Friday, April 30, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010 Wrap-Up

National Poetry Month is at an end for this year. I've had such fun reading the great posts in the blogosphere this month.

My favorites have been the Poetry Makers' Series at The Miss Rumphius Effect and Elaine's original poems over at Wild Rose Reader.

For those of you who missed the fun, it's not too late. Elaine of Wild Rose Reader has compiled weekly reviews (with links) of the blogosphere's celebration of National Poetry Month 2010.

Week 1 in Review
Week 2 in Review
Week 3 in Review
Week 4 in Review
Final Days in Review

Happy last day of Poetry Month 2010! Looking forward to National Poetry Month 2011.

Steady Hands: Poems about Work by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

In this collection, Zimmer offers readers an inside look at many professions including electrician, librarian, florist, and filmmaker. Using third person narration, Zimmer seems to take on the persona of each profession.

What I thought: A great collection! Every poem was a surprise. I’d be interested to know how much research Zimmer did for the collection. My favorite poems were “Writer,” “Librarian,” and “Florist.” I love how Zimmer disregards gender roles. The electrician is a woman. The librarian is a guy. I think teachers and home schooling parents will find this collection particularly useful. I have an urge to write my own profession poem. I loved the illustrations. They suited each poem perfectly.

(Illus. Megan Halsey & Sean Addy. New York: Clarion, 2009)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Curious Collection of Cats: Concrete Poems by Betsy Franco

The title says it all.

What I thought: This collection has the charm of Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The illustrations are great—so colorful. I find it intriguing that there are no lines only color. My favorite poems are:

“Veronica Goes Wild”
“Fluff is Polydactyl”
“Ear Decorations”
“Binky’s Kittens”

Normally, I don't like concrete poems, but I enjoyed this collection immensely.

(Illus. Michael Wertz. Berkley, CA: Bicycle Press, 2009)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard

Did you ever think a simple list could be a poem? Well, it can. This collection demonstrates the numerous ways.

What I thought: The list poem is going to be one of my new favorite forms. It’s so simple, but can be used in so many ways. My favorite poems are:

“On the Menu for School Today” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
“Things To Do If You Are a Pencil” by Elaine Magliano
“Booktime” by Avis Harley
“Just Look” by Valiska Gregory
“Walking Home from School I See” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I'm pleased to say that I won a copy of this collection from Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. She's offering a poetry book giveaway for each week of National Poetry Month. I'll be donating my copy of Falling Down the Page to my local public library. I want children to discover the magic that is poetry.

(New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Reading Ramona Take 2

Book 2: Ramona the Pest
First published in 1968
8 chapters, 192 pages (New York: Dell Yearling)
Illustrated by Louis Darling

Look out Glenwood Elementary! Ramona Quimby is five-years-old and starting kindergarten. Will Ramona survive her first year of school? Will the school survive Ramona?

Another great book about Ramona and company. Such a quick, easy read and so entertaining. Beverly Cleary's goal was to write books about "kids like us" and she has definitely succeeded. My favorite part in the book was the Halloween parade. Such fun! My granny made all my costumes growing up. I was a wizard, a prairie girl, a colonial girl, a school teacher, an old lady and I can't remember what else, but I remember what fun dressing up was.

My favorite quote: "She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to fin out what happened next" (page 11, Chapter 1: Ramona's Great Day).

Up next, book 3: Ramona the Brave.

Just a reminder the movie Ramona and Beezus opens on July 23. Only 13 more weeks to go!

S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet by Esther Hershenhorn

Hershenhorn uses the alphabet to explore writing. In 26 stanzas (and extra informational paragraphs), she covers all the fundamentals of writing from the alphabet to Zorro.

What I Thought: An absolute gem especially for the tween crowd. The information is simple and frank. I learned quite a lot myself. Loved the quotes from children’s authors and the writing tips. If I ever start a writing group for the tween crowd, S is for Story will be my go-to resource. The illustrations were great—realistic and yet a little fantastic.

(Illus. Zachary Pullen. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2009)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley

Ms. Harley uses one poetic form, the acrostic, to explore animals of the African continent.

What I thought: Stupendous poems. They read well and look even better on the page. Love the photographs—they really capture the animals’ vitality. I liked the “lesson” at the end pf the book on the form. Teachers will appreciate this book. Kids like animals, especially exotic ones. Could there be a better way to teach poetry?

