Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poem in My Pocket Day

Today is Poem in My Pocket Day!

I heard about this day from Librarian Superhero John Schu.  Here is his post.  Like Mr. Schu, I plan to have two poems, one in each pocket.

Left pocket:
I shared my love of Jack Prelutsky in a post last week, and knew I would choose one of this poems.  It is the title poem from this collection:

Here is the first stanza:

I'm making a pizza the size of the sun,
a pizza that's sure to weigh more than a ton,
a pizza too massive to pick up and toss,
a pizza resplendent with oceans of sauce.

The other comes from one of my favorite children's book series:

It is the poem the sorting hat recites:

"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see, 
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat then me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat 
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry,
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff 
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true,
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind
;Or perhaps in Slytherin,
Where you'll meet your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means,
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none
)For a Thinking Cap."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Newbery Challenge: Paperboy

My Newbery challenge is to read every Newbery and Honor book.  I've been working on this for a couple of years now.  My goal is to read one book per month.  This is the first book I have finished so I have some catching up to do, which will happen over the summer. 

Paperboy won a Newbery Honor in 2014.  It is set during the summer of 1959 in Memphis, Tennessee, and is the story of an 11-year old boy who takes over a friend’s paper route during part of summer vacation.  The boy lives with his parents and his black housekeeper who calls him “Little Man.”  Being a paperboy isn't too hard until it comes time for collecting, when Little Man has to talk to his customers.  The reason this is a challenge and why we do not know the boy’s name is because he has a stuttering problem.

I had a stuttering problem in elementary school, but it wasn't severe and all I can remember about having it was my mother telling me to slow down while talking.  Little Man deals with his stuttering by adding an “s” sound before lots of words and completely avoiding words with certain sounds because he cannot pronounce them, including the sound of his own name. 

I enjoyed Paperboy.  I appreciate how the time period was handled; the discrimination Mam faces under segregation laws is mentioned, but is not the driving force of the story.  Mam is a strong, loving presence in Little Man’s life, and reminded me of the black maids from The Help.  Kudos to the 2014 Newbery committee for selecting such a diverse group of books for this year’s medal and honors.

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

So last week, I read two great middle grade books from popular series.

Tom Angleberger is a genius!  This book is so delightfully funny and I feel like Angleberger champions real students and teachers caught up in a world where the only thing that seems to matter is standardized testing.  Princess Labelmaker continues the story from The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett, where the kids of McQuarrie middle school in the “Rebel Alliance” are battling the evils of the Fun Time curriculum, which eliminates electives and focuses on test prep all the time.  The book contains lots of Star Wars references and puns; my favorite is “What the Hutt?”  Kids love this series, and I know that firsthand. I received it as a birthday gift, and my 5th grade daughter squealed and took it from me.  I had to demand it back so I could read it.

My favorite movie is Back to the Future, and I am fascinated with anything focusing on time travel, so I love Haddix’s The Missing series.  In the sixth book, Jonah and Katherine travel back to Russia in 1918 where they have to save Alexie and Anastasia Romanov.  Haddix is a master of suspense and these books never disappoint.

I am currently reading:

Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Meaning of Maggie Review

So my absolute favorite book character of 2014? Maggie Mayfield. I am 36-years old, and as I age, memories of my childhood become increasingly more foggy.  This book took me back to being an 11-year old, which is a good thing because I have one of my own and I’m not sure that I am as always patient and understanding as a parent should be. I felt like Maggie WAS me.  She is in middle school during the late 1980s.  She is a spectacular student.  She loves books and sweets, and running is her nemesis.  She is outspoken, funny and a character I will remember for a long time.

I enjoyed the depiction of the relationship Maggie has with her two older sisters.  I grew up with one sister and now I have three girls.  My sister and I were polar opposites growing up, and we shared a room just like Maggie does with Tiffany.  I could relate to the fighting, both as a child who fought with my sister and as a parent who has to deal with children fighting.  Despite the seemingly ceaseless bickering, there are those sweet tender moments between Maggie and Tiffany when you know they love each other.  This rings true for my sister experience as well.

The biggest plot point of the story is that Maggie’s father has multiple sclerosis.  I think the way that everyone works together to deal with her dad’s condition is a great lesson of family support.

Oh, and I loved the footnotes!  They added to the authenticity of Maggie’s voice.  You never have to wonder what she is thinking because she tells you exactly!

Thank you Megan Jean Sovern for writing such a wonderful book!  Thank you to Chronicles Books for the Advanced Reader’s Copy.  I will purchase this book for my library and I can’t wait to share it with my students.

Release date:  May 6, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hooray for Haiku!

So, full confession.  As an English major, I was not overly fond of poetry.  Now, as a children’s librarian, I really enjoy it.  Since we celebrate poetry in April, I thought I would share some poetry books.  My most favorite book of children’s poetry is in Haiku form so I thought I’d share some Haiku books.

This book was released recently and you can find many professional reviews about it.  Muth describes in his author note the justification for departure from the 5-7-5 syllable structure of traditional haiku.  The first time I read this, I skipped past that note and my brain made no connection that the style was different because it really works.  My favorite poem (and very apt after the winter we just had):

too much TV this winter
my eyes are square
let’s go Out and play

There are wonderful illustrations featuring a familiar character.  This is one for every library that serves children in elementary school.

I can’t quote from this book because it is extremely popular and checked out right now.  Children love books about pets, particularly cats and dogs.  A cat living in a shelter is chosen by a family.  The poems tell the story of the encounter, the adoption, the arrival at the cat’s new home and the adjustment period.  When Won Ton reveals his name at the end of the story, we know that he is happy with his new family. 

And now for my favorite…

Each gloriously illustrated two-page spread features an animal.  The poems are in the form of each animal giving a description of itself.  If you walk over to the 811 shelves in your school or public library, you can find many wonderful Prelustky books.  The man was chosen as the first Children’s Poet Laureate with good reason.  When I read this aloud to students, I like to read the poems without showing the pictures and have the students guess which animal is talking based on the poem.  Can you guess this animal?

Boneless, translucent
We undulate, undulate