Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Explorers Meet Molly Idle (Via Skype That Is)

"That was so exciting!"
"We learned how to draw flamingos!"
"She does like birds."
"I learned she presses hard to make colored pencils look like paint."

From the moment our Skype call began to long after it was over, the Explorers and I were buzzing with excitement. The kids were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet author and illustrator Molly Idle, ask her questions and draw with her. Prior to the Skype, The Explorers had come up with some amazing questions to ask Molly. Not only was I blown away with the questions they had come up with, but Molly was too, complementing them on their questions. They asked questions such as, "Where do you get your ideas?" "Why do you like drawing with curved lines?" "What did you do when you won the Caldecott?" "How do you get an idea from the the flamingo doing ballet?" Since the Flora books all contain birds, one child asked, "Do you like birds?" We learned that she did like birds but that she didn't have any because her husband was scared of them. She then told us a story about when her husband was a paperboy and what caused him to be scared of birds. She shared with us where she got her ideas from for both Tea With Rex and Flora and the Flamingo. They both came from misunderstandings. We even got to see a sneak peek of her new Flora book, Flora and the Peacocks. We loved seeing the studio where she works and all the colored pencils that she has. We are so lucky!
One of the students asked, "Will you draw for us? Can we draw with you?" Molly immediately said, "Yes!" and the kids raced to their desks, grabbing clipboards, paper and pencil and got ready to draw. Molly taught them an amazingly simple way to draw a flamingo.
This video highlights just some of our time with Molly Idle. 
After our Skype session was over, the Explorers wanted to make even more flamingos. This time they decided to watercolor their illustrations in. They turned out beautiful!
Thank you Molly for sharing your time, your work and enthusiasm with us. You made 25 children, 2 teachers and a librarian very very happy.

P.S. If you happen to love Molly's illustrations as much as I do, you can purchase some of her prints at IdleIllustration at etsy. I recently fell in love and purchased the Flora and the Flamingo Pax De Deux.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Walking and Listening to "Fish in a Tree"

Hunt, Lynda Mullaly. Fish In A Tree. 5 hours, 44 minutes. Listening Library. 2015, $35.00, ISBN 9781101890684. Downloaded from Audible

Every now and then a book comes along that stays with you, that moves you, that you never want to end. A book that makes you laugh, makes you cry and has characters in it that you can relate to, seeing not only yourself, but your classmates too. Fish in a Tree is one of those books. 

Ally can't read and she has done an excellent job of hiding it from all the adults in her world. The kids at school however are a different story, they have figured it out. Some are just plain cruel, teasing her relentlessness about being "stupid" and trying to get her to read things that they know she can't. Unfortunately, Ally also believes that she is "stupid." She purposefully misbehaves so that she will be sent to the Principal's office and feigns illness all to avoid reading. How Ally sees and feels about herself slowly begins to change when her sixth grade teacher goes out on maternity leave and Mr. Daniels takes over. Mr. Daniels is phenomenal. He sees Ally's strengths, highlights them and gets to the root of her learning difference. He sees Ally in a positive way, which is not how Ally has been seen by teachers in the past. As Ally's perception of herself slowly changes, she starts to open up to others in the class and true friendships develop with Keisha and Arthur. 

Kathleen McInerney does an amazing job narrating this story. You can truly feel Ally's struggle and pain in her voice. Her vocalization of Shay, a bully who is mean to Ally every opportunity she can be, is the proper amount of snark and bitchiness.

Favorite Chapter Title: The Gifts of No Excuses, Scotch Tape and Antibiotics

Bonuses: Don't bypass the Author's Note at the end of the book. For even more information about the inspiration behind Mr. Daniels, listen to a wonderful interview with Lynda Mullaly Hunt on the Let's Get Busy Podcast.

I realize that many have had a brutal Winter, full of freezing temperatures and snow. Thankfully, we don't have that type of weather here and I had a chance to see this gorgeous sunrise off of Lanikai as I was #WalkingandListening.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Na Hoku and Na Mānaku Meet Tom Angleberger (Via Skype That Is)

"It was a once in a lifetime experience!"
"I give him 5 stars!"
"He called us all Larry and played jokes on us."
"I couldn't stop laughing!"

