Books by Beverly Cleary

April 12, 2016  was Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday.  Here are a few of the books that she has written:

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Otis loves to stir up excitement at school.  He especially loves to pick on Ellen Tebbits, perhaps because she is so neat, clean and well behaved.

When Otis goes too far, Ellen and her best friend, Augustine, seek revenge.  Will Otis get what he deserves?

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When Keith’s  family stays at an old hotel, Keith meets a talking mouse who rides his toy motorcycle.  Ralph S. Mouse becomes a hero for Keith and his family.

Other books about Ralph’s adventures are Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse.

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Henry Huggins wants to do something important, like Scooter, the seventh grader on his street, who delivers papers.  Getting a paper route isn’t as easy as it looks, especially when you show up for the interview, hiding four kittens in your sweatshirt.

Henry is quite enterprising and works hard to achieve his ambitions, even when that pesky Ramona gets in his way.

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This is the first book where Ramona emerges as the main character.  Although this book is written from a kindergartner’s perspective, the audience for this book will be older children who will find Ramona’s antics amusing .  Other Ramona books are Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona the Brave, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

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Leigh Botts is the new kid in town.  His parents have recently separated and someone keeps stealing his lunch. Leigh shares his daily troubles with his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw.

This is a very different book for Beverly Cleary.  It received high critical acclaim including the 1984 Newbery Medal.

 

 

 

 


Happy 100th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

(April 12)  Today is Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday!

In case you haven’t heard, Beverly Cleary is the author of over 40 children’s books. including the popular Ramona and Ralph S. Mouse books. These books are still popular in 2016.  Cleary seemed quite spunky when she was interviewed by Jenna Bush Hager on the Today Show last month. http://www.today.com/parents/99-author-beverly-cleary-beloved-generations-readers-t82256

I was first introduced to Beverly Cleary’s books by my childhood buddy, Nancy Clements. Nancy was a year and a half older than me and  introduced me to many things.  She first told me about Otis Spofford, a modern day Tom Sawyer who was always picking on Ellen Tebbits because she was so neat and clean and well behaved.  We were horrified when Otis cut Ellen’s hair.  We played games where we alternated being the “evil” Otis and his favorite target, sweet well-behaved Ellen.

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After Otis and Ellen, I read all the Henry Huggins books.  Henry was a little nicer than Otis, but he always found himself in trouble.  Ramona Quimby began as a fairly minor character in the Henry Huggins series.  She’s barely mentioned in Henry Huggins.  When my fifth grade teacher at Walter Bickett, Mrs. Cason, read  Henry and the Paper Route, we all howled at Ramona’s antics as she created havoc in Henry’s life.  So it isn’t surprising that she got her own series.

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Ramona seems to be Cleary’s most endearing character.  She’s always a little baffled by the world around her.  Why won’t her kindergarten teacher tell her how Mike Mulligan used the bathroom?    Why  can’t she be a paper boy like Henry Huggins?

CCF24032012_00011  Cleary’s books are timeless.   In the later Ramona books, she deals with some heavy issues when her father loses his job and her favorite Aunt Beatrice gets married.  Ramona’s struggles are seen from a childhood perspective. They don’t go out to eat anymore and the adults are grumpier than usual.

Just as Otis Spofford hated the goody two shoes children in his basil reader,  Beverly Cleary had no use for moralistic literature:

 I was so annoyed with the books in my childhood, because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona… and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the  way she expected.

 

Random Readalouds for Preschoolers

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 This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Bryne

When Bella takes her dog for a walk, strange and unusual things happen. This is one of the best read aloud books ever.

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Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

When a duck decides to ride a bike, the barnyard animals have various reactions until they all have a chance to ride for themselves. Children love the silly illustrations.. The large pictures make this a good choice for a large group of children.

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The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Waddell

Hal and his dog Billy save his family from the super hungry dinosaur. The dinosaur apologizes for his rude behavior and then stays for dinner.

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Lola at the Library-Anna McQuinn

Lola looks forward to Tuesday when she and her mom visit the library, attend story time, choose books and have a snack. The special day ends with a bedtime story.

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Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie.   Toot and Puddle live together in Woonsock Pocket.  Toot loves to travel but Puddle is a homebody.  Toot travels around the word sending postcards back to his best buddy.   They reunite in December when Toot return. This is the same Holly Hobbie of the bigheaded dolls but her pigs are infinitely cuter.  Don’t be surprised if you like this better than your children.  Try to avoid the cheaper knockoffs by National Geographic Press based on the TV show.  These are usually done by other authors.  National Geographic Press does an amazing job with nonfiction but these books are a poor imitation of Hobbie’s books.

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The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort, illustrated by Brian Karas

In this great sing along to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus,   Noisy animals board the bus.  All goes well until the skunks arrive.

 

 

 

 

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Why Audiobooks?

About 10 years ago,  I fell in love with audiobooks.  I felt torn because I had adult books I wanted to read and prize winning children’s books that also deserved my attention.  Audiobooks became part of the solution!   I began looking forward to my time in the car.

Audiobooks can be enjoyed by the whole family. Consider taking them along on your next road trip. For this post, I have selected audiobooks that families can enjoy listening to together.

On the Reading Rockets Website, Denise Johnson lists these benefits of listening to audiobooks.

  • Introduce students to books above their reading level
  • Model good interpretive reading
  • Teach critical listening
  • Highlight the humor in books
  • Introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider
  • Introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
  • Sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, Old English, and old-fashioned literary styles
  • Provide a read-aloud model
  • Provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations
  • Recapture “the essence and the delights of hearing stories beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers” (Baskin & Harris, 1995, p. 376)http://www.readingrockets.org/article/benefits-audiobooks-all-readers

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The Harry Potter books are among other things, hilarious, but never more so when they are narrated by Jim Dale who creates over 200 voices and special effects for all the wizards, muggles, goblins and house elfs that pass through Hogwarts.  The Harry Potter volumes are among the top selling audiobooks of all time.  Children who have already read these books will notice things they missed.

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Country music singer and actor, Lyle Lovett, brings  Kathi Appelt’s adventure tale, The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp to life.  Two raccoon scouts, Bingo and J’miah are trained to wake the Sugarman, a Yeti like creature, in the event of trouble.  And trouble is coming!  Jaeger Stitch, world-class alligator wrestler, plans to turn the peaceful swamp into to the world’s tackiest theme park. To make matters worse, a gang of feral hogs are headed  toward the swamp.   Lovett has the perfect southern drawl. This story will appeal to a wide range of ages.

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I raved over Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan’s Echo in an earlier post. (https://librarianlou.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/for-music-and-history-lovers-2/) This recording helps complete the book.  The harmonica pieces are printed in each section, but its not the same as hearing the music which will be more familiar to  parents than their children.

In the section set in Nazi Germany, the heavy but clear German accents are vital in creating the characters of evil Nazi leaders as well as the kind voices of Frederich’s father and uncle.  Dialogue that looks confusing in print will be clearer in the audio version.  Echo won the 2016 Newbery Honor Award and the audiobook won one of two 2016 Odyssey Awards for outstanding productions in children’s recordings.

Don’t let the costs of audiobooks discourage you.  Many are available at the public library. Services like Audible are also making these books more accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diverse Books-What we really need!

There is a big movement within the library community called “We Need Diverse Books.”

If I were leading the movement, I would call it,  “We need more diverse books that children like.”   We have many award winning multicultural books that lack child appeal.

 Award winning books are often what librarians call “shelf sitters.”  They will be purchased by books sellers and librarians but not read much.  They are the brussels sprouts of the library’s book collection. (I remember the first time I enjoyed Brussels sprouts, it was last Thanksgiving at cousin Jane’s.)

 We  need  contemporary books about multicultural children.  Since I find it hardest to find diverse books for our youngest readers, I have chosen four books for preschoolers and primary students:

51007CEiUpL._SX442_BO1,204,203,200_Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn, begins with Lola, her pregnant mom, and dad sharing a bedtime story. When her new brother is born, Lola picks out a special book for Leo. Dad shows Lola how to hold the baby. Lola delights in being a big sister helping her mom by running errands and attempting to entertain the baby. It ends with the new family gathered on the sofa for a bedtime story. Rosalind Beard’s illustrations are delightful.

 

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Big Red Lollipop by  Rukhsana Khan is a story about Arab  Americans in  Canada.

Rubina is delighted when she is invited to a birthday party. Birthdays aren’s part of her family’s tradition. She sulks when her mother insists she must take her younger sister along. At the party, Rubina is the only one with her little sister in tow. Sana embarrases her when she cries during musical chairs.  She is not invited to another party for a long time.

Several years later when Sana receives a birthday invitation, Her mother insists that she take her youngest sister, Maryam. Rubina steps in and takes Sana’s side winning her younger sister’s admiration. This book is illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Sophie Blackall, winner of the Caldecott Award.  I love her signature use of colorful patterns.

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In Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, Grace loves stories of all kinds.  When her class begins planning a production of Peter Pan, Grace plans to audition for Peter. A classmate informs her she’s can be Peter because she’s a girl. Another declares that Grace can’t be Peter because she’s black. Grace’s mom and aunt encourage Grace to try out. Her Nana takes her to see a ballerina from Trinidad.  Grace auditions and amazes her classmates when she performs as Peter Pan.

untitled (2)In Splash, Anna Hibiscus, we meet Anna and her extended  family spending a day at an African  beach.

Everyone is busy at the beach but no one wants to get wet.  Her grandparents are reading the newspaper. Mama and the aunties are braiding their hair. Her female cousins are playing in the sand, the boys play soccer. Only Anna Hibiscus wants to go swimming.  In the end, we see a loving extended family enjoying themselves in the waves.

Children of many cultures have enjoyed these delightful stories of childhood.  We need more diverse books like these.

SMILE!

Smile_cover_shadow Let’s face it. Middle School is traumatic!  Middle schoolers think eveyone notices everything they do. Classmates can be cruel. Anything that makes you different from your classmates feels like torture.

Smile by Raina Telemeier is an autobiographical graphic novel chronicling the ups and downs of middle school and high school, a tough season for any adolescent especially if there’s something that sets you apart from your classmates.

At age 12, Raina fell on the pavement resulting in losing her two front teeth. Six year olds with missing front teeth are adorable, twelve years olds not so much. Raina’s life for the next four years includes dental surgeries, trips to specalists and two sets of braces.Most of all, she feels different from her classmates. Her story also navigates crushes, friendships and other teen drama.

Smile encourages the reader to laugh and sympathize with Raina’s recollections. When she spies her crush in the hall, she is so enamored that she walks right into a row of lockers.  When she tries on extensive headgear for her braces, She exclaims, “C’mom Mom, let’s go get me some glasses, a pocket protector and some velcro shoes.”

Raina begins her story with sixth grade and ends in high school. Along the way, she learns to chose her friends more carefully and pursue her talents for drawing and singing. She gradually settles in with a new group of artsy friends that are kinder, more authentic and accepting.

Kids love graphic novels.  Teachers and librarians are increasingly realizing the benefits of this genre.  Smile, however, is an exceptional graphic novel.  It won the Wil Eisner Award for best books for teens.  Telgemeier has published two other graphic novels, Drama and Sisters.  Fans of her books can create their own comic scenes at www.scholastic.com/raina

 

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Encouraging Empathy in Children

Most children and adults are scared of the severely handicapped.  We feel awkward, we don’t know what to say.  We may assume a person is not intelligent because of their appearance.

Out of My  Mind by Sharon Draper is another book that encourages children to empathize with others.  (See Empathy and Reading)  Both Absolutely Almost and Rain Reign are about children with learning problems.  Children like Albie and Rose could be among your child’s classmates.

Melody is severely disabled. She is  unable to walk, talk or feed herself. She has spent most of her time in special education class. Most people have trouble seeing beyond her twisted body and involuntary movements to recognize that she is very intelligent and full of personality.  We see the world through Melody’s eyes.  .

Melody has struggled  with limited communication.  For most of her life, she had many things she wanted to say but no way to say them.    When Melody accidently knocked over the goldfish bowl, she was helpless to let anyone know that her pet is in trouble.

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A new computer with  special  features begins to change that.  She is able to store more vocabulary and express herself through the computer’s voice.  She can now have conversations with other students. But it’s  the school quiz bowl that allows her to shine.

There are children who make fun of Melody.  They don’t seem to understand that she understands them completely. Other  classmates, Rose and Connor, are friendly but awkward.  When she goes to a celebration dinner for the quiz bowl team, she still has to be fed by her parents.

Students on the  Quiz Bowl team become envious when a TV News Station focuses its interview on Melody.  She encounters major disappointment when she is not notified of a last minute flight change and gets left behind in the national competition.

This is a powerful book.  Melody deals with each day’s problems, rarely expressing self pity.  She doesn’t compare her life to her classmates.  She experiences sadness and rejection but that never defines her.  She deals with her disappointment with her teammates in ways that earn their respect.

This book is so well written that it is difficult to do it justice in a review.  Sharon Draper, the author, also has a severely handicapped daughter.  She did not base Melody’s character on her daughter, instead she creates a unique individual.

Draper talks more about her novel on her website:   Sharon Draper on “Out of My Mind”