Sunday, April 8, 2012

Shadows On Monday-What Are You Reading-Awards Too!

                                                    Visit Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts for this meme where you can find oh so many ideas for children's book (YA too!), and Sheila at Book Journeys for even more.    Then go over to Myra, Fats and Iphigene at Gathering Books for the Award Winning Books challenge.  Lots to find out about reading today!

Sun brightens the memories
shadows in the past.
Glimmers shift into the mind;
often they don’t last.

Now I’m feeling your soft skin,
Horsey, horsey – let us play,
carrying you on my back, and then
Giddiup, whoa!  Another day

shows that glimpse of when you
were a child so long ago.
The shadows fade the memory  
and the sun is dipping low.

I weave the threads to follow
in my writing day by day:
shadows coming into life
with sunshine they will stay.

         What I finished this week: by a favorite author, E.L. Konigsburg, a short story anthology filled with shadows of memories, hence the title, Throwing Shadows.  Konigsburg reminds me of the writing of Anne Tyler, in that she creates interesting characters that are memorable because they are not the usual.  In this anthology, she shows us the story of a boy who lives on a beach with his parents, but who meets an old man who really wishes to discover an amazing “trophy” within those items washed up after high tide.  He wants the great find of shark teeth!  The man is a little on the edge of too much forgetfulness and the way the story moves into this new friendship and a large amount of kindness offered by the young boy warms the heart.  This, plus a story set in a nursing home, one about tour guides in Ecuador along with a family of a mother and son who learn to do home estate sales offers new insights into the ways relationships can enrich lives in quite interesting ways.   Konigsburg’s stories center on kindnesses, slowly moving the intrigue from “what’s next” to “enjoying the moment”. 
          Here is part of the text from the story with a boy who becomes hooked into a close relationship with a woman in a nursing home who keeps him coming back for more:
          “Well,” she answered, “if I had not been born early, I would not have been me, and if I had been someone else other than me, then it would have been someone else’s life that I would have saved.”
            “I hate your story to end.” I said.
Only one author has won both the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year and she is E.L. Konigsburg.  She and four others have won the Newbery medal twice.  Here is the list:  Joseph Krumgold, And Now, Miguel (1954) / Onion John (1960), Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1959) / The Bronze Bow (1962), Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia (1978)/ Jacob Have I Loved (1981), Lois Lowry, Number the Stars (1990) / The Giver (1994), and E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1968)/ The View from Saturday (1997). 
In 1999, Konigsburg won the Phoenix award for Throwing Shadows.  This award is given annually to a book originally published in English twenty years previously, which did not receive a major award at the time of its publication.
According to a Houghton-Mifflin biography of Konigsburg, she has a one-word piece of advice for people who want to become writers: "Finish. The difference between being a writer and being a person of talent is the discipline it takes to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and finish. Don't talk about doing it. Do it. Finish."
            If you haven’t read any of this author’s books, be sure to check at least one out.  But if you like to share great short stories with middle grades or older, try Throwing Shadows.
I also read an anthology published in 1975 from Karla Kuskin, another favorite author, discovered recently at a used bookstore.  It is Near The Window Tree and features brief notes from the author also illustrated with little ink sketches.   If you can find it, you will marvel again at this author whose poems are such children’s delights.  She writes:  “Daydreaming.  Try some.  Sit very still in a quiet spot and let your mind go anywhere.  Let your thoughts jump from place to place and follow them.  Write them down.”  And then she tells about a train ride where she looks down at the water, as they are crossing over a river, and she sees the moon reflected.  On the opposite page is her moon poem, that begins, “Moon/Have you met my mother?/Asleep in the chair there/Falling down hair. “  Later, some of her poems were collected under the title Moon, Have You Met My Mother?  Among others, in this book is a favorite, often seen, poem “Write about a radish/Too many people write about the moon,” a favorite of mine.  Kuskin was the recipient of a National Council of Teachers of English Poetry prize for her body of work.

        So two old favorites were my reading this week.  Next:  I’m still trying to start The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.

And-Don't forget to check on the Poetry Tag Group shown at the right!  And look at Jama Rattigan's blog post at Jama's Alphabet Soup  to discover so many Poetry sites in the kidlitosphere doing wonderful things!  Cathy, at Merely Day By Day, is joining Mary Lee, at A Year of Reading in a poem a day this month. Other daily poem writers include Amy at The Poem Farm, and Donna at Mainely Write.


  1. What a beautiful and thought-provoking review of EL Konigsburg's Throwing Shadows! I just checked my bookshelf because the title sounds mighty familiar and lo and behold, I see it there, lying unloved! Now I have a hankering to start reading it pronto! :) I love Konigsburg's work, I think I've done a review of her "From the mixed up files" and her "A View from Saturday" is another book that we discussed in our book club with the gifted readers a few years back. Truly an amazing author, and what a pragmatic piece of advice: Finish. I agree. The edits are inevitable and shall come later, but first things first: Finish. :) I shall let my PhD and MA supervisees know of this brilliant piece of advice, just one word: Finish. :)
    Thank you for adding this beautiful book to our AWB Database. :)

    1. Thanks, Myra. I enjoyed learning more about her as I researched. I think I will continue! And that advice is the gem of all, I agree. Sometimes I do have to tell myself, just do it & be done! Guess that's nearly the same thing, isn't it?

  2. Like Myra, I love Konigsburg, so I'll have to take a look at this book. You made a great comaprison to Anne Tyler there, Linda...and (of course) you are absolutely right - two subtle and interesting authors.

    1. And I love both equally. They have given me hours of pleasure for sure. Thanks, Tara.

  3. I haven't read short stories in a while it seems. I had read a lot at the end of last year. This books sounds really interesting. I think life lends itself to looking forward and books lend themselves to looking back and focusing on now. (Not that they life and books don't really examine everything...but it just seems this way.) I like the idea of focusing on the moment. I try to do that more and more. It's so important. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Jen. It is good to be in the present most of the time, but teachers thrive on future planning, don't you think, & therein lies the dilemma.

  4. 2 things
    that last verse of your poem is lovely!
    that word - FINISH - that one is nudging me in a new direction today
    thanks again

  5. Thanks Juliann. I hope you are having a lovely beginning to your break!

  6. Perhaps writers do capture the shadows and bring them out into the sunshine.

    Thanks, Linda. You are very busy reading and writing. How do you keep up?

    1. Thanks Cathy for the 'sunny' comment. I stay up late writing most nights, but really I don't think I'm reading much. I always feel behind.

    2. I know what you mean. I find so many great things to read on blogs that I have a hard time maintaining a little time for reading books for enjoyment. I guess I need to set aside some time for that. Everyone's "It's Monday, What Are You Reading" posts are reminding me how important that time is each day.

  7. I've never read anything by EL Konigsburg but Basil E. Frankweiler- this definitely makes me want to pick up more of her stuff. Thank you.

    Happy reading this week!

    1. Thanks Kellee, I am looking forward to some new books! I guess I would recommend The View From Saturday-a unique look at things!

  8. This could fit into your series of goodbye poems!

    1. I did think of that, & thought I might try to nudge it a little to make it work-maybe at the end, or the beginning? Thanks, Mary Lee!

  9. Have you read The Second Mrs. Giaconda? A couple of years ago I was looking for MG Renaissance historical fiction and I picked it up -- I really enjoyed it but somehow I didn't realize it was by the same author as The Mixed Up Files. I guess it's because I keep one book on the historical fiction shelf and the other on the MG fiction shelf.

  10. Thanks, Linda, for highlighting this short story collection. I love short stories and didn't know about Throwing Shadows. I'll look for it.


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