Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Elephant From Baghdad

The Elephant from Baghdad is written by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris and illustrated by Jon Cannell.  The story itself, of Charlemagne being gifted an albino elephant from Harun al-Rashid, caliph of Baghdad, is FASCINATING.  The journeys that the ambassadors made, on FOOT, from present day Germany to Baghdad was long and arduous.  I can only imagine the return trip with…an elephant.  I think I would be pretty concerned that the ginormous clock would fall off the elephant’s back.  Just me?  I believe it is all true as transcribed by Notker the Stammerer.  He even says, “But it is true.  I swear it.”  I like that photographs of real artifacts were interspersed with Cannell’s illustrations.  The story telling from Notker the Stammerer’s point of view was well done, realistic and also showed that it was the monks of the time who recorded history and so, it was from their point of view that accounts came to be known to others. 

The Elephant From Baghdad
ISBN: 978-0-7614-6111-1
Published 2012 by Marshall Cavendish Children
I borrowed this copy from my public library to read and review.
Just today, I received a review copy from the publisher for CYBILS.

Here Come the Girl Scouts!

Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey and illustrated by Hadley Hooper has gump-shun, just like Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low.  While I was a girl scout myself, I never knew the story of Juliette Gordon Low.  In fact, I didn't know who the founder of the girl scouts was.  Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the girl scouts and as such, many of my students participated in celebrations surrounding the centennial of the Girl Scouts and celebrating its founding leader, Juliette Gordon Low.  As a result, more than one of my third graders were asking for books on Juliette Gordon Low when they began their wax museum biography assignment.  To which I replied...who?  I promptly got materials from the public library to fill the gap that existed in our school library at the time.  And, now, after reading this picture book biography of Juliette Gordon Low, I can understand the fascination with her.  From childhood on, Juliette or Daisy (as I will now refer to her as because I'm getting tired of typing out Juliette Gordon Low...), so Daisy was different.  She'd actually fit in quite well 100 years later (I think), but maybe because she changed the way the world looks at girls.  She changed the way girls look at the world.  Daisy was truly ahead of her time, recognizing the importance of conservation, the importance of building confident young females, the importance of acceptance and understanding.  She was my kinda gal!

Some things I wish I'd learned as a girl scout:
  • How to secure a burglar with eight inches of cord (because, you know what I always have on hand...eight inches of cord!)
  • How to stop a runaway horse (what did they do??)
  • How to get the skin off a sardine (are you supposed to?)
  • How to brush your teeth if a crocodile takes your toothbrush (IF?  I think you might have bigger problems in this situation...)
And badges I wish had existed:
  • Dairy Maid 
  • Interpreter
  • Flyer
  My favorite element are the quotes from the first Girl Scout Handbook throughout the story.  "Every little girl...goes to make up some part or parcel of our great whole nation."  

Here Come the Girl Scouts!
ISBN: 978-0-545-34278-0
Published 2012 by Scholastic Press
I borrowed this copy from the library to read and review.
I plan to add this book to our school library collection.

If You Lived Here

If You Lived Here…You’d already be home.  Each time I looked at this book, that is what I thought.  And yet, not one of these homes reflected my own.  I’d love to see each of them up close and some I have in my travels.  I’ve seen a Greek island village as pictured on the cover, and I’ve seen the canals of Venice and the homes that exist there.  Others I’ve seen in movies, but I welcomed this unique opportunity to learn details of how they came to look the way they do and why.  I never pictured a log cabin as being two separate spaces.  With the explanation that trees taller than 16 feet were tough to find, it makes perfect sense.   Many homes had features designed for protection from outside intruders.  Adobe homes had ladders that could be pulled up and inside so that intruders could not get inside.  It’s a wonder though that invaders didn’t start carrying ladders with them.  Where there’s a will.  Drawbridges used to access, or drawn up to not access do provide quite the barrier to entering a French chateau.  Protection isn’t always from outsiders, though the design of a Chinese Fujian tulou does look to present quite an obstacle with its high walls.  Natural elements, such as earthquakes also need to be considered, especially depending on your location and the likelihood of such events.  The Fujian tulou is designed to withstand the impact of an earthquake with walls that thin out at the ground level and curve.  Back to intruders, “white towns” found on many Greek islands through the Aegean Sea had streets throughout the village that were laid out like a maze, intentionally, to trick invaders and make them get lost once on land.  Overall, each of the homes featured in “If You Lived Here” was fascinating and the illustrations which were also created by author Giles LaRoche appear to have painstaking detail.  The style of bas-relief paper cut collage is such an intricate process to create each of these homes.  I am interested to check out LaRoche’s other work as well.  

If You Lived Here
ISBN: 978-0-547-23892-0
Published 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
I borrowed this copy from the public library to review.
After reading and reviewing, I also received a review copy from the publisher specifically for the CYBILS.