Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions for 2011- A Found Poem

”This year,

mend a quarrel.

Seek out a forgotten friend.

Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.

Write a letter.

Give a soft answer.

Manifest loyalty in word and deed.

Keep a promise.

Forego a grudge.

Forgive an enemy.


Try to understand.

Examine your demands on others.

Think first of someone else.

Be kind.

Be gentle.

Laugh a little more.

Express your gratitude.

Welcome a stranger.

Gladden the heart of a child.

Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.

Speak your love and then speak it again.

Howard Hunter


Happy Almost New Year 2011!

It's bitter cold, two degrees last time I checked, in Colorado tonight. Usually the boys and I, along with a few random friends, head downtown for fireworks at 9, then come home and drink sparkling cider while we watch the ball drop in Times Square. It's too cold to venture out tonight, (especially with high school guys who are too "cool" to wear anything heavier than a hoodie), so we are going to have a quiet night at home. A perfect night for compiling the Poetry Friday Roundup.

First, join me in a great big ol' Poetry Friday Welcome to Pentimento, who is making her first Poetry Friday post with Paul Hostovsky's "Be Mine." So glad you joined us today-- please come back again soon.

Lots of poets sharing their original work today…
  • Jeannine Atkins, author of CYBILS POETRY nominee, BORROWED NAMES: POEMS ABOUT LAURA INGALLS WILDER, MADAM C.J. WALKER, MARIE CURIE, AND THEIR DAUGHTERS, shares a little of her poetic process. A fascinating metaphor…
  • Draw your chair up to the fire at the Poem Farm, and enjoy Amy's last original poem about poetry for 2010. She says there will be a new theme in 2011, I can't wait to see what that will be. Amy also shares a special poetry calendar project by fourth grade teacher Theresa Anello from the Gates Chili Central School district.
  • Charles Ghigna is rolling in metaphors this week. At Bald-Ego blog he posts an absolutely perfect metaphor, "The Poem as Priest." And then a more light-hearted, and very clever play on words in "What's a Meadow For?" at the Father Goose Blog.
  • At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee gives us, "Blink," an important reminder about the passage of time, as well as one of her beautiful photography mosaics.
  • Elaine Magliaro shares three original poems this week. Two, "A Poem For New Year's Day" and an acrostic are at Blue Rose Reader. The third, "Early Snow," took me back to my own childhood experiences, "swooshing through a whipped cream world." Such gorgeous images, Elaine!
  • Blythe Woolston, whose novel, THE FREAK OBSERVER, has been nominated for a 2011 William C. Morris award, brings "Lost Worlds: The Emigrants," a haunting memorial from a shipwreck.
  • Sally (Castle in the Sea) shares two original cold morning poems (which could have also been included in the New Year's section but I wanted to be sure that Sally got credit for writing poems!)
  • Theresa introduces us to an original genre, "The Refrigerator Poem."

