Nonfiction Monday: Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Do you ever gaze up at the moon and wonder what it would be like to walk on it?  In the late 1960’s, the Apollo 11 made it possible for two men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr to do just that.  Moonshot:The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca is one of four CYBILS NFPB nominations about space.

 Floca’s illustrations and poetic text captures this historical moment in a way that will ignite readers’  imagination about returning to the moon.  Floca’s use of perspective in his illustrations such as just as the astronauts about to lift off to the scene in the spacecraft with everything floating in space to Armstrong looking back at the earth gives the reader a sense of “being there.”

Indeed, those thoughts are echoed by Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 11, “Reading Moonshot gave me the feeling I was back up in space.”  Readers young and old will experience that as well.

It begins:
“High above
there is the moon
cold and quiet,
no air, no life,
but glowing in the sky.”
Here below
there are three men
who close themselves
in special clothes
who-click-lock hands
in heavy gloves,
who-click-lock heads
in large, round helmets…”

The front end papers include lots of diagrams about the rockets and other equipment while the back end paper includes an author’s note with detail information about the historic flight.  This is a stunning book which makes a historical event accessible to younger readers. It just might inspire some to become astronauts.

I have a particular bias about books about space and space travel.  As a child, I was deeply interested in all the space events as well as looking to the night sky. I was in Avignon, France when Apollo 11 landed. I was 16.  It’s an area of science that has captivated my imagination.  Hopefully, Moonshot will spark a child’s interest in space.

Hey, only 4 more days until the CYBILS Shortlist of finalists will be announced. I am biting my tongue to keep quiet!

Happy Reading!


Non-fiction Monday: Redwoods by JasonChin

One of the joys of serving on the CYBILS NFPB category is reading new and exciting nonfiction.  Redwoods by Jason Chin is just that.  If you are looking for a nonfiction book which bends the edges with story and facts, find this book tomorrow. 

A boy finds and reads a book  about the redwoods and is transported there in his mind.  It’s the illustrations that blend with the text so wonderfully.  When the boy reads that some trees were first sprouted during the Roman Empire, he is seated between two characters from that period.  He pictures standing on a stump as he reads about the trees sprouting from the stump.  As the text makes its way up the tree to describe the canopy, the boy puts on tree climbing gear and ascends the tree.  Did you know that researchers found a mass of ferns weighing more than 1600 pounds?  He discovers the class of redwoods called the “titans”  and which is the tallest in the world.

I loved the ending but you’ll have to read it yourself.  The author has included an appendix with some information about the status of the redwoods. 

Redwoods is an example of innovation in design.  It’s the perfect blend of story and facts.  I will be sharing it with staff as a great example of  making pictures in your head while reading. Jason Chin has illustrated other books but this is the first for writing and illustrating.  I hope to see more from him.

 Simply Science is rounding up the nonfiction posts today.  I am late with my entry.

Poetry Friday:Clerihew

The poetry stretch this week was to write a clerihew.  This form is a four-line verse written in an a/a/b/b rhyme scheme that is biographical and humorous.

I wrote two yesterday and then left them at home today. These are two new ones which include the hunor (the ones at home not so much)

Santa’s work at the North Pole
Hopes to reach its yearly goal
Otherwise on Christmas Eve
Walmart will provide for those who believe!

Santa’s elves always so merry
discovered Santa’s secret margarita cranberry
instead of getting the sleigh ready
they had trouble keeping their feet steady

Poetry Friday is being held at Susan Writes.  Have a fabulous Christmas.

Happy Reading.


Nonfiction Monday: Faith

“In our world, there are many faiths,” sums up the context of Faith by the Global Fund for Children. The fabulous photos depict the many ways that the world celebrates faith through prayer, meditation, singing and a variety of rituals.  Through these alone, there are many ways to engage children in discussion and inquiry.  The short texts serve as supportive captions.   Children are dressed in traditional clothing of their culture.

The book is well-organized, the appendix includes additional notes for further study, a maps locating where the different faiths can be found, and a glossary.

This is one of those quiet CYBILS nominees for NFPB that doesn’t scream “pick me, pick me” but rather a book that a reader comes back to and looks again at the photos and the diversity of our world.  In this holiday season, it provides rich photos to illustrate how the world celebrates its faith.  A great additional in promoting multi-cultural programs.

Nonfiction Monday is at Sara’s In Need of Chocolate blog.  Visit her for more nonfiction goodness.

Poetry Friday: little tree

One of  my all time favorite poems of the season is the following:

little tree

by E. E. Cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower


who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see          i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly


i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid


look          the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
Read the rest here.
My tree tradition  as a child was that the Christmas tree did not go up until my brother and I were asleep on Christmas Eve.  We would then wak Christmas morning to a magical sight: a decorated tree and the presents that Santa had left us. (Because we were always good.)
In sixth grade that ended.  It was the cost of trees in California and the hatching fly tree that led to the artificial tree.  I was devastated.
What tree memeories do you have?
BTW. only a few hours remain for the Bridget and Barrett auction.  I posted here about it. 
Can be found here:
Auction ID: bridget
Password: rules

Nonfiction Monday: 14 Cows for America

14 Cows for America is a quiet CYBILS nonfiction picture book nominee.  Since is was in PDF form, it could have been overlooked or not given as much attention as other books that have arrived in the mail. Boy, I am happy that I shared it with students last week.

I used it as part of a questioning strategy lesson. (My school is teaching lessons based on the book, 7 Keys to Comprehension)  In collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, Carmen Agra Deedy has written a compelling account of  how Kimeli’s tribe, the Massai, took action after the horrible tragedy on 9/11.

The story begins, “The remote village waits for a story to be told. News travels slowly to this corner of Kenya…” 

and ends 

“…Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded nor a people so small they cannot offer might comfort.”   As Kimeli talks with the elders and then the rest of the tribe, their plan to send 14 cows develops, much to the surprise of the American Embassy. 

Thomas Gonzalez’s illustrations create a feeling that you are in Africa, in Kenya and standing with the tribe. It’s his first picture books for children. 

My students were fascinated with this book. We lingered over the illustrations.   We actually ran to the bitter end of the time period with them because of the questions they asked. 

I will purchase 14 Cows to America for the library. We need more stories of hope and small acts of kindness in the world.  We need books that show how tragedy can spark the spirit in unexpected ways. 

Rasco from RIF is hosting Nonfiction Monday.  Head over and see what else is being read and reviewed. 

Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah