Sunday, July 24, 2016

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 shelf. Cover images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

Recent Blog Posts



The Past Week in Books
In addition to the nonfiction picture books above, these were the best picture books of the week. When Penny Met POTUS is timely and is a fun way to talk about what POTUS means. Penny's mother works for POTUS, but that terminology throws Penny for a loop. She imagines all kinds of things to go with that word. The Stone Thrower is based on the story of Chuck Ealey who was an amazing quarterback, but because he was African-American, was unable to quarterback in the NFL at the time so he went to play for the CFL. Strangely enough I was unaware of the CFL until I saw a game on TV while I was in Toronto this summer. I couldn't for the life of me place the teams and the uniforms. The Airport Book is a fabulous look into airports. There is so much happening in the illustrations. There are stories within the pictures that aren't necessarily referenced in the text. It's one that can be read and re-read and more things pop out in the pictures. It's got a look-and-find quality to it. There are lots of things to find if you are paying attention. I appreciated the diversity shown in the airport too. Lisa Brown has included many types of travelers.

A Big Dose of Lucky is part of a series. There are seven girls in an orphanage and they end up going their separate ways. Each book tells one girls' story. This one is about Malou and yes, eventually you do find out about her name. Malou is the only black girl in the orphanage outside a small town in southeast Ontario. She has only one clue about her parentage and she has to decide if she will investigate her birth family or not. It was quite interesting to see the ways in which race was a factor in Canada in the midst of the U.S. civil rights era.

Peas and Carrots was also about a young girl without her family. She is a teenage white girl who has a younger brother who is biracial. He is with an African-American foster family and then Dess joins them too. Dess has a pretty hard shell, but this is a family who has kindness as their mantra even if the teen daughter, Hope, has a hard time being kind when all Dess does is insult her. It got a few tears out of me.

I really enjoyed the memoir Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo. I had only read her children's books before so it was nice to get to know her a little through this book. She includes her story, some of her dreams, and a few poems. Here are the children's books I've read and enjoyed in the past.


The Coming Week:
I'm listening to a CD of Gifts by Ursula Le Guin whenever I'm in my car. I'm listening to Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela on my phone. I am reading the hardcopy of Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems by Joy Harjo and I started a professional development book called Discipline with Dignity for one of my summer classes. I have Rhythm Ride waiting for me at the library so will likely start that this week too. I wish you a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge - 408/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2016 - 183/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
LGBTQIA Challenge - 26/31
ReadPOC Challenge - 125/125
#MustReadin2016 - 21/54
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - 71/100
Around the World with Books 2016

Celebrate!



Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.



Today I celebrate the air we breathe. It was a hot day, but I'm training for a 1/2 marathon so can't put off running. I went to the Y and ran four miles before they closed and then I went outside to run the final four. It was in the upper 80s so I went to a local trail where there was shade and an occasional view of the lake between trees. Just looking at the water made me feel cooler and there was a gentle breeze. I appreciated the playful breeze along the path. The leaves clapped and I breathed deeply while the air brought a little relief from the heat.

I'm reading one of Joy Harjo's books, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. In one of her poems, For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet, she writes of the friendly winds:

"Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the earth gathering essences of plants to clean.

Give it back with gratitude."

I couldn't help but make the connection to my time running and breathing the wonderfully fresh air. I love that image she created of taking the breath offered and then giving it back with gratitude. I am so thankful for the air I breathe and my body's ability to continue breathing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Watch out for Water!



Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more nonfiction. My plan is to read at least 100 nonfiction picture books this year. So far, I've read 69 this year.

Both of the books I read this week were reviewed and recommended by Nonfiction Picture Book reviewers so I knew they were going to be good.

by Chris Barton/illustrated by Don Tate

Summary from author's site: A cool idea with a big splash! You know the Super Soaker. It's one of the top twenty toys of all time. And it was an accidental discovery that brought it into being. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity were present in Lonnie Johnson's early life. Growing up in a house full of siblings, Lonnie demonstrated persistence and a passion for problem solving that became the cornerstone of his career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is Lonnie's invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made the most memorable splash in popular culture.

My thoughts: This book is a celebration of creativity. It's also a challenge to our typical idea of what a scientist looks like. First off, we don't see many African Americans in young non-fiction relating to science. We also don't necessarily see them carrying around toys. This is sure to intrigue young readers. Scientists are often seen as old white men in lab coats in labs and may not look too exciting. This book lets readers know there is more than one kind of scientist out there. Readers get to see the young Lonnie Johnson already learning, experimenting and imagining his future. I loved this one and can't wait to see how students respond to this great book.


Summary from author's website: When the Great Blondin announced that he was going to walk from America to Canada across the Niagara River on a rope more than eleven hundred feet long and just three inches wide, hanging one hundred and sixty feet above the raging waters, people came from everywhere. Some came to watch him cross. Some came to watch him fall. Some thought he wouldn't show up at all.

But he did show up. And he did walk across the river. And then he did something amazing- he did it again! And again. And again.

Matt Tavares's gorgeous, riveting account of one of the daredevils of Niagara Falls is sure to be as enthralling to readers as the original feat must have been to those spectators on the cliffs more than one hundred and fifty years ago

My thoughts: I've been to Niagara Falls twice and am incredibly impressed by the power of the water and the intensity of the place. I am amazed that anyone would be so confident in their skills at tightrope walking that they would attempt a crossing. One fall will be almost certain death. This is a story that had me at the edge of my seat wondering if the Great Blondin would make it across. It has tension and would be a fabulous read aloud.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

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 shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

Recent Blog Posts


YA Titles for Sports Fans (Rich in Color)



Wow, it's been two weeks since I did #IMWAYR. There are too many books to talk about all of them, but here are some highlights.

It's summer so I dove into a few non kidlit titles. 


I have listened to the Hamilton soundtrack many, many, many times and found Hamilton: The Revolution fascinating. I listened to Notorious RBG and loved learning more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has led quite a life. I also checked out the hard copy though because there are a lot of graphics and illustrations that one misses in the audio. The poetry of Billy Collins in Aimless Love kept me entertained on a long drive. Not all of the poems are humorous, but he sure cracks me up. Trailing You by Kimberly Blaeser (our WI poet laureate) had a personal/conversational feeling to it. The poems definitely feel like memoir even if they aren't. The poems had me drifting back in to my own familial past. And finally, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is one not easily described in a sentence or two, so click here if you want to see my review of this excellent graphic novel.

Middle Grade





These were both quite amazing. The Girl Who Drank the Moon will be out in August and everyone who enjoys fantasy will want to grab it. Donalyn Miller was effusive about it at NerdCampMi so it was the first ARC I started when I got home. It's a gorgeous story that I fell into and didn't want to leave. Wolf Hollow is a powerful book and is a tissue kind of book. It's about courage and bullying and more. It will leave readers with much to think about.

Picture Books


The artwork in They All Saw a Cat is wonderful and the text is great for point of view. Let Me Finish! is a very fun book about a young reader who wants to finish his books without other people spoiling them. The other characters are just so excited about the books though, that they blurt things and cause him frustration. Always Remember is a beautiful picture book that shares all of the things the other sea creatures will remember about the one turtle who has died. It's a great book dealing with grief. The final three picture books, Miss Mary Reporting, Sky High, and Star Stuff are biographies and were all extremely interesting.

The Coming Week:
I'm working on three different classes and have reading for two of them so I am not sure that I will get to read a lot for fun in the next week. I have just started the ARC of Gertie's Leap to Greatness and I was in the middle of the second Hilo book and had to leave it at the library so I am getting that one back to finish. I have a few of Joy Harjo's poetry books coming from the library soon too. Other than that, my reading will be a surprise this week. I wish you a wonderful week filled with great books!

#nErDCampMi 2016



Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

A little red-faced after Nerdrun

This week was the famous and fabulous nErDcampMI. I was happy to be able to attend again. I was at the first two, but missed out last year. I got there a little before the start of the 5K race so I could register and pick up my bag to fill with goodies. 



Before the race, I spotted Erica Perl and she was wearing a race number. She introduced me to Minh Lê. I also met two ducklings. They were from Make Way for Ducklings. Later I learned that they were the presenters Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan.  Erica, the ducklings and I ended up running all together - at least for half of the 5K. Erica and Clare were speedy. I can't wait to tell my students I got to run with authors.

We had a yummy pancake breakfast and I met some Michigan teachers and chatted. We ran into each other during both days and it was nice to see friendly faces. I had been looking forward to meeting Tracy Baptiste. She was sitting at the next table with a fellow Algonquin author Adam Shaughnessy and I introduced myself. This is the magic of Nerdcamp - having time to talk with teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators and a variety of other people who are passionate about kidlit.

The main event started in the gym with some awesome people sharing different Nerdy types of speeches. A young girl from Colby's school thanked people for sending books when her house burned down then Kathy Burnett shared about how books are powerful and saved her life. We heard from Tere Lesesne about censorship, Pernillie Ripp about inspiring readers, Donalyn Miller about reading and equity, Raina Tegemeier shared a personal story about a character from one of her books and then we had a surprise speaker. Kate DiCamillo just happened to stop by. What a treat. I think there are videos of the speeches floating around on the Internet, so if you're interested enough you may be able to track them down.


Next were the scheduled presentations. There were so many excellent sessions to choose from, but I had my own presentation right away - Building Your Classroom or School Library with Inclusive Lit. Here are the slides. I was super nervous since I hadn't presented there before, but the people who came were friendly and it seemed to go well. Afterwards, I slipped into an author jeopardy panel being hosted by Erica Perl. Hearing them talk about their work is always fun.

I popped in and out of a few sessions because I couldn't decide, but loved listening to picture book promoter Pernille Ripp. She even read one while I was in the room. 

I bought a few books and got some signed too. It was great having BookBug right there with plenty of books for us to purchase.
Josh Funk
Minh Lê
Kate Beasley

Tracey Baptiste
The next big event was the dinner off site. Again, this provided time for chatting and making connections. I appreciated sharing a table with a friend, but also several teachers and two authors, Gae Polisner and Nora Baskin. Later, I was able to meet Kelly Barnhill and chat again with Tracey and Adam.

It was super late by the time I got home so I slept in a little and only arrived in time for the first session to start on Tuesday. These were the "un"conference sessions.  I loved the first session I went to with Donalyn Miller and Tere Lesesne. They basically book talked a ton of awesome new titles. The next session I attended was about how to get staff excited about books. There were plenty of good ideas to try.

I went to the author panels in the afternoon, but also popped out to chat with a few people. That was when I got to meet Lauren Castillo and Deborah Freedman two author/illustrators. Both of them create books that speak so well to children.


Right before the day ended I also got to contribute a Nerdybookclub post for possible use in a future podcast.

In the midst of all this, Cardboard Schu was having a great time too. See Travis Jonker's great post or check out Cardboard Schu's Twitter account.

Mr. Schu and I
Mr. Schu playing dress up
Finally it was time for NerdCampJr. That is a phenomenal part of the event. We had around 700 children come to meet authors and illustrators. I was with a group of fifth grade students. The program began with a draw-off competition among some of the illustrators. 


After the fun in the auditorium, we were able to go to three author/illustrator sessions with dinner in the middle. We met with Adam Shaughnessy, Victoria J. Coe and Deborah Hopkinson. Each activity was unique and the students seemed to soak it up. It was a long day, but it was full of wonderfulness.

In the final session, we experienced a mighty loud storm, but that meant when we left, we had the gift of a rainbow. It was a fitting end to a fantastic time of learning, sharing, and connecting.


Here are a few more random pictures:
Aaron Zenz
Kelly Barnhill
Raina Telgemeier
I bought this on it's book birthday! Debbie Ridpath Ohi was at Nerdcamp
Debbie Ridpath Ohi has a very thorough post about NerdCampMi and it includes a roundup of posts so if you want to read more, visit her website and check out what others had to say.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Biographies



Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more nonfiction. My plan is to read at least 100 nonfiction picture books this year. So far, I've read 73 this year.

Today, I'm highlighting two picture book biographies of women. In both cases, WWII had a huge impact on their lives. Because of the war, women had job opportunities that were usually only open to men. These two women stepped forward and went after their dream jobs in spite of other people's ideas about what was appropriate for women.
 
illustrated by Carl Angel

Goodreads summary: When I was little, something special happened every Sunday. Other families went to baseball games or the movies, but not mine . . . We went to watch the airplanes. . . . 

Maggie dreamed of flying--just like her favorite pilot, Amelia Earhart. She told her brothers and sisters stories of flying across oceans and deserts, and all around the world. But in the 1920s and 1930s, few girls took to the sky.

Then, when Maggie grew up, her whole world changed overnight: the United States entered World War II, and everyone in her family was affected. Maggie knew that this was the time to support her country--and it was her chance to fly. Young Maggie Gee became one of only two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots to serve in WWII.

Based on the true adventures of a girl not bound by gravity, Marissa Moss's stirring story and Carl Angel's brilliant illustrations depict what determination, bravery, and boundless possibilities look like when dreams are allowed to soar sky high

My thoughts: When I was a young girl, I also wanted to fly and when I was older, I took my children to the local naval air station to watch planes take off and land on Saturday mornings. There were many ways that I connected with this book. Maggie Gee was a determined young woman and I love that we can get to know about her life. I hadn't heard of her before this. She wasn't only breaking a gender barrier though, she was Chinese American and there was only one other Chinese American pilot as part of the American Women Airforce Services.

Miss Mary Reporting by Sue Macy
illustrated by C.F. Payne

Goodreads summary: While sitting in the bleachers of a Soap Box Derby in the 1950s, Mary Garber overheard two African-American boys in the following exchange: “See that lady down there?” asked one boy. “That’s Mary Garber. She doesn’t care who you are, but if you do something good, she’ll write about you.”

Mary Garber was a pioneering sports journalist in a time where women were rarely a part of the newspaper business. Women weren’t even allowed to sit in the press boxes at sporting events, so Mary was forced to sit with the coaches’ wives. But that didn’t stop her.

In a time when African-American sports were not routinely covered, Mary went to the games and wrote about them. Garber was a sportswriter for fifty-six years and was the first woman to receive the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award, presented for major contributions in sports journalism. And now, every year the Association of Women in Sports Media presents the Mary Garber Pioneer Award in her honor to a role model for women in sports media.

Sure to inspire future journalists, athletes, and any child who has a dream, this illustrated biography of Mary Garber captures her feisty and determined spirit and brings her story to life

My thoughts: I loved this look into the life of Mary Garber. She is an awesome role model. I appreciated learning about her respect for others and herself. She seems to have been someone who treated others with dignity and worked to have a positive impact on others in addition to doing a great job.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

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 shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.


I am fighting with my iPad to create this post so will keep this brief. I have been spending a whole lot of time with family members this week, so reading is taking a back seat. I loved Jazz Day and really enjoyed e poetry of Kimberly Blaeser in Apprenticed to Justice. She's the WI poet laureate. Yay Wisconsin!

Here are the books I'm currently reading:


I hope your week is filled with excellent books!