Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
Authors: Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth
Illustrator: Ekua Holmes
Published March 14th, 2017 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.

A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder.

Review: This anthology is beautiful. Alexander, Colderley, and Wentworth beautifully pay homage to each poet. Their tribute poems are impeccably written and not only do the poems follow the style of the poet but also teach us about the lives of the poet. And Holmes’s artwork pushes the book to another level. I also adored the diversity of the poets, as well as the types of poems, chosen.

And Out of Wonder can definitely be a perfect mentor text for a poetry unit, and I can definitely see it being paired with Love That Dog to expand what Creech started.

Teaching Guide with Prereading Activities, Discussion Questions, and Classroom Extensions (by teacher Mary Lee Hahn): 

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech; Poetry by any of the poets honored in the book: Naomi Shihab Nye, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Bashō, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Walter Dean Myers, Emily Dickinson, Terrance Hayes, Billy Collins, Pablo Neruda, Judith Wright, Mary Oliver, Cwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, William Carlos Williams, Okot p’Bitek, Chief Dan George, Rumi, or Maya Angelou

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Animal Ark by Joel Sartore and Kwame Alexander

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

And don’t forget to celebrate EARTH DAY on the 22nd!

Animal Ark
Created by and Photographer: Joel Sartore
Poet: Kwame Alexander
Published February 14th, 2017 by National Geographic Society

About the Book: National Geographic Kids proudly announces the release of Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, a picture book for children ages 4-8 written by Newbery Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander and featuring photographs by acclaimed National Geographic Fellow and photographer Joel Sartore. Animal Ark pairs Alexander’s uplifting poetry and prose with more than 100 of Sartore’s most compelling images of the world’s species to create a book for children that highlights the importance of conservation and the beauty of the animal kingdom.

Animal Ark is inspired by the National Geographic Photo Ark, a multiyear effort with Sartore and the National Geographic Society to document every species in captivity—inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations. To date, Sartore has completed portraits of more than 6,000 species, photographed on either a plain black or white background. No matter its size, each animal is treated with the same amount of affection and respect. The results are portraits that are not just stunningly beautiful, but also intimate and moving.

The companion adult book, National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals (National Geographic Books)—with a foreword by Harrison Ford—also showcases Sartore’s animal portraits: from tiny to mammoth, from the Florida grasshopper sparrow to the greater one-horned rhinoceros. In 2017, National Geographic Photo Ark exhibitions are opening at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the Dallas Zoo, and the Cincinnati Zoo. Learn more at NatGeoPhotoArk.org and join the conversation on social media with #SaveTogether.

About Joel Sartore: Joel Sartore is a photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic fellow, regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark.  In addition to the work he has done for National Geographic, Sartore has contributed to Audubon magazine, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, the Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  His next book for adults, National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals  will be released in March 2017.

About Kwame Alexander: Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times bestselling author of 21 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children. His other recent works include Booked, Surf’s Up, and He Said, She Said. He is the founder of Book-in-a-Day, a student-run publishing program that has created more than 3,000 student authors in 75 schools; and LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy project that builds libraries, trains teachers, and empowers children through literature. In 2015, Kwame served as Bank Street College of Education’s first writer-in-residence.

Book Trailer: 

My Review: I am in love with all of these animals! Do you see how cute they are?!?! And I love the message that Joel Sartore, National Geographic Kids, and Kwame Alexander are spreading with this text: “At its heart, the Photo Ark was born out of necessity… I  started to see that people weren’t paying much attention to the fate of all the others species we share this planet with. Without action, and soon, I worried that many animals could go extinct. The Photo Ark is my answer to this. By introducing the entire world to thoughts of photographs of [animals], I hope we can get everyone following, liking, tweeting, and even talking about this wondrous world of ours.” -Joel Sartore. I care deeply for all living things, and I have the same fear that Sartore has–that too many people are so caught up in their own little worlds that they aren’t focusing on the big world around us. The continual denial of climate change, the recent possible elimination of many of the EPA’s environmental protections, and so many other things makes the possibilities of us ruining our Earth even closer to reality 🙁

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Animal Ark has writing and science opportunities for the classroom. First, the theme of the book works beautifully within a science unit about endangered animals. Mix the text with the website What is Missing? by Maya Lin, and there are so many opportunities to discuss conservation and sustainability. Kwame Alexander’s poetry also gives an opportunity for poetry writing. In the Author’s Note, National Geographic shares information about haiku. Although all of Kwame’s poetry does not fit the traditional haiku format and we wouldn’t recommend it for a haiku mentor text, it shows how poets can take a traditional format and embrace yet manipulate it for their purpose.

Discussion Questions: Which animal would you like to learn more about?; What can humans do to help save these animals?; What is the theme of Animal Ark? What is the author/photographer trying to teach us?

Flagged Passages: 

Photography Outtakes!

Read This If You Love: National Geographic texts about animals, Poetry anthologies about nature including Water is Water by Miranda Paul, Books about making a difference like Dare to Dream…Change the World by Jill Corcoran & Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thomson

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing copes for review!**

Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book
Authors: Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong
Illustrator: Franzi Paetzold
Published January 11th, 2017 by Pomelo Books

Summary: Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book is a story in poems and a writing journal designed to help kids think about social change. It contains 12 PowerPack sets featuring Ameera, David, Jack, and Jenna, a diverse group of kids working together to make an impact in their community. Sylvia Vardell’s inventive PowerPlay activities make it easy for writers to get inspired, while her Power2You writing prompts extend learning. Vardell also created extensive back matter resources for young readers, writers, and activists.

Praise: “This interactive book and the abundance of resources provided will motivate students to take action through words and ideas to make their world a better place—a must have for today’s classrooms.” —Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli, Authors of Mentor Texts

“I absolutely love this book! The invitations are inspiring and offer opportunities to think about the world and respond both personally and critically.” —Mary Napoli, Associate Professor of Reading, Penn State Harrisburg

“This book will allow all sorts of emotions and thoughts to bubble forth, including difficult and painful ones . . . and that will be a source of healing.” —Ed Spicer, Educator and literacy expert

“Really glad and excited that this book will be in the hands of young people.” —Jeana Hrepich, Core Faculty, Antioch University Seattle

This book is a Children’s Book Council “Hot Off the Press” selection for January 2017 and the second Poetry Friday Power Book. The first book in that series, You Just Wait: A Poetry Friday Power Book, is a 2017 NCTE Poetry Notable.

About the Authors: Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book features the work of the dynamic team of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, plus 12 poets: Ibtisam Barakat, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Robyn Hood Black, David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Kate Coombs, David L. Harrison, Renée M. LaTulippe, Naomi Shihab Nye, Margaret Simon, Eileen Spinelli, and Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrations by Franzi Paetzold.

Sylvia M. Vardell is Professor at Texas Woman’s University and teaches courses in children’s and young adult literature. She has published five books on literature, as well as over 25 book chapters and 100 journal articles. Her current work focuses on poetry for young people, including a regular blog, PoetryforChildren.blogspot.com, since 2006.

Janet Wong is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former lawyer who became a children’s poet. Her work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other shows. She is the author of 30 books for children and teens on chess, creative recycling, yoga, superstitions, driving, and more.

Together, Vardell and Wong are the creative forces behind The Poetry Friday Anthology series.

About the Book (from the authors): Why is this a “Poetry Friday Power Book”? Because we believe in the power of poetry to express our deepest feelings, and our most powerful experiences, and to inspire us to use our words to create change in teh world. Plus, we want you to discover the power of poetry in your own thinking and writing with the PowerPlay prewriting and Power2You writing prompts that pull you into poetry and inspire you to get your own ideas on paper–creatively, whimsically, powerfully, and immediately–right now in this book…

This book offers you several choices for reading, thinking, writing, and responding. Overall, it’s a story in poems, but all of this is also organized in PowerPack groups that help you get a “behind the scenes” look at how poems work and how poets write and think. In each of these PowerPack groups, you’ll find five things:

-PowerPlay activity
-Anchor poem (from an outside source)
-Response poem
-Mentor poem
-Power2You writing prompt

Have fun reading and thinking about poetry and learning about how poetry uses just a few words but says so much and can inspire us to take action. Ready? Let’s “power up” and get started!

Review: I have an interesting relationship with poetry. I overall love it. I love writing it, and I love reading it, but I really have trouble with the analyzing aspect. It is in this very serious analyzing step that kids get afraid of poetry, but I think books like Here We Go help students learn to love poetry instead of being afraid of it while still teaching about the beauty and importance of poetry.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Here We Go is a book that is made for classroom use! There are 12 PowerPacks, each with a different anchor poem and focus. Some PowerPacks work on rhyming, some work on format, and others focus on inspiration. There are so many different ways these PowerPacks could be organized to be used in the classroom! They can be daily during a poetry unit or weekly for half of the school year–whatever works best in your classroom, but this book is begging to be in children’s hands as an inspiration for our future poets.

