Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Club - Franny K Stein

In my spate of catch-up posts about book club, I hop in my wayback machine to February of 2009. During that Valentine happy month, we read Attack of the Fifty Foot Cupid by Jim Benton, the second in the Franny K Stein series. Normally I try to feature the first book in a series in book club. However I had received a large number of free paperback copies of the second title in this series, so we went with the giant cupid. If you're not familiar with Franny K. Stein, she's a lot of fun as a beginning chapter book for guys or girls. She's a mad scientist (though not evil) kid who does wacky science things worthy of any film noir villain, but does so with humor and surprising humanity.

Book: Attack of the 50-ft Cupid by Jim Benton, part of the Franny K. Stein series.

Introduce Yourself
What is your name, age, and favorite subject in school?

Discussion Questions
  1. Is Franny a likeable character? Why or why not? (Make a pro/con list! I love lists!)
  2. Why do you think Igor the dog likes her?
  3. Does Franny get more or less likeable during the story?
  4. What do you think of Franny's valentine's generator?
  5. Did you make/give valentines this year?
  6. Is it better to valentines once a year or to show love all year long? (these last two questions break my own no yes/no question rules but they lead into the next few questions)
  7. How can you show love all year long? Does Fanny understand this? How so?
  8. Which is your favorite of Fanny's inventions?
  9. What would you invent if you could invent anything?
  10. What would you "biggerize"?
  11. What would you make manifest?
  12. Do you like science?
  13. Have you ever done a science experiment before? What was it like?

I've previously posted a Gross Science Program and any of those ideas would work. We made silly putty (erm I mean the non-trademarked pushy putty). Each kid got their own ziplock baggie full of fun. Pro tip: have hand wipes and clean ziplock bags available for transport home. Here's the recipe I used:

Pushy Putty/Flubber
Add 1/4 cup water to 1/4 cup Elmer's Glue
Squish together in ziplock bag with a few drops of food coloring (optional)

Make Borax Solution:
Take 2 tablespoons borax (found in the laundry aisle), add 1 cup water and stir

Add 1/4 cup of Borax solution to water and glue mixture.

Knead together. Let dry for a few minutes then store in an airtight container. It will be smooth and rubber like; it can bounce, pick up pictures from paper and more!

Science Experiment Take Two:
A great, fun, amazing, and simple science experiment demonstrates the law of gravity (that it works equally on all objects regardless of weight). Drop a ping pong ball and a golf ball from the same height at the same time. Guess which one will hit the ground first. (Hint, they'll hit at the same time.)

Obviously you'll be serving valentine candy you quite wisely bought on the 15th for a deep discount.

You can read the rest of the Franny K. Stein series by Jim Benton for a good start. Also fun is: Andrew Lost (series) by J. C. Greenburg, The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, and The Zack Files (series) by Dan Greenburg.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Club - Legend of Spud Murphy

Our first book club of the new year, at the end of January, was The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer. This book got rave reviews from our kids (remember our audience is first through third grade). I admit I'm not good at posting book club activities, but I save all my notes and I mean to! Since I'm doing a presentation at the Alaska Library Conference next week on book clubs, hopefully I'll get a bunch of these back notes put up. Helpful hint, while I always want to pronounce Eoin like Ian, I listened to an audio book of one of the Artemis Fowl series and they pronounced it more like Owen. I'm assuming the audio people would have pronounced the author's name correctly.

Book: The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer

Introduce Yourself
Name, age, and your best adventure story (one you read or one you lived)

Discussion Questions
  1. What are the boys' favorite types of books to read? (Action/Adventure)
  2. What are your favorite types of books to read?
  3. How do the boys know which area of the library to stay in?
  4. What areas of the Loussac Library are you allowed to be in? (all of them) Where are you not allowed to be? (you can go anywhere, but you do need to respect quiet zones)
  5. Why do you think kids weren't allowed in other sections of the library?
  6. Why were the kids so scared of Ms. Murphy? Was she really scary? Why or why not?
  7. Do you think librarians are scary? Why or why not?
  8. What do you think Ms. Murphy meant when she said she sometimes forgot the library was about books?
  9. What else is the library about besides just books? (hint programs, information, helping people)

Library Tour!
We spent about half our time on a tour of the library. Even though these kids are regular library users, they all said they learned stuff, and they all enjoyed it. Of course at the end, they got a READ temporary tattoo.

Survival Games
Using various survival guides such as The Boys Book of Survival or The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook and we played a quiz game with situations such as what would you do in a bear attack? (This is Alaska - they might need that! Of course they're less likely to be stuck in a hurricaine.)

Exploding Popsicle Stick Frisbees
Because my library is WAY more fun than Ms. Murphy's library, we made the exploding popsicle stick frisbees featured in The Outdoor Book for Adventurous Boys.

Potato Gun
I wish. We didn't do this, but how cool would that have been?

We don't do snacks any more, but it would have to be something spud based. Tater tots if you have a way to heat them, or potato chips. (The healthy kind of potato chips, er the healthy-ish kind.)

There are two veins to go when kids like Legend of Spud Murphy. The easiest is to go with similar humor books. I'd recommend Frindle by Andrew Clements (or pretty much anything by Andrew Clements) or any of the Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos (first title is Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key).

You can also go with survival stories, anything by Will Hobbs or Gary Paulsen (though those tend to go to a higher reading level). Gordon Korman is also a really good choice. And I tend to really like non-fiction books as well. Thus I recommend The Outdoor Book For Adventurous Boys by Adrian Besley and The Boys' Book of Survival: How To Survive Anything, Anywhere by Guy Campbell and not to leave the girls out we have The Daring Book For Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan.