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Each day my inbox(es) fill with poems-a-day from various sources, and someday I should make a study of how I decide to click and read the comparatively few that I do. Here's one whose arguably not-very-poetic title caught my eye; I wanted to see where this would go. My instincts are pretty good, I guess--I loved it.
I have this, and this isn’t a mouth full of the names of odd flowers
I’ve grown in secret. I know none of these by name
but have this garden now, and pastel somethings bloom
near the others and others. I have this trowel, these overalls,
this ridiculous hat now. This isn’t a lung full of air.
Not a fist full of weeds that rise yellow then white then windswept.
This is little more than a way...
************************ Read the rest here, and listen to Jamaal read it himself here. This poem pleases me because of the tension between the everyday register and the imprecise words on the way to a very deliberate and precise capturing of everything the speaker claims not to know. (In fact I'm adding this to my collection of "no poems," poems which create their meaning by denying it.) Wouldn't the title and its stem, "I have this, and this isn't..." be a very interesting poetry prompt for kids?
I also like the feeling of effort in this poem, repeated effort, which must be reminding me of the repeated efforts we are having to make to keep driveway and sidewalks clear,* and "return as sprout" must be about the poor green tips of a daffodil, which in December thought it must be spring and time to spear up, but which now finds itself smack in the middle of the best path we could forge from the front porch to the sidewalk and is now trampled and muddied but still green.
Catherine is hosting today at Reading to the Core, with Irene Latham's new book in the spotlight--isn't it nice that you can just click to get there instead of digging your way through feet of snow? Let us be grateful for all that is!
*This morning at 4:15 I stood at the window and watched a noisy little Bobcat bulldozer work its way up our street, hoisting scoops of chunky, icy, frozen snow from the edges of the street and dumping it onto the finally clear, dry sidewalk. Oof. More shoveling, with a side of boulder-tossing.
The soils surrounding the village where I live in the north west of England have abundant fertility. They mostly formed in well-drained, clay-rich debris left behind by glaciers that retreated from the area some ten thousand years ago, and they now support lush, productive pasture, semi-natural grassland and woodland. Although the pastures are managed more intensively than they were in the past, most of them are well drained, and receive regular dressings of manure along with moderate fertiliser, and are regularly limed, which keeps the land productive and the soil in good health.
Too Many Carrots Written & Illustrated by Katy Hudson Capstone 2/1/2016 978-1-62370-638-8 32 pages Ages 3—5 “Rabbit loves carrots. In fact, he loves them so much that they are crowing him out of his cozy burrow. When his friends offer help, Rabbit happily accepts. But will too many carrots cause too much trouble …
Bear Snores On is the first book in Karma Wilson’s series about Bear; a huggable and loyal friend, connoisseur of popcorn, and avid swimmer. It’s that time of the year and Bear has gone to sleep for a long time. What happens when several of his woodland friends happen upon his warm lair?
Bear Snores On is a great book you can use to teach young readers about seasons, hibernation, friendship, and sharing. There are so many big lessons in one small book!
Karma Wilson’s reading of Bear Snores On was filmed during Angie Karcher’sRhyming Picture Book Revolution Conference (RPBC). The purpose of the RPBC is to educate and support authors who write rhyming picture books.
KidLit TV’s Read Out Loud series is perfect for parents, teachers, and librarians. Use these readings for nap time, story time, bedtime … anytime!
Parents and Educators: Click here to download free Bear Snores On activities! Explore books written by Karma Wilson including more books about Bear!
ABOUT BEAR SNORES ON
Bear Snores On(Illustrated by Jane Chapman) – One by one, a whole host of different animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on! See what happens when he finally wakes up and finds his cave full of uninvited guests — all of them having a party without him.
Karma Wilson grew up an only child of a single mother in the wilds of North Idaho. Way back then (just past the stone age and somewhat before the era of computers) there was no cable TV and if there would have been Karma could not have gotten it. TV reception was limited to 3 channels, of which one came in with some clarity. Karma did the only sensible thing a lonely little girl could do…she read or played outdoors.
