Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday Reading - Books for Everyone

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites.
              I am grateful for you, Kellee, Ricki, and Jen, for keeping this group going. I've found so many wonderful books through reading everyone's posts. Thanks all for sharing so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

         I am grateful for those authors and illustrators who are telling the life stories of some wonderful people we might otherwise never know. Julie Leung's Paper Son does share the special life of Tyrus Wong, who painted the impressionistic background of Bambi, the movie. Though he received only minor credit for it, many believe it was a vital part of the movie's feelings. The meaning of "Paper Sons" occurred during the Chinese Exclusion Act. Passed in 1882, it meant to exclude lowly Chinese laborers from entering the US. Those with family ties to America or of high status were allowed. Thus, most bought (at very high prices) "papers" to show the status. The story tells how nine-year-old Cyrus had to be sure to memorize all the questions his father did, like 'How many windows in your house? or "How far is the village of... ?" His father was admitted, but he had to stay on Angel Island, alone, for months, then was released.
          Tyrus is the name given to this wonderful artist by the immigration authorities. He always loved to draw and his father managed to send him to the Otis Art Institute where he graduated with honors. He started with Disney then worked for Warner Brothers for many years, found a fascination with kites in his retirement. Although not well known, his art lives on with great admiration. The illustrator's note: "He remained honest to his craft and his Eastern heritage, paving the way for more widespread acceptance of Asian America artists.           
         There is an author's note, too, and photographs of Tyrus Wong and his family. Chris. They include his immigration card. Chris Sasaki's illustrations are a lovely tribute to Wong's delicate and beautiful art.

Thanks to Charlesbridge for the following books!

          It's a book that's lots of fun, much beauty, and information that helps one identify butterflies, yikes, moths, in this new alphabet book by Jerry Pallotta. Twenty-six moths in a part of their habitats are painted in beautiful color by Shennen Bersani, belying the thought that most moths are uninteresting in browns, tans, and whites. Small bits of information accompany each letter, facts like what is a "lepidopterist"? (a scientist who studies butterflies and moths) and in Tapestry Moth, called so because their larvae feed on carpets. There is an interesting double page showing examples of some animals with scales, like snakes and fish - and moths! One other double-page explains the life-cycle of a moth, from egg to moth. When a class studies all kinds of insects, often including butterflies, this is a book to introduce, too. The sub-title explains: "It's about time moths had their own book." 

          You may disagree, but I think this book would make a marvelous mentor text to share with older writer/researchers to learn another idea for presenting research! One can pretend and write a short play while lying underneath the dialogue are the facts! Suzanne Morris has done just that, having Triangle direct a new play, "Shapes in Space"! She adds just the right words and lots of fun movement and expressions in the illustrations. She makes it look easy to show happiness and sadness on a triangle! Gags galore appear as the five shapes vie for parts, and there's learning about shapes along the way. Among them are a square has four sides, can make a box. Trapezoid in its zany comeback replies, "I also have four sides. But I think outside the box." After actually being cast with a 'dino' costume, Trapezoid goes bonkers because "A Trapezoid is NOT a Dinosaur." Star laments, "He's really out of shape." Ha, ha! 
          Aside from this shape-shifting, Suzanne Morris' words and illustrations also create a way to discuss when someone doesn't seem to fit in. The reply: "But I have some good points, too." With some creative thinking, it does end with everyone included, and that Trapezoid is NOT a Dinosaur!

           If you want a book in your history studies to introduce President Lincoln, this will make such a wonderful one. Eileen R. Meyer's poems are just enough to tell stories about his life and she adds brief paragraphs with a bit more explanation. She speaks about his distraction when he's in the field plowing. He wants to read and learn! ("A book pops from Abe's pocket: a story to digest.") She explains the word "superlative" and speaks of his love of seeing his children play. ("a father's greatest passion, and/the apples of his eye!") There is a page explaining how he used his stovepipe hat and one about his most important signing, of the Emancipation Proclamation. ("He s-l-o-w-l-y, firmly signed his name./Now liberty for ALL.") "Come read about a legend/the greatest of the greats." Dave Szalay's illustrations bring a folk-art look that fits the notion of showing President Lincoln's interesting and ordinary side. If using with older students, it feels as if one should be sure to do further research into the more serious things, like the conflicts which led to the Civil War.
         There is an author's note, a page to talk about 'superlative you', a timeline of Lincoln's life, and a resource list. It's a great book to add to a collection about President Lincoln or about all the presidents. 

I finished The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. You can read my review on Goodreads here.

Now - Finally - Reading - Toll by  Neal Shusterman. This is not the week to start this wonderful story. I am too busy! (But, there is bedtime!)


  1. I read your review of The Nickel Boys. It sounds like a hard read. I might have to remind my library to purchase Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist!

    1. I enjoyed Paper Son very much, Cheriee, only wish it could be longer. But I have found more information on the web about him. Yes, The Nickel Boys was not easy, yet I feel it and others are ones I need to read so I can KNOW. Certainly these stories are not in our history books. Thanks!

  2. The shapes books looks interesting. It'll be great to have next to some of Tara Lazar's latest picture books!

    1. That book teaches so well, Earl, and it is also a story about including everyone. Your idea of pairing with Tara Lazar's books is great. Thanks!

  3. I'm glad to hear about Not a Butterfly Alphabet Book and I'm adding this to my list, for sure. We always did a big butterfly unit when I taught in the elementary schools and one of my dearest friends is a HUGE butterfly fanatic -- growing all the flowers/bushes that attract them and then photographing many types. I bet she'll love this one! I'm also adding Paper Son to my list. I would love to learn more about Tyrus Wong, so thanks for sharing, Linda!

    1. Your comment makes me wonder how much your 'butterfly' friend knows about moths, Shaye? This would be a fun book for her. Paper Son is a lovely book, and like you, makes me want to know more. Thank you!


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