Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey - February 22

Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey - February 22
(February 22, 1925 - April 15, 2000)

One day at a used book sale I found a copy of The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey. I bought the book without opening it. I bought it without being familiar with the author. I just liked the cover. I came home and put it on my bookshelf where I keep the books I want to read to my children.

Eventually, I read the book and loved it. I pledged to myself that someday I would use the book to celebrate Gorey's birthday. The last two February's I read the book but an activity idea didn't come to mind. This year was different. Something caught my attention that really hadn't before. Do you see it? Do you know what caught my eye this year?

Watch the video below of the book:

I didn't read The Doubtful Guest to my children at first. We only talked about the mysterious creature on the cover and his amazing scarf. I said to them, "Will you help me make a scarf that I can wear when I read you the book?"  Thankfully, they agreed to help.
We wanted our scarf to be yellow, white and black to match the scarf on the cover.
Mom taught us how to roll the yarn into a ball.
We found white and black marble yarn that we thought matched Gorey's pen and ink illustration style.
He let me roll when it got too big for his hands. 
All done!
We were ready to start knitting a scarf like the one worn by mysterious creature in The Doubtful Guest. 
We used the shortest loom from a set of four long knitting looms. After I showed my daughter how to do it she was able to knit one pass on the loom. Then she said, "I'm done, Dad. My hands hurt." 
My oldest son worked hard using the knitting hook. 
Big brother is so awesome.
He found looping to be frustrating especially when you were almost at the end and the yarn pops off. 
I was so happy that everyone in the family contributed to the knitting.
We thought we were pretty awesome when we did this much.
Three days later we were here!
My youngest son said that knitting the scarf reminded him of his Rainbow Loom. I asked him if he would show me. He made a replica of our scarf and turned it into a necklace for me.
Mom helped us close up the end of the scarf. 
My son helped me add the fringe.
The scarf turned out great. It is really warm too. 
It was long enough for all of us.
A huge thanks to my family for helping me make the scarf to wear as I read The Doubtful Guest.
It was worth the time and effort. 
During his career, Edward Gorey created books and stories for all ages, commercial art, drawings and illustrations, etchings and printsset designs, and award-winning costumes. He may have been one of the greatest book cover designers too. He designed over 200 covers during the 1950s and 60s. As I look back on this experience, it is not surprising that it happened because of a book cover that caught my eye at a used book sale.

Are you interested in learning more about Edward Gorey? I encourage you to visit the Edward Gorey House website.

1. The Edward Gorey House
2. Read The Gashlycrumb Tinies on BrainPickings
3. 13 Facts about Edward Gorey - Biography.com
4. Edward Gorey's Cautionary Tales for Children puppet show - YouTube
5. Watch THE UTTER ZOO - Vimeo

Monday, February 20, 2017

A New Dr. Seuss Birthday Activity - ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss - March 2

Are you looking for a new way to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2nd? Our latest idea was inspired by Dr. Seuss's One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

Near the back of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish there is a rhyme:

At our house
we play out back.
We play a game
called Ring the Gack.

Would you like to play this game?
Come down!
We have the only
Gack in town.

With this rhyme Dr. Seuss illustrated a boy and a girl tossing colored rings onto the antlers of a Gack. It looked like loads of fun!
We started with a large piece of cardboard.
Then, I traced the Gack onto a piece of transparency film.
I used an overhead projector to project the image onto the cardboard.
Next, I traced the image with a black Sharpie.
I cut the image out of the cardboard with an x-acto knife.
I left a flap on the bottom. This allowed me to add blocks to the back to stabilize the Gack.
I taped a paint stir stick to the neck to make it more sturdy. Then, I taped two clear plastic pieces to stabilize the antlers. 
We cut out a few rings from the scraps of cardboard. My daughter checked to if they would fit on the antlers.
The Gack was ready to paint, but I forget to take pictures of the painting process. I mixed yellow and white acrylic paint for the Gack. Then, a little green for the grass. A black Sharpie was used after the paint dried to add the details.
Later, when my boys were home from school, we cut out more rings.
They colored them red, yellow, and blue just like the book. We made a total of 8 rings.
They made up their own rules for the game. Eight rings are tossed during your turn. The red rings are worth 2 points, yellow rings are worth 4 points, and the blue rings are worth 8 points. Also, they made a smaller blue ring that is worth 10 points. 
The first to score 30 points is the winner.
They were so excited when they ringed the Gack!
4 points!
(Please pin this image!!)
And make your own
and you just might have the only Gack in town.
Need more activity ideas for Dr. Seuss's birthday? We've got you covered! Click here to see all our previous Dr. Seuss birthday posts! (Over a dozen unique and fun activities!)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Carole Boston Weatherford - February 13

Happy Birthday, Carole Boston Weatherford - February 13

On January 23, 2017, Freedom in Congo Squarewritten by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, was awarded a Caldecott Honor Award. I had just checked out the book from the library and decided to read it that night to my children before bedtime instead of waiting a couple of weeks for our birthday celebration. I shared with them, "Today this book received a Caldecott award."

