We started our trip around the world in Canada this year – mostly because I was excited to share Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey with our lower elementary students.
Inly has a three-year curriculum that includes the Ancient World, America, and the World. This is a “world year,” and my goal is to read stories from authors outside of the United States and follow our progress on a map. Exceptions to our international reading will be made for major holidays – my favorite part of Halloween is The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey!
We are not traveling efficiently, but rather on a whim. Since school started, we’ve read stories set in Canada, Japan, and India. In the interest of a broader selection, the rules are somewhat flexible. Preferably, the author or illustrator will live in the country we read about, but the setting works too. For example, Adele and Simon in China by Barbara McClintock will be included because it’s a wonderful introduction to China.
With impeccable timing, four new books arrived last week that are perfect additions to our journey:
Tea With Oliver by Mika Song
I would read this book to my classes anyway, but the fact that Song grew up in the Philippines makes it even better. Oliver is a cat who “talks to himself a lot.” More than anything, Oliver wants to have tea with a friend. The problem is that he literally doesn’t see Philbert, a mouse who lives under the couch and would love to join Oliver for tea. Many potential tea friends show up for a party, but they are far too busy dancing to want tea. There’s a happy ending to a story as sweet as the cookies that appear on the last page!
Robinson by Peter Sis
Sis’s beautiful new book is based on a experience he had as a child in the Czech Republic. He went to a costume party dressed as one of his heroes, Robinson Crusoe, but the other children don’t appreciate his costume. Feeling embarrassed, the young boy goes home and crawls into his bed where, in a dream sequence that reminds me of Max sailing off “through night and day….to where the wild things are” he arrives in a world of his own imagination.
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna
One of the most beautiful books published in the last few years is A Lion in Paris which was also written and illustrated by Alemagna. This one is equally special. Like Robinson by Peter Sis, it is a tribute to the imagination. A mom and a child arrive at a cabin on a rainy day, and the child immediately begins playing a hand-held video game. “Actually,” the text reads, “I was just pressing the same button over and over.” When mom takes the game away and encourages her child to go outdoors, the child tucks the video game into the pocket of the bright orange rain slicker. It’s not long, though, before the game falls into the pond. The adventures, both literal and magical, begin after that.
Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake
Undoubtedly, there will be a week when everyone is feeling a little grumpy. Perhaps a grey day in January? This book by the Japanese author and illustrator is laugh-out-loud funny and a sweet spot read-aloud for young children. A little boy, determined to undress himself before his bath, gets stuck in his shirt. Naturally, he begins to wonder what life would be like if he stayed stuck in his shirt!
A Memorable Library Visit…..
Among the greatest pleasures of working in a school library are those unexpected moments when you can literally witness a child in the act of creation – not the kind of creating that happens with a 3D printer, but building with words. On Friday, while Mary and I were talking about the week ahead, a student came into the library. He explained that he was working on an identity project and wanted to make a list of the books he loves. With joy and determination, he stacked books all over the table, stories that together are a part of who he is. After watching him collecting and typing or a few minutes, Mary and I began to help. We shelved while he visited every shelf to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything.
With his permission, here are some of the books on his list:
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
Books by Stuart Gibbs
books by Kelly Barnhill
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Books by Chris Grabenstein
Books by Brian Selznick
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
And he didn’t forget picture books…
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
There were many others, but he may still be adding titles…….