Friday, June 24, 2016

It's Poetry Friday!

And I have the enthusiasm of a new convert. I spent last Friday.....delighting in all the sharings. Big sharings, small sharings....the great connected communication. I'm so hooked.

Today I offer what I think is a strange contribution. But, perhaps it's not. I took the challenge of writing Jane Yolen's created form tercet and have been tinkering with it as I have time in the week. Below is a snapshot of the page I'm working from. 

On the left is the original crappy draft.....yep, the one that no one is supposed to ever see according to Ann Lamott (Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. N.p.: Archer, 1995. Print.). If you've never read or listened to Lamott's book I highly encourage you to do so. The version from audible had me cackling out loud while doing dishes and laundry----confirming to my family that I have indeed gone nuts!

The version on the right is the sandbox of what I"m playing with. See that I've given myself the additional challenge of making the number 21 part of the poem....the 3 x7 has appealed to me. This is my sudoku.

I may finish this poem......or not. But, it's the fun of the challenge and the working at it that is my joy and what I have to share today.

Happy writing all! and be sure not to miss ALL the Poetry Friday connections happening today. This week's event is hosted by Diane Mayr at:
She has a lovely library blog I am also getting to know called Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet. Check that out as well.

Original on the left................Sandbox playing on the right

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Most Serendipitous Book Pairing Experience

I read a lot of books.

At the end of my school year as testing season took hold I found myself picking up two great books – Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton and, Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina.

I picked up both books for entirely different reasons. Full Cicada Moon is written in verse, my all all-time favorite way to take in a story. Burn Baby Burn is an audio book by one of my all-time favorite authors.

I believed I was reading and listening to two different stories. And I was…..but I wasn’t. These books became a super cool serendipitous book pairing and experience for me. And, like I said…I read a lot of books. This doesn’t happen often. I will attempt to explain...

When I listen to a book I feel the story more intensely than when I read it on a page or a tablet. I cannot skim to the good parts or page back to find a line or a paragraph that really got into me. When I began Medina’s Burn Baby Burn I was completely entranced first by the seventies setting. In 1977 I was, ahem, ten years old….a preteen with big eyes and ears that wanted more than anything to be in the adult world.

Thank goodness I had a few years to grow into myself. But, that summer was the summer of Son of Sam…and fires in New York City and feminism and growing pains for the US. In Burn Baby Burn, main character Nora took me back in time. I found myself laughing out loud when Nora and her best friend Kathleen discuss being feminist while debating the benefits of Prell v. Wella Balsam shampoo all in the same breath. Just the mention of those fragrances took me right back to the time.

And, I was a budding news junkie. My Dad had us watch Walter Cronkite in the evenings…and listen to talk radio in the car by day. I remember hearing about Son of Sam—being creeped out by the thought of it. There are serious threads throughout the fun that makes this novel more than just a fun read.  Medina’s plot recreates the paralyzing fear reported by the media covering a serial killer against the tumultuous political, social and economic backdrop of the times.
Oh, and there is disco ( 

You got it, baby….the music that Nora and Kathleen listen to the summer they turn eighteen and discover serious boyfriends in NYC keeps the beat throughout the novel. Nora is Cuban-American…in a single parent home with a sibling that is abusive on multiple levels. A neighbor, Stiller, is a card-carrying feminist with the bumper sticker and buttons to prove it. The boyfriend is Puerto Rican…and goes by an Anglo name. This is not an easy time for a young woman to set her own course. But that is Nora’s journey and challenge.

Medina writes with heart and courage and love. I can imagine her writing with both laughter and tears as this fabulous story came together under her fingertips. I will not be at all surprised with this historical fiction (oh, gawd----the seventies are now ancient) starts picking up 2016 awards. And, the narrator in the audible version is fantastic! Here is a youtube trailer for the book:

At first glance, Full Cicada Moon is a completely different story. It’s the story of junior-high student Mimi Oliver in 1969-1970. Mimi, from sunny California and daughter of a Japanese woman and
African- American man, move to Vermont where her father has taken a position as a professor at an unnamed university.

