Friday, June 29, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Paper Tigers Blog.
My selection is "Swirl by swirl: spirals in nature" written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

"A spiral is a snuggling shape."  Thus begins Sidman's  unique pairing of science and free-verse poetry in this festival of spirals from the delicate whorls of a fern to the classic beauty of a chambered nautilus, from a spider's web to a galaxy and an abundance of examples in between.  Sidman collects, describes and explains their properties and purposes without ever lecturing the reader.  Rather she invites her audience to explore, imagine, and  celebrate one of nature's most abundant and powerful shapes.

Krommes' fills each page with elegant line, subtle color and an abundance of detail for readers to study and enjoy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Capstone Connect.

My selection is "Women explorers: perils, pistols, and petticoats" written by Julie Cummins with illustrations by Cheryl Harness. 

Name some famous explorers -- Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Lewis and Clark? Nothing wrong with those choices, but what about the ladies?  That's the question asked and answered by Julie Cummins in this Nonfiction Monday selection.
Cummins offers short biographies of ten  remarkable women born before 1900 who took risks and explored their world from the Arctic to the Andes, from the Amazon to Africa.  Lucy Cheesman traveled among cannibals  as she studied insects in the South Pacific.  Freya Stark journeyed through the Middle East.  Violet Cressy-Marcks made eight trips around the world.  As they traveled, these intrepid women documented and photographed their journeys and wrote extensively about their experiences and discoveries thus providing important contributions to the natural and social sciences. 
Cummins has compiled readable, student-friendly biographies that entertain and inform.  She follows the text with a note about ten additional woman explorers and provides a paragraph about each to invite readers to do a bit of discovering of their own.  The book concludes with a selected bibliography and websites for further reading.

Harness' illustrations  compliment the narrative by placing each woman in her geographical context and giving readers a vibrant visual sense of obstacles faced and overcome.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by The Poem Farm.

My selection is "Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: math puzzlers in classic poems" written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Michael Slack.


Children's Poet Laureate, Lewis, plays with some of the classic verses of fourteen renowned poets from Poe, Dickinson and Frost to Nash, Silverstein and Hughes to create a collection of poetry puzzles that are sure to delight, entertain and (don't tell the kids) practice math skills.

Here's a short taste of the fun if you're up for the challenge.  I've provided Lewis' answer at the end of this post. No peeking before you figure it out!

Edward Lear's Elephant With Hot Dog
Inspired By "There Was An Old Man With A Beard" by Edward Lear

When an elephant sat down to order
A half of a third of a quarter
Of an eighty-foot bun
and a frankfurter, son,
Was it longer than three feet, or shorter?

Lewis provides the answers upside down at the end of each poem.   He concludes the book with a brief biographical note about each of the poets. 

Slack's colorful illustrations are full of whimsical fun. 

ANSWER: 1/2 X 1/3 X 1/4 = 1/24.
                   1/24 X 80 feet = 3 1/3 feet.
                   3 1/3 feet is greater than 3 feet so the hot dog is longer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Simply Science.
My selection is "TheCamping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and OurNational Parks" written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein.

Camping is a favorite summer activity for thousands of Americans, but the experience might be very different if this famous get-together between an American President and Eloquent Naturalist hadn't taken place.

Rosenstock introduces readers to this once-in-a-lifetime meeting between Roosevelt and Muir which took place in 1903 is Yosemite Valley.  The narrative is enlivened by invented dialogue based on her research.  She chose to refer to these two respected gentlemen by their childhood names which young readers will find appealing and conveys a sense of the youthful enjoyment that was surely part of an experience that had important long-term consequences.  The four-day adventure  among towering sequoias included a snowstorm and a lesson from Muir on how the valley was created by glaciers.  The result was Roosevelt's return to Washington D.C. determined to protect America's wilderness through the creation of National Parks.

Gerstein, a Caldecott Medalist, provides a lively collection of pen and water-color illustrations that convey the spirit of the trip  through drawings that feel as if they might have been sketched in a naturalist's notebook.  Gerstein's imaginative use of perspective and point of view provide readers with a sense of the grandeur and breath-taking scale of the natural world these two men encountered.
An author's note provides additional information and resources.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by A Year of Reading.

My selection is "Behind the museum door: poems to celebrate the wonders of museums" written by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen.

Summer is a great time to travel and explore and one of my favorite places to visit is the museum.  So in honor of these amazing, magical homes for treasures of varied description I invite you all to enjoy your local museums or search out new ones during your summer travels.

