Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books - Women's History

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

         One of my wishes for all children growing up is that they can be supported in their passions. These two books I'm sharing today tell the story of two disparate women who were supported, praised, allowed to take different paths in their learning because of what they loved! 



       For young readers who do not know of Gwendolyn Brooks, who do not know she was the first black writer who won the Pulitzer Prize, who do not know how her passion for words guided her from a very early age, this is a marvelous introduction to her. In an array of pink to brown tones created by Xia Gordon, Alice Faye Duncan (writer of Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop) writes her own free verse poetry about Gwendolyn and includes some of Gwendolyn's poems, too. Those poems are numbered by Roman numerals, I through X. In school, this poet was already watching and listening, as writers do, and wrote her first poem at age seven, in 1924. Each part begins with the title challenge to "sing a song for Gwendolyn Brooks", as important parts of her life are told. Kids play, "They boast and bully./They 'signify'", but she stands alone. She lives on Chicago's South Side, can be found sitting on the stoop of their building, always watching. The story tells how much her parents support her, let her out of chores so she can write. Her mother takes her hand to march off to school to confront the teacher who has accused her of plagiarism. She sits right down and writes a terrific, most apt, poem titled "Forgive and Forget". From research, Gordon shows how much Gwendolyn cares about the words, the "right" words as draft after draft is written/re-written. She joins a group of black writers who study the great poets like with a poetry teachers. She falls in love with the right man who also supports her work, and they rent two rooms where she continues to write. They have two children; Gwen has already published books, is very popular, and is awarded the Pulitzer Prize in between the births of those children. She shines, as her parents have long known! And this biography does, too, a loving introduction to this famous poet.
       There is an author's note, a timeline, suggested readings and a bibliography in the back matter. Gwendolyn Brooks was the 29th poet laureate of the Library of Congress, continued to earn award honors until her death in 2000. You may know her most anthologized poem, "We Real Cool".

Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday Reading - Hurrah for New Books!

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. 

          I'm grateful to Candlewick Press for these first two books!




         In Jo Knowles' new story, the pressure before eighth grade fills up the main character Rachel's life. Starting with her thirteenth birthday and the first day of summer, she's ready for all the wonderful things summer can bring, like being with her best friend since kindergarten, Micah. As the days go by, each one brings new questions, both personal and in her family. She's excited about a new job caring for the farm animals for neighbors who've built a fancy house on the hill and field next door, but it is not so easy since the chickens peck and the pig charges. She notices that there is not always a full refrigerator anymore and her parents seem to be arguing a lot, over the bills. Then, Micah, whom she does love but only as a friend, seems to want more. And she wants to feel that way, but cannot make herself feel that way about any boy. Jo Knowles tells this story through Rachel's eyes, beautifully showing that confusion over change that young adolescents try hard to figure out, and often alone. Luckily for Rachel, Micah stands by her no matter the conflict. I imagine readers will connect with this story and whether the hard things are the same or are different, they will meet someone they recognize.
           Rachel's family have named the place where they live as Bittersweet Farm, after the bittersweet that grows in one place there. Her story lives in that name, both bitter and sweet.
       This board book includes the colors you see above, page by page cells are added accompanied by poetic text, showing simply and beautifully how our world of light works, including "you". I've taken one picture of the first page, not as good as what one really sees, but you can understand the idea. My favorite line: "It sips the sea to make the rain."   This is a book you must see and savor.



       When I was a lit coach, I took a suitcase of musical things like different clackers and horns, a small drum, and so on to liven up our poetry writing. Oh, how I wish I had had this new poetry book to Boom! Bellow! Bleat! with the kids. It's a new delight by Georgia Heard with "out loud" collaged illustrations by Aaron DeWitt. It can be read, as the cover says, by two or more voices, and I found it wonderful to read with my youngest granddaughter, an emerging reader. Serendipitously, we had just visited our zoo and came home to read this new book together. It opens with a fun page of "Animal Songs" including Alligators that Hiss, all the way to Humans, who Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk, etc. It also includes frogs who don't say "Ribbit!", instead, they quonk, waaa, jug-a-rum, beeeee, peep, twaang, errrrgh, growl, trill, and yeeeeeoooow. There was much to learn about frogs (and toads) just from this page. Imogene loves insects and her favorite page is the honeybees, who bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as they perform all their other tasks.
         In addition to the poetic text, Georgia has included small bits of information for some of the animals. And added at the back is expanded information in a "Nature's Notes" section.
        Each page's text are in blue, red and sometimes black (for that third voice). It was great fun to read aloud. For groups, a page titled "Forest Orchestra" gives instruction and a script for fourteen parts to perform together. She includes tips like "Keep in mind that animals have adapted different sound tones so when singing together they don't drown each other out." From large to small, land to ocean, animals Boom! Bellow! Bleat and more. One only needs to listen!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Poetry Friday - Sharing An Older Anthology

             Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe hosting Poetry Friday today, with a call to action for "changing our actions" to combat climate change, to call attention to our administrations to act responsibly, to DO SOMETHING!  Thanks, Heidi!

       I don't usually write of our weather, but Wednesday turned out quite a different day, evidence that climate change is happening. We set a record!        
        For me in Colorado, daylight savings time ushered in a strange welcome to this 'almost' springtime. We do have big snows sometime, but this was different.
        On Tuesday I spent a lot of time at a park, then returned with my granddaughter Ingrid to walk and admire geese on the pond, climb trees, then get ice cream. It was about 60 degrees. On Wednesday, it started raining in the night, began snowing about 9 am, and then the blizzard hit. The city was rather shut down, am sorry that (I imagine) that groceries and coffee shops may have stayed open, but every school, every museum, etc. closed. It was called a #bombcyclone and snowed all day till dark. I did go out to shake the trees as much as I could, but realized this was not fluff, but blown-in ice balls. Only some fell. Many lost their power. I am fortunate because all the power lines around are underground. I was okay, did not need to go anywhere, and hope everyone, even if sliding off the road, ended up okay.
           Now, today, seems as if it didn't happen, though I know some still do not have power back, and some endured a miserable time stuck on the side of some highways, or ended up stuck at the airport. The sun was out, much has melted. 



       I'm still celebrating women, and wanted to tell about an older anthology I picked up long ago. I do not remember where, but it is lovely. Published in London first in 1990, then in 1991 in the US. The anthologists, Susanna Styles and Morag Styles, write that they began collecting years before, realized that the book would not only be for young people of 9-13, but for all ages. And it is a gem, filled with poems by women and girls of many cultures. 
          You will recognize the poet names of Eve Merriam ("On the pad of my thumb"), Nikki Giovanni ("they always said "what a pretty little girl you are"), Charlotte Zolotow ("It is only I/who have changed.", Karla Kuskin ("And the hollow of night/Fills up with dreams:"), Aileen Fisher ("The day is warm/and a breeze is blowing, the sky is blue/and its eye is glowing"), Gwendolyn Brooks ("Hello, little sister,/Coming through the rim of the world.", Jane Yolen (Sleep, little wriggler,"), Valerie Worth (Hollyhocks stand in clumps/By the doors of old cottages.) and Maya Angelou ("When you see me sitting quietly/Like a sack left on the shelf,/Don't think I need your chattering./I'm listening to myself.". 
         Like that taste? There is more! Also included are poems by children and traditional chants and rhymes from North America, Ireland, Japan and Africa. 

        The book divides into eight sections, from Here I Am!, girls and women writing about themselves, through Telling Tales which includes songs, ballads and stories to the ending A New Day Dawning, hopes for the future. If you can find it, I hope you enjoy it all. Here is a taste from Here I Am!

A few powerful words for this time in girls' and women's lives.

I May, I Might, I Must

If you will tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.

Marianne Moore


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books - To the Moon, To The Ocean

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

               Thanks to Charlesbridge for these books, out just one week ago!



      Children are going to read this as history and I'm reading it as memory. It's a celebration by Suzanne Slade of the Apollo flights that begins where her Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon endsA most exciting time happened in the United States, beginning in 1962 when President John Kennedy said in his speech, "We choose to go to the moon." And we would go, seven years later! Sadly, he did not get to see his vision take place, but we remember his inspiration! You can see from the title that this is the story of those twelve astronauts who walked on the moon! Slade also includes those whose journeys did not make it, twenty-one in all.
      Page by double-page spread illustrations by Alan Marks show the grandeur and holding-your-breath excitement from that first step onto our only moon. Neil Armstrong's name will live as the first man on the moon, Alan Shephard as the first golfer in space (Did you know?), and Charlie Duke leaves behind a photo of his family. Each flight extended the stay on the moon as astronauts collected rock specimens and set up experiments, learned to navigate the Lunar Module in order to land in different places to collect more information. Here's one picture of their traveling on the Lunar Roving Vehicle, helping the astronauts conserve energy so they could reach other places faster. It is an inspiring part of history, amazing to believe that we will be celebrating the fifty year anniversary of Apollo 11 this summer. 


       Much more information is given in the afterword. Alan Bean, the fourth man on the moon, gives an intro and there is a note from the author. Added is a timeline, more about the vehicles, the missions, the art and pages with the facts about each mission. A bibliography and source notes end this wonderful keepsake book of Nasa's flights to and exploration of the moon. 
       I loved the ending pages showing children and their cat gazing up at what Suzanne Slade writes is "A quiet place where/no wind blows,/no water flows,/no life grows." 


          It's the first US edition of this page-filled, creatures-captured in gorgeous art Ocean Emporium of ocean life. From Crabs to Octopuses, Sharks to Penguins, each collection's variety is pictured and labeled with a brief paragraph about the groups. Susie Brooks introduces the book with a double-page spread explanation of the ocean's circle of life, Apex Predator sharks to plankton, shellfish to krill.  Her explanations on each page are summaries, but with them and Dawn Cooper's realistic illustrations, readers will want to discover more through further research. The book ends with a vertical double-page of creatures of the deep, "the largest habitat on Earth". Do you know the helmet Jellyfish, the harp sponge or the southern ocean giant spider? You can see them on this page but will want much more after the view. Be sure to find this terrific new ocean book for a classroom or for individuals who want to know more!


Monday, March 11, 2019

Monday - Book Favorites

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. 


While weaving text and art in a way that shows the hodgepodge of that part of history to tell Bonhoeffer's story, John Hendrix has managed a story of persistence in the face of known danger, never giving up when he is sure that he and his co-conspirators must proceed. As he chronicles the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, of course, he must detail the rise of Hitler and Germany's Nazi part. Here is one quote: "Dietrich's conception of the nature of evil had changed. In the form of the Nazi ideology, evil could no longer be a theological tool. The rigid concepts of simple "right" and "wrong" had proved too simple for defeating Hitler. Those stark boxes were all too easy for Hitler to escape. Evil had totally surrounded Dietrich and the conspirators. On all sides were ethical booby traps. Yet he had come to believe he must step into one, if he was to act at all." He is a pastor who makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to free the German people from oppression during World War II.




         I spent a good deal reading this book angry at the mother. Then I realized that I had no way to empathize with her, no way to understand that some have so much heartbreak in their lives that it plays out in their choices even as a parent. But this is really about the parent Astrid's son, twelve-year-old Felix Knutsson. Underlying the story is Felix's knack for trivia. His favorite game show is Who What Where When; he even named his gerbil after the host. Felix’s mom, Astrid, is loving but cannot hold on to a job. Her "knack" appears to be words that alienate. She has a bitter tongue that will not stop. When they are evicted from their latest shabby apartment, they have to move into a van. Astrid swears him to secrecy; he can’t tell anyone about their living arrangement, not even Dylan and Winnie, his best friends at his new school. If he does, she warns him, he’ll be taken away from her and put in foster care.
        Life for these two does not improve, then Felix gets a chance to audition for a junior edition of Who What Where When, and he’s hopeful when he is accepted. The time surrounding these days are harrowing. I couldn't stop turning the pages, wishing someone would help. I felt it wasn't a twelve-year-olds' responsibility to save the family. He thought winning the cash prize could make everything okay again. But things don’t turn out the way he expects. . . .  I loved this boy, so full of what are the right things to do, sometimes helpless to change his mother, but continuing to make his own life right while caring for her, too. 
       I am grateful for what I learned: that friends (allies) make a huge difference in kids' and adults' lives, but sometimes it's even hard to accept that friendship. That adults' childhoods keep them from change for better. Turning away in defense seems easier. And when one opens up to trust, things do get better, but it's hard, so, so hard. This story about the hidden homeless is one I would recommend to middle school and up, but also to adults, especially teachers. There is a teacher that steps up to help Felix, too! 


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Poetry Friday - Honoring Women


         Catherine Flynn at Reading to The Core hosts this day,  Friday, March 8th, which is International Women’s Day, hashtag and theme #BalanceforBetter. Here is the website. Catherine has asked that people help to celebrate the day by sharing poems that honor women and she is sharing her poem that honors Ellen Harding Baker, a teacher, who lived in the 19th century and, as a teacher, created an extraordinary quilt that depicts the solar system. Be sure to visit to see and read Catherine's poem about Baker.

         Oh my, so many choices! I've browsed my books and have more than one I could share. I've been writing poems each day with a group to celebrate Laura Shovan's birthday. The theme this month is "food" with members posting a picture of their choosing on the date each chose. Many of my words lean to personal memories. After all, food is one of those personal things that cling, isn't it? From early childhood to grown, considering my and all the other poets' poems, most are food connections, memories, experiences. 
         This past Wednesday, one of our group posted this: "These are the ingredients for a quick vegetarian dish that my family loves. Cook 8 oz of pasta, add salsa, tomatoes, drained black beans, and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Make a double batch if you like leftovers for lunch. Alternate prompts: pasta, beans, cheddar cheese, or tomatoes."

          I value my friends, some even online from afar, some here in my neighborhood, but being together, eating what we create together, is special like a hug that lasts and lasts.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Non-Fiction Books Take Us Traveling

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!


      It's a travel book, no, it's a cookbook, it's a poetry book. Well, it's actually all those things "melted" into one lovely book that makes mouths water and educates all at the same time. Breakfast starts everyone's day and Alice McGinty has written (cooked up?) a multi-cultural feast of what children eat in the morning all over the world. Ending with the USA and, maybe, pancakes but not always, she journeys around the world starting with Australia and the much-loved there, not so much here, vegemite spread on toast. From China, a dish I'm not sure I knew the name of, Ci fan tuan, but I've had at restaurants comes big balls of sticky rice loaded with pork and pickled vegetables.  Yum! Then, we're traveling on to The Netherlands to eat toast with chocolate sprinkles. While it's different in each country, children manage to have a good bit of food to get them ready for school! 
       Alice has written snappy, appetizing rhymes to introduce the food, then added a brief paragraph of the name, how to pronounce it, and what it is. "Breakfast in Jamaica/is yellow like the sun./Cornmeal porridge, thick and sweet,/Come and get it, everyone." Sometimes extra information is added, like in Japan children wear yellow caps so they can be easily seen by drivers on the streets. And she explains 'rashers' and 'bangers', and what 'soldiers' are for breakfast in the UK. 
        Tomoko Suzuki's double-page filled-to-the-brim graphic pages add to the joy of breakfast starting the day. There is food, of course, but also background geography of gardens and cities, and the people, too, eating together. Here's a glimpse from Brazil! 














         Added is a double-page map of the world that shows each dish and the location of its country of origin. It would be delicious fun to research more countries and create some of these dishes in a classroom. For older kids, to ask the question of "why?" these dishes have become native to the country would be fun, too. One year, my class visited different cultural supermarkets here, sampled some foods, bought others to cook back at school. It was a marvelous experience.
         Thanks, Alice and Tomoko for a wonderful book.





Monday, March 4, 2019

It's Monday - Books You Need to Know

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. 


            WINNERS chosen by Rafflecopter of the Shakespeare Pop-Up Book are Jama Rattigan & Jane Heitman Healy. 
            Congratulations! I'll be contacting you also by email!

Learning about others' lives, who they are and how they live is an important beginning learning. This week, I seem to have read several books that help people (kids and adults) who read them think about others, then about who they are, too.


          March 12th seems to be an important day in publishing. These next three books' publishing birthday is that day!



       Yes, I've read most of the wonderful picture books about Ada Byron Lovelace, then received this amazing new short chapter book, thanks to Candlewick Press. Some have called her the Bride of Science, some a science poet, thus the title Dreaming in Code feels quite appropriate and you will understand when you read this longer biography. Child of the famous/infamous Lord Byron,  whose parents were so estranged that her mother, Lady Byron, didn't even tell Ada about him until she had to, until he had already died. The intermingling relationships among Ada's mother, Ada's husband, and Charles Babbage show Ada's life and temperament in a rather constant upheaval. She appears a genius but beleaguered so by ill health, it is a challenge to see how she managed her mathematical accomplishments at all.
       Lady Byron, though she didn't admit it, carried her grudge against Lord Byron's betrayals all her life, appeared determined that Ada's mind and work would be 'managed', sometimes with tutors who gave her huge intellectual challenges, ones that inspired although also exasperated. Her collaborator Charles Babbage plays a big part in Ada's life and that relationship was described in detail about his inventions, the Difference Engine and Analytical Engine designs. Ada was able to see far beyond his visions, dreaming of the potential of modern computers and predicting such programming techniques like loops. She could have done more but was hampered by the mores for women at the time and her bad health. Appendices summarize Lovelace’s notes on the Analytical Engine and present the British Association for the Advancement of Science’s rationale for refusing to support its construction. This seems to be her finest time for recognition then. She has since been much praised.
         It's a dense and interesting portrayal of both Ada's life and the way people of wealth lived at this time as the industrial revolution flourished, those who followed the rules, at least on the outside, but did other things that surprised me, too. The portrayal of Lady Byron, Ada's mother, was most challenging to find sympathy for. There are source notes, a glossary, a bibliography and a page for an index not shown in this advanced copy.
  

Thanks to Penny Candy Books for the following book. 
           When there is a loss, everyone seems to have one thing that means something very special, and when one realizes that thing cannot continue the way it was, it's hard. Young Asha has traveled a long way to her grandma's house in India. She has carried her yellow suitcase, usually bringing gifts from California, but this time she did not. This time, her grandma is not waiting on the porch when they arrived. She is gone. Meera Sriram gently leads the reader through Asha's feelings, her stages of grief from denial to acceptance. Asha kicks that suitcase under her bed, angry that it won't hold gifts to take back home with her either. Meera Sethi fills the pages with those beautiful colors of India that surround Asha as she remembers the "aroma of cardamom-spiced chai and of sweet ghee that filled the house when Grandma was around. And she missed the soft cotton saris Grandma wore." Both author and illustrator have managed to show a sweet and sad story that ends as it begins, a yellow suitcase with something good in it, something that will help Asha remember her grandma. It is a story that will be nice to share with children who are missing someone dear to them. 
           

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Welcome Poets, Welcome Spring!

          Welcome Poets, Welcome March, holding spring! 

When I signed up for March 1st, I thought I would simply share a breezy, flowery poem, readying us for what's coming, at least for those of us still held up in winter. I know some of you are already posting buds and blooms!

"Spring is nature's way of saying 'Let's Party!" Robin Williams

"Spring adds new life and beauty to all that is." Jessica Harrelson

and this: “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” Mark Twain

        However, I have become interested recently in anagrams, began searching for lists, and discovered more than I could have imagined were there. Within my own discoveries, I found spring and grew a poem. Perhaps you'd like to try a couplet or two if you discover some anagrams that inspire?

A Gander to Garden

In the heart of the earth
sap warms in a spa.
Trees ready for a reset
though the wake may be weak,
miles to go before they smile.
Snow sometimes owns
the tales, can steal
into a forest in softer
tone, keeping a winter's note.
Finally, a nester brings extras
palest, pastel petals of
lemons and melons,
pear blooms we'll reap,
rosiest of stories,
the Charm of March.

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved


Inlinkz Link Party



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Picture Book Wednesday - Things Not Always What Is Seen

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

Monday, I posted a giveaway HERE for a Shakespeare pop-up book!



        It's an intriguing thing to read of a gorgeous movie star who regretted her looks because she was also an inventor, also smart, though it wasn't easy to prove it. "People seem to think because I have a pretty face I'm stupid...  I have to work twice as hard as anyone else to convince people I have something resembling a brain."
        In this new bookLaurie Wallmark, with Katy Wu, (the team that also gave us Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code) show Hedy's life as a contradiction, a young girl who loves to take things apart to see how they work and one who also loves acting, who sets up a stage beneath her father's desk in order to put on plays with her dolls. In her native Austria, her acting was noticed when she had the lead in a play, thus she left for America under contract with Louis B. Mayer. Laurie Wallmark shows her public life filled with glamour and beauty, romance and intrigue, yet the true intrigue was behind the scenes as she set up her parlor into an inventor's workshop. Underneath the lines she learned and the designer clothes she wore, she looked for problems that needed solutions! Among those shared, she solved the problem to help people out of the bathtub, a 'flavor-cube' for thirsty travelers, and a glow-in-the-dark dog collar to help people find their lost dogs. 



        While Hedy was inventing and becoming a beloved movie star, World War II arrived where guidance systems "couldn't prevent the enemy from jamming the weapon's radio signals." She, with George Antheil, a composer and former weapons inspector, devised a 'secure' torpedo guidance system. Here is Hedy's exciting (secret?) story, their persistence to make their idea workable and to obtain a patent. Wallmark's text celebrates their idea and the patience taken. And that is the interesting, but frustrating, part. They did obtain the patent, but sadly, according to the text, the Navy has neither the time nor the money to use the idea. However, this idea, one called "frequency-hopping spread spectrum" is the invention that keeps our cell phone calls and texts private. Fifty years later, Hedy and George were "finally" recognized for their work. Hedy said, "It's about time."

Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday Reading - Books 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 post their favorites. 
        It was quite an amazing reading week, time to read three fantastic chapter cooks & fall in love with more picture books. Winter weather helped!  
        And I have a second post today HERE with a giveaway of a Shakespeare pop-up book for two winners!
        Mapping The Bones is another story of that terrible time of World War II, focusing on two children caught in the nightmare of Hitler's plan to rid the country of Jews and other undesirables. Yolen weaves the Hansel and Gretel tale into this story of Chaim and Gittel, twins who are taken to the labor camps in 1942 and the horrific abuse they endured especially being young twins at the hands of an evil doctor. I've read that an alternate title was "The Candy House".
        First, forced from their beautiful home and made to live in the Lodz Ghetto, those awful circumstances become too dangerous, and their parents decide to flee to the nearby Lagiewniki Forest, where partisan fighters help spirit the children away. Earlier in the ghetto, the family first is made to share their small apartment with another family and in that time, those children's parents die in separate tragedies. The two left, Bruno and Sophie, also travel with Chaim and Gittel. Sadly, all four are captured by German soldiers, their partisan saviors killed. The story does not stop leaving one wanting both to stop reading and keep reading. It feels like an underlying drumbeat of danger as chapter by chapter, the days and nights terrify. 
        The relief of the story is the loving connection between the twins, Chaim, a boy of few words, but writing poetry, and Gittel, reflecting between chapters as if she's telling their story from afar. It felt comforting because one read and thought that because she was reflecting, she must have survived. Yet because of the utter loss of trust in this time, I found that hard to trust too. I didn't know until the end who was finally free and able to continue their lives and who was not. 
         Jane Yolen has written a story that seems all too real, a fiction based on tragic truth. And through Chaim, Yolen has also shown her poetic expertise. The poems in such a sad story offer relief, though often sad. Yolen also gives Gittel another strong voice. She writes the words and lets Gittel tell them: "Our hearts were minefields in those days. Befriend someone, get to know someone, even dislike someone, it didn't matter, for they might well be gone forever in an hour, a day, overnight." It's a terrific and tragic, heroic and loving story.

          A verse non-fiction book, written by one of the students who lived this "first" in 1956, first school in the American south to integrate after the landmark Brown vs Education of 1954 case that decreed that separate schools for black and white children are "inherently unequal". Jo Ann Allen Boyce partnered with Debbie Levy to write this story, Jo Ann's story! It is about that year, from end-of-summer prep, some family and neighbors' introduction, then those months that actually began fairly well, but worsened day by day, until Jo Ann's family moved to LA. At this beginning are her words "If school were weather, I would say it's serious/with a chance of friendly." Still later, more protests brought in the troops who had to escort the students "down the hill" to school. FYI - African-Americans mostly lived on a hill above the town. 
          " P lease, let the troops bring Clinton back from the
            E dge of the cliff
            A ll we want is to go to our school without the
            C yclone of ugliness without fear without hate with
            E ase "

            There is nothing easy about this story, nothing easy to read about those who spit, hit, shoved, wrote hate notes to these twelve students. It's well done with an underpinning of loss that made me sad for the kids and for the families. And you know some is still happening in our world today, sixty-three years later. 
            There is a wealth of backmatter, notes from both authors, a timeline, a bit about the kinds of poetry, a bibliography and further sources. I can imagine a classroom could use this as a beginning study of desegregation history. 

It's A Giveaway, It's a Pop-Up, It's Shakespeare!

No problem here, just a taste of this fabulous giveaway/Shakespeare/pop-up!
             Thanks to Candlewick Press, I've have the pleasure of a giveaway, offering this pop-up book created by veteran pop-up artist, Mennie Maizell to TWO lucky winners. 



Written by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, two members of The Reduced Shakespeare Company,  (a troupe that specializes in first condensing and then performing works of literature and film), it's a pop-up that includes an enticing overview of Shakespeare’s work and times. There are five double-page spreads illustrated by veteran pop-up book designer Jennie Maizels and including numerous lift the flaps. The first spread introduces the world of Shakespeare. It is thought that he may have been an apprentice to his father, a glove-maker and written rhymes to be put into the gloves. One small rhyme was discovered in a pair for a man named Aspinall. "The gift is small./The will is all./Alexander Aspinall." Small facts like this are spread among the flaps and art, along with the pages for the plays and poetry described below.

The bulk of the work is contained in the next four spreads which present summaries and comments about all of Shakespeare’s plays, divided into four categories: comedies, histories, romances, and tragedies. It is humorous, even on the tragedy pages, and accurate. To include all the information, one must turn these pages around. You can see an example below. I'm sure it will be terrific for upper elementary and middle school classrooms for a beginning study of Shakespeare. 


the front

the back


Jaques:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143

        Fill out the rafflecopter entry form below and be sure to leave a comment sharing your favorite play by Shakespeare.


a Rafflecopter giveaway