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    More Choices to Drop Everything and Read

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 18, 2016

    To continue the Drop Everything and Read celebration, we have selected some books that are good read-aloud choices: picture books that children will enjoy listening to and novels that will have elementary-grade children begging to hear just one more chapter when they are read to them. The books we selected for older readers are good choices for independent reading. They are just the kind of books that teens can’t wait to talk about and pass on to friends once they have finished reading them.

    Ages 4–8

    Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth. Jarvis. 2016. Candlewick.

    Alan's Big Scary TeethAlan, an alligator, is a bully. Every day he creeps through the jungle and snaps his razor-sharp teeth and grrrrrrowls! Frogs leap, monkeys tumble, and parrots screech. They are terrified, and Alan loves scaring them! But what happens when Barry the Beaver discovers that those teeth are false and tells the other animals? Jarvis’s playful, fun-to-read-out-loud language and bold, vibrantly colored illustrations make Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth a delightful and humorous picture book. Children will laugh when Alan says goodnight to his teeth after taking them out with a “Tweet dweams, my theary thnappers!” and later, when his teeth go missing and he exclaims, “MY TEETH! MY TEETH! WHEAH AH MY TEETH?” After having a good laugh at the toothless alligator, the jungle animals come up with solution for living together in harmony.

    —NB

    The Hole Story of the Doughnut. Pat Miller. Ill. Vincent X. Kirsch. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Teh Hole Story of the DoughnutHanson Crockett Gregory (1821–1921) had an adventurous life at sea, leaving his Maine home to become a cabin boy on the Isaac Achorn at the age of 13. He became a captain and was awarded a medal for heroism by Queen Isabella II for rescuing seven Spanish sailors after a disaster at sea. As a cook’s assistant on the Ivanhoe at the age of 16, Hanson invented the doughnut hole, which turned the balls of deep fat fried sweetened dough with heavy raw centers, which the sailors called “sinkers,” into fully cooked, tasty “holey cakes.” Miller includes colorful legends of the origin of the doughnut spun by sailors. The formatting of the text and the cartoon-like illustrations with a folk art flavor cleverly build on the doughnut’s shape and the nautical connection of its origin. (Don’t miss the octopus with a doughnut on each of its eight tentacles on the back cover.) Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, and selected bibliography.

    —CA

    Hooray for Kids! Suzanne Lang. Ill. Max Lang. 2016. Random House.

    Hooray for KidsThe exuberant title and cover art showing animals playing together on a playset will grab the attention of young children. The repetitive “whether you are” and trip-over-the-tongue descriptors such as “an always-asking-why kid,” “an upside-down-frown kid,” and “a wake-up-nice-and-early kid” of the text make this an ideal read-aloud. Collage art with colorful cartoon-like animal characters superimposed on photographed backgrounds contributes to the spirit of this picture book’s celebration of individuality. For example, the text “some kids do the crawl” is paired with an illustration of a crab on a beach and “some kids jump real high” with a bug leaping over a log. The book ends with the jubilant proclamation: “To all kids we say, each one of you is special. KID, KID, HOORAY!” 

    —NB

     A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals. Lucy Ruth Cummins. 2016. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    A Hungry LionThis picture book’s traditional “Once upon a time” beginning introduces a hungry lion and 13 cute small animals, including a penguin, a frog, a koala, and a hen. With each turn of the page, the hungry lion is still there, but the number of small animals dwindles until there is only a hungry lion and a turtle. Where did all the other animals go? What would you expect to happen when there is a hungry lion among an assortment of small animals? But reading on, there are some surprises, including a very big one that leads to an unexpected ending. The text and illustrations work together to create a playful and witty story with some dark overtones (including a totally black double-page spread) to read again and again.

    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn. Sam Gayton. Ill. Poly Bernatene. 2016. Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster.

    The Adventures of Lettie PepercornLettie Peppercorn was only 2 years old when her mother mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind a warning for the toddler to never leave the house. Now, at age 12, lonely Lettie, who has followed her mother’s instructions to the letter, is landlady of the White Horse Inn, the family business, while her father spends his days at a local pub drinking and gambling. When an alchemist-turned-con man arrives at the Inn trying to sell Lettie his latest invention, snow-as-diamonds, she turns him down. However, two eccentric guests have plans to steal it. This sets off a twisted series of unlikely and supernatural events as Lettie courageously leaves the Inn to search of her mother. Will her newfound knowledge of alchemy be enough to bring her family together? Are family bonds stronger than magic? This fast-paced adventure takes readers on a fantasy trip they won’t forget.

    —NB

    Some Kind of Courage. Dan Gemeinhart. 2016. Scholastic.

    Some Kind of CourageIt’s 1890 in the newly formed state of Washington. Twelve-year-old Joseph Johnson, recently orphaned, is on a quest to find his beloved stolen horse, Sarah, his last tie to memories of his family. “Do the right thing” echoes in his heart as Joseph escapes with his father’s gun and the money that drunk, mean Mr. Grissom got for selling Sarah. He meets a young abandoned Chinese boy and, although they don’t speak the same language, Joseph and Ah-Kee develop a friendship. As they track Sarah through a string of horse owners, they share some chilling escapades, including a showdown with an angry bear, a near-death canoe ride down rapids, and the rescue of an injured Indian. After Ah-Kee is reunited with his family, Joseph continues his journey alone and confronts a bank robber and posse, leading to an unexpected catastrophe that changes his plans for the future. This historical novel works well as a read-aloud and will inspire discussions of courage, love, and acceptance of others.