Hopkins has collected works by many recognizable poets in praise of the delights to be found by a energetic group of youngsters as portrayed by Dressen-McQueen.  From the very ancient - trilobites and woolly mammoths or a knight's armor and on to paintings and modern art in the form of a mobile, the verses share the kid-friendly fun of seeing these items first-hand.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Shelf-employed.

My selection is "The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn" written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Barry Blitt.

"The Adventures of Mark Twain" gives readers a delicious taste of the American icon. Huck Finn, with a little help from Burleigh, recounts an entertaining collection of Twain's important experiences and interesting views. 

Part history lesson -- as it enumerates the events of Twain's life.  Part literary commentary -- offering up Huck's perspective on his creator's writing along with an opportunity to become immersed in Twain's unique voice.  Part theater -- the book begs to be read aloud and experienced. 

Yes, you'll probably have to discuss the folksy vocabulary and poor grammar, but it's all part of fun in hearing Huck's voice share thoughts about Twain and his amazing life.  Readers will find a convenient assist in the notes and timeline thoughtfully provided by Burleigh.

Blitt, well-known as a cartoonist, employs his skills to effectively preserve the tall-tale charm and the casual, old-fashion flavor of the text.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Poetry Friday

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

My selection is "River of words : young poets and artists on the nature of things" edited by Pamela Michael and introduced by Robert Hass.

The book takes its title from the nonprofit organization founded by Pamela Michael and Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate.  River of Words sponsors an international poetry and art contest for  children K-12 to promote more environmental awareness through the study of local watersheds.

In reading Pamela Michael's preface, I was struck by one sentence "We (Michael and Hass) sought to nurture creativity and promote the idea that while not everyone can be an artist, everyone can be artistic."

Here are a couple of examples:

Oh sun. Oh sun.
Oh sun. How does
it feel to be
blocked by the
dark dark clouds?

Oh child
it doesn't really
feel bad at all
not at all not at
all not at all

Nicholas Sanz-Gould, age 6

The Buttery sun rays
tickle the left-over platters of
last night's
heaping dew.
washed clean of their troubles
lay beaten and crippled
trampled by November's soggy shoes

Shallin Ris, age 14

Another of my favorites, too long to be reproduced here, is "Invitation" by Valerie Madamba, age 17

Certainly, River of Words has succeeded in its mission and this book would be a wonderful inspiration for students as teachers strive toward a similar goal of encouraging and developing artistic abilities in the classroom.

Vibrant artwork from realistic to abstract is an invitation to explore both words and images.

It is interesting to note that the poems are grouped by the bioregion represented by the work in the U.S. or designated as International rather than by the locality of the poet.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nonficton Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by True Tales & A Cherry On Top.

My selection is: "Biomimicry" written by Dora Lee and illustrated by Margot Thompson. 

 Biomimicry is defined in the dictionary as: the mimicking of life using imitation biological systems.

Lee takes the definition further by explaining that "Biomimicry is a way of thinking that encourages scientists, inventors and ordinary people to study nature and use its solutions to solve our problems."  She encourages readers to consider all the ways we've already begun this process.  Airplanes? Birds flew first.  Sonar? Bats beat us to that one.  Velcro? Thank the cockleburs that inspired George de Mestral.

Then she takes the discussion a step farther by looking at developing or future uses such as competition swimwear modeled on sharkskin, a Zimbabwe building with air conditioning modeled after the efficient termite mound, self-cleaning painting inspired by the lotus flower, and NASA's seed-wing flyers for off-planet exploration.

Thompson's illustrations are richly colored glimpses of the natural world under discussion.

Biomimicry gives readers food for thought and will leave them asking for more.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Carol's Corner.

My selection is "Guyku: a year of haiku for boys" written by Bob Raczka with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds.

Raczka's "Guykus" are great fun.  He retains the classic five/seven/five syllable form and introduces a modern, boy-friendly collection of topics all related to outdoor play and/or nature.  Raczka delves into his childhood memories or takes inspiration from his sons for these brief glimpses into the joy of being a boy.  The book is divided into the four seasons with six poems for each section.  Kite flying, bug collecting, fishing - are just a few of the typical activities, but each is appealing.

Here are two of my favorites:

In a rushing stream,
we turn rocks into a dam.
Hours flow by us.

I free grasshopper
from his tight ten-fingered cage -
he tickles too much!

Reynold's artwork is relaxed and fun -- a perfect fit for the text.

This book would be a wonderful way to introduce haikus in the classroom because they draw their subject matter from simple, real-life experiences that children will recognize as familiar.

P.S. Girls will enjoy these Guykus too.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer