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!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

CARTER READS THE NEWSPAPER- written by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Don Tate

As a long time urban educator and as the mom of two African American sons, I think I have a fairly extensive knowledge (not to mention a library) of famous African Americans. Nevertheless, this week I learned about a person that was totally new to me when I read CARTER READS THE NEWSPAPER.

Carter Woodson was born on a small farm in Virginia in 1875. His father was a former slave and solder in the Union Army. His mother had vivid childhood memories of standing on the auction block. The pair struggled to support their family of seven, and Carter only went to school four months out of every year, because he had to work on the family farm the rest of the year. Carter began his scholarly career reading the newspaper to his father.

At age 16, Carter followed an older brother into the coal mines. One of the coal miners opened his home to the miners every night. When the men discovered Carter could read, he was again pressed into service. At age twenty, Carter finally returned to high school. He graduated in two years, then went on to college, eventually earning a Ph.D from Harvard. When a professor stated that the Blacks had no history, Carter was determined to prove him wrong. He dedicated the rest of his life to proving that, establishing Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month,  in 1926.

Deborah Hopkinson is one of my favorite storytellers and Don Tate's artwork definitely enhances the story. During the first pass, I read for story, but during the second, I noticed how Tate had worked drawings of more than fifty famous African Americans into the illustrations.

End pages include "Learn More about Carter G. Woodson" as well as an author's and illustrator's note.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

THE CRAYON MAN: THE INVENTION OF THE CRAYOLA CRAYON by Natascha Biebow, illustrated by Steven Salerno

Once there was a man who saw color EVERYWHERE.

     He noticed the yellow-orange petals of the black-eyed Susans
         in his garden. He marvelled at the rich scarlet-red tones of
             the cardinal's feathers. He admired the deep blue-greens
                 of the waves in the sea. 

                         Color made him really, really HAPPY!

So begins Natascha Bierbow's picture book biography about Edwin Binney, the man who invented crayola crayons. Binney worked at a factory where carbon black, a substance used in things like printing inks and shoe polish, was made. In his spare time, Binney invented slate pencils and a wax crayon that would write on wood and paper packaging. When his wife told him that children needed better and cheaper crayons, Binney went to work. And all of us know the result....

End pages include a two-page spread about how crayons are made today, and another page with more information about Edwin Binney.

Pair this with MAGIC RAMEN and POP, also Chris Barton's WHOOSH!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

MAGIC RAMEN by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz

My middle schoolers love, love, love their ramen noodles.

And I'm pretty sure they will love this picture book biography that describes how Momofuku Ando invented ramen noodles shortly after World War II.  Thinking MAGIC RAMEN would pair really well with POP: THE INVENTION OF BUBBLE GUM by MEGHAN McCARTHY. Or make a nice addition to a unit on persistence.

End pages include an author's note, a pronunciation guide, and an afterword with additional information about Momofuku Ando.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Tenth Annual Picture Book Ten for Ten- We're All In This Together

The events of the last few weeks have left my heart heavy to the point that I wasn't sure I was even going to do a PB Ten for Ten this year. But somehow, I just couldn't not participate in the Tenth Annual Picture Book Ten for Ten. Hence my theme (such as it may be)- We're All In This Together.
There will be lots more great collections at Cathy Mere's Reflect and Refine. 

Bear Came Along
by Richard Morris and LeUyen Pham
One of those absolutely perfect picture books that all kids from age 2 up to 102 will love!

Lottie and Walter
Anna Walker
Lottie doesn't want to go into the swimming pool because she knows there are sharks in the water. 
Her friend, Walter, convinces her otherwise. 

Otto and Pio
Marianne Dubuc
Otto the Squirrel is perfectly content living alone in his treehouse until the day when a furry white creature, enclosed in a bushy green egg arrives....

Drew Brockington
A small green monster is a mess until a hot dog vendor saves the day!
I could see using this book to introduce a discussion 
as to how our actions can soothe or escalate situations. 

I Can Only Draw Worms
by Will Mabbitt
A crazy fun counting book in which the narrator is decidedly unapologetic about his talents. 

