Sunday, June 2, 2013

Betty Birney author visit!

Thanks to the exciting read-alouds happening in the classrooms, if you ask the second or third grade about a favorite book, almost unequivocally the answer is one of the "Humphrey"series by by Betty Birney, funny classroom stories told from the observant POV of a pet hamster.  The children were clamoring for a chance to meet the real person behind the funny books they love, so they kept asking for an author visit...but Ms. Birney lives all the way in California, quite the expensive commute to Chicago.  But where there's a will, there's a way...

Skype to the rescue!

Packed to capacity, students were all abuzz when they were invited to the library for a visit with a "mystery author,"  and believe me, our cuties were at maximum "squeeeee!" level when the celebrity was revealed! With a big screen set up so everyone could see and a computer set up so we could communicate, student representatives from each class were invited to ask questions, and were very interested to learn that the author does not have a real hamster herself, but a toy hamster that still serves as some inspiration.  Our children and her "pet" were introduced.

We were very delighted to learn about Ms. Birney's upcoming August book release, MYSTERIES ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY, which is our Stone summer's recommended reading for primary and early elementary families! Of course, while we are waiting, there is also SUMMER ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY and ADVENTURE ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY, and the new upcoming Humphrey books with a nonfiction bend like HUMPHREY'S WORLD OF PETS and HUMPHREY'S HA-HA-HA JOKE BOOK and...and...and...check out all the Humphrey fun in Humphreyville, including plenty of online games and activities and the author's blog!

We also had a chance to talk about Ms. Esme's favorite book by Betty Birney, which is not actually a Humphrey book at all, but a little masterpiece called THE SEVEN WONDERS OF SASSAFRAS SPRINGS.  A boy is fascinated with the Seven Wonders of the World, and is challenged by his family to spend the summer of 1923 discovering seven wonders in his own small town in Missouri.  If he can do it, his father will buy a ticket so he can visit cousins in Colorado, and see a real mountain!  A great read-aloud, summer story and a chance to look at our own worlds a little more closely, this book is also a perfect pick for older and more advanced readers.  If Ms. Esme ran the world, this would have won a Newbery award, but since she doesn't, things continue to go wrong.  Oh, well, at least it is still available to enjoy, and available in our school and public library...along with all the "Humphreys" we can get our hands on!

Sometimes technology misused can serve to isolate us from the world, but cyber-visits like this one continue to connect us, and allow us to know the real people behind the books we love...and Betty Birney, Stone Scholastic Academy sure does love your books.  Thank you for your generosity of time and spirit that made this visit possible!  We will continue to read your books by the pile!

No comments:

Post a Comment