Monday, January 25, 2016

The Poet (Monday Poem)

by Paul Lawrence Dunbar

He sang of life, serenely sweet,
With now and then, a deeper note.
From some high peak, nigh yet remote,
He voiced the world's absorbing beat.

He sang of love when earth was young,
And Love, itself, was in his lays.
But ah, the world, it turned to praise
A jingle in a broken tongue.

from Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby, 2015, Candlewick Press

Monday, January 18, 2016

Invitation to Love (Monday Poem)

by Paul Lawrence Dunbar

Come when the nights are bright with stars,
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the Sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, oh Love, whene'er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, oh Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove,
Come to my heart and bring it rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief,
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf,
Or with the redd'ning cherry.
Come when the year's first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter's drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.

from Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby, 2015, Candlewick Press

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ma and God (Monday Poem)

by Shel Silverstein

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Use your fork."
God gave us voices--Ma says, "Don't scream."
Ma says eat broccoli, cereal and carrots.
But God gave us tasteys for maple ice crea.

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Use your hanky."
God gave us puddles--Ma says, "Don't splash."
Ma says, "Be quiet, your father is sleeping."
But God gave us garbage can covers to crash.

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Put your gloves on."
God gave us raindrops--Ma says, "Don't get wet."
Ma says be careful and don't get too near to
Those strange lovely dogs that God gave us to pet.

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Go wash 'em."
But God gave us coal bins and nice dirty bodies.
And I ain't too smart, but there's one thing for certain--
Either Ma's wrong or God is.

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

Friday, January 8, 2016

Colors Count (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Are you weary of winter? Surprise yourself and sit down with your favorite small person to try any of these unusual storybooks about color.
Whether colors make you feel strongly about something, or perhaps someone you know is synesthetic; can actually hear or taste colors as well as see them, like The Girl Who Heard Colors, from the list below. Try out several of these stories. See if they suit your taste.
Decide which colors you prefer. Enjoy the sight, smell, taste, touch or sound of these delightful tales. Share them with those you love. Warm up your winter with wonderful words.

My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien
            Not everyone shares the same point of view, debut picture book author Young observes in the flap copy. This lively book celebrates variety in how colors are experienced.
Sometimes using dialog to express feelings linked to color, the book reads like a peppy, non-rhyming poem. The eager girl in the story doesn’t argue out loud with family, neighbors, and friends who experience color in, perhaps, an expected fashion. Instead, she shares her “but” in active, non-argumentative, yet reflective language:
“The boy next door says red is angry
Like a dragon’s burning breath.
But my red is as brave as a fire truck
And my superhero cape.“
The surprising differences in feelings often associated with specific colors are accented by vigorous acrylic paintings. The lively union of words with pictures makes this charming story appealing to young listeners. Yet, older readers will also feel engaged.

Candlewick Press, $15.99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
            This imaginative story is a series of letters written to a boy, Duncan, by the crayons from his box. The individual crayons are feeling exhausted; red is overworked by the holidays. Purple, who is tidy, wants Duncan to color inside the lines. Beige is tired of being limited to coloring wheat.
Yellow and orange, which both think they are the color of the sun, are no longer speaking to each other. Only green is happy with his jobs – “crocodiles, trees, dinosaurs, and frogs.”
            Other colors have also written to Duncan: Gray, white, black, blue (the favorite), pink (hardly ever used) and peach. Each complaint is clearly expressed and cleverly written. Each note uses the appropriate crayon color, and features the highlighted problem.
            Playful crayon illustrations are paired with the notes. Each is carefully photographed, and placed on double-page spreads. The ending features the boy’s creativity in using all the colors in one bright picture he gives to his teacher.

Philomel, $17.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

One by Kathryn Otoshi
            Vibrant splashes of watercolor blobs on white paper spotlight a story about colors, that becomes a counting book, which turns into a bullying tale.  A quiet color, Blue is picked on by Red. “Red is hot. Blue is not.” Other colors comfort Blue, but not when Red is there. In fact, Red gets bigger, and scarier, and meaner every time no one speaks up to stop him.
            One comes. He’s brave. He’s funny.  He’s willing to stand up to Red and say, “No.” The other colors decide to change into number, like One. Yellow becomes two, Green is three, and so on. Blue wants to “count” too. Red feels left out.
            When Blue changes to Six, Red tries to tease him again. Instead, Blue says, “Red can be really HOT, but Blue can be super COOL.” The others take a stand too, making Red feel very small. However, they offer Red the chance to join in the counting game.
            That one person can make a difference, is deftly strengthened by the ending: “Sometimes it just takes One.” A seemingly simple story, with meaningful language, artfully revealed.

Ko Kids Books, $17.95 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1

More fantastic favorites to read together:

Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Colors by Keith Baker
Beach Lane, $17.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3

The Girl Who Heard Colors by Marie Harris,
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Penguin, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten - Kindergarten

Black Cat White Cat by Silvia Borando
Candlewick Press, $14.00
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten

Ike’s Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley
Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Poet and His Song (Monday Poem)

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A song is but a little thing
And yet what joy it is to sing.
In hours of toil it gives me zest,
And when at eve I long for rest;
When cows come home along the bars,
And in the fold I hear the bell,
As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars,
I sing my song and all is well.

There are no ears to hear my lays,
No lips to lift a word of praise;
But still with faith unfaltering,
I live and laugh and love and sing.
What matters yon unheeding throng?
They cannot feel my spirit's spell,
Since life is sweet and love is long,
I sing my song and all is well.

My days are never days of ease,
It till my ground and prune my trees.
When ripened gold is all the plain,
I put my sickle to the grain.
I labor hard and toil and sweat,
While others dream within the dell;
But even while my brow is wet,
I sing my song and all is well.

Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot,
My garden makes a desert spot.
Sometimes a blight upon the tree
Takes all my fruit away from me;
And then with throes of bitter pain
Rebellious passions rise and swell;
But--life is more than fruit or grain,
And so I sing, and all is well.

from Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby, 2015, Candlewick Press