Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Look What United Way Posted

on Facebook today:

Yulupa SOH volunteers

The Schools of Hope  bulletin board is in Yulupa’s office. Check it out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Medical Mysteries Festival

On Saturday, Febbruary11, The Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is hosting the  Lawrence Hall of Science “Medical Mysteries Festival”. Children will become “doctor-detectives” who solve medical mysteries. The free event is limited to 110 participants. Send Anya Kennerly an e-mail at anya.cmosc@gmail.com by Feb 9th to reserve a spot for your family. The last Lawrence Hall of Science Program sold out in one day. The Museum is located at 1835 W, Steele Lane in Santa Rosa near the Snoopy Ice Arena.

4:10 PM Just received an e-mail from the Children’s Museum, the February 11th Medical Mysteries Festival has been filled.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Along with the Caldecott award, The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, awarded its Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book on January 23, 2012 to:

Tales for very picky eaters

James is a very picky eater. Dad has tried many things to get James to eat. In desperation he decides to offer James some outlandish food choices like gum that has been pre-chewed 1000 times. Eventually, James decides that some foods aren’t so bad if you are willing to give them a try. The Sonoma County Library has a copy.

Three books were given the Honors award:

I Broke my trunk

This book by Mo Willems is part of his Elephant and Piggie series. Willems has won three previous Caldecott Honors for Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. One of my granddaughters has her own Knuffle Bunny. Needless to say she is a big fan of these books. The Sonoma County Library has many copies.

I want My hat back

One of my grandsons has this book. His said, “My favorite part is the ending” and then he added a sly giggle. Grandmas are much more squeamish than six year old grandsons, I guess. Here is Scott Simon and Daniel Pinkwater reading this book  on Saturday Weekend Edition on December 3, 2011.

See Me Run

A romp in the park with dogs: running, swimming and digging. The dogs dig up something surprising. It is a book about dogs, it has to be great.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Snowy Day

The 1963 Caldecott Medal winner The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats has been reissued in a special 50th Anniversary edition. Tonight’s All Things Considered has an interview with the Executive Director, Deborah Pope, of the  Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and a reading of the book by LaVar Burton. You can listen to it here.

The Snowy Day

The Sonoma County Library and Yulupa’s Library have this book.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Caldecott Medal

Today The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association awarded the Randolph Caldecott Medal

Caldecott medal


A Ball for Daisy

This book is going to be a birthday present for one or more of my four pre-school granddaughters. Why? Because it is about a dog, a big time subject with the aforementioned girls and it is about loss (Daisy’s red ball) and gain (a friend and a new blue ball). This book has no words but the story is clear. Preschoolers and kindergarteners can “read” this book themselves. The book can be found at the Sonoma County Library and Yulupa’s Library.

The  ALSC also honored three more books:


I wrote about this book in the 100 Best Children’s Books for 2011 post on January 16th. The Sonoma County Library and Yulupa’s Library have this book..

Grandpa Green

Grandpa Green’s life story is told by his great-grandson through a walk in his topiary garden. As the boy is walking along he picks up tools his great-grandfather has left in the garden. At the end he uses them to make his own topiary of the great-grandfather. This book is touching to me because it reflects how I spent time with my grandparents in their gardens and the talents they passed on to me. This book can be found at the Sonoma County Library.


It is summer in the city, it is hot, and the power goes out. The TV doesn’t work, the phone and computer are off and Dad can’t cook dinner. The family goes to the roof where now in the darkness they can actually see the stars. So many of their neighbors are on the roof it is like a block party. The lights come back on so everything can go back to normal…but it turns out not everyone likes normal. This book can be found at the Sonoma County Library.

Each year the Caldecott Award is given to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. It was first given in 1939 to Mei Li by Thomas Handforth. A few other winning books you may know are  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak in 1964, The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg in 1986 and The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney in 2010.  Familiar Honors books include Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans in 1940, If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss in 1951 and  Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin in 2001.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Schools of Hope

Just a reminder: this week our students are supposed to pick a book from their classroom to read during their session. 

