Monday, October 31, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Jean Little Library.

My selection is "Teammates" written by Peter Golenbock and illustrated by Paul Bacon.

Golenbock, a well-known sports writer, provides young readers with a thoughtful account of Jackie Robinson's selection as the first Negro League player to join a major league team, the Brooklyn Dodgers. He skillfully tells the story of Branch Rickey's hiring of Robinson , the challenges Robinson faced from both a hostile public and fellow players and the actions of Pee wee Reese in support of his teammate.

Robinson was a target for verbal abuse, physical attacks and death threats, but Reese refused to participate in the harassment and is remembered for the moment when he offered a supporting arm to Robinson in an action that silenced fans, players and critics and is commemorated by a statue in Brooklyn's Coney Island Keyspan Park.

Bacon's illustrations are combined with photographs to provide readers with an authentic sense of the life and times of this baseball legend.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Random Noodling

My selection is "Holiday Stew: A Kids Portion of Holiday and Seasonal Poems" by Jenny Whitehead.

Here is  light-hearted poetry to keep you going all through the year.  The collection is divided into seasons, beginning with the spring and acknowledges not only the generally expected holidays, but touches on some others as well: daylight savings, grandparents' day, and teacher appreciation day to name a few.  There are plenty of poems related to the seasons as well and they vary from simple two-line verses to more substantial work, but all of them share a sense of fun. 

The whimsical gouache and ink drawings reflect the child-like point of view that informs the poet's voice throughout.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Apples With Many Seeds.

My selection is "All Star!: Honus Wagner and the most famous baseball card ever" written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke.

Yolen begins her tribute to this baseball legend,  who was one of the first five players inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, by sharing the story of how his baseball card sold for nearly three million dollars.  Wagner was a child from an immigrant family with a sixth-grade education.  He worked in a coal mine but went on to become a hero of baseball playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Yolen skillfully intersperses anecdotes culled from Wagner's experiences with the personal values that sustained him.  Wagner, a nonsmoker, had his baseball card recalled in 1909 when he learned it was being included in cigarette promotions because he didn't want to set a bad example for children.  Yolen sets his story against a realistic picture America during Wagner's life (1874-1955).

Burke's illustrations are reminiscent of those early years and are filled with carefully rendered detail that makes each picture worthy of a second look.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.

My selection is "Hallowilloween : nefarious silliness" from Calef Brown.

Brown is once again at his best with nonsense and fun as he explores the season of scary delight with  Poltergeysers, Oompachupa Loompacabra and Vumpires. 

In "Lone Star Witches" the witches of Texas/are practicing hexes/in comical conical ten-gallon hats...

You get the idea.  If you're a Calef Brown fan then you know what to expect and won't be disappointed.  If you aren't a fan yet; it's time to get acquainted.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Simply Science.

My selection is "Helen Keller: her life in pictures" written by George Sullivan.

Anyone who is familiar with Helen Keller knows she lost her hearing before she was two years old and eventually learned to communicate at the age of seven as a result of her lessons with Anne Sullivan, her teacher.  It is a remarkable story that has appeared on stage and screen.  But Helen Keller's life was far more than the story of how she overcame her disabilities.

Sullivan highlights Helen's accomplishments, which were extensive.  Following her graduation from Radcliffe college in 1900, Helen led a public life.  She wrote several books, appeared on the stage, starred in a film, lectured, and traveled extensively, visiting thirty-nine countries on six continents.  She served her country as a goodwill ambassador and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.   She raised millions of dollars to aid the blind.  She was an activist for a broad range of issues -- equality for the disabled, the right of workers to organize, and women's suffrage.

 Sullivan's choice of photographs give the reader a powerful sense of the scope and impact of Helen's life.  The book concludes with a chronology, bibliography, a list for further reading, other sources of information,  and an index.  The book also features a link to "Ask Keller" where readers can make inquiries about Helen Keller's life and receive a response in a monthly column by Keller Johnson Thompson, Helen's great-grandniece.  The column is found at Helen Keller Kids Museum Online.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Fomagrams.

My selection is "Cobwebs, chatters, and chills : a collection of scary poems" collected by Patricia M. Stockland and illustrated by Sara Rojo Perez.

Stockland has collected a variety of poetry forms woven together by a theme ideally suited to Halloween. Her selection is an eclectic mix of writers ranging from Carl Sandburg to Ogden Nash and provides plenty of opportunities to explore a range of poetic options that children would enjoy and teachers could use to encourage students to try writing poems on their own.

Perez's illustrations are weirdly entertaining and add to the fun.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Practically Paradise.

My selection is "I Could Do That!: Esther Morris gets women the vote" written by Linda Arms White with illustrations by Nancy Carpenter.

Esther Morris' "can do" attitude shaped her life.  At the age of six, she insisted she could learn to make tea like her mother -- and she did.  At nineteen she established her own millinery business.  And when she moved to Wyoming with her husband and sons, she saw no reason why she shouldn't vote.  She was instrumental in leading her state to be the first to give women the right to vote.  She went on to become the first women to hold a public office when she was sworn in as a judge to fill the vacancy created when her predecessor resigned in protest of women's suffrage.

White tells readers that there is very little documentation about the life of Esther Morris, but that only makes this story more remarkable.  White has done a splendid piece of work in providing her audience with a  heroine who is both admirable and believable.  If the line between nonfiction and historical fiction seems to blur at times, there is no doubt about the achievements of this remarkable woman's life.

Carpenter's illustrations are colorful and energetic, much like the character she portrays.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Round Up is hosted today by Great Kid Books.

My selection is Tap Dancing on the Roof: sijo (poems) written by Linda Sue Park with pictures by Istvan Banyai.

Park, 2002 Newbery Medalist for her book A Single Shard, introduces readers to the Korean sijo. A sijo is similar to the more familiar haiku in that it has a well-defined structure, but this form of poetry is designed to surprise the reader with an ironic twist or joke as the last line.

If this sounds like fun, it is. Park explores a variety of subjects that are familiar and engaging for her young readers. Banyai's loosely drawn illustrations feel effortless and are a perfect, playful compliment to the text.

An Author's Note, Historical Background, Further Reading, and Tips for writing a sijo complete the book.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

I have a serious date with one of my manuscripts today.  I've given myself one week to complete a first draft.  You know how those deadlines go so we'll see . . .

In the meantime, I'd like to recommend a worthwhile post at Adventures in Children's Publishing -- Kiki Hamilton on Writing for the Love of the Story.  

If you are new to writing you will find encouragement and seasoned writers will enjoy this reminder of why we write.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by 100 Scope Notes.

My selection is "Fearless: the story of racing legend Louise Smith" by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Scott Dawson.

Women's roles were clearly defined in the 1940s and 1950s and Louise Smith met traditional expectations as a wife with a nursing career, but she wanted something more.  Speed!  She found what she was looking for in NASCAR.  She competed from 1949 - 1956, won 38 races, and became the first women elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Rosenstock leads readers through the life of this dynamic women who began her career as a novelty to attract fans and continued into her later years as a car owner for some of Nascar's best known drivers.

Dawson's paintings capture Smith's life with the nostalgic feel of a begone era and create a sense of power and movement that clearly convey the potent attraction of racing.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer