Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Carol (Monday Poem)

(An old fashioned blessing of good wishes)

God bless the master of this house,
The mistress also,
And all the little children,
That round the table go,
And all your kin and kinsmen
That dwell both far and near;
I wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year.

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Monday, December 18, 2017

Please (Monday Poem)

by Eileen Spinelli

You may put sugar
In your tea
Or milk
Or honey from the bees
You may prefer
A lemon squeeze
Or choose to use
None of these.
Just don't put in
Your fingers

from Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor 
by Eileen Spinelli
1999, Boyds Mills Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

I Heard a Bird Sing (Monday Poem)

by Oliver Herford

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

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, December 6, 2017

Merry Stories Full of Cheer! (FAMILY magazine Reviews)

These heartwarming stories full of holiday wishes, experiences and preparations can help you add some lovely traditions in your own family setting.  Merry holidays to you!

Red and Lulu 
 by Matt Tavares
            A cardinal couple, Red, the male bird, and Lulu, the female, live in an enormous evergreen tree beside a small house. The tree is cut down while Lulu is still in the nest in the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but cannot keep up.
            He searches for days with no success, but finally discovers the tree, decorated for Christmas, in the midst of confusing city buildings. When he flies to their favorite branch, Lulu is there!!
            After Christmas when the tree is removed, the two relocate to a nearby park. Every year the two birds return to what turns out to be the Rockefeller Center to enjoy the decorations and the singing around a new tree each Christmas.
            The lovely watercolor and gouache paintings have qualities that make the reader think of photographs. Snow and holiday lights glisten and make the illustrations glow. A variety of perspectives lend movement to match the pace of the text.
            Back matter includes information about the Christmas tree tradition, begun in 1931, along with the fact that each year the Christmas tree is recycled by Habitat for Humanity to build homes for families in need. This is an especially beautiful story for the holiday season. And a perfect accompaniment to David Rubel’s The Carpenter’s Gift, which is also a story about the traditions surrounding the Rockefeller Christmas tree.

Candlewick Press, $17.99
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

A Christmas for Bear 
by Bonnie Becker
illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
            In another Bear and Mouse book from the Becker and Denton team, Bear invites his friend Mouse over for a Christmas party (although he knows almost nothing about it.) As a part of their growing friendship grumpy Bear prepares pickles, poetry and a present. But whenever Mouse mentions presents Bear only wants to talk about pickles and poetry.
            Every time Bear leaves the living room for pickles, cheese, cookies and tea, “small and gray and bright-eyed Mouse” disappears. First, Mouse is under Bear’s bed. Next, Bear discovers Mouse in the hall closet. Finally, Mouse scampers “out from behind” the beautifully decorated Christmas tree when Bear bellows.
            The watercolor, ink and gouache paintings are bright and warmly filled with holiday decorations. The expressions on the two characters faces and the body language and movement match the text as the exuberant Mouse becomes quieter as Bear appears to get crankier. The difference in size of the best friends is carefully demonstrated as Mouse discovers his present and uncovers his.
            This just right read-aloud is a delightful Christmas Eve storytime choice.

Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

Santa, Please Bring Me a Gnome  
by An Swerts & Elin van Lindenhuizen
Tess asks her Granny to write her letter to Santa. In it Tess says, “You don’t have to bring me any toys this year. The only thing I want is a real gnome.”
She asks Grandpa to make a small bed, table, chair, etc. for a gnome. Both grandparents are delightfully supportive and help Tess prepare. Readers share Tess’s thoughts as she imagines taking her gnome to school and dance class, sitting on the swing, doing crafts, eating together.
When Christmas morning arrives, Tess discovers the prepared dollhouse is empty with all the furniture gone!
Sunny watercolors illustrate Tess’s hopes and impossible wishes. The round faces of Tess and her family are a contrast to the homeless hamster who is across the room in glass box filled with sawdust. Beside it a letter from Santa explains that although “Gerard the Gnome was looking forward to coming,” he thought of Tess when Flannel the hamster needed a home.
Tess’s first response is the capstone of the story: “How kind of Gerard and Santa.” This sweet conclusion is a joyful ending to the story as well as the beginning of a real friendship. Sometimes the Christmas expectations can be met in unexpectedly charming ways.

