Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Walking and Listening to "The Girl Who Drank the Moon"

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
9 hours 37 minutes

For as long as anyone can remember, the Council has been taking the youngest baby in the Protectorate and offering it to the witch in the woods. Luckily for those babies, Xan, the witch, is kind and finds loving homes for them. The rescue of Luna is quite different. While taking her through the woods, Xan accidentally feeds her the moon which infuses her with magic. Xan realizes that she needs to watch over her, contain  her magic until she is 13 and decides to raise her as her granddaughter. While Luna is being raised by Xan, Antain is living in the Protectorate, struggling with being a part a member of the council and their treatment of the babies. He is drawn to the madwoman, Luna's mother, locked in the tower and her maps with "She is here," written on them over and over. Antain realizes that the only way to stop the witch from taking his own son is to kill her and sets off into the woods to put an end to this once and for all.

Christina Moore does a lovely job narrating this story. Her voice was very calm and soothing. Each characters vocalization matched the characters personality perfectly. My favorite was that of the dragon Fyrian, who was happy and excited about everything and everyone. I loved the friendship between Fyrian and Glerk, a dragon and a bog monster. I enjoyed listening to all the stories and seeing how they all merged together.

Favorite Chapter Title: In Which a Swamp Monster Accidentally Falls in Love

Every few months a regular old sign in my neighborhood gets changed. This is the latest one where a Police sign was changed to wish us all a "Police Navidad" I love the lights around it too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Kindergarteners Made Idea Books!

The kindergarteners and I spent some time talking about authors and the tools that they used to create their stories. One of the tools that we talked about were idea books. Some authors write down the things that they hear and see in them while others doodle pictures in them to remind them of things. Why not make our own idea books for the kindergartners to start keeping their amazing ideas in?
After searching the internet for ideas, I found a really easy style of book for the kids to make and had them create marble paintings for their idea book covers.

Supplies needed
25 boxes (picked up from Costco, some were the perfect size, some had to be modified)
cereal boxes cut to 5 3/4"x4 1/2"various colors of paint, 
25 marbles
25 large paperclips modified to look like the tools you dip Easter eggs with, 
paper-cardstock (1/2 sheets) and regular copy paper (1/4 sheet), 
hole puncher
glue, water and a paintbrush

The kids started off by creating their marble paintings. They had a blast with this! Tips: Just have one container of each color of paint and assign a certain number of marbles per container. Those marbles stay with the paint, not move around with the child. The kids also had paper towels with them in case they got a different color paint from their painting on the marble.
The paintings came out really cool. 
Once the paintings were dry, I cut them in half. One half would be used as the front cover, the other for the back. Using a slighty watery glue mixture, I glued one marble painting to the shiny label part of a cereal box. This would later serve as the back cover of their idea books, making it sturdy.
The kids then assembled their books. The kids all added 10 sheets of paper to start. We talked about how they could add or remove pages later.
They used sharpies and labels to make the titles of their idea books.

 They were so excited when they were done and couldn't wait to start writing and drawing in them.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Na Kupulau, Na Lupe and Na Manaku Meet Jeff Mack (Via Skype That Is!)

Na Kupulau, Na Lupe, Na Manaku had the most amazing Skype session with author/illustrator Jeff Mack. Seventy-five super excited third grade got a chance to not only meet him, but his dog McGee as well, more on that later.

We had so many questions that we wanted to ask of Jeff and about writing and illustrating, but we decided to narrow it down to just 10. Jeff was incredibly gracious, personally acknowledging each of the children asking the questions, calling them by name and giving us amazing answers, answers that taught us so much. It just proved to us all what a cool guy he is.

One of the things we wanted to know was, "Who influenced you to become an author?" We learned it was not only his parents, but also his 2nd grade teacher. She gave the class an assignment to write a Halloween short story. He asked her is he could write his as a comic and she said that he could! His friends encouraged him too because they then asked him to illustrate their stories.
We also wanted to know how long it takes him to write a book. We found out that Things I Can Do only took a half hour and that the idea came from something he saw and heard in the post office! Good News Bad News took 1 year and that the final copy has way fewer words than what he started with!
We learned some other fun things too. He likes ketchup on his macaroni and cheese. He has been to the town where our school is and went hiking nearby. He loved Choose Your Own Adventure books when he was a 3rd grader. His favorite book of his is Clueless McGee and the Inflatable Pants. Watch the video below to find out why.
We also wanted to know which came first, McGee the dog or Clueless McGee.
McGee is his 8 year old labradoodle that we have kind of become obsessed with. We got a chance to meet the real McGee which came with countless ooh's, ahh's and "He's so cute!" The story behind the story is great. Hear all about it below.
We got to see some of the new books that he is working on. He had just gotten the proofs of his upcoming picture book, Mine. In it, he only uses one word and three colors! We can't wait until this comes out in May.
We also got to see a new series that he is working on, Mr. Monkey. This is going to be a 3 book series and the kids and I can't wait for this to come out. We will have to wait about a year though.
Thank you Jeff Mack for Skyping with us. We had an absolute blast with you. You inspired the kids and they learned so much from you. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Na He'e Nalu, The Cool Fish, The Bees and Na O'opu Meet Margaret Read MacDonald (Via Skype That Is!)

Whenever I do my unit on folktales I always share Little Rooster's Diamond Button by Margaret Read MacDonald with the children. They think it is hysterical and I think it is a perfect book to highlight all the characteristics of a fairytale.
This year we thought, "Why not contact her and see if she'd be free to Skype with us?"
I did and she was more than happy to meet us. Hooray!

100 first graders and I were super excited to meet her. We started of by asking her some questions, like, "Where do your writing?" (Turns out she was Skyping with us in her study where she works),"How do you find the folktales you retell?" "Have you ever re-told any folktales from Hawaii?" (Turns out she has a version of Punia and the Sharks) 

As we were getting ready for our Skype, I shared with the children that she had once been a children's librarian here in Hawaii and that she had driven the bookmobile. They were fascinated with the idea of a bookmobile so we had to ask her to tell us all about her time on it. They couldn't believe that the bookmobile made 32 stops every 2 weeks and to places that they knew.
We also got a chance to see an early copy of our favorite Little Rooster's Diamond Button and all the edits she made on it. This was great for the kids to see since they sometimes have to write different drafts of their stories too.
We then got a sneak peek of the book she is working on now called The Wishing Foxes. She briefly told it to us as well and the kids thought it was hysterical.
Then it was the moment we had all been waiting for. Mrs. MacDonald told us a story called Pickin' Peas. The kids loved joining her in the story, singing and moving, not to mention that a girl ends up having frogs come out of her mouth at the end!
Thank you Mrs. MacDonald for spending time with us. We had so much fun and learned so much from you!

December Bulletin Boards

HO! HO! HO! Happy Holidays to all!
Our December bulletin boards are up and ready for sharing.

"'Tis the season to be reading" 
Fa La La La La La La La La!
The kids have been begging to open the advent calendars and see what Playmobil toys are behind them.
"We're baking up some holiday fun" is our next bulletin board. One morning I had the children who were in the library before school create the gingerbread men you see on the cookie sheet. A lot can be done with a little glitter, paint and markers in only 25 minutes.
 Poor Greg, the holiday spirit hasn't hit him yet.
Our Christmas Tree! Thank you to the P.F.A. for such a gorgeous tree!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Walking and Listening to "Sting"

Sting by Jude Watson
Scholastic Audio

Jules and March should know better. They should have known that this diamond heist in Paris would be anything but a piece of cake, as Hamish had promised. They are interrupted mid-heist by the Top Cat Gang which leaves Jules and March with enough time to get just one stone, as well as new set of enemies and a confrontation with the FBI. It gets even worse when they discover their home had been sold and all the money they had invested from their last heist had been stolen from them. Heading to Hamish's in Florida is their only option. Hamish shares the history and the curse behind the sapphire that they had gotten from  Paris and tries to convince them to go after the two remaining sapphires in the set. Reluctant at first, the kids agree and the planning to steal these stones begins.

Loot is one of those books that I have hard time keeping on the shelf, so I was super excited to see that there was a sequel. Sting is fast paced, full of great heists and adventures. Michael Crouch differentiated the voices throughout the book, matching the voice with the characters perfectly. 

Favorite Chapter Title: Four Yellow Mini's

At least once a week I get stopped by tourists on their bicycles needing help finding the beach on this street. I'm clearly not the only one who gets stopped as there is now a sign in this person's front yard directing people in various languages.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Walking and Listening to "Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters"

Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters by Margaret Dilloway
Dreamscape Audio, 2016

The story of Momotaro or Peach Boy is one that the kids at my school are very familiar with. Many have read the book, even more went to a recent production of it put on by the local children's theater. This story of Momotaro is quite different than what they are used to, in a good way that is. The kids are thoroughly enjoying this version and it doesn't stay on the shelf for long.

