PiBoIdMo Day 25: Liz Garton Scanlon Loafes (and offers GOOD PIES as prizes!)

Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):

LizPortait2013_0001-(ZF-0850-58463-1-006)by Liz Garton Scanlon

Recently, while discussing poetry with a bunch of 5th graders, I discovered a word that’s pretty much left our daily vernacular: loafe.

Whitman used it in SONG OF MYSELF…

I loafe and invite my soul
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass

…but not a single student knew what the word meant. There were jokes about loaves of bread, and one girl thought she had it, but it turns out she’d gotten it mixed up with loathe. Which, you’ll agree, is another thing entirely.

Image via http://becuo.com

Image via becuo.com

Once I defined the word for them, they loved it. I said, “Pretty great, right? To be given permission–even encouragement–to loafe about?!” and everybody laughed with relief. (Except for one boy who said, “I try to loafe about a LOT, but my mom won’t let me.” :-) )

So I stepped…

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Book review: ‘Death Coming Up the Hill’ tackles racism, war, family through verse

hillHere is my latest review in Deseret News:

DEATH COMING UP THE HILL,” by Chris Crowe, HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 208 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

This gritty tale in Haiku-like poetry takes place in 1968 — a year that saw the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and many other legacies of fear and violence.

Read the full review here.

Chris Crowe, a professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published award-winning fiction and nonfiction for teenagers, poetry, essays, books, and many articles for academic and popular magazines.  He married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth, and they are the parents of four children and grandparents of two beautiful granddaughters.  They live in Provo, Utah.

From the publisher:

It’s 1968, and war is not foreign to seventeen-year-old Ashe. His dogmatic, racist father married his passionate peace-activist mother when she became pregnant with him, and ever since, the couple, like the situation in Vietnam, has been engaged in a “senseless war that could have been prevented.”
When his high school history teacher dares to teach the political realities of the war, Ashe grows to better understand the situation in Vietnam, his family, and the wider world around him. But when a new crisis hits his parents’ marriage, Ashe finds himself trapped, with no options before him but to enter the fray.

 

Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 Edition

Originally posted on Bank Street College Center for Children's Literature:

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 Edition includes more than 600 titles chosen by the Children’s Book Committee as the best of the best published in 2013. In choosing books for the annual list, committee members consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes. Nonfiction titles are further evaluated for accuracy and clarity. Each book accepted for the list is read and reviewed by at least two committee members and then discussed by the committee as a whole. To learn more about the process, please see our Review Guidelines.

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PiBoIdMo Day 15: Floyd Cooper Walks Outside at Midnight

Moderator:

Here is a fascinating entry by Floyd Cooper. Floyd received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and a Coretta Scott King Honor for Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land. Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. Cooper received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and, after graduating, worked as an artist for a major greeting card company. In 1984, he came to New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator of books, and he now lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, with his wife and children.

Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):

Floyd-Cooper-headshotby Floyd Cooper

I find inspiration in the oddest of places, at the oddest of times. Looking back after having illustrated about 100 picture books, of which only five I have also written, I find that I have been most inspired by things visual. Early in my developing years my mom told me stories or read to me and I would visualize her words. Picturing the tales as she spoke was easy and second nature. It would not change for me, the visualizing, as I began to read myself. I would also digest and consume visual media such as magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, Life, and Ebony. Comic books didn’t escape my attention, in particular Mad Magazine,DC Comics and Marvel.

Movies and television also provided visual stimuli to my budding imagination and I consumed everything within my orbit. There were periods in my youth…

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You Are Stardust Inspires Cosmic Awe in Kids

51HUZBb+liL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_You Are Stardust begins by introducing the idea that every tiny atom in our bodies came from a star that exploded long before we were born. From its opening pages, the book suggests that we are intimately connected to the natural world; it compares the way we learn to speak to the way baby birds learn to sing, and the growth of human bodies to the growth of forests.

Award-winning author Elin Kelsey — along with a number of concerned parents and educators around the world — believes children are losing touch with nature. This innovative picture book aims to reintroduce children to their innate relationship with the world around them by sharing many of the surprising ways that we are all connected to the natural world.

Grounded in current science, this extraordinary picture book provides opportunities for children to use their imaginations and wonder about some big ideas. Soyeon Kim’s incredible diorama art enhances the poetic text, and her creative process is explored in full on the reverse side of the book’s jacket, which features comments from the artist. Young readers will want to pore over each page of this book, exploring the detailed artwork and pondering the message of the text, excited to find out just how connected to the Earth they really are.

Listed as one of the 13 best picture books of 2013, environmental writer Elin Kelsey and Toronto-based Korean artist Soyeon Kim seek to inspire cosmic awe in kids in You Are Stardust :

“Everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was … lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” Carl Sagan famously marveled in his poetic Pale Blue Dot monologue, titled after the iconic 1990 photograph of Earth. The stardust metaphor for our interconnection with the cosmos soon permeated popular culture and became a vehicle for the allure of space exploration. There’s something at once incredibly empowering and incredibly humbling in knowing that the flame in your fireplace came from the sun.

According to School Library Journal, bright dioramas created with pen-and-ink, pencil crayon, watercolor, dried flowers, and cut paper fancifully illustrate this exploration of human beings and the world around them.

Beginning with stardust, the economical text takes readers from their atoms all the way to their relationship with the natural environment. Each page attempts to shock or surprise: “The water swirling in your glass/once filled the puddles/where dinosaurs drank.” “You may sprout even taller/in the spring and summer, just/like the plants in your garden.” Readers learn interesting facts about themselves and are urged to make parallels to the planet at large. Meanwhile paper cutouts of children travel from page to page in the mixed-media dioramas, illustrating the text’s assertions in a fantastical way. The art and text don’t quite come together seamlessly in the book’s design, but each one provides much to consider and absorb. While striving to make these big connections in nature, the text presents thoughtful ideas but sometimes anthropomorphizes the animals.

The inventive three-dimensional dioramas of artist Soyeon Kim, this remarkable picture book reveals ties that are often sensed yet seldom explained. An author’s note includes a link that explores the science behind the broad statements in the book. And in a world dominated by technology, never have these incredible connections between children and nature been worth exploring.

See the world from a kid’s-eye view with MATILDA, a modern fairytale (with study guides)

indexMatilda is a children’s novel by British author Roald Dahl. It was published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape in London, with 232 pages and illustrations by the notable illustrator Quentin Blake. The story is about Matilda Wormwood, an extraordinary child with ordinary and rather unpleasant parents. It was adapted into an audio reading by Joely Richardson, a film in 1996, a two-part adaptation for BBC Radio 4 (later re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra) starring Nicola McAuliffe as Matilda and narrated by Lenny Henry. In 2010 it was adapted into a musical.

Here is a Study Guide for the novel.

LINK: http://mrdfourth90.com/novels/matilda/binder1.pdf

Protagonist Matilda is a young girl of unusual precocity, but often ill-treated by her father or neglected by her mother. In retaliation, she pulls pranks such as gluing her father’s hat to his head, hiding a friend’s parrot in the chimney to simulate a burglar or ghost, and secretly bleaching her father’s hair.

In the movie version:

See the world from a kid’s-eye view with MATILDA, a modern fairytale that mixes hilarious humor with the magical message of love. Mrs. Doubtfire’s Mara Wilson stars as Matilda, a super-smart little girl who’s woefully misunderstood by her parents (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman), her brother, and anevil school principal. But with the help of a brave best friend and a wonderful teacher, Matilda discovers she doesn’t have to get mad to get even. 2013 BD Release: From best-selling author Roald Dahl and the unique vision of Danny DeVito comes Matilda, remastered in high definition! This modern-day fairy tale mixes hilarious humor with a magical message of love. Mrs. Doubtfire’s Mara Wilson stars as Matilda, a super-smart little girl who’s woefully misunderstood by her parents (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman), her brother and an evil school principal. But with the help of a brave best friend and a wonderful teacher, Matilda discovers she doesn’t have to get mad to get even.

See this Matilda Summary & Study Guide from  BookRags.com

At school, Matilda befriends her teacher, Miss Jennifer Honey, who astonished by Matilda’s intellectual abilities, tries to move her into a higher class, but is refused by headmistress Miss Agatha Trunchbull. Miss Honey also tries to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood about Matilda’s supreme intelligence, but makes no impression. Matilda quickly develops a particularly strong bond with Miss Honey. When Matilda’s friend Lavender plays a practical joke on Miss Trunchbull by placing a newt in her jug of water, Matilda uses an unexpected power of telekinesis to tip the glass of water containing the newt onto Miss Trunchbull. Having learnt of this feat, Miss Honey invites Matilda to tea at her tiny cottage in the forest, where Miss Honey reveals that she was raised in part by a hostile aunt, identified as Miss Trunchbull, who appears (among other misdeeds) to withhold her niece’s inheritance. In preparation to avenge the latter, Matilda develops her telekinetic gift through practice at home. Later, during a lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk against the blackboard and, in the resulting writings, poses as the spirit of Miss Honey’s late father, demanding that Miss Trunchbull concede Miss Honey’s house and wages and leave the region forever. This is soon accomplished, and Matilda herself advances to the highest level of schooling, where she is no longer capable of telekinesis; this explained by Miss Honey as the result of using her mind in a more-challenging curriculum.

Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey at her house regularly, but one day she finds her parents hastily packing to escape from the police who have incriminated her father for selling stolen automobiles. Matilda asks permission to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents agree, and remains there; Miss Honey, in addition to her teaching duties, also becomes the school’s new principal.

