Monday, June 24, 2019

How to Eat a Poem (Monday Poem)

by Eve Merriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
     may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

from Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle . . . 
and other modern verse
compiled by Stephen Dunning / Edward Lueders / Hugh Smith 

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Power of One (Monday Poem)

by Hope Anita Smith

My grandmomma's hands hold
my hands and me
but mostly
they hold
everything together.

from The Way a Door Closes
by Hope Anita Smith
Henry Holt and Company, 2003


Monday, June 10, 2019

Someone Else's Chair (Monday Poem)

by Judy Lalli

Want to learn about each other?
Want to show how much you care?
Just imagine what it's like
To sit in someone else's chair.

from I Like Being Me: Poems about kindness, friendship, and making good choices
by Judy Lalli
Free Spirit Publishing, 2016


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Hooray for Dads and Grandads (FAMILY magazine reviews)

The men in these stories are creating memories with their children and grandchildren. They demonstrate that love is active and playful. The love they show is a vital force. It’s an everyday, ordinary investment. Yet, at the same time, it’s a remarkable commitment, demanding gentle strength. These stories celebrate these important men.

Raj and the Best Day Ever!  
By Sebastien Braun
         Dad and Raj, a tiger and cub, make an exciting list of ideas for their day together, and pack an adventure bag to take with them. As they walk along the busy streets, readers will notice all the characters are anthropomorphized animals. At their first stop, Raj chooses his favorite superhero book at the Library. But, when they get to the checkout desk, Dad discovers he’s forgotten his wallet! Not only does this mean they can’t do at least some of what’s on the list, but it’s begun to rain. “I feel rainy inside, too.” Raj thinks. “This is going to be the WORST DAY EVER.” But then, between the two, imaginations begin to take off; they build a leaf/stick/bark boat to float downstream in the park, they have a picnic rather than stopping at the cafĂ©. Instead of the bus trip home, Raj wants to fly home on his dad’s back. “A superhero duo!” says Dad.
         Paired with the lighthearted text, the detailed mixed media illustrations are cheery, colorful and full of energy. Especially engaging are the changing zipper mouth and googly eyes on the green back pack. This vigorously delightful story humorously demonstrates that time spent together is vital.

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

Night Job 
by Karen Hesse
illustrations by G. Brian Karas
         A small boy and his dad, wearing helmets, ride a motorcycle through the city streets at dusk to an empty school. The father is the custodian, and together the two work their way around the school, cleaning. Starting with the gym, the boy shoots baskets, while the dad uses the broom. They listen to the radio as they clean the cafeteria, scrub the stage, go back and forth down the hallways. When it’s time, they eat their sandwiches companionably in the courtyard. Afterward, the boy relaxes, reading and then sleeping on the green sofa in the library, until it’s time to ride home in the chill of early morning. At home, the boy cleans out the lunch box, and then readers see the two, snuggling together, asleep on the recliner.
         Lyrical language, including the fragrance of lilac, shy night animals, and dad’s “ring of keys as big as the rising moon,” is matter-of-fact. Yet, it’s also magical and tender with the shared time together. Matched with muted colors and nighttime grays, the luminous mixed media illustrations are lit by streetlights, the motorcycle’s headlight, lights streaming from the classrooms into the hallways and courtyard. These all highlight important details, like an orange basketball, red shoes, or even the dream-lit ocean on the final pages. This storybook is a lovely tribute to the quiet, powerful everyday love between a father and son pair.

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

by Sam Usher
         A boy and his grandad decide to fly a kite when they wake up to a windy morning, whipping up for a storm. But first, they must find the kite. As they search, however, they discover several items that remind them of previous adventures. Meanwhile the wind is blowing and whooshing and howling. Together these set the stage for their kite flying fun. Off to the park, after locating the kite, they gently lift off into a flying fantasy. Varied colors and patterns and shapes of kites fill this imagined sky. But “then I let go!” the boy confesses. Fortunately, Grandad catches the kite’s string, and since a storm is brewing, they “head for home.”
         The ink and watercolor illustrations are brightly colored, filled with movement and storm clouds. Shadowing the contrasts between light and dark are also the contrasts between whirling danger and the safety and protection of the homey kitchen. With flashing lightning outdoors, this cozy tale reminds readers that the best adventures are those that are shared.

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

Monday, June 3, 2019

Empty Head (Monday Poem)

by Malick Fall
(Translated from the French by John Reed and Clive Wake

An idea came
Into my head
So slender
So slight
An idea came
Came to alight
It wheeled about
Stretched itself out
An idea came
That I wanted to stay
But it brushed my hand
And taking its flight
Through my fingers
Slipped away.

from Peeling the Onion: An Anthology of Poems
Selected by Ruth Gordon
HarperCollins, 1993