Tag Archives: heard on the radio

Thoreau investigations

You would expect Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, to have a quirky taste in books. If you tuned in to the radio in 2003 you might have heard him introducing a series of picture books that has a number of unusual characteristics. For one thing, they feature a main character based on writer/naturalist/philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Secondly, the main character (and everyone he interacts with) is a bear. Third, the books are illustrated in a sort of Cubist Expressionist style that you hardly ever see in children’s books.

 

 

 

This July 12, Thoreau turns 200 years old. If you want to introduce your children to his work, the library has a few books that will let children enjoy his writings in his own words:

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Henry David’s House shares selections from Walden alongside beautiful illustrations. Singing America includes two of his poems in a collection with works by other authors.

There are also several books (past the picture book level) that feature Thoreau as a hero or icon. The Dragon Tree opens with a quote from Thoreau, and imagines a magical tree with quotes from all kinds of literature on it leaves. This book was the inspiration for the architectural “trees” decorating the Children’s Services department. It’s also the eighth book in the Hall Family Chronicles, which includes

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The Mysterious Circus, in which the Halls foil a new enemy’s plan to build a Henry Thoreau theme park across from their home (with humor and magic).

It’s not too different in theme from

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The Trouble With Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond, in which Thoreau defends his beloved woods from a toothpick factory.

Moving into the modern day, we have

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Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. Seventh-grader Octavia puzzles over lifes biggest questions when her mother seems to find the answers in a conservative Christian church, while her artist father believes the writings of Henry David Thoreau hold the key.

Kids who love humor might prefer

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters. When Alvin‘s father takes him camping to instill a love of nature, like that of their home-town hero Henry David Thoreau, Alvin makes a new friend and learns that he can be brave despite his fear of everything.

If you want to read more about the life of Thoreau, we have several biographies. There’s also a guide in our homeschooling section called Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities. Or you could follow this link to see how he invented No. 2 pencils (no, really!). Be sure to check out our display of books!

 

Remembering Nat Hentoff

Wendy asked me the other day if I had heard that the author Nat Hentoff died.  I didn’t realize at first that this was the same person I heard memorialized on the radio as “an outspoken advocate of free speech and a prolific jazz writer.” The old, recorded interview didn’t even mention his success as a young adult author among his other accomplishments.

Back in 1984, children at Fountaindale had an opportunity to vote for their favorite author during the Summer Reading Program. Authors were invited to write to the children and make their case for the children’s votes.  Here is Nat Hentoff’s response, on his Village Voice notepaper:

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It reads, “I am honored to have been selected as one of Fountaindale Corners’ favorite authors. Here is my campaign speech: I write, first of all, to widen my own imagination because the act of fiction is the act of constant surprise. Then, I try to surprise my readers into breaking out of their familiar responses to themselves by feeling what it is to be inside other people’s heads + vulnerabilities + strengths. I write to spread the sense of wonder at how various we all are.”

If you search his name in our catalog, some of his young adult fiction is available from another Pinnacle library. You will also see notes on many jazz albums and opinion pieces on issues important to him.

A Hero with Dyslexia

Ms. Wendy told me about a very interesting series of features on the radio recently about dyslexia: what it is, how people misunderstand it, and what it’s like to live with it.  Another person who’s been writing about the experience of being a kid with dyslexia is actor Henry Winkler (grown-ups might recognize him as Fonzie or The Fonz).  He has dyslexia (not diagnosed until adulthood), and so does his son.  He and Lin Oliver worked together to create the series Hank Zipzer, starting with

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Niagara Falls, or Does It?
Fourth-graders Hank, Ashley, and Frankie are excitedly preparing for a magic show at the Rock ‘N Bowl when Hank’s creative alternative to an English essay lands him in detention and grounded the week of the show. This title is also available as a book on CD (which can be a great option to help children with dyslexia enjoy books) and a downloadable ebook.

The books are very appealing to kids not just because of the humor but also because Hank has wonderful, supportive friends.

More recently, the team of authors started writing Here’s Hank, a series of early chapter books for younger children. In these stories, Hank is in second grade. These books are printed in a special font called dyslexie that was designed to be easier read if you have dyslexia.

Another resource available to people with dyslexia or another reading disability is the Illinois Talking Book Outreach Center. Check out their website for an application to apply for free services like borrowing audiobooks. They also have a list of links to related organizations, including ones that offer audio textbooks for school.

Some writer!

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/496699113/496755024

20 years after Tupac

Rap was big when I was in high school.  I remember one of my classmates writing a moving tribute for the school paper when Tupac Shakur died.  But what really surprised me, a year later, was seeing a portrait of him prominently displayed by a street artist in Paris, France.  Those memories of what he meant to people and his worldwide reach came back to me when I first saw After Tupac and D Foster, which begins, “The summer before D Foster’s real mama came and took her away, Tupac wasn’t dead yet.”
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After Tupac and D Foster: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson
In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur’s music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.  This title is also available as a downloadable ebook and in a kit with a Playaway audiobook.

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We must be kind to one another

Saturday I was moving materials in and out of the Vortex for the library’s hardworking teen volunteers.  I noticed the teen department had a display for GLBT Book Month and thought to myself that I really needed to get it together and make a display for our department already…

IMG_0675[1]and then the next day I caught a couple of headlines before work, and by the time I had a chance to read a little further it had become clear that there had been a terrible shooting targeting the gay community in Orlando, committed by a man with some kind of association with ISIS.

I’ve already shared the best resources I know for talking with children about scary things in the news.  Today I want to share some resources for talking with young people about tolerance and about extremism.

One of the most thoughtful people addressing this topic is Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core.   Living in the Chicago area, you have probably heard him interviewed.  This is from the introduction to his book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation:

This is a book about how some young people become champions of religious pluralism while others become the foot soldiers of religious totalitarianism.  Its thesis is simple: influences matter, programs count, mentors make a difference, institutions leave their mark.  When we look back in the lives of young religious terrorists, we find a web of individuals and organizations that shaped them.  These young killers are not, for the most part, dramatically deranged individuals.  They are kids who fell into murderously manipulative hands. …And then we should ask: why weren’t the hands of people who care about pluralism shaping that kid instead of the hands of religious totalitarians?

He writes about people from a variety of backgrounds who have fallen into extremism, as well as his model for people of different faiths learning and serving together.  It’s a good book for any adult who cares about young people.

The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook is a title that is focused on individuals rather than an interfaith movement.  I’m listing it because it offers basic information (an important alternative to online searches), is inclusive (taking the approach that it’s OK for people to disagree), and contains advice for how to “avoid extremism, fanaticism, radicalism, and other pesky ‘isms’.”

Not My Kid: 21 Steps to Raising a Nonviolent Child has advice for any parent who worries about children living in a violent world.  There is practical advice on raising children and preventing violence, and specific information on what behavior might be a sign that a child needs professional help.

Two organizations that are well known for identifying and opposing hate groups are the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  They offer tools for Education and Outreach and Teaching Tolerance.  (A bonus this time of year is that in addition to resources for the school curriculum, there are also resources for summer camp.)

PFLAG is another well-known organization, offering support through local chapters to “LGBTQ individuals, family members and allies.”  They are a good first place to look for information, resources, and community.

The GLBT Book Month link above has some resources for finding recommended books (“authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community”) including the Stonewall Book Awards List (which includes fiction and nonfiction for adults, children, and young adults) and the Rainbow Book List, which has titles for children and teens.  The Horn Book Magazine also featured an article not long ago about Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel, James Marshall, Remy Charlip, and Tomie de Paola, five gay men who created beloved picture books.

It can be hard to talk to children about difficult and scary topics.  But it’s important to make a start, to keep talking, and sometimes to get advice from other people who are also working to make their world a better place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 100th, Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary is turning 100! She’s been in the news a lot the past few days:

Here’s a feature from Chicago:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-beverly-cleary-appreciation-20160411-story.html

This piece from NPR has some lovely photos of the author and drawings of her characters:
http://www.npr.org/2016/04/11/473558659/beverly-cleary-is-turning-100-but-she-has-always-thought-like-a-kid

And this video from the Washington Post features messages from other children’s authors:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/entertainment/to-beverly-cleary-with-love-from-other-childrens-authors/2016/04/11/604b9624-fdaf-11e5-813a-90ab563f0dde_video.html

Be sure to check out our display for books about Ramona, Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse, and more of this author’s favorite characters.