    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    The Keeper of the Mist. Rachel Neumeier. 2016. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    The Keeper of the MistLord Dorric Ailenn is dead, and young Keri, his illegitimate daughter, unexpectedly finds that the magic of Nimmira has chosen her to take his place as ruler of Nimmira rather than one of her three older half-brothers. As Lady Nimmira, Keri must immediately deal with the disappearance of the mist of concealment and misdirection that for centuries has kept Nimmira isolated and safe from ambitious sorcerers and warlike people of bordering countries Outside. The failure of the mist has allowed the entry of two envoys of the rulers of neighboring kingdoms intent on annexing Nimmeria. Keri must not only deal with these Outsiders but also decide whom she can trust within the House if she is to restore the mist and save Nimmira.

    —CA

    Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk. Jane Sutcliffe. Ill. John Shelley. 2016. Charlesbridge.

    Will's WordsIn an introductory letter to readers, Sutcliffe explains that she started to write about the history of the Globe Theatre and William Shakespeare but found it difficult to do so without Shakespeare’s words “popping up all over the place.” What follows serves as both an introduction to the history of London theater in the 1600s and Shakespeare’s contributions to the development of a colorful English language. On double-page spreads, a boxed paragraph of Sutcliffe’s text (with Shakespeare’s words in bold) is paired with a boxed item defining “Will’s Words” such as foul play and wild-goose chase and citing where the words or phrases appear in his plays. These are set against a background of Shelley’s intricately detailed pen-and-ink drawings colored in watercolor. Back matter includes a timeline and bibliography. 

    —CA

    Ages 15+

    I Woke Up Dead at the Mall. Judy Sheehan. 2016. Delacorte/Random House.

    I Woke Up Dead at the MallSixteen-year-old Sarah wakes up at the Mall of America in Minnesota dead and dressed in a hideous mango chiffon bridesmaid’s dress. Bertha, a death coach, is assigned to lead Sarah and a group of murdered teens through a letting-go process by having them share their death stories, revisiting one day from their lives, and attending their funerals. The alternative: Turning into Zombie-like “mall walkers,” stuck trudging hypnotically around the mall, day and night, repeating nonsensical phrases or, worse yet, having to relive their deaths over and over in a state of suspended consciousness. After Sarah accidentally discovers the identity of her killer and the killer’s next target, she puts her soul on the line to change the inevitable, but finds she can’t do it alone. With the support of her long-deceased mother and her new friends, Sarah sets out to stop a diabolical plot already in motion and make her death matter. This paranormal mystery is sure to entrance teen readers.

    —NB

    The Leaving Season. Cat Jordan. 2016. HarperTeen/HarperCollins.

    Teh leaving SeasonIt’s late August, what Middie Daniels calls the “leaving season,” during which high school graduates leave home for the first time. While Middie is just beginning her senior year, Nate, who has been her boyfriend since middle school, is leaving her. He is taking a gap year working with Global Outreach in Honduras. For Middie, it is going to be a year of her life on hold until Nate returns and she can join him on his path of college, medical school, marriage, and family. Then the unthinkable happens. News comes of the attack on the village where Nate is working: “Villagers and Medical Volunteers Killed While Fleeing.” In her grief, Middie is surprised to find she is drawn to Nate’s best friend, Lee, who is the complete opposite of predictable, purpose-driven Nate. As Middie and Lee become close, news comes that Nate has been found alive. Upon his return, Middie has some difficult decisions to make about the experiences and relationship she sees defining her now and in the future.

    —CA

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

     
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    Drop Everything and Read

    By Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 11, 2016

    What began as a celebration of popular children’s book author Beverly Cleary’s birthday April 12 (she turns 100 this year!), National Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Day has become an annual monthlong celebration. Here is a selection of recently published books—from picture books to short stories for teens—to read aloud and add to classroom libraries for independent reading. Join in the D.E.A.R. celebration by dropping whatever you are doing and read for a period of time each day during April or, better yet, keep the celebration going throughout the year.

    Ages 4–8

    Amelia Bedelia on the Job (Amelia Bedelia #9). Herman Parish. Ill. Lynne Avril. 2016. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

    amelia_bedeliaThe silliness of Herman Parish’s books about literal-minded schoolgirl Amelia makes the Amelia Bedelia early chapter book series a favorite of young readers. In this latest book, Amelia’s class is learning about careers. Comments such as “pitching to clients” and “it was a slam dunk” have Amelia thinking her father is a baseball and basketball coach. She’s confused when he says he’s in marketing—it’s her mother who does all the grocery shopping. A field trip to Amelia’s father’s office gives the class some hands-on involvement in Mr. Bedelia’s marketing job.

    Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move. Steve Jenkins & Robin Page. Ill. Steve Jenkins. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    flying_frogsA brief informative text and Jenkins’s signature torn- and cut-paper collage artwork offer an engaging look at surprising ways in which animals move. The exploration of each of various types of movement (walking, leaping, swimming, climbing, flying, rolling, and jetting) begins with a question introducing one animal with an unusual adaptation. For example, “Have you ever seen…A Walking Octopus?” A brief explanation of the octopus’s use of two of its eight legs to walk on the ocean floor is followed by a spread showing examples of five or six animals with other unusual adaptations for walking. A final spread provides brief notes on the animals.

    High? Low? Where Did It Go?: All About Animal Camouflage (The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library). Tish Rabe. Ill. Aristides Ruiz & Joe Mathieu. 2016. Random House.

    high_lowThe Cat in the Hat takes a boy and a girl on a round-the-world trip to find hidden animals and gives them lessons on different types of camouflage: concealing coloration, disguise, disruptive coloration, mimicry, and countershading. Each type of camouflage is described briefly and illustrated with several examples of animals with that adaptation. The book ends with a challenge to find 10 hidden animals in a two-page illustration. Back matter includes a glossary and a list of related books.

