Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Squirrel's World - Activity Adventures

Come on! There's loads of nutty fun to be had at the Castle today!

Hello Again, Good Friends. 

Today is packed with bunches of fun things to do and places to explore. Get your bag of nuts or popcorn, some crayons and paper and let's go. Oh, and afterward, why don't you go outside for Squirrel's favorite game of Hide and Seek? Whoo-hooo!

Discussion Questions:

Read the story again and answer some of these questions--
Was Squirrel very helpful to mouse? Why or why not?
Did Squirrel’s game seem fun to turtle? What games to you think a turtle would rather play?
Why did rabbit want the lily pad? Do you think it was useful once he did get it? 

----Explore the World of Squirrels----

National Geographic Site has some great pictures of squirrels and information about different kinds and habitats they live in. 

Click the link above and you'll see pictures and videos of a mother squirrel as she cares for her young over a period of a few weeks. A squirrel made a nest in the fire escape grill of this man's apartment. He has been watching and filming this wonderful opportunity to experience a real gift of nature. 

Make Your Own Squirrel Book:
Either print out a coloring picture of  a squirrel, or go to Enchanted Learning for a printable of a squirrel. Create a small booklet by folding a few sheets of paper in half and using the squirrel printout for the front. Let children write notes and draw pictures on what they have learned about squirrels during their on-line explorations. 

 -----Crafty Ideas----- 

 This cute squirrel only requires a pinecone and some pompoms and pipe cleaners. You could also simply cut out a paper circle for the head and oval for the tail. Make it fun and easy. Check out the link for instructions on how to make this cute fella. 

These little guys will make for a fun game of Find the Nut. You'll need felt and egg cartons to make this. Click the link for detailed instructions. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Squirrel's World - Book Introduction

Squirrel's World (Candlewick Readers)

44 pages in hardback
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2929-8

Written by Lisa Moser
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
Fiction beginner chapter book - 4 Chapters

Summary from the book:
Squirrel’s well-meaning attempts to help his forest friends do not always turn out as planned.

The Queen's Take:
I smiled all the way through this book. The squirrel's bouncy dialogue and Moser's bouncy text had me experiencing the rashness of this impulsive little rodent. After seeing many of these playful critters in my own castle yard, I have to say the author was dead on in her characterization. 

Squirrel goes from one mishap to another as he helps his friends--whether they want it or not. The repetitive words and phrases will make word recognition easy for beginning readers. The silliness will keep them engaged, and the beautiful watercolor pictures are appealing to the eye. This is a "big kids" book, little ones should be able to tackle after a few guided reading sessions.

Discussion Questions While Reading:
1. Is Squirrel really helping his friends, or making things worse?
2. Why do you think they don't get angry at Squirrel? Would you feel angry?
3. It seems Squirrel's friends are very patient with him, knowing he means well. What do you think "patience" means and how can you show patience with other people who bother you?
4. Do you know of anyone in your life who is patient with you?

Return on Wednesday, and I'll offer a few tips and games to help children get acquainted with the words and some other fun activities to encourage learning and exploration. 

Happy Reading!
The Queen

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bookish Delights - Royal News Announcements

Good Friday, dear friends,
So the mysterious Pottermore site opened up with an announcement from JK Rowling herself laying out her "new plan." 

According to Publisher's Weekly, Rowling stated that her Pottermore web site would be a "portal to get additional stories and information about the Harry Potter universe, as well as the sold place to buy heretofore unavailable e-book editions of the Potter titles."

Sounds like Rowling is jumping on the e-book wagon like many other authors who wish to have control, and more profit, from their works. The books are reportedly supposed to be available in multiple formats, yet nobody is sure at this time what that means. Nor are they sure how this will eventually effect the future of book publishing. I'm intrigued and interested to see what happens.

The site will not officially open until later this year. However, you can sign up now to get informed and possibly be on the forefront of helping this happen. Check out the Pottermore site for more information.

Books for Boys - Children's Adventure & Mystery Author Max Elliot Anderson

I came across this site the other day and just want to bring it to your attention. If you have boys, and we know how difficult it is to get those young princes interesting in the written word. There are dragons out there to hunt and black Knights to war.

Anyway, Max Elliot's goal is to reach out to young boys with his books. Though I haven't had a chance to read any of his work, and hence, I'm not endorsing his books at this point, I do wish to bring his site to your attention. Check out his video and take a look at what he has to offer. Maybe it'll be something that will peak your young warrior's interest.

One Last Tidbit: Winnie the Pooh will be in theater's July 15th
I will always be a big fan of anything from Beatrice Potter, and all Winnie the Pooh tales.

So, I just noticed that the Disney is releasing a new movie version of this beloved tale. I'm not sure if it will have the enduring quality of the original, but young children probably wont care.

Before this movie comes out, go find a copy of A.A. Milne's book. (Here's a few possibilities)


After reading this delightful book with your children, go to the official movie website for Winnie the Pooh and have a look around. There are games and other interactive activities to do while you are there. Afterward, go out and find a creek to play a game of Sticks with your kids. It's sure to be a wonderful time.

Happy Reading,
The Queen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reading Readiness: Tips for Your Young Child

Children who are provided with plentiful reading opportunities are more likely to succeed and go further in school than those who don’t have reading materials provided at home. This is a finding by the International Survey Center and University of Nevada, Reno, United States, in the article; Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations (2010). 

Good reading habits start in the home. It doesn’t matter what kind of educational background parents or caregivers have, what matters is what a parent does to promote a love of reading before their child starts school. Helping a child toward being a skillful reader requires a few simple steps and habits that will lead them toward being an enthusiastic learner.

From just a few months of age, children want to explore everything and will look at pictures, listen to your voice and point to objects that interest them. Helping toddlers associate pictures with words is a big step in their understanding words relate to things. Point out signs you pass by while driving and read as many words as you encounter.

Read every day to your child. This can’t be stressed enough.  Books help stimulate a child’s imagination so that they can see the world outside of themselves. Toddlers are so self-centered, reading stories and talking about what the character is feeling and thinking helps them to realize other people have feelings, too. 

Activity: Reading Free-choice
Allow your child to pick out the books they want to read. If they pick out difficult books, you can still help them with picture reading and picking out words they do recognize. Listen when your child reads a book. No, they will not actually be reading words at this age, but they will mimic what they’ve heard you read, and they will read the pictures. Ask questions as they read.

“What is the puppy doing here?”
“What do you think he’s digging for?”
“Does he look happy/sad? Why?”

Talk about what they see and ask them what they think. This stimulates their reasoning skills and helps them to relate to what’s happening in the book, showing them how to be an active reader. 

Pre-School Age
When your child reaches 3 to 5 years of age, their curiosity about the world is at a staggering height. Feed that curiosity by letting them do things with you, especially those things that require reading. Cooking a cake requires reading the recipe. Show your child the back of the box. Most have pictures of what is needed. Help them to find the word eggs that will match the picture of the eggs. Continue the word and picture association which reinforces that words have meanings. Now is the time to add letters to their learning. Letters make up words that have meaning in our world.

Activity: It’s in the Name
Young children love seeing their names and knowing that word belongs to them.

Card-stock or cardboard paper
Pencils, crayons, markers
Macaroni, beans, glitter, sequins or other small crafty objects

Start by printing an outline of your child’s name in either dashes or using a yellow highlighter. Allow them to trace the letters. They must say each letter as they write it. Once their name is written, allow them “write” the letters with small beads of glue. Younger children will need help. Make sure they say each letter as they add the glue. Now, let them decorate their name with the macaroni, beans or whichever item you’ve chosen. Once their creation is dry, hang somewhere where they can run their fingers over the letters and repeat them over and over.

Let them make their whole names. The more letters they begin to recognize, the closer they are to memorizing the alphabet, which is a big first step in reading readiness.  

