Monday, June 10, 2013

What is your family reading this summer?

Looking for summer reading inspiration for your children?

You've come to the right place!

Here are several websites with English and French books sure to get your kids excited to read this summer!

FASNY (French American School of New York)--Browse French/English summer reading ideas by grade.

Club de lecture d'été TD--Search for French children's books by age or theme!

ReadKiddoRead--Take a look at author James Patterson's summer reading suggestions! Especially recommended for reluctant readers!

Children's Choices--Who says children can't vote? This annual booklist is chosen by schoolchildren all across the United States!

*Don't forget to visit the ISB library and join in ISB's Summer Reading Program! 
See Miss Rosellini for more information.

Monday, June 3, 2013

You probably already know the story of Little Red Riding Hood/Le Petit Chaperon rouge. Here are two fun French books that turn this story on its head!

Oh là là (by Colin McNaughton)

On his quest to find a tasty bite to eat, a wolf spots a pig carrying a basket and wearing a red cloak. This reminds him of a story his mom used to tell him, but he can't quite remember which one. He follows the pig, and tries unsuccessfully to trap him. Only when the pig visits his grandmother does the wolf remember what he is supposed to do. He jumps into her bedroom and...well, you'll have to read to find out!

Quel Cafouillage! (by Gianni Rodari)

A grandfather tries to tell his granddaughter the story of Le Petit Chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood). Unfortunately, he gets most of the details wrong, turning the little girl into "Petit Chaperon noir" and making the wolf into a horse. This is a fabulous book to read aloud! If you want to see two French actors read this story, see below:

Monday, May 27, 2013

I've been hearing about "The Secret of Platform 13," by Eva Ibbotson, for years, so this weekend, I finally decided to give it a try. This book is set both in London and on an enchanted island. The two are connected by a secret passage that only opens every 9 years. The book has a typical fairy tale-like beginning: the good-hearted king and queen long to have a child, and finally, the queen gives birth to a sweet-tempered baby boy. However, on an excursion to London with his nursemaids, the boy is stolen by an evil, rich woman who is determined to pass him off as her own baby. As the portal between the Island and London has shut, the king and queen must wait 9 long years to see their child again.

The meat of the story involves the somewhat rag-tag group of rescuers that the king and queen send to bring back their son: a one-eyed ogre, a young hag, an elderly wizard, and a fey. They do manage to find the Prince, now named Raymond, but unfortunately, he is horribly spoiled and rude. Here is one of my favorite passages, which reminds me of Mrs. Dursley and Dudley from Harry Potter. =)

"Raymond continued to scream.

'Tell Mama; tell your Mummy, my pinkyboo,' begged Mrs. Trottle.

'I've got a pain in my tummy,' yelled Raymond. 'I'm ill.'

Mrs. Trottle pulled back the covers on Raymond's huge bed with its padded headboard and the built-in switches for his television set, his two computers, and his electric trains.
'Where does it hurt, my pettikins? Which bit?'

'Everywhere,' screeched Raymond. 'All over!'

Since Raymond had eaten an entire box of chocolates the night before, this was not suprising, but Mrs. Trottle looked worried."

I definitely enjoyed this story, and recommend it to all fantasy book lovers!

Monday, May 20, 2013

What I love about children's nonfiction books is that they are entertaining as well as informative. Even as an adult reader, I often learn things that I didn't know before.

A perfect example is the nonfiction picture book "Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George," that I'm reading this week. This biography, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and beautifully illustrated with oil paintings by James E. Ransome, introduces modern-day readers to the life of Joseph Boulogne, a gifted musician and a contemporary of Mozart. Joseph's father was a white plantation owner, but his mother was a slave, so while he grew up with many advantages, he also faced prejudice due to his skin color. As a child, he took violin lessons, and when he later moved to France with his father and mother, he began studying music even more seriously, eventually performing for the French nobility. Don't miss this fascinating true story!

Monday, May 13, 2013

In the 2nd grade library classes, we are currently doing a mini-research project on endangered marine animals. So far, we have been mostly using the database Pebble Go, which is available to anyone with a Minuteman Library card. This weekend, I also picked up an amazing book on endangered animals called "Animals Alive: The fight for survival in the wild." This book was published by DK (Dorling Kindersley), and has the same beautiful graphics that this publisher's other books have. Each animal is given a double-page spread, which includes a large color picture of the animal, various facts (population, size, diet, etc.) and the main threats to its survival. I look forward to introducing this book during class this week!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I just realized that this is my 50th post, which is exciting!

Here are two books that I'm reading right now:

"Le carnet à secrets," follows the experiences a girl named Clem, who is entering 5th grade. She has typical problems: her brothers are bratty and annoying, she tries to do everything right but in her mother's eyes, always seems to be wrong, etc. I like the book so far, though I feel that Clem acts younger than written (more like a third grader than a fifth grader).

"Mrs. Harkness and the Panda" is a nonfiction book about an American woman named Ruth Harkness. Ruth's husband was an explorer who had gone to China in 1934 to find a panda to bring back to the United States (at that time, no one here had ever seen a panda before!). Unfortunately, he died while still in China, and in a bold move for her time, Ruth took over the expedition. She faced many obstacles but eventually did find a baby panda and bring it to the States. This was a heart-warming picture book, although I was a little troubled by the panda being taken away from its home. I like that the book discussed this question in the last few pages.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I am always looking around for good French series books, so this weekend, I decided to try "Flavia," which is part of the series "La famille trop d'filles" by Susie Morgenstern. This series is about a family with 7 children, 6 of whom are girls. Each book focuses on a different girl in the family.

"Flavia" was a quick read. The vocabulary was fairly easy, and the story was simple and entertaining. Flavia is the youngest girl in the family, and for most of the book, she is in a bad mood because she doesn't like school and just wants to be left alone. She never learned how to read properly but doesn't really care, until an important letter is delivered to her and she finally asks her sisters for help.

The illustrations in the book are colorful and lively. Flavia's pouffy orange hair seems to jump off the page!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Today, I am reading a funny French book called: "22!" by Marie-Aude Murail. In this story, a grand duke and his wife finally have an heir, a little boy named Ivan. In honor of Ivan's birth, a young student writes a tongue-in-cheek poem full of V-words and silly rhymes. The grand duke is incensed and decides to ban any words that contain the letter V! A special police force is formed to spy on the citizens and fine them if they use the forbidden letter. However, what will the grand duke do when Ivan is introduced to the letter V by a friend and ends up loving the sound?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sorry for the delay in posting this week!

Right now, I am reading two very different books. One is called "A Crooked Kind of Perfect" by Linda Urban. The main character, 10-year-old Zoe, dreams of piano lessons but ends up getting an organ from her father instead. Between that and a falling-out with her former best friend, things are not looking good. However, after making friends with a group of boys at her school and meeting her very eccentric, but caring organ teacher, Zoe begins to realize that her life may already be "perfect" just as it is.

Zoe was a very relatable character and I enjoyed going on this journey with her!

The other book I am reading is called: "Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship" by Russell Freedman. This is a fascinating parallel biography of two great men. The book includes amazing photographs, newspaper articles, and more from the 1800s. It is one thing to read about how Douglass' two sons signed up for the first African-American regiment from a free state (the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry) but it's another to see their faces in the book, staring back at you. Highly recommended!

Monday, April 1, 2013

This weekend, I was glued to the book "Breadcrumbs" by Anne Ursu. I had heard so much about this book that I finally decided to pick it up from the public library. I wasn't disappointed! "Breadcrumbs" tells the story of Hazel and Jack, 5th graders who are neighbors and best friends. Hazel has always been a little different from other children, but in her artsy private school, it didn't matter. After her parents' divorce, though, money becomes tight and she has to go to a public school with lots of rules. Feeling increasingly isolated, Hazel clings to her friendship with Jack, until one day, he gets a magic piece of glass in his eye which turns him against her. This is where the fantasy in the book takes off. Jack decides to leave home and go into the woods with a beautiful, but evil ice queen. Only Hazel has the courage to follow him and try to save him.

This book is beautifully written and the illustrations are gorgeous! While you read, see if you notice the references to other fantasy books like the Narnia series (there are many!).

Here are some of the beautiful illustrations from artist Erin McGuire:

Monday, March 25, 2013

This week, I am rereading "The Mystery on Observatory Hill," written by my mother, Eleanor Rosellini! This book is our next 4th grade book club pick and my mother will be visiting the club to talk about being an author! In this story, Elizabeth and Jonathan Pollack, who are detectives-in-training, take a family vacation to Germany. Along with their German friend Peter, they tackle a mystery involving long-lost scientific notebooks. I am a bit biased of course, but this is a great mystery and has some very funny parts!

In French, I've just started "Kamo et Moi," by Daniel Pennac. This book is about a group of boys who are very afraid of their super strict French teacher. He makes them write essays every week, and if they ever don't try their best or pretend they lost their essay, he always knows somehow, and invites their parents in for a little chat.

Here's my favorite quote so far:

"Une rédac par semaine. Trente-six rédac par an. Cent quarante-quatre rédactions de la sixième à la troisième. Faites votre portrait, Racontez vos vacances, Une soirée en famille, En quoi avez-vous changé depuis l'année dernière à la même date?, Décrivez le jardin de votre tante. Sans blague! Il nous a vraiment posé ce sujet: Décrivez le jardin de votre tante! Kamo et moi avions passé le samedi suivant en retenue: j'avais un jardin mais pas de tante, et lui une tante sans jardin."

Monday, March 18, 2013

This week I am reading:

"Fred Poulet enquête sur un microbe" by Carole Tremblay

This book (part of a series) is about a little boy determined to track down the person who made him sick. The comic book style illustrations are hilarious!

In English, in honor of Women's History Month, I am reading "A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women," by Lynne Cheney, with vibrant illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser, who also illustrates the "Fancy Nancy" books. This book does not go into detail on famous women, but rather piques the reader's interest with little tidbits about each one.