Thursday, November 14, 2013

Annual Cranberry Contest

Lawrence School has a long tradition of holding a cranberry estimating contest each November. This is the 45th year that the contest has been held!

Students and staff may estimate how many cranberries are in the jar currently on display in the library. The contest begins today and runs through Friday, November 22. Winners in each of 4 categories will be announced on Monday, November 25. Student categories include grades K - 2, grades 3 - 5 and grades 6 - 8. There is a separate category for staff guesses.

Thanks to the generosity of our local book stores, The Children's Bookshop and Brookline Booksmith, the prize in each category is a bookstore gift certificate! Let the estimating begin!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Boston Book Festival reflections

Three weeks ago I attended a session of the Boston Book Festival. Tomie DePaola, author and illustrator of 200+ children's books, was the keynote speaker. He said a number of things that resonated with me but one that stands out is his definition of a picture book. He said (and I'm paraphrasing here, he said it much better than me!) that a picture book is a tiny door into a huge world of visual arts. He advised the audience (kids, parents, teachers and librarians) to expose children to as many different picture books and styles of art as possible.

So here are some new(ish) suggestions of picture books with amazing and unique illustrations:

Journey is a brand new book by Aaron Becker. It seems inspired by the classic book Harold and the Purple Crayon. In this wordless book, a little girl is bored and picks up a red marker and starts to draw. She enters a magical world and relies on her marker to get her out of some tricky situations. Beautiful illustrations!

Flotsam by David Wiesner is another wordless book which was recognized with a Caldecott a couple years ago.

What about a middle grade novel told in part through pictures? The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, both by Brian Selznick, show that both the words and the pictures are important. Parts of the story are only told in pictures, parts in text. A great family read-aloud.

Kate DiCamillo (author of Because of Winn-Dixie) has a brand new book out called The Illustrated Adventures of Flora and Ulysses. It begins with a short comic strip setting up the character of the squirrel, Ulysses, and describing how he comes to have amazing superpowers including typing poetry and flying! Flora is the young girl who recognizes his new abilities and tries to protect him from her mother who isn't too keen on having a squirrel in the house!

I can't forget Tomie DePaola's newest book Strega Nona Does It Again! For those who know all the books about Strega Nona and for those who have never read the series, this book will not disappoint. Strega Nona has a very vain and particular visitor staying with her and eventually no one in the household, not even Big Anthony, can stand having this visitor around. Strega Nona solves the problem with her usual magic!