Reading Manga With Little Sis

I don't have much to show you in the way of what we've been reading this week.  Big Sis is reading a couple of different American Girl mysteries, at home and at school.  I'm still attempting to commit Act II of my current play to memory.  Little Sis is home sick again today.  At bedtime, Big Sis and I continue to read Tik-Tok of Oz, but Little Sis thinks this one is boring.  (It isn't Baum's best.)  Since she is fascinated by all things Japanese right now, we have been reading manga!

The Hello Kitty figurine in the picture above?  My little brother brought that back from Japan.  He is 10 1/2 years younger, and grew up loving anime and Japanese pop culture.  He actually taught himself Japanese, and while he was in college, he made two trips to Japan with like-minded friends.  My 6-year-old seems to have a lot in common with my brother right now!

She watches A Little Snow Fairy Sugar on Hulu (thanks, Melissa) and Princess Tutu on Amazon Prime. She loved My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.  We visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore this summer at the same time as Otakon, and after seeing all the people dressed in their cosplay finest, she is begging to go herself someday.  It's pretty cute.

I'm not schooled too well in the anime and manga department, but I thought I'd find some manga appropriate for her age.  Google led me to this list and also this one.  I picked a few promising titles and checked the library website.  Last night, we finished our first manga - hers and mine!

Swans in Space, Vol. 1 by Lun Lun Yamamoto.
UDON Kids Manga, 2009.

Little Sis loved the first volume of Swans in Space.  It was a fast read, so I'm under orders to put the next few volumes on hold.  Corona is a pretty, popular girl who everyone at school calls "Class President."  Her dad and brother are obsessed with a TV show called "Space Patrol."  One day, Corona is kind to an awkward girl named Lan.  Seeing Lan's "Space Patrol" books, Corona lies and pretends to like the show, too.  Only it turns out that Space Patrol isn't just a show.  It's a real deal, and the TV show footage is actual footage from Space Patrol missions.  And Lan, thinking Corona is like her, enlists Corona to be a part of it. The swans?  Those are their space boats! It's very cute and funny, and I'm looking forward to reading more!

We also got a couple more manga titles to try.

Then last weekend, I took the girls to Michael's to get some more Rainbow Loom goodies.  While we were in the checkout line, Little Sis looked over at the book wall and noticed some "how to draw manga" books.  You may remember, Little Sis is my artist baby.  She even draws herself to sleep at night!  So Mom relented and I let her pick one drawing book.

Christopher Hart's Draw Manga Now!: Magical Characters.
Watson-Gupthill, 2013.

This book and her drawing pad are in her lap constantly.  She is determined to draw everything!

All of this is pretty new to me.  If any of you have any recommendations for us, let me know!

And last, Happy Lunar New Year!  I admit, I have never done anything for Lunar New Year.  I need to educate myself so I can do something next year.  I did, however, receive my very first ever Lunar New Year card and envelope in the mail yesterday!  Thank you, beautiful Jane Cherie!

As always, dear readers, Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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What Does The Fox Say?

What Does The Fox Say? by Ylvis, illustrated by Svein Nyhus.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Yup, we got the book

It's actually Little Sis's Valentine's Day present - shhh, she hasn't seen it yet - but I took it for a test drive with Big Sis's second grade class today!  Because there is nothing more fun than listening to a bunch of second graders sing a really weird comedy song with nonsense lyrics. Really.

I mean that.

Big Sis tells me that she hears kids singing "The Fox" to themselves down the halls.  On indoor recess days, they sometimes dance to the song.  They make up new parody versions for fun.  Kids are funny.

To have even more fun with our storytime, I printed off these adorable fox masks from Little Gatherer, adding popsicle sticks instead of elastic, and handed them out to the kids so they could be foxes, too.  (By the way, I'm loving Little Gatherer.  New discovery for me today!)

There are lots of printable masks to be found, all over the internet.
I used these, but I also found some that kids can color themselves.
We wouldn't have had time for that, I'm afraid.

When it came time for all the nonsense "fox words," I let kids volunteer to do each sound solo.  

Second graders, as you probably know, are hams.  

I wish I had pictures from storytime!  I do have pictures from the book.  (I had trouble keeping Mabel out of the way.)

I am super-intrigued by the crazy illustrations.  Svein Nyhus is a Norwegian illustrator and author of children's books.  This is actually his second book to be published in the United States.  (The first, Why Kings and Queens Don't Wear Crowns, was written by Princess Märtha Louise of Norway in 2004, and published in the U.S. in 2005.)  I wish the success of this book would lead to more of his books being translated and published over here!  If you wish to see more, he has a blog.  It's in Norwegian, but you can always turn on Google Translate.

I love storytime.  If someone would pay me to read to kids all day long, I would have it made.

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Kansas Day

Today is the 153rd anniversary of Kansas's statehood.  Kansas Day was very popular when I was in elementary school.  We ate beans and cornbread, colored pictures of the state flag and Jayhawks - if you were born in Kansas, you are a Jayhawker - and sang many rounds of "Home On the Range."  (I'm repeating myself - see last year's Kansas Day post.)

Kansas is the land of John Brown, Carrie Nation, Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education and Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Silent film stars Buster Keaton, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Louise Brooks were all born in Kansas, as was I Love Lucy co-star Vivian Vance. Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar, was from Wichita.  Although she thought Indian Territory could have only meant Oklahoma, it turned out that the real Little House on the Prairie  of Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood was in southeastern Kansas.  The great Gordon Parks once held a door open for me at Wichita State.  Truman Capote wrote In Cold Blood about an infamous Kansas murder. William S. Burroughs moved to Lawrence in 1981, and lived there until his death.

Little Sis's favorite historical Kansan was born in Atchison.  We hope to visit her birthplace this summer.

At this moment, we are making headlines for our amazing college basketball (KU, K-State, and my own beloved Shockers) and for political crap I am choosing to ignore today.   President Obama's mother and her family were originally from Kansas.  We have a few modern celebrities.  You might catch Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, or Rob Riggle in the crowd at KU games.  Eric Stonestreet is a proud K-State Wildcat.  Kirstie Alley has a house - well, two actually - not too far from us here in Wichita.  We have some literary connections.  Clare Vanderpool, author of the Newbery-winning Moon Over Manifest and Printz honor book Navigating Early, lives here in town.  Laura Moriarty lives in Lawrence.  Scott Phillips is originally from Wichita, and set his early books in Kansas.

Interested in more fun, goofy facts, like state symbols?  Go here.  If, by chance, you are a Kansan with kiddos, here are some free Kansas Day activities.

Here is our famous state-song-nobody-knows-is-a-state-song, with its original lyrics.

"Ad astra per aspera" - To the stars through difficulties.

Tomorrow:  Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I lie.

There is no regularly scheduled programming.  

You probably knew that already.


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Locomotive (2014 Caldecott Winner!)

Locomotive by Brian Floca.  Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2013.
Winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal.

Did you watch the Grammy Awards last night?  Me?  Nope.  Don't care.  They seldom like the same music I like anyway.  Forget the Grammys, though.  The Caldecott and Newbery awards were announced today! Yay!  Hooray for the ALSC Media Awards!  To see the full list of winners and honorees, click here.

I'm so excited to share this year's Caldecott Medal winner!  Locomotive by Brian Floca [Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2013] is a beautiful book.  Everything about it:  the gorgeous paintings, the interesting use of font styles, the poetic text...  Mr. B and I oohed and aahed over this book over Christmastime, but ultimately decided on other titles for the girls this year.

For those of you who don't know or have forgotten, since I only mention it once in a while, I am married to a railroader.  Mr. B is a freight conductor.  Before that, he was a track foreman on the Maintenance of Way side.  We have a love/hate relationship with trains.    This book, however, about a family traveling via passenger steam locomotive to the West in 1869, gives you the romantic, historic view of trains.  You just can't beat that.

Oh, here's the other reason I'm excited this book won.  Brian Floca visited my favorite indie bookstore in September.  I didn't go, I'm sorry to say.  But I did snatch up their last signed copy this morning!

Congrats to Brian Floca!  And congrats to the Caldecott Honor recipients, too.  So many wonderful picture books in 2013!  The little honor list is so small, but the breadth of award-worthy titles seemed especially large this year.  I shared both these links on Facebook, but take a gander at these lovely lists put together by the folks at NPR and BrainPickings for more.

I'll leave you with a few snapshots of my family fooling around on a beautiful antique steam locomotive at Riverside Park in Independence, Kansas, summer 2012.

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