Sunday, May 1, 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.

Last Week on the Blogs:
illustrated by Bob Kolar

 Celebrating Music


Last Week in Books:

Raising Dragons was a fun fantasy picture book. I read it because it's on the We Are the People Summer Reading List (I have the list on a Goodreads shelf if that's helpful to you). Four others I read this week were also on the list: Dayshaun's Gift, The Missing Cupcake Mystery, The Composition, and The Streets are Free. I'm glad that the list pointed me to these titles. I read The Phoenix on Barclay Street because it came before Dayshaun's Gift and I didn't want to miss out on anything. They're both by Zetta Elliott and I've enjoyed everything I've read that she's written.

My favorite picture book this week was Don't Call Me Grandma. It's great to see a grandchild/grandmother relationship of a unique sort. Grandmother is very particular and is a little prickly, but she loves her grandchild. Not all grandmas are cozy and cuddly and that's the truth.

Pope Francis and Rhyolite: The True Story of a Ghost Town were both interesting nonfiction picture books. I didn't know that Pope Francis was Jorge as a child. I also found it fun to learn that he enjoyed soccer and dancing when he was younger. This was a very simple biography, but covered the basic facts. Many students have checked this book out along with Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World. I want to read that one too, but it's usually checked out. Rhyolite is such an interesting tale. The city was a boomtown during a gold rush, but it was a ghost town in a very short time.

There were two middle grade books in my pile this week. The Truth About Twinkie Pie made me want to do some cooking. I especially want to try the pie. I watched the Kid Lit TV video with Kat Yeh last year and have been wanting to read the book since then.



The other middle grade was Lily and Dunkin. Again with the food, but this time Dunkin Donuts. I got this as an ARC from John Schumacher at WEMTA last month and am glad. This is one you will likely hear a lot about. The main characters are Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin who is dealing with bipolar disorder and other issues readers discover later in the novel. In addition, they are fumbling along with their own new friendship. Readers who have ever felt different or have struggled with friendships will definitely be able to relate to Lily and Dunkin's feelings. It's an emotional read and will be perfect for those readers who like books that make you cry or books where characters are facing tough realistic situations.

I'm still a little conflicted about The Porcupine of Truth. There were things I appreciated like the humor, but there were other things that bothered me. The last part of the novel was definitely stronger or at least I enjoyed it more. It's one that I would maybe recommend, but I'm still not sure. I didn't give it a star rating on Goodreads because I just couldn't decide.

The Coming Week: The Human Body Theater is on my stack along with an ARC of The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee. Otherwise, I'm not sure what will come my way. Oh, I have the audiobook How to Be Compassionate by the Dalai Lama and a few others from my #MustReadin2016 on their way to my holdshelf so I will probably start working on that list again. Have a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge - 240/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2016 - 127/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
LGBTQIA Challenge - 10/31
ReadPOC Challenge - 93/125
#MustReadin2016 - 15/54
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - 52/10
Around the World with Books 2016

Celebrating Music



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.


Music, music, music. This was a week filled with music. Last Sunday afternoon, the La Crosse Chamber Chorale sang at the public library. Their selections were mostly works inspired by Shakespeare. The concert was spectacular.

On Wednesday, I joined a ukelele band. They meet every Wednesday evening to practice and welcome new players anytime. I've been using Youtube videos and a book to learn on my own since late January, but it was fantastic to get to play along with other people for a change.

On Thursday, Mr. Schu posted the new Emily Arrow video of Louise Loves Art, so of course, we watched it in class. It's great because our students are all getting ready for our district art show in May.


Yesterday, I attended the Three Rivers Powwow and had the opportunity to hear the drum circles while watching the many people, young and old, dance to that heartbeat.

Today my child and I went to see the Winona Symphony Orchestra. My favorite piece was the Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings by Dmitri Shostakovich. That man sure pushed boundaries. The piece did so much to laugh in the face of traditional symphony arrangements. This piece was done in his twenties. The pianist, Eric Brisson, was fantastic too. I couldn't help but think about the book I read last year, Symphony for the City of the Dead since that was my introduction to Shostakovich.

Music is a huge part of our lives. I listen to Putumayo Kids CDs at my library desk and the Hamilton soundtrack in my car. We have many instruments in our home: acoustic, electric and bass guitars, a cello, a trumpet, a trombone, a flute, three different sizes of recorders, a piano, and a drumset. Over the years we have attended well over 200 middle and high school performances of our children. I'm so thankful that music speaks to our hearts and can let our hearts speak.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Poetry



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.

Illustrated by Bob Kolar

Publisher's summary: Fourteen shark species, from the utterly terrifying to the surprisingly docile, glide through the pages of this vibrantly illustrated, poetic picture book.

From the enormous whale shark to the legendary great white to the enigmatic goblin shark to the small cookie-cutter shark, Slickety Quick is a delightful frenzy of shark mayhem. Mysterious species such as the camouflaged wobbegong and the elusive frilled shark share the waters with better-known blue and nurse sharks, each commemorated in a poem by Skila Brown and illustrated by Bob Kolar. Sneaky shark facts ripple through each spread to further inform the brave and curious young reader intrigued by the power — and danger — of these amazing creatures.

My Thoughts: Poetry paired with interesting facts is a wonderful combination - particularly when the illustrations are pretty fabulous. The poems are in fun shapes, often the shape of the shark being described. Unfortunately, I left the book at school this afternoon, so I can't refer to it, but it's definitely a book students are going to love. There are plenty of sharp teeth and they showcase several extremely bizarre looking creatures. It's sure to be a hit.

Extras: Skila Brown has a teacher's guide posted on her blog and has a section of her website  devoted to posts about shark facts that include photos and video for readers seeking more information.

Sunday, April 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. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

Last Week on the Blogs:



Last Week in Books: 
 

Booked and Colonize This: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism are the two that will stay with me the longest. Now I need to read some of the other novels in verse that were mentioned in Booked. I also want to read more along the lines of Colonize This. There were many authors and texts mentioned there for further reading that I am interested in following up with next. Ida Always made me cry and Puffy and Baby Dance made me smile hugely. Raymie Nightingale was a sweet story of friendship. The Land of Forgotten Girls was quite sad and emotional, but it had some hope in the end too. This is one to hand to readers who like stories where the characters are facing really tough situations. I am running out of time to write, so if you are curious about the other titles, check my Goodreads shelf. :)

The Coming Week: I just started an ARC of Lily and Dunkin (thanks to Mr. Schu!) and I have The Porcupine of Truth waiting on my shelf. Other than that, I'm not sure what I'll be grabbing. Have a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge - 226/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2016 - 118/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
LGBTQIA Challenge - 8/31
ReadPOC Challenge - 85/125
#MustReadin2016 - 15/54
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - 49/10
Around the World with Books 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Celebrating Poetry with our Poet Laureate



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.



This week we celebrated Poem in Your Pocket Day at our school. In preparation, students chose or wrote poems in library classes. The night before though, I was still trying to choose mine. I remembered that we have a U.S. poet laureate and realized that I've never talked to my students about him. I read one of his books earlier this month and wrote a blog post about a few of his books. I wondered if I could find a poem of his that would work with my students. When I searched for poems by Juan Felipe Herrera, I found "Jackrabbits, Green Onions, and Witches Stew." I read it and thought since it was an unusual collection of words, it would be a fun one to share, but I wondered if I was reading it correctly so I looked for a video.



I found something even better. I found a lesson plan by Nicolle Stellon O'Donnell that included a video of Herrera reading my chosen poem, but also another helpful video. In the second one, he shares another poem, but also, near end of it, Herrera talks about how he defines poetry (at about 2:45).

I don't totally know what "Jackrabbits, Green Onions, and Witches Stew" might mean, but the text reminds me of Dr. Who. Whether I figured it out or not, Herrera seems to believe the most important thing is spending time with the poem. The poem may simply be meant to cause readers to be baffled or bring a smile to their face. Herrera may not even know what one of his poems is really saying. I'm good with that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge



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.

This week, I'm highlighting all of the nonfiction picture books I've read so far this year that have earned five stars in my eyes.
 

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond

Goodreads summary: Inspired by the author's grandfather's experiences living in a lodge in the woods, a story of how people and animals survive a forest fire in a small Canadian town.


Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Goodreads summary: This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.

Mondays, there were hogs to slop, 

mules to train, and logs to chop. 

Slavery was no ways fair. 

Six more days to Congo Square. 

As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves' duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. This book will have a forward from Freddi Williams Evans (freddievans.com), a historian and Congo Square expert, as well as a glossary of terms with pronunciations and definitions


Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History...and Our Future! by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl

Goodreads summary: Like all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet—but instead of "A is for Apple", A is for Angela—as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta, who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

And the list of great women continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds.

The book includes an introduction that discusses what it means to be "rad" and "radical," an afterword with 26 suggestions for how you can be "rad," and a Resource Guide with ideas for further learning and reading.

American history was made by countless rad—and often radical—women. By offering a fresh and diverse array of female role models, we can remind readers that there are many places to find inspiration, and that being smart and strong and brave is rad.



Goodreads summary: Some people think pink is a pretty color. A fluffy, sparkly, princess-y color. But it's so much more. Sure, pink is the color of princesses and bubblegum, but it's also the color of monster slugs and poisonous insects. Not to mention ultra-intelligent dolphins, naked mole rats and bizarre, bloated blobfish.

Isn't it about time to rethink pink?

Slip on your rose-colored glasses and take a walk on the wild side with zoologist Jess Keating, author of How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, and cartoonist David DeGrand


Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by April Chu

Goodreads summary:  Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world's first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.



Olinguito, de La A a la Z!/Olinguito, from A to Z! by Lulu Delacre

Goodreads summary:  With text in both Spanish and English, travel to the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. Discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978.



The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate

Goodreads summary: John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the first African-American congressmen.




Goodreads summary: Sitting Bull (c. 1831–1890) was one of the greatest Lakota/Sioux warriors and chiefs who ever lived. From Sitting Bull’s childhood—killing his first buffalo at age 10—to being named war chief to leading his people against the U.S. Army, Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People brings the story of the great chief to light. Sitting Bull was instrumental in the war against the invasive wasichus (white men) and was at the forefront of the combat, including the Battles of Killdeer Mountain and the Little Bighorn. He and Crazy Horse were the last Lakota/Sioux to surrender their people to the U.S. government and resort to living on a reservation.

The book includes an extensive author’s note and timeline, historical photographs, a map, a bibliography, endnotes, and an index.

Sunday, April 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.

Last Week on the Blog:
 




Last Week in Books:
 

I have to make this brief today, so will just highlight one young adult and one elementary level book. Salt to the Sea was phenomenal. Ruta Sepetys does historical fiction so well. I felt like I was there and it wasn't a place anyone would want to be quite honestly. It's a reminder of how awful war can be. Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope and in a New Land is a photo essay about immigration. It was created by two people from the midwest so it felt very familiar. I want to read the text again. It was very simple typically with only a sentence at a time on the pages. The photos, by Wing Young Huie, were fantastic.

The Coming Week:
I'm still working on these three books, Born Confused, Furiously Happy and Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism. I also got an ARC, Lily and Dunkin, from Mr. Schu at the WEMTA conference last week and I want to start it soon. Booked should be in my hands sometime this week too. I'm guessing with Poem in Your Pocket Day this week, I'll be reading some poetry also. It should be a great week of reading.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge - 215/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2016 - 112/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
LGBTQIA Challenge - 8/31
ReadPOC Challenge - 80/125
#MustReadin2016 - 14/54
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - 47/10
Around the World with Books 2016