Poetry Friday: January Snow

Well it is the end of January and the PNW has not really seen any snow.  In a way, great. No snow days. I have to leave as soon as school gets out for California. But I really have missed anticipating that snow day, that day that says, “Stop. Breathe.”  So here is a poem “January Snow by John Cambell.

The heavy flakes descend
like strewn confetti,
tossed from
the Great Grey Sky,
this January afternoon.
They parachute safely
through a coarse wind,
dust themselves off
and embrace
the already arrived.
Read the rest here.
BTW,  Your Daily Poem will send you one each day. Love it. 
I participated in the Poetry Stretch at Deowriter.
 Picture Book of the Day is hosting Poetry Friday. Thank you, Anastasia.
Happy Reading.

Non-Fiction Monday: Award Winners

This has been a fun month. Fun because many of the nominations for the CYBILS NFPB category have ended up on other award lists.

Five made the Orbis  Pictus Award from NCTE:

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass won the Orbis Pictus.  I loved that book and reviewed it here.  Alice B. Mc Ginty’s Darwin book garnered an honor from the Orbis Pictus committee, reviewed here. And three more were on the NCTE recommended list:

Eleanor, Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport
Life in the Boreal Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson
One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh

It once again affirms just how strong this category was for the CYBILS this year.

Another book, Bad News for Outlaws, the Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall, which due to the publication date (past the October 15 deadline) did not qualify for the CYBILS received  the Coretta Scott King Award by the American Library Association.

Bad News for Outlaws is written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.  I sat down to read it on this rainy Sunday afternoon.  It’s an informative read about the life of Bass Reeves.  I love learning these little known stories about people who have made an impact on history.  Something that really impressed me was that Reeves was a U.S. Marshall for 32 years.   Born a slave, Reeves escape by running away and living among Native American tribes (I wonder which one).  What an act of bravery.  His methods were fair and sometimes unconventional as he disguised himself to bring in criminals.

Nelson says that Reeves life almost reads as a tall tale.  She’s right but what a life.  She also mentions how the TV westerns such as The Lone Ranger, Bonzana, Hopilong Cassidy (some of my faves), etc. informed her childhood and what would life been like had we been introduced to someone like Reeves as a TV program. She’s right there.

There is a great timeline, lots of further reading lists, and a glossary of western words.  Christie’s illustrations are rich and complement the text fabulously.

Title: Bad News for Outlaws: the Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, U.S. Deputy Marshall
Author: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Published: 2009
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: All
Publisher: Learner Books
ISBN: 978-0-8225-6764-6
Source of Book: Sent by publisher

Playing by the Book is hosting Nonfiction Monday this week. Stop in to see what others are reading.

Poetry Friday: Dwell in Possibility

 I discovered this Emily Dickinson poem this week.  Our school levy election is upon us for early February.  Without it over our district budget cuts will add up to 38 million dollars.   Last spring my library media  budget shrunk by half.

I hope the voters will “dwell in possibility” and get the levy passed the first ballot.

I dwell in Possibility–
A fairer House than Prose–
More numerous of Windows–
Superior–for Doors–

Of Chambers as the Cedars–
Impregnable of Eye–
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky–

Of Visitors–the fairest–
For Occupation–This–
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise–

-Emily Dickinson

The award-winning Liz Garton Scanlon is hosting Poetry Friday here.

Happy Reading.


Non-Fiction Monday: Sibert Medal Honors Two of the CYBILS NFPB Finalists

Two of the “Spectacular Seven” finalists for the CYBILS NFPB Award were in the spotlight this morning at the ALA Mid-Winter Conference (Someday I am going to go).  

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors
written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tony Persiani and Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
written and illustrated by Brian Floca were named as Sibert Medal Honor books.

The Sibert Medal went to Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream! by Tanya Lee Stone.

I am so happy for them.  Meanwhile the Round Two judges are hard at work in their own secret discussion and reading the “spectacular seven”.  So I will leave them alone to work.

So something I want to do for next year, is to chat with local area bloggers, predict, and meet for breakfast like my friends in Ohio did this morning.  You can read about it here.

Wendie is rounding all the non-fiction up today at Wendie’s Wanderings.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: William Stafford’s The Trouble with Reading

Sunday, January 17,  is William Stafford’s birthday. Throughout the Portland area readings are taking place:

+Saturday, January 16th, 3-5 pm, Holy Names Heritage Center, 17425 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego.
+Sunday, January 17th, 7-9 pm, Writers’ Dojo, 7518 N. Chicago Avenue, Portland
+Monday, January 18th, 10 pm, KBOO Radio, 90.7 FM.
+Wednesday, January 20th, 7:30 pm, Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland.
+Wednesday, January 20th, 7 pm, 100th Monkey Studio and Gallery, 110 SE 16th Avenue, Portland
+Thursday, January 21st, 7 pm, Lake Oswego Library, 706 4th St., Lake Oswego. “The Intersection of Poetry and Popular Culture, in the Spirit of William Stafford.”
+Thursday, January 21st, 7-8:30 pm. The Terrace Room (beneath the Commons), University of Portland, 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland.
+Friday, January 22nd, 7-9 p.m., Eliot Chapel, First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Avenue (corner of 12th and Salmon), Portland.
+Saturday, January 23rd, 2 pm, Vancouver Community Library, 1007 East Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, WA. Hosted by Elizabeth Barton.
+Thursday, January 28th, 7 pm, Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, Portland.
+Thursday, January 28th, 7 pm, Branford P. Millar Library, Portland State University, 1875 Park Avenue (Park & Hall), Portland.
+Saturday, January 30th, 4-6 pm, Looking Glass Book Store, 7983 SE 13th Ave., Portland (new Sellwood location). Hosted by Robin Bagai and Willa Schneberg.
+Saturday, January 30th, 2 pm, Oregon City Library, 362 Warner Milne Road, Oregon City. This event will be part of the Oregon City Library’s 100th year celebration.
+Sunday, January 31st, 2 pm, Multnomah Central Library, US Bank Room, 801 SW 10th Ave.,
+Sunday, January 31st, 2 pm, Hillsboro Main Library, 2850 NE Brookwood Parkway, Hillsboro.

 Today I bring you one of my favorite poems of his:

The Trouble with Reading

When a goat likes a book, the whole book is gone,
And the meaning has to go find an author again.
But when we read, its just print – deciphering,
Like frost on a window: we learn the meaning
But lose what the frost is, and all that the world
Pressed so desperately behind

So some time let’s discover how the ink
Feels, to be clutching all that eternity onto
Page after page. But maybe it is better not
To know; ignorance, that wide country,
Rewards you just to accept it. You plunge;
It holds you. And you have to become a rich darkness.

– William Stafford

Thank you, Mr. Stafford, for all the poems you left the world to read.  Poetry Friday is rounded up at Great Kid Books.  Thank you, Mary Ann.

Thoughtful Thursday

The second annual comment challenge is happening throughout the kidlit blogosphere.  It’s hosted by none other than Mother Reader and Lee Wind. Besides encouraging the practice of leaving comments, it leads a reader to discover new things in our wonderful community.

Yesterday, at Miz B’s Reading Challenges, I discovered the “TBR” (to be read)Challenge for 2010. Of course, I am late to enter but I have my challenge list ready:

Adult List:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Run by Ann Pachett

Kid List
Peak by Roland Smith
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne M. LaFleur
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron
Where Mountain Meets Moon by Grace Lin
Glass by Ellen Hopkins
Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Extras( in case something doesn’t grab me):

Mare’s War by Tanita S Davis
Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graf

BTW, did you notice that if you click on the titles, you will go to World Cat? It’s a world-wide library catalog. What’s so neat is that your can see if the book is at your local library. I tend to use my local library a lot. Especially for audio books for my drive to school.

Recap of the challenge week: I am on target.  I left 37 comments for the week. It’s fun to discover new blogs.

Happy Reading.


Who’s Reading What Wednesday

I lost my voice yesterday reading a variety of gingerbread stories for Family Library Night.  It was on its way out and by 7 PM it left me.

I just finished reading All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg. It’s a CYBILS finalist for MG fiction.  A very moving story about a refugee Vietnamese boy, born a bui doi, the dust of life, the son of an American GI and Vietnamese mother during the Vietnam War.

The book written in free verse; a format that interests me.  It’s a powerful book. As I read it I was also thinking of the book, Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy which some of my fifth graders are reading for their book club.  A different war and circumstances but the possibilities for text connections are strong.

Which leads me to a new venture. I am working with the second round of books for fifth graders who are strong readers.  These are the ones that have passed the state test and need a challenged. 

We are currently reading some of the reader’s choice nominees.  And hopefully, I am going to get them blogging about books. We will start with comments today but I am hoping to have them be guest bloggers. 

Our district recently set up a site that should allow for commenting in the safety net of  a more closed network community. Not sure how it will work but their site is Fifth Grade Book Club.

I am trying to get a bunch of the CYBILS MG fiction finalists read, the book club books: Skullduggery Pleasant, The Candy Shop War, and The Thief Lord read.  It’s gonna be a busy weekend.

Happy Reading.


Non-Fiction Monday: Cromwell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle

“Balloon Boy” move over.  Didn’t you know that in 1907 a fourteen year old built a flying bicycle with a large hydrogen balloon as large as a whale to keep it in the air?

Crowmell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle written and illustrated by John Abbott Nez  is a delightful book detailing a tiny historical event of the early 1900’s.  Cromwell Dixon was an inventor, a tinkerer of gadgets and ideas and he was only fourteen.

From four rower rowboats to mechanical fish from wind-up clocks, Cromwell had ideas. Not all were successful but he persevered.  After his first flying trip in 1904, Cromwell decided that he wanted to become an aeronaut and build his  own flying ship.  His first idea was a flying bicycle, a “sky-cycle.”

The books continues with his  experiments to get the “sky-cycle” in the air at the  St. Louis Airship Carnival of 1907.  It’s one more book about having a dream and persevering even when challenges present themselves such as the balloon catching on fire.

 The story and the illustrations will enchant young readers.  The author’s note at the end includes a photo of the real Cromwell and more facts about him.  There is also a bibliography.

I work in a school where there can never be enough stories about sticking with it when challenges present themselves.  Thanks John Abbott Nez for another such story.

Sally of Whispers of Dawn is hosting Non-Fiction Monday.

Title: Cromell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle
Author: John Abbott Nez
Date Published: 2009
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Books
ISBN: 978-0-399-25041-5
Source of Book: Sent by publisher.

Happy Reading.

Poetry Friday: “Awakening to Snow”

My copy of A Year Full of Poems is my new go to book for Poetry Friday.  For all my snowed in friends this morning:

Awakening to Snow

Blades of light slide under my eyelids
and prise them open to discover
This is whisper day, muffled in deep down
of eiderdown snow, day of
those other echoes and shadows on frosted window-panes
that pass by furtively, wondering…

read the rest here.

What a neat find. 

My answer to the Poetry Stretch: “shadorma”  found here.

Thank you, Tricia, for hosting Poetry Friday.

Happy Reading.


Non-Fiction Monday: Ta-Dah! The CYBILS NFPB Finalists

I know the CYBILS finalists were announced on Friday, January 1.  Today I am featuring the finalists of the Nonfiction/Information Picture Book as the organizer of this category. I also want to thank publicly my esteemed round one panel:

Karen and Bill: Literate Lives
Franki: A Year of Reading
Debbie: Readerbuzz
Kara: Not Just for Kids
Carol: Carol’s Corner
Mandy: ACPL Mock Siebert

We started out with 73 books in almost every section of the Dewey Decimal system.  Nonfiction has come so far!  It really was difficult to select but through team effort, emails (sometimes I wondered if anyone slept as I was in the PST zone and others in the EST zone, my emails were arriving 11 PM or later!), and the back and forth of the books we ended up with the “spectacular seven.”

Non-Fiction Picture/Information Books

Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History!
by Shana Corey
Nominated by: Kelly Fineman

Annette Kellerman is a woman who made many waves in her life. The story encompasses her early physical disability, her swimming accomplishments, her introduction of the woman’s swimming suit to the public, and her ability to travel through Europe doing water ballet.  Annette Kellerman was a strong and determined woman, which makes her a fascinating study for Corey.  This book is delightful also thanks to the illustrator who has created such fun colors on each page.  In addition, Fotheringham cleverly includes a wave design somewhere on every page throughout the book, tying in the idea that Annette Kellerman did indeed “make waves” throughout her life.  The Author’s Note included at the back of the book is a plus; it gives a far more detailed accounting of Annette Kellerman’s life and accomplishments.

The Day-Glo Brothers
by Chris Barton
Nominated by: Cynthia Leitich Smith

This fascinating book tells the story of Bob and Joe Switzer and their invention of the first fluorescent colors. The brothers each had different skills and passions but together they created colors that made a huge impact on the world.  The illustrations in this book, which use the colors created by the Switzer brothers, add to the captivating feel of the book.  Barton and Persiani have brought an important story to the world of children’s literature.
Franki Sibberson

Life-Size Zoo: From Tiny Rodents to Gigantic Elephants, An Actual Size Animal Encyclopedia
Created by Teruyuki Komiya with photographs by Toyofumi Fukuda
Seven Footer Press
Nominated by: Anastasia Suen

There are those who claim that bigger is better. If that’s so, then we can stop here: Life-Size Zoo is definitely bigger. Life-Size Zoo is so big that the tiptop will always peek out of your backpack.

But bigger isn’t the only thing Life-Size Zoo has going for it. A table of contents that any teacher would die to teach with in her classroom and that any kid would happily, almost unknowingly, utilize, a table of contents shaped like a zoo map, no less (and oh-so-clever). An information sheet about the animals on the front end papers.  Brilliant photographs of zoo animals, amazing close-ups.  Lists of details to look for on the photographs.  Fun fold-out pages.  Oodles and oodles of cool facts about the animals.

And what great choices of animals: a panda, zebra, tiger (those scary teeth), gorilla, rhino (with a horn made of hair?), anteater (what a nose!), koala (much smaller than I would have expected).  And more.  Much, much more.  Kids line up to check out this book.  And they don’t just check it out. You can see them everywhere, reading it with their friends.  Life-Size Zoo is bigger, yes, and better, too.
Debbie Nance

14 Cows for America
by Carmen Agra Deedy
Nominated by: Natasha Maw

14 Cows for America is the story of Masai warrior Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. An exchange student in New York City, Naiyomah witnessed the tragedy of 9/11 and returned home to Kenya to share his grief with his family and tribe.  In the Masai tradition, the greatest gift a man can give is a cow.  To help comfort the people of America as we dealt with the destruction, Naiyomah asked the tribal elders to bless his cow to be given to America, as a symbolic gesture of his compassion.  Thirteen 13 others did the same.  A gentle tale that shows the events of September 11 had world impact.  This simple yet moving story is beautifully illustrated with scenes from Africa.  The colorful artwork captures the splendor of the continent and the beauty of its people.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca

“Reading MOONSHOT: THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11 gave me the feeling I was back up in space,” said Michael Collins, the Command Module Pilot of Apollo 11.  This new non-fiction picture book invites young readers to accompany astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong as they “lock their heads into large, round helmets, squeeze into the Columbia’s sideways seats, and blast off into the summer sky.”  The experience begins with extensive diagrams of the stages of the Apollo 11’s journey on the front end pages and finishes with extensive author’s notes on the back cover.  The information is scientific, specific, and technical, yet it reads like poetry.  Listen, for example to Floca’s description of the Saturn rocket:

“a monster of a machine
it stands thirty stories
it weights six million pounds
a tower full of fuel and fire”

Floca’s watercolor illustrations beautifully contrast of light and dark, movement and perspective.  A terrific addition to any space collection.
Carol Wilcox

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin
Nominated by: Sarah Neal

This book begins with the astounding fact that more humans have walked on the moon than been to the deepest spots of the ocean.  Writer and illustrator Steve Jenkins leads the reader from the familiar territory of the waters’ surface, down 35,838 feet (almost seven miles!) to the deepest spot in the sea, where humans have visited a mere one time in their total existence.  As readers pass from zone to zone, they meet an astounding variety of life forms, from jellies to rays to shrimp to whales; to creatures who glow in the dark, have fearsome teeth, or look more like plants than fish, as they adapt to life in the increasingly alien depths of the sea.

Jenkins’ texture-rich collage is as dynamic and compelling as ever, bringing the creatures to startling life with realism that defies the one-dimensional limitations of the printed page. The overwhelming impression that there is so much we don’t know about the sea further increases the appeal of a book that is not just informative but captivating.
Kara Schaff Dean

Faith (Global Fund for Children Books)
by Maya Ajmera, Magde Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon for the Global Fund for Children
Nominated by: shelf-employed

“In our world, there are many faiths,” sums up the context of Faith by the Global Fund for Children.  A stunning photo-essay book, it depicts the elements of faith: prayer, meditation, sacred places, sacred books, singing and the observance of religious holidays.  The simplicity of the text serves as a springboard for discussion.  The rich tapestry of close-up photos, mainly of children engaged in specific religious rituals is the strength of this book.

The book is well-organized. There is an appendix with additional notes for further study, a map locating where the different faiths can be found, and a glossary.  Faith helps readers to see the rich diversity throughout the globe and to understand we are more alike than different.
Jone Rush MacCulloch

Nonfiction Monday is rounded up today at Picture Book of the Day. Thanks, Anastasia!

Happy Reading.  Happy New Year.