Saturday, August 10, 2019

It's August - Meaning #PB10for10

      It's PictureBook10for10 (#PB10for10) where many share ten picture books that are Must-HavesCathy Mere of Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning host this wonderful tradition. You can find everyone's posts shared on Cathy's blog this year, HERE.

This is a most fun day of the summer. After teaching, I began volunteering at a used bookstore (run entirely by volunteers) and among other duties, am in charge of our children's section. I also review books for various memes and on Goodreads. My TBR list grows. Thanks, Cathy and Mandy, this is a tradition I look forward to every year! Each year it seems that more marvelous books are published. We are fortunate indeed to have the books available.

Here are my previous posts for   2011     2012     2013     2014     2015    2016     2017     2018

This year I thought I'd see if I could share favorite books for a school year's beginnings, for the themes we think of in a classroom, no matter the age. In reality, each book will serve in varied ways. I taught middle school 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade gifted students and read picture books with them often. I cut most of my Goodreads reviews. If you want to know more please visit Goodreads to see my or other reviews.


In a big city, a little boy, among hundreds of people ignoring it, sees a bird that’s fallen with a broken wing. Nearly wordless, the illustrations beautifully tell the tale of loving parents helping their boy take the bird home to care for it, and with time and hope, helping it to heal, and fly again. This could be discussed as a metaphor for an act of kindness that can happen anywhere if only we notice when it’s needed.

             It’s Pet Club Day, and a young boy takes his good friend and pet, an elephant to participate. Sadly there is a sign on the door: Strictly No Elephants! On the way home, he meets a girl with a pet skunk, but she knows “they” don’t want her and her pet to play either. Fortunately, a new group forms, one that allows anyone in. And this group paints a new sign: All Are Welcome. Conversations about inclusion can happen after reading this book to a young audience, perhaps four to nine years old. It’s a wise little story that shows differences are okay, in kids and in pets! Yoo’s illustrations include all kinds of children too, of different cultures, those who wear glasses, girls and boys who dress in what must be their favorite way of dressing. I enjoyed it very much.


            Every day, nine-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle, a retired teacher who has set up a free lending library next to her apartment building. Yasmin is confused when one day he gives her a book that's an old folktale about a flock of doves trapped in a hunter's net. They realize that if they all flap wings together, they can lift the net and fly away to be safe. She knows Book Uncle often tells her that he selects just the right book for the right time, and when she discovers that he has received written notice that unless he has a special permit, he can no longer lend books, she is devastated. She does learn that her actions can help, especially when she has others working beside her. I like that Uma Krishnaswami has include bits of Yasmin's home life, too, from meals to parent challenges, from learning about apartment neighbors to market stall sellers. It is a story to love about community.


            I re-visit this beautiful book every single year in my classroom as a mentor text for writing. Rylant reminds us of the beauty of November. We noticed the repetition of the phrase "In November", sensory details, and figurative language. Don't miss finding and reading if you haven't already.


              This is a wonderful addition, for creating and for enjoying and writing poetry. Amy defines what a maker is in the first poem, "Maker": he or she "is a tinkerer, a maker will explore./A maker creates/something new/that/never/was/before" and adds many poems about the wide varieties of making like painting, knitting, glitter pictures and creating with clay. Readers can use each page as inspiration OR read the poems and re-visit what is most loved and "make something". 
Will you make "Leaf Pictures" where the "leaves look like stained glass" or bake "Cookies" and "resemble/clouds of flour"? The poem forms vary from rhyme to free-verse, list and shape poems. 
            Amy, too, is a maker but of poems, and this book is her sharing of what can be! Everyone should have a copy, old or young, in school or out. I believe Amy wants us all to MAKE something!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Poetry Friday - Sweet Swapping Helps This Sad Day

It's Poetry Friday, this week hosted by Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone. She's sharing a poem idea, to write from a title that intrigues from another poet. It is interesting to read the original poem and then the direction Molly took from just that title. Thanks for hosting, Molly.

    Thursdays are my regular shift at the bookstore, also the day we weed through the week's donations and then shelve or discover doubles, fix boxes of books to pass on to others. While I do other shelving, I'm in charge of the children's/YA sections. In all the times I've done this, we've never had an anthology donated by Lee Bennett Hopkins. I was thrilled to see it, an older one that I don't have.
       Then in a brief lull, I checked my Facebook page and read the news about Lee's passing. I won't forget that this particular book came this day, and won't forget all the books from Lee I do have and cherished sharing with my students. I have only had a brief connection personally with him, but know many whose hearts are broken tonight and I am so sorry for their and his husband Charles' loss. Luckily for us, he left many, many gifts for us, especially for children.

        Remember when I discovered a wonderful poetry book, though disintegrating, and shared a poem by Celia Thaxter, the poet found because I googled the lines via a nudge from Heidi Mordhorst. From it to again sharing more from research and another poem by her to honor Paul B. Janeczko. I have since read An Island Garden; some write that it's Thaxter's most famous work. Well, many of you may not have remembered, but Tabatha Yeatts did and used lines of poetry by Celia Thaxter to write a poem for me. She has seen me share about our family beach trips every summer and sent this poem hug celebrating that for me. I am so grateful to see that Tabatha and Celia have collaborated so wonderfully! 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Monday - Books Shared

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. 


And Cathy Mere & Mandy Robek remind here that it's nearly time for #PB10for10! Are you getting ready?

Sixth-grader Obe Devlin has a lot of troubles. His beloved family farm has been gone for a while, most of it lost by a great-grandfather who "drank dirt" (you need to read it) and a small, beloved patch with a creek saved by a spunky great-grandmother. That 'patch' is where Obe lives and where, collecting trash that floats down into the creek, he discovers a wonder of a friend, one he is in need of, but this friend is nothing he's ever seen before, a combination of pig, dog, perhaps a peccary. Obe just isn't sure! We do discover other troubles, like his loss of his earlier best friend, gone to be with the crowd now living in the suburban homes built on the Devlin land. Obe tells this story, his problems, and his loves, like having still another friend from the bus named Annie, always with smiles and tissues for his constant nosebleeds. No worries, yes, there are worries. And A.S. King also lets Obe tell what's happening on this land 100 years ago, a perfect connection, but heartbreaking, too. The thread that binds is the environment. To Obe's science teacher, April is Earth Month, not just for one day, and it is she who tells about the need for everyone to do something to save the earth. Obe's love for nature, then for this new creature and his steadfast beliefs that make him stay lonely, showing his commitment to doing the right thing. You will love this character created by A.S. King. She writes that it took her a long time to write about losing a beloved cornfield, "something beautiful and magical replaced with something more convenient". I am so glad that she did.

         This is from my #MustReadin2019 list. Why did I wait so long?

        It's not the greatest dystopian book I've ever read, but it goes quickly and I imagine middle grade/early teens would love it. I'd love to see more character development, but perhaps that will happen in the next books. I am intrigued to think of what would happen if everything went dark, all electricity, all technology, and so on. It's like a sci-fi beach read, good for summer and I will read the next ones!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Poetry Friday - Swapping Surprises

                This week, Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi Mordhorst at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. She's sharing a new poetry form, a 'definito', some examples she wrote and a few others, too. Be sure to check the post out, to discover what you can write next!

         On Wednesday, I shared Laura Purdie Salas' new poetry book, Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle. If you don't know it, take a look, then go find a copy next month! It's a must-have for autumn.
                 Summer swapping, all thanks to Tabatha Yeatts, fills my mailbox with more than ads, more than catalogs, more than things that often land in my recycle bin. Delightful surprises arrive in a "package", rarely found in that box. This time I want to thank Carol Varsalona for the goodies sent from eastern New York to Colorado.

Carol sent things for –

             savoring the thoughtful collection, created from my own Captiva Island photos, packaged in a beautiful envelope. . .

          writing, while loving the driftwood and shell from Carol's own ocean jaunts. . .