Sunday, April 20, 2014

Monday Reading Pleasures Wrap-Up

                 Thanks to Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS, and Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS for hosting this community sharing!
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR

     The next two books fit the challenge to read more books from a Latino perspective. See more at Latin@s In Kid Lit here.

My Name Is Celia, The Life of Celia Cruz – by Monica Brown and illustrated by Rafael López
             I remember watching certain old tv shows when I was young, and loving the beat of Latino singers and watching them dance. This might have been one of them, but in my world, we didn’t know many famous singers who were from Cuba. This story, about her youth in Cuba in a loving home, hearing her father sing, and finally going off with her cousin to enter singing contests, is Celia Cruz’ story, the story of the singer who brought salsa to the US and to the world. She and her husband immigrated to the US at the time of the Cuban revolution, moved to New York City, and began her career. The book is gorgeously illustrated by Rafael López, famous for his murals that are seen in places all over America. His murals, known as magical realism, are vivid swirls of color that help tell the “also-vivid” story of Celia Cruz. The book is enhanced by its being bi-lingual.

Soccer Star – by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Renato Alarcão

           Through showing one Brazilian boy’s story of dreams of becoming a soccer star, the author  gives a glimpse of children in Brazil who have risen out of poverty through soccer. Like basketball and football dreams in the U.S., children who love a sport, and play it every time possible to improve, some do escape their tough lives. Through the story, on his way to take his little sister to school and then to the fishing boat where he works, Paulo meets his other teammates at their jobs.  Mina Javaherbin smoothly shows that all the boys are working, “not” going to school. One dives for tourists, another paints floats for parades, an still another shines shoes. The wording is so clever, sharing dreams even there, like in the visit with the boy who shines shoes, Paulo says “I know that one day his fancy footwork will score us brilliant goals.” At the end of the day, the boys have a game, even though tired from a full day of work. The illustrations are beautiful realistic depictions of each part that is told. The book will be wonderful for children who are in similar situations (mother leaving for a long work day, taking care of younger siblings).

Lila and the Secret of Rain – by David Conway and illustrated by Jude Daly
         There are many stories told about calling for rain, and this is another, set in a village whose wells and crops are drying up because of the lack of rain. Watercolor illustrations are filled with hot sun, blue sky, and browntones of a desert-like land. Lila’s grandfather tells her a story that he said was told to him of “the secret of rain”. One must climb the highest nearest mountain and tell the sky the saddest stories. Lily listened, and followed her grandfather’s advice. Can you imagine what happened? The words in the story are poetic: “the sky was ebony with emotion”. I feel it would be a good addition to a collection of myths in storytelling.

A Beach Tail –by Karen Lynn Williams and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

               Karen Lynn Williams, known for the wonderful Four Feet, Two Sandals, has written an amusing circular tale of a little boy who draws a lion, named Sandy, and is told not to go into the water and not to leave Sandy. Well, with the aid of a stick, the tail grows longer, around a horseshoe crab, a sinking sand castle, and so on until all of a sudden, the little boy Gregory looks up and doesn’t know where his father is. Luckily, he knows to follow the “tail”, and that is the tale told in the book. It’s a fun story for predicting, with a little tension too for young readers. Cooper’s illustrations fill the page with ocean, sand and shore creatures to wonder over.

Following Papa’s Song – written and illustrated by Gianna Marino
            Gianna Marino has also written Too Tall Houses and Meet Me At The Moon. This recently published book was loaned to me by my great book buddy, and it is another treasure. With beautiful illustrations in different shades depending on the ocean depth, a whale baby learns about the ocean and what he can see if he dives deep, but also that he’ll always hear his papa if he listens, and thus be able to find him. It’s a sweet book for young children, but I also take it as a metaphor for all of us who still “listen” for our papas.

two poetry books

Farmer’s Dog Goes to the Forest – poems for two voices by David L. Harrison and illustrated by Arden Johnson-Petrov
          I need to find the first book of this duo because I love this one for the youngest readers. It follows the pattern of ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’ but distinguishes itself by letting the animals that Farmer’s Dog sees answer with factual information about themselves. I know children will pick up the pattern easily, and hope each poem will also help them learn new words and search for more information about the animals. For example, when the dog sees a crow, he asks: “Crow, crow,/why so proud?” and the crow answers, “My eyes are sharp,/my voice is loud.” There is more to this poem. It would be such fun to have students pair up and read these aloud to each other. The illustrations are forest-based, placing animals in their true habitat.

I haiku you - written and illustrated by Betsy Snyder
            I know I’m late reading this book, and am glad I finally did. It’s full of haiku love for diverse things in a child’s life, like Popsicles and lemonade and teddy bears. The illustrations are cute cartoon-like drawings; the haiku keep the tradition of 5-7-5 syllables.

Next: Still reading A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, have started the book group reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. What a terrific book it is. And I have Miss Emily, a verse novel by Burleigh Muten. 

Such a lot of great books to read! Hope you all have a happy week of reading!

A Promise

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Every Day Is Saturday!

     Thanks to Ruth Ayres, we celebrate together.
Link up here at Discover, Play, Build.
Tweet at #CelebrateLu 

        I had a terrific week in a classroom of 4th and 5th grade aged students. They are wonderful students, and it was a joy to work with them. I enjoyed working with my colleagues, too. But I, like all teachers on Friday, am tired! My week was filled with student interactions, lunch meetings with various grade-level groups, and a few individual meetings. And the week began with my granddaughter Ingrid's fifth birthday dinner Monday evening. She had a special birthday, a palindrome, 4-14-14. Today is the final day of that phenomenon this week, 4-19-14.
        One text to celebrate: my grandson Carter, a 7th grade, was invited into the National Honor Society. I bet he's pleased, and I am proud of him.
        I am guest posting today with Laura Shovan here at her blog, Author Amok, sharing my own "source" poem.
        I reviewed Meenoo Rami's new book, Thrive here. If you don't know the book, you should. It's terrific.
           I know it's spring, the meadowlarks are back at school. My school, just minutes away, is more on the prairie edge and it backs onto a wetlands. When I hear that sweet sound, I know spring has arrived. Click on the video and enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Poetry Friday with Robyn

Isn't it appropriate that Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge is chirping up our Poetry Friday today since spring and our own robins are here now too? Thank you, Robyn!

I've been reading bits of Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I don't need to read it all at once, but enjoy much of what she's sharing. I've been back in a classroom full time this week, and am enjoying it. I had forgotten how much I loved the time with the kids, but also how much I needed the time alone after the day ends. 


Alone is delicious
I can eat the silence.
Piece by piece I pick it apart
and place it into my mouth.
I savor the quiet,
letting minutes
            my chin.

I help myself to another plateful
of this delightful dessert,
bite into the delectable hours
and begin to chew.

           Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We Need A Variety of Connections So We Can Thrive

       I'm happy to have a spot on the blog tour to celebrate Meenoo Rami's new book, Thrive. When you read this book, you'll find more than one part that speaks directly to you, wherever you are in your teaching career. You may be a first year teacher or a veteran contemplating retirement in a few years. You may be teaching pre-school or the fifth graders, preparing them both for transitions, or you might be in a high school setting, focusing on one subject. Where you are doesn't matter, but finding voices of like-minded educators is what keeps the fire of teaching, and that means connecting and collaboration. Whether it's in your own hometown or somewhere across the world, Meeno's words will help you find a way. I would add that the words are not just for teachers, but also for teacher-leaders, principals, and coaches.

        Thrive was just published in March. There is that time in the school year when one recognizes the summer slide, that time where teachers become anxious, knowing all the things still remaining on the "lists". However, I wanted to share that it’s also the time when teachers begin wondering about their next class, their next “START”. Part of the look forward is exciting, yet sometimes it can be daunting. You might know what you dream, but are not sure how to get there. You need ideas, you need a new spark, you need a "network". In Thrive, Meeno shares numerous ideas for collaboration. She shares ideas about finding the right mentor, and ways to assess what is the right one. Also shared is the overview of the kinds of helpful networks available, in school, within communities like Edcamps, online like Twitter and #Edchat, or national networks like the National Writing Project along with professional organizations like NCTE.  One can get stuck in chapter Two just contemplating the possibilities.