Monday, July 11, 2022

Monday Reading - Add to your Lists!


         Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! 

           I shared this new book by Irene Latham last week for Poetry Friday here. It's great!

        This week, I want to thank Candlewick Press for some of the special books they have shared with me in recent weeks. I'm headed for a family trip in a couple of weeks, taking off the rest of the month to prep for that plus lots to do at the bookstore. Hope everyone is doing great and you don't have too much challenge with the summer heat. We were 100 on Saturday and Sunday and will be a little cooler today. July - whew!

           Where else could one find a book set in what appears to be the far past, with nobles and a queen's forest, words spoken about dungeons and being thrown in the stocks, with chapters on occasion told from the point of view of a gargoyle? Where? In a remarkable book written for middle-grade readers! Gnat is the leader of a group he has gathered. He orders, helps, and takes care, yet appears rough, perhaps out of need. His group, the Crowns, fend for themselves in this city as in other places. This time they seem to have found a good place, a partially-built cathedral with space and room, with no citizens to bother them. On the partial roof lies the gargoyle, alone and across from a few others who gab and throw insults at it. But he doesn't care, only wishes for quiet. His life's goal is to protect and he has waited for tens of years to have the cathedral finished. 
           And then there is Duck, a young girl found as a baby floating in the nearby river by another of the Crowns, a protector of sorts, Ash. Gnat's new scheme is to get Duck to apprentice with Master Baker Griselde in order to steal a few pennies and give bread to her "family", the Crowns, on market day. It happens. The story follows Duck's journey of transformation and questioning where is her true home? It is a sophisticated look at what it means to love and care for others even when, yes, these children are homeless needing to figure out who they are. Although set long ago, I read the feelings and plans and arguments of the Crowns, thinking of those homeless kids of today, young ones with a parent, many teens in my city, and I imagine in yours, too. It is long and detailed and took me a while to read, yet Lindsay Eagar's new story will stick with me for a long time.

           How can I describe a 'wordless' picture book? A day at the beach, grabbing buckets, helping young siblings while building a sandcastle no matter the challenges. Children run by (and through), a woman's floppy hat blows from her head, right on the castle, but they keep at it. All the wonders of a seaside day lie on Qin Leng's pages as JonArno Lawson's day imagined unfolds. People are playing in the water, seagulls do their best to snatch some lunch, old and young lounge in chairs and if you pay close attention, you see them all moving closer, closer to the dunes. The tide is coming in! It is an awesome picture book, I imagine very nostalgic for those who have had their days by the sea.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

#PoetryFriday - A Recent Kindness


  Poetry Friday is with Jan Godown Annino, who's hosting HERE at BookseedStudio. Thanks for hosting, Jan, lovely to see you here! And thanks for the post showing off a wonderful book inspiring your own poem.

I am thinking of these words from Maya Angelou:  “I’ve learned you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” 

             I've loved other books, other tales, other inspiration from Irene Latham before. A granddaughter visiting this week asked to read "that cat book" again, meaning The Cat Man of Aleppo. Then we searched about him on the web, finally discovering those who are helping pets to survive in different places in Ukraine. She will be eleven in a few weeks, knows all the news, and it felt good to show her how people all over the world are showing kindness, for animals and people! 
              Irene's most recent book is 12 Days of Kindness, follows the well-known song "Twelve Days of Christmas" with a myriad of children and adults showing varied ways we can be kind.

        Each part of the verse shows a new act of kindness; hugs and smiles, greetings and thank-you notes fill people's worlds and bring smiles from them, too. All kinds of people are there in the color-filled illustrations by Junghwa Park. There are family members, school workers, and recess buddies. Kindness wraps the day from the top to the sweetest ending I would hope for every child. The left side demonstrates the kindnesses as the right side fills up page by page as those "12 days" pass. 

         In these recent weeks, it feels as if a kindness given will lift friends, family members, and strangers, too. We all need it! I know this would be a book to share in my classroom if I were still teaching. Thanks, Irene, for your own kindness shared by writing this wonderful book.

Monday, July 4, 2022

It's Monday - Books to Enjoy, Books Needed


         Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! 

       No matter how you are celebrating, wishing you a special Independence Day!

