Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Checking In-#MustReadIn2016

          it's time to share an update from our #MustReadIn2016 goals. Link up with Carrie Gelson at There's A Book for That!  Thanks for hosting us, Carrie!

        I put 23 books on my list this year, and have read 10 of them. I do have some of those unread on my shelves; others I don't. There are many books I want to read, and still want to read some of these, too. If there's a neglected book you think I should not miss, please let me know! I've linked each book read with my Goodreads review. I enjoyed each book thoroughly, and imagine I would enjoy the ones missed, too. Time seems to be the enemy, right? 
        I look forward to seeing other posts, to see what books I should add, oh my! 

from my 2015 list that crossed over

Navigating Early - Claire Vanderpool

        not read
Seraphina - Rachel Hartman
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets - Evan Roskos
March - Lewis, Aydin, Powell
All The Answers - Kate Messner

for adults
Quiet - Susan Cain

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Non-Fiction Shares History

              Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, everyone shares wonderful non-fiction picture books.

         The following two books seem like a celebration of the recent Centennial birthday celebration of our National Park System. We are fortunate to have had these lands kept sacred for one hundred years! I have wonderful memories of visits to some of our national parks, with and without students, near and far. 
        How wonderful that Annette Pimentel and Rich Lo researched, wrote and illustrated this story of a long ago American who cooked for a crew led by Stephen Mather to entice some influential men to fight for a national park system. It is amazing that this one man with an assistant created meals like steak, Lyonnaise potatoes and apple pie on white china sitting on a linen tablecloth, eggs and sourdough rolls for breakfast, and more. By the time Tie Sing, known for his scrumptious camp cooking, and his assistant cleaned up for the trail, and caught up with the group, it was time to start prep again for supper. There were mishaps, lost mules (and goods!), but Tie Sing always seemed to be able to adjust and create a wonder of a meal. The text is a poetic story, enjoyable to read: "They watched the edge of the sky turn rosy while they cracked dozens of eggs. . . He served breakfast as a yellow edge of sun peeked above the horizon." And the back matter tells more about this man through research. Through hard times for Chinese in the U.S., Tie Sing had few rights, but Annette did determine that finally he was recognized as a citizen, born in the U.S. sometime before 1900. The illustrations appear to be black-outlined watercolor, showing well the people and the beautiful forest scenes along with the challenges faced carrying the supplies needed to feed a group in the wilderness. I enjoyed the book very much.

          These collaged illustrations with some watercolor wash are gorgeous, and dominate the spare text. Yet, this brief and familiar cumulative story manages to arrive at the end with a wonderful surprise. The theme centers on connectedness, showing how an ecosystem works, beginning with an acorn, moving to a tree, which invites birds, etc. I can imagine reading this book and adding the subjects one by one in my own quick drawing, returning to the book again with children, showing how our environment intertwines. One small thing that doesn't happen every page, but it's fun. On some pages there is a small cut out that peeks through to the next page. The cutout fits the illustration on both pages. For example, on the first page (similar to the acorn of the cover), the lower part of the acorn is cut out, and that tan/brown color is part of a leaf on the following page. The authors give additional information of each part in the story at the back with a short list of ways to help the environment. This is a new favorite book! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Slicing Ideas

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.

"A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow." - Ovid

        I've seen more than one teacher share this week that students will be having more choice in more than one thing this coming school year, where they sit, what they read, what they write, etc. And as my path wanders through blogs I read, I have also seen several write about ideas (in choice?), their origin, what one does with them, how to get the most of them, and on. So I began to wonder  how I would handle ideas? What would I say, would there be some criteria like in the case of classroom spaces, would it be reasonable? For older students, would it be good to have a conversation about what works in the classroom, and what may not? 
         I taught in a progressive school. Students had a lot of choice, but there were different expectations set, sometimes by students guided by the teacher, sometimes by teachers, with student guidance. For example, if there was a set of criteria for writing personal narratives, mentor text examination and discussions created some backing for what they looked like, and broad interpretations were included. However, sometimes there were structures in place, say, in a debate. They were researched by students, procedures set by students, and evaluated by students. I was a participant only as a member of the crowd. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Monday Reading

           Every Monday, it's a pleasure to link up with a group that reviews books they want to share with others. Come discover new books!

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

        I imagine many of you know the meme Brain Pickings. Here is a wonderful piece about public libraries, that "thing" all who post here seem to use and celebrate often!

         If you wish, it's time this Thursday, September 1st, to share an update from your #MustReadIn2016 goals. Link up with Carrie Gelson at There's A Book for That!
       This is the story of Dr. John Snow and a local cleric, Henry Whitehead discovering the true cause of cholera, fighting the then current beliefs that miasmatic air was the cause. There is detailed explanations of how the disease began, and how fast it began to kill, a tough story to read. But the further exploration in a time when almost no one was able to see things microscopically is fascinating. And the speculation about cities and close population, what it means for us in the future is also interesting. It's a dense n-f book for adults and older students who enjoy the stories of science, the good and the bad.
      A cat tags along with a family on a European vacation, visiting familiar landmarks, although many might have to be told about them, or even what and where they are. The text doesn't give a hint except in the illustrations, focuses in some rhyming text on the cat, where he is hiding, how he manages all those transportation types. It's a delight to see Lauren Castillo's illustrations, so recognizable, simple detail, lots of color. And, I love seeing City Cat lying up on Notre Dame Cathedral with that gargoyle!

Still Those Little Things!

  This weekend I celebrate with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and link with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for starting this meme that offers a place to celebrate together!

      I've felt rather stuck about this post in the past couple of days. I can celebrate that it was a good week, and the ordinary days are those I savor. After a wonderful trip, I was happy to be home, and to find enjoyable days. I wrote about the challenge of the word "ordinary" some time ago, wondering why we (I) think I have to find something really special for this post. I do struggle with it even though I relish those little things that make my life good. I thought all day yesterday, in the midst of working at the bookstore, on my way home, cleaning in the afternoon, could not find a way into writing--until late evening when I read a few more poems by Mary Oliver.  This time I discovered "Gratitude" in which Mary takes a line at a time and answers her own questions. It is not as eloquent, but does reflect my celebration. Thus:

What did you notice? 
        The cloudy sky, bringing rain our way. The rose by my fence, opening more each day.

What did you hear?
        The robin's cheer, a hawk's wild scream. The neighbor's one year old's laughter.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Poetry Friday POV

       Thanks to Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe for hosting this week's Poetry Friday! She's welcoming us, plus sixteen second graders soon! Happy start to the year, Heidi! And thanks for hosting at this busy time!

        I am sorry for the flooding in Louisiana and the terrible loss for many. It is still amazing to me that some parts of the country have too, too much rain, and here in Colorado we are so dry. It is an arid environment and we celebrate any kind of moisture that comes our way. So often the storms come down from the mountains or from the north and stop only briefly, then move on to the eastern and southern plains. There they intensify. A friend who lives about thirty miles south, in the country, receives much more moisture than we do in the city.  These past couple of days we have had rain, and this time I captured a beginning in a short video, and wrote about it. We celebrate while others bemoan the clouds and rains that doesn't stop. Point of view in our lives is always something to consider, isn't it?

Those Rainy Minutes

Late afternoon, clouds crowd the sky,
offer falling, falling drops.
Then lazy thunder plays its tune.
It’s a quick dunking of dusty leaves,
rather like the swipe of a young child’s face
after dinner-
Just enough to shine the face.
Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Non-Fiction Wonders


              Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, everyone shares wonderful non-fiction picture books.

        I cannot praise this book enough. It is really a treasure, filled with a fictional diary entries from a midshipman's point of view as the reader learns about the Beaufort's Wind Scale, created by British Naval Officer, Francis Beaufort in 1810. Before then, there was no scientific way for sailors to describe the winds encountered. I've been on two sailing trips with students, a three-masted tall ship and a two-masted schooner, and they were thrilling trips. We studied every part of the ships that this book describes, from the rigging to the ship's terms to learning the songs sung while hoisting sails. Yes, some were seasick and yes, we all climbed to the crow's nest high above the ship's deck.
        Each page shares the scientific scale, adds in the diary entry and then adds extra information about myths, the figureheads, the ship's bells and an explanation of knots as measurement. There is a wealth of information, added bio of Beaufort and a glossary at the back. And, each entry includes a gorgeous painting of the way the ship and ocean looked as the wind changed. That last part about sailing within a hurricane was very exciting, and they survived. One added fact is that the USS Constitution is known as the oldest ship afloat. I've sailed on her too in Boston Harbor-what a ship!

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Favorite Teaching Idea

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.

The last time I wrote was about going home. I did, and had a marvelous time with cousins, my brother and sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, and of course it was fun to travel with my daughter and the two grand-girls! 

Remember this? That bindweed takeover in the flower bed outside my own garden. 

And what it looked like after cleaning most of it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Monday Reading - New and Old

           Every Monday, it's a pleasure to link up with a group that reviews books they want to share with others. Come discover new books!

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

I've been on a family trip since last week, and visited and visited, therefore not much reading. But I've caught up a bit since I returned home, and have a few new and older books to share.

         Someone praised this poetry book and I was able to get it from my library. Nye has that extraordinary way with words, with simple observations that make one say "exactly right." These poems are about traveling, "for a journey" as the title says. They ask where, and take us there, to Tío Pete's, about mapping, images of someone else's story, clever entries to imagining. Naomi Nye writes we are under "the wing of the day", observes how long it takes to get through first grade (twenty years) and more about growing up, "a wheel spinning in space".  My favorite is the introduction to the visitor Tío Pete, At the end, "He sat in a chair and made a different country there." There is a lovely grouping of verses welcoming spring, as in "Sun to skin: May I come in? Did you forget me?"  It's a clever and creative book of poetry.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Celebrating Family

  This weekend I celebrate with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and link with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for starting this meme that offers a place to celebrate together!
         Also posting today on a blog tour that shares a new book. Be sure to check it out here!

         I missed last Saturday because I was celebrating family, a wonderful trip with my daughter and her two daughters, the grand-girls. This is our fourth year visiting my brother in Missouri, and sad to say Carter, my grandson couldn't be there this time. He's in the midst of beginning marching band practice and could not come! We missed him, but had a fabulous time. Pictures tell the story, and I'll share just a few. My brother lives on a small acreage with all the things that children love, places to run and swing and explore. 
My cousin night! There's not much more fun
than talking with those who knew you when you
were young! Everyone came, plus a few "extras"!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Blog Tour - Hey A.J., It's Saturday

         Marty, otherwise known as Marcellus Bennett, loves breakfast and I guess eating it, too, hence his new book Hey A.J., It's Saturday!  As you can see from his bio below, Marty has his own little girl, and wrote this kitchen adventure with her in mind. 

Saturdays for everyone is special, but so many kids I know love it because they can stay home and have their favorite and best, lazy breakfast. Perhaps they make teddy bear pancakes, or crazy French toast with a hole in the middle, loaded with butter and syrup, just perfect with bacon, too. This story begins with A.J. celebrating Saturday, creeping down to the kitchen to make her own breakfast. She's so thoughtful, even lets her parents sleep. BUT! In the kitchen is a menagerie of animals already cooking and making their own favorite things, and making a mess! What in the world's going on? It's A.J.'s imagination cooking, I guess. The illustrations fill with fun as the rhymes carry the story along on a foodie delight, until A.J. needs saving. You'll have to read to discover how that happens, to see if this Saturday's breakfast turns out all right after all.

      One extra element of this book is its interactive app available. See below.

Here's Marty's bio:

Martellus aka The Black Unicorn is a BIG dreamer. He lives in a magical house with his wife Siggi and daughter Jett in where everything comes to life when it gets dark or there’s food on the table ( which is pretty much all the time). He’s usually a bit overwhelmed by all of the creatures bouncing around knocking things over in his head and in his house, but that’s nothing a creative ninja can’t handle. Marty received his PhD in awesomeness from the highly prestigious Orange Dinosaur University where his focus was coloring outside of the lines and making stuff with his creative and funny bones. The A.J series is inspired by his daughter Austyn Jett (A.J.) and their adventures together.

Oh yea, He’s a Pro Bowl Tight End for your favorite NFL team.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Poetry Friday - Goodbyes

             Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads hosts Poetry Friday today. Be sure to visit this week’s poetry links.

         I love Linda Pastan's poetry, and imagine many of you know this poem. Yet, this is going-back-to-school time, and whether you have a little one going off to Kindergarten, one starting high school, or going to college for the first time, even the second, this particular poem speaks to a kind of separation most can relate to. It's a separation needed and strived for, but so hard too. Even teachers know about this at their "ends" of school years. 

         Wishing everyone a delightful school year for those young people in your lives.

To A Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,

        the rest is HERE.

photo credit: 234A4033.jpg via photopin (license)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Annual PB10for10!

            Hooray, it's PB 10for10 day, hosted by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek. Be sure to have your wish lists ready for more additions! If you want to come along, go HERE for instructions! The Google Community can be found HERE. Thanks for hosting Mandy and Cathy. I'm leaving town Thursday, so glad I haven't missed your special day!

              Previously:  2011     2012     2013     2014     2015

         At the school where I taught every student had a sketch/writing journal, different from their writers notebooks. They were used to capture different experiences outside the building, sometimes on field trips to learn more about a topic, often in nature trips for observations. For example, one year each of my students chose a tree to observe during the first days of every month, August to June. Many times my class just moved outside to see what was happening, and to record in sketches and in words. Sometimes the notes led to further art and additional writing, poetry or prose.  As educators, we felt that sketching helped slow students' thinking and improved their observation skills. Here are favorite books, old and new, that I recommend as wonderful motivators when observing. Each can be used as a prompt of what to observe, a lesson in how to observe, or a way to capture what was discovered.

           Kim Krans first created her alphabet pages singly, then late colored them and combined them into a book. Each page holds more than one thing for that specific letter. An experience in or out of doors searching for what to add to a class alphabet book or one's own creation can result in seeing something ordinary become extraordinary.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Going Home

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.

"You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right." 
                                            Maya Angelou

      I've lived forty years in Colorado. I don't remember the first day we arrived, but it was in July, 1976. That's more than half my life, and yet this week I tell people I'm traveling back home to visit family, my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, countless cousins. I grew up in Missouri, married in Missouri, spent time there with my husband in Missouri, and left when my daughter was not quite a year, my son was about to turn five. Colorado is certainly their home, and I love it very much, but home to me is Missouri. It's Missouri with the family, Missouri with the rolling green hills, the farms and fields, and reds and oranges of autumn. Missouri with the fascinating insects. Yes, growing up I loved them, those buzzy flying June bugs, the enormous grasshoppers, and the fireflies. No, none are in Colorado. And I miss the bright red cardinals and the Missouri bluebird. There again, not in Colorado.
Taken last year, one view from the cemetery. 
Another view.
        This time my daughter and two granddaughters are making our annual trip back to be with my brother and sister-in-law. Sadly, my grandson Carter can't be with us this year. We will miss him! We'll be visiting others, visiting those no longer with us except in spirit. Yes, we'll make the time to visit many graves, and share memories of so many we remember, and those we call family. We'll drive up and down the streets of the one little town where I grew up, look at the homes of grandparents where we stayed so often, telling stories to the grandchildren, like how I'd roller skate down to the post office to say hello to the postmaster and to check out the wanted posters. And I'm going to see many of my cousins one evening, a much anticipated gathering. They mostly live close, and get together about once a month. This time I'll get to be there!
        Yes, I'm going home.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Monday Reading - Picture Books!

           Every Monday, it's a pleasure to link up with a group that reviews books they want to share with others. Come discover new books!
          Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.   

The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award goes this year to All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. I posted the announcement of the finalists last week here.
          I'm taking a week off to visit my brother, so am trying to catch up a bit because when I return, I'll be behind again. I know many of you are starting back to school and will have less time to read, too. I hope you have a wonderful beginning to your school year!

          Don't forget the PB10by10 sharing is this Wednesday, August 10th - hosted by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek. You can find all about it here

Adult Book
         The vulnerability of Lucy touches my heart. Her thoughts and her hesitant memory is poignant, and her movement away from her childhood, making a life despite what’s she’s experienced is admirable. This story made me wish to sit by Lucy as she spoke, and touch her, even hug her, as she spoke.  And it also made me wonder about the stories of those I see on the street, at the store, in the doctor’s office.  It is said that everyone has a story, and I’m glad that Elizabeth Strout told Lucy’s.

Picture Books - If you want to see more, check on my Goodreads recent posts. I'm sharing only a few favorites. 

          It’s a simple story, two places for a young girl: her own home in the city, and Line 135 that takes her to visit her grandmother. The “line” story shows the scenes along the way in beautifully-detailed pen and ink, and offers a few comments about life as the young girl hears it from her parents and grandmother, and the different look at it from her point of view.  It was very fun to look and consider those POVs.

         This book is one week old today! How the story goes, and repeats, until it doesn’t, is a delightful story in four acts. It stars a little stray dog named Lucy, a young girl named Eleanor who sneaks a treat tied to a string to that little dog each day, and her father, a worker who stocks shelves, but is also a juggler with stagefright. Putting this puzzle of a story together in beautiful pointillist black and white sketches is Randy Cecil. While tension is high in the action, it all comes out just right. You’ll need to read slowly, watching the action unfold bit by bit. It’s magical how each part makes the connection to another part, until it’s finally all a very good story! Thanks to Chronicle Books for the ARC.