Monday, September 15, 2014

Dot Day was Dynamic in Maine

 So, Dot Day didn't start off very well for me. You see I lost a very important dot this morning - my contact! Yes, losing the dot that covers my eye and helps me see is a very important dot. I have "hard" contacts and the left contact is for seeing things far away and the right contact is for seeing things up close and believe it or not they work in conjunction. When I went to find an old one to replace it, I saw that I only had ONE left - would it be the "up close" contact that I needed? YES! So maybe DOT DAY was on my side after all. I had the "dot" I needed. 

     As a literacy specialist, I work with small intervention groups and today I was going to be working with kindergarten students. What would they think of Dot Day and the book by Peter Reynolds? Would they "get it"? I had only worked with them for a very short time and only on the letters in their names. This was quite a sharp detour from that work.

     But you've got to love kinders. Five year olds are just so exuberant about life. I had worn a shirt covered in small circles or  . . . dots! I wore matching "dot" earrings. As I took my first group of four students from their classroom to my office, I looked at them with great excitement and said, "Do you know what day it is? "DOT DAY! Look at my shirt, it has dots on it! Look at my earrings, they are dots. It's DOT DAY!! Yea!!!" Well, they rose to the occasion, even though they had absolutely NO IDEA what I was talking about. They said, "YEA!" As we walked down the hallway, I told them that I had a book I was going to read to them called, The Dot, and that they were going to get a magic dot to draw with and they couldn't have been more excited. I went into six different classes of kindergarten and took out small groups from each, greeted them in the same way and they all were just as excited.

     In addition, as I read the story of Vashti, they totally understood about not being able to draw, and really loved how not only did Vashti draw different dots, but tried different ways of drawing the dots. They knew what she was doing when she encountered the little boy at the end of the story as well.

     I think my most favorite part of the day was visiting a class of boys that have some real challenges and so are in their own classroom most of the time. It was the first time I had been able to get up and see them this year and we were all very happy to see each other. These boys are in 4th and 5th grade. So I did something a little different for them. They are used to me reading great picture books to them and they love it. So today, I went up and told them the same thing, that it was DOT DAY! Then I wrote three words on the board, bravery, self-expression and creativity. I showed them the book and told them it was about a little girl who was very unhappy because she couldn't draw but many people said that the book showed the themes of those three words. When I finished the book, I wanted them to give me evidence from the book that proved it. At the end of the story, each of the three boys gave me very explicit evidence from the text - i.e. "close reading" - that very clearly showed us that they understood these themes. They truly understood how this book displayed these themes and it was so cool to hear them get excited about telling all of us!

What a great day for me and them!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Meadering Midcoast Maine's Indie Bookstores

Part One - Camden

     This weekend, after seeing STEELY DAN at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, ME my boyfriend and I made our way down midcoast Maine through the towns of Belfast, Camden and Rockland. It was a beautiful Labor Day weekend and we strolled through the towns' streets enjoying the wonderful weather. But a walk in any town for me always means sniffing out the independent bookstores to try and find books I have never seen before or those wonderful 2014 hardcover books that I must have. 
     Now, I must take a minute here to acknowledge what a saint my boyfriend is! He knows that bookstores and book shopping are my passion and never complains as I spend most of the time in these stores. He will wait patiently inside or outside and he isn't even a reader! Oh, I can get him to occasionally read a picture book or two if it's about a cat (we own three) but that's about it. But you will never, ever hear him ask me to hurry up or even a heavy sign come out of his mouth. How did I get so lucky?   

The Owl and Turtle Bookshop has been located in Camden for 44 years and refers to itself as "fiercely indie" and "truly local". It is a lovely bookstore with a great little cafe tucked in the back where I sampled a scrumptious piece of wild blueberry cake and a latte. I loved the addition of a display of what "your barista is reading" propped up at the counter. Now onto the books!

                Zeek Meeks vs. the Stinkin' Science Fair by D.L. Green

 This is a new series I found that looks great for the 2nd - 4th grade set. It is about a boy named Zeek who is afraid of bugs - all bugs! Normally he wouldn't care about winning the science fair but he needs the money to pay off Grace Chang! It has some great illustrations as well as bullets and voice bubbles that kids will love. In addition, it has directions for a science experiment for making "quicksand" in the back as well as "Big Words according to Zeke". These are more difficult words that are defined such as cashmere, compliment and concentrate.  I love how this book ties in science in a fun way with literacy. I always buy one in a series new to me, to see how kids like them, but I have a feeling I might be getting more of these . . . :-) 
                  Benny and Penny in The Big No-No by Geoffrey Hayes
This book was the 2010 winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award but new to me. Graphic novels are appealing to all age levels but the ones that are popular now such as Amulet and Sidekicks are for the older students. Finally this is a really great series for the very young students. This story could be read by first and second graders and in addition teaches a life lesson along with it. Each of the voice bubbles has only a sentence or two so makes it very easy to access. The brother and sister, Benny and Penny, are very cute and believable. I also bought the second story, Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker. I have a feeling they will be very popular! These two stories are at the "Level 2" range but there are also several at an easier level and some at a higher level. 

Teacher Discount: YES!

                                  Sherman's Books & Stationery 
                                   14 Main St. 236-2223 

The first thing I noticed when I walked into Sherman's was a long table with discounted children's books. Yippee! These were not old, unknown children's books either but great hardcover children's books! All of the books ranged from $16.00 - $18.00 but were marked down to $4.99. I purchased Go Away, Mr. Wolf! by Mathew Price & Atsuko Morozumi, Hurry Down to Derry Fair by Dori Chaconas & Gillian Tyler - a great one for our rural students, many of whom attend or participate in the local county fairs, and one of my favorite young children's authors, Nancy Tafuri's Five Little Chicks! 
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo & Chris Van Dusen
 It may not be another Mercy Watson book, but Mercy is in it! Leroy Ninker was a character from one of the Mercy Watson books, and now he has a book of his own and is inviting back some of the favorite characters from Kate DiCamillo's popular pig series! Mercy is back, Mrs. Watson is back, Frank is back along with a cast of new characters in another pairing up of the DiCamillio and Van Dusen extravaganza. Kids will be lining up to read this book or make it your first read aloud. Kids and teachers alike will be hoping for more in this series, I'm sure! 
Kate  is also the the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature for 2014 - 2015! I can't think of a better person to represent!

Teacher Discount: YES!


What's as much fun as a bookstore? A used bookstore! I found Stone Soup in Camden - remember the story of Stone Soup? It was up a steep set of stairs and as I arrived at the top, there was an older gentleman playing music on a record player - gotta love it. I plopped myself down on the floor in front of his stack of children's books and made myself at home. I was delighted to find several volumes of L. Frank Baum's books that were NOT The Wizard of Oz. I found Ozma of Oz and a large size volume of The Emerald City of Oz. With the movie version of Oz out and a renewed interest in Oz, I'm excited to show students that there are many more works by Baum then just The Wizard of Oz. 
And even though these books were already discounted due to being second hand, the owner was nice enough to take a little bit more off when he found out I was a teacher! How sweet!!

     As you can see, I had a great time and found a good many books in Camden. Stay tune for Part two when I tell you all about my great finds in Camden's sister city - ROCKLAND!