The acrostic was the form I cut my poetic teeth on. During freshman English in high school, we had to write acrostic poems. I don’t even remember if the teacher named the form. He just explained what to do. I amused myself long after the assignment was over writing acrostics about everything from animals to holidays. Incidentally, one of the first acrostic poems I wrote was about an African animal, the elephant. Here it is in all its juvenile glory:

Everlasting memory of the
Long drifting plains of Africa
Elongated trunk marks a regal beast
Playing in the river
Halting only as the sun sinks beyond
After dusk he roams
Never resting, marching
To the sound of the wind

(Photographs by Deborah Noyes. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2009)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman

The title says it all. Sidman takes us through the four seasons exploring how colors change.

What I thought: This book has been on my to read list since Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect praised it in her Poetry Makers Series in 2009. Though I am a horrible artist, color has always fascinated me. I loved reading Sidman’s thoughts and observations about color in her lyrical poetry. No need to say anything about the illustrations as the book is now a Caldecott Honor book. My challenge to you: What is your favorite color? Explore what it would be like in the four seasons.

(Illus. Pamela Zagarrenski. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009)

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Very Curious Bear by Tony Mitton

This little bear is full of whys. He wants to know about everything from the sun to the weather. Fortunately, Big Bear has all the answers.

What I thought: A cute book. Perhaps too cute. Big Bear's answers seemed contrived. The illustrations were good. I especially liked the ones with Little Bear in his cape and sword.

(Illus. Paul Howard. New York: Random House, 2009)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Duchess of Whimsy by Randall de Seve

(Subtitle: An Absolutely Delicious Fairy Tale)

The Duchess of Whimsy is extraordinary. The Earl of Norm is, well, ordinary. Can these two opposite be happy together?

What I thought: Wonderful--an original, nonsensical fairy tale. I think Fancy Nancy fans will like this one. The text is a bit long for a preschool story time but would be great for school age.
Story Time Theme: Fairy Tales (Pair with a traditional fairy tale like Brown's Cinderella)
(Illus. Peter de Seve. New York: Philomel, 2009)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels

The list is out. Which of the Top 100 Children's Novels have you read? I've read 48 which isn't too shabby. The ones I've read are bold. Maybe this will be my new reading project--read the 52 on the list that I haven't read yet.

100. The Egypt Game — Snyder (1967)
99. The Indian in the Cupboard — Banks (1980)
98. Children of Green Knowe — Boston (1954)
97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane — DiCamillo (2006)
96. The Witches — Dahl (1983)
95. Pippi Longstocking — Lindgren (1950)
94. Swallows and Amazons — Ransome (1930)
93. Caddie Woodlawn — Brink (1935)
92. Ella Enchanted — Levine (1997)
91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School — Sachar (1978)
90. Sarah, Plain and Tall — MacLachlan (1985)
89. Ramona and Her Father — Cleary (1977)
88. The High King — Alexander (1968)
87. The View from Saturday — Konigsburg (1996)
86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — Rowling (1999)
85. On the Banks of Plum Creek — Wilder (1937)
84. The Little White Horse — Goudge (1946)
83. The Thief — Turner (1997)
82. The Book of Three — Alexander (1964)
81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon — Lin (2009)
80. The Graveyard Book — Gaiman (2008)
79. All-of-a-Kind-Family — Taylor (1951)
78. Johnny Tremain — Forbes (1943)
77. The City of Ember — DuPrau (2003)
76. Out of the Dust — Hesse (1997)
75. Love That Dog — Creech (2001)
74. The Borrowers — Norton (1953)
73. My Side of the Mountain — George (1959)
72. My Father’s Dragon — Gannett (1948)
71. The Bad Beginning — Snicket (1999)
70. Betsy-Tacy — Lovelae (1940)
69. The Mysterious Benedict Society — Stewart ( 2007)
68. Walk Two Moons — Creech (1994)
67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher — Coville (1991)
66. Henry Huggins — Cleary (1950)
65. Ballet Shoes — Stratfeild (1936)
64. A Long Way from Chicago — Peck (1998)
63. Gone-Away Lake — Enright (1957)
62. The Secret of the Old Clock — Keene (1959)
61. Stargirl — Spinelli (2000)
60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle — Avi (1990)
59. Inkheart — Funke (2003)
58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase — Aiken (1962)
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 — Cleary (1981)
56. Number the Stars — Lowry (1989)
55. The Great Gilly Hopkins — Paterson (1978)
54. The BFG — Dahl (1982)
53. Wind in the Willows — Grahame (1908)
52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)
51. The Saturdays — Enright (1941)
50. Island of the Blue Dolphins — O’Dell (1960)
49. Frindle — Clements (1996)
48. The Penderwicks — Birdsall (2005)
47. Bud, Not Buddy — Curtis (1999)
46. Where the Red Fern Grows — Rawls (1961)
45. The Golden Compass — Pullman (1995)
44. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing — Blume (1972)
43. Ramona the Pest — Cleary (1968)
42. Little House on the Prairie — Wilder (1935)
41. The Witch of Blackbird Pond — Speare (1958)
40. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — Baum (1900)
39. When You Reach Me — Stead (2009)
38. HP and the Order of the Phoenix — Rowling (2003)
37. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry — Taylor (1976)
36. Are You there, God? It’s Me, Margaret — Blume (1970)
35. HP and the Goblet of Fire — Rowling (2000)
34. The Watson’s Go to Birmingham — Curtis (1995)
33. James and the Giant Peach — Dahl (1961)
32. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH — O’Brien (1971)
31. Half Magic — Eager (1954)
30. Winnie-the-Pooh — Milne (1926)
29. The Dark Is Rising — Cooper (1973)
28. A Little Princess — Burnett (1905)
27. Alice I and II — Carroll (1865/72)
26. Hatchet — Paulsen (1989)
25. Little Women — Alcott (1868/9)
24. HP and the Deathly Hallows — Rowling (2007)
23. Little House in the Big Woods — Wilder (1932)
22. The Tale of Despereaux — DiCamillo (2003)
21. The Lightening Thief — Riordan (2005)
20. Tuck Everlasting — Babbitt (1975)
19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — Dahl (1964)
18. Matilda — Dahl (1988)
17. Maniac Magee — Spinelli (1990)
16. Harriet the Spy — Fitzhugh (1964)
15. Because of Winn-Dixie — DiCamillo (2000)
14. HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban — Rowling (1999)
13. Bridge to Terabithia — Paterson (1977)
12. The Hobbit — Tolkien (1938)
11. The Westing Game — Raskin (1978)
10. The Phantom Tollbooth — Juster (1961)
9. Anne of Green Gables — Montgomery (1908)
8. The Secret Garden — Burnett (1911)
7. The Giver -Lowry (1993)
6. Holes — Sachar (1998)
5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler — Koningsburg (1967)
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — Lewis (1950)
3. Harry Potter #1 — Rowling (1997)
2. A Wrinkle in Time — L’Engle (1962)
1. Charlotte’s Web — White (1952)

A Trip to the Used Bookstore

Over the weekend, I made a trek to a great used bookstore. Here's what I found: A Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher (I read Poetry Matters and wasn't really impressed, but for 75 cents I thought I'd give him another chance.) Ramona the Brave, Ramona and her Mother, Ramona Forever, and Ramona's World all by Beverly Cleary (These are the books my local library doesn't have. I need them for my Reading Ramona Project. I'll likely donate them to the library when I'm done.) What's the Weather Inside? by Karma Wilson (I read this poetry collection earlier this year and loved it. My review will post on May 3. I'm donating this to my local library because their children's poetry section is just sad!) An ARC of Beanball by Gene Fehler (I just read about Fehler in Tricia's Poetry Makers' series 2010 and have been eager to read some of his poetry. I'm planning a baseball story time and his poetry seems perfect for the occasion.) Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry by Jack Prelutsky (I reviewed this book last year. I loved it and couldn't believe my luck when I found a copy.) Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward (only 25 cents and a purrfect book for cat story time.) Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells (only 50 cents and perfect for Easter story time.) How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors? by Jane Yolen (This board book is for my niece when she's a little older. Right now she's only 8 month and likes to chew on books! :) A pretty good haul if I do say so myself.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tiger in a Pink Hat by Nicola Stott McCourt

Tiger goes shopping and each item he buys is stranger than the last. What does Tiger buy?

What I thought: A fun book with rhyming text, repetition, and colorful illustrations. The silliness of the tiger will no doubt tickle young readers/listeners' funny bones.

Story Time Themes: Imagination, Zoo

(Illus. Leah-Ellen Heming. San Diego: Worthwhile Books, 2009)

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Guessed Right!

Back in March, I reviewed the third book in Heather Vogel Frederick's Mother-Daughter Book Club series Dear Pen Pal. In my review, I wondered what the girls would read next. I amble through A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter and March by Geraldine Brooks before I hit on it. The girls are going to read Austen next! I wouldn't presume to guess which of Austen's novels they read, but I was right! I stumbled across a January entry on Heather's blog that reveals the name of the fourth book: Pies and Prejudice. Can you guess what they're reading? That's right...Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It's due out in September. Aren't you excited? I am!

Something to Do by David Lucas

A young bear is bored. There's nothing to do. With his dad's help, he puts his imagination to good use and finds quite a lot to do. (They go visit the moon!)

What I thought: What a great book! It's all in the simplicity of both the text and illustrations. I liked the bears' use of imagination. This book will show kids how important imagination is. Reminds me of Emily Dickinson's poem about the prairie.

Story Time Themes: Imagination (pair with Nell's Elf and The Golden Egg Book); Bears
(New York: Philomel, 2008)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reading Ramona

Book 1: Beezus and Ramona
First published in 1955
6 chapters, 159 pages (Illus: Louis Darling. New York: Scholastic)

Beezus (though she much prefers Beatrice) is almost 10. Her little sister Ramona is 4. Invisible lizards and lollipop dragons…that alone should give you a reason to read the first Ramona book.

I loved the interaction between the sisters. My sister is only a little younger than me so I never experienced the frustration of a tag-along sib. I liked that Beezus and Ramona have very different personalities. This is too true. I wonder how Cleary, being an only child, knew this. Probably by observing children at the library or her own twins. What struck me most about the book was its sense of fun. Ramona may cause problems and get into messes, but it’s all playfully intended. The book though more than 50 years old did not seem dated. The only thing that make it seem older were the illustrations, but I think newer editions of the book have updated illustrations.

Up next, Book 2: Ramona the Pest.

Night Lights by Susan Gal

From street lights to starlight, one little girl explores all types of night time lights.

What I thought: A great concept. The text is uber simple--just the name of the types of light. The illustrations are the important part. They are great. Loved all the different patterns, textures, and shading.

Story Time Idea: pajama story time

(New York: Knopf, 2009)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mouse & Mole: Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee

It's springtime in the forest. Friends Mouse and Mole are going birding. With the help of a clever disguise, Mouse writes poems about the birds and Mole draws their pictures. They put their creations together in a book.

What I thought: I love the Mouse and Mole books. They remind me a bit of Willems' Elephant & Piggie books but with more words. The illustrations are charming. Friends everywhere will appreciate Mouse and Mole's friendship.

(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Patterson Puppies & the Rainy Day by Leslie Patricelli

Andy, Penelope, Zack, and Petra are bored. It's raining outside. They can't go out to play so they decide to pretend inside. They go to the beach, make a big mess, and end the day with snow.

What I thought: A great book. Rainy day blues is something lots of kids will understand. I like that the book shows the importance of imagination but also emphasizes the consequence of their actions. Liked the illustrations--simple lines and colorful.

Story Time Idea: Pair with Nell's Elf by Jane Cowen-Fletcher and The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss for a rainy day blues story time.

(Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2009)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month. That's right...30 days set aside for people everywhere to read, write, and just plain enjoy poetry. There's a lot going on in the next month.

GottaBook and Brimful Curiousities have the scoop.

Poetry Books I've enjoyed recently (reviews pending):

  • A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco
  • African Acrostics by Avis Harley
  • Falling Down the Page collected by Georgia Heard
  • Sky Magic selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • My Hippo Has the Hiccups by Kenn Nesbitt
  • The Cuckoo's Haiku by Michael J. Rosen
  • A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems by Deborah Ruddell
  • Red Sings from the Tree Tops by Joyce Sidman
  • Steady Hands by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Here's wishing you a wonderful National Poetry Month 2010!

Zoo Day Ole! by Phillis Gershator

Two children visit the zoo with their grandmother. She counts animals and people in Spanish.

What I thought: Delightful! Simple text with slight repetition quickly teaches readers their numbers 1 to 10 in Spanish. The illustrations are appealing with simple lines and bright colors.

Story Time Themes: Bilingual, Baby Sit & Sign emphasis on numbers

(Illus. Santiago Cohen. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2009)