Monday, February 10, 2020

NF PB 10 for 10- PB Books for Young Readers

For the past eight years, Cathy Mere Mandy Robek, and Julie Balan have hosted PB 10 for 10 during the summer, and nonfiction PB 10 for 10 every February. The idea is that you gather ten of your favorite picture books, possibly connected to a theme, and share them with other picture book lovers. And then you go around and look at everyone else's and spend lots of money, buying new books for your classroom (ok, technically that's not part of it, but that is usually what happens for me). This year, I had the honor of being a first round CYBILS NONFICTION judge. I read 120 books, ranging from early childhood to high school reads. Since I have done several years of picture books for older readers, I decided that this year I would focus on picture books for younger readers. 

I love me a good ABC book. 
PEACEFUL FIGHTS  was one of my favorite CYBILS reads.

The Crayon Man: The True Story of How Crayola Crayons Were Made
Natascha Biebow
Great picture book biography. 

Moon! Earth's Best Friend
by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
A playful, first person look at the moon. 

If Pluto was a Pea
Gabrielle Prendergast, illustrated by Rebecca Gerlings
Another friendly space book.

Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival
by Lindsay Moore
A heart-breaking look at climate change!

Sea Shells: More than a Home 
Melissa Stewart
Love, love, love Melissa Stewart. I loved the first book in this series 
and was definitely not disappointed by this one. 

Blair Thornburgh and Scott Campbell
A fun look at that bone on the top of our head. 

Nine Months: Before a Baby is Boarn
by Miranda Paul and Jason Chin
My new favorite older sibling baby present!

The Boy Who Grew A Forest
By Sophia Gholz, Illustrated by Kayla Harren
A boy plants an entire forest. A story for your perseverance or ecology baskets.

Titan and the Wild Boars: The True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team
by Susan Hood

I was surprised how much I liked this picture book. Well-written and great graphics.

Friday, January 10, 2020

THE PROMISE OF CHANGE by JoAnn Allen and Debbie Levy

This year, I was a CYBILS judge for the nonfiction (sure, I can read 140 books including 40 novel length books in two months and blog about them and work full time also! No problem!) Actually, I was a teeny bit of a failure, I only got 110 read. One that I absolutely loved was a novel in verse, PROMISE OF CHANGE: ONE GIRL'S STORY IN THE FIGHT FOR CHANGE by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy.

PROMISE OF CHANGE is the true story of fourteen-year-old Jo Ann Allen's story of school integration. Allen was growing up in Clinton, Tennessee, in the early 1960's, when Brown vs. Board of Education was passed.

In an early chapter, Levy and Allen describe Clinton this way:

Clinton Tennesse
3,500 white people
220 black people
1 movie theater, where Negroes may only sit in the balcony
1 swimming pool, where Negroes may not go at all
1 fun rec center, with bowling alleys, pingpong tables,
badminton- but not for Negroes
1 public library (only Negroes aren't part of the "public")
1 public high school (whites only)
1 drug store, where Negroes may buy things, but may not
linger and definitely may not sit and eat at the lunch counter
where, I hear, they serve chicken salad sandwiches made
from roosters
not hens
0 restaurants where Negroes may eat
Segregation. Separate, not equal.
The way it is and has always been. 

JoAnn and eleven of her friends were forced to start high school at Clinton High School. And face discrimination and loneliness and even threats on their lives.

A terrific novel in verse.

Sally  Murphy is hosting this week's Poetry Friday. Be sure to head over there for lots of great poetry.

Friday, January 3, 2020


Sweet Rooney, the service puppy I'm raising to be a mobility dog for Canine Partners of the Rockies. 

Phew! A long and busy day and lots and lots of wonderful poetry posts to round up. 
I hope I didn't mess anything up or forget anyone, but just in case, feel free to let me know!
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

  • Karen Eastlund has saved one of her poetry books, THE ANIMALS’ MERRY CHRISTMAS, since she was a very little girl. Her copy still has the original pop-up Santa intact!
  • Interestingly, another Karen, Karen Edmisten, celebrates Epiphany with “Journey of the Magi.” Be sure to listen to T.S. Eliot read his poem.
  • At Going to Walden, Tara is celebrating the end of a season by making soup. I don’t like cooking, and I’m not a huge soup fan, but Tara’s poem, “Everybody Made Soups” by Lisa Coffman makes me want to haul out the crockpot!

  • Heidi Mordhorst’s has decided “to stop pretending that One Little WORD will ever suit her greedy, undisciplined, spatter focused personality.” Her very clever original, “Dear Words, All Words, made me laugh out loud! My sentiments, exactly Heidi!
  • Mollie Hogan, who is one of Heidi’s poetry partners, has also decided not to have OLW this year, but wrote a terrific poem about focus in the process. I learned an interesting new word, bokeh, from Mollie’s post. 
  • Linda Mitchell, another member of Hollie’s group, has chosen one little phrase, “at ease.” I’ll be thinking about her line, "Put your heart down," and details that  "bubble and laugh and splash” all day. I want to live like this in 2020! 
  • Margaret Simon, another member of Heidi’s group, reflects on her process of choosing embrace  as her one little word. It seems like the uniform confirmed her choice in the poem she received from Irene Latham. 
  • Carol Varsalona has chosen balance  as her word for 2020. Her original poem today was inspired by her priest’s homily, which ended with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Ring Out Wild Bells.” Be sure to give yourself a few minutes to listen to the sung rendition of this poem! It’s beautiful!
  • Catherine is also a member of the group that is choosing their one little word. She’s chosen perspective, and written a gorgeous golden shovel poem. She ends with the question, What mysteries would be revealed to eyes that have lived a different life?”
  • Ramona’s OLW is light and she’s decided to share light-related poems throughout the year. Today she is featuring Mary Oliver’s When I Am Among the Trees.” Can’t wait to see what other poems she will share this year. 
  • Jan Godown Annino will be focusing on plenty this year. One of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, serves as her inspiration for today. 

  • At A YEAR OF READING, Mary Lee shares what she describes as a hodgepodge, but a very terrific hodgepodge it is. A graphic, a picture book about William Carlos Williams (oh no, I already spent $44.87 on Laura Shovan’s post), a terrific Barbara Crooker poem, and a tear-jerker podcast. Of course, I had to stop to read the transcript of the podcast (and then I wonder why it takes me so long to get the roundup written!).
  • A perfect new-to-me line for this year, “The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper,” Eden Phillpotts, A Shadow Passes, quoted in Little Willow’s post. In case you didn’t know, Eden Philpotts was an English author and poet, who lived from 1862-1960.

  • At Gathering Books, Myra kicks off her “Year of International Literature” with “Remember,” a poem by Native American author, Joy Harjo. Myra is looking for non-native speakers that publish in English for her “Year of International Literature.” Be sure to send any resources her way.
  • I’m intrigued by Joann Macken’s poem about recycling old ideas into new poems. I have this crazy vision of all of us throwing our used ideas into a bucket, and randomly pulling them out and writing off of them. 
  • Although they were probably not intended to be the focus of his post, I especially loved Tim Kulp’s four thoughts on New Year’s resolutions. His “story in verse,” written off of William Hope Hodgson’s “The House on the Borderland” creeps me out a little, but I think my sixth graders would love it!
  • Ever brilliant poet, Laura Salas ,also has an original about the New Year. I’m intrigued by her mention of a poetry diary. Maybe that would get me started writing again.
  • Irene Latham is kicking off this year with a brand new Artspeak series. Her theme this year will be “red.” Red is my absolute favorite color, and yet as I read her poem, I think about how all that energy sometimes makes me feel a little chaotic. Hmmmm.
  • All Jane Whittingham, rocking a cranky teething baby at 4:30 a.m., wants for the New Year is a good night’s sleep! Doesn’t sound like too much to ask!
  • Matt Forrest Esenwine reflects on a very productive 2019 and looks forward to lots of projects and publications in 2020. Matt was a first round CYBILS judge and shares the poetry finalists. 
  • Sylvia Vardell was also a CYBILS poetry judge. I can’t imagine trying to choose one book from the seven finalists. The competition will be fierce!
  • Jone would love to be part of an online poetry group. Please contact her if you are interested. Jone started out this year by writing two haiku. 
  • Rebecca Herzog has big goals for 2020. She wants to write a poem a week and get one hundred rejection letters. She had that goal last year, and only got 26, but she also had four poems published! Keep up the good work Rebecca!

  • Michelle Kogan is thinking about climate change. She has not one, but TWO original poems today- one a golden shovel based on a line from David Bowie’s, “Changes,” and the second, a proclamation for the New Year. 
  • Christie Wyman and her kindergartners kicked off the new year with a walk to her school’s vernal pond (how cool is that!), where they observed a really interesting phenomena, which led Christy to create (her OLW) a photograph and cinquain!
  • My Denver colleague, Linda Baie, found herself on the receiving end of a winter poetry swap from Robyn Hood Black. She’s written her own poem in response. 
  • Janice Scully’s original poem, “The Snowplow,” was inspired by Carl Sandburg’s “Fog,” which is one of the first poems I remember from childhood. 
  • Our hearts break with Sally and Kat, and all of our Australian posters, over the fires in their country. Sally’s line, “We need to start treating our earth as the fragile thing it has always been,” will stick with me for a long time!
  • Carol LaBuzzetta has written five new and original color haiku. Don’t miss her beautiful words and photographs. 
  • Mandy discovered a small miracle today. She used it to start her poetry writing plan for this year. 

  • Laura Shovan’s review could not have come at a better time for me. I’m starting a new unit on REFUGEES next week, and have been trying to decide how I wanted to start. Laura shared a breathtaking reverso poem, REFUGEE by Jason Fotso, as well as reviews of three novels in verse. I’m looking forward to Laura’s newest book, A PLACE AT THE TABLE, which will be available in May, 2020. 
  • Do you ever wonder about themes that keep showing up in your life? I’m about to start GOOD DOG, a book by Dan Gemeinhart (a middle grade author whose work I am loving) about a dog who returns to Earth to take care of his boy. And then Amy Ludwig VanDerwater writes a poem about pets revisiting. Hmmmm….
  • I don’t even know what to say about Ruth’s poem, but you have GOT to go read it. Heart breaking and breathtaking, all at once. So very beautiful…
  • Rose Cappelli wants to participate more in Poetry Friday. She’s starting with an original triolet, a love poem, that I think would make a terrific Valentine’s Day Card. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020


Welcome to my little corner of the world! One of my resolutions for 2020 is that I get back into participating in Poetry Friday on a much more regular basis. I guess one way to do that is to host!

A few days ago, a friend shared this beautiful Maya Angelou poem on Facebook. I knew right away that I wanted it to be the poem I shared with you today. I wanted to use only part of it, and link you to the rest, but I couldn't find it anywhere else online. It's too perfect not to share...

CONTINUE: a poem

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
My wish for you
Is that you continue


To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness


To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart


In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter


To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined


To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you


To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely


To put the mantle of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless


To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise


To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected


To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good


To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit


To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing


To float
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name


And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue

Put your link in the comments and I will round them up tonight or tomorrow. 

Monday, December 30, 2019


I know it's probably not politically correct, and  I'm probably not supposed to say this, but as a little girl, I loved going to the zoo. One of the animals I loved most was the polar bear. I remember watching them cavort in the water.

Now that I'm older, I understand that wild animals are supposed to be free. And I feel so sad to know that the choices we have made are hugely damaging to other inhabitants of our planet. Especially animals like polar bears. I want my students to understand that we have to make better choices.

That's why I am so glad that there are books like SEA BEAR. Debut picture book author Lindsay Moore, who has a degree in medical and scientific illustration, traces the journey of a polar bear, across the Arctic ice and through the ocean. It's one of those timeless picture book, simple enough for very young children, and yet one I am sure would also engage my middle school readers.

End matter includes a page of factual information about polar bears, sea ice, and climate change, and another page about other animals above and below the ice.
"Polar bears are patient beasts,as patient as glaciers. We know how to hope and how to wait.I learned to be patient long agofrom my polar bear mother- 
to be patient while hunting,to be patient with weather,to be patient in darkness. 
A polar bear can outwait almost anything--     seals,       storms,          and long sunless winters--             but a bear needs something to stand on, 
I watch the ice.           

Thursday, December 26, 2019


NINE MONTHS: BEFORE A BABY IS BORN follows a young child as she and her parents await the birth of a new baby. Miranda Paul's quintrains are playful and bouncy.  

The point of a pin.
Then it divides…

Our story begins. 

Jason Chin’s detailed and accurate illustrations provide children with accurate information about pregnancy. Each two-page spread is divided in half. The left hand side shows the development of the fetus, most in actual size. The right hand side shows the family- a dad, a mom, and the big sister who is probably three or four, as they engage in a variety of “waiting for baby” activities- reading about babies, examining baby clothes, attending an ultrasound appointment, gardening, and building a crib. As the baby grows, it takes up more and more of the two-page spread. 

Rich end matter includes "More About Babies," a detailed description of a baby's development over nine months, "Whoa Baby!" (nine amazing things a baby can do before it is born), “Humans vs. Animals (gestation length for animals ranging from mice to lions to elephants) and then  “What If- What if there are two, or more than two embryos? What if a baby is born early, What if Something Goes Wrong?”

A perfect book for a big brother or sister who is waiting on a sibling to be born.

Monday, November 4, 2019


I'm kind of embarrassed to admit, ok, so maybe this wouldn't surprise anyone who knows me, but I am a little nosy. I love knowing the details of people's lives, for instance, what the Rockies' have on their inboard flight menu, and where the actors from the performing arts center stay while they are in Denver. SCIENTISTS GET DRESSED, then, was a book that was made for me.

The book features photographs (some of them foldouts) of approximately twenty different kinds of scientists at work, everything from astronauts to neurosurgeons, to astronomers, to forest canopy biologists, to paleontologists, to volcanologists, to raptor biologists. Each is accompanied by two or three paragraphs of description about what that scientist wears when they are at work.

End matter for this book is super fun and super creative:
  • Photos tell Science Stories- ten questions a person could ask when looking at a photograph of a scientist at work, 
  • If You Were a Scientist How Would You Get Dressed
  • What are scientists jobs called?
  • You Can Be a Citizen Scientist
  • A two page spread on scientists' gloves 
  • Vocabulary list
  • An interview of marine biologist, Eric Hoffmayer
A book I think lots of kids are going to enjoy!