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.
The world has shown itself to be a pretty scary place recently. StoryCorps hopes to bring the global community a little closer together this Thanksgiving by collecting tens of thousands of stories, doubling their archives in one holiday weekend. By sharing and listening to the lives of our family and friends, we can learn about our collective history and get insight into our immediate community's experiences.
Consider working together this Thanksgiving to add a new voice to the archive--the StoryCorps app makes recording and posting simple. Or listen to one of the 65,000 stories already available and see the world just a little bit differently.
There were witches a-plenty, assorted animals and superheroes galore at our Halloween celebrations this year.
The younger children trick-or-treated through the library and the older set mummified their parents. Everyone heard stories appropriate to the holiday.
We can hardly wait until next year!