Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]

Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World, By Susan Hughes, 64 pages.
@ SPL: J 371 Hug

Children around the world will be off to class in September and as readers of Susan Hughes’s book will discover, some students will be attending rather unusual or even extraordinary schools! Most schools are constructed of bricks, wood or concrete, but others are made of bamboo, cardboard or even mud. Some schools are canvas tents – for example, in the areas of Haiti where schools destroyed by a hurricane in 2010 have not yet been rebuilt. In some countries, schools even exist (or have existed) on boats, trains, train station platforms and in caves!

Can you imagine stepping into your backyard and climbing the stairs to a tree house in order to attend school? In Tennessee, the children of one family are taught by their parents in their own little tree house, built for that purpose. Sometimes schools come to the students. In India, where more children live on the street than in any other country, special buses operate as “Schools on Wheels,” driving specific routes each day and stopping for two hours in each location. Students are taught on the buses and learn at their own pace.

In a number of other Asian countries, traveling “Schools on Carts” visit communities of street children. And in many place around the world, school now comes to students via “distance learning,” using email and the Internet.
As declared by the United Nations, the right to an education is a basic human right. Unfortunately, about 215 million children throughout the world are unable to attend school because they must work or because they cannot afford school expenses. Hopefully, all children will someday have access to the learning and hope that an education offers.

** Recommended for ages eight to 13.

School Days According to Humphrey, By Betty Birney, 164 pages.
@ SPL: J FIC Birne

Where are his friends from the last school year, and who are these kids now filing into Mrs. Brisbane’s classroom? It’s September, and Humphrey, the pet hamster in Room 26, has just returned from his summer holiday at Camp Happy Hollow. He’s eager to see his classmates, but the children entering “his” room are entirely unfamiliar. Og, the pet frog in Room 26, is just as mystified. In the following days, Humphrey gets to know the new pupils.

Being a helpful and observant (as well as poetry-writing) hamster, Humphrey finds himself getting caught up in the students’ difficulties, problems and habits. There’s accident-prone Kelsey, and Phoebe, who always forgets her homework. Harry is consistently late for school. Thomas tells too many “tall tales” and Simon, who has far too much energy, must learn to slow down and be still during lessons.

Humphrey is soon visited by his “old” friends, who miss him. He is very relieved to learn that they have simply graduated into another grade and classroom. School Days According to Humphrey is the seventh book in a charming, entertaining series about Humphrey, written by California author Betty Birney. These school stories would be ideal for an adult to read aloud to a child, and each book includes some related activities at the end.

** Recommended for ages six to 10.

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on August 30th, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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