Brian Floca

Two Siberts!

FYI:  The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal – awarded annually to the most distinguished INFORMATIONAL book for children.  (Really, these are books for everybody.)  Sibert award winners in our library:
– 2018  Honor Award  Grand Canyon, Jason Chin
– 2015  Medal Winner The Right Word, Roget and His Thesaurus, Jen Bryant
– 2015  Honor Award  The Mad Potter – George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius, Greenberg/Jordan
– 2014  Honor Award  Locomotive, Brian Floca
– 2010  Honor Award  Moonshot, Brian Floca

Two more Sibert winners in the STORIES AND STUDIES CENTER this past week:

2017 Honor Award:  Giant Squid, by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann.  I was looking for information on giant squid (because, why not?) and getting irritated because the books I found included only illustrations NOT photographs.  Well, here is why:  giant squid are tricky to locate.  The first time scientists actually saw a live giant squid was in 2006!  In 2012 (for the very first time), a giant squid was captured on film swimming at a depth of more than 2,000 feet under sea level.  After reading through the book, we confirmed that restaurants do not use giant squid for their calimari menu entrees.  Squid used in restaurants are around a foot in length.  Giant squid are about the size of a bus (and have the largest eyeballs of any living creature on earth) (not that this has anything to do with the dining experience).  We also talked about black squid ink.  Thinking about any sort of squid makes my back shiver.

 2007 Medal Winner:  Team Moon, by Catherine Thimmesh.  Perfect timing!  We were reading this the very week that marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.  “Team Moon” focuses upon critical challenges, last minute glitches, and the team of 400,000 focused professionals who supported the project that landed the first men on the moon.  We read about:

  • unexpected alarms (hearts in our throats)
  • potential fuel deficiency in the lunar module (hearts in our throats)
  • the space suits and shoes (requirements, construction, testing, testing, testing) (hearts in our throats when we read about Armstrong and Aldrin jumping up and down on the moon – disastrous if any seams had ripped)
  • the cameras (OK, this we could deal with, put us on the camera committee)
  • the potential for deadly bacteria/virus returning from outer space (hearts in our throats)
  • the parachute landing (hearts in our throats)
  • high winds in Australia that nearly prevented TV transmission (again, we could deal with this)

We learned that every aspect of Apollo 11 had a “backup program for the backup program for the backup program”, while acknowledging that any surprise from outer space could disable the mission at every single stage.  

We loved finding out why Armstrong and Aldrin shed their oxygen backpacks at the end of their moon walk and left them on the moon:  they needed the room in the lunar module for the moon rocks they were bringing back to earth!  (This book is so A+.) 

BTW,  here is something else we learned (via Wikipedia):  the moon is 240,000 miles away from planet Earth and the International Space Station is a mere 250 miles away.  We learned about the concept of “Low Earth Orbit”  (anything that orbits between 99 and 1,200 miles from the surface of the earth).  So, questions:  is the ISS in low earth orbit?  is the moon in low earth orbit?

Speaking of distances – A Farmer Brown story problem – Farmer Brown’s truck manages 22 miles on one gallon of gas.  Today, the truck has 2 gallons of gas left in the tank and Farmer Brown’s grandmother needs a ride into town to the beauty salon.  The beauty salon is 6 miles away, but on the way to the salon, Granny would like to stop at her friend Beulah’s house to return a cookie tray she borrowed for a tea party.  Beulah’s house is 10 miles beyond the beauty salon.  But before she can return the tray, Granny needs to go to the florist to buy Beulah a bouquet to thank her for lending the tray.  The florist is 3 miles in the opposite direction from the beauty salon.  Does Farmer Brown have enough gas in his truck to drive Granny to the florist, to Beulah’s, to the beauty salon, and then back to the ranch?  (answer at bottom of post)

Music to capture the triumph of the Apollo 11 mission –  we were looking for orchestral music that celebrated the can-do spirit of America, applauded the historical achievement, and conveyed JOB WELL DONE:

– Hoe-Down from Aaron Copland’s ballet (1942), “Rodeo” – EXCELLENT SELECTION:  a joyful, rambunctious dance of exhilaration.  A splendid performance by the National Youth Orchestra of the USA (2018):

– Theme from “Bonanza” TV show – EXCELLENT SELECTION:  composed by Livingston, Evans, and Rose for the Bonanza TV show (1959 to 1973).  A short, robust piece brimming with that American confidence:

– And then, HOO BOY:  my son and I took a listen to the #1 pop song of 1969:  “Sugar, Sugar”, by The Archies.  Let’s get this straight – the very same people who could collectively appreciate the magnitude of the moon landing listened to this song enough times to send it shooting up to the top of the “Billboard Hot 100” list.  Maybe we just needed something ridiculously uncomplicated.  “Sugar, Sugar” to the rescue! 

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer:  yes, barely.  Granny’s zigzag route to the beauty salon is 38 miles in length)

Textbooks – if we ruled the world

We want textbooks that make us pay attention  –

  • by captivating us with quirky information
  • by taking us behind the scenes, so that we gain a sympathetic understanding of the facts
  • by luring us in with intriguing graphics

textbooks 5

We want textbooks that we cannot wait to open each night.  Books like these:

  • Usborne Books – “Explorers”: so excellent
  • DK Eyewitness Books – “Gandhi”: perfection
  • Peter Sis Books – WHOA. Works of art with great information. We learned so much about Columbus, Darwin, and Galileo from the Sis books.
  • Bill Nye Books – information peppered with funniness and energy
  • Stephen and Lucy Hawking Books – “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” and “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt”, both make staggering concepts easy to understand by deftly weaving them into story format.
  • “Music Was It” by Susan Goldman Rubin – such an interesting biography of Leonard Bernstein
  • “Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space” by Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman – anybody who reads this blog knows that we LOVE-to-the-power-of-10 this book.
  • “Moonshot” by Brian Floca – spectacular book about the flight of Apollo 11
  • “A Child’s Book of Art” by Lucy Micklethwaite – my son LOVES this book. He reads it every day, and we are on our third copy.
  • “A Really Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson – quirky information delivered in enthusiastic Bryson style

tip jar

Last night’s story problem from “Le Fictitious Local Diner” – There are 3 waitresses working the morning shift at the café, and on Saturday, they split a tip jar that contained $57.  The 4 waitresses that work the afternoon shift split a tip jar that contained $78.  Who went home with more tip money – a morning or an afternoon waitress?

 tea cups

Last night’s music program celebrated TEA TIME. We learned about theme and variation and the concept of orchestration by focusing upon the classic American sweetheart melody, “Tea for Two”.

  • First, “Tea for Two”, written by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar for the 1924 Broadway smash-hit, “No, No, Nanette”.  ADORABLE (and makes us want to know what a sugar cake is).

  • Second, “Tea for Two” as interpreted by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1927. Long story short: Shostakovich won 100 rubles by re-orchestrating “Tea for Two” in less than one hour, after listening ONE TIME to a recording of the song. It SPARKLES!

  • Next, in 1939, jazz pianist great, Art Tatum put his spin on “Tea for Two”. FANTASTIC.

  • And then, oh my gosh, The Lawrence Welk TV Show (1951-1971) featured “Tea for Two” SIXTY SEVEN times during the course of its long broadcast run. I just don’t know what to say about this variation; I am still stunned on so many levels. On the plus side, my son was mesmerized by the two musicians demonstrating such skill on (the duck-billed platypus of instruments) the accordion.

 Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH