Wednesday, October 1, 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.

I have read some great biographical/memoir books over the past few weeks and I can't help but share them.


Goodreads summary: Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The lives these women led are part of an incredible story about courage in the face of oppression; about the challenges and triumphs of the battle for civil rights; and about speaking out for what you believe in--even when it feels like no one is listening. Andrea Davis Pinkney's moving text and Stephen Alcorn's glorious portraits celebrate the lives of ten bold women who lit the path to freedom for generations. Includes biographies of Sojournor Truth, Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, Ida B.Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Shirley Chisholm. 

My take: After reading Revolution by Deborah Wiles, I wanted to know more about Dorothy Irene Height. Julie Walters on Twitter told me that I could read more about her in Let it Shine by Andrea Davis Pinkney. It was a book that I had been meaning to read, so I grabbed it from my school library and was not disappointed. 

Pinkney provides information about these female leaders in her wonderful storytelling style. I had never even heard some of the names of the women before. I appreciated the chance to hear about women who had made such a difference in our world. 

As I was reading, I thought that some of the sections (maybe all) would make great picture books. I loved finding out about the big personality of Sojourner Truth, so was excited to see that there actually is a picture book biography about her by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride.


Goodreads Summary: Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom. But she knew she wouldn't really be free unless she was helping to end injustice. That's when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for black people and for women. Many people weren't ready for her message, but Sojourner was brave, and her truth was powerful. And slowly, but surely as Sojourner's step-stomp stride, America began to change.
A celebrated author-illustrator team tells the story of one of the most unique and courageous women in American history, Sojourner Truth, who worked relentlessly to end slavery and ensure freedom for all. Full color.

My Take: Sojourner Truth was such an impressive woman. I thought the illustrations and text worked together so well to so her as a force to be reckoned with. She seems filled with energy and eager to fight for her beliefs. The book made me want to shout "Amen."


On My Block: Stories and Paintings by Fifteen Artists is another fantastic book that I got to read.

Goodreads summary: In this lovely homage to neighborhoods everywhere, 15 gifted artists portray the places most special to them. Readers soar from the rooftops of south Brooklyn to the desert of Taos Pueblo, from a basement in San Francisco's Japantown to a Mississippi Gulf Coast porch. A garden in Mexico overflows with brilliant flowers while one in Tehran hums with the purring of 32 cats. Moving, funny, and unexpected, the stories and images encourage children to explore and observe their own neighborhood and to ask, What is my world? What is my special place?

My take: This book reminded me of Family Pictures by Carmen Lomas Garza. Like that book, the artists use their art to showcase a setting close to their heart and include a brief bit of text to explain it. The diversity within this book is incredible. There are fifteen radically different styles of art and they chose to illustrate many unique settings. This would make a great mentor text when talking about setting.


I am cheating with Relish. I suppose you could call it a picture book since it has pictures, but truthfully, it's a graphic novel. And I suppose it is not strictly non fiction either, but it is mostly since it is a memoir. Anyway, since my theme was biographical, I couldn't resist including it.

Goodreads summary: A vibrant, food-themed memoir from beloved indie cartoonist Lucy Knisley. Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions. A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a book for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the earth, rather than an enemy, a compulsion, or a consumer product.

My take: Relish is a thoroughly entertaining memoir through food. Since I am a big fan of food and books, that was a big draw for me. I love to have recipes to try and she provides plenty of those. I have only used one of them so far, but I think I have made it about ten times in the past few weeks. I love her recipe for chai. Yum. Yum. Yum. I now have star anise and cardamom pods in my spice cabinet. I had to search a bit for those pods too. It's definitely a young adult graphic novel as she goes into some of her coming of age moments. If you are a reader who enjoys books about food, you will not want to miss this one. 

Monday, September 29, 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 and 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. 

The Past Week: 


Revolution was definitely my favorite book of the week. Deborah Wiles put together a fantastic collection of primary source images and narrative that really dropped me back in time. I learned more than I expected to during the journey. I am not sure how many upper elementary students will be up to the task of reading this lengthy book, but it is truly amazing. It also led me to Andrea Davis Pinkney's book Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters since I had never heard of Dorothy Irene Height before reading Revolution. Twitter was helpful here as I asked if there were any children's biographies out there about her and I got these replies: 

So interesting to learn more about Height and many other female freedom fighters.

Overall, it was a great week of reading.

The Coming Week: 
I am still listening to a David Sedaris book, When You are Engulfed in Flames and just started reading Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes. In just a few pages, I am already hooked. I am also looking at sugar in a different way. I am about to start reading an ARC of Kekla Magoon's newest book How it Went Down. Beyond that, I am not sure what will make it into my hands, but I am sure there will be more. Happy reading!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Celebrate!


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.

I am sitting here rather exhausted from a long week. I am certain there are things to celebrate, but my mind is rather foggy about what has happened this week. *thinking*

Still under wrap, but you can see the tennis ball design.

* My daughter and I made a three layer cake. I decorated it with light green frosting and piped on white lines so it looked like a tennis ball on top. This was her wish for the senior tennis party. It turned out to be a very yummy cake.

* I ran three miles two times this week in preparation for my 1/2 marathon this weekend. That's also a celebration - that I am able to run a 1/2 marathon at our Oktoberfest. It's usually pretty fun.

* We got to watch our daughter march in the Applefest parade and her band got first place.


* I attended Hmong New Year again. I had six students that agreed to take pictures while they were there. I sent cameras home with them on Friday. Between my students and myself, we took over 200 pictures that we will use to create a non-fiction picture book about Hmong New Year since such a thing doesn't seem to exist as far as I can tell. You may see some of their pictures here in our announcements below. All of the people in the video are students or family members from our school.


I know there were more things to celebrate, but my brain is tired. I am going to sleep to be ready for my race. Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Trailer and Review: Frank!

Title: Frank!
Author: Connah Brecon
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Pages: 32
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: September 30, 2014

Summary: 
Try as he might (or might not), Frank is a bear who is always late. And when he starts school, the trouble really begins. 

Frank has very good reasons, like the time he had to save a cat stuck in a tree and the morning he found himself challenged to a charity dance-off, and even the time he had to rescue a family of bunnies from a huge, smelly ogre.

Frank's teacher has heard enough of Frank's excuses, but what happens when a giant zombie lizard king really does attack the school? 

Sometimes there is truth to the most unusual of circumstances, and being helpful can pay off in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts: I have a large measure of sympathy for Frank. I am quite often five to ten minutes late everywhere I go. Things have a way of taking longer than I expect or distractions appear at the very last minute. There are surely many readers in the same boat, but even people who manage their time a little better than that can appreciate the humor in this quirky book.

The illustrations are fun and have a few hidden treasures. The first two-page spread has a store that is a "One-Stop Watch Shop" and the newspaper boy hints at things to come as he announces the headline "Reptile Rampage." The pictures are childlike and imaginative.

Frank arrives to school late every day and tells stories of wild and crazy adventures. I wasn't certain  whether readers were meant to believe them or not. As an adult, I wasn't sure I understood the subtext or the conclusion, so younger readers may be a bit confused. In the end, children will probably enjoy the silliness of the story, especially the giant zombie lizard king, and likely won't care if they know what's true or if the resolution is clear. Adult readers may be left scratching their heads though.

Sunday, September 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 and 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. 

The Past Week: 

I had a pretty good week of reading. I was excited to finally get to a few books that I had been hearing about, Sisters, Absolutely Almost, and The Fourteenth Goldfish. I am sure that there are students at my school that will love them. I did enjoy meeting Albie, but I was not as excited about Absolutely Almost as some of my Nerdybookclub friends. It was good though. 

I really loved On My Block: Stories and Paintings by Fifteen Artists and will be ordering it for my library. The other art book I read, When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky, was also quite good. Goal! was another interesting non-fiction book. The photographs are fantastic and the facts are fun. I enjoyed Pig Park and reviewed it over at Rich in Color.

The Coming Week: 
Currently reading
I'm listening to When You are Engulfed in Flames and One Year in Coal Harbor and am reading these other two the old-fashioned way. I am not sure what else is up next, but maybe Sugar and/or The Year of the Rat. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Celebrate!

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 the fantastic things that happened this week:


* A child discovered the book Stick Man's Really Bad Day and belly laughed almost uncontrollably. While he was being way too loud for the area he was in, I couldn't help but smile. I have had tears rolling down my face as I laughed while reading that book.

* I was interviewed for an article in the Fall Teaching Tolerance magazine. Eek!
* I detest getting up early, but had to take my daughter to school twice this week at 6:45 for meetings. As I was driving, I wondered if there would be anything to celebrate about this. There were beautiful sunrises, but it was still hard to be happy about being awake earlier than normal. Thinking about this post made it easier though.

* We got to see our daughter inducted into the National Honor Society. I liked learning about their four pillars: Scholarship, Service, Leadership & Character.

* We had a two fun Skype visits this week in honor of International Dot Day. A first grade class chatted with another class in Texas and a second grade class did a reader's theater of The Dot with a fifth grade class near Madison. My students were very excited to connect with other students.

* One evening I ran five miles in just under 43 minutes. That was fast for me.


* This morning I ran just over nine miles at a really cool event in along backwaters of the Mississippi. It was beautiful.

* I have had a hilarious time reading Naked! with classes at school. They love the playfulness and I love seeing their smiles.

Whew! That is a lot to celebrate. It's been a good week.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Poetry Friday


Amy is hosting Poetry Friday over at The Poem Farm today. Be sure to visit and explore the many wonderful poems and poetry related posts there. Here is my offering for the day. I wrote it this afternoon in response to my hurried week and this lovely book by Rana DiOrio that reminds me to be present.


A Lesson from My Dog

Hurry, hurry, hurry
What's the rush?
Trying, trying, trying
To fit it all in.

Sometimes I resent sleep.

Sleep keeps me
From reading all the books,
Writing all the stories,
Seeing all the places,
Connecting with all the people
But,

Sleep, sleep, sleep
Is marvelous.
My exhausted body craves it
After the hurrying worrying days.

Today I crawled across the floor
To lay down with my dog.
My body thanked me
For being still.