    When Andy Met Sandy (Andy & Sandy). Tomie dePaola & Jim Lewis. Ill. Tomie dePaola. 2016. Simon & Schuster.

    andy_sandyIn this new series for beginning readers, a text of short parallel sentences and dePaola’s signature artwork introduce Andy and Sandy, opposites who meet on a playground and become friends in spite of their different personalities as they share the fun of playing together on the seesaw. In the second book in the series, Andy & Sandy’s Anything Adventure (2016), Andy and Sandy find a special way of showing that they are best friends as the play dress-up. 

    Where’s the Elephant? Barroux. 2016. Candlewick.

    wheres the elephantOn the first spread there are three questions—“Where’s the Elephant? Where’s the Parrot? Where’s the Snake?”—and portraits of a gray elephant, a red parrot, and a green snake. This introduction leads readers to locate these animals hidden among brightly colored trees of various shapes on the wordless pages that follow. With each page turn, locating the three animals becomes easier as more and more trees are chopped down and their habitat shrinks as small houses and then bigger buildings and roads replace the trees—and the hide-and-seek game becomes a lesson on the effects of deforestation on animal inhabitants.

    Ages 9–11

    Animals That Make Me Say Ewww! (Ranger Rick). Dawn Cusick. 2016. Imagine!/Charlesbridge.

    animals_ewwWith the same format as Cusick’s Animals That Make Me Say Ouch! (2014) and Animals That Make Me Say Wow! (2014), this book is full of nature photographs of animals paired with brief paragraphs of information that will appeal to browsers. Cusick moves readers from some ewww-inducing photos to explanations of numerous adaptations animals have to help them survive. For example, a photograph of an oxpecker pecking at the nostrils of an African buffalo illustrates the symbiotic relationship between the bird and large mammal. The book includes four “Scavenger Hunt Challenges,” a list of other books by Cusick, a glossary, and an index.

    Escape From Wolfhaven Castle (The Impossible Quest #1). Kate Forsyth. 2016. Kane Miller.

    escape_from_wolfhavenWhen Wolfhaven Castle is attacked, only four young people—Tom, the kitchen pot boy; Lady Eleanor, daughter of Lord Wolfgang; Quinn, the apprentice to the witch of the castle; and Sebastian, a squire—escape. With only a riddle and four magical gifts to guide them, they set out on a seemingly impossible quest to awaken four legendary magical warrior-beasts to save the kingdom. This first book in Forsyth’s The Impossible Quest series is a good choice for introducing readers to the fantasy genre. It is a well-crafted, fast-paced, and short book with an interesting cast of heroes, villains, and mystical beasts and lots of action. A bonus is that readers don’t have to wait for the next book in the series to be published. Kane Miller is releasing all five books, originally published by Scholastic Australia in 2014, at the same time.

    Sweet Home Alaska. Carole Estby Dagg. 2016. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    sweet_home_alaskaIn 1934, the Johnson family takes advantage of one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and leaves Wisconsin to become a part of the homesteading Matanuska Colony in Palmer, Alaska. Eleven-year-old Terpsichore Johnson, inspired by Farmer Boy and other of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, is determined to do all she can to help her family build a successful farm in the harsh wilderness and to convince her mother that they must stay and become a part of the Alaskan community she has come to love. Short chapters are filled with the adventure and hardship of pioneer life in Alaska in the 1930s and facts about the the Great Depression.

    Turkeys Strike Out and Other Fun Facts (Did You Know?). Hannah Eliot. Ill. Aaron Spurgeon. 2016. Little Simon/Simon & Schuster.

    turkeys_strike_outEliot peppers the text of this new book in the Did You Know? series with questions related to sports and follows up with a rapid-fire mix of facts about the history of various sports, the popularity of different sports around the world, famous sports figures, sports lingo, and lots of trivia, leaving even the most knowledgeable sports fan saying, “I didn’t know that!” For example, did you know that the mascot of the Colorado Rockies is a purple triceratops named Dinger? It’s true, and Eliot tells why he became the team’s mascot. Cartoon illustrations featuring animals instead of people participating in sports add to the enjoyment of learning fun facts about sports. 

    Ages 12–14

    Everything Sports (Everything). Eric Zweig (with Shalise Manza Young). 2016. National Geographic Kids.

    everything_sportsThis new book in the Everything series may not literally cover everything about sports, but it is packed with photos and facts about sports history, athletes, rules of the games, statistics, and trivia, all of which make this an informative, fun-to-read book whether you are a sports fan or not. With the Summer Olympic Games coming up later this year, features about the Olympics are of special interest. There is a quiz at the end of the book in the format of a glossary of sports-related terms and multiple-choice questions that tests your sports knowledge after reading the book.

    Wonder Woman at Super Hero High (DC Super Hero Girls). Lisa Yee. 2016. Random House.

    Wonder_Woman_at_Super_Hero_HighDisclaimer: I am not a fan of superhero comics, but I am a fan of author Lisa Yee. Curious to see how Yee would handle putting a teen Wonder Woman into a high school setting, I began to read how warrior princess Wonder Woman wants to move from the isolation of homeschooling on Paradise Island, where she lives with her mother, Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, to being a student at Super Hero High. Yee succeeds in entertaining readers as she drops a rather clueless Wonder Woman into the mix of studies, cliques, friendships, and school rivalries (Super Hero High wins the coveted trophy for the one hundredth Super Triathlon) of this elite school for training superheroes of the future. “Wondy” successfully navigates the world of Super Hero High (as fans of Wonder Woman will expect) to become a student leader and Super Hero High’s Hero of the Month. She’s well on her way to her goal of making a difference to the entire world. The book ends with the promise of more to come.   

    Ages 15+

    I See Reality: Twelve Short Stories About Real Life. Grace Kendall (Ed.). 2016. Farrar Straus Giroux.

    i_see_realityThis collection of stories by a diverse group of young adult authors really delivers on the promise suggested by the title I See Reality. The 12 short stories are about teens dealing with real-life-in-the-real-world issues. Most of the stories are written from the first-person point of view, which makes them emotionally powerful as contemporary topics—pregnancy, abusive personal relationships, school shootings, sexuality identity, and more—are explored as teen protagonists make life-changing choices. I See Reality is an anthology that will leave teen readers wanting to read more stories by these talented young adult authors, so the inclusion of biographical notes on the authors and their writing is a bonus.

    Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection. Marissa Meyer. 2016. Feiwel and Friends.

    stars_aboveThis collection includes nine short stories (five not published previously) with connections to the novels in Marissa Meyer’s popular The Lunar Chronicles series. The first story, “Keeper,” is a prequel to series. There are also prequels to individual books in the series from the first book, Cinder (2012), to the final book, Winter (2015), as well as an epilogue to Winter.Keeping the fairy tale connection going, “The Little Android” is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” with a Lunar Chronicle setting. Finally, there is a two-chapter excerpt of Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, due out in November.

    Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

     
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    Celebrating April With More Poetry

    By Karen Hildebrand
     | Apr 04, 2016

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets (AAP). Join this April’s celebration of National Poetry Month in your classrooms and take advantage of the many resources available through the AAP. Particularly special this year is the Dear Poet Project, which encourages students in grades 5–12 to write letters in response to poems written and read by award-winning poets. Videos of poets reading their work are available on the National Poetry Month website.

    Ages 4–8

    Fresh Delicious: Poems From the Farmers’ Market. Irene Latham. Ill. Mique Moriuchi. 2016. Wordsong/Highlights.

    Fresh DeliciousPictures and words unite to create a savory image-filled book full of the vibrancy of a farmers’ market with luscious-looking foods. Brightly colored cut-paper collage illustrations feature a variety of animal customers enjoying the bounty of farm produce. The imagery of language is everywhere. In “Peach,” “When your / baby-fuzz / cheek / meets my nose, / the world /explodes / with sweetness,” Latham evokes several senses. In the poem “Purple Hull Peas,” she uses metaphors—“a canoe / that seats / eight or ten / green-cheeked / dark-eyed / passengers.” Most of the 21 poems are free verse. Even the back cover contains a poem. The last two pages contain recipes using produce from the farmers’ market for healthy snacks that a child and adult can make together. Great food fun paired with verses to think about.

    Guess Who, Haiku. Deanna Caswell. Ill. Bob Shea. 2016. Abrams Appleseed.

    What great fun to begin a look at the poetic form of haiku with riddles about animals. Each page offers a haiku followed by a question: “Can you guess who from this haiku?” For example, “flower visitors / busy buzzing in the field / black and yellow stripes. Can you guess who from this haiku?” On the following page the answer is given with both an illustration and oversized text, “A Bee!” Each haiku is accompanied by a visual clue. For example, for the second poem there is a pair of horseshoes at the bottom of the page, hinting that this haiku’s answer might be a horse. On the final page the author includes an explanation of this Japanese verse form with its specific requirements. Reading Guess Who, Haiku will be an opportunity for teachers to have students create their own haiku after modeling with this book.

    Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Poems About Creatures That Hide. David L. Harrison. Ill. Giles Laroche. 2016. Charlesbridge.

    Now You See ThemDavid Harrison presents five groups of animals in the camouflage poems in this book of poetry about the natural world. The cut-paper illustrations are beautifully layered to create texture and the visual hide-and-seek of the animals lying beneath or on their protective colored environment. Fish and Sea Life, Reptiles and Amphibians, Mammals, Insects and Spiders, and Birds make up the five categories of camouflaged creatures, with 19 animals in all represented. A very intriguing double-page spread of a copperhead snake queries, “Find me / if you can / my sssskin / deceivessss / helpssss me / dissssappear.” Each poem includes a small fact as to why the animal is colored the way it is. Endnotes add further information on each of the animals and the concept of protective coloration.

    When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. Julie Fogliano. Ill. Julie Morstad. 2016. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook.

    when Green Becomes TomatoesWritten in the style of a diary or journal starting with March 20, the vernal equinox, this collection of poems takes readers through the seasons in free verse. Julie Morstad’s gouache and pencil crayon illustrations accompany the poems, bringing a range of colors as the year progresses. The book starts and finishes with the same poem, “March 20” “From a snow-covered tree / one bird singing / each tweet poking / a tiny hole / through the edge of winter / and landing carefully / balancing gently / on the tip of spring.” Spring is welcomed on March 22 with “just like a tiny, blue hello / a crocus blooming /in the snow.” Children representing several races are pictured at the beach or picking berries or jumping into piles of leaves or watching snowflakes or making snow angels. The beautiful imagery created by Fogliano’s poetic words is entered into the journal to describe a child’s day through the seasons.

    Ages 9–11

    Bow-Tie Pasta: Acrostic Poems (Poetry Adventures). Brian P. Cleary. Ill. Andy Rowland. 2016. Millbrook/Lerner.

    Bow-Tie PastaStarting with a description to let young readers know what an acrostic poem is, Brian Cleary gives an example that includes a cartoon-like illustration of himself with an acrostic that takes the form of a bio-poem: “Bow-tie wearer. / Really likes baseball. / Insanely happy. / Always going places. / Never eats centipedes.” Cleary goes on to offer over 20 acrostic poems on topics such as Halloween, Piano, Rainy Day, Purple, Teachers, Pirates, Piranha, Lacrosse, Library, and Snack Time.

    When the Sun Shines on Antarctica: And Other Poems About the Frozen Continent. Irene Latham. Ill. Anna Wadham. 2016. Millbrook/Lerner.

    When the Sun Shines on AntarticaThe artistic team who brought readers Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems From the Water Hole (2014) now takes them to the frozen continent of Antarctica, where the sun shines for six months during the Antarctic summer. Combining science and poetry, 15 poems and informative sidebars make up this chilly book about the frozen continent. All kinds of life exist in Antarctica, especially as the sun radiates to bring new life in the summer. Several species of penguins are described and poetically distinguished from other species. The more aggressive and rather scary bull elephant seals and leopard seals are presented in predatory scenarios. Even an insect, the midge, can exist in this frozen climate in the hair grass sprouting amid the rocks. The lesser known brinicle, a brine icicle that grows underwater, is described and the dangers it presents are explained. A glossary and suggestions for further reading are included for those interested in learning more about Antarctica. 

    Ages 12–14

    A Girl Called Vincent: The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Krystyna Poray Goddu. 2016. Chicago Review.

    A Girl Called VincentGoddu brings to readers the remarkable life of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950). This biography begins with Edna’s living in Maine with her single mother and two younger sisters. Their mother moved the girls from town to town and was often gone and left Edna in charge. Her childhood is represented by an unsupervised freedom that shaped her style of living thereafter. As a youngster, she started calling herself Vincent, named after the St. Vincent Hospital in Manhattan where her uncle had recently received treatment that saved his life. Her poetry writing had begun and she entered several writing contests, which led to the opportunity to attend Vassar and started her professional road to writing. She was also an ardent feminist in response to the many issues surrounding women in this era. Moving to Greenwich Village in New York City, Vincent continued a lifestyle full of people and the arts and theater and writing. Included in the book are some of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems, photos, a timeline, letters and diary entries, source notes, and a bibliography.

    Night Guard: Poems for Children. Synne Lea. Ill.  Stian Hole. 2016. Eerdmans.

    Night GuardThis collection of poems, imported from Norway, is about introspection. The illustrations have a surreal quality, presenting images that haunt and are to be pondered. The poems are revealed through the voices of members of a family, particularly a young child who faces fears both of the known and the unknown. He needs a friend. His supportive family shares their fears and thoughts. They reach out to understand each other and the world around them. The reflective voices of family members in the poems call for something in the abstract—a call to end the loneliness of the young boy and help him find ways to move beyond his isolation and discover joy in the world around him.

    Ages 15+

    Ask Me How I Got Here. Christine Heppermann. 2016. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.
    Ask me How I Got HereAddie Solokowski is a star cross-country runner in her sophomore year at the all-girl Immaculate Heart Academy. Heppermann’s (Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty (2014)) free verse poetry reveal that Addie’s track career and love life are what constitute her life until she discovers she is pregnant. Addie decides to have an abortion, and her parents and boyfriend support the decision. The story unfolds over months as Addie struggles emotionally with her decision and her right to the choice she made. The poetry includes many references to religion during the weeks and months as Addie works through her decision. What used to be important to Addie seems to be changing and a surprising new relationship with a former Immaculate Heart student places her on a new path in her young life.

    Karen Hildebrand is a retired school librarian active in ILA and NCTE. She is part of the Teacher Fellowship program at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., serves as the Education Curriculum Chair of the Delaware County Historical Society in Ohio, and recently served on the Notable Trade Books in the Social Studies committee. She currently serves as the chair of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

     
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    Poetry, Please

    By Karen Hildebrand
     | Mar 28, 2016

    The power of poetry goes beyond  beautiful and/or emotional responses to life. It offers opportunities for language development for readers of all ages. Better readers and writers are built through hearing and reading rhyming words. Poetry offers multiple perspectives on themes, objects, or life situations, and the pure pleasure of hearing it is not to be overlooked. Listening to it read aloud is an important classroom activity for children and teens and its word play, descriptive metaphorical language, imagery, and more create a lasting impact.

    Ages 4–8

    Among a Thousand Fireflies. Helen Frost. Ill. Rick Lieder. 2016. Candlewick.

    one thousand firefliesThe gentle poetry of Helen Frost, coupled with the beautiful photography of Rick Lieder, makes for a natural winner in this book of science, poetry, and photography. Step Gently Out (2012)and Sweep Up the Sun (2015) launched their set of books devoted to explaining phenomenon in the natural world. In this latest volume, a female firefly steps onto a flower and begins her series of flashes. As other flashes appear in the dark, it seems she is searching for one particular flash. As the endnote explains, “Each kind of firefly has its own pattern of flashes.” This female firefly is indeed waiting for a certain male firefly to match her flashing pattern. Through the night photography and simple lyrical language of Among a Thousand Fireflies, young readers will observe the fireflies in the dark as they find each other. This is a beautiful book on every level.

    Every Day Birds. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Ill. Dylan Metrano. 2016. Orchard/Scholastic.

    every day birdsAmy Ludwig VanDerwater introduces young children to 20 North American birds through simple poetry. Each bird is introduced on a page with its name in bold capital letters; a portrait, composed with cut colored and textured papers; and a few words describing its physical characteristics, behavior or habitat. Each grouping of four birds creates a verse. For example, “Eagle soars above the land. / Oriole hangs her nest. / Owl swoops soundlessly late at night. / Robin puffs his chest.” The birds included are species that children can easily spot in their backyards or a park or at the seashore. A four-page glossary with pictures adds further information about each bird for young bird watchers.

    Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks. Skila Brown. Ill. Bob Kolar. 2016. Candlewick.

    slickety quickOpening with the great white shark, Brown goes on to present lesser known species of sharks, 14 in all, in poems written in different forms. Some poems are written as concrete poems such as the one about the nurse shark in which the first line of poetry is shaped like a frown across the face of the shark; or the verse about the  cookie-cutter shark, which is written in a swirl to look like a cookie.  Kolar’s digitally created illustrations always maintain the feel of underwater movement, sometimes catching the sharks from above while at other times showing them hugging the ocean bottom. Other fish float in and out of each picture, sometimes providing dinner and at other times representing just neighborly sharing of ocean space. Additional information about each shark appears on the double spreads in a smaller type. Young readers will be left with a great deal of knowledge about sharks in their ocean habitat, presented in poetry and artwork.

    Ages 9–11

    Kooky Crumbs: Poems in Praise of Dizzy Days. J. Patrick Lewis. Ill. Mary Uhles. 2016. Kane Miller.

    kooky crumbsThe whimsical pastel-colored waves on the endpapers sail the reader into the silly pages of poetry waiting inside this book. Former Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis has created a collection of dizzy poems celebrating often unheard-of holidays throughout the year. The introduction says, “No matter the day, no matter the month, no matter the year, there’s always something to celebrate!” So true! Rhyming couplets, concrete poems, and limericks are just a few of the forms of poetry found within. Fun illustrations add to the frivolity of these crazy poetic celebrations. The National Weatherperson’s Day poem, “Weather Is for the Verbs,” for example, is a list poem that begins “Wind whines, / Fog blinds, / Rain thrums, / Hail drums, / Ice crumbs, / Sleep whips, / Snow grips, / Frost nips— / Weather persons, / ‘Winter worsens.’” Other poems celebrate Inventor’s Day, Pancake Day, National Hat Day, World Telecommunications Day, National Zipper Day, Change a Light Day, National Sportsmanship Day, and many more. These zany poems can be used as starting points for having young children suggest other dizzy holidays and write poems to celebrate them.

    The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Laura Shovan. 2016. Wendy Lamb/Random House.

    the last fifth gradeDebut author Laura Shovan has created a novel in verse centering on the closing of Emerson Elementary. Ms. Hill, their teacher, asks her 18 fifth-grade students to write a poem each day for their journals to express how they are feeling about being split up and sent to different schools once Emerson has been bulldozed to make way for a shopping area. She will be the only one to read the journals, and at the end of the year they will be placed in a time capsule. As the 18 youthful voices emerge in the poems, we see what a diverse class Ms. Hill has. The students write about their personal lives with situations like an aging grandfather, a father leaving home, immigration to this country, and friends that are pushy. Shovan has captured the voices of fifth graders as they express their thoughts through writing acrostic, concrete, haiku, or free verse poetry. The author has added a detailed appendix of the different poetic forms used by the students.

    Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems. Bob Raczka. 2016. Roaring Brook.

    wet cementThis lively group of 21 poems has no illustrations because the poems are the illustrations. Cleverly grouped topics and words create a visual experience that is fun for readers but may be a little frustrating. For example, in “Crossword,” readers have to read up and down and across to get the rhythm of the poem, and in “Hopscotch,” it may take them time to realize they have to read from bottom to top. Students (and adults) will have fun not only figuring out these very clever concrete poems but also taking another minute to appreciate the cleverness of the construction of the concrete poems, the wordplay, and the use of light and dark. Readers will get into the spirit of this book from the cover, on to the table-shaped table of contents, through all 21 poems, to the circular copyright notation. The last poem, “poeTRY”, says it all when reaching out to young poets to express their ideas by creating concrete poetry: “Poetry is taking away the words you don’t need / poetry is taking away words you don’t need / poetry is words you need /poetry is words / try.”

    Ages 12–14

    Free Verse. Sarah Dooley. 2016. Putnam/Penguin.

    free verseSeventh-grade Sasha has lost everything she loves in the small coal mining town of Caboose, WV. Her mother left the family years ago, her father was killed in a mining accident, and now her caregiver brother, Michael, has been killed in a fire. Sasha is sent to live with a kind foster mother, Phyllis. Sasha’s anger builds and sometimes her emotions vent into violent outbursts, which she cannot control or even remember. She begins to spend time with Mikey, the kid next door, who she later discovers is related to her. Learning to become a friend leads her to join the school poetry club. This membership opens an entire new world to Sasha in which she learns the power of poetry, particularly haiku. It’s short, it’s sharp, and it can express exactly how Sasha is feeling. Haiku gives her the outlet she needs to talk about her life, her feelings, and her losses. Author Sarah Dooley has intermixed a story about a girl who hurts with the poems the girl writes. As her poetry collection grows and Sasha discovers more forms of poetry, she is on the path to recovery and opens up to possibilities for her future.

    Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph. Roxane Orgill. Ill. Francis Vallejo. 2016. Candlewick.

    jazz dayZero in on the subtitle, “The Making of a Famous Photograph.” In 1958, Esquire magazine agreed to support graphic designer Art Kane when he came up with the idea to take a photograph of all the jazz greats he could bring together at one time. This was no easy task. Jazz musicians work late into the night. The appointed time for taking the photograph was 10:00 a.m. Aug. 12 at 126th Street in Harlem. Although jazz artists might be expected to be on the road or still sleeping in, more than 50 musicians showed up for the photo session. Art Kane had his work cut out for him. Organizing this group of outgoing performers was like herding cats. They were all greeting each other and catching up on their lives. Deep and friendly conversations were going on and the chatter was noisy. After four or five hours, Kane got them lined up for what was to become the famous photo “Harlem 1958.”Roxane Orgill’s poems about that day feature many of the jazz greats in the photo but also other things that were happening such as children gathering to watch the photo shoot and other people in the neighborhood coming out to see all these famous musicians gathered in one spot. The collection of poetry about this day, of course, leads to the pièce de résistance, a foldout page that reveals the actual photograph. Back matter includes an author’s note on the backstory, short biographies of the musicians, source notes, and an extensive bibliography.

    Ages 15+

    American Ace. Marilyn Nelson. 2016. Dial/Penguin.

    american aceAward-winning poet and historian Marilyn Nelson brings another piece of history to the poetry arena. Written in free verse, the story of the true identity of Connor Bianchini’s grandfather comes to light upon the death of his beloved Italian-American Nonna Lucia. Connor’s father, Tony, always believed he was Irish-Italian based on family stories. When his mother dies, leaving him a letter, a ring, and pilot’s wings, Tony learns that his biological father was African American. Though Tony is devastated by this news, 16-year-old Connor is fascinated and devotes his honors history research paper to finding out about this newly found grandfather. His research leads him to Wilberforce University, the oldest historically black college and university in the U.S., where he learns that his grandfather had been part of the famous Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. When Tony suffers a stroke and is hospitalized, Connor and his father spend time together delving into the research and begin to feel a sense of great pride in their heritage.

    Karen Hildebrand is a retired school librarian active in ILA and NCTE. She is part of the Teacher Fellowship program at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., serves as the Education Curriculum Chair of the Delaware County Historical Society in Ohio, and recently served on the Notable Trade Books in the Social Studies committee. She currently serves as the chair of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

     
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    Booktalking Some of the Newest Releases

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Mar 21, 2016

    What’s better than reading a good book? Having a friend to whom you can recommend it as a good read. We have worked together on reviewing books for close to a decade and over that period have recommended to each other many engaging, challenging, and thought-provoking books. Here are some of our recently shared books, books to provide readers pleasure and insight into unexpected experiences.

    Ages 4–8

    Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood. F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell. Ill. Rafael López. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    maybe_something_beautifulWhen young Mira gives her colorful drawings of an apple, a flower, a bird, and a heart to people she meets on the street, she spreads a little joy. Inspired by Mira’s picture of the sun that she has taped to a grey wall, a man with a pocket full of paintbrushes, who identifies himself to her as a muralist, begins to spread color throughout the streets. Mira joins him and soon they are passing out brushes to others. Working together people transform their drab neighborhood into something beautiful and joyful.  A note from the authors provides background for the book that was inspired by the work of Rafael López, an artist (and creator of the illustrations for Maybe Something Beautiful), and his wife, Candace, a graphic designer, who transformed the East Village near downtown San Diego, CA, into a colorful community.

    —CA

    This Is Not a Picture Book! Sergio Ruzzier. 2016. Chronicle. 

    picture_bookA duckling is thrilled when he finds a book and then disdainful and disappointed when he finds no pictures in it. In a moment of remorse at his outburst, he looks into it again.  A bug asks him whether he can read the book with no pictures. Ruzzier’s illustrations, rendered in pen and ink and watercolor, show the duckling and bug crossing over into a world filled with words (pictured as odd shaped, unidentifiable objects). He begins to recognize a few words such as flower, bee, and clouds. With growing excitement, he discovers that words  not only take him on a journey and then return him home again but also stay with him forever. Young children just beginning to explore the world of reading will find fun, sympathy, and comfort in the story of the little duckling. Adding content to the book, the front endpapers are filled with lines of mostly indecipherable words while the back endpapers have a readable text, a story about a little duckling discovering the power of reading.

    —SW

    The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon. Meghan McCarthy. 2016. Simon & Schuster.

    wildest_raceMcCarthy’s story of the first Olympic marathon held in America, which took place at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, will leave readers marveling over the contrast of this incredibly wacky race with marathon running today. McCarthy uses an abundance of direct quotes from newspaper reports of the race run by 32 competitors from six countries over a hilly, dirt road route in 90-degree heat. Her cartoon-like double spreads, featuring the motley bunch of runners with googly eyes and lopsided grins, highlight some peculiar events such as South African Len Tau being chased a mile off course by a dog; Cuban Felix Carvajal stopping to chat with spectators to practice his English; and Fred Lorz, overcome with cramps at mile 9, riding in an automobile, but then running again near the finish line and coming in first (he was disqualified for cheating). Back matter includes notes on the marathon runners and the 1904 World’s Fair and a bibliography. The endpapers picture postcards of the fair with handwritten messages.

    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Big Dark. Rodman Philbrick. 2016. Blue Sky/Scholastic.

    big_darkAs Charlie Cobb watches a northern lights display along with most of the other residents of the small town of Harmony, NH, on New Year’s Eve, a brilliant solar flare flashes across the sky. Immediately, all is dark:Lights go out and even battery-operated flashlights and cars fail. Nothing electrical works. Used to outages in inclement weather, no one is too concerned until days go by without a restoration of power. Science teacher Mr. Mangano identifies the problem as Geomagnetic Interference (GMI), a massive disruption of the Earth’s magnetic field. The town’s part-time policeman and school janitor, Mr. Kingman, organizes a community survival plan that works for a time. Racist, anti-government Webster Bragg, who lives in a compound on the edge of town, burns the only local grocery and pharmacy and takes control of resources at gunpoint, declaring himself leader of the new town of Liberty. It is young Charlie’s incredibly dangerous trek down the mountain to Concord in search of medicine for his diabetic mother that young readers will find most compelling. Charlie overcomes the dangers of skiing and snowshoeing in extreme weather, encounters with wild animals, and the unexpected hostility toward strangers  to become a local hero, with the help of a few caring individuals.

    —CA   

    Far From Fair. Elena K. Arnold. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    far_from_fairOdette is disappointed that her parents have sold their house and bought an RV, which her mother calls the Coach, in preparation for a road trip to Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington, to take care of Grandma Sissy, who has cancer. The family’s downsizing means they have one cell phone, no privacy, and only the possessions that will fit in the Coach. Odette feels a growing loss.  In a moment of sympathy, her father brings her a dog, only it is not the sleek Labrador puppy with soft, silky ears of her dreams, but a full-grown, ratty little black dog.  Even with Odette’s parents considering a divorce and her brother, Rex, prone to exhausting tantrums, the family leaves Southern California, camping along the way north. Grandma Sissy encourages Odette to have fun on Orcas Island telling her, “Sometimes we are powerless over what life gives us. But we have power over what we are given.” Odette’s list of all that is not fair grows before she discovers how she can make what she is given work.

    —SW

    Pax. Sara Pennypacker. Ill. Jon Klassen. 2016. HarperCollins.

    paxPax, an abandoned fox, has been motherless Peter’s constant companion for five years. Now 12-year-old Peter is being sent to live with his grandfather. His father, who is going off to war, insists that Pax be released in the wild. The story is told from the points of view of Peter and Pax in alternate chapters: Peter immediately realizes the wrongness of the separation; Pax doesn’t understand his abandonment. Against the background of an all-to-close war, boy and fox have encounters that change them. Pax learns survival skills from Bristle, a vixen, and her brother, Runt. Peter, who injures his foot in his hurry to make progress on the 300-mile trip back to where they left Pax, is sheltered by Vola, a hermit and veteran with PTSD. She sets his broken bones, makes him crutches, and puts him on a rigorous training program so that he can resume his trip, while also helping him understand that his reunion with Pax may not be in Pax’s best interest, even if it is possible. Pax is a beautiful, moving story of the love and loyalty of a relationship between a wild animal and a boy.

    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Hour of the Bees. Lindsay Eagar. 2016.  Candlewick.

    hour_beesCarol, her parents, and toddler brother are spending the summer at her grandfather’s ranch in the desert of Southern Arizona to take care of him as his dementia progresses. When they arrive, they find the grandfather sitting on the porch, much-aged, tubes from an oxygen tank feeding into his nose. The dog, Inez, welcomes the family, but Carol’s father, Raul, is as incredulous that the dog from his youth would be alive as he is surprised at the dried-out condition of the ranch.  Her grandfather (who insists on pronouncing her full name, Carolina, as Carol-leena, telling her she has a beautiful name) tells her a story of life of the ranch. His fantastic stories about the village, lake, the measure of time, the life-giving tree, and Rosa, his wife and Raul’s mother, become more believable when Carolina discovers a closet of treasures from around the world that Rosa had collected in her travels.  Her grandfather’s insistence that the bees will bring the rain have increasing credibility for Carolina even after her parents sell the ranch and place Grandfather in an assisted living community. As her grandfather’s stories unfold and Raul comes to understand what happened to his mother, Carolina makes decisions that affect all of them.

    —SW

    The Smell of Other People’s Houses. Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. 2016. Wendy Lamb/Random House.

    smell_housesFour Alaskan teens tell their individual stories about events that take place over spring and summer, although one of the stories starts before then in a prologue that tells of the death of the father of one of them, Ruth, not long before Alaska became a state. Ruth’s story takes her to an abbey in the Yukon, where she learns about the life of her grandmother, with whom she lives, who grew up there among the nuns. Another narrator, Alyce, living in Fairbanks, longs to be a dancer but is eager to help her fisherman father and uncle. A third narrator, Hank, and his two brothers, whose father, a fisherman, was lost at sea, leave their mother and stow away on a ferry bound for Prince Rupert. A fourth narrator, Dora, an Athabascan girl, lives with a family in Fairbanks, and becomes involved with Ruth’s family. While the teens search for a way to make their lives better, they discover that family is also those people they love and who love them. The narrators, in recounting past experiences that have shaped them and their lives, discover that they sometimes need to hold on to whatever they can.

    —SW

    Ages 15+

    The Memory of Light. Francisco X. Stork. 2016. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic. 

    memory_lightSixteen-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in the psychiatric ward of Lakeview, a public hospital, after a failed suicide attempt. Working with her therapist, Dr. Desai, and getting to know Mona, Gabriel, and E.M., the three other teens in her therapy group, Vicky realizes she needs to stay longer in this supportive environment. Her father and stepmother, however, feel she must come home and get back to a normal routine if she is to have a future (as in getting into a top-tier college like her sister did). Stork tells the powerful and realistic story of Vicky’s movement from the darkness of her clinical depression, in which she felt alone and without a reason to live, to recovery to the point that she can return home with the strength to live if she has some control over what that life will be. In his author’s note Stork talks about his own suicide attempt and living with depression. He says he hopes that Vicky’s story will make it easier for young people to recognize depression in themselves and others and to talk about it.

    —CA 

    Sandip Wilson serves as associate professor in the College of Health and Education of Husson University in Bangor, ME. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, CA. They worked together as editors of the Children’s Literature and Reading SIG’s journal, The Dragon Lode, from 2008 to 2014.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

     
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