Monday, April 21, 2014

Days 12-30.

My remaining thoughts, finds, and shares for this years' s Shelf Challenge will be posted through our SLM Shelf Challenge Pinterest board. That seemed to make more sense than posting it twice. 

I hope you'll join us there. 

Until then, happy reading! 

- Matthew

Friday, April 11, 2014

Day 11. Quiet in the Garden

Book 29
Spending quiet time in the garden yields countless opportunities to observe nature at work. In the case of this story, a boy observes local fauna after local fauna eating and commenting on the different ways one another feeds. The tone is quiet and observant and the illustrations hint at all of the animals any child could see when he or she spends some time in the garden.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 10. Back to Front and Upside Down!

Book 26
From the creator of Lucy and the Bully, a book about dyslexia handled in a really, really normal way. It's Mr. Slippers's (the principal's) birthday and Stan's class decides to throw a party. Stan is awesome at drawing, but is filled with dread when the class brainstorms sentences for the students to copy onto cards for Mr. Slippers. Stan's brain reads the letters back to from and upside down as he tries to copy, but all is not lost. With a classmate's empathy and a teacher's (Miss Catnip's) patience and devotion, Stan eventually manages to write a letter for Mr. Slippers and feels pretty good about it when he's accomplished his task.

Reading this I couldn't help but feel that a lot more of our students struggle on the dyslexia spectrum than I give credit. Another testament to the power of children's literature.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day 9. Iris has a Virus

Book 23
The title explains it all, but the timing couldn't have been better. Our boy has been home from school for four days as his body battles a stomach bug. It's not a groundbreaking work about contracting viruses (Ha! Is there such a thing?!), but there is definitely something here that resonates with readers. Being at home and quarantined from friends is no fun at all and this story speaks to that experience.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 8. Good Night, Commander

Book 20
It is not often that a picture book feels so counter cultural to me, yet when it comes to speaking about the affects of the Iran-Iraq War on children I think it's a very powerful thing that picture books can challenge our perceptions of world events.

At the risk of oversimplifying the plot, this story focuses on a boy who is about to meet his new mommy. His mother was a victim to the casualties of war and the boy is determined to avenge his death. His family gathers for dinner at his house. All the while he envisions his encounter with the enemy, pulling himself across his bedroom floor with the help of his prosthetic leg. When he finally encounters the enemy (his future step-brother), the two lock (toy) guns on one another in a difficult scene that escalates to both boys shouting, "If you don't drop your gun, I'll shoot." The situation deescalates when the main character realizes the enemy boy is also disabled. They part on a hopeful note and the main character shares to the reader that he feels ashamed he did not avenge his mother.

It's probably the most challenging picture book I've ever read, but I'm thankful it's in our collection for the very unique audience it will reach.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 7. You are the Best Medicine

Book 19
Some books are written for a specific audience. A very specific audience. But they are still written for everyone. Those books give us a wind into worlds we may know nothing about. Unfamiliar, strange, and truthful.

That said, You are the Best Medicine was written from a mother to a child. The mother is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The text is delivered as a wish for the child to understand and find comfort in the strength her love gives her mother.

The story is told in the future perfect tense, which is in and of itself unconventional, and the affect is a feeling that the parent is looking out for the child beyond the parent's own suffering.

It's incredibly moving.

I'm glad that this book found me.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Day 6. My Rhinoceros

Book 17
I want to meet Jon Agee and the notion is solely based on his books. He writes some of the most imaginative, unhinged, perfectly-tuned-to-children stories and this is a perfect example. A boy picks up a rhinoceros from his local exotic pet store. The rhinoceros doesn't really do anything and the boy starts to feel disappointed in his decision. A pet trainer asks how good the rhino is at popping balloons and poking holes in kites. The story takes a turn. And the reader is left with a sense of wonder. Very excellent stuff indeed.

Hear Jon Agee describe the story himself here:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day 5. The Lonely Phone Booth

Book 13
I read this and thought… wait… there really aren't any phone booths around any more, are there?!

And then I realized that record stores, arcades, comic book shops, and a whole heck of a lot of other things are on rapid decline as well.

Regardless, it was a great way to handle the topic of things going away and entering into nostalgia.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Day 4. The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters

Book 11
Oh my! This book is going to get destroyed!

Is it wrong that that's the first thought that comes to my mind when I read this book? It's such a great story about a postman delivering mail to our favorite nursery rhyme characters. But it has take-out-and-read features including letters, advertisements, and invitations that I have to assume are only in place because the book has not yet been read. And yet, I simply cannot wait to show this to a child because I am positive that he or she will revel in the wonder of pulling the first letter from the envelope.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 3. Who's on First?

Book 9
I remember my dad playing a recording of this comedy sketch from Abbott & Costello on a cassette tape he recorded from the radio. I didn't quite get in then, though my it would always make my dad laugh to relive the punchlines as he was trying to explain it to me. Now that I'm older I appreciate it a lot more. And having a fully illustrated adaptation makes it a lot more accessible for young people.

There's no way I'll be able to read this to my kids without showing them the original comedy heroes performing this timeless sketch.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Day 2. Previously

Book 7
Begin at the conclusion of your favorite fairy tales and nursery rhymes and then work your way backwards. What results is some unexpected story crossovers and a sound commanding of the word previously. Much like rewinding a day, this original take on a fractured fairy tale is a really enjoyable read aloud and one that I look forward to sharing with our students.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Day 1. It's Time to Sleep, It's Time to Dream

Book 1
Welcome to the 2014 Shelf Challenge! I'll spend the next 30 days posting stand-out titles from our collection, specifically from our Everybody A books. Others from all across the world are joining together for this celebration of literature and libraries during School Library Month. You can read more about the Shelf Challenge HERE or see a map of our 2014 participants HERE. In addition, many of us will be sharing our shelf treasures (and gasps) via Pinterest.

My first read of the challenge comes from widely-published author David A. Adler, but it's Kay Chorao's illustrations that caught my attention in this bedtime lullaby.
I love the way her color illustrations mirror the shadow images of the parents tucking the child to bed. Chorao does this over several pages and the effect is that of a child finding peace and rest through the year, each image capturing a passing season. It made the book quite memorable, which is always a nice quality to have from the first book of a reading challenge.

- Matthew

PS: Moments after sharing this post on Twitter, author pal Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen tweeted this:
And now my brain won't let me un-see that image.  Oh, the joys of the Shelf Challenge!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

About the 2014 Shelf Challenge.

Welcome to the 2014 Shelf Challenge, an opportunity to explore what's really on your bookshelves and hopefully come out with a couple of treasures along the way.

Joining up is easy! Just follow these steps:
  • Select a section of your library collection to read throughout the month of April. 
    • Make it manageable and appealing. (I'm planning to read the all of the "A" books in our everybody section, which will include Tedd Arnold and a ton of soon-to-be-discovered favorites. I'm in a brand new school, so I want to start where the collection starts this year.)
  • Try to read every book in that section over the course of the month. 
    • For everybody books, read them cover to cover. For fiction, read the dust jackets or back cover descriptions. For Nonfiction/Informational, choose a section of Dewey and go nuts.
  • Share selected gems (and cringes) through a favorite social media outlet, such as ShelfariGoodReads, or through your blog or Twitter feed (use #shelfchallenge to connect with others). This year we've even got a Pinterest page to which you can contribute!
  • Complete this Google Doc so that I can keep track of our participants and cheer you on throughout School Library Month!
Happy Reading!

- Matthew


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