Monday, December 26, 2016

Trains (Monday Poem)

by James S. Tippett

Over the mountains,
Over the plains,
Over the rivers,
Here come the trains.

Carrying passengers,
Carrying mail,
Bringing their precious loads
In without fail.

Thousands of freight cars
All rushing on
Through day and darkness,
Through dusk and dawn.

Over the mountains,
Over the plains,
Over the rivers,
Here come the trains.

from Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology, compiled by May Hill Arbuthnot, 1951, Scott Foresman and Company 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sea Gull (Monday Poem)

by Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth

The sea gull curves his wings,
The sea gull turns his eyes.
Get down into the water, fish!
(If you are wise.)

The sea gull slants his wings,
The sea gull turns his head.
Get down into the water, fish!
(Or you'll be dead.)

from Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology, compiled by May Hill Arbuthnot, 1951, Scott Foresman and Company

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winter Holiday Books to Share (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Holidays come and go, but time spent reading wonderful stories together with young ones most dear to us makes memories that remain to comfort us in dark times and to cheer us on happier days. Merry, merry!

Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown, illustrated by Stacey Schuett
Although nothing in the title of this unique and tantalizing tale gives it away, a certain animal’s head is on the cover. A gorgeous painting of this same animal in acrylic and gouache spreads across the copyright and dedication pages, before the words of the story even begin. Noting these details, an attentive reader will likely expect a moose to be involved in this picture book.
The story does not disappoint, showing what it’s like to live in Alaska where winter is high on snow and low on daytime. Also, where a large and lonely moose might decide to eat the trees in someone’s backyard.
An unnamed young girl shares her experiences. She worries about her blue swing, hanging from the same tree, which the moose has begun to use for dinner. Carrots, cookies, or even apples tossed his way by the girl and her mother do not distract the moose. Neither is the narrator distracted by Hanukkah presents in the mail. Nor when she and her friends act like dreidels spinning in the snow.                     
            On the last night of Hanukkah, her father takes them outside to watch a stunningly colorful display. The girl has a clever idea of how to lure the moose out of the yard.
            Both visual and textual climaxes of the story come together in her ending observation, “Hanukkah can be pretty funny in Alaska, and miracles can happen in a lot of different ways.”
            Hanukkah facts and information about the aurora borealis are included in an Author’s Note at the end.

Henry Holt, $16.99
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail
            Although Edward is good in math, he’s having trouble learning to read. His teacher is concerned, but his mother suggests, Patience. On Christmas Eve, as his dad is reading a story about Santa delivering presents, Edward wonders how Santa remembers names. Perhaps the names are written in a book, guesses his mom.
            That night Santa invites Edward to help him deliver presents. On this fantastic adventure, Santa loses his glasses, when they fall into the sea. Edward must help by reading from Santa’s book, the names and what each child’s gift is.
            Beautiful watercolor and ink paintings feature cozy indoor Christmas scenes in contrast with snowy moonlit winter nightscapes. Shadowy darkness gives way to a “dawning sky.”
Sounding out the words, Edward is able to give Santa the help he needs. In the morning Edward wakes up on the sofa with a book from Santa on the floor nearby. When Dad offers to read it, Edward smiling, says, “Let me read it to you.”

Little, Brown and Company, $6.99 (paperback)
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2

Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift by Dara Goldman
            In this retelling, for youngsters, of O’Henry’s classic tale, “The Gift of the Magi,” Boris and Stella are a perfect match. “They both like hats and scary movies.”
Boris is from a Russian family, which celebrates Hanukkah. Stella’s Italian family celebrates Christmas.
            A baker with only a few coins, Stella decides to sell her potted pine tree, a gift from her family, to buy Boris something special for Hanukkah. She wants him to know that she cares, choosing a dreidel from Israel as a gift.
            Boris, a pianist, is so glad to have Stella in his life; he wants to show her by choosing something special for her tree as a Christmas gift. Also, without many coins, he sells his dreidel collection, yearly Hanukkah gifts from his parents.
This rare and generous blending of Jewish and Christian holiday traditions features two cuddly bears. Warm golds and blues light up the illustrations concluding with a celebratory dinner on the last night of Hanukkah, also Christmas Eve.
When they realize what they have done, Boris knows “exactly what to say to make Stella feel better.” This is the beginning of our magnificent “new dreidel collection,” he says.
When Stella notices a small pinecone with seeds “that had dropped from
her tree,” she also knows how “to make Boris feel better.” She tells him, “We will grow a new Christmas tree!”
Sleeping Bear Press, $15.99 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3

More Outstanding Holiday Titles:

Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale
by Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Disney Hyperion Books, $16.99 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

The Christmas Boot
by Lisa Wheeler
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Dial Books, $17.99 
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2

The Christmas Eve Tree
by Delia Huddy
Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Candlewick Press, $16.99 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

The Christmas Magic
by Lauren Thompson
Illustrated by Jon Muth
Scholastic, $16.99 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins 
by Eric Kimmel
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Holiday House, $17.95 (hardcover) 
$7.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Too Many Tamales
by Gary Soto
Illustrated by Ed Martinez
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99 (hardcover) 
$7.99 (paperback)
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wild Geese (Monday Poem)

by Elinor Chipp

I heard the wild geese flying
In the dead of the night,
With the beat of wings and crying
I heard the wild geese flying,
And dreams in my heart sighing
Followed their northward flight.
I heard the wild geese flying
In the dead of the night.

from Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology, compiled by May Hill Arbuthnot, 1951, Scott Foresman and Company

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cat (Monday Poem)

by Mary Britton Miller

The black cat yawns,
Opens her jaws,
Stretches her legs,
And shows her claws.

Then she gets up
And stands on four
Long stiff legs
And yawns some more.

She shows her sharp teeth,
She stretches her lip,
Her slice of a tongue
Turns up at the tip.

Lifting herself
On her delicate toes,
She arches her back
As high as it goes.

She lets herself down
With particular care,
And pads away
With her tail in the air.

from Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology, compiled by May Hill Arbuthnot, 1951, Scott Foresman and Company

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mirrorment (Monday Poem)

by A. R. Ammons

Birds are flowers flying
and flowers perched birds.

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, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving is a Time for Remembering (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Thanksgiving is more than a time for gratitude. It has also become a time to reflect on immigration, remembering that many of us have come to the United States for safety and freedom. Being together, sharing food and family history, reading and telling stories, and talking about the events that influence us can bring new meaning and enrichment into our relationships. The love we share with each other is always an important part of reading and telling stories. Holidays can provide times for these essentials. Have fun!!

The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff
Illustrated by Michael Dooling
            Rachel and her orphaned cousin, Grisha, play a storytelling game to distract him from his grief following his parents’ deaths during an epidemic. The only thing left from his former life is a coat his mother made from her own coat. “Inside, he can still feel his mama’s touch,” Rachel tells the aunts and uncles who want Grisha to have a new coat.
This heartwarming immigrant tale shows a Russian Jewish family who must leave when it is no longer safe in their village. They make the difficult journey by wagon, train, and finally, by ship across the ocean to America.
Rachel’s words begin the stories. But it’s Grisha’s pictures that help him to find comfort in this storytelling game they play together.
The restrained oil paintings that illustrate the story use sepia tones to give a sense of another era, especially those of the farm and village scenes. However, even the more colorful pages use subdued tones to communicate the fear and grimness of wartime Russia, and the immigrant lines at Ellis Island.
A minor fall when Rachel loses her balance, during their storytelling game in the customs inspection line, knocks Grisha into a basket. He scratches his eye. When the Ellis Island doctor examines him, it looks red and irritated. He writes a chalk letter “E” on Grisha’s coat. How Rachel solves the problem, and Grisha does not get separated from the family, is the happy ending to this tale.
An Author’s Note, and Historic Notes about Life in Russia, The Journey Westward, and Ellis Island are important back matter.

