Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Old and New

This week, in addition to reading some new titles, I've also been trying to clean out the library (in library speak, this is called weeding).  There is a precarious balance in libraries in having enough books, particularly enough copies of the "It" book, and having books languishing on the shelf for years at a time with no one ever checking them out.  Our school library dates back to the 1920s and although there are very few books from THAT far back, it's not unusual to find books from the 1960s (it's hard to throw out perfectly good books!).  But I've been a little ruthless this week, trying to get more books that my kids will actually read rather than having shelves full of books that no one wants to pick up.

I'm a little sorry I weeded this one out, but I removed it from the system before I read it and once I read it, I thought, "Oh heck, I know several kids who would really like it" but I gave it to an awesome 3rd grade teacher at my school who thought it would make a really great read aloud next year.  It's called "Help!  I'm a prisoner in the library!" by Eth Clifford.  It's about two girls, Mary Rose and Jo Beth who's mom is having a baby and a dad who always waits until the last minute.  The girls are going with their dad to their aunt's house so she can take care of them while their mom has their new sibling but their dad runs out of gas.  And it's snowing, hard.  So dad walks to the gas station and leaves Mary Rose and Jo Beth in the car.  Jo Beth has to go to the bathroom so she and Mary Rose walk to a library they just passed.  Unfortunately, it's closing time and when the librarian locks up, she doesn't notice the two girls still in the library.  What's really great about this book is that many things happen (the power goes out, the girls hear funny noises) and Jo Beth imagines the worst (We'll be trapped here forever!  That thumping noise must be a ghost!  That wailing noise must be a banshee!).  It turns out that librarian is a kind woman who lives above the library and they come up with a very inventive idea to let people know that they need help at the library (since this was before cell phones and phone lines are down because of the storm). This would be a really fun one to use to  teach making predictions or suspense.

Our earth club is currently raising money to help elephants and one of our special education teachers is teaching a unit on social issues and is using ethical treatment of animals as her social issue.  She's using "The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate, but she suggested to raise interest in the elephant project, that I might want to read "The World's Greatest Elephant" by Ralph Hefler.  It's a picture book but has quite a bit of text that is completely worth reading because it's such a great story.  It's about a boy and an elephant that are born on the same day.  The boy's father is an animal trainer in a circus in Germany so they grow up together and develop a special bond.  Many terrible things happen to them (and I don't want to spoil it for you!) but they remain committed to each other for their entire lives.  This would a great one for teaching about social issues but also for making predictions and creating a time line.  The pictures are beautiful and the story is amazing.  Don't miss this one.  

A new one I read is called "Eden's Wish" by M. Tara Crowl.  It's about a girl named Eden who is a genie.  The story opens with Eden granting a man three wishes.  There are rules about the wishes, which she tells him about, but when she grants his wishes, she's not exactly nice about it.  It turns out, 12 year old Eden feels confined by being a genie-she has to live in a bottle, she's at the beck and call of what ever human picks her up, she can't go outside on her own.  Not that her life is really difficult, she lives in a beautiful bottle with everything a girl could ever want but when she finds a way out, she goes out into the world ready to live and experience everything, without really considering the consequences.  However, unsurprisingly, there are people who know about genies that would like to be able to use their power for themselves and Eden is actually in danger.  This is a great book to talk about trust and what you value and what's really important.  I think it would match well with another fairy tale that I read last year called "Iron Hearted Violet" by Kelly Barnhill, which also has themes of trust and wanting things to be different.

The last new one I read is called "Escape from Baxter's Barn" by Rebecca Bond.  It's about a group of animals who live in a barn.  The owner, Dewey, has fallen on hard times and the cat, who sneaks into the warm kitchen, overhears Dewey telling his brother that he is going to burn down the barn and try to collect the insurance money.  The animals hatch a plan to strike out on their own and find a new home that meets their needs.  This would be good to pair with "Charlotte's Web" by E. B. White which is also about animals banding together to help each other.  They both have themes of finding your own family and how that isn't always the one you start with.  

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