Sunday, September 2, 2012

Books Rarely Disappoint


Jen and Kellee host this kidlit meme atTEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  If you want to read about good books, come look.

          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS where many others share all kinds of books they are reading.

        If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Small As An Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
        The story is similar to One For The Murphys by Linda Lullaly Hunt.  It is poignant, about eleven year old boy Jack whose mother cannot care for him, yet does love him very much. It is also filled with danger, and a constant reader’s anxiety for Jack.   His mother makes bad parental choices because she is bi-polar, and evidently has during much of the boy’s young life, we learn as he tries to figure out the memories he has during what he calls her ‘spinning’ times.  The story shows that this time, however, she has gone too far, and leaves him in a campground while they’re on vacation.  He is determined to return home (Massachusetts from Maine), but through his mis-adventures, actually is able to figure out some truths about his life.  The elephant connection threads its way through the story in different events that have been memorable to Jack.  If only children in crisis could figure out that they are not alone, as these words say in the final pages of the book:  “All along the way, Jack realized, he had never really been alone.  He had been part of a makeshift herd, one that had spread out over miles.  They had communicated with heart sounds that were sometimes so soft, they weren’t always discernible to the ear.  But they had found one another, and they had helped one another.  Just like a true herd.”

Declaration of Interdependence – Janet Wong  
         I was fortunate to have won this book sometime in the summer, but admit that I have not read it all the way through until recently.  The coming election has me looking for good texts to share, and these poems by Janet Wong will certainly be one source for lively discussions and writing in the coming weeks.  She covers so much political territory, both about the importance (We The People) and the craziness of voting (The 2012 Iowa Caucus), the challenge of all working together (The Whole Team) and a favorite (Winners and Losers) which begins “I was excited for a minute--/I thought my guy could win it!”.  And when the poems end, there are numbers of pages with quick-write ideas to craft one’s own poem, and a call to share ideas on the blog site for Declaration of Interdependence.  It’s a terrific anthology for this, our election year.

The Arrow Finds Its Mark, A Book of Found Poems – Georgia Heard, editor, illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé
        I finally read through this cover to cover and found so many ideas to share with students.  What a great idea to empower their observational skills when they read, anywhere!  Wonderful poets that we know and love have used their creative powers to find poems in such places as Facebook (Charles Waters), a lasertag results report (Robyn Hood Black), the book, Drawing On Both Sides of The Brain (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater), and a road sign (Laura Purdie Salas).  Other poets like Georgia Heard,  add their own creative powers too in addition to these wonderful poets who contribute to Poetry Friday.


Listen to My Trumpet – Mo Willems – 
       I was thrilled to discover still another Elephant & Piggie book so I could laugh out loud, again!  This time Piggie has acquired a trumpet, but unfortunately he really does almost blast Elephant out of the room.  Then he wants response.  The way the book ends is such a wonderful lesson in thoughtful response, on both the friends’ parts.  I think this book could be used to teach a lesson in how mis-communication when responding to someone’s work could end disastrously, or, according to Mo Willems, very happily.
 
Dinosailors – Deb Lund, illustrations by Howard Fine
        I recently had a wonderful surprise; I won this book, too, and just received it this week.  It is a delightful 'what if' book, taking readers via a rhyming story through the travels of a group of engaging dinosaurs (dinosailors) on their not-always-so-joyful sailing adventure.  It's such a fun book that I can imagine many other stories in writer's workshop stemming from thinking 'what if' about other dinosaurs or other animals.  The illustrations by Howard Fine fill the story with gorgeous colorful movement, for there's always new action when the pages are turned. 

Sector 7 – written & illustrated by David Wiesner
       I've had this book on my TBR list since a read a review of it on The Gathering Books blog, and finally was able to check it out from my library.  What a wonderfully imaginative book about clouds, where Sector 7 is the Cloud Dispatch Center. A young boy on a school trip with his class to the Empire State Building is taken on an amazing voyage with a friendly cloud.  What happens next is both whimsical and funny to all who see the faces of those who are in charge of formal cloud-making. 

Remembering Mrs. Rossi and Letters to Leo – written by Amy Hest 
       The illustrations are by two different artists.  The first book shows drawings of Annie and her father, other friends and scenes from the book’s events.  We get a sense of what Annie looks like along with her father and her friends through simple sketches.  The second one is set up as a diary of letters to the dog, Leo, therefore they are more childish, giving the idea that Annie herself is doing the drawing.  They are mostly black and white, with cute signs and sayings added too.

Remembering Mrs. Rossi, illustrated by Heather Maione
        We hear many of the thoughts of Annie Rossi, a quite opinionated little girl in this sweet book. Thank goodness she finally shares her thoughts which are mostly about missing her mother, who has died suddenly during the previous year. Annie's feelings of sadness are often jumbled, and they come and go, which is normal, but it doesn't help the utterly sad feelings that show up-sometimes uninvited. For example, Annie, who lives in an NYC apartment, wakes up one morning to a lot of snow. The schools have declared a snow day and she expects her father to immediately take her outside to play, then come back to homemade cookies. Father's feelings are evident also, & we sympathize with his loss, too. If you have any child in your life who has suffered such a loss, this is the book for him or her. I would think it would be very helpful to a child to read the book with someone, preferably a close relative. It's a sweet & poignant book, with a sequel, Letters to Leo.

