Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: Dale, Dale, Dale/Hit It, Hit It, Hit It

Title: Dale, Dale, Dale: Una fiesta de numeros/Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers
Author: René Saldaña, Jr.
Illustrator: Carolyn Dee Flores
Publisher: Piñata Books
Pages: 32
Availability: On shelves now
Review Copy: A final copy was provided by the publisher

Summary: “Today is my birthday, and I am so excited. / One piñata filled with candy. / Two hours until the party. / Three tables set for all of the guests.” Mateo counts to twelve as he anticipates the fun he’ll have at his party! There will be family, friends and lots of goodies for the children: tops, marbles and even toy cars! But before the children can hit the piñata, they will sing the birthday boy a song and enjoy eating a delicious cake. And then Mateo will be “the happiest boy in the whole wide world,” because he gets to swing at the piñata first with everyone cheering him on: ¡Dale! ¡Dale! ¡Dale! -- Cover image and summary via publisher

Review: Dale, Dale, Dale is a counting book with a birthday setting. My favorite illustration is when Mateo counts five lucha libre masks. I think that will be a selling point with my students since they loved reading Niño Wrestles the World. Like many counting books, there isn't a whole lot of storyline happening, but it is still fun. Most children can relate to being excited about a birthday celebration. I think it would be great to read this along with Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales since that is also a birthday counting book.

The illustrations are bright and engaging. They totally make me smile. Of course, it would be difficult to read this without feeling the urge to hit a piñata so that would be the perfect extension activity - especially if readers count the swings.

Another plus is that the book is completely bilingual. The piñata song does lose a little in the translation to English though. It definitely sounds best in Spanish. I would have liked the music to go along with the book since I didn't know how the song goes, but there are many videos on YouTube that helped me that could also be used with students.

I will be happy to share this with my primary grade students. It's sure to bring smiles.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on Saturdays where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every day. Here are some of my celebrations from the week in no particular order.

* We are enjoying time with our short-term exchange daughter from Japan. She made dinner for us a few days ago. It was nice to sit back and relax as both daughters worked together.

* Along with the exchange comes many adventures together. This week we went kayaking. We had strong winds at first so it was a challenge, but as the evening went on the wind eased. It was beautiful out on the water.

* We had cooler weather yesterday so I didn't mind heating up the oven. I made piles of biscotti for our upcoming road trip to Montana. It travels well and is a fun snack.

* My training for RAGNAR is getting much more intense, but so far I am injury free. I'm hurrying to post this so I can get out on my run today. I have 6.5 miles to run now and 5.5 this evening. Whew!

* I didn't get to do a Celebrate post last week, but the week was full of celebrations. I mentioned some of them in my Slice of Life Post. Much of the fun was last weekend when the girls and I went to Milwaukee, Chicago and Racine. We visited a zoo, museums, beaches, and more. It's great getting to enjoy the sites together.

I am off to get one of my runs for the day out of the way. Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Poetry Friday

I am excited to see that there is a new Poetry Friday Anthology coming out. Syvia Vardell and Janet Wong shared their news and are hosting Poetry Friday at Poetry for Children.

I was lucky enough to attend #nErDCampMI again this year. While there I was able to go to a session about poetry led by Mary Lee Hahn. She was inspirational and shared many poetry resources, but she also had us do a little poetry writing. I am hoping to do more writing in the coming year. Here is one I have been rolling around in my head during my training runs the past week or so.

Summer Flirtation

As my feet pound the path
Nature woos me.
Butterflies kiss my legs and arms.
A frog in my way
  makes my heart skip a beat.
A sleek fox catches my eye.
Sweet bunnies melt my heart
  while the sun warms my skin.
A lake winks slyly from
  between the trees.
The breeze murmurs in my ear.
Birds sing their serenades.
I never run alone.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction.

Greet the Dawn - The Lakota Way is a beautiful book that shares the Lakota Way. According to the author, this way "offers a means of living in balance." S.D. Nelson provides an introduction explaining this way of life that is lived in a circle with humility and balance. I appreciated the mix of tradition and modernity in the book within the text and illustrations. He honors traditional patterns and imagery, but is also bringing a new vision to the work including playfulness with colors and even some cartoon elements among other things. Another part of this fusion is that he provides modern scenes along with timeless illustrations. The reader will know that this is not only about Lakota from long ago. On the title page we see a pickup truck amidst a grouping of tipis. There is also a fantastic spread with a big yellow school bus. Within this contemporary school type scene he includes colorful patterns along the road and pictographic images in the sky that point to the Lakota heritage. This image may be seen in the opening of the trailer below.

The text is also a fusion of old and new. Through the simple poetic lines, Nelson is sharing the many teachings that have influenced his life. In a note at the end, Nelson tells of the people who have provided this  teaching including Black Elk and many others. I appreciated that he points to the sources. The text also includes several songs in the Lakota language that he notes are from Teton Sioux Music. I always appreciate seeing other languages within picture books.

I think Greet the Dawn would pair well with Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp or, though much more simplified, you also might compare it to Our Journey by Liz Jaakola

All three books come from different traditions (Lakota, Mohawk, and Ojibwe), but they share many similarities such as thankfulness for the many things nature provides and greeting the day.

Another interesting type of pairing would be to look at other "ways of living." 

In Ka's Garden: Kab Lub Vaj, the story teaches about the Hmong way of life and at the end there is a note that lists out some core beliefs. Several are similar to those expressed by S.D. Nelson.

Alone or paired with other books, I highly recommend Greet the Dawn and look forward to sharing it with staff and students.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Slice of Life

I signed up for Teachers Write, but haven't written very much since it began. A trip to Michigan for Nerdcamp was the first lovely and inspiring distraction.

The next was a trip to Indianapolis with my mother and sister to see my brother. Then, the three of us women went to Niagara Falls and Toronto.

When I arrived home from that week long adventure, I prepared to have my daughter home from her four week trip to Japan. She was bringing her exchange sister. We have been sight-seeing locally, but have also taken three different day trips to Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Chicago. It makes me tired remembering, but it also makes me happy.

I haven't had a lot of time to sit down and write, but one place where I can "write" is on my runs. I am training for RAGNAR which is a team relay race. My training days have been out of wack, but they have been happening for the most part. On those runs, I have a lot of time for thinking. I've brainstormed a few poems out there on the paths and thought a lot about my writing. With the girls away for part of the time today, I am hopeful that I will be able to finally write for a significant amount of time. In some ways, this break has been good since I am often avoiding my writing time or putting it off. I have missed writing. Absence has been working its magic. Today I am getting some words on the page!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs   comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelfImages via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

It is 11:48 on Monday and I am just now starting this post. My daughter and her exchange sister arrived from Japan last Monday evening and we have been sight-seeing and doing all kinds of activities so there has been very little time for blogging. So here are snapshots of my reading from last week:

I am still reading these two that I started before the past week and will keep reading them this week:

For the coming week, I am also planning to read these two and maybe a few more:

I hope you have some fun reading this week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. This week I have a nautical theme happening though it wasn't on purpose.

The first is Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud. It was written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. It was fascinating to see how Eleanor learned so much about sailing from her father and put it to use. The story was interesting and so were the notes at the end of the book. The link to the book at the beginning of this paragraph, also leads to online resources that the author has suggested if a reader wants to learn more.

Plastic Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch reminded me of the Scientists in the Field series though for a lower grade. This focuses on three female marine scientist who are studying the effects of plastic on the life in the ocean. The author is Patricia Newman and the photographer is Annie Crawley. Here is a trailer that gives you a peek inside.

The facts they reveal about the amount of plastic in the ocean unsettled me especially in relation to the critters that help process our CO2 and provide us with our oxygen. Eek! At the end, Newman suggests ways that readers can help with the situation. The photographs are fantastic and it is great to see a picture of what a scientists job might look like on a given day.

I truly enjoyed both of these texts and will be happy to share them with staff and students.