Current. Potent. For Children. And you, too.

Wait just a moment! Find the November tree shelter of Poetry Friday tapped by Teacher Dance.

. . .

Read.
Eat.
Sleep.
Repeat.

Our driveway is graced by
a generous black mailbox
in place of
the usual skinny thing. It stands snug against
hurricanes & squirrels, guarding
incoming packages that I always
hope are stories.
I’m pleased to share a bunch of new titles,
plucked from the mailbox & also
some picked up at our thoughtful,
new indy, Mid-Town Reader.

I will devote at least two posts, maybe three, to
cover other books our mailbox sheltered.
Today’s three are highly recommended not only
for their storytelling but also for what they add to
our understanding of potent issues.
From two, I created short found poetry & from one
I offer a quotation.
Appreciations for your visit.

NOW OR NEVER!, is non-fiction for ages 11 and up
by Ray Anthony Shepard that follows
two history-making black journalists-turned-soldiers.
The men work without pay or full respect in a war erupting from a
loathsome stance of people,
including religious leaders of the South & also in the North,
who declared it was legal for white people
to buy & sell black children,
women & men as if they were hogs.
And then, those buyers had the freedom to
do with the enslaved people,
whatever additional cruelness that they wished.

Fortunately, the United States officially won the war
fought by George Stephens & James Henry Gooding.
Our impression of what it was like for the black troops is upended with this
thorough, document-packed, page-turner.
I hope the book’s readership is huge, beyond schools, museums &
& book fairs, to home bookshelves, especially at this time
when we know the uncountable & unknowable
tradegies created by the slavery business
haven’t experienced closure.

“Couriers
ride
as if for dear
life
bearing ponderous
and ominous looking
envelopes . . . ”

from John Henry Gooding’s weekly dispatch,
Oct. 10, 1863, New Bedford Mercury, in
NOW or NEVER!
54th Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery

c. 2017 by Ray Anthony Shepard

Learn more about Ray Anthony Shepard,
whose grandfather was an enslaved child and whose great, great-grandparents
were enslaved.

Please know about a novel inspired when an observant young
writer visited Senegal, Africa. She was very moved by a child who sat
on a wall near a shore. And that moment made a difference for
debut author Leah Henderson’s ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL.
Another difference is that her parents created unique family travel
to places of black princesses, black cowboys, black
scholars and to historic sites of black achievement. The author
was able to grow up with experiences
feeling pride in people
who looked like her but were rarely reflected in books she read.

Now she offers the poignant & uplifting saga of loving
children adrift with the spirit guidance
of their beloved dead parents, which is is heard or seen only by the responsible
brother, Mor.
Just eleven years old, can Mor possibly be provider, protector & story-bearer to his
sisters, Mina (Amina) & Tima (Fatima.)? After page-turning troubles of
survival, Mina doesn’t wake from a sleep. What can Mor do?
The reader aches & cheers, on this journey with siblings who
sleep on mats & treasure their goat, Jeeg, & find joy with a small
stone, to transform into a doll, a bird, or a fish.
I feel this MG contemporary adventure
is important to many, including all families who read to each other, to
volunteers or teachers who read chapters in classes
including social studies, or at afterschool/weekend
programs, & to curious self-reading bookworm kids.
And it’s also a winner with adults who take a world view in
wanting to understand more about
children’s lives from all regions.

The author’s travels,
extensive research & consultation with pertinent
Sengalese insiders, experts & friends are an assurance that
ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL
is a trusted ticket to traditions and struggles most
readers, such as myself, can’t even begin to imagine
let alone present in nuanced fashion. I appreciate the
stortylling & the education.

Jeeg

Boabab.
Hollow of
tree.
Squeezed.
Mor,
Jeeg.

Hideout.

“m-a-a.”
“m-a-a.”

found in
ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL
by Leah Henderson

For more on this book & author Leah Henderson

The picture book biography,
MAMA AFRICA! by Kathryn Erskine with artwork from Charly Palmer,
follows the singing activist Makeba – Zenzile Miriam Makeba.
As a toddler she danced & sang. As a young adult, she watched a friend
die because a segregated ambulance wouldn’t treat or carry him after a car wreck.
Makeba lead and sang songs in tribe languages,
carrying powerful opposition messages, singing words
that white South Africans didn’t bother
to try to understand.

Because she eloquently & movingly asked the world to
acknowledge the existence of & help end,
apartheid, she was banished from her homeland.
An invited speaker at the U.N., Makeba asked the world to intervene
against South African’s brutal atrocities & unfair
imprisonment of black people. She appeared on stage
with Martin Luther King. Jr.
& with Harry Belafonte to advocate for justice.
She lost relatives murdered during suppression of blacks and
felt empowered to work
internationally in defense of children, women & men who suffered
the constant terrors. The incident many can cite is the killing of
peaceful children in Soweto township.
In 1990, Makeba returned to a hard-fought, changing
South Africa & saw Nelson Mandela walk out of prison.

The author, as a young white child, enjoyed black friendships
in defiance of apartheid South Africa, during temporary years there.
Heartfelt author photographs & notes offer long-held connections to
the theme. The text is lyrical. Illustrations from artist Charly Palmer
are an artsong of pulsing color, layered & bold.

Songs of call, response!

Khawuleza
alerting song – police approach
Lakutshona Ilanga
searching song – jails & prisons hold missing loved ones
Mayibuye iAfrika
returning song – Africa should be for native Africans
Mbaeke iAfrika
returning song – land should go to rightful owners
Ndoemnyama
forertelling song – apartheid will fail

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika
asking song – “God Bless Africa”

found in
MAMA AFRICA!
How Miriam Mekeba Spread Hope with her Song
c. 2017 Kathryn Erskine

Learn more about KATHRYN ERSKINE, a popular novelist for young readers, who has won the National Book Award. I have read many of her novels, which mean a great deal to me, especially MOCKINGBIRD. She has a new novel, THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF BEING, one of my postal box finds I look forward to being with, soon.

Learn more about artist CHARLY PALMER

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What to do with scary thoughts + tote love

(((((Way over here in Kidlitosphere are your Poetry Friday pals.)))))

Do you love totes?

A tote is expressive,
& earns its keep,
a canvas workhorse (on duty, below.)
This one arrived
empty last week when I ordered it
from the great folks at
Every Town who do heavy lifting,
to make our country
safe for kids.
Despite everything gone awry with safety,
and the political trouble spots
of our dear Nation,
I believe there are always more of the
good folks sharing joy than folks
creating the bad.

Totes love books.
Out of shelf space, I stash
incoming books in them.
I won’t try that with a T-shirt, will I?
Books are blessedly arriving often this fall.
Today, unpacking this special tote working as a bookcase,
I tip you off to –

ON ANY DARK AND SPOOKY NIGHT

A must-have Halloween pleaser, I
know you will want to order it
to prove how brave
YOU are.
The poems are the creation of my
longtime newsroom pal.
I wrote the intro.
At only $6, I suspect some
of you will want your own
to boo! someone close to you.

A few tantalizing lines . . .

Night’s Walk
by Audrey Parente

Soft steps rustle leaves
in shadows among folds
of night’s dark bed-gown.

Scented air gusts meet
flirtatious clouds, a courtship
of giddy, twirling clowns

But then . . .

c. 1992, 2017 Audrey Parente
all rights reserved

************************************************

A LINE IN THE SAND Barbara Ann White
ACTIVIST SENTIMENTS P. Gabrielle Foreman
THE FUGITIVE’s GIBRALTAR Kathryn Grover

All three of these titles
unveil aspects of the layered story of
people stolen from Africa,
brought by inhumane treatment to our shores &
the subsequent horrific
tragedy & occasional blessed heroics
& rare simple decency,
of what happened next to entire families.
Could it have been insanity that led most
religious leaders, North and South, to
go along/get along with the horrors lived by
enslaved children, women, men & free blacks?
Their ostrich ways meant that War was the only
path for this Nation, to end the
selfish barbarism of human-ownership of humans.
A way I co-exist with the
troubling state of our Nation is to double-down
on lapses, gaps & holes in my education such as
these books begin to correct. The other way is to
write & —
that, happy to report, is going apace.

************
Last time I mentioned filling in the blanks of my
ABCs it was with Faith topic books.
The passalongs to two Bookseedstudio commenters are
WHAT DO OUR NEIGHBORS BELIEVE, flying off to Carmela Martino.
THE FAITH CLUB is for Robyn Hood Black.
I expect to walk up to the post office soon. If they aren’t
received within 2 weeks, please let me know.
Congratulations.

************

What a Wonderful World as Louis Armstrong
sang, is how I feel when celebrations about a culture
not my own arrive.
This week’s visit is via
DUMPLING SOUP,
winner of a Little Brown & Company award.
I have read it in a library but this is the first
that this delight is my very own copy. For some time,
it has cooked up love magic, spreading goodness through kitchens
across the lands.
Jama Kim Rattigan’s Korean-American story may even
give me the push some cold day to create
what patient Marisa does –
make her own O-no (delicious, in Hawaiian)
mandoo (dumplings in Korean.)
I am practicing a few words,
guided by Jama’s glossary.
At a time when we all are more focused on Korea
(positive thoughts wafting that way)
it is heartening to think of the multitude
of beautiful Korean-American families in the USA,
which DUMPLING SOUP reminds me of,
although with a very loved Korean-American family
here in town, I shouldn’t need a reminder.
The colorful illustrations are from Lillian Hsu-Flanders.
If you can find it on the secondary market as I did, consider
yourself lucky. If you can or you can’t, you will still
learn a lot from Jama’s generous online story
about the path to publication.

**********
I am happy to backpack in spirit
with a new young Mom travel guide writer
in Florida,
Terri Mashour.
Terri is a forest Mom, meaning that
she brought her little girl along on miles of
woods trails that the wee one was all giggles, to explore.
This professional forester’s contribution to
Florida travel books is
BACKCOUNTRY TRAILS OF FLORIDA. She is co-founder of Fun4FirstCoastKids.com
Congratulations Terri! Hope to see you on the path.

* * *
And speaking of Florida travel,
a shunpiker guide yours truly
researched and wrote (through three editions)
is Still. In. Print.

********************************************************************************************

I am thrilled to recommend

FORTUNATELY THE MILK by Neil Gaiman.
This tall tale, which grows crazier, deeper &
splashier with the page-turning,
will be flying to a young Annino family I love.
They will chuckle over both the story & also, the illustrations, from
Skottie Young. (Although I snared an
autographed copy of Neil Gaiman’s CRAZY HAIR for our daughter
years back, this one is going out autograph-nekked.)
I did not know that N.G. shared my worries about
Hurricane (Tropical Storm) Irma. His thought about what he does
with worries, are spot-on for writers. His plan
works when scares other than hurricanes flow by, too.
(advice is at very end of his Oct. 6 journal.)

Next tote time, I hope to see you around as I unpack a different book tote. Thank you so much for visiting today.

“>The Everytown Tote

Sanctuary + pass along books

Sanctuary + book pass alongs

I am exiting from my self-created
verse novel writing retreat
to share three book titles for
these times.

These times
meaning, days following
the loss of three lives at Charlottesville
due to a domestic terrorism murder &
affiliated helicopter crash.

LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVELOVE
Heather D. Heyer
H. Jay Cullen Berke M.M. Bates
PEACEPEACEPEACEPEACEPEACEPEACEPEACE

c.2017 JanGodownAnnino Tallahassee memorial for Charlottesville – two friends, two lights

As one of my first actions in response to these deaths,
I sought out books that can help me better understand
various faiths & cultures.

I am one of those uninformed persons who has never
taken a world religions class, although as
a Christian, I feel it is my responsibility to know much
more about my Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Baha’i, Jewish
& other-faith, neighbors.

So I am fortunate to be learning from
WHAT DO OUR NEIGHBORS BELIEVE?
by Howard R. Greenstein, Kendra Hotz and John Kaltner.
I will pass this book along to a commenter here.

I also bought THE FAITH CLUB from Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver
and Priscilla Warner. This is also a book for adults, but it grew from
discussion, when the three authors actually
orgaized to write a children’s
picture book. I will
also pass it along to a commenter here.

