summer reading

French Booklets are a Great Success

Once again we are so grateful to teacher John and his French 2 students from Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago.  The students have created a set of 100 beautifully written and illustrated books and sent them to us to share with Haitian children.

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Our friend Susy, of Haitian Education Initiatives was headed to Jacmel, Haiti.  She promised to bring the books directly to her students in Haiti.

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Susy writes,

Many thanks to John, your students, and the members of Wonderland BookSavers for creating, donating and distributing the charming illustrated stories for the children at Haitian Educational Initiatives’ Cayes-Jacmel campus.

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The children absolutely loved them!

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It was a hot, sunny Saturday morning in early May at our weekend craft, feeding, and job training program and the Papillons (30 kids aged 3-9) had just finished making headbands as their craft project. They were charged with sitting quietly for 15 minutes until lunch was served and you can imagine how hard that was for them to do! Fortunately, I had your books with me and distributed a pile at each table.

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The children opened them up at once. Some at the far end were worried they might not get one but there were plenty for everybody. They marveled at the stories and illustrations, reading aloud rather than silently, as is their custom. There was a lot of trading around so the children could sample several, then they took turns reading their book to the whole group. 

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Book-making is a novel idea in Haiti: kids are not offered creative challenges like John’s students are. Since most Haitian students learn by rote and don’t have creative materials at home or at school, they don’t get to draw and write imaginatively. Your books truly astounded them. Thank you for providing such pleasure and inspiration! Congratulations to all the American students, teachers, and organizers who made this project possible. It was a great success.

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John wrote,

Thank you so much for the photos and kind letter. I read it to all of my French 2 classes yesterday. I also showed it to my principal and it made her cry 🙂 I am so happy we have continued this relationship and hope to have even better books next year!

If your class is interested in participating in this amazing project, we know children all over the world would enjoy your novel creations! Send us a note, and tell us what language you would like to explore!

June Trembles like a Butterfly – Neruda

As we stumble headlong through spring into summer, we eagerly set aside schoolbooks in favor of all our summer reading favorites.  There is nothing more magical than designing our own Wizard of Oz Summer Camp at Pequot Library. In the words of L. Frank Baum,

“Folklore legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal.  The winged fairies of Grim and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish heats than all other human creations.”

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We begin our day with baseball warm-up,

and then since our theme is everything Oz, we really begin with the Story of Oz.

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 the very first thing we come across is instructions: Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

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“If we walk far enough” says Dorothy, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”

The Yellow Brick Road leads right back to the Library; time to choose Summer books.

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and now: Wizard of Oz Bingo

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And everyone’s favorite, snack time: green food, of course!

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Building the Emerald City from green glitter and glue:

“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself.  There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger.  The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.”

Glitter Tornado in a Bottle

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Being Wonderland BookSavers, we had to collect shoes for our African friends, these ones were hand painted by students at a local school.  Here, we organized and packaged them, “Click your heels together 3 times, There’s no place like home.”

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“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

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Outdoor games!

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Inside: The Tornado Swirl, a purely Oz version of Musical Chairs with a Twist

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Wizard of Oz Puzzles and Word Search

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A trip to the Rare Books Special Collection room to read original Oz books, enjoyed by children over 100 years ago. What were their summers like?

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And finally, of course, our famous Lemonade for Literacy!

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Over $1,500 dollars donated directly to Pequot Library for children’s literacy programs, thousands of books purchased for our Zimbabwe and South Africa donations, hundreds of shoes sent to South America and Zimbabwe, lots of fun for us and our campers, as well as a new adventure: The Wizard of Oz!

As Henry James said, “Summer afternoon: the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Join us for our next camp: Summer by the Sea, in July! (pequot library.org)

Cheyenne River Reservation: Simply Smiles

While we were delivering books to Pine Ridge Reservation, we received an email from Brian, founder of Simply Smiles, an NGO that supports Cheyenne River Reservation.

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Pow Wow location at Cheyenne River Reservation

He said, quite simply, “Cheyenne River Reservation is only about 4-5 hours from Pine Ridge. In South Dakota, that’s like going out for a cup of coffee…” Well, we kind of laughed about that, because after spending some time in South Dakota we knew what he meant. It takes hours and hours to go from one place to another, and as noted by Emma, you can never use the GPS. Only a map will work.

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After ditching our trailer, and packing our Suburban to the top with boxes of books, we decided we were up for the challenge. We restocked our peanut butter and jelly, refilled our water bottles, and set out on our journey.

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We did run into a 30-minute roadblock of one car, not that unusual we found, and, of course, miles of empty, sandy roads.

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Visiting the Simply Smiles community center, located in Sam Different Horse’s community building on the Cheyenne River Reservation was amazing. Brian and Zachary and their team are welcomed into the Lakota culture. The volunteers all have close relationships with the community.

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The wind blew incessantly, but fortunately the community center had one indoor room and we were able to set up a series of folding tables and create an entire room for our “free” book fair.

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The kids were really excited and grabbed as many books as they could carry. That evening Simply Smiles was hosting a reservation-wide dinner. All the parents and grandparents were able to also come and choose books for their families.

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One woman shyly asked if she could keep some of our better-conditioned cardboard boxes to use as furniture to store her clothing in her new home. We were humbled by this simple request.

Simply Smiles imports soil and has created functioning gardens that produce enough food to feed a substantial portion of the local community.

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The greenhouse was built when Simply Smiles volunteers and Lakota Indians worked together. Zachary explained how difficult it was to stretch the plastic sheeting over the metal hoops and secure it down while battling the constant wind. We could barely imagine. The paper flowers are remnants from the previous night’s decorations when the greenhouse served as a teen dance hall.

We have continued our relationship with the Cheyenne River Reservation kids, inviting some of them to our home when they were traveling near us, visiting NYC. They joined us for dinners, swimming and basketball on several occasions. We have supported Brian at local fundraisers for Simply Smiles. We are so grateful that we have had this opportunity to get to know some of the Lakota kids and we hope to see them again. To learn more about the efforts to sustain the Lakota peoples of the Cheyenne River Reservation: Simply Smiles

Enjoy a film our team made about our trip to the three reservations: Rosebud, Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River:

 

 

Wonderland BookSavers’ 2016 Quote of the Year

Written by Madeline

In August of 2012, Claire, Emma and Brooks Morgan and I read A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. The four of us had just recently formed into a book club, and this was the first book we read as a club. We decided to complete a project after each book we read, and we designated a quote-banner as our project for A Single Shard.

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Left to right: Claire, Emma, Madeline, and Brooks Morgan work on their “A Single Shard” banners

We chose to emblazon our banners with an inspiring quote from A Single Shard which goes as follows. “Your mind knows that you are going to Songdo. But you must not tell your body. It must think, one hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that way, your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk.”

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It has become our annual tradition to choose an inspiring quote. Our quotes are always from a book our club has read or from an inspirational person we have read about together. Last Friday, we completed our fifth annual quote banner.

This year, we chose a quote from Phillipians 4:13 which reads “For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”

We chose this quote since our faith has been instrumental in our charity, both in a sense that it has inspired many of our projects, and because many of our community partners are churches.

After taping the banner down on table so it would not slide as we worked, we began to transcribe the quote onto our banners in pencil, and trace the pencil in marker.

We chose to make the first letter of the quote an illuminated letter, since we learned how to make illuminated letters and manuscripts in preparation for teaching a medieval camp at the beginning of summer.illuminated%22f%22Our banners were enhanced with decorations such as a bookshelf with titles of books we have read together.booksonbanner.jpgOur team and our charity has grown significantly since we made our first quote banner. Each year we have continued this custom, and each year our banners inspire us to new heights. Only a few months after we began our book club in 2012, we had transformed into Wonderland BookSavers, and a few years after founding Wonderland BookSavers, we have transformed into a 501(c)(3), Wonderland BookSavers, Inc.

We look forward to another year of reading and donating books one hill, one valley, and one day at a time!4doingquote

Aid for Ecuador

by Brooks Morgan

In the summer of 2013, Wonderland BookSavers read A Long Walk for Water, by Linda Sue Park.

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This amazing book is a fictionalized account of the real-life story of a young boy, Salva, who is caught in the cross fire of the civil war in the Sudan. His happy childhood becomes a nightmare. As he matures to adolescence, Salva comes to realize that the search for clean water is a major cause of so much violence and unhappiness in his homeland.   As an adult, Salva traveled back to the Sudan, bringing the gift of clean water to his friends and enemies alike, thereby hoping to also bring the gift of peace to the warring villages.

 

The Wonderland BookSavers, being inspired by literature, recognized immediately the importance of clean water, not just in the Sudan, but also across many countries in the developing world. We decided to have a lemonade-stand style stand to raise funds and awareness. At the opening of a local public park, we hosted a Water 4 Water stand. We sold bottles of water for $2.00, and raised $150.00.

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We used this money to purchase 3 simple water purifiers. We gave these to a teenage friend who was traveling to Ecuador. Each water purifier was placed in a separate village, allowing for clean water for 3 villages!

 

This past April another teenage friend was traveling to Ecuador for a mission trip to Monte Sinai, located in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He asked for donations of T-shirts to share with the children in the Rostro de Cristo orphanage. As soon as we heard this request, we knew the Wonderland BookSavers could again step up to help children in Ecuador.

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Within a few days we were able to gather over 100 T-shirts. Reid and I washed and folded all the shirts. We were very happy to think of other children enjoying all our cheerful shirts!

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Unfortunately, just as our friend was visiting Ecuador, an enormous earthquake occurred! Our friend was safe, but sadly, many others were injured. Currently the Ecuadorian government is trying to encourage travelers to reconsider Ecuador as a viable vacation destination. The earthquake not only cost many people their lives but has also done great economic damage to the country.

Our prayers are with the beautiful people of Ecuador.

My Maine Summer Reading: The Sign of the Beaver, report by Reid

The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare, is one of many books that I read this summer. The first 3 chapters were not the greatest, but after that I could not stop reading. It took me one day to read this 130 page book and 1 hour to write this, I wrote everything myself without any help!

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The main character, Matt, was left alone, by his father, to guard the new log house they had built in the woods. Matt’s father had to bring back his sister and his mother and Matt had to stay and guard the log house because that was their only place to live. Matt is left with his father’s gun to use for protection and hunting. But a stranger came and Matt was nice and let him stay in the cabin, the stranger’s name was Ben. When Matt woke up Ben had stolen Matt’s gun. The loss of his gun meant that Matt had to begin figuring out how to take care of himself in the wilderness.

 

Hunger finally drives Matt to raid a bee’s nest in the hope of finding honey. Matt stuck his hand into the beehive and the bees swarmed. Matt ran and dove into a lake, trying to save himself. He got many stings, fainted and woke up to find two unusual people standing in front of him. He got a better look, and discovered they were Indians!

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Matt learns that the familiar looking stranger, Ben, could not be trusted, but the unfamiliar and frightening Indians save his life. Matt trusted the Indians and wanted them to help him. One of the Indians is a boy of the same age as Matt, Attean. Attean’s grandfather arranges for Attean to help Matt in exchange for teaching Attean to read. However, Attean is very disdainful of Matt, because Attean was forced to go to the reading lessons by his grandfather. Every day he had to bring Matt meat, or some honey or just something to help Matt survive. Attean also didn’t like Matt because Attean thought that white men were dumb and also were taking the Indian’s land. Matt wanted Attean to be friends with him, after a little while Matt’s wish came true!

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One day Matt and Attean are almost attacked by a bear. Together they manage to save themselves and kill the bear. Matt is surprised to see that Attean says a prayer to the soul of every animal that they hunt and kill for food, including the bear. Attean explains that he wants to tell God that he meant no harm, and the bear could have killed them, so they killed the bear.

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Matt longed to be able to do something that would help Attean. One day he got the chance. Attean has a beloved but mangy dog that can’t hunt or do anything but follow Attean around. Another tribe in the woods used metal traps to catch animals. Attean’s dog became trapped in one and Matt tried to save it. Matt tried to open the trap, but the dog didn’t really know Matt so it growled. Matt left and got Attean’s sister because Attean was hunting. Attean’s sister put a blanket over the dog and distracted the dog while Matt opened the trap. After that the dog loved Matt and Matt wondered if the dog actually had memory of Matt saving him. Through their experiences with one another, Matt and Attean became like brothers, even Attean’s grandmother and tribe began to accept Matt.

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I liked this book because it was about surviving in the wild and instead of just surviving in the wild Matt also made friends with the Indians. I really liked the end because I thought Matt’s father and his family would never come back but they did! Sadly the new baby died on the way, it only lived 5 days.

 

I learned many things from this book. If I get lost in the woods without anything but my clothes I would remember the things Attean taught Matt. For example, I could try to make a shelter, I could try to make a knife and hunt for food or I can find a pointy stick, go to a pond, and then try to catch a fish. I also learned to respect nature and the souls of animals. Attean believed that the animals could understand him when he spoke to them. Most importantly, I learned one must establish a relationship with someone before you can tell if you can trust him and if they are worthy of being your friend, or brother.

Lemonade for Literacy

by Madeline

This past week, Pequot Library held its annual book sale. Pequot Library’s annual book sale has been dubbed the biggest and the best book sale in New England.pequotbooksalesignFor the last four years, Wonderland BookSavers has run a “Lemonade for Literacy” stand during the book sale. The purpose of Lemonade for Literacy is to raise donations to purchase books from Pequot Library’s book sale, and then donate those books. The books we obtained this year via Lemonade for Literacy and Pequot Library’s book sale will be going to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ghana. lemonadestand3To prepare our stand and concessions, we spruced up some of our old signs and banners and created some new signs with recent pictures of our service work so customers could see the children we serve.

Each night, we baked new batches of brownies, cookies, and rice crispy treats. Every morning before we went to the library, we made a new batch of homemade lemonade. We arrived at the library in the late morning each day to settle ourselves and set up our stand. We propped up a piece of plywood as a table on top of wooden crates, and then swept a yellow and white table cloth over our table. Next, we put our cooler filled with our ice cold lemonade to one side of our stand, and we arrayed our baked goods across the rest of the table. lemonadestand1Instead of having fixed prices on our commodities, we had all our goods priced by donation.

We ran our stand from about 11 AM to 4 PM each day of the book sale. We had many customers, but during the slower times of day, we passed time playing Apples to Apples, UNO, and reading books.

On the last day of the book sale, instead of running Lemonade for Literacy, we selected books from inside the expansive white tent, and then used our $212.50 that we raised through our lemonade stand to purchase 1,500 books.lemonadestand10Through our Lemonade for Literacy stand, we were able to benefit our longtime community partner Pequot Library while collecting books to donate to children in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.

 

There is no frigate like a book…to take us to the Emily Dickinson Museum

By Madeline

Recently, the team traveled to Amherst, Massachusetts. While we were there, we visited the Emily Dickinson Museum, which is comprised of the Dickinson Homestead and the Evergreens.

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The Dickinson Homestead

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10, 1830, and died in Amherst on May 15, 1886. Dickinson penned nearly 1,800 poems during her life, including one of our team’s favorite poems, There is no Frigate like a Book.

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –
We first encountered this poem when we did a poetry section for our book club shortly after our charity’s inception in the fall of 2012. This poem has been an impetus for many of our projects and our ideas, and for us to learn more about this poem and Emily Dickinson was incredibly special.
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At the museum, we toured the grounds and gardens and listened to an audio guide which informed us about Emily Dickinson’s personal life. The guide also proffered a plethora of Dickinson’s poems and the contexts in which each poem was written.
It was fascinating to see Emily Dickinson’s home and inspirations for her poems, and we will look forward to exploring more about the iconic poet and her literary creations.

Team Wonderland BookSavers Leads Medieval Art Workshop at Pequot Library

By Madeline

Last week, WBS team members Madeline, Claire, Emma and Brooks Morgan led a medieval art workshop at Pequot Library. We examined medieval literature, reflecting especially on the process of creating manuscripts. We also instructed on how to create illuminated manuscripts and write in different cursive styles. Additionally, we read medieval stories and taught Roman Numerals and the medieval calendar system–which operates by recognizing certain days and showing the distance of regular days from the special days to account for time.

During the Middle Ages, manuscripts were one of the few viable ways to preserve information. These books were created by first making parchment. The process of making parchment consisted of first obtaining goat or cow skin. Next, the skin would be soaked in water and lye and cleaned to remove any fibers. The skin would then be stretched to dry, and lastly, the skin would be cut into pieces of parchment. The parchment would then be sewn into gatherings, and the gatherings would be bound into a book. Lastly, clasps would be added to keep the book shut and protect the manuscript. Then, scribes would embark on the lengthy process of copying information into the book, and illuminating certain letters. Lastly, any images would be drawn or painted and the book would be complete.

On the first day, we along with Beth Beaudin, the Special Collections Consultant of Pequot Library, surveyed the process of manuscript making. We also began to teach basic cursive to the children.

Every day we had a snack and recess break, where we played “discus” (frisbee) and “Bubonic Plague” (the game infection, where one person is “it”, and they along with people who have been tagged tag others until only one person is left). We also played “capture the crown”, which was our medieval version of capture the flag.

During the second day we introduced calligraphic cursive styles and how to write in medieval handwriting. The children transcribed poems and also practiced writing their names. We taught the children about the medieval calendar and how to use Roman Numerals. Towards the end of the day, everyone began creating the skeletons for their illuminated letters. We also visited The Birds of America, a book by John James Audubon with a compilation of life-size, chromolithographic American birds.

For the third day, we focused on nobility, coats of arms, and finishing the illuminated letters. Everyone was able to design and create a coat of arms to wear which represented their interests or personality. The zenith of the week was being able to examine a book made in 1190–the oldest book in Pequot Library’s collection. The manuscript was a letter from Pope Gregory on proper behavior and conduct. We also had a guest speaker come and teach about Shakespeare, and we acted out scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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Examining the manuscript from 1190

 

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The fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

On the final day of camp, everyone made crowns and armor, finished the cursive books which we began on Monday, and reflected on everything learned during the week. The children collected their amassed number of projects, crowns, letters, books and sheets, and we headed out to play our final game of “capture the crown”.

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Campers wearing crowns and coats of arms

It was incredible to immerse ourselves and other children in medieval studies, and we will look forward to continuing the medieval theme with the reading program this summer at Pequot Library.

 

 

 

Who Says Standardized Tests Can’t Taste Good?

Gooseberry Fool

Now that it is July, I finally have the time to complete the Iowa tests. And what do I find in the middle of the reading comprehension section?

 A perfectly wonderful recipe for Gooseberry Fool!

 Being no fool, I promptly set aside my test (after the required 25 minutes) and begin cooking!

 I hope to continue my testing session by rolling down hills while eating Gooseberry Fool, as suggested by the directions in the reading passage!
 Ahh! Nothing tests better than a good standardized taste!