Mo Willems Season doesn’t fall on the calendar at the same time every year, but every Mo Willems Season is like Second Christmas to me. Everyone seems a little nicer during Mo Willems Season; a little wittier, a little more delightfully absurd. There’s an extra spring in my step the week I teach the kids how to draw The Pigeon. I am almost deliriously cheerful the week a new crop of kindergartners is introduced to Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie. And I always need to take a moment to collect myself during Knuffle Bunny Week, when Knuffle is passed on to the next generation. Elephant and Piggie, Cat the Cat, Leonardo, Amanda, Goldilocks. This year I have decided to extend the festivities into June.
What makes this year’s Mo Willems Season even more awesome is the fact that April is the 10th anniversary of the publication of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Mr. Willems’ first book. I know I’m down to the wire here with one day of April left, but I am still celebrating the start of the festive season during anniversary month. And there are some pretty great ways for anyone to be celebrating the big anniversary.
Like this new anniversary set, with smaller editions of 3 Pigeon books in their own bus box:
How cool is that? The books are perfectly Hannah-sized, and since the Pigeon was her very first read aloud, and her collection of autographed books began with The Pigeon, I thought she should have a set.
There was also last week’s release of the latest Willems adventure, That Is Not a Good Idea.
I have been stalking fabric sites all month anxiously awaiting the release of this fabric. Since tomorrow is the end of April, I’m guessing it will go into May before I can order some. But when I can, look out…I have already warned Adam that my fabric budget will be blown on this collection. A Pigeon sundress for Hannah? Another lift-the-flap quilt? A bag for me? All of the above.
It’s the (second) most wonderful time of the year!
I can’t believe it’s been more than a week since I’ve posted. I’m not even sure why, this week just went really quickly. Last weekend was full of awesome birthday celebrations, which I will post more about in the next few days. And it’s just been quick and a little exhausting. We’re trying to work out a new morning and evening routine here, so we’ve been kind of hyper-focused on that. But the end result is that I have a pile of stuff to post about now, including the fact that Hannah turned 11 months old yesterday!
I took a ton of photos of her last night, but she was a little overtired and I wasn’t happy with them. We had an awful morning today trying to get blood drawn for some routine baby stuff, and that required a great deal of snuggle naps and smiling faces to bring everyone back to a happy place. Hannah’s now asleep, but Adam and I are still not recovered. It was traumatizing, and we have to go back because it couldn’t be done properly. It’s been a funny weekend so far. But, I can get that out of my mind with these photos I took while we played in Hannah’s room before dinner tonight. She is very much enjoying the 2013 Caldecott books.
My in-laws used to get nervous that they gave me too many books as gifts, that I’d get tired of them. They have learned by now that nothing makes me happier, and they’ve joined my own family in helping me build my library every year. And this year, the selection of books I was given was pretty astoundingly good. Some of these were on my own wishlist, some of them were given with great thought and care, and one of them was a gift to myself.
Quilting Modern:Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts was on my wishlist that I was really excited for, andInstinctive Quilt Art: Fusing Techniques and Design (right) was from my in-laws. And it has the most amazing, vivid art quilts in it. Both books really focus on free form, go-with-what-you-feel quilting, so maybe this is the universe telling me to just start cutting and sewing this year.
Felt Mistress: Creature Couture is an insanely strange and sublimely cool find from my brother-in-law Thomas. The Felt Mistress is heretofore unfamiliar to me, but apparently she is a force in British fashion, toy design, puppetry, and window displays. This giant art book details piles of her original stuff and her work with Jonathan Edwards creating some of the most awesome felt creatures I’ve ever seen. This is one of those fabulous, only-available-in-Britain treasures that I could spend hours upon hours poring over.
And to add to my ever-growing arsenal of food tomes are The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, this great resource that explains how to make everything from pop tarts to ketchup at home in your own kitchen. The feeling is more retro Home Ec than depressing preservative-free food Nazi, and that is infinitely cooler and more accessible.
I also got On a Stick to add to my party food collection and Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit. This one was actually written by a girl who was in the graduate Library and Information Science program with me at Pratt. We didn’t know each other, but Laena McCarthy is one of those faces you remember from the halls and somehow end up Facebook friends with. So I knew she’d become kind of this legendary artisanal jam maker in Brooklyn, which is very cool in and of itself. But when I found out she was publishing a book about jam at the end of the summer when I discovered this art form I got REALLY excited. All of the food books were on my wishlist.
My Ideal Bookshelf is also one from my wishlist. Again, I’m a little obsessed and plan on spending hours poring over this one. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but any book that includes the favorite books of James Franco AND Nancy Pearl Librarian Extraordinaire in the same book is perfection. Plus, the bookshelves are illustrated. Very cool.
And then finally, Dancers Among Us. This was my present to myself, and I am so smitten with this book. And don’t you dare judge me for reading about it in O magazine’s December issue. Look at the cover, how could you not be in love with this? And look at this photo:
This is the ultimate, cure-a-bad-day book of photos. Pure joy, and I love every page. We have 3 students from my school all battling relapsed leukemia, and the one I’ve taught the most (her mom is a teacher in the building) just went back into the hospital in December. She’s in 3rd grade, so I sent her a copy of Hugo Cabret, the next 2 books in the Bone series after the last one she checked out of the library, and this book for her whole family. I may send this book to everyone I know from here on out that could use a smile.
So, all in all I’d say this was one of my best hauls of books ever. I’m kind of over the moon.
I love this time of year at school. Every year during the short Thanksgiving week I have the 3rd and 4th graders help me change The Library Tree from fall to winter. It’s a small thing, but I love those rituals.
I’m also really getting into the change in direction with my back bulletin board and display. That area was completely ignored during the reign of my “Spotlight On” boards, but I’m definitely getting more foot traffic now with September and October’s boards. And I’m kind of in love with my December board, too.
I live for doing bulletin boards, no matter how simple. Some of my coworkers roll their eyes at me when I tell them this, but I need to put my fancy art degree to good use somewhere.
I also love this time because it kind of just works out that the space between Thanksgiving and winter break is when I do some of my favorite activities with my classes. Last year everything was moved earlier to squeeze it in before my maternity leave began in March, and I didn’t get that same thrill. So this week I’m kind of remembering how much I really do love December (and late November) in the library.
Here’s an example: I’m set to start Hugo Cabret on Monday with all the 3rd grade classes, it will be the 5th year that I’ve taught this book. But I’ll be at a workshop next Thursday, so I decided at the last minute to start it today with my Thursday 3rd graders. I wasn’t in the best mood this morning; it’s been a long week. But the second I launched into my annual Introduction to the Awesome of Brian Selznick, I immediately felt content and almost teary-eyed as I looked at another class of gobsmacked third graders fill up with wonder as they get ready to take that ride with me. That book never lets me down, and my day was pretty awesome after that.
This week the kindergarten classes all started our Laura Numeroff circle stories unit. Yes, it is technically “circular stories”, but you try getting 60+ kindergartners to say that over and over again, week after week. I do, by the way, have first and second graders who still bounce into the library to tell me about “circle stories” they’ve read that are just like the ones from kindergarten. That is rad, so I’m not changing it. Anyway, we’ve read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to School this week. We start slow, but since we need a week to be authors and another week to be illustrators, I have to decide if I want this unit to continue into January. We usually start this unit the week after Halloween, but…that obviously didn’t happen this year. So I have to decide, ending it before winter break is so tidy and wonderful.
I also moved the first grade Wordless Stories unit to December this year. We’ll start fresh in January with Clementine, but I kind of couldn’t wait any longer to read The Adventures of Polo with them. Again, it just felt like the right time of year to do it.
The second graders are reading The Velveteen Rabbit this week and next! One of my favorite stories all year, and that will segue into the first chapters of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane before break.
And then, finally, my 4th grade classes are still working their way through Wonder and absolutely loving it. The storm definitely threw off my timing, so I will have to start looking at chapters to trim from the reading. But we’ve now all finished the “Choose Kind” chapter and had our big talk about that theme. Again, such a great time of year to be doing it.
I love this time of year at school.