Thursday, February 14, 2019

Poetry Friday - Mixing It Up

             Jone MacCullough hosts Poetry Friday today at Check It Out. And she is celebrating with a Cybils Party. Congratulations to the Cybils winners announced here yesterday! And hope each of you enjoyed a sweet Valentine's Day, too. I enjoyed being a second round judge for poetry, but what a hard task to choose among the seven marvelous finalists. You can find all the finalists' lists here! If ever you need a new book to read, as Joan's blog title aptly tells, "Check It Out"!

                It has been a busy week. I worked at the bookstore today, a lovely day to be there because of Valentine's Day. There were lots of customers and along with helping them find books to love, we gave out chocolate and bookmarks for the children (or maybe adults) to color.

          But I am so distracted by the current political state, I was not sure what to share today. I found a poem I wrote two years ago and considering it, I suppose I felt similarly, though I did not know then how challenging these past months would be. The fall elections helped. I am still hopeful. 


I feel the need for a narrative tale,
hard porcelain words, but a sweeter scale - 
no more need to rewrite the tweets
with pseudo illusory echoing beats.
We will continue a skeptic’s cry,
that will not fade in the bye and bye.
The only tears for a twisted mind
will slip down cheeks of a human kind
to rue artifacts of yesterday
that acquired a tarnish we’ll clean away.
But do not plug all past mid-deeds,
or rearrange tales with a goal to please.
Cylinders will spiral; it’s called evolution -
the intent to flourish, in our Constitution.   
      Linda Baie (c) All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Help Us Know!

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 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, really for every reader!

Tomorrow, Valentine's Day, the Cybils Awards will be announced. I am one of the Poetry Judges, am excited to see all the winners!
            African Americans have had to fight for their freedoms all the years since they arrived here as slaves. Every time I read another book, even in recent time periods, I am saddened and angry by the stories that kept our citizens from full lives. Just imagine if it were different, how much richer everyone's lives would have been or would be if every person could be in the world adding their expertise without fighting for it.
             Here in these picture books are two more stories of those we would not have heard without wonderful authors and illustrators telling about past lives that need to be known.

            The name Walter Dean Myers caught my eye on this book on the shelf at the library. It was published in 2008 and Myers died in 2014. We readers are fortunate he gave us many a wonderful story, fiction and non, including this one. Here, he introduces the extraordinary Ida B. Wells. who as teacher, writer, leader worked her entire life to better the lives of African Americans. She was consulted by Susan B. Anthony, lead an African-American women's group in the women's march at Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. She was one of the organizers of a group that eventually became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples.

              Ida was born three years before the Emancipation Proclamation, still grew up in a poor black family, but did get to go to school. The book says her mother also went with her for a while in order to learn to read the Bible. By the age of sixteen, her parents and one sibling had died of yellow fever and she took on the raising of her family, taking the teacher's test and traveling six miles on a mule to teach. That was her beginning, but realizing the harm done to her people, she began to protest, to call for more action, especially against lynchings. She wrote a book titled The Red Record for which Frederick Douglas wrote the introduction. 

            Is this enough to show that history books could have written about this amazing woman long ago? We should know about her life! She never stopped writing, protesting and pioneering for equal rights. Thanks to Walter Dean Myers for the writing and Bonnie Christensen for the gorgeous watercolor paintings. There is a timeline at the back and a double-page spread of important quotes by Ida B. Wells, like "I'd rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it has done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I have said." She died in 1931 at the age of 68 and there is a postage stamp created in her honor.

          Ernest Everett Just died ten years after Ida B. Wells at the age of 58. His story is similar in some ways in that he fought injustices to African Americans through his work. He refused to give in to what people (especially in the U.S.) thought he should be doing, instead was determined to see science through his own observations, fighting against other well-known white scientists, working hard to prove his discoveries. He saw the whole, where others saw only parts. And he noticed details others failed to see. With fabulous illustrations by Luisa Uribe showing what he did throughout his life and what he saw, this is the story of his life of persistence and accomplishments. His discoveries about the cell in the 1930s continue to be important even in today's science. The book shows his childhood working hard in his studies, his fierce determination to keep going. I enjoyed that Melina Mangal included explanations of his ground-breaking work in showing how cells directed their own development, a controversial idea at that time. Eventually, he moved to France which gave more freedom in his work, but was caught when the Nazis invaded. He managed to get free, moved back to the U.S., but died within the year. It is another life story I am glad to know. 

There is quite a bit of backmatter added: an author's note, more about Ernest Everett Just's science, an illustrator's note, a timeline, glossary, and source notes. Also, there are two great photos of Mr. Just.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Reading - Past and Today

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

          Just-out books to love and a few others, one old one in honor of John Burningham who just passed away last month!

        "You can't split love." is my favorite quote shared by Nisha, whose diary I read, whose life in these few months of the Partition, when India split in 1947, and part became Pakistan, Muslims, and Hindus (among others) became enemies when in Nisha's brief experience (she is only twelve) they lived together in peace. In the larger picture, India's independence from Great Britain laid some of the groundwork for hatred. It is Nisha who cannot understand why people must be enemies, why she must leave her beloved home, and their beloved servant, Kazi. Building the characters, including Nisha's mother who died at her and her twin, Amil's birth, made me want to read on, learning more and more of this family who inhabits this powerful story by Veera Hiranandani. Each one unique in their life approach, but each strong, so strong in their love for each other. That helped their survival in the worst of times, the escape to where now they must go, to India. I would wish almost that Nisha could have remained an innocent child, griping a bit about family members, worried about friends at school and why she was so shy. Yet her words showed a twelve-year-old who must navigate the family problems with her father, between her father and brother, and her epiphany after terrible experiences that some things are now important to her that were not before. It's both a beautiful and heartbreaking book. 

        Thanks to Candlewick for this advanced copy. First published in Great Britain, the book comes out Tuesday here in the U.S.!  A young girl feels like she's always in the shadow of her older sister, who keeps being "a star". That older one wins a costume competition, found Mom's lost wedding ring, and knitted a scarf "without holes", yes, "a star"! Taken by the hand outside, Grandfather notices the younger girl's sadness and gives her a science lesson starting with that very first star, leading to all the wonderful things in the world, ALL made of stardust, including her. There is an upbeat and sweet ending, but the additional star magic to me lies in Briony May Smith's beautiful illustrations. Realistic scenes, from the family scenes to imaginary visits to the ocean, mountains, and forest with Grandfather. Yes, all is Stardust! Here's one example.