Monday, October 24, 2016

A Bird (Monday Poem)

by Emily Dickinson

A bird came down the walk,
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sideways to the wall
To let a beetle pass.

from Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems, selected by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Eva Moore, Mary Michaels White, Jan Carr, 1988, Scholastic

Monday, October 17, 2016

Night Creature (Monday Poem)

by Lilian Moore

I like
the quiet breathing
of the night,

the tree talk
the wind-swish
the star light.

Day is
Day bustles.

Night rustles.
I like

from Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems, selected by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Eva Moore, Mary Michaels White, Jan Carr, 1988, Scholastic

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Running for Office (FAMILY magazine reviews)

          As we approach this historic Election Day, consider this small collection of excellent books to share with your child(ren). Throughout the history of the United States, people have fought for freedom and the right to vote. Let’s inform our children, and ourselves as we help to increase understanding. As citizens of our great country, we are the decision-makers; we choose our leaders.
          These books present a complex subject with sometimes-comic good humor. They can help us reflect on our country’s past with light-hearted cheerfulness as we move into the future with energy and good will. 

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham           
          “Grace Campbell could not believe her eyes” when she learns the U. S. has never had a female president. Other students laugh when she decides she wants to be the first. Grace begins her candidacy in the school’s mock election against a popular opponent, Thomas Cobb. 
          Each student in the two participating classes (except Grace and Thomas) draws from a hat. They choose one state name - with its accompanying electoral votes. The two office seekers come up with campaign slogans, make promises, posters and buttons, and meet with their “constituents.” 
          Author DiPucchio gives readers a timely story. It features independent thinkers, and is matched perfectly with artist Pham’s bright illustrations. The paintings reflect a multi-ethnic US culture.
The scoreboard in the gym keeps track of the totals during the Election Day assembly. Each student, representing a state, casts his or her electoral vote.  Very nearly tied -- Thomas with 268, Grace with 267 votes -- the final state, Wyoming (the equality state and historically, the first state to give women the vote) decides the winner. 
Elements of making history and “calculating” the odds are important features in this lighthearted picture book. Both students show the confidence and hard work required by running for office. An author’s note at the end gives additional background material explaining the Electoral College. 

Hyperion, $16.99 
Interest Level: Grades 1-3.

Vote! by Eileen Christelow
           For this important election year, Christelow’s bright pen and ink acrylic cartoons bump each other for attention in this instructive picture book. The storyline follows a mayoral contest. Meanwhile, balloon comments from the characters in the illustrations supply additional explanations. Together these sharpen readers’ grasp of the details involved in the race. Voter registration, voter rights, campaigning, political parties, and pollsters are all part of one local race for mayor. Debates on the issues, volunteering, ballots, polling booths and even recounts add information.
            The candidate’s neighbors, family and even the dogs join in the discussions and politicking. In this way readers are given several views into the complexities of what happens in an election. Back material includes: a short list of briefly defined terms, a condensed, yet informative Timeline of Voting Rights, a few well-chosen questions and answers to explain More About Political Parties, and a page of websites. This is an entertaining and interesting choice for school and home.

Clarion Books, $7.99 (paperback)
Interest Level: Grades 1-3.

A Woman for President by Kathleen Krull 
Illustrated by Jane Dyer
            Not only was she the first woman to run for the presidency of the United States, Victoria Woodhull was also the first woman to have a seat on the stock exchange. She was also the first to own a newspaper, and the first to speak before Congress.
She was the seventh of ten children born into a poor family. However, by the age of eight, Victoria was supporting her family as a child preacher.
            As a young woman, she became a millionaire: She offered financial advice from the spirit world to Cornelius Vanderbilt – a wealthy businessman. With this earned money and power, she was able to challenge society’s harsh limits on women.
All but erased from history, Victoria acted by announcing herself as a candidate for the presidency. She even paid her own newspaper to publicize her campaign. The Equal Rights Party nominated her during the convention she organized and funded. This was a dramatic and unheard of event. 
            Talented illustrator Dyer’s luminous watercolors supply a realistic period feel. The artwork blends smoothly with award-winning biographer Krull’s carefully researched text. This biography is a compelling personal story from U. S. history. (An author’s note and bibliography give additional information about the election, her life after, and the boundaries she crossed.) 

Walker & Company, $8.99 (paperback) $16.95 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Grades 2-3.

Additional selections:

So You Want to Be President by Judith St George
Illustrated by David Small 
Philomel $17.99
Interest Level: Grades 2-3 (A bit outdated, but still excellent.) 

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon 
Henry Holt $8.99 (paperback)$18.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Grades 1-3 

I Could Do That: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote 
by Linda Arms White
Illustrations by Nancy Carpenter  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.99
Interest Level: Grades 2-3

For older readers:

The Kid Who Ran for President  (156 pp) and 
The Kid Who Became President (215 pp), both written by Dan Gutman
Scholastic, $6.99
Interest Level: Grades 4-6.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Until I Saw the Sea (Monday Poem)

by Lilian Moore

Until I saw the sea
I did not know
that wind
could wrinkle water so.

I never knew
that sun
could splinter a whole sea of blue.

did I know before,
a sea breathes in and out
upon a shore.

from Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems, selected by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Eva Moore, Mary Michaels White, Jan Carr, 1988, Scholastic

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sunflakes (Monday Poem)

by Frank Asch

If sunlight fell like snowflakes,
gleaming yellow and so bright,
we could build a sunman,
we could have a sunball fight,
we could watch the sunflakes
drifting to the sky.
We could go sleighing
in the middle of July
through sundrifts and sunbanks,
we could ride a sunmobile,
and we could touch sunflakes --
I wonder how they'd feel.

from Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems, selected by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Eva Moore, Mary Michaels White, Jan Carr, 1988, Scholastic

Monday, September 26, 2016

Weather (Monday Poem)

by Marchette Chute

It's a windy day.
The water's white with spray.
And pretty soon, if this keeps up,
The world will blow away.

from Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems, selected by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Eva Moore, Mary Michaels White, Jan Carr, 1988, Scholastic

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Spanish Anyone! (FAMILY magazine reviews)

In the early fall we celebrate Hispanic Heritage. And during September, we set aside time to honor grandparents. Included in this delightful collection of books are family accounts that highlight Latino cultures and traditions. Also featured are blended and extended generations, and informal relationships. 
     These memorable tales showcase a variety of storytelling and kinds of stories. You can use these books to launch conversations about your own family history. Sharing experiences from childhood memories with your child(ren) can bring you closer to each other. 
     Take time to generate a storehouse of keepsakes. They can enrich your times together and fill your life with playfulness and laughter.

My Tata’s Remedies by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford
Illustrated by Antonio Castro L.
            Not only is this an appealing story for young people, it’s also a useful book of home remedies. This captivating multi-generational story shows how flowers and other plants can be used to treat common hurts and illnesses.
Grandson Aaron watches as his Tata (grandpa) Gus, the neighborhood healer, helps a parade of family members and friends. They arrive asking for assistance; for bee-stings, rashes and burns to toothaches, fevers and eye infections. With roots in the American Southwest this book, in both Spanish and English, spotlights traditional practices and community building.
Colorful, expressive watercolors highlight both the injured individuals and the natural plants from which the treatments are made. A glossary of medicinal herbs and remedies with pictures, informal and scientific names, and cautions is included at the end.

Cinco Puntos Press, $17.95 (hardcover), $8.95 (paperback)
Interest Level: Grades 1- 3
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina

Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
            Mia speaks only a little Spanish (Espanol) and Abuela (Grandma) speaks almost no English. How will they talk together?
Mia has an idea sparked by a red feather that Abuela brought with her. It’s a way to keep the memory alive, of “a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees” back home. In fact, Mia has several great ideas about how she and her Abuela can learn to talk with each other. But the parrot she and her mother get for Abuela as a gift, naming him Mango, is the delight of this story.
            Colorful, award winning illustrations in ink, gouache and marker are enhanced with “digital magic” to match the upbeat text. Expressive faces and body language communicate difficulties and successes of language barriers, familiar to many immigrant families.
            Award winner Medina easily introduces Spanish words into the text of this warm family story. This gives a strong sense of both cultural and generational variations. Context and sometimes an English translation of a phrase make this tale accessible. A Spanish-language edition is also available.

Candlewick Press, $15.99 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.    

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
            Many people think the fight for school integration began with Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. However, Mexican-American students experienced the integration of schools in California in 1947 (seven years earlier). This is the story of how that happened.
            In the summer of 1944, Sylvia Mendez and her family moved to Westminster. She and her brothers were excited to attend the school near the farm the family leased. Aunt Soledad took Sylvia, her brothers and their cousins to register.
But, they were told they “must go to the Mexican school.” This was in spite of the fact that the children and parents were all US citizens and spoke English. No one would explain to the Mendez’s why the children could not attend the school nearest their home. The two schools, clearly providing separate education, were not providing equal education, as required by law.
            Despite many local Mexican-Americans’ unwillingness to sign a petition, four other families did join the Mendez’s in a lawsuit. The successful suit received support from organizations as diverse as the NAACP, the American Jewish Congress, and the Japanese American Citizens League.
            Tonatiuh’s hand-drawn stylized illustrations are digitally colored and collaged. His use of images that suggest Mexican folk art is a captivating mix of indigenous and modern design.
            A useful author’s note explains the cultural and historical environment. Photos of Sylvia, her parents and the schools help readers make connections to real people. Additional backmatter includes a glossary, bibliography, and index. Especially interesting are the sources of the dialogue.

Abrams, $18.95 
Interest Level: Grades 1-3
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.  

Little Gold Star: A Cinderella Cuento 
retold in Spanish and English by Joe Hayes 
Illustrated by Gloria Osuna Perez and Lucia Angela Perez
            Variations of Cinderella are found in cultures throughout the world. In this adaptation, well-respected storyteller Hayes credits the influence of familiar traditional versions from New Mexico.
            His upbeat retelling begins with Arcia’s suggestion to her widowed father that he marry a neighbor. This is because Margarita has kindly given Arcia treats.
Initially reluctant, he marries the widow, and all is well – at first. When he takes sheep to the mountain meadows however, Margarita changes and the stepsisters become quarrelsome.
Upon returning, the father gives each girl a young sheep to tend. Not surprisingly, Arcia’s sheep gets the best care. After shearing, she takes the wool to wash in the river. A swooping hawk snatches it away. At her cry, he replies in human speech, “Lift…up…your eyes…Look…where…I…fly-y-y.” When she does, a gold star attaches to her forehead.
Of course, the sisters are jealous of Arcia’s new face decoration. But, their encounters with the hawk are disastrous. And although Arcia does not attend the ball, the prince falls in love with her, as she peeks in the window.
The mother-daughter artist team use intense acrylics in a primitive style. Dramatic illustrations seamlessly partner with the text (in both informal Spanish and similarly engaging English). This distinctive retelling of a favorite tale offers readers easy access to Latino-Indigenous cultures of the American Southwest.
Cinco Puntos Press
Interest Level: Grades 1-3

More Terrific Tales

Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
Houghton Mifflin, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.

A Box Full of Kittens by Sonia Manzano
Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Atheneum, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.