Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Jim Burke posted this poem on the ENGLISH COMPANION NING this morning.Jane Kenyon is much more articulate than I am, so I'm borrowing it, with huge thanks to Jim (not sure why the whole poem can be posted, but I figure Jim is much savvier than I am on the ways of the internet, so I am posting the whole thing too).
by Jane Kenyon
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The Global Fund for Children has come out with a new book this year, and it's a stunner. FAITH is a photo essay that captures the essence of different religions around the world. Each two-page spread addresses a different tenet of faith, e.g. we pray, we chant and sing, we read our holy books, we listen to and learn from others, we cleanse ourselves, we visit holy places, we observe holidays in our homes or places of worship, we care for those around us. The text is usually only one sentence; it's the beautiful, beautiful photographs that proclaim, again and again, that though we are all very different, we are also very much alike. On one page, for instance, the text says, "We show our faiths through what we wear…" The photos show six different religions- four little Muslim girls from Turkey, wearing decorative head scarves, an Indonesian boy wearing a songket udeng (a ceremonial headdress), a Mennonite boy dressed in "plain clothes," a Buddhist girl with thanaka face paint, three beautiful Jain girls in ceremonial headdresses before a procession, and Sikh boy wearing a Patka. The authors have included every religion I can think of-- there are photographs of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Farsi, Native Americans, Hindus, Jains, and many others.
A map in the back shows the loctions of all of the countries in the book. There are also three or four pages of notes about the elements of faith, as well as an extensive, and very detailed glossary of words to know.
Thank you, Global Fund for Children, for helping us to understand that we are all much more alike than different!
Friday, November 20, 2009
A THANKSGIVING BLESSING
but of all that we have.
but the warmth of hope rising.
POETRY FRIDAY IS AT JULIE LARIOS' DRIFT RECORD.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
For twenty years, Tarra was a performing elephant. After many years of hard work, she was allowed to retire to a newly created elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. All of the other elephants who came to the sanctuary quickly found elephant friends, but not Tarra. Tarra was a loner until she met a yellow mutt named Bella. From that day on, Bella and Tarra were inseparable.
A really nice dog story, a story about friendship and loyalty, that I know kids are going to love…
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Matthew Henson was born about the time the Civil War ended. As a young African American boy, he had big hopes for seeing the world, but not much hope of fulfilling them. Orphaned at 13, Henson somehow managed to convince the captain of a sailing ship to hire him as a cabin boy. The captain took fondly to young Matt and schooled him in the ways of the high seas. Five years later, the Captain died, and Matthew Henson ended up back on land, working in a store. That's where he met Admiral Peary.
Admiral Peary is a man many of us know as the discoverer of the North Pole. But did you know that he was actually not alone when he made this discovery? Peary was accompanied by none other than Matthew Henson. In fact, Henson was actually the one who bonded with the Inuit people, trained the sled dogs, and stood next to Peary at the Pole (after surviving a fall into the icy water a few days earlier). Amazingly, after they returned from their expedition, Henson worked as a parking lot attendant because that is the only job he could get.
I loved everything about this book- Hopkinson's powerful storytelling, Henson's journal entries, the end pages that include author's note and timeline, and Stephen Alcorn's oh so beautiful illustrations, done in hues of blues, and oranges, and golds. I will be using KEEP ON as the center of an African American history unit in January. Matthew Henson has a lot to teach my kids about dreams, and tenacity, and perserverance, and dignity. Some pretty important life lessons, I think!
P.S. In case you are wondering why I have not been blogging--Ten days ago, my computer had an unfortunate accident (laptop bag meets parking lot, parking lot 1, laptop 0) and I have been without internet at home since then.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
John Brown was an ardent Christian. He believed that blacks should not only be free, but that they should be EQUAL- toward that end, he was kicked out of his home church for giving African Americans his pew at the front of the church after they had been seated in the back. Brown began his abolitionist roots working on the underground railroad in Hudson, Ohio. After the United States passed the Kansas-Nebraska act, which said that those two states could vote on whether they would enter the Union as free or slave states, Brown fought tirelessly to ensure that Kansas would be free. In one well-known battle, John and his sons stormed the homes of five pro-slavery settlers who had been threatening his family and other abolitionists, took the men to a creek, and killed them.
John Brown is perhaps best known for his role at Harper's Ferry. Harper's Ferry, the home of a federal armory which housed more than one hundred thousand rifles, was viewed as a symbol of Southern power. Brown decided that he and a small band of abolitionsists would capture the armory and seize the rifles, then use them to battle the Southern slave owners. Although he was initially successful, he made several poor decisions during this battle, and was eventually captured and hanged as a traitor. Many dismiss Brown as a madman. Hendrix, however, believes that we must see Brown as a man with huge passion and convictions for the downtrodden.
"I will raise a stom in this country that will not be stayed so long as there is a slave on its soil."I love when illustrations help kids understand a complex story, and John Hendrix's frontier style water colors (I'm not sure that is exactly how to describe them, but it's the best this non-artist can do) done on backgrounds of blues, tans, and golds, definitely do that. Most are bold, two-page spreads, that include a larger than life John Brown, but a few are also maps. Key quotes figure prominently in many of the illustrations. And if you enjoy reading author's blogs, John Hendrix has a great one- he includes photographs from a recent John Brown book tour, but also pages from his sketchbook.
I'll be sharing this book not only with our fourth and fifth graders, but also with some of my high school history teacher friends!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Poetry by Ntozake Shange
Paintings by Kadir Nelson
For POETRY FRIDAY today, I'm not sharing just a poem. Instead, I'm sharing a biography in a poem. Actually a civil rights biography in a poem. Today I'm sharing Ntozake Shange's beautiful poetry picture book, CORETTA SCOTT. Shange has taken just a few events from Coretta Scott's life, and shaped them into a beautiful poem. Listen to this page, when Coretta and her younger siblings are walking to school…
The illustrations in this book are by Kadir Nelson (WE ARE THE SHIP, HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX, HE'S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS) who is most definitely one of my all-time favorites. The illustrations in CORETTA SCOTT are his usual- rich details, vivid colors, so real the people almost seem to jump off the page.white school bus
funnel of dust
on their faces
songs and birds of all colors
and rich soil
where slaves sought freedom
in the face of danger
If I was doing a unit on biography, or teaching students about Coretta Scott King, I would probably read a more traditional biography first (there is actually a brief biography in the back of this book), then share Shange's poem. Prior to reading CORETTA SCOTT, I'd ask kids to list important events from her life, then to listen for these as I read. The book is short, so I could read it two or three times to let kids soak in the beautiful language. If kids were writing biography, I might ask them to choose a few important events from the person's life, then write a poem, using CORETTA as a mentor text.
This is definitely a book to add to your poetry and/or biography collection…
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS: THE TRUE STORY OF BOB AND JOE SWITZER'S BRIGHT IDEAS AND BRAND NEW COLORS is a "where things came from" kind of a book. Bob Switzer dreamed of being a doctor until a work-related accident left him with headaches and double vision. His younger brother Joe wanted to be a magician. Instead, the two ended up inventing day-glo paint. This book chronicles their journey with all its stops and starts, and false tries, e.g. the time they used their mom's mixer and turned her angel food cake a pale fluorescent pink. It's an engaging story, but the book also has lots of potential life lessons about creativity, risk taking, mistake making, patience, and perseverance. Character education at its finest!
First-time illustrator Tom Persiani has done a terrific job with the artwork in DAY-GLO BROTHERS. According to the back of the book, he used the computer to create fifties-style characters and settings in various hues of blacks, grays, and whites. He then digitally colorized the pictures with various day-glo oranges, yellows, greens, and pinks. At first, these colors are really pale, and there is just a little bit of color on each page As the Spitzers refine their invention, the colors become brighter and brighter, and there is more color on each page. Really clever!
In the back of the book, Chris Barton explains where he got the idea for the book, and how he did his research. He also includes a page about how regular and daylight fluorescence work. And if you want a quick, simple, explanation of fluorescence vs. day-glo fluorescence, check out this Charlesbridge site.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
ELEANOR: QUIET NO MORE traces the life of Eleanor Roosevelt through a wealthy but very lonely childhood, overseas travels, meeting and marrying FDR, dealing with a domineering mother-in-law, managing a new kind of life after FDR was stricken with polio, advocating for the downtrodden, and finally living the life of First Lady.
I love the layout of this picture book. Each two-page spread includes a picture and two or three paragraphs about a particular section of Roosevelt's life. It also includes, in a very large font, a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. Here are a couple of my favorites:
"We must be able to disagree and to consider new ideas and not be afraid."
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right-- for you'll be criticized anyway."
"I have never felt that anything really mattered but knowing that you stood for the things in which you believed and had done the very best you could."A brave strong woman I want all my students to know!
Monday, November 2, 2009
As someone who has been known to "make a wave or two," I knew, the minute I read the first line, that I was absolutely going to love this book. And I did. MERMAID QUEEN: THE SPECTACULAR TRUE STORY OF ANNETTE KELLERMAN, WHO SWAM HER WAY TO FAME, FORTUNE, AND SWIMSUIT HISTORY tells the story of Annette Kellerman, the Australian woman who invented water ballet and maybe more importantly to many of us, the modern woman's swimsuit.
Annette Kellerman was a sickly child whose father taught her to swim to strengthen her legs. Soon Annette was winning races and setting records. In 1903, however, not many women were athletes, and Annette's mother wished she would choose something a little more artistic. Ignoring all criticism, Annette and her father left Australia and traveled to England, where Annette was the first woman to attempt to swim the English Channel, then to Paris, and finally to Boston's Revere Beach. There, Annette was arrested and had to appear in court to defend her racy bathing suit! The tone of this book is bold and joyful and dashy and fun. And I don't know whether it was the author or illustrator or picture book designer, but they made some choices about font that I think kids (and their adults!) will find really interesting.
The illustrations, by Edwin Fotheringham, are exuberant and splashy and fun. Each page has kind of a "wavish" background done in blues, or greens, or oranges, with cartoonish-characters kind of super-imposed over the waves. Sometimes there are "mini-illustrations," done in water droplets, super-imposed on top of all that. And then there are a few random comments, e.g. "How sweaty! How rugged!" worked into the illustrations. It's kind of hard to explain, but the illustrations really add to joy and exuberance of this book. Kit lit blog extraordinaire, "Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast" did an interview of Shana Corey, and included several of the illustrations. Check them out here.
A splashy, joyful, strong, fun picture book that I can't wait to share with the strong girls and women in my life!