Monday, February 8, 2016

Nonfiction Monday

Today's recommendation is: "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba  and Bryan Mealer with illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon.

When drought and famine forced 14-year-old Kamkwamba to drop out of school, he was determined to continue his education by reading in the library. It was there that he found books on science and engineering and began to dream of aiding his stricken village in Malawi.

This picture book biography for older readers is based on the New York Times best selling adult book by the same name.

Kamkwamba's writing is an elegant account of how he imagined, designed, and built a windmill out of discarded materials from local scrap yards, inspired a community, and set himself on the path to future success as a student at Dartmouth where he graduated in 2014.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by The Miss Rumphius Effect.

My selection is "Birches" by RobertFrost, illustrated by Ed Young.


Robert Frost, here in a contemplative mood, his poem given a quite background of soft impressionistic watercolors. Young has made no attempt to interpret the words with camera-crisp precision. Wisely, he offers a muted palette that gently hints at the feelings and images evoked by the words.


I'm particularly fond of this poem -- here are four of my favorite lines.


Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust --

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Reading to the Core.

My selection is "African Acrostics: A Word In Edgeways" by Avis Harley with illustrations by Deborah Noyes.


Harley invites readers to decode the hidden messages that appear in her eighteen animal-themed poems and learn a bit about the natural world while Noyes awes viewers with stunning photography.  Of course you will find lions, elephants, giraffes, and hippopotamuses but this celebration of African wildlife also has some surprises. Kudus, bonobos, cape buffalo, bat-eared foxes, African wildcats, and hornbills find a place among the more familiar crocodiles and ostriches.


One of my favorite poems is titled Moody Guy. This rhino-inspired work begins:

Boulders for shoulders

Elegant horn --

A pointed reminder of the


Thick leg-pillars bruising tawny

Yellow grass.


Do you see the beginning of the message? When the first letter of each word is read vertically, the complete poems says Beauty In The Beast.

Following the poetry, Harley provides information about acrostics and encourages readers to invent some of their own. Additional information about each of the featured animals is offered for further reading.

A note from Noyes completes the book with a look at the life of a wild-life photographer and a discussion of where the photos were taken.

Consider this book as an inspiration for student poetry and for cross-curriculum connections.

Monday, January 25, 2016

SCN Star Blogger

I received word this morning that I will be featured in the upcoming SCN (Story Circle Network) e-letter as a Star Blogger.

The Story Circle Network supports women writers and encourages them to share their stories in both fiction and nonfiction through a variety of genres.

 I'm delighted to announce this very special recognition.

Thank you to all my readers for your support and interest.

And thank you to SCN for this honor.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by A Teaching Life.

My selection is "Brown Honey inBroomwheat Tea" by Joyce Carol Thomas with illustrations by Floyd Cooper.


Multiple award-winning author, poet, and playwright, Joyce Carol Thomas offers readers this lovely gem of a book. Twelve lyrical poems share a glimpse of the African American home and family distilled by Thomas' into thoughtful word pictures that are rich with emotional content.

"Cherish Me" is one of my favorites.

 Cooper's warm palette lends the illustrations a lush sense of time and place.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by  Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference.

My selection is "It's Raining Pigs& Noodles" by Jack Prelutsky with illustrations by James Stevenson.

Prelutsky delivers his trademark silliness in this collection of one hundred poems that are filled with nonsense, goofy rhymes, puns, wordplay, and punchlines that will leave readers groaning and grinning.

Stevenson's illustrations add a deliciously zany note to the fun-filled chaos.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Random Noodling.

My selection is "Poetrees" by DouglasFlorian


Florian focuses his talent for poetry and illustration on trees as he celebrates their beauty, uniqueness, and importance in this collection of eighteen poems that are rich with his signature wordplay: "lovely leaves/leave me in awe."

Florian's enthusiasm for his subject is clearly demonstrated in the first stanza of his poem, Coconut Palm : I'm nuts about the coconut./I'm cuckoo for the coco./I'm crazed for this amazing nut./For coco I am loco.

There's the familiar oak and weeping willow, the largest - Sequoia and the oldest - Bristlecone pine, as well as the exotic Scribbly Gum, Baobab, and Monkey Puzzle Tree.  Florian  includes poems about roots, seed, bark, leaves, and even tree rings in this thoughtful look at one of earth's most valuable resources. A Glossatree that provides information about the subjects of his verses completes the book.

Florian turns his book ninety degrees to allow for large, vertical double-page spreads for his illustrations worked in mixed media on brown bag paper.


The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer