, was a favorite of my daughter back when she was small.  A generation later, it’s become one of her daughter’s favorites.

Have you seen spring Birds?

Fluffy, cheeping,

sleeping, peeping,

ever-eating baby birds.

Picture Book Review: When Emily Carr Met Woo

Monica Kulling’s When Emily Met Woo is a perfect introduction to one of Canada’s most famous artists, Emily Carr. Young readers will find an engaging story,  a brief history, some of Ms. Carr’s most famous images and the charming illustrations of the very talented Dean Griffiths.

Monica Kulling paints a vivid picture of Emily Carr’s life in simple, direct language. Emily is thought to be a “strange bird” whose art no one wants.  “To make a living, she [Emily] made and sold clay bowls and hooked rugs.”  The painter was known as an eccentric who housed a menagerie of animals, including a monkey she called Woo. The depth of love Emily feels for her animal companions is clear when Woo becomes gravely ill.  Fortunately, Woo makes a full recovery and accompanies Emily to the forest where “Cedars touched the sky. They touched the painter’s heart too.”

 

I especially like the design of the dust jacket. The front cover integrates a photograph of Carr and Woo within the illustration while the back cover features several of Carr’s paintings as well Griffiths illustration of Woo.

Picture book biographies are difficult to write well, but Pajama Press, Monica Kulling and Dean Griffiths all get top marks with When Emily Carr Met Woo.

#willholdtheline … A shout out to support teachers

#willholdtheline. Let teachers know that you support them.

I’ve been a little lazy about posting lately…enjoying my granddaughter, gardening, socializing, and busying hosting out of towners. But, a plea has gone out (Thank you, Kara) that our province’s teachers are still without a contract and September is just around the corner. As a former teacher, a parent and writer and citizen, I care deeply about education. I know that teachers make a difference in the lives of children.  I knew it as a student, I know it as an educator, as an author who has been in schools all across this province, and I know it as a parent.  I am deeply indebted to teachers, and I want them to know that they have my support. Teachers need to know that we stand behind them as they fight for our children. They need to hear from you, and so do our politicians.  Tie up their phone lines and fill their mailboxes. Demand that they make our children’s education a priority.

 

The rewards of starting a little library in your neighborhood

IMG_3338I’ve probably mentioned the little neighborhood library that I began in front of my home a few years back.  My neighbor, George decided to build a more water proof version for me, and one that would accommodate more books.  We planned the dimensions over dinner and a bottle of wine. His wife, Kathy offered some cute little seahorse drawer handles that she had been saving for a special occasion. The roof is an old rubber pool liner offered by Nigel and Cathy, a couple from across the street who saw us working on the library in front of George’s place.  I used some left over paint from a craft project to paint it up. George put heavy duty wheels. And here it is.

Now I have four shelves instead of two and the shelves are bigger, so it’s easier to fit picture books. A pleasant bonus is that now,  I know my neighbors a little better. I admit that a few of the books don’t find their way back. But most do.  And,  I even get book donations dropped off at my door.

IMG_3337I have found roses, book marks and notes waiting left for me from appreciative readers. Yesterday, when I went out to replenish the library and this is the note that waiting for me.

Thanks Julia.  This is exactly why I do it.

Walter Dean Myers

Sad news…

African-American author, Walter Dean Myers passed away yesterday. He was 76 years old. He was one of several wonderful writers who changed the face of literature for young people in North America.

I had the pleasure of hearing him speak only once, but his words, like his books, will remain with me for years to come. Fallen Angels, Monster, and Bad Boy are some of my favorites. I will be revisiting them, and I hope you do too. He often set his stories in inner city neighborhoods and featured characters who often made  less than ideal choices.

Myers,who grew up in Harlem under some tough circumstances,  dropped out of high school, and had more than a few brushes with the law.  He managed to stay connected to books and reading through his local library.  In a public radio interview on “here & Now,” Myers says, “My circumstances often seemed insurmountable to me, but through reading I reached out for ideas that might help me escape them. The books I read showed me options other than those I saw reflected in my surroundings. They gave me new definitions for success in my life.”

After working a series of low paying jobs, he took the advice of a high school teacher who had told him to keep writing no matter what.  Fortunately for all of us, Walters followed that high school teacher’s advice.  He went on to publish more than 100 books and became one of the most respected voices in young adult literature in America.  He was a tireless advocate for literacy, and his writing was especially popular with middle and high school boys.  His books garnered multiple honors including: five Coretta Scott King Awards for African-American fiction, two Newbery Honor Medals, and a Printz Award. He was named a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in 2012-13.

For young writers looking for writing advice, Myers published Just Write, which he described as a template from his own life.

 

 

 

Summer fun

I love summers and so do kids, but some days, but every now and then, a rainy…I’m bored day comes along. What to do?  National Geographic Kids has some very cool coloring pages to download, but why stop there?  Kids can use the pages as jumping off points for there own drawing projects, or accompany the art with their own stories.

Stories come in all shapes, sizes and mediums

I love that stories can be told in so many ways.  Here’s a Ted Talk by Jim Toomey that is really cool…it’s his story on how he became a cartoonist, but it’s also the story of how “Story” comes in a variety of forms and how it can have an impact on our world.  So, for all you parents and teachers out there who tell kids to stop doodling, you may want to check this out. And for those of you who are kids and doodle-inclined, this is for you.

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