Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#SOL17: Wonder that Leads to Praise

House by the Tracks (M.A. Reilly)


The most devout person I have known was my mom, Catherine Reilly. Her faith revealed itself in her day-to-day living, in the kind acts she did quietly, in the way her study of St. Paul's letters informed her decisions, in her generosity. She was a woman filled with wonder and more. It wasn't until I was listening to an interview between Krista Tippett and Mary Catherine Bateson that I better understood the relationship between wonder and faith. Bateson was discussing the intersection among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and said this:
"And what struck me is that what — actually, all three of the religions that come from Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — that what we all have in common is the sense of wonder that leads to praise" (from here).

A sense of wonder that leads to praise.

It was not wonder alone, but rather wonder that led to praise that better fit my memory of my mom.  So certain of God's love, she showed my brothers and me the many ways to hear one's conscience.  Years later, these daily lesson lived, more than taught, remain with me the most.


I woke up thinking about this sense of conscience-listening this morning. I wondered how the many people today who will cast a vote for Roy Moore will do so. What role does one's conscience play in how decisions are made and broken?  How is deep religious faith balanced with the desire for expedient outcomes?  The president has told the voters of Alabama that he needs a senate seat to make America great again.  He told them, “The people of Alabama will do the right thing...Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!”  His sole argument for Moor is that he will vote for "us" and us is a narrow group.

A devil's bargain that.

I was raised Roman Catholic and surely at the liberal end of that continuum and so it may not be so surprising that the white Evangelical movement as displayed these last few decades has confounded me.  White evangelicals gave us Trump and perhaps by the end of the day they will give us another predator, Roy Moore. It seems antithetical to all things holy to support  men who fail to engender a sense of wonder that leads to praise, unless the praise is about themselves. Where is God in such displays? How do these self-defined religious people square their choice with their faith? How do you look a pedophile, like Moore, in the eye and vote yes?

I don't buy the argument that because Moore has not undergone a trial voters ought not to consider the vile crimes that the women who have spoken out against him have claimed.  That many were minors should concern all. That argument is weak and frankly, if the man in question was someone else--say a Democrat--would they be so hesitant to believe the accusers?  Just look at pizzagate when many of the same people believed that Hillary Clinton was running a child pornography ring out of the basement of pizzerias. Such idiocy is still believed.

I'm curious how you reconcile yourself to all of this. What's your understanding?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

#PoetryBreak: American Gothic

American Gothic
after the painting by Grant Wood, 1930
John Stone

Just outside the frame
there has to be a dog
chickens, cows and hay

and a smokehouse
where a ham in hickory
is also being preserved

Here for all time
the borders of the Gothic window
anticipate the ribs

of the house
the tines of the pitchfork
repeat the triumph

of his overalls
and front and center
the long faces, the sober lips

above the upright spines
of this couple
arrested in the name of art

These two
by now
the sun this high

ought to be
in mortal time
about their businesses

Instead they linger here
within the patient fabric
of the lives they wove

he asking the artist silently
how much longer
and worrying about the crops

she no less concerned about the crops
but more to the point just now
whether she remembered

to turn off the stove.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Standards, Testing and Determined Futures

Cover art for Nubes a Mi Alrededor:
Oral Histories from Horizon Academy,
Rikers Island
(M.A. Reilly, 2008)
In the finest classrooms I have observed/researched across the last twenty years, uncertainty was more the norm than not. That's right: uncertainty. This may seem unusual given the normalcy of educational standards and their accompanying high stakes assessments that have constrained learning these last thirty years. We have been told that named lists of things to know advantages learning. But does it? 

I can’t help but wonder if the standards movement so intimately tied to tests aren’t complicit in limiting learning by replacing wonder with codification. The tacit is hardly ever acknowledged in the rooms where standards are unfolded like predetermined paths that must be followed. The world beyond that path does not exist. Rather than following learners’ interests, we slavishly attend to narrow sets of standards and the lists of codified bits of knowledge as if these bits existed outside time, intention, ethics, and morals. In doing this we create classrooms where determined futures are the end point. And this is tragic.

Marching scores and scores of learners to already determined futures is less about living and more about following. In such schema ethics and creativity as Gary Saul Moroson (1994) has theorized is always lessened. The repeated practice dulls the mind. It is as if learning was more foreshadow and less lived practice.

In "Restoring Points of Potentiality: Sideshadowing in Elementary Classrooms," I wrote that a determined future is a knowable point in time that excludes other possibilities. Michael André Bernstein (1994) explained that foreshadowing relies on logic that “must always value the present, not for itself, but as the harbinger of an already determined future” (p. 2).  Getting kids to know point A is all that matters; the present moment where they stand has already been scripted, contained and limited. Standards and high stakes testing rest on the logic of an already determined future. One we have been told to believe must be privileged. The actual lived experience is reduced and in some cases deadened. Codification on such grand scales limits learning as it fails to allow for the present moment to emerge in favor of determined end points. Such logic reduces possibility and replaces it with certainty.

In the classrooms and schools where uncertainty was privileged, learners (students and teachers) demonstrated curiosity, wonder, error, persistence, accuracy, and an intellectualism that was generous and gregarious. There, paths were made, not followed. Middles emerged as natural. The present moment was very much alive.


Bernstein, M.A. (1994). Foregone conclusions: Against apocalyptic history. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Morson, G.S. (1994). Narrative and freedom: The shadows of time. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Friday, December 1, 2017

50+ Children's Picture Books About Dads

from My Dad Used to Be So Cool

Ayyar, Kristin. (2013). Countdown 'til Daddy Comes Home. Illustrated by Melissa Bailey. Mascot Books.
Batten, Mary. (2003). Hey, Daddy! Animal Fathers and their Babies. Illustrated by Higgins Bond. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.
Beatty, David. (2013). Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. New York:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Blake, Robert J. (1992). The Perfect Spot. New York: Philomel.
Brisson, Pam. (1999). The Summer My Father was Ten. Illustrated by Andrea Shine. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
Brown, Jeffrey. (2012). Darth Vader and Son. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
Browne, Anthony. (2001). My Dad. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Carle, Eric. (1991). Papa, Please Get Me the Moon. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Choldenko, Gennifer. (2017). Dad and the Dinosaur. Illustrated by Dan Santat. New York: G.P. Putnma.
Collard III, Sneed B. (2000). Animal Dads.  Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. New York: HMH Books.
Coy, Jon. (2009). Two Old Potatoes and Me. Illustrated by Carolyn Fisher. Minneapolis, MN: Nodin Press.
Coy, Jon. (2001). Night Driving. Illustrated by Peter McCarty. New York: Square Fish.
Cornwall, Gaia. (2017). Jabari Jumps. Somerville, MA; Candlewick.
Creech, Sharon. (2004). Fishing in the Air. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. New York: HarperCollins.

Image result for Night Catch Brenda Ehrmantraut
from Night Catch
Ehrmantraut, Brenda. (2014). Night Catch. Illustrated by Vicki Wehrman. St. Paul, MN: Elva Resa.
Feiffer, Jules. (2004).  The Daddy Mountain. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Garland, Michael. (2017). Daddy Played the Blues. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
Grimes, Nikki. (2004). When Daddy Prays. Illustrated by Tim Ladwig. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishers.
Hardin, Melinda.(2010). Hero Dad.  Illustrated by Bryan Langdo. Tarrytown, NY: Two Lions.
Holmberg, Bo. (2008).  A Day with Dad. Illustrated by Eva Eriksson. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Hong, Nari. (2017). Days with Dad. Brooklyn, NY: Enchanted Lion Books.
Ichikawa, Satomi. (2006). My Father's Shop. San Francisco, CA: Kane/Miller Books.
Jalali, Reza. (2017). Moon Watchers. Illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
Jiang, Ji-li. (2013). Red Kite, Blue KiteIllustrated by Ruth Greg. New York: Hyperion.
Johnson, Angela. (2000). Daddy Calls me Man. Illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell. New York: Scholastic.

from The Better Tree Fort

Kerrin, Jessica Scott. (2018). The Better Tree Fort. Illustrated by Qin Leng. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Kirk, Connie Ann. (2004). Sky Dancers. Illustrated by Christy hale. New York: Lee & Low Books.
Krishnaswami, Uma. (2015). Bright Sky, Starry City. Illustrated by Aimée Sicuro. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Kvasnosky, Laura McGee. (2017). Little Wolf's First Howling. Illustrated by Kate Harvey McGee. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Lakin, Patricia, (2014). Dad and Me in the Morning. Illustrated by Roger G. Steele. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & CO.
Lawson, JonArno. (2015). Sidewalk Flowers. Illustrated by Sydney Smith. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Lo, Rich. (2014). Father's Chinese Opera. New York: Sky Pony Press.
Image result for My Father's Arms Are a Boat
from My Father's Arms Are a Boat

Lunde, Stein Erik. (2013).  My Father's Arms Are a Boat. Illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. Translated by Kari Dickson. Brooklyn, NY: Enchanted Lions Book.
McGhee, Holly M. (2017). Come With Me. Illustrated by Pascal Lemaître. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Negley, Keith. (2016). My Dad Used to Be So Cool. London: Fly Eye Books.
Reynolds, Luke. (2017). If My love  Were a Fire Truck: A Daddy's Love Song. Illustrated by Jeff Mack. New York: Doubleday Books.

Robertson, Carolyn. (2014). Two Dads: A Book about Adoption. Illustrated by Sophie Humphreys.  Sparklypoo Publications.
Rowland, Joanna. (2014). Always Mom, Forever Dad. Illustrated by Penny Weber.  Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
Ryder, Joanne. (1994). My Father's Hands. Illustrated by Mark Graham. New York: Harper Collins.
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Sellars, Willie (Williams Lake Indian Band - T’exelc). (2014). Dipnetting with Dad. Illustrated by Kevin Easthope. Halfmoon Bay, BC: Caitlin Press.
Sharp, N.L. (2016). Today I'm Going Fishing with My Dad. Illustrated by Chris Demarest. Freemont, NE: Prairieland Press.
Smalls, Irene. (1999). Kevin and His Dad. Illustrated by Michael Hays. New York: Little Brown.
Smith, Anita Hope. (2017). My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads. New York: Henry Holt.
Steptoe, Javaka. (2013). In Daddy's Arms I am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers. New York: Lee & Low Books.
Tanco, Miguel. (2017). You and Me, Me and You. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
Uhlberg, Myron. (2010). Dad, Jackie, and Me. Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Atlanta. GA: Peachtree.
Waber, Bernard. (2015). Ask Me. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers.
Williams, Mo. (2004). Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. New York: Hyperion.
Willis, Jeanne. (2003). Don't Let Go.  Illustrated by Tony Ross. New York: Outnam.
Wing, Natasha. (1996). Jalapeno Bagels. Illustrated by Robert Casilla. New York: Atheneum.
Woodson, Jacqueline. (2015). Visiting Day. Illustrated by James Ransome. New York: Puffin Books.
Wyeth, Sharon. (1998). Always My Dad. Illustrated by Raul Colon. New York: Scholastic.
Yacarrino, Dan. (2012). Every Friday. New York: Square Fish.

Yolen, Jane. (2010). My Father Knows the Names of Things. Illustrated by Stephanie Jorisch. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

20 Recent Christmas, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa Picture Books

Image result for Pick a Pine Tree.
from Pick a Pine Tree.

Denton, Kady McDonald. (2017). A Christmas for Bear. Illustrated by Bonny Becker.  London: Walker Books.
dePaola, Tomie. (2017). The Legend of Old Befana: An Italian Christmas Story. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Image result for Queen of Hanukkah Dosas
from  Queen of Hanukkah Dosas

Ehrenberg, Pamela. (2017). Queen of Hanukkah Dosas. Illustrated by Anjan Sarkar. New York: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux.
Evans, Lezlie. (2017). Finding Christmas. Illustrated by Yee Von Chan. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.
Furman, M.E. (2017). A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World. Illustrated by Susan Gal. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers.
Image result for Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah in Chelm.
from Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah in Chelm.
Image result for my first kwanzaa katz
from My First Kwanzaa.

Glaser, Linda. (2017). Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah in Chelm. Illustrated by Aleksandar Zolotic. Minneapolis, MN: Kar-Ben Publishing.
Huddy, Delia. (2017). The Christmas Eve Tree.  Illustrated by Emily Sutton. London: Walker Books. 
Katz, Karen. (2014). My First Kwanzaa. New York: Square Fish.
Killen, Nicola. (2017). The Little Reindeer. New York: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.
Koster, Gloria. (2017). Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale. Illustrated by Sue Eastland. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company
Londner, Renee. (2017. The Missing Letters: A Dreidel Story. Illustrated by Iryna Bodaruk. Minneapolis, MN: Kar-Ben Publishing. 
Manzano, Sonia. (2015). Miracle on 133rd Street. Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. New York: Atheneum Books.

Image result for Miracle on 133rd Street
from Miracle on 133rd Street

McLellan, Stephanie Simpson. (2017). Christmas Wind. Markham, ON: Red Deer Press.
Nellist, Glenys. (2017). 'Twas the Evening of Christmas. Illustrated by Elena Selivanova. New York: Zonderkidz.
Orlen, Amy. (2017). The Nantucket Elves. Illustrated by Chiara Savarese. Herndon, VA: Mascot Books Inc.
Otto, Carolyn B. (2017). Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Kwanzaa. Washington DC: National Geographic.
Rylant, Cynthia. (2017). Nativity. New York: Beach Lane Books.
Rylant, Cynthia. (2017). Little Whistle's Christmas.  Illustrated by Tim Bowers. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers.
Schmid, Eleonore. (2017). Santa Claus and the Dormouse. New York: NorthSouth Books.
ShaBazz-Ugwumba, Sarah. (2017). The Kwanzaa Family. Illustrated by Aminah ShaBazz. CA: WAG Publishing.
Related image
.from Snowball Moon
Slayton, Fran Cannon. (2017). Snowball Moon. Illustrated by Tracy Bishop. New York: little bee books.
Tavares, Matt. (2017). Red and Lulu. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Toht, Patricia. (2017). Pick a Pine Tree. Illustrated by Jarvis. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

