Thursday, July 12, 2018

Poetry Friday - Anticipation

           Poetry Friday, with Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children this week! She, with Janet Wong, are celebrating a new poetry book for school leaders, helping them greet the day. It's Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud and it, like all the other books from Sylvia and Janet, is filled with poets you know and their poems this time for the best greetings to the day. Thanks, Sylvia for hosting, and both of you for this new book.

           My family and I leave for Costa Rica on Saturday! I'll try to visit as many posts as possible but may not make it to all this time.        
          Here's a poem of anticipation.

Mapping Vacation

I consider the photos
with inviting ocean blues, 
Note the azure view! --
a roadmap to the days away
chooses me,
echoing sea waves of the past,
chasing a burst of family time
signaling days called slow.

It’s nearly time to go.
Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Monday Reading - Favorites!

          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.  

           Middle-Grade books are not always my favorites. I realize their simple plots are necessary for younger readers, but while I enjoy many, I prefer older YA novels. This time, however, I knew that Laura Shovan's new book, just out, would be good. Her first novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, is marvelous and so creative. So now, Takedown, about wrestling? I have a nephew who wrestled and while I liked watching and rooting for him, it isn't a favorite sport. 
           From the first two chapters, I'm captured by the lives of Mikayla (Mickey) and Lev, two opposites, two who will be thrown together by their love of wrestling. Both are hanging out in their lives at the beginning of middle school; both are pre-teens. And the friendships each thought were set in cement begin to crumble. This pre-puberty time means change, and it's no different for these two. For most of the book, wrestling on a more competitive "travel" team fills each of their lives, along with family and school and friendships. Inside, Mikayla wishes her father would pay more attention to her own wrestling as he does for her two older brothers' wrestling. Inside, Lev wishes his older sister would pay more attention to him as she used to do. 
          These are only two of the troubles these two young middle-schoolers face. Mickey stays strong in her quest to be a great wrestler, but it's a fight often with unhappy consequences because she's a girl. Lev's nerves continue to be an inner struggle so he finds that writing and doodling in a notebook helps. His poetry is important, though he hesitates to share.
           Laura beautifully lets Lev and Mickey share their thoughts in alternating chapters, each time making me want to find out more. What will Mickey do when she discovers her best friend Kenna wants to quit wrestling and move on to other fun in school, and with other friends? "Kenna studies my face. Now she has this secret life with a vocabulary I know nothing about. Until middle school started, we were always together. How different could we be after just a few weeks? A lot. I tell myself." What will Lev do when he discovers Mickey, a girl, is going to be his practice partner? "I follow Mickey to the gym. "My sister says you're thinking about quitting."/"What do you care?"/"You're good," I tell her. "For a first-year Gladiator, you're really good." Laura manages to help us find sympathy for both and to root for them as they navigate their lives that aren't so simple anymore.
           The basic plot is there, making us readers ask what will happen to both these young people who are growing up and finding that what used to be isn't necessarily going to stay. These people in the lives of Lev and Mikayla are regular people who struggle in their own lives. From old friends to beloved family members, we come to care for them, too, and that makes a marvelous story of a few months in the lives of two middle schoolers. I'm very glad that Laura wrote about wrestling, and Lev and Mikayla, too!

          It seems that all the books I'm writing about today share a common thread, the way we look at things, the way we think about ourselves and about others, those like us and those who are not like us, except perhaps inside where the feelings lie.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Poetry Friday - Swap Goodness

          Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Thanks, Tricia!

          As I wrote last month, it's quite a wonderful thing to find poetry gifts in one's mailbox, thanks to Tabatha Yeatts, whose idea this was several years ago. Today I'm sharing my swap "wonder" from Brenda Harsham who blogs at Friendly Fairy Tales, and who seemed to know exactly what I love. Here's a picture I took just this week, then the lovely illustrated poems sent by Brenda. She also included a marvelous journal "with" sticky notes, a pen, a quote magnet, and some ladybug magnets. Wow!

          THANKS, BRENDA!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Non-fiction Picture Books Celebrate

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!  

             This is one of my amazing discoveries at the Denver Public Library summer book sale. I try hard to limit myself to one bag. They offer thousands of books, hundreds in the children's section. I weeded through many and found quite a few "wonders". 
             For our Independence Day, this book filled with poetry about all our states is perfect. It is divided into eight sections, each one a geographical grouping from a part of the United States, like The Great Lake States or The Northeast States. Within those groups lies a colorful map showing the states and page (or pages) with small blocks of basic state information, like its birth date, capital, nickname, etc. 
              The glorious part arrives then, the poems. You will recognize names of current/still writing poets, like Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Nikki Giovanni and Lee Bennett Hopkins himself, and then older well-known poets like Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, and Myra Cohn Livingston. Then there are the illustrations where Stephen Alcorn uses broad and powerful strokes of color to accompany the poems and sometimes to surround them with his impressions of grandeur. They are gorgeous, as are the poems. 
              How do choose just one, perhaps only from my birth state, South Carolina and then growing-up state, Missouri and now, Colorado? Or favorite states like Oregon when I visit the ocean.  I will start with "New England Lighthouse" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, a region I have spent little time in, but wish I could. "It's a turret of lanterns;/a castle of lights--/a compass for ships/as they pass/through the night."  From the Great Lakes States, Gary Snyder writes "Pine Tree Tops", kin to my own mountain state of Colorado: "pine tree tops/bend snow-blue, fade/into sky, frost, starlight." In The Plains States, I connect to "Midwest Town" by Ruth de Long Peterson because that's exactly where I grew up "Farther east it wouldn't be on the map--Too small--but here it rates a dot and a name." Near enough to me in Denver to visit often, I found "Santa Fe, New Mexico" by April Halprin Wayland: "to see surprising piles of clouds,/melting, moving/mounds of white ice cream". April continues to write "Look here what I have found/out here/in this gallery."
         Lee Bennett Hopkins celebrates the collection in a lovely introduction, in which he writes: "Our nations is so exciting, so multifaceted, as are poets who hail from every walk of life--who sing of cities where we "sprawl-in, sit-tall-in," areas where "wheat whirls with joyful wind," where a "mail boat chugs to the Cranberry Islands" of Maine."
The Washington D.C. page, just beautiful for today!

          Enjoy your Independence Day wherever and however you can.

Monday, July 2, 2018

It's Monday - Books I Loved

          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.  
           FYI - I just discovered that blogger is no longer telling me about comments that need moderation. I have missed so many comments these past weeks! I'm sorry that I didn't see them & reply to them. Thanks to all who came by!

              I was in college, then grown when the times of the protests against the Vietnam Conflict happened when families split apart throughout this long and politically uncomfortable war. I knew about those fleeing, even remember trying to help a refugee center, but now I know from Bui's memoir, there is so much more to escape for refugees, and then for their children growing up in the midst of two cultures. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is a memoir about Bui's parents search for a better future and a search by her to understand her parents' past, better to understand herself, now a new parent. She documents the story of her family’s escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. It begins with her giving birth, and wondering why her mother cannot stay in the room with her. It then travels to her parents' childhood then marriage and anguish with each other, within the politics of their country. It is a heartbreaking story of sacrifice for children, of courage that is difficult to believe anyone has. Yet Bui's parents did have that courage as so many from other parts of the world do, to save themselves and especially their children. Putting the story into graphic pictures makes it even more startling, but also more memorable. Bui has given us her heart in this book, "her" story.

On my "MustReadIn2018" list!
        Will's brother has been murdered; Will has a gun. All he needs is to go down the elevator floor by floor, out onto the streets with his brother's gun. He has to follow the rules, doesn't he? As he descends, the elevator door opens to reveal someone new who's going to be riding with him, to help him follow those rules, or not. This story shows the dilemma, the challenge, the heartbreaking reality that hangs heavy for Will. Jason Reynolds asks that we come with him into the story. It's an elevator ride that all should remember. "Yeah, but this is ridiculous." I (Will talking)  replied, palms wetting. "Might as well relax," Buck said. "It's a long way down." 

        Translated from the French, winner of the Prix Saint-Exupery, the best-illustrated book of 2004. A young boy dreams of the perfect color blue. He loves to paint and draw and wants to find that blue! Not only does he take off on a fantastic journey, first to his own paintbox, but then to the nearby art museum, and off to the ocean, then South Sea skies, more places than one can imagine! The story holds a surprise and gorgeous pictures of this boy and his search. Jean Fran├žois Dumont fills the endpapers with splotches of blue: indigo, cobalt, lavender, Prussian, glacier, and more!