Thursday, January 18, 2018

Nature's Poetry Friday

            Kay McGriff at Journey Through The Pages hosts Poetry Friday this week! Among other wonderful poems, she's sharing a blessing for writers!

      One could be negative and say I'm stuck, or one could be positive and say I'm on a roll. Saturday and Tuesday I posted about the daily walks I've been taking and I shared pictures of my discoveries. Wednesday I shared a non-fiction picture book about the painstaking work done by a scientist in the field, this time, a "new" island off the coast of Antarctica. Time, curiosity, imagination all play a role in my quest, along with a love of nature.

       Then, after a couple of days of clearing shelves and rearranging my office, I found an old article I had saved from the New York Times, "Finding Zen in a Patch of Nature". It feels like a small extra "push" to keep going, see what more I can find and learn! 
        From this article: "You can live a perfectly happy life having never heard of Shakespeare, but your life is in some ways a little diminished because there's such beauty there. And I think the same is true of nature. Much of it is useless to us, and that's O.K. It's not true that every species that goes extinct is like another rivet off the plane and the plane's going to crash. We lost the passenger pigeon and the U.S. economy did not tank. But we lost the passenger pigeon and we lost some of this remarkable music made out of atoms and DNA."

"The Earth has its music for those who will listen."  George Santayana
on my walk to the library

Winter’s List

shadow tableaus

sunshine days
winding paths
wandering ways

patterned rocks
fallen cones
birds in flight
flutter zones

bits of snow
lots of freeze
grass rustles
in the breeze

rusty leaf
loss of fall
acorn stash
squirrel’s mall

rotting log
insects wait
hidden lives

time to see
outdoor fair
wonders wait
in open air

 Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Living Space, New Discoveries

art by Sarah S. Brannen
          Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  
From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!

                I don't remember who shared this book recently but I'm grateful I read the post, then ordered it immediately from my library. It is so interesting, a wonderful story of NEW earth, a new habitat to study. Thank you!

        Loree Griffin Burns begins the story with a young child reading with his mother. Immediately intriguing, the reader is not introduced to the volcanic eruption that spawned this new island near Iceland, but to the scientist/child who became an expert on it, especially about its insects. His name is Erling ├ôlafsson and when he was fourteen, a volcano nearby erupted and an island emerged. That island is eventually named Surtsey. Burns explains the background of the name and also shares that she will include Icelandic names and their pronunciations occasionally. Surtsey comes from the volcano's name, Surtur, the Icelandic God of Fire, thus "Surtur's Island". 

What I liked: 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Daily Slice Search

Join us on Tuesdays with the Two Writing Teachers and others who post. 


        I wrote about this same topic last Saturday, celebrating my daily walks. Yesterday was a grey day, full of snow in the morning and bitter cold. Luckily the sun did appear and my daughter and granddaughters came to spend the afternoon, just hanging out and visiting. It was a sunny day after all.
        This morning, still cold but I was determined to get out and continue my walks exploring the various parks within my neighborhood. There are many and this time, a short drive brought me to Crescent Park, a bigger park with a hill built in that I hadn't walked up yet. I make it a goal to look for beauty and surprise, and if I take the time to "look long" (see poem by John Moffat here) I do find something to love. This morning, I found, sometimes in my imagination!

a gathering

a place to sit

Monday, January 15, 2018

It's Monday - More Great Books in January

Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love!  Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki who share so much with us by taking time to support this meme!

 In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, to work to continue to realize his dream, here are two recent important books:
        I read Citizen by Claudia Rankine and discussed it with my book club this past week.

    I want to be sure you know about this brief and wonderful story in verse which I reviewed for Poetry Friday here.

Here's what I've been reading, new and older, all terrific!
first #MustReadIn2018 

           Just as many have written, Tumble & Blue is a delightful story. All based on a mysterious legend including families near the Okefenokee Swamp. This one includes a red moon rising and a golden gator who will grant good luck to the brave soul who faces him. Unfortunately, two different families are represented and the end result is disaster but not for all. Some are blessed, some cursed!                                                  Eventually, it's up to two young people, Tumble & Blue, who must solve the questions that fate has handed down to their families from many years past. They have good intentions, and become friends with ups and downs, too, yet there are moments when I wanted to applaud and moments I wanted to send them strength. They are brave, make mistakes, and perhaps will become good examples to kids who read this adventure.

           A young boy loves the sparkle and shine his older sister gets to wear, in clothing, in nail polish, and in a bracelet from a grandmother. She doesn’t like it, thinks boys should not wear such things. They’re only for girls! As the story goes, the family is supportive and finally, the sister is too when she sticks up for her brother who wears a shimmery skirt on a library trip and gets teased. It may be an opening to talk about differences and choices. The story is rather matter-of-fact and is improved by the sweet illustrations.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nature's Invitations

       Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share. 

          I walk most every day. There are so many parks nearby to choose from, so usually I choose one and explore it all week. Some are near, but others I drive to, and then park in a different spot from which to walk. I feel lucky that our city has so many. I don't feel comfortable going alone to a foothill, edge-of-forest area because of the coyotes, but these inner parks are beautiful, too. Here are some celebrations for this week. 
foamy water in the spillway from the stream


seed pods 

sun on the ice

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Poetry Friday - Learning About Others

   At Bookseed Studio, Jan Godown Annino welcomes everyone to Poetry Friday. She's sharing a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday will be celebrated this coming Monday.  Thanks for hosting, Jan! 

         There have been a few times recently when I am sad to be no longer teaching, no longer able to share beautiful writing with my students. This is one time when I will have to settle for sharing with former colleagues, telling them that they must get this book in order to talk about feelings of friendship and race. Many of my students, pre and early teens, wrote about self, and those who stare. Here is part of one poem:

         Your face holds no expression.
          You stare out, blank eyes.
          If only we knew when
          your throbbing heart
          bleeds, dances, or breaks.

          You allow us to see nothing.
          I wish it was different.

Irene and Charles tell a story with poetry in their new book, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, of a boy’s and a girl’s inner feelings, about self, feelings about each other, universal kid concerns and deeper racial questions. Through sharing parts of those feelings, about what might be termed “safe” subjects, these two kids learn about each other, learn that they have a few common likes and dislikes. Maybe they can even be friends?  It is a good path but doesn’t start well. Irene and Charles (the authors use their own names as they tell the story) are forced to work together on a Poem Project: As partners are chosen, Irene thinks: “you-never-know-what/he’s-going-to-say Charles/is the only one left.”  And Charles: “She hardly says anything. Plus, she’s white.”

I read the book to my granddaughters this week. They are Ingrid, eight and Imogene, six. Imogene is perhaps too young for all the poems but when we came to the poems about hair, her response was that everyone should know not to touch anyone without permission, and Ingrid, with hair like Irene, “long and straight--/a curtain I can hide/behind “ laughed and said, “that’s true, I can.”  Charles’ words showed how angry he felt when someone patted his head, said “It feels like a sponge.”  Then, Charles patted that person’s head, said back, “Your hair feels like a mop.” The girls laughed, said, "That’s good, he took up for himself. He didn't stay quiet.” Some might say this book is only for older kids, wa-ay older, yet the girls took what connected to them at this time, and will understand and think about more as they re-read it. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Linking Non-Fiction Books

art by Sarah S. Brannen
      Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  This 2018 is her seventh year hosting this meme. Just imagine all the marvelous books she has shared!
      From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!

           Kings Play Chess On Fuzzy Green Squares, well sometimes. And when you read this book about Carolus Linnaeus and his "Naming of Everything", you will also learn "Kangeroos Play Cellos, Orangutans Fiddle, Gorillas Sing". Either one can be used as a mnemonic for the classification Linnaeus created through his lifelong and painstaking work identifying and problem-solving the "how-to" make order from the millions of living things on earth. The first is one I used with my own students and the second is one given in the added author's notes in this book. The first letter of each word coordinates with Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. In this story of Linnaeus by Anita Sanchez, she tells of his passion for learning about the living things in their garden, hence the title's words, "Karl, Get Out of The Garden." His mother and father wanted their son to become a minister, but he hated the endless study indoors and his parents were told he "wasn't smart enough to become a minister". He was headed for apprenticing as a shoemaker, but thank goodness one teacher suggested that Karl's love of plants suggested he might be a doctor. At that time in the early 1700's, "plants" meant "medicine". His parents consented!
       Karl was undaunted in his motivation to create a system of organizing all living things and he is credited with naming more than 12,000 plants and animals throughout the world. During the time he was doing this work, he also taught, and took many students out into the world to journal to note a plant's or animal's characteristics. (My students did this, too. What wonderful learning is involved when one examines a single thing and creates observations in words and sketches. It is exciting to learn about and apply classification.) Those students who then traveled all over the world also collected for their teacher, took notes and sent the species (if possible) and the notes back to him which is one way Linnaeus was able to identify so many, many species.
       Catherine Stock's illustrations are like detailed journal sketches in lovely watercolor that show the action in the story, from young Linnaeus being calmed by flowers brought in to him to the crowds who opposed him. Sometimes dialogue is added when it seems necessary. There are balloon speeches giving the words that many thought should be names for dandelions, like "Swine's snout" and beautifully written words that Linnaeus himself wrote added to the pages. All gathered together makes quite an inspiring and fascinating story of one man's legacy to scientists and lay people everywhere who want to know the science of living things. 
       Anita Sanchez has added more information about Linnaeus and classification, a timeline, resource notes, and a bibliography in the back matter. On the inside front and back covers are lovely browntone sketches of plants by Catherine Stock.