Friday, November 24, 2017

30+ Picture Books Set at Night

Image result for My Night in the Planetarium
from My Night in the Planetarium

  1. Barnet, Mark. (2017). Noisy Night. Illustrated by Brian Briggs. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
  2. Bean, Jonathan. (2007). At Night. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  3. Brinkloe, Julie. (1986). Fireflies. New York: Aladdin.
  4. Brooks, Martha. (2014). Winter Moon Song. Illustrated by Leticia RuifernandezToronto, ON: Groundwood Books. 
  5. Clark, M.H. (2016). You Belong HereIllustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.  Seattle, WA: Compendium.
  6. Clark, M.H. (2015). The Man Made of Stars. Illustrated by Lisa Evans. Seattle, WA: Compendium.
  7. Cole, Rachel. (2017). City Moon. Illustrated by Blanca Gomez. New York: Schwartz & Wade.
  8. Coy, John. (2001). Night DrivingIllustrated by Peter McCarty. New York: Square Fish.
  9. Davies, Nicola. (2004). Bat Loves the Night. Illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies.Somerset, MA: Candlewick.
  10. Denos, Julia. (2017). Windows. Illustrated by E.B. Goodale. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  11. Esenwine, Mark Forrest. (2017). Flashlight Night. Illustrated by Fred Kochler. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press.
  12. Fan, Terry. (2016). The Night Gardener. Illustrated by Eric Fan. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
  13. Feder, Sandra V. (2016). The Moon InsideIllustrated by Aimée SicuroToronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
  14. Fine, Edith Hope. (2010). Under the Lemon Moon.  Illustrated by René King Moreno. New York: Lee & Low Books. 
  15. Fine, Edith Hope. (2010). Bajo la luna de limón. Illustrated by René King Moreno. New York: Lee & Low.
  16. Hadfield, Chris. (2016). The Darkest Dark. Illustrated by the Fan Brothers. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
  17. Horowitz, Ruth. (2004). Crab Moon. Illustrated by Kate Kiesler. Somerville, MA: Candlewick
  18. Jam, Teddy. (2006). Night Cars. Illustrated by Eric Beddows. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. 
  19. Krishnaswami, Uma. (2015). Bright Sky, Starry CityIllustrated by Aimée SicuroToronto, ON: Groundwood Books. 
  20. MacLachlan, Patricia. (2016). The Moon’s Almost Here. Illustrated by Toni dePaola. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
  21. Miyakoshi, Akiko. (2017). The Way Home in the Night. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press.
  22. Mora, Pat. (2003). The Night the Moon Fell. Illustrated by Domi. Toronto ON: Groundwood Books. 
  23. Nagara, Innosanto. (2016). My Night in the PlanetariumNew York: Triangle Square.
  24. Pendziwol, Jean E. (2013). Once Upon a Northern Night. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Toronto ON: Groundwood Books.
  25. Porter, Pamela. (2008). Yellow Moon, Apple Moon. Illustrated by Matt James. Toronto ON: Groundwood Books.
  26. Rocco, John. (2011). Blackout. New York: Disney-Hyperion.
  27. Sendak, Maurice. (1996). In the Night Kitchen New York: HarperCollins.
  28. Shasha, Mark. (2017). The Night of the Moonjellies. Purple House Press.
  29. Sidman, Joyce. (2010). Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.  Illustrated by Rick Allen. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers. 
  30. Sobrino, Javier. (2013). Night Sounds. Illustrated by Emilio Urberuaga. Translated by Elisa Amado. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
  31. Wallis, Quvenzhané. (2017). A Night Out with Mama. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
  32. Yolen, Jane. (1987). Owl Moon. Illustrated by John Schoeherr. New York: Philomel Books.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

12 Books for the New Year: 2018

For the last year I have met with a small group of eight women and over dinner each month we discussed whatever book we had selected to read and a million other things that the readings and living raised. I love my book group. If I was to describe it, I would say it was very cosmopolitan. We have selected the books for the next year and I wanted to write them down in print and share them.  Here's what we'll be reading:

Image result for Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

Rushdie, Salman. (1991). Haroun and the Sea of Stories. New York: Granta Books/Penguin.

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Solnit, Rebecca. (2012). A Field Guide to Getting Lost. New York: Penguin.
Image result for Before We Were Yours

Wingate, Lisa. (2017). Before We Were Yours. New York: Ballantine.
Image result for Never Let Me Go

Ishiguro, Kazou. (2006). Never Let Me Go. New York: Vintage.
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Achebe, Chinua. (1994/2010).  Things Fall Apart. New York: Penguin.
Image result for Maps for Lost Lovers

Aslam, Nadeem. (2007). Maps for Lost LoversNew York: Vintage.
Image result for Church of Small Things: The Million Little Pieces that Make Up a Life.

Shankle, Melanie. (2017). Church of Small Things: The Million Little Pieces that Make Up a Life.  New York: Zondervan.
Image result for Swing Time.

Smith, Zadie. (2016). Swing Time. New York: Penguin.
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Morrison, Toni. (1982).  Tar Baby. New York: Penguin.
Image result for White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.

Isenberg, Nancy. (2017). White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. New York: Penguin.

Image result for In the Midst of Winter: A Novel.

Allende,  Isabel. (2017). In the Midst of Winter: A Novel. New York: Atria Books.
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Fergus, Jim. (2017). The Vengeance of Mothers: The Journals of Margaret Kelly & Molly McGill: A Novel.  New York: St. Martin Press.