My six-year-old asked, "The gold medal or the silver one?"

I said, "The silver one. The Caldecott Honor."  He said, "Oh, that's cool." I reminded my children that we met the author at the Chesapeake Children's Book Festival last summer.  Then, I started reading.

My nine-year-old son interrupted me on the second page, "I remember this book. I remember her voice. I remember the way she said the words."

I remembered too. Hearing Carole Boston Weatherford read Freedom in Congo Square was the highlight of my experience at the Chesapeake Children's Book Festival. Carole believes, "poetry makes music with words." Her words were music. Her words made a lasting impression on me and my son.

Carole Boston Weatherford is the author of over 40 books in a wide variety of genres. Her poetry, historical fiction, biographies, and more are enjoyed by children and adults. Many of her books have received awards including, Becoming Billie Holiday, a Coretta Scott King author award recipient in 2009.

Her parents were instrumental in recognizing her gift for writing. Her mother stopped the car after Carole read her a poem from the back seat. She asked Carole, just a first grader, to repeat the poem so she could write it down. Her father, a high school printing teacher, made Carole's poems extra special when he printed them for her on notecards. (cbweatherford.com). She said in an interview with the The Brown Bookshelf, "The Creator called me to be poet. I hear words strung together in my head just as a composer hears notes and chords."

Carole went on to study Persuasive Communications and Promotions at American University. Shortly after graduating she was successful publishing a poem in a magazine. She told Bookpage, "When I saw that poem in print, I thought, that's what I want to do! I came out of the closet as a poet, I always say."

After getting married, having children, and pursuing another master's degree she decided to write for children. She was inspired by the multicultural books she found during her trips to the library with her own children. (Bookpage). In 1995, she published her first book Juneteenth Jamboree.

Carole continues to "mine the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles." (cbweatherford.com) Two of her most recent books are perfect examples this, Voice for Freedom Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of Civil Rights Movement, a 2016 Caldecott Honor Winner, illustrated by Ekua Holmes and You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmenillustrated by her son, Jeffery Boston Weatherford.

Our birthday celebration activity was inspired by Carole's first book to receive a Caldecott Honor (2007), Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Listen to Carole talk about Moses in the short video below:

We traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 
The museum staff suggested that we start our tour on the top floor at the From Slavery to Freedom exhibit.
The amount of information was overwhelming. We tried to soak up as much as we could.
Whenever I saw something about Harriet Tubman or the Underground Railroad I read the information to whoever would listen.
We would have failed this test. 
We learned that Ohio played an important role on the pathway to freedom for many. 
We learned that Harriet Tubman later served as a spy during the Civil War.
The most powerful piece in the museum was the Slave Pen. This building was once used to hold slaves for sale. Read more about this exhibit on the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's website.
There were chains in this box. They could not believe that chains were used on people.

My children learned a lot from the interactive exhibit that had them make choices to see if they would be able escape to freedom or get caught. They got caught when they chose to climb a tree to avoid a few stray dogs.
This wagon had a false bottom to aide in moving slaves to a safe area.
We learned that there were many paths to freedom, including to Mexico.
My son was intrigued by all the hiding places that were utilized in houses.

A memorable learning day with my family.
After the museum we visited the Blue Manatee Children's Book Store. It was only about 15 minutes away.
We found Voice for Freedom Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of Civil Rights Movement on display at the store.
Carole, we are so happy to have met you at the Chesapeake Children's Book Festival. Thank you for sharing your birthday with us so we could celebrate. Also, thank you for writing books that helped us learn from the struggles and triumphs of others. We hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Check out Carole Boston Weatherford's new book, THE LEGENDARY MISS LENA HORNE, released January 24, 2017:

2. Video Interview - Reading Rockets, PBS - NC Bookwatch
3. Interview - The Brown Bookshelf, School Library Journal, Cynsations (2016), Cynsations (2009), Poetry for Children,
4. Audio Interview - Brassy Brown
5. CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD: Sunday's Respite is Full of Song - Bookpage
7. Teacher's Guide - MOSES
8. 2010 NC Award Winner - YouTube Video (Great video!)

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