Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kids Love Books, Art and Writing!

At the Blue Bunny, we've always tried hard to find ways for kids of all ages to express their love of books, art, and writing. We've co-sponsored plenty of kids art contests with the Dedham Square Circle, Dedham Public Schools, and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. We've had our annual poetry contests and sharing nights in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. We've sponsored writing contests in conjunction with Peter's books "Tess's Tree" and just recently, "Guyku." And more recently, we've added more for kids to celebrate all things creative!

This year The Blue Bunny began gathering 7-10 year olds for a monthly book group, which has been well received and so much fun. Focusing on positive, fun choices for these early readers, and then meeting on a Friday afternoon for sharing and a book-themed project, has been a hit. Selections so far have included Judy Moody by Megan Macdonald and Peter Reynolds (complete with "me collage" projects) , Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar (crazy schools out of marshmallows and toothpicks!), Dessert First by Hallie Durand (cupcake decorating!) and Geronimo Stilton (with a guest lesson in cartooning by local cartooning icon Brendan Joyce). This month's pick is "The Get Rich Quick Club" by Dan Gutman, and the group will be meeting on Friday November 12th at 4 p.m. Let us know if you have a child who would like to attend.

Another first-time success was our end-of-summer creativity party in August. Children and adults were invited to come decorate their own journals, and then asked to share something creative they did over the summer. We had fabulous artwork, poetry, stories, and even an original created language! We hope to continue to grow this program every year.

And finally, a proud shout-out to The Blue Bunny's very own kids' creativity magazine, HUTCH. Published twice a year, our volunteer staff is now working on issue number 6! What an accomplishment. This great, professionally printed magazine includes art, poetry, stories, comics, book reviews and interviews by kids of all ages, supplemented with artwork and creative advice from our own author-illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, and guest author-illustrators each issue. We've been stuffing so much good stuff in each issue, featuring the work of approximately 30-40 children in each one. And to top it off, every issue launches with a celebration party at The Blue Bunny for contributors and their families. The magazine, although work-intensive, has been one of our store's crowning jewels in our continuing support for creative expression.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Picture the Dead: Score One More for the Case for Traditional Books

As the debate rages about the future of traditional printed books, and the availability of e-books soars, I add one more tally mark on the side of the "real deal." I recently read Picture the Dead, the new civil-war themed young adult novel by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown, and my initial and continuing reaction as I read was "this book is lovely to hold." The combination of color, illustration, and texture complemented the story so wonderfully! I can't imagine enjoying it any other way. Kudos to publisher Sourcebooks Fire for the finished product, and to the authors for the perfect blend of story and picture.

The book is set locally in Brookline, Massachusetts, and uses the historic thrill of the then-popular practice of "spirit photography" as a backdrop to the story of Jennie Lovell and the tragic loss of both her twin brother and her fiance to the civil war. Mixing historical drama, love, mystery and the supernatural, the story is told through engaging text, with letters, portraits and scrapbook entries beautifully rendered by illustrator Lisa Brown.

I loved this story, and I loved this book! For another visual treat, check out the authors' website for the book, www.picturethedead.com and get a sneak peek of the treasures the book holds.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Everyone Loves a Birthday Party!

One of our best collaborations at The Blue Bunny has been with Joy Surprenant, founder of the non-profit Catching Joy. Her organization teaches young children the joy of volunteering and giving to others.

We have three new events planned with Joy, the first of which happens this Thurs. evening July 29th! It's a Special "Birthday Party" Storytime to help the local organization “Birthday Wishes” provide birthday parties for kids in area shelter homes. We’ll be reading birthday stories, decorating and filling goodie bags to donate, and capping off the night with yummy birthday cake.

All ages are welcome... we're just asking you to bring party favors to donate (no candy please, or under-3 choking hazards) or other party supplies in original packaging. See www.birthdaywishes.org for more info. FREE!

Other Catching Joy events include a "Save the Seals" Bedtime Storytime in August, and a haircutting event in September for the Pantene Beautiful Lengths hair donation for cancer patients program. Check our website for more info.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

Award-winning author Mitali Perkins is coming to visit The Blue Bunny on August 26th for a booksigning and free writing workshop for parents and their tweens or teens to attend together. Her generous offer to visit prompted me to pick up my copy of her recently published novel, Bamboo People, and hope I really liked it! And...I did!

A great read for middle-schoolers, the novel follows the story of two boy soldiers in the contemporary civil strife in Burma, one on each side of the war. Perkins examines the unfortunate circumstances which lead both into the conflict, and subsequently bring the two together.

Without being too rough or violent, readers will surely get a picture of the situation in Burma, and be led to ponder the nature of friendship, loyalty to family and country, and the moral obligations of one human to another.

I am so looking forward to meeting Mitali and attending her workshop on Thurs. August 26th.

6 p.m. Booksigning with Mitali Perkins: award-winning young adult author, signing copies of her newest book, Bamboo People.

6:30 – 8 p.m . Parent/Child Writing Workshop! Cap off your summer with this Writing Workshop for kids and parents with award-winning children’s Author Mitali Perkins, “Magic Carpet: Creating a Sense of Place in Fiction” is a parent/child team event. Get creative with your child! FREE with pre-registration. Kids grades 5 and up with a parent or adult partner!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Monthly Staff Picks at The Blue Bunny

A new monthly feature in our store, and on our website, are our monthly staff book picks. I know other stores have great fun and success with this exercise, and The Blue Bunny staff has been happy to join in. The monthly picks will stay posted on our website for those who want to follow what we've been reading. Best of all, there are no rules for staff picks! We have all been told to pick a favorite book--old or new, any genre, any age group.

This month's choices:

Peter Reynolds: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (young adult, ages 12-up) Originally published in 1974, it's been called one of the best young-adult novels ever written, and one of the first young-adult psychological thrillers. The plot centers on a boy who refuses to sell chocolates for a high school fundraiser and the consequences this decision brings from from his peers.

Janet Reynolds:
Nancy Drew, The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (ages 8-12).
Classic mystery for kids, this is the first in the Nancy Drew series, celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. A staple on every girl's bookshelf for decades. Back to River Heights--bring on the dark-colored sedans and late-model convertibles!

Cheryl Doucette:
The Ravenmaster's Secret by Elvira Woodruff (ages 9-12)
Historical fction based in 1735 London. This well-reviewed middle-grade novel tells the story of a young boy who gets caught up in aiding an escape from the Tower of London prison.

Margie Leonard:
Someday by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (all ages)
This bestselling picturebook recounts the poignancy of motherhood. A mother tells her daughter of all the milestones she will remember in her life as a mother, and confirms her enduring love. Great gift for Mother's Day, graduations, new babies, and other special events~!

Sue Hoffman:
Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed (picture book for ages 4-8)
Written and illustrated by the well-known creator of the Bloom County comic strips. School Library Journal calls it "a heartwarming tale packed with adventure, imagination, and the all-important message of accepting differences." Sue has been a champion of this book since it was published two years ago.

Emma Hodges:
The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau (picture book for ages 4-8).
The book tells the tale of a greedy king who finds his happiness increase as he gives away his material possessions. The story's message is beautifully illustrated by Gail De Marcken.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Storytime at The Blue Bunny

I'm sitting on a Sunday afternoon, preparing for our 4th storytime event in eight days! What a wonderful and integral part of The Blue Bunny these gatherings have become. So many Blue Bunny friendships, with caregivers and kids, have been made through our regular storytime program. We've been doing our Monday morning 10:30 a.m. storytimes for years now, and have watched dozens of kids grow through toddlerhood and head out for preschool, only to welcome in dozens more, including the baby siblings of some of our graduates.

This winter we have been successful with our once-a-month Friday evening Storytimes. And this past Friday, we were so happy to share the stage with Joy Surprenant, whose non-profit group "Catching Joy" teaches young children the joy of giving by providing opportunities for them to share their gifts with others. Friday's storytime was a benefit for the Pajama Program (www.pajamaprogram.org), which collects new pajamas for kids living in shelters. Our crowd of kids and their parents donated 20 new pairs of pajamas, and after our "pajama stories" (Llama Llama Red Pajama was a fave!) they happily and busily decorated paper teddy bear cards to be given along with the pjs to kids who may need a little extra love.

We'll be doing more bedtime storytimes in the upcoming weeks. Look for news on our website about one on April 16th, and another special one on April 23rd, when we welcome Meena Kothandaraman as she shares her message of intercultural acceptance and respect among children with her book Can you say my name? We'll have a cool intercultural project to go along with that one!

Check out www.catchingjoy.org to learn more about Joy and her upcoming events. And join us any Monday morning.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Alaskan Author Debbie Miller Visits

What a treat it was to have Alaskan children's wildlife author Debbie Miller visit The Blue Bunny last weekend. Celebrating the publication of her latest book, Survival at 40 Below, Debbie was so gracious to us and the children we had visiting. She gave a great lesson to some very young listeners about the animals in Alaska and how they survive the intense cold during the winter. She also entertained us with her very authentic-sounding ptarmigan "calls" and wood frog "quacking."

Debbie's teaching skills were obvious in her attentiveness and patience in explaining the fascinating wildlife in her home state. Two thumbs up!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Witch & Wizard Review Isabelle Gilman

Which Witch & Wizard?
by Isabelle Gilman

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson
Brother and sister Wisty (Wisteria) & Whit (Whitford) Allgood never thought that there would be anything different about them. Living in the Overworld, life seems normal. The New Order (N.O.) is getting more powerful, and people start disappearing. Wisty and Whit don’t have time to think about the N.O., nor do they care about it. Life is complicated enough in high school, until one night. The night the workers for the N.O. burst into the Allgood house and claim Wisty and Whit are a Witch and a Wizard. About to be taken away, Wisty bursts into flames, not knowing how to control it. Once the fire dies down, they were taken away forever, or at least until they are executed, unless there is a way to escape. With the New Order against them will they be able to live, or will they never see their parents again?
James Patterson writes a suspenseful story, where you never know what is coming next. I like how each chapter changes perspective between Whit and Wisty. This story keeps you biting your nails, each time you turn the page. Although written in a current time, it is interesting learning about a completely different place, people, and government. This book would be great for anyone who likes mystery, fantasy, suspense, and excitement! This story is a good read and it is hard to put the book down!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

The National Book Award for Young People was recently awarded to Phillip Hoose for his book Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Colvin was a 15-year-old African-American girl in Montgomery, Alabama, who wouldn't give up her seat on the bus on March 2, 1955--a year before Rosa Parks' historic refusal. Watch Hoose's acceptance speech and get an emotional excerpt from the book. There is also a great short piece on YouTube that features Colvin.

A great local connection to this book: The book's editor, Melanie Kroupa King, is an active resident of Dedham, supporter of The Blue Bunny, and board member of the Dedham Square Circle. Congratulations Melanie!