Thursday, May 31, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 2012

Caldecott Medal, 2012

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka is the 2012 Caldecott winner. This delightful, wordless picture book shows Daisy the dog playing happily with her bright red ball with her friend – another dog. Then the ball pops. The ending is sweet and is a true glimpse into the friendship of two dogs – maybe all of us. I “read” this book to a class of four-year olds. They were fascinated. Me too!

Newbery Medal, 2012

Dead-End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos is this year’s Newberry winner. This young adult book is set in the small town of Norvelt. It is a story of old people dying, and eccentric Miss Volker writing their obituaries. Jack is the narrator, who loves to read and loves to help Miss Volker by typing all those obituaries. This feels like a book for a middle-school student.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Friday, May 18, 2012

Parents Across America Action Alert

This, from Parents Across America...

PAA Action Alert

Tell your congresspeople: Parent "choice" is not parent voice

On Wednesday of this week, a House education subcommittee held a hearing, supposedly on parent engagement. It is clear, though, that House leaders narrowly define parent engagement as choice using charters, parent trigger laws and vouchers.

You can read PAA's response here. We sent letters detailing our concerns to subcommittee chair Rep. Duncan Hunter and members of the House and Senate education committees.

PAA believes (and polls agree) that most parents want better schools in their own communities, not more school closings and privatization. But our voices need to be heard in Washington, D.C., where they "choose" to listen to charter operators and other corporate reformers, not parents.

So, we're asking you to e-mail your U.S. representative and senators with a quick message. Put "Parent choice is not parent voice" in the subject line and, for the message, write something like this: "As a parent, I do not choose privatization, charter schools, vouchers, or trigger laws. I expect you, my representative in Congress, to fight for a quality education for every child and high-quality neighborhood schools where I have a real voice in school policies and programs, and my child has experienced teachers, small class sizes, quality preschool and kindergarten programs, a rich curriculum with fewer tests, and a safe, healthy environment."

A phone call to their local office would be even better! Let us know how they respond!

Join Massachusetts parents and others in standing up against Stand for Children

PAA Oregon member Susan Barrett wrote a ground-breaking post for PAA's blog last July, exposing the way a formerly grass-roots group had been taken over by corporate reformers with an agenda very different from the group's original purpose.

The same thing has now happened in Massachusetts, where 39 former Stand for Children activists have posted a letterand a petitionagainst a SFC ballot measure that promotes a corporate reform agenda: "Venture capitalists and deep-pocketed corporate foundations, such as Bain Capital and the Walton Family Foundation, are moving aggressively to remake MA public schools based on their right-wing ideology. They are funding "Stand for Children" to sell a ballot initiative that would undermine our children's learning environment and sharply restrict teacher job protections. Don't let them do in Massachusetts what they did to Illinois!"

Let's support our fellow activists! Sign the MA petition!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 2011

Caldecott Medal, 2011

A Sick Day for Amos McGee was written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead. This 2011 Caldecott winner is the story of sweet Amos the zookeeper and all his animal friends. But one day Amos gets a cold and misses a day of work at the zoo. Who will take care of Amos? Read and see! This is one of my most favorite picture books ever – for any age.

Newbery Medal, 2011

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is a compilation of many of the stories the author heard as a young girl. These stories are woven into the life of twelve-year old Abilene whose father Gideon sends her to live with his old friend Shady. And then enters Miss Sadie, the best storyteller of all, who gives clues about this small town’s little mysteries to Abilene and her friends. This story has delightful stories and seems appropriate for middle schoolers.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 2000

Caldecott Medal, 2000

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat was written by Simms Talback and was the 2000 Caldecott winner. This is the story of a man named Joseph with an overcoat. As his coat becomes worn out Joseph turned it into a jacket. That jacket eventually becomes a vest. That vest becomes a scarf. And on and on. The fun in this book is the different-shaped holes created on each page by the illustrator. Kids love to predict what will happen to the next level of clothing. This book will be enjoyed by both kids and adults.

Newbery Medal, 2000

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis was the Newberry winner in the year 2000. The story begins in the depression with “Bud – not Buddy” in an orphanage four years after his mother’s death. After a few “unfortunate incidents” in both the home and foster care, Buddy runs away to search for his Dad. There is a bit of a surprise ending but let me just say that Bud’s problems are resolved. This is a sweet read. Our ten-year old grandson would love this book!

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Friday, May 4, 2012

What parents can do during Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11

The folks at Save Our Schools have some ideas for how parents can show appreciation during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 7-11, 2012.


Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11)
Teacher Appreciation Day (May 8th)

Dear Parents

Small cards, well wishes from our students, chocolates or a pencil holder are certainly welcomed by your teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Yet, to be frank, to truly appreciate your teachers as dedicated hard working educators that, despite cuts, high risk tests and overcrowded classrooms, continue to give our kids the best education possible...

Then stand up for them-and for your schools.

Save Our Schools-America: is asking parents and community organizations across the country to take action in support of public schools, teachers and staff during Teacher Appreciation Week or on Teacher Appreciation Day. If we are to be truly appreciated as teachers, the nation has to stop attacking us. The idea is to bring public attention to the privatization of our public schools, the demoralization of staff through the continued attacks on our salaries, livelihoods and the very way we teach-with little, if any, of our input to lawmakers and politicians.

Here are some ideas:
  • Film showings, at a local college, hall, church, or in your home) like: The Inconvenient Truth Around Waiting for Superman and TEACH
  • Discussions of books/articles with friends (like Diane Ravitch’s excellent book, The Death and Life of the American School System)
  • A ten minute discussion with a parent at lunch
  • Conversations with neighbors, community organizations
  • Letters to editors/media
  • Letters or visits to your legislators
  • Tables at spring fairs/festivals, etc.
  • Contact your local, state or national education association
  • Attend a public hearing on educational or budget issues
  • Have a fundraising party (dance, pot luck, music jam, etc.)
  • A Youtube parent flash mob
  • Contact and volunteer for Parents Across America
  • A meeting with your Parent Association (PTA, HSA)
  • Brainstorm different ideas with other parents
Of course, there’s always your twitters, facebooks, etc.

Thanks for truly appreciating the educator in your district by considering any action or event that supports their work in your community.

SOS acts as a nationwide watchdog and activist organization for public schools.
Please visit us at Save our Schools-On The March For Public Education
Get a pdf version of the SOS flyer for sharing with others: Parents Honor Our Teachers

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 1989

Caldecott Medal, 1989

Song and Dance Man was written by Karen Ackerman and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. This is the story of a Grandpa who revisits his time in Vaudeville (when there was no TV) for his grandchildren. His tap dancing and magic tricks entrance (mesmerize) his grandchildren who “laugh so hard the hiccups start.” This is a charming story with beautifully detailed colored pencil illustrations.

Newbery Medal, 1989

Joyful, Noise, Poems for Two Voices was written by Paul Fleischman. The black and white illustrations were drawn by Eric Beddows. This is not a fiction story (as most Newberry winners usually are), but instead is a compilation of poems about insects (book lice, honeybees, house crickets, and fireflies, to name a few). What makes this book different is that it was written to be read by two voices – sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous(ly?). This book is meant for good readers – (third grade, at least, I think) and would be great fun for you and your child to read together.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wear Red on May 11

From: _Bunche Mailbox []
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 6:22 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Wear Red May 11

Friday May 11th is "Wear Red for Ed" day. This is way you can show your support for public education. The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education group initiated this as a great way to talk to others about our strong public education system. Your child(ren) are receiving a high quality education at a public school that would cost a good sum of money at a private school. Please help support us by talking about public education to your friends and co-workers and by wearing red May 11th. YOU are our best advocate!