QUESTIONS:

  1. If you had powers like Matilda’s, what would you do with them? Suppose you could move just one thing with your mind. What would it be?
  2. How would you react if the Trunchbull wandered into one of your classrooms?
  3. Who is the meanest character in the book? How are they mean? The nicest? What makes them nice?
  4. Look back at a few of the different pranks played in the book. Are they realistic? Could any of them really work? And which one’s your favorite?
  5. Do you think there’s too much violence in Matilda, compared to other kids’ books? Is the amount of violence appropriate for most readers’ age level?
  6. Are the books Mrs. Phelps gives to Matilda appropriate for a five-year-old to read? What would you add to this list? What would you remove?
  7. Do you think events like those in the book could ever happen? Why or why not?
  8. Could anyone besides Bruce Bogtrotter eat an entire chocolate cake?
  9. Would you call the end of the book a happy one? Why or why not?
  10. Do you think Miss Honey’s explanation about why Matilda starts losing her special abilities at the end of the book makes sense?
  11. At what point in the book did you figure out the connection between Miss Honey and the Trunchbull?
  12. Do you agree with reviewers that the ending is “contrived” (see “What’s Up With the Ending”)? Why or why not?
  13. Do you think any of Matilda’s pranks are mean spirited? Or are they totally deserved?

 

SOURCE: http://www.shmoop.com/matilda-dahl/questions.html

Ella Enchanted Study Guides and Book Trailers

Click on image to read more about this title

Click on image to read more about this title

Ella Enchanted is a Newbery Honor book written by Gail Carson Levine and published in 1997. The story is a retelling of Cinderella featuring various mythical creatures including fairies, elves, ogres, gnomes, and giants. In 2006, Levine went on to write Fairest, a retelling of the story of Snow White, set in the same world as Ella Enchanted.

At birth, Ella of Frell is given the gift of obedience by the well-meaning but misguided fairy Lucinda. As a result, she cannot disobey a direct order given to her, though her mother Lady Eleanor and the family’s cook Mandy protect Ella throughout her childhood. Ella is close to her mother and they share the same free-spirited nature, but when Ella is nearly fifteen, Eleanor dies. At Eleanor’s funeral, Ella meets and befriends Charmont (Char), the Prince of Kyrria.

First, take a look at this Ella Enchamted Film Study Guide. Here is the link:   http://www.filmeducation.org/pdf/film/EllaStudyGuide.pdf

And there is:

 

Not long afterward, Ella’s father Sir Peter sends Ella off to finishing school with Hattie and Olive, the daughters of the wealthy Dame Olga. However, Hattie soon discovers that Ella is unable to disobey direct orders and she takes advantage of Ella. At school, Ella becomes friends with Areida, a girl from the neighboring country Ayortha. When Hattie orders Ella to stop being friends with Areida, Ella runs away and learns that her father is attending a giant’s wedding. After various misadventures, she finds Lucinda at the wedding and tries to persuade her to take back her gift. Instead, Lucinda misunderstands and orders Ella to be happy with her gift. Upon returning home, Mandy reverses the order upon Ella.

 

 

After failing to find a rich husband for Ella, Sir Peter decides to marry Dame Olga in order to pay off his debts. Ella renews her friendship with Char at the wedding and they begin writing to each other frequently after Char leaves on a diplomatic mission to Ayortha. When Sir Peter leaves to continue his business, Dame Olga and her daughters quickly reduce Ella to being an obedient servant in their home. Ella and Char fall in love through their letters, but Ella rejects him when she realizes her gift of obedience could be used to harm him. She tricks Char into thinking she has eloped with another man, leaving Char heartbroken.

 

 

When Char returns to Kyrria, a three-night homecoming ball is held in his honor. Ella, who still loves him, goes to the ball in disguise with help from Mandy and Lucinda, who now realizes the terrible nature of her gifts. On the third night of the ball, when she is dancing with Char, a jealous Hattie unmasks Ella, forcing her to flee. Returning to the manor, she and Mandy attempt to run away, but are thwarted by Char’s arrival. Char unwittingly orders Ella to marry him, causing Ella to will herself to defy the order out of her desire to protect him and the kingdom from her curse. Her unselfish desire allows her to succeed and refuse his proposal. Free from the spell, she accepts Char’s hand in marriage. A month later they were married and they both lived happily ever after.

 

 

Amazon.com Review:

Every child longs for the day when he or she will be free from meddling parents and bossy grownups. For young Ella, the heroine of Gail Carson Levine’s Newbury Honor-winning debut novel, this is more than a fanciful wish; it could be a matter of life or death. Placed under the spell of a blundering fairy, she has no choice but to go through life obeying each and every order–no matter what the consequences may be. “If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I’d have to do it.”

Eden Riegel (As the World Turns, Les Miserables) uses her youthful, energetic voice to lead the listener into a familiar world of fairy godmothers, wicked stepsisters, and handsome princes. But this imaginative retelling of the Cinderella story comes with a welcome twist. Instead of a demure heroine patiently awaiting a prince who will carry her off, this Ella is a feisty ball of fire with the courage and ambition to take matters into her own hands.

Riegel narrates in a youthful, energetic tone that is perfectly suited to Ella’s character. Her voice adds charm and immediacy to a wonderful story already rich with excitement, adventure, romance, and mystery. (Running time: 5.5 hours, 4 cassettes) –George Laney

 

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