Archive for February, 2008

book review

Look! Seeing the Light in Art by Gillian Wolfe

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Mellow, gleaming, cloudy, flashing, electric…all words associated with the use of light in art.  These words and many others describing forms of light can be found on the endpapers of this fabulous book, which showcases paintings from artists famous and not-so-famous.  Simple descriptions accompany each painting , along with an exploration of how each artist used light to create another dimension in their work.   The author also makes looking at the art in the book a participatory experience, asking questions of the reader about the paintings and giving suggestions for further explorations of both the artwork and the concepts.  For example, readers will surely find the painting Three Worlds by M.C. Escher, used to introduce the concept of light reflection, fascinating.  The author gives a simple description of the painting, and asks the reader to guess why it’s entitled “Three Worlds”.  The reader is then directed to find other examples of reflected light in the book and to name some surfaces which are good for reflecting light.  It isn’t often that such a great book about art that is also appropriate for the younger reader comes along, so be sure to check this one out! 

(Lane library info here)

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book some fun

Book some fun with a fish named Swimmy!

First, read the classic picture book Swimmy by Leo Lionni (Lane Library info here) and find out just how fun swimming and cooperating can be.   If you have fish at home, gather everyone around and watch them swim.  Very relaxing!

After you have read the book with your child, get ready for some fun Swimmy activities.   First talk with your child about cooperation and how important it is to work together.  Then help them cut several red fish and one black fish out of construction paper (or use white paper and then color the fish with crayons).  Turn to the page in the book where the fish work together to form one large fish shape.  Guide your child in using the small cutout fish to make one giant fish, just like in the book.  Ask your child to count them as you place the fish in formation.  Now gather up some paint and bubble wrap and get ready to make your own Swimmy.  Draw (or help your child draw) a large fish shape onto heavy paper.  Pour various colors of paint (or use foam paint) onto paper plates.   With your child, dip large pieces of bubble wrap into the paint, then gently press them onto the fish shape.  Be careful not to overload the bubble wrap with paint–you don’t need much!  The bubble wrap’s shape will give the effect of scales on the fish.  Be sure to let the fish dry thoroughly.  Then do fishy theater!  Tape a craft stick or small ruler to your child’s fish to make it into a puppet and watch it swim away!  If you need a fishy snack during the puppet show, try yummy Goldfish crackers.

Have fun “getting Swimmy with it”!

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2008 notable books for children

Each year the group known as ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) issues a list of the “best of the best” books published for children ages birth through 14.  Click here to see the list for 2008.  Be sure to check for availability of these titles at the Lane Library website, or call the children’s department at 894-1409, and we will be happy to check on titles for you.  Happy reading!

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book review

Pick Me Up by DK Publishing

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Subtitled “Stuff you need to know”, this book is chock full of the kind of information and factoids kids love.  There is no need to worry about reading this book from cover to cover.  Instead encourage your child to open the book to any page and just start reading.  The book is organized into eight color coded sections that cover just about every topic under the sun, so if a reader does want to find out about a particular topic they can check either the “Where to Find Stuff” guide in the beginning of the book, or check the index at the back of the book.   But the true fun of this book is in its internet-like format.  Each page has several ‘links’–words that are underlined, with a page number listed right after the word where, if the reader turns to that page, they can find out more about that topic.  For example, the section on the five senses (with the information presented as a mystery to be solved by Mister Holmes the detective dog) contains ‘links’ to other subjects such as dogs, foods, the brain, and organs, and the section on superpowers ‘links’ to gravity, China, Rome, skyscrapers, fashion, and movie stars.  What young reader can resist the chance to learn enough factoids to fill an entire conversation?  Older and adult readers willlove this book too, as the call of interesting trivia is nearly impossible to ignore, making this book a reading experience for the whole family.  The colorful and graphic layout creates an extremely attractive and modern look for this book, and the many photos, graphs, illustrations, and maps will strongly appeal to readers as well.  Be sure to “pick up” this book, just be aware that readers of all ages won’ t be able to put it back down!

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early literacy

Before a child can learn to read, he or she needs to understand that there is a connection between the sounds they hear and the letters they see on a page.  Of course, the first step is this process is learning to say and write the alphabet.  But letter awareness is not enough, a child also needs to hear how letters sound and connect those sounds to the written symbols.  Here are some activities that may help your child begin to associate the letter sounds they hear with the written language they see.

  • Make the alphabet a tactile experience.  Construct letters from sand paper, macaroni, clay, or even pennies.  Say the letter sound with your child as they touch and feel each letter.
  • Make the letters of the alphabet a constant topic of conversation with your child.  Point out and sound out letters and words on signs, toys, in stores and restaurants, on cereal boxes.
  • Have a set of letters, magnetic or otherwise, available for your child to play with around the house.  Match up letters with objects (t for table, c for cat), and be sure to say the word and its beginning sound aloud.  Use the letters to make words, and encourage your child to make words as well.  Nonsense words are fine here, you are concentrating on combining the written word with the appropriate sounds.  Just be sure to read the words you make aloud.
  • Read to your child.  Every so often, place your finger under the words as you are reading, to show the child that you are not reading the pictures, but the written symbols on the page.

Have fun helping your child learn to read!

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web review

Inside Art

Young art lovers will enjoy this adventure into art history.  The site focuses on four paintings and artists.  In a choose-your-own-adventure style game, readers answer questions about the featured artwork and artists, which in turn dictates where on the site the reader will go next.  This allows kids to get personal with the artwork in a fun way, engaging their imaginations and teaching them many facts about art at the same time.  Art lovers, be sure to give this one a try!

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book review

Buzz by DK Publishing

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The buggy fun starts with the cover of this book, and doesn’t stop until the last page.  The cover has three circles that temptingly say ‘Smash Me’, ‘Squash Me’, and ‘Squish Me’.  When pressed, the buttons make appropriate bug sounds.   Inside a reader will find wonderful photography, detailed sketches, and a plethora of cool facts about several different kinds of insects.   Readers will find games, quizzes, and more as well, making this book an entertaining and interactive choice for any bug lover out there.  (Lane Library info)

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