Archive for the ‘’ Category

Nadine C. Fabbi on picture books to introduce "the North, the Inuit and Nunavut"

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

In our current issue of PaperTigers, which focuses on Canadian Aboriginal Children’s Literature, we feature the reprint of an article by Nadine C. Fabbi, Associate Director of the Canadian Studies Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, in which she has put together a set of picture books to introduce children to Inuit culture and Northern/Nunavut history:

Elementary school teachers and librarians can successfully introduce children to Inuit culture and Northern/Nunavut history by having them read the ten selected books in this article and then enhancing these stories with additional curriculum and lesson plans. Children’s literature from the North is relatively recent with all but one of the suggested books being published in the 1990s or since 2000. All of the books are excellent in terms of quality (several are awards winners) and engaging for the young reader with beautiful illustrations. Each book also serves as an introduction to Inuit mythology, the history of the Northwest Passage and missionary schools, the importance of the inukshuk, and the vital place of the polar bear in Inuit culture. The entire “selection” makes for an excellent library of the Canadian North for children.

You can read the whole article here. The set includes our current selection for The Tiger’s Bookshelf, Arctic Stories by Michael Kusugak and illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka (Annick, 1998); and I was particularly struck by what Nadine writes about the importance of the polar bear in Inuit culture:

The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale by Lydia Dabcovich (Sandpiper, 1997)Another key part of Inuit life is the role of the polar bear both for survival and in terms of the special attributes given to the animal. Children love to learn about animals and the polar bear is (more…)

Paper Tiger from San Francisco, USA

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

PaperTigers paper tiger from San Francisco, USA

Here’s a beautiful Paper Tiger made by Aline’s daughter, looking very much at home alongside a pile of books!

To find out how you can make one too, click here - and then don’t forget to send a photo to blog(at)papertigers(dot)org!

Paper Tigers from Kirkbymoorside, UK

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

PaperTigers paper tigers - Kirkbymoorside Cubs, UK

Happy New Year!

These are the PaperTigers’ paper tigers I made with my Cub pack last week, when we also talked about Chinese New Year. We read The Great Race by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson (Barefoot Books, 2006) and dipped into Demi‘s wonderful Happy New Year!/ Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai! (Dragonfly Books, 1999), which inspired some of the children to try out some Chinese characters on their tigers.

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To make your own PaperTigers’ paper tiger, click here.

Announcing PaperTigers’ Paper Tiger!

Monday, February 8th, 2010

PaperTigers' Paper Tiger: Cut Out and MakeJust in time for February 14th, when we will be wishing everyone a Happy Year of the Tiger, we at PaperTigers are delighted to be launching a Tiger of our own: one that we hope will find a home in every corner of the globe. And when you have created your personalised tiger, we hope you will send us a photo for us to post here on our blog.

We have talked for a long time about having a “real” paper tiger and we are very grateful to husband-and-wife team, authors Sally and Stewart Walton for giving us permission to reproduce the tiger from their book, Make Your Own: Paper Jungle (A Golden Book, 1994). My children were given this book as a present a few years ago and have made most of the animals several times – they make great gifts for grandparents, who, of course, don’t mind how many times they receive a toucan or a chameleon!

The tiger, in pdf format, comes with complete instructions. On page 1 you’ll find a ready-painted version and on page 2 there are two plain outlines – perfect for those who want to give their imaginations free rein and for making multiple copies…

So get going – and send photos of your Tiger(s) to blog(at)papertigers(dot)org – we can’t wait to see your Paper Tigers and what a great way to see in the New Year! Gung Hei Fat Choy! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

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Poetry Friday: Animals of the Iguazú

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Animal Poems of the Iguazu/ Animalario del Iguazú by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez (Children's Book Press, 2008)My children have been asking lots of questions recently about their family history, which is in part closely connected with Uruguay and Argentina – this has led to reminiscences of a wonderful trip to the waterfalls at Iguazu and, naturally, led me to go and pull Francisco X. Alarcón’s book of Animal Poems of the Iguazú/ Animalario del Iguazú (Children’s Book Press, 2008) off the shelf. This is a vibrant book of poems, many of them quick, witty epigrams about individual rainforest species. Maya Christina Gonzalez‘ vibrant illustrations fairly zing off the page too! Here’s part of the English version of one of the longer poems, the last in the book, that brings all the animals together. It’s called “Same Green Fate”:

let’s listen to
the green voice
of the rainforest[...]

