Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers started one with a children's focus. You should visit to discover some great books!
Today, I'm excited to have my zeno poem posted at Michelle H. Barnes' Today's Little Ditty. If you haven't heard of this challenge by J. Patrick Lewis, head over to check out my poem and see if you'd like to try it, too.
Better Nate Than Ever – written by Tim Federle
Now that I’ve finally met Nate Foster, I’ll need to read his next adventure, Five, Six, Seven, Nate! This was a fast read, partly because I couldn’t stop seeing how this thirteen year old was going to make it to NYC for the tryouts of ET, the Musical. His parents didn’t know, and the only one who does know, and who helps plan the escape, is his best friend, another one passionate about the theater, Libby Jones. This young boy, teased and stuffed into lockers, already being called ‘fairy’ by his older jock brother, holds onto what he loves, pushes past the hard things, and keeps his passion for musical theater no matter what. The story, including family troubles, meeting an aunt he hasn’t seen in years, the figuring out that “it’s now or never”, is terrific. It makes me want to put it into the hands of young students trying to figure out who they are.
Gracefully Grayson – written by Ami Polonsky
Coming on Nov. 4th, it’s a heart-wrenching story of a boy we meet who, in third grade, has developed a way to draw princesses without anyone knowing. He says: “I try to look at it like I’ve never seen it before just to confirm that nobody else would know that the sketch is really a princess.” This story finds Grayson in sixth grade telling his own story of the constant self-questioning about his true self. Early in the book, a favorite teacher who plays an important part as Grayson’s friend, talks about those who, during the Holocaust, hid people, and had to keep the secret, sometimes even from their families. He asks how it would feel going about life hiding a dangerous secret. Grayson knows the feeling well, because he was born a boy, but on the inside, he knows he is a girl. With a chance given by this teacher, Grayson learns he must take the brave step to accept who he is, and to fight for it, even with the outrage and concern from his aunt and uncle, now his parents. The book wasn’t easy to put down, is one that I hope will offer courage to children in the world who are hiding their own secrets.
Fall Leaves – written by Loretta Holland and illustrated by Elly MacKay
Can there be still another beautiful picture book about fall leaves? Yes! And this is one, filled with Elly MacKay gorgeous illustrations, which the cover tells she sets up scene by scene in a miniature theater. They appear to be a combination of collage, photography and watercolor. Loretta Holland tells the story in a clever, nearly wordless story from summer leaves, to fall leaves fall, to leaves fall, to fall leaves. There is more, the final playing outside, birds flying south, apple picking, and then, the inside because winter arrives. It’s a book to examine over and over.
Dear Child – written by John Farrell and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning
I just had the pleasure of being at a poetry workshop with John Farrell who writes and sings his story/poems, and this one has been published as a picture book. It is a beautiful poem from all parents, shown in various ways by Maurie Manning. It is a celebration of becoming a parent, the wonder felt when one realizes that this child is part of you. The diversity of parents is beautiful to see, and the words written are so loving. I also got to hear John sing this. He has a cd that includes it, too. Some favorite lines: “Leaves are much greener now./More flowers in bloom, strangers start smiling/when I tell them of you.” I ordered several copies, and just gave one as a gift to a staff member with a brand new baby! You can read more about John here!
Not A Stick and Not A Box – written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis
I saw a review of Not A Box recently and found the book, and also Not A Stick in my school library. I did not know these books and am glad I found them. What challenges to creativity these would be with young children, to create their own ideas with both sticks and/or boxes. These would be wonderful paired with Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg.
Rules of Summer – written and illustrated by Shaun Tan
I finally took time to find this at the library. Is this the adventures and tough times of a younger brother who is at his older brother’s mercy, rules and even cruelty? The inside cover says it’s about siblings. Or is it the imagination of adventure in a wild summer of fun? I’m not sure, but it really is an interesting look at Shaun Tan’s imagination. Love the art, and would be interested in seeing what older kids think of it.
Now Reading – Threatened by Eliot Schrefer – hard to put this down, it’s great!