Sunday, October 21, 2018

Monday Reading - Books Loved

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

          The last time I posted, I shared this book by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin. Now I want to congratulate them for being chosen for as a finalist for the National Book Award! See that new shiny sticker!

            I've been visiting my son and family out of town, so read very little while there, but have tried to catch up this past weekend and want to share a variety of books!

             Yes, finally I understand why all the raving about this story. It is a beautiful read, one I had to put down for my trip away, and raced through last Thursday. There are alternating time settings, a lot of puzzles, especially brilliant that while Candice and Brandon are working out the biggest puzzle, we readers are also tested in solving Varian Johnson's puzzle challenge to us. I enjoyed adding each piece, trying a shape in one place or in another, right along with those two young kids whose friendship grows through some ups and downs, and ends with an honest partnership. There are pieces that might surprise, but ones that will show other kids how life can work out just fine through some honest talk between friends, between kids and parents, and between other kids and other adults (if only they would listen to each other). Don't miss this if you have put it off a while as I did!

             Hey, Kiddo is the graphic memoir of author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. You may know his Ted talk in which he shares this story, but now, in a limited palette that fits his life, it becomes something to love despite the darkness, to admire because of the goodness that he also showed. Unsparing love from all his family, including his heroin-addicted mother whom he only wishes he could be with, and finally just be with a little bit more because full-time was never possible. They didn't count on raising another child, but his grandparents took him, ensured he was as safe as they could make him. Even in the lowest points, they supported and encouraged him. From his beginnings, I felt the underlying sadness throughout but the celebrations happened, too. Jarrett showed in examples throughout that his art passion truly became his "saving grace". Perhaps there are others who have not been touched by drug abuse and sorrow because of it, but my family has. This memoir feels like a kind of hand-holding, something young adults can hold onto with hope in Jarrett's story as inspiration.
      You can hear Terry Gross interview Jarrett on NPR here! Just by chance, I was listening while out on errands this week. It was nice to hear his voice again.
           I've also had the joy of receiving some special books from Candlewick, some that may be the right gift for a special person or class in your life.

         Recently published in the U.S., Ingela P Arrhenius (remember her giant animal book!) has created another over-sized book all about cities. In City, she highlights all the wonders one can find, perhaps not in every city, like subways, but most pages are filled with familiar sights. There are things, like newsstands and airports and construction sites, filled with all kinds of people enjoying those places. She also included people in their own pages, like mail carriers and skateboarders! Graphic images make these city parts come alive and the endpapers also are full of smaller "city" discoveries: people like construction workers, soccer players, and vendors; things like clocks, cranes, and onions! I know that classrooms often have a yearlong theme, like Cities, to study. This is the perfect book to underpin discovering all that a city can be.

         For a deeper exploration of cities, this book can add immeasurable ideas for study. Each vertical page looks like a poster, including a quote about the specific city,  highlighting important sites in that city, like Big Ben in London, The Statue of Liberty in New York City, and Trinity College in Dublin. The quote for Dublin comes from James Joyce: "When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart." And from San Francisco: "San Francisco has only one drawback--'tis hard to leave." Rudyard Kipling. Thirty cities are highlighted in the most amazing way. I would have loved to use this in my middle school classroom for a geography research project that included art. The graphic art is amazing to see and to learn from.

           I also have Candlewick to thank for this laugh-out-loud cumulative story by Wade Bradford of a musician named Mr. Snore who checks into the posh Sharemore Hotel and takes a very long time to get some sleep! A bellhop escorts him to a room, he changes into pajamas from his tuxedo—without removing his bow tie—and, oh my, finds a mouse in his bed. Mr. Snoregoes back downstairs, cries, "Somebody is sleeping on my pillow", and the bellhop shows him to one on the next floor, where he discovers he’s sharing a bed with a pig (who hogs the covers). The bellhop’s nonchalance counters Mr. Snore's disgust as they climb the stairs to one room after another until the final, the 13th, floor. Surprises galore and floor by floor happen that will delight young children. Kevin Hawkes' brightly colored illustrations show a grand sense of humor as the animals are found in unlikely places besides the beds! 

         Whoever would have thought that so much could happen inside a refrigerator? I guess today you could ask one of my family members who discovered recently that the food in their frig was getting warmer, and warmer! Terrible things are afoot there just as a new villain has appeared in this third mystery by Josh Funk, with favorites back for a real emergency in Mission Defrostable! Agent Asparagus takes the lead after the discovery that Pudding Pond and Yogurt Falls are frozen. She pulls Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast in to help her team. Alas, Agent Asparagus is kidnapped (vegienapped?) and the proud duo must ask the evil Baron von Waffle for help before the temperature drops and drops some more. Of course, von Waffle must be called upon; he's the one who knows the freezer. The hidden humor that might only connect to the older kids is hilarious, too, like "Asparagus is steamed" and Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are surrounded by "curly fry chains" as they venture up to the freezer. Josh's clever rhyme and Brendan Kearney's lively, bright illustrations make this new adventure another hit to enjoy.

Seeger’s Green celebrated a single color, and so too does this companion, this time creating a poignant story of a boy and his dog. I do not want to tell more about this book. Like the earlier one, it needs to be experienced. I do love the clever way Seeger used cutouts to add colors from other pages. Be sure to find this book.

Bonus for Halloween! 
          This is by a poet friend some of you will know, Diane Mayr. I saw a mention of it and found it at my library! Hurray! I know Diane is a librarian and her sweet story tells of a little bat who lives in an attic above a library. There is a hole through which he can see children sit to hear the librarian read stories, so he begins to listen, too. One time he loses his grip and falls into the room, causing quite a stir. He's okay but wants so much to get closer to the books. His mother keeps saying he must wait, that changes will come and then he can. The rest of the story follows parts of the seasons and has a wonderful surprise at the end when finally Little Bat can really "see" the pictures as he listens. Illustrations by Gideon Kendall fill the pages with lovely outdoor scenes, realistic animals (especially bats) and happy children (plus a librarian).
Next: I started the new The Library Book by Susan Orlean and I need to choose a "MustRead"  book, too.                       Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Poetry Friday - One Answer

          Brenda Harsham at Friendly Fairy Tales hosts Poetry Friday today with a sweet gathering haiku to lift our spirits.

            I missed Michelle Barnes' post last week with Today's Little Ditty's latest challenge, this time from Calef Brown. Briefly, he asked poets to "Write a poem or a story about two anthropomorphized objects. They can be an odd couple, close friends, mortal enemies, or meet each other for the first time. The poem or story can be about an adventure they have together, a conflict, a game they play, anything."

            I have been intrigued by this, enjoying the poems on the padlet so far, and wrote one and posted it. But I have had a question in the back of my mind for months that I read somewhere: "Can afraid and brave learn to get along?" I've written more than one poem this year about perspective, something that appears so challenging this politically-charged year. Thus I began a second approach to this challenge. Can I find an answer by writing? What do you think? Did I?

Sometimes It Takes Two

Afraid sees shadows lurking here,
lolling there, most everywhere!
Afraid wants others to recall
they too heard scratching in the wall.
It often queries, “Whence that smell?
What’s the strange sound of a bell?”
When it goes to sleep at night,
Afraid does not turn out the light.

Brave loves shadows as they seem
like artist’s drawings in a dream.
When its ears hear something crunch,
Brave imagines tasty lunch.
It loves all sounds - the wind in trees,
the bells that ring, a person’s sneeze.
And when it’s night, and time for bed,
Brave’s lamp turned off, it rests instead.

Perhaps Afraid can grasp Brave’s hand
to help them both to understand
another way to fill a need,
a simple act that plants a seed.

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

photo credit: maekke Trio via photopin (license)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Book Wed. - October for Monsters

art by Sarah S. Brannen

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


         It's the bicentennial of Frankenstein and nearing Halloween, so it's a great time to share this story of Mary Shelley on the night she created a most frightening monster.

            Telling of a young woman who sits in a dark house and dreams of her life as a writer shows this one night when the idea of Mary's monster begins. She wants to be a writer like her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, who passed away when Mary was very young, but the ideas just did not appear.

The poet Lord Byron and her good friend, soon to be husband, Percy Shelley, among others, were visiting and Byron set forth a challenge to them to write a ghost story. Mary wanted to write, wanted an idea, and with only one day left, still nothing. Frustrated and anxious, she went to bed. As she drifted off to sleep, she dreamed of a man that was not a man. He was a monster.

Everyone knows Frankenstein, but few know the beginnings of this story, one where Mary created this man, one not as scary as others show, but lonely and ostracized. It can be an entry to the reading of the book for older middle and high schoolers.

Felicita Sala illustrates the book in dark and dreamy gray tones, surely the atmosphere of that evening when the group spoke of vampires and ghosts, their stories already written, and the night Mary had a dream. There is an author's note where Lynn Fulton explains the changes she made that are not supported in the sources.