Jan Brett’s Website


Jan Brett has a wonderful website.  It is not just about her books. She has coloring pages, videos, games (both computer and printable), cards, a wide variety of activities (like puzzles, flash cards, ornaments, recipes and learn to draw lessons), and information about her books. Right now she is running a contest, the prize is a visit to your school during the 2012-13 school year. If you are on Facebook,  go to her website, click on the Facebook link (left side of the screen). This will take you to the Jan Brett Facebook page. On the left side, under her picture, is a link to the Contest Entry Form. It asks for your name, e-mail address, the name of your school, city, state and zipcode. Wouldn’t it be great to have Jan Brett come to Yulupa next year? Yulupa already has at least one vote: mine!

Monday, January 16, 2012

What to Do on a Rainy Sunday Afternoon?

There is a good chance of rain on Sunday. Luckily The Lawrence Hall of Science is bringing the “ Build  It Science Festival” to the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County.  Kids ages 4 and up can participate in hands-on science projects from 2-4 PM on Sunday, January 22. Space is limited for this free event so e-mail Anya Kennedy at anya@cmosc.org  by January 20th to reserve space for your family. The museum is located at 1835 W. Steele Lane in Santa Rosa.

Edit: Just got an e-mail from the museum that Sunday’s event is sold out.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

100 Best Children’s Books for 2011

A group of librarians at the New York Public Library have posted a list of the best children’s books for 2011. A hundred year tradition (since 1911) the books are divided into seven categories: picture books, fairy and folk tales, early chapter books, chapter books, poetry, graphic novels and non-fiction. Here is one sample in each category:

Picture Books


This is the story of Jane Goodall as a child and her favorite toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. Jane dreams of some day “living with and helping all animals” until one day her dream comes true. The book is written by Patrick McDonnell the  Creator of the Mutts comic strip. There are several  copies of this book in the Sonoma County Library. Yulupa’s library has one copy.

 Folk and Fairy Tales

Ancient Egypt

Nine tales of ancient Egypt are told comic-strip style. The Sonoma County Library has three copies of this book.

Early Chapter Books

Spunky Tells All

Spunky tells this story because his humans, the Bates, do not speak dog. Due to a miscommunication, his family gives him a friend he is not so sure he wants. Our family loves books about (and by) dogs. The Sonoma County Library has several copies of this book.

Chapter Books


This should be no surprise. See the post on The Houdini Box below. The Sonoma County Library has many copies. The Yulupa library has one copy.


Every Thing On It

More than 130 never-before-seen poems and drawings to delight all ages. The Sonoma County Library has several copies.

Graphic Novels


Superhero, Captain Amazing, is looking for a sidekick. His pets duke it out for the the honor. The Sonoma County Library has several copies.


Worst of Friends

This is a book about one of the greatest friendships and greatest rivalries in our history. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were strong allies before and during the Revolution. They became political rivals, each seeing the role of government differently, during their service under President Washington. They became political enemies during their respective terms as President. After retirement, these two men commenced a written dialogue that lasted over a decade. And in one of the most spectacular coincidences in American history, they died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826. There is one copy in the Sonoma County Library.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jan Brett

When I was in grade school, I was fascinated with the exotic and fantastical. My grandmother indulged me with beautifully illustrated books of fairy tales and Scandinavian  themed books like the Flicka, Ricka and Dicka series by Maj Lindman.

Flicka, ricka and Dicka and the Little Dog Flicka, Ricka and Dicka and Their New Skates

Jan Brett’s books remind me of the ones that entertained me as a child. She illustrates old classics like The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore . She finds several places to add pugs in her illustrations. That is well appreciated in my family.

The Night Before Christmas 

A page from The Night Before Christmas (sans pugs):

Detail NBC

She illustrates nursery tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

And folk tales like the Ukrainian one retold in The Mitten:

The Mitten

And classic fairy tales like The Beauty and the Beast:

The Beauty and the Beast 

Jan Brett also writes and illustrates her own stories.  Most of Yulupa’s first grade teachers read The Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends to their classes in December. Some classes made edible gingerbread houses and others used different materials to make the Gingerbread Baby a house.

The Gingerbread Baby Gingerbread Friends

In Mrs. Hopkins' class, December is Jan Brett month. At the Pen Pals and Picture Books blog, January is Jan Brett month. They will be featuring their favorite Jan Brett books all month. According to the two bloggers at Pen Pals and Picture books, there is a hedgehog in every Jan Brett book. I can’t swear to that but I have seen plenty of hedgehogs. A couple of my grandchildren are very interested in animals, especially dogs. Jan Brett wrote a book called The First Dog about an Ice Age boy who befriends a wolf who saves his life. In another of her books, Comet’s Nine Lives, Comet leaves the lighthouse on Nantucket Island. He visits a garden, a bookstore, a boat and a party but what he really wants is a home.  

The First Dog Comet's nine Lives

In her books, Jan Brett takes children to visit the North Pole, Bavaria, Africa, Scandinavia, the Ice Age and Nantucket Island. Her subjects range from Christmas stories to animal tales to fairy and folk tales and even to trolls (very Scandinavian).  Her richly detailed and beautifully illustrated books can take your child on many adventures. Her books are suitable for preschool-third grade.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Houdini Box

While browsing through children’s books at Copperfield’s, looking for books for “a book on every bed”, I came across a book for older elementary kids called Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. It is the story of two children,  Ben and Rose, separated in time by fifty years. Ben’s story is told in prose and Rose’s story is told in pictures. Their stories eventually intertwine. It was such an unique way of telling a story, I had to do some research on the author.Wonderstruck


I found that he had received the Caldecott Medal for picture books in 2008 for a book that was 550 pages long. The Invention of Hugo Cabaret is about 12 year old Hugo who is an orphan clock keeper who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. Before his death, his father showed him a discarded automaton: a human-like figure seated at a desk, pen in hand, ready to write. Hugo’s father, a clockmaker, was trying to repair the robot. After his death, Hugo becomes obsessed with trying to get it to work. The story is told in prose and pictures which do not just illustrate the story but actually tell a good part of the story. The movie, Hugo, which is in current release is based on this book.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret detail from Hugo

Meanwhile, on another trip to Copperfield’s, I find a book Brian Selznick wrote in 1991 called The Houdini Box. I have a son-in-law who has a a bit of an obsession with magic and I imagined him as the boy in this story. The boy’s name is Victor. He is ten and wants to be a magician too. He has read about Houdini’s magic tricks and he tries them at home but he cannot summon the magic to make them work. He locks himself in his grandmother’s train trunk but cannot escape no matter how many times he tries.

One day Victor is in the train station on the way to a weekend in the country when he spots Houdini and his wife. He runs up to Houdini and tells him he wants to be a magician and  asks him how to do the tricks he has been trying at home. Houdini promises to write him a letter with the answers. Victor waits for a reply and finally he gets a letter that says “A thousand secrets await you, come to my home” on a date that seemed impossibly in the future. Victor was impatient, so he went to Houdini’s home that evening, which happened to be Halloween. When he got there Mrs. Houdini thought he was trick or treating, but he showed her the letter. She disappeared and came back with a box and told him that Houdini had died that day. Victor took the box home and tried to open it. He noticed that the initials on the bottom of the box said E.W.; it was not Houdini’s box after all. So Victor put the box away and vowed to never think about Houdini again.

Years passed, he got married and had a son named Harry (a coincidence, I am sure). One day Victor and Harry were playing ball in a lot near the cemetery. Victor pitched the ball to Harry and Harry hit it into the cemetery. Father and son went to retrieve the ball. Perhaps by magic,  it had landed on Harry Houdini’s grave. Victor read the writing on the monument. It said HOUDINI and under that it said Ehrich Weiss: E.W. Before he was Houdini, the magician had been Ehrich Weiss. That night, after his wife and son had gone to bed Victor found the box. The lock had rusted and was easy to open. He locked himself in his grandmother’s trunk and escaped in under 20 seconds.

Legend has it that there actually was a Houdini Box. It was supposed to appear on the 100th anniversary of Houdini’s birth which was in 1974. At the end of the book is a brief biography of Harry Houdini, a magic trick and a little about the process of writing the book. Mr. Selznick also includes a list of books written about Houdini for children.

The Houdini Box Victor

This book is appropriate for a child from 6-11 who is fascinated by magic.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Schools of Hope In the News

Santa Rosa Police Chief, Tom Schwedhelm, wrote a Close to Home  column in Sunday’s Press Democrat about being a Schools of Hope Volunteer. This is the second school year that he has been helping a child gain the literacy skills needed  to “read to learn”. More  volunteer orientations will be held next week. Go to United Way/Schools of Hope for more information.