Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poetry Friday - for Mary Oliver

          Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting this week! Thank you, Tricia for the loving words from you for Mary Oliver!

        Today I heard the sad news of the passing of Mary Oliver. Through many years she taught me to look out at nature in new ways, her words a mentor for me while trying to pass her lessons on to students, too, as we traveled to wonderful places together and to teach myself new ways to see. I do have many favorite poems, but marked one passage a couple of years ago to remember, in prose, from her 2016 book, Upstream. It feels apt to share it with all of you this day.

    After observations by her pond of a fox feeding on an old frozen raccoon: 

     "And now my old dog is dead, and another I had after him, and my parents are dead, and that first world, that old house, is sold and lost, and the books I gathered there lost, or sold--but more books bought, and in another place, board by board and stone by stone, like a house, a true life built, and all because I was steadfast about one or two things: loving foxes, and poems, the blank piece of paper, and my own energy--and mostly the shimmering shoulders of the world that shrug carelessly over the fate of any individual that they may, the better, keep the Niles and the Amazons slowing.
      And that I did not give to anyone the responsibility for my life. It is mine. I made it. And can do what I want to with it. Live it. Give it back, someday, without bitterness, to the wild and weedy dunes." (p. 21,22)
      Thinking of Mary Oliver as I took an evening walk this Thursday, grateful for the gifts she gave to the world from her life .

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

NF Pic Book Wednesday - Amazing Women

            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 continue to be available for kids. 

   I'm celebrating my 1800th post!

"All things are vital to the universe...
all are equal...and at once...different.'
          Gwen Frostic, Beyond Time

           Each of the following books (the first two out this month!) are worth reading in order to celebrate the lives shared. These women's stories exemplify the above quote from one of those women. Each one is unique, follows passions without giving up. They are full of inspiration either together or apart, know their strengths and pursued all possibilities to succeed. The illustrators show the passage of years, the ups and downs with interesting and beautiful choices of setting that include the characters' supporters, naysayers and experiences.

         Janet Collins loved to dance, was rejected more than once because of the color of her skin, but she always pursued a path and succeeded every time. Told in verse, with an author's note, source notes, and an additional websites list.

         Considered part non-fiction and part historical fiction in order to create a story, Mary was a real person, a former slave who went west to make a new life. She tried out for the job of stagecoach driver when everyone thought it was only a man's job and certainly not a job for a former slave. She succeeded, and she began in her sixties! There is an author's note explaining the research and the story's creation.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Monday Reading - Fun Picture 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 reading Dry by Neal Shusterman and it is long! But I've enjoyed it so far! And still reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Other than that, here are a few picture books I liked this week--one brand new, some old and worth knowing. I'm also still reading for the Cybil's poetry judging so my reading life is varied and full!

              I'm also celebrating. I have one more post and that will be my 1800th! It feels as if the time has gone quickly, but then when I look back at March, 2011, that also seems a long time ago. For a few years, I also kept a blog with my class, but have now deleted it, saving a few posts only. I imagine I've written more than 2000 altogether. If you've just started, keep going. It becomes a diary of at least part of one's life. Some of you started before I did and I congratulate you for keeping on, despite your busy lives. Most of you are still in education and are marvelous mentors for students.

         Enjoy these gems!

        What if you were a child, a young boy, and loved elephants more than anything? You loved to draw them and talk about them. You loved their "hosepipe trunks and their flap-flap ears, their tree-stump feet and their swish-swish tails." But, but, you've never ever seen a real elephant. This is a story about that boy, Frank, and his adventure with Miss Fancy,  one elephant who spent some years in Avondale Park in Birmingham, Alabama. He is that boy who lived only two blocks from the park and helped collect pennies with other schoolchildren so the city could raise the money to buy Miss Fancy from a circus. 
            Wrapping her poignant story with some truth, this brand new wonderful book from Irene Latham shows the sad history of segregation years ago and the ingenuity of a young boy who only wanted to touch Miss Fancy. Finally, Frank got to see her when she came by train, but when the crowd arrived, with Miss Fancy, he walked with her all the way until he couldn't anymore. The sign said "No Colored Allowed". What if you were that boy, heartbroken? There is a reward for being that boy, and I hope you can read Irene's story in order to discover it. John Holyfield encompasses the words with his gorgeous realistic illustrations, filling the pages with color and emotion and detail of this community, its people and a special elephant. Irene adds an informative author's note about the story, the history and adds a real photo of Miss Fancy! The book will be a great start for children beginning to know the history of segregation. 

           Forty years old, a Caldecott honor. I've missed it all these years, and for those who love the music, those who wish every child yearning to play could, this is the book. Perhaps, according to the description, it could be the story of any young musician growing up in the twenties. With fabulous black and white, art deco illustrations, zigging and zagging like jazz itself, another Isadora book to love.

          "No matter how steep or tough the climb, a friend is worth it every time!" That's the mantra for this book, a cheerful 'let me help' book with a surprise you'll love at the end. Brian Lies tells the simple cumulative story and illustrates with joy, even in a snowstorm. How can one resist a duck with a stocking cap and a chipmunk named Izzy with a striped scarf? 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Poetry Friday - Search & Find

Poetry Friday's host this week is the busy Kat Apel from Australia, sharing her poem-a-day she's named 'Insta-poetry', filling us up with summer, yes, summer! That's what's happening Downunder as many of us shiver. Thanks, Kat for the beauty shared!

        I've been struggling lately finding some kind of goal for writing poems. I've begun a new journal, have delved into favorite quotes and pictures and though I enjoyed creating the beginning pages and sketching, too, I still did not find much to write about. I'm in the midst of reading for the Cybil's poetry award, and perhaps that's part of it, so filled with beautiful poetry that I think somehow it's all been written! Anyway, here's what I did for this day, a bit about looking and some about finding.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

NF Picture Book Revitalized In 2018

            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 continue to be available for kids.

       I enjoyed this book, the background of the 'girls' and finales of the inventions, but didn't understand that while first published in 2000, it has been revised and refreshed in the illustrations. 
      Here, from Hornbook:
          “This updated version of Thimmesh’s collection of profiles of female inventors (fifteen in all) eliminates three outdated chapters and spotlights seven new inventions created since the original’s 2000 publication (Trisha Prabhu’s antibullying ReThink app; Alissa Chavez’s “Hot Seat” sensor to protect kids from being forgotten in hot cars). Today’s readers will find a laudable increase in the subjects’ diversity as well as a more contemporary focus. The many “personal interviews…employ[ing] a conversational tone” noted in the original Horn Book review (rev. May/June 2000) remain, as does the emphasis on “accomplishments over personality.” Sweet has added vibrant collages to the new chapters as well as to some of the old ones. The refreshed design also includes additions to the timeline of women’s inventions. A resource as informative as it is empowering.
          It's an inspiring look at women's little known or recognized role with inventions in various areas like science, household and outer space needs, as well as products that help keep people safe. Toward the end, the stories are about young students who found an interest and continued with it far beyond a science fair or classroom project. Some still wait for their "product" to enter the marketplace! 
         It's a terrific book of stories for older elementary students and up where readers will learn the innovative role women have played throughout history, despite the earlier way they were dismissed as incapable. (Some earlier in history could not even hold a patent!) Here, curiosity did NOT kill the cat, but made many lives better in a number of ways. Things invented included in our lives today that we take for granted are the Apgar score, windshield wipers, Kevlar, Snuglies, Scotchguard, flat-bottomed paper bags and there is hope for the future through an invented process that helps farmers in times of drought. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

First Reading of the New Year

           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. 

            Happy New Year! Whatever you did, wherever you are, I hope you had the happiest of holidays. It feels as if I haven't read as much as I thought I would this week, but I am reading several long books and beginning to read (& re-read) some of the Cybils Poetry Finalists. You can find all the finalist lists here!

         A broad range of feelings seem to be what Katherine Applegate excels in when writing her stories and Endling: The Last is no different. You'll feel joy and sorrow, anxiety and relief poured into this book. This time she has crafted a whole new world for us filled with fascinating new creatures, complex human interactions, and more than one hero. Shadows of Tolkien tales are here with the Endling making a decision that pushes her life into one she never imagined, a tragedy that sparks a needed quest, and a band of unlikely characters to love as they battle other beings one learns to hate. There are environmental considerations along with an underlying thread of the corruptive search for power. The next in the series, Endling #2: The First, arrives in May, can't wait!

        Finding friends who love the same thing you do can be challenging and when it's something strange, like collecting words, it's harder. This time, Ebenezer sticks to his love and it becomes even more fun when new classmate shows up who writes stories and often needs a "best" word for them. Perfect match, something everything wishes for, right? 
         This was a lovely find at my bookstore, first published last year in Canada, translated from German. The illustrations are simple and wonderfully detailed, showing this sad rhino, "beautiful as a mountain". Other animals greet him happily, but he is sad. His horn is crooked (the story shares it was an accident) and he wishes to be free like a snowflake. (Here is a 'grass is greener' tale.) What the other animals do to help is supportive and sweet. For example: "We need you." chirps a tiny little bird, "to land on, to rest on." I loved the story. It will make a great conversation to discuss how to help a friend who's feeling a bit sad. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Poetry Friday - Endings Mean Beginnings

           Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children hosts this first Poetry Friday of 2019. Thanks, Sylvia and Happy New Year everyone!

    I shared a wonderful non-fiction poetry picture this past Wednesday here I want to be sure you know. You'll find a lot of entertainment and education into this small, but mighty, book. Please bookmark the title for future reference.
            And, congratulations to all the finalists of the Cybil's Awards, announced this past Tuesday, January 1st! That link is here. The Poetry finalists:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Mary's Monster by Lita Judge
In the Past by David Elliott
H is for Haiku by Sydell Rosenberg
Can I Touch Your Hair? By Irene Latham & Charles Waters
Traveling the Blue Road edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins 

        I hope that no one is too tired to read one more haiku for our small group's #haikuforhope this past December. Writing daily, attempting to discover special images, to observe something and try to capture it creates an awareness of a new way of thinking. I enjoy the challenge, certainly am not Issa, but the writing is a pleasure. In the final week of the year with company surrounding, too, I still found a few moments that I'm glad will be in my files.
       Thanks also for the inspiration from everyone who wrote: Mary Lee Hahn, Catherine Flynn, Heidi Mordhorst, Linda Mitchell, Margaret Simon, Kevin Hodgson, Julieanne Harmatz, Michelle Kogan, Carol Varsalona, Molly Hogan, and Jean LaTourette. 

       I was inspired today to write again. Here is one picture; there are many others.

all of December
we wrote and hoped–
smiling today

Linda Baie ©

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Teach and Entertain

           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! It's the start of a new challenge and a new image for inspiration. 

               This first book of 2019 I want to share fits all the year, for those who want to know what's going on under that layer of leaves left on the garden, that "needed" layer. Animals are very busy underneath, and Leslie Bulion has written a new poetry book that tells all, at least quite enough to begin an interest in Leaf Litter Critters. Poetry, graphic art, added informative paragraphs create interesting pages every time they are turned. 


           Thanks to Carrie Gelson of There's A Book for That for hosting a #MustRead group at the beginning of the year for those who continue to create a list of lonely books on shelves or lists that we are excited about when bought or listed, then ignore, or find others that call more loudly.  See the above link to Carrie's blog to find out more!

I didn't do very well last year, so am shortening the list, hoping to read ALL of these. My list is posted above on the blog.

Books read will be in blue as the year progresses.

Mary's Monster - Lita Judge

The Poet X  - Elizabeth Acevedo

Illegal - Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin

Blood Water Paint - Joy McCullough

I Am Still Alive - Kate Alice Marshall

Front Desk - Kelly Yang

Children of Blood and Bone - Toni Adeyemi

Dry - Neal Shusterman

Me And Marvin Gardens - A.S. King

Solo & Swing - Kwame Alexander

Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover

Becoming - Michelle Obama

Happy New Year to everyone, and HAPPY READING!