Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Introducing....Book Bundles

Today launches a regular feature on The Kiddosphere @ Fauquier. Book Bundles!

What is a Book Bundle? It's a collection of short reviews (written by moi) that focus on a theme of the day. If you look at Chase's Calendar of Events, The Teacher's Calendar (don't be afraid to use NetLibrary-it's free, fast, and fantastic), or any of these websites, you'll see that there are hundreds of wacky observances (I'm looking forward to Penguin Awareness Day). There are also the historical remembrances: famous birthdays, famous events, etc. Then, there are the classic observances/holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Independence Day. I will also try to highlight books about/set in a state for that state's anniversary of admittance to the United States. For monthly observances (Black History Month, Women's History Month, National Poetry Month), I'll have several Book Bundles throughout the month.

I'm getting a head start on the first Book Bundle. The first National Haiku Poetry Day will be held 12/22/07 (yes, next year). Haiku, as you may already know, has a pattern of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables per line (this is the Cliffs Notes version).

First up is Celeste Davidson Mannis's One Leaf Rides the Wind. This is a counting book and an introduction to Japanese culture book rolled into one picture book. The little girl on the cover is the star of our book. She takes us through a Japanese garden and counts the things she sees (one leaf rides the wind, 3 pots on a wall, etc). The rhymes aren't forced, the pictures are darling, and there are notes at the end of the page that gives us more information about the picture. For example, we see the little girl eyeing a plate of 7 treats for tea. When we read the note, we gain a little insight on the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The book works fine as a read aloud, and the reader has the choice of reading the notes (I would paraphrase them if reading to small children) or ignoring them.

Least Things by Jane Yolen is a collection of haiku about "small natures." The snail, the crab, the squirrel, and other small critters get recognized with funny and respectful verses. The photographs by Jason Stemple are immense (the butterfly photograph is amazing). As a bonus, we are also treated to little tidbits about each creature.

Not to be outdone, Jack Prelutsky has If Not For the Cat. The haiku are actually riddles ("If not for the cat/And the scarcity of cheese/I could be content"). We see a mouse crouched by his little mouse's hole, where we see the nose and whiskers of a dreaded cat. Ted Rand's illustrations hit the spot. They are magnificent pieces of art, detailing the wrinkled snout of an elephant, a kangaroo gently cuddling her joey, and bright butterflies flying to freedom. This is high level vocabulary, folks. Words like "undulate," "raucously," and "gaudily." They're not thrown in there at random. Through the haiku and the artwork, the words are aptly defined.

I remember learning about haiku when I was in elementary school. These books are painless ways to introduce the art form. They have great illustrations and they are neat reads. What more could you possibly ask for?

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