Posts tagged ‘Friday Feature’

Grandparent’s Day with Grand Books

In honor of Grandparent’s Day last month, I compiled a list of picture books featuring grandparents. I then promptly got sicker than a dog for the entire month of September with allergies and assorted other ailments, missed three days of work, and completely forgot to post it. I thought about waiting and posting it next year, but there really isn’t any reason to do that. So here it is as a Friday Feature, a month late and a dollar short, isn’t that how the saying goes? Obviously this list isn’t all inclusive, so leave some of your favorite books featuring grandparents in the comments section below.

Nana in the CityTitle: Nana in the City
Author/Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
ISBN: 9780544104433
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2014

Lauren Castillo’s vibrant watercolor illustrations (recognized by the Caldecott Committee for an honor earlier this year) portray fall in the unnamed city with visual illusions to New York. A small boy visits his grandmother and spends the night, at first fearful of the sounds and sights surrounding him. Nana stays up knitting him a “fancy red cape” to wear on their walk as he realizes that the city isn’t so scary after all. In a touching scene, the boy bestows the cape to Nana, probably thinking she needs it more than he does. But Castillo’s pictures show an active and independent elder who relishes the loud and busy nature of the city. The phrases “The city is busy, the city is loud” repeat at the beginning and end of the story, but they take on new mean by the end. The tale of the city mouse and country mouse has been updated for modern times, with succinct and descriptive language perfect for story times involving fall, cities, knitting or nanas.

Last Stop on Market StreetTitle: Last Stop on Market Street
Author: Matt De La Pena
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
ISBN: 9780399257742
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, published by the Penguin Group, c2015.

Full review can be read here.

My ElephantTitle: My Elephant
Author/Illustrator: Petr Horacek
ISBN: 9780763645663
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2009

I asked Grandpa to play ball with me, but he was too busy.
I went to see Grandma, but she was too busy too.
So I asked my ELEPHANT if he wanted to play with me.

One read-headed boy occupies his time at his grandparents by playing with his elephant. It’s not his fault that the elephant messed up the flower bed and the hallway, splashed water all over the bathroom floor, knocked over the orange juice and ate all the cupcakes. Regardless of how imaginary the elephant might be, it a truth commonly ignored that not every visit to the grandparents goes off without a hitch. I love that the elephant is drawn in scribbled crayon, make his imaginary state all the more obvious alongside the more solidly colored (painted/collaged?) characters and setting.

Knuffle Bunny FreeTitle: Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9780061929571
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, c2010.

Trixie is visiting her “Oma” and “Opa” in Holland, which is far away. She’s bringing her trusty Knuffle Bunny with her, but if anyone has seen the previous two books, Knuffle Bunny typically has difficulty ending up staying with Trixie. Trixie is sad for a while, but realizes maybe she is growing up and Knuffle Bunny might make some other children happy. Then something unexpected happens that proves her right.
One really big plus with this book is that it’s not Grandma and Grandpa that Trixie visits, but Oma and Opa. Many children have their own names for their grandparents, and being able to find books that use different titles to compare and contrast and lead discussions can be difficult. The fold-out sequence featuring kids in different places is also a nice discussion prompt, but it does make it difficult to use for read-aloud, especially when sharing outdoors on a windy day which I did recently. (As a side note, I remarked that the wind was fighting me and one kid quipped in all seriousness that I should “fight back”.) It shows an all too common occurrence in a child’s life of outgrowing a beloved toy and that it’s okay to grow up and discover new things to enjoy. There is a note to Trixie that is included after the book says “the end” which I usually skip when doing story times, but I heard a couple of parents who have read the story sharing with parents who haven’t. Maybe I’ll start including it, since the parents who are familiar with it seem to get so much joy out of it. It shows Trixie growing up, starting a family and one day receiving a package with a special someone inside for her little toddler to enjoy. This may become one of those stories that, like Knuffle Bunny, gets passed around when the time is right to those who need it.

I'm Not Sleepy!Title: I’m Not Sleepy!
Author/Illustrator: Jane Chapman
ISBN: 9781561487653
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Good Books, c2012. (originally published in English by Little Tiger Press, c2012.)