Scholastic, $17.99 (hardcover) 
$6.95 (paperback)
Interest Level: Grade 2-5

Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley
Illustrated by Joe Cepeda
            Papa, who is a truck driver, sends a live turkey to Miguel. He lives with Abuela, Abuelo and Tia Rosa in a small New York City apartment. Miguel names the turkey Gracias. He’s supposed to feed the turkey, so it will be fat for Thanksgiving dinner, in time for Papa’s arrival.
            Miguel and Gracias become friends, amigos. He goes to the library to find out what turkeys eat. Miguel and his school friend, Clarene, talk with the park ranger in Central Park. They get sacks of cut grass from him to feed to Gracias. The Indian couple that owns a nearby store gives them old cabbages and lettuces for turkey food. The “whole neighborhood knows about Gracias.”
Even the friendly local cop teases them about whose oven is bigger to cook the turkey. Miguel gets worried when the subject of ovens comes up.
“People shouldn’t eat pets,” he says. Then, Gracias is stolen! Despite all best efforts, no one can find her.
The oil paintings are bright and cheerful, featuring the multicultural neighborhood, and the changing seasons. Officer Deveraux, to Miguel’s great relief, arrives with a still alive Gracias, which she has rescued.
This humorous story with its surprising twists is an unexpectedly delightful tale. Its setting in the city with a non-traditional Spanish speaking family supplies a satisfying ending. A glossary with Spanish words and their English translations is at the back.

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2  

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
            Well-known for his signature primary colors and flat, primitive style illustrations, Parr once again uses a simple format for sharing important information. His animal and people characters outlined in black are featured on colorful backgrounds with unusual things to be thankful for. Purple hair, begins: “I’m thankful for my hair because it makes me unique.” Underwear can be worn on one’s head. The library is filled with endless adventures.
            This book is an unusual exploration of gratitude. Text and pictures together invite laughter. Great conversations can emerge from what readers and listeners are thankful for as a part of enjoying this book together.
            As often happens at the end of his books, Parr concludes with a personal note: “There are lots of things to be thankful for. Try to remember some of them every day. The end. Love, Todd” This is a perfect story to share.

Little, Brown and Company, $11
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2

More Books to Share:

The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli
Illustrations by JoAnn Adinolfi
Henry Holt, $7.99 (paperback)
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Diane de Groat
Clarion, $6.99 (paperback)
Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3

What is Thanksgiving? by Elaine Landau
Enslow Publishers
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Monday, November 21, 2016

Brother (Monday Poem)

by Mary Ann Hoberman

I had a little brother
And I brought him to my mother
And I said I want another
Little brother for a change.
But she said don't be a bother
So I took him to my father
And I said this little bother
Of a brother's very strange.

But he said one little brother
Is exactly like another
And every little brother
Misbehaves a bit he said.
So I took my little bother
From my mother and my father
And I put my little bother
Of a brother back to bed.

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, November 14, 2016

Rocks (Monday Poem)

by Florence Parry Heide

Big rocks into pebbles,
pebbles into sand.
I really hold a million million rocks here in my hand.

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, November 7, 2016

Foxes (Monday Poem)

by Mary Ann Hoberman

A litter of little black foxes. And later
A litter of little gray foxes. And later
A litter of little white foxes.
The white ones are lighter than gray.
Not a lot.
The gray ones are lighter than black.
Just a little.
The litters are lighter in moonlight.
They glitter.
They gleam in the moonlight. The glow and they glisten.
Out on the snow see the silver fox sparkle.

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 31, 2016

What's That? (Monday Poem)

by Florence Parry Heide

What's that?
Who's there?
There's a great, huge, horrible, horrible
Creeping up the stair!
A huge, big, terrible, terrible
With creepy, crawly hair!
There's a ghastly, grisly, ghastly
With seven slimy eyes!
And flabby, grabby, tentacles
Of a gigantic size!
He's crept into my room now,
He's leaning over me.
I wonder if he's thinking
How delicious I will be.

from Scared Silly: A Halloween Book for the Brave compiled and illustrated by Marc Brown, 1994, Little Brown

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.

Monday, September 19, 2016

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 to wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all ---
Let's go live in a tree house.

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 12, 2016

Knoxville, Tennessee (Monday Poem)

by Nikki Giovanni

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy's garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
and buttermilk
and homemade ice cream
at the church picnic

and listen to
gospel music
at the church
and go to the mountains with
your grandmother
and go barefooted
and be warm
all the time
not only when you go to bed
and sleep

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 5, 2016

Firefly (Monday Poem)

by Elizabeth Maddox Roberts

A little light is going by,
Is going up to see the sky,
A little light with wings.

I never could have thought of it,
To have a little bug all lit
And made to go on wings.

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, August 29, 2016

Good Morning (Monday Poem)

by Muriel Sipe

One day I saw a downy duck,
With feathers on his back;
I said, "Good morning, downy duck,"
And he said, "Quack, quack, quack."

One day I saw a timid mouse,
He was so shy and meek;
I said, "Good morning, timid mouse,"
And he said, "Squeak, squeak, squeak."

One day I saw a curly dog,
I met him with a bow;
I said, "Good morning, curly dog,"
And he said, "Bow-wow-wow."

One day I saw a scarlet bird,
He woke me from my sleep;
I said, "Good morning, scarlet bird,"
And he said, "Cheep, cheep, cheep."

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, August 22, 2016

Wind Song (Monday Poem)

by Lilian Moore

When the wind blows
the quiet things speak.
Some whisper, some clang,
Some creak.

Grasses swish.
Treetops sigh.
Flags slap
and snap at the sky.
Wires on poles
whistle and hum.
Ashcans roll.
Windows drum.

When the wind goes --
the quiet things
are quiet again.

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, August 15, 2016

RAIN (Monday Poem)

by Myra Cohn Livingston

Summer rain
is soft and cool,
so I go barefoot
in a pool.

But winter rain
is cold, and pours,
so I must watch it
from indoors.

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

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pirates Ahoy! (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Before school begins, swap out your last few days of vacation for time in your imagination. These pirate tales can take you along on adventures, and make you laugh or think. Whether it’s a day at the beach or on board, there’s still time for summertime magic. If your fantasy is to sail into the sunset, feast your fancy on these books of wonder.

Maggie and the Pirate by Ezra Jack Keats
            In this haunting story, Maggie lives with her parents “in an old bus they made into a home.” They use boats or rafts to get to “town,” an unusual collection of buildings on stilts. A boy stranger, who calls himself a pirate and has built an odd tree house in the swamp, steals Maggie’s beloved cricket in his cage. She and her friends go on a hunt to find Nikki. Sadly, during the struggle to retrieve him, the cricket drowns.
            Award winner Keats is famous for developing a lovely illustration style that mixes collage, silhouette and watercolor. In addition to the beautiful paintings, the simple text and the language of loss and reconciliation enhance the depth of this book. The concluding friendships formed from this profound tale of loss leave a lingering effect of sweetness without overpowering readers or listeners.

Scholastic, Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

Roger the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist
            Roger is a lousy pirate. The other buccaneers on his ship give him the unkind nickname of Jolly Roger. “When there is serious pirating” to do, they send him below deck.
            This happens again when their only notable opponent, the “Admiral” with his band, attacks. Roger, who wants to win his shipmates approval, decides to bake a cake in a cannon he thinks is a pot. The resulting explosion blows Roger on deck in a cloud of flour, smoke, and gunpowder soot, shrieking like a banshee. The Admiral’s crew doesn’t stay long enough to realize he’s neither skeleton nor ghost.
            This is a wacky story with double-page spreads of wild and crazy battle scenes, and contrasting close-up views of faces and ships on the high seas. Author/illustrator Helquist grabs attention with his ability to craft high-motion images. A chicken companion and his grin with a gap distinguish Roger from the scowls of the other pirates.
In appreciation, Roger’s shipmates make a flag in his honor, now known as the “Jolly Roger.” Music and words for “The Ballad of the Jolly Roger” are included at the end.

HarperCollins, $6.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Grades 1-3

Captain Jack and the Pirates by Peter Bently
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
            Rollicking rhythm and rhyme attracts listeners’ interest. The “brave mariners three” use their imaginations to build a pirate ship from sand at the beach. Buckets for cannons, shirts for the mainsails, an inflatable ring and they are off “through oceans unknown!”
            An enemy pirate ship is up ahead, but a storm on the sea brings down the sail, collapses the ship and sends a “man overboard!” They explore the “island” where the “enemy pirates” are shipwrecked too. The “treasure” they discover is a bountiful table of “booty.”  Sandwiches, cupcakes and soda pop draw them to the heavily laden table.
A beguiling mix of watercolor paintings is intermingled with smaller pencil drawings. Much beloved illustrator Oxenbury uses her award-winning talents to show the sunlit day changing to a “tropical gale.” And the contrast between the huge pirate ship with its eye patch pirates and the small sand boat with its tiny buccaneers could not be more imposing.
When a voice says, “Caught you!” The “buccaneers” give in without a struggle, getting dried off by caring parents with clean clothes. The final double page spread is a view of three happy boys/pirates companionably licking ice cream cones. 

Dial, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten

More Pirate Tales:

The Pirate Queen by Emily Arnold McCully
Putnam, Interest Level: Grade 2-3

Lilly and the Pirates by Phyllis Root
Illustrations by Rob Shepperson
Boyds Mills Press, $8.95 (paperback) 
$16.95 (hardcover) Interest Level: Grade 3

Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long
Illustrated by David Shannon
Harcourt, $16.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3

Monday, August 8, 2016

Weave for Us (Monday Poem)

. . . weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness,
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing,
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the Sky.

from the American Indian
God Is In the Mountain, selected and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, 1966, Holt, Rinehart & Winston

Monday, August 1, 2016

Night (Monday Poem)

by Leland B. Jacobs

I wrapped the night around me---
Velvet black, a cloak it made,
With silver stars for buttons . . .
I drew the cloak around me, unafraid.

I wrapped the night around me---
Velvet black, that shimmered as I swept
Around the moonlit room.
And in the furry feel of night I slept.

from Is Somewhere Always Far Away?: Poems about Places by Leland B. Jacobs, illustrated by Jeff Kaufman, 1993, Henry Holt 

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Trees Stand Shining (Monday Poem)

At the edge of the world
It is growing light.
The trees stand shining.
I like it.
It is growing light.

from the Papago 
The Trees Stand Shining: Poetry of the North American Indians, selected by Hettie Jones, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, 1993, Dial Books

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Ancestors (Monday Poem)

by Michael Hettich

watch us from behind the scree
and trifles of our lives. You think you're alone
in your moment?  they ask---the way a leaf shivers
without a breeze, or a breath is inhaled
where there is no body. We call that the wind.
But the ancestors watch us like the dark beyond daylight
makes the wild animals move through the trees
until we can't see them. Until they have no names.
You might call them birds, but the ancestors are never birds.
Maybe stones or grasses. Wildflowers. Forgotten words.
Now someone says softly the wild birds are going
extinct, the warblers and thrushes that migrate
thousands of miles. Or the way summer fragrance
covers the scent of things falling back to the earth
as the ancestors did, long ago, living here
although we refuse to acknowledge them, pretending
our muscles and minds and hearts are our own
and everything lives only now.

from Systems of Vanishing, by Michael Hettich, 2014, University of Tampa Press