Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reading More-Good Times

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys It's Monday! What are you Reading? was started. For many kinds of books, check out Sheila's blog posts and links!
             Then, Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers started another group with a children's focus.  Reading everyone's posts of the children's literature is terrific!

Tweet at #IMWAYR

The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  
         This certainly would be of interest to older readers, but is also an adult non-fiction book. I finally figured out why I've been so in love with this book. It's because it's about the generation of people to which my father, lost in World War II, and my stepfather and uncles belonged. I lived with this generation! The group that went to serve, no matter the cost. And that is how this team rowed, to win, no matter the cost. And there was more, what is called the 'swing', when the rowers are so synchronized, they move as one, paddle in the same way, with the same strength. Daniel James Brown writes a dense and rich story, following one of the rowers of this winning 1936 Olympic team, but as he professes, including parts of the lives of the others, including their biggest rival, the teams from California. The early years before the college competition, the details of shell building, the boys’ relationships, the wins, and the later years are all included.  And the parallel events that publicly or privately were occurring in Nazi Germany are also included. In 1936, Hitler was already planning his 'final solution', and the time during this Olympics was used to put good a 'face' on in order to stop the talk and rumors throughout the world. As soon as the event was over, he again began his persecution. Each part of this story interacts with the other, forming a whole that, without one, would be incomplete. There is extensive footnoting and a bibliography, a good final remarks page from the writer.  I loved each part; perhaps why I took a few weeks to finish, slowing down to keep the ending from arriving.

Amber Brown Is Not A Crayon – Paula Danziger   illustrations by Tony Ross
              For the cute picture on the cover, and the title, I picked up this book at our library. Amber is a third grader who’s quite content being messy, in the room with teacher Mr. Cohen, and her best friend Justin. She tells the story of how Mr. Cohen takes them all on a trip to China, and it sounds like a lot of fun. They have passports and line up their chairs like on an airplane, then take off! That part is happy fun, but sadly, it isn’t the whole book. The rest deals with Justin finding out he’s moving away and Amber goes through different emotions about the loss. It really is a good story, and I know young students will love it as a read aloud, to talk about losing a friend, and what might have to happen in order to feel at least a little better. The illustrations are cute sketches throughout the story.

Before We Eat, from farm to table – written by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Mary Azarian
             Bright colors in woodcut prints make this a beauty of a poem/story, to use on Thanksgiving, or any time of year in order to say thanks to all the workers, including those who cook at home for us, for the food on the table. “They fished from boats/out on the seas/raised wheat/and nuts and honeybees.” is one part of the poetry.

An Outlaw Thanksgiving – written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
            As an introduction to historical fiction, from Caldecott winner Emily McCully, will be perfect. McCully takes a story from the days of Butch Cassidy, a Thanksgiving feast held by him and other outlaws in Brown’s Hole, Utah, written about by a local resident “Queen Ann” Bassett. This story tells about Clara (with her mother) who is traveling from New York to Utah to join her father, then to go on to California and a new home. This trip, too common, the train became snowbound, and Clara and her mother trust one of the other passengers, and are taken by sleigh to Brown’s Hole until the train is dug out. It’s a fun adventure with the young Clara telling her story, of the feast, and of meeting the ‘real’ Butch Cassidy. The paintings that capture that time are often full page showing the characters and action beautifully. It’s another story of Thanksgiving that can be used all through the year.

The Thanksgiving Door – written and illustrated by Debby Atwell

          This is my favorite Thanksgiving book, because it’s about community and welcome, and getting together with whomever needs to get together, to give thanks. Ed and Ann are home alone, and Ann, sadly, burns their Thanksgiving dinner. Ed suggests they walk down the street to check out the new, New World CafĂ©. They walk in-the door was open-and those in the kitchen are alarmed, immigrants who are planning their first Thanksgiving in America. At first they think they should scare these new customers away, but Grandmother shames them into sharing. A wonderful meal and dancing, too, ensues, and new friends are made. There’s a sweet surprise at the end!

The Listening Walk - written by Paul Showers and illustrated by Aliki
             I imagine a lovely walk outside with young children-winter, summer, spring, fall-anytime to go out and listen to what the world tells us. This time, a little girl goes out to “listen” with her dog, Major, and her dad. In the walk, she gently shares all the things she hears (as well as sees). It’s a wonderful book to use about onomatopoeia, finding poetry in sound. The illustrations are brightly colored, showing off all the things heard on the listening walk.

A Circle of Friends – written and illustrated by Geora Carmi

          My book buddy colleague just shared this with me today, and I wanted to share with all of you. It’s a marvelous, wordless picture book with a touch a color on some pages, circling through a story of a boy, a homeless man, and a bird. The sketches are in brown tones, beautifully rendered, and each page made me hold my breath as I wondered what would be next. My friend who shared with her early primary students said the students were mesmerized.

