Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, William

William Shakespeare is the most renowned English playwright and poet in history. Details of his life are sketchy due to the fact that little documentation remains besides his writings and a few church documents including his baptismal, marriage and burial records.
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, on or about April 23, 1564. Records from Holy Trinity Church indicate that he was baptized on April 26. He was the third of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a glover and leather merchant, and local heiress Mary Arden.
On November 28, 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. Their first child, Susanna, was born on May 26, 1583, and twins Hamnet and Judith were born on February 2, 1585. Hamnet died at age 11, but Shakespeare’s wife and other two children outlived him.
Scholars estimate that Shakespeare arrived in London in about 1588 and began to work as a playwright and actor. By 1594 he was acting and writing for London’s most popular and successful theater company of the day, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, as well as serving as the group’s managing partner. He is credited with writing 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and two narrative poems.
As with his birth, the date of William Shakespeare’s death is a guess -- April 23, 1616. Church records do show that he was buried at Holy Trinity in Stratford on April 25. In 1623, two of Shakespeare’s colleagues published the First Folio, his collected plays, half of which were previously unpublished.
Special thanks to Dora Lee for the graphic.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Five Earth Day Reads for Kids

An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming by Al Gore (2007)

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (2002)

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh (2008)

Eye on Energy - Alternative Cars by Jill C. Wheeler (2008)

Just A Dream by Chris Van Allsburg (1990)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mark Twain Centennial

Samuel Langhorne Clemens is the American author and humorist Mark Twain, best known for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, along the Mississippi River, and was licensed as a steamboat pilot in 1859. He worked on the river until the Civil War, when fighting interrupted river traffic. He then worked as a traveling reporter, writing stories from all across the United States. This led to his writing career.

His life along the Mississippi River influenced much of his work, and his pen name comes from a common riverboat term for testing the depth of water. If a crew man called “Mark Twain” it meant to check for a depth of 12 feet, the minimum depth required for a river boat to travel safely. Nobel Prize-winning American author William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."

April 21, 2010, marks the centennial of Mark Twain's death.

Photo is courtesy of the Library of Congress creative commons - public domain collection.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Picture Books for National Library Week

National Library Week is an annual celebration that highlights the value of libraries and librarians. Join the 2010 celebration April 11 - 17 with a visit to your local library.  Here are ten picture books with a library theme to read with your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, or students.

Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
The Shelf Elf by Jackie Hopkins
Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book by Alexander Stadler
Our Library by Eve Bunting
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
Winston the Book Wolf  by Marni McGee

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Am The Book

I'll be your friend, stay by your side, contradict you, make you laugh or teary-eyed
On a sun-summer morning.

I'll spark you, help you sleep, bring dreams you'll forever keep
On a dappled-autumn afternoon.

I'll warm you, keep you kindled, dazzle you till storms have dwindled
On a snow-flaked winter evening.

I'll plant in you a spring-seedling with bursting life while you are reading.

 I am the book you are needing.

Poem by Tom Robert Shields
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins for the book Wonderful Words

Monday, April 5, 2010

MLB, Opening Day

A baseball poem from the poetry collection for children called Sports! Sports! Sports!, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Fly Balls

I am like a spider,
So it's fly balls that I love.
For I catch them when they're buzzing,
In the webbing of my glove.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Besides Fairy Tales, He Wrote Poetry, Too


Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is considered the "father of the modern fairy tale," but he also wrote poetry, novels, travel journals, plays, and three autobiographies.  His most famous stories include The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Red Shoes and The Snow Queen.  A statue of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbor honors Danish born  Andersen. His birthday -- April 2 -- is celebrated as International Children's Book Day.  In 2010 Google noted the writer's 205th birthday by replacing its logo with depictions of Andersen's Thumbelina.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

by A. E. Housman.  Photo by Susan Ujka Larson

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April is National Poetry Month

American’s Favorite Poems edited by Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky, U.S. Poet Laureate from 1997-2000, invited Americans to share with him their favorite poems, and from their letters he compiled this anthology. This may be a great book to start with for National Poetry Month.

Recently I met Peter Armenti, Digital Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress. His love and expertise is poetry, and he compiled this Online Resources Guide to Pinsky and his work.