Monday, December 9, 2019

Monday Reading - Books & People Winners!

              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.
                Now for the giveaway! Candlewick Press is gracious enough to offer two of Jon Klassen's Hat Box set of his wonderful hat trilogy. Open to U.S. and Canada. 

                Sometimes during the early part of this giveaway, the Rafflecopter's site went down and some were unable to enter their names. I've taken all the names of those in their list plus others who commented, put them in a basket and drawn two names. I wish it was otherwise, but wanted to be fair to everyone. 
               The winners of those boxed sets of Klassen's Hat Box are:

DRUM ROLL IMAGINED -- MARGARET SIMON & AARON CLEAVELEY  (I will message you on twitter to get your information to send to the publisher.) Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered!

        Whoever shared this book, thank you! I adored it, so much that I've bought several copies as gifts! Charlie Mackesy tells the tale in a book that is sized like a small chapter book, page by page with brief sketches, a few words. The end cover creates the story in tiny sketches on a musical staff. Yes, it is music to one's ears as first the boy and mole, then the fox and finally, the horse discusses tough things in life, asking questions. For example, the boy asks, "What do you think is the biggest waste of time?" and the mole answers, "Comparing yourself to others." And the boy replies, "I wonder if there's a school of unlearning?" Being kind, listening well, how to treat oneself and others are the threads that tie it together. The whimsey of the simple sketches, mostly black and white, but sometimes gorgeous color and a tiny note from Mackesy works beautifully. The flavor reminds me of The Little Prince, but it feels even more subtle. It's wonderful!

           I shared Playing With Collage by Jeannie Baker here a few weeks ago. It will make a wonderful pairing with this beautiful book by Susan Roth! Remember Parrots Over Puerto Rico and other great books by Roth? This time, she's in the book itself, comparing her own life as a collage artist with the intriguing bower bird, artists, too! In a flurry of "unusual, often unrelated stuff", Susan explains how she and the bower bird are so alike. She's in the book showing herself choosing and then the bower bird choosing just what feels right to him. Each composition created is different. The tools are similar: beak or tweezers! In the brief text, each action by either human or bird is explored. Susan adds back matter that serves as a more thorough explanation of "Facts About Bowerbirds", "How They Work", "How I Work", and "How We Are The Same". Here is a marvelous double-page spread showing both claw and hand choosing something they believe is "just right". 
           It's a book about one of nature's interesting birds, a book about how collage can work if you're Susan, and it's a book that's a visual feast!

              Well, since I've loved Sydney Smith's previous illustrations, like Sidewalk Flowers by JonArvo Lawson, The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, and my favorite, Town Is By The Sea by Joanne Schwartz, I have a new one to love, Small in the City, written and illustrated by him. Midst the business of the city, on a bus then the crowded streets, light then dark, a young child is on the way--somewhere. At first, I thought they might be homeless, but they are dressed too well. The cover itself opens the story. Here is that child, "small" on a bus, going? In his nearly wordless picture book, Smith used the outlining of black, effective here because it feels cold and unpleasant, and that day with the child moving in the city, we know something is wrong! There are features that isolate, like the scene with barking dogs behind a wrought-iron fence or the surreal squares showing the child with a brain full of too many images. When you read it, you will be immersed in the questions, and finally, you will discover exactly who is "small in the city." I know many of you have loved this book and now I do, too!

            Remember The Only Child? Guojing has created another fabulous, and wordless, picture book that will bring tears. A young woman visits a park and discovers a small, evidently homeless, dog and she tries to make friends, but he's too scared. Day by day, luring with a tennis ball, she does play a little. One evening there is a terrible rainstorm and the dog actually has followed the woman home earlier, then sheltering in an old cardboard box. The woman cares a lot and runs out in the storm to look for him. The ending is special, yet I must say that the entire book is special. I've read (looked at) it again and again. This would make a fine pairing with Small in The City.

Finally, I read a poignant novel-in-verse by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Manuel Monroy. Argueta heard of a caravan of fellow citizens from El Salvador, gathering together in a particular Plaza before their morning departure. He says his heart was with them and went to visit with them that day because they were him, thirty-five years ago.
          Written with brief chapter groupings that follow the journey, like "Us", "Waking Dreams", and "Tijuana". There is grief in the leaving, excitement and exhaustion showed in the poems told in the first person by Misael, a young boy walking with his family. They walk, ride buses, sometimes trains, always dreaming of that future in the US, often wishing their homeland had not forced this terrible choice of leaving. "Sometimes all you hear are footsteps/of people walking–,/ tran tran tran tran–,/ as if we were marching,/or as if we were/horses." The trip is about 2500 miles. When they arrive at the wall, "It feels like we're in the middle/of a bunch of poisonous snakes./There are lots of people/shouting chants/against us." 
          Illustrations mirror the cover, stark and rough, black and white sketches of people walking, carrying bags and children, sleeping, waiting, often waiting, then Misael himself at the end, his village behind him, dreaming of going back to El Salvador.

Still Reading: Shusterman - The Toll. I am so busy and this is a deep, intense book. Hoping to get it done before Christmas! I have some others I'd like to read, too! 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Poetry Friday - All About The Certainty

             Visiting Tanita S. Davis at {fiction, instead of lies} for Poetry Friday today. She's offering a new link to poetry prompts staring soon! Thanks, Tanita!

             I want to send a thank you to Michelle Heindenrich Barnes at her blog, Today's Little Ditty, to those who gave time to select the poems in her new anthology,  best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018, her daughter who created the beautiful cover, and Renee La Tulippe for added help. Of course thank you to the poets! I have loved every poem, many I remember reading during those months, others not quite staying, but now I have them to discover and love, too. The community is a special one, supporting each other Friday after Friday while taking time to read each person's poetry that is shared. People who have a community in these ways are fortunate indeed. 
             Another thing I'm doing now is writing and connecting with various poetry hashtags. I think I was a bit mixed up about who was doing what, but have managed to connect with a few other writers and I look for their writing every day on social media. Those hashtags are #natember #haikuforhope #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice. During these first days of December, I've written five so far, will write again, as many as I can before family arrives for Christmas. It's nice to know that this community will be there, showing me their thought-filled words all through the month. 
              "There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about." – Margaret J. Wheatley

          One of the poems I wrote this week connects to our community, too. I feel as if I could show my friend the community of Poetry Friday as well as the moon. (You'll understand my meaning when you read it.) 

a friend cried
over the uncertainty –
I showed her the moon

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

NF Picture Books Share Stories of Courage

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!  

         This week Alyson is sharing the beginning of her 'best of the year' books. Be sure to check them out!
           These two books are narratives based on the history of two brave people.

            Patricia Polacco tells another special story about Wallace Hartley, the man who played on with his fellow musicians as the Titanic sank.  Jonathan Harker Weeks complains he doesn't want to practice the piano, he wants to play stickball with his friends. His grandfather responds with who he really was as a child, a 9-year-old stowaway on the Titanic. Part of his earlier life was as a poor, eventually orphan boy, in the slums of Ireland. He ended up hiding from thieves in a mail sack, found himself a stowaway. He was taken in by the friendly Hartley—who loved the boy's playing the violin so much that he arranged an onboard audition before John Jacob Astor that later led to a life in music. It seemed like a dream until the loud noise and eventual realization that this ship that wasn't supposed to sink, was going down.  Saying goodbye to his kind mentor, the boy watched the playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” for those doomed to stay behind. The illustrations in Polacco's signature style focus on the people but add to the story with the beautiful setting backgrounds. It's another story that focuses on a story many may not know of this brave man. There is a real photo of him and added information at the back. One extra note that is also in the story concerns his violin and special case, given to him by his fiance. It also is pictured. After the recovery of his body, it was recovered as well and is now at the Titanic Museum in Lancashire. It's a special story.

           When Lilly Ann Granderson was four, she worked in the master's house, and the children there played school with her, giving her an old blue-black speller (see that cover) and thus she learned to read. In Kentucky, Janet Halfmann tells, it was not illegal for slaves to learn, but not encouraged. She studied, tracing the letters in the dirt and hiding that book to keep it safe. Eventually, she could read the Bible. She realized the power reading gave her and began teaching in the woods, in secret. 
           Sadly, Lilly's master died and she was auctioned off and sold to someone in Mississippi. There it was illegal to know or learn how to read and Lilly was put in the cotton fields, nearly collapsing from the work. Finally, her master noticed and put her in the kitchen. She missed the teaching, discovered an abandoned cabin where she started again, risking much to do it. 
            In the inspiring story brought to life by Halfmann's words and London Ladd's beautiful full-color paintings, it is special to read of this courageous woman who knew the importance of knowledge, found through reading. She lived through the Civil War and opened another school, continued teaching all her life. 
             There is an Afterword, sharing more and the amazing legacy carried on by her descendants, although some information, the author states, cannot be found. There are references and a picture of the Union School in Natchez, Mississippi where Lilly taught for many years after the Civil War.