Monday, June 11, 2018

Missing (Monday Poem)

by Cynthia Cotton

My brother is a soldier
in a hot, dry,
sandy place.
He's missing--
missing things like
baseball, barbeques,
fishing, French fries,
chocolate sodas,
flame-red maple trees,
blue jays,
and snow.

I'm missing too--
his read-out-loud voice,
his super special
banana pancakes
his scuffed up shoes
by the back door,
his big-bear
good night

There are people
with guns
in that land of sand
who want to shoot
my brother.

I hope
they miss him

From America At War: Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
2008, Simon & Schuster

Thursday, June 7, 2018

In Honor of Fathers and Grandfathers (FAMILY magazine reviews)

From tender to funny, dads and grandads can provide their children and grandchildren with the support and nurture that is so important in the family setting as well as in the wider world. Choose some of these grand books to share as only one of many ways to honor these family members you care about.

My Father’s Hands 
by Joanne Ryder
illustrated by Mark Graham
A blonde child and her dad share nature’s wonders in their garden, delicately examining a pink worm, a gold beetle, a sliding snail, and a leaf-green praying mantis. Full color oil paintings in soft-focus create a Monet-type setting, with lushly flowering plants in the background. Graham uses pastel coloring to enhance intimate close-ups of both daughter’s and father’s hands and faces.
The story is in the memory, with evidence of gentle touching in the melding of text and illustrations throughout. The restrained investigations established by the father, are imitated by the child. The daughter knows “nothing within my father’s hands will harm me.”
This tender picture book demonstrates mindful attention in the natural world. By example, readers will want to look for similar opportunities to care for and sustain our earth and its occupants.

Morrow, $17.99
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2

Alma and How She Got Her Name 
by Juana Martinez-Neal
            Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela has a “too long” name, she tells her Daddy, “It never fits.” He responds by telling stories about the family members she’s been named after: a grandmother who is a book lover, an artist grandfather, and a deeply spiritual great-aunt, among others.
            The pictures, by award winning illustrator Martinez-Neal, use print transfers with graphite and colored pencils to complement the text. She crafts her delightful illustrations in grays and blacks with touches of color that help to define both Alma herself, and the ancestors whose names she shares.
            Alma’s candy stripe pants pop against sepia tones which suggest old family photos. Affectionately curved shapes connect the individual family members to the rounded images of Alma herself. Adults who share this lively story book will want to be prepared for conversations with young children about their own names.
This charming tale ends with her daddy’s explanation that Alma is “the first and only Alma.” And she will make her own story. Her name “fits me just right!” says Alma, “and I have a story to tell.”

Candlewick Press, $15.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

Grandpa Toad’s Secrets 
by Keiko Kasza
            During their walk in the forest, Grandpa Toad cautions his grandson, “Our world is full of hungry enemies.” As he begins to tell Little Toad his survival secrets - the first is to, “Be brave” when you meet danger - a snake shows up. Little Toad runs away. Not Grandpa, whose bravery sends the snake on his way.
            Grandpa’s second secret, “Be smart!” works when a hungry snapping turtle arrives for a snack. Little Toad takes off again. But Grandpa whispers a tip to the turtle. However, before Grandpa can tell his third secret, a monster - so “humongous” that he only fits on the double page spread sideways – appears, and both Little Toad and Grandpa run.
Except --- Grandpa is caught by the monster! Little Toad hides in the bushes, shaking with fear as Grandpa is becoming a toad sandwich. Still, as he thinks about the two secrets he’s just learned, and sees berries nearby, Little Toad decides on a plan to trick the monster, rescuing his grandfather!
Repeated phrases, expressive animal characters, plus plenty of white space around the comical watercolor illustrations surprisingly supply emotional distance, reducing the “scare” for young children. A clever tale, told in spare but jaunty language, this a winner for adult readers as well as their listeners.

Candlewick Press, $15.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

More Terrific Tales:

Things to do with Dad 
by Sam Zuppardi
Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

With Dad, It’s Like That 
by Nadine Brun-Cosme
Illustrated by Magali Le Huche
Albert Whitman, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade1

Monday, June 4, 2018

Man Eating (Monday Poem)

by Jane Kenyon

The man at the table across from mine
is eating yoghurt. His eyes, following
the progress of the spoon, cross briefly
each time it nears his face. Time,

and the world with all its principalities,
might come to an end as prophesied
by the Apostle John, but what about
this man, so completely present

to the little carton with its cool,
sweet food, which has caused no animal
to suffer, and which he is  eating
with a pearl-white plastic spoon.

from Otherwise, by Jane Kenyon
1996, Graywolf Press

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fire and Ice (Monday Poem)

by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

from A Swinger of Birches: Poems of Robert Frost for Young People
Edited by Barbara Holdridge
1982, Stemmer House Publishers

Monday, May 21, 2018

Incident (Monday Poem)

by Countee Cullen

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December:
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.


Monday, May 14, 2018

The Purple Cow (Monday Poem)

by Gelett Burgess

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one!


Monday, May 7, 2018

The Duck (Monday Poem)

by Ogden Nash

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms up.

from Zoo
by Ogden Nash
1987, Stewart, Tabori & Chang