Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Five More Caldecott Medal Books

Song of the Swallows

A simple story about the migration of the swallows that come to San Juan Capistrano. The illustrations didn't blow me away and the story didn't either.

For Further Exploration
  • Study the migratory flight patterns of the swallows of Capistrano (or any other bird) and follow the migration on a map.
  • Learn the sounds of different bird songs, especially focusing on those types you can find in your own neighborhood.  See if you can't become familiar enough with the various bird songs that you recognize a bird by how it sounds.
  • Find an online bird-cam and watch a bird's nest, checking in occasionally to see how the nestlings are doing.
  • If you are musically inclined, learn the song included in the book and sing it for your family the next time there's a big family get together or record yourselves singing it.

The Big Snow 

Sweet book full of beautiful illustrations about how different animals respond to the oncoming of winter.  While some migrate, others hibernate.  Just a simple story.

For Further Exploration
  • Count the animals on the different pages, from geese to deer to rabbits.  Each page has a number of different animals on the page and early learners will have fun counting them. 
  • Write a story about what your family does whenever there is snow.  (If you live in a climate that rarely or never has snow, write about what your family does when it rains.)
  • Choose several animals (from the book or other wildlife) and study about their habits and whether or not they hibernate or live through the winter weather.
  • The Disney film, Bambi, has a lovely snowy day scene in it that children might enjoy watching.  For older children, read the novel Bambi aloud.  
  • For the older older child, if this was a favorite book when younger, why not read Watership Down or some of James Herriot’s books?  
  • Make a pine cone bird feeder by spreading natural peanut butter on the pine cone and then rolling it in bird seeds.  Hang these outside to help feed the animals during the colder months when food is harder to find.

White Snow, Bright Snow

I don't know if it's because of the story in the previous book or the lovely illustrations but this one was a disappointment.

For Further Exploration
  • Research some of the things mentioned that are no longer part of our common experience (mustard plaster, dunce cap, etc.).  
  • Cut out paper snowflakes.  I know I've suggested this before but I really love cutting out paper snowflakes.

The Little Island

I liked this book although I think that poor autumn and winter are not given their due.  I didn't love it, however.  I thought the insertion of the kitten was just weird.  I'd have rather read about all four seasons on the island.

For Further Exploration
  • Research the various species mentioned throughout the book.
  • Study the different types of animals and why a lobster sheds its shell, perhaps comparing this with how a kingfisher molts, etc.
  • Study the different types of land masses (island, ithmus, continent, plateau, etc.)
  • Why not write more about the island, making up what it is like in autumn and winter?  
  • Make a model or map of the little island.  On one of the pages, the island is described as having 7 trees and 17 bushes.  Use paper-mâché or modeling clay to make your own little island.  
  • Or make models of the different types of animals.
  • Why not also make a map of your neighborhood?  
The Egg Tree

This is a cute book but for parents who are avoiding the whole "Easter Rabbit" thing, you may not be thrilled with some of this book.  However, this is not an Easter bunny book.  This is a book about creating hollowed out eggs, decorating them, and using these to decorate a tree.

For Further Exploration

  • They make these pumps that make hollowing out an egg far easier than pricking holes and trying to blow the eggs clean.  Buy one of these and try dying some hollowed out eggs for yourself.  Then paint them.  
  • Learn about Pysanky, another traditional form of egg decoration.
  • Study the Easter and Spring traditions of different cultures--from Passover to May Day, etc.  
  • Write a story about your own family's holiday traditions.  Don't forget to illustrate your story!
  • I was unable to find a recipe for the rabbit shaped cookie with the egg cooked in it.  If you find one, please share it in the comments.  
  • If you have the space and the inclination, why not have a year-round holiday tree and change the decorations with the different holidays.  Preferably, decorate with homemade ornaments the child(ren) can make on rainy days.

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