Thursday, July 18, 2019

Friday Fun - Poetry Swapping!

                This week, Poetry Friday is hosted by Carol Wilcox at her blog, Carol's Corner.  Just wait until you meet Rooney! Prepare to fall in love!

                  I am celebrating today. It's my 1900th post. What a wonderful journey it's been since I started in 2011, sharing some of the ups and downs of my life and enjoying reading about others. I've made many friends, met some in person, wish often that we could all be in the same neighborhood. But perhaps we are, as Mr. Rogers sings, even here online, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood."

          As you can see on the right I am participating in the Summer Swap, the lovely idea created and managed by Tabatha Yeatts (at The Opposite of Indifference) so long ago. It is lots of fun to create for someone else and also to receive a poetic surprise in the mail.
           Today I'm actually sharing a poem I wrote for Iphigene Daradar from the Gathering Books blog. I've sent to her before, but this time our US mail gives no tracking number so I still do not know if she has received my package. I hope so! Considering I was then thinking of the journey that it would take, now I wonder where it might be. It's been a long time!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Rock with Rhythm

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, you can 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!
           Thanks to Charlesbridge,  Barry Wittenstein, and Keith Mallett I had the pleasure of learning about Sonny Rollins' life!

         I know little about jazz other than I like to listen to it, have fond memories of going to a small club in Kansas City where a jazz duo played some old favorites and swung with some new ideas. That's where I learned about Sonny Rollins, though until now I hadn't known the range of his music. Barry Wittenstein shows his love through taking us along on Sonny's journey, first enticing because we see Keith Mallett's dark starry picture of music floating out from the Williamsburg Bridge. 

          "What the heck is Sonny Rollins doing on the Williamsburg Bridge this time of night? Nobody knows, man. Nobody knows. 'Cept Sonny, and He.Ain't.Sayin'." 

         However, that's not really the beginning, more like the re-birth. At the start (the "First Set"), Wittenstein's poetic rhythm (needs to be read aloud to feel that beat)  fills life with Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, "Big band swing will never die." He then shows Sonny's love so strong when he got his first horn, he practiced in his closet as a young boy.
        World War II takes up some time and Sonny returns home to "end Jim Crow now" and BEBOP, with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie "Bird" Parker.  This double-page powerful spread, like others by Keith Mallett, shows that time of change. People started to notice, but here's an amazing fact told; he was only 19 in 1949! 

          By 29, Sonny "throws up his hands, lays down his horn." It was a time of reflection of re-finding his way back to his music. He played alone in his small apartment when a neighbor begged him to stop. It was too much noise. Then he found that Williamsburg Bridge and the rest of his story (the "Second Set") shows more magic. He records "The Bridge"
At the back: an Author's Note, Liner Notes: about The Bridge album, a timeline, Sonny quotes, added information links, and a bibliography.

           Here's a jazz profile from NPR on Sonny's seventieth birthday, including links from various sources and one where you can hear this great man play. He is eighty-eight years old today.

  I was fortunate to win this wonderful book from Margie Culver at Librarian's Quest

        I remember listening to some of Les Paul's music when I was young but did not know until now how amazing he was. He didn't stop figuring things out and inventing new things all of his life. His main invention was perfecting the sounds of the "solid-body electric guitar", but that certainly was not all he did in his lifetime. He took piano lessons and loved the music, but despite a note from his teacher saying he would never be musical, his mother tore up the note and told him "You can do anything you put your mind to." The story starts with Les building a crystal radio set (something many did), and then, with his first guitar, practicing and practicing until he could play it, the banjo, and the harmonica! He became popular, appeared to never be satisfied when he thought of an idea. People loved his music, wished he would make some recordings, but he didn't have a recording studio, so with the family's phonograph, the player piano, the telephone, AND the radio, he tinkered and tested, tested and tinkered, and he made his first recordings.
            This is Les Paul, musician, and inventor, persistent all his life. Kim Tomsic shares his story with excitement, showing how time after time, Les made what he wanted work. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but perhaps more exciting was his induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame at age eighty-nine. Brett Helquist's illustrations show the details of Les Paul's enthusiasm beautifully. Added information can be found in an author's note, works cited, and acknowledgments.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Monday Reading - Where Books Are Found

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. 

       There are many ways to find books to read. Here are a few. One I've left out today, but am also grateful for is recommended books loaned by friends.

from the library

        I adore every book by Kevin Henkes and was happy when I learned about his new chapter book, and even happier that I was able to get it from my wonderful library!
        Amelia, just beginning the adolescent thoughts of "BORING", a seventh-grader dear to my heart because I taught middle-schoolers for a long time, know they're shaky about growing up, mostly wishing that life would be exciting all the time. This girl whose story spans only a week, her spring break, a week where she is sure that she's the only one staying home. Her widowed, quiet professor father does not like to travel, thus the dream of Florida flies right out the window. Poor Amelia, a theme she doesn't like much, but Henkes repeats, perhaps seriously, but sometimes reflecting the feelings of a twelve-year-old. This is repeated in kind sympathy by the neighbor Mrs. O'Brien, a woman who cares for Amelia while her father works. In fact, she cares for them both with love and support.
        Amelia also misses her best friend Natalie in France, feeling quite adrift, but the feeling doesn't stay. She creates ceramic animals, this time rabbits, in a nearby studio and there meets Casey, visiting while his parents are on a retreat to save their marriage. Casey is trying to convince them to stick together, but it isn't going well and Amelia understands. Her mother died when she was two and her father, while she knows he cares, is gone a lot and distant, too. When a game begins with Casey, the two have fun creating stories about those who pass by a window. Amelia's thoughts explode when Casey sees a woman and imagines she could be Amelia's mother because of similarities. How Amelia responds, internally and outwardly makes much of the tale, showing her growth and yearning for something, anything to happen. The title echoes the emotions shown in the Emily Dickinson poem from which it came.
        It's a quiet book, certainly one showing Amelia yearning and wondering about life as she imagines it could (should?) be. I especially loved that this "tween" still used a beloved stuffed lamb, Dr. Cotton, to talk to: "She went on to tell him about Casey and Lindy, the remembered moments making their way into the catalog of her life."

           Kwame Alexander's poem about reading is lovely: "Next, dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section/and Pop the words out". Melissa Sweet's illustrations illuminate: see that toaster 'popping words'. Both make for slow reading, just the way to read poetry and to savor art. You have to get the book itself. I won't try to describe this special celebration of reading further. Might be a marvelous one for the first days of school? Early on, look for a quote by Nikki Grimes.

from winning a book

         Of course, "Home is a Window" and oh, Chris Sasaki shows joyous glimpses through a young girl's windows, accompanying Stephanie Parsley Ledyard's text. This young girl shares all that she knows about her home, "a table with something good and the people gathered there", "one more hide-and-seek before bath," and "what feels the same each day." Soon, however, readers realize that this is a goodbye and a move to "new". In the journey, she tells "Home is the shirt that smells like your old room." The story shows that no matter the change, everything about home will go with you and offers comfort to those who have worries about leaving the home they know.