Also many individual poems…
  • Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen gives us two oldies but goodies, "Tell All the Truth" by Emily Dickenson and "Wild Rose" by Wendel Berry. I hink my favorite part of her post is the photograph of a beautiful tow-headed girlie sound asleep on her reading daddy's chest.
  • Folks at Dori's house are ending 2010 with colds, so Ogden Nash's "Common Cold" is perfect. Hope everyone returns to good health quickly, Dori.
  • One of the things I love about Poetry Friday is that I regularly find poets that are new to me. Felt that way today when I read "Carols" by Anne Porter at Karen Edmisten's blog. I want to go find more poems by Anne Porter.
  • Tara got to hear Sharon Olds read "The Race" live on Christmas Day. This poem made me cry.
  • Heidi Mordhorst thinks that perhaps she is the only person who hadn't heard of Howard Moss, poetry editor of The New Yorker magazine, for 40 years. Don't worry, Heidi, you aren't, I never heard of him either. She describes Moss' "The Persistence of Song," as a "precurso" to Marilyn Singer's reversos.
  • From The Drift Record, Julie Larios brings a gorgeous photograph and one last moon poem, "Moonrise," by Hilda Doolittle, and also a quatrain wish for the New Year.
  • Tabatha Yeatts shares, "The Sage" by Silvi Alcivar. Listen to the last line, "his years are all the air he will ever need" and then head over to read the rest of the poem and look at the beautiful line drawing that accompanies it.
  • The last poem in so far anyway, was a love poem, contributed by Kort and it's well, it's just really lovely.
A couple of book reviews…
  • Karen Terlecky brings us DARK EMPEROR OF THE NIGHT. Karen and her blogging partner, Bill, have been doing a series on possible Newbery contenders. When I read the review of this book, which Karen describes as "nonfiction, picture book, and poetry," I emailed and asked her if we could include it in today's Poetry Friday. If you are interested in children's literature, stay awhile and read about some of the other Newbery possibilities.
  • Charlotte reviews, THE ZOG, a picture book in verse. Zog is an accident prone dragon who must continually be rescued by Princess Pearl.
And some special New Year's Eve poetry…
  • Diane Mayr says, "Akemishite Omedetou Gozaimasu," which is roughly equivalent to "Happy New Year" in Japanese. This is the second year Diane has participated in a nengajyou, a New Year's card exchange, with other haiku poets. Today, at Random Noodling, she shares a haiku card with a picture of her grand-bunny (2010 was the Year of the Rabbit). At Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet, Diana gifts us with a New Year's poem, "The Wish," by Eleanor Farjeon; and at Kurious K's Kwotes, she shares a Farjeon quote.
  • At The Write Sisters, Barbara, another early morning post-er, shares some poetic predictions by Mother Shipton. It's amazing how accurate this fifteenth century prophetess managed to be!
  • At Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia shares William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence." You might recognize the first stanza, "To see a world in a grain of sand…" but listen to this, "Joy and woe are woven fine/ a clothing for the soul divine/Under every grief and pine, runs a joy with silken twine…"
  • Several blogging friends ringing in the New Year with bell poems. Jone (also known as the fearless leader of the CYBILS nonfiction picture book team, of which I am also a member) gave us Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Ring Out Wild Bells." Laura Shovan shares written and oral renditions of Edgar Allen Poe's, "The Bells."
  • Hannah gives us still another end of the year classic, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Day is Done."
  • I'll end with Ruth's beautiful reflection on Apollonaire's, "Mirabeau Bridge. Ruth, as those of you who visit Poetry Friday often may already know, is an eighth grade teacher in Haiti. "I love Apollinaire's reminder that, though the days don't come back, joy comes back again after sorrow. I learned that this year, among many other lessons. And the joy that came back was greater than the joy I had before, because joy tinged with sorrow is an awareness of what life is, how beautiful it is and how fleeting. 2011, I fear you, and yet I reach out to you, too, knowing that God will be with me."
Wishing you a healthy, joyous, and blessed New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I'm honored to host the last Poetry Friday of 2010!

Today, I want to make you aware of a brand new and very special poetry book, THE WORLD IS MADE OF THOUGHTS, featuring over two hundred poems written by the children of the Denver Public Schools during the 2009-2010 school year. Poems in the book are organized by themes- home and family, school, friends, places we love wind and sky, loss, life and summer.

THE WORLD IS MADE OF THOUGHTS is a labor of love by Steve Replogle, a fourth grade teacher who devotes an incredible amount of time to soliciting poems, working with high school editors to select the poems that will be included, sorting the poems by theme, gathering artwork, and arranging for publication. This year, the book is dedicated to Debbie Milner, a literacy coordinator, hero for teachers and children, and dear friend of mine, who recently retired after more than 20 years in DPS. Here are a few sample poems:

I wish
I was a butterfly
to fly and go
to Mexico.

Karla- Kindergarten

Nothing is a picture without a frame.
Nothing is me without a friend.
Nothing is what I do.
Nothing is us without souls.
Nothing is a wife without a husband.
Nothing is a flower without petals.
Nothing is you to me.
Elida- 5th grade

It's quiet.
There's fighting.
Quiet me.
Do you cry
when it's sad?
Tierra- 2nd grade

And here is one that I am going to adopt as my theme for the new year.


Take flight
Do something
Do something exciting
Something fun for a change
Have fun.
Go wild
Be yourself.
Katherine- Fourth Grade

You can find more information about THE WORLD IS MADE OF THOUGHTS here. This website features sample poems from the book (also from Volumes One and Two), a page about the publication process, submission forms, and lots more information that might be helpful if you wanted to do a project like this with children.

If you are interested in ordering the book, you can get it online from our local independent bookstore, The Tattered Cover.

Leave your Poetry Friday submissions in the comments, and I will round them up throughout the day.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Mix 1 part Harriet the Spy, 1 part Andrew Clements, 1 part middle school friendship, and 1 part rock and roll, and you get THE SECRET LIFE OF MS. FINKLEMAN, a fun read for the "tweenish set." Bethesda's sixth grade social studies teacher gives his class a special assignment-- find a mystery in your own life and solve it. Bethesda decides that she will find out more about Ms. Finkleman, the school's reclusive and relatively unknown music teacher. She digs around a little and finds evidence that leads her to believe that Ms. Finkleman is actually the former, Little Miss Mystery, a rock star from the band, the Red Herrings.

Bethesda's discovery turns her middle school upside down. Ms. Finkleman, formerly kind of a "non-person" to her students becomes a superstar. The principal, eager to win a district music contest, orders the school choir to perform a rock concert, rather than the previously planned Irish folk music concert. And through a scheme hatched by Ms. Finkleman, Bethany becomes friends with Tenny, the class ne'er do well, who is actually a very gifted musician.

A really fun, quick reading mystery that doesn't get solved until the last few pages.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I've been trying to do #bookaday on Twitter over the Christmas break. Having just read 107 nonfiction picture books for CYBILS, decided that I would try to catch up on some novels that I have heard a lot about, but hadn't yet read myself. Read two this weekend that I absolutely loved .

THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA by Tom Angleburger, is laugh out loud funny, mostly because it is so, so, so, true to most of the middle school kids I know. The book is presented as a "case file," created by a sixth grader named Tommy. Tommy is researching the verity of the Origami Yoda, a finger puppet made by Dwight, who is possibly one of the weirdest kids in the sixth grade. It seems that students in the sixth grade have been taking their major life issues, e.g. how do you not cry when you can't hit a softball, or what do you do to the school bully who has just broken three of your brand new personalized pencils, to the Origami Yoda. Yoda (or Dwight) provides helpful advice to the sixth graders. Tommy needs to find out whether the advice is true, because he wants to ask Yoda about the possibility of a relationship with a certain sixth grade girl. I cannot wait to get back to school and share this with all my DIARY OF A WIMPY KID reading friends. I know they are going to love it.

The second book, BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT, is another book that is sure to be a winner with my fifth and sixth grade friends. MR. TERUPT chronicles the year of a fifth grade class, as told through the eyes of seven students in the class. Jessica has just moved cross country and is working through her mom and dad's divorce. Peter is the class clown/trouble maker. Luke is the class genius. Anna is the shy girl, being raised by her single mom, who was only 16 when she had her. Jeffrey is a kid who hates school, probably at least partly because he is working through the grief of a difficult family secret. The class comes together under the leadership of their amazing first-year teacher, Mr. Terupt. Midway through the year, a terrible accident puts Mr. Terupt into a coma, and the students have to work through their role in his injury.

This is a really good read, perfect for just about any kid in a fifth or sixth grade class (someone on Twitter commented that the kids seemed more like sixth graders than fifth graders and I think I would tend to agree with her). The book would be a great read aloud because just about any intermediate grade student would love the strong story line. Kids in the story are dealing with some really important issues- community, peer pressure, bullying, divorce, grief- and I know the book would open the door for rich conversations. Most of the chapters are relatively short, which would make the book perfect for even the most reluctant intermediate grade reader. Another book I can't wait to get into the hands of kids after break!

Friday, December 24, 2010


Merry Christmas to all of the friends who bring poetry into my life every Friday!

For unto us a child is born.
to us a son is given,
and the government
will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

If you like this one, Cynthia Lord has another really special one posted here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off- Jacqueline Jewels

Freddie Ramos comes home from school one day and finds a package waiting for him. Inside he discovers a pair of purple sneakers with silver wings. He soon learns that the shoes are not just any old shoes, however, they are magical tennis shoes that enable Freddie to run faster than a train. He uses the shoes to help his friends and solve a mini-mystery.

I could see this book having a definite place in a primary grade library. It's a short chapter book (77 pages) with relatively large print and lots of pictures scattered throughout- terrific for those little guys who are just starting to read chapter books. The main character is a Hispanic boy, definitely needed in my urban setting, where over half of the kids speak Spanish as their first language. Freddie lives with a single mom, but there are several references to his father, a soldier who was killed in the war. Freddie also has significant connections with his Uncle Jorge, and the building landlord, Mr. Zaslov. As someone who works in a school where many of the children don't have fathers, I love seeing other mentor relationships validated.

Based on the last line, "Can you make flying shoes?" I thought there might be at least one more book in this series. I hope so. When I googled it, I discovered that book #2 has already been released, and #3 will be out in March. Always good to have a new series so that beginning chapter book readers can cut their teeth on.

BINK AND GOLLIE- Kate Di Camillo and Allison McGhee

OK, in yet another edition of everyone else in the world has already read this, but I hadn't, and I loved it, here is today's book review.

I love books about friendship, especially friendships that are a little messy. For about the past two years, my most favorite friendship series has been the ELEPHANT AND PIGGY books by Mo Willems. I love, love, love that series.

But I've just found another favorite. BINK AND GOLLIE are my kind of friends. Bink is short, speedy, and a little on the impulsive side. And she has hair that always looks a little in need of a comb. Gollie, on the other hand, is more refined. She's tall and calm and thoughtful. She loves to travel the world and make pancakes.

But somehow, the two are friends. Who engage in three different adventures in three stand alone chapters. In the first chapter, Bink and Gollie wind up at a sock store. Where Bink finds lovely rainbow socks. Which Gollie hates ("Bink, the brightness of those socks pains me. I beg you not to purchase them). Bink buys them anyway. And the two friends have to learn the fine art of compromise.

In the second chapter, Gollie ventures forth on a "trip" to the Andes. Which the lonely (and hungry) Bink keeps interrupting. In the third chapter, Bink purchases a fish. And names it Fred.(Bink, said Gollie. I must inform you that you are giving a home to a truly unremarkable fish…Furthermore, that a fish is incapable of being a marvelous companion.) Fred eats pancakes and goes to the movies with Bink and Gollie. But then, Fred has a horrible accident.

I LOVE this book. Love the messiness of Bink and Gollie's friendship. Love the characters, especially Bink, who reminds me a little of someone I know. I love the terrific language in this book-- need for speed, unwillingness to compromise, the finger has spoken, implore-- so many words and phrases that I think will make their way joyfully onto kids' tongues. And I love Tony Fucio's mostly black and white and gray illustrations, with just the perfect amount of color. His ability to capture a character through facial expression and body language is oh, so great!

A terrific read!

For an interview with Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, go here.

For 100 Scope Notes' top 20 books of 2010, go here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

COUNTDOWN- Deborah Wiles

I remember three things about sixth grade:
1) Mr. Meyers read aloud to us every day after lunch. I remember HUCKLEBERRY FINN and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS.
2) We sat in order from best reader in the class to worst. Bill O. and I dueled every week for chairs #1 and #2. Joe R. sat in Chair #31 all year long.
3) Every day, Mr. Meyer regaled us with stories of nuclear destruction- how many pounds of uranium it would take to destroy the world, how many were actually in existence, etc.

I identified, then, with Frannie Chapman, the main character in COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles. Frannie and her family, which consists of her Air Force pilot father, her mother, a college age sister, a third grade brother, and an uncle who fought in WWII, live at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington D.C. The book is set at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, so besides the typical sibling rivalry and best friend quarrels, Frannie and her classmates and family are sure they are about to be annihilated in a nuclear war.

COUNTDOWN goes beyond the typical historical fiction novel, however. Deborah Wiles calls the book a "documentary novel." Interspersed throughout the text are all kinds of different documents-- black and white photos of world leaders like Kruschev and John F. Kennedy, song artists and lyrics, covers and pages from Civil Defense manuals, etc. The book is a plethora of images that contribute enormously to the "flavor" of the book.

As I read this book, I couldn't help but think of all the recent discussions of books as a dying genre. COUNTDOWN, with its combination of words and images, felt a lot like surfing the web. I think Deborah Wiles has set a new standard for historical fiction (and I can't wait to read the next two novels in this series).
Add Image

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MOON OVER MANIFEST- Claire Vanderpool

Wrapping up the CYBILS nonfiction picture book nominees, and trying to participate in #bookaday with some of my Twitter friends. Spent a good chunk of yesterday (who needs to Christmas shop or wrap presents or clean house!) reading MOON OVER MANIFEST, a debut novel that I found at the library last week.

Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker, abandoned by her mother at the age of two, is more than a little confused when her father puts her on a train to Manifest, the small town in Kansas where he spent his adolescent years. Her first night in Manifest, Abilene finds a cigar box which contains a variety of seemingly unrelated trinkets- some letters between two friends named Jinx and Ned, a fishing lure, a nesting doll, a skeleton key, and several others. Later that week, she loses a compass given to her by her father, then sees it dangling from the porch of Miss Sadie, Manifest's gypsy/fortune teller. Miss Sadie will not give Abilene her precious compass until she "pays" for a pot broken during Abilene's attempts to reach her keepsake. As Abilene works, the gypsy tells her the stories of Jinx and Ned, the treasures from the cigar box, and the secrets of Manifest, which ultimately lead Abilene to some huge understandings of her father, Gideon.

This is a terrific read with lots of great characters to love. Abilene is a smart and plucky teenager, but she is also really missing her father, and wondering whether he will ever come back for her (she reminded me of many of the kids I know). Shady, the town pastor/bartender appears to battle his own alcohol demons, but takes in anyone who needs a friend. Miss Sadie first appears as kind of an evil old woman, but then actually ends up as, well, I'll let you read and figure that out for yourself.

Vanderpool is a masterful storyteller-- MOON was one of those books where I read it once for story, then went back again and tried to figure out how Vanderpool had crafted the novel. Half of the story, the part set in 1936, is told with Abilene at the center, but then the stories from Manifest's history (1918) are contained in chapters told by Miss Sadie. Vanderpol also uses newspaper clippings and medicine bottle labels, letters, and journals to complete the story. There is a little World War I history, information about the influenza epidemic of 1918, and a whole lot of big truths about the role story plays in our lives, and I found myself jotting notes throughout the book (I originally intended to use those as the basis of the review but then my computer crashed).

A great kickoff to #bookaday!

Monday, December 20, 2010


In February, I blogged about ONCE UPON A COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE. which quickly became one of my students' favorite fractured fairy tales. Somehow, in the move between schools this summer, I lost that book. When I was at the Tattered Cover yesterday, however, I found a new Kevin O'Malley.

The premise of the story is similar to ONCE UPON A COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE. Two children, a boy and a girl, are assigned to write a fairy tale that includes a king and a queen . The problem is, the two have very different ideas about how the story should proceed.