let’s learn
the distinct
living alphabets

of so many species
so many insects
and butterflies[...]

let’s make the world
a true Ybirá Retá -
a Land of the Trees

And that touch of Guaraní is echoed in the Spanish version too. Wonderful! If I close my eyes, I can relive one magical, wildlife-and-waterfall-filled early morning walk… Well, if you can’t actually be there, these poems are the next best thing!

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day – head on over!

New PaperTigers Book Reviews

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Continuing with our current December/January bimonthly theme of Respect for Religious Diversity, we have added two new book reviews:

The Grand Mosque of Paris by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix (Holiday House, 2009)The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust, by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix (Holiday House, 2009);

Let There Be Peace: Prayers from Around the World selected by Jeremy Brooks, illustrated by Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln, 2009)and Let There be Peace: Prayers from Around the World, selected by Jeremy Brooks and illustrated by Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln, 2009), which is also our January Book of the Month.

Both of these are superb books and would be perfect for sharing with children as part of the Social Justice Challenge, whose theme of Religious Freedom for this month happens to coincide with our own – I’ll be posting properly about this demanding and potentially hugely rewarding reading challenge soon…

Books at Bedtime: Cora Cooks Pancit

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant (Shen's Books, 2009)For a lively, happy bedtime story, look no further than Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and illustrated by Kristi Valiant (Shen’s Books, 2009). Cora has always had to watch her older brother and sisters helping with the “grown-up jobs” in the kitchen but she’s certainly been taking it all in (well, almost!). And when one day she is alone in the kitchen with her mother, her dreams come true! First she gets to choose pancit for that day’s evening meal – and then she gets to really help, as opposed to just licking spoons… Later, with the family gathered round the table to eat, comes Cora’s moment of reckoning:

“Did she do everything right? Would they like it? Would Mama tell about the accident with the noodles?”

Young listeners will be just as anxious as Cora to find out – and the gorgeous illustration on the next page with a delighted Cora standing on her chair, holding the apron she’s still wearing, says it all.

There is so much love wrapped up in the tone of the writing and the glow of the illustrations (both in terms of the use of light and the expressive faces of the characters) that little ones will fall asleep basking in its warmth – and they’ll also have enjoyed a chuckle at the antics of the family dog, whose pile of soft toys seems to get bigger and bigger as the story progresses.

But as well as being a great bedtime story, Cora Cooks Pancit is likely to find its way into the kitchen so that children can use the recipe provided to make pancit themselves (with the help of an adult, of course: this is indeed “proper” cooking). Unsurprisingly, Jama Rattigan has a wonderful post about the book, including several illustration spreads – and thanks to Jama, I have also discovered Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore’s mouth-watering blog Health-full. The book has obviously touched a chord with pancit-lovers of all ages – I enjoyed reading this, this and this.

Also, with our current focus on the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora continuing until the end of the month, head on over to the PaperTigers website for a full review of Cora Cooks Pancit, as well as an interview with Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore by Tarie Sabido.

And if you have enjoyed reading Cora Cooks Pancit or other similarly themed books with your children, do tell us about it!

Books at Bedtime: The Park Bench

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

A beautiful read at any time of day, but particularly ideal as a gentle bedtime read and exploration, The Park Bench by wife-and-husband team Fumiko Takeshita and illustrator Mamoru Suzuki (Kane/Miller, 1988) is a gem. Taking the simple focus of a park bench sitting silently under a tree, the finely honed narrative takes readers through the day from dark, early morning to dark, starry night. I have to say it sits silently because there is a magical expectation throughout that if the bench wanted to, it could actually speak. And the stories it could tell, of old people through to tiny babies, not to mention birds and animals! We are given a glimpse of some of them through the gorgeous illustrations, which expand on the simple words. For example,

Friends meet at the park.
The two mothers begin to chat.
They talk on and on.
Chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter, until its time to eat.

All the while the white bench listens quietly.

…While the mothers are busy chatting (and there’s a situation many young readers will empathise with!), their two toddler children are keeping themselves occupied, playing on the bench; the jolly park worker is mowing the grass backwards and forwards behind them; and a kitten arrives unnoticed and settles down under the bench. All these narrative threads can be followed in the cartoon sequence on the facing page, though there is no mention of them in the text. Two double-page illustrations of the park offer hundreds of details, as well as scope for comparison, both with each other and with the characters who surround the park bench more directly. The most important of these is the afore-mentioned park worker, who cares for the bench and talks to it – through him, young readers’ affinity with the actual bench is caught and held, as they explore, and perhaps speculate on, the myriad of different lives passing through the park.

The Park Bench is published as a bilingual book, in its original Japanese and English. I can’t (more…)

Poetry Friday: The Young Inferno

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Having immersed myself in Dante at university, and while living in Italy after that, I was intrigued by the notion of John Agard‘s The Young Inferno (Frances Lincoln, 2008)… How could it be possible to bring a fourteenth century work of poetry, no matter how seminal, to a young, English-speaking audience, when most of them would never have heard of him? Well, Agard has managed to bring this up-to-date parallel to Dante’s Hell very much alive and, judging by Little Brother’s reaction, they will then want to know about the “Old Inferno” too. The poem is ambitious, exciting and relevant – an exhilarating journey!

There are thirteen cantos of varying lengths, divided into tercets plus a single, climactic line at the end. The young narrator’s guide is Aesop, who leads him through the circles of hell, giving introduction and explanations, and telling a couple of his own fables along the way. Agard’s version of Hell contains a mix of modern and ancient inhabitants – some of whom may be a little surprising at first, like Einstein. And I love the ending, where the boy emerges through the floor of a library, of all places, to come face to face with his Beatrice…

Satoshi Kitamura‘s black and white illustrations are, as ever, superb – atmospheric, grotesque, witty – they complement Agard’s verse perfectly. My boys have been intrigued and a bit scared by the whole book and Little Brother (definitely put off Mammon!) has learned a lot about urban culture… we were at our Town Feast last week-end and he stood outside the door announcing that he was going to be a bouncer! It’s no surprise that The Young Inferno won this year’s UK-based Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award; or that it is is being adapted for the stage (I’ll be watching its progress with interest…).

Here’s a taster from the ninth and final circle of hell:

‘…History knows me as Attila the Hun
Who ravaged countless cities in the Balkans.
But deep down, I’m still a family man…’

‘That’s enough,’ my teacher said to Attila.
‘Don’t burden the boy with your excuses.
I know we can’t all be Nelson Mandela.

But whatever your race, your shape or your -ism,
I’ve got news for warmongers and tyrants:
Hell’s Ninth Circle will be your five-star prison.”

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Anastasia Suen over at Picture Book of the Day

Storytime: Photographs in the Mud

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

This month marks 70 years since the outbreak of the Second World War. The First World War had been described as the war to end all wars – yet just over thirty years later, Hitler’s invasion of Poland triggered a new conflict that would go on to engulf the whole world. Older Brother came home from his first day back at school yesterday and announced that their topic for this term is to be the Second World War. I am relieved that the teaching of history has moved on since I was at school, when all we seemed to do was draw diagrams of battle lines and rote learn significant dates. Now, I am sure, he will learn about these events but also about the cost to human life – and, I hope, he will emerge with an inkling of the horrors of war.

A superb picture book which both provides historical context and reminds us of the human tragedy which accompanies the machinations of war is Photographs in the Mud by Dianne Wolfer and illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever (Fremantle Press, 2005). We follow the stories of two soldiers, one Australian, the other Japanese, as they set off for the front in Papua New Guinea. Jack leaves behind a pregnant wife; and Hoshi, his wife and small daughter. Each carries photographs to remind them of home – and the passing of time is emphasised through the illustrations as these photographs change.
There are many casualties on both sides before Jack and Hoshi encounter one another. Both fatally wounded, they turn to the comfort of the photographs that are their only connection with home – and then share them with each other. When they are found the next day, a soldier retrieves the photographs from the mud and tries to separate them but they are stuck together. (more…)