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!
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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.
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 Café. 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.