Pops Goes the Caterpillar

In 2009 The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book was released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the book. The story is exactly the same, but the artwork pops up off the pages.

I originally searched for book reviews using the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD). However, I found the database difficult to navigate and resorted to CUNY One Search. There I found a review from The Horn Book Magazine. The second review, from Publishers Weekly, I found from a simple Google search.

The two reviewers had different criticisms for the book’s design. The first reviewer complained about the layout of the book. “Saturday’s gorging is difficult to see without holding the book at an awkward angle…” says Carter (2009). She stated that while the book would be great for collectors, she recommends simply giving children the original one. The second review disagreed with Carter, stating that the pop-ups were “…vibrant and engaging…” (“The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book”, n.d.). However, the second review also stated that the book used too much white space, and that the pop-up edition looked sparse compared to the original.

While the reviews had different complaints in regards the book’s design, both agreed the dazzling butterfly that jumps off the final page of the book was a beautiful way to end the story.

Carter, B. (2009, July-August). Eric Carle: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book. The Horn Book Magazine, 85(4), 406.

Children’s Book Review: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book by Eric Carle, Author, Eric Carle, Illustrator . Philomel $29.99 (14p) ISBN 978-0-399-25039-2. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-399-25039-2

 

 

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Books That Are Class Acts

 

As a child, I adored Madeline, but I was more into the TV show the books. The same goes for Curious George. For this assignment, I decided to pick up both of these classics and see if they could reignite the spark I felt years ago.

Reading Madeline, I actually remembered this book from my childhood, but Curious George was entirely new to me. Classic children’s books, I believe, have a similar criteria to any other book. A classic should be engaging, and it helps to have characters children can relate to. They should stand the test of time, and be just as readable now as they were then. For children’s books, I would add the additional requirements of having appealing artwork and a story that adults can also enjoy.

Madeline’s title character stands out from the other girls she lives with because she is brave and adventurous. The book is set against the beautiful Paris backdrop. When Madeline gets her appendix taken out, she’s given toys and ice cream, and the surgery leaves her with a scar that she shows off to her friends. The ending, where girls all cry that they want their appendix out too, is amusing in a way that adults can also appreciate.

George of Curious George, drawn simply but adorable, is impossible not to love. However, the vegetarian and animal lover in me cringed at the plot. A monkey is taken away from his home and placed in, of all places, the zoo. As a librarian, I would recommend Madeline to children. While I wouldn’t discourage or attempt to stop a child from reading Curious George, I would never recommend a story that has such a casual attitude toward animal cruelty.

Bemelmans, Ludwig. Madeline. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1939.

Rey, H.A. Curious George. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941.

Klaus Baudelaire and the Role of a Child

Recently finishing the first season of the Netflix original A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire orphans and the role each of the three play is fresh in my mind. Since Sunny is only an infant and Violet is more of teenager or tween at fourteen, I’ve decided to focus this post on the middle child, Klaus.

Klaus is the reader of the group. He is a researcher, and about halfway through the book series, he begins keeping a commonplace book where he records notes on all of his findings. Of the three children, Klaus could be considered the most “smart mouthed”. He is quick to remind grown ups who attempt to define words for him that yes, he already knew what that word meant. Thank you very much.

It’s interesting to see Klaus’s role in the story and draw parallels to what we talked about in class last week. Last week, we talked about what the role of a child is, and many, myself included, talked about a child’s role as a learner. As the researcher and book worm, Klaus is very much the learner of the group. However, Klaus is often using his knowledge not primarily to help him grow, but to help the Baudelaires survive. His research skills and memory often gets him and his sisters out of desperate situations. Still, despite the absurd situations he faces, Klaus is still believable as a child, albeit a gifted, abnormally intelligent child.

On Children’s Rights

I thought the most interesting reads were the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, both for adults and in a “child friendly” language. It’s interesting to see how the rights of children have been taken into consideration and protected over the years. It’s also sad, but not very surprising, to see that these rights weren’t adopted until 1989. I also enjoyed viewing the “child friendly” version. Children really need to be aware of what their rights are. Most probably don’t even think of themselves as having “rights” and it’s important for them to have this information. This is also a Global Agreement. According to the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, 190 UN Member States have agreed to defend these rights.

Reading further along, if you browse through the fact sheets, you’ll notice that the United States is not CRC ratified for a single one of these rights! I further researched this, and found this article from The Washington Post. According to the article, the United States did sign the treaty, but ratification in the U.S. requires two thirds a majority vote and Republican senators opposed. I will admit, I don’t know the author of this article and so I can’t guarantee it’s credible. However, this article also states that the bill was signed but never ratified due to some Republican senators opposing it. Both articles also state that the only two countries that also haven’t ratified the treaty are Somalia and South Sudan.

Reading into this, I learned a lot that I hadn’t previously considered. Considering there are still many children who are denied their rights anyway, such as the millions of girls out there who are denied an education for example, how powerful are these rights? The fact that our country hasn’t ratified these rights is concerning to me, and I’d definitely like to learn more about this issue.

 

A Tour of Guduk Elementary School in South Korea

Guduk Elementary School is a medium sized school in Busan, South Korea. The video is filmed by one of its teachers, and features a tour of the school. In the video you will find classrooms, the school’s library, a cafeteria, and the teacher’s lounge. The video ends inside a music classroom where kids are singing along with a piano accompaniment. The teacher also shows his classroom toward the end of the video, which is for teaching English. He is a part of EPIK (English Program in Korea). If you’re interested in the school’s cultural aspects, check out the 2:40 point of the video, which features decorations for a Buddhist holiday (the teacher doesn’t specify which one).

The question what is a child is very broad and hard to answer succinctly. However, I will say that this video does make clear that to be a child is to learn, and that childhood is meant for learning. The importance of education has been proven countless times, and schools are there to help children learn. Guduk Elementary School is a relaxed and inviting environment. The library is small but cozy. At the two minute mark in the video, you will find a serene water fountain landscape. The school is set up in a way that welcomes children to learn and encourages the desire to do so. The children seen in the video are full of energy and character. This school hopefully motivates them to learn with that same energy that we see in the video. I was impressed with how clean the school appeared. It’s important for a school to have an environment such as this one, because for children, learning is their most important “job”.

As previously stated, this video is filmed by one of the school’s teachers. His YouTube channel, Red Dragon Diaries, is used to blog about his experiences teaching in both South Korea and Japan.