In this story, the king and queen have a baby, Sweet Piper, when the girl is telling the story, or Strong Viper, according to the boy. The king and queen are kidnapped by a giant cyclops, and it is up to Piper/Viper to save his parents. Of course, that's more than a little difficult because the two narrators can't agree on a solution.

Like COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE, ROYAL SUPERBABY once again has several different illustrators. O'Malley is in charge of the boy and girl narrators, with their cartoon bubble arguments. Carol Heyer does the illustrations when the girl narrator is telling the story. Scott Goto illustrates the rough and tough muscle guy scenes.

Another one kids are going to love!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This afternoon Son #2 needed a new needle for his DJ turntable. We went to the local music groupie store, which happens to be right next to the Tattered Cover, so while he bought his needle (which took more than 30 minutes and necessitated listening to several albums-- yes, albums, old time records like I used to have when I was a teenager!), I wandered over to the TC to read. Here are three of my favorite finds:

Mr. Putney is a straight-laced, bald little guy, who has all kinds of unusual animals in his life. Each page begins with a question, then on the next page, the reader gets the answer.

Q: What do you call Mr. Putney's quacking dog?
A: A ducksund

Q: Who wakes Mr. Putney up in the morning?
A: Alarmadillo.

Q: What do you call the messy shellfish that splashes Mr. Putney during lunch?
A: The slobster.

The animals also have their own comments. Really clever word play from start to finish.

Lucy, a tutu-wearing bear finds a creature, who happens to be a little boy, when she is out playing in the forest one day. She takes him home and convinces her mother to let her keep the pet, who she names Squeaker. She soon discovers, however, that pets are a lot of work. Squeaker is hard to potty train and makes lots of messes. A great reversal of child and animal roles. Kids (and adults) are sure to love this one.

Seven Impossible Things did a terrific interview of author/illustrator Peter Brown. Lots of sketches and early drawings from his books.

My last find, A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE- Philip C. Stead, falls into the "sweet" category. Amos is a kind old zookeeper, who gets up every morning, eats his breakfast, and rides the bus to the zoo. He plays chess with the elephant, always has a tissue for the rhino's runny nose, and reads stories to the owl, who is afraid of the dark.

One day, Amos wakes up sick, and can't go to the zoo to take care of his animal friends, so they decide that they need to go to him. A sweet, sweet book with a huge "Aah factor" at the end.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Didn't think I'd have time to post this week, but in the midst of all the craziness of final exams and test scoring and Christmas programs and basketball practices, a couple of poems found me. So here they are.

fear less
hope more

whine less.
breathe more

talk less.
say more.

hate less.
love more.

And all good things
are yours.

Swedish proverb

Lord Jesus

of both light
and darkness


your Holy Spirit
upon our preparations
for Christmas

We who have
so much to do
seek quiet spaces
to hear your voice

We who are anxious
over many things
Look forward
to your coming

We who are blessed
in so many ways
for the complete joy
of Your presence

We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy
of your presence

We are
your people

Walking in darkness
yet seeking
the light

To you
we say
Lord Jesus,

Henri Nouwen

POETRY FRIDAY is at the Poem Farm today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Last night my son had drivers' ed for three hours. Right after rush hour. About 45 minutes south of our house. Some people might have have thought, "Hmm, it's only about ten days until Christmas," and seized the opportunity to travel to a conveniently located shopping center and do a little shopping. Others might have thought, "Hmm, it's only about ten days until Christmas and I haven't sent out any cards." And they might have gone to a local coffee shop and addressed cards. Not me.

Instead, I took the opportunity to head to the closest bookstore and peruse the children's section. And I was really glad I did! Just look at this new treasure I found! THE 3 LITTLE DASSIES is an African version of the Three Little Pigs. Mimbi, Pimbi, and Timbi (rodent-ish creatures kind of like prairie dogs or ground hogs) set out into the big wide world. They build huts of grass, wood, and stone, but soon encounter the Big, Bad Eagle, who threatens to "flap and clap and blow their houses in." Two of the dassies end up in the eagle's nest, and have to be rescued by a classily dressed lizard, Mr. Agama Man.

