Tuesday, April 28, 2009

23. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Rating: 5
July, 2008
$22.00
274 pages
B&N Sales Rank #53!
Borrowed from D.

Told in letters, primarily to and from writer Juliet Ashton, we are treated to an unforgettable story of the German Occupation of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, for five years during World War II. The war has ended, the allies have arrived, and it's now time to rebuild England. London has been bombed, and Guernsey has been occupied, with no communication, food, or relief from the outside world. Juliet has written a series of magazine articles from the ficticious and often humorous point-of-view of "Izzy Bickerstaff" which were so enjoyed that a book has been made of them.

One day in January of 1946 Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a resident of Guernsey, who is inquiring about a book tht he owns that used to belong to her. A correspondence ensues that introduces her to a cast of characters that are wonderful, caring, real.....and frequently quite funny, and which eventually draws her to the island. The stsory is part mystery, part love story, part history, and impossible to put down. I really, really loved it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

MOVIE - Sunshine Cleaning

Loved it - a lot
Viewed: Monday, April 27 at El Con
Rotten Tomato: 71% Mine: 95%
EW: B- Mine: A (Its beginning to appear that I disagree with EW a lot)
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Released: 3-13-09
R (1:42)
Directed by Christine Jeffs (she also directed Little Miss Sunshine)
Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn, Alan Arkin

Rose Norkowski (Amy Adams) has an eight-year old son, low self-esteem, a bumbling screw-up sister (Emily Blunt), a dad who tries all sorts of get-rich-quick schemes (Alan Arkin), and a mom who committed suicide when she and Nora were young. Add to that an affair with her now-married high school boyfriend (Steve Zahn) and a cleaning job that brings in very little income, plop it all in the middle of Albuquerque, NM, and you have the basis for this movie. There were so many layers to peel through, and I loved every one of them. The relationship between the two sisters was really the crux of the whole movie, and Adams and Blunt did mighty magnificent jobs. Such acting!

Zahn's character is a cop, and while investigating a suicide he hears how much the cleaning company charges for bloody, smelly, yucky clean-ups. He convinces Rose to try her hand at this sort of clean up and removal. The gross jobs they get are part funny, part very serious, and Rose and Nora get better and better at it until Nora screws up once again and burns down one of their jobs. Without insurance, they are sunk.

Clever, happy ending. Cute kid. A new love interest -a really interesting one. Layers and layers. Totally enjoyable, real characters with a great storyline. A new favorite.

Hey, this is my 250th post since I started blogging in August. Pretty cool.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

22. What Happened to Cass McBride - Gail Giles

Finished while traveling, somewhere over Massachusetts, April 16th, 2009
Rating: 4
2006
For: YA

Edgy and interesting - a good Gail Giles creation. Told from three points-of-view, the story eventually fully unfolds. Kyle Kirby has abducted and buried Cass McBridge alive because of her part in his younger brother's suicide. A cop, Ben Gray, puts the clues together to discover who kidnapped her and why.

I really like the way that Giles slowly puts you into the heads of the protagonists. And, as is usually the case, there are deeply rooted feelings and reasons for the way people act and think. No one really knows what happens in some families, do they? Some parents really do a number on their kids.

The story flew by, incredibly well written, and totally thought-provoking.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MOVIE: Monsters vs. Aliens

Not bad for someone who doesn't usually like animated films
Viewed: Wed., April 22 at Reel Pizza (Bar Harbor) with Ashley, Brendan, and Meme
Rotten Tomato: 73% Mine 65%
EW: C+ Mine: B
Genre: Animated Action/Adventure
Released: 3/27/09
PG (1:34)
Directed ( & created by) Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman
Big names for voices: Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogen...

Sweet just-to-be married Modesto, California girl gets creamed by the radioactivity from a meteor and grows hugely tall (50 feet?), is captured by covert American government agents and hidden away with other 'monsters"...a mad scientist that turned himself into a human-sized cockroach (Hugh Laurie), a blue glob with a raving single eyeball and no brain (Seth Rogen), a very old old old sea-type fossil that has come to life, and a enormously huge bug (which turns out to be a pre-stage butterfuy, part of the story...). California Girl Susan is now dubbed "Gigantica" and is sent out with her new monster friends to stop the aliens that are trying to grab the radioactivity from the the meteor that zapped HER. Of couise, they prevail and are on to bigger and better things at the end. Ashley was a bit scared the first time she saw it, but suggested we take Bren so she could see it again. He loved it. When I asked him who his favorite was, he said "the monkey." Okay, were we watching the same movie? Come to find out, he thought that the green sea creature was a monkey. He just cracks me up. What a blast going with both the kids.

And Reel Pizza is an experience in itself. I've missed viewing movies there - waiting for my number to light up on the Bingo Board to go retrieve my pizza...drinks and popcorn on the counter in front of you or a TV tray in front of the couch you've been lucky enough to nab. And prices, still a reasonable $6 for all shows, all ages. Very fair. Very fun. A good night out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wing Nuts - Paul Janeczko & J. Patrick Lewis

POETRY
Illustrated by: Tricia Tusa
2006
Rating: 3.5 (Illustrations bring my rating down)
$15.99
Endpapers: pink

Senryu is a form of haiku. I looked it up on the internet, it has to do more with "human" nature than with "nature" nature. The haiku/senryu in this book are clever, punny, and funny. Paul Janeczko is a great Maine children's poet, J. Patrick Lewis has always written poetry with great humor for kids. This is their first collaboration. This is the second Tricia Tusa book for me, and again, it'ss not as complimentary to the fun poetry as is could be. Some of the illustrations don't seem to go with the haiku at all. They are so suggestive of particular pictures, but she seems to disregard this. Odd.


High school band minus
its tuba player --- looking
for a substi-toot!

and

Irksome mosquito
kindly sing your evening song
in my brother's ear.

and then

City piugeons chatter
and coo -- busybodies
eavesdropping.

Ox, House, Stick - Don Robb

The History of Our Alphabet
Illustrated by Anne Smith
8-11?
9-12?
Both are cited, I'd definitely move for the upper end
2007
Rating: 3.5
$16.95
Endpapers: Large dark pink calligraphy alphabet letters

A to Zed. Here is a very interesting history of how our current alphabet came to be, going all they way back to its Sinaitic roots, through Phoenician, Early Greek, Classical Greek, and then our current ROMAN rendering. It includes history, background, and interesting information about writing, paper, utensils, and where it all started or came from. For example,

"The origin of the letter E is uncertain. The Sinaitic symbol for the word HE looks a bit like a person with upstretched arms, and perhaps it indicated someone praying. Or it may instead have meant "high." Most scholars today believe that the drawing simply represented a person expressing surprise. The Phoenician symbol for HE looks entirely different, and some believe it meant "window." Whatever its meaning, it was a consonant in both Sinaitic and Phoencian. Borrowed by the Greeks, this letter became a vowel called epsilon. In Greek, psilon means "plain" or "simple." So epsilon -- (h)e-psilon -- was their plain, or short e vowel. They used a different letter for their long e sound."

The illustrations and added information are interesting. An although I read it completely from beginning to end, I had to put it down and pick it up to keep my attention alive. Or perhaps I'm just tired and needed to "nap" (I am taking care of two very energetic kids who are wearing me out) I'm not certain how much a kid would, especially one who has no added interest in the history of the alphabet. However, for kids with a big interest in history or ancient civilizations, this would be a great choice. I've got one or two in my fifth and sixth grade classes that would enjoy this a lot.

Kid's resource cited;
How Our Alphabet Grew: The History of the Alphabet (Dugan)
Alphabet Art: Thirteen ABC's from Around the World (Fisher)
The 26 Letters (Ogg)
The Little Greek Alphabet Book (Rees)
Alphabetical Order: How the Alphabet Began (Samoyault)

There are a few websites listed, too.

Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Pie - Judy Sierra

Illustrated by Edward Koren (with "delicious drawings")
2006
Rating: 3.5
$16.95
Endpapers: 16 evenly spaces one-inch flies, swishes of black on white

Ashley showed me this book when we went to the Ellsworth Public Library yesterday. Her first-grade teacher, Ms. Reddish-Smith, had read it to her. I read it to Ashley and Brendan this morning. It has a great rhyming chant with really cool word choices. "Thelonius urgently e-mailed a spider. He wanted advice from a savvy insider." He creates a pie in which a multitude of flies with glittery wings get their feet stuck. They all flap their wings and away it filies! Great, fun rhythmic verse.

With delicate swishes of a black pen, Edward Koren creates hairy monsters and hairy pies and hairy flies An occasional smear of lime green to color in the fly's wings, green font or white font on green background, and this simple book comes to life. I'd love for my students to try this sort of illustration.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wangari's Trees of Peace - Jeanette Winter

2008
Rating: 5
$17.00

Jeanette Winter''s recognizable artwork, framed by her signature rich color to the edge of tghe page is in itself a great reason to read this book. But the story --- and the way she tells it --- are both rich in language and information.

When Wangari returns from six years of schooling in America, she realizes that a huge amount of Kenya's trees have been cut down. She starts by planting and nurturing nine seedlings. And then she begins to give them away to the village women to grow, care for, and protect. "The women spread out over their village, planting tiny trees in long rows, like a green belt stretching over the land." She protects old growth threes and is even arrested. But she does not give up. "The umbrella of trees returns."

Excellent author's note. Wangari won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and is now a member of the Kenyan Parliament! Wonderful storytelling.

The Great Paper Caper - Oliver Jeffers

2008
Rating: 4
$17.99
Endpapers: Blue graph paper, notes and directions for making (and throwing) a paper airplane

"This book is made from a mixture of painting, collaging, and a wee bit of digital tweaking." Don't you love it???

In the forest, animals enter their homes from a door in a tree, then climb down a ladder to their abode. But then something strange begins to happen - branches are being sawed from trees. So an investigation begins ... and after thorough contemplation, the culprit is caught. During a quick trial he confesses and explains why he needed the wool He had to win a paper airplane contest and he had run out of paper. He had to make more, so he had meant no harm -- and will replant trees.

Very cool funky illustrations....although I'm not sure why everyone had stick legs. Hmmm. Is this how Mr. Jeffers always illustrates? I must begin an investigation!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Green Poems - Jill Bennett

POETRY
Illustrated by different (British) artists?
Oxford University Press
1999
Rating: 3
59 poems by various authors

This is a collection of British...and some American....poets, divided into the following chapters:

One world, one home...
Where wild things grow
If we're not careful
Sad or happy?
Tomorrow's now

New Life

Springtime.
The light lingers
a little longer
in the evening sky.

Springtime.
Tiny seedlings
unfold green leaves
to the sun.

Springtime:
and the blossom
is the laughter
in the trees:

for the dead of winter
is defeated.

........Lois Rock

Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words - Jane O'Connor

Illustrator: Robin Preiss Glasser
2008
Rating: 4
$12.99
endpapers; brigth, dark pink

A smaller version of the Fancy Nancy series, (perhaps 7 in. by 9 in.), this shows how you can use snazzy words instead of ordinary words - right up my alley

Fiasco - a big flop, a disaster. I dropped all the parfaits. What a fiasco!
Improvise - to use whatever is handy in order to make something. I wanted a canopy bed, so I had to improvise. I used a sheet, a mop, and a broom!
Yearn - to want really badly. I yearn to visit Paris some day.

Illustrations are detailed and fancy, flowery and very, very girly, quite adorable. The theme towards all things French and the way to look at snazzing up your words is excellent...and quite fun. This would be a great lead-in to creating a class book of snazzy words. CACOPHONY! EGREGIOUS! DILAPIDATED! Let's get started!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Story of the Easter Bunny - Katherine Tegen

Illustrator: Sally Anne Lambert
2005
Rating: 4.5
For: Young kids
$12.99
Endpapers: a very British country lane with houses on each side

A truly non-religious Easter book! A very cute4 story with very charming illustrations that explains the seemingly unexplainable -- why Easter eggs are delivered by a bunny.

An elderly round couple dye eggs, melt and mold chocolate, and weave baskets to delight the children of their village on Easter morning. Because he's watched carefully, their pet bunny helps the next year. "It was magic." As the couple get older and the children see it's a rabbit delivering their special Easter gifts, the bunny decides it's time to set up his own perfect place so his deliveries could be kept a secret.

So cute. This one's got to go to Ella.

Coretta Scott - Ntozake Shange

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
2009
For: School-age kids
Rating: 4
Endpapers: blue
$17.99

Kadir Nelson's been very, very busy recently...I think this is the third of his books published in 2009. It's gorgeous (as usual). And wow, what a cover!

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

This story, in verse form, does not take us to or beyond her husband's assassination. It's really the story of how the two of them moved on their journey toward civil rights.

"... hundreds then thousands
white and black
marched
in Alabama
Carolina
Georgia
and Chicago."

The Llama Who Had No Pajama - Mary Ann Hoberman

POETRY
100 Favorite Poems
Illustrator: Betty Fraser
1998

Eggs

Eggs are laid by turkeys
Eggs are laid by hens
Eggs are laid by robins
Eggs are laid by wrens
Eggs are laid by eagles
Eggs are laid by quail,
Pigeons, parrots, peregrines --
And that's how every bird begins.

Waiters


Dining with his older daughter
Dad forgot to order water.
Daughter quickly called the waiter.
Waiter said he'd bring it later.
So she waited, did the daughter,
Till the waiter brought her water.
When he poured it for her later,
Which one would you call the waiter?

North Pole


Have you ever been to the North Pole
Where the frozen world wears a coat of ice
And the sky is white
And the sky is white
And the earth inside
Is closed up tight,
Secret and still and dark at night?

Blueberry Girl - Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Charles Vess
2009
Rating: 5
Endpapers: Blueberry blue

An interesting blueberry-colored font is used throughout - looks hand-drawn, but isn't.

(Random choice:)
Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen
Let her stay waking and wise
Nightmares at 3 or bad husbands at 30
These will not trouble her eyes.

Words and water color paintings completely cover the pages.

This is an expressive wish for a daughter - newborn - already grown - doesn't matter. I loved it. What a great mother's day gift for my own daughter to give to her daughter!

Momma Loves Her Little Son - John Carter Cash

Illustrator: Marc Burckhardt
2009
For: babies and toddlers
Rating: 4
Endpapers: See below

Open the cover and glance at the endpapers and you know this will be a pleasant journey. A huge sun smiles at a woman and her little boy - flip to the back and there's the moon smiling at their cozy cabin.

Burckhardt formats the pages in two ways - one is a dark golden-olive toned illustration that covers the entire page - not a bit of white - with the text across the sky or ground. The other is bordered with what looks somewhat like a half circle of sliced pimento olive leaving about a half inch of whiteness with text across the bottom white strip. I think they're oil paintings, but I can't be sure. Lovely.

This book appears almost to be a song - a mother's boundless love for her son. Short and singsongy, a perfect bedtime book for the very young.

(There are a couple of references to praying, but you can't have it all, I guess.

John Carter Cash wrote this to honor his mother, June Carter Cash, and his wife, Laura.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

21. The Most Beautiful Place in the World - Ann Cameron

Illustrator: Thomas B. Allen
1988
RL: 3.7 (age 7-10)
Perfect for beginning of 4th/Latin America
Rating: Good

Juan lives in the mountains in San Pablo, Guatemala. He is very poor and his story makes me so sad - seventeen-year-old mother, father abandons them, they go to live with grandmother and huge extended family in tiny home. Mother remarries and doesn't want him. Strict grandmother teaches him to shine shoes and at 7 years old earns a dollar a day working full time. He longs to go to school but is afraid to bring it up to his grandmother, so with the help of customers, teaches himself to read.

There's a shift in the story here. When he finally talks to his grandmother about school, the reader gets to see her a little differently, a little closer look, and the story becomes one of devotion and love while still working hard to survive.

Easy to read. Lots to think about. Poverty. Culture.

This could be a read aloud, create a picture book or mural or montage--endless possiblilities.

20. Mission to Sonora - Rebecca Cramer

for: Adults
1998
Book World, Inc. (Sun Lakes, Az)
$10.95
Rating: 2

I had really high hopes for this murder mystery set in Tucson. Actually, the protagonist lives and teaches on the Tohono O’odham reservation at San Xavier, a great setting, to say the least. Linda Bluenight is a fourth grade teacher, single parent to a high-school son named Matty. And this woman does it all. She cooks intricate meals, teaches thoroughly and well, and single-handedly nabs a multi-murderer while attracting (unwanted) male advances. The Tucson police department begs her to oversee an autopsy because that’s what she did in her previous life and they’re backed up......? ? ? In other words, the story is not at all set in reality, and although there are glimmers of good writing, it’s pretty darn boring. It took me four weeks to plow through it. The only reason I did is because I have the two sequels and I was sure this would get better. It got worse. The setting is great, though. She talks about Tucson in great detail, and I really love that part. But the story, of murder among the developers of Tucson, is one-sided, stereotypical, and thoroughly not plausible. I guess you can’t have it all!

19. The Loud Silence of Francine Green - Karen Cushman

Read by Anaka Shockley
2006
Unabridged Cd/Random House Audio
Rating: 5
for: Middle School and older

This was a totally delightful story. I listened to it, and the reader, Anaka Shockley, was just wonderful, portraying the voice of Francine beautifully. The setting is 1949 Los Angeles, California. Francine is in the eighth grade at All Saints School for Girls and loves Montgomery Clift. Her best friend, Sophie Bowman, is an unspoken questioner of all things wrong. But Francine has been taught to not question her parents or the nuns or the government. And it is the McCarthy error. Everyone is afraid of “the bomb” and “commies” and the end of the world. Sophie speaks out about free speech and asks lots of wonderful questions, but the girls are being rasied in the age where kids just don’t ask. The nuns put outspoken Sophie into the waste basket. She is taunted and bullied by Sister Basil AND the other girls in the class. Francine wants to stand up for her, but can’t seem to take herself past the upbringing that has taught her otherwise. And then when friends who have emigrated from Russia for the rights and freedoms found in the US and not in Russia are terrorized and threatened, Francine finally decides to take a stand.

What is freedom of speech? What is friendship? What is fear? This is the first time I’ve read a historical fiction about the McCarthy era. It’s magnificently done, too. Needed. How else are kids going to understand that part of America’s history?

I’m rereading Cushman’s Catherine Called Birdy and have fond, fond memories of The Ballad of Lucy Whipple. I’ve now decided that Karen Cushman is pushing her way to the top of my favorites list.

This is a book that is very, very Catholic. I understood it just from stories (horror stories....) I’ve heard from friends and family. Saints. Confession. Sin. I wonder how much my Jewish middle schoolers would understand about this aspect of the story. They’d certainly understand a lot just from the way it’s written, but there’s a lot they won’t understand, too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just in Case - Yuyi Morales

A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book
2008
Rating: 4
$17.95
Endpapers: Turquoise with 9 white-rimmed alphabet cards.

What a great name - Yuyi. I wonder how you pronounce it.

Senor Calavera gets ready to go to Grandma Beetle's birthday party, then hops on his bike to get him there. On the way he meets up with Zelmiro the ghost, who reminds him that he has no gift. So he begins to accumulate gifts - alphabetically. Gifts in Spanish, great spanish words. "Dientes. Teeth for a good bite. Una Escalera. A ladder to reach p st the sky. Una Flauta. A flute he made from a branch. Granizado. A snow cone flavored with syrup." Page by page he picks up more gifts - gorgeously illustrated and colorful pages - until he gets to Grandmap Beetle's party. And we find out the Zelmire the ghost is none other than (da da!) Grandpa Zelmiro! The date on the wall is 7 Novembre. A beautifully illustrated Day of the Dead tie-in - and an alphabet book to boot!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ron's Big Mission - Rose Blue & Corinne J. Naden

Illustrator: Don Tate
2009
Rating: 4
Endpapers: Azure
$16.99

This is the fictionalized account of something that happened to Ron McNair in 1959 in his hometown in South Carolina. However, since it's based on a true story, I'm going to consider it biography. Destined to be one of the Challenger astronauts (that blew up with Christa McAuliffe), Ron loved to read and spent hours and hours in the library reading. Everyone there knew him, but he never took home any books to read. He sat there all those hours reading - because he wasn't allowed to borrow books from the library because of the color of his skin.

One day he decided he'd had enough. He was going to borrow books. He was stubborn. He was polite. The police (who knew and liked him) were called. And the head librarian decided that she would do what was only right - she went into the back room and created a library card for him.

I never even thought about this aspect of racism. It blows me away. I hope we've come a long way since then......

Country Thunder - and Blake Shelton!

I know every one of the songs on Blake Shelton's five albums by heart. So I've been looking forward to "Country Thunder" in Florence, Arizona, for months. Halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, at the end of a gorgeous ride through the desert
and just behind the prison, is the huge field where Country Thunder "happens." We got there first thing in the morning and staked a claim (or at least put down our chairs) about four or five rows back, a little to the side. The cordonned off area in the front, the "VIP' section cost
$500 per seat! Well, that's for all four days - you can't buy just one day in that section - but still.....
So yes, I saw Blake Shelton perform. But the biggest, most exciting thing to happen in YEARS is that I GOT TO MEET HIM! He's tall, a doll (I knew that) and really, really nice. He called me "sweetie" three times! THREE TIMES! Eye- yi-yi. I'm in heaven.
Shane also got Meet and Greets for Jack Ingram. I've gotten to know him because Shane's interviewed him, had the interview published, and shared the music with me. Another really, really nice guy! It was a swooning kind of day!
THE MUSIC was wonderful. The day ended with Alan Jackson, the big name, but that wasn't the big performance for me. When Blake left for Las Vegas after the show I almost jogged behind....

They were all headed for a big Country Music award show televised from Las Vegas last night. Blake performed. He wasn't supposed to, so everyone that doesn't know him yet had a real treat.
I've got to include the photo of me and Blake again---and I HATE my picture being taken----but this was just way too cool. I'm still way, way up on cloud six or seven, though on my way down. Wow, what an incredible day....and I even got a new straw cowboy hat with some turquoise on the hatband. Yee Haa!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Yankee at the Seder - Elka Weber

Illustrator: Adam Gustavson
2009
$16.99
Rating: 4. 5
Endpapers: Gray

This is based on a true story - which always makes a tale extra enjoyable - and told from the point-of-vew of a 10 year old Confederate boy in Virginia. The South has just surrendered to the North and Yankees are patrolling the streets of the town. Jacob is munching on a piece of matzah when a Yankee sees him and asks for a piece. He is invited by Jacob's mother to join them for the seder. Myer Levy happily accepts.

There are times that are a bit awkward for members of two opposing sides right after the war, but their differences are outweighed by their similarites. This is a charming story - including telling about a gift received for Passover the following year.

Included are two pages on "the real story" (with photos), a page of explanation about Passover, and a short glossary of Hebrew terms. An excellent, enjoyable read.

Hogwood Steps Out - Howard Mansfield

A Good, Good Pig Story
Illustrator: Barry Moser
2008
Rating: 5
For: Kids
Endpapers: Orange

Hogwood is a huge black and white pig. He's tired of spending winter in the barn and smells spring outside. Mud. Mud. He's smart and he's figured out how to open the gate. It's time to go find gardens with good things to eat and it's time to find mud with its great smell and so much squishiness to roll around in. But the neighbors are not happy about this, and he is captured and returned to his barn, as he has been many times before.

The illustrations are what drew me to the book - it's a perfect blend of text and visual.

I'm going to share this with my 7th grade class - we're reading Animal Farm and talk every day about pigs! Very cute.

Clever Ali - Nancy Farmer

Illustrator: Gail de Marcken
For: Kids with the ability for sit for a longer read aloud
2006
Rating: 4.5
Endpapers: intricate brown & white scenes covering the page completely






Preface:
from In Praise of Books

A book is a garden you can hold in your hand,
An orchard you can take on your lap.

A book is a companion who sleeps
Only when you are asleep,
and speaks only when you wish him to

A book is a tree that lives long
And bears delicious and abundant fruit
That is easy to pick and perfectly ripe
At all tiimes of the year.

A book obeys you by night and by day,
Abroad and at home,
It has no need of sleep
And does not grow weary from sittting up.

-----Al-Jahiz
-----born in Basra in 776

The illustrations and text are all framed. de Marcken uses patterns from mosaics, woodwork, plaster, and marble from Cairo's mosques and Islamic antiquities. Calligraphic symbols are part of some of the framing. Very detailed, very lovely.

The story takes us into the two-wife household of the sultan's royal carrier pigeon keeper - a very important and prestigious job. Ali has four younger brothers and when he turns seven he moves from the women's part of the house to the men's part of the house. He also goes to work at the palace with his father to learn how to tend the pigeons. The story unfolds the same as one of Jahazarad's Arabian Night Tales would - with elements of magic and cruelty, where ingeniousness is needed to get out of a life-threatening jam. It's a long story, so well-suited for older readers and listeners.

A River of Words - Jen Bryant

The Story of William Carlos Williams
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
For: kids & poetry lovers
Rating: 5
2008
endpapers:light lime green with other greens in blocks, 5 poems on front, 4 poems on back

From the time he was a young boy, William Carlos Williams loved to be outdoors, taking things slowly, looking at the world. He loved the gentle sounds and natural rhythm of nature...and this same feeling carried over to the times when his teacher read poetry aloud. At a young age he began writing poetry. He filled journals, he wrote all the time. But he knew that writing poetry would not support a family, so he went into medicine, becoming a doctor. A good one. For forty years. But his good friends - writers (Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle), and artists (Charles Demuth) kept his creative juices flowing. He kept writing. And writing.

This books includes timelines (1883-1963), all sorts of interesting added information from the author and the illustrator, a list of books for further reading, and a short selection (9) of poems.

The illustrations are interesting and different, usng an altered book technique that delights my own creative juices. The way this book is illustrated really gives you a chance to think beyond the words. I think it's very effective. I love it.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
firetruck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Poems Poems Poems - A List of Poems on the Blog

April, 2016 Progressive Poem

This list is a resource so that I can find poems on the blog easily:

Poems About Trees
A page full off poems about.....trees.....

Poems About Books and Reading and Wonderful Words
You got it...a page that's filling up with great poems about my favorite things!

ACROSTIC Poems -
The book Silver Seeds (Paolilli & Brewer)
..............."Top Secret" from Book Speak! (Salas)

Alphabetical by Author
Al-Jahiz - from "In Praise of Books"
Allen, Katrhyn Madeline - If I Were the Equator
Ashman, Linda - Water
..............Experimenting Xavier
...............Eavesdropping Eva
Berry, Wendell - How To Be A Poet
Bishop, Elizabeth - For C. W. B.
Brown, Calef - Lone Star Witches
...............Old Napoleon
...............Scarecrow's Epitaph
Brown, Margaret Wise - The Leaves Fall Down
Bryan, Ashley - Song
Coleridge, Sara - Trees
Coville - Ripples
Durango, Julia - The Greater Sum of Parts (about Ashley Bryan)
Esbensen, Barbara Juster - Storm
..................Fireworks
..................Discovery
Fletcher, Ralph - Frost in the Woods
....................Bill of Sale
....................Poetry
.....................Lost
Florian, Douglas - What I Love About Autumn
...............What I Hate About Autumn
...............Awe-tumn
...............Birds of Autumn
...............What to Do with Autumn Leaves
Frank, John - Ice Fishing, Baffin Island, Nunavut
...............Fishwheel, Fraser Canyon, British Columbia
...............Words, A Cold October Night, A Sprinkling of Snow, Footprints
Frost, Robert - In Hardwood Groves
Gerstein, Mordicai - Toothbrush
....................Socks
....................Ice-Cream Cone
....................Books
Greenfield, Eloise - "In the Land of Words"
...................."Story"
Harley, Avis - Monarch Beginnings 
....................Wintering Over
Harrison, David L. - Nicholas Cobb
....................Sounds of Rain
Heard, Georgia - This Moment
Havill, Juanita - Carrots
....................Garden Lullaby
....................Instructions
Hoberman, Mary Ann - "Eggs"
.................."Waiters"
.................."North Pole"
Hopkins, Lee Bennett - Mother's Plea
....................Painter (about Georgia O'Keeffe)
Hoopes, Lynn Littlefield - Sun
Hubbell, Patricia - "On My Island"
Hughes, Langston - "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
Iyengar, Malathi Michelle - "Sienna"
Johnston, Tony - Storms In Oaxaca, Rabbit in the Moon, Old Palaces, Museum of Anthropology
Katz, Alan - They're Full of Beans
Katz, Susan - In the Flooded Forest
..............Walking Tree
..............Rafflesia
Kilmer, Joyce - Trees
Lamm & Hildreth - Latitude Longitude Dreams
Larios, Julie - Orange Giraffe
................Turquoise
................Green Frog
Lee, Dennis - "Muddy Puddle"
Lewis, J. Patrick - Marathon Runner 
................Poet
...............Heroes and She-Roes, The Elementary School Teacher
...............The Organizer
...............Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow
...............Balloon Car
Lyon, George Ella - Tree Song
McKissack, Patricia C. - "Who Would Have Thought..."
Merriam, Eve - Evergreen
Moore, Lilian - The Tree on the Corner
Mora, Pat - Chocolate
Nye, Naomi Shihab - "The Traveling Onion"
...............Prayer in My Boot
Park, Linda Sue - Art Class, October,
...............Bedtime Snacks
Paschkis, Julie - Snake; Crow; Owl
Perry, Andrea - Snorist
...............The Scary-Hair Fairy
Peters, Lisa Westberg - Recipe for Granite, QuartzQuartzQuartz
Pollock, Penny - April
...............November
Prelutsky, Jack
....................In Amarillo, Texas (colors: yellow)
....................The Poodles Ate Oodles of Noodles (a silly poem that makes sense)
....................There's a Lady in Galoshes (Maine)
Rankin, Joan - Today at the Blue-Bird Cafe
.......................The Woodpecker
.......................Blue Jay Blues
.......................The Loon's Laugh
Rock, Lisa - "New Life"
Salas, Laura Purdis - Calling All Readers
...............Top Secret
...............Book Plate
Schertle, Alice - Bob's Bicycle Helmet
...............Hand-Me-Down Sweatshirt
Sciezska - Astronaut Stopping by Planet on a Snowy Evening
Sidman, Joyce - To Manga, My Hamster and Sorry Back from the Hamster"
...............In the Almost-Light
Singer, Marilyn - Field Trip 
...............Spring Me!
Smith, Hope Anita - Faith of a Mustard Seed
Spinelli, Eileen - When Grandma Comes (from Highlights 9/10)
The Only Cin - Overload
Updike, John - "August"
Watson, Robert - "Please Write, Don't Phone"
Vanderwater, Amy Ludwig - April Waking
...............Lichens
...............Fossil
...............Song
................Woodpecker
.......Everyday Birds (whole book - see the poem)
Viorst, Judith - "In Between"
Whitehead, Jenny - "If You Could Paint a Springtime Day"
............... "April Fool's Day"
..............."It's Labor Day"
..............."Send Up Some Gratitude"
..............."Winter in the South"
..............."Celebrating Chinese New Year"
Williams, William Carlos - "This is Just to Say"
..............."The Red Wheelbarrow"
..............."The Great Figure"
Worth, Valerie - Clouds
...............Hummingbird
Yolen, Jane - Horizon

This is Just to Say - Joyce Sidman

POETRY
Illustrator: Pamela Zagarenski
2007
48 Pgs.
Rating: 5
For: Middle Grades
Endpapers: Azure

18 poems of apology, followed by 17 responses (one is a poem for two voices) - written to and from the students in Ms. Merz's class. They show the give and take that go on in relationships - between friends, siblings, parent and child, teacher and student, pet owner and pet. These are the inner thinkings of the kids in a class, and I read through it twice with delight. It's really splendid.

The book opens with William Carlos Willim's "This is Just to Say," an all-time favorite of mine, which is a model for the poems to follow:


This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgve me
they were delicous
so sweet
and so cold.

-----William Carlos Williams

The illustrations are very, very different- creative and fun. They appear to be collaged onto the page; bits and pieces of drawings on graph paper, notebook paper, ripped construction papers, dictionary pages. Colored-in line drawings rubber stamping, paint and creativity cover the edge-to-edge colored backgrounds. It's an picture book/altered-book-lover's dream.

I will include a poem of apology and its response. It was VERY difficult to choose which to include, so I went through and read all the poems for a delightful third time.

To Manga, My Hamster

I wish I could set you free
like that day you escaped
and ran all over the house.
That was an amazing day.
My mother screamed.
My sister cried.
All because you were loose somewhere,
burrowing through pillows and toys.

When Mom finally found you
huddled in the mop bucket
(and you bit her)
you looked so fierce,
like your wild cousins
that roam the jungles of Asia.
I wish I had jungles to give you.
I wish that could be your life.

Please forgive me.
All I have to offer
is this warm, cozy cage
and my fingers
scratching behind your ears.

--------by Ricky

Sorry Back, from the Hamster

I'm sorry I bit your mom's finger
and hung on to it like that.
Hamsters are not normally
bloodthirsty,
but I'd had a lot of adventures by then
and I was tired.
Her hand was a huge scary claw
coming at me.
The blood tasted like rust.

The truth is, at first
I was so, so happy to be free!!!
But later I was so, so glad
to be back
curled in the warm palm
of you hand.

.------by Ricky (writing for his hamster)

It would be fun to have each student in a class take a different pair of poems, read them over and over, and "learn" about their subject/s. They could then create more writing - prose or poetry, and more art, about what they have added to the picture of these subjects in their minds.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day - National Poetry Month

"The first of April, some do say,
Is set apart for All Fools' Day.
But why the people call it so,
Nor I, nor they themselves do know.
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment."
~Poor Robin's Almanac (1790)

I love April. Growing up in Massachusetts it always meant spring was arriving full blast. Unfortunately, in Maine we had to wait until May, but I've always loved April. April vacation, shedding boots and hats and scarves, a bit of green here and there.... April in Arizona means the heat is rising, the cactus and widflowers and perrennials are blooming in brilliant colors, and by the end of the month huge white blossoms will be forming on the tops of the saguaros. And -- just a short time now to summer vacationl!

http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/41 tells more about National Poetry Month. April 30th is Poem in Your Pocket Day. More info at http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/406.

I've challenged myself to read or reread a book of poetry each day this month. I need to reacquaint myself with poetry that fourth graders will love. Gotta get ready for next year!