My Library: fun stuff!

After a crazy-busy summer and start to the school year, I finally had a chance to get some fun new decorations put up in the school library.

I redid the truffula trees that I mark the table colors with. Those are sink plungers that I spray painted green, then striped with acrylic paint (yay, painters tape!) The tops are dollar store plastic leis. You get all six colors in a bundle for a dollar and I bought 15 bundles. Last year I clipped the loops but the kids picked at them constantly. These aren’t cut so they should last a lot longer.

I thought my clock was pretty blah, so I bought teal-striped paper straws and red Pom-poms. After gluing them on, I just taped them to the wall. Easy-least but with a big impact. I love that it looks both mid-century modern and Seuss-ish.

Last year I decided to pull some beautiful vintage books out of circulation. Today, I added my personal collection of old book covers. It makes an eclectic mix that I love.

The project I’m most excited about is finally getting to add the Emerald City to my Oz collection. I used green glass vases, bottles and miscellaneous containers to make the display. The ones that weren’t originally green were dyed using Elmer’s glue and food coloring.

So those are my fun additions for now. I have a few other ideas but I’m not quite done working them out yet. I’ll share them when I do!


The League of Regrettable Superheroes

Today’s book is not only a Thrift Store Score, it’s also for adults! I know, I’m just full of surprises today.

I am planning to start it tonight. I’ll give you the synopsis:

Look up in the sky! It’s a bee! It’s a witch! It’s….a giant eyeball?

You know about Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, but have you heard of Doll Man, Doctor Hormone, or Spider Queen? In the League of Regrettable Superheroes, you’ll meet fifty of the strangest superheroes to ever see print, complete with backstories, vintage art, and colorful commentary.

I’m really looking forward to this book. Dr. Hormone?!? I will share some images from these strange, strange characters.

My only regret about this book is that I don’t have the follow-up, The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains.

I think I’ll be shopping for it on ThriftBooks!

The Three Feathers

Today’s fairytale is The Three Feathers. It is a story that I was unfamiliar with but was a good story.

There was a king who had three sons. Two were intelligent and magnificent and one was called Dummling (or Simpleton in some versions). The king cannot decide who should rule after his death so he gives the sons a quest: whosoever finds the most beautiful carpet shall become the next king. To choose their direction of travel he blew three feathers into the air. One blew east, one west and one straight back down to the ground. The intelligent brothers head east and west and do not consider Dummling as competition. Dummling finds a trapdoor nest where the feather fell and descends to find a magical group of toads who grant wishes. This is repeated three times, first with a carpet, then a ring, then the most beautiful of girls. Dummling prevails each time and eventually is named the next king. He rules his kingdom wisely and fairly for many years.

I know I have not read this story before but I feel like the basic framework has been repeated in other stories. Even though the two brothers seem to be the best choice as future kings, they prove themselves to be lazy and irreverent to the king’s quests. Dummling, in the other hand, has a kind and honest disposition and it helps him win the competition. Everyone loves when the underdog wins.

Here is a link to read the story. And I was even able to find an animated version on YouTube. The artwork I found is interesting, the toads make for interesting art.

Oregon Trail

I am taking a fairytale break to tell you about a book I’ll be using at school in a few weeks. Fourth graders study the history of South Dakota in social studies, so I try to supplement their lessons. The book I’m excited to share with you today is You Wouldn’t Want To Be An American Pioneer!

This book is part of a huge series that covers all parts of history. Kids love them because they don’t gloss over the gross and gruesome truth of how people lived in days gone by.

The book reads quickly and has little sidebars with great illustrated facts.

I learned a lot reading this book! The sidebar on the illustration above is about what what to do when your oxen get infected feet.

Cut the infected tissue out and seal the would with hot tar. Make a waterproof cover with buffalo hide.

I think the kids will really like this lesson. We played the old game The Oregon Trail last year but it ate up too much class time. I do plan to give them the link to play it at home though. You know you’re dying to play it again too!

I will also be reading another book about the pioneers:

I haven’t read it yet so I can’t give you a summary.

I also like to teach about the Native Americans from this area. These books are great!

Fortunate Hans

The next story in the fairytale book is Fortunate Hans. It is also known as Hans In Luck.

Hans is a young man who has finished his 7 years of work (apprenticeship?) and wishes to take his wages and go home to his mother. He is given a lump of gold the size of his head as payment.

Hans quickly grows tired of carrying such a big piece of gold and trades it for a horse. He isn’t much of a rider and after being bucked off, decides to trade the horse for a cow. Eventually, he figures out that the cow is dry and won’t produce any milk, so he trades her for a pig. Too bad though, because it turns out that the pig is stolen. He trades it for a goose which he then trades for a grindstone–since a man who can sharpen tools is never without money. He tires of carrying the stone pretty quickly and then accidentally drops it into a well when he stops for a drink.

Now a average person would probably be pretty upset with himself at this point, but not Hans. He didn’t want to carry the stones and rather than lament the loss, he rejoices that the burden is gone. I think he’s a “the glass is half full” kind of person.

I wasn’t familiar with this story before I read it, it isn’t one of the more repeated stories that the Grimm brothers wrote down. I did find a link to read it online though.

There are some illustrations on the Internet that depict the different parts of Hans’ story.

The Goose Girl

While on a trip to visit friends in Iowa, I was given a precious old book as a gift.

I’m very excited about sharing these old stories with you! The first story is The Goose-Girl.

The illustration is featured on the title page. By the way, the book was published in 1929 and is full of these amazing line art illustrations.

First off, not everyone knows this story, maybe because Disney has not recreated it. The Brothers Grimm wrote it down in one of their collections and I’ll give a quick summary.

The princess in this story is sent to a far away kingdom to marry their prince. Her only traveling companions are a lady-in-waiting and a talking horse. During the journey, the lady-in-waiting forces the princess to trade identities with her and makes her swear never to tell. When they reach the prince’s kingdom the princess is left to mind the geese and the imposter marries the prince. The imposter princess has the horse executed so that he cannot tell the secret but his head is hung above the gates of the castle. The real princess speaks to him every day and eventually the king figures out who she really is. In the Grimm version, the imposter is put into a spiked barrel and is dragged through the streets until she dies.

It’s really not very Disney-ish and I like that. Not everyone gets a happy ending, and that’s how the original storytellers intended it. It has been adapted many times by other authors, most notably Shannon Hale.

It has also been turned into films.

I personally prefer the printed format with all of the amazing artwork. Here are a few pieces I just love:

You can learn more history here. I also found a link to read the story online.

Margie Palatini pt. 5

Try as I might, I don’t yet own all of Margie’s titles. I’d like to someday though. Here are a few, but not all.

Goldie looks like a great kindergarten character.

Again, younger kids could really enjoy this little biter.

I think this would be a hilarious holiday book to try out.

I want this one just to show kids that computer and floppy disc! It’s amazing how quickly technology dates itself.

I like mixed-up books, ’cause I’m a bit mixed up sometimes.

We’ve all been there!

I could butcher this book with my singing! Kids love when I sing badly.

Pig books are always fun!

See above.

I think that poor duck looks hilarious.

I love animals so any lady with that many pets would be a favorite of mine.

Is this about hoarding?

Want to try a chapter book? There are a few of those too:

So that wraps up my author spotlight on Margie Palatini. I know that I didn’t get them all. Did I miss one that you love? Please share!

Margie Palatini pt. 4

I’ve told you about most of my favorites by Margie, but there are others that I enjoy even if I’m not using them every year.

Moosetache is a super silly look at what to do with uncontrollable facial hair. The kids love the goofy things he tries and this one has a romantic ending: a she-moose with uncontrollable hair.

The Moose family shows up for two more stories. They take goofy hair to the extreme.

In Tub-Boo-Boo the boy sticks his big toe in the bathtub faucet. You’ll be shocked at how much work it takes a whole lot of people to get it out!

Hilda Mae Heifer has lost her moo. She wanders the farm trying to find her sound again, but the other animals don’t want her taking their sounds. Hilda loves to sing the sounds but is a terrible singer — which makes me the perfect person to read it aloud.

Hilda’s back but her singing sounds so lonely! The farm animals decide she needs someone to have a duet with, which means auditions! The kids may or may not get the American Idol jokes in here, but it’s a fun one to read.

Shelly is awfully slow coming out of his shell. His sisters try to force their ideas of fun on him but he’s not going to budge. It’s a great story for encouraging kids to be themselves.

In this mystery the Ducktectives are looking for the culprit behind vanishing vegetables. I have honestly never read this in a class, but it’s a fun book.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up with my Margie Palatini spotlight and share some of her titles that I don’t own yet.

Margie Palatini pt. 3

Margie Palatini has a great sense of humor. I have found her books work with almost all age levels because the kids get most of her jokes without explanation.

First grade loved Goldie and the Three Hares. They quickly saw that Goldie was a terrible house guest and they loved the jokes about too hard, too soft and just right. I did have to explain about using rabbit ears to get a better picture on the tv though.

The first time I read The Cheese to a group of kids it was with first or kindergarten. They loved the book but none of them knew the song The Farmer In the Dell. At the end of class we had an impromptu sing along so they would understand.

Third grade loves Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes. Fox will be the first to tell you how fabulously smart he is, but he needs some help reaching those yummy looking grapes. Fox is also not shy about pointing out that Bear is a bit thick (the kids love how I read him; slowly with a lot of head scratching) or that Possum is homely. He will not listen to anyone else’s ideas and by the end of the book, he’s given up on those grapes; they were probably sour anyway. Students live the repetitiveness of this story.

Along similar lines is The Three Silly Billies. Palatini has taken a story almost everyone knows and tweaked it. I haven’t read it this year, so my memory may be rusty, but the troll runs a toll bridge and the three billy goats gruff need to cross. The goats are driving a jalopy–which is a new word to kids–and plan to go surfing, but can’t pay the toll. Help comes from some other familiar fairytale characters and the troll gets quite a surprise at the end of the story.

Earthquack! is another humorous re-telling of an old favorite. The earth is rumbling and crumbling! It must be an earthquake! Anyone who has heard Chicken Little will quickly see where this story is headed.

Willy and Wally Wolf are bad boys. Oh yeah, they’re bad, bad, really really bad. They are also hankering for some lamb chops. The boys dress up in sheep’s clothing and join the flock. The sheep around them aren’t terribly smart, but in the end they manage to get rid of the wolves with some bad haircuts…they’re bad, bad, really really bad. (Kids love the repetition of the wolves’ tag line.)

Willy and Wally are back! This time they want some chicken. When offering to become handymen around Mrs. Chicken’s coop, she jumps at the chance for a day off and leave them with a huge list of chores and a whole lot of chicks. Willy and Wally aren’t very good at babysitting and the chicks have the upper hand almost immediately. The wolf brothers aren’t going to become family men any time soon after these chicks are done with them.

In the last installment of the Bad Boys series, Bad Boys Get Cookie!, Willy and Wally want to treat their sweet tooths to a cookie. Too bad this cookie is cunning and smarter than them. Kids love the new twist on an old favorite.

Join me tomorrow for another installment on Margie Palatini!

Margie Palatini pt. 2

First off, I need to thank my friend Raynette for introducing Margie Palatini to me. She is a librarian cut out of same cloth as me.

So, back to the author at hand. One of the best books to read aloud that I use for my classes is Sweet Tooth.

The boy in the story has a terrible sweet tooth, who speaks in a gravelly, gruff voice. The tooth always wants sweets and isn’t quiet about it. Can the boy overcome his problem causing tooth? It won’t be easy that’s for sure!

I love reading this but often end up with a sore throat afterwards. The kids love looking at the illustrations which feature a lot of sweets. This is Palatini at her finest!

A close second is Bedhead.

Have you ever woken up with awful untamable hair? Nothing helps and it just gets worse and worse. Here’s an idea, put on a hat. But what if its picture day and hats aren’t allowed? This one always gets the kids giggling, ’cause we’ve all been there.

Gorgonzola is a great story about personal hygiene. Gorgonzola stinks and finally, a brace bird tells him and agrees to help him learn to care for himself. It’s a nice way to bring up to kids that they need to use soap and other hygiene products.

We’re still just touching the tip of the iceberg on Margie’s books, so prepare for more tomorrow.