Thursday, December 21, 2017

Poetry Friday - "Family Poems"

Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog is hosting today's Poetry Friday. Thanks, Buffy! Wishing everyone a bit of peace and quiet on this second day of winter. I hope you had a special Solstice celebration, a Happy Hanukkah and will soon enjoy a Merry Christmas.

         I wrote last week about writing for Mary Lee Hahn's #haikuforhealing challenge and today, am inviting anyone to join us if you can. My son and family arrive late Friday night and winter came to us in Colorado with a clichéd vengeance, dropping from 66 degrees Wednesday to snow and 22 on the SolsticeAside from enjoying writing haiku, I've had time to read poetry, too, and discovered this book out this past September. I just shared two other books that are bilingual and trilingual this past Wednesday. Now here is another that will reach many others because it is written in both Spanish and English. 



          Sadly, not too long after this book was almost finished, the poet Francisco X. Alarcón died. He was a renowned poet and educator and a three-time winner of a Pura  Belpré  Author Award Honor for his bilingual Cycle of the Seasons series of poetry for children, among other honors. It is lovely to have this beautiful book of his poems that celebrate the days of the week. 
         I see this as a mentor text to inspire students to write their own poems about the days of the week. It's fun to imagine what they might write! 
      
In an author's note written before his death, Alarcón says these poems reflect "the multicultural life experiences of many Latino children in the United States today." Other reviews tell that much of his writing is based on his own life, too. He also gives a brief history of the names of the days of the week and how we ended today with our Sunday through Saturday



           Alarcón's poems vary in their tone and feelings conveyed. Family is celebrated with Sunday "dedicated to the sun--/with family around/it's always sunny/on Sunday"  Then, Monday, the speaker whispers "on Monday I feel like a dragon". Yet later in that day, "a friendly 'hello!" is enough/to douse the fire/after I greet and chat/and laugh out loud/with my classmates."  Wednesday, "Time is very tricky/through recess and games/time races at full speed/like a hare"  But later, "during class hours/time slows to the pace/of a tortoise." 

         All through the week, days are described by a child with emotion, describing feeling alone when meeting new people, learning from a Grandmother who advises we are never alone for "the wind/the stars/the sea/never stop/speaking to/each of us."  And, glorious Saturday for children, that day "to get to play/nonstop all day --/on Saturday." I am reminded that one of my granddaughters asks about this day, too, when she says, "How long till stay-at-home-day?" 

         Maya Christina Gonzalez's bold and vibrant illustrations swirl through the words and bring the poems to life in rainbows of colors. She finds the poems' focus in larger pictures with bits and pieces of what one might imagine happening on that day. Here is one example, that awesome, looked-forward-to day, SATURDAY (Saturn day)!


In her note, she says that "the art is heavily inspired by the eternal beauty of Mexico's indigenous crafts."       I hope you'll be able to discover and enjoy this book sometime soon. It is a joyful celebration of a culture, children, and family life. The end poem shares that this child has concluded that he sees
                                    "every day as part
                                      of one big family
                                      where every family
                                       member is unique
                                       so worthy and special." 


26 comments:

  1. Wow--winter really is roaring in for you with more than 40 degree drop in temperature. Glad that you're getting to share it with family. And speaking of family, thanks for introducing this book of Family Poems--will look for it.

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    1. It is cold! Thanks for the wishes, Buffy, and enjoy the book when you can!

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  2. Wow! That's cold. My daughter is flying off to CO. for an internship. I will be sure to prepare her for drops in temps.
    This book looks lovely and perfect for my school. Thanks for the review!
    I always love stopping by your blog for learning and beauty and fun. I am participating in #haikuforhealing. I hope to have a small gallery to share next week.
    Have a wonderful time with your family.

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    1. Thanks, Linda, it won't always be this cold; the weather is up and down. Glad you will use the book at your school! Enjoy this holiday, too!

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  3. What a wonderful book. And winter at the holidays is never unwelcome for us. We have a light dusting this morning. It's February where winter overstays. :-)

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    1. Yes, in February we begin that "looking forward", Linda. Enjoy the book!

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  4. Looks like a wonderful book! Enjoy your holiday guests!

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    1. Thanks, Ruth, I know we'll have a great time, as you will with your daughter home! Merry Christmas!

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  5. Brrrrr....! What a beautiful, colourful, vibrant poetry collection to being back the warmth to these wintery days! Thank you for sharing this, it's new to me. Have a very merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Jane, I hope you have a Merry Christmas too. Enjoy the book when you can!

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  6. I need this book!!!!! Soon! Our fourth graders have done an author study of Francisco X. Alarcón the last couple of years as part of a poetry study. They love him.

    I'm just back from walking the dog. It's really nice out today-- warm, sunny, I wondered why I had worn my heavy coat.

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    1. I agree, Carol, just returned from my grocery marathon to get ready for the guests coming! Hope you can find the book. My copy is from the library and I will return it soon! It's a wonderful book! Merry Christmas!

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  7. Every member of the family of days may be seen as worthy and special, but it seems like some are more appreciated than others!
    Hope you have a wonderful holiday, Linda!

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    1. Yes, it also depends on point of view, doesn't it, Tabatha. Wishing you a Happy Holiday, too, Tabatha!

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  8. Thanks for introducing me to this new collection. I'll add it to my wish list. The weather has been crazy here too. One day it is 60 degrees, the next, we're in the 30s. It snowed some last week, but it doesn't look like we'll have more than a few flurries for Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday, Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Linda, and yes, you're having the same weather. It is very cold again tonight, but our day was sunny and in the forties, a heat wave! Enjoy the book when you can find it, and Merry Christmas, too!

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  9. I like the idea that the days of the week build their bond and importance from a family and your connection to your family. I think families are so scattered today both geographically and mentally from all that we do, that we loose out sometimes on being together. Thanks for sharing this colorful book Linda, I look forward to reading it!

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    1. I didn't write about it, but the close family feeling in the book made me nostagic. I grew up with a huge extended family close, am very happy to have my daughter & family near, but it isn't a big group. Thanks Michelle. I hope you find the book and enjoy it!

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  10. Thank you for highlighting this poetry book and giving us a taste of the poems and vibrant illustrations. Stay warm and cozy!

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  11. The poems sound quite accessible for a child, however, I have a question for you about the illustrations. The spread you showed above is a white or light text against a black or dark background. I personally find it hard to read, and I imagine kids, especially those who have trouble with text, may find it difficult, too. Are there many pages where the text is placed against a dark background? Yes, the illustrations are colorful and striking, but when they get in the way of the reader, I wonder if they should be tempered in some way? Just asking... I'm a big proponent of lots of white space to allow the text, and the reader, to breathe.

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  12. Thanks, Joyce and Diane. The book is a good one, and Diane, this is the darkest page, FYI. I shared it because I liked the way Saturday was portrayed for the kids. Most pages are oranges and brighter blues and reds. I'm glad you asked. It hadn't occurred to me about that dark background.

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  13. Thank you for introducing me to this book, Linda. It does sound like a wonderful mentor. I love Alarcón's poetry and am sad to know that he passed away. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

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  14. I am so excited to see this, Linda! I have all of the Season Cycle books in my classroom and use them often (but not as often as I should), and this will be a great addition. I hadn't realized Francisco had another book. Thank you, and enjoy a wonderful holiday with your family.

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  15. I just checked this one out! JUST! So fun to see your preview here before I even had a chance to crack it open. Much to look forward to now!

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  16. Thanks, Catherine, Heidi and Mary Lee, fun to hear that you all know Alarcón's poetry, and will enjoy this book! Serendipity, Mary Lee! Happy Christmas Eve!

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  17. Brr...stay warm. That cold weather finally arrived in IN, even with a little snow in time for Christmas. thanks for sharing this book. It looks delightful.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!