Monday, October 31, 2016

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

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"A Told B and B Told C, I'll meet you at the top of the Coconut Tree." (Martin and Archambault, 1989).

Today's blog post is about a childhood classsic (for me, anyway) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Elhert.

Publication Information
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Year: 1989
ISBN: 1442450703
Lexile Reading Level: AD530L
Awards/Recognition: Parent's Choice Award 2003

Written by the author that brought us Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you See? and illustrated by Caldecott Honor Winner Lois Elhert, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is arguably one of the most well-known alphabet children's book of all time. I remember reading this book all the time growing up as a child, reading it to my students when I taught preschool, and I occasionally read it at story time at work.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom uses rhymes and simple, bright illustrations to depict anthropomorphized letters (meaning they have human characteristics) as they climb to the top of a coconut tree. Once all the lowercase letters make it to the top, the tree can no longer hold their weight and they all fall down. Their family members (the upper case letters) arrive to help them out and tend their injuries. All of the letters always appear in alphabetical order and the alphabet is gone through twice.

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This book is well known for it's rhyming because it's got a jazzy improvisational beat to it as it's read aloud. It's fun and there are so many ways you can put this book to music. Kids can relate to it because the lower case letters act like kids, betting that they can race to the top of the tree.  The back of the book lists all the letters together, both upper and lower case. I think it's great that it's about the lowercase letters and not just the upper. Lowercase is typically the most difficult to learn because of how similar b, d, & p are, as well as many other letters. Having the upper and lowercase letters be portrayed as family members is another way to relate to kids. It makes sense that the lowercase (little) letter has a big Mom, Dad, Brother, or Sister letter that matches.

The letters and the coconut tree, being so simply illustrated are easy to recreate in a classroom or library setting. In my classroom we made a life size coconut tree taped against our wall and whenever we learned a new letter, we'd have a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom parade and chant the famous words as we stuck the letter on the coconut tree. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom teaches letters in a developmentally appropriate way for young children, through music and rhymes, and fun.

Monday, October 24, 2016

LEO the Maker Prince: Journey's in 3D Printing

Today’s blog post is about Leo the Maker Prince: Journeys in 3D Printing by Carla Diana.

Publication Information:
Publisher: Maker Media, Inc.
Publication Year: 2013
ISBN: 9781457183140
Lexile Reading Level: Not available

This narrative and informational book is awesome for any age. The author takes the stage as our narrator, Carla, and describes how she used to be creative as a child but after being misunderstood she gave up her dream to be an artist and became an accountant. One day, while trying to make it home safely during Hurricane Sandy, she runs into this robot named LEO, who fell off of his mail truck and was abandoned. It turns out, LEO isn’t actually a Robot, but instead a 3D Printer. LEO teaches Carla all about 3D printers. How they work, what you can make (ANYTHING!) and what types of 3D printers are out there. LEO prints out anything that Carla can create, and they escape the storm together. In addition, Diana writes a preface at the beginning of the book with more details about the history of 3D Printers and the inspiration behind wanting to write this book.

“LEO was generating amazing heat and precise movements. But to what end? I had no idea. And then, four pools of plastic appeared on the tray. “Sheep feet?!” I exclaimed, as I realized that the black squares matched the bottom view of the sheep I had drawn.” (Diana, 2013).  

Using friendly, conversational language, Diana’s cute anecdotal narrative is jam packed with information about 3D Printing. What is unique about this book is the images inside. It’s partially illustrated, but there are also real photographs of 3D printed objects. Shown below is an illustration of LEO 3D printing a sheep that Carla drew. It clearly depicts how a 3D Printer’s arm melts plastic and moves back and forth across the tray to eventually form a 3D shape.

LEO goes on to tell Carla all about his other 3D printer friends who can 3D print jewelry out of metal, or make games out of 3D printed food, like cheese and chocolate (if you can melt it, you can 3D print with it!)

And yes, to the left, are 3D printed chess pieces made of cheese and completely edible after a good game.

Is there anything that could make this book any cooler? Yes, there is. Every image of a 3D printed object in the book is available to be printed at home or ordered from a 3D printing service. All of the designs of every 3D printed object in the book can be found on the book’s website: This book really wants to inspire kids to become makers and create their own designs. The website also has a section where kids can share what they 3D printed and even though they got the designs from the website, each 3D printed object was given some extra creativity in their own way.

My one main criticism of this book is that it’s very long. It would be a fantastic read aloud of broken up into chunks. I’m not sure if some of the “story” bits in the book are needed, per sey. It’s all great, but things could have been simplified a little bit more without taking away from all of the fun in the book. Overall though, this book could be enjoyed from pre-school through middle school. Honestly though, I think it would even capture the attention of high schoolers and adults.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

And Tango Makes Three

Hi Everyone! This has been a CRAZY week for me (that ultimately ended up with me getting sick! =()  so I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get this up.

My entry today is about And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.

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Publication Information 
ISBN: 1481446959
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publish Date: 2005
Lexile Reading Level: AD720L
Awards/Recognition: American Library Association Notable Children's Book 2006

Banned Book 

This is a really heartwarming and quirky narrative nonfiction book about the true story of how two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo, end up hatching and raising a baby penguin together. True to form, it follows the style of a fiction picture book, however, the author's note at the back of the book explains that all of the events are true, and retells the story with some specific detail such as dates, and how exactly Roy and Silo were given the egg.

Image result for and tango makes threeThe book focuses on Roy and Silo's relationship and how they try to copy the actions of other penguin couples, including building a nest, and sitting on a rock every day since they couldn't lay their own eggs. The story goes for the story telling style rather than blunt information. For example, the zoo keeper plays a big role in how Roy and Silo get an egg. In the author's note, it says that the zoo keeper found another penguin couple, who normally can only raise one egg at a time, laid two fertile eggs. The zoo keeper gave the one of the eggs to Roy and Silo. In the story, it leaves out the specifics of how the zoo keeper got the egg, and instead says simply, "He found an egg that needed to be cared for and he brought it to Roy and Silo's nest." I'm not criticizing the book for this stylistic choice, especially since it is explained at the end. In addition, And Tango Makes Three has a bigger message to get across. A message about family. The book ends with zoo-goers seeing Roy, Silo, and little Tango living happily with their fellow penguins, just like any other penguin in the habitat.

Image result for and tango makes threeAll families in this day and age are very unique and come in all shapes, sizes, and combinations. It's important for children to see that there isn't a 'normal standard' for families except that they all love one another. In a school or group setting, we need to make sure all of our students and children feel that they belong, no matter what kind of family they come from. If not, it can lead to bullying,, depression, and a lot of awful things that it makes me tear up reading about. Regardless of my beliefs on some of these issues, I absolutely cannot stand these issues making their way into the hearts of a young child, leaving them feeling like they don't belong. Unfortunately, a lot of books that instill love and respect for 'non traditional' families cause some controversy and I can understand that because of the way I was raised growing up.  And Tango Makes Three has been the number one banned book for several years because it not only shows a 'non traditional' family, but they're animals. Parents can have a big problem with that. However, when I read this book, after the first few pages the focus shifted from Roy and Silo as a couple, to the problem of infertility, which is a very common problem that any couple could face and relate to. Baby penguin Tango needed a family since her biological parents were unable to care for more than one baby at a time. It's ultimately a story about adoption.

I would pair this book with The Family Book, by Todd Parr. This book brings up very diverse families, including same-sex families. While it's gotten some heat from parents and it's been banned in a few places for that reason, it's caused less of a fuss than And Tango Makes Three. That may be because the same-sex couple section only takes up two pages that can easily be skipped by parents who don't want their child seeing it. It delivers the same message that every family is special and all families love one another. I read The Family Book for a story time one time and I was hesitant at first because I was concerned about upsetting people. However, there were a few tenants that I always stand by at my story times, which is what ultimately got me to read it: 1) Everyone is welcome at my story times. 2) I knew for a fact I had some children who attend my story times who have two moms or two dads and I want them to feel included and valued. 3) I work at a public library for pete's sake. I can always stand by intellectual freedom. 4) If anyone really did get mad, I knew my boss would support me and they're free to leave. After that story time, only one family did leave, but they left quietly and I haven't seem them since.

Teacher's should consider books such as And Tango Makes Three and The Family Book because it's important to have these discussions with children about our families and what makes them great.