Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poetry Friday - for Mary Oliver

          Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting this week! Thank you, Tricia for the loving words from you for Mary Oliver!

        Today I heard the sad news of the passing of Mary Oliver. Through many years she taught me to look out at nature in new ways, her words a mentor for me while trying to pass her lessons on to students, too, as we traveled to wonderful places together and to teach myself new ways to see. I do have many favorite poems, but marked one passage a couple of years ago to remember, in prose, from her 2016 book, Upstream. It feels apt to share it with all of you this day.

    After observations by her pond of a fox feeding on an old frozen raccoon: 

     "And now my old dog is dead, and another I had after him, and my parents are dead, and that first world, that old house, is sold and lost, and the books I gathered there lost, or sold--but more books bought, and in another place, board by board and stone by stone, like a house, a true life built, and all because I was steadfast about one or two things: loving foxes, and poems, the blank piece of paper, and my own energy--and mostly the shimmering shoulders of the world that shrug carelessly over the fate of any individual that they may, the better, keep the Niles and the Amazons slowing.
      And that I did not give to anyone the responsibility for my life. It is mine. I made it. And can do what I want to with it. Live it. Give it back, someday, without bitterness, to the wild and weedy dunes." (p. 21,22)
      Thinking of Mary Oliver as I took an evening walk this Thursday, grateful for the gifts she gave to the world from her life .

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

NF Pic Book Wednesday - Amazing Women

            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 continue to be available for kids. 

   I'm celebrating my 1800th post!

"All things are vital to the universe...
all are equal...and at once...different.'
          Gwen Frostic, Beyond Time

           Each of the following books (the first two out this month!) are worth reading in order to celebrate the lives shared. These women's stories exemplify the above quote from one of those women. Each one is unique, follows passions without giving up. They are full of inspiration either together or apart, know their strengths and pursued all possibilities to succeed. The illustrators show the passage of years, the ups and downs with interesting and beautiful choices of setting that include the characters' supporters, naysayers and experiences.

         Janet Collins loved to dance, was rejected more than once because of the color of her skin, but she always pursued a path and succeeded every time. Told in verse, with an author's note, source notes, and an additional websites list.

         Considered part non-fiction and part historical fiction in order to create a story, Mary was a real person, a former slave who went west to make a new life. She tried out for the job of stagecoach driver when everyone thought it was only a man's job and certainly not a job for a former slave. She succeeded, and she began in her sixties! There is an author's note explaining the research and the story's creation.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Monday Reading - Fun Picture 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 reading Dry by Neal Shusterman and it is long! But I've enjoyed it so far! And still reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Other than that, here are a few picture books I liked this week--one brand new, some old and worth knowing. I'm also still reading for the Cybil's poetry judging so my reading life is varied and full!

              I'm also celebrating. I have one more post and that will be my 1800th! It feels as if the time has gone quickly, but then when I look back at March, 2011, that also seems a long time ago. For a few years, I also kept a blog with my class, but have now deleted it, saving a few posts only. I imagine I've written more than 2000 altogether. If you've just started, keep going. It becomes a diary of at least part of one's life. Some of you started before I did and I congratulate you for keeping on, despite your busy lives. Most of you are still in education and are marvelous mentors for students.

         Enjoy these gems!

        What if you were a child, a young boy, and loved elephants more than anything? You loved to draw them and talk about them. You loved their "hosepipe trunks and their flap-flap ears, their tree-stump feet and their swish-swish tails." But, but, you've never ever seen a real elephant. This is a story about that boy, Frank, and his adventure with Miss Fancy,  one elephant who spent some years in Avondale Park in Birmingham, Alabama. He is that boy who lived only two blocks from the park and helped collect pennies with other schoolchildren so the city could raise the money to buy Miss Fancy from a circus. 
            Wrapping her poignant story with some truth, this brand new wonderful book from Irene Latham shows the sad history of segregation years ago and the ingenuity of a young boy who only wanted to touch Miss Fancy. Finally, Frank got to see her when she came by train, but when the crowd arrived, with Miss Fancy, he walked with her all the way until he couldn't anymore. The sign said "No Colored Allowed". What if you were that boy, heartbroken? There is a reward for being that boy, and I hope you can read Irene's story in order to discover it. John Holyfield encompasses the words with his gorgeous realistic illustrations, filling the pages with color and emotion and detail of this community, its people and a special elephant. Irene adds an informative author's note about the story, the history and adds a real photo of Miss Fancy! The book will be a great start for children beginning to know the history of segregation. 

           Forty years old, a Caldecott honor. I've missed it all these years, and for those who love the music, those who wish every child yearning to play could, this is the book. Perhaps, according to the description, it could be the story of any young musician growing up in the twenties. With fabulous black and white, art deco illustrations, zigging and zagging like jazz itself, another Isadora book to love.

          "No matter how steep or tough the climb, a friend is worth it every time!" That's the mantra for this book, a cheerful 'let me help' book with a surprise you'll love at the end. Brian Lies tells the simple cumulative story and illustrates with joy, even in a snowstorm. How can one resist a duck with a stocking cap and a chipmunk named Izzy with a striped scarf?