Do you like reptiles? Would you like to learn more about them? Libraries in San Jose have many books about reptiles that you can check out. Here are a few that you many enjoy:
Eyewitness Reptile, written by Colin McCarthy is a great introduction to reptiles. This book includes a CD rom with plenty of clip art. There is information about reptile classification, reptile evolution, and an excellent glossary.
Slither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles, written and illustrated Jim Arnosky, is a beautifully illustrated book with life-size pictures of a variety of reptiles. Some of the pages fold out to allow for larger pictures.
There are also a variety of databases with additional information about reptiles and other animals, including databases especially for students in grades K-8. There is even a Science Reference Center that can connect you to more useful information. All you need is your library card to access these useful databases.
Here are some fun books children and their loved ones may enjoy:
The Freddy the Pig series of children's novels by Walter R. Brooks was one of the first reasons I got hooked on reading. They were first published between 1927 and 1958, but it was in the '80s that I tore through all 26 books in the primary grades. As an animal lover, I was delighted by the adventures and personalities of Freddy, Jinx the cat, Charles the rooster, Mrs. Wiggins the cow and so many more. Simon the rat is one of the great all-time villains if you ask me. Incidentally, Walter R. Brooks also created Mr. Ed the horse of TV fame.
I'm not alone in my adoration of Freddy. The Friends of Freddy was founded in 1984. They hold biennial conventions, publish a quarterly newsletter, and work to ensure the Freddy books will be available for generations to come. SJPL is great place to start delving into the world of Freddy and his friends (and in fact was for me when I was a kid!).
Mary Ann Winkowski is "the real life Ghost Whisperer and consultant on the top 30 CBS show Ghost Whisperer." She discussed about how she discovered her gift: she can only see the spirits who linger around and don't go to the Light, then she helps them to go into the Light. She got trained by her grandmother on how to help them. She cannot see the ones who have crossed over to the Light. Even if the ghost speaks a foreign language, she is still able to understand what the ghost is saying.
In When Ghosts Speak, the author brought out to light some truths about ghosts to help us understand more about earthbound spirits:
- The spirit attends its own funeral.
- Ghosts are not ugly or scary as Hollywood movies portrayed; they look normal like the rest of us; they still have desires which they cannot satisfy because they don't have a body anymore. These desires include going to a movie, going to see a show, and/or drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Why some spirits stay behind: some are still attached to materials such as a beautiful vacation home they once had, jewelry, or cars; a spirit who once was famous at a work place such as Hollywood and is still attached to that work place; spirits who used to have a fun work place and still want to perform an old job such as singing a romantic song on stage; some spirits want to seek revenge or pursue justice; some spirits are nosy and don't want to leave; and some are jealous lovers and want to follow the love life of the one they left behind.
- Young spirits are different; spirits of young children rarely come back. They are not attached. They don't have greed.
- Ghosts stay after unnatural deaths, such as in cases of murders and suicides.
- Pets are loyal, even after death, they still come back, and hang around their master.
- Evil spirits are rare, but they are real. Even spirits of "bad" people-murderers, rapists, pedophiles, etc.-are welcome into the Light when they die.
- Dark Spirits are evil, they "are not of the Light", they "do not come from the Light.' They were never human. Black magic (dark witchcraft, Ouija board process, satanism) brings back Dark Spirits, if not performed correctly. The author advises: do not dabble in black arts, do not play with Ouija boards of any type, do not perform spells intended to summon a spirit to grant you greater power or wealth or fame.
In the last chapter, "Living with Ghosts", Mary Ann Winkowski discussed about how people attract earthbound spirits, how to identify spirits around us, how to deal with eartbound spirits or how to protect ourselves from their influence.
Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the books and their ideas. We hope you will participate in the discussion by leaving comments below!
For Week 4, we'd like to ask:
Why do you think animals in stories tend to be anthropomorphized? What reasons can you come up with to enhance a story about a group of animals with human emotions, motivations and even physical traits?
In three of the Graphic Novel Contest Winners, animals are the main characters and focus of the stories. In The Cliff, the dogs look like dogs but have very complex thoughts and have conversations with each other that seem very human. In Arrow’s Forest Friend, the cats really go on what seems like a cat-like adventure, but once again, they have complex thoughts and human-like conversations. In Rabbit in the Moon, the human-ness goes full-blown and the characters are wearing clothes, walking upright and having an epic adventure.
For myself, I think that the use of animals gives you some leeway in portraying characters in a story. They do not possess the trappings that bog us down about our fellow humans – such as race or a specific cultures. They also seem easier to relate to because they are further away from us. Do you agree?
Hiccupotamus (AR 0.5, Level 3.3) by Aaron Zenz is great for the kid who is first experiencing hiccups! Poor hippo is suffering from the hiccups as he runs into various friends. Exaggerated rhymes and hilarity ensues as hippo inadvertently causes all kinds of trouble.
Hippo's friends carefully research (a super sight for this librarian to see) ways to eliminate hippo's hiccups. Spinning, vinegar, and other remedies don't seem to work. Finally, hippo's hiccups cease. See what happens in the surprise ending. If you read this picture book with emphasis on exaggerated hiccups, you are sure to see your kids laugh uproariously!