Monday, May 25, 2015

Tree House (Monday Poem)

by Shel Silverstein

A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.

A street house, a neat house,
Be sure and wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all --
Let's go live in a tree house.

from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, 1974, Harper & Row

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mainly Mamas (FAMILY magazine reviews)

A springtime crop of new books and old favorites has arrived just in time for Mother’s Day! Whether you are Mom or Dad, make time to snuggle with your child(ren) and share some of these delightful titles. As you establish and maintain family traditions don’t hesitate to take advantage of these wonderful picture books. They will supply an opportunity to read and talk with your child(ren) about what’s important in your family. Enjoy!!

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya 
by Donna Jo Napoli 
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
            Wangari grew up in Mount Kenya’s shadow, hearing stories about the importance of trees for water and for making peace. Her wisdom grew, like the trees, from the traditions in her family, village, country and continent.
            She planted trees herself. And when women came to her, asking for help with their families, Wangari gave them seeds. She taught them to plant trees, too.
The extraordinary collage artwork in this book uses both oil paints and fabric to capture Kenyan culture. In the same way, Wangari’s life models the Kenyan spirit of working together for the common good. 
The rhythm of a repetitive storyline can be hypnotic for young listeners. A refrain from the Kikuyu language and its English translation separates each short narrative, “Thayu nyumba – Peace, my people.” Repeated text builds power as Wangari’s work continues. The strength of a group effort is reproduced in a double page spread near the end: glorious fabrics and many faces represent the Kenyan people.  
This beautiful picture book is an unusual biography of a Kenyan woman who has helped to create a new future. Not only for herself and other women, but also a hopeful future for her country. 

Simon & Schuster, $17.99 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Heather Has Two Mommies 
by Leslea Newman 
illustrated by Laura Cornell
            A new edition of Newman’s story, first published in 1989 (by Alyson Publications), is a simple yet powerful story about Heather whose favorite number is two. She has two legs, two hands, two eyes, two pets and two mommies. 
            When Heather goes to school for the first time, the children are asked to draw pictures of their families. She wonders if she’s the only one without a daddy. But as the teacher observes, “The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” 
            Young readers see different kinds of families: Joshua’s family picture includes his “mommy and stepfather dropping him off at his daddy’s house.” Emily’s picture features her grandma and their two dogs. David’s mommy and daddy just brought home a new baby sister.
            Watercolor and gouache paintings are cheerful, bright and childlike. Full page spreads show family life in Heather’s home and great diversity in wide views of the classroom. Smaller images show elements of a child’s day, giving glimpses of great diversity among the children and adults in the classroom setting.

Candlewick, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book is available to  purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Because Your Mommy Loves You 
by Andrew Clements 
illustrated by R. W. Alley
            This book for young children, who want to be independent, is also for moms who sometimes flicker between heavy supervision and allowing offspring to meet their own challenges. Off to camp in the woods, a boy and his mom begin by getting supplies. When he gets lost and calls out, “mommy could say, It’s all right, I’m coming to find you! But she doesn’t.” In following situations mom could step in to rescue. Together they climb steep paths, wearing heavy backpacks, cross a wobbly bridge, set up a tent, and roast marshmallows. However, what mommy does is explain or show by her example how to solve the situation. She then watches as the child completes the task himself.
            Following a repeating pattern, reassuring language engages youngsters.  Mommy is untiring in her cheerful guidance. Child listeners and beginning readers will recognize growing self-confidence as the story continues. 
Lively text matches with active ink, watercolor and acrylic illustrations to capture both the boy’s beginning uneasiness and his pride as his attempts result in success. This tender book happily follows a jaunty day of hiking adventures with sleeping in a tent.

Clarion, $16.99 (hardcover), $6.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 1 
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

More Marvelous Mothers:

Pecan Pie Baby 
by Jacqueline Woodson 
illustrated by Sophie Blackwell
Penguin, $7.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Where’s My Mom? 
by Julia Donaldson 
illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Dial, $17.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Knit Together by Angela Dominguez
Dial, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

I Love Mom 
by Joanna Walsh 
illustrated by Judi Abbot
Simon & Schuster, $16.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.

Little Baby Buttercup 
by Linda Ashman 
illustrated by Yyou Byun
Penguin, $16.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten 
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sand (Monday Poem)

by Shirley Hughes

I like sand.
The run-between-your-fingers kind,
The build-into-castles kind.
Mountains of sand meeting the sky;
Flat sand, going on forever.
I do like sand.

from Out and About: A First Book of Poems by Shirley Hughes, 2015, Candlewick

Monday, May 11, 2015

Seaside (Monday Poem)

by Shirley Hughes

Sand in the sandwiches,
Sand in the tea,
Flat, wet sand running
Down to the sea.
Pools full of seaweed,
Shells, and stones.
Damp bathing suits
And ice-cream cones.
Waves pouring in
To a sand-castle moat.
Mend the defenses!
Now we're afloat!
Water's for splashing,
Sand is for play.
A day by the sea
Is the best kind of day.

from Out and About: A First Book of Poems by Shirley Hughes, 2015, Candlewick

Monday, May 4, 2015

My Mother's Eyes (Monday Poem)

by Marjorie Agosin


My mother's eyes
are cities
where birds 
where voyages of the ill-fated
come to rest
where water is a mirror
of sung secrets.


My mother's eyes
are cities
of war
bearing the scars
of a barren time.
I approach them
and on the threshold of her eyes
a girl is rocking
asleep in a misty cruelty of light,
in windswept wastelands of absence.

In my mother's eyes
I also encounter myself
because into them
I slip, 
find warm solace
and live
in the cities of love.

from Whisper and Shout: Poems to Memorize edited by Patrice Vecchione, 2013, Cricket Books