Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The illustrations are vibrant and exciting. My two young boys are enthralled by the action and the thrill of the races. Older readers will be interested in the issues of racism, justice and equity. SLJ reviewer Diane Chen found the need to do further research with her students when they responded with pressing questions about the limitations racism forced on Wink Windfield. (She's got some great links and ideas in that post linked on her name.) That's the sign of a really good book doing it's job!
I received this book as a review copy and I am donating it to Flying Horse Farms. Author/poet/blogger Sara Lewis Holmes is starting a library of kid's horse books for this camp for kids with serious illnesses and their families. I think that's a fabulous idea! She's got a wish list going at Amazon full of wonderful books the campers will love. You can add your suggestions, make a donation, or send along a book or two yourself. Read more about it in her post here. It's a little thing that can go a long way towards making happiness for yourself and others this New Year!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
The minute my kindergartner saw this book he remarked that it reminded him of Here Comes Tabby Cat, by Phyllis Root, another Candlewick Brand New Reader that we very much enjoyed.
Larry and Rita, a porcupine and a chipmunk, are friends who like to blow bubbles, dance, go to the fair and find treasures on the beach. They are cute and funny and clever. The text is simple, in large print, and the illustrations are dynamic elements of the story. Beginning readers need that as well as a storyline that engages their curiosity and intelligence. Humor, surprise, predictable results, order and chaos - these are the things young readers delight in and Michalak hits the nail on the head. Highly recommended for beginning readers.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I love this book. Houndsley and his best friend Catina are snowed in on the day of the big concert they've been preparing for over the last month. Catina is frantic with anxiety about the shopping and prepping they won't be able to do, but Houndsley is happy to sit and watch the snow fall. Howe's language is so poetic in spite of the limited vocabulary and concrete imagery that beginning readers require.
Houndsley gazed out the window at the silent white falling everywhere. The world had no shadows, only white on white on white.As the day goes on Houndsley manages to persuade Catina to relax and enjoy pretending they are stuck on an island. Fortunately the island has books, and board games, and a kitchen for baking cookies. Catina discovers the music of the quiet time as they sit dreaming in front of the fire. Even the neighbor, who is practicing playing the cymbals for the concert that evening, finds the joy of quiet time music.
"It is the quiet time," Houndsley said in his soft-as-rose petal voice.
"It is too quiet," she said.
"Oh," said Houndsley. "But that is why this is my favorite time of year. In the quiet time, everything stops. I think we may be snowed in."
At the end of the snowy day the whole neighborhood troops out in the snow to the park gazebo and relishes the community music.
"Without saying a word,the musicians picked up their instruments and began to play so softly that the notes fell on the listening ears like snowflakes on waiting tongues, gently, softly, there for a flicker before melting away."Sigh. I want that kind of snowstorm. I find this book to be a gem that will hold readers of all ages in the magic. It's as sweet as a read-aloud as it is a beginning reader. You must find this and snap it up!
Friday, December 12, 2008
He graciously offered to let me post the following poem here on my blog. It is a celebration of one of December's most beloved holidays: Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (December 16). It's really fitting for us because my two little guys are always trying to tell me they like eating ants. I've never even mentioned dipping them in chocolate so boy are they going to love this!
You start with that ant mandible—
.....A chocolate jaw has never tasted sweeter.
Then bite of bit of abdomen
Before you’ve finally grabbed a min-
.....i-leg, an itty-bitty centimeter.
But ants despise the holiday
That is their grand finale day
.....When you become The Chocolate Anteater.
................................-J. Patrick Lewis
The Friday Poetry round up is over at Wild Rose Reader. Hope you enjoy your day today and get ready for next Tuesday with some chocolate-covered treats!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
"When this conscience wakes and speaks out in thunder tones, as it must, it will need facts to use as a weapon against injustice, barbarism and wrong. It is for this reason that I carefully compile, print and send forth these facts."
Saturday, December 06, 2008
My little boys will find bubble gum and lollipops in their shoes this morning because they prefer that to the almond and peanut filled chocolate that I have on hand. There are clementines too for sweetness and joy. I cut out pictures of St. Nick from old Christmas cards and left them there as his calling card. We are going to breakfast with Santa at our church this morning and bringing my dad. Telling the story of Nicholas, with his loving heart and kind, giving spirit takes the emphasis off the shopping and excess that sometimes threatens to overwhelm us this time of year. This is one of the fun little traditions I love to celebrate.
We've also been reading the children's Advent devotional books published by Creative Communications. What Color is Christmas? and Which Way is Christmas? are beautiful books with full color illustrations in the style of I Spy and Where's Waldo? Each two-page spread features Bible readings, a short paragraph on the themes of the day that retell the Gospel story from Genesis through Jesus' life, and beautiful, engaging search-and-find puzzles. My parent's church gave us one and our church gave the other. My boys love them.
What are you doing to prepare for Christmas?
Friday, December 05, 2008
Looks to be stone,
always there, bone just
left, thrown down and now
alone. Empty wrappers -
what was once known
for wild cones of jazz.
One moan holds all
sewn into the ground.
Perhaps it’s a loan
or rough zone ripening
our own tough heart -
The Monday Poetry Stretch this week was for "a climbing rhyme, or poem in which the position of the rhyming word changes from line to line. It first appears in the 4th word of line 1, 3rd word of line 2, and 2nd word of line 3. The pattern continues as a new rhyme appears in the 4th word of line 3, the 3rd word of line 4, and the 2nd word of line 5. This continues on and on, giving a stair-step feel to the poem." Click over to Miss Rumphius to read the other poets work.
And then head over to Mommy's Favorite Children's Books for the Friday Poetry Round up. Enjoy!
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Advent's first light a
slight rose behind charcoal trees;
new candle tips
Advent is the church's celebration of the four weeks in December waiting and anticipating the birth of Christ. One new candle is lit each week building to a blaze of light on Christmas. We are lighting candles at the dinner table. I've got my new camera and am looking for the light.
Friday, November 28, 2008
The loud colors of lime green, royal blue and neon pink work with the warm people shades of brown to shout with energy as our girl in fuzzy slippers twirls around Armstrong's musical staff in the blasts of his trumpet and bubble gum scat song. I read this to second graders in the library and they couldn't help themselves joining in on the chorus:
Oooba lee COOO,
obba lee CAT
bubble me a bubble
an' bubble it FAT.
Oooba lee COOO,
oooba lee BAT
BLOW ME A BUBBLE IN
bubble gum scat.
The next morning she takes the rhymes to the playground and gets everyone doing double dutch to the joyful beat of the bubble gum song. Christie's illustrations are a perfect match for this celebration of Armstrong's well loved art form.
There is a short biography and explanation of Armstrong's development of scat in the last few pages of the book. Our students are learning to use scat to warm up in their music classes so I think I'll have to gift the music teacher with this book. Who would you give it to?
The Reading Tub
Muriel Harris Weinstein is a poet with work published in The Comstock Review, Nassau Review, Kent State Review, Nexus, and in many anthologies. Here's a link to a poem she has in The Comstock Review from November 2008. She has a children's biography on Louis in the works.
Friday Poetry is over at Lisa Chellman's blog. Hope you're having a restful, thankful weekend!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
In this volume Piggie has a new mystery toy that neither friend knows exactly what to do with. When Gerald accidentally breaks it they are both horrified. Piggie is really very angry. Gerald apologizes over and over but that is not enough for Piggie. Luckily a friendly squirrel comes along and shows them that it's not really broken - it's supposed to do that! Piggie his happy about that but Gerald still has his feelings hurt from Piggy's anger. He finds a way of forgiveness though, because he really wants to play with his friend more than the toy. How many times have we seen this very drama worked out on the playground and the living room floor? Willems hits on so many of the real issues children deal with and he shows human, graceful, realistic ways to deal with them.
I was amazed to hear from another librarian that she didn't think she should buy these books for the school library because she thought they were for toddlers just based on the front cover. I told her I think they are great for beginning readers. Large print, repetitive, simple text, complex story lines told in brilliantly simple language and evocative illustrations! Even the firm weight of the pages and the solid binding show that it is meant for the earnest, passionate use of beginning readers intent on unlocking the code. In my experience preschool, kindergarten and first graders love them. I told her we had to buy them all for our library and for home. I am sure she just hadn't given them a real look before. I enlightened her immediately and a first grade teacher standing next to us confirmed it.
There are seven titles in the series of Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. I Love My New Toy and I Will Surprise My Friend are nominated for Cybils Easy Reader Awards. Mo Willems shared on his blog that Kirkus named Surprise as a best book of 2008.
Friday, November 21, 2008
What I Would Photograph
The light in the glass
of those ancient bottles,
green wobbled sea jewels
wrapped in spider webs...
The light in the small hands
chubby and round,
brown fragrant spice
and more than clever...
The light in the trees
outside my window,
scarlet flashes of blood
from a sudden wound...
The light in the cat's eyes
while she watches squirrels
with her tail curled but
twitching just the tip...
The light in the first flakes
of morning's sudden snow,
slowing commuters with
a hush of beauty...
The light in my brother's grin
thown over his shoulder quick
before he turns and
closes the door...
Miss Rumphius's Poetry Stretch this week was to write a list poem. I dropped my camera last Sunday and haven't been able to take a picture all week. These are just a few of the things I've wished I could've captured.
Today's Poetry Friday round up is over at Holly Cupala's blog. Go enjoy!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I've just found a new craft blog called Mama to Mama and I am excited about joining in on her Caps to Cap Haitien project. She is organizing a drive to make and send handmade newborn infant caps to be distributed with Konbit Sante birthing kits in Haiti:
"The Caps to Cap-Haitien Project: A Partnership with Konbit Sante, will initially provide newborn jersey caps to be distributed in Safe Birthing Kits in northern Haiti. [...] Konbit Sante is working to assemble Safe Birthing Kits to be distributed by traditional birth attendants in the desperately poor Fort St. Michel area of Cap-Haitien. These kits - consisting of plastic sheeting, hand sanitizer, a sterile piece of string and razor blade, and these newborn baby caps - have the potential to reduce infant and maternal mortality, and give babies a safer, healthier start."
Read more about it here and download the pattern here along with the address of where to send them. You can use old tee shirts and all it involves is a simple seam to sew. Caps should be mailed by December 10 so it's a perfect Thanksgiving project! Please leave a comment and let me know if you are interested in joining in.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
we rose early and went out to vote.
An old Black man sitting along the wall
watched me lean down to take my little boy’s coat.
I caught his eye and joy rushed back.
Heard somebody say “We as a people will get there.”
A white woman sitting along the wall
beamed with delight at my little Black boys.
We couldn’t stop smiling, knowing we had
on one ticket a Woman; on the other a Black man &
never before have we had such a choice.
Heard somebody say “A brighter day is coming.”
When I cast my vote and turned to go
my youngest laughed and ran from me.
He put himself back in the middle of the line
standing up proud behind suited legs.
“He wants to vote!”My neighbors laughed.
Heard somebody say “…we are all in this together.”
Later that night in Grant Park, Illinois
the people roared with hope.
Our man stood up above the crowd
and spoke in a clear strong voice:
“Our stories are singular but our destiny is shared.”
Amen! Go ahead on! Amen!
.................................................- Andromeda Jazmon
I took the above photo early on election day while we stood outside the polling place waiting for it to open. The original photo is not that great so I played with it a bit in Photoshop. The poem is inspired by the most exciting and hopeful election day I've ever experienced.
Today's Friday Poetry roundup is at Check It Out. Have a great weekend!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
falling leaves outside
library windows; I watch and
The Monday Poetry Stretch this week was an "Odd Cinquain". Cinquain is a poetic form involving five lines with a set number of syllables. Trisha has challenged us to write it "odd" in lines of 1,3,5,7,1. It was quite difficult! There is a definite tension and it leaves me feeling a bit breathless. Try one why don't you?
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
"Each November educators across the country teach their students about the First Thanksgiving, a quintessentially American holiday. They try to give students an accurate picture of what happened in Plymouth in 1621 and explain how that event fits into American history. Unfortunately, many teaching materials give an incomplete, if not inaccurate, portrayal of the first Thanksgiving, particularly of the event’s Native American participants."
This quote is from the poster I received in the mail today from the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. If you're teaching or celebrating Thanksgiving with kids this year you will love the resources here.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
With election day coming in just three more days I am excited to join in with bloggers all over the kidlitosphere who are blogging about our voting rights. Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray, Lee Wind and Gregory K. at Gottabook hatched a plan to bring us all together to Blog the Vote.
I am hearing reports on the radio that record voter turnouts are expected. Long lines, problems with voting machines, and unexpected delays are all getting me wondering about whether it will be possible for me to vote before work on Tuesday. Since I work about 45 minutes from my voting district and I have two kids to pick up on the way home I am afraid it will be too late to go after work. I was talking about it in the lunch room on Friday and my tech director said he thought there was a law assuring workers of their right to time off to vote. He said employers can not penalize workers for being late if they are waiting to vote. I said what if we are all late but the kids are on time? He said that would be interesting.
He has just recently moved here from another state so I wondered if it was a state law from his home state that didn't carry over to our current state. Since I'm a librarian I just had to do a little research to find out. I found some interesting sites.
It turns out it is a state law and not all the states have them. Here is a site where you can check your state and see what you qualify for: in some places you must not have your pay docked if you had to miss work to vote. In some states (including mine) there are no such laws at all and it's up to your employer to say what they will tolerate.
I am planning to get to the polling place in my neighborhood a little before they open at 7 am, and I hope not too many other folks will be up that early. If I have to wait a long time in line I'll just be late for work. I think it's OK because I don't teach an early class on Tuesday. Hopefully if I'm late my tech. director will be later for doing the same thing!
I can be a bit light hearted about it because I don't think I would be seriously penalized if I were late because of voting. But what if I were? What if I had a job I could lose just for coming in late? Plenty of people are in that situation. What about you? How important is it to you to vote and what would you give up for the opportunity?
I think the reason we are all expecting huge crowds this time around is that we have an election with dynamic, driven, highly respected candidates who are running on what they really believe is in our best interest as a country. Whether you agree with either of them or not, it's clear that they both are serious in their intentions. Now more than ever it is important to get out there and let your choice, your vote, your voice have an impact on the direction we take. There is no standing on the sidelines. We are all in this one.
Take some time to check out the laws in your state. Know where you are going to get to your polling place, bring ID just in case, and find out if it's OK for you to be late for work to vote. This is going to be one of the more exciting voting days in our lives - don't miss it!
Check out the round up at Chasing Ray to see what everyone else is blogging about around the theme of Voting.
Friday, October 31, 2008
"It's not religious what we're trying to do; we're trying to deal with the cultural end of it," Giovanni says. "So if we have a young, Jewish kid in East Point, North Carolina, who has no occasion to go into a black church, they can now begin to understand, 'Oh, this is where that cadence comes from.' That the history is going to be there, and they can enjoy it without having to compromise their religious beliefs."
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Halfmann, whose book Little Skink's Tail I reviewed last year, has written an engaging, exciting book about Small's early life in slavery and his passion for freedom. He grew up on a plantation in Beaufort, South Carolina where his owner had him employed for profit from a young age. He began working on the docks at the age of 15 and learned the trades of navigation and piloting the ships in and out of the harbor. When he and his wife began to have children his desire for freedom deepened. During the Civil War he was working on a Confederate steamer carrying soldiers and equipment in and out of Charleston Harbor. By ingenuity and courage he was able to commandeer the ship while the crew was on shore. He impersonated the captain and stole the boat across lines into Northern territory in the dead of night, escaping with the African American slave crew and all of their families. Halfmann tells the story full of suspense and significance, giving young readers a clear picture of the danger and the imperative hunger for justice and freedom.
At first I was not overly attracted to the illustration style, as it is an impressionistic rendering full of broad strokes in bold colors. The faces are not drawn with detail and the nuances require careful study. After I had read it a couple times I began to understand the power of this presentation. Because the figures are indistinct it becomes apparent that these are everyday people just like us. Smalls is not some out of the ordinary superhero - he was a man determined to do as much as he could with what he had in the time he had. The portraits of Smalls with his wife and baby, and the outline of him standing tall and proud on the ship in his uniform meeting the Union army are evocative of any citizen. That he fought slavery for his people and his country is inspiring.
Halfmann gives us a full page of text at the end of the story, telling us what happened later in Small's life. He was praised as a national hero, worked as pilot for the Union navy, and went on to serve on the state legislature of South Carolina where he assisted in writing a new democratic state constitution as well as a proposal for the creation of the state's first free system of public education for all children. He spent the rest of his life fighting for equal voting rights for African Americans and women. Robert died at the age of 75 in 1915. In 2004 the Major General Robert Smalls was christened by the US Army as the first vessel ever named after an African American. Robert Smalls is an American hero and this picture book is a wonderful edition to any library.
In writer's workshop you could use this book as an example of how to create a narrative arc, building suspense and leading readers on through carefully planned pacing and page breaks. Halfmann's cleverly build back-story and thoughtful use of details along with a balanced portrayal of the institution of slavery gives a lot of discussion material for middle grade students.
The Well Read Child
School Library Journal
Janet Halfmann at Chicken Spaghetti
Duane Smith at The Brown Bookshelf
The nonfiction roundup is at Picture Book of the Day. Enjoy!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Geese fly in V’s across the autumn blue -
My young son wants to know the reason why.
“How do they know?” he asks,” Who’s in the front?”
When I explain he pauses deep in thought.
His mind leaps forward, then he says, “So geese
can sometimes fight and sometimes help a friend?”
“Yes”, I said, “like that”. And then we drove
and noticed geese in fields, not one alone.
I took the photos last January and wrote the poem this morning in response to Miss Rumphius' Monday Poetry Challenge this week. My son and I had this conversation in the car this morning and I was struck by his insight into the emotional/social life of geese based on my explaination of their flight behavior. The mind in kindergarten!
Friday Poetry round up is at Big A, little a today. Enjoy!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"It's funny how easily my pen glides down the long, sweeping hooks of the work HARB - war... how stubbornly it resists me when I make the difficult waves and slanted staff of SALAM - peace... how much I have to practice until this word flows freely from my pen."
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Fiction Picture Books
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-fiction: Middle Grade and Young Adult
Non-fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Fiction
Miss Rumphius has the list of what's been nominated for Non Fiction Picture books.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Only 3 more days to make your nominations for a 2008 Cybils book award! The Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary book awards) are the only children's book awards done by bloggers. Click here for a pdf of the 2007 Finalists.
Anyone can nominate their favorite books of high quality and kid appeal in each of the nine categories. You can only nominate ONE book in each category, and every book only needs to be named ONCE. After it's on the list it goes to committee. The very best five books are chosen to go to the judging round, where a panel of book blogger judges will chose the best of the best.
Nominated Books by Genre
- Fantasy and Science Fiction
- Fiction Picture Books
- Graphic Novels
- Middle Grade Fiction
- Non-fiction: Middle Grade and Young Adult
- Non-fiction Picture Books
- Young Adult Fiction
- Easy Readers
Last time I checked there were 43 Easy Readers on the list and many more yet to be named. What would you put on that list? How about for Poetry?
If you are blogging about the book lists and your hoping to see particular books get mentioned leave me a comment and I'll add your link.
Nominations close on October 15 (that's Wednesday folks!) The round up of blog posts about what books are already on the lists and what is still missing is here at the Cybils site. Amanda has a few more suggestions. Also, Cheryl has a list of what's missing in fiction picture books here. Go check and see what everyone is talking about!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Books not yet nominated for POETRY: (updated Sat. night)
Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash
Awful Ogre running wild by Jack Prelutsky
Carrots to cupcakes : reading, writing, and reciting poems about food by Susan M. Freese
Come and play : children of our world having fun by Bloomsbury
Keepers : treasure-hunt poems by John Frank
My dog may be a genius : poems by Jack Prelutsky
Please note: Each book only needs to be nominated ONCE. If it's on the list it will be carefully considered by the panel. Only the very best four or five books will be chosen in each category to go to the judges, who will then pick one winner. It doesn't make a difference how many people have nominated it.
Please check the comments at the Cybils site to see if your pick has already been named. If it's on the list add your second choice. Thanks so much for participating!
Check out all the rest of the categories and check the comments to see what's been nominated:
Nominated Books by Genre
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Fiction Picture Books
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-fiction: Middle Grade and Young Adult
Non-fiction Picture BooksPoetryYoung Adult Fiction
There are fourteen dinosaurs featured, some well known and some less familiar, such as Tyrannosuarus, Brachiosuarus, Leptopterygius (lep-toe-ter-IDGE-ee-us) and Questzalcoatulus (ket-sol-ko-AT-lus). Those pronunciations are given under the full page illustration for each dinosaur, thankfully. My three-year old's favorite poem starts out:
"Leptopterygius lived in the ocean,
Leptopterygius swam very fast,
its head was enormous, its fangs were abundant,
its temper ferocious, its appetite vast."
This poem is fun to say because it flows like music and it perfectly describes some of the qualities most fascinating to little boys. If you've got a dinosaur lover in your family this is the poetry book for you.
More on Jack Prelutsky and his poems at The Poetry Foundation. View the book illustrations and read a few more poems at Google book search.
Poetry Friday is at Picture Book of the Day today. Enjoy!