Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Non-Fiction Wonders

              I continue to be grateful to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy.  I have learned much from her and those who link up to share fabulous non-fiction picture books.  

        Happy Reading! By this time next week, the ALA awards will have happened. 

Some have a mock Sibert post up today, predicting what books they believe will win. Although I've enjoyed many this year,  Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet is still my favorite.
Others I believe might be on the list of honor books:
         Jazz Day:  The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill 
         Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari. 
         Giant Squid by Eric Rohmann and Candace Fleming, finally read this week!
There are some that have been praised that I still need to read. Best wishes to all the authors and illustrators who create such wonderful books!

        Wow, finally I have this marvelous book. So many have praised it, and now I know why. Eric Rohrmann's illustrations emerge the reader deep and deeper into the ocean, down in the dark where only a glimpse of a tentacle might give shivers, or at least put one into escape mode. There is a marvelous fold-out four-page spread showing this giant in the deep. In poetic words, Candace Fleming tells some of what little is known about these mysterious creatures, like having eyes as large as soccer balls. And, one page toward the end surrounds a drawing with the facts known, and there is an additional author's note and a source page.
         There is a special intro written by Candace Fleming even before the title page. I liked that very much.

          At the beginning of this amazing book, there is an introduction telling the story of the author Margriet Ruurs' journey of discovering, then connecting to Nizar Ali Badr, an unknown artist, whose work she saw through happenstance on Facebook. She searched further, and through negotiations with a publisher, with Nizar, and lots of passing picture back and forth, this book was born. The artistically created scenes, with rocks/pebbles, are photographed. It is a story, showing the happy family life before the bombings began, and then leaving home, the terrifying journey to and across the ocean, and finally a new home, and hopes for peace. "The lucky ones, they call us. New memories, new hopes, new dreams. Not of war, but of peace." Nizar Ali Badr still lives in Syria,  brings great emotion to these pages using stones he collects as he walks along the seashore. One added great thing is that the text is also presented in Arabic with the English, something these immigrants will surely love seeing.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Slice of Life - Thoughts

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
       Among all the not-so-great things that happen to me, dental problems, car breakdown, plumbing needed, I feel pretty good about my life. Having been married to a special man makes me feel very lucky. Teaching was a very special time in my life. Parenting and grandparenting continue to be. Those things make my life feel full of many more ups than downs. 
        I guess you feel a "but" coming. Yes, there is one. Since I was a wee person I could read, and I loved it. I loved the learning, adored that I could open this thing with covers, full of pages, and learn something. It might have been about emotions and how a young girl took good care of herself when flung into a new situation. It might have been an adventure out in the ocean, and a captain who faced a life and death decision. It could be a book about horse training.You who are readers know what I mean. Whatever it was, I gobbled it up and returned for more. 
        This is not just about reading, but this week especially, and a thread running through my life these past months, or a slice every day I suppose, is a heightened distaste for ignorance. I don't mind teaching or knowing someone who doesn't know something. I realize that there are hundreds of topics of which I know little. However, when I do not know something, and wanted, or more important when I needed to know, I read and learned and talked with experts if I could, then read more.That was my stance in teaching students and my own children, too. Search and discover the answers.
        And when I hear our incoming president unable to answer a question from someone who refers to historical events, to economic concepts, to the human facts of our United States, or other topics, I am outraged. That's the word. In all my years of living, teaching, parenting, I have not accepted ignorance. There are reasons for it, but there are also ways to change it: research, read, discover books that teach. I've learned more history and the ways of governing in the recent past than probably any time in my life. And then this week I read this New York Times article about President Obama's way of living and managing his presidency. He read. Not everyone agrees with everything he's done as president. That's okay, too. But he is not ignorant.
          I am trying to consider other points of view. I am trying to discover hope for these next years by finding/learning ways to question what I believe is not right, is not good for all those who live in our country, in the world. 
          I won't stop learning and reading.  

        "It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."  James Baldwin

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Monday Reading

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.  
Tweet with  #IMWAYR

      I read numerous picture books this week, and finished two longer books, all enjoyable, some I know others have liked too. 

For adults: A remix of fairy tales and myths for adults adds to the many re-tellings for children I've read. This is harsh in some cases, but a strong voice makes it easy and delightful reading. What's really happening to Jack, or that princess doesn't always turn out the usual happily ever after, but those who know life isn't always that either may like Cunningham's new stories. Yuko Shimizu's illustrations add to the grim flavor, and the final story is a pleasant ending to lives well-lived, perhaps another lesson?  I am reminded of the verse poetry book by Ron Koertge, Lies, Knives and Girls In Red Dresses.
               This is a good book that meets one of the challenges of how to portray the Nazi era for those just beginning to learn about it. It highlights one boy's struggle in a small French town after German occupation. After delivering several loaves of bread for his mother who runs the town's bakery, he figures out that secret notes are being baked into the bread, and realizes his parents are part of the resistance. He keeps the secret even from them, but with the entrance of a new girl in his class at school, the events become more complicated. He is a regular kid that loves bicycle racing, especially imagining that he may race in the wonderful Tour de France. He's seen one of the races, but they're now canceled because of the war. Bicycling plays a big part in this tale, and in one harrowing challenge, Marcel's inspiration from what he knows of the racers helps to keep him going. There is an escape too, and a sad goodbye, but during all the scary moments, Marcel learns courage helps in every part of his life. Yona Zeldis McDonough adds a brief intro to World War II, a timeline and information about the Tour de France. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Celebrating Small

    Celebrating with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and linking with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for helping us celebrate together!  

     "Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." ~ Hans Christian Andersen

        Everyone must know that the pleasure of my weeks includes my friends and family, most lately spending time with the grand-girls, once or more times a week with each one. But there are other things that keep my life happily traveling. 

A small list of goodness:

  1. a poem that touches me
  2. smiles from others on my daily walk
  3. writing a poem
  4. one chickadee "dee-deeing" each morning
  5. starting a book I know is going to be a terrific story
  6. blooms on a houseplant
  7. an empty dishwasher
  8. clouds
  9. warm socks
  10. baking smells
  11. falling snow
  12. a letter in my mailbox
  13. early morning feelings that the day awaits
  14. the shapes of trees in winter
  15. Saturday celebrations

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Poetry Friday - What We Believe

         Poetry Friday today is with Keri at Keri Recommends. Thanks, Keri! Hope your trip today was good!

         I'm continuing to write for Mary Lee's #haikuforhealing and Catherine's #commonplace marvels. It's a special part of my day to choose something I noticed, writing about something I want to remember.

          I visit Denver's Museum of Nature and Science nearly every week with my youngest granddaughter, Imogene, five years old. I pick her up at school, and we stop at the museum on the way to my house. We stay only about an hour or so, grab a snack at the snack bar, and then Imi chooses where to go each time. The museum is amazing, and we continue to find different places we haven't examined closely. This past week, that place was the one that displayed information about evolution. It's not easy to try to explain this concept to a five-year-old. I focused on major changes, from the beginnings billions of years ago (there is a video showing earth changing) and different animals' evolving in this most recent time up to today. Imi is always interested in what I tell her, and we examine the details of the dioramas, looking for things we know and don't know. I'm not sure what sticks with her for future learning, but she continues to ask good questions. This time, two appear to fit our general conversation. She asked: "I wonder when any of them (animals) got their teeth? They would need them for eating." and "How would it be if we lived with those big dinosaurs? We'd have to live in deep holes to hide."