Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday Poetry: An Original Roundel

Rough Cut Stone

This block of stone, shaped by an inexact hand,
was sliced and chopped with little care
for fine or delicate edges. One left along a lonely strand
abandoned with its face laid bare.

It sits alone in winter's brutal fair
sunk in a puddle cozied by the grassy land;
foundation of an empire only rabbits share.

Still by grace I come to stand
offering up my wavering prayer
and seeking bedrock for my brand;
my soul absolved, its face laid bare.

.........................-Andromeda Jazmon

Trisha at Miss Rumphius Effect has given us another challenging Monday Poetry Stretch this week. She requests a roundel. She tells us:
"A roundel is a three-stanza poem of 11 lines. The stanzas have four, three, and four lines in them and a rhyme scheme of abab bab abab. Ah, but there's more. Line 4 is repeated as line 11 -- not an easy trick!"

I've written the above poem in this form after taking the picture last week on one of my favorite walking paths. A science teacher friend tells me about this rock:
"The rocks are used to block big pieces of trash and pollution from moving down stream. It’s a really neat system. The rock itself, I’m not 100% sure but it’s probably from a local quarry which means it’s probably sedimentary – made of clay that turned into shale. We have a lot of shale around here."
To me that makes this rock even more beautiful and significant.

The Friday Poetry round up this week is at Karen Edmisten's place. Enjoy your weekend reads!

January 31 Haiku

sunshine and shadow

strong thread quilts
a lighted path pieced from
grandmother's aprons

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Review: Motherbridge of Love

Illustrated by Josee Masse. Barefoot Books, 2007. (review copy) This delightful picture book is a musical poem spoken from a Caucasian mother to her adopted Chinese daughter. It sings of tender love surrounding the child from birth. Mother love supports this child from both her first, biological mother and her second, adoptive mother. It is truly one of the few books I have found about adoption presenting both mothers as beautiful, gracious, tender and nurturing. It gently addresses the child's wondering questions about her origins. Here are the opening sentences:
"Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not know, the other you call Mother.
Two different lives shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star;
the other became your sun."

The poem continues through out the book to contrast and build the roles of each mother without devaluing either. The daughter's questions are addressed toward the end of the book in the words:
"And now you ask, of course you do,
The question others ask me too:
This place or your birth place -
which are you a daughter of?

Both of them, my darling -
and two different kinds of love."
The only thing I find missing in this book is the acknowledgment of sadness in the loss for mothers and child. I think adoption stories are stronger and even more poignant when that reality is directly addressed. I'm still looking for the book that answers this need.

The illustrations are acrylics painted on Strathmore paper. They glow with joy and tenderness. Light shines out and bounces off textured surfaces. The faces are open with eyes pointed toward each other or forward together into the future. The presentation of mother daughter pairs (both in China and in the adoptive country) is reminiscent of Madonna and Child groupings. Hair and garments flow in long sweeping folds embracing the mother and child. Arms, eyes, flowers and trees reach for each other and form circles of enclosure. There is movement as the child races toward the future, leading and leaving both mothers, or swinging into their arms. Background landscapes of trees, fields and hills dance and weave the family together.

The text of this lovely book is a poem anonymously sent to Mother Bridge of Love. MBL is a charity founded by Xinran, a well known Chinese author, broadcaster and journalist. Read an interview with her here at papertigers. She founded the organization, which is based in London, in order to bring adoptive parents in the west more in touch with their Chinese children's cultural heritage. You can read more about it at the website

Some facts about modern China that are included in the press release from Barefoot Books:

  • Since the opening up of intercountry adoption in China in the 1980s, over 100,000 children have been adopted by families in 27 countries in the West.
  • Freedom to travel without having to seek permission was only introduced in 2003.
  • China has 320 million people under the age of fourteen, more than the entire population of the United States.
  • Three hundred million rural Chinese will move to cities in the next fifteen years. China must build urban infrastructure equivalent to a city the size of Houston every month in order to absorb them.
  • There are 222 million "surplus workers" in China's central and western regions. The number of people working in the US is about 140 million.
  • Apparel workers in the US make $9.56 an hour; in El Salvador, apparel workers make $1.65; in China, they make between 68 and 88 cents.
  • China has more speakers of English as a second language than America has native English speakers.
  • China has 56 ethnic groups, with totally different histories, languages and cultures. Its geographical area is 42 times the size of the entire British Isles. its 5,000 years of history have nourished wealth like that of modern Europe, and poverty as severe as that of the Sahara Desert; about 1.3 billion people are making things and trading in hundreds of accents in different languages.
One of the things Mother Bridge of Love coordinates is Western adoptive families traveling back to China with their Chinese children in order to get to know the real China. Take a look at the women who make up the foundation here. Impressive! Royalties of the book go to the charity. Other reviews:

Publisher's Weekly (scroll down)
Time magazine
Shama-lama Mama (her five year old son had some interesting insights into the illustrations)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Review: Wings

by Sneed B. Collard III, illustrated by Robin Brickman. Charlesbridge publishing, 2008. (review copy) This is a well written and gorgeously designed informational text about all sorts of wings. From Galah parrots of Australia and Gambian Epauletted Fruit Bats to Madagascan Sunset Moths the variety and beauty of all sorts of winged creatures are described and illustrated.

Brickman has painted and sculpted paper to show the vibrant colors and stimulating textures of feathers, scales and foliage. The pictures pop right off the page. The 3D effects are accented by shadows showing behind layers of wings, scales, feathers, claws, beaks, flowers, leaves and branches. The softness of bat wings is contrasted against the fluff of downy feathers and the shiny covering over beetle's delicate wings.

Each page has one or two clearly written explanatory paragraphs focusing on one feature of wings. The first section explores the variety of types of wings on different species ranging from size, shape, decoration and covering (feathers, scales or skin). The second half of the book explores the usefulness of wings for travel, hunting food, attracting mates and fleeing predators. With spare, simple explanations and interesting detail each page brings readers from observable phenomena to a deeper understanding of the physics, biology and geographical factors that influence the structure and adaptability of wing usage. As as a sometime birder I've learned several new things about the birds I love and even recognized a milkweed beetle I saw in the fields last fall that I had wondered about.

For elementary grade children this book is a fitting addition to classroom and home libraries. Children will be drawn into wondering about how wings are adapted and employed by a great variety of creatures in the world around them. Those who are attracted to the beautiful illustrations will gain knowledge of biology and those who love to collect factual information will also delight in the beautiful vibrant designs and cleverly textured illustrations.

Anastasia Suen is featuring Nonfiction Books on Mondays now and this review will be part of her roundup. Be sure to check her blog Picture Book of the Day on Monday afternoons!

January 28 Haiku

Jan 28 005

day's dying light
shows the dance toward the goal;
shadows on the wall

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sonnets: Edna St. Vincent Millay

On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,

read the rest of this sonnet here.

You can read it here and listen to Beethoven's fifth symphony at the same time. Scroll down and start the player at the bottom of the page.

It is nearly impossible for me to drive well and safely with two children in the backseat at the end of a long day. We are all tired and hungry, the traffic is horrible, and the little boys cycle between rambunctious hilarity and screaming fits. It is all I can do to keep my mind and eye on the road. My strategy of late has been to threaten to turn off the radio if they don't keep quiet. Since they both love music that tends to tame them. The sounds of gospel praise music, jazz or classical symphonies keep us organized and in sync. Millay puts it this way:
" Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs a-sprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like the scullions in the fairy-tale."

She could very well be speaking of the occupants of my Civic, although I doubt she envisioned it quite that way. Millay led a fascinating life. Read more of her poetry and biography at these links:
Isle of Lesbos
List of poems
Millay Society

The Friday Poetry roundup is at Mentor Texts and More today. Go read!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

28 Days Later coming soon

I don't know about you but I'm getting excited about February starting next week. Not just because it means winter is half over, but because the Brown Bookshelf blog 28 Days Later is going to be featuring African American authors and illustrators every day of the month. They are covering some of the wonderful folks who are new to the publishing world or have been somewhat overlooked by the top awards so I am looking forward to meeting some new favorite books. Here's the daily schedule: (Kira at Black Threads in Kid's Lit put together the links in this list)

Feb 1 Christopher Paul Curtis - Elijah of Buxton

Feb 2 Michelle MeadowsThe Way The Storm Stops

Feb 3 Dana Davidson - Played

Feb 4 Rita Williams-Garcia No Laughter Here

Feb 5 G. Neri – Chess Rumble and illustrator Sean Qualls - Phillis’s Big Test

Feb 6 Janice N. Harrington – The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Feb 7 Eleanora E. Tate – Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance

Feb 8 Patricia McKissack The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

Feb 9 M. Sindy Felin – Touching Snow

Feb 10 Jabari Asim – Daddy Goes To Work

Feb 11 Mildred D. Taylor The Road To Memphis

Feb 12 Nina Crews - The Neighborhood Mother Goose and illustrator Leonard Jenkins – Sweet Land of Liberty

Feb 13 Nnedi Okorafor-MbachuThe Shadow Speaker

Feb 14 Allison Whittenberg – Sweet Thang

Feb 15 Walter Dean Myers - Game

Feb 16 Tonya Bolden – George Washington Carver

Feb 17 Troy Cle – The Marvelous Effect

Feb 18 Eloise Greenfield The Friendly Four

Feb 19 Sundee T. Frazier – Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It and illustrator John Holyfield - Bessie Smith & the Night Riders

Feb 20 Carole Boston Weatherford – I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer

Feb 21 Karen English - Nikki & Deja

Feb 22 Coe Booth - Tyrell

Feb 23 Irene Smalls – My Pop Pop and Me

Feb 24 Stephanie Perry Moore – Prayed Up: Perry Skky Jr. #4

Feb 25 Kyra E. Hicks - Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria

Feb 26 Celise Downs – Dance Jam Productions and illustrator Shane Evans- When Harriet Met Sojourner

Feb 27 Valerie Wilson Wesley – Willimena Rules!: 23 Ways to Mess Up Valentine’s Day

Feb 28 Sherri L. Smith - Sparrow

You can download a PDF of the poster designed by Don Tate announcing each artist here. Print it out to hang by your computer so you don't miss a day.

While we are on the subject of Award Books, check out the January Carnival at Wizards Wireless; it's all about book awards and tons of great reading.

Also, a colleague sent me this in an email today, taken from the site

To help celebrate the recently announced ALA Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, and others), has announced it is offering free access to a great batch of original short movies and readings by the award winners.

These links let you "meet" these award-winning authors today. The selected interviews, discussion guides, book readings, and audio files of authors pronouncing their names help readers relate to the author and award-winning books in memorable, personal ways, according to the announcement.

To meet winners of the 2008 medal and honor books announced Monday, Jan. 14, by the American Library Association, has created and assembled dozens of multimedia, online materials with these authors. Follow this link to access them.

Among the resources:

* Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz . . .

Tells why she wrote these medieval dramatic monologues and reads from her winning book, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village .

* Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick . . .

Reads the first chapter of The Invention of Hugo Cabret while walking us through his award-winning pictures.

* Coretta Scott King Author Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis . . .

Shares in an original movie how and why he wrote his prize-winning book Elijah of Buxton .

* Sibert Medalist & Caldecott Honoree Peter Sís . . .

Reveals the historical context of his award-winning book The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain in this brief movie he and his brother made combining book illustrations with powerful footage from Communist Czechoslovakia.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Monday Poetry Stretch - Macaronic Verse

wet leaf on slate walk

One reik
slick as oji
on wet parollie
sliding down the wikij
to rest in icy roumoue of
timckilick; quiet in the raff
afternoon leejik,
and woulle.

Miss Rumphius has me trying something new yet again. She says, "The Handbook of Poetic Forms defines macaronic verse in this fashion.
Macaronic verse is a peculiar, rare and often comic form of poetry that sometimes borders on nonsense. It is a mixture of two (or more) languages in a poem, in which the poet usually subjects one language to the grammatical laws of another to make people laugh."

I like the way this photo made me think of surface tension and texture. I wrote a free style poem and then changed all the nouns into made up words from a fantasy language. It's kind of fun - give it a try yourself and let us know what you come up with.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Day of Service

Make It a Day ON, Not a Day Off!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to forge the common ground on which people from all walks of life could join together to address important community issues. On January 21st, 2008, millions of Americans across the country will once again honor his legacy by taking part in a wide range of service projects—conducting food drives, painting schools and community centers, recruiting mentors for needy youth, and bringing meals to homebound neighbors, to name but a few.

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2008 is also pleased to join with other organizations in supporting a new initiative, “40 Days of Nonviolence: Building the Beloved Community.” Under this initiative, the King Day of Service will kick off 40 days during which families, schools, faith communities, and other organizations will plan service projects and educational activities promoting Dr. King’s message of nonviolence and social justice. Click here for more information."

This is from the web site More resources are here. I really like the initiative "40 Days of Nonviolence". You can find resources, educational materials, and background information here.

There are all sorts of projects suggested such as:
  • Visit a senior center, veteran's home or nursing home and sing, play games, make food baskets, cook, make arts and crafts
  • Create a party / celebration for the legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Collect toys or clothes to give to homeless shelters
  • Read and be read to
  • Start a tree nursery
  • Record oral histories of older adults in your community for your class
  • Role-play situations about Dr. King
  • Write and perform a play about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Paint Murals
  • Make greeting cards for seniors or kids in hospitals
It doesn't have to take place just today, the actual holiday. It is happening all over the country, even in your neighborhood.

This is a great way to make a positive difference in the world in very simple, enjoyable ways with other like-minded, friendly people. Go to the site and search for something in your town and get involved!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

January 19 Haiku

jan 18 034

the road turned
where a bench sits in light snow;
following geese

Inspired by the conversation at Scrivenings and Diana Ross.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sonnets: Shakespeare



"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

Last week I posted a sonnet by John Donne for Friday Poetry. This sonnet by William Shakespeare is another one I have loved since before I understood the form. The first three lines just blow me away. Now that I've reached middle age and been a parent for over 20 years it makes even more sense. The way children grow and change so fast your love is always scrambling to keep up with them. Alterations, tempests, wandering barks, time's foolishness, rosy cheeks; it's all here. Thanks be to God for the stars and the ever-fixed mark.

You can find the complete catalog of Shakespeare's sonnets at this site, as well as "Comments, interpretations, explanations, history and exegesis."

Friday Poetry is over at Becky's Farm School

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I am a Winner!

You know how when you go to ALA Midwinter the venders in the exhibition hall have all those gift baskets of books and goodies that they are giving away? And you put your business card in the bowl or fill out the address form hoping you will win? Well last week I prepared myself by printing up a bunch of business cards (I don't usually have any handy) and I dropped them in all the raffle bowls at every publisher's table in the exhibition.

I never got an email or a call so I thought I hadn't won. Surprise!! Today I got a box of books from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux full of books by Ruth White. YAY! These are the titles:

Belle Prater's Boy (1997 Newbery Honor book)

The Search for Bell Prater


Way down Deep

Weeping Willow

Sweet Creek Holler

Buttermilk Hill

Memories of Summer

I had picked up a free ARC of The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples at their display too, so now my To Be Read shelf is overflowing. I am a happy camper!

Articles about Libraries and Reading

At the Reading Workshop I attended last week before the ALA Midwinter Meeting we were given a packet of some very interesting articles relating to reading and library media centers in schools. Several of the best articles are available online so I thought I would put together a post of links for reference. If you have comments on any of them I'd love to hear your reactions and discuss them further.

National Endowment of the Arts Research Reports: (pdf)

Reading At Risk :
"10 Key Findings
1. The percentage of adult Americans reading
literature has dropped dramatically over the past 20
2. The decline in literary reading parallels a decline
in total book reading.
3. The rate of decline in literary reading is accelerating.
4. Women read more literature than men do, but literary reading by both groups is declining at significant rates.
5. Literary reading is declining among whites, African Americans, and Hispanics.
6. Literary reading is declining among all education levels.
7. Literary reading is declining among all age groups.
8. The steepest decline in literary reading is in the youngest age groups.
9. The decline in literary reading foreshadows an
erosion in cultural and civic participation.
10. The decline in reading correlates with increased
participation in a variety of electronic media,
including the Internet, video games, and portable
digital devices."

To Read or Not to Read: a Question of National Consequence

"Teens and young adults spend less time reading than people of other age groups.
• Americans between 15 and 34 years of age devote less leisure time than older
age groups to reading anything at all.
• 15- to 24-year-olds spend only 7–10 minutes per day on voluntary reading—
about 60% less time than the average American.
• By contrast, 15- to 24-year-olds spend 2 to 2½ hours per day watching TV.sis
activity consumes the most leisure time for men and women of all ages."

National Commission on Libraries and Information Science:
Why Care About School Libraries?

Scholastic Library Publishing:
School Libraries Work!
"This research foundation paper, updated from the first edition of School Libraries Work!, brings together position statements from a variety of organizations and findings from nearly a decade of empirical studies that cite the measurable impact school libraries and library media specialists have on student achievement."

Online Fanfiction:What Technology and Popular Culture Can Teach Us About Writing and Literacy Instruction by Rebecca W. Black

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cybil Short List Cento:

jan 15 010

Miss Rumphius Effect is giving us a fun challenge for the Monday Poetry Stretch this week. She says:
I was inspired by the titles of current and past winners and thought that together, they might make an interesting poem. So, let's try a modified cento this week. Using titles from your favorite books (or award winners, classics, etc.), create a poem.
I've taken the Cybil short list titles that caught my ear and made them into a poem. Mind you, these are not necessarily my favorite books. I haven't even read most of them. I just like the way the titles sound together. Here's my poem:

Short List

What we need is courage;
a leap of faith. Four feet among
two sandals isn't enough.

Apology and forgiveness may give us
a crooked kind of perfect but
it's still in black and white.

A princess or a robot
could dream for a thousand days of
good masters and sweet ladies
in the land of silver apples.

Write: This is
the absolutely true
diary of a part time Chicken.

Bill Standish was standing here.
He arrived.

We are healing and tracing
the wounds. She is telling the story
of getting here.

One thousand days later
and here's a little poem. Red glass is growing
inside this egg; Let's go.

**My challenge to you, dear readers: the first commenter to name all the authors of these books will win two free books from my stack of ARCs picked up at ALA Midwinter. I'll give you a choice from a list of authors. Ready, set, Go!

driving home

RR Crossing

driving home
under an orange sky;
slate wet roads

A New Book Widget

I was browsing over at the Cybils site this morning, checking to see what other Cybil nominee books may have won an ALA award that I missed, and I saw this post about a new way to link book information from my blog. It's called Selective Blue and here's what Anne at the Cybils blog said:
"You'll notice tiny blue boxes next to many Amazon links. Click on a blue box and you can compare prices at several different online booksellers, or add the book to your favorite reading community, such as GoodReads or Shelfari."
I've signed up with Selective Blue for this blog, and now next to many book titles you will see a tiny blue box like this: A Mango-shaped Space by Wendy Mass. I just had to sign up for a free account and install the widget code into Blogger. Easy-peasey. Click the little blue box and you can find the books all over the universe. Cool huh?

After playing with it for a bit I realize I have to link the book title to Amazon or B& N or some other specific seller before the Selective Blue hot link shows up. I wish it would recognize every book title automatically, but I guess that's a bit too much to ask. The good thing is once you click on that little blue link you can choose to read a list of reviews, find the book in World Cat at your local library, find it in BookCrossing (freely shared copies passed around) or find it in Library Thing. I'm still playing with it. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More On Reading and the Elementary School Library Media Specialist

Last week at the AASL Reading and the Elementary School Library Media Specialist conference we talked a lot about how to encourage and support classroom reading programs. We shared about our programs, book talks, displays and activities to promote books from our libraries. We talked about No Child Left Behind and how testing was driving so many reading programs and eliminating the necessary time slots for "free reading", pleasure reading and Sustained Silent Reading during the school day.

I have a background in teaching reading and writing. I started out teaching English as a Second Language with adult teachers. I've taught students ages from Senior Citizens, college age, first grade, kindergarten and preschooler. Most of the reading teaching strategies we discussed I am already familiar with and have some experience using so there wasn't much that was new to me in this conference, but I was struck by a few things that we discussed.

One thing that came up over and over again was the connection between the growth of reading comprehension, vocabulary development, school success and the sheer volume of pleasure reading children partake in by their own selection. In the reading packet we were given Dr. John Shefelbine, in an article titled "Reading: Voluminously and Voluntarily" (Scholastic Library Publishing) says, "One of the strongest predictors of reading comprehension in general and vocabulary development in particular is the amount of time students spend reading to themselves." He continues later in the article, "Pleasure reading encourages the development of reading as a life-long habit and pastime while strengthening both academic language and fluency."

Reading for pleasure in open free time is not just for fun. It's how lifelong readers develop. It is essential. Not many of the studies referenced in NCLB legislation mention that, but more and more researchers are bringing it up. Kids can and should read above and below their "level" in a wide variety of materials just because it interests them.

Their sponge-like brains soak up the vocabulary and background knowledge of the world. They make connections, find patterns, add facts and illustrations and synthesis it all to build the scaffold that continual learning requires. One of the precious gifts that libraries give is exactly this free time to browse. No agenda, no evaluation, no rubric to measure what they've done or learned or accomplished. Just text and comfy chairs and knowledgeable, helpful librarian guides.

In our meetings last Friday many of us elementary school librarians nodded in agreement when stories were shared about students not having time to read materials of their own choice because the reading programs and academic subjects demanded all their time. We laughed together when someone complained that the Captain Underpants books were the ones the kids begged for and which were almost never on the shelves. Many of us found that the graphic novels and so called "junk" books are the ones the kids snatch up eagerly when they do have a choice about their reading material. We talked about the kind of books boys want to read and how to nurture that. We talked about how to keep a balanced collection so that all different levels of taste and ability are served and supplied.

I feel fortunate in my independent school because the teachers are not constrained by the mandated testing of NCLB. We plan and implement our own curriculum and are free to develop programs based on best practices taught by educators like Lucy Calkins and Nancy Atwell. Most of the reading texts recommended at the conference are the ones our teachers know and love. I have no complaints. In my library I can hand out the best books and the most desired books to all kinds of readers. I wish it were true for every school library.

What is it like in your library? Is there time in your kid's schedules to browse? To read what truly interests them? To have fun with it? What are they asking for and how often can you supply it?

Monday, January 14, 2008

ALA Awards Announced

awards 003

I had a blast at the ALA Midwinter Meeting on Friday. I attended a pre-meeting conference titled "Reading and the School Library Media Specialist Elementary Workshop" give by Christina Dorr. It was packed full of ideas and strategies for helping to support the classroom teacher's reading programs from the Library Media Center. We had great discussions and shared techniques, tips and programs that worked for us in our schools. I am still digesting the thick handout packet of articles and will have more to say about it in the coming days. I had a great lunch in Reading Terminal Market with some of the other librarians I met at the conference. One was from Arizona and one from Pennsylvania. Neither had ever been to Reading Terminal before so I had fun showing them around.

I had a great time at the opening of the Exhibition on Friday night. I toured the displays and came away with all the free advanced review copies of new books that I could carry. I even had to leave some on the bench in the train station when one of my bags broke and I couldn't carry them all. I hope someone who loves books found them! I have a whole shelf of new books to read at home now, and guess what I dug into this weekend? A new printing of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. I couldn't help myself; even though I've read it a bunch of times before and I had all those brand new books... it was calling me from the bedside table. Meg is one of my all time favorite characters. It's her weaknesses that save the day, remember?

And today; the announcement of this years award winning books. Go here to read the complete listing. My summary:

Newbery Medal winner:
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village,” by Laura Amy Schlitz. YAY! It's a Cybil poetry nominee too so I have it at home!

Newbery Honor Books:
Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis,
The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt
Feathers, by Jacqueline Woodson

Caldecott Medal winner:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, illustrated by Brian Selznick

Caldecott Honor Books: Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Ellen Levine
First the Egg, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, illustrated and written by Peter Sís
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, illustrated and written by Mo Willems

Coretta Scott King Author Book winner: Elijah of Buxton, written by Christopher Paul Curtis

King Illustrator Book winner: Let it Shine, illustrated and written by Ashley Bryan

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award: There Is a Bird on Your Head!, written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Pura Belpré Illustrator Award: Yuyi Morales, illustrator of Los Gatos Black on Halloween, written by Marisa Montes

Pura Belpré Author Award: Margarita Engle, author of The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, illustrated by Sean Qualls

I don't have all the books in the photo above because some of them are checked out at present. But I think it's the first year I can remember that we have almost all of these books already in our library. Last year we had to order the Newbery and Caldecott winners after the awards were announced and it took a really long time for them to come in. I feel a little bad that Elijah of Buxton is checked out to me and is sitting next to my bed not read yet... but guess what I'm doing tonight?? Ha Ha Ha! I'm on my way home baby!

January 14 Haiku

red under blue

red jewel berries
float in a royal blue sky;
yesterday's weather

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sonnets: John Donne


BATTER my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

Read a more modern rendition of this lovely sonnet here. This is one of the sonnets I remember leaving me breathless the first time I read it as a college freshman. It still brings me to my knees.

Read about
Sonnets, background on John Donne, and more works by Donne at these links.

Friday Poetry is over at The Book Mine Set. I'm posting early this week because I won't be at my desk on Friday.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

January Book Stack

little cloud

I haven't posted a book review for a while and I feel bad about that, but I'm in the middle of a bunch of books and can't write about them yet. Here's a list of what I'm reading this month:


Sonnets from Dante to the Present by John Hollander

Every Shut Eye Ain't Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans since 1945 by Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton

Adult Nonfiction:

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
Weaving a Family; Untangling Race and Adoption by Barbara Katz Rothman
Birthmarks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America by Sandra Patton
The American Dream and the Power of Wealth: Choosing Schools and Inheriting Inequality in the Land of Opportunity by Heather Beth Johnson

What I want to read next:
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

What I'm reading to K -2 library classes:

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
Don't Hold Me Back by Winfred Rembert
The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
Peter's Chair by Ezra Jack Keats (etc. more Keats books)

What My Kids are Asking for at bedtime:

Train books, train books, and more train books.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

January 8 Haiku

cement bench

all that is needed is a
bench in the sun

gazebo  view

the sound of grass
shushing for the wind;
the path turns

bench by the bridge

bench by the bridge;
a bucket shape for your

Monday, January 07, 2008

January 7 Haiku

Saturday morning
breakfast in pajamas;
sun on the rocker

Janury Pay It Forward Results

I pulled a name out of my coffee cup today (after cleaning it out, of course) and guess who won my three-book set of Anne of Green Gables books? Heather PNR come on down!!! YAY!!! Just shoot me your snail mail Heather baby and I'll get you your books.

I have to review the winners from December and November here too: Karen won Isabel Allende's The Stories of Eve Luna. And Jill won The Splendor of Silence. Jill and Karen if you are reading this, send me your addresses.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cybils Poetry Finalists

If you've been watching the Cybils site you know the committees have been finalizing the short lists. I have been waiting eagerly to see what would make it in the poetry category since I am part of the judging committee. Here's the list: (taken from the Cybils site)

2007 Poetry Finalists

31d7w274tel_aa_sl160_ Animal Poems
written by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux

The poems about twenty-three different animals (some common and some very unusual) are told using free verse--not a typical choice in collections for children these days (at least not when it's the sole type of verse). And these poems are spectacular in their use of imagery and metaphor. One of the standout solo collections of the year.

31eoftonwjl_aa_sl160_ Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village
written by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd and Trina Schart Hyman
Candlewick Press

This book is distinctive, with its echoes of Canterbury Tales, a bit of Shakespeare, and Catherine Called Birdy all rolled into one. Besides being rich in history, language, and voice, it is understandable and accessible to middle grade kids. Plus, it lends itself to oral reading and performance.

21zbqzesnnl_aa_sl160_ Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry
edited by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Candlewick Press

A true delight. There is a real freshness to this volume in that many of the poems include in it won't be found in other anthologies. The selected poems speak to the exuberance of childhood and the simple, everyday things that little children often think about.

21cqvfozxl_aa_sl160_ Poems in Black and White
written and illustrated by Kate Miller
Front Street/Boyds Mills Press

The premise behind Kate Miller's collection of poems and art is simple: all are about objects that are black and white (cows, a comet in the night sky, etc.). The poems range from funny to melancholy, and are all marked by a keen observation of life. Each poem reads as if the poet froze a moment and recorded it with great clarity and insight in the best possible words.

21igwigx7dl_aa_sl160_ This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin

Joyce Sidman has imagined a teacher, Mrs. Merz, and a classroom full of sixth graders from different backgrounds, all of whom write poems of apology to someone or some thing they've wronged; in the second half, forgiveness or explanation is returned to the students. The individual poems in the book are excellent, but cumulatively this book is a killer, in the best possible sense. It moves on as a finalist because of its emotional impact and poetic virtuosity.

31mpmyyr0l_aa_sl160_ Twist: Yoga Poems
written by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Twist gets high marks for innovation and freshness and for the insights it provides into yoga, which is a new topic for a poetry collections. The poems are evocative and really speak to both the physical and Zen nature of the yoga poses included.

21xa5hadkl_aa_sl160_ Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath
written by Stephanie Hemphill
Random House Children's Books
Hemphill's collection of poems about Sylvia Plath convey emotion through imagery. The use of period verse attributed to a variety of people who knew Plath in order to convey both the facts and emotional content of her life and work is extraordinary.

We have our work cut out for us in choosing just one of these for the final award; they all look superb! Thanks to all who participated in nominating and reading and review for the Cybils over the past few months. Check out all the other category lists here.

A suggestion for anyone drowning in piles of review copies of good children's books - I am donating my advance copies of Cybils books to a little low budget but high quality inner city community school where I used to work. I know all the children will cry with joy to see these lovely new books arrive. If you want to join me in sharing the goodness just let me know and I'll hook you up.

Red Berry Sonnet

berries 2

In the depth of winter's bitter cold
hangs the shriveled red of autumn's seed.
Wandering round the garden's edge, this weed
can not be kept apart; it grows too bold
and knows a raging hunger. An old
heart that answers yet a stronger need
than any gardener's careful plans, indeed
it is a treasure more than gold.
What gem is hidden in this envelope?
Nothing less than the immortal face.
It is a twist of nature's deepest, strongest rope
leading us along the trail of grace;
the hook on which we hang all hope.
The ovum - spark of all life's knitted lace.

......... Andromeda Jazmon

I have a confession to make. This is the first sonnet I have written in over 25 years; maybe it is the first sonnet I have ever written. I foolishly agreed to join in with some of my most admired poet bloggers in the creation of a Crown of Sonnets; in which we each write a sonnet on a theme so that all seven sonnets compliment one another. I don't know what I was thinking. I am afraid flattery in being asked carried me away and blinded me to my weakness. In any case I have been in deep despair ever since as I try to practice writing sonnets and keep coming up with only another haiku-like poem.

What to do? I got a book of garden poetry from my son for Christmas and took it back to the bookstore to exchange it for a book of sonnets. I ordered another anthology of Black poets because one review mentioned some brilliant sonnets by one of the poets. I have been studying the form online. I have been beating my head on the keyboard trying to practice writing rhymed couplets. I am desperate.

Yesterday I was taking photos for my 365 Photo project blog and took a series on these red berries. This morning I woke up thinking maybe I should throw out all the other poor struggling attempts at sonnets that I have wrangled out of my fingers in the last two weeks and meditate on these berries.

Hallelujah! At least I could build a rhyme scheme here! Iambic pentameter fell into place, for the most part. At last, some sort of a a sonnet by the skin of my teeth.

The Friday Poetry Roundup is over at A Year of Reading today. Go enjoy!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

ALA Midwinter

Who's goingto be at ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia? I'll be there on Friday January 11. Let's do lunch! Here's a press release about the book award announcements:

ALA To Announce Top Children/Teen Literary Awards Live Online

The American Library Association (ALA) will provide a free live Webcast of its national announcement of the top books, video, and audiobooks for children and young adults—including the Caldecott, King, Newbery, and Printz awards—on Jan. 14 at 7:45 a.m., eastern time.

The Webcast will appear live online at The ALA recommends bookmarking and using this url, in place of the ALA home page, for this event. The number of Webcast connections will be limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The award winners will be posted on the ALA Web site ( at 10:30 a.m., eastern time.

The Awards to be announced on Jan. 14 include:

--Alex Awards for the best adult books that appeal to a teen audience.

--Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video.

--Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of books for children and young adults that reflect the best in artistic and literary expression of the Black experience in a pluralistic society.

--John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature.

--Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

--May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children’s literature who presents a lecture at a winning host site.

--Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.

--Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language in a foreign country and subsequently published in English in the United States.

--Odyssey Award for excellence in audiobook production for youth.

--Pura Belpre Award recognizing a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

--Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

--Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children.

--Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

--Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

January 2 Haiku

seeds 019

icy wind trembles
gilded rudbeckia seed;
winter sun's fire

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's 2008 Haiku


winter's green moss carpet
soaked in light the trees let spill;
a jay's call rings clear