Monday, December 29, 2014

New World (Monday Poem)

by Shel Silverstein

Upside-down trees swingin' free,
Busses float and buildings dangle,
Now and then it's nice to see
The world from a different angle.

from Falling Up by Shel Silverstein, 1996, Scholastic

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas is On the Way! (FAMILY magazine reviews)

As the holidays approach, we note the longer nights and shorter days.  The season of the celebration of light can be a time to remember and reflect on family customs.  It can also be an opportunity to create new traditions.  Reading holiday books together can become more than a routine.  Especially is this true when these kinds of rituals are combined with terrific stories and wonderful memories. Take time during this busy season to enjoy each others company reading out loud together.

Night Tree by Eve Bunting 
Illustrated by Ted Rand  
Harcourt Brace & Company, $7.00 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

            A young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree in the quiet moonlit forest.  They have prepared popcorn strings, sunflower seed balls, apples, and tangerines to hang from the branches.  They scatter nuts and breadcrumbs underneath. 
            Lovely watercolor paintings are accented with chalk and grease pencil.  This emphasis on the shadowy night contrasts with the lantern’s light, and a dusky sky filled with star shine.   A deer is caught in the flashlight’s beam. An owl’s voice and face deepen the sense of secrets in the forest darkness.
Together, the family sings songs and drinks hot chocolate. As this picture book unfolds, an annual tradition emerges as an important way to share.  It’s become an occasion to give each other a gift.  But it’s also an event created for the forest creatures.  Perhaps after reading this enchanting story, your family will decide to adopt this or another similar yearly tradition.

Manger selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins 
Illustrations by Helen Cann  
Eerdmans, $16.00 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

An ancient legend describes how, at midnight on Christmas Eve, animals are able to speak.  In this cheerful collection, featuring 15 talented poets, readers hear from rooster, sheep, horse, cat, mouse, dog, cow, wren, owl, fish, spider, llama and goat. 
Hopkins sets the scene in his introductory poem.  The concluding rhyme is a verse from the traditional carol, “The Friendly Beasts,” describing the donkey. Poems from Joan Bransfield Graham, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, X.J.Kennedy, Jude Mandell, Marilyn Nelson, Jane Yolen, Ann Whitford Paul, Prince Redcloud, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Michele Krueger, Alma Flor Ada and Alice Schertle are included.
Watercolor and collage beautifully illustrate each poem in glowing colors. 
The moonlit starry pages flash with movement and luster.  Expressive animal faces populate the pages and endpapers. A blazing comet appears on several pages, highlighting the not-so-silent night. 

This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotton 
Illustrated by Delana Bettoli 
Henry Holt, $6.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level:  Pre-Kindergarten – Grade1 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

This beautiful picture book, combined with gradually building text, tells the Nativity story.  Added to the familiar rhythm of “This is the house that Jack built” is a refrain, “the quiet stable, dusty and brown.” Pairing these two produces a gentle, musical rhyme pattern.
Mixed media paintings of animals, angels, shepherds, wise men, the newborn baby, parents, and the star also feature bright patterned borders.  Bettoli’s earth tones establish a sense of the desert.  Primary colors give life to expressive animal faces.  And skillful use of pastels reveals ethnic variety in the people.
This version of the visitors to the stable can also be sung to the melody of “The Friendly Beasts,” a traditional carol.  Simply told and well paced, this tale is a favorite of both children and the adults who enjoy it with them.


‘Twas Nochebuena: A Christmas Story in English and Spanish 
By Roseanne Greenfield Thong 
Illustrated by Sara Palacios  
Viking, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Christmas Wish for Corduroy based on the characters created by Don Freeman
Story by B. G. Hennessy 
Pictures by Jody Wheeler 
Viking, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Anselm Grun 
Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri 
 Eerdmans, $16.00 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

And Then Comes Christmas by Tom Brenner
Illustrations by Jana Christy 
Candlewick Press, $15.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Dog (Monday Poem)

by Shel Silverstein

Tonight's my first night as a watchdog,
And here it is Christmas Eve.
The children are sleepin' all cozy upstairs,
While I'm guardin' the stockin's and tree.

What's that now--footsteps on the rooftop?
Could it be a cat or a mouse?
Who's this down the chimney?
A thief with a beard--
And a big sack for robbin' the house?

I'm barkin', I'm growlin', I'm bitin' his butt.
He howls and jumps back in his sleigh.
I scare his strange horses, they leap in the air.
I've frightened the whole bunch away.

Now the house is all peaceful and quiet again,
The stockin's are safe as can be.
Won't the kiddies be glad when they wake up tomorrow
And see how I've guarded the tree.

from Falling Up by Shel Silverstein, 1996, Scholastic

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chewy (Monday Poem)

by Peggy Archer

Chewing on the table leg.
     Chewing on the chair.
Chewing on my running shoe.
     Chewing on the stair.
Chewing on my baseball bat.
     Chewing on the phone.
Chewing, chewing everything--
      except her rawhide bone!

from Name That Dog! by Peggy Archer, 2010, Dial

Monday, December 8, 2014

Catching (Monday Poem)

by Shel Silverstein

I tried to catch a cold
As he went running past
On a damp and hilly
Afternoon in autumn.
I tried to catch a cold,
But he skittered by so fast
That I missed him--
But I'm glad to hear you caught him.

from A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, 1981, Harper & Row

Monday, December 1, 2014

Canyon (Monday Poem)

by Nikki Grimes

Say "canyon,"
and I am at
horizon's rim,
leaning over
a deep bowl of echoes.
I gape at the grand cavern
and call
then wait
for the soft,
round sound of
                      E L L A!
                                          e l l a!
as it returns. 

from Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes, 2013, Wordsong