Monday, April 23, 2018

#PoetryBreak: Any Morning by William Stafford

Painting (M.A. Reilly, 2017)

Any Morning
by William Stafford
Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.
People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can’t
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.
Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won’t even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

#PoetryBreak: Planet

Vulnerability (M.A. Reilly)


This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet glows with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed
dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
soft if I choose, hard if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so
I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air, and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed
to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.
Last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its sixty-seven moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon
called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly
crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones
and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down soft today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.

Celebrate Earth Day with these 20 Recent Children's Books

from Drawn from Nature 

from  Drawn from Nature
Ahpornsiri, Helen.  (2018). Drawn from Nature. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Informational and visual arts text organized by season. Accurate and aesthetically stunning.

from On a Magical Do-Nothing Day

Alemagna, Beatrice. (2017). On a Magical Do-Nothing Day. New York: HarperCollins.
A child on holiday from the city in an isolated cabin with her mom accidentally drops her electronic game into a pond. She is desolate until she begins to closely look around. When she does, the boring day without electronics becomes one of seeing nature and wonder. Such a good book. Starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

Cheng, Andrea. (2018). Bees in the City. Illustrated by Sarah McMenemy. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
Fictional story about a boy (Lionel) who lives in an apartment in Paris. His Aunt Celene resides at a farm outside the city and there she raises bees. when bees begin dying, Lionel wants to help, but he lives in the city. What can he do? A rooftop garden and window boxes are his solution. Illustrations complement and extend the story. Rich backmatter about urban beekeeping and rooftop gardening. (Level P) 
Green Earth Award Book 2018 Short List

Davies, Nicola. (2017). Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
What might happen if instead of having millions of species we had just one? This picture book answers that question.

from Pedal Power

Drummond, Allan. (2017). Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux
As he did in Energy Island for Danish island of Samsø, Drummond this time tells about the use of bicycles in the city of Amsterdam where people protested unsafe streets for bike riding and in doing so helped to create a safe biking well beyond the borders of that city.
Green Earth Award Book 2018 Short List

Flynn, Sarah Wassner. (2017). This Book Stinks! Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash. Washington, DC: National Geographic Kids. 128 pp. Grade 4+
Everything a kid might want to know about waste!
Green Earth Honor Book 2018 for Children's Nonfiction 

Galat, Joan Marie. (2018). Branching Out: How Trees are Part of Our World. Illustrated by Wendy Ding. Toronto, ON: OwlKids.
In this 64 page informational text, 11 different trees are explored. detailed. Great for grade 5 and higher.

Garland, Michael. (2018). A Season of Flowers. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
I have long loved Michael Garland's paintings.  This books follows the order that plants arrive from early spring to winter. The illustrations are rich. (Level L)

Gerstein, Mordicai. (2017). The Boy and The Whale. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
Fictional story about a boy and his father who discover a whale tangled in their fishing net. Competing concerns  (livelihood and whale's life) creates tension in this picture book. Paintings are outstanding.
Green Earth Award Book 2018 Short List

Gladstone, James. (2017). When Planet Earth Was New. Illustrated by Katherine Diemert. Toronto, ON: OwlKids.
A visual and informational treat perfect for primary learners about how earth formed. Dioemert's paintings are lush and detailed. (540L)

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. (2017). Creekfinding: A True Story. Illustrated by Claudia McGehee. (University of Minnesota Press)
Briggs tells the the story of the restoration of an ecosystem in northeast Iowa. Detailed text and illustrations.
Green Earth Award Book 2018 for Picture Book.

from The Bee Book

Milner, Charlotte. (2018). The Bee Book. New York: Penguin/Random House.
Informational text about bees. Attractive.

Newman, Patricia. (2017). Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators that Saves an Ecosystem. Millbrook Press. 56 pp.
Newman reports on a California inlet where seagrass grew in abundance even though there was algae. Why? Turns out the answer was sea otters. Based on Brent Hughes's research,. 56 pp.
Green Earth Award Book 2018 for Children's Nonfiction

from My Busy Green Garden

Pierce, Terry. (2017). My Busy Green Garden. Illustrated by Carol Schwartz. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
What makes a garden bloom? This lyrical tribute to bees and birds and other living things that make a garden a garden.  Illustrations are detailed as one would expect from Carol Schwartz. Ever since I first saw Thinking about Ants. I have been a fan of Schwartz's art.

Root, Phyllis. (2017). Anywhere Farm. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
For the youngest students a picture book to inspire the growth of plants. The book opens, "You can grow your own farm anywhere."
Green Earth Award Book 2018 Short List

Schmalzer, Sigrid. (2018). Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming. Illustrated by Melanie Linden Chan. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
Fictionalized account of Pu Zhelong who taught peasants in Mao's China to grow food without reliance on pesticides during the 1960s and 1970s. He taught the peasants to use parasitic wasps to combat the moths that were destroying crops. An important person for children to know. The illustrations are rich and created through watercolor.

from Out of School

Slade, Suzanne. (2017). Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story. Illustrated by Jessica Lanan. MI: Sleeping Bear Press.
A picture book biography about nature pioneer Anna Comstock (1854-1930) who defied gender norms and studied science at Cornell.
Green Earth Honor Book 2018 for Picture Book.
2018 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book

from Look at Weather
from Look at Weather

Teckentruop, Britta. (2018). Look at the Weather. Toronto, ON: OwlKids.
This 150 page text is divided into four sections: Sun, Rain, Ice and Snow, and Extreme Weather. Each section is illustrated with paintings by Tchentroup. Originally printed in Germany, this is a lovely and meditative book for primary and intermediate learners. (800L) My favorite of this group.

from The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow.

Thornhill, Jan. (2018). The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
I can't say enough good about this narrative informational book about the house sparrow. Deeply interesting, amazing artwork, and accurate. The history of the common house sparrow will hold all learners' interest.

Tuttle, Sarah Grace. (2018). Hidden City: Poems of Urban WildlifeIllustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford.  Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
18 free verse poems about about plants and insects. Schimler-Safford's collages are outstanding.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Poetry Break: Cutting Loose - A Poem by William Stafford

Cypress with Birds (M.A. Reilly, Tuscany)

Cutting Loose

by William Stafford (From Dancing with Joy)

Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.
Arbitrary, a sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell where it is, and you
can slide your way past trouble.
Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path—but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on the earth, again and again.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

#PoetryBreak: How It Will Happen, When

Rob with our dog, Max. 

How It Will Happen, When
Dorianne Laux
There you are, exhausted from a night of crying, curled up on the couch,
the floor, at the foot of the bed, anywhere you fall you fall down crying,
half amazed at what the body is capable of, not believing you can cry
anymore. And there they are, his socks, his shirt, your underwear
and your winter gloves, all in a loose pile next to the bathroom door,
and you fall down again. Someday, years from now, things will be
different, the house clean for once, everything in its place, windows
shining, sun coming in easily now, sliding across the high shine of wax
on the wood floor. You’ll be peeling an orange or watching a bird
spring from the edge of the rooftop next door, noticing how,
for an instant, its body is stopped on the air, only a moment before
gathering the will to fly into the ruff at its wings and then doing it:
flying. You’ll be reading, and for a moment there will be a word
you don’t understand, a simple word like now or what or is
and you’ll ponder over it like a child discovering language.
Is you’ll say over and over until it begins to make sense, and that’s
when you’ll say it, for the first time, out loud: He’s dead. He’s not
coming back. And it will be the first time you believe it.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

10 New Picture Books That Made Me Smile (and Think)

Bruchac, Joseph. (2018). Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker's Story. Illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company. (Starred Kirkus review).

History is often hard to address largely because it is not one tone. Joseph Bruchac knows this. In his newest picture book biography, Bruchac tells a full story of how a Navajo boy forced to attend a boarding school learns that the language of home was not to be tolerated. He goes on to become an American hero who uses that first language during World War II to code classified messages and how his wartime experiences haunted him.  The illustrations are by Liz Amini-Holmes, an artist whose works I admire greatly. You can see more of her work here

On the Other Side of the Garden

Buitrago, Jairo. (2018). On the Other Side of the Garden. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Translated from Spanish by Elisa Amado.Toronto, ON:  Groundwood Books.

Not your usual picture book. But then if you have read any of Jairo Buitrago's other books your know that already. I love how Isabel, the teller of this story, is able to let go of sorrow as she answers the call of an owl, a frog, and a mouse. Isabel reminds me that it isn't simply time that heals the heart. It's also curiosity. Rafael Yockteng's digital illustrations offer only a small bit of color set against the largely cadet blue tone. But those bits of color pop.

illustration by Rafael Yockteng from On the Other Side of the Garden.

Díaz, Junot. (2018).  Islandborn. Illustrated by Leo Espinosa. New York: Dial Books.

I loved Junot Díaz's books and short stories and couldn't wait until his debut picture book was published. It is a grand story. Like Lola, I came to America as an infant leaving my island (Ireland) behind before I could store memories.   Leo Espinosa's paintings are artful. I love how the illustrations suggest, rather than tell. This book is a jewel: story and images. Read it.

from Lola: Edición en español de ISLANDBORN.
Also available in Spanish: Lola: Edición en español de ISLANDBORN.

Image result for the street beneath my feet charlotte guillain
from The Street Beneath My Feet

Guillain, Charlotte. (2017). The Street Beneath My Feet. Illustrated by Yuval Zommer. Lake Forest, CA: words & pictures.

I poured over this book when I received it enjoying the journey to the center of the earth and back.  A visual treat and a fascinating look at what is beneath our feet.

The Funeral

James, Matt. (2018). The Funeral. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. (Starred Reviews by Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal & Publisher's Weekly)

I was a child when my grandmother died, not too young to not understand and yet still excited to see cousins and family. This story reminded me so much of the mixed feelings I had at that time.

from The Funeral

Light, Steve. (2018). Black Bird Yellow Sun. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

The entire time I read this I was thinking of Wallace Stevens and how he would have loved this board book. Bold. Bold. Bold.

from The Word Collector

Reynolds, Peter H. (2018). The Word Collector. New York: Orchard Books.

Like Jerome, I have been collecting words most of my life, "stringing words together. Words" I had "not imagined being, side by side." If you love words and the many novel ways we join and unjoin words, this will be a treat.

Stein, David Ezra. (2018). Honey. New York: Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books. (Starred Reviews by School Library Journal)

This is such a sweet story and I loved the jubilance that Bear has for honey. The illustrations give definition to the word, joy. Makes me wish that my 19-year-old son was 5 again.

Groundwood Logos Spine

from They Say Blue

Tamaki, Jillian. (2018). They Say Blue. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. (Starred Reviews by Booklist, School Library Journal & Publisher's Weekly)

Like the girl in this story, I too weigh what I have been told against what I observe. This picturebook is a celebration of color and the surreal.  Any book that begins and ends with crows is a book for me. Loved it.

from Thunder Underground

Yolen, Jane. (2018). Thunder Underground.  Illustrated by Josée Masse. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong.  (Starred Reviews by Kirkus & Publisher's Weekly)

21 poems about things that are under (I'd pair this with The Street Beneath My Feet). The poems (especially first and last) made me think well beyond the page.  My favorite poem was "Seeds." I love the brevity of it and how it connects writing and the shift from winter to spring. Just lovely. The mixed media illustrations work well against the poems.