Xander seems like your average ordinary 6th grade boy, who does normal 6th grade kid stuff. But weird things suddenly start happening  to him. His drawings, which he sometimes does in class to stay awake, suddenly change, a new character pops up in his video game and his father gives him a comic that he claims his son has drawn. Xander doesn't really have time to figure out what is going on because a massive earthquake and tsunami hit, taking away his father. Xander's grandmother reveals a secret that she has been keeping. He is a Momotaro or warrior. Not believing her at first, especially since he's not the strongest or most athletic kid in town, he learns that he must go and fight the oni to bring his father back. Not the easiest of tasks for a kid who has no training or knowledge of what a Momotaro should do.

I enjoyed Chris Patton's narration of this book. He kept the story moving along, did a nice job differentiating the character's voice. The oni came across as the bad mama jamers that they were and Xander's fear and hesitation of a situation expressed well. I did have a slight annoyance with the pronunciation of Kauai, but this I am sure wouldn't bother the everyday listener.

When I tweeted this picture out, the author immediately recognized the beach. It turns out she had lived here for a 18 months!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November Bulletin Boards

It's been a busy month, so busy that I haven't had a chance to share our November bulletin boards. We decided to focus on the elections this month.
One board focused on all the fictional book characters that have run for president or have visited the White House.
Our other board focused on former Presidents and the voting process.
Greg even got in on the action and dressed in his best red, white and blue.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Explorers Meet Bob Shea (Via Skype That Is!)

"These are shoes," said Bob Shea as he showed us his shoes and even took one off to show us up close what they looked like.
He then held up a sock, "This is a sock. It's a wool sock. Socks keep your feet warm,"
Walking across the room, he grabbed a sweatshirt. "This is a sweatshirt."
Bob Shea had The Explorers laughing hysterically as he taught them about dressing for cold weather, something we know very little about as it is November, in the mid to high 80's and we were barefoot, in short sleeve t-shirts and shorts.
Actually, from the moment we said "Hello," to the moment we said, "Goodbye," The Explorers were laughing at everything Bob said. Learning too, but laughing as we did so, which is the best way to learn.
We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of one of his books he had recently finished, The Spookiest Book Ever. It was a HUGE hit! We also found out that there is a new Ballet Cat book coming out in February and a new Unicorn book that has been written, but not illustrated yet. The kids wanted an exact date that the new Ballet Cat book would be coming out because they are huge Ballet Cat fans.
We then got a chance to ask some questions. Even the answer to a question like, "What is your favorite character of yours?," got huge laughs. The answer by the way is Dinosaur.
While we were learning about Bob Shea in library, the kids learned that some of his ideas had come form his son Ryan. The class became fascinated by Ryan and wanted to know, "What is your favorite thing to do with Ryan?" We learned that Ryan has been learning how to play the drums and that Bob is learning how to play the guitar so they play music together. But, his favorite thing to do with Ryan is listen to music while they draw together.
If you have read any of Bob's books, you will see jellybeans are everywhere. The kids loved that and asked him about that too.
The children were dying to learn how to draw Ballet Cat, one of our favorite characters. Did you know that Ballet Cat first appeared in the back of a Dinosaur book? Even though she was just a small drawing in the back of the book, kids had noticed it and were drawing it. He thought, this might be a good character and the idea began to grow.
Here is just a small bit of our drawing lesson.
When you are making your own Ballet Cat, don't forget to add sparkles, they are super important. 
The kids also wanted to learn how to draw New Socks, so they got a lesson for that too.
We then got to learn how to draw Dinosaur.  When you are drawing this character, please note that it involves making lots of fun noises when you are making the teeth and the bumps on the tail and back. Also, the louder the noise, the better!
Even though our Skype call had to end, we kept the Bob Shea fun going. We decided to make Ballet Cat Bites. We made Ballet Cat out of saloon pilot crackers and pink cream cheese. We used bananas to make her cheeks, strawberries for the ears, chocolate chips for the nose, eyes out of raisins, coconut whiskers and cherry Twizzlers for the tiara. This activity was a huge hit and mighty delicious.
Thank you Bob Shea for spending time with us, inspiring us, teaching us and most importantly, making us laugh.