Discussion Questions: What inspires you to write?; What is your favorite season? Why?; What are your favorite rhyming words?; How can you use your daily life to inspire you as a poet?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Writing poetry; Any poetry anthology including Out of Wonders by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth and When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

Recommended For: 

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Review and Giveaway!: Can You Canoe? and Other Adventure Songs by The Okee Dokee Brothers

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Can You Canoe? And Other Adventure Songs
Author: The Okee Dokee Brothers
Illustrator: Brandon Reese
Published April 19th, 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: Can You Canoe? invites you to journey cross-country with The Okee Dokee Brothers through twelve of their irresistible, boot-stompin’ tunes. You’ll encounter hungry black bears and tall-tale spinners; quiet canoes and cozy camping tents; a jumpin’ jamboree and a bullfrog opera. As you listen to the songs and follow along with the illustrated lyrics in this collection, you might even be inspired to head out on some outdoor adventure of your own!

Kellee’s Review: We love music in my house, so anytime a book and music can be connected really makes me happy. I think the Okee Dokee Brothers’ music is catchy, knee-slapping, sometimes funny, and have great messages. I love how they all promote the out doors and adventure. And just when you think it cannot get any better, you see the illustrations. Brandon Reese’s illustrations are perfect! They are so colorful and loud and cartoon-ish. Just the type of fun you think would be in a book by the Okee Dokee Brothers. 

Ricki’s Review: This book is pure fun. My toddler was bouncing around the room as I played the CD. My husband is an outdoorsy guy, so he particularly liked the messages within the songs. The rhymes are great, and they will help my son learn the lyrics as we listen/read. I’ve never been to an Okee Dokee concert, and now I want to go to one! We’ll be bringing this CD along for long car rides. Below, we include an illustration, and you can see the pure beauty of this text. I will be buying it as a gift for my music-loving friends.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: We love using music during my poetry lessons because it helps students hear poetry and not be as afraid of it like they are with classics. Starting with music and lyrics allows you to help them understand how to read poetry differently than prose while using something they can easily understand. Can You Canoewould be a perfect text to use this for because you can analyze for poetic elements and meaning, but the Okee Dokee Brothers also have a field journal in the back which help give background information about each song making analyzing them less of a guessing game.

Can You Canoe? would also be a wonderful poetry mentor texts. The authors talk about how they find ideas for their songs and many of their songs have a format that could be emulated (like Jack in Love that Dog) if you wanted to go that route in class.

Discussion Questions: How do the authors use rhythm and rhyme in their lyrics?; What is a time that the authors used descriptive language to help the reader imagine the scene they are describing?; What is a time the authors used figurative language to add imagery to their songs?

Flagged Passages:

“There’s a country store
In a country town.
Every Friday night
The people dance around.
It don’t look like much
And it ain’t no chore,
But while they’re dancin’
They polish that floor.

They play this song
Right on key.
They play this song –
It’s called JAMBOREE.”

Okee_Jamboree_1000
(c) http://www.brandonreese.com/

Check out their You Tube channel to hear some of their music:
https://www.youtube.com/user/OkeeDokeeBros

Read This If You Loved: Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise BrownFresh Delicious by Irene Latham

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**Thank you to Lauren at Sterling Publishing for providing a copy for review!**

Review and Giveaway!: Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons by Margaret Wise Brown

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Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrators: Peter Brown, Floyd Cooper, Leo Espinosa, Dadu Shin, David Small, Bob Staake, Blanca Gomez, Molly Idle, Elly Mackay, Satoe Tone, Frank Viva, Mick Wiggins
Published: August 4, 2015 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: 

Some fine day, just run away
To a long unscheduled day
To where great clouds go sailing by
Above the birds and butterfly.

Fluffy clouds, butterflies, furry bunnies, and life from a bug’s-eye view: This stunning sequel to the New York Times bestseller Goodnight Songs celebrates the beauty and wonder of nature all year long. From Margaret Wise Brown, author of the beloved Goodnight Moon, comes a previously unpublished collection of charming lullabies, gorgeously illustrated by 12 award-winning artists. Once again, a treasure trove of Margaret Wise Brown’s newly uncovered verses receives loving treatment from 12 award-winning artists, including Floyd Cooper, Peter Brown, David Small, Molly Idle, and Bob Staake. From a little bear singing one morning in May to a soft snowfall, mysterious, deep, and glowing, each song is magical.

An accompanying CD, with lilting songs beautifully composed and sung by Emily Gary and Tom Proutt, makes this the perfect gift for children.