The illustrations are classic Jan Brett, with a story, but then a whole other subtext going on going on in the sidebars. Brett created the book after a visit to Namibia, and I especially loved her use of African textiles-- the color, line, and design are absolutely gorgeous!

And there's even a readers' theater!

A must have for your folktale collection!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


MOON BEAR is a perfect nonfiction book for our youngest reading friends. The book has a simple, repetitive question and answer format.

"Who blends in the sunlight
that peeks through the Himalayas?
Sleepy moon bear

waking up from a long winter snooze.
However, despite it's simplicity, the book also contains lots of terrific information.
Who plucks raspberries
and plops red scat in the tangle?
Blissful moon bear
feasting on a juicy summer feast."

Using this question answer format, MOON BEAR follows an Asiatic black bear over the course of an entire year, from the time she emerges from her den after hibernating, until the next year, when she emerges again, with cubs.
The collage illustrations are done by Caldecott winner Ed Young. I don't think I need to say any more there. A brief afterword has photographs of moon bears, as well as a little information about conservation efforts on their behalf.

I know our little guys will love hearing the book again and again. I could see using the book in a primary grade nonfiction unit, maybe even asking kids to do research, then choose some interesting facts to place into this question and answer frame. I could also see using the book with third and fourth graders to talk about word choice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Dinosaurs have been done, and done, and done, but here's a new book you have to check out. DINOSAURS is narrated by a family of chickens. At the beginning of the book, Mama Hen finds a book behind the barn. The book claims that chickens, are descendants of dinosaurs. The chicken family sets out to find out whether or not this is actually true.

The format of this book is really clever. Each page, beginning with the title page, has a chick just coming out of the egg. The chick is asking a question, e.g. "What does the word DINOSAUR mean?" The next two-page spread answers that question. The answer is contained in the heading. Around the left hand side and bottom, the family of chickens continues to question and converse about the topic Mama her baby chicks ask lots of questions. Papa Rooster is blustery and unbelieving. The right hand border of each page gives more detailed information. There is a large dinosaur, done mostly in shades of brown, green, gold, and blue (with a little of what appears to be almost like splatter painting- really interesting art) in the middle of each spread. A paragraph on the bottom of the right hand page gives information about that dinosaur. And then there's that little chick coming out of the egg, asking the question that leads the reader onto the next page…The back endpages give an actual timeline of how chickens might have evolved from dinosaurs.

A really clever treatment of dinosaurs. Great for teaching kids about the question/answer process of research. Kids are going to love this one!

Monday, December 13, 2010


OK, I am going to subject myself to humiliation one more time. I am the book auntie. You know, the person who always makes sure that every child (and usually every adult too) has a new book in their pile of Christmas gifts. Here is one that will be in my pile for the youngest members of our family this year.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE SEA OTTER is a sweet, sweet, sweet going to bed story. Listen to the first page:

"As the setting sun kissed the kelp forest, Little Sea Otter snuggled on Mama's chest. Mama fluffed his fur until he looked like a brown powder puff. Then it was bedtime, but Little Sea Otter wasn't ready to sleep. "I forgot to say good night to the harbor seals," he said.

After Little Sea Otter says good night to the harbor seals, he must say good night to the sea lions. Then a seagull. Then all of the orange and yellow and purple and striped and spotted fish. And all of the creatures living in the ocean below. And finally to the most important one of all- Mama Sea Otter.

The ocean content of this book will promote some really interesting discussions with your youngest reading friends. The illustrations, with Mama and Little Sea Otter floating in a wavy ocean that start out light blue and gets a little darker with every page, are detailed and interesting. And the mood of the book has that "GOOD NIGHT MOON, the whole world is going to sleep and I am going to sleep too" kind of enchantment that little guys always love.

A perfect Christmas present for your youngest friends. This book would also make a great baby gift!