Tuesday, May 23, 2017

N-F Picture Books Tell Stories We Should Know

       Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover wonderful non-fiction books!

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." ~Ambrose Redmoon

        Considering all that we know of recent escapes from homelands in the middle east, this book reminds us that there was another time of escape for survival. That time was years ago when many Vietnamese were forced to leave their homes and country because they were no longer safe when Communists took over the whole country. The sole way of leaving was to escape at night, under cover of darkness and eventually by boat. This picture book, while brief, shows exactly what happened to Tuan Ho and his immediate family when they escaped. They left at different times because some of the children were young. The father and older sister escaped earlier. This boat ride for Tuan, his mother and siblings, some aunts and uncles turns harrowing when the boat starts leaking and then the motor dies. Previously, others had died, either by starvation or drowning, but Tuan's boat finally was spotted by an American carrier, and the boat's sixty people were saved.  
      Because it's a picture book for younger readers, I think the suffering of those on the boat was minimized, or perhaps it's up to the reader to imagine that suffering? The story begins by being left by the truck that transported them to the seashore and boarding a small boat that would take them to a larger one. They were shot at and Tuan was hit only by a rock that skittered onto his leg. On the voyage, a capful of water was the drink possible, the boat began to leak and Tuan's mother and his Aunt Nghia are the only ones willing to bail water. They thought they would not survive.
       Tuan's story is co-written by him and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. There is further explanation of the war and the family, and photographs in the backmatter. All the family has survived, the children have grown up and now have families of their own. Illustrations by Brian Deines are gorgeous paintings, mostly double-page spreads. They show the action and challenge, most of all the happiness of being rescued. It's an amazing story. The blurb on the inside cover states this is the first picture book that describes the plight of the Vietnam "boat people" refugees. It seems important in light of the recent tragedies of refugees fleeing their homes in Syria and other countries. 
           Here is one article that describes the plight and the top five countries from which the greatest number of refugees are forced to flee.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Garden Challenges & Wonders

   Join us on Tuesdays with the Two Writing Teachers and others who post. 
         It, that bindweed, is back, and I'm out again on the prowl! But in the midst of weeding, I saw such wonders, all busy, moving, eating, growing! I'm glad the weather is warmer, and we've had more rain in the evenings. Plants and trees are happy! And I am, too.
        "The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."   
                                                                                                           ~Henry Miller
Bees have returned!

See those pointy leaves crawling up the leaf?
That's bindweed!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Monday - Holding On To One's Values

              Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love!        tweet #IMWAYR

         Although different, these first three books, all connected to conflicts, in war, in revolution, and in civil rights. People who strive to do the right thing at personal cost are heroes. And those who use creativity to achieve their goals are to be applauded. Each book shows parts of that, and each happens to be non-fiction this week.

      Thanks to Candlewick for the Arc of this book. We know Janeczko from his wonderful poetry anthologies, but do you know that he's also written books about codes (Top Secret) and spies (The Dark Game) as well as professional books for teachers? His name is an important one to know.                              This book is fascinating and detailed, although I did wish there were a few more personal stories given. For anyone who is beginning to be interesting in deception in war, this book will spark interest and further research. It offers ancient background deception examples, but quickly moves and focuses on United States history, from the Civil War all the way to the Gulf Wars. The complexity of planning the huge operations like D-Day are amazing to learn about. I liked that there were maps and photos included which aided the explanations. It is also interesting that artists and people who had previously been employed by the movie industry played important roles in creating important deceptions. 

     A memoir about the years between the age of 12 to 14, Ji Li Jiang tells her story of the suffering of her family during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a time when they were considered "black families" because her grandfather was a landlord. He had long passed, but the connection was there, one that she could not overcome no matter how good a student. The only way would be to denounce her family, and she did not. In the afterword, Ji Li Jiang writes: "Without a sound legal system, a small group or even a single person can take control of an entire country." She admits that Mao Zedong brainwashed them all, and as a young girl, learned to love him and his words. For anyone who is beginning to study China or revolutions, this should be in the list of books to read. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Celebrating A Few Nice Things

Tweet @ #CelebrateLu

         Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others at Discover Play Build.  

            I haven't posted for several weeks, busy times, even though I know teachers are even busier at this time of year. If you teach, I hope you all have wonderful school year endings!
            I've done some traveling and had fun with friends, enjoyed the granddaughters' weekly visits, and loved spring flowers blooming so fast that each time I look, some new ones have appeared. I've been writing, poetry and prose and am excited about a new idea for a picture book that I'm working on. 
            I only saw them for a quick breakfast at a local favorite restaurant, but Nathan, Barb & Carter flew in Thursday morning to travel to the mountains for a friend's daughter's high school graduation. Yes, amazingly, it was snowing, but I loved our short visit, and after some delays, they made it to their destination!
They sent this pic from the mountains,
all bundled up!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Poetry Friday, Spring Spin

      Thanks to Kiesha Shepard at Whispers From The Ridge for hosting our poetry Friday this week. She's sharing a gift from a friend of an older book that sounds lovely, Jean Hersey's The Shape of A Year. It's good to read others' words of their observations, and Kiesha shares some of those from Hersey.

       A favorite book from Bob Raczka & Nancy Doniger caught my eye as I was dusting this week. There's nothing nicer than discovering a book I hadn't read in a while as I do that boring task of dusting! I thought I would try one of these "poems squeezed from a single word". I didn't follow exactly. Raczka sprinkles the letters down the page first and rarely rhymes. I used only letters from the word but did rhyme in my story. It was messy, fun and sometimes hard to keep track of the words. I found that as I wrote, even more words appeared to add to the list.