Please help.
I’m looking for titles of recent (2016-2017 or upcoming)
K-1st grade excellent picture books
that unfold lively, engaging stories with joy,
while managing to represent
various cultures & beliefs.
Appreciations for your recommendations, which
I expect to find & place in the book bag I take to school,
as a longtime volunteer reader.

LITTLES
c.2017 AG Ford illustration
Kelly DiPUcchio text

I found a 2017 bundle of joy, compliments of
the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library,
that is
LITTLES, And How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio
(Grace for President), with artwork from AG Ford
(What Color is My World.)

From LITTLES:

Littles are washed in warm sudsy baths
with duckies and daddies
that quack and who laugh

I can’t help but feeling, even knowing in my heart,
that if the Ohio young man responsible for
the compassionate Heather’s death,
had grown up in a compassionate
family whose members
regularly read him books
such as LITTLES, he wouldn’t have been on
the wrong section of the participants, that
weekend. Nor would he have written
that high school paper tribute to
the hateful set of beliefs that is Nazism.

My heart goes out to
the victims’ families,
to Charlottesville and
personally to the children’s authors
I know in that lovely area of Virginia,
along to educators and librarians,
as the community
works harder than ever,
to continue on what many know is its
true progressive path.

Deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall Overcome
Some day

I feel fortunate to know Poetry Friday, a Shining Light
& promoter of peace.

And I found this little light to shine
for the whole world
via LITTLES’ author
Kelly DiPucchio & I hope you like this little light 🙂

Also please know these urls:
http://www.wjkbooks.com/Products/0664230652/what-do-our-neighbors-believe.aspx

https://www.thefaithclub.com/ranya-idliby-questions.html

Pete’s Dragon, August 2016 movie

Pete’s Dragon, yes!

 

 

The whys:

I left the movie wanting to
climb a tree.

A key part of the plot is that
a child reads & rereads & rereads….
a specific picture book that is very important to him.

Music & lyrics sound as if they are
from a mighty fine acoustical concert.

Legends & myths are some of my
favorite literary tropes.

Respect for imagination, forests & loyalty that is deserving, are to be appreciated.

The child actor, Oakes Fegley, is exceptional.

51TLfMvP4wL._SY400_BO1,204,203,200_

So, too are the special effects to make
the facial expressions of Elliot (the dragon)
seem real.

All the key actors are quite spiffy in
their roles. It’s cool to see
Robert Redford comfortable in his
good-lookin’ older guy skin as a
neighborhood storyteller.

Wood whittling. Not a lot, so get there
on time.

I award a nest of green pixie dust
to the creative maker, David Lowery. Bravo!

This was a movie I was too busy to see.
But when I read this  USA TODAY feature, I was motivated to get myself into the theater.

 

Dr. Carla D. Hayden, welcome!

    I am interrupting a blog break for a special announcement.

(But first – please know that this week perky Poetry Friday is beautifully shelved,
here at Books4Learning.)..

This week news arrived of a dynamic, digital-sharp, new
Library of Congress head Librarian, for the decade hence.

Her name is Dr. Carla Diane Hayden.

I must skip to the most important morsel about her
– for me –
she was born in Tallahassee, my town.
Now follows a poem, only after some significant
skinny about our new Librarian of Congress, first —-

* Book she read over and over as a child, Bright April, by Margurite
De Angeli.

1941880

* Well-liked leader in Chicago at that huge public library system.

* One bold year spent at the helm of the American Library Association.

* Innovative leader in Baltimore, where she leaves colleagues sad
at her departure from the historic Enoch Pratt Free Library System.

During riots last year in Baltimore, Dr. Hayden earned praise because
she kept the main library open although it was close “to the epicenter
of unrest.” When so much was shuttered, Dr. Hayden felt that
peaceable folks deserved a safe public haven. According to many
reports, the library became that, not only for reading, but also
offering a place to receive food and to meet other needs.
Here is a video that speaks to those moments, & others.

President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Hayden was challenged.
Despite full clarification of some important questions that
should have satisfied all.

And this week, 18 senators still voted
against this illustrious candidate.
Fortunately the bi-partisan majority ruled.
She is especially needed immediately because of several
reports indicating that the LOC is woefully & perhaps threateningly
for some of the public’s collection, behind in many aspects of librarianship
in the digital age.
See the state-by-state vote (& three who didn’t vote) here.

