Sunday, August 19, 2018

Monday - Books Loved

          Visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.  

         I read many wonderful books, yet it has been a while that one book brought me to tears. Perhaps it's because the children, two boys, then another boy and a girl are all middle-school age kids, the same ages that I taught. All the years I taught, I grew to know how capable they were, how much they could do. More than once, I felt they were not given the chance to do great things. In this story of 14-year-old Ahmed who's stuck in a city that doesn't want him and Max, a 13-year-old American boy who's also stuck because of his parents' move to Brussels, Katherine Walsh shows them using their smarts, defying odds to solve terrifying challenges.

            Adding to the story is the book's ending conversation with Walsh, telling how a story of the house in which she ended up residing in her own move to Brussels began the kernel of this story. Bringing the hiding of a Jewish boy into Max's own story of finding the courage to do what he knew was right blended the perils of the Holocaust into our own twenty-first-century perils, those refugees from Syria and other countries who just want a chance to live safely with their loved ones. Adding in a couple of Max's classmates who also understand loss and help with Ahmed's desperate needs shows that when given choices, young people are capable of extraordinary deeds.
        Written in alternate chapters, Max and Ahmed tell the story, day by tense day. Ahmed, hiding in Max's basement, shows his kind nature despite his tragic history of first losing his grandfather, mother and sisters in a bombing of their building, then his father as they journeyed by boat to the shores of Europe. Walsh's writing touched me many times. Here is Ahmed thinking of his losses: "Perhaps death was just another border, a line his body couldn't cross but that his heart kept slipping over." Max, moving from friends in the U.S., now stuck in a school where he doesn't even know the language, receiving bullying words he also can't understand, discovers Ahmed, and the decision-making of 'what to do' begins. When he learns that Ahmed has not been to school in three years, he understands that "He has always taken school for granted. Now he realized that even being able to hate it was a luxury." It is a story that will offer this question to every reader, "what would you do?"

           I love Sergio Ruzzier’s illustrations and this time he teams with Katie Kesterman who’s written a series of poem/stories of a robin and her babies. It’s pleasing to see, and quite wonderful to read the rhymes that show nest to flight. Dad’s included with his defensive words: “Back away, ‘Cause Mom and I are here to stay!” and Mom’s right there building her home: “It’s guaranteed a perfect fit/So all she has to do is sit.” Ruzzier fills the pages with daytime action and expressions, sure to be helpful and fun when kids study the robin’s habits and timeline of home to nest to babies. It’s terrific!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Poetry Friday - Swap With Bird Song

favorite pic - Captiva Island
           Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering has become an ornithophile, hosts this Poetry Friday in this special week of palindromes. She's invited us to join her in celebrating birds with a bird-related poem, has shared two new ones and an entire wonderful padlet of other bird-related poems she's written, too. It feels as if the whole natural world, including birds, is in the midst of busy right now, readying for autumn. Thanks, Christie! 

         I received another poetry swap last week and love the serendipity of its message. Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads sent me a lovely hand-sewn piece with poem inserted, perfect for this community, most especially for this gathering of ornithophiles!  Thank you, Rebecca!

         The following video is from a trip my granddaughter Ingrid and I made to a nearby lake. I do not have the variety of birdsong from my own front porch, but early morning brings the robins' cheer cheer, the crows' caw, and the chickadee's dee, dee, dee!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A NF Book for Children - Learning About Poverty

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!  
       It’s not easy to explain poverty to young children and to further explain that it can mean homelessness, but it is a complex issue, so also means those with little income, needing to choose to use their limited funds to buy food, or go to a doctor, or pay the utility bills. Dr. Jillian Roberts writes in her author’s note that she read this quote, discovered who said it and contacted him. The quote by Jaime Casap, “Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up; ask them what problem they want to solve,” started their collaboration to inspire children to help solve a most important problem in our world--homelessness. She says the result is this book. 

       Following a group of three children who ask questions, each page offers the question and gives brief but clear answers. One helpful addition found on each page is one specific added explanation, like this page which gives more information about mental illness. The brief illustrations by Jane Heinrichs of the children looking for answers and sometimes showing concern to those answers offer a personal connection for children reading this. Here is one example of the way the double spreads of the pages look. And the resource page showing all three that were the questioners in this book.

left side

right side