Monday, July 26, 2010

Put on your thinking caps!

Usually summertime is a great opportunity to crank out some workbook sheets to transition students from the previous grade to the next. And while vocabulary exercises and math problems are great practice, I think a great use of summertime freedom is to fill the gaps that aren't always covered in classrooms or workbooks. I studied philosophy in college and loved logic class, but I always felt that I could have used the information earlier. I remember doing syllogisms in geometry, but the idea of actually thinking logically to solve problems was never formally addressed when I was in school.

Recently, there have been a few books published that address not only problem solving and critical thinking, but major philosophical concepts, all in inventive formats. Each of these books were enjoyable reads. I myself learned a couple of tricks about the various topics they addressed. If you're looking for something to work on this summer with your 8+ year old, take a look at these books!

No Problem! by Ken Watanabe
Behaviors section upstairs & on display in the Chapter Book Room

This book is broken up into three sections in which a character has a problem he or she wants to solve, and then the narrator explains different techniques for solving the problem. Tips include logic trees, weighted pro/con lists and matrices. This would be a great resource for the young autodidact, or a good one to read together as both parent and child will get a lot out of it.

Really, Really Big Questions! by Stephen Law
General Science section upstairs

This is another book, like No Problem! that is not only really well-designed and fun to look at, but FULL of great information. Each page has a few questions, with a paragraph or more of an answer. The answers are not only well-written and easy to understand, but they summarize really well the main viewpoints held on major philosophical issues. Each answer offers readers enough to go on to formulate their own opinions.

Coming 12 October, 2010!
Really, Really Big Questions about Space and Time! by Mark Brake

A follow-up to the philosophically-inclined, aforementioned Really, Really Big Questions, is a space, time & science-oriented volume. This looks just as interesting as the first. From the publisher: " unusual and fun introduction to space science and astrophysics. It explores those massive, complicated, weird and often unanswered questions such as Does the Universe have a shape? What makes sunshine? Do stars explode? How do you build a time machine? and Do aliens look like me? Your head will spin – with knowledge!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You're invited to a garden party!

I am so pleased to announce that our dear friend Julia Denos, illustrator extraordinaire and George alum, is coming to visit!

Her brand-new picture book, Grandma's Gloves, comes out on August 10. We're lucky enough to have both Julia AND author Cecil Castellucci as story time guests that Saturday, August 14 at 12pm! Ms. Castellucci and Julia will read and sign Grandma's Gloves; then we'll have a craft activity and refreshments. Stay tuned for more details.

If you're not yet familiar with Julia's work, I've gushed about it here several times before, so be sure to take a look at those posts (and her own amazing blog, The Cinnamon Rabbit) and prepare to be enchanted.

I'm also a huge fan of Cecil Castellucci's (and you should be, too!). She's the brilliant author of YA novels Boy Proof, Beige, The Queen of Cool, and the Plain Janes graphic novel series, as well as co-editor (with Holly Black) of the short story collection Geektastic: Tales from the Nerd Herd. Her characters range from "geektastic" in the best possible way to punk rock, but all of them feel like people you'd like to sit down for a coffee and a good chat -- or maybe some ice cream and a Star Wars marathon. Cecil herself seems like that kind of person from her writing and her blog, so I'm really excited to meet her! Natasha recently participated in a live video chat with her on Goodreads (and while you're viewing that, hop over to our store page and see what we're reading!).

Make sure to mark your calendar now, because this event is not to be missed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hot-off-the-press kid reviews

Just after I remarked to Hannah that our Kid Review board is equal parts series reviews (Twilight, The Lightning Thief, Harry Potter, Wimpy Kid) and "other stuff" reviews, we got a slew of fresh ones. Are kids missing book reports while they're on vacation? While those V.I.B.s are still heavily represented, The Wizard of Oz got reviewed twice in the last 24 hours -- not bad for a book in its 110th year! Voracious 7-year-old reader Piper wrote not one, but four reviews of her favorites. Here are some brand-new book recommendations from our young readers:

Title: The Wizard of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Reviewed by: Jonah
Rating: 5 bananas
“It was an adventure with all those characters.”

Title: The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Author: Roald Dahl
Reviewed by: Sophie
Rating: 5 bananas
“I thought it was an interesting book full of adventure!"

Title: The Titan’s Curse
Author: Rick Riordan
Reviewed by: Olivia
Rating: 5 bananas
“I love this book. I could read the whole series over and over. I always cry when ZoĆ« Nightshade dies. This book is AMAZING!!”

Title: Ivy + Bean
Author: Annie Barrows
Reviewed by: Piper
Rating: 5 bananas
“It was a fantastic book. Everyone had great personality. I always can't wait for the next book to come out.”

Title: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Author: Jeff Kinney
Reviewed by: Sam
Rating: 5 bananas
“I liked Manny! He was so funny! Especially when he got every present for Christmas.”

Title: Nancy Drew series
Author: Carolyn Keene
Reviewed by: Piper
Rating: 5 bananas
“It is the best book ever. Everyone should read it.”

Title: Harry Potter series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Reviewed by: Julia
Rating: 5 bananas
“I loved Harry Potter because I think it is very creative and I love all the adventures Harry goes on and how magic is involved. I give it 5 bananas!”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ready to learn monkey pose?

A reminder: Abbie Davies, founder of the My First Yoga program and author of My First Yoga: Animal Poses, will teach a yoga session and sign her book on Saturday at 12pm during our story time. Here's a little about the yoga curriculum Abbie's developed:
My First Yoga offers an engaging, exciting and innovative approach to youth’s yoga education. A series of age appropriate exercises and educational activities stretch both mind and body, providing students with the mental and physical tools necessary to lead healthy, balanced lives.
More info about the program, the My First Yoga email list, and an Animal Poses iPhone app are all available on the website!

See you Saturday!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Don't take our word for it...

Scene: It was a usual day at the George, and NPR was playing in surround sound in the offices and receiving vault. Volume controls were boosted when On Point featured summer reading picks for kids! We were really excited to hear some new titles as well as classics in the midst: from A Cricket in Times Square to The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda.

See their choices for yourself at: NPR On Point: Summer Reads for Kids.