Letters to Leo - Illustrated by Julia Denos
        Amy Hest continues the life of Annie Rossi that began in the first book, Remembering Mrs. Rossi. Annie's in 4th grade now, and differences can be seen in her new ability to be more patient with friends. She gets angry sometimes when she doesn't get her way, but she handles the feeling well. There are sad moments when Annie shows clearly that losing her mother still can fill her mind, but they are fewer in this story. The book is told in letters to Leo, Annie's new dog, which she had fervently wished for in the first book. There are ups and downs with Leo, but usually events go his way and Annie is happy. I like the subtle way that Hest is sneaking in a little romance between Annie's father and her first grade teacher, Miss Meadows. The book left us to imagine that their romance might be a next book. The best thing about these two books is that they might show children who have experienced a terrible loss that sad feelings appear when least expected, and that's okay.

Green –  written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
        This is a poem, briefly worded, but poetic, yet the true poetry in this book is in the illustrations. If you've seen it, you understand; if you haven't, you must. It is just gorgeous, and fills us readers up with what I would call 'variations on a theme' because the book reminds me of those musical presentations that change, but are actually the same basic music. In this case, the theme is green and you will enjoy the looking. There are small surprises, connections, on each page which make the definition of 'variation' even more distinct.

Next:  I want to finish Choice Words by Peter Johnston because I need to share some of the essence of it at least with colleagues.  And I'm now reading Poop Happens by Sarah Albee, which is terrific so far.  

16 comments:

  1. Hi Linda, the Amy Hest titles caught my eye. I would be sure to look out for them. I love how you manage to capture a book's essence in a few simple, select words without giving too much away, yet tickling the readers' fancy with the details you provide. I'm also very happy that you loved Sector 7, it's in the reserve section in my institution's library so I can't borrow it as much as I would love to, but it's definitely a favorite. :)

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    1. Thank you Myra. I was in awe of the art work of Sector 7, as I am in all of Wiesner's books. What an imagination.

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  2. I've been hearing such lovely things about the Amy Rossi books. I look forward to getting to them in my TBR! The election poetry book does look like a great one to share with kids this fall. Thanks for sharing all your great reads this week, Linda!

    Lorna

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    1. Yes, the Rossi books are good, & especially since they are for the younger children. It's difficult to find the topic of death written for that age, unless it is about a grandparent. Thank you Lorna.

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  3. Thanks for sharing all these great books. I will definitely go out and look for the book of found poems. I started doing this with my students last year and it will be great to have some good examples of found poems to share.

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    1. Good to hear that you're writing found poems. It's a terrific book. Thanks, Andrea.

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  4. Wow! I've read Letters to Leo - had an ARC of it, but didn't realize there was a previous book! Now I need to get Remembering Mrs. Rossi. Loved your reading this week - several books I haven't read but have heard of. Off to add to my list!

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    1. Thank you Katherine. Hope you have a good week! The first book about Annie is good in a different way.

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  5. Lovely titles on your list. I just recently read Sector 7 - it is such a stunning book. Now I want my own copy. In fact I'd love every Wiesner title! I loved sharing Green in my classroom. Students were enthralled by the range of colours and there were so many connections! Seeing that there is another Hest book makes me realize I must read Remembering Mrs Rossi It's on my bookshelf, i'm just too worried about the sad aspects.

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    1. I think you will like the Remembering Mrs. Rossi book; it's treated very appropriately for younger children, sad in places, but also showing the caring of others for Annie & for her father. Glad to hear your ideas about Green! Thanks.

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  6. David Weisner is a brilliant storyteller, especially when you consider that he does it all without words. Small as an Elephant has been on my TBR for a while now, and I just haven't gotten to it yet. I loved One for the Murphy's, though, so I have high hopes :)

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    1. I wouldn't say I loved Small As An Elephant as much, but it did deal with a similar theme & told a good story. Yes, Weisner is wonderful. Thanks Maria!

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  7. Still need to read Letters to Leo as I loved Mrs. Rossi.

    How do you get that awesome middle graphic with all of your book covers? It is so great!

    Happy reading this week! :)

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    1. Forgot to mention how much I love Elephant and Piggie- I need to request that one from the library!

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  8. Hi Kellee, I know there are other sites, but I do the collage with Picasa. You just need to download the application, then it works with any photos you have on your computer, whether it's in iPhoto or on the desktop in a file. I just put the covers in a file like that to make them easier to find. If you go to Picasa help, it'll tell you what to do. The command is at the top of the program-just says 'create collage' I think. Then you export it as a jpg & add to the blog. Thanks for asking!

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  9. I love Elephant & Piggie! I can't wait to see Mo Willems this Sunday! And David Wiesner has become a favorite of mine as well. His books are so original.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!