Mimi has a journey that includes simultaneously attempting to fit into small town Vermont while being different from everyone around her. She must figure out who she is lest it is determined by the neighbors and classmates around her that aren’t familiar with the cultures of either her mother or father.

Mimi has big dreams. She wants to touch the moon--literally. She and neighbor-friend Timothy watch coverage of the moon landing in 1969. A life of science and technology and moon landings is what Mimi dreams of. However, her science project in the school competition is sabotaged, kids ignore her new best girlfriend’s mother is from Georgia….a place where friendships between blacks and whites let alone biracial kids is not typical.

So, why do I see this books as a serendipitous book pairing experience?

From the simple…..both Nora and Mimi are strikingly strong in their desire to work toward dreams. They both have a love of woodshops and power tools that make them quirky and yet pioneering young women for their times. They are both women of color in worlds that deem them other. Mimi and Nora are at different stages of life and problem solve in their unique ways…but both draw strength from their roots while stretching their wings. I adore both characters and their journeys. Both novels gave me a deeper appreciation for the unnamed women of my past that paved the way for Nora, for Mimi, for me….for my daughters.

I highly recommend Burn Baby Burn for older teens that are ready to understand the complexities of dating including the notion that birth control was a revolutionary idea for the times. Full Cicada Moon is a perfect book for middle school students finding their way into who they are as people. Both are perfect historical novels for adults that enjoy as mirrors to our not so distant pasts.
Happy Reading

Hilton, Marilyn Full Cicada Moon. New York: Dial, 2015. Print.

Medina, Meg. "Burn Baby Burn." Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, 8 Mar. 2016. Web. 20 June 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Poetry Friday

It's the last day of school for me as a middle school Teacher Librarian for 2015-2016. I didn't think I had a contribution for Poetry Friday until after all of the teachers at my school waved the busses out of the circle for the summer.

Last Day of School
A Reverso

As the bus pulled out of the circle
Full of cheering, happy faces--
tears in your eyes
at the thought of moving on.
I gave you a thumbs up,
mouthing, it’s OK!
Watching until
I lost sight of you.
My student--
     --My teacher,
I lost sight of you
watching until
mouthing, it’s OK!
I gave you a thumbs up
at the thought of moving on.
Tears in your eyes
full of cheering, happy faces--
as the bus pulled out of the circle.

by Linda Mitchell

all rights reserved

Thanks so much to Carol's Corner for hosting Poetry Friday this week. I'm still getting the hang of it and apologize that this credit is added late. Please see her lovely highlight of poems from:
Voices From the March on Washington by J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon. It's not to be missed after this emotional week.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Poetry lives in me this week as I read Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton.

I read poetry slower than other this is taking me a while. It's rich and sweet but with a hint of something coming that I know I won't like. But, I trust this author. She's as careful as she is precise in placing each word on the page to draw readers further and further into the novel in verse.

Please find out more about this incredible story through the perfect pitch of Hilton's verse.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Summer Reading 2016

Summer Reading! Such a joy….such an opportunity…such a blessing…such a burden? So much depends on who’s reading and why. 

Recently, some friends have asked me for summer reading recommendations after talking with their kids, or their kid’s teachers. I’m never short on opinions about the topic of reading. I have collected some resources. I’ll share.

Let me start by stating the obvious….the biggest resource any child has in becoming a reader for pleasure is Y.O.U. 

Human beings learn by copy-catting in some way--including reading. If you are a caring adult in a young person’s life and you hand them a bag of books or recommendations for how to become a strong reader and expect them to say thank you, march off to their room to get right on those recs…well, it’s not likely the young person will magically change into a strong reader when they return to you.

Studies show that simply providing reading material to kids doesn’t make them better readers. Providing opportunities to talk, write, draw, text, pantomime or respond to reading in any way with other human beings about reading is what really makes the difference in strengthening the reading muscles, so to speak.

