Brush of the Gods – ML wants to meet the author and illustrator

What is ML Reading?

BrushoftheGods

We’ve received bookmarks, posters and advanced copies from some authors and illustrators.  Also, we’ve met authors and illustrators at our local bookstore.  Apparently, ML thinks I have an in with all authors and illustrators.  Last night after reading Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look and illustrated by Meilo So, ML said, “I love this book.  I want to meet the author and illustrator.”

Lenore Look lives in New Jersey.  Meilo So lives in the Shetland Isles, a subarctic archipelago of Scotland.  If either visits Quail Ridge Books, we will be there.  If someone wants to fund a visit to Scotland, ML and I will be happy to visit Meilo So on her small island.

Brush of the Gods highlights the life of Wu Daozi;  considered a master painter during the T’ang Dynasty in the seventh century.  According to the author’s note, “He introduced the concept…

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Valentines from Canada!!!

Valentines Day.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

When I was little, it was a holiday I dreaded. I loved addressing all my cards and having little candies ready to give away.

But horrible thoughts loomed.

“What if I don’t get back as many Valentines as I give away?”

Or worse . . . “What if I don’t get any???”

It was a possibility. This was in the bad old days before the invention of class lists and valentines for all. With my very own eyes I’d seen classmates collapse in tears because their VRR (Valentine Receiving Receptacle), carefully made with construction paper as a class activity and taped over the edge of their desk (like a Christmas stocking hung by the chimney with care, only heart-shaped), was cruelly EMPTY at the end of the day.

It’s not something you forget.

So I still dread Valentine’s Day.

Horrible thoughts loom.

Lucky for me, last week ended well. Fourth graders at the Whitney Junior Public School in Toronto, Ontario,IMG-20140207-03154IMG-20140207-03155where snow days for inclement weather have not yet been invented, sent me the sweetest letters:scan0001

So this week, with no Valentines flooding my Valentine Receiving Receptacle, and with the hope of receiving any rapidly diminishing, I dashed off an email to their teacher, “Do you think your students would mind if I post their letters on Valentine’s Day and pass them off as Valentines?  . . . Do you think one of your students would mind drawing me colorful artwork to go with the letters? Maybe a Valentine, even?” It was as utterly desperate as it sounds. Believe me.

His reply: “We never had this whole Valentine’s Day thing in the Netherlands where I grew up, maybe that’s why according to UNICEF the children in the Netherlands are the happiest in the world.”

Then I received not one piece of artwork.

But a trove of them:Valentines

They made Valentines for the characters in ALVIN HO!!!

Wow. It’s the BEST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER!!!

THANK YOU, Mr. van Hoeijen’s Amazing Fourth Graders!!! You’re SUPER-DUPER FANTASTIC AND WONDERFULLY KIND AND THOUGHTFUL!!!!!!!

And here’s a little interview with their teacher, Mr. Bert van Hoeijen, who is from the Netherlands and can read in Dutch to his students whenever he feels like it:

How did you come across Alvin Ho? And why did you choose to read him to your class?
Ms. Soares, a colleague from another school introduced me to Alvin. I thought the book was humorous and would interest many students so they would start reading more themselves. There are also many things in your books we can talk about in class. Just like good readers make connections, visualise, infer, etc. while they are reading we talk about your stories in class while I’m reading them.

Did you do a book project or activities with Alvin?
We made organised lists and PDKs in class. We also made Valentine cards today for our favourite Alvin Ho character.

Is your school a Dutch school? (You had mentioned reading books in Dutch.)
I teach in a Canadian Anglophone school. I read a book to the class that was written in Dutch, but when I read it out loud, I tell the story in English or none of the students would understand me 🙂

What languages are your students learning at school?Â
In grade four we learn English and we start learning French.

What languages do they speak at home?
Most speak English at home but we have some who know gibberish, French, Tagalog (nannies helped), Farsi, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Manderin, Italian, and Spanish at different levels.
How did you end up teaching in Canada?
I visited Canada a few times during my last year of university and I fell in love with it so I moved here and started teaching a year later.
How is this school different from the school you attended in the Netherlands?
I love teaching here. I have very talented and kind students in my class. I do think students have to do more tests and homework than we had.
Happy Valentine’s Day EVERYONE!!!