Next: A new book that someone recommended: A Bird On Water Street by Elizabeth O. Dulemba-historical fiction.  And I’m also reading Libertad by Alma Fullerton.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nice Things, Nice Week

                The week has flown, filled with good moments. Thanks to Ruth Ayres at Discover, Play, Build  we share our celebrations with each other.

        A few more days until Thanksgiving, a few more days till family, and a few days of rest before back in that swift time before the holidays, such a joyful time, but busier than most of the year. This week celebrating different moments:
  • Students who sit and talk of their goals for work with passion and enthusiasm. It's a gift to me to be able to have those conversations.
  • A Friday trip where an hour into the mountains, the bus started smoking, and I made it to a stopping place, a helpful colleague came to the rescue--with another bus--and we were able to carry on with the trip. Flexibility was key, but what a day!  
  • Shopping for dinner with my granddaughter and trying hard not to laugh as she carefully examined a few frozen packages to see what she might like. (Pictures mean a lot to those who cannot yet read, and Stauffer's won the day.)
  • Spending a few hours shopping with my daughter  last Sunday. We are both so busy that a few hours is a treasure.
  • Looking forward to this coming Thanksgiving with all the family. My son, daughter-in-law and grandson will be here!
Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family, wherever you are, whatever you enjoy on your table.

          From John Fitzgerald Kennedy: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Poetic Search for A Special Class

          Today’s Poetry Friday as hosted by Becky Shillington of Tapestry of Words.

       I've recently been asked to take over a classroom at my school, and as I've written before, I'm much, much busier than I was two weeks ago. Serendipitously, I'm in the same classroom that I was when we first moved to this building, and have the same age students, a mixed group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. It's a terrific class and I've loved my time so far. With any class, getting to know the students is key, and finding ways to broaden their outlook in literature is a special pleasure for me. I've shared several poems already, have favorites, and we'll be doing more creative writing soon. Starting with only a few weeks before Thanksgiving, then a few weeks until the longer winter break is also a challenge. What to do, what to do in this brief time? 
       Here's a poem I'll share with students soon, and thought you'd enjoy it also. It's one our head of school shared during the staff days before school. It's a good look at telling a story, at inviting everyone into the group, and it's a way for us to respond to a poem that I hope will touch the students in a variety of ways. I'm looking forward to what the students will share about it.

My Mother's Uncle Had A Horse

The best time of a delay relatives' Sunday
was to walk with him to the stable
and watch him feed the quiet animal,
to give it sugar from my own hand
and jump back away
from the big warm tongue, 
to smell the hay and manure, to see
the white horse in the next stall,
with tail and frame like yellow silk.

You can find the rest here

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with good people and good pie!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Surprise in the Early Dark

This is the weekly Slice of Life at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  Tweet at #SOL14  

               Thanks Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy!  

Wishing everyone a marvelous time at NCTE!

                 One slice of my life each Monday evening or Tuesday morning is the time where I take the trash out. Every other week I also roll out the re-cycle cart. I realize this isn't the most exciting thing that anyone does, but I am grateful that I do have a reliable trash service. Some days, like last week's crazy cold, I think of the trash people and what a long, tough day working outside will be.  I've been rising earlier because of my new classroom job, so I took the trash barrel out this morning instead of doing it last night. Thus, I'm sharing that because of that change in my habits, I was greeted by more shivery air, but a gorgeous sky, and a clear sight of Orion's Belt. You may see this constellation more often, but I don't often go out into the dark early in the morning. Here's that word "mundane" I wrote about a few weeks ago. Trash: mundane, a weekly chore, challenging mostly in cold and snow. The gift: a sight to savor.
Click to enlarge.
photo credit: Cayusa via photopin cc

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Monday Reading

Sheila at Book Journeys started It's Monday! What are you Reading?, a meme where bloggers share recent books read.
             Then, Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers started one with a children's focus.  Reading everyone's posts of the books they're sharing is such a gift every week. I would never have discovered so many wonderful books without you all! 
                I just finished my Goodreads' goal for the year, 350 books!! I increased it a few months ago, but am still ahead with a month to go. However, since I'm busy with my new classroom, perhaps it's a good thing. My reading has really slowed, sad to say. I have two books to share today.

Thanks Jen, Ricki and Kellee for hosting us.

Tweet at #IMWAYR

You Can't Ride A Bicycle To The Moon - written by Harriet Ziefert with pictures by Amanda Haley
                Filled from back to front about the space program, beginning with all about the moon, this is a terrific non-fiction book that is so friendly and fun. Harriet Ziefert shares the factual information and history in clear explanations, and she adds in cute and fitting poems that fit the content along the way. Here's a taste: "Moon Rover, Moon Rover,/Won't you come over/And take me someplace cool to play?"   The pictures by Amanda Haley enhance the story with comic-type illustrations. For those kids who love space, this is a great book.