Monday, June 19, 2017

A Word (Monday Poem)

by Emily Dickinson
A word is dead
When it is said,
       Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
        That day.

From Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson, 
edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin
1994, Sterling Publishing

Monday, June 12, 2017

Doors (Monday Poem)

by Carl Sandburg

An open door says, “Come in.”
A shut door says, “Who are you?”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
    why open it?
If a door is open and you want it open,
    why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is 
    doors forget.

From Poetry for Young People: Carl Sandburg, 
edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin
1995, Sterling Publishing

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Happy Happy to Dads! (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Here are several books that honor dads this month. Set aside some time to share these super stories with someone(s) you love.

Thunder Boy Jr.  
by Sherman Alexie
illustrated by Yuyi Morales           
     Thunder Boy’s name might sound unusual, but it is not. His name and his dad’s are the same. They are called Big Thunder and Little Thunder. Little Thunder loves his dad, but he has a secret: “I hate my name!” he says and “I want my own name.” He wants a name that expresses who he is. All through the pages of this book, Thunder Boy describes names that might fit him. Some of the names he mentions announce what he’s done; other names he considers value his Native American ancestry.
      However, Little Thunder wants more than a name; he wants to be identified as himself. In this digitally colored picture book, Morales uses earthy shading by scanning clay brick colors and wood textures from parts of an antique house. This technique produces sensory illustrations that weave energetically through Alexie’s story.
     An ingenious method of text use intersperses a conventional font with comic book type bubbles. Little Thunder’s sister and dog are his companions on each double page spread. These additions add humor and movement to expand the emotional depth of this tale. The seamless blend of Alexie’s and Morales’s work creates an accessible story book for young readers and listeners that addresses acceptance and identity issues.

Little Brown, $17.99
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2

Dad and the Dinosaur 
by Gennifer Choldenko
illustrated by Dan Santat
      There are many things Nick is afraid of: the dark, giant bugs, manhole covers and what might be underneath them. "His dad was not afraid of anything." Nick wants to be brave like his dad, but he thinks he needs a dinosaur mascot to make it true. With the dinosaur tucked in his pocket or hidden inside his soccer sock, Nick can climb rock walls and score astonishing soccer goals.
      But when the dinosaur is lost, everything seems creepy to Nick: "The night was black as octopus ink, giant bugs were everywhere." When Nick tells his father that the dinosaur is the brave one, his Dad takes him searching again. When they find the dinosaur, Nick is reassured, especially after hearing dad say, "It's okay to be afraid. All guys are now and then."
      The mixed-media artwork by Caldecott winner Santat makes effective use of dark and light. Particularly expressive are the nighttime scenes, as Nick's imaginary fears suggestively sneak along the bottom of the page and at the edges of his vision. The spooky, fanciful illustrations keep this tale from becoming too frightening. This whimsical story invites young readers to safely explore what it takes to be brave and what is hidden within.

Putnam, $17.99
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

and Tango Makes Three 
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
illustrated by Henry Cole
      In this tale -- based on a true story about a penguin family living in New York City's Central Park Zoo -- Roy and Silo, two boy penguins, are "a little bit different." They are always together, even sharing a nest like the other penguin couples. When other penguin pairs start hatching eggs, Roy brings an egg-shaped rock to their nest, and Silo carefully sits on it.
       Silo and Roy are eager and hopeful in their care. “But nothing happened.” A watchful zookeeper notices an egg in need of fostering, and places it in their nest. The devoted dads become experts, not only as the egg hatches, but caring for the hatchling as she grows.
      The watercolor illustrations for this outstanding story feature irresistible penguins with expressive faces and attention-grabbing body language. Text and pictures are well matched, allowing readers the chance to simultaneously watch and hear the story unfold.
       An author's note at the end supplies additional information about Roy, Silo, Tango, and other chinstrap penguins.

Simon & Schuster, $9.99 (paperback) $17.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Pre-School – Kindergarten

Monday, June 5, 2017

Polliwogs (Monday Poem)

by Kristine O’Connell George

Come see
What I found!
Chubby commas,
Mouths round,
Plump babies,
Stubby as toes.

Come see
What I found!
Huddled in puddles,
Snuggled in mud.

From The Great Frog Race and Other Poems 
by Kristine O’Connell George
1997, Clarion Books

Monday, May 29, 2017

Dreams (Monday Poem)

by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field 
Frozen with snow.

From The Dream Keeper and other poems by Langston Hughes
1932, Knopf

Monday, May 22, 2017

19 Varieties of Gazelle (Monday Poem)

by Naomi Shihab Nye

A gash of movement
a spring of flight.

She saw them then
she did not see them.

The elegance of the gazelle
caught in her breath.

The next thing could have been weeping.

Rustic brown, a subtle spotted hue.

For years the Arab poets used “gazelle”
to signify grace,
but when faced with a meadow of leaping gazelle
there were no words.

Does one gazelle prefer another
of her kind?

They soared like history
above an empty page.

Nearby, giant tortoises
were kissing.

What else had we seen in our lives?
Nothing better than 19 varieties of gazelle
running free at the wildlife sanctuary . . .

“Don’t bother to go there,”
said a man at our hotel.
“It’s too far.”

But we were on a small sandy island,
nothing was far!

We had hiked among stony ruins
to the Tree of Life.
We had photographed a sign that said
KEEP TO THE PATH in English and Arabic.

Where is the path?
Please tell me.
Does a gazelle have a path?
Is the whole air the path of the gazelle?

The sun was a hot hand on our heads.

Human beings have voices
what have they done for us?

There is no gazelle
in today’s headline.

The next thing could have been weeping . . .
Since when is a gazelle
wiser than people?

Gentle gazelle
dipping her head
into a pool of sliver grass.

From 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East 
by Naomi Shihab Nye
2005, HarperTempest

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Key Lime (Monday Poem)

by Campbell McGrath

Curiously yellow hand-grenade
of flavor; Molotov cocktail
for a revolution against the bland.

From Florida Poems by Campbell McGrath
2002, HarperCollins