How to Make Chinese Paper Cuts

Dear Reader,

With another winter storm on the way, I thought I’d give you a fun snow-day project — Chinese paper cuts!

I learned to make these in Chinese school just before the Lunar New Year, which started with the new moon on January 31. People in China like to decorate their windows and doors with red paper cut-outs at New Year’s to invite luck into their homes.

Here’s the first one:IMG_84361. Fold a square piece of paper in half, twice.

2. Using a pencil or pen, draw the red lines above on your paper.

3. Cut along the red lines. (The blue parts above are the discarded pieces.)

4. Unfold, and it will look like this:IMG_8424This is the character, shuangxi, which means “double happiness.” The character xi means happiness or joy, and when it’s written twice, side-by-side, it’s twice the happiness. Chinese is very logical. The symbol is used during New Year celebrations and weddings.

When it’s written, it looks like this:Calligraphy_tattoo_378

When you’ve practiced a bit, you can make fancier versions of this cut-out, like this:images-1

Or this:Double_happiness6Okay, let’s not get carried away here.

If it’s a really good storm, you’ll want to go outside and scream your head off and slide around, not stay inside making a million little cuts in a little piece of paper!

So don’t even think of trying any of these:ux_a12032800ux0263_ux_g03Enough of that one.

Here’s the next cut-out I learned in Chinese school.IMG_8432 1. Fold a square piece of paper in half, and half again, lengthwise.

2. Fold the top half in half, then fold it in half again. Keep the top quarter folded down.

3. Cut a rounded corner in the top left (see above).

When you unfold it, it looks like this:IMG_8434Oops.

My teacher says I did it wrong. IMG_8426That’s my teacher. Her name is Liu Yao. She’s very nice. She’s from Shanghai.

Disregard the above instructions. I had to do it over (and over) until I unfolded it, and it looked like this:IMG_8438Uh, how do I explain how I got here? I don’t exactly know. But you gotta fold the paper so that all these creases show. Then you cut the corner :).

Then you fold the right side under like this:IMG_8439If I’ve just lost you, I’m SORRRRY!!! That’s the problem with cut-outs. They were meant for people who had nothing to do in ancient China but sit for a thousand years along the Great Wall and be on the lookout for scary barbarian invaders who couldn’t come until the snow melted. When you try to do an ancient snow-day project nowadays, it just makes you want to SCREAM, doesn’t it? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!

That’s better.

Here are my classmates, Joanna (left) and Donna, cutting away:IMG_8431Yes, you, too, can do this without having a breakdown.

Okay, now take a deep breath like in yoga — and fold the bottom half up, then draw a triangle with your pen above the bottom fold and along the vertical crease like this: IMG_8442Then you snip out the little triangle.

When you unfold half of the bottom, it looks like this:IMG_8443After that, you draw these lines:IMG_8445And cut:IMG_8447When you unfold, it should look like this:IMG_8449Wow! Now we’re looking fancy!

Time to work on the left side.

Draw a line to match the cut on the left side below, and cut along the line:IMG_8451Unfold, and it should look like this:IMG_8452This is the Chinese character, fu, which means good fortune, luck, or prosperity.

Written, it looks like this:

images-2

Or this :Unknown

Families in China often turn it upside-down when they put it on their door at New Year’s:images-4

When it’s upside-down, it resembles the character dao, which means “arrive.” So it announces that good fortune has already arrived at this house. IMG_8459Looks like good fortune has arrived on my notebook!

Here’s the character dao:

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So there you have it. A snow-day project from ancient China when it really snowed. It’s especially appropriate since Lunar New Year celebrations will continue until the full-moon on February 14.

Speaking of really snowing, here’s the character for snow, xue:

images-8

The top part is the character, yu, “rain.” And the bottom is used in characters for broom and sweeping. So snow is rain that can be swept. Isn’t that cool?

If only I knew how to cut that. Then we would hang it upside-down from all our doors and have a really fantastic, buried-to-the-rooftop snow day!!!

Hope we have one anyway!

Enjoy!