Enter the gates of Bembo and you will find a very cool alphabet website. Run your mouse over a letter and it makes the noise of the animal that you will see when you click on the letter. Then the name of the animal is displayed and the word becomes the animal itself, built out of the letters in its name. Lovely stuff! And what a nice place for preschoolers and kindergarteners to spend some time.
You will need to have Shockwave installed to view the site.

The Dumpster Diver

The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by David Roberts. 

I was charmed by this book when I opened it to the end pages and found a mishmash of different insects.  The dumpsters near the children’s buildings are filled with treasure, but it takes the Dumpster Diver to find it.  Suited with a yellow raincoat, snorkeling gear, heavy gloves and flippers, Steve is ready to enter the dumpsters.  It takes an entire diving team of children to support him, much to their delight.  And the treasure they find may be garbage to others, but is soon built into fantastic creations.  As Steve says, “Junk is good!”

This is not a sweet-scented, clean dumpster experience.  It is dangerous, dirty, icky and gross.  The fact that this all ends with cleaned up items that are made into useful furniture, toys and more is what makes the book so successful.  I love that it is not a sanitized version of junk collecting but instead embraces the icky along with the finds. 

Share this with an art class, kids who enjoy a good rummage around, or anyone who sees value in things that others toss out.  It will inspire children to see functionality and art in everyday objects. 

Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts

The 2007 Notable Children’s Books in the English Language Arts have been announced.  Book were selected in the following categories:  Poetry, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Fantasy/Folklore, Biography/Autobiography/Memoir, Informational, and Picture Books. 

My favorites on the list are: 

Meow Ruff by Joyce Sidman (in the Poetry category)

The Braid by Helen Frost (in the Historical Fiction category, though it could also have been in the Poetry one)

Rules by Cynthia Lord (in Realistic Fiction)

Gossamer by Lois Lowry (in Fantasy)

And all of the picture book choices! 

I obviously need to branch out into more nonfiction books, because I haven’t read many of the ones on the list at all.