Monday, November 11, 2019

Monday Reading - A few Favorites

              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. I have a second post today, highlighting a new middle-grade book, number three in a series. Please take a look here!

                          Thanks to Candlewick Press for these next two books.

         This book, out last summer, is a compilation from an exhibit that features postcards sent by more than 50 children's book illustrators from around the world to show solidarity with today's migrants. It is both inspiring and gorgeous to see the profoundly emotional art.

           From Satoko Watanabe in Japan: 
                                  A little bird flies in the sky.
                                  A little bird is damaged.
                                  A Little bird needs a place to rest.
            He shows a sweet-welcoming bear with a "little bird" perched on its nose.

            From Shaun Tan, Australia
                                   Where there is change
                                    there is hope.
                                    Where there is hope
                                     there is life.
             He shows a postcard with paper ripped from it that has turned into an origami bird.

              Brief bios of each artist are given at the back with one final poem, an acrostic using the word, "peregrine" by Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris, UK. The art is a peregrine falcon.

           I'm guessing that children have no idea of the many intriguing wonders beneath us. Out in October, this book's journey shows those amazing sites all over the world in a "lift the flap" bonanza! For instance, on the double-page about prairie-dog towns, eight flaps lift to divulge secrets of this underground place, sometimes in poetry and sometimes in prose, readers learn what the "dogs" do, like females with their pups, who to beware of, who might take over the town, like ferrets. Sam Brewster takes us readers to the underground subway neighborhoods in Montreal, London, and Tokyo.  "Poland's glistening salt-rock mines,/carved with care throughout the years,/A maze of caves and passageways,/ statues, sculptures, chandeliers." can be found in a marvelous vertical double-page. Graphic art includes so many details that it's hard not to miss some. Then, it's time to look more carefully or return to read again and again. I imagine readers of all ages will adore this book and learning something new! 

             A family is woven together in these heart-stopping illustrations by Weshoyot Alvitree as Traci Sorell tells a story of what binds the family. In poetic style, Traci first shows us the mountain's base where grows a hickory tree. Beneath sits a cabin, and in that cabin, a wood stove gives warmth as a family watches a grandma's weaving, all close together while they wait, wait, for the one member missing. She is a pilot off to serve, like many others from the Cherokee Nation. Our own groups, whatever and wherever they may be, hold us up as we hope that they will soon be home safely. In an author's note, Traci tells a little more of those Native women who have served in wars "while receiving strong support from their families."

It's Monday - Sixth Grade Serious & Silly

              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. I'm sharing two posts today, this one dedicated to what has become a series, newly adding book three.
              I reviewed the first Dewey Fairchild book a couple of years ago here. And I wrote about the early questions I had about the premise of the book. It seemed over-the-top with the way Dewey worked with his secret office and next-door neighbor and elder friend Clara as his assistant. Everyone, including clients, is constantly fortified by Clara's cookies, too. But, I was asked to share book number three, Dewey Fairchild, Sibling Problem Solver this last month and they sent me all three books. Well, I enjoyed book three so much that I took the time to read book two which I had missed. I still like them as much as ever, hope you will find them and enjoy their totally satisfying stories!

           I felt a bit uneasy thinking about Dewey taking clients who had problems with their teachers, with the possibility of his interfering with teachers, but I needn't have been concerned. The problems are real and Dewey's solutions were considerate and actually focused on helping the teacher, resulting in good solutions for everyone. For example, one teacher's students complain he is boring and he does not realize what he's like until the tables are turned. He's bored by the students! Another has linked the curriculum expectations to the study of sharks, so much that kids are afraid to drink from the water fountain. Dewey discovers the reason, helps the teacher look at sharks in ways he had not considered, a great lesson for everyone. It is terrific to see the lesson in expanding research, learning about ALL sides.
           As in the first one, Dewey's friends and family, members and activities with them show up often, more entertaining than the one focus on problem-solving. Yet this time, Dewey and his friends have a school-wide challenge: they've taken away the vending machines (for snacks on break) and introduced a new toilet-paper roll which dispenses only one sheet at a time. "Outraged" is the word for the outcry so Dewey and friends, Colin and Seraphina, with Clara's spectacular cookie-baking help, plan a protest. But first, the research comes, and a frantic search for Colin's retainer, all in the real lives of middle-school kids! The day-to-day life of the families and kids is also included, this time showing Dewey's dad who is student teaching so he can become a math teacher, Dewey's interest in drones, and some of the parts of his life not so good, like having to watch his little sister, called "Pooh Bear" when he believes there are more important things to do. It's a real-life and fun story many kids will enjoy.

           Now, in this newest one out, Dewey has discovered some personal learning along with helping others solve sibling problems. The first problem begins with a 'parent' problem. Archie Thomas' mother won't allow video games during the week, but when they compromise with Dewey's help, the older sister is dismayed because Archie's mother is now entranced with the social media interactions, and managing to embarrass her daughter. After figuring that out, a new client emerges, a girl whose brother won't leave her alone and does some fairly mean things to her often. Dewey's problem-solving, and enticing stake-out to observe the problem is real research. Reading about his thinking, then connecting it to his own life for the solution shows Dewey is growing older and realizing that his life is not perfect either. He needs to find a few solutions for himself, too. 
           Oh my, Dewey has another personal problem! little sister Pooh Bear manages to figure out Dewey's secret office in the attic, and when she and older sister Stephanie slide through the air vents (yes, that's the entry!), Dewey struggles with the solution. What to do, what to do? 
           As in the first two books, social problems are also tackled by Lorri Horn. In the book about teacher problem-solving, the rights of children to speak their minds and protest is respected and upheld. This time, with a description of Dewey's solution to the bothersome brother problem, discussion of colors denoting gender and how those beliefs started is included in a solution that did not go well. Dewey's work is not always perfect! More adventures with drones and now those that take pictures also take place. And, descriptions of the characters show the author wants to be sure that readers know diverse kids and adults are in Dewey's life. 
          Clara, the endearing, next-door neighbor who is Dewey's assistant keeps the support going, too. She and her dog, Wolfie, are mainstays in Dewey's life, along with the family. Their support, warm and fun conversations bring a feel-good vibe to all the stories. 
          There is a lot to love in these books that will entertain, but also inform thinking for readers. I enjoyed them very much.

           See Lorri Horn's SCBWI's profile here. Thanks to Amberjack Publishing for the books!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Poetry Friday – Finally Featuring!

           Poetry Friday is hosted today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem! Today, she welcomes us with poems from a treasured book and poet, and one by herself – poems of comfort. Thank you, Irene!

            It's long overdue that I share this marvelous "almost new" poetry book by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña. It was out in September! First, I pre-ordered it because I loved Michelle's earlier collection, Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day At The Farmer's Market. Then I won an autographed copy from Matt Essenwine's post, lucky me! So that was for my granddaughters! Then! I was sent a copy from Charlesbridge! FYI - I gave one to my granddaughters' school! I imagine most of you have read this new "treasure" of a book, but if not, be sure to find it!

        This young girl hears from her teacher; the class must prepare to bring in a 'collection' to share. But, and it seems to be a big "but", she has a "Collection Conundrum", no "random items. . . share a common thread". Although she hasn't found that "thread", Michelle carries the story into a poetic collection thread as the girl examines friends, family, and neighbors to learn of their own collections. The family shows a button collection, trains and snow globes, where Sissy says: "When confetti settles like sprinkles on a cake,/time to make it snow again–/Just tip and.../Shake! Shake! Shake!" Nothing seems to connect as she travels on to a friend who collects black and white animal figurines ("and in a spot of honor–skunks,/her current fascination"), a neighbor is proud of all his birdhouses ("Merrily from each tree,/legions of homes swing free"), and bringing one to me, too, the mailman ("because, across the well-worn miles, he's energized by saved-up smiles".) You may know already that after much tantalizing research, the conclusion is the best! She chooses especially, "gathered up inside this book: my favorite.../POETRY!"  
        In the end, Michelle has added a few tips for starting a collection. Carmen's vivid, colorful illustrations delight with the inclusion of many kinds of things treasured by so many kinds of people.