Talk about laughter! Talk about excitement! From the moment the Skype call began and for a full half hour this morning Tom Angleberger had myself and 50 third graders in stitches. Being huge fans of his books, they were beyond excited to have the opportunity to meet and talk to Mr. Angleberger. They loved seeing all of his origami Star Wars creations such as Queen Amidala, General Grievous, and Jar Jar. The kids were beside themselves when they got to see the original Origami Yoda from the cover of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. What a treat!

The kids enjoyed sharing their favorite book titles with Mr. Angleberger and loved seeing him sketch bits and pieces of each of the books they talked about to create an amazing and hilarious drawing. This part of the sketch features Auggie from Wonder, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and Poseidon from Percy Jackson's Greek Gods. Mr. Angleberger promised to begin writing a book immediately based on the drawing which we decided to call The Cheese Tricycle. He predicted that The Cheese Tricyle would sell over a million copies.

The real highlight for us though was when Origami Yoda himself taught us how to fold our very own Origami Yoda!
Thank you so much Mr. Angleberger for spending time with us today. It was an absolute blast!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Walking and Listening to Mouseheart

Fiedler, Lisa. Mouseheart. 7hours, 56 minutes, Simon and Schuster Audio, 2014. $15.95 via Audible.

As Hopper's mother is being removed from the cage that they call home in the pet shop, she tells Hopper to "Find the Muse." Having no idea what she meant or even if he has heard her properly, Hopper decides he must do just that, especially when a young boy comes in to buy some mice, Hopper and his siblings, to feed his pet boa constrictor. After a narrow escape, which causes Hopper to be separated from his siblings, he ends up in the subway tunnels in Brooklyn. There his life is in danger again until he meets up with Zucker, a rat, who takes him back to the Kingdom of Atlantia. Hopper is quickly enamored with Atlantia and believes all that he is told about it, little does he know the real purpose behind the refugee camps. One day while searching those refugee camps for his brother and sister it is raided by Firren and her band of rebels. Hopper is captured by her and taken back to the Moose, where he learns his true identity as the "Chosen One" and the truth about Atlantia. Not willing to believe the truth about Atlantia, Hopper decides he must escape and warn Emperor Titus of Atlantia of the impending attack. Once back in Atlantia, Hopper sees what the real truth is and must do everything in his power to protect Zucker, Ferrin and her band of rebels and aid them in their attack.

I purchased this book for the Warrior loving children in our school. Unfortunately, they haven't taken a liking to it and if I must admit it neither did I. If I had to pinpoint one thing I didn't care for in the book, it was Hopper. I didn't fall in love with Hopper. He wasn't endearing to me in anyway, I wasn't routing for him or hoping that he was going to find his siblings. I will say though that I liked Zucker and Ferrin quite a bit, unfortunately, my like of those characters isn't enough for me to read the  sequel.

Kriby Heyborne's best character voice in this audio book is of Emperor Titus. He sounded just as loud, vicious and despicable as I imagined him to be.

Sidenote: Loved that there was a character with my name in it, Marci.

The mornings while chilly by our standards have been just gorgeous lately. Here is a picture I took while out walking one morning, listening to Mouseheart.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February Bulletin Boards

Every year our school has a HUGE two-day carnival, complete with rides, games and the most amazing food. This year's theme is Carnival: No Ka 'Oi, which we are reflecting in our large bulletin board.
Greg decided to get into the carnival spirit too this month. He is also looking for a little love this Valentine's Day.
Next week we will be Skyping with the one and only Origami Yoda, Tom Angleberger. The kids and I are super excited and we can't wait to meet him. We made a giant bulletin board, Read May the Books Be With You in his honor.
Chinese New Year is just around the corner and celebrations have began! Let's celebrate the Year of the Sheep!
Valentine's Day is also days away so the library is full of hearts and our Valentine books are out on display.