Playing outdoors was fun, but reading was Karma’s “first love” and, by the age 11 she was devouring about a novel a day. She was even known to try to read while riding her bike down dirt roads, which she does not recommend as it is hazardous to the general well being of the bike, the rider, and more importantly the book. Her reading preference was fantasy (C.S. Lewis, Terry Brooks, etc…) and historical fiction (L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc…). Those preferences have not changed much.
Karma never considered writing as a profession because her mother was a professional writer which made it seem like boring and mundane work. At the age of 27 she realized that she still loved well written children’s books of all kinds, from picture books to young adult novels. By that time Karma was a wife and the mother of three young children. Trips to the library with her children were a combination of emotions…when they got a good book there was fun to be had by all, but so many of the books weren’t what her children wanted to listen to.
Yesterday, was National Hug Day (and Squirrel Appreciation Day, so I hope you hugged a squirrel). Yesterday was also The Big Book of Hugs release day, which could not have been a better choice. I am pleased to bring you a bear occupation I had known little about. Okay, I knew nothing about it, but …
January 21st is officially Squirrel Appreciation Day. To mark this solemn occasion, Kid Lit Reviews is pleased to bring you a feisty little squirrel destined to become a pirate. I just could not pass up telling you about Sammy on his special day. Actually, Sammy’s special day will be April 1 (no fooling), when his …
What a quiet, lovely book is The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World by Julian Hoffman. In 2000, Hoffman and his partner, Julia, moved to the Prespa Lakes region in northern Greece. The main lake, Lake Prespa is situated in such a way that the borders of Greece, Albania and the Republic of Macedonia all meet somewhere in the middle of it. The area has seen more than its share of conflict from Albanians feeling communist rule to the Greek Civil War to the break up of Yugoslavia and Macedonia becoming its own country. Hoffman discusses pieces of this history in the context of what it has done to the people who live there , their traditional ways, and the unique ecology of the place.
When Hoffman and Julia first moved to the area they made part of their living as market gardeners. Now, the pair monitor bird populations in the upland areas where wind farms are being built. As a bird expert, the book is filled with bird observations as you might expect. But it is also filled with observations of geology and how people live in and with the nature. It is a book that is deeply imbued with a sense of place and what it means to belong to that place.
More a series of essays than a start to finish memoir, each piece focuses on something different. “Homing” is about our need for finding a place we can belong and call home. “Among Reeds” is about walking through a reed bed and discovering bitterns live there. While “Time in Karst Country” is about karst, how it was created, how deceptive and seemingly barren it is. But it is more than that,
There is a distinctiveness brought about by weathering and ageing, both limestone and ourselves the inconstant ones, enduring the elements, overcoming the flaws of our inheritance. Dissolution is more than a lessening; it’s a reminder of time worn well.
Another essay, “The Distance Between Us” is a wonderful story about when Hoffman was walking on the hills above Morecambe Bay in Cumbria and noticed a man walking far ahead of him. He gradually began to catch up and then the path went down into a small, narrow valley, the man disappeared over the edge of it and a few minutes later when Hoffman arrived the man was nowhere to be seen. He was worried there had been an accident and searched around but the man was gone. This happened years and years ago but he still thinks about the man especially when he is out walking and spies a solitary person walking ahead of him. The essay then turns into a meditation on the impact strangers can have on our lives without even knowing it. And, conversely, the impact we also must make on other people’s lives that we are unaware of.
One of my favorite essays is the titular essay, “The Small Heart of Things.” It is about the successful reintroduction of the beaver to Transylvania. The animal had been absent from the country for two hundred years, trapped and hunted to extinction for their fur. The beaver was so important to the country at one time there are cities and villages, common words and surnames based on the word for beaver. The reintroduction has been a smashing success. The beavers are thriving and spreading out among the country’s waterways. And, even though there is a fund to which farmers and others can apply to be reimbursed for damage a beaver may do, hardly anyone has used it, not because there has not been damage, but because people are so happy to have the beavers back in their lives again that they accept the damage as part of the relationship.
Extinction and preservation ask of us essentially the same thing: what is the meaning and measure of loss?
And he goes on to observe:
While we may adapt to the absence of things, either easily or over time, each extinction diminishes our lives as well; each fragment as essential as the next when attempting to understand our place on the planet. Loss lessens our shared inheritance, and the world is made inescapably smaller.
The Small Heart of Things is a slim book but it is packed with such clear-eyed observations and thoughtful meditations that it feels much bigger than it is. It is a book about being part of a place, being part of something bigger than you. It tells us how to do this too, by slow, careful attention, by being present in the world and by forming relationships to the things of the world both common and rare. Hoffman reveals time and again, it is those relationships that matter most.
This month I'll be highlighting some of the top-notch poetry published in the last year--so top-notch that it was deemed by the Cybils Award Round 1 panel to be a finalist for the award. As a Round 2 judge, I'm going to share some excerpts from each book this month. Since it finally got cold here in Maryland this week, I'll begin with...
This book, illustrated by Rick Allen using a complicated combination of linoleum block prints hand-colored, "digitally scanned, composed, and layered," contains just 12 poems. Some are free verse and some are rhymed and metered. This collection has received 5 starred reviews and almost a dozen awards, including in 2014, since it was published in November of 2014.
excerpt from "Winter Bees"
We scaled a million blooms to reap the summer's glow. Now, in the merciless cold, we share each morsel of heat, each honeyed crumb. We cram to a sizzling ball to warm our queen, our heart, our home.
excerpt from "Chickadee's Song"
The sun wheels high, the cardinal trills. We sip the drips of icicles. The buds are thick, the snow is slack. Spring has broken winter's back.
This is a book trailer for Animalogy, Animal Analogies by Marianne Berkes. This was our first book together and we have our fourth book coming out Spring 2016. I love Marianne's stories and it's always fun to be a part of her world.
At first glance, it’s a simple walk through the woods, but as you slow down and look closely, using a set of special lenses which come packaged with the book, all sorts of hidden stories are revealed. Animals and plants magically appear where there were none before. Gentle prompts on each page draw in readers / listeners / viewers to look again and let themselves be surprised and enchanted by the magic.
Bestard’s illustrative technique makes use of the fact that different coloured lenses filter out different colours printed on the page, disguising some, allowing others to suddenly appear clearly. This approach makes for stylish images also when viewed without any lenses; her limited palette, her highly decorative use of patterns and the clarity of her line all add up to fresh and eye-catching illustrations.
The experience of reading the book is also very interesting. It becomes something slower and more deliberate, not a race to the end, but rather an invitation to look, and look and look again. Such close observation is sometimes hard to encourage, but here it comes naturally and is hugely enjoyable. My kids both kept checking that they’d not missed any small detail and were truly fascinated by how something so simple as the lenses changed everything.
We just had to explore the technique used by Bestard ourselves and so we set up a creation station, with lots of different shades of red, yellow, blue and green markers, plus homemade acetate visors in each of the colours. The visors (made from acetate sheets rather than cellophane because acetate is a bit thicker and sturdier) meant that the kids could put them on and draw hands-free (so to say) i.e. without having to hold the magic lenses from the book in one hand.
There was a real frisson of excitement in the air as we saw how our drawings appeared to reveal hidden secrets as we viewed them through different coloured filters. I’ve tried to show how it looked to us by making this short animation:
Whilst making our own magic images we listened to:
Going for a walk in some nearby woods and seeing what you can spot (with or without magic glasses). For folk in the the UK, The Woodland Trust has a great site with lots of resources and tips for getting out into a forest near you and having a great time. Perhaps you could join in with their ancient tree hunt? Did you know that you can use the HUG method to identify ancient trees?
Rocket believes reading rocks and kids will too after they hear Tad Hills read R Is for Rocket: An ABC Story. Rocket and his animal pals go on an alliterative journey from A to Z while introducing readers to art and nature. Your early reader will enjoy seeing Bella the squirrel balancing on a ball, Owl offering a cawing crow a cookie and a crayon, and a guest appearance from Tad’s most popular waterfowl friend!
Do you have the book at home? Open up the dust jacket to find a poster of thewondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet! Feel free to read along too.
KidLit TV’s Read Out Loud series is perfect for parents, teachers, and librarians. Use these readings for nap time, story time, bedtime … anytime!
