Monday, April 25, 2016

How Things Work (Monday Poem)

by Gary Soto

Today it's going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother's violin.
We're completing our task. The tip I left
For the waitress filters down
Like rain, wetting the new roots of a child
Perhaps, a belligerent cat that won't let go
Of a balled sock until there's chicken to eat.
As far as I can tell, daughter, it works like this:
You buy bread from a grocery, a bag of apples
From a fruit stand, and what coins
Are passed on helps others buy pencils, glule,
Tickets to a movie in which laughter
Is thrown into their faces.
If we buy a goldfish, someone tries on a hat.
If we buy crayons, someone walks home with a broom.
A tip, a small purchase here and there,
And things just keep going. I guess.

from A Fire in My Hands: A Book of Poems by Gary Soto, 1990, Scholastic

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Germ (Monday Poem)

by Ogden Nash

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, dear reader, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

from Bed Riddance: A Posy for the Indisposed by Ogden Nash, illustrated by Milton Glaser, 1969, Little, Brown & Co.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Peace of Wild Things (Monday Poem)

by Wendell Berry

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Turtle Time Tales (FAMILY magazine reviews)

April hosts Earth Day, Poetry month, the time of turtles and birds; it can be the best of spring in South Florida. This between time – after winter’s wait and before summer’s heat – offers the opportunity for finding one’s own place in the world. As the seasons change, so do we. Fortunately or not, the spiral that brings us around the cycle of the year is never the same twice. And this collection of turtle tales supplies us with much to extend our imaginations. Stretch your “fanciful” muscles, dream. Follow a whim. Share these stories with your favorite small person. Don’t be afraid to invent or re-invent your own life!  

Ocean Commotion: Sea Turtles 
by Janeen Mason
            Beautifully illustrated, this biography about a loggerhead turtle whose hatching and later travels across the world’s oceans is a fascinating saga. She navigates the dangers of sea birds, crabs, sharks and nets to return to the beach of her birth to lay eggs.
            The swirling movement of blue, green and purple ocean currents echoes the movement of the sea’s creatures, as the female turtle crawls, drifts, paddles, dives and swims on her long journey. The important role of sargassum (a floating ocean weed) to supply both food and protection is highlighted.
This well researched picture book reflects the author’s passion for the environment, especially marine life. Revealing the lush diversity of sea life on display in the immensity of the world’s oceans, the reader’s immersion in the life of the sea is enhanced by the vitality of the illustrations.
At the back is a Note from the Author, including current websites. Also, words from the Glossary at the end are printed in bold type in the text.
Pelican Publishing Company, $15.99 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Turtle’s Race with Beaver: A Traditional Seneca Story 
by Joseph Bruchac & James Bruchac
Illustrated by Jose Aruego & Ariane Dewey
            Turtle lives in a beautiful pond with everything a turtle could need; plenty of food and rocks for sunning. But one winter a beaver builds a dam, making the water deeper and deeper.
            Turtle wakes from hibernation and swims up from the mud. She discovers that Beaver doesn’t want to share the pond, even though there’s plenty of room. Instead, Beaver challenges her to race. “Whoever winds can stay, whoever loses must go find a new home.”
            Although Turtle doesn’t really want to race, she agrees. Beaver tells all the local animals about the race and a crowd gathers. They chant: TURTLE! BEAVER! TURTLE! BEAVER! Beaver is confident. Turtle thinks Beaver, with his flat tail, is likely a faster swimmer. But she has an idea.
            She bites into Beaver’s tale just as he leaps into the pond. It looks like Beaver will win. Turtle bites harder. The animals are cheering from the shore. Turtle bites even harder. Beaver yells and flips his big tail out of the water. Turtle lets go, flying over Beaver’s head, landing on the shore, and crawling across the finish line to win.
            Well-loved illustrators Dewey and Aruego use pen and ink, gouache, and pastels for the action that draws laughter from readers and listeners alike. The movement of the water, and the participation of the woodland animals with their intent expressions, matches the vivid language of the text.
            Turtle is delighted. But she also notices Beaver’s sadness. Despite her offer to share the pond, Beaver leaves in embarrassment.
            The ending, however, is very satisfying for young children. Turtle is once more content in her pond. And, Beaver finds a new pond – this time asking another turtle to share. The two live happily sharing the pond together.

Penguin, $5.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Emma’s Turtle
by Eve Bunting 
Illustrated by Marsha Winborn
            A turtle has heard Emma, the girl whose pet he is, read about faraway lands. He decides to go exploring, digging a hole under the wire of his pen. He thinks he may be in the African jungle because the grass he crawls through is so long. Perhaps that’s an elephant leg he sees ahead. Or no, it’s really a strange jungle tree stump.
When a frog leaps past, the turtle wonders if it’s a kangaroo from Australia. Later, he wonders if he’s in India when he first sees the striped tail of the next-door cat and thinks it might be a tiger.
Watercolor illustrations are imaginative and match the sometimes-comic voice of the turtle with amused, fearful, funny, relieved, curious, expressive faces of all the creatures and Emma.
Turtle’s been away all day by now and begins to worry about how to get back to the United States. Then Emma finds him and carries him back. And there are “strawberry slices scattered” for his supper.
Although he has never left the yard, young children will “get it” that he has had a splendid adventure.

Boyds Mills Press, $6.95 (paperback) 
$15.95 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Pre-School – Grade 1
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)


Turtle, Turtle Watch Out!  
by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Annie Patterson
Charlesbridge Publishing, $7.95 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Turtle Tide: The Ways of Sea Turtles 
by Stephen R. Swinburne, 
illustrated by Bruce Hiscock
Boyds Mills Press, $11.95 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Grades 2-5
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

The Tortoise and the Hare 
by Alison Ritchie, illustrated by Nahta Noj
Candlewick Press, $15.99
Interest Level: Pre-School – Grade 1
(This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Piper (Monday Poem)

by Seumus O'Sullivan

A piper in the streets today
Set up and tuned, and started to play,
And away, away, away on the tide
Of his music we started; on every side
Doors and windows were opened wide,
And men left down their work and came,
And women with petticoats coloured like flame.
And little bare feet that were blue with cold,
Went dancing back to the age of gold,
And all the world went gay, went gay,
For half an hour in the street today.

from Collected Poems, 1940, Orwell Press
by way of Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology, compiled by May Hill Arbuthnot, 1951, Scott, Foresman & Company