Clavis, $17.95
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1

Monday, December 4, 2017

Majestic (Monday Poem)

by Kwame Alexander

into the wonder
of daybreak.

Be a rainbow in the cloud.
Be a free bird on the back of the night wind.
Shine on, honey!

Walk with joy in your golden feet
over crystal seas
and purpled mountains.

Know your beauty
is a thunder
your precious heart unsalable.

Be brave,
like a new seed bursting
with extraordinary promise.

Shine on, honey!
Know you
are phenomenal.

celebrating Maya Angelou

from Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth
illustrated by Ekua Holmes
2017, Candlewick Press

Monday, November 27, 2017

Advent 1971 (Monday Poem)

by Madeleine L'Engle

When will he come
and how will he come
and will there be warnings
and will there be thunders
and rumbles of armies
coming before him
and banners and trumpets
When will he come
and how will he come
and will we be ready
O woe to you people
you sleep through the thunder
you heed not the warnings
the fires and the drownings
the earthquakes and stormings
and ignorant armies
and dark closing on you
the song birds are falling
the sea birds are dying
no fish now are leaping
the children are choking
in air not for breathing
the aged are gasping
with no one to tend them
a bright star has blazed forth
and no one has seen it
and no one has wakened

Monday, November 20, 2017

(Loving) The World and Everything in It (Monday Poem)

by Marjory Wentworth

Each day I walk out
onto the damp grass
before the sun has spoken,
because I love the world
and the miracle of morning.

I love to stand beside
the old oak trees
beneath a symphony
of birdsong and listen
to every perfect note

while the wind passes
around me like a warm sea.
Sometimes a feather
drifts down into my hands;
I hold it and imagine flying.

celebrating Mary Oliver

from Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth
illustrated by Ekua Holmes
2017, Candlewick Press

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Blue Alphabet (Monday Poem)

by Marjory Wentworth

Make a paintbox out of letters;
add water and dip your brush.
Swirl it on the paper with style
while you are humming a tune,
smiling or standing still. Waiting
for the school bus, you can dazzle
your friends with the words you have
made and strung together
like beads around your neck.

celebrating Terrance Hayes

from Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth
illustrated by Ekua Holmes
2017, Candlewick Press

Thursday, November 9, 2017

We Come Together with Thanks (FAMILY magazine Reviews)

‘Tis the season to be thankful, and we have much to be grateful for as we reflect on the hurricane season and that we have limited damage compared to what was predicted. Often, when I feel grateful, I look for ways to share what I have with others and spread the gratitude as wide as I’m able. May we always have enough to share.

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
illustrated by Archie Preston
               Spinelli’s rhyming picture book is a listing of what makes people feel grateful. In the family-centered illustrations, an imaginative brother and sister play at acting like a waitress, who “is thankful for comfortable shoes,” a firefighter, a clown, doctor, mayor, sailor – to mention a few. Additionally, an “artist is thankful for color and light” and a “mayor is thankful for every vote.”
               Preston uses pastel watercolors outlined in black ink with lots of white space to emphasize the expressions and activities of the characters. Text and paintings together celebrate the ordinary daily occasions for gratitude with a playful, quirky familiarity. This charming book can easily prompt readers to look at their own lives with thankful hearts.
Zonderkidz, $16.99
Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3

Over the River and Through the Woods: A Holiday Adventure  
by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Kim Smith
             Grandma and Grandpa’s invitation to their home for the holiday triggers a modern version of the often-heard Thanksgiving song. End-papers at the front and back are portraits of the four diverse families of the adult children. Dark and light skin, adopted children, same gender parents, plus an assortment of locations where they make their homes, are a visual feast.
            The families’ journeys are equally varied; by ferryboat, airplane, subway, hot air balloon, car, shuttle, train. The story traces each family’s trip separately as it begins. As their paths converge near the grandparents’ home, each family discovers a problem with their travel plans. They are rescued by an increasingly crowded horse-drawn sleigh, accompanied by the horse’s rhyming “NEIGH!”  adding to the happy chaos.
The digital illustrations are detailed, colorful and active. While the double page spread of the full table for Thanksgiving dinner is demonstrably a gathering of love. This happy picture book is perfect for traveling families headed to their own gatherings.     

