Something Old, Something New…

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There are two new books on my desk that I’m tempted to share with every person who walks in to the library today. One is truly a new book and the other is new to me. Either way – I love them both…

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The “real” new book is Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers. Such a cute rabbit!  After reading the story, I’m not sure Rabbit ever realizes that the big “Black Rabbit” of the title is his shadow, but I wanted to “hop” into the book and allay his fears.  The fun thing is that the reader does know. It’s clear from the first page when Rabbit steps “into the bright sunlight” that the threatening Black Rabbit who appears to be chasing him is harmless. That’s what makes this clever story such a good read aloud choice – the kids are “in on it” from the start.

The simply drawn but very endearing hero faces a threat: “With a sign of relief, Rabbit sat down and nibbled a carrot…until he noticed two eyes shining brightly in the dark.”  The threatening eyes belong to a wolf, of course, but Rabbit’s shadow comes to the rescue!  I read this to a class of 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students this morning and, not surprisingly, they loved it.  In fact, a third grade student made an excellent observation – suggesting that the Rabbit needs Wendy (from Peter Pan) to help him with his shadow!

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The Nature Connection by Clare Walker Leslie was published in 2010. I found it on my desk earlier this week – as surprising as if it had dropped out of the sky.  When I opened it, I saw that it was signed by the author. It occurred to me that she must have been in the audience the evening before when Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods, was here as part of our speaker series. Louv’s presentation was interesting, and his well-regarded book about our collective nature deficit disorder is important, but Leslie’s book is a marvel. It can be described as a journal or a diary or a workbook or even an annotated calendar. For curious kids, this book is a natural – literally. It’s chock-full of facts and activities related to the world outside.

The Nature Connection is divided into three parts: How to Be a Naturalist, Learning the Sky and Exploring Nature. Among its rich and well-designed pages, are lists and places to draw pictures and diagrams of leaves, and animal tracks — and books!  Just like there are armchair travelers, there are armchair gardeners, and I appreciate a nature activity book that includes reading suggestions. For those of us who prefer not to get our hands dirty, Leslie has boxes that read: “Curl up with a good book” – and then recommends authors like James Herriot and Gary Paulsen.  I want to share this book with our teachers – and parents who ask for a good family activity book to use this summer.

One last thing…an 8th grade student just brought this to the library. It’s a 3-d poster he made for our upcoming book fair. The book spins around like a planet on its axis!

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