We celebrated the start of the Year of the Monkey with Chinese dances, music, poetry and visual arts.
Kwan's Kung Fu Masters of Peekskill dazzled us with their Lion Dance. We're sure any evil spirits were driven out of our theater by their gymnastic display. Students and masters of the studio demonstrated martial arts, as well. Check back to see more posts, including (we hope) videos of that lion!
Many, many, many thanks to Cristina Lee who asked if we could host a Chinese New Year celebration and proceeded to organize the entire afternoon!
Earlier this month, I got a sneak peek of Westchester resident Eric Velasquez's new picture book, an adorable tale of a boy searching for his favorite stuffed animal. I also learned the delightful backstory to this charmer, due out in February.
At last year's Chappaqua Children's Book Festival, Eric spied a young boy who looked just right for a picture book. And after talking with the child's parents, he invited them all to his studio to take photos to serve as models for the boy in his latest story! Though Eric based the boy's apartment, the parents, and the grandmother on his own childhood in Spanish Harlem (right down to the orange lamps), the inspiration for the boy diligently hunting for his stuffed antelope comes from right here in Chappaqua.
(Here we are, both being very excited about the book.)
I just became aware of a great new source of nicely-illustrated stories from Africa that are available for reading or downloading:
And it's free!
Folktales, fables, and stories of contemporary life in Africa are included. They range from the simplest early readers to fairly lengthy narratives in picture book format. They're written in a variety of African languages (Kiswahili, isiXhosa, Lusoga and many more) but almost all of them have been translated into English, as well.
Here are a few of my favorites from the site:
"Maguru Gives Out Legs" is a porquoi tale which explains why snakes are legless. I like it so much I'm going to add it to my storytelling repertory.
"Refiloe and the Washed Chickens" is a funny story featuring wedding preparations and a family feud. (Don't worry about those chickens. They really are alive all along!)
"My Red Ball" is a lively early reader enhanced by the variety of visual perspectives.
Let us know if you find any other gems on the website.
It's Chappaqua Challenge time again! Readers in grades 4-6 form teams of 3-4 people and read from a list of 12 great books. Then all the teams get together in March to quiz each other, have a party and get gift certificates for more books. There's no score, winners or losers, so it's really about trying different types of books and having fun. Click here for more info.