Thursday, March 21, 2019

Poetry Friday - A Little Time

            Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads hosts Poetry Friday today, with a call to celebrating National Goof Off Day! Because of Rebecca's blog title, it feels fitting that she would both know about and make a call for, well, inaction on today's Poetry Friday. No offense intended to sloths, really. I know they act, albeit.very.slowly. I also know that 'goofing off' doesn't always mean slowing down, but to me, this time, it did. Thanks for hosting, Rebecca!

What Can Be

This morning hour, while goofing off,
I strolled throughout my yard,
poking here and looking down
to find the spring green all around.
Lily blades reached for the sun, 
alas, their green, the only one,
but then a tiny ant crawled by
another followed, I said “hi”
I pulled leaf litter off a bed,
with a closer look, saw one thing red,
felt a flutter, looked around –
a ladybug, they’re back in town!
It isn’t often that I take more 
than a casual glance this time of year.
Today I’ve learned to slow and go.
I’m glad goof-offing day is here.

Linda Baie ©

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books - Women's History

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

         One of my wishes for all children growing up is that they can be supported in their passions. These two books I'm sharing today tell the story of two disparate women who were supported, praised, allowed to take different paths in their learning because of what they loved! 

       For young readers who do not know of Gwendolyn Brooks, who do not know she was the first black writer who won the Pulitzer Prize, who do not know how her passion for words guided her from a very early age, this is a marvelous introduction to her. In an array of pink to brown tones created by Xia Gordon, Alice Faye Duncan (writer of Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop) writes her own free verse poetry about Gwendolyn and includes some of Gwendolyn's poems, too. Those poems are numbered by Roman numerals, I through X. In school, this poet was already watching and listening, as writers do, and wrote her first poem at age seven, in 1924. Each part begins with the title challenge to "sing a song for Gwendolyn Brooks", as important parts of her life are told. Kids play, "They boast and bully./They 'signify'", but she stands alone. She lives on Chicago's South Side, can be found sitting on the stoop of their building, always watching. The story tells how much her parents support her, let her out of chores so she can write. Her mother takes her hand to march off to school to confront the teacher who has accused her of plagiarism. She sits right down and writes a terrific, most apt, poem titled "Forgive and Forget". From research, Gordon shows how much Gwendolyn cares about the words, the "right" words as draft after draft is written/re-written. She joins a group of black writers who study the great poets like with a poetry teachers. She falls in love with the right man who also supports her work, and they rent two rooms where she continues to write. They have two children; Gwen has already published books, is very popular, and is awarded the Pulitzer Prize in between the births of those children. She shines, as her parents have long known! And this biography does, too, a loving introduction to this famous poet.
       There is an author's note, a timeline, suggested readings and a bibliography in the back matter. Gwendolyn Brooks was the 29th poet laureate of the Library of Congress, continued to earn award honors until her death in 2000. You may know her most anthologized poem, "We Real Cool".

Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday Reading - Hurrah for New Books!

Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who post their favorites. 

          I'm grateful to Candlewick Press for these first two books!

         In Jo Knowles' new story, the pressure before eighth grade fills up the main character Rachel's life. Starting with her thirteenth birthday and the first day of summer, she's ready for all the wonderful things summer can bring, like being with her best friend since kindergarten, Micah. As the days go by, each one brings new questions, both personal and in her family. She's excited about a new job caring for the farm animals for neighbors who've built a fancy house on the hill and field next door, but it is not so easy since the chickens peck and the pig charges. She notices that there is not always a full refrigerator anymore and her parents seem to be arguing a lot, over the bills. Then, Micah, whom she does love but only as a friend, seems to want more. And she wants to feel that way, but cannot make herself feel that way about any boy. Jo Knowles tells this story through Rachel's eyes, beautifully showing that confusion over change that young adolescents try hard to figure out, and often alone. Luckily for Rachel, Micah stands by her no matter the conflict. I imagine readers will connect with this story and whether the hard things are the same or are different, they will meet someone they recognize.
           Rachel's family have named the place where they live as Bittersweet Farm, after the bittersweet that grows in one place there. Her story lives in that name, both bitter and sweet.
       This board book includes the colors you see above, page by page cells are added accompanied by poetic text, showing simply and beautifully how our world of light works, including "you". I've taken one picture of the first page, not as good as what one really sees, but you can understand the idea. My favorite line: "It sips the sea to make the rain."   This is a book you must see and savor.

       When I was a lit coach, I took a suitcase of musical things like different clackers and horns, a small drum, and so on to liven up our poetry writing. Oh, how I wish I had had this new poetry book to Boom! Bellow! Bleat! with the kids. It's a new delight by Georgia Heard with "out loud" collaged illustrations by Aaron DeWitt. It can be read, as the cover says, by two or more voices, and I found it wonderful to read with my youngest granddaughter, an emerging reader. Serendipitously, we had just visited our zoo and came home to read this new book together. It opens with a fun page of "Animal Songs" including Alligators that Hiss, all the way to Humans, who Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk, etc. It also includes frogs who don't say "Ribbit!", instead, they quonk, waaa, jug-a-rum, beeeee, peep, twaang, errrrgh, growl, trill, and yeeeeeoooow. There was much to learn about frogs (and toads) just from this page. Imogene loves insects and her favorite page is the honeybees, who bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as they perform all their other tasks.
         In addition to the poetic text, Georgia has included small bits of information for some of the animals. And added at the back is expanded information in a "Nature's Notes" section.
        Each page's text are in blue, red and sometimes black (for that third voice). It was great fun to read aloud. For groups, a page titled "Forest Orchestra" gives instruction and a script for fourteen parts to perform together. She includes tips like "Keep in mind that animals have adapted different sound tones so when singing together they don't drown each other out." From large to small, land to ocean, animals Boom! Bellow! Bleat and more. One only needs to listen!