Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Book To Help Us Understand

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

         Tomorrow is the International Day of Peace. Many are invited to share something on social media or a blog post about your wishes for peace. Here is a post that gives the history of this day. Look to the right and click on the dove to find one invitation.

        It's an appropriate time to share Stormy Seas: Stories of young boat refugees by Mary Beth LeatherDale, illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare. There are people all over our world who need to flee their homes to find safety. Eleanor has filled the pages with starkly created  pages of paintings, parts of photographs, maps, graphic images that tell a tale of heartbreak and hope, courage and despair as Mary Beth tells the stories of five refugees, this time those who can be called "boat people." At the time of their flights, they were children, sometimes with family but often alone. Each one spoke of starving, going without water. Each spoke of being terrified of drowning, but expressed in different ways that there was no going back, they would rather die. 
      In these situations, the descriptions of the journeys and then the life in the migrant or detainment camps are starkly told. Most sold everything, used all savings in order to escape terrible dangers only to face others . Sadly, their hopes and sacrifices continued to be hard, even when they survived the horrific boat rides. They also experienced discrimination upon arrival, during the time they were finally allowed to become part of the new countries, struggled and struggled for years. 
     The book is organized around those five journeys with a table of contents, a timeline of escapes by boat since World War II, resources, cedits and acknowledgments. The individual parts give an intro about the person, a part in his or her own words, and a "What Happened To" section. Within that text, there are illustrated maps, small bits of other information like a personal timeline. 

      Here are a few lines from the book that are used as large quotes on certain pages: 

"People are whispering that they are going to SEND us BACK to Germany."
"I have to fight to survive."
"One minute, it feels like we are on top of a mountain and the next it's like we're crashing down the cliff."
"Our destiny, our future depends on this piece of wood."

       It is suitable for older readers from fifth grade up to begin a research journey to learn about the past and to understand what is happening today.  If studying the plight of refugees, this may be used as a read aloud, part by part, perhaps sharing fictional books also that can be read as accompaniments. There are some parallels in these stories with Alan Gratz' book, Refugee.  Here is one list of twenty other books for children about refugees.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Monday Reading Fun

It's Monday - Reading Recap

              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 from their own reading lives and support this meme, too.
          Those affected by the hurricanes and forest fires are still on my mind. Don't forget to help where you can.
                                I'm taking next week off, will be flying to see my son and family this weekend into Monday.  Less reading but good visiting!
                                                 tweet #IMWAYR

I shared Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's new poetry book, Read! Read! Read!, on Friday HERE! It's a wonderful book for the school year's beginning or for any time you want to celebrate reading! 

         Thanks to Candlewick Press, I was able to enjoy this wonderful new fairy tale retelling! There is little changed in the tales, and they are recognizable, but just enough to entice new readings of old favorites like “Snow White” and “Hansel and Gretel”. Emily Jenkins has managed to link them all within the setting of an icy cold, wintry forest. She writes that some say “vengeful sprites and witches with cold hearts along with others with hot ovens and wicked appetites live there,” and you’ll need to read these stories to discover if you recognize some old friends, or perhaps enemies!  I imagine a fabulous read aloud happening with this new book where there will be “holding-one’s-breath” times and a “just one more” time. Emily Jenkins shares her desire to write these tales from a history of loving, collecting and studying fairy tales in an author’s note.  I enjoyed my own reading very much.

          A father, Mark Gonzales, writes a new picture book inspired by his daughter of the joys of a multi-cultural heritage. “Yo Soy Muslim” is “I Am Muslim” in Spanish. The stunning illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini bring both cultures into their creation, filling the pages with dream work, the girl climbing a tree so that her “smile will touch the sky.” He adds an homage to the girl’s abuela, tells of those who question where she is from and offers an answer. A favorite part is when she flies with swans and is a “child of crescent moons. . . an ancestor in training.” For every child or adult who wants to celebrate her or his heritage, this book will make a heart beat faster.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ordinary Gifts

     Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others today. Come visit to see how wonderful it is to celebrate all the delights of the week! 
       Among all the other books I'm reading, I'm re-reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life, again loving her entries of the every day, and connecting this time to our celebrations each week. In her words, in the A's: AS - As self-conscious as rearranging what's on your coffee table before guests arrive--putting Art Forum and Milan Kundera's latest novel on top of People magazine and The Berenstine Bears' Potty Book. I used some of her work with my students when the book came out and was so loved, giving them a chance to have a fresh and positive look at their "ordinary" lives. It was a joy then, and today, too.

A few pieces from my ordinary week:
            I had the pleasure of having brunch last Sunday with a former colleague who's also no longer teaching. She was the "book buddy" I referred to often, and we met at a restaurant right at my favorite Indie bookstore, The Tattered Cover. It was like a spark to renew our talks, still about teaching, of course, about how it works NOT teaching, and about books. We won't stop reading and sharing!

             Many of you don't actually "see" me, so I'm sharing that I'm letting my hair grow. And I'm also telling that it's not easy. I have waves in some parts, and curls where they curl in different ways. I'm not too interested in this, but when a curl goes wrong in my bangs, I'm reminded that my grandfather used to say this rhyme to me: "There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. . ." I guess some things never change. 

            I have a confession to make. I do procrastinate, and most of the time, it's because I have a house repair. It's not easy being the only one to make decisions, so when I have some workman out to do "something", I have a tough time deciding if it's okay. For about ten days, I've heard a drip sound in one of the toilets. Yes, I knew it was not good to hear. And yes, I finally called and had a person out last Monday. He's here today to fix what's wrong because a part had to be picked up from the warehouse. So, it's okay. I did it. But I still don't like the doing.

            You know that Ingrid and Imogene form a big part of my life. This week I only saw Ingrid for a bit because her class had a campout trip, but Imi and I spent Tuesday afternoon at McDonald's. A nearby one has a new play space. I've been to quite a few amusement parks through the years, and although they're  larger and maybe fancier, I see the same joy in the kids playing here at McDonald's as in other places. There's something enticing to kids about climbing into tunnels, zipping down slides, and screaming!

            I hosted my book club Thursday evening. We love talking books, and talking "us". This time there were only five of us. I celebrate their life enthusiasm for doing things. One is waiting patiently for the adoption process to finalize, then she and her husband will have their first child! Another, my friend I wrote about above, is starting a new life without teaching. Right now, she and her husband are in NYC visiting their son, and seeing a play performed that was written by one of our former students! Another friend who already has a successful restaurant is stepping away from it to begin a new adventure in food trucks! It's always a joy to see these strong and courageous women.

            I worked at the bookstore Thursday, my usual shift, and met wonderful people who wanted to find books just for their own needs. One woman is in town because her husband is in the hospital. For her, easy reads to fill the time in the hospital room. Two teens came in on their 'off hours' to browse. One, an artist, bought an art book and the other bought a chocolate cookbook. They were already making plans for cooking that night!

My ordinary week is one I'm celebrating. And I did make a place for the needs of those after both the hurricanes. Those I know are all right, although one still needs power back, but others will continue to need help and we mustn't forget them. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Poetry Friday - This Time

          Michelle Barnes hosts Poetry Friday at Today's Little Ditty with "Five for Friday" and a plea for peace! All the special ideas are explained there! Enjoy her post and others with the riches of poetry!

          This is the time when teachers are excited about their new students, the time to start a year of learning, the time to discover students’ passions, about reading and writing.
         This is the time when teachers have writers notebooks ready, empty and waiting to be filled with words: personal words of happy and sad times, future hopes, observations of the world only children know. Teachers wish to know that world through student eyes, too.
          This is the time when stacks of books wait to be opened, stacks teachers have gathered like flowers all the summer for their students, ready to share the stories that have been written to excite, to inform, to settle in hearts. “I know that one. I read it this summer.” “Oh, I want to read that one. It sounds terrific.” “Make a list for this one. Everyone will want to sign up.” “Look at this cover; it’s about refugees.” “And this one; it’s all about reading. And it’s poetry!”

        This is the perfect time for Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new book: Read! Read! Read!, charmingly illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke. From young to old, readers will connect to the poems as life links to their past, or links to the joy of reading that will be coming to them. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Long Ago and Today, Too

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

     It seems appropriate to share this today after Mother Nature has packed such a wallop to places in our world these past weeks. I have spent much time in my years as a teacher out in nature with my students. I was fortunate that my school held the philosophy that "outside" was learning, and the more hours the better. Students kept field journals, learned to identify so many animals and plants, made ongoing observations, etc. Now I think that some of this work is due to the long ago work of Anna Comstock, a person I'm sorry to admit I've never heard of.