Monday, September 23, 2013

Here Come the Girl Scouts!

As a Girl Scout myself, (once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout!) I was naturally intrigued by a book all about Juliette Gordon Low, nicknamed Daisy, the founder of the Girl Scouts.  Here Come the Girl Scouts!(Scholastic, 2012) is the illustrated biography of Daisy, highlighting her adventures as a child and how these adventures made her into the brave and innovative woman she grew to be.  Readers learn about Daisy's inspiration for starting the Girl Scouts, as well as how it got off the ground in the Victorian era.  Each page is largely dominated by fun illustrations, some of which have speech or thought bubbles.  There is text that corresponds with the illustration, spanning Juliette's life experiences.  Every other page or so readers are treated to a quote from the original Girl Scout handbook.  Here are some examples of the quotes throughout the book:

At the end of the biography, there is a two page spread of well-known women who are Girl Scouts, including Lucille Ball, Hillary Clinton, and Rebecca Lobo, just to name a few.  After these pages, there is more in-depth information about Girl Scouts, including a list of sources as well as information about how to learn more about the Girl Scouts.

This book is intended for four to eight year olds, but I think girls up to ten or eleven might enjoy it as well.  It would be a wonderful choice for an adventurous girl looking for some inspiration, or as research book for a biography assignment.   Here Come the Girl Scouts is a shoo-in for any girls already involved in Girl Scouts, and could provide background information for parents who may be unfamiliar with the organization, as the sources and suggested websites in the back are helpful.  If nothing else, this book will teach readers that there's more to the Girl Scouts than those tasty cookies we enjoy every year!  :)

For slightly older readers still interested in learning more about Juliette Gordon Low, I would recommend:

Daisy and the Girl Scouts: The Story of Juliette Gordon Low by Fern Brown, Albert Whitham & Co., 1996, 8-11 year olds

For adults or experienced readers, this title published by the Girl Scouts of the USA is full of background information on the organization's history:

Girl Scouts: A Celebration of 100 Trailblazing Years by Girl Scouts of the USA, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011

The Girl Scouts website has a wonderful section of historical information, including the original Girl Scout film, The Golden Eaglet, an interactive timeline of Juliette Gordon Low's life, photographs, and a quiz so visitors to the site can test their Girl Scout knowledge! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

Looking to escape the stresses of everyday life in 2013?  Well look no further than Laura Amy Schlitz's Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village (Candlewick Press, 2007)This collection of 22 monologues explores the lives of children in an English village in 1255.  Just Twitter, no texting, just life in the village.  Readers learn about children who have to work at a young age to help support their families, but through vivid monologues.  Intertwined between the monologues are footnotes and full pages that describe aspects of a particular monologue with a more informative tone.  For instance, in Edgar the Falconer’s Son’s monologue, there is a footnote to explain the “seeling” of a birds eyelids:  “In the early stages of taming a bird, the bird’s eyelids were “seeled” – sewn shut.  This was said to calm the bird (it wouldn’t calm me)” (39).   This provides an answer to a question many young readers may have, but in a casual and personal way. 

The book won the 2008 Newbery Medal, and was written by Schlitz (a school librarian!) for a group of her students to perform.  And what a fun idea...this book can be used in the classroom to learn about history while tapping into the creative side of students.  A search of "Good Masters, Sweet Ladies" on YouTube yields endless videos of students reciting monologues. 

The book is intended for readers 10 years old and up, and I'd go pretty far up, as I enjoyed reading this immensely!  History lovers will enjoy this, as well as reluctant nonfiction readers, as the story will draw them in.  This book may also be a good choice for a reader who likes to have easy stopping points while reading, as each monologue only spans a few pages at the most.  The book does not seem long and drawn out, and is easy to split up into manageable reading bits. 

Check out a more eloquently written review of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, by John Schwartz of the  New York Times review here.

For readers who may have already read (and loved!) this titles but are still interested in reading more about the Middle Ages, the following titles may be of interest:

The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages by Kathy Allen, Capstone Press, 2010, 8 and up 

This book is a good choice for readers who don't get squeamish easily, as just browsing the table of contents could cause queasiness!  Chapter titles that may entice gross-fact finders include "Rotting Teeth," "No Flushing," and "Barber-Surgeons," just to name a few.  "Foul Facts" are scattered throughout the short book.  For example:  "Diners at nobles' feasts used their best manners.  They remembered not to fart of pick flea bites at the table" (12).  GROSS! 

Till Year's Good End: A Calendar of Medieval Labors by W. Nikola-Lisa, Atheneum Books for Yount Readers, 2009, 6 and up 

Less disgusting than the previous suggestion, this book describes in more detail the daily work load of peasants and villagers in Medieval times.  Each month has it's own page, and readers learn more about tasks of the time, maybe making their own chores seem menial! 

One last is a website for kids and teachers with links to a lot of other sites with information about all aspects of life in Medieval times.  This site could be used a great starting point for kids hoping to learn more about this time period, as well as for teachers or librarians looking for resources when developing lessons or programs.