Thursday, July 12, 2018

Poetry Friday - Anticipation

           Poetry Friday, with Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children this week! She, with Janet Wong, are celebrating a new poetry book for school leaders, helping them greet the day. It's Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud and it, like all the other books from Sylvia and Janet, is filled with poets you know and their poems this time for the best greetings to the day. Thanks, Sylvia for hosting, and both of you for this new book.

           My family and I leave for Costa Rica on Saturday! I'll try to visit as many posts as possible but may not make it to all this time.        
          Here's a poem of anticipation.

Mapping Vacation

I consider the photos
with inviting ocean blues, 
Note the azure view! --
a roadmap to the days away
chooses me,
echoing sea waves of the past,
chasing a burst of family time
signaling days called slow.

It’s nearly time to go.
Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Monday Reading - Favorites!

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

           Middle-Grade books are not always my favorites. I realize their simple plots are necessary for younger readers, but while I enjoy many, I prefer older YA novels. This time, however, I knew that Laura Shovan's new book, just out, would be good. Her first novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, is marvelous and so creative. So now, Takedown, about wrestling? I have a nephew who wrestled and while I liked watching and rooting for him, it isn't a favorite sport. 
           From the first two chapters, I'm captured by the lives of Mikayla (Mickey) and Lev, two opposites, two who will be thrown together by their love of wrestling. Both are hanging out in their lives at the beginning of middle school; both are pre-teens. And the friendships each thought were set in cement begin to crumble. This pre-puberty time means change, and it's no different for these two. For most of the book, wrestling on a more competitive "travel" team fills each of their lives, along with family and school and friendships. Inside, Mikayla wishes her father would pay more attention to her own wrestling as he does for her two older brothers' wrestling. Inside, Lev wishes his older sister would pay more attention to him as she used to do. 
          These are only two of the troubles these two young middle-schoolers face. Mickey stays strong in her quest to be a great wrestler, but it's a fight often with unhappy consequences because she's a girl. Lev's nerves continue to be an inner struggle so he finds that writing and doodling in a notebook helps. His poetry is important, though he hesitates to share.
           Laura beautifully lets Lev and Mickey share their thoughts in alternating chapters, each time making me want to find out more. What will Mickey do when she discovers her best friend Kenna wants to quit wrestling and move on to other fun in school, and with other friends? "Kenna studies my face. Now she has this secret life with a vocabulary I know nothing about. Until middle school started, we were always together. How different could we be after just a few weeks? A lot. I tell myself." What will Lev do when he discovers Mickey, a girl, is going to be his practice partner? "I follow Mickey to the gym. "My sister says you're thinking about quitting."/"What do you care?"/"You're good," I tell her. "For a first-year Gladiator, you're really good." Laura manages to help us find sympathy for both and to root for them as they navigate their lives that aren't so simple anymore.
           The basic plot is there, making us readers ask what will happen to both these young people who are growing up and finding that what used to be isn't necessarily going to stay. These people in the lives of Lev and Mikayla are regular people who struggle in their own lives. From old friends to beloved family members, we come to care for them, too, and that makes a marvelous story of a few months in the lives of two middle schoolers. I'm very glad that Laura wrote about wrestling, and Lev and Mikayla, too!

          It seems that all the books I'm writing about today share a common thread, the way we look at things, the way we think about ourselves and about others, those like us and those who are not like us, except perhaps inside where the feelings lie.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Poetry Friday - Swap Goodness

          Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Thanks, Tricia!

          As I wrote last month, it's quite a wonderful thing to find poetry gifts in one's mailbox, thanks to Tabatha Yeatts, whose idea this was several years ago. Today I'm sharing my swap "wonder" from Brenda Harsham who blogs at Friendly Fairy Tales, and who seemed to know exactly what I love. Here's a picture I took just this week, then the lovely illustrated poems sent by Brenda. She also included a marvelous journal "with" sticky notes, a pen, a quote magnet, and some ladybug magnets. Wow!

          THANKS, BRENDA!