Monday, June 23, 2014

The Guest House (Monday Poem)

by Jelaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

translation by Coleman Barks
from The Illuminated Rumi, 1997

Friday, June 20, 2014

Designed for Dad's Day (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Since Father’s Day falls at the beginning of summer, let this wonderful holiday help you launch a season of reading. During the summer, reading prepares your child(ren), not just for the next school year, but helps her/him grow into a lifelong learner.  This is especially true when s/he develops a habit of summer reading each year.  Try any of these tips as you plan your weeks away from school.

Summer Reading programs are a regular part of the local library.  Visit your library early in the summer to register your child(ren).  Many libraries offer awards, prizes and special celebrations to honor children who meet or exceed their own goals. 

·       Make reading a part of each summer day. 
In the car:     
       1) read signs and license plates with your child;
       2) listen to audio books, music, or radio - sing along. 
In the neighborhood:              
       1) take a sound walk, looking for/naming things that start with the same sound (ex: dog, door, daddies, donuts, dolls)
       2) play a guessing game; notice something without looking at it, give your child a clue to see if s/he can guess (ex: I’m thinking of something with wheels, painted red, and noisy.  When s/he guesses correctly, let her/him take a turn!)
·      Make writing a part of each summer day.  Your child can tell you about something, you can write it, and you both can read it together. 
1)  Help your child keep a nature journal of all the wildlife you see during your walks or other adventures -- or something that shows wildlife has been there (ex: a hole in a leaf, a half eaten nut, an anthill).  Write it down/draw it or have your child(ren) write it down/draw it in the journal/notebook. You may need to solve a mystery of what animal left the remains behind.  Review, looking back at the end of the week, month, summer, remembering what fun you had together.
2)  Arrange with a parent of one of your child’s friends to send each other postcards of what your summer adventures are.

·    Read aloud with your child(ren) every day.  When children are read to by someone they love, children learn to love books!
Read and share from these wonderful books in honor of the dad in your child’s life.  Have fun together this summer! 

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle  
Philomel, $17.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2  
 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Miami Lakes, Lemon City.  Also may be purchased from Books & Books online:

           What a great dad Mr. Seahorse is!  He floats through the ocean with Mrs. Seahorse’s eggs in his pouch. 
In his travels, he meets up with other caring fish fathers.  One is Mr. Tilapia, who keeps the eggs safe in his mouth until they hatch.  Another is Mr. Pipe, whose eggs are on his belly.
As is his habit, award-winning author-illustrator Carle uses a light touch to expose youngsters to our natural world.  Cheery painted tissue-paper collage introduces each new fish father. On one colorful double page spread an upside down Mr. Seahorse greets Mr. Kurtus.
Additionally, Mr. Seahorse glides past scary lionfish and other creatures. Alternating with fish fathers, they are hidden behind beautifully painted acetate pages. 
This lively, heartwarming story concludes with the seahorse babies swimming away, ready to be on their own.

Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino
Viking, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

              As they swim through the sunlit morning sea Little Blue, a humpback whale, asks Papa questions.  Little Blue is especially interested in their coming travels. “Are we going far?” How will we know the way?
            Papa’s answers comfort him.  They will follow the whales’ song, “like our family has for years upon years . . . . If you listen closely you will always hear my song.” 
            They begin their journey “through the liquid light and deep into the mysterious black.” Little Blue is curious about the dark magical world below.
            Marino’s lyrical text merges with brilliant gouache colors on mulberry paper. The mixed media approach to illustration lends texture to curving movements of underwater life.  This method also gives shape to dark-light contrasts. One example is the double page spread using silhouettes. 
            When Little Blue dives down to explore the deep silence, colors deepen.  Additionally, word size, shape and meaning are echoes of the changing water. When Little Blue realizes the cold distance from dad, he remembers to listen. 
What he hears sends Little Blue up from the deep to follow the path of Papa’s song back to the brighter surface of the evening ocean.

How to Cheer Up Dad by Fred Koehler   
Dial, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

            Viewers see the bad day beginning - with raisins from the oatmeal ending up on the ceiling. The playful troublemaker’s wild behavior increases with the addition of an unsuccessful bath, a no-clothes race, and a time-out.
            In an almost-cartoon-like style, the pencil and pen artwork is enhanced using digital media.  Lots of white space and limited colors strengthen the young elephant’s naughty mischief making. This highlights the gap between the child’s delight and the father’s exasperation.
            When Little Jumbo the elephant sees his dad is “having a bad day,” he wonders how “to cheer up Dad.” Starting with a hug, the pair moves to playing catch. Sharing an ice-cream cone, and fishing together follow.  Additional colors brighten the white and gray spaces with red, blue and yellow as the disturbances decrease.
 The day ends with reading a story and tucking dad in.  But it’s NOT the end of the story.  The final page’s artwork sets up the joke with new mischief: “I wonder how much cheering up he’ll need tomorrow. . .”

Treat yourself and your child to other titles below:

Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney 
 Viking, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Papa is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost by Natalie S. Bober
illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon 
Henry Holt, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Grades 1-4

The Lion Who Stole My Arm by Nicola Davies  
Candlewick, $14.99 (hardcover) Grade 3-5 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:


Monday, June 16, 2014

The Journey (Monday Poem)

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice---
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do---
determined to save
the only life you could save.

from Dreamwork (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Both Sides Now (Monday Poem)

by Joni Mitchell

Rows and flows of angel hair,
And ice cream castles in the air,
And feather canyons everywhere,
I've looked at clouds that way.

But now they only block the sun.
They rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done.
But clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow,
It's clouds illusions I recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels,
The dizzy dancing way you feel,
As every fairy tale comes real.
I've looked at love that way.

But now it's just another show.
You leave 'em laughing when you go.
And if you care, don't let them know.
Don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow,
It's love's illusions I recall.
I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say "I love you" right out loud.
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I've looked at life that way.

But now old friends are acting strange,
They shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Well something's lost, but something's gained,
In living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow,
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow,
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all.

1969, Siquomb Publishing Company

Monday, June 2, 2014


by Barbara Juster Esbensen

Look out!
If you aren't careful
it will happen like this:  Someone
will say the word
and that
will catapult you    down
the halls    out
the doors    and into
a serious collision

from Cold Stars and Fireflies: Poems of the Four Seasons by Barbara Juster Esbensen, illustrated by Susan Bonners, 1984, Thomas Y. Crowell