Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ugly Duckling, Dragon Keeper

At the moment my favorite story has to be The Ugly Duckling. I read it to my first graders, and then showed them the Rabbit Ears video narrated by Cher. I just love this story by Hans Christian Andersen (he was a genius). The video illustrations are by Robert Van Nutt, and the book version is adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Both versions have absolutely stunning pictures. How is it that this little duckling’s expressions remind me of a child I know, and his heart and voice feel like my own? This is such a beautiful, human, eternal story. You should go read it again for the first time, and then watch the video.

For middle grades (by that I mean loosely 3rd – 6th: I am not big on reading levels or hard grade level recommendations. As a youngster I always read outside the boundaries…) I have been reading Dragon Keeper by Carole Wilkinson and I loved it. A really good story, well crafted, round, exciting, inspiring and pleasing. It is set in ancient China and is a classic tale of a poor young orphan who discovers she has remarkable powers. She is befriended by a dragon that desperately needs her help, and she accepts responsibility and care of a mysterious egg-shaped magical stone which seems to speak to her in her deepest heart. Thrilling adventures, desperate struggles, satisfying triumphs. Realistically Chinese as well. Would be a great read aloud for 3rd and 4th, and a great book club/circle book for 5th and maybe 6th.

For the past five or six years I have been trying to keep track of everything I read in children’s and young adult literature. I have used documents, spreadsheets, and databases. I want to be able to keep a few paragraphs on each story and some reactions, just because my memory is so poor and when I am reading them one after another, trying to keep up, I tend to get them muddled together if I don’t write it down immediately. So far nothing has really been satisfactory. I am thinking this blogging is going to be perfect though. It is searchable so I can look back and see what I have already read and written about, and I can chat with all of you when you leave comments. I would love to get in a webring with other librarians and kid lit lovers. An online bookclub or sorts, or just frequent chat buddies. What a fabulous opport

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