Mammoths on the Move!

Well, we’re getting back to our regular routine around here. We might go back to West this week sometime, but for now we’re home. Home is good. It’s nice to have a home. I’m still worried about all those dogs and cats that don’t have homes anymore. It seems that bit by bit they’re finding their people though. That’s a good thing. There are a lot of people doing some very good things for those folks in West.

Here in Glen Rose, we’re back to books! And our own school! And our own library! And on the menu for today — Mammoths!!!! On library night the boys picked out a real whopper! Mammoths on the Move by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. It was published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2006.

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We live in the Land of the Dinosaurs. But I don’t know anything about Mammoths. Just that they’re kind of like hairy Elephants. But this book is awesome! It’s written in rhyme with a lot of repetition and alliteration. (I know about some of those big words! I listen in school!) It starts out with:

Fourteen thousand years ago
the north was mostly ice and snow.
But woolly mammoths didn’t care —
these beasts had comfy coats of hair.

Fuzzy, shaggy, snarly, snaggy,
wonderful, woolly mammoths!

The boys that picked this book out didn’t think that they could read it. But with all the repetition, before they knew it, they were reading like crazy! The story is about the mammoths migrating south for the winter. They encounter lots of hardships along the way. But by winter’s end they reach the south and the promised land! A lake to swim and splash in and trees and grass. And then they have to turn around and head north again!! The boys thought this was the funniest part! It was their favorite part of the book!

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The pictures in this book are fabulous. This is a picture of the babies playing in the water. A note in the book says that the illustrations are done in scratchboard and watercolor. I don’t know anything about scratchboard, but it sure makes for great effects! I think I want to find some more of Mr Cyrus’ work.

In the very front of the book, Ms Wheeler has included some factual stuff about mammoths and what science research actually knows about them. Not a whole lot evidently. But this book is informative and fun to read. Me and the boys highly recommend it!

Here’s an interesting video of mammoths. I don’t know how they did this. I didn’t know they had cameras back then. But it’s pretty cool.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3xS25MobIM

Spreading JOY

IMG_1688I have a guest today. This is my buddy Walker. Walker lives with me and makes a very fine pillow. Walker and I take turns with work days. Yesterday, Tuesday, was Walker’s turn to go to school in West. He doesn’t like to talk much. He mostly says it all with his tail. So I’m ghost writing for him.

About 8 TDI dogs showed up at West Elementary School Tuesday morning. They were all different kinds of dogs. As soon as they walked in the school the oohs and aahs began. The dogs each visited rooms for about 15 or 20 minutes. That makes for lots of petting!!! Walker got to show off some of his tricks and play some hide and go seek. (This is our favorite game where someone hides our toy and then helps us find it by telling us if we’re hot or cold.) (I can play this game all day! Walker gets tired of it pretty quickly.) He also got to read our book, Dog Loves Books. And all the kids sat around and petted and brushed. They asked all kinds of questions about Walker. Kids always want to know how old we are in “dog years”. I don’t ever understand this question. But the Mom Person tells them that they have to do math and that if they multiply our real age by 7 they will have an approximate dog age. So in one of the classes at West, they did more math and figured out that we dogs have a birthday every 52 days! Isn’t that something! If you would like to check into this issue further check this link.

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After visiting the classes, all the dogs settled in at the school library. Then more kids came in to visit. This time the dogs got to stay in one place and the kids rotated around. More pets and brushing and reading and questions. Walker said some of the kids had lost their dogs after the explosion and were worried about how they would find them. I think that there are lots of folks working on this problem. I hope those kids and dogs find their way back to each other. That must have been a really scary thing for those dogs. And now they’re somewhere worrying about where their kids are. There sure are a lot of puzzles to be worked out in West.

Here are some links to websites that are helping in this lost pet puzzle.
https://www.facebook.com/westanimals
http://www.spca.org/

But for yesterday, West Elementary School seems to have been a pretty JOYful place!

Copy of 904545_440154319409108_1390469710_oThis is a picture of Walker reading with a little girl at the Distribution Center on Sunday. It was taken by a photographer who has a studio in West. Lindsey was nice enough to share it with us. Her studio is called The Studio on Austin.

There has been a great outpouring of goodwill flooding into this small town. People are coming from far and wide to pitch in and help out in whatever way they can. West has a big heart and lots of courage. The town and its people are standing tall through this crisis. I’m glad that we have been able to help out in our own small way.

And since I don’t have a book to tell you about I’m going to leave you with a little uplifting music from Michael Kiwanuka —

School is Back in Session in West!

Yesterday, Monday, we were in West greeting kids who were just going back to school after a horrendously frightening few days off. The High School and Middle School were completely destroyed so the big kids don’t have a school to go back to. From now until the end of school, they will be bused to another small town nearby that happens to have an empty building that West can use. They don’t have textbooks or school supplies or backpacks. Lots of the stuff they need has been donated by Helper folks around the country.

At the end of their school day the big kids were bused to a car dealership in West where their parents came to pick them up. And that’s where we went to meet and greet. They all seemed pretty jolly as they got off the buses and were quite excited to see a bunch of dogs waiting there! There were 7 of us — all from TDI — all shapes and sizes. Some of the kids gave us quick rubs as they passed by. Some sat on the parking lot and gave us good rubs and hugs and talked a lot. Some of the teachers cried. They all thanked us for being there.

Next we went to visit the elementary kids as they were getting out of school. Their school was not damaged except for water pipes. Most of the town is without water because of damage to all the pipes. They put in some special pipes for the school so they have water but it’s not drinkable. No worry though, because the command center is overflowing with donated bottled water! At the school, we laid down on the porch and under the trees and waited for kids to come out. And was it ever fun when they did! Just like the big kids, the little ones were excited to see dogs at the school!! I have a hard time imagining a school without dogs. But I’m finding out that school dogs are pretty rare! It’s odd. Well, we got some good belly rubs and ear rubs and kisses and heard lots of laughter. I like that. And lots of Thank-yous.

After all the kids had been safely transferred to their parents, the school adults had a meeting. The superintendent stopped to give some ear rubs and got up with tears in his eyes saying ” Thanks for being here. It’s not just the kids who need these dogs.” Now doesn’t that make you feel good? It does me.

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These pictures are not from West. No pictures from West today as they asked us not to take any. But this is what my day was like.

I sure love my job! It’s the best job a dog could have!

To be continued …………

Inspiration Found in West

Wow! What an intense week we’re having! Yesterday, Sunday, we drove to West, Texas, a quiet, little town of about 3,000 people that lies about 65 miles west of where I live. Last week this quiet, little town had a big explosion that destroyed about half of the town including the high school and middle school and lots and lots of homes. On Sunday this quiet, little town was FULL of news trucks and fire trucks and all sorts of law enforcement folks and red cross helpers and insurance tents and food trucks and church vans and buses and trucks and trailers delivering donated stuff and more volunteers than probably the whole population.

And quite a few dogs. Therapy Dogs, International, the organization that I am registered with, put out a call for dog teams to come provide some comfort and emotional support for the people in West. So, there have been dogs there working every day since the tragedy happened. On Sunday, there were 6 dogs from TDI and a few dogs from other organizations. For me, it was a lot like going to the State Fair of Texas! Soooo many people that wanted to pet and hug and talk and visit. And sooooo much food! Everywhere you looked people were handing out hamburgers and hot dogs and sandwiches and fruit. And all over the ground, everywhere my nose passed over, there was food. It was intoxicating!

We took my work bag with us that is full of all the tools of my trade. Brushes and toys and books. I did get a LOT of brushing! And a lot of hugs! And a few tears. And the tears were from the adults. I can always find those folks who really need a dog hug. Something about ’em just calls out to me. We did get to read some books to a few kids. We took one of my very favorite ones — Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates. This book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2010. The little dog in this book is the happiest little dog I have ever seen! And he sure put some smiles on the kids’ faces. It’s about a dog who loves books and wants to open a bookstore. But no one comes to buy books. So he reads and gets lost in his book. It’s a lovely story.

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They asked us not to take pictures of the kids, so we just took pictures of the surroundings. I wish you could see these inspiring young folks! They are full of such courage!

Today, Monday, was the kids’ 1st day back to school and we were there to visit them when they got out. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we’re going back to visit in the classrooms. That should be fun! And I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.

And now all of you say your prayers and be thankful that you have your own bed in your own house to sleep in tonight. There are people in West who still don’t even know if they have a house to go back to.

Goin’ to Work!

There’s a small town not too far from us called West. You may have heard of it. Or not. It’s famous for it’s Kolaches and It’s Westfest Festival – a celebration of it’s Czech heritage.

Now it has become famous for it’s fertilizer plant — that exploded this past Wednesday and destroyed a good part of this small community.

Tomorrow we’re going to visit the people of West and see if we can be of any help.

Poetry at the Library

I hear that it is National Poetry Month. I’m seeing and hearing poetry everywhere. Bloggers are posting poems, teachers are teaching poems, students are writing poems, reviewers are reviewing books of poems. So this week at the library, we picked out a couple of interesting books of poems to read with the kids.

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Toad by the Road, A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians was written by Joanne Ryder and illustrated by Maggie Kneen. It was published by Henry Holt and Co. in 2007.

It begins with Spring – Summer and goes through the seasons of the year with poems about toads. Each page has a poem and at the bottom of the page is a short natural history lesson about toads. Nice.

IMG_1550I really like this book! The illustrations are softly realistic, the poems are quite Rhythmic and whimsical. (I like that word, whimsical!) I like this one —

Old Toad’s Warning
Toadlets,
Beware!
Please cross
The road
With wide-eyed care.
Be sure to look
This way
and that.
Then hop,
Don’t stop ….
Or —
Splat!
You’re flat.

Now isn’t that awesome! What a fun way to learn about such silly creatures as toads!

Once I Ate a Pie is by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest and illustrated by Katy Schneider. It was published by Joanna Cotler Books in 2006. Ms MacLachlan has written several books that I like especially.

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Now, this is a book of poems from dogs. 13 in all. The poems are free form and ramble around the pages. They’re fun to read and fun to look at. The illustrations are really nice. They look just like dogs! And they are illustrations of real dogs – named Smudgey, Rudy, Crazy Earl, Honey Baby, Enzo, Frozzie, Clyde, Sugar, Ella, and Wupsi! ( This according to the book jacket back flap. Some of the names attached to the poems are different?) In the poems they chase snowflakes, watch their people, sleep on their people’s pillows, play cute, run and bark, borrow things, sniff things, and eat pies. In other words, they all do dog things! I ate a chocolate cake one time. Every single crumb. And I sure did enjoy it! Until the Mom Person made me throw it all up. It wasn’t as much fun coming up as it was going down. But now I know that I have to be sneakier about forays into the kitchen.

Both of these books are very good. They are funny and cute and informative. You should check them out.

One of the classes that I have been visiting this week is writing limericks. Here is the one that I came up with while I was working really hard.

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Rhythm is a Lab with a mission.
They caught her out doing some fishin’.
But instead of a hook
She was using a book
And wishin’ for kids to come listen.

What have you written today?

Gorilla

Julie Rowan-Zoch recently did a stunning review of an Anthony Browne book titled One Gorilla a Counting Book. You should check out this review on her blog. Reading this review reminded the Mom Person that we actually had an Anthony Browne book called Gorilla. So we decided to reread this little gem and share it with you.

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The Mom Person doesn’t remember when or where she found this book, but it’s a special one for her, having several important things going for it. One – it’s very small. 4″ X 5″. The Mom Person likes small books. Two – it’s about a gorilla. The Mom Person likes gorillas. I don’t know any gorillas so I can’t say if I like them or not, but I like the one in this book. Three – The Mom Person thinks that the illustrations in this book are fantastic. I agree with this. There is a feel of whimsical (I like that word, whimsical!) realism in each picture. And lots of funny little details to look for.  And Four – the story is a simple sweet one about having dreams and bringing them to life.

Gorilla is about a little girl who LOVES gorillas and wants to go to the zoo to see them. But her father is always too busy to take her. He’s too busy to do anything with her. It’s very sad. (There is no mother in this book. I don’t know why) On her birthday, she receives a toy gorilla and is rather miffed that it is not a real one. But in the night magical things happen that I won’t tell you about. You’ll have to read the book!

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Gorilla was first published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1983. Our miniature edition was printed in 1991. I would imagine that the book can be found in a bigger size.  I highly recommend it!

Here’s a little video of Mr Browne and some other authors at a conference talking about the importance of picture books —

Never Tease a Weasel

We had a cleaning day this weekend. A bookshelf cleaning day. Hohummm. That means it was kind of a lazy day. There’s never much dust flying when the Mom Person tackles bookshelves. She pulls a few books off the shelf, but then has to sit down and look at the books. Some just get a quick thumbing, but others she actually reads. And we dogs get to hear about how this one was so-and-so’s favorite. And this one makes so-and-so laugh out loud. And this one has the best pictures. And this one reminds her of when such-and-such happened. And, well, you get my drift.

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So this weekend she got nostalgic (big word) about this book – Never Tease a Weasel. Written by Jean Conder Soule and illustrated by Denman Hampson. It was published by Parents’ Magazine Press in 1964. This was evidently a very favorite book of ALL four of the Mom Person’s kids. I don’t know of anybody else who has ever heard of this book!

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It’s a rhyming, sing-song,silly book. Good silly.
“You could give a mule a pool,
And some jaunty swimming trunks;
Send a case of Spanish lace
To a pair of lady skunks.
But never tease a weasel.
This is very good advice.
A weasel will not like it
And teasing isn’t nice!”

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(This is definitely very good advice! You should never tease a weasel! Or a dog. Or a cat. Or any animal at all!) This refrain is repeated several times in the book and the Mom Person can still hear those kids saying it Altogether at once! I wonder if they still recite this book. It is one that kind of sticks in your head. The illustrations are pretty cute. Not much color. Most of the pictures are pink and black. Some of the illustrations are in color though. The rhymes are funny and simple to read.  It’s a pretty good book and I can see how it might become a favorite.

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When looking for this book online, we found 2 different covers. This is the one that came off of our bookshelf and is now nice and clean.

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And this is a newer addition. Quite a different feel, but cute. It is illustrated by cartoonist George Booth.

For more information on weasels you can look here.

And for your entertainment here is a rendition of Pop Goes the Weasel!

Pop Goes the Weasel

The Great Paper Caper

I have MORE OLIVER JEFFERS for you!!!! Today it’s —

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The Great Paper Caper. Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Published by Philomel Books in 2008.
We read it with some 3rd graders and got to use dictionaries! It has some words and concepts that are a little tricky. Like – Caper and culprit and judges and alibis and prosecutors and trials and line-ups. We had some fun conversation, but you might want to consider these things when you think about who you’re going to read the book with.
It’s a crime mystery and a subtle story about conservation.

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It begins in the forest where everyone lives underground under a tree. EVERYONE. The pig and the deer and the duck and the beaver and the boy. “There was a time in the forest …  when everything was not as it should have been.IMG_1527

*Tree branches were disappearing! Who could be the culprit?! All the forest animals had alibis. So they needed to investigate and look for clues.

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In the meantime, while the forest folk are trying to figure it out, we see the bear chopping and hauling the wood, carrying paper, and flying paper airplanes. It seems that there is a paper airplane competition that he wants to enter. And why does he need all the trees? Because he needs LOTS of paper for his airplanes and he has a paper making machine in his house! The machine chops up the trees to make the paper for the paper airplanes!  Will the forest animals find this out? Will the prosecutor and the judge do their job? Will the bear win the contest? Will the forest be saved?

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You’ll have to read the book and find out!!!

It’s a thriller!

The book has some instructions for making paper airplanes. We didn’t take the time to do this, but it would be a great, fun activity to do with a class.

You can find some good instructions here and here and here.
Here is a link to instructions for making your own paper
Here is a link to a website about paper, with history and educational materials.
Here is a link to  conservation resources for elementary school.
And here are some teacher ideas for this very book!

Now you can visit Susanna Hill and find a big list of great picture books along with helpful resources. It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!.

And I’ll now leave you with a musical paper concert —

No Place for Ugly Birds

It’s raining and thundering outside today. A good thing. We need the rain. And rain means puddles and water in the river. But thunder means we have to stay inside and take care of my buddy Cisco who does not appreciate these natural phenomenons. So instead of finding mud puddles, we’re reading books. Which is an ok activity too!

Yesterday the Mom Person went to the butcher shop and got us some really nice big bones to chew on. IMG_1511She loves us truly! We enjoyed them for quite some time but were not allowed to bring them in the house to sleep with. They had to stay out in the front yard. IMG_1512Well! This morning when we went out, there was a big ole vulture chewing on our bones! Right there in our yard! He flew away but the Mom Person got a picture of him in the tree. But now our bones smell funny and I don’t feel like eating them today. Walker didn’t seem to mind though.

I tell you all of this because, as you know, the other day, I received a package with some books and my very own cuddly vulture. The Mom Person thought that since we had a vulture in the yard, it was a sign that we needed to sit down and read that book about turkey vultures!

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No Place for Ugly Birds was written and illustrated by Mary Livingston and published by Red Tail Publishing in 2013.

It does a great job of making you appreciate those “ugly” birds! You see, turkey vultures are scavengers. Which means that they eat dead stuff. Like roadkill and animals that just die out in the woods or fields or rivers. And I guess that includes bones that dogs leave lying about the yard. But it seems that they wouldn’t attack me when I’m just walking about or romping in the yard. Just if I were to die while doing those things and the Mom Person didn’t realize and didn’t know to bury me before the vultures found me. That would make the Mom Person very sad, I think. Did you know that vultures will vomit on you if you bother them?! Pretty cool!

Anyway, the book is very informative and a fun read besides. It is written in rhyming verse with some good rhythm. I love rhymes and rhythm! The illustrations are really nice. The vultures look more sad than ugly. In the story, some town people don’t like the vultures hanging around and chase them away. The main character, Scotty, is very sad. But when dead salmon start piling up and stinking really bad, everyone agrees that the vultures have their place and need to return to clean the place up!

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In the back of the book there is a page of vulture facts that is very fascinating. And a list of resources for finding out more about turkey vultures.

You should really check this book out!

And now I give you the Muppets singing The Ugly Song!