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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Marilyn Nelson, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 12 of 12
1. Three Authors Receive Top Honors from NCTE

for Cynsations

ATLANTA-- Authors Jason Reynolds, Melissa Sweet, and Marilyn Nelson were just announced winners of prestigious literacy awards from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Jason Reynolds won the 2017 Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children for his book Ghost (Atheneum). The Charlotte Huck award is given to books that promote and recognize fiction that has the potential to transform children's lives.

Melissa Sweet won the 2017 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children for her book Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

The NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, established in 1989, is the oldest children's book award for nonfiction.

Marilyn Nelson won the 2017 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. The biannual award is given to a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13.

Honor and Recommended book lists were also announced. All three authors will be invited to speak at next year's NCTE Annual Convention in St. Louis, MO.

NCTE is the nation's most comprehensive literacy organization, supporting teachers across the preK–college spectrum.

Through the expertise of its members, NCTE has served at the forefront of every major improvement in the teaching and learning of English and the language arts since 1911.

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2. Lee Bennett Hopkins – Poet Interview for National Poetry Month

  April is National Poetry month so to spice up my interviews I decided to talk to internationally renowned poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins.  In 1989 he received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s … Continue reading

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3. Marilyn Nelson: ‘Many performance poets seem to believe that yelling a poem makes it comprehensible’

marilyn nelsonHappy National Poetry Month! All throughout April, we will interview poets about working in this digital age. Recently, we spoke with award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson.

Throughout her career, Nelson has written several volumes of poetry. Earlier this year, Penguin Books for Young Readers published her memoir How I Discovered Poetry. Check out the highlights from our interview below…


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4. on history sanitized and simplified for younger readers: let's think about this

In today's New York Times, Alexander Alter writes of the increasing number of "adult" authors who are reconfiguring their history books for the younger, still-book-buying crowd (or for those who buy books for them). She writes:

Inspired by the booming market for young adult novels, a growing number of biographers and historians are retrofitting their works to make them palatable for younger readers. Prominent nonfiction writers like Ms. Hillenbrand, Jon Meacham and Rick Atkinson are now grappling with how to handle unsettling or controversial material in their books as they try to win over this impressionable new audience.

And these slimmed-down, simplified and sometimes sanitized editions of popular nonfiction titles are fast becoming a vibrant, growing and lucrative niche.
I wonder about the wisdom of this—about the felt need to take well-written and absorbing histories and make them less than (for sanitized and simplified sound like less than to me) for younger readers. Let's first acknowledge what many young readers are capable of, which is to say, books rich with moral dilemma and emboldened by ideas. Let's next acknowledge what young readers need, which is to say the facts of then and now. 

You can already get that sort of thing in novels written for younger readers. Certainly Patricia McCormick is not writing down, making it easy, simplifying when she writes about the sex trade or the Cambodian war. Certainly Ruta Sepetys didn't make Siberia comfortable in Between Shades of Gray. Certainly M. T. Anderson didn't set out to make Octavian Nothing easy, simple, sterile. Certainly, Marilyn Nelson, publishing Carver, a life in verse for young adults, didn't think to herself, let me make this easy. She wrote each page smart, each page full of innuendo and terms to look up and mysteries, like this:

A Charmed Life

Here breathes a solitary pilgrim sustained by dew
and the kindness of strangers. An astonished Midas
surrounded by the exponentially multiplying miracles: my
Yucca and Cactus in the Chicago World Exposition;
friends of the spirit; teachers. Ah, the bleak horizons of joy.
Light every morning dawns through the trees. Surely
this is worth more than one life.
And certainly I, writing novels for young adults, am not setting history down in burnished, skip-over-it slices. Not when I write about the Spanish Civil War (Small Damages) or the shadowy blockade of the Berlin Wall (Going Over) or Centennial Philadelphia (Dangerous Neighbors) or 1871 Philadelphia (Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent) or Florence during the 1966 flood (One Thing Stolen). I am working to put a younger reader into the heart of it all. And sometimes that's not pretty. Sometimes that hurts. But that is history for you.

That's life.

YA writers have been writing sophisticated historical novels for a long time now. Why, then, suggest that those same YA readers need to be written down to when it comes to pure nonfiction? To the big stories. The telling moments. The individual against the state, the home versus the political, the science versus the dream, the big stuff that shapes who we became. Nonfiction for young adults, like novels for young adults, should be alive and deep and somehow true. It should respect the capabilities of younger readers.

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5. How I Discovered Poetry

I am a Cybils second round judge. I am currently reading the all the nominated books in a fun "armchair readalong" way with the first round judges. My reviews and opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the work of the committee.

How I Discovered Poetry Marilyn Nelson

Traveling Light (Smoky Hill AFB, Kansas, 1956)

In memory, Pudgy is just a tail
brushing my thighs as we surveyed the shelves
in the icebox. “Pudgy,” Daddy explained,
“went to live with a different family;
she’s fed and happy.” Lady welcomed us
to one Officer’s Housing, where she lived
under our unit. She was a good dog.
She seemed almost sad when we drove away
behind the moving van. And General
did have a knack for causing us trouble:
He dug up gardens, dragged whole clotheslines home.
“He’ll be happier with his new family,”
Daddy explains. We’ve been transferred again.
We stand numb as he gives away our toys.

This is a beautiful collection of unrhymed sonnets exploring life growing up on a series of military bases--a child of one of the few black officers. It explores so well the pain of growing up coupled with the pain of moving every few years, always saying goodbye, always trying to fit in with a new group of kids--sometimes made even harder by racial differences.

It’s a sparse book--only 50 sonnets--but packs a punch. Inevitably it will be compared to the other memoir-in-verse that came out this year, Brown Girl Dreaming, and I fear it will be overshadowed by it, which is sad, because this one is so good and so lovely.

It’s also wonderfully illustrated by Hadley Hooper in black-and-white drawings (maybe prints?) occasionally accented with muted goldenrod or blue.

Now, how do I feel about it as Cybils book? This one’s interesting… it’s a nomination in both YA nonfiction and in Poetry. I think it’s an outstanding choice, and strong contender for poetry, I do not think it’s a strong choice for YA Nonfiction. If nothing else, her author’s note states: “I prefer to call the girl in the poems ‘the Speaker,’ not ‘me.’ Although the poems describe a girl whose life is very much like mine, the incidents the poems describe are not entirely or exactly ‘memories.’ They are sometimes much enhanced by research and imagination.” So, a wonderful book that everyone should read, but not the right book for this award.

Book Provided by... my local library

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6. Interview: Padma Venkatramen

NWD interview with author Padma VenkatramanAuthor Padma Venkatraman‘s most recent novel A Time to Dance was an Honour Winner in the 2015 South Asia Book Award and was chosen for inclusion in IBBY’s 2015 Selection of Outstanding Books for Young … Continue reading ...

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7. TALKING UP: What Does Age Appropriate Mean Anyway?

In keeping with this month’s theme – using our books in the classroom – I’d like to share experiences about talking up/talking down to kids in publishing and the classroom.

When the question of age appropriateness arose on our new Web site, http://www.inkthinktank.com/, I wish I had listed a broader age range. Some of you already have and hats of to ya! Material that is strong and fun and well presented is manna from heaven to a creative teacher. Kids, young and old, are savvy creatures who can handle big vocabulary and big ideas.

Step back: For years I’ve been trying to capture the voices of the participants who rule my subjects. Early on, in a book for young children called When I See My Doctor, I included the words “stethoscope,” “otoscope,” “sphygmomanometer,” and “hemoglobinmeter.” The copy editor wanted these words deleted because they were too difficult for kindergarten-age children. But four-year-old Thomas, the subject of the book, learned them from his doctor and shouted them proudly into my tape recorder.

It was a bit nerve wracking to argue with an editor because I was new to the field, didn’t have kids, and never studied early childhood education. But I trusted Thomas, my subject. Later, at school visits, children called out the words, teachers beamed, and I felt vindicated. Sophisticated language, one teacher said, encouraged the children to be students.

Jump to now: A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of doing a presentation with Marilyn Nelson, the poet whose picture book I recently illustrated. I had invited her to watch me shoot her book, using students from the Dance Theatre of Harlem as my models, but scheduling didn’t quite work out. Now that the book is published, we were asked to appear together in front of a large group of students. I was anxious. How would a classroom filled with both boys and girls react to my gals in tutus? What helped the most was the teacher. She greeted me with an enthusiastic bear hug and a huge – I mean huge – smile. That alleviated trepidations until I saw the kids. The first to arrive were the boys – big, boisterous boys who spread out in the front rows. Gulp! This is a book about ballerinas for goodness sake! Too late now to back out. Besides Marilyn had just arrived looking fabulous. There were more hugs as Marilyn whispered, “How shall we do this?” If she didn’t know we were in deep do-do land.
“You go first.”
“No, you go first.”
“No, you go first.”
Marilyn, the AUTHOR, went first. She described how and why she wrote the poem and revealed a few literary secrets, such as a riff on Yeats. [“Beautiful ballerina, you are the dance.”] She read her poem to a rapt audience and talked a little more.

My turn! Following Marilyn Nelson may have been a mistake. But I have a few secrets of my own, ones that surprisingly complimented her poetic structure. Showing photographs, I pointed out my secrets, historic balletic points of reference. There’s an homage to Swan Lake, to Degas, and to George Balanchine.

[The photograph above is a typical Balanchine shape.] There were no giggles, squirms or snickers from the audience. Instead, there were great questions and a very happy teacher. Oh, did I tell you who made up the audience for our picture book? Students at the University of Connecticut.

What experiences have you had, dear teachers, librarians, and colleagues, breaking the "age appropriate" barrier?

Jete’ to future: The next visit will be with third graders. I will not change one word in my presentation.

7 Comments on TALKING UP: What Does Age Appropriate Mean Anyway?, last added: 10/30/2009
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8. Review: Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson

By Phoebe Vreeland, The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 26, 2010

Snook Alone

By Marilyn Nelson (Author), Timothy Basil Ering (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 5 -10

Hardcover: 48 pages

Publisher: Walker & Company (January 2011)

Source: Library

How might you discuss subjects like longing and faith with young children? Marilyn Nelson has given us a gem of a spring board with the book Snook Alone.  She has chosen the ideal protagonist for such a lofty subject: the faithful dog.  Masterfully illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, the story takes us to a faraway atoll in the Indian Ocean where Abba Jacob, a contemplative monk, spends his days in silence, prayer and work shadowed by his rat terrier Snook.  As the monk rises early to sit for prayer, Snook curls up behind him, closes his eyes, and takes in all the sounds of the island in early morning. While the monk tends to his chores, Snook faithfully shadows his master, dutifully hunting rats and mice.  The two even share the monk’s modest lunch.  “Each day was a striped flag of silence, work, food, silence, work, silence.”

Click to enlarge

That is, until one day when Abba Jacobs travels by motor boat to a nearby island to catalog the flora and fauna.  Snook goes along for the “micing.” A storm comes up and Snook is abandoned alone on the island.  Here begins his great adventure.  The terrier fares quite well as a survivor, yet all the while longing for the return of Abba Jacob. Snook, as we know, is an expert listener.  The painting of him poised, alert at the sea’s edge listening for Abba Jacob is heartbreaking. “Every molecule listened for his friend.” Who has not witnessed the intensity of a dog waiting for the return of his master? Pure faith.  Deep concentration…meditation.

As author Marilyn Nelson says, the book can be read on two levels.  On the surface it is an adventure story—Robinson Crusoe with a dog cast away.  This gives the book great boy and nature lover appeal with the interaction between Snook and the native animals that have never seen such an “exotic” creature and vice-versa.  The interaction between Snook and a sea turtle laying eggs on the beach proves epiphanous for Snook and fosters the seed of compassion in him.

Illustration by Timothy Basil Ering

Abandoned, Snook eventually becomes quite feral—“a wolf-size cloud of stink”—yet he never stops longing for the return of his friend.  Abba Jacob’s silence has been replaced by the constancy of the wind, the rhythmic sound of the surf and by the love inside Snook.  In essence, Snook’s deep longing becomes the presence of Abba Jacob and the

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9. Book Wish Foundation Compiles Y.A. Short Story & Poetry Collection

A team of authors have joined Book Wish Foundation‘s What You Wish For: A Book For Darfur project. Book sale profits will be donated to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), an organization building libraries in Darfur refugee camps in Chad.

Penguin Group’s G.P. Putnam’s Sons imprint will release the collection in September. If you make a donation of $20 or more before April 30th and your name (and your child’s) will be included in the book’s acknowledgment section.

Actress Mia Farrow, who serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, has written the forward. The participating authors include: Cornelia Funke, Meg Cabot, R. L. Stine, John Green, Ann M. Martin, Alexander McCall Smith, Cynthia Voigt, Karen Hesse, Joyce Carol Oates, Nikki Giovanni, Jane Yolen, Nate Powell, Gary Soto, Jeanne DuPrau, Francisco X. Stork, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sofia Quintero.

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10. May B./Caroline Starr Rose: Reflections

Ten years ago, I was spending these heated summer days reading through 160+ books written for children and teens.  Picture books, middle-grade books, history books, biographies, verse novels, novels—you name it.  I'd been asked to chair the Young People's Literature Jury for the National Book Awards.  I was serious, as I tend to be, about the responsibility.

Among the books that rapidly made its way to the top of my pile was Marilyn Nelson's Carver: A Life in Poems.  Here was George Washington Carver's life told with lyric majesty.  Here was poverty and agriculture, botany and music, and I loved every word. Nelson's book would go on to be among the National Book Award finalists that year.  It remains a book I return to repeatedly, cite often, keep tucked into a special corner of my shelves.

It seems fitting, then, that I have spent much of this warm, quiet day with Caroline Starr Rose's magnificent middle grade novel-in-verse in hand.  It's called May B. and it takes us to the Kansas prairie, where young Mavis Elizabeth Betterly, a struggling reader in school, has been sent fifteen miles from her home to help a new homesteader out.  Tragedy strikes, and May B. is soon alone—fending off winter and wolves and the flagellation of self doubt until:
It is hard to tell what is sun,
what is candle,
what is pure hope.
That is May B., thinking out loud. That is the quality of the prose that streams through this book—timeless, transcendent, and graced with lyric spark, moving, always, the consequential story along:
She rocks again.
"The quiet out here's the worst part,
thunderous as a storm the way
it hounds you
He had that look that reminds me
someday he'll be a man.
Caroline Starr Rose is both a teacher and a writer (and a fine blogger).  She wondered, she writes, how children with learning differences, such as dyslexia, made their way, years ago, and May B. arose in part from that question, as well as from Caroline's own love for social history.  I listen for rhythms in the books I read, and I found them aplenty here.  I look for heart, and found that, too—abundant and dear. Special books fit themselves into special places, and May B. has a new home here on my shelves—right beside Ms. Nelson's Carver and Jeannine Atkins' Borrowed Names, where versed, artful, backward-glancing works for younger readers go. 

A non sequitur, perhaps:  When I finished reading May B. an hour or two ago, I realized something.  I have at long last collected enough fine young adult literature of different genres and slants to teach that YA course that I have so often been asked to consider.  Ideas form.

May B. is due out from Schwartz & Wade Books, January 2012.

3 Comments on May B./Caroline Starr Rose: Reflections, last added: 7/10/2011
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11. Review of the Day: A Little Bitty Man by Halfdan Rasmussen

A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young
By Halfdan Rasmussen
Translated by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espeland
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0763623791
Ages 3-8
On shelves now.

Denmark! Mention the country and children’s literature in one breath and what would most Americans think of? Well, if they were well-versed in the form they might think of Hans Christian Andersen. Our national interest in children’s authors from other countries is sparse, but once in a while someone pierces the collective unconscious. Unfortunately for us, Danish children’s literature begins and ends with the esteemed Andersen. For all we know, that country’s interest in kids’ fare began and ended with his reign. So it was with great interest that I became acquainted with one Halfdan Rasmussen. Former resistance fighter against the German occupation, human rights advocate, and children’s poet, the man wore many a hat in his day. Having already been introduced to U.S. kids in the previous publication The Ladder, Rasmussen returns to our public eye with a collection of younger fare. Sweet and jaunty by turns, A Little Bitty Man exhibits all the best aspects of classic children’s poetry. You may have never known this Rasmussen fellow before but after reading this you’ll be happy to make his acquaintance.

Thirteen poems of relative brevity are collected together. Ranging from the realistic to the fantastical, Rasmussen dares to spark young imaginations with this collection. In it you’ll encounter an elf with a singular method of retaining warmth in a chilly proboscis, a dolly with latrophobia, incontinent rainclouds, clever goats, literary fowl, and many more. Accompanied by the delicate, charming illustrations of Kevin Hawkes, this is one poetic introduction you’ll be happy to have made.

I can’t think of the last time a funny poem for kids made me laugh out loud. So imagine my surprise when I found myself reading the poem “You Can Pat My Pet” and ran across these two stanzas: “You can pat my dog for a dime / and my horse for an egg and a half. / You can pat my favorite aunt / if you give me your granddad’s moustache.” It proceeds to get sillier after that but I just love the exchange of aunt patting for facial hair. Rasmussen does not choose to be a funny poet for kids or a meaningful one. He’s both at once. For the most part, when Rasmussen is trying to be insightful, he succeeds. “What Comes Next” is lovely. “What Things Are For” feels like a natural companion to the picture book A Hole Is to Dig by Ruth Krauss. The sole fly in the ointment is “Those Fierce Grown-Up Soldiers” which is the kind of poem we’ve seen done a hundred times before, and never particula

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12. What I'll be reading for World Read Aloud Day

This week my Penn students are off for spring break, but I'll be back in (another) classroom tomorrow—this time among the eighth graders of Villa Maria Academy, where I've been asked to share some thoughts and favorite books for World Read Aloud Day.

In preparation I've been sitting on the floor surrounded by books (isn't that where everything begins?).  I've been making decisions about what to carry forward.

My choices are these:

Owls and Other Fantasies: Mary Oliver
Carver: Marilyn Nelson
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Betty Smith
A River of Words: Jen Bryant/Melissa Sweet
The Marvelous Journey Through the Night: Helme Heine
The Book Thief: Markus Zusak
One Crazy Summer: Rita Williams-Garcia
Mockingbird: Kathryn Erskine
Between Shades of Gray: Ruta Sepetys
Goodbye, Mr. Chips: James Hilton

What will you read, for World Read Aloud Day?

1 Comments on What I'll be reading for World Read Aloud Day, last added: 3/8/2012
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