Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Stories

The Summer Solstice
by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis

This nonfiction book gives facts about the summer solstice and how it was celebrated in the ancient world. Villagers in Lithuania would cover a wheel in tar and bundles of straw. They would roll the wheel up a hill, set fire to it, and then let the wheel roll down the hill and into the river. If the wheel was still burning as it sank, there would be a good harvest. American Indian tribes in the United States and also in Canada built circles of stone to point to where the sun would rise on the summer solstice (over 2,000 years ago). In Egypt, the summer solstice came at a time when the water of the Nile would rise, and they had a special festival to honor the goddess Isis, whose tears they believed were the reason the river rose. In Ireland, solstice bonfires were burned and the festivities included music, dancing, and storytelling. After the bonfires were out, farmers would spread the ashes on their fields, in order to bless the future crops. In Swaziland, in Africa, the king would eat the fruits of the new season and then dance a special dance with his warriors. In some places, such as Wales and Ireland, bonfires are still burned. In Sweden, homes and other buildings are decorated in birch boughs and flowers. There is a description of other ways the summer solstice is still celebrated. There is also an explanation as to why the days are longer in the summer, and an experiment that you can try that shows this effect. There are also some facts about the sun. At the end of the book, there is a summer solstice story, “How Summer Came to the Island People.”

Peter Spit a Seed at Sue
by Jackie French Koller and illustrated by John Manders

There are four bored children sitting on the porch looking for something to do. Then they all hear a man yell that he is selling watermelons. The children race over and buy some. The children are enjoying their watermelon, when Peter decides to spit a seed at Sue. It sticks to her cheek. (Ewww!) Sue spits one back at Peter, and then all the children start spitting seeds at one another. Seeds are flying everywhere, and some of the seeds get on to the laundry hanging up on the clothesline. After buying some more watermelon, the children keep up their game. Then one seed hits to traffic cop, but he gets some watermelon and joins in the fun. Will everyone in town join in on the spitting? What will the town look like after this happens? Who will stop them from spitting? Will she find another way of having fun for the people of the town?

Annie and Snowball and the Book Bugs Club
by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Su├žie Stevenson

Annie is having a lot of fun during her summer. She rides bikes with her cousin, Henry, and his dog, Mudge. She also goes swimming and works in the lettuce garden for her bunny, Snowball. There is more fun to be found at the library. There is a sign that says to join the Book Bugs Club. Annie wants to join the book club, but Henry is not sure. Henry likes to do outside things with Mudge during the summer. Henry knows, though, that Annie is always doing fun things for him, so it is time that he did something fun for her. The librarian, Mr. Malk, gives Annie and Henry special pencils and notebooks. They are supposed to write down all the titles of the books they read over the summer. They will get stickers, stars, and other fun things for the books that they read. There will also be a Book Bug picnic. Will Annie and Henry read a lot of books over the summer? Will Annie and Henry find some good outside places for reading? Will they both enjoy the Book Bug picnic?

Firefly Mountain
by Patricia Thomas and illustrated by Peter Sylvada

A mother and father tell their daughter that there might be a firefly mountain that night, after it gets dark. The little girl is not sure what that is, but she cannot wait to see it. That day, they had seen butterflies, drank lemonade, and heard the bobwhites whistle. The little girl would like to day to go on and on, but she cannot wait to see the firefly mountain. Before that time can come, though, it is time to eat supper. After dinner is eaten and the dishes are washed, the little girl asks if it is time yet. Her father tells her that it is not quite time. Soon everything starts melting into black shapes, and it is dark. Then, they seem them. There are fireflies all around them. The family walks down to look at the mountain, and the fireflies walk with them. What do you think that they will see when they look up at the mountain?

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