Grandma Owl carries Mo up to the top of the tree and settles him in for bed. But Mo isn’t sleepy, and Grandma is pulled from her book time and again with requests for a snack, and tucking in, and maybe even playtime. Grandma tells Mo that since he isn’t sleepy and someone has to go to sleep at bedtime, maybe he should put her to bed. All that flying back and forth tuckers him out, just in time for bedtime. The large feathery faces never change, only the eyes and beak and body carry the weight of expressing the love and support the two show for each other. The repeating refrain of “Hop…Jump… Flutter… FLUMP!” as Grandma and eventually Mo ascend to the nest at the top of the tree grounds the story, and makes a nice chorus for read aloud groups. I was slightly disappointed in the illustrations, as although the words describe fading stars and retreating bats, the pictures are solely focused on Grandma and Mo and the end page shows a decidedly nighttime scene when everyone knows owls sleep during the day. It’s still a sweet bedtime story that should be shared with your own owlet.

Silas' Seven GrandparentsTitle: Silas’ Seven Grandparents
Author: Anita Horrocks
Illustrator: Helen Flock
ISBN: 9781551435619
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Orca Book Publishers, c2010

And when Silas’ mom and dad decided to go away for a few days on a business trip, seven grandparents invited Silas to stay with them.

Is there such a thing as too many grandparents? Silas is only one boy after all, and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by picking one over the other. Nana likes to look at stars, Oma and Opa like to work in the garden and feed the birds, Gamma and Papa like to swim and let him drive the golf cart, and Granny and Grandad took him fishing and canoeing. So instead, he invites all seven of his grandparents to come stay with him. Silas’s collection of multicultural grandparents give the impression of the elderly in all shapes and sizes leading active lifestyles in very different and unique settings. While not every grandparent is as energetic as the ones portrayed, it does spread an important message that you can never have too much love or too many memories of your times together.

Look Back!Title: Look Back!
Author: Trish Cooke
Illustrator: Caroline Binch
ISBN: 9781566569804
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Crocodile Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., c2014. (originally published in the United Kingdom by Paillote Press)

”Well,” Grannie said, “I have heard that Ti Bolom is short, short, short, his foot long, long, long and flat, flat, flat. He has a big head and two big, black eyes and when you walking alone at night, minding your own business, Ti Bolom walks behind you,
pattaps pattaps…
huh huh huh.
But when you turn around… he’s not there. He’s gone!” (unpaged)

After hearing the story of Grannie’s attempts to catch the illusive Ti Bolom when she was living in Dominica in a young child, Christopher attempts to do the same. For such a climatic and engaging story, Christopher’s shortened equivalent version falls flat and provides an anticlimactic ending. I feel like the whole tale would have been stronger if they had left out Christopher’s part, and ended with the uncertainty of where Ti Bolom could be. The drawings are filled with vibrant colors, lifelike down to the wrinkles and muscles and the individual braids and curls on the children’s heads. The dialect is also strong in the narration, mimicking that of an oral story-teller. If done properly, this might make a good story to tell instead of read, or break into a reader’s theatre opportunity. The call and response might have to be prefaced or explained to audiences unfamiliar with that story telling technique.

Tea Cakes for ToshTitle: Tea Cakes for Tosh
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
ISBN: 9780399252136
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2012.

Tosh loves when his grandma Honey bakes her golden tea cakes, from a recipe passed down from when his grandma’s grandma’s grandma was a slave cook on a plantation. But then grandma Honey starts forgetting things, like where she parked the car, a phone number, and even the ingredients for the beloved tea cakes. But luckily Tosh has already been taught how to make them, and helps Honey remember the story behind the tradition. An important lesson of learning traditions, recipes, and family history before you are no longer able to learn those stories, but also an introduction for young children to the concept of Alzheimer’s and memory loss. A recipe is included in the back if any readers feel inclined to taste a piece of history.

Gentleman Bat

We’re kicking off October with a Friday Feature! Friday Features are an irregular occurrence on my blog that include things other than book reviews, something a little extra. This might include author interviews (hint to any authors out there who want to get interviewed), bibliographies, book trailers and program ideas. While I’m not limiting myself to talk about these things just on Fridays, it will be something extra special to finish off the work week.