If I Was the Sunshine
by Julie Fogliano and Loren Long
It's by Julie Fogliano (If You Want to See a Whale and When Green Becomes Tomatoes) and Loren Long. That might be all I have to say. A beautiful and poetic picture book.

Lawrence in the Fall
Matthew Farina
Lawrence the Fox needs to share a collection at school.
His friends are excited but Lawrence doesn't collect anything...

Where Are You From?
Yamile Staled Méndez and Jaime Kim
A little girl keeps getting asked where she is from.
Her abuelo helps her craft an answer.
Also available in Spanish.

My Heart is a Compass
Deborah Marcero
A girl draws several different "maps" of her world. 
I want to use this book before kids create heart maps of the stories they want to tell this year. 

If DaVinci Painted a Dinosaur
by Amy Newbold and Greg Newbold

Dinosaurs as seen by many different artists.
A reminder that there are many ways to see the world. 

Friday, July 26, 2019


Last week, Jared Polis named Bobby Lefebre Colorado's Poet Laureate. According to his website, "Bobby LeFebre is an award-winning writer, performer, and cultural worker from Denver, Colorado. He is a two-time Grand Slam Champion, a National Poetry Slam Finalist, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, and a two-time TEDx speaker.  LeFebre has performed at hundreds of cultural events, social actions, detention centers, conferences, and colleges and universities across the United States and abroad." He's also a playwright, whose newest play, Northside, just completed a 25 day run at Su Teatro in Denver. And the coolest thing for me-- last week I ran into G, who works in the cafeteria at my school. She's Bobby's mother!

Upon his appointment, Lefebre said, "The poet, and more importantly to me, the poet laureate, should not only strive to raise the consciousness and appreciation and the promotion and consumption and reading and writing of poetry, but they should also strive to raise the consciousness of our collective psyche, and heal where there is hurt, celebrate where there is joy, share where there is peace, disrupt where there is stagnation, build where there is opportunity, fight where there is conflict, and challenge where there is complacency," LeFebre said.

I didn't have an easy time finding his work on line. The one poem I did find is "Social Worker," a spoken word poem that LeFebre performed as a TED talk. 

"Social Worker"

When I tell people what I do for a living
they often respond by saying things like
"bless your soul" "that must be difficult" and my all time favorite, "it's so nice seeing someone not work for the money"
I'm a social worker
I tend to the wounds of people crucified by circumstance
carry hope and band-aids in my briefcase
share my own scars for street cred
I work with kids who see their probation officers
more than their fathers

Check out Bobby's website here. 

Enjoy other poems at Margaret's Reflections on the Teche

Friday, July 19, 2019


Last week, Rooney did a presentation at the Denver Country Club.
I didn't go, he went with the trainers, but I heard he was quite a hit!
Thanks so much for all of your kind words about my sweet guy. It really is super fun to be his mom for two years, and yes, it will be hard to give him up, but when I see the joy he brings to his partner, it will be worth it. He's snoring beside me as I wrap up Poetry Friday (actually early Saturday morning) on a crazy full day. 

Poetry Friday was full of all kinds of celebrations!

Celebrating the Moon Landing...
It seems only right to begin by honoring  Elaine Magliaro, who is celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary this weekend. Elaine has also managed to find time to write five moon poems (and one rocket poem). 

Catherine also has an original moon landing poem, based on a prompt from Colby Sharp's CREATIVITY PROJECT.  Word Press is not letting me comment on Catherine's post today, but if it had, this is what I wanted to say, "Trying to incorporate all five of those things into one poem does not seem like an easy assignment Catherine, but you have nailed it beautifully. Your details are so real that you make me wonder, “Did she really have a cat named Luna?” Well done!"

At "My Juicy Little Universe," Heidi Mordhorst shares an original poem, "Moonwalk vs. Heatwaves." Heidi's poem is accompanied by an article and several songs.

Celebrating History…
At "A Word Edgewise," Linda Mitchell shares Pat Valdata's NO MAN CAN TOUCH, a book of 56 bio poems about women pilots. Linda has gone to the trouble of hunting down photographs of the women. Super cool!

In another history-related post, Tabatha Yeatts is sending Donna "Missive from a Motorcyclist, 1917." Her original (rhyming!) poem is accompanied by some old photographs. Fascinating!

Sylvia Vardell is continuing her EXTRA! EXTRA series, where she asks authors of novels in verse to submit poems that did not make it into their novels. Today's poem comes from WHITE ROSE by Kip Wilson. After reading one poem, I'm feeling like I have to get hold of the novel!

Celebrating Creative Families...
Robyn Hood Black seems to have inherited a few poetic genes from her mom. She broke her ankle this week and has two poems about that event- one by her, and then a limerick by her mom, with maybe a little help from her stepdad.

Matt Forest Esenwine is also a member of a very creative family. Today his poem and photographs highlight his five-year-old daughter's considerable artistic abilities. Matt, I'm sorry, for whatever reason Word Press just isn't letting me comment on posts today

Celebrating Songs
This month's poetry challenge at Today's Little Ditty is "found haiku," which is more than a little intriguing for me, as someone who quite often can't even find her car keys, let alone a haiku! Today, Michelle has found haiku in Joni Mitchell's song lyrics.

At Bildungsroman, Little Willow is also featuring song lyrics. Hers, "Balcony Dreams," by Mauwe, is beautiful and haunting. 

At "There Is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Country," Ruth celebrates friendships with "Here's To You," a beautiful song by Brooke Fraser, who is new to me. 

Celebrating Nature...
Every time I hear mention of Robert MacFarlane's LOST WORDS, I think, "I HAVE to own that book." Molly Hogan has used one of Macfarlane's words as the basis for her own poem. An added bonus is a beautiful song based on one of the poems in the book. 

Margaret Simon received a gorgeous nature poem from Michelle Kogan this week. Michelle wrote a poem about the anhinga bird (which I had never heard of), and then painted a beautiful watercolor. There are definitely some talented folks in this crowd!

Kay McGriff has also written an original poem, "Nature's Ninjas" about phages, in honor of her daughter's 21st birthday. I love the tradition of writing a special birthday poem and I definitely know a lot more about bacteriophages than I did before!

Carol Varsalona celebrates nature with one of her beautiful word and watercolor creations (I really do want to learn how she does this!). And then there's a double bonus because she share's Ruth's poetry swap gift, another gorgeous original poem. 

In another original poem, Cheriee Weichel takes us all on a glorious adventure in the Pine Valley region of British Columbia. It makes me long for a simpler life.  

Jone Rush McCulloch shares her gift from the Poetry Swap, a gorgeous triolet from Mary Lee Hahn. It seems that Jone took a picture of the Grand Canyon, and then Mary Lee wrote her triolet, and then, wait, there's more, Jone found a haiku, which she added to Michelle Heidenrich Barne's challenge for this month. Phew!

Celebrating New Poetry Collections
Speaking of books I HAVE to own, Irene Latham is featuring Michelle Shaub with her new poetry book, Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections, that is coming out in September. I love, love, love hearing the backstory behind books, and this interview will be really fun to share with kids.  

At Pleasures from the Page, Ramona and her grandson, Jack, are enjoying CLACKETY TRACK, a fun new collection of train poems by Skila Brown. 

Mandy Robek is in with a nonfiction dinosaur collection, IN THE PAST by David Ellis. Mandy describes the book as just the right blend of poetry and nonfiction. 

And then some others...
As if writing triolets was not enough, the ever creative Mary Lee Hahn, continues her "Playing With Poetry" theme from April. At Nerd Camp in Michigan, she found two fun new books, INSTANT POETRY and SCRIBBLE OUT POETRY. I think I might need them!

Linda Baie is celebrating her 1900th post and hoping the poem she wrote for Iphigine has arrived. The picture that goes with her poem looks like my front porch the weeks before school starts!

Kat Apel's had a busy week at the 14th annual CYA Conference in Brisbane. Interesting to read her groups discussion of several writerly questions! 

If I could have commented on Word Press blogs today (what am I doing wrong?) I would have said this to Michelle Kogan about her poem, "Perseverance." I love this! Those last four lines! Perfect! It reminds me “From Mother to Son” which is one of my all time favorites!