Monday, March 19, 2018

Camouflage (Monday Poem)

by Sarah Grace Tuttle

In the tree
behind the cemetery
a patch of
mottled light and shadow
half-hidden by leaves
is breathing.
As the sun sets,
it is waking.
Soon it will call
Hoo H-Hoo Hooo!
and launch into flight--
a great horned owl.

from Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife
2018, Eerdmans

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bat Breakfast (Monday Poem)

by Sarah Grace Tuttle

By a glowing street lamp
little brown bats
with a
and a
and a hasty
for moths
drawn by the light.

from Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife
2018, Eerdmans

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Extraordinary Women (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Often forgotten by history, tales of women’s achievements are no less dramatic and inspiring than those of men. The women in these books have earned a place in “herstory” for their hard work, dreaming and daring to think and act outside of the expected. Read and share these wonderful stories with young people who need models of what can be. Dream on!

Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women’s Olympics
Based on the True Story of Lucile Ellerbe Godbold  
by Jean L. S. Patrick
illustrated by Adam Gustavson
            Lucile “Ludy” Godbold was an active child, who becomes an athlete and uses “her long arms to encourage her teammates.” In her last year on the track team at Winthrop College in South Carolina, she tries the shot put, and sets a record at over 35 feet. Immediately, Ludy and her coach take a train to New York, where the young white woman enters the tryouts for a new international meet, the Women’s Olympics.
            During this independent competition, she breaks her own record, earning herself a place on the U. S. Women’s Olympic Team. Although she thinks it’s unlikely she will go to France since she lacks the funds, her college classmates, faculty and staff donate money to send her to Paris, where Ludy once again breaks her own record to win.
            Patrick uses an informal down-home style to convey this peppy, entertaining story of an outstanding athlete to young readers. The dynamic oil paintings with gouache feature Ludy’s long arms, often extended, making them seem even longer. Gustavson has successfully captured her expressive face and likeness and shows both the dress and style of the time period. More about this exceptional individual and the unique competition are included in the backmatter, along with an Author’s Note, photos, and a brief bibliography.
Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Grades 2-4

Lighter than Air: 
Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot 
by Matthew Clark Smith
illustrated by Matt Tavares
            Sophie Armant Blanchard was a dreamer, whose childhood hope to fly was realized when she met Jean-Pierre Blanchard, the daredevil showman who, with “John Jeffries, were the first to cross the English Channel by balloon.” She called flying the “incomparable sensation,” feeling “only a breathless thrill,” as the “wind carried her up.”
            The world’s first woman pilot, Sophie also became known in Europe as the Bird Woman. She “learned how to make a living doing what she loved most,” flew solo over the Alps, and even was known at the Emperor Napoleon’s court as “Chief Air Minister of Ballooning.”
            The beautifully constructed ink and watercolor paintings not only visualize the tale of Sophie’s amazing life, but capture the elegance, design and inventiveness of the balloons themselves. But most intriguing are the skies, from clear, to rainy, and cloudy follow Sophie’s mood, and include the richness of a darkening sky or the skies of the morning. Paired with Smith’s poetic text, and lilting language, the illustrations give life to Sophie’s soaring achievements.
            An Author’s Note, Illustrator’s Note, and Selected Bibliography are included at the end.  

Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Grades 2-4

Grace Hopper: 
Queen of Computer Code 
by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by Katy Wu
            Grace Hopper was the white woman who revolutionized computer coding. But before that she was a curious girl who disassembled alarm clocks to see how they worked and constructed a working elevator for her dollhouse.
            Always focused on math and science, Grace discovered that her poor grades in Latin kept her from an early entrance into college. So, she worked hard, “conquered Latin,” passed her exams and was accepted as a student at Vassar College.
Adventurous and something of a joker, Grace needed all her powers of persuasion to enlist in the Navy after graduating college, completing graduate studies, and teaching college classes. “Because of her superior math skills,” the Navy assigned her “to write programs for one of the first computers ever built, the Mark I.”
Problem solving became a challenge Grace relished. One of the anecdotes tells of how she found and named the first computer “bug!”
Wallmark’s text is filled with captivating incidents to engage young readers. Both prose narrative and breezy rhyming verse, including a scattering of Grace’s own words, are accompanied by Wu’s vigorous, brisk, colorful digital illustrations.
Retiring from the Navy when she was 80 years old, Grace Murray Hopper was known for her skill and inventiveness. She often used unconventional thinking as a key to solving problems and is a “shero” for a new generation. Endpapers include supplemental information, timeline, bibliography, and list of honors.

Sterling, $16.95
Interest Level: Grade 2-4

Monday, March 5, 2018

Escape (Monday Poem)

by Sarah Grace Tuttle

An exposed earthworm
dives headfirst
into dirt,
muscles bunching
body wriggling
it flees
where soil is moist
darkness is cool
and the earthworm
is safe.

from Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife
2018, Eerdmans

Monday, February 26, 2018

Wildflower (Monday Poem)

by Sarah Grace Tuttle

A dandelion
sinks its taproot
deep into the dirt,
spreads its toothed leaves,
and opens its yellow face
to the sun --
growing up wild
at the base
of a bus-stop bench.

from Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife
2018, Eerdmans

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

These books are favorites that kids have loved over the years. As you read them you can see why! Animals are the characters, although these behave like kids. These titles are also still engaging kids because the writing is fresh, the stories tickle imaginations, and the illustrations keep readers attention. Show your favorite young people your love when you read these terrific tales. 

Henry and the Valentine Surprise 
by Nancy Carlson 
Henry, a mouse, and his animal classmates notice a heart shaped box on their teacher’s desk. When they ask Mr. McCarthy, a dog, who the box is for, he promises to tell the students at the Valentine’s party the next day.
The students speculate about a possible girlfriend, noticing their teacher chatting with the playground monitor, getting an extra tuna melt from the lunch lady, eating it with the French teacher.
Carlson’s signature flat detailed paintings are filled with movement, expressive faces, and colorful patterns. Readers will not be surprised that the heart shaped box is a gift for the students. But although the students haven’t figured out that teachers aren’t too busy to have girlfriends, attentive readers will notice a hint on the final page. This sweet Valentine story is a winner with the younger set

Penguin Publishing, $15.99 hardcover
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 

The Valentine Bears 
by Eve Bunting
illustrated by Jan Brett
            Mrs. Bear sets her alarm to go off early, Valentine’s Day early before the winter hibernation is ended. She makes a sign for Mr. Bear to see when he wakens. She uncovers a honey pot she has saved from summer just for this purpose. She puts out Valentine poems she has hidden in a drawer. Before she can get Mr. Bear completely awake, he surprises her.
He too has hidden some treats for Mrs. Bear. The two sweethearts share their Valentine treats before going back to sleep until spring.
This lovely story has just touches of color to spice up the wintry grey and white. The valentine red highlights important details to cheer the icy season.
Clarion Books, $6.99 paperback
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2

Louanne Pig in The Mysterious Valentine 
by Nancy Carlson
            A secret admirer sends Louanne a huge valentine. To her friend Harriet, she observes that whoever signed the valentine used a green pen.
At school, during math and geography, she thinks about how to track down the secret valentine admirer with the green pen. Looking over shoulders, peeking inside a desk, peering into pockets and book bags, makes her classmates nervous and suspicious of her motives. It also reminds Louanne of why each classmate she investigates is NOT a good choice for an admirer!
Author-illustrator Carlson uses pigs, dogs, rabbits, and cats to populate her pages. The pastel squares are filled to the edges, with text below the illustration. The paintings are cheerful and active and sometimes sly, allowing the reader to use their imagination to fill in where the words are not specific.           
Although Louanne stops at the card shop to ask the clerk for clues, the story ends without her knowing who her secret admirer is. However, if the reader is paying attention, s/he will know!! This is a clever holiday story.
Penguin Publishing, $9.99 paperback
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

Monday, February 19, 2018

Phenomenal Woman (Monday Poem)

by  Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou 
1994, Random House