Wednesday, May 23, 2018

NFPB Wednesday - Women Who Made A Difference

art by Sarah S. Brannen

         Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  
          I know that many have already heard the story of Ada Lovelace, and here is another book about her, this time focusing on her childhood and the path that led her to the mathematical thinking that preceded (by over a hundred years) the invention of the computers we know today.
          Perhaps some have heard of Kathryn Johnston, the first girl to play little league baseball, yet although I grew up in her time, I had not heard her story until Heather Lang told it in this picture book of a passion fulfilled that made history.
         It's terrific to hear stories that show both passions and persistence resulting in good things we now appreciate.

        Kathryn Johnson loved baseball, loved her father's glove, even used it for a long time though it was for right-handers, and she was a lefty. Frustrations grew when Kathryn's brother tried out and made the local little league team. She knew she was better, but because she was a girl, she had to stay back, play only in local sandlot games. That itself was an honor because those local players recognized how good she was and invited her to play. There came a time for the tryouts of a new little league team. Frustrated again, Kathryn decided, with her mother's help and approval, to cut off her pigtails, borrow her brother's clothes and tryout as a boy! How it all turns out shows that risk-taking often means success! Cartoon-like illustrations by Cecelia Puglesi show this time in our history well. The pages show only white children, Mother in the kitchen wearing an apron, girls playing hopscotch, and Dad wearing a sweater vest. The backmatter includes an author's note and a timeline of women and girls in baseball. Heather Lang has written another wonderful biography of a story that will be inspiring for young people to read! Like "Fearless Flyer" and "Swimming With Sharks", she shows that taking that next, sometimes frightening, step can make a difference for self and for others! Thanks, Heather!

         This new book about Ada Lovelace not only tells more of her story as a young girl, illustrations by Marjorie Priceman fit the Victorian age in which Ada grew up and include real numerical equations researched by Tanya Lee Stone. Ada, perhaps like her poet/dreaming father, Lord Byron, was also a dreamer, thus Ada was punished at times by being put in a closet when she doesn't please her mother's expectations. Her mother, according to the text, "was hoping to protect her from what Lady Byron believed were the dangers of a vivid imagination such as her father had."  We are told that Ada spent many hours alone, her only companion, her cat, Madame Puff. She was tutored from an early age that focused on mathematics, and Ada was also studying French and music. She liked many other things but was denied learning about them as she grew up. As a young adult, her friendship with the scientist, Charles Babbage kept her mind occupied. How exciting it was to see his new inventions, to read his articles. They wrote each other often, and the crowning point was that Babbage told Ada she should write her own original paper. Ada's longer explanation of his own invention now shows it to be the precursor that explains how computers work. 
        There is "more to the story" in the back matter and an added little bit about how Ada Lovelace got her name. Thanks to Tanya Lee Stone, readers have another glimpse of this important woman who followed her passions. It's a wonderful book!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

#IMWAYR - Sharing "Don't Miss" Books

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

            Is there a "key to everything"? There is one KEY, one that serves as the underlying theme of this story of more than one person who is trying hard to overcome hard things, and especially Tasha, or Bug or Kid, eventually Tash. She's survived being left alone at a very young age by her father who ends up in prison. There is little blame but for too much drink and poor choices, but his brother, Tash's Uncle Kevin saves her, becomes her dad. And when that "aloneness" feeling pushes her into "ragers", he's there, and so is the next-door neighbor, the one who never leaves her home, Cap'n Jackie. She's an older woman that fights her own demons but she loves Tash, the 'Kid' and they have forged an unlikely relationship. 
          Tash's and Kevin's lives are tense throughout the story, beginning with Kevin planning a month's trip and signing up Tasha for a sleep-away camp. There's another rage to no avail. She does go, but not before hate-filled words are spoken to both Kevin and Cap'n Jackie. That magic key that's been so important to Tasha's and Cap'n Jackie's relationship is thrown in anger back to Jackie. 
          Camp turns out okay, but coming home is not the happy time Tash imagines. Her "Cap'n" has disappeared, so has the key, and finally, they discover she has fallen, broken her hip and is in a rehab center. The rest is a story of heartbreak, yet also hope, some resolution with Cap'n Jackie's nephew Nathan, another child she helped. Pat Schmatz has managed to write a complex story that shows how much people need love and support in their lives. It's not a long book, but caring words rule the lives of most of these people. I would have liked to have some of the references to people, and the history between Tasha and Cap'n Jackie developed further. I imagine some readers will like connecting to the feelings and experiences. 
           There are some tough scenes in the rehab/nursing home that I felt were stereotypical, like unfeeling and lazy workers. I realize that they may represent some places, but I know they are not like all homes. In all, I enjoyed the story, the characters' love and support for each other.
          Thanks to Candlewick Press for the Advanced Copy. This book came out early in May.

          Perhaps I shouldn’t have read this second one. Now I have to wait and wait for the next (or last?). Rowan and Citra move into different paths in this next phase of this scythe-building world. Some expected characters are there, and others are introduced. Just like our own lives, there are people one must trust or distrust, and Shusterman gives us plenty to judge. New people come into our lives and change us, as they change others here in this story and become changed themselves. It’s more complex than “Scythe”, the first in the series, with more surprises, some predictable, some I didn’t see coming. This time, Thunderhead writes thoughts between each chapter, also making changes in perspective. It’s another wild ride adventure. One quote from the Thunderhead feels like a good response to all the story: “There is a fine line between freedom and permission. The former is necessary. The latter is dangerous--perhaps the most dangerous thing the species that created me has ever faced.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Poetry Friday - Window Memory

         It's another wonderful spring Poetry Friday, and everyone is gathering at Sloth Reads with Rebecca Herzog who's sharing a wonderful new poetry book and giving a copy away! Thanks, Rebecca!  

            The challenge this month from Michelle Barnes at Today's Little Ditty is given here by Julie Fogliano, to look out one's windows and write from what one sees. Thanks for this latest way to write and share, Michelle.

             I've already written one poem for Julie's challenge, but because I look out windows often, I wanted to write again. Here is a sonnet with additional musings out my window, early morn. I did change the rhyme scheme, FYI. It just seemed to be needed this time. The photo is my view outside one of my windows.