Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday Reading - Books Loved This Week

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites.  Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
          Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 

       It was a very busy week and I'm sharing fewer books than usual, but each one is a gem! Happy Reading!

             Kate Messner never fails to write stories I love. They are complex and joyful, entertaining and heartbreaking, like life! Chirp, in its many layers, celebrates that complexity by sharing a tale of one young girl, supported by mothers, female entrepreneurs, friends, and a grandmother who won't quit living her dream. Sometimes I do not want to tell the plot because I really want readers to experience the book without me telling them what it's about. So, only a brief few words about Chirp. I'd prefer you read it yourself!

         It's a mystery how Messner knits all the pieces together, but I'm so happy she does. Here are the parts needed in all of our lives: friends helping friends and family supporting each other. A varied group of friendly, cool, not cool, crooked, clever and joyful characters makes a wonderful book. "But nobody else got to say who she was going to be. Mia would decide that herself."

          It's hard to wait, especially when it's ALMOST TIME for the sap to run and for the loose tooth to come out! Day by day, Ethan has to eat his pancakes, his cereal, cornbread, too, without syrup. Night by night, Ethan waits for some light to show that days were longer. And one time, he notices he has a loose tooth. Dad says it will fall out before long. Gary Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney (the pseudonym of Gary Schmidt's late wife) show the s.l.o.w trail that waiting takes when one waits for something very special, maple syrup and a tooth out! G. Brian Karas' illustrations show those ups and downs of a young boy waiting and his father's understanding. It's a sweet book!

          I read this on Valentine's Day, a love story to be sure to remember for next year. Here are poetic words and gorgeous ocean scenes by Anna Pignataro, an Australian writer and illustrator, out in the U.S. this past month. A whale sings as it swims through ocean creatures and plants, warming everyone's hearts, but his own. In the book, Pignataro writes: "weaving a path of starlight/into the seagrass taller than a forest." And, "Whale thought how quiet the sea could be at times . . . and how there was no song big enough to fill his empty heart." When he sighs, the grateful ocean responds by carrying his wish to the perfect place.

Now Reading/What's Next: I am still reading When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald an especially wonderful story, but fraught with tension. I'll start Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (Newbery Honor) soon.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Poetry Friday - Hearts Are Everywhere

 Happy Valentine's Day and welcome to Poetry Friday to celebrate our sweetest day where, yes, hearts are everywhere, even in Peeps. I find them all over my home and am happy to share some old-fashioned Valentines given to my mother-in-law years ago. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Non Fiction Picture Books Take Us Outdoors

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

        We had snow in Denver last night. It was very cold, but when I woke up, the sun was out and sparkles were everywhere. As I stood and watched for a while, two chickadees were busy at a large cottonwood in my garden. It is old with deep grooves in the bark and that is where they were, digging into the grooves -finding breakfast! I've read that they hide seeds in those grooves and return on cold winter days to eat.
          I tell this story because Marcie Flinchum Atkins includes the chickadee in her book explaining 'dormancy' in nature, how plants and animals enter it, using the minimum of energy to survive. This isn't always in the winter months. For some, like the crocodile, just a cold spell can make them "pause" and burrow into the mud until it warms up again.
           Atkins has created a book that feels poetic, celebrating the evolutionary characteristics of animals and plants when they go dormant. She uses that word "pause" to great effect in varied situations. She asks readers to imagine being that creature, then tells what "you" would do. For example, she writes "If you were a dormant chickadee on a cold winter night, you would . . . cool down/slow your heart/save energy. For just a few hours, you would pause." She continues with the next step, in case of the chickadee, it would wake up and fly. 
            I enjoyed that included are a variety of living things like trees, ladybugs, Arctic ground squirrels and alligators. Each one differs in its surviving action. Some go into this "pause" for only a few hours, like the chickadee, and others rest for a whole season, like trees. Also, various awakenings are explained, as in leaves unfurling on trees or ladybugs which "wiggle awake, feast, flit away."
            Back matter explains the different terms of dormancy: diapase, hibernation, torpor, brumation, and estivation. One interesting fact included here is that some scientists use the word "torpor" for bears in winter instead of "hibernation". 
            Each part, whether going into dormancy or coming out, is illustrated with beautiful close-up photos. There is further reading which includes books and websites and photo acknowledgments. Because Atkins mentions Laura Purdie Salas' poetry book Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready for Winter, here is my review which I also shared on Kidlit Frenzy.
             Wait, Rest, PAUSE - dormancy in nature is a book that adds an extra for learning about changes in the environment that cause changes in animal and plant behavior, showing it is not only "hibernation", but more complex and varied in nature. It's a terrific book!