Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pumkin Decorating is back!


Let’s create a pumpkin patch of storybook characters for the library! Anyone who would like to decorate a pumpkin to look like a character from a favorite book can bring it into the library to be put on display.
  • Real or fake pumpkins can be used.
  • Pumpkins must NOT be carved, only painted and decorated.
  • Make a small label for your pumpkin with your name and the name of the character.
  • If you wanted to leave your pumpkin at home and just bring in a photograph, we can
    display the photograph.
  • Pumpkins can be brought in any time after Columbus Day (October 9th). They will
    need to be taken home by Friday, November 2nd, or they will be discarded.
    This activity is optional and is not a contest, but rather a fun way to celebrate the fall season. Ask Mrs. Ferguson if you have any questions. Here are photographs of some of the amazing pumpkins that students made last year!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee

Firefly Hollow is a beautiful story of friendship, bravery, and the fulfillment of dreams. Firefly is the best young flyer in Firefly Hollow, and she’s always dreamed of flying to the moon. Cricket is bored at Cricket School, where all they ever learn is to avoid water, sun, and “Giants,” which are the members of the human world. Despite being warned to stay away from the giants, both Firefly and Cricket become fascinated with a miniature giant named Peter, who they sometimes watch playing catch with a friend. Cricket decides he wants nothing more than to become a great catcher like Yogi Berra, whose picture he saw on a baseball card.

So Firefly and Cricket leave the safety of the hollow and meet Peter, who is not so scary after all. They also befriend kindly Vole, who has lived alone for many years since all the other voles were swept away in a flood when giants removed a beaver dam near their home on the river. The creatures share their hopes and dreams to each other and become kindred spirits, and help console Peter after the loss of his best friend Charlie.

Christopher Denise’s gorgeous illustrations help the reader visualize the touching scenes these characters share, and the reader will be rooting for all of them to finally realize their dreams. Recommended for Grades 3-6, or younger if being read aloud.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jerome is a 12-year-old black youth living in Chicago who is playing with a toy gun and is shot and killed by a white police officer. Jerome is not sure why he seems to be lingering around his family and not going to heaven, but when he realizes that Sarah, the daughter of the police officer who shot him can not only see him but communicate with him, he knows he is there for a greater purpose. His role in preventing history from repeating itself becomes clearer when he meets the real Emmitt Till, a boy who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Till’s murderers were acquitted, which enraged many people and provided a catalyst for the civil rights movement. 

Chapters alternate from the after-life and his conversations with Sarah, Till, and other “ghost boys” to the time leading up to Jerome’s death. This review does not really contain spoilers because it is apparent from the very beginning that Jerome has been shot. Although Ghost Boys is being told from the main character’s point of view after his death (he is a ghost who is able to see how his family and friends are coping), it will appeal to readers who enjoy realistic fiction. Recommended for Grades 5-8.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summer Reading / Bingo Cards


Try to make a Reading BINGO this summer by getting five in a row! 

Check my Summer Reading Page over in the sidebar to the right to view the BINGO cards and for book lists to help you fill them in!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Ben's Dream and Landmarks

Chris Van Allsburg has written some "very mysterious books," to quote one fourth grade student today.  In Ben's Dream, Ben and his friend Margaret go home to study for a geography test, and Ben sits on his father's easy chair and begins to feel a little sleepy.  The next thing you know, it's pouring rain and Ben's house is floating along by some famous landmarks, such as the Great Wall of China, Mount Rushmore, the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon, and the Taj Majal.  Oddly enough, Margaret seems to have had the exact same dream!  After talking about the landmarks and where they were located, I challenged some fourth graders to create these landmarks using Legos, blocks, Wiki Stix, K'nex and Magnetix.  They came up with some great structures!

A Fine Dessert

I love everything about this picture book written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. The premise, the history, the illustrations--all revolving around the oldest dessert in Western civilization. This dessert is called blackberry fool, made from fresh berries and cream.  The book describes families from four generation (1710 in Lyme, England, 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina, 1910 in Boston, and 2010 in San Diego, California) preparing this dessert.  The word “fool” originated from the French word “fouler” which means “to mash” or “to press,” which is what you must do to the berries in this recipe.

I read this book to third and fourth graders, and asked them what they think might have changed over the years.  They came up with great answers, including their clothing and where they got the ingredients.  It was much easier for the family in 2010 to go to the store to purchase the berries and cream than it was in 1710, when the mother and her daughter had to pick the berries and milk their cow to make the cream from scratch.  The students were very interested to learn that in 1710, they used a whisk created from twigs to stir the cream (which took 15 minutes of heavy stirring).  The technology progressed to a metal whisk created by a local blacksmith, to a rotary beater, to finally an electric mixer. And that food processor sure helped in the present day to crush the berries to prepare to strain them!  Even storing the dessert changed over the years, from chilling the food in a pit in a hillside chilled with sheets of winter ice to the convenience of a refrigerator right in the kitchen.

A few students even picked up on the fact that it was a mother and daughter who prepared the dessert in the first three generations, and only in 2010 did a father and son make the treat.  We talked about how gender roles have changed over the years, and I even had one student notice a man was sitting at the head of the table in each illustration except for the family eating in 2010.  Great observation skills!  I asked students to raise their hands if their father did most of the cooking or at least cooked an equal amount as their mothers, and it was interesting to see that many hands went up.

View a video of an interview with Jenkins and Blackall on KidLit TV here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaxDpKel3LE.  I thought it was so interesting that Blackall used crushed berries to paint the endpapers of this book.  According to the author and illustrator's notes at the back of the book, extensive research was required to write the story and create the illustrations accompanying the story.  Blackall said she had to figure out when blackberries were in season so she would know how to properly dress the characters. Because there were no photographs to refer to many years ago, she had to read diaries from the time.  The blackberry fool sounds delicious, but I think the real treat is this wonderful book these two ladies created.

The recipe appears below.  If you decide to make the blackberry fool at home, hopefully you can appreciate the convenience of using an electric mixer and/or food processor! And no doubt everyone will want to lick the bowl after the dessert is prepared, which is what everybody who prepared the dessert in the book also did!




Blackberry Fool: A Recipe

2-1/2 cups fresh blackberries (Other berries will do--but the fool won't be such a nice purple color; frozen berries will work, though fresh are nicer.)

1/2 cup sugar, divided in two

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Find an adult to cook with you.

Mash the berries with a potato masher or a larger fork.  If you've got a food processor, you can use that.  With clean hands, press the crushed berries through a sieve to remove the seeds. Sprinkle the fruit with 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Stir.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the vanilla and the cream. Using a whisk or whatever kind of beater you have, whip the mixture until it makes soft peaks, but not stiff ones.

Fold the sugared berries into the whipped cream.  Taste it to see if it's sweet enough.  Add more sugar if you need it.  There should be streaks of white and purple (don't overmix).

Refrigerate for 3 hours or more.

Eat! And don't forget to lick the bowl.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble...what would YOU wish for?

Students really enjoy Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, which earned Wiliam Steig a Caldecott Medal. Sylvester finds a smooth red, shiny pebble that will grant him any wish, but before he really gets to use it he comes face to face with a lion.  Sylvester panics, and wishes that he is a rock.  His parents are so worried about him and search all over for their dear Sylvester.  Will Sylvester ever turn back into a donkey?
I had first graders draw what they would wish for if they had a magic pebble.  Some students wanted unique pets like unicorns dragons, penguins or tigers, or to have super powers like being invisible or the ability to fly.  I particularly loved the ones where students wanted a huge shelf of books!
The one pictures above was the sweetest.  He wished for there to be love and houses for everyone in the world, and for lots of books.  And to have blue hair.  So sweet!