Simple, fun activities done throughout the summer will help your child be ahead of the game when school starts in the fall. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week Three at the Library: Books To Movies

This week, the Castle Library will  not be hosting a book. Instead, the Queen as decided to post a few news tidbits and articles to help jump start your summer book adventures.

JK Rowling seems to be up to some new tricks at her new site Pottermore. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know what they are. Yet in true Rowling fashion, she will keep us in suspense until sometime Thursday. Being a big fan of Harry Potter, and waiting on edge... well, just waiting eagerly, for the last installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows this July 15th... I'm curious.

Which, I believe, is what she is hoping for. Check out the You Tube page for the count-down to her announcement.

Other Books Going to the Movies:

Judy Moody movie  was just released, or soon to be in a theater near you. I'm really looking forward to seeing this one. I've read a few of the Judy Moody books and found them extremely cute and fun to read.

So, check out a few of Megan McDonald's hilarious books this summer, then go off to see the movie.  Check out the Judy Moody website as well for some activities and games to print and play.

Later this Year: 
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, written by Brian Selznick, is scheduled to come out as a movie in December 2011. 

This was the most fascinating book I've read in a long time. It's over two inches thick, but most of the story is told in wonderfully drawn pencil sketches. I've never encountered anything like it before, even in a graphic novel.

Keep your eyes open for the movie release, and check out the book this summer.

Check out Hugo Cabret website at scholastic for more information and fun facts about the book.

Come back Wednesday for some ideas on how to make reading fun this summer.

Queen Jackie

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nubs- The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle - Authors

Welcome back to the Author's Arena. On Monday, I introduced you to the story about the Iraqi war-dog named, Nubs. On Wednesday, we had some Activity Adventures. Today, I will introduce you to the fine Noble-people who put this book together. Enjoy! 

BRIAN DENNIS is a major in the Marines who now lives in San Diego, California with Nubs. He found Nubs while on duty in Iraq, and after the two became friends, Major Dennis worked it out so Nubs could come live with him in California. Learn more about them in the picture book: Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle.

Here is part of an interview with Nubs and Major Dennis on the Today Show.

KIRBY LARSON  is the acclaimed author of the 2007 Newbery Honor book Hattie Big Sky. Her most recent title is Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival, co-written with Mary Nethery. Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington. Click on her name to check out her website.

MARY NETHERY is a New York Times bestselling author of many picture books, including Hannah and Jack, Mary Veronica's Egg, and Orange Cat Goes to Market. Mary lives in Eureka, California. She and Larson have worked together to work on several books. You can also click the link on her name to visit her site. Look under the Kid's tab for printable coloring pages from her books.


I hope you've enjoyed the book Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle and all the fun activities adventures. Please feel free to leave comments and let me know your thoughts on the book and the activities.  I'd love to hear some of discussion thoughts and writing prompts, or share pictures of the pancakes you made.

Happy Reading.
Queen Jackie

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nubs- The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle: Activities

Adventure Activity Wednesday

What does it mean to be loyal? 

Welcome back good subjects.
I hope you enjoyed the book about Nubs. Today, there are some grand adventures to be had. Read on, good subjects, read on!

For Younger Readers: Pre-school- 2nd grades
Nubs loved pancakes. Let's make a batch of pancake batter and pour into a squeeze bottle, like those used for ketchup and mustard. Pour batter in the shapes of dogs, a bone, paw prints and even cats. Have fun, but take care of the hot pan and make sure an adult helps with the actual cooking of the pancakes. 

For Older Readers: 3rd - 6th grades
Every good reader needs a Reading Journal where you write about the books you've read. I challenge you this summer, both parents and kids alike, to grab any notebook and let's do some fun writing activities together. Start by writing the book's title at the top of the page, along with a summary of the story's main idea. If you aren't sure, go back to Monday's post, because I gave what I think is an excellent summary. You may use it.