        Owen Davey's books teach much about the animals he's chosen to research. The fascinating thing about the book is that Davey owes much of his research to other work, and directly to Carolus Linnaeus. This particular book is wonderful, offering, in beautifully-wrought collages (including a life-sized side picture of the head of a roaring tiger), terrific information about cats, from the house cat to all the wild ones. Included is their behavior and ways of survival (how to capture prey, which lives where, specific characteristics in looks, ways to hide, speed, families, etc.) There is a small part of the mythology of cats: human interactions and stories. For anyone wishing to learn basic information and/or for young researchers, this is certainly a terrific book to have.

A Reader Blooms

Join us on Tuesdays with the Two Writing Teachers and others who post. 

      Because I'm not teaching anymore, it's exciting to talk with young readers at the bookstore and help them find a book they will enjoy. Often they're searching for a book "like" one they've loved before. 
      It's also a wonderful thing to see how much Ingrid and Imogene love books. They spent their final vacation day with me yesterday and part of the day was spent reading together. Ingrid, in third grade, had some struggles at the beginning but is reading well now. She just finished Wonder, partly because she's seen the movie and also because her teacher read it aloud before the holidays. She wrote a letter to an author yesterday about a poetry book I just bought for her and Imogene. We read the book first, discussed it, then Ingrid wanted to write. 
     Imogene is in kindergarten, has loved books from the beginning, yet has resisted any talk about learning to read. The books are read to her, then she takes over, going through the books again, and again, creating the story in "her" words. I don't know why the resistance, but it's been there, until this year. She has been pulled out in a small group to help her learn more and that teacher has done something magical to inspire her. She's beginning to read! And now she points out words that she knows! 
      Often, when the girls are with me all day, they end up creating notes for their parents. This time, Ingrid had already begun, and Imi said she wanted to write a letter to her Mama. She chose a coloring page from the net with a big heart and two roses on it. And she colored it with concentration, filling all the parts in. Sometimes she doesn't do that, but this time, the motivation was there and every part looked good! In the past, she has just written: "Love, Imogene". This time, she says to me, "I want to write more. Will you help me spell the words?" I don't have a picture of the note, too private, but it involved several sentences, a need to show her what a comma looked like, and the spelling of "anything" because she wanted to write, "Mama, you can do anything!"  
       Words for those who work with children come to my mind: sharing beautiful books, patience, and finding authentic reasons and audiences to write.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

More Goodness in #IMWAYR

Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love!  Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki who share so much with us by taking time to support this meme!

   For those of you who have returned, or will be returning Monday or Tuesday, hope the year has continued beautifully! It's been a busy week for me, lots of time spent doing other things, finishing up the holiday "stuff" and reading the finalists for the Poetry category of the Cybils. It's a pleasure but takes time to read and make notes, etc.
      It was great fun to read everyone's #MustReadIn2018 lists last week, and to see how must they'd accomplished from their #MustReadIn2017 lists.

Here's my reading for this week:

           Many people remind us to “look for the helpers”, most especially after a disaster, but sometimes one child’s life is a “disaster” and she or he needs all the helpers possible. This is the life of Rydr who’s on a journey to live with a great uncle in Chicago, someone she’s never known. Her mother died of a drug overdose and the ‘Gramma’ she’s lived with for two years, who didn’t like her very much, has also died now and social services has finally found one family member who will take her in. We don’t know how that will be, all Paul Mosier has given us is the story of Rydr on the train from Arizona to Chicago. Slowly, Rydr finds her helpers. There is Dorothea, the person “in charge” of this Amtrak child rider; Neal, the young man in charge of the snack bar; Carlos, a writer who also rides this train, making notes in a journal; and Tenderchunks, nickname of a Scout traveling with his troop, but more in love with poetry than building fires. Sound interesting? With top layers revealed, Rydr slowly digs into her own past and discovers these other ‘helpers’ who not only help her, she finds that she has something to offer them, too. It’s a beautifully loving story that shows both the highs and lows of love and loss, and makes one want to shout “hurrah” for those who step forward to help. Don’t miss this book!

            Thanks to Candlewick Press for the ARC of this book, just out this month. Poor Bug, he struggles to keep his mouth shut, and his actions to remain only thoughts. I know kids will giggle when the jokes are on Benjamin (really known as Bug) and also on his “Don’t List”. Cartoon-like illustrations show the humor too with exaggerated expressions on everyone.
              I’ve found another wonderful bear book, and Sean Taylor has written this darling story of two children who build a snowman. However, when their mother comes to look, she says it looks more like a bear and warns the children to be careful on the big hill because it’s very steep and slick. Well, the children take the sled down with much whooping and hollering, but when they try to get up the hill they cannot. That’s when the magic begins. That cute and large snowbear  becomes a real bear and comes to save them. The rest of the story is one for smiles, and the snowy pictures illustrated by Claire Alexander show the excitement that happens when outside in a snowy landscape.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Celebrating The Day - And Sky

       Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share. I have a favorite thing you may know about, taking pictures of the sky. Most of the time they are of our wonderful Colorado sky which is, even from the city, wide open, sometimes clear and bright blue, sometimes roiling with clouds, though seldom does a drop of rain hit the ground. It is simply too dry. The explanation is that although clouds might hold moisture, drops are absorbed before they hit the ground. It's called "virga".

     I was up very early this am because I was going to a party, a much fun gathering of former colleagues, some now out of town, and two families with new babies! Well, older babies really, 7 and 9 months, and they were precious to meet. I celebrate that there is still time to get together and visit, to love on these new ones, and watch them move and crawl, smile and look with wonder. And I was so happy for these new parents. They have a lot of joy to look forward to!
      And so, before and after the party, pictures of the one thing that pleases every day.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Poetry Friday - A Gift

        Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core is hosting this terrific beginning to our Poetry Friday new year! And she begins with a review of the wonderful new poetry book by Charles Waters and Irene Latham, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. I have read it, and purchased another copy for the granddaughters, looking forward to sharing and giving it to them when they visit. Thanks, Catherine!
       Hoping all who are being deluged by this superstorm Grayson are safe inside, have power, and will not have too much trouble during and after. 

          Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference for her idea created these past years of poem swaps, summer and winter, and a little more to send--and receive. After this holiday time of gift-giving, during a quieter week, finding a small box in the mailbox that is just for me feels like the exclamation point of the last word of the final paragraph of a book.The End! And it is a special ending, my swapper, Leigh Anne Eck, at A Day In The Life, created.

        Here is a picture of my wonderful gifts: a beautifully crafted pencil pack and bookmark from a business run entirely by volunteers who empower those caught in human trafficking by selling their creations. It's called The Faith Store, and is run by a local church. (FYI - I previously shared a link, but Leigh Anne told me it is "not" the same store. This one has no online presence.)
        The quote is one to remember: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”                African proverb

There is also one of those sweet quote magnets, and Leigh Anne has created my poem and placed it as a magnet! I am happy to be able to keep both of these close, on the refrigerator of course, to read and see often! Thank you, Leigh Anne for ending my holidays and starting the new year so wonderfully.

Here's the poem:

Where might I find you?

Maybe at the bookstore
            sharing your passion while
            meandering between the shelves
            meeting new people
            _hearing their stories,

Or maybe at the ocean
            walking the beach with loved ones while
            collecting shells
            taking in sunsets
            soaking in the sea
            _finding memories in the grains of sand,

Or maybe with family
            finding beauty in the people in your life while
            celebrating Grandma day
            playing with Ingrid and Imi
            _cherishing memories,

Or maybe at home
            writing a slice while
            reading a book
            visiting your neighborhood
            noticing nature
            _dancing with words

Or maybe..
            creating joy for those around you
            and for those of us far away

is where I might find you.

©Leigh Anne Eck, 2017