See what research James Kim has to say in a super short video about how to talk to kids about reading. I use the same questions he talks about with preschoolers with much older kids.
Dr. James Kim

Even though listening to your kid read the Garfield comics aloud to you can be excruciating…’s the retelling and the sharing of what that child finds funny that is stretching their learning and desire to read more. The truth is, kids will want to share reading with you that they find interesting. 

Adults may need to find ways to increase their stamina for being involved in this process of a child reading and sharing what they have read.

Really, there is no magic list….there are simply books and kids. Connecting them is the important part. Maybe adults need to make a little bit of room in their life to listen to the finer points of mine craft.

These are some of the resources I’ve collected as a parent and middle school librarian to use for reading with my own kids over the summer.

Scholastic’s (not for babies—my words, not theirs) Book BingoScholastic Book Bingo

There are lots more Book and Reading Bingo games on the internet one can search for.

State reading lists. Virginia’s state list is called the Virginia Reader’s Choice Award. This list is made up of books nominated by the Va. Reading Association as best in children’s literature. Students read the books during the school year and then vote on their favorite leading it to be the “state choice” of kids in that particular year.

The strength of the VRC list is that titles are noteworthy, recently published and of high literary quality. One other aspect—that I can’t quite it a challenge-- is that these are books adults think are good for kids. I am a huge VRC fan. These are the books I read aloud for my family.

Virginia Readers Choice nominees past and present as well as winners: Virginia Readers Choice

Association for Library Service to Children (part of the American Library Association) has been making summer reading recommendations for a century!

School Lists. Each school in the system that I work in develops and publishes its own recommended summer reading list. These lists are found on the school media center page AND are kept electronically and in print at county library branches.

Books make it on 
to this list after two school staff members have read and recommended the book. Again, this is what adults think is good for kids. My school list is at this link (at the bottom of the page in quick links):

Click around the country to various schools and check out their lists…school libraries are GREAT resources!

Guys Read. This is a great resource of books and author information compiled by former Ambassador for Children’s Literature, Jon Scieszka.
Guys Read

Girls of Summer.  An incredible reading list and project created by authors Meg Medina, Gigi Amenteau and the Richmond, Virginia Public Library. Great titles!
Girls of Summer Reading

I’m sure there are dozens and dozens more links that I will think of as soon as I hit publish on this blog posting.

If you have another great resource please share in the comments. There are adults all over the world wanting to see their kids involved in reading this summer. I would love some recommendations for my kids too!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Toe Dipping into Poetry Friday

I'm waving hello to fellow poets. I've been intrigued by Poetry Friday for some time but never really got a handle on exactly what it is or where to find it or how to jump in.

Fortunately, new and good friend Jan Annino gave me just the nudge I needed to dip my toe into the pond.

My "creativity" this week isn't exactly poetic. However, I've been up to my neck in verse by writing a lesson plan for Teacher Librarians to use with middle school students. As a Teacher Librarian and poet, I'm always finding fun ways to get poetry into my students. It's such a perfect vehicle for so many lessons.

I've uploaded my lessons to the Teacher's Pay Teachers (TpT) website because it will host the documents. The lesson is FREE and I'm perfectly fine with someone using it, adapting it or changing it in any way. I'd appreciate being credited for the idea should it be used commercially.

Look for the photo of the flowers in the watering can for each part of the lesson at TpT. There is a detailed lesson plan as well as a graphic organizer. Both items are FREE. I never charge for anything at TpT. It's just a nice place to host items for sharing.

Here is the link to the graphic organizerMatch First Poem to Novel Cover: Lesson Plan

Link to detailed lesson plan: Match First Poem to Novel Cover

Maybe next Friday I'll share some actual poetry!

Today's Poetry Friday is graciously hosted by Jone at Check it Out. Please visit her blog and see the wonderful links to more and more and more poetry. Check It Out