Favorite Quotes

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
— Emilie Buchwald

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
-- Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Ballet for Martha

Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
by Jan Greenburg and Sandra Jordan
Illustrated by Brian Floca
Sibert Honor Award 2011

The watercolor illustrations by Floca bring the story of this ballet to life.  This is the story of how the ballet called Appalachian Spring came to be.  It was a collaboration of Martha Graham the choreographer and dancer, Aaron Copland the composer, and Isamu Noguchi, the set designer.  We see how the ideas for the play were formed, how the music was composed, how the dances were put together, and how the set was created.  We also get to see the first performance of the play in 1944 at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.  The end of the book contains a detailed bibilography and a short biography of all 3 of the plays creators.  This book would fit well in the themes of: ballet, Appalachia, and collaboration.

Here is a preview of the ballet:

Here is also a link to some activities connected to the book: PBS Appalachian Spring

Be sure to check out the rest of today's Nonfiction Monday posts at:  The Children's War

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Kakapo Rescue

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
Scientists in the Field Series
By Sy Montgomery
Photographs by Nic Bishop
Sibert Award Winner 2011

I am a big fan of Nic Bishop's photography and I have also enjoyed the other books in the "Scientists in the Field" Series.  I was not surprised that this book won the Sibert award for Nonfiction this year.  The kakapo parrot is near extinction and they only live on a small island off the coast of New Zealand.  The author and photographer of this book spent 10 days on the island learning about these strange birds and the efforts taking place on the island to keep the parrots from going extinct.  The photographs in the book show the rare parrot upclose and the images captured in the photos are breathtaking. There are also photos of the scientists and other workers who work on the island taking care of the parrots.  We learn all about this fascinating parrot, their history and how they came very close to being totally extinct.  The reader also gets a first hand look at the life of the scientists who live on this island and work with the parrots daily.  This book may inspire some young readers to choose a career goal.   My favorite chapter was the one about the care of the baby kakapo parrots!  The back of the book contains information about how readers can help the kakapo parrots and sources for additional information.

 Links about the kakapo parrot:
          The Fabulous Kakapo

          Kakapo Recovery

Other books in the Scientists in the Field series:

Check out the rest of today's Nonfiction Monday posts at: Chapter Book of the Day

Other books featuring the photographs of Nic Bishop:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pura Belpre Illustrator Award 2011

Grandma's Gift
By Eric Velasquez
Pura Belpre Illustrator Award 2011

The story was inspired by real life events in the author/illustrator's childhood.  Young Eric spends his Christmas holiday with his grandmother.  He helps her shop and prepare pasteles for the holiday.  In exchange for his help, his grandmother takes Eric to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of a homework assignment for school.  At the museum he sees a portrait of Juan de Pareja, a Puerto Rican just like Eric and his family.  Eric learns that de Pareja was a slave and an assistant to the painter, Diego Velazquez. He also learns that de Pareja was freed and became a very successful painter.  This trip to the museum and seeing this painting inspired young Eric to become an artist himself.  That Christmas his grandmother gave him his first set of colored pencils.  Much of the dialogue in the book is written in Spanish and translated in English.  The end of the book contains an explanation of the story from the author and some additional information about pasteles, Juan de Pareja and the Chrismas carol mentioned in the book.


The Author's Website

A Recipe for Pasteles

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: A Wizard from the Start

A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood & Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison
by Don Brown

This picture book biography shows Thomas Edison's life from the time he was a young boy until he was an old man.  We all know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but did you know that he also had 1038 other inventions?  Edison's father was a farmer, a lumberer, a grocer, and the owner of a tower to which he charged 25 cents for a birds eye view of the land below.  Thomas helped out on the family farm as a young boy.  When Thomas's mother did not like how a teacher treated Thomas, she decided to homeschool him.  Thomas read all sorts of books on all sorts of topics.  He visited his public library and would read every book on a shelf before moving on to read the next shelf of books.  Thomas Edison's parents encouraged his love of reading  and they even encouraged him to conduct his own experiments in a lab that he set up in their cellar.  As a teenager, Thomas worked on the railroad selling newspapers, candy, etc. to the train riders.  Thomas worked very hard and he also worked very long days.  Thomas continued reading books every chance he got.  Young Thomas even printed his own newspaper and sold it to the train commuters.  When Thomas began to lose his hearing, he began hanging around telegraph offices and learning the trade.  He became a successful telegrapher and traveled all over America working as a telegrapher.  He spent his spare time conducting experiments with the telegraph equipment and electricity.  Eventually he quit his telegraph job to work full time developing his inventions.  Thomas Edison's first patented invention was an electric vote recording machine.  This invention was a failure and no one bought it.  This experience made Edison focus on inventing items that people wanted and needed.  He invented many things including stock tickers, the phonograph, and motion picture cameras.  In 1879 he invented the electric light bulb, his most famous invention.  Thomas Edison claims that he never worked a day in his life because he enjoyed what he did and thought it was fun.
The back of the book includes a one page description of Edison's life and explains a little about some of the effects and controversies of some of Edison's inventions.  There is also a short list of books about Edison for further reading.
This book would be great for children who are learning about Thomas Edison, who are learning about biographies, or who are learning about inventions.

Related books:

To read the rest of this week's post check out this week's host: Picture Book of the Day