Sterling, $14.95
Interest Level: Pre-School - Grade 2 

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy
(Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2)                       AND
Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl
(Interest Level: Grade 2-4)
Both by Kate Waters, with photographs by Russ Kendall
            These companion books separately feature a boy and girl and describe the lives of children recreated from actual accounts. Carefully photographed with child interpreters from Plimoth Plantation, each book takes its readers from daybreak to sunset. It shows the children getting dressed, the work of the day, mealtimes, lessons, and bedtimes.
The detail is a tribute not only to the outstanding photography, but to the care that has been taken to accurately reflect how clothing was laced, how fields were harvested, how fences were constructed. Also, what fireplaces, tools, furniture, food, games, school supplies gardens and many other daily use items looked like and how they were used.
Both Samuel and Sarah were real children who lived in 1627, which is the year that Plimoth Plantation, the outdoor living museum features. The back matter includes information About Plimoth Plantation, Notes About the Book, and a Glossary. Additionally, Who Was Samuel Eaton? And, Who Was Sarah Morton? Along with; Meet Roger Burns, and Meet Amanda Poole, who are the children who interpret Samuel and Sarah. The Samuel Eaton book also includes information About the Rye Harvest, Of Long Clothes and Breeches, and The Wampanoag People. Comparisons with present day are instructive and engaging after or even during the reading of these delightful books.

Both published by Scholastic, $7.99 (paperback)

Monday, November 6, 2017

What's That Racket? (Monday Poem)

by Eileen Spinelli

Geese honk
Cows moo
Ducks quack
Doves coo
Snakes hiss
Bears growl
Owls hoot
Wolves howl
Chicks peep
Horses neigh
Lions roar
Donkeys bray
Pigs oink
Dogs bark ---
Time for tea
On Noah's ark.

from Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor 
by Eileen Spinelli
1999, Boyds Mills Press

Monday, October 30, 2017

This is Halloween (Monday Poem)

by Dorothy Brown Thompson

Goblins on the doorstep,
Phantoms in the air,
Owls on witches' gateposts
Giving stare for stare,
Cats on flying broomsticks,
Bats against the moon,
Stirrings round of fate-cakes
With a solemn spoon,
Whirling apple parings,
Figures draped in sheets
Dodging, disappearing,
Up and down the streets,
Jack-o'-lanterns grinning,
Shadows on a screen,
Shrieks and starts and laughter---
This is Halloween!

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Monday, October 23, 2017

Invitation (Monday Poem)

by Eileen Spinelli

Behind the King's roses
The Queen is a bee
And honey's for children
To stir in their tea
And biscuits are cookies
And jam is a treat
That butterflies taste
On their flutter-by feet.
The kettle is cozied
By lemony sun.
Requesting your presence ---
Come join in the fun.

from Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor 
by Eileen Spinelli
1999, Boyds Mills Press

Monday, October 16, 2017

Tea for One (Monday Poem)

by Eileen Spinelli

A cup of tea
A quiet nook
A cookie and
A picture book
A lump of sugar
On my spoon ---
Now that's a
Perfect afternoon.

from Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor 
by Eileen Spinelli
1999, Boyds Mills Press

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Happy Haunted Holidays (FAMILY magazine Reviews)

Off we go, into autumn, with nearly everyone’s favorite dress-up holiday approaching. It’s time to explore different personalities, try on costumes, practice a new accent, and watch out for surprises as our friends and family members investigate their own possibilities. Inspect these smart but simple stories that want to stick in your mind even when you’re no longer reading them. Beware! Kids will want to re-read! (But, even better? So will you!) 

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything 
by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd
            For the youngest children who want to be scared at Halloween, but not too much, this is a perfect read-aloud book for even the most active to interact with. The little old lady of the title leaves home, walking in the forest “to collect herbs and spices, nuts and seeds.”
As it gets dark and she starts home, suddenly right in the middle of the path she meets up with a spooky pair of big shoes. “And the shoes went CLOMP, CLOMP.” Further along are a creepy pair of pants, a shirt, gloves, and a hat. Each makes a sound or a movement which children can join the reader in making.
The Little Old Lady warns each of them to “Get out of my way! . . . I’m not afraid of you!” However, she walks a bit faster, and still behind her she can
hear . . .  Finally, what she meets up with is scariest! and she runs! Once inside her cottage with the door locked, she rocks in her chair. Until . . . KNOCK, KNOCK!
            The conclusion of the story is very satisfying and ends the next morning after she whistles her way to bedtime. This book has won many awards over the years and remains a delightfully shivery story to share.

HarperCollins, $6.99 (paperback) $16.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 

Minnie and Moo and the Haunted Sweater 
by Denys Cazet
            From the I-Can-Read series about two crazy cows, this time as they plan their gifts to the farmer for his birthday. Minnie decides to give him her last cream puff. Moo has a bright idea after the chickens and sheep crash into each other. She helps them untangle by using her knitting needles to knit the farmer a new wool sweater as a birthday present.
But, Elvis the rooster is missing!  And, the sweater doesn’t look right – it has a big lump and one sleeve is longer than the other! What they do to try to shrink it will make readers laugh. Kids reading alone also will know that the sweater is not haunted, and why - making them giggle more as they realize they have figured out what the story never says.
            Cazet’s cartoon-like ink and watercolor illustrations show the craziness of the story in a clever pairing with easy-to-read text.
HarperCollins, $16.99
Interest Level: Grades 1 - 2  

Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats 
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
               The fantastic friends are back for three more exploits as they prepare for the spookiest holiday. Bear and Dog’s adventures - choosing costumes, answering the front doorbell, and going out on their own trick or treat tour - show an eager, warmhearted accepting friendship between the two individuals.
               Seeger’s merry stories demonstrate the bonding friendship the two share; even when they come to the same wrong conclusion looking in the mirror. The bright acrylic and India ink illustrations with uncomplicated white backgrounds lend immediacy to the stories by focusing attention on the actions, expressions, and body language of the characters.
               This is a great read-aloud treat for the youngest set, who are just learning to understand simple tricks. Also, with its conversational dialog, it is exactly right for early readers as a much-sought after more fun/less fright Halloween choice.  

Roaring Brook Press, $14.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2


Monday, October 9, 2017

The Perfect Name (Monday Poem)

by Peggy Archer

You can name some dogs for how they look
or what they like to eat.
You can name them for the way they act
when walking down the street.

You can name some dogs for flowers, or
for famous movie stars.
You can name them for the friends you like,
or for your favorite cars.

You can name them for their talents, or
their wiggy-waggy tails.
You can name them for the way they bark,
or go to fetch the mail.

With all the ways to name your dog,
when all is said and done,
whatever name you give your dog
will be the perfect one.

from Name That Dog! Puppy Poems from A-Z
by Peggy Archer
2010, Dial

Monday, October 2, 2017

Whiskers (Monday Poem)

by Peggy Archer

My dog has lots of whiskers
growing on his face.
Like a broom they sweep the floor
cleaning up the place.

You'll never find a scrap of food.
He does his very best.
He eats what he can find, and then
his whiskers catch the rest.

from Name That Dog! Puppy Poems from A-Z
by Peggy Archer
2010, Dial

Monday, September 25, 2017

Noodles (Monday Poem)

by Peggy Archer

All over my puppy
are oodles and oodles
of swirls of fat curls that
remind me of noodles.

from Name That Dog! Puppy Poems from A-Z
by Peggy Archer
2010, Dial

Monday, September 18, 2017

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! Puppy Poems from A-Z
by Peggy Archer
2010, Dial

Friday, September 15, 2017

Off to School for New Readers! (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Ready to Read? Looking for some great stories for the newest readers? Here are some terrific titles to try!

A Brand-New Day with Mouse and Mole 
by Wong Herbert Yee
            In this delightfully amusing Level 3 easy-reader, two friends find new ideas for being together. Think Arnold Lobel’s “Frog and Toad” series, only with more advanced vocabulary. The similar quirky illustrations are done with litho pencil and gouache. They follow the friends through the day with sometimes-comical, occasionally surprising, and always actively energetic artistry.
When Mole greets a brand-new day, his initial pleasure is brief because moths have made holes in his clothes. Mouse, his friend, helps chase away the moths and together they decide to eat first at the diner and then look for replacement clothes at the new store next door.
Mole thinks of a creative solution to problems with the clothes. The two friends go fishing and then unexpectedly end up in the pond. The fourth and concluding chapter shows the two friends as they each choose resourceful and inventive means to share with each other.
Repetition is used to identify characters, to connect different parts of the story between chapters, and to draw readers attention to a circling pattern of relationships between the characters, through the language of the story and the ideas developed by the skill and cleverness of the projects.
This charmer will hold the attention of beginning readers and their families!

Houghton Mifflin, $3.99 (paperback) $15 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Grade1 - 3

The Infamous Ratsos 
by Kara LaReau, 
illustrated by Matt Myers
            Brothers Louie and Ralphie Ratso who live in the Big City, want to be tough like their dad, Big Lou. Their mother has been gone for a while and they remind each other that talking a lot, and riding the bus instead of walking are for softies. They try to think of what they can do to show how tough they are.
            But, each time, their efforts to be tough backfire. Others think they’re heroes, or thoughtful, generous, and helpful. When they think they’re finally going to get in trouble, their dad shares a letter from school honoring the brothers for their kindness.
            Ink and watercolor illustrations in black and white are comic book style; humorously dressed animal characters, with eyeglasses, droopy ears, and prickly looking expressions. Expressive faces and body language show the contrasts between before and after the Ratso brothers’ actions. The added depth strengthens the storyline of this award winner, making the seventh, and final chapter convincing in its departure from what the brothers (and early readers!) might expect.
Candlewick Press, $4.99 (paperback) $14.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

Frank Pearl in the Awful Waffle Kerfuffle  
by Megan McDonald, 
illustrated by Erwin Madrid
               From the author of the Judy Moody and Stink series comes their friend, Frank Pearl who wants to win a contest. He enters the yo-yo contest showing off his amazing Flying Skunk trick. Frank takes his parrot, Cookie, to the Pets Are Family contest at the Fur & Fangs Pet Store. And, in the third chapter of this cheerful book, Frank and his friends participate in the third-grade Breakfast Bash and Waffle-Off, a Saturday contest at school to raise funds for their field trip.
               The colorful digital illustrations show a spectacled Frank as he works to win. There is plenty of action; the children’s expressions and the animals’ actions are engaging. Frank and the other children are active and involved in their community.
               McDonald’s characteristic good humor combined with Madrid’s comedic sense of fun and timing make this a winning choice for independent readers.
Candlewick Press, $4.99 (paperback) $12.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

Monday, September 11, 2017

Indy (Monday Poem)

by Peggy Archer

He likes
     rides in the car.
     Near or far.
He's an
     Indiana race-dog ---
     winner of the cup.
A speed-racer,
     race-car pup.

from Name That Dog! Puppy Poems from A-Z
by Peggy Archer
2010, Dial

Monday, September 4, 2017

Snickers (Monday Poem)

by Peggy Archer

My dog's a creamy caramel
With chocolate ears and whiskers.
She's just a little nutty, too.
That's why I call her Snickers.

from Name That Dog! Puppy Poems from A-Z
by Peggy Archer
2010, Dial

Monday, August 28, 2017

Little WInd (Monday Poem)

by Kate Greenaway

Little wind, blow on the hill-top,
Little wind, blow down the plain;
Little wind, blow up the sunshine,
Little wind, blow off the rain.

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Monday, August 21, 2017

Skipping Along Alone (Monday Poem)

by Winifred Welles

Oh, how I love to skip alone
Along the beach in moisty weather;
The whole world seems my very own,
Each fluted shell and glistening stone,
Each wave that twirls a silver feather.

I skip along so brave and big
Behind the sand-birds gray and tiny,
I love to see their quick feet jig,
Each leaves a mark, neat as a twig,
Stamped in the sand so clear and shiny.

And fine and faint as drops of spray
I hear their little voices calling,
"Sweet, sweet! Sweet, sweet!" I hear them say--
I love to skip alone and play
Along the sand when mist is falling.

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Summary of Summer Stories (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Before classes begin, there’s still time to finish the season of sunshine with stories that favor the lazy heat and relaxation of holiday flavored summer experiences. Taste a sample of these refreshing treats from a treasury of warm weather choices to savor.

And Then Comes Summer 
by Tom Brenner
 illustrated by Jaime Kim
            This storybook declaration of summer delight is also a celebration of all things familiar before technology intrudes. A suburban setting suits the rhythm of the language, the rituals of remembering, and the sounds and smells of the season: “When every day is like a Saturday,” and you get your bike ready to ride, host a lemonade stand, “play hide-and-seek until darkness wins,” watch the holiday parade and fireworks, eat ice cream, and head to the lake for a camping trip.
            The brilliant acrylic illustrations sizzle with excitement as a group of multicultural neighborhood children race, and scurry and bounce across the sunny pages with joyful energy. Jubilant figures with waving arms, leaping legs, and smiling faces splash and dash through summer’s gleeful freedoms accompanied by exuberant, lyrical language. A perfectly radiant read!

Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1

There Might Be Lobsters  
by Carolyn Crimi
illustrated by Lauren Molk
               Eleanor and Sukie are at the beach. “Sukie (is) just a small dog”; scared of big sandy stairs, beach balls that are “big and beachy,” “whooshy,” salty waves that are too wet, and . . .   “besides, there might be lobsters”! Eleanor kindly carries Sukie and the stuffed toy monkey, Chunka Munka, down the stairs. But she’s also exasperated, cradling the scared pup in her arms after Sukie sits far away from the beach ball Eleanor tosses her way.
               Pen and ink, with acrylic and watercolor illustrations begin before the dedication and copyright, and continue with the title page. Throughout the picture book, paintings of the sandy sunshine of a splish-splashing holiday harmoniously sustain the lively language of this warm-hearted tale. When waves pull Chunka Munka out to sea, Sukie barks for the monkey toy to come back, paddles “past a big beachy ball,” and braves the salty waves to save him.
               While Sukie’s doggy fears are reflective of many children’s anxieties about new experiences, the humorously tender text matches Sukie’s forlorn expression and droopy body language to create a gently funny summer story. Italics let readers and listeners in on Sukie’s imaginings, and carry the comedy of the repeating line about lobsters! This refreshing account is a delightful treat for vacation sharing.
Candlewick Press, $16.99
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

Blue Sky White Stars 
by Sarvinder Naberhaus
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The poetry of this picture book’s powerful words celebrates both America and its flag. The author’s spare verses and repetition capture the pride and strength of the ideals that the United States embodies in its people, landscape and the fabric of its multilayered culture.
Award-winning artist Nelson’s stunning images of American icons - Liberty, New York harbor’s revered statue, magnificent snowcapped mountains, remarkably long lines of covered wagons, glorious fireworks, Colorado’s majestic Grand Canyon, Wrigley’s well-known baseball stadium, a soaring Apollo 11 spacecraft, an eagle in flight, the momentous moon landing – invoke the multiple meanings the words convey.
This is clearly not a conventional story with typical illustrations; it therefore allows for a dynamic, teachable moment. Naberhaus’ brief, well-chosen phrases are carefully matched to Nelson’s richly symbolic artistry. Together they represent a shared history and present an opportunity to reflect on one’s knowledge and experience.
Beautiful oil paintings of many-colored faces, highlight gender, ethnic, age, and racial diversity, with the cover featuring the starry eyes of reflected holiday rocket explosives. Back material includes notes from both author and illustrator, with additional notes available on the author’s website to provide background material about the book for further discussions.

Dial, $17.99
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Picnic (Monday Poem)

by Dorothy Aldis

We brought a rug for sitting on,
Our lunch was in a box.
The sand was warm. We didn't wear
Hats or Shoes or Socks.

Waves came curling up the beach.
We waded. It was fun.
Our sandwiches were different kinds.
I dropped my jelly one.

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jump or Jiggle (Monday Poem)

by Evelyn Beyer

Frogs jump
Caterpillars hump

Worms wiggle
Bugs jiggle

Rabbits hop
Horses clop

Snakes slide
Sea gulls glide

Mice creep
Deer leap

Puppies bounce
Kittens pounce

Lions stalk--
I walk!

From Time for Poetry: A Teacher's Anthology
edited by May Hill Arbuthnot
1951, Scott Foresman

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Song (Monday Poem)

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Thou art the soul of a summer's day,
Thou art the breath of the rose.
But the summer is fled
And the rose is dead
Where are they gone, who knows, who knows?

Thou art the blood of my heart o'hearts,
Thou art my soul's repose,
But my heart grows numb
And my soul is dumb
Where art thou, love, who knows, who knows?

Thou art the hope of my after years--
Sun for my winter snows
But the years go by
'Neath a clouded sky
Where shall we meet, who knows, who knows?

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

On the River (Monday Poem)

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The sun is low,
The waters flow,
My boat is dancing to and fro.
The eve is still,
Yet from the hill
The killdeer echoes loud and shrill.

The paddles plash,
The wavelets dash,
We see the summer lightening flash;
While now and then,
In marsh and fen
Too muddy for the feet of men,

Where neither bird
Nor beast has stirred,
The spotted bullfrog's croak is heard.
The wind is high,
The grasses sigh,
The sluggish stream goes sobbing by.

And far away
The dying day
Has cast its last effulgent ray;
While on the land
The shadows stand
Proclaiming that the eve's at hand.

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

An Explanation of the Grasshopper (Monday Poem)

by Vachel Lindsay

The Grasshopper, the grasshopper,

I will explain to you:

He’s the Brownies’ racehorse,

The fairies’ Kangaroo.

From Johnny Appleseed and Other Poems by Vachel Lindsay

1970 Macmillan

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Adventuring with Animals (FAMILY magazine reviews)

The season of summer often supplies chances for travel and new adventures. Sometimes opportunities for trips are not always available. Books like these reviewed below can offer experiences of other cultures, other creatures and other encounters. Experiment by sharing these marvelous books with those you care about!

Leo the Snow Leopard: 
The True Story of an Amazing Rescue
by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff
            The Hatkoffs are known for several nonfiction books about specific animals from several continents. Partnered with engaging photos, these unique stories offer readers opportunities to understand the survival experiences of endangered creatures.
            In this book, a brave goat herder rescues a baby snow leopard, alone in the snowy Karakoram Mountains of northern Pakistan. The orphaned baby is too young to survive on his own, and the family of the goat herder cares for him until he grows too large. As an endangered animal, the goat herder contacts the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), whose offices are located in Gilgit, to help decide where Leo should live.
            Ultimately, the decision is for Leo to make his home at the Bronx Zoo in New York, which is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), “a leader in keeping and breeding snow leopards.” The decision for this location requires a team of three scientists to travel from the US to Pakistan to accompany Leo on his trip to the States.
            Unfortunately, a landslide, requiring the scientists to climb over the rubble, blocked the road to the Khunjerab National Park where Leo is located. Once Leo is ready to travel, the US scientists must again carefully crawl over the fallen stones to return. This time, however, with Leo in a cage!
            This remarkable tale, accompanied by wonderful photos of a baby Leo, a playful Leo, a regal Leo; tells of the many people and organizations whose joint efforts and international teamwork made it possible for Leo to thrive. End matter includes a small map of Pakistan, information about Snow Leopards, about the Wildlife Conservation Society, about Zoos and Captive Breeding, and about Endangered Species and International Laws.

Scholastic, $17.99
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 5

Hawk Mother: 
The Story of a Red-Tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens
by Kara Hagedorn    
         Although chickens are usually food for hawks, the injured hawk in this story, named Sunshine “because of her bright personality,” raises two roosters from eggs to chicks to crowing adults with the author’s assistance. Injured by a bullet, the hawk meets the author, who is also a zoologist, at the wildlife center where the rescued bird is being cared for and where the zoologist works.
          The two develop a trusting relationship and become friends. Since the bird can no longer fly, human care is necessary and the author adopts the bird, and takes her home. When the hawk begins building a spring nest, it’s clear that Sunshine expects her human partner to act like a mate and help. This happens for several years, although the eggs never hatch. Yet, together the two care for the eggs. Each time the author eventually removes the eggs and tears up the nest, so the mother bird doesn’t sit all summer waiting.
          One spring, however, the author gets fertilized chicken eggs from the neighbors’ farm, exchanging them for the hawk’s infertile eggs. The two continue to incubate the eggs together. As a zoologist, she is concerned that the hawk might eat the chickens as prey. But Sunshine treats them as her own young chicks even though chicken and hawk babies look and act very different.
           The photos that accompany this heartfelt story include several from the author as well as others. Also featured is an x-ray of Sunshine’s injuries, as well as photos of nest building, incubating the eggs, caring for and feeding the chicks, and even the adult roosters. This thoughtfully told story is carefully written and engaging. Not only is it personal, its environmental message is clear without being excessive. Back matter includes a Glossary (words are bold in the text), More About Hawks, and background on Sunshine and Kara’s Story.

Web of Life Children’s Books, $16.95
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 4

Saving Yasha: 
The Incredible True Story of an Adopted Moon Bear
by Lia Kvatum, photos by Liya Pokrovskaya
           Hunters come to a den inside a hollow tree where Yasha was born. Yasha could not escape and his mother was gone. He is captured, but then two scientists rescue him, feed him a bottle of milk and lead him into the Russian forest to a little wooden house.
Two other orphaned cubs join Yasha and the two scientists, becoming a kind of family. The moon bears explore, climb, sniff out plants that are good to eat, play in the water nearby, and learn “to live in the woods.”
           The scientists wear clothing to cover their smell, and do not talk to or play with the cubs. “They wanted to make sure the cubs would grow up to live as wild bears.”
            During the winter, for six months, the cubs sleep in a den built by the scientists, and when the snow melts, the bears travel deeper into the Russian wilderness. When a tiger pursues, Yasha escapes by scrambling up a tree. This success convinces the scientists the bears are ready to roam free.
            This heartwarming picture book captures the playfulness of the moon bears by a careful matching of adorable pictures with a well-written yet daunting rescue story. Information at the back includes a map of the area that shows Yasha’s forest and explains about Yasha and Moon Bears in general. Additionally, there is a Note from the Scientist, and a page with More About Bears.

National Geographic, $16.95
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 4

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Poem (Monday Poem)

by Mary Oliver

Leaving the house,
I went out to see

the frog, for example,
in her shining green skin;

and her eggs
like a slippery veil;

and her eyes
with their golden rims;

and the pond
with its risen lilies;

and its warmed shores
dotted with pink flowers;

and the long, windless afternoon;
and the white heron

like a dropped cloud,
taking one slow step

then standing awhile then taking
another, writing

her own soft-footed poem
through the still waters.

From What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems by Mary Oliver
2002, Da Capo Press

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Pond’s Chorus (Monday Poem)

by Joanne Ryder

One toad,
One song.
Two toads
Sing along.
Three toads,
Better yet.
Four toads,
A quartet.
Five toads
Catch five flies.
Six toads
Seven toads
Hum higher.
Eight toads,
Quite a choir.
Nine toads
Pause . . .
and then . . .
Ten toads
Start again.

From Toad by the Road: 
A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians, 
by Joanne Ryder
2007, Henry Holt