I’m so excited to bring you an interview I conducted a very long time ago with Piotr Parda, illustrator of The Gentleman Bat. I read it a while back and was so entranced by his artwork that I had to contact him, but I had always planned on kicking off the month of bats, costumes, and the unexplained with this Friday Feature. So thank you to Piotr Parda for answering my questions and for being so patient with the publication of his answers.

Gentleman BatTitle: The Gentleman Bat
Author: Abraham Schroeder
Illustrator: Piotr Parda
ISBN: 9780991386604
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Ripple Grove Press, c2014.

Victorian inspired costumes are donned by a bat and his beau in a nighttime stroll. Schroeder’s rhyming couplets are descriptive and set the scene and direction for Parda’s detailed illustrations. It tells the tale of a “gentleman bat” who meets his date, they dance the night away in the public square, and then return to their respective homes in the rain, under the cover of the gentleman’s umbrella. While the story is sweet, more mood then mayhem, the phenomenal pictures inevitably steal the show. After you pour over them on your own, you can glimpse at the process and find a list of Easter eggs to discover, prompting additional returns to the book. A coworker pointed out that the clothes even have slits to accommodate the bat’s long wings and their attachment to the shorter bat legs. In the final scene, where the bat is tucking himself in for the night, his nightcap has slits for his ears so it stay on his head even when he’s hanging upside down. A great book to share with a group, but also take the time to share one on one so everyone can get a close look at this detailed debut for both author and illustrator.

I had the opportunity to speak with illustrator Piotr Parda about his work and creative process:

  • First, did you do any research regarding bat anatomy before starting? How did building the model pictured on the book’s website aid in your illustration efforts?

It’s safe to say that the research was the larger (or longer) part of the work than completing the illustrations. It was mostly about finding some good solutions to the problems that come with drawing the  anthropomorphic (human shaped) bats: how to make them able to walk, dance and gesture despite of the wings being the most dominant part of their bodies but most of all what would be the best way to design some fancy clothes for them. As you know the wing membrane stretches right from the bat’s ankle all the way to the tip of its pinky. No way a bat could put on a pair of human pants! There is a huge amount of bat related material on the internet and we saw all of it. The wire toy I built for reference was supposed to help me with arranging the poses. It was like one of those little wooden dolls artists use for anatomy drawing, except bat shaped. Strangely enough, once my ‘action figure’ was ready, drawing poses came naturally and I rarely had to resort to looking at my doll-bat. It is also very helpful to me personally when I try to imagine that I myself am the creature I draw.  Since the skeleton of the bat is based on the same “template” as the human one, it wasn’t hard to imagine my fingers stretched far enough to support my weight in flight. Believe or not the wings of the bat bend the same way human fingers do. If you saw me working, you would notice that I’m looking at my fingers a lot.

  • Readers see a significant amount of everyday items created specifically for bat use, such as the scissors and the beetle pets. We also see the bats wearing glasses and monocles, a vendor selling ear plugs, and adapted clothing. What sort of collaboration was there between you and the author when designing these details?

Yes, all bats are sporting some eye-ware in our book. They are bats! Wearing earplugs might be a stretch because for a bat it would be an equivalent of a blindfold. But because the glasses help them see, maybe the earplugs would’t affect their orientation in space too much.

(EDIT from blogger: I guess it’s my mistake, as I thought the vendor was selling ear plugs. I’ll have to go back and take a third – or is it fourth – look at the book.)

Once we knew we are going to create a story about humanoid bats, the ideas and quirky jokes came down like an avalanche. Abraham would pitch some ideas to me and I would tell him if they are possible to draw – for me at least. I was sketching some of my own ideas and Abraham would tell me if it resonates with his vision or not. There is still a lot of details that could’t be drawn but we feel as if they are included in the story: there are coins with profiles of some prominent historical bats featured on them, there is a lot of different bat snacks with candied bugs and there is bat jewelry. I had to try very hard to avoid drawing bat gloves for obvious reasons. We were exchanging ideas via e-mail mostly. One time we’ve spent nearly an hour on Skype to figure out the umbrella scene. Waving umbrellas in front of the computer and taking screen shots was the best way.

