Friday, February 18, 2011

Star Bright books is happy to announce that the winner of the raffle at ALA Midwinter for the basket of books is Patty Carleton of the St Louis Public Library!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A sage full of clever wit and tricks

Folktales are a unique way to discover, explore, thus appreciate other cultures beyond time and space. Their narratives are usually simple, often accompanying moral lessons. Yet, they observe acutely the very core of human conflicts, but always bring resolutions through wit, humor, and clever tricks. And such a humour never fails to radiate in human hearts. Although not well-known to Western readers, Nasreddin Hoca, an imam, a teacher, a judge who lived in the 13th century in Anatolia (now Turkey) is a widely celebrated historical figure. The tales of him are widely read in Turkey and the Middle East. He is a sage, yet full of wit, a down-to-earth figure who brings justice (or compromise) with laughs and giggles. In A Donkey Reads, Muriel Mandell retells a story of this witty sage for children from preschool to early graders. This time, Nasreddin teaches a donkey to read to save a poor villager, Mustafo.
During the Mongol rule in Turkey, there lives a poor villager named Mustafo, who must give a gift of tribute to his tyrannical Mongol ruler. The only thing he can offer to the ruler is his old donkey. But when he presents it to the Mongol, the Mongol is furious and threatens him with death. Then, Nasreddin Hoca, the wise village man, assures the Mongol that this donkey is not ordinary, and he will soon teach it to read. A month later, indeed, the donkey reads a thick book by turning pages so quickly. What is Nasreddin’s trick to teach a donkey to read?

A Donkey Reads is lushly decorated with Andre Letria’s illustrations that are deep and rich in acrylic color, and detailed in every expression, even in the mice, that young readers find it fascinating. The Junior Library Guild’s pick.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Sweetheart for Valentine

Does anyone really know the real, original, and truthful origin of Valentine’s Day? If you are not certain, here is the very palpable, sweet as your little ones, witty as your first love in junior high, and thoughtful as your significant other: A Sweetheart for Valentine by wonderful Lorna Balian. My not yet four years old friend liked it, shimmering sweet smiles as I read it to him. I doubt, though, he understood it fully as much as I did. I think this is more my cup of tea than his.

One morning, people in the peaceful small village of St. Valentine find a giant baby girl. She doesn't belong to anyone, so the villagers decide to raise her all together (true, it takes a whole village to raise a child!). Unlike anyone, she has one great-grandfather (he has a long, long white beard), three great-grandmothers, six grandfathers, seven grandmothers, eleven mothers and fathers, and many more sisters and brothers. They name her Valentine and find ways to care for her as she grows. Whenever there seems an issue for her well-being, Great -grandfather calls for a special meeting to find a solution collectively, and they always do (they even build a house that grows with her. How? With vines and sunflowers!). Then one early morning, they find a very large young man stuck in the mud. Is he a sweetheart for Valentine?

It’s a lost-in-time fascination to look at Balian’s illustrations, as much as her playful and rhythmical words. Whenever they hold a special meeting, responses from villagers are so distinguished and lively„Ö°the loving nature of mothers, wisdom-full nature of grandmothers, logic-driven, yet caring nature of fathers, supporting and fun nature of grandfathers, and we-can-help nature of sisters and brothers. Every time I read it aloud, it leaves a I-am-happy smile on my face. I can’t help it.
*Another spoiler: Valentine and the big young man were not in “love at first sight” (as it doesn’t often happen in real life), but became so fond of each other as they learned more about each other (as it happens in real life).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

George didn’t get enough Valentine’s Day Cards. What can we do for him?

“The kids LOVE Valentine's Day,” said my friend Aiko, a 3rd grader teacher. “Each student makes a mailbox (usually out of a shoe box or big envelop decorated in pink and red with their names on it)....They are still young, so they don't understand the 'boy+girl" love per say, but it is a fun day when they get thoughtful notes from the classmates!” With that excitement and happiness, their cheeks would turn red, and lively chatters, laughs and giggles would fill the classroom. But if, someone doesn’t get many cards, and feel sad? (as it always happens in real life!). In Bee My Valentine, Miriam Cohen lively and warmly depicts the first graders’ Valentine’s Day, accompanied by Ronald Himler’s gentle illustrations.

Valentine’s Day is coming, and the first graders are excited about choosing/making Valentine’s cards; what they would write and to whom; and of course, the cards they will receive. The teacher tells everyone to send a card to everyone else in the class so nobody will feel left out. On Valentine’s Day, however, George gets fewer cards than everyone else. George runs away and hides in the coat room, crying. All the first graders think hard about how to cheer him up, and altogether, they find a way.

Bee My Valentine is part of Star Bright Books’ Social & Emotional Development Story Series, books that engage children to think, understand and find a solution to problems they encounter at school, home and on playgrounds. In a report published recently, researchers found that students who took part in social and emotional learning programs improved in grades and standardized-test scores by 11 % compared with nonparticipating students. Written by Miriam Cohen and illustrated by Ronald Himler, the series also includes titles such as Will I Have a Friend; Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire; Layla’s Head Scarf ; and others. “We Love First Grade!™” series.