Monday, September 21, 2020

It's Monday - New Books to Share!

 Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
     Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 
            Still wishing all of you educators good days and having fun and staying safe! 

              It's a companion book to the beautiful story A Wolf Called Wander. This time, Rosanne Parry takes us on a journey with a pod of orcas, centering on the story of Vega, learning to be a wayfinder (for salmon). Someday in the future, she will become the family's matriarch. One can read this book and project oneself into this frightening adventure when, searching for the so-needed salmon, Vega ventures into the wider ocean with her young and smaller brother, Deneb. They are separated from the pod, run into a larger stranger whom Deneb rescues, and who travels with them for a while. They also connect with a larger pod of orcas who do not endanger them, but speak a different language and soon leave them behind. 
            Both are starving and the only knowledge Vega finally follows is that their way back is with the rising sun. Each supports the other with encouraging words. Parry is creating the language so that we humans can understand, but whales do communicate and do help each other and help other humans. Filled with ocean tales of survival, threats to the ecosystem, and knowledge of many other creatures, this is a tale that one doesn't want to stop reading. Lindsay Moore's black and white illustrations fill out the story with breaks of beautiful action. There is a map that shows the setting of this adventure and extra notes about orcas.
Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy!

          For ages 12 and up. Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls. 
            This collection features 49 powerful poems, four of which are tribute poems inspired by the works of Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Phillis Wheatley. It aims to move every listener to reflect, respond—and act. 

           Oh my, Lindsay Currie has written a book that will make you cringe, worry, perhaps even start counting, "One...two...three..." to relieve the stress of a very scary moment or more! She's also able to make you smile at the learning that happens to Claire, who tells her story of the seventh-grade year she never imagined. With a brother a couple of years older (and a jerk), a mom busy with an online baking business, and a dad who writes books about scary Chicago history, she doesn't believe her life could get any worse. Also, her all-time best friend Casley seems to have a new best friend, Emily. However, yes, it does get worse. Her father has recently quit his job to start a tour bus service, a "ghost" tour bus service. And this particular Friday night, Claire has to be the helper because the usual one cannot be there. 
            After that tour, which holds its own weird happenings, finally they arrive home, Casley goes to bed. In the wall behind her head, she awakens with the sounds of "Scritch scratch, Scritch scratch, Scritch scratch." They get louder, she says it must be a mouse, but no, "Mice can't rattle doorknobs." Keeping it all a secret because she does not want to be teased at school, nor want her father getting more interested in some ghost in her room makes Claire's life simply awful, until her brother and Casley figure out she really needs help. And Claire learns that asking for help is a good thing. There's a lot of scary stuff in the story, but even more, there are many good places where everyone can learn about telling the truth about what you need and trusting others, too. I enjoyed it very much, believe it would make a super read-aloud for a young middle-school class or just for parents to read with their children together. 
             I won't give them away, but there are some intriguing surprises within this story, too. I think it will spark further interest in the past.

         Thanks to Scholastic, I received this book a few months ago and wanted to wait until it's close to coming out, publishing in October! It wasn't easy to wait! Tami Charles has written a love story to this young boy. Out of the history that came before, she writes "you were dreamed of, like a knapsack of wishes, carried on the backs of your ancestors" and Bryan Collier creates the art, shares he started with a single petal to build an image. Faces appear on those petals, representing the voices of ancestors chanting "you matter". From before birth, to a boy of about middle-school age, Tami shows this boy growing up, facing some struggles, like when his name is made fun of, but also in awe of seeing himself in a first book, "like sweet jam on toast. . .all because you matter." It's a book that is not easy to describe, one that needs readers to "hear" and "see" the poetry of All Because You Matter!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following two books!

           I didn't attend the women's march, but stayed at my daughter's house and took care of all the very young children who did not go. Heather Dean Brewer tells this story of her young friend Mari who, with her mother, did join the march of thousands in New York City. She and her mother made the sign, "Love is Powerful" that her mom explains is a message for the world. Mari questions if anyone would even see it! But they did and as Mari shouted those words, a few shouted back, then a few more and more! Indeed many saw and said her words. LeUyen Pham illustrates a city filled with excited people, marching for women, for respect, and most of all showing that "Love is Powerful"! At the back, there is a note from Heather Dean Brewer and a picture of the real Mari on her mother's shoulders at the parade. 
            After this past Friday's sad news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing, this book feels good to read, a paean to her legacy, her fight for women's rights.

          If you've read Jabari Jumps, you know that he has some experience with courage, yet in this story, Jabari figures out that a few other attributes are needed. Persistence and asking for help are two. He decides he wants to create a flying machine and unfortunately the first attempt is a bust! Little sister Nika keeps saying "me", wanting to help, but Jabari says no, he doesn't need help. After an attempt when he has spent a lot of time designing and creating a longer launch machine and it, too, fails, it's "Zip, flip, swoosh around, up, Smash!" His dad suggests that Nika really wants to help, that great inventors often have partners. 
           There is more to Jabari's (and Nika's) tries, with Gaia Cornwell's color-filled collaged pages showing all the complicated inventions, a page of past inventors who, Jabari remembers, use creativity to solve problems, and a sweet moment when Nika squeezes Jabari's hand, hopeful for this "next" take-off. It's a story of kids creating, wanting to make things work, and needing a loving nudge from an adult, this time Dad, also some support from a little sister!

What's next: Still reading Alone TogetherLove, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19. Starting the adult This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger and The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins from Candlewick Press!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Poetry Friday - Free for Play

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine here at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme! Thanks, Matt for hosting and for celebrating those beautiful poems and poets in Lee's new Night Wishes!  

      I am thinking of all of you with the terrible fires and now flooding in our country, plus educators working so hard to do well for your students. It's a challenging time and I am hoping for better in less than two months!

          I moved into my 'now' home in 2012 and while I love the inside, the real reason that cinched my decision is this 100 years plus cottonwood in my side yard and all the trees surrounding me in the green space plus the library that is a block away. Those of you on social media with me probably recognize the tree because I really believe I might take more pictures of it than most anything, except for the grandchildren! Well, every few years, I need to have the arborists out, to check the tree's health and to trim some of the branches, those dead or dying and those hanging a little too low over the house. Yes, I have a motive for telling you this. The people who do this are wonderful and Tuesday, my yard and the outer garden one was covered with tree debris. They cleaned it up beautifully. But I am used to picking up sticks from this and other trees anyway and there were a few left. I started thinking about all the times my children and my grandchildren have played with sticks. I even remember a few times so long ago creating a structure with large sticks, then filling it up with snow for a snowball fight. They, thus my tree, is a treasure for more than one reason.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Non-Fiction Books - Learn About People & Things

   Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy -- hashtag #nfpb2020! Thanks to her hosting and sharing.  
       From others, too, who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 

                       Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following books!

           Learning about one's DNA seems more popular today thanks to businesses like and so much talk about where one is from. This is one gorgeous book, just perfect for beginning to know about DNA. Nicola Davies revolves her explanation of DNA around different things growing, thus the title. As she explains, all things grow and in vastly different ways because of their environment. I loved seeing the words about bristlecone pines that live in harsh mountain conditions. I've seen some of these trees which grow high in our Colorado Mountains. They adapt and take "forty years to grow the size of a pencil. They can live for more than 4,000 years." Change in growing means seeds do not get bigger, they grow (change) into plants. 
            The book includes the spiraling ladder of DNA with its thousands of steps, uses the term "code of instructions" that creates all living things, and creates their differences. 

        The explanation of DNA is clearly worded and illustrated. Emily Sutton has created pictures of so many examples of living things as Nicola explains the way DNA works. For example, a family with mom and dad and five children are shown on a picnic, all similar but not exact copies because "the exact mixture of instructions that you get from your biological parents" is not the same for each child, unless you're an identical twin!  The double-page spread of many living things is special to see and to read that while we are all so different, we do share some parts of our genetic code.  

            There is an Afterword with a specific explanation of how a human grows, from one tiny cells but with growth, all kinds of cells begin to form, in fact, 200 different kinds! It's a gorgeous book that will add to a fascinating explanation of what DNA is and how it works.

           This unique biography of these Zhou Brothers, world-renowned contemporary artists,  is written by Amy Alznauer but it is unique in that the Zhou Brothers themselves illustrated it. The tale is told that first there was one brother, then a few years later, another arrived. They had good times together but argued, too. They lived with their grandmother, Po Po who had a bookstore and taught them the beauty of knowledge that comes from books. She also told the ancient legend of paintings that flew through the air, landing on high mountain cliffs, free!