From Random House Kids R Is for Rocket: An ABC Book– Learn the ABCs with Rocket, the dog who inspires kids to read and write! This irresistible alphabet book from the creator of the New York Times bestsellers How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story is sure to appeal to kids, parents, teachers, and librarians. From finding acorns, to balancing on a ball, to offering a cookie and a crayon to a crow, readers will love exploring the wonderful world of Rocket and his friends. The whole cast is featured, among them the little yellow bird, the owl, Bella the squirrel, and more. Even Goose from the beloved and bestselling Duck & Goose books makes a cameo appearance! With charming and delightful scenes for every letter, here’s an ode to the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet.
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog Written by Dev Petty Illustrated by Mike Boldt Doubleday Books for Young Readers 2/10/2015 978-0-385-37866-6 32 pages Ages 2—6 . “Let me ask you something . . . If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be? Probably NOT a frog, right? …
What is all around us, terrifies a lot of people, but adds enormously to the quality of life? Answer: chemistry. Almost everything that happens in the world, in transport, throughout agriculture and industry, to the flexing of a muscle and the framing of a thought involves chemical reactions in which one substance changes into another.
One day, a little girl’s father does an inconceivably bad thing. Granted he is not even aware of the crime he has just committed, which for the girl makes it all the more unconscionable. She’s too late to thwart his mindless destruction and cannot save the dandelions he has just mown in their backyard. Thus […]
Mia Charro is a spanish illustrator and children’s book author, who is inspired by nature, fairytales and magic. Her illustrations are very whimsical, highlighting her love for the outdoors. When she’s not illustrating she loves nothing more than walking through the woods and writing.
Find out more about this great illustrator at her website andblog
The scent of Spring is in the air. But that’s not all that’s lifting us up. From the tiny details to the wider world, our environment has so much to offer. For different reasons, these following picture books discover beauty and how the elements of nature can capture our hearts and strengthen our human kindness. […]
Kate Wilson is a New Zealand based illustrator. Her illustrations are peaceful and whimsical, concentrating on the wildlife and small beings that live outdoors. She has a keen eye for small things, which translates in her work. Her influences include; gardening and spending time with animals but she does dislike mowing the lawn!
A combination of allergies and Monday brain has me staring at my computer screen with a rather blank expression on my face. Seriously, if you could see me you’d be concerned whether I’d gone zombie or something. But it came to me through the fog, that I have been thinking frequently about wanting to read some good nature books over the winter. I really like reading about nature when I am snuggled up indoors and it is bitterly cold and the world has turned to shades of black, white and gray. I’ve got lists of books too, but let me tell you, the lists have gotten so unwieldy I have no idea what to choose any longer. Proof that when there are too many choices a sort of paralysis sets in.
I don’t often ask for recommendations, but I am going to now in the hopes that your suggestions will help kick me out of my too many to choose from stupor. So here is your chance to make a recommendation and I know we all like to advocate for favorite books but are often hesitant to do it. But don’t hold back, lay it on me!
What I mean by nature book can be a broadly interpreted. It might be a science-y book on moss or a sociology/psychology/philosophy kind of book on coping with climate change or a travel through the jungle/desert/forest/arctic sort of book or it could be about a cabin on a pond and planting beans and watching ants or about a garden or a farm. You get the idea. Something to take my mind outdoors while my body is stuck indoors.
Winter might be a little way off yet, but it is never too early to start planning!
Wise old owl who lives in this tree has seen it all before, but in fact there’s something reassuring about his experiences. Seasons come and seasons go, but life continues. And it’s a beautiful life, one to take time to savour.
Tree by Britta Teckentrup (@BTeckentrup) explores the life of a tree across the span of a single year, watching changes in leaves, blossom, fruit and the landscape around. Teckentrup celebrates the seasons with eye-catching beauty and soothingly rhythmic, lullaby-like text, reminding me of Walt Whitman’s tree which “utter[s] joyous leaves“.
We witness the circle of life not just on the tree, but also with the animals who visit; look out for the birds who build a nest and see what happens! What makes this book about seasonal changes stand out is its beauty, attention to detail, and lovely, quiet text which works very well for reading aloud. The physical book is incredibly inviting – from the textured hardback cover, to the satisfyingly thick pages, and most delightful of all – the peep-through holes, which page-turn by page-turn reveal and then conceal visiting animals.
