Sunday, August 27, 2017

Monday - Celebrating Joys of Reading



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

        
    I love picture books, but I especially love them when the author’s words are poetic and the illustrator’s imagination brings forth the very best of those words into something that can be enjoyed by all ages. This book by debut author Matt Essenwine will be out in early September. I was lucky to win a copy from Matt, who signed it for my granddaughters, who adore it. I have my own copy too, and think I love it just as much as they did. Now I wish I had a class to read it to!





        Matt begins to celebrate adventure in his rhyming story of what only a flashlight can do: “Leads you past old post and rail/along a long-forgotten trail/into woods no others dare,/for fear of what is waiting there.” Fred Koehler takes those words and creates a story of three children who are off to a tree house sleepover, flashlight in hand. Here go the adventurers, a girl, a boy, a younger boy with teddy bear and every time they shine that flashlight, new scenes metamorphose into adventure, like from a swimming pool into the sea complete with pirate ship. The words read like a tale to be read aloud at night, the pencil sketches with a bit of color show the tension, and there is often a tiger sneaking into the scene! I imagine reading this aloud to a group who just might hold their breaths until the surprise ending.
     The book is a joy to read, and a must read here at the beginning of school when teachers hope to begin students with a reading year of celebration. The book will carry students into reading explorations with many paths.

      And then there is the kind of reading that’s tough, a story that keeps older kids tense in a different way than I wrote about above. I also finished Alan Gratz’ Refugee this week. Based on real stories, real characters in history and of today, Alan alternates telling the tragic tales of three times in history when refugees were in frantic need of escaping their homes.

     There is  JOSEF, a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. Hitler has given the ultimatum to Jews that they must leave Germany or be taken to concentration camps. They have fourteen days. He and his family board a ship named the St. Louis, bound for Cuba.
And there is ISABEL a Cuban girl in 1994. In the midst of riots and her father heading for arrest, Castro has said that those who leave will not be arrested. She and her family set out on a cobbled together boat, hoping to find safety in America. Finally, there is MAHMOUD, a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe.
     All of us have heard parts of these stories, but when written from the viewpoints of early adolescents, sadness almost overwhelms me. How can others find the cruelty to treat children this way? How can it be that children must endure such terrible experiences in their young lives? Alan respects the children’s feelings in his storytelling, but shows how they learn to take charge, how they learn they “must” take charge to help. They give up their childhood to help save their families. There is hope in every part; even in the darkest passages, small kindnesses appear.  Learning of children’s lives in all parts of our world  is something that will help readers gain sympathy for those who need help. Alan Gratz wrote a long afterword about his research for each time period, and ways we can help today.


        Reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond. I did not take it on my trip, so have some catching up to do. It's fascinating.

       Ready to start: Thanks to Candlewick Press, I have an arc of the new M.T. Anderson book that will also be out in September, Landscape with Invisible Hand

16 comments:

  1. I am really excited to get a copy of Flashlight Night. It looks like a beautiful book.

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    1. It is one to be sure to have and love. Thanks, Rebecca!

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  2. Both of these books are on my To Read list. The Flashlight book looks like it would be a great mentor text for kids to imagine their own flashlight stories! I have heard lots of great things about Refugee, too! Have a great week!

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    1. Flashlight Night is just awesome, Jana, & would be great as a mentor text. Refugee is wonderful, too, and heartbreaking to think that it's happening now. Along with the Houston disaster, we have much to do to help!

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  3. I keep reading amazing reviews of Flashlight Night. I can hardly wait for it to be published and available for me at my library.
    I have a hold on Refugee which is at least on order.

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    1. Enjoy both, Cheriee. You'll want Flashlight Night for when your grand babies get older!

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  4. Love Flashlight Night! I read it to small groups of 1st-4th graders last week and it was a favorite.

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    1. Love hearing about your reading it to a group, Michele. It is very special, I agree!

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  5. I'm going to keep my eye out for Flashlight Night!

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  6. I can't wait for Matt's book. It looks wonderful! Now be honest with me about Refugee. I started listening to it on Audible and had to stop. It was too tough to hear the cruelties. I have been doing work with my students around refugees. We are reading A Long Walk to Water. Do you think Refugee is too tough for middle grade kids? I should try to get back to it, but I've been distracted by The Sun is Also a Star. Loving this one.

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    1. It will be good for them to hear, Margaret. There are hard, tense spots, & sadness, too, but Alan Gratz has woven some connections in that you will love, and shows how kindness really ripples out in ways one may never imagine. I hope you do enjoy the stories because it is wonderful to show students they can be so tough when they need to be. Even children in the U.S. face hard things. FYI-I still need to read The Sun is Also A Star!

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  7. My goodness. I need to get my hands on Refugee. Thanks for sharing it, Linda!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Ricki. Thanks!

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  8. I look forward to reading Refugee although I know it will be hard. LOVE this photo of your grandaughters with their book. Very special!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. Refugee is indeed hard, but important to read. The girls loved the book & also love that an author writes a note to them, very special.

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