This time. Next time, I'm confident you will be able to write one of your own. =0)

Here's what I want you to do:
There's an organization called SPCA: Operation Baghdad Pup that was set up to help rescue animals in war-torn countries. Click the link and spend some time checking out the sight and what they are about.

Writing Prompt #1
The SPCA is all about helping animals thrive and survive. Click the side tab Success Stories and read about some of the dogs that have been rescued from the war zones. After reading, answer some of the questions below:

  • How are ways we can respect animals? 
  • What should you do when you see an animal being treated cruelly? 
  • Have you ever met a stray? 
  • Have you ever seen others mistreat an animal? 
  • What did you do? 

Write about your experiences. 

Writing Prompt #2
Pick one of the Success Stories and write the story from the dog or cat's point of view, as you would imagine it. Would you be scared of the big soldiers? Or curious? Why would you have followed them? What do you think it would be like living on a military base? Would you think and act like one of the soldiers? What do you think it would feel like to ride on a plane? Animals travel in a crate. Would you be frightened? And how would you feel to arrive in your new home where there probably isn't any sand, or bombs going off?

Have fun with this. And make some pancakes, to!

Come back Friday to the Author's Arena to meet the Grand Knights behind Nubs, The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle. 

Happy Reading Adventures,
The Queen

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nubs:The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle - Book Introduction

Book Introduction

Grab the tissue box for this one, friends. No matter how many times the Queen read this book, a lump formed in her throat and those tears would flood her eyes when she came to the part where Nubs arrives in his new home. Yep, every time. The Queen is a softie at heart. 
Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031605318X

Story told by: Major Brian Dennis   Written by: Kirby Larson   Photography: Mary Nethery

This true account of a Marine and his friendship with the Iraqi war-dog Nubs. Here, my friends, is a story with lots of take away value and a bounty of discussion possibilities. 

The premise behind the story: How far would you go to find a friend?

A marine in Iraq befriends a stray dog despite U.S Military General Order 1A, which forbids American soldiers and Marines in war zones from taking action to rescue and care for animals in distress. When Major Dennis was told he must get rid of the dog, he begins a rescue mission to save the stray. 

Nubs- so called because of his cut ears- was a dog for war; fierce, wild and trained to fight. Yet this same dog chose to love and live in peace. He became so attached to Major Dennis he followed his unit 70 miles across the desert to be with him. Amazing story. Dog lovers will need tissue! And plenty of them.

Check out this video trailer about the book. Later, I'll share more videos from this touching story and others like it. Come back Wednesday for Adventure Activities to learn more.

The Queen's Take:
Even those who come from bad circumstances can choose the higher road. Nubs wanted to be with Major Dennis and followed him 70 miles across the dessert. Major Dennis could have chased away the dog, but chose instead to help. He raised money to send the dog home. 

Discussion Questions:
1. How do you feel about the Military's stand on not allowing soldiers to rescue and keeps dogs?
2. How far do you think you would travel to reach a friend?
3. What does it mean to be a true friend?
4. Who do you have in your life that you would call a true friend? 

Come back Wednesday for more activities and to learn about an organization called, SPCA International and what the are doing to help soldiers rescue their canine and feline friends from the war zone. 

Friday, in the Author's Arena, meet Major Dennis, Kirby Larson and  Mary Nethery, who worked together to put this great story together. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

David Wiesner- Author and Illustrator

Author’s Arena

Welcome back, good subjects of the Queen,
I do hope you found great treasures in this fine book, Art and Max, and that your adventures took you to wonderful places on Wednesday. Today, we enter the Author's Arena to meet the grand wizard behind the magic.

David Wiesner is a three time Caldecott winner who has also created, “Tuesday,” “The Three Pigs” and “Flotsam”.

Weisner was the kid in school who knew how to draw. He knew early on what he wanted to do with his life and spent years working toward that goal. He went to a design school in Rhode Island to learn about art and eventually realized that children's books would allow him the greatest creative flow with his beloved arts.
Check out David Wiesner's website for more fun activities. 