Ricki’s Review: This may be one of the most exciting books I’ve received by mail. I am an avid Margaret Wise Brown fan. Some of you may remember my son’s Goodnight Moon party. The minute this package arrived on my doorstep, I grabbed my CD player and put the CD in, and my son and I listened to every song together. We did some dancing and swaying. It was such a fun experience. Each spread is beautifully illustrated by a different artist, and I spent a long time flipping the pages back and forth, trying to pick my favorite song or spread—it was impossible! I fell in love with the poetry of the songs and with the different mood on each page. This book is sure to please both parents and teachers.

Kellee’s Review: I am amazed by everything Margaret Wise Brown can do. First children’s picture books and now beautiful poetry/lyrics in a stunning picture book. Almost all of Trent’s favorite books have music associated with him. Goodnight Songs is a perfect addition to his bedtime reading routine. We really loves all of the songs! In addition to the music and the poems/lyrics, what makes this book stand out even more is the phenomenal illustrations throughout. Some of my favorite illustrators including Melissa Sweet, Molly Idle, Peter Brown, and David Small.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great in elementary school classrooms, but it would also be a great resource for creative writing teachers. We’d love to pair students together and have them work collaboratively to write a song and illustrate a spread to feature the song. We imagine a classroom wall covered in these spreads. Wouldn’t this set a great mood in the classroom?

Discussion Questions: How do the illustrations set the mood for each song? How do you think each illustrator interpreted the words into artwork without the author’s input?; How does this book differ from Margaret Wise Brown’s other work?; Can you find any patterns across the songs?; How does reading the songs differ from listening to them on the CD? How does the audio enhance your reading?

Giveaway! (U.S. Addresses only, please):

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Read This If You Love: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman; Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Josh at Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. for providing copies for review and giveaway!**

2015 Big Book Summer Challenge: Revolution by Deborah Wiles & East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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Big Book Summer Challenge is a challenge hosted by Sue at Book by Book. The inspiration behind the challenge is to push the bigger books to the top of the TBR pile during summer time.

The Details:

  • Anything over 400 pages qualifies as a big book.
  • The challenge will run from Memorial Day weekend (starting May 22 this year) through Labor Day weekend (Labor Day is September 7 this year).
  • Choose one or two or however many big books you want as your goal.  Wait, did you get that?  You only need to read 1 book with over 400 pages this summer to participate! (Though you are welcome to read more, if you want.)
  • Choose from what’s on your shelves already or a big book you’ve been meaning to read for ages or anything that catches your eye in the library – whatever peaks your interest!
  • Sign up on Book by Book.
  • Write a post to kick things off – you can list the exact big books you plan to read or just publish your intent to participate, but be sure to include the Big Book Summer Challenge pic above, with a link back to Book by Book.
  • Write a post to wrap up at the end, listing the big books you read during the summer.
  • You can write progress posts if you want to and/or reviews of the big books you’ve read…but you don’t have to!  There is a separate links list below for big book review posts.

Today, we are combining the last three bullet points–we both have finished our big books!

Kellee

revolution

Revolution
Author: Deborah Wiles
Published May 27th, 2014 by Scholastic Press
538 pages

Goodreads Summary: It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded.  Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote.  They’re calling it Freedom Summer.

Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too.  She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe.  And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

As she did in her groundbreaking documentary novel Countdown, award-winning author Deborah Wiles uses stories and images to tell the riveting story of a certain time and place — and of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what’s right.

*A 2014 National Book Award Finalist

Kellee’s Thoughts: What is so amazing about this book is that it doesn’t feel like a big book. Well, it FEELS like a big book because it is heavy and thick, but when you are done reading, it doesn’t feel like you had to trudge through anything. Not once did I feel like there were too many pages. Wiles does an amazing job filling each and every page with important information for the historical context, characterization, or plot development.

Revolution is a perfectly-crafted look at one of the toughest times in American history. What Wiles does is truly delve into the emotions felt during the Freedom Summer and some of the smaller actions that may not have made the history books. One of my favorite things about Wiles’s Sixties Trilogy books is that she includes historical resources throughout the book that truly puts the story in context. The primary sources/stories and other embedded pieces of history really show that the narrative she has created is not truly a work of fiction. It may include fictional characters, but the setting, the feelings, the conflict, the time period, the history–those are all fact.

Revolution couldn’t work without the Sunny and her cast of characters though. This book could have gone terribly wrong if the voice, thoughts, and feelings of our protagonist were not so believable since Wiles was having us learn about such a tumultuous time through the eyes of a child. However, no need to worry about that because Sunny is perfect. She is easy to connect to and seems true. My favorite characters are those around her that push her and help change her: Annabelle, Jo Ellen, and Ray. Annabelle is so patient, truly loves Sunny, and has some of the best lines in the book; Jo Ellen is so head-strong, forward-thinking, and intelligent; and Ray is just crazy but also overwhelmingly brave.

I am part of an informal Twitter book club, and our June read was Revolution. Deborah Wiles even stopped by to chat with us! If you are interested in reading it, I archived it here. Warning: There may be spoilers if you haven’t read the book. Some of my favorite quotes from the chat that truly show the impact of the book are:

“What a brilliant idea Deborah Wiles had with these books–to embed all of the history.” -Carrie Gelson

“Sunny’s story hit my heart.” -Michele Knott

Countdown and Revolution are like…seeing beyond the headlines.” -Cheriee Weichel

“So hard to read how something you think people could do (register) but couldn’t because of effects (lose job, name in paper, etc.)” -Michele Knott

“It took Sunny witnessing the civil unrest to grow up and realize how to accept her own life.” -Kellee Moye

“There is so much about the Civil Rights Movement that seems like it should be easy, but ignorance stops it.” Kellee Moye

“Immerse as much as possible.” -Deborah Wiles, referencing part of her research process

Favorite quote from the book: “Everything is connected. Every choice matters.Every person is vital, valuable, and worthy of respect.” pg. 361

Recommended For: 

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Ricki

I also plan to tackle Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, as well, but I am not sure if I will make it by the end of the summer. East of Eden was quite an epic read!

east of eden

East of Eden
Author: John Steinbeck
Published in 1952
601 pages

Goodreads Summary: Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.

Ricki’s Thoughts: I’ve had this book on my to-be-read list for several years. In fact, I realized I own three identical copies of it, so I have considered reading it for quite some time. I love Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath. In fact, I love the six or so Steinbeck books I’ve read. I’d heard this book was related to the Cain/Abel story, so I never got around to reading it because I thought I knew the ending. As an aside, I didn’t, but even if all of my predictions were accurate, it still would have been well worth the read.

The book consists of several interwoven stories and families. Two good friends (who aren’t avid readers) listened to this book in the car, and they continually urged me to read it. When I finally started, they kept saying, “We know which character you will love.” Sam Hamilton is a good man–a salt of the Earth kind of man. He reminds me of Slim for Of Mice and Men. Essentially, he teaches us what it means to be good to the very hollows of our souls. Another character who will stick with me forever is Cathy. Phew. She is quite a complex character—a sociopath, I would say—and her evilness makes my skin crawl. She is unlike any other character I’ve ever read. I could continue forward and describe more characters, but it feels as if I won’t do them justice.

The story does meander at times, but anyone who appreciates Steinbeck’s work knows that this is, in fact, a positive quality. His stories feel very true to life. We don’t follow plot diagrams. I will never forget reading this book. The story and its characters will stay with me forever. I highly recommend it.

A few great quotes that depict the beauty of Steinbeck’s words:

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”

“All great and precious things are lonely.”

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.”

Recommended For: 

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Thank you to Sue for hosting the challenge and pushing us! 

What big books do you have planned for the summer? You should join in the challenge too!

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Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

winter bees

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Rick Allen
Published November 4th, 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In this outstanding picture book collection of poems by Newbery Honor-winning poet, Joyce Sidman (Song of the Water Boatman, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night), discover how animals stay alive in the wintertime and learn about their secret lives happening under the snow. Paired with stunning linoleum print illustrations by Rick Allen, that celebrate nature’s beauty and power.

My Review: Alyson and Carrie both nominated this book for our Mock Sibert Award, so I knew it was a book I had to read. After requesting that my library purchase it, I was so happy to finally receive the book. This book is beautiful. Each aspect of the book can stand alone: the poetry is full of imagery and figurative language, the informational aspects are interesting and fact-based, and the illustrations are exceptional and bring the animals to life.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: First, this book can be used as a mentor text for poetry. Many different types of poetry are represented and each poem is different. Second, I think this book can be a great jumping off point for an inquiry-based project where students research an animal, write a poem about it, and also write an informational piece of text to accompany the poem. This book is also a great companion to Kate Messner’s Over and Under Snow and other animal survival books which would cause for a great unit as well.

Discussion Questions: Which of the winter animals has the best plan for survival?; What fact in Winter Bees surprised you the most about how an animal survives during the winter?

We Flagged: 

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Read This If You Loved: Firefly July by Paul Janeczko, Feathers by Melissa Stewart, Born in the Wild by Lita Judge, Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Over and Under Snow by Kate Messner

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