  • Quite frequently books featuring smaller characters (like the Borrowers or the Littles) show every day items made from adapted materials (like a table from an empty spool). There is no such adaptation seen in your photos. The chaise lounge is a chaise lounge, and not a matchbox filled with tissue or cotton balls. Were you ever tempted to go that route, and what prompted you to make this world more “realistic”?

We eliminated this kind of depiction right from the start. Our bats, the inhabitants of the town called Batford, are the masters of their own world. Even though they might still be the size of an average vampire bat, their world matches their size, not the other way around. It’s an alternate universe in which the vampire bats evolved into talking, singing, dancing and clothes wearing individuals. There are no humans to speak of in Batford. We also decided to avoid carriages being pulled by bunnies or squirrels. Mini bat-horses would be simply too weird even in our scale of weirdness.

  • The methods and materials you use for this book are a sharp departure from the works found on your website. Was it a challenge to get the right “look”, and what impacted your final decision to use the methods you did?

When I show the books I illustrate to some of my old friends, they often exclaim: “So, this is the stuff you’re doing right now!”. Well, not exactly…

I’m used to this binary system in my work. When I feel like I’m getting tired of the disciplined and labor intensive illustration work,  I complete my deadlines and start working on my artwork ranging from building objects to creating moving images and abstract paintings. When in need of more focus, I come back to book illustration. For me there are no two projects that would require using the same medium. Why would there be? I like the idea of being “medium conscious”. For example if you were to print a book about saving trees, would you use paper or recycled plastic?

The technique for the bat book was inspired by the 1880 woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. The mood of this particular image was our basis for the technique from the beginning. Of course I haven’t had enough time or skills to work with traditional wood blocks but I used the next best thing: bamboo pen, ink and watercolor – tools often used for designing woodblock prints. There is no need to create woodblocks when faster and more accurate printing technologies are available, unless you are exploring the beauty of the old technique. I also found a lot of inspiration for my ink lines in some classic comic book titles such as “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” by Alan Moore, but also XIX century painting, victorian prints, some old illustrated stories such as “The Wind in The Willows” and Charles Dickens’ stories. Among the inspirations you can also find Peter Bruegel the Elder, architecture and street signs of Buenos Aires, architecture of Harvard Square and Beacon Hill,  architecture of London,  American cinema (“Singing in the Rain” and “Midnight”), British movies and TV shows. Even “Doctor Who”!

  • What does your workshop look like? Can you provide a picture?

I’m afraid a picture would be of no use right now. My desk at which I usually draw and do my computer work is quite messy at the moment, so is my work table. There is no way anyone could discern a pattern from this chaos. I guess I’m overdue for some discipline and focus. One thing is for sure: I did all my bat illustrations using a special pulley mechanism enabling me to hang up side down and of course it was all done in the light of a candle.

I may have made some of it up…

  • I read on your website that it took years to complete the book. Did you, the author, or the publisher ever get impatient with the process? How did you maintain your focus throughout? I understand you are friends with the author. Did your work on the book ever strain the friendship, or vice versa?

Talking for myself here, I never got impatient with the process as much as people around me did. (I’m laughing here a little) It took a lot of patience for them to put up with this little obsession.

Even though the author’s idea originated in 2006 (?) the work itself wasn’t continuous.  We were mostly fantasizing about the bat world, exchanging ideas and sketches. There were at least two versions of more or less finished Gentleman Bat before this one. What was different about this last version was that a brand new publishing house (Ripple Grove Press) bravely decided to make our story their first book to ever be published. What helps in regaining focus the most is a deadline. Since “The Gentleman Bat” was the very first product to launch a new company I knew that my work had to be as good as it can be. But no pressure… (there would be a wink and laughing here if I was talking)

In reality working on The Gentleman Bat was very pleasant and for the first time in my career I felt like I could take as much time as I needed to do my best. I welcomed all feedback from the author, the publishers and anybody else (even my parents) because it helped in creating even better work. I guess it’s what one would expect when a group of like-minded people works on something.

  • Are you planning on doing any other books in the future?

I would like to work on more books, yes, but I guess wanting to do something can’t really be called “planning”.  The Gentleman Bat was the first book created independently after abandoning the more stressful commission based work. Until then I wasn’t even sure if I would even get back to books.

If  I ever work on more books I will try to recapture the sense of creating something that doesn’t necessarily have to become the hit of the season but rather becomes one of those worn around the edges books that can be found on many bookshelves a hundred years from now. Something you could call “an old favorite”.


All pictures included in the interview are from the book’s website and I strongly encourage everyone to take a peak at large quantity of photos found there for a more in-depth behind the scenes experience. You can find out more about Piotr Parda and the other forms of artwork that he creates through his website.

Personally, I would suggest pairing Gentleman Bat with another old favorite, Stellaluna, for two very different looks at the bat world. For similar stories, readers might want to check out Lindbergh the Tale of the Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann which has equally detailed drawings of a small rodent trying to make a big impact, although his story is more traditionally set in the world of humans.

Friday Feature — Having a Ball!

Friday Features are an irregular occurrence on my blog that include things other than book reviews, something a little extra. This might include author interviews (hint to any authors out there who want to get interviewed), bibliographies, book trailers and program ideas. While I’m not limiting myself to talk about these things just on Fridays, it will be something extra special to finish off the work week.

I noticed a trend recently in picture books where balls played an important role in the story. So I gathered up some for my monthly visit to the local preschool and we had a ball!

Watch Me Throw the BallTitle: Watch Me Throw the Ball!
Author: Mo Willems
Series: Elephant and Piggie

Anyone who hasn’t heard of Elephant and Piggie by now who works with young children should run right out and grab one (or multiple titles). Elephant insists that it takes hard work to throw a ball, but Piggie has other ideas and extravagantly celebrates his success. Or, what he thinks is his success, since really the ball has been unintentionally thrown backwards and Piggie can’t see the result of his wind-up. Gerald does, and out of frustration finally gets Piggie to understand that the ball did not go around the world. Piggie though is unfazed, and he reassures Gerald that although he didn’t throw it far, he still had fun, with the subtle moral coming across loud and clear. Stick around for the surprise ending as Gerald then celebrates his “successful” ball throwing skills. Even the littlest kids understood what was going on and the room was filled with giggles at the realization that they were in on the joke.

BallTitle: Ball
Author/Illustrator: Mary Sullivan

This newly published book is less well-suited for story time in that it only features the single word title throughout all of its pages. However, the expressive illustration carry the story beautifully as a dog wakes a girl and plays with a ball repeatedly until the girl leaves for school, with a purple bag slung over her shoulder as the dog dejectedly looks on, ball hanging from its mouth. After soliciting the mother in a yoga pose and outfit, a baby in a bassinet who bursts into tears, and the cat who wants nothing to do with the dog, the dog finally drifts off to sleep and dreams of different scenarios featuring the well-loved toy. I’ll be honest, I skipped over those because I thought I would lose my younger audience with those scenes. Eventually, the dog pricks up its ears because, yes, thank you, the girl has finally returned and is more than happy to play with her pouch, ending the story with a satisfying “BALL!”

Duck and GooseTitle: Duck and Goose
Author/Illustrator: Tad Hills
Series: Duck and Goose

This is a not so new book that also allows readers to be in on the joke long before the title characters. Duck and Goose discover what they think is an egg, and after each tries to claim it as their own, the find themselves in a face off sitting on the spherical, spotted object. They finally find common ground as they talk about teaching whatever hatches how to fly and swim. A little blue bird disrupts their contemplative stance, but also points out that maybe things aren’t as they seem, especially to these oblivious animals. Friends are made in the end, and it’s quite obvious from the cover that this very obvious case of mistaken identity is improbable but enjoyable all the same.

Stick!Title: Stick!
Author: Andy Pritchett

Throwing kids a “curve ball” (the preschool staff laughed), I ended the story about a dog and his stick. Similar in scope to Ball, this book features only a half-dozen words that are repeated throughout the book. Pritchett’s brightly colored backgrounds and minimal details contrast nicely against Sullivan’s more muted pastel colored palette. The excitable dog (who reminds me of Snoopy with his white body and black floppy ears) offers a stick to a cow, a chicken, and a pig who all refuse his overtures for grass, worms, and mud respectively. Flopping down with a storm cloud over his head and a gray background, he throws the stick in frustration… and it comes back with a “Clunk!”. It’s another dog, this one brown, who joins the original character, and the other three animals soon join them after peering around the pages to see what the excitement is about. A satisfying “Friend?” ends the story with the animals playing a catch type game. The animals initial responses are shown in the book before the word is produced via a page turn, which gives I think offers kids a unique connection opportunity to see that they were right about the animal’s predicted response.

Books I didn’t use:
Peanut and Fifi Have a BallTitle: Peanut and Fifi Have a Ball
Author: Randall de Seve
Illustrator: Paul Schmid

While I love the idea of incorporating imagination into a story time, the color palette was very similar to Mary Sullivan’s Ball with the peach and soft blues making up most of the story. I loved the girls’ responses to each other, mimicking the fleeting nature of ideas as Fifi springs from one thought to the next, and Peanut is ever the realist until the very end. When trying to convince Peanut to share her ball, Fifi imagines it’s identity as a basketball, needing a hat, serving as a crystal ball, becoming dough, and finally balancing on the nose of a seal. Peanut’s responses, on the other hand, include “My ball doesn’t need a hat”, “Check the closet” and “Just a ball.” It would serve it’s purpose well on a rainy afternoon that requires imagination.

Ball for DaisyTitle: A Ball for Daisy
Author/Illustrator: Chris Raschka
This Caldecott winning wordless book was very similar to Ball and Stick in both its plot line (dog finds a friend to play with) and it’s language (it is wordless). Even the pictures of the dog are similar, with both Stick and A Ball for Daisy featuring a white dog with black ears making a new friend in the form of a brown dog. While the pictures are beautiful, I’d had enough of the limited vocabulary dog books, and decided to pass on this one and go for the newer titles that they hopefully hadn’t seen yet. That’s not to discount it, it was just too much of the same for this story time.

What books do you roll over about?

Friday Feature — Spot a Doggone Good Book Display

According to Chase’s Calendar, March 23rd is National Puppy Day. Although obviously not as well-known as maybe President’s Day or Thanksgiving, I thought it was a great opportunity to make a display for the month of March. The last couple years we’ve featured books with colors in the title with the theme “Reading through the Rainbow”, but thought we’d give that theme a rest this year and try something new. (I’ll try to find the picture that I know I took of that display and post it in the future.)

Since I can’t draw, a coworker of mine drew for me giant dalmatian dogs Pongo and Perdy from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. They served as “book ends” for a giant display case. We lined the case with white paper (the kind that comes in giant rolls) and then put colored paper behind the dalmatian cut-outs so they stood out from the white. We traced a pot lid onto black paper (the 11×17 size) and cut out black dots to scatter throughout the display. We also added some more black dots in smaller sizes, to provide dimension and contrast and just visual interest. Because the shelves for the display case are hard to install with a background paper, and because we only have so many shelves, we printed out color copies of books about dogs and stapled them up in the display case. The finished product looks amazing and I have to thank my coworker for completing the installation of it since we ran out of time and I was at a training meeting all the next day. Some of you might be able to identify the library by the display space, but I’m so proud of these that I love being able to share them with other people. There are sliding glass panels that somewhat obstruct the picture, but you get the general idea.

We’re also using this display to promote our program where kids can sign up to read to a certified therapy dog. Without further ado, our display, titled “Spot a Doggone Good Book”:

Due to the overabundance of dog books out there, I don’t think I really need to make a list. We were hard pressed to limit the number, as just off the top of my head I can think of Marley, Tintin’s Snowy, Clifford, Spot, Houndsley, Lassie, Ribsy, Dan and Ann in Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, and Old Yeller.

Friday Feature — Eye Catching Books Display

At one of the libraries I work at, I share responsibility for changing out the display spaces, a task that I absolutely LOVE. Even though I’m not artistic in the least bit, I have a lot of opportunities to do a play on words or puns and utilize my computer skills. Oh, Clip Art and Google Images, how I love thee, let me count the ways. Sometimes though, it’s as easy as copy and paste.

For instance, my latest and greatest creation: Eye Catching Books!

The titles pictured include (from left to right, top to bottom):
Island by Gordon Korman
There are no cats in this book by Viviane Schwarz
Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry
The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley
Last Dragon Chronicles series by Chris D’Lacey (Fire Within, IceFire, Fire Star, The Fire Eternal, Dark Fire, and Fire World) I couldn’t just choose one, since they are all so unique and different and beautiful.
Dinomummy : the Life, Death, and Discovery of Dakota, a Dinosaur from Hell Creek by Phillip Lars Manning
The Concise Dinosaur Encyclopedia by David Burnie
Paint by Magic by Kathryn Reiss
Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer (The title was changed to Time Travelers, which is much less original in my opinion, and the cover of the new book won’t fit the theme, but the original book has a gorgeous cover.)
Pirate’s Eye by Robert Priest
Time Flies by Eric Rohmann
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Cool painting : the Art of Creativity for Kids by Anders Hanson
Permanent Rose by Hilary McKay
The Capture by Kathryn Lasky
Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly
I Spy with My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs
Catalina Magdalena Hoopensteiner Wallendiner Hogan Logan Bogan Was Her Name by Arnold, Tedd
Cleopatra rules! : the Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Shecter
Face to Face with Frogs by Mark W. Moffett
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Dream of Night by Heather Henson
More Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya
The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses by Joanna Cole
Cleopatra by Adèle Geras

I had one of the pages help me with this one. For about a month, any time she ran across a cover with an eye on it, she’d show it to me before shelving it so I could record the title and author. Then, when I had a good list, I copied the cover art from our online catalog and pasted them into a Publisher document, enlarging it so each cover had its own page (except for the dragon series, which I made smaller in order to include them all). I printed them on the color printer and trimmed the edges. The letters were made from our die-cuts (wonderful device, die-cuts), but you could always create your own bubble letters to fit the size you need. There were a few other titles that we found, but I ran out of room so I picked the ones that enlarged and printed the clearest.

Personally, I think this was one of my most sucessful displays, as quite a few people asked for books from the bulletin board and even more stopped to look and admire the collection of titles.

I’ll be featuring more of my bulletin board displays from now on. For now, are you responsible for the display space in your library, and what has been your favorite bulletin board display?

Friday Feature – Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #7

This Friday Feature post concludes my process of posting all the questions that I developed for a set of book discussions based on the Harry Potter book series. Today, I’m featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series.

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the previous books? Then follow the links to the desired book:

This was the final book discussion, and also the smallest group, with only 15 youth participating in the discussion. That was actually a good thing, as it allowed everyone more time to discuss. Since the movie had been released in theatres by the time we hosted this discussion group, I had to stress to the participants that we were focussing on the book, and NOT the movie. Even still, several participants got sidetracked. For the most part, I think all the discussions went well, and the kids proved they had great memories and provided insightful feedback.

1. Were you surprised that Dudley told Harry “I don’t think you’re a waste of space.” Then he hugged him? How do you think Dudley felt about Harry? Do you think his parents influenced his opinion of his cousin? Why do you think Harry’s aunt and uncle disliked him so much? Do you think Harry was sad to leave?

2. Why do you think Harry is so against the plan to leave his house? Harry says “If you think I’m going to let six people risk their lives …” and Ron sarcastically responds “because it’s the first time for all of us.” (48-49) How do you think Harry feels about putting so many people’s lives in danger? Do you think his friends would be so willing to risk their lives if they were the only ones?

3. This book does not follow the format of the other books because Harry spends most of his time away from Hogwarts. Did you like this new way of presenting the story, or did you want to see what Harry did at Hogwarts after the Death Eaters took over?

4. How does the death of Dobby affect Harry? What was your reaction? Do you think he needed to die? Were you surprised by Kreecher’s actions at the end of the book?

5. Do you think Umbridge is willingly or knowingly working for the Death Eaters at the Ministry? Were you surprised that the Death Eaters were so successful in taking over so many places so quickly? Would you have resisted, and if so how?

6. Dumbledore has his own motives for being angry at Muggles, considering his sister’s resulting insanity. Are his reasons better or worse than Voldemort’s reasons for disliking Muggles? What happened to change Dumbledore’s impression of them?

7. Harry disagrees with Dumbledore when he says “I had proven, as a very young man, that power was my weakness and my temptation. It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” (718) What are your reactions to this quote? Do you think Dumbledore is true? Do you think he’s being too hard on himself? Do you think Harry was a good leader?

8. People have died in the series before this book, but there more deaths in this book then in any other book. Did you expect that many people to die? Who were you most disappointed to see die? Was there too much violence for a children’s book? Is the language appropriate for a children’s book?

9. Was anyone confused about the Horucruxes? How many were made total? Do you think the spells to make them influenced who Voldemort became?

10. Where do you think Harry ended up after he “died”? Harry asks Dumbledore “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” and Dumbledore answers “Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (723) What do you think? Were you surprised by the reactions that some people had when they saw Harry in Hagrid’s arms?

11. What did you think of the Epilogue, giving a glimpse into everyone’s lives nineteen years later? Did you want to know, or would you have rather guessed at what happened? Did things turn out the way you expected?

Friday Feature — Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #6

This Friday Feature post continues my process of posting all the questions that I developed for a set of book discussions based on the Harry Potter book series. Today, I’m featuring Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in the series.

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the previous books? Then follow the links to the desired book:

I was very careful when drafting these questions to avoid going into too much detail about the horcruxes, since some of them are left for the seventh book and readers still have questions at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

1. Dumbledore describes Horace Slughorn as someone who “likes the company of the famous, the successful, and the powerful. He enjoys the feeling that he influences these people. He has never wanted to occupy the throne himself; he prefers the backseat – more room to spread out, you see.” (74-75)

  • How does his attitude towards fame compare and contrast to Harry’s and Professor Lockhart’s attitude?
  • What do you think J.K. Rowling is trying to say about fame when she portrays it in these different ways?
  • Why does Slughorn want to surround himself with wizards he thinks will become famous, and what does he stand to gain from these relationships?

2. Why do Ginny, Hermione, and Mrs. Weasley dislike Fleur? Do their opinions of her change by the end of this book?

3. Luna tells Harry that she enjoyed the D.A. meetings because “It was like having friends.” (138) Do you think Luna is lonely? Do you think she acts the way she does on purpose? Why or why not? Would you want Luna as a friend?

4. Is Dumbledore right when he says that since he’s “rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly hunger.” (195) Do you think that applies to everyone? Are there other attributes besides cleverness that could affect the ramifications of a mistake?

5. Should Ron have become the Keeper for Gryffindorf? Should Hermione have cast a spell on McLaggen, the other person trying out for the Keeper position? Was Harry right in tricking Ron into thinking that he’d drank the lucky potion?

6. Dumbledore keeps putting off answering Harry’s questions about his whereabouts. Do you think he should have told Harry sooner? What did you think about Dumbledore inviting Harry along on his missions and searches for the Horcruxes?

7. Dumbledore asks Harry if he feels sorry for Voldemort. Do you feel sorry, or at least differently, about Voldemort after hearing about his upbringing? If you were Harry, would you admit it if you did feel sorry?

8. We see a lot more romance in this book that in previous books. Tonks and Lupin at the end of the book, Bill and Fleur are engaged, Hermione asks Ron to be her guest at the Slug Club party but then takes someone else to make him mad, and Harry finally kisses Ginny. Was Ron a coward for not making the first move? When did you suspect Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny might have liked each other? Did you ever think Harry and Hermione would end up together? Was Harry right in worrying about their friendship?

9. Should they have closed Hogwarts? Would you have wanted to attend Hogwarts with everything that was going on during that time?

10. Dumbledore asks Harry “If Voldemort had never heard of the prophecy, would it have been fulfilled? Would it have meant anything? […] Do you think every prophecy in the Hall of Prophecy has been fulfilled? […] The prophecy does not mean you have to do anything.” (510-512) How would you respond to these questions? Do you think the prophecy predetermined Harry’s and Voldemort’s actions?

11. Were you surprised that J.K. Rowling killed Dumbledore? Were you surprised Snape was the one that killed him? Were you surprised that Harry’s suspicions against Snape and Malfoy finally proved right? Should Harry have kept the good luck potion for himself? Discuss.


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