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January 2007
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March 2007

The Scoop on Science Books

My son the future scientist/engineer finds a number of alternative uses for common household products—"See, if you stuff a sponge up the bathtub faucet, then the water backs up and sprays out the shower"—so in an effort to channel some of this investigative curiosity in a positive way, I always look for the National Science Teacher's Association list of outstanding science trade books for children. We have found excellent reading there in the past.

The 2007 list will first appear in the March issue of Science & Children, a publication of the NSTA. However, a little investigation turned up several of the soon-to-be-mentioned titles. There will be many more, of course, but here are three to tide us over.

Wild Lives: 100 Years of People and Animals at the Bronx Zoo
, by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld (source: Random House site)
The Wolf: Night Howler,
by Christian Havard (source: Charlesbridge)
Rain Forest, by Jinny Johnson and Nalini M. Nadkarni  (source: Aldo Leopold Leadership Program)

Nonfiction Recommendations

The National Council of Teachers of English provides good reading suggestions in the form of its Orbis Pictus award, which "recognizes excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children." The 2007 list is as follows:

Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea

Honorable Mentions
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott*
John Muir: America's First Environmentalist
Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium
Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon*

Recommended Books
An Egg Is Quiet*
Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement
Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship
Onward: A Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson
The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin
Construction Zone

The asterisk* indicates books that are also Cybils nonfiction nominees.

Poetry Friday: Louisiana

I hope that New Orleans recovers from Hurricane Katrina sooner rather than later. Mardi Gras is coming up on Tuesday, February 20th, and it's the day of the big Rex parade in New Orleans. I went a few times as a kid, and it was Wild. Heaven on earth, but Wild.

At any rate, here is a poem by Walt Whitman, supplied by the Poetry Foundation. Whitman was, of course, no New Orleanian, but I think he captured something about the area in "I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing."

I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,

For the entire poem, click here. Read it, and tell me if it doesn't evoke New Orleans and its plight today.

Kelly H. has the Poetry Friday roundup at Big A little a today.

African American Book Fair in Philly

I read of this book fair on, and though it's too late for me to hop an Amtrak train, maybe others can go. Founded by Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, the 15th annual event takes place on Saturday, February 3rd, from 1 to 3. The Philadelphia Daily News article includes an interview with Lloyd-Sgambati:

Q. How is this different from other Black History Month events for kids?

A. There is no singing, no dancing. They line up around the corner for books. There is no face-painting, no secondary events. They come for one purpose, it is a literary event. Kids as young as toddlers have autographed books, and having ownership means the child is more apt to read the book.

Inquirer columnist Annette John-Hall wrote about the fair last week in the piece "Black history is entwined in America's":

And in Philadelphia, there has been one Black History Month event that has stayed true to its original historical mission: the African American Children's Book Fair, which will be held at City College of Philadelphia on Feb. 3.

Harry Potter and the Cybils

1. J.K. Rowling's last book in the Harry Potter series will hit the shelves on July 21st. Expect a wee bit of publicity for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. See the story at the 24/7 Potter site, The Leaky Cauldron.

2. The winners of the first annual Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (the Cybils) will be announced at 4 p.m. E.S.T. on February 14th.  Meanwhile, at the Cybils web site, you can compliment, complain, and kvetch about the process. The Cybils administrators will use the feedback when planning next year's awards. Will those 2007 prizes include the final H.P.? Time will tell.