Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What's in My Cubby? Wednesdays

It’s time for another round of What’s in My Cubby? Wednesdays. We have books about birds. Plus some craft/activities books as well.

Kasza, Keiko. A Mother For Choco. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992.

Basic synopsis: Choco wants a mother. He asks Mrs. Giraffe, Mrs. Penguin, and other female animals if she is her mother. They all reply no, giving various reasons (Mrs. Penguin doesn’t have big, round cheeks; Mrs. Walrus doesn’t have striped feet). Finally, Choco finds a home with Mrs. Bear, even though she also does not look like him This is a book frequently found on adoption booklists.
Used for: Beautiful Birds toddler storytime
Why I used it: My toddler group is able to listen to longer stories, but not too long stories. This is a good in between story.
Success: Most of the children were involved with and interested in the story.

Pomerantz, Charlotte. Flap Your Wings and Try. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1989.

Basic synopsis: Little Baby Bird wants to fly. Everyone tells him to try. Finally, he flies. At the end, he encourages another little baby bird to try.
Used for: Beautiful Birds storytime
Why I used it: Nancy Tafuri’s illustrations are perfect for read alouds; big and eye-catching enough for a group to enjoy. This lead into an action rhyme about flying.
Success: Might be better for a one on one storytime or for younger children. My group is ready for lengthier stories with an actual plot.

Dunbar, Joyce. Baby Bird. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 1998.

Basic synopsis: Baby bird falls out of her nest. Chaos ensues. Told in the “This is the house that Jack built” format.
Used for: Beautiful Birds storytime
Why I used it: Story is short but has lots of action.
Success: Hard to tell. I was ambivalent about using this, because the illustrations aren’t ideal for a large storytime (some illustrations are told in cartoon panels), with the text underneath the illustration). But most seemed interested in the story.

Ehlert, Lois. Feathers for Lunch. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1990.

Basic synopsis: Cat is loose and is looking for birds.
Used for: Beautiful Birds storytime
Why I used it: Lois Ehlert pictures books are excellent for toddler storytimes. They are short but they usually have a good storyline easily understood by toddlers. This has an element of suspense: will Cat catch the bird?
Success: I read this after reading Mother for Choco. My group is able to sit through a longer picture book followed by a short picture book (hooray for them!). Hardly any squirms during this one.

Grimes, Nikki. Welcome, Precious. New York: Orchard Books (imprint of Scholastic), 2006.

Basic synopsis: Baby is welcomed into a new family.
Used for: could be used for new baby storytime
Why I used it: I found it while browsing the new books section
Success: I love this book. I adore this book. Granted, the ones who go ga ga over this book will be adults, rather than children. There is no shortage of “welcome to the world, baby” books that are lovely and heartwarming. What makes this special is that this is an African American family, filled with a loving mother and father, grandparents, and lots of older cousins to play with.

There is a great need for multicultural fiction that isn’t about holidays, history, or “I Am Unique” books. Let me explain. Although books about Martin Luther King, slavery, and books like Black is Brown is Tan are important, we also need more books that matter-of-factly feature characters of ethnicity. We need more books about Jewish people that aren’t solely about the Holocaust or Hanukkah. We need more children’s books about Muslims tbat aren’t “Learn About Islam” or Ramadan books. We need more children’s books featuring Latino characters that aren’t solely about life in the barrio. Again, these books are important, but children need a greater diversity of multicultural fiction.

Welcome Precious features a loving and proud family that happens to be African American. Linger over the gorgeous illustrations. I love the baby’s egg-shaped head. Talk about impressive detail. Bryan Collier has a two year old daughter, so he knows that babies do not emerge with a perfectly rounded head! Baby has deliciously chunky legs and bare toes. A towel covers Baby’s bottom in a bath scene, and it’s unclear if Baby is a girl or boy.

This would be a great baby gift to give to any parent, regardless of race. Of course, this would be treasured by a young African American couple who did not grow up with seeing and reading children’s books that feature African-Americans in an “ordinary” setting.

Vitkus, Jessica. Alternacrafts: 20+ Hi-Style Lo-Budget Projects to Make. New York: STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book.

Basic synopsis: Crafts for teens using jeans, T-shirts, etc
Why I used it: Needed inspiration for teen activities
Success: This would be great for individual crafty teens. These projects would be too involved for a group with varying levels of craftiness. The book is attractively designed; I particularly like that the book opens flat, making it easier to refer to while making the project. The directions are clear and to the point.

Quite a full cubby!

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