In Honor of Dr. Hayden, newly of the LOC
By Jan Godown Annino

May you find time to read.
From Bright April, to I Almost Forgot About You,
time to read books
may be
miniscule. (The Flag of Childhood is quick to dip in and out of.)

May you find a windowed nest.
From Georgetown to Capitol Hill,
finding a D.C. condo, like yours in Baltimore,
may be
challenging. (Try Brookland.)

May you ignore racist, sexist remarks.
From the Old South to Badlands survivalists,
bleeping, blocking & (privately) booing
those uglies can be
fun. (They hope for a book contract.)

May you be appreciated.
At office bookshelves and home library stacks,
please know that most real readers are
glad you are
#1 at the LOC. (About time!)

May you visit Tallahassee.
From the Meek-Eaton Black Archives at FAMU, to the Mayor’s office,
it’s a whole new town
than how things before,
went down. (In 1952.)

– c.jga

Unknown

Passages – Joan Perry Morris

Many researchers work with the resource, American Memory, in the Library of Congress.

A buncha history hunters – Ken Burns, other well-established popular &
academic historians – also seek images from Florida Memory. It is an unparalleled digital library of historic documents with millions of visits, worldwide.

The talented creator, Joan Perry Morris, was a
longtime friend who assisted my mother in the 1970s with
Mom’s research on a local history book about the Fort Myers,
Florida region (Sanibel-Captiva to the beachbound.)
Later I appreciated my turn, in relying on Joan for significant
boosts during Florida newspaper & travel book years, before
I wrote children’s books. Joan was zesty about tracking
down topics & tidbits & served up spot-on ideas for other projects.
As Tropical Storm Colin sogged up our way, Joan Perry Morris was
remembered this past weekend, in North Florida, with both reverence & wit,
by state leaders & by just folks, like us.
We felt fortunate to be invited to share in this special celebration
of her 81 years with us. Love you always, Joanie.

https://www.floridamemory.com/
Find more “In Memoriam,” April 22, 2016 via Latest blog posts
tab, lower right of tabs, or the search button.

The Florida Handbook, one edition of those where Joan invited my chapter contributions.

The Florida Handbook, one edition of those where Joan invited my chapter contributions.

Interview with Katheryn Russell-Brown

It’s back to days of alarm clocks and paying attention in class.
This summer I found a new author who will be easy to pay attention to, for Bookseedstudio’s first interview of the fall semester.

I met the author of LITTLE MELBA and HER BIG TROMBONE
after sweet trombone sounds accompanied her lively library talk.

It was the most musical children’s book signing I’ve ever attended.

Extra fun floated through the room of our downtown library, because Dr. Russell-Brown’s daughter Sasha, a fifth-grader, stood proudly on stage, playing select notes on her very own big trombone.
When the author kindly asked if a little boy in the enrapt audience
wanted to try out Sasha’s big trombone, he did! It almost felt like it
could be a scene from the author’s lyrical Coretta Scott King honor book, illustrated beautifully by Frank Morrison with signature elongated touches. But, we were attending another nourishing event
for readers at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library.

images

Some background, from the story

Melba Doretta Liston grew up pushing the pedals on a player piano, while
beloved aunties danced in the living room. She was blessed with a mom who
bought the seven-year-old girl a trombone on the spot when Melba spied it offered
by a Kansas City traveling vendor. She insisted THAT was the instrument for her!
The rest is history. A history not widely known.
But it’s told for young readers via a spirited storytelling style in LITTLE MELBA.

Melba was one of the first women of any race to become a world-class trombone virtuoso – playing, composing and arranging. The back-of- the-book material shows a photograph of Melba with Quincy Jones. She also played for many others,
including Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and the Supremes.

artwork c. 2014 copyright, al rights reserved FRANK MORRISON from Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

artwork c. 2014 copyright, al rights reserved FRANK MORRISON from Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

Melba experienced discrimination based on her race and for being a woman in a male-dominated artistic realm. Yet she performed all over the world, received many honors such as Jazz Master designation from the National Endowment for the Arts, and she eventually formed her own band. She was composing as recