Pages

Friday, September 26, 2014

Poetry Friday

 The beginning of the school year. I love, love, love my job. I love working with teachers. Seeing how the kids have grown. New pencils and new dreams. And I hate, hate, hate the crazy busy-ness. No time to read. To write. To breathe. In the midst of it all, this poem from Parker J. Palmer's blog.

"Love Wants to Know How"

Autumn comes with its riot of death,
its clarion bells of color,
drives the living green to ground
even as it thins the veil between worlds.
The visible and invisible walk now together
with arms outstretched over fields
where workers hasten to the harvest
none may divide against itself.

So where are you in this?
How long do you loiter
between the said and unsaid,
the done and undone,
between the half and true rhyme
of a life answering a life?

Geese mark the sky with dark wedges,
call with harsh tongues
to what thrives at the margins
of all we so reluctantly receive.
Go now,
quickly and with great force,
toward what burns in your dreams
at the dying of the year.

Who can say?
Perhaps you reap the whirlwind,
perhaps the harvest--
but is it ever enough to not know
the bonds and bounds of what will one day
forsake you for the grave?

Anonymous

Poetry Friday is at Laura Purdie Salas' WRITING THE WORLD FOR KIDS. Head over there to read some poems from Laura's newest book (I can't wait to own this one!) and lots of other terrific offerings!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

CYBILS judge!





 I'm really excited to be a first round judge for the CYBILS Elementary/Middle Grade nonfiction awards! I have been a CYBILS judge for about five years and absolutely know two things:
1) I will read lots of great new books!
2) I will meet lots of terrific people!

Other nonfiction judges include:

First Round


Second Round
 Nominations begin October 1st! You have about ten days to start picking your books!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

SLICE OF LIFE

The empty nest thing has been an adjustment.
Now, almost 15 months later, I'm still trying to remember who I was.
And what I used to do before after dinner homework and sports practices and team meals.
It's really easy to fill up every minute with work.
Because I love my work.
And it really doesn't feel like work.
At the same time, I don't want my whole life to be about work.
And so last night, I left before five (at least an hour before my typical time).
Went home and fed the dogs.
And walked Star.
(Boo is a princess. And princesses don't walk on leashes.
They just supervise life from their princess bed thrones).
And then I went to a meeting.

Community Bible Study.
Before I had the boys, I did several different small group Bible studies.
And I loved being part of a small group
and studying God's word.
But in the last ten years there just hasn't been time.
Or someone to watch the boys if I went out in the evenings.
But now there are no boys to watch.
No uniforms to wash.
No algebra homework to check.
And it's time to start a new phase.

I was really nervous.
Even though I spend my days interacting with people
I'm basically an introvert.
Who would be happy to go home, walk the dog
and then sit on the couch doing schoolwork
for two or three more hours before bed.

But last night I made myself
get in my car and go.
All the way there I debated turning around.
Traffic was terrible
and it took 45 minutes
to make what should have been a 15 minute drive,
It would have been easy to make a right turn
and head back the way I had just come. 
I need a haircut
and I considered doing that instead.
Even when I drove into the parking lot
and turned off the car
I considered not getting out.
Just going back to my nice safe couch
and my kinda new life. 

But I made myself walk in
and fill out the registration
then sit down in the auditorium.
Forced myself not to leave before the small group time
was surprised to discover that most of the women are about my age
most are single- divorced, widowed, or never married.
A few have children. Several dog moms.
A CPA. A retired nurse turned coffee shop owner.
An administrative assistant or two.
A doctor who has recently scaled back her practice
to spend more time with her high school aged sons.
I wondered about the possibility of new friendships.
Thought about who I might like to know better.

It's time to start figuring out what I want this new phase of life to include. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Poetry Friday
















This is our first official week back to school. I've spent the week leading professional development and helping teachers prepare their classrooms. Each classroom has to have a beautiful library! And each classroom has to have a great read aloud for the first day of school! And baskets of  sure-to-grab-even-the-most-reluctant-reader's-attention on every table! And poetry, of course there must be poetry that first day! 

Kalli Dakos is a teacher/poet I have loved for many, many years. I stumbled across her first book, IF YOU'RE NOT HERE PLEASE RAISE YOUR HAND, shortly after it came out. The poem I'm sharing today comes from PUT YOUR EYES UP HERE! I think my favorite Kalli Dakos' book, just because it's a guaranteed kid pleaser is THERE'S A FUNERAL IN THE BATHROOM. I love to cruise by one of those "pretend readers" desks on the first day of school and just slyly slide it onto the corner, then wait to see what happens. Here's a poem I might use the first day of school.

"Introducing a new ME"

There’s a new ME this year,
An on-time ME,
A clean-desk ME,
A first-to-hand-in-assignments ME,
A listens-in-class-to-the-teacher ME,
A teacher’s-pet-for-the-first-time-in-my-life ME,
An-always-willing-to-be-good-and help-out ME,
A dead-serious-get-the-work-done-and-hand-it-in
Before-it’s-due ME.
The problem is
The new ME
Is not like ME
At all.

Kali Dakos

Kalli has a PDF of ten back-to-school poems on her website!

Another poem I will probably use that first week is "Now" by Prince Redcloud

I might also use Judith Viorst's poem, "The First Day of School."

Irene Latham has a whole bunch of great poems at the Poetry Friday roundup!

Monday, August 18, 2014

MISS BROOKS' STORY NOOK- Barbara Bottner

Here's a book for writers' workshop. Or storyteller's workshop. Or to add to your basket on bullying. Or just to read aloud, because kids are going to love it. Missy, who you may remember from MISS BROOKS LOVES BOOKS (AND I DON'T) is a little girl who loves to go to her school's library story each morning. Unfortunately, along the way, she has to pass the home of Billy Toomey, the neighborhood bully, who steals her hat and teases and just generally makes Missy's life miserable.

After one such morning, Missy arrives at school to discover that a power outage has forced Miss Brooks to turn story hour into story telling hour. Miss Brooks teaches the children about the elements of story- characters, setting, events, and satisfying conclusion. At first, Missy is reluctant to tell a story, but then she uses her story to solve the real life bully problem in her life!

One you will definitely want to own!

Friday, August 15, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY



Apparently, we are going to have a baby year at my school. Our secretary and one of the second grade teachers are having babies in November. I've heard that another teacher is also pregnant, although I haven't seen her yet to confirm.

A baby year means there will be baby showers. And baby showers for me mean baby books. Let other people buy the onesies and towels and mama slings. I'm buying books. Usually I buy several- one beautiful picture book and then a couple of board books for the baby to chew on.Often these books are lullaby-ish.

 A new-to-me favorite lullaby-ish/animal, beautiful picture book is NAAMAH AND THE ARK AT NIGHT by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. NAAMAH is the Noah's ark story, but it's told from the perspective of Naamah, Noah's wife. Each night, while her family sleeps, Naamah soothes the animals by singing to them. The text, written using a Middle Eastern poetic form called a ghazal is poetic and lyrical. Listen:
"Over the ark, song flows at night.
Two by two, eyes close at night.

Two by two, wings furl at night.
Two by two, tails curl at night."
The text is accompanied by Holly Meade's watercolor collage illustrations, sure to be favorites of the toddler and preschool set.

I had never heard of a ghazal, and went looking for more information. Poets.org. says this:
The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning.
Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians.
If you want to try writing a ghazal, there's a step by step description on wiki-how. (Unfortunately, there are also a lot of ads- sorry!)

And if you just want to read more poems, the Poetry Friday Roundup can be found at My Juicy Little Universe.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

NEWISH NONFICTION-ISH PICTURE-ISH BOOKS FOR BIGGISH KIDS


For the last five years, Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning have hosted the "Picture Book 10 for 10" where they invite people to select picture books they couldn't live without. I love this day because I always get lots of terrific ideas for new books I want to own and share with kids! And I hate this day because I always get lots of terrific ideas for books I want to own and share with kids! Seriously, this is probably one of my favorite days of the year! Head over to Cathy and Mandy's blogs for a roundup of the lists!


IF: A MIND-BENDING WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND BIG NUMBERS
by David J. Smith

When I taught fourth grade, my students loved David J. Smith's IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE and IF THE WORLD WERE A VILLAGE. Now Smith is back to address the idea of scale in ways that kids can really understand. Each two-page spread takes on a different topic- e.g.
  • If the events of the last 3000 years were shrunk into a single month
  • If the surface of the Earth were shrunk to fit onto two pages of this book.
  • If all the water on the earth were represented by 100 glasses.
  • If the average life expectancy were represented by footprints in the sand
  • If all the food consumed around the world in one year were represented by a loaf with 25 slices
Smith's engaging text is accompanied by Steve Adams' infographic illustrations. Absolutely perfect! Might be my nominee for CYBILS NONFICTION this year!


FISH FOR JIMMY- Katie Yamasaki
Taro and Jimmy's parents immigrate from Japan to California, where they operate a successful vegetable stand until the boys' father is taken to prison after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Soon afterward, Taro, Jimmy, and their mother are taken to an interment camp. Jimmy, the younger brother, will not eat the unfamiliar American food, so Taro sneaks out to capture fish for his brother.   FISH FOR JIMMY is based on events from the life of Yamasaki's great grandfather, Anko Hirashiki, who is pictured in the back of the book. Taro is her grandfather's cousin, who actually snuck out of an internment camp to find fish for his son. Katie Yamasaki is a well-known muralist and applies her gorgeous art on a smaller scale to the illustrations in this book. I'll pair this with one of my all time favorites, BASEBALL SAVED US. This book was reviewed in the NY Times last year.



THOMAS JEFFERSON- LIFE, LIFERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF EVERYTHING
Maira Kalman
This new picture book biography captures many different facets of Jefferson's life as a lover of books, inventor, gardener, musician, and oh yes, author of the Declaration of Independence and president of the United States. It also addresses Jefferson's dark side as a slave owner and his relationship with Sally Hemings. The layout of this book and the interesting fonts are going to make this a favorite with middle grade readers. Great voice for a mentor text. It will work well with  THOMAS JEFFERSON BUILDS A LIBRARY, which was on my list of favorite nonfiction picture books last winter.


HOW TO MAKE THE UNIVERSE WITH 92 ELEMENTS- Adrian Dingle
OK, so this one hundred page introduction to the Periodic Table is a little long for a picture book, but it's too good to leave off of this list. The book has an introduction, then four chapters, consisting of multiple two-page spreads. "Space, Earth, and Nature" includes Let's Rock, Oceans and Seas, and Make your Own Human Being. "Daily Life" has sections on money, matches, and milk and cookies.  "Materials" includes Fun with Fireworks, Skyscrapers, and Dazzling with Diamond.  "Cool Machines" features computers, television, and nuclear fusion and fission. I'm sharing this one with middle and high school science teachers! Tons of great read aloud material!

EYE TO EYE - Steve Jenkins

And of course I can't create a list of favorite picture books without my all time favorite nonfiction picture book author, Steve Jenkins. EYE TO EYE: HOW ANIMALS SEE THE WORLD is chockful of interesting information about animal eyes. The tuatura, for example, has a third eye on top of it's head. The halibut is born with eyes on both sides of head, but one eye gradually migrates until both eyes on same side (ew!). The tarsier has the largest eye relative to the size of its body of any mammal, with each eyeball larger than its brain. Back matter includes the evolution of the eye and  animal facts.  You might also want to check out another newish Steve Jenkins' book, THE ANIMAL BOOK. It's also terrific!



TUESDAY TUCKS ME IN
by Luis Carlos Montalvan

There's no way I could create a list of picture books without at least one dog book. About two years ago, I reviewed Luis Carlos Montalvan's adult memoir, UNTIL TUESDAY.  Montalvan is a veteran who suffered from severe PTSD until a service dog named Tuesday came into his life. I loved that book, but I love the picture book, with full color photographs of Tuesday, even more! 



I AM ROSA PARKS by Brad Meltzer
I have to confess, I almost didn't pick this up. The cover and size just didn't seem all that appealing. Boy, am I glad I had a minute to spare, because this series is terrific. Brad Meltzer is best known for his adult mysteries and thrillers. Several years ago, he was looking for heroines for his daughter, and couldn't find much beyond Disney princesses and decided he needed to write a few biographies for children.  I AM ROSA PARKS follows this great American from childhood. It's written in the first person and the voice is terrific, a great model for biography writers all the way into middle school. Others in this series: I AM ABRAHAM LINCOLN, and  I AM AMELIA EARHART.  I AM ALBERT EINSTEIN is coming this fall and others will follow.  For an interview with Brad about these biographies,  read here.

 THE MAN WITH THE VIOLIN- Kathy Stinson
This fictional picture book is based on the true story of American violinist, Joshua Bell, who took his Stradivarius to a Washington D.C. subway station and played for several hours. People pay more than $100 a ticket to hear Bell play, but this day, at the subway station, more than one thousand people rushed by, but only a few, mostly children, stopped to listen and at the end of the day, Bell had only $32 in his violin case. End pages include photographs and an interview of Bell. I could see using this book in a writers' workshop mini-lesson on how writers pay attention to what is going on around them.

 A GLASS- Etienne Delessert
Etienne Delesseret's mother died in childbirth and about three years later, his father remarried the only mother Delesseret ever knew. The family, like most families, had some rocky times, and the title of the book comes from an argument in which Delesseret's stepmother actually hurtled a glass across the room. Surprisingly, the glass didn't break and still sits on the author's desk today. Every child that comes from a blended family, and every stepmother, or adoptive mother, will flinch when they read the oh-too-familiar words, "You're not my mother!" Great mentor text for teaching memoir and the last line will be perfect for teaching kids about endings or about life lessons.

RAZIA'S RAY OF HOPE- Elizabeth Suneby

Razia is a young Afghani girl who desperately wants to go to school. The male members of her family are strongly opposed to this until a situation arises where Razia really needs to be able to read. Loosely based on the work of Razia Jan, an Afghan native and humanitarian who spent much of her life in the United States, and recently moved back to her country to found the Zabuli Education Center. A terrific jumping off place for discussions about the value of education or advocacy or real world heroes!