Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Summary of Summer Stories (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Before classes begin, there’s still time to finish the season of sunshine with stories that favor the lazy heat and relaxation of holiday flavored summer experiences. Taste a sample of these refreshing treats from a treasury of warm weather choices to savor.

And Then Comes Summer 
by Tom Brenner
 illustrated by Jaime Kim
            This storybook declaration of summer delight is also a celebration of all things familiar before technology intrudes. A suburban setting suits the rhythm of the language, the rituals of remembering, and the sounds and smells of the season: “When every day is like a Saturday,” and you get your bike ready to ride, host a lemonade stand, “play hide-and-seek until darkness wins,” watch the holiday parade and fireworks, eat ice cream, and head to the lake for a camping trip.
            The brilliant acrylic illustrations sizzle with excitement as a group of multicultural neighborhood children race, and scurry and bounce across the sunny pages with joyful energy. Jubilant figures with waving arms, leaping legs, and smiling faces splash and dash through summer’s gleeful freedoms accompanied by exuberant, lyrical language. A perfectly radiant read!

Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1

There Might Be Lobsters  
by Carolyn Crimi
illustrated by Lauren Molk
               Eleanor and Sukie are at the beach. “Sukie (is) just a small dog”; scared of big sandy stairs, beach balls that are “big and beachy,” “whooshy,” salty waves that are too wet, and . . .   “besides, there might be lobsters”! Eleanor kindly carries Sukie and the stuffed toy monkey, Chunka Munka, down the stairs. But she’s also exasperated, cradling the scared pup in her arms after Sukie sits far away from the beach ball Eleanor tosses her way.
               Pen and ink, with acrylic and watercolor illustrations begin before the dedication and copyright, and continue with the title page. Throughout the picture book, paintings of the sandy sunshine of a splish-splashing holiday harmoniously sustain the lively language of this warm-hearted tale. When waves pull Chunka Munka out to sea, Sukie barks for the monkey toy to come back, paddles “past a big beachy ball,” and braves the salty waves to save him.
               While Sukie’s doggy fears are reflective of many children’s anxieties about new experiences, the humorously tender text matches Sukie’s forlorn expression and droopy body language to create a gently funny summer story. Italics let readers and listeners in on Sukie’s imaginings, and carry the comedy of the repeating line about lobsters! This refreshing account is a delightful treat for vacation sharing.
Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

Blue Sky White Stars 
by Sarvinder Naberhaus
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The poetry of this picture book’s powerful words celebrates both America and its flag. The author’s spare verses and repetition capture the pride and strength of the ideals that the United States embodies in its people, landscape and the fabric of its multilayered culture.
Award-winning artist Nelson’s stunning images of American icons - Liberty, New York harbor’s revered statue, magnificent snowcapped mountains, remarkably long lines of covered wagons, glorious fireworks, Colorado’s majestic Grand Canyon, Wrigley’s well-known baseball stadium, a soaring Apollo 11 spacecraft, an eagle in flight, the momentous moon landing – invoke the multiple meanings the words convey.
This is clearly not a conventional story with typical illustrations; it therefore allows for a dynamic, teachable moment. Naberhaus’ brief, well-chosen phrases are carefully matched to Nelson’s richly symbolic artistry. Together they represent a shared history and present an opportunity to reflect on one’s knowledge and experience.
Beautiful oil paintings of many-colored faces, highlight gender, ethnic, age, and racial diversity, with the cover featuring the starry eyes of reflected holiday rocket explosives. Back material includes notes from both author and illustrator, with additional notes available on the author’s website to provide background material about the book for further discussions.

Dial, $17.99
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Picnic (Monday Poem)

by Dorothy Aldis

We brought a rug for sitting on,
Our lunch was in a box.
The sand was warm. We didn't wear
Hats or Shoes or Socks.

Waves came curling up the beach.
We waded. It was fun.
Our sandwiches were different kinds.
I dropped my jelly one.

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jump or Jiggle (Monday Poem)

by Evelyn Beyer

Frogs jump
Caterpillars hump

Worms wiggle
Bugs jiggle

Rabbits hop
Horses clop

Snakes slide
Sea gulls glide

Mice creep
Deer leap

Puppies bounce
Kittens pounce

Lions stalk--
I walk!

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Song (Monday Poem)

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Thou art the soul of a summer's day,
Thou art the breath of the rose.
But the summer is fled
And the rose is dead
Where are they gone, who knows, who knows?

Thou art the blood of my heart o'hearts,
Thou art my soul's repose,
But my heart grows numb
And my soul is dumb
Where art thou, love, who knows, who knows?

Thou art the hope of my after years--
Sun for my winter snows
But the years go by
'Neath a clouded sky
Where shall we meet, who knows, who knows?

From Jump Back, Paul
The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
by Sally Derby
2015, Candlewick Press

Monday, July 24, 2017

On the River (Monday Poem)

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The sun is low,
The waters flow,
My boat is dancing to and fro.
The eve is still,
Yet from the hill
The killdeer echoes loud and shrill.

The paddles plash,
The wavelets dash,
We see the summer lightening flash;
While now and then,
In marsh and fen
Too muddy for the feet of men,

Where neither bird
Nor beast has stirred,
The spotted bullfrog's croak is heard.
The wind is high,
The grasses sigh,
The sluggish stream goes sobbing by.

And far away
The dying day
Has cast its last effulgent ray;
While on the land
The shadows stand
Proclaiming that the eve's at hand.

From Jump Back, Paul
The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
by Sally Derby
2015, Candlewick Press

Monday, July 17, 2017

An Explanation of the Grasshopper (Monday Poem)

by Vachel Lindsay

The Grasshopper, the grasshopper,

I will explain to you:

He’s the Brownies’ racehorse,

The fairies’ Kangaroo.

From Johnny Appleseed and Other Poems by Vachel Lindsay

1970 Macmillan

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Poem (Monday Poem)

by Mary Oliver

Leaving the house,
I went out to see

the frog, for example,
in her shining green skin;

and her eggs
like a slippery veil;

and her eyes
with their golden rims;

and the pond
with its risen lilies;

and its warmed shores
dotted with pink flowers;

and the long, windless afternoon;
and the white heron

like a dropped cloud,
taking one slow step

then standing awhile then taking
another, writing

her own soft-footed poem
through the still waters.

From What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems by Mary Oliver
2002, Da Capo Press