First published in Slovenia by Mart Bartolj, following a path from a lost dog to kindnesses all along in a community. Someone gives an apple to a street musician and someone else sees that act, passes it on as each one sees a need, and figures out how to help. In brown tones, Bartolj highlights "every little kindness" with a touch of red, lightening someone's world. (I'm reminded of Zero Local: Next Stop: Kindness by Ethan and Vita Murrow.)
       Mr. Watson lives with Mr. Nelson and in their home, they have some dogs and cats, plus three chickens. Everything worked out just fine, mostly. They're in the house and Andrea Tsurumi's illustrations show some funny scenes. Those THREE chickens are everywhere, playing musical instruments, having pancakes with everyone for breakfast, the usual! Well, soon enough, "one, two, three" wasn't enough. Jarrett Dapier's story becomes outrageous, hilarious, hard to believe. Pretty soon, there are 456 chickens, EVERYWHERE. As Mr. Watson and Mr. Nelson try hard to be happy about it, they do realize it's just too much. They box them up for moving them to a new home. What happens then, you'll need to read and read it aloud to a group of young readers who will love it and laugh till they cry. What a story!

         Two boys, friends from age 12, grew up to try a few other things, but thank goodness they settled on ice cream – together! This is the story of Ben and Jerry, their ice cream empire, and how they came also to be social and environmental activists. Lisa Robinson decided the story is an important one to tell and she shares it with fun, helped by the entertaining illustrations by Stacy Innerst. Some of the pages have a riddle for more laughs. "What does a cat like to eat on a hot day? A mice cream cone!" There is an author's note, a timeline, and a source list at the end. Great book!

      Brave little owl, very young, but has always had the goal to become a knight. Even in the face of a terrifying challenge, using his wits as a brave knight helped. Christopher Denise brings the tale to life with fabulous full-page illustrations, and close-ups of swirling emotions as this Knight Owl does his best at facing his fear during what he's good at, taking the night watch. You'll find small hints as you read of owl traits versus those human knights, a quite clever and unique story that shows everyone has something good to offer in our world. 

What's Happening? I just ran out of time and could not finish The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eager. I am about halfway through and it is terrific!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Poetry Friday - One Love


  Poetry Friday is with Janice Scully, who's hosting HERE at Salt City Verse. Making connections between supernova and her own backyard feels amazing, but Janice has done it! Be sure to read her poem and the explanation!   Thanks for hosting, Janice

            I love dandelions, the first food for bees in spring, the spark of sunshine in a mostly gray world, and the promise of a color-filled world on its way. And I love dandelion poems and have written a few myself. You can find those I've shared here, here, and here. I imagine many of you know or have written a dandelion poem or two. 

My favorite summer book is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.

           At the used bookstore where I volunteer (the all-volunteer-run store) this donation came in a few weeks ago. I've been reading parts of it a little at a time. Some poems are familiar, from poets like Robert Louis Stevenson, Eugene Field, Emily Dickinson, Rachel Field and Celia Thaxter. So many are not familiar!  And the one I'm sharing today is by Helen Gray Cone (1859-1934), "The Dandelions". Wikipedia shares she spent her entire life at Hunter College, was a poet and professor of English literature. You can read more about her here and find her work in other places like Gutenberg. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Monday Reading - Fun Books Again!


         Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! 

        Every week finds us railing at the news, worrying each morning what will we discover that has happened now. I did manage some reading this week, but less than usual, unless you'd like a share of all the news articles? In better news, the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup last night. The city will be crazy this week! 

     For young middle-grade readers, it's a fun adventure with two young nobles, Thomas and Emily, who are discovering all sorts of things about their kingdom and their mother when they visit the workroom of the scribes. Meg, the main scribe, used to be friends with their mother, the lady of the castle but an event happened that changed that friendship. Thomas and Emily argue a lot but they continue to work together to solve what's becoming a bigger and bigger challenge to discover if what Meg tells is really true. Was there really a dragon in the castle? Knights, elves,  and the ways of castle-living make a funny story
       Clever illustrations by the author, Annette LeBlanc Cate add to the adventure, too.
Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

It's another book discovered at the used bookstore where I work from a favorite author. My own children and I loved Burningham's "Mr. Gumpy's Outing" and now here is Courtney, a dog new to the kids in this book that surprises in many ways. He can cook, juggle, and even saves the baby from a fire. He leaves suddenly, but the question remains, is he very far away?
        Poor Dat, who came over by boat, then by plane, now he's on a school bus and the beginning of his brain swirling because all anyone who's talking to him only speaks "gibberish". His expressions illustrated by Young Vo, who also writes the story, show the emotions wonderfully. Just look at that cover. It's hard to imagine what a challenge Dat and other immigrant children face when they cannot understand a thing and must go by what they "see" nearly all of the time. In the book, Vo shows Dat only in color with a variety of kids and adults surrounding him, fairly goofy looking, until, until, one child begins to help. It's something for everyone, kids and adults, to learn and see, that one can help, starting with a few words, like this young girl in the book. It's a book that full of sympathy for someone living in a new world. (Young Vo says that he learned to draw before he could write!)