Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reviewer's Choice--Chirchir is Singing

I am so delighted to see that one of the books I reviewed this year was chosen by ALSC for their 2011 Notables list. Not that I am in any way responsible for this book, but it was one of my favorites that came across my desk in the past year.

Chirchir is Singing by Kelly Cunnane & Jude Daly.

Oh man did I love this book. I was really hoping it would get a starred review, but SLJ reviewers can only suggest--the editorial staff makes the final decision on stars. I was happy to see that it got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly though. It's just the kind of multicultural story that we need more of, because it's not *about* multiculturalism. The story is universal. We don't need more picture books about Civil Rights. We need more picture books that portray the world as it is now--vibrant, diverse, and beautiful. Learning about history and other cultures and ways of life is very important, and we're doing well at publishing those kinds of books. We need more books that reflect diversity without being about diversity. No more, "This is how poor children in Africa live." More bedtime books, more friendship stories, more holiday books, more everything--that just happen to feature kids who aren't white. Just like the world we live in.

This soapbox of mine is part of why I became a School Library Journal reviewer--the chance to review multicultural books from this perspective.

So, Chirchir is Singing is wonderful. The text is lyrical, the story is charming, and Chirchir herself is simply darling. And the art. Oh, the art is wonderful. Daly uses a rather naive folkart style--that is to say things don't look realistic. Figures are stick-like, perspectives is stacked, and everything is simplified.  It's easy to look at this kind of art and think that it's not very good or that the artist isn't very skilled; however, that is not the case. By choosing this style of illustration, the artist conveys a different tone than she would by using hyper-realism. The word that comes to my mind over and over with this book is joy. There's so much love portrayed through the illustrations--love of the land, love of family, love of animals. The colors are warm, the shading is soft and beautiful, and because things are simplified, the details included become that much more noteworthy. This is a book I'm so happy to see recognized, and one that is definitely worth a closer look.
There are more photos of the illustration in this photo spread on Flickr.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flannel Friday--CollageTechnique

Just a quick Flannel Friday entry.
Other people have shared lots of snowman flannels and rhymes in the past, and there are various ways to use these little guys, so I won't go into that. I wanted to share this because of the technique I use: Collage.

These are clip art snowmen, and were black and white--completely identical with no way to customize them before printing. After printing them the size I wanted, I used colored paper cutouts to add scarves, hatbands, and carrot noses. A little gluestick action and viola! Just print an extra and use that for a template if you're not comfortable doing it freehand like I do.

They were then laminated. This technique is quick, easy, doesn't require special materials (like felt and extra sharp scissors) and works equally well for felt and magnet boards. I often use laminated pieces with masking tape attached to the back instead of velcro dots. It's removable and I think it works better than dots.

This technique is a good option for those of us who don't have a lot of time!
Flannel Friday is hosted by Angela this week, and look for it on Cate's blog next week.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Have I whined mentioned my commute before? I live 42 miles from work. Yeah, that's an oil change per month. On the plus side, lots of time to listen to audiobooks! And I just got a new stereo in my car with an iPod hookup, so Playaways are now available to me, too.  Yay!

kermit the frog

The point of me mentioning this is to say: I also spend a lot of my commute blogging...in my head. If only there were a legal/non-life endangering way to drive and blog at the same time, I'd be all over that.  Oh the wonderful posts I've written for you...in my head.

This is one of them.*

I've been thinking a lot lately about philosophies. Why do I certain things, why do I do them the way that I do, etc. I think it's important to be able to answer those questions--especially in institutions like libraries where there is such a long and ordered history. There are few things that make me cringe more than the phrase, "Because that's the way we've always done it."

That should never be the answer to anything. Seriously. If that's the only way you know to justify a process, it's time to step back and evaluate. I'd say re-evaluate, but chances are that there was never an initial evaluation. Libraries are notorious for this; going on Full-Steam Ahead! and rarely stopping to see if circumstances have changed or if there's a better way. Let's stop that, shall we?

I like to look at how things work in terms of systems, and think of more efficient processes and policies. I've likely annoyed many status quo-loving coworkers over the years but, alas, it is my nature to organize, systematise, and update. I can honestly say that in every job I've had, I've left the place running more efficiently than when I started. It's a good feeling.

In terms of what I'm doing now, I plan to write a series of philosophizing posts to cover the following topics:
My philosophy of teen services
My storytime philosophy
My art/craft philosophy
My music philosophy

I'm outlining my plans here in an attempt to be a bit more organized about posting, and get more of these posts out of my head and onto the blog where you can read them.

*The way I wrote this makes me think of the grammatically awkward opening to the show Hoarders, "This is one of their stories..." I thought about making that more intentional and playing up the joke, but my sense of humor is strange and I wasn't sure if anyone would even get it. So I decided to make an awkward footnote type thingy** down here so as not to distract from the serious nature of my blog-itizing.

**There must be a real name for the act of using an asterisk to make a post-script. If only there were some kind of research expert around to figure it out.
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