The illustrations look like relief printing, with a handmade texture and matt finish that perfectly reflects a delight in nature and “the natural”. Jubilant use of colour lights up every page.
Interestingly, the text for this picture book was actually written by Patricia Hegarty, but her name doesn’t appear on the book cover or title page inside. I imagine this is because the book is really a vehicle to let Teckentrup’s illustrations sing – which they do in all their glory – but it’s an interesting detail given the current debate about equal recognition for authors and illustrators reflected by the Pictures Mean Business campaign. Do you know of any other picture books where the author doesn’t get the same credit as the illustrator?
Sumptuous, strokable and always in season, Tree tells a timeless tale to delight all.
Inspired by Teckentrup’s artwork, we set about creating our own colourful trees. First we stencilled a trunk…
…before adding tissue paper leaves in a variety of colours.
When dry, we cut out our trees to include their canopy, added a few hand-drawn animals, and put them up somewhere a little bit unusual – by our skirting board – so that other woodland creatures could come and play.
Artist and naturalist Jim Arnosky has been honored for his overall contribution to literature for children by the Eva L. Gordon Award and the Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild Award for nonfiction. His latest book is "Frozen Wild."
Autumn has arrived here in Northeastern Ohio, bringing with it crisp weather, all things pumpkin, and beautiful fall foliage. The trees are only starting to reveal their brilliant hues of orange, yellow, gold and red here, but soon I’ll awaken to a glowing landscape that seemingly exploded overnight. As this season traditionally brings many requests for fall themed library materials, as well as special fall programming, I was inspired to think of ways that technology may add further enjoyment and educational opportunities to this time.
The best way to experience the beauty of fall is to strap on your hiking shoes and venture to the nearest wooded park (or your backyard!). Bringing along your smartphone or tablet, loaded with fall foliage apps, can enhance your exploration of autumn’s beauty. Children of a variety of ages will enjoy learning more about our natural environment with these apps and websites highlighted below, although most young users not yet in elementary school may need some parent or caregiver help.
Yankee Leaf Peepr– This free app by Yankee Publishing Inc., available for Apple and Android devices, provides you with a very handy color-coded map that indicates where the leaves are changing anywhere in the United States. Users contribute to the map by posting photos and ratings of the foliage, making this app not only useful, but
Image from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ypi.leafpeepr&hl=en.
interactive. The current foliage color is determined by averaging user ratings in a geographic area.
Chimani apps- These apps, offered as free downloads on all major mobile platforms, are a really fun way to explore various National Parks. They help you with planning your trip, letting you know when Ranger-led trips occur, and more. These apps work with or without WiFi or a data signal, which is especially helpful when you are out on the trail.
LeafSnap– Once you’ve found some beautiful leaves, you may be left wondering what kind of tree they’re a part of. Make this a great learning opportunity with LeafSnap! Developed by researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institute, LeafSnap helps users identify trees by allowing users to take a picture of a leaf from the tree and then providing them with the species. The app is free for iPhone and iPad, and also has a website displaying tree species. The only negative is that this is only usable for species found in the Northeastern United States and Canada.
U.S. Forest Service website and Yonder app– The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with Yonder, a free app, to help nature lovers share their adventures. The website also provides a map of fall color based on eyewitness accounts and allows users to choose their state or local forest to see specific fall foliage information. You can find weekly color updates in your state using this tool!
Foliage Network – The fall foliage prediction map on this website helps users visual the changing leaves around the United States and plan when to see the most beautiful colors in your neighborhood.
You can pair these fun apps and websites with traditional activities for a great autumn library program. How about leaf rubbing (which was recently discussed here on the blog), sharing a classic fall read-aloud such as Ehlert’s “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” and then using LeafSnap to identify the tree outside the storytime window? There are many possibilities to incorporate technology and nature into library programs and family time. What are some of your favorite hi- or low-tech autumn extension activities? ___________________________________________________________
Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee. You can reach her at email@example.com.
The Secret Lives of Animals: 1,001 Tidbits, Oddities, and Amazing Facts about North America’s Coolest Animals Written by by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer Illustrated by Rachel Riordan FalconGuides® 10/01/2015 978-14930-1191-9 254 pages Age 7—12 “Did you know that a grasshopper’s ears are on his belly? Or that a bison can …