Interesting things you'll find on David Wiesner's website:
The process of creating Art and Max. Wiesner is so dedicated to his work, he will spend years on illustrating just one book. Art and Max took him four years to complete. He started with a series of sketches, and an idea. Once he found the perfect characters, Wiesner molded them into clay figures so he could work on expressions and visualize movements. He also studied real life. Where do you suppose he might have to go to study real life lizards?

How long are you willing to spend working on a project? 
On the Interactive tab, there is a coloring page that kids can color Max and Art online.

Enjoy this Video by Wiesner about the creative process of creating Art and Max:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Art and Max by David Wiesner - Adventure Activities

Book Adventures Wednesday:
Welcome back, good subject!
As promised Monday, during the book introduction, we are back with some fun activities for you today. Every story is full of adventure. But you don’t have to sit on the couch and live vicariously through the character. Get up and let’s get going on some adventures of our own.

You can find art anywhere, the mall, the library, along the city streets. Go on an Art Hunt and see what kinds of art work you can find in your city or town. Not all art is man-made. I have a friend who finds art in nature. She calls it God’s works of Art. She will find sticks and leaves laid in an interesting way and snap a picture of it. Who says it’s not art? Photographers are artist, too. What art, natural and man-made can you find in your surroundings? Take your camera and share with us.

Scribe Work: What do you suppose the other lizards in the story were thinking while all the action between Max and Art was going on? Look at their faces. What do their expressions say? Write some dialogue or thought bubbles and share what they might be thinking or saying. Take it one step further and write your own version of this story from one of the smaller lizard’s point of view. I would love to hear some of your ideas. Post in the comments section.

Jester’s Jokes: On a large piece of construction paper, trace the outline of a friend, sibling or even your parent! Now, starting with just the outline, what would you do to re-create them? Is there anything you might change? What are your favorite parts about this person? Do they have a kind heart? Draw a big heart and write inside of it what you like about them. Do you have a favorite memory about them? Can you draw or write about it? Get creative and use as many medias as you like.

Return to the Castle Library on Friday to meet the Author and Illustrator, David Wiesner.
Have fun and let me know what you think about these activities!
The Queen

Monday, June 6, 2011

Art and Max by David Wiesner - Book Introduction

Book Introduction:

The first book  the Queen wishes to introduce is Art and Max by David Wiesner, a three-time Caldecott winner and fantastic children's book illustrator. This 40 page book was published in 2010 by Clarion Books  and is geared for ages 5-8, or grades K-3.

Here, my good subjects, is a book you will not only want to sit down to read, but a book you will want to take time to experience.

About the Book:
A lizard, named Max, wants to paint. Art, a true artist in his own right, tries to offer some advice to help the young novice. (a novice is like a student). When Max isn't sure what to paint, Art suggests that he paints him. And yes, Max ends up painting Art.

What results is one stimulating picture after another, worthy of several giggles, as Max tries to fix one mishap after another until Art is reduced to no more than a pile of scribbled lines. Now Max has to “remake” his friend and set things right. But how?

The Queen's Take:
As Art is reduced to a pile of squiggly lines, you will get to see the various art media an illustrator uses when creating a picture book. The young Max is wild and crazy with his paints and Art is more refined. The story question is: What is art, really?

Try these discussion questions: 
Have you ever tried to help out a friend, only to have everything go wrong?
Share stories from your own personal experiences, good or bad. Model for children how to work through life's difficulties. Don't be afraid to share when you've made mistakes. We've all made them. What's important is how we dealt with those mistakes.

If you had to remake a friend, or even yourself, would you change anything? If so, what? Why?

Come back on Wednesday for some fun adventure ideas to do along with Artur and Max. On Friday, we'll be heading to the Author's Arena to meet the author and illustrator of Art and Max. You'll be amazed to learn how long he takes to create one of his books.

Happy Reading!
Queen Jackie