Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Books Together.

My selection is "A Wizard from the Start: the incredible boyhood & Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison" written by Don Brown.

It may surprise readers to discover that Thomas Edison was not a good student. In fact, his mother home schooled Thomas because his teacher told her he was "addled."  Edison wasn't addled -- he was a dreamer.  Daydreaming got him in trouble at school, but Edison's imagination, fueled by the fact that he became a voracious reader, led him to a life of invention. When he wasn't selling newspapers to train riders to help with the family finances, young Edison was experimenting with chemicals in the family cellar.  A life of hard work and curiosity eventually led to 1039 patents and the electric light bulb.  "A Wizard from the Start" is written for primary students and offers a lovely introduction to the life of this extraordinary man.

Brown concludes his book with an author's note and bibliography.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Poetry Friday

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

My selection is "Pumpkin Butterfly: poems from the other side of nature" written by Heidi Mordhorst and illustrated by Jenny Reynish.

Mordhorst has composed more than twenty poems in a variety of forms to celebrate a year of nature beginning with the Fall.  Her imagery stretches reader perceptions with references to squirels as high-wire acrobats and likening the dazzling yellow of sunflowers to jazz.  The child's voice moves from energetic to wistful as Mordhorst invites readers to look more carefully at the natural world with their eyes and their imaginations.  Poems for active children -- shooting cherry pits, playing with autumn's leaves, and creating snow angels contrast with more sophisticated themes and language as when she references butterflies as "the ghosts of pumpkins."

Reynish's illustrations provide added visual impact, elevate the language with powerful imagery and frame verses with thoughtful detail.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Playing By the Book.

My selection is "When Marian sang : the true recital of Marian Anderson the voice of a century" by Pam Munoz Ryan with illustrations by Brian Selznick.

Ryan and Selznick once again join forces. this time in the story of the extraordinary contralto, Marian Anderson.  This collaboration beautifully recounts some of the most notable moments in her life and in the history of the civil rights struggle.  Despite a plea from First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson was denied the opportunity to sing in Washington's Constitution Hall.  She sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial instead to an audience of thousands.  She was the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.  She sang at the inaugurations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Selznick makes full use of the musical theme in the design and presentation as he highlights the experiences of this American legend.

An extensive section, "Encore" written in two sections -- words from the author and words from the illustrator -- elaborates on details from Anderson's life and includes personal remarks from Ryan and Selznick.  A Timeline and Discography conclude the book.

For your enjoyment -- a short film about the life and music of Marian Anderson.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Teaching Authors.

The season from Thanksgiving to Christmas always inspires me with a nostalgic longing for a simpler time.  So in keeping with that sentiment, my selection consists of two editions of "Over the River and Through the Wood: a Thanksgiving Poem" written by Lydia Maria Child.

One edition, published by North South books in 1998, features richly colored woodblock illustrations by Christopher Manson.  This book also includes the words and music to the well-known song.

The other edition was published in 2011 by Candlewick Press and is illustrated by Matt Tavares.  Tavares' watercolor paintings are full of movement and feature wonderful small details that are well worth a second and third look.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

It's Writer's Wednesday and in keeping with Picture Book Month I'd like to refer my readers to a pair of articles on the length of contemporary picture books. How has the trend in recent years to reduce the word count to 500 words or less influenced picture book popularity or the lack thereof?

Both articles are thought provoking and well worth your time and consideration.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Chalotte's Library.

My selection is "Do I Need It? or Do I Want It?: making budget choices" by Jennifer Larson.

Money management for the young set is the topic and Larson has provided a straight forward discussion in simple language to help children with the distinction between needing and wanting.  The format is visually appealing and the content invites discussion by parents, teachers, and students as a means of developing smart money strategies early.

This book is part of a series on economics that includes What Can You Do with Money? earning, spending, saving - What is Money Anyway? why dollars and coins have value - Where Do We Keep Money?: how banks work - Who's Buying? Who's Selling?: understanding consumers and producers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Laurasalas: Writing the World for Kids.

My selection is "Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors" poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrations by Beckie Prange.

Sidman and Prange, who collaborated on the Caldecott Honor Book "Song of the Waterboatman and Other Pond Poems" have produced another marvelous blending of a variety of poetic forms with science.  Ubiquitous celebrates some of nature's most intriguing and frequently overlooked survivors.  Bacteria, mollusks, lichen and sharks are just a few of the lifeforms celebrated for their longevity.  Each poem is paired with a thoughtful scientific discussion.  The subjects of Sidman's verses are arranged in the order in which they appeared in the evolutionary timeline which is an added bonus to give readers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the amazing world we share. 

Prange's artwork skillfully ties verse and science together with beautiful water-colored block prints.  A timeline on the endpapers provides a visual representation of geologic time and the appearance of various lifeforms.  The line is 46 meters long with each centimeter equaling 1 million years.

A Glossary and Author's Note complete the book.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

What's your favorite picture book? I'll bet you can name a few.

Rarely does a week go by when I'm not reading one of my favorites to a class in library. Even my sixth grade students are delighted by a good picture book. That said, you can imagine my dismay when word began to circulate that picture books were obsolete.

That opinion received national attention one year ago when The New York Times published an article -- Picture Books No Longer A Staple for Children.

Picture Book Writers didn't agree and now they are having their say.

I refer you to two articles.

The first is the October 31st post at Write4Kids titled November Being Touted as Picture Book Month. Here you will find background and information about the a new website written by noted picture book advocates.

Then support picture books by visiting Picture Book Month which opened on November 1, 2011. You will have an opportunity to read some thought provoking and inspiring essays by some of the most recognized names in children's picture books.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer