Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Books Tell Truth

art by Sarah S. Brannen
           Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her post and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 

I am grateful for Michele Knott who shared this wonderful book earlier HERE! It is still another inspiring biography of this woman named one of "The Most Significant Americans of All Time" by Smithsonian Magazine in 2014, according to the author's note at the back. 

           One year when I taught, my students studied biographies and one assignment was to discover a little-known person in history, research her or him, and create a scrapbook of that life as if they were the persons they chose. One of my students chose Sojourner Truth. Now I wish I had that scrapbook to look at again. Most of what I remember is that she had accomplished so much that took great courage, like walking away as a slave and being helped by some abolitionists. I know that my student would have loved seeing this picture book.
          As the story evolves, the illustrator Daniel Minter chose to create a poetic page in the same style every few pages, serving as a comment on what has occurred or what's to come. It begins with “In Slavery Time, when Hope was a seed waiting to be planted.” 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Monday Reading - Best Reads

          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.

        Thanks to Candlewick, I've read this latest book by Lindsay Eagar, out in October. I have previously loved Lindsay's Hour of The Bees, then Race To The Bottom of The Sea, all three realistic family stories of girls struggling to overcome personal (inside family) challenges, brushed with the magic of both believers and non-believers. In The Bigfoot Files, there happens to be a television show that follows and documents those thought-to-be-crazed searchers and believers of beings in our world like the Loch Ness Monster, or Bigfoot! Twelve-year-old Miranda Cho had always believed it all, believed her mother's obsession with monsters, her life filled with talk of sightings, overnight camping trips with others using night vision to capture a first look, and stories from her mother she asked for with the words "Tell Me A Monster." At twelve, a skeptical, want-to-prove-it Miranda has emerged, especially when her quirky mother, Kat, embarrasses her before a friend, now lost, and hides unopened bills and notices of foreclosure in a silverware drawer. Her eyerolls and words of disgust say it all. She wants proof like every scientist. Miranda agrees to go on one last creature hunt and plans to prove once and for all that her mother is wrong, wrong, wrong. It's time to grow up and be a real mother. 
        Detail by detail, I felt the sadness and tension of a young girl who really just wanted a mom who remembered to turn in library books, who didn't drive a crazy-looking "Critter Mobile", one who paid the bills. Sadly, she also wants a mom who hadn't driven away her father. Miranda tries so hard to be perfect. She's an A student, she's recently been elected to be Student Council President. And when she needs inner strength, she pulls out one more hair. In this final trip that goes terribly wrong, Miranda learns her mother's own belief, one that it appears Lindsay Eager loves teaching all of us readers, that "some things are true whether you believe them or not." It's a terrific story with love for all kinds of families.
         I also am grateful to have a copy of this wonderful book from Candlewick, just in time for holiday gift-giving, for those you know love poetry, OR a gift for yourself. Publisher at Nosy Crow, Kate Wilson, remembered a book she had as a child filled with poetry, one she still has, from which she loved poetry. She wanted to create a new book filled with poetry too, asked Fiona Waters to select them and Frann Preston-Gannon to illustrate. You can choose to read a poem a day next year, or begin as soon as the book is in your hands. You can find favorite poets, look for new ones, find your birthday poem or your child's. Poets familiar and poets new to me are included. It's a must-see, must-have book for poetry lovers, for a classroom perhaps, for a favorite person. Here's the Thanksgiving page I thought you'd like to see since that holiday is near.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Poetry Friday - Legacy

           Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty has the Poetry Friday Roundup today, a gathering of words that feel good to the soul. Thank you, Michelle!

             I'm been thinking much about women recently, those close in my family and those I know only through well-known, sometimes famous, deeds. And I've been watching campaigns by women all over the U.S. I am proud of all the women who ran in this election and prouder still that so many will be traveling to Washington. It's often a surprise what poetry finds me. I do write every day, not always a poem, but some lines that intrigue me I want to capture. This time, with so many posting #Vote pictures and art on social media with quite a few of them using the suffragettes as inspiration, I've written about mothers and daughters, what links between, what is passed on from one to the other, implicit hopes from elder to youth. Perhaps it's also about our links from woman to woman? It's a sestina, a form I like writing though don't do often.

Sestina Memoir

From the mantle shelf, the book
was brought with a smile by the mother.
She turned then toward her daughter,
inviting her to sit by the fire
and listen to poems of the seasons,
at this time of cold, snow, ice—of winter.

Soon, the words reminded of a long-ago winter
when others sat and marveled over a book,
this book, the only one 'twas valued, about the seasons.
It told of long years' wisdom, that mothers
passed on to their daughters.  The fire
blazed, illuminating the face of the daughter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Books Scream

art by Sarah S. Brannen
Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her post and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 

            That name "Assad" continues to be in the news, continues not to have anyone confront him, continues to be supported by Russia. Protests happened years ago and those protesting lost to tanks and bombs and soldiers, and they have continued to have to escape for their safety. This book by Don Brown, like his "Drowned City" about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, is a heartbreaking one, told in frightened pictures, over and over again. Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria. The surprising numbers of fleeing victims have overwhelmed neighboring countries, and chaos has followed. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. By 2017, many want to turn their backs on the victims. The refugees are "the unwanted". I recently read a news article telling of the resentment felt by East Germans from the pressure of over one million refugees arriving in their country. Evidently, those in the East still feel their lives are not as good as those in West Germany.

       A long time ago, an older couple became friends with my parents. They were lovely people and I loved visiting them, ate my first pita bread in their home. I'm sure they have passed on now, but also remember them visiting family in Syria in those years. I know they would be horrified at what has happened to their country. Don Brown shows moments of both horror and hope in this continuing  Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, The Unwanted is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees and a call to action for all those who read.

      Brown has visited refugee camps in Greece and offers short pieces in the backmatter about each one. In addition to his postscript, there are few good things to share. He says there are 5.7 million registered Syrian refugees. In the first three months of this year, 2018, the United States has accepted eleven for resettlement. There are also source notes and a bibliography. The heartbreaking final page is a poem titled "Hope Behind The Shadow of Pain!", showing a young child drawing the word "Hope" on a refugee tent.
       For anyone who wants to read and feel the refugee plight, this book is one to read and share, with friends, with students.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

It's Monday - Books I Loved

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

           Thanks to Candlewick Press for these first three books, recently published.

         I enjoyed Steve Light's Black Bird, Yellow Sun, and now here is another "flight of fancy" where two children run off to find their dad who's forgotten his lunch box. He works at a construction site, thus the reader meets the "Builders & Breakers", those two introduced at the beginning along with other parts as the story progresses into detailed and varied scenes from a construction site. Those two kids are there, searching, searching, and until the end, no luck. However, on the search, there are many things to see and some astound, especially in two vertical double-page spreads. The second one is when "Diggers dig down, down, down." showing how that excavation works with the help of workers and cranes, even showing hidden dinosaur bones. Many details invite slow poring over the pages.  There is an interesting letter from the author at the back explaining the need for both a builder and a breaker to achieve balance in construction. Endpapers are filled with examples of architectural drawings.

        For the youngest ones, but not a board book, and from Australia, out this past month from Candlewick in the US. Can you tell an animal by only seeing its behind? This is the game, a clever one with clear word clues paired with that so interesting tail! It even begins with the endpaper before the title page, a beautiful peacock's tail. John Carty's art is new to me, but his fifteen watercolored animals are realistic and gorgeous. The copyright page shares that the art is adapted from nineteenth-century artwork. I'm sure that it will be a popular guessing time for young readers and they may learn some new names in case they don't know them all.

an extraordinary gift for kids
         An idea from Jules Verne's Around The World In Eighty Days, there Phineas Foff makes his marvelous bet: that he can travel the circumference of the world in no more than eighty days. Perhaps you've read the book or perhaps you've seen the movie of years ago, but this time, kids can visit each double-page spread and take the challenge there. Most pages include hundreds of modes of travel, like hot air balloons, bicycles, and sailing ships. A few pages visit iconic places in the world, like the Eiffel Tower. On the pages, readers are asked to spot a certain thing or things. For example, on a page with buildings that show outside staircases, you're asked to choose the one building with staircases all the way to the roof. Aleksandra Artymowska fills each page with colorful intricate designs. There is one added challenge at the very back where answers are found. It's a terrific book that will bring lots of fun when taking on the challenges. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Poetry Friday - Looking Out Into The World

         Poetry Friday is at Jama's Alphabet Soup today. Thanks for your inspirational post, Jama! We will not stop fighting to do what is right for our country, for the world.

         My grandfather used to quote this to me, telling me that we all are part of the world and we need to work for others, not only ourselves. 

'No Man is an Island'

No man is an island entire of itself; every man (and woman)
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's (and womans') death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in (human)kind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne 

        It is November, election month, is a great time to share this new rhyming picture book by Dave Eggers. When I read it, I remembered the John Donne words above, and celebrate that this book shares that same message for younger children, really for us all.

         If you study social justice in the classroom, if you want to share and inspire your own children, or grandchildren, to be good citizens, this will be a terrific book to read together. I hope it will inspire you readers, too. Lists can be made to see where in the community one can help. From small deeds to large ones, all of us need to find some way to help our neighbors, our neighborhoods, our towns and cities. 
        In rhyme with delightful cut-paper illustrations by Shawn Harris, Eggers shares a simple and straightforward message : 
From a beginning looking out. . .
"A citizen's not what you are--
a citizen is what you do.
A citizen cannot forget
the world is more than you."
To going out and joining in, wherever one sees a need.

          Enjoy the book when you can, go out into your special world and find actions that will make it better.