Tuesday, February 28, 2017

That Day Before

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
        It's here, almost! And I thought I had many ideas, but sometimes life itself holds the priority in sharing. 

        I think I'm fairly adept at tech stuff,  know that troubleshooting can be fruitful if I work through everything, research and find patience, I usually can find a fix for the problem. I recently had my internet provider out to bring new equipment for my computer and my television.  It's new, seems a bit faster, and I'm pleased. You hear a "but" coming. Yes! Tonight when I went to print, I find that the printer isn't working. I can't figure it out, maybe I'll try an online chat to get more help. Everything else is working, but this router is not "discovering" my printer. 

         I know it will eventually work, but I don't want to do it. I'd rather be reading!

         I do wish sometimes that I could go back a lot of years and only worry about having a long-enough phone cord so I could walk around while I talk. That phone always worked!

I did find a quote that fits my thinking: 
"If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want." 

                                                                                                              - Oscar Wilde
Wishing everyone a river of words flowing in March!

photo credit: lensletter Yellow Telephone via photopin (license)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New & Older Books - All Great!

            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.  
NowIntoThe Woods, Tana French, for my book group.
Soon: that new book Last Day On Mars, thanks to Kellee.

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          I took a long time reading this book, one by James Herriot I'd never read. I've read all the others a long time ago but needed something sweet and gentle from the past to offer some respite from today's news. This fit my wishes beautifully, stories by Herriot about his early days as a vet and the days of courtship with his future wife, Helen. If you need a bit of a pick me up, this is one that will help.
  It’s amazing that this book has arrived this year. Did they know how much the story is needed? Be careful what you wish for is one message, but the other shows the courage of one, standing for all and speaking up, regardless of the outcome, the punishment. There is that town of La Paz and happy people were so noisy, singing and gadding about talking and laughing. They could hardly think or sleep. They wanted peace and quiet. So they voted out their mayor and voted in someone who promised “peace and quiet”. Law by law was passed, until “Even the teapots were afraid to whistle.” But then, a saucy gallito (a rooster) came to town and roosts in a mango tree. He wakes up singing “Kee-kee-ree-KEE!”  Unfortunately, that tree is right under the window of Don Pepe (the mayor), who yelled that it was against the law to sing. That merry gallito said he would sing anyway, that it was a silly law. And he did, even after that mango tree was cut down! Eugene Yelchin’s illustrations brighten the pages with color and broad emotion and action. I adored the expressions on people and animals. You might guess how this story will go, but you must read till almost the end where it says: “But a song is louder than one noisy little rooster and stronger than one bully of a mayor,” said the gallito. “And it will never die -- so long as there is someone to sing it.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Poetry Friday - Points of View

            Karen at Karen Edmisten hosts our Poetry Friday this week. And it seems that her weather has been a seesaw as ours has been here in Colorado.  We've had short sleeve weather for a few weeks now, except colder at night. And today it snowed. Now Karen is posting a poem about a Snow Day!  Thanks, Karen!

              There are five more days left in February, five more poems to write to help Laura Shovan celebrate her birthday month. You can find all about it, here, if you don't already know about it. It is a wonderful group to write with and be inspired by. The addition of reading articles that further inspire is, well, an inspired idea. You're amazing, Laura. You've made each February the month that helps us glide into spring yearnings beautifully.   

             Today I'm sharing another favorite poem from this February challenge. If you ever try this, it can be surprising what comes from a topic and those ten words.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Non-Fiction Stories - People & Food!

              To link up with Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy means lots of learning comes along through reading and discovering amazing and creative picture books written about real people and things. Check everyone's posts to find new books that will delight and inform.    

           Here are two stories about beautiful people, once again that few of us have heard about! And one n-f poetry book, one you will want to have when studying healthy eating, and when writing poetry!

        Another story new that is finally told, this time about a baby named Harriet Angeline Powers born to slavery, spending her baby days lying on a quilt while her mama worked in the cotton fields. The narrative tells her story while on each page there is further explanation in a brief paragraph. Can you imagine such a life taking care of a baby while working hard up and down those rows? Harriet grew up learning about textiles by watching slave women spin, dye and weave so they could make textiles for the plantation.
         When she grew older, Harriet helped stuff cotton filling into the quilts. The work was all done at night; days were for work in the fields. Harriet was freed after the Civil War. She married and she and her husband bought some land outside Atlanta. They were poor, and Harriet made extra money sewing. One year there was announced a cotton fair and Harriet decided to enter a quilt in the craft exhibit. She worked hours on that quilt, a “story quilt” which told Bible stories heard as a child. Eventually, through need, she sold it for five dollars to a  Miss Smith. Fortunately, Miss Smith took notes from Harriet about the stories set in each part of the quilt. That quilt is now hanging in the National Museum of American History. A second quilt hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Harriet is described as one whose “artistic vision was vast”, her style compared to the impressionists. She was never rich and lived most of her life in poverty. The inside covers show parts of these famous, gorgeous quilts.

         But now we will remember Harriet Angeline Powers and her artistic gifts.
There is further information at the back, along with the one photo of Harriet ever taken, and the stories told in the quilts.

Monday, February 20, 2017

More Extras

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
        Last week I wrote about "looking for extras", those sly peeks into our lives that often go unnoticed. And I wrote about rabbits! This past week I fell in love with a poem shared by Irene Latham in her Poetry Friday post last week. In it, she shared an older anthology of poems and stories from Mexico gathered by Naomi Shihab Nye. And this one poem, "Night In The Kitchen" means "extras" to me, something I would never have noticed.  You'll have to travel to Irene's post to see the whole poem because I don't have permission to share, but the line that struck me speechless is about peas coming out of a pod, "quick green shadows".  I take many pictures of shadows, love the way so many things catch my eye when casting their shadows. And now I will look for those neglected, like those from peas.

Today, my youngest granddaughter spent a few hours with me while her mother and older sister went to a movie. We spent much of the time at my nearby park. And shadows came into my life again. There is a part of the park where concerts occur, and a large round platform in the middle for speakers and singers. Imogene immediately popped up there and began dancing, and said, "Look, I'm dancing with my shadow." 

It is those extras that bring smiles every day, isn't it?  Even those of peas!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Monday Books Recap

  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.  
        Still: I'm nearly finished with my James Herriot book, savoring  the final pages. It's peaceful and full of good stories.  Next:  the new verse novel by Jeannine Atkins, Stone Mirrors
And: IntoThe Woods, Tana French, for my book group.
Plus: that new book Last Day On Mars, because Kellee keeps saying how good it is.
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       I think that I must celebrate illustrations in these books today. Each book is unique and joyful because of them.

           A family prepares to march. We see them rising early to dress for the day. They attend church to pray, they make signs with others, they, with many others like those who arrive in buses, begin to march. Step by step to make it to their dream. Full-color bold illustrations show the excitement of this important day. My favorite is a double-page spread of the leaders, with the crowd behind them carrying signs. If you want to introduce this special day to young children, this is the book to read.

        I am excited that Ciara Gavin has a new story about Bear and the ducks, “Bear Likes Jam.”  This time, bear struggles to have balance in his diet. According to the rules of Mama Duck, vegetables come “before” jam. You’ll love seeing how a cute trick made it happen, and Bear got to eat a jar or two of jam again. Endearing scenes created by Ciara return just as they did in her two previous books, “Room for Bear” and “Bear Is Not Tired”. I do love these books!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Goodness Each Day

       Celebrating with Ruth Ayres at Discover, Play, Build, and linking with others who share, too. I'm always grateful to Ruth for our weekly celebrations together.

"A Smile is contagious. Be a Carrier!"  anonymous

Ten Things

  1. Finding a new "bear" adventure by Ciara Gavin. Smiles all the way through.
  2. Playing Uno with Ingrid and Imogene.
  3. Phone visits with family.
  4. Valentine flowers.
  5. Finalizing summer plans for the beach.
  6. Bookstore conversations.
  7. A poem every day.
  8. Reading an older James Herriot book for sweet stories.
  9. Doing something every day to fight for the good that must stay in America.
  10. Examining my rocks collected with Ingrid.

Have a lovely long weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Poetry Friday - With Sympathy

         Poetry Friday is hosted by Jone MacCulloch at Check It Out! Today Jone is sharing lots of love! Thanks, Jone.

Pema Chodron
          And a lovely piece of Valentine news! On Valentine's Day, winners of the Cybil's awards were announced.  Congratulations to Laura Shovan for being honored with the poetry award for her novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

         I'm again writing a poem each day in response to a challenge to celebrate Laura Shovan's February birthday,  this time with ten words and a current news article as prompt. This is the fifth year doing, is quite a challenge, but also a joy to have a time when it's quiet and focused on words and creating. Because of these recent chaotic times, some of the poems, mine, and others have turned into political responses. No surprise, right? There are numerous changes happening, some hot in the news, others less so. And sometimes we've learned that the rumors heard are not true, yet. 
         Before February 1st, the start of the challenge, the group wrote a few practice poems. And I wrote four of those, now have written twenty altogether. I like some of what I've written, others need a lot of work, or are on their way to the file of forgotten lines. Yet there is one that I still love. The thought of what will happen now to women all over the world who have lost health care saddens me a lot. A former student at my school who, with her spouse who grew up in the biggest slum in Kenya, has started and expanded a school for girls in Kibera, that slum. They have added another school on the other side of Kenya, and also built community centers. They are building a world with strong women who will make it out of poverty. That is one personal story I know. But I am aware of many workers in health and education in our world who dedicate their lives to help the communities. To lose funding is a blow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Non-fiction Wow!

              I continue to be grateful to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy.  Today she's sharing reviews of the Cybil's non-fiction winners!     

          Yesterday was Valentine's Day, the traditional day that the Cybil's awards are announced. That includes all genres, but if you're only interested in non-fiction, there are several categories in that, too. See the full list at their blog, here!

Nearly every week, my youngest granddaughter (five) and I stop to visit our Museum of Nature and Science.  It’s an easy stop from her school to my home. We’ve visited nearly every part of this marvelous place of learning. A few weeks ago we visited the exhibit about earth’s creation and then evolution of creatures. It’s a bit advanced for her, but we look at some things, and I explain the meaning as best I can. She is a great observer and listener and is taking in the information a little at a time. This book is going to be a wonder to help my explaining, and then visiting that same exhibit again!

         This marvelous book by Jonathan Tweet is a simple and clear explanation of evolution that will please every teacher or parent who wants to explain the concept. Its complexity  is a challenge, but Jonathan Tweet helps us readers by examining steps along the long, long, long, long, long way. First, there is Grandmother Fish who can “wiggle” and “chomp”, and many, many years later arrived Grandmother reptile, who can “wiggle” and “chomp,” too, but also “crawl” and “breathe”. Then we are introduced to her relations, like “cousins bird and dimetrodon” wiggling, chomping, crawling and breathing, and after a lot more years, along comes Grandmother Mammal. I imagine you know some of what is next. If reading aloud, there is a fun interactive part that asks the audience for some interaction, like they're asked to “wiggle” like our Grandmother Fish. The pages are simple pictures of the grandmothers and a few of their relations, all neatly labeled, right down to Grandmother Human.  The illustrations by Karen Lewis are bright, colorful and enticing. Here are a couple of examples:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Looking for Extras

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
       Many of us are heading for the March slice of life challenge, and it is really something special to write and post every day. I found a quote that feels good for us when we imagine what that writing will be all the days of March:

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day."
        Alexander Woollcott, from Long, Long Ago

        I am grateful often for the nurture of nature, how much I love, even in the colorlessness of winter, noticing the beauty, and how good it makes me feel. In these contentious times, I need the respite of walking out. This morning I caught a nice picture of a rabbit. And some of you know that I have had a love/hate relationship with rabbits. I first moved into my home four years ago and love it still, but I have only designated parking spaces, no garage. The gang of rabbits made several meals of the wires in my car which cost me quite a bit of money. 
         I solved that problem, and now love watching these little animals, remembering the adventures of Peter Rabbit. I wonder what Beatrix Potter would think of these creatures that keep safe and warm in their burrows under neighborhood hedges, crossing streets and dodging cars without mishap, making do with the dry pickings of the plants of winter? Her small creatures lived in a broad woods with different dangers. And my creatures can also entertain if I notice. I see them leap and play in the open spaces, and it is good.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Monday Reads

  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.  
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        Next: I'm reading an old James Herriot book. It's peaceful and full of good stories.  After, I'm hoping to read the new verse novel by Jeannine Atkins, Stone Mirrors. It'll be a nice week of reading. I have a pile of lovely picture books waiting, too.

      This is number four completed of my #MustReadIn2017 list. See above. I'm not sure why I delayed reading this for so long. I owned the book! But like others in a pile, it simply was pushed to the bottom often. I enjoyed it thoroughly, loved the weaving back and forth from today's John Lewis happening upon a mother and her two boys visiting his office, and having the most wonderful surprise of seeing THE John Lewis. They only came to peek at his office. And the tale began, John telling them of his earliest days as a learner, and as a lover of chickens (read Preaching To The Chickens), at wondering about preaching, and going off to college. There he met Dr. Martin Luther King, there he met others who showed him about non-resistance, and there he began his lifelong passion for equal rights for his people. The graphic style seemed perfect to show so much of the setting and the people's actions.  With Andrew Aydin, John Lewis wrote the story with enough dialogue and connecting text to keep me excited to hear this story. Nate Powell's art was starkly serious when it needed to be with emotionally charged action and facial expressions. The faces showed joy, despair, hope and anger, all part of a mixed-up world.  I'm happy that I finally started this journey.  
          I need to find March Book Two fast because I won Alyson Beecher's Sibert Award prize winners, so now I have Book Three! Isn't that great!

Blog Tour And Giveaway!

          Here's another book for children's imagination and adventure with real facts! This one by Carole P. Roman is illustrated by Mateya Arkova.

       I first wrote about a geography series of educational books by Carole P. Roman about a year ago. You can find that post here. Carole's most recent adventure takes her out of this world, to MARS!  Check out all the information below, and the hashtag #IfYouWereMeAndLivedI on twitter.

Carole has explored different settings in history, and various places around the world, helping kids imagine what their lives would be like if living in that time or in that place. In this journey, it's become important to show the time necessary, both to make the trip (about six months) and about how long you would stay (about two years). The book imagines a child going at age ten and returning to Earth at thirteen, a teenager.

It's not easy to include the information needed to explain just how this all will work, but Carole includes needed facts about how different life will be when you're on Mars. I actually read the book to my five-year-old granddaughter, who was fascinated. While she doesn't understand all the science in the book, she liked pretending to be on Mars. She learned that one must wear a spacesuit outside because the air (mostly carbon monoxide) there isn't safe to breathe. And she loved the idea of jumping very high because of the lower gravity. Pictures help the understanding a lot, and there are great illustrations on each page.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Celebrating Good Stuff

         Celebrating with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and linking with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for helping us celebrate together!  

           Life continues to be busy with family, the bookstore, reading and writing.  I saw Hidden Figures with my daughter and the grand-girls last Sunday, an inspiring story that also frustrates me because we continue to hear stories that have rarely been told.  We were glad to cheer these strong women "who persisted".  I am alarmed daily at the news and continue to attempt reading trusted sources and doing what I can to protest what is not right. I celebrate that many are doing this, and more!

          I've taken a challenge to celebrate Laura Shovan's February birthday, a poem a day, this time with ten words and a current news article as prompt. This is the fifth year doing, is quite a challenge, but also a joy to have a time when it's quiet and focused on words and creating.

Here's one poem that I liked writing.  One doesn't have to write from the topic, and can ignore the article, but sometimes I do write from it. This article is about the week's snowstorm in the east, and the ten words are 

pounds -
storm  -
path -
whiteout -
avoid -
slick -
quickly -
challenge -
plummeted -
Bonus: pack a punch -

Friday, February 10, 2017

#NF10for10 - Around The World

Thanks to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek, we have the pleasure of seeing favorites from many others!

             Non-fiction picture books help us all learn about the world in order to navigate it. From people and places, from prose and poetry, these books can include the history of the peoples of the world who educate and inspire. Among so many that I first listed, here are the ten I chose. They are both very recent and much older, yet to me they all have a message for us about our world.

Amazing Places - Lee Bennett Hopkins  and Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale
            Fourteen poems by poets you love fill this book as the earlier Amazing Faces did, including love for our country from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to San Francisco’s Chinatown, Boston’s Fenway Park to the Watkins Museum of History (Langston Hughes childhood home-Lawrence, Kansas). Considering the increasing division in beliefs recently, I especially liked the poem by Alma Flor Ida, native Cuban, who wrote of her family’s visit to Chinatown. Many people are included in this book, as well as nature’s wonders, trees in the Grand Canyon and the mighty Mississippi. This would be a lovely mentor text when studying different cultures and geography, and writing poetry in a reflection of favorite topics. The illustrations by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale are full color portraits, vibrant with life in the ‘amazing places’.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Poetry Through A Day - New Book

         Katie hosts today's Poetry Friday at her blog, The Logonauts.  Thanks, Katie!

Have a Happy Valentine's Day next week!
           Wednesday, I had the pleasure of sharing Laura Purdie Salas' new book that arrives March 1st, a beautiful non-fiction poetry book about the moon. The title, If You Were The Moon, illustrated by Jaime Kim. You can read that post here.

           I'm posting twice today because it's #nf10for10 day with Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek. If you are interested, read the post today, and find the links to see what others are sharing. Cathy explains it here.

     I've enjoyed Elaine's poetry for a long time. She is especially talented in showing what any object thinks, or does, in poetic ways. I read the poems and am in awe of the new ways she looks at the world. 

     This time, the poems are about everyday objects and what they do when we look at them through their eyes. 
      Catia Chien creates dreamy illustrations for each double-page spread. Elaine begins to show us wonders with the day's beginning, She begins each part with "Things to do if you are. . ." 
     This first page shows "Things to do if you are Dawn" and begins "SHOO away the night." Sunlight streams through a window as a young child opens curtains to greet the day. Seeing this, you know it's going to be an exciting journey throughout the day.    

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Non-Fiction Poetry Beauty

              I continue to be grateful to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy.  There are still books from the past I want to read and share,  but it's also time to read new ones coming too. 


It's coming Friday, the #nf10for10. You can find all about it here at Cathy Mere's blog, Reflect & Refine, hosted by Cathy & Mandy Robek.

               I received an advance copy of Laura Purdie Salas' new poetry book coming out March 1st. It's If You Were The Moon,  illustrated by Jaime Kim. I adore it, not least because it's about one of my favorite topics, the moon! I've done moon journaling with students before, observed it, wrote about it, created art and wrote poetry inspired by it. Oh, how I wish I'd had this book to enhance our learning!

Laura's moon observations poetically call upon factual observations in moon-colored, orange lettering that swirl across the pages and the facts from those observations are given in brief paragraphs enclosed by {curly brackets}. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

It's Monday-Books Read

           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.  
Tweet with  #IMWAYR

 It's coming Friday, the #nf10for10. You can find all about it here at Cathy Mere's blog, Reflect & Refine.

      Up Next: the graphic novel Show White by Matt Phelan, and Matylda, Bright & Tender by Holly M. McGhee.

      This is a post filled with a few heroes and survivors and a lot of animals!

           When reading begins of this new Newbery Honor book, and the stories are told, I imagined this to be an amazing pop-up book like few others, with all the glorious detail unfolding. Page by page we learn the tales of Jeanne, William, Jacob, and the beloved greyhound, Guiinforte. In an old French Inn in 1242, those who stay to drink and talk begin to tell the adventures. Emotions are high when tragedy strikes, and higher still when cheering for one or the other’s flight to freedom. I’ve studied some French history in the past and recognized a few characters and stories but had to do a bit of research to confirm my thoughts about the background. This is not necessary for readers to do, yet it made it more enjoyable to me. In an author’s note, Adam Gidwitz describes his own long journey in making this book. He began with the learning of one heinous act of long ago, the burning of thousands of Jewish books by King Louis IX, and created paths, which his characters walked, finally gathering together in the ending. It’s quite a feat to write such a tale, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The creation of each chapter being “owned” by one storyteller is terrific. Although there are main characters whom I grew to love, other characters are given enough of their own personality to be of interest, too. Hatem Aly ‘s illuminations do just as they should, add wonder and action to the text.  The language is poetic, a story-telling dream: “William starts out slowly now, so as not to overtake the pilgrims, but soon the cool air and swooping larks whip his mood into a fine, happy froth, and he completely forgets.”
          There is additional information given at the end as to the background of some of the parts, what is based on research, what is not. In those words, I liked reading this passage from Adam Gidwitz: “I hope, if nothing else, this book has convinced you that the Middle ages were not ‘dark’ (‘never’ call them the Dark Ages!), but rather an amazing, vibrant, dynamic period.”
        An annotated bibliography is added at the back too, separated into books that might be good for children and those for adults.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Nice Celebrating Good Things

    Celebrating with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and linking with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for helping us celebrate together!  

     It's been two weeks since I shared, and despite the chaos reigning in our government, I remain hopeful and committed to protest in any way I can. There are good things in my own life, and I'm happy about that.
      I loved meeting with what is now a writing "partner" (our group has dwindled to two) and it felt as if we helped each other focus on some goals, and add to ideas for revision of our projects.
       I've written a poem each day for a while, and now in February am writing each day for a challenge that Laura Shovan offers each February to help celebrate her birthday. You can read about it here on Laura's blog. http://laurashovan.com/2017/02/poetry-friday-10foundwords-2/  I've received rejections for a poem and a picture book story, am planning to look again, and try again.