Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

On Writing Through the Fear . . .

There is a worthwhile post today on overcoming your insecuritites -- visit Teaching Authors.

"Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential." Jessamyn West

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Capstone Connect.

My selection is "A Feast of Freedom: tasty tidbits from the City Tavern" by Walter Staib and Jennifer Fox with illustrations by Fernando Juarez.

Staib and Fox have found an interesting take on Revolutionary War Events in this chronicle of Philadelphia's City Tavern, built in 1773 as a genteel gathering place for many of that era's most recognizable gentlemen.  Walter Staib, an expert in 18th century cuisine and the current chef at City Tavern, shares stories from this historic landmark covering the years from the opening through a pre-inauguration celebration for George Washington in 1789.  A tricorn-wearing mouse (think Robert Lawson's Ben and Me) shares reactions and narrates City Tavern's role as a meeting place for members of the First Continental Congress, site of a private dinner between Washington and Lafayette, and the tavern's historic relationship with many of the well-known events from the day.   

Juarez's illustrations add depth to the text with paintings that appear to acknowledge colonial artists such as Gilbert Stuart, familiar for his portraits of George Washington, while retaining a modern sensibility.

Hand-drawn maps, a timeline, and a recipe for City Tavern's famous corn bread complete the book.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Roundup is hosted today by Live. Love. Explore! with Irene Latham.

Here we are at the beginning of the school year once again.  To help students and teachers get off to a fun-filled start, my selection is "Counting our way to the 100th day!: 100 poems by Betsy Franco with 100 pictures by Steven Salerno

Short poems and lively illustrations lead readers through the first one hundred days of school.  Each verse incorporates the three digit number that has become a main stay of the beginning calendar in so many classes.Salerno's cheerful illustrations will challenge readers to find all his cleverly incorporated 100s. 

Franco's poetry -- imaginative and varied in style -- touches on an assortment of topics in the school curriculum: science, history, language arts, and an amazing collection of math related topics.  Many of the math-themed verses are actually problems in disguise, but who would mind when the word-play is so much fun. 
Here is a poem-a-day for teachers to use and children to enjoy as they count their way to the 100th day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Ana's Nonfiction Blog.

My selection is "The adventures of Marco Polo" by Russell Freedman with illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline.

Did Marco Polo travel to China and beyond or were the tales he related exaggerations?  Newbery Medal-winner, Russel Freedman leads readers through the life of this 13th century adventurer in search of answers. The story of Polo's life and travels is every bit as exciting as his "Description of the World" that was published at the end of the century in which he lived and was one of the most popular books in Medieval Europe.  Freedman weaves an alluring narrative that incorporates Polo's descriptions in quotes without losing an historian's quest for facts. 

Ibatoulline brings a rich and unique aesthetic to the illustrations which vary in style from Western to Eastern as the text requires.  The book is further enhanced by the use of aged parchment style paper, calligraphy, and medieval reproductions to create a work with an historic feel.  Maps, author's notes, bibliography, remarks about the illustrations, and an index complete the work.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Dori Reads.

My selection is "Birds of a Feather" poems by Jane Yolen with photographs by Jason Stemple

Award winning Jane Yolen, author of over 300 books, has created another delight for audiences.  This collection of fourteen poems about birds includes beautiful photographs by well-known wildlife photographer Jason Stemple and is rounded out with sidebars containing facts about the various species.

The poetry touches on an assortment of  subjects. Haiku for a Cool Kingfisher, Oystercatchers on Parade, Eastern Kingbird: The flying Ninja, and Cedar Waxwing Unmasked are a few of the works that readers will enjoy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

Is writing worth the rejection?

From a reader --

"I just received my second rejection letter."

What now?

With every rejection letter I follow these steps:

  • reread the manuscript,
  • revise,
  • rewrite,
  • resubmit.
  • Repeat as needed.
"The low grades on my college stories were echoed in the rejection slips, in the hundreds of rejection slips." -

John Steinbeck - Nobel Prize in Literature 1962.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Amy O'Quinn.

My selection is "The secret soldier : the story of Deborah Sampson" written by Ann McGovern, illustrated by Harold Goodwin with cover illustration by Katherine Thompson.

McGovern tells the remarkable story of the first woman known to have served in the army during the Revolutionary War.

Deborah was born in Plympton, Massachusetts, on December 17, 1760.  Her father died at sea and her mother could not support their six children, so she sent them to neighbors and relatives. Sampson was only eight or ten years old when she became an indentured servant. 

Ten years of working in the house and fields made her strong.  And in the winter when there was less work to do, she went to school.  When her servitude ended, she had learned enough to be hired as a teacher.  Deborah wanted more from her life -- more than spinning, weaving, and baking bread -- more even than teaching.

So, on May 20, 1782, at the age of twenty-one, she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army as Robert Shurtleff.  She was wounded twice and was honorably discharged from the army at West Point on October 25, 1783.  She  returned home, married, and had three children. In 1802, she traveled through New England and New York lecturing on her experiences in the military.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Karen Edmisten.

Prelutsky treats readers to poetry about team and individual sports in his well-known wacky style.  From basketball to frisbee, sprinting to baseball, the poems beg to be read aloud.  Raschka's watercolors are alive with movement as children run, and leap across the pages.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

Working . . .
               Working . . .

                       Working . . .

What did you write today?

                                        Working . . .

                                                                                              Working . . .

                                                                                                                                                                               Working . . .

"The only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer

is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and

never written, or talked about (the ego eventually falls

apart like a soaked sponge), but simply written; it's a

dreadful, awful fact that writing is like any other work."

 Janet Frame

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Apples With  Many Seeds.

For all the devoted baseball fans.  Do you know the name of the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?  If you don't have the answer then today's selection -- "She Loved Baseball: the Effa Manely Story" written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Don Tate -- is a book for you.

Effa Manely was a lifelong baseball fan who founded and owned the Newark Eagles -- a Negro League team.  When African American players had the opportunity to move on to integrated major league teams, she fought tirelessly to protect her players and guarantee that they had fair contracts.  She later campaigned to have African Americans included in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Vernick does an admirable job of profiling a woman who changed the face of baseball in America and extended her activism to promoting equal rights outside the stadium as well.  Tate's illustrations make these pivotal moments in baseball and American history come to life.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by A Year of Literacy Coaching.

My selection is "If the shoe fits: voices from Cinderella" written by Laura Whipple with illustrations by Laura Beingessner.

Whipple offers up a reimagined look at a classic favorite.  New voices, familiar voices, and unexpected voices tell the story in blank verse from their varied points of view.  The troubled ghost of Cinderella's father, the garden cat, the rat turned coachman, and even the glass slippers speak -- longing to be reunited.  Multiple perspectives enable readers to delve deeper into the story's well known characters.  Why is the stepmother so cruel?  How will the Queen welcome Cinderella?  Who was the Fairy Godmother's accomplice? Did the magic of that night endure?"  Was there really a "Happy Ever After?"   Thirty-three poems weave the tale that begins and ends with Cinderella's voice.

Beingessner's artwork varies from portraits to full page spreads and beautifully succeeds in capturing the magic of this classic story.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

Are you struggling with writer's block?

You might want to take a look at On Beyond Words & Pictures

for a guest post titled:

WRESTLING WITH WRITER'S BLOCK  by Peter Patrick Langella -- from the VCFA Summer Blog Initiative.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer