The official National Poetry Month is April, but for me this year, Poetry Month came in October, with the release of 3 new poetry titles that contain my poems! I'll start by introducing you to this one, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, August 9, 2020
You may be one of many disappointed people who had to cancel travel plans this year, but we can still travel via books. And what better book to celebrate International Book Lovers Day than with Eva J. Pell's middle grade novel, ResQ Takes on the Takhi, released this June by Tumblehome Books, which specializes in STEM books for kids? Pell's extensive science background, including her position as Under Secretary for Science at the Smithsonian Insitute, informs her writing.
Where are we going with the ResQ crew? Mongolia! ResQ is formally comprised of eleven-year-old inventor, Wheaton and his cousin, twelve-year-old naturalist, Stowe. They are accompanied on this adventure by their photographer grandmother, Ariella, who has contacts in Mongolia.
Batar from Mongolia calls to ask ResQ to help round up a stray band of takhi, Mongolian wild horses, and bring them back into the national park where they belong. Wheaton's inventions, Stowe's knowledge of nature, Ariella's wisdom and familiarity with the culture, and the help of their Mongolian hosts give readers an imaginative adventure.
In joining ResQ's search for the takhi, readers learn Mongolian culture, language, climate, and geography. But Pell isn't writing a textbook. She vividly describes each scene, so that readers feel that they are part of the adventure. Wheaton and Stowe apply critical thinking, Wheaton's inventions, and what's at hand to conduct their mission. Pell amps up the suspense by making this mission time-sensitive. With a blizzard swirling around them, Wheaton and Stowe get separated from their Mongolian guide. How will they survive? Will they get reunited? Will they bring the takhi back to the park? Drawings by Alexa Lindauer enhance the text and show, among other things, what a Mongolian blizzard might be like.
I won't give any spoilers, but I will tell you this--I'd love to have a Dynochute, one of Wheaton's inventions, and I thank Eva J. Pell for an advanced reader copy of this book.
If Mongolia and the takhi don't interest you, maybe you'd like to try ResQ's first adventure--ResQ and the Baby Orangutan, which will take you to Borneo.
With books, you can go anywhere!
Friday, July 3, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
Today, Juneteenth, is the perfect day to introduce you to Robert Smalls. You may already know about his heroism in stealing a Confederate ship, saving enslaved families, and delivering them, the ship, and the four cannons on board to the Union! You may know that he went on to serve in the South Carolina state legislature and United State Congress, fighting and advocating for African American rights throughout his life. I knew none of this until I read Janet Halfmann's book for children, The Story of Civil War Hero Robert Smalls, illustrated by Duane Smith and published by Lee and Low in February.
Halfmann first wrote about Smalls in her 2008 picture book biography, Seven Miles to Freedom. She expanded and updated the information for grades 3-7 in The Story of Civil War Hero Robert Smalls. Keeping her young audience in mind, she begins both books with Robert Smalls' childhood as an enslaved boy, who at age six began service in the master's house. She writes with empathy, precision, and suspense so that readers of all ages can understand what being enslaved means and feel the danger involved in Smalls' daring escape.
The book contains a sidebar that details the Planter, the ship that Smalls steered to freedom. It also has a sidebar about slavery and one about a woman's daring escape. Back matter includes references and other reading guidance for more information.
This book is a great read for all ages. I thank the author for the e-advance copy she sent.
In a time when Confederate symbols and statues are coming down, the statue of Robert Smalls at the Reconstruction Era Monument in Smalls' hometown of Beaufort, SC, deserves to stand tall.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
During this time of COVID-19, my library is closed, and I am one of several staff who have been reassigned to Parks (more on that another time), which must be why I think about grass more than usual--mowing, trimming, weeding, and admiring grass.
Carl Sandburg wrote his poem "Grass" and recites it here:
Which brings me to Memorial Day, a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. My family has a story that harks back to WWI and the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. My great-uncle, the co-owner of a general store in our hometown, was very popular and highly regarded there. He was drafted into the Army in WWI and sent overseas. As you might expect, the folks back home worried about him and prayed for his safe return. And return he did! Growing up, I heard the story's ending as "and then he caught the Spanish Flu and died." Years later, a relative said that it was actually scarlet fever. Regardless, the result was the same. My great-uncle, who had fought in WWI half a world away returned safely only to die soon after from a disease in 1920. We remember.
In 1905, George Santayana's famous words, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" were published in The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense. While we vow to remember, time and generations pass, and the grass does its work.
We have work to do, too, to tell the stories so that we can learn from the past and make the world a better place.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
A cozy rhyming picture book by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple reinforces the theme of nest as home in You Nest Here With Me. The book shows a variety of birds and their amazing nests, with the title as comforting refrain for human chicks, illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
A brand new picture book about nests, released this March, by Randi Sonenshine, illustrated by Anne Hunter, is getting good reviews. Written like a rhyming "House that Jack Built," the text and pictures of The Nest That Wren Built detail the building of a wren's nest and life cycle.