Thursday, February 22, 2018

Poetry Friday - On Choosing

      Elizabeth Steinglass hosts our Poetry Friday this week with a lovely poem reflecting upon her life, "Why I'm Here". Be sure to visit to read it and then follow the links to others sharing poetry.


         The week stretches on, the news fills with more and more, strange responses that I find hard to understand. How can he think that? Why would she say such hurtful words? What makes them so fearful? Who taught them those beliefs? And in my own life's connections, I wonder if each one I question ever, ever was given the chance to think for him or herself? Sometimes the answers I hear are "That's just the way it is." I taught many years in a school that valued choice above any other academic requirement. Each chose what to study, how to approach it, how would each show what was learned. 
          These students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are making choices right now, how they want to fight to make change, how they want to ensure that #neveragain is a hashtag that will be remembered. They "choose" to act, they know there will be consequences and it seems that there already have been, both good and bad. They are discovering the kinds of adults they want to be. That's what kids learn when they're given choice, they consider options, and choose. Growing up, the choices become more complicated, become more connected to living beings, yes, more complex. They figure out personal priorities, who the choices will affect, not only themselves but others--family, friends, strangers. I am sad that I learned of these fine young women and men in these horrific circumstances, but I am glad to know of them and their actions. I hope many, many of us will give them support.

           Robert Frost helps me collect my rambling words. I hope it will add to your own reflections, too, about 'choice'.


For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns—
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road.
And try to stack them in a better load.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Story With No End

art by Sarah S. Brannen
          Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!

       Barry Wittenstein clearly has a great sense of humor, because during the telling of this interesting story, he's made me laugh quite a lot. Certainly, I did not laugh when he began after Earle Dickson married his sweetheart, Josephine, and discovered that she had lots of small accidents, like tiny cuts when preparing dinner. And sad to say, all she had to stop the bleeding was a kitchen rag. Barry's father was a doctor so he knew all about infections, and Barry worked for a company that made hospital supplies. You could say he knew a thing or two. He devised a long strip of tape with some gauze every so often. Josephine loved it, just needed to cut off a strip to wrap her finger. It was an invention full of love, but that long strip became a problem!
     Wittenstein might have ended the story then, but no, more than once he "almost" wrote, "The End", yet he knew more he wanted to tell! This new "bandage" that helped with "first aid" was eventually named "Band-Aid". That long, long strip was labor intensive to produce, a shorter one was invented, and the rest was almost history. But not yet. That's where the humor continues. Now they had to figure out how to produce them faster. Then, there was a bigger problem, no one would buy them! Digging deeper, the author has created a story that really has no end. After the Dicksons passed away in this 21st century, companies have created all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Also, now they can be found 'latex-free'. This story has not ended yet.
      I don't want to give it all away. It's a great story, shown in delightful, full-of-expression illustrations by Chris Hsu, in his first picture book. One must look carefully and one can spot more than one person in the illustrations who is in need, of a BANDAID! (See pics below.) He even put bandaids, lots of them, on the end papers! There is more to the story than I've shared, and Barry Wittenstein has also added an author's note, a timeline of Earle Dickson's invention, plus a timeline of other medical inventions from the 1920s and 1930s with the questions: "What can you find out about how these came to be?" Terrific book!

Everybody needs a Band-aid, sometime!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Such A Lot of Great Books!

        Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love!  Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki who share so much with us by taking time to support this meme!

    What a week last week! Wow! ALA Midwinter and Cybils Awards. Hope you had a favorite or favorites receive some honors!  

        This is one of the Cybils' finalists, and an amazing story re-told in verse. For those who teach and share the classic myths with older students, here is a book that will excite. David Elliott brings the tragedy of  “The Minotaur” into today’s vernacular, well known by students, young and older teen. When needed, there is strong language, meaning-filled sarcasm, and strong feelings of both love and grief. All the players show up, and Elliott has given each a particular voice and writes the same poem form for each as well.  Key storyteller is the top person, Poseidon, who quickly manages to ignite the story in a fury. With a bored affect, he sends desire to Queen Pasiphae for the mighty beast, laughs behind her back at the trick he has done.  He says: “So, yeah--I gave the queen a thing. For the white bull’s thang. Be glad that I did! If I hadn’t? No story. You know the drill. No guts. No glory.”
            Humans were given brains to make their own choices, Poseidon merely started it all and shows interest but no thought of intervention. He allows strong emotions from desire to love, revenge to grief, can mirror today’s lives if the reader only makes the connections.       
          All the familiar names are there, Queen Pasiphae, King Minos, their daughters Phaedra and Ariadne, Theseus and The Minotaur, doomed Asterion! And each character has a unique voice, along with writing the poems in forms also unique to each voice. From Pasifphae about Minos:  “IgNOrant self/aNOinted fool/he thinks he kNOws/me but NO one/kNOws the hard tight/kNOt of my heart.” As you see, there is use of different kinds of rhyming, bolded words within poems and darkened pages when words come from the Labyrinth. Elliot has brought this old myth to teens in the 21st century for lively interest.

           Finally, it was my turn to have this wonderful book from the library, now wondering why I just didn’t purchase it?  Oliver Jeffers wrote and illustrated a book about life on earth for his son when he was two months old. I imagine this might be one he’s memorized by now, or perhaps he’s moved on to “more”. The book is full of the basic stuff, lovingly told and shown so you want to examine, and eventually, ask questions about all that space stuff, like the funny name of the planet Neptune; or ask about the people who dress differently, like that boy with a man in gold helmets. Perhaps you’ll want to know about the animal who’s “not” supposed to be on the page with all the others, or wish you could travel on that very large ship? That’s the wonderful book Jeffers has created. I haven’t shared it with my granddaughters, know they will love each page and wonder what’s next.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Finding Celebrations

      Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share. 

           More than other weeks, this is a week to find things to celebrate. And so I look, and do find them, and know that I mostly celebrate my daily hours that are full of good things. When we fill ourselves up with goodness, we gain the strength to fight for the right things for everyone. 
          Imogene was ill this week, so spent the day with me on Monday. We filled the time with quiet - reading picture books, watching the Lionguard that has special stories of helping and protecting, playing with an old marble run that continues to be a favorite toy. 
          On Tuesday, I picked Ingrid up from school and we made it to our go-to ice cream shop--salted caramel is the choice!
          Wednesday I worked at the bookstore for a while, visited with a wonderful volunteer who gives hours entering books to sell on Amazon. And I gathered books that we no longer need to take to a refugee center in great need of books! Like the bookstore, this center is run entirely by volunteers, the building owned by a doctor who has set up a non-profit with a food pantry, a clothing room, a doctor, a dentist, a teen room, English classes, a nursery. It is amazing to see all that is happening at this center and our bookstore is happy to help with much-wanted books.
           Thursday, back at the bookstore. It's my day, and also the day we go through donations, giving thanks for those who think of us when they have books to give.
           Friday, a quick snow and ice storm Thursday night made streets very icy, and I slid right through an intersection on the drive to the dentist. I was lucky. The other drivers saw that I was not going to be able to stop, and waited to enter the street. Whew! 
           I had a great phone visit with my grandson, on the way with his parents to visit another university. It's so hard to believe he's looking at colleges. But he is, and I hope he finds just the right one for him!
           And, walking to the mailbox (we have a bank of locked boxes in our neighborhood) I had the joy of seeing my favorite crows flying around. Here's a pic of one on the wing!

           Today, I'm off to the bookstore again to meet a possible new volunteer, hoping to fill one needed opening! It's warm again, and I know I will discover other celebrations. And I will write more letters to my representatives to let them know I want them to listen to their constituents and do what is right for America! 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Poetry Friday - Deciding How We Care

           Jone MacCullough at Check It Out hosts our PoetryFriday this week. I imagine she'll be sharing the Cybils Poetry winner and perhaps others who were honored, too. You can find them all here. Thanks for hosting, Jone! 

            As I searched for some poetry to share today, for comfort in a time of terrible loss, I found a poem from a book written in 2004 by Edward Brunner, Cold War Poetry. I only read a few pages, admit I am not an expert on the entire book's premise and full content. Yet this particular part touched me. He writes: Yet poets in the 1950s in fact did write poems that set out to do precisely that which Lowell deemed to be the quintessential response to the bomb--to be a shield for their child. That is, poets in surprising numbers wrote pieces in which their primary role was not to speak in the voice of the professional or the sober analyst or the civic-minded intellectual but in the voice of the parent or the parent-surrogate whose very poem was being extended as an offering to a child as if it could be an act of sheltering. In none of these poems is the Bomb ever mentioned directly. But the extent to which a poem must include a direct reference to the Bomb in order to evoke its presence is always a problematic feature of poems about the Bomb. Consider Hyam Plutzik's six-line poem. . .which accomplishes its task nicely without mentioning the Bomb.

              It was a time of stress during this time of the Cold War, but as children, we felt sheltered, taken care of. I wonder if we can say the same of children today? Here is Hyam Plutzik's poem:

And in the 51st Year of that Century, while My
Brother Cried in the Trench, while My Enemy 
                     Glared from the Cave

This star is only an augury of the morning,

Gift-bearer of another day.

A wind has brought the musk of thirty fields,

Each like a coin of silver under that sky.

Precious, the soundless breathing of wife and children

In a house on a field lit by the morning star.