Monday, May 10, 2021

Monday Reading - Books To Find!

       Visit 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! 

 A #MustReadin2021 book           
           Everyone wonders why they put off books so long and I guess the answer is other books piled on top! I both enjoyed and am saddened by the challenges this fourteen-year-old faced as a half-Asian girl in 1880's Dakota territory. Linda Sue Park writes in her author's note that she has lived this life, that this story is autobiographical and most of the incidents her fictional Hanna faces happened to her. Linda grew up reading and loving the Little House books, wanted so much to be like Laura although she was distressed by some of the racism shown in the books. Hanna's story shows those incidents and what I loved most was reading her thinking, and how she handled different attacks. The story endears you to Hanna whose mother was Chinese and father is white, meeting at a boarding house in California. They owned a dry goods/tailoring shop and Hanna was taught to sew at a very early age by her mother. Sadly, her mother dies when Hanna is nine. She and her father are off to a new home in the Dakotas, and a new shop. Going to school, opening the shop bring more interactions with the townspeople, most of whom are not welcoming to the girl with slanted eyes. It's not an easy read, knowing that attacks on Asians in the US continue here nearly a century and a half later. But it's an important one.

               Keeping a family as a family remains a challenge after the Peach family's mother dies of cancer. In an author's note, Erin Soderberg Downing tells how much her own three children add to this story. Isn't that wonderful, too? The Peach family is struggling, mostly held tightly by twelve-year-old Lucy. Their father hides in his work, so Lucy keeps younger brothers Freddy, ten, and Herb, eight, going with good food, warm hugs, and words, reading aloud at night. When a windfall of a lot of money comes from the mother's invention, the father buys a food truck with the idea of a summer month of fun being a family again. What!!!! The kids are not so excited but with plans and goals, each one jumps on board with hope, to be that peachy family, again! What I loved most was what I call a celebration by Soderberg of each of the kids' personalities. Each one is different, each one needs support in who they are, not who others expect them to be. Slowly, readers will grow to love every character, especially understand that this really is a "peach" of a family with the good and the bad, like all of us, too. It is a special story, much needed in these past so challenging months.

 If you've studied the play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", you will love this re-telling. With magical illustrations, it can introduce the laughter and surprise that comes from mishaps when love potions do not end up the way they're meant. Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy!

           I enjoy Sam Usher's books every time I have one, and this new one will become a favorite read-aloud, I'm sure. With a sweet surprise at the end, anyone would smile and clap. A boy looks out a window and notices a bird who seems sick. He and Grandpa bring it in, give it some water, and notice he's better, so they put it back outside. "That's that." they thought. Well, there is more and more, a repeating story that comes out as perfect as the imagination can take it. 
           Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

It's May! And Poetry Friday! - One Special Tree

Thanks to our host this first Friday in May, Bridget Magee, at Wee Words for Wee Ones. She has a really special surprise, one of her stories brought to an audio storytime! Be sure to check it out and listen!

           I've read quite a few books about trees in my past, most recently a new book by Lita Judge, The Wisdom of Trees, How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom, a non-fiction picture book. Also, last year I read The Overstory, a fiction book by Richard Powers. Certainly, there have been others and you probably know some titles, too. I often laugh and share that I bought my home mostly because of a hundred-year-old plus cottonwood outside my side door. 

          This week, after listening to an NPR interview, I discovered a scientist who has done extensive research about trees helping the forest, every part. Her book is Finding the Mother Tree - Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. It came out just this week! HERE is one article that includes some description of her work. And a small quote from it: "Before Simard and other ecologists revealed the extent and significance of mycorrhizal networks, foresters typically regarded trees as solitary individuals that competed for space and resources and were otherwise indifferent to one another. Simard and her peers have demonstrated that this framework is far too simplistic. An old-growth forest is neither an assemblage of stoic organisms tolerating one another’s presence nor a merciless battle royale: It’s a vast, ancient and intricate society. There is conflict in a forest, but there is also negotiation, reciprocity and perhaps even selflessness." 

            Last year, I took a picture of a marvelous tree that I thought I might write about during poetry month. Yet, I never did, so this week, I wrote, letting it tell its own recent story.

Monday, May 3, 2021

It's Monday - New and Terrific

      Visit 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! 

        New and marvelous world-building with a trio PLUS of wonderful characters makes a fantasy worth reading. This is an adventure I could not stop reading. It begins in a Dickensian world with a young boy sliding through dark alleys, in and out, back and forth until he sees an opportunity for theft, his way of surviving. It begins with a dropped box, silvery glowing with jewels. He'll eat well tonight! Yet inside that box, that opens only when asked nicely, is something not so nice, actually repugnant. Thus, the tale begins, including frights and witches, specters and royals, goodness and evil. Just the book to read aloud perhaps to a class ready for an adventure. Last note: I struggled to keep track of all the characters who were introduced. This probably fits an older mid-grade reader best.
           Thanks to Candlewick Press for this advanced copy, first published by Walker Books in the UK.

 I first heard the words, "We are still here" when I read an article from Teaching Tolerance, the magazine published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Through all the decades, Native Americans seem to be taught about only from the past, as if they existed then, but not now. I had never heard it before and began to research, and also with students, the history everyone should be taught. If you haven't started with younger children, this new book by Traci Sorell, with those beautifully colored illustrations by Frané Lessac, serves as an introduction to Indigenous People's History. Traci shows students who have prepared presentations about topics such as  'Relocation', 'Indian Child Welfare & Education', 'Language Revival', and 'Tribal Activism'. There are thirteen, shown in a double-page spread in a large room (all-purpose room?) with visitors. Imagine a science fair. It's a warm approach to show middle-grade children doing great work and sharing. There is added information, a timeline, a glossary, sources, and an author's note. 

        I guess I say this often enough to know that I'm lucky to have and read so many marvelous and gorgeous picture books. This is one that is a challenge to describe, the sweetness of the story of young Dovey Johnson Roundtree and her grandmother Rachel Bryant Graham on one 'before-dawn' morning. Dovey was afraid of the dark but with Grandma's care, this became a favorite memory and one she would always remember, going out before dawn to pick blackberries. Before long, other women joined in and soon the ping of blackberries hitting the tin buckets were heard. Before that, Dovey had the joy of "the first berry of the day, frosted with dew". They worked and picked, but soon enough Grandma whispered, "Look, Dovey Mae...Over Yonder." There were the pinks, then reds, then golds. "Here she comes", Grandma whispers again. The lovely illustrations in the dark, then the group picking, finally the sky lightening by Raissa Figueroa bring the mood of Dovey's adventure right to the reader. According to the author, Katie McCabe, this is the story Dovey told her, the one she cherished, representing the most influential person in her life, her Grandma Rachel. It may not seem so, but it is a non-fiction book with much more added at the back from an author's note with extensive information about both Dovey and Rachel, a timeline, and a bibliography. Don't miss this one! Even the endpapers are filled with forest magic.