Sunday, November 21, 2021
Monday, October 25, 2021
When you look around, what do you see? Sometimes I see chores that must be done, a yard that must be tended, a bill to be paid. But I have learned from poet and picture book author Charles Ghigna (aka Father Goose)’s latest book LOVE is Everything (published by Schiffer Kids) that “Music, silence, mountains, summer, LOVE is everywhere!”
This beautiful book shows an older bear showing a younger bear the wonders of the world, looking through the lens of love. Jacqueline East’s soft illustrations give a warm, cozy feel as Ghigna’s rhyming text takes us through the seasons, the arts, and the interactions with each other that make life so wonderful. “I believe in daydreams/and wishes that come true. I believe in everything./I believe in you” is the perfect ending to this affirming picture book.
This is a great cuddle-at-bedtime book and just the right tonic to help someone feel better after a bad day. It’s a confidence builder when someone has failed or is afraid, and a mindfulness giver when someone feels frantic or overwhelmed. This book is a great book for all ages, to be read with someone they love.
Thanks to Charles Ghigna for the digital copy! This book, like so many other books and supplies, has been on hold through this unusual time, and is now expected to be released in November.
Sunday, August 22, 2021
Well, what kid wouldn't want to keep reading? The title alone intrigued me, and as I type this, thunder rumbles and rain falls, while hurricanes and tropical storms hit the coasts.
Who or what are Weather Detectives? Henry Alabaster is the 13-year-old nephew of Kelvin McCloud, who specializes in solving cases involving weather. He's even written a book about it, chapters of which are interspersed in the text of this book. Henry proves an able assistant, as the two meet friends--and strangers--aboard a clipper cruise ship that has suffered from enough strange sights and sounds to hurt business. Hired by a crew member and friend of the captain, Kelvin and Henry set out to see what's behind the eerie phenomena. Kelvin, Henry and his friend, Rachel, keep their eyes and ears open, develop their suspect list, and ask questions. Many unexplainable occurrences put everyone aboard on edge. As more evidence comes forward and the ship steers into a hurricane, Henry suggests a plan based on his knowledge of thunder and lightning. Leaving Henry behind for safety reasons, Kelvin closes in on the guilty.
Kelvin is also Henry's guardian following the deaths of Henry's parents, and in the course of the story, Henry grows closer to Kelvin--and Rachel--and realizes he has a family and a future, after all.
The lively writing and robust vocabulary will appeal to young readers, and they will learn a bit about weather in the process.
The Weather Detectives by Michael Erb, published this July by Tumblehome Books, is written for kids aged 9-12. I enjoyed this book as an Advanced Reader Copy pdf provided by the author. This is Erb's second book featuring Kelvin, and I hope there are more! I could imagine this being made into a TV show because the characters and situations are so singular.
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Happy National Love a Tree Day! Who knew? I love trees every day, and even more so since I read The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom written and illustrated by Lita Judge.
Each beautiful spread, with carefully detailed illustrations, contains a poem about trees on the left side, and information about tree communities' ability to communicate, warn, and protect each other on the right. An author's note tells how this fascination for trees took root, and back matter fills in more details about tree communities.
Scientists have learned a lot about tree behavior recently, and it is amazing! For example, in "Neighbor, Can You Hear Me?" the poem is a tree calling out to its neighbors. The factual information tells us that when insects attack a tree, the tree sends electrical signals through the fungi living among the tree's roots. When other trees receive the warning, they "pump a bitter-tasting chemical called tannin into their leaves to ward off the insects" (p. 11).
Enjoy this short video about how the book was made and see its beauty for yourself.
Through the seasons and around the world, Judge shows and tells us how trees take care of each other. We could learn a lot from trees!
See more about Lita Judge's award-winning books here.
Monday, February 15, 2021
I can't think of a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day (well, let's make it a week, shall we?) and Black History Month (let's make that year 'round, shall we?) than to introduce you to award-winning author, Janet Halfmann's, newest book, The Clothesline Code, released February 1.
From the back cover: "Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker didn’t have to risk their lives to spy for the Union army. The couple had already risked everything to escape slavery themselves."
This is a true story of a loving black couple, Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker, who found a unique and daring way to help the Union during the Civil War. Dabney was assigned to an intelligence unit in the Union Army. Lucy Ann was a camp laundress. As formerly enslaved people, neither had been allowed to learn to read or write. How could they sneak behind enemy lines and set up a system for communicating what the Confederates were up to? The clothesline code was born.
Lucy Ann was the one who would go into enemy territory, learn Confederate secrets, and send them to Dabney, who would look at the clothesline and decode the message. Should they be found out, both of their lives were in danger. Suspense builds as the Walkers send messages back and forth. Readers feel Dabney's distress on days when messages don't come. Was Lucy Ann ok? Would their plan succeed?
The Walkers' determination to help defeat slavery demonstrates the power we all have in using everyday items, courage, and caring to change the world.
Halfmann's vivid writing and Trisha Mason's emotive illustrations bring these little-known heroes to life, engaging youth and adults. Halfmann says that she "strives to make her books come alive for young readers and listeners," and this book proves that she does.
Halfmann proudly displays The Clothesline Code.
Friday, January 1, 2021
Happy New Year! For those unfamiliar with northern winter climates, I'll tell you that the image above is snow. This snow is not new, yet has no tracks or marks on it, and it serves as an analogy for the new year. This snow fell last year and remains, just as parts of 2020 remain with us into 2021. But what remains has not marked this snow. Here it is, crisp and untouched. What can we make of it? It's ours to decide. What can we make of our new year? At the end of 2021, will we be glad of the tracks we've made?
A new year presents challenges and responsibilities. A turn of a calendar page is not magic. I'm sure I'm not alone in making and breaking resolutions year after year. This year, I realized that the things I usually resolved to do felt more like punishment. So I'm going to make some un-resolutions that I can actually keep that will increase my joy. My list is in progress and subject to change, but here are a few items:
Eat a bite of chocolate every day.
Listen more to music.
Read more, generally, and read more poetry, specifically.
Look at--really look at--works of art.
No, these are not SMART goals. These are just life-enriching things that often get pushed aside in daily busyness. How will you add more joy this year? What tracks will you leave in 2021?
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Seriously, this volume is destined to become a classic, containing poems by some of the most well-known poets in the world: Jane Yolen, Jack Prelutsky, Emily Dickinson, Charles Ghigna, Naomi Shihab Nye, Margarita Engle, David L. Harrison, Janet Wong, and so many more (110 in all--see the whole list here). My friend, Eric Ode, and two Minnesota poets (I think of them as neighbors, but we've never met), Joyce Sidman and Laura Purdie Salas are there, too. It also contains poems by lesser-knowns, like me!
Published by DK, edited by the amazing Sylvia Vardell, the book contains poems under these section headings: Family and Friends; Feelings; Animals and Nature; Cities, Towns, and Travel; Fun and Games; Science and Art; Body and Health; A World of Learning. You can see that it has something for everyone and does, indeed, contain the whole world. The book's child-friendly illustrations by Sonny Ross add to the classic feel.
The book's back matter contains poetry activities from reading, acting, hunting, discussing, and writing poems to poetic styles and terms.
You'll find me on page 25:
This book is a treasure to enjoy every day for years to come.