The Start of a New Year

IMG_2242I understand that we are in to a brand new year. 2015. Numbers don’t mean much to my little canine brain. Years, days, weeks, months. Just words to me. I don’t have a good understanding about time. I know that I’m getting older – my body doesn’t seem to want to do things that it used to do. So I guess that means that years are passing by. But I wake up every morning to a new day! Sometimes I wake up from a good nap to a new day! And it’s most always good.

There seems to be a lot of celebration around the start of a new year. Staying awake way past my bedtime to watch balls drop on TV. I’d be happy to see some real balls drop. Drinking champagne and tooting horns. My humans love to celebrate. I guess a brand new year is something to hoot and holler about.

I’m celebrating the start of the new year with a couple of Ashley Wolff books that we happened across recently. All about that word “year.”

IMG_2249A Year of Beasts
by Ashley Wolff
published by E.P. Dutton in 1986

It begins –
In winter, in spring
in summer, and in fall –
in every month of the year
beasts of all kinds
live in the fields and forests
around Ellie and
Peter’s house.

IMG_2250And thus we are lead on a romping wildlife hunt through the months of the year. Each page spread reveals a new animal and a new happening apropos of the season. (apropos! big word for the day!) The text is simple and bold. It’s the pictures that tell the story of a year in the life of Ellie and Peter. And Ms Wolff’s artwork is absolutely JOYFUL!!

Book No. 2 is –

IMG_2245When Lucy Goes Out Walking
A Puppy’s First Year
by Ashley Wolff
published by Christy Ottaviano Books (Henry Holt and Co.) in 2009

It begins –
January
When Lucy goes out walking
In January snows,
She leaves a trail of puppy prints
Everywhere she goes.

IMG_2246This book is particularly apropos for our house because we have just been through a puppy’s first year! In each month of the year little Lucy encounters new and exciting adventures – just like our Electra has! And each month she gets a little bigger – just like our Electra has! And in the book, Lucy is always accompanied by her Best Boy. That’s one thing that Electra has missed out on. She’s had plenty of kids to play with, but no Best One. Me and Walker both had our Best Girl and I wish that she could have been here to help Electra, but alas she is far away and all grown up now. That’s what happens over the years. They come and go and little folks become big folks. And little critters become big critters. And all the new days march on.

You can visit Ms Wolff at her website HERE. Please do! You’ll be glad you did!

So – this is the Start of a New Year, A New Day – Make the most of NOW!

Celebrate your NOWS!
Rhythm
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The Big Snow

I have heard that some parts of the country are experiencing more of that stuff called snow. I hear that in some places it is really BIG snow and really BIG cold.

Not here. It’s COLD. Really Cold! But no snow for us.

But in honor of BIG Snow in other places, I’m sharing a rather chilling book called

THE BIG SNOW

This is a rather old book published in 1948 by E.M. Hale and Company (by arrangement with The MacMillan Co.) There are newer versions of this book to be found. We found this really lovely, old copy at our library.

It was written and illustrated by husband and wife, Berta and Elmer Hader, and describes the big blizzard of December, 1946. (the book says 1946, research tells me that it was  Christmas of 1947.) The book was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1949.

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The theme of the Big Snow would be Snow! and winter and wildlife survival in winter.
It’s suitable for age 5 and up.

It is an old book, but it is pertinent to current times. It’s basically a nature book. It begins – “Honk-honk-honk.” “The wild geese were flying south.” Mrs. Cottontail and the littlest rabbit watched them from the vegetable garden. She tells the little rabbit that he must eat plenty of cabbage leaves and carrot tops so that he will have a thick coat for winter.

We see all the other animals watching the geese fly by and learn how they will get through the winter. The ground hog and the skunks and raccoons will all take long naps in dark dens. All of the other birds – the cardinals and sparrows and jays and pheasants – believe that they will be able to find plenty of seeds and be just fine through the cold weather. The chipmunks and squirrels and mice have stored nuts and seeds away. The deer are comfortable in their woods. All of the animals thought that they were ready for winter.

IMG_4875Then it began to snow. And it snowed and snowed. The snow was deep and thick and covered everything. The animals discovered that it was not going to be so easy to find food in all that snow. But the jay saw an old man and an old lady putting out seed and nuts and bread crumbs and hay. The jay called out to all the other animals on the hill. Everyone passed the word along that there was food at the little stone house and they all made their way to the feast. In the end, the ground hog saw his shadow and hurried back to his den to wait out the rest of the long cold winter.

HERE is a link to Life Magazine photos of New York City in the snow – 1947.

If you do have snow where you are it would be fun to just go out and walk in the snow. Scatter some seeds and bread crumbs for the birds.

HERE are some instructions for making pine cone bird feeders.

Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes has directions for a fun “Winter Calming Jar” filled with sparkly floating glitter.

And of course there’s always snow ice cream!! I’ve never had any myself. I just eat my snow plain. When I can get it.

And of course on this bitter cold Friday, while you’re nice and warm at your computer, you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog to find more Perfect Picture Books and some great resources to go with them.

Stay warm!!
Rhythm
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This Moose Belongs to Me

We are big Oliver Jeffers fans at this house. His books are so clever and simple and funny. His artwork cracks me up. Today we read This Moose Belongs to Me to some 1st graders. It cracked them up too!

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The book was published by Philomel Books in 2012.
It is suitable for K and up.
Themes would be pets and wildlife.

The book begins with “Wilfred owned a moose.”

This is the story of a boy, Wilfred, who thinks that he owns a moose that he names Marcel.

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He has a big list of rules for pets and tells us that Marcel obeys some of the rules. Like Rule 4 which is: “Not making too much noise while Wilfred plays his record collection.” (Surprisingly, some of the kids knew what a record collection was!) Some rules he ignored. Like Rule 7: Going whichever way Wilfred wants to go.”  And Rule 7 (subsection b): Maintaining a certain proximity to home.” ( big word alert! – PROXIMITY) Basically, Marcel tended to go wherever there were apples. And that led them to a “terrible discovery …..” A little purple haired lady who thought SHE owned the moose and called him Rodrigo! Wilfred was enraged! And stormed off to home.

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But in his haste – (another good word!) he got into a bad fix and was eventually rescued by the moose. Rule 73 for a good pet — “rescuing your owner from Perilous Situations! (more good words!) And then Wilfred admitted that he had never really owned the moose anyway. A good end!

While reading this book with the kids we talked about visualization and plot. Those were the things that they had been studying in class. We also talked about pets versus wildlife. What exactly makes an animal a pet? And why is it not a good idea to try to keep wildlife as pets? We talked about moose and what kind of animal they were and where they live. Mr Jeffers backgrounds for this book were quite special. I have heard that he didn’t actually paint them – they were found artwork from trashbins and books. And he had to find the original artists to be able to use them. Pretty clever!  In class we came up with some of our own rules for a good pet. Things like not going to the bathroom in the house and not jumping on furniture and not running away.

This is a fabulous book. The kids all gave it thumbs up and I give it 4 paws!

Some websites you might want to check out for classroom discussion and activities :

Defenders of Wildlife has lots of information about wildlife conservation.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has some information on wildlife viewing and safety.
With The World Wildlife Fund, you can adopt a moose!
And for little ones here’s a really cute moose puppet made from a paper bag!

For Oliver Jeffers fans, I give you a couple of videos:
The 1st one is How to Draw a Moose
The next one is a rather long presentation from OFFSET with Mr Jeffers talking about his art and book making process. Very Good!

Now you might want to jump over to Susanna Hill’s blog for some more great picture books with activitie to go with. It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!!  Check ’em out!

Seaman’s Journal — A Newfoundland’s Tale

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday at Susanna Hill’s and I have an adventure story for you!


Seaman’s Journal written and illustrated by Patricia Reeder Eubank.
Published by Ideals Children’s Books in 2002.

A fiction book based on a true story. Suitable for elementary age kids.

This is the story of Seaman, a Newfoundland belonging to Merriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame who explored the Pacific Northwest. It is based on “true entries in Lewis’s own journal describing his dog Seaman.”  And from the 1st page — ” Here is my story of the greatest adventure a dog ever had when I followed Lewis and Clark all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back again.”

I love this book. The illustrations by Ms Eubank are beautiful. Each page is full of bits of wildlife and plantlife that the explorers encountered on their adventure. They traveled in boats down rivers meeting Native Americans and chasing off bears and bison. Seaman was right in the middle of it all, looking after Mr. Lewis. What a story!  When I go down to my river to play, I sometimes dream of adventures like this one.

This book even comes with an attached bookmark that is Seaman himself!  How cool is that?! And at the end of the book is a recipe for Pemmican, which is something that they snacked on while travelling. And does it ever sound yummy!!  Newfoundlands are BIG, courageous dogs. I’ve known a few in my day. Kids love these dogs!  And they love kids!  They also love water and are often used for water rescue work.

I have seen several books about Seaman. I guess he’s a pretty inspirational guy. One is Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale by Laurie Myers. And another is The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe by Roland Smith. These books are also told by Seaman himself, but they are for older kids and don’t have as many pretty pictures. But you might want to check them out as well if you’re interested in dog adventurers.

This would be an excellent book to use in the classroom to learn about Lewis and Clark, Native Americans, life on the western frontier in the 1800’s, Newfoundland dogs and all that they can do. You might could do a natural history lesson about wildlife and where animals live and what they need to survive. And talk about the impact that man has had on animal habitats and populations.

Ms Eubank has a very nice website that you might like to visit. You can find more of her books there.

I highly recommend this book on many levels. It’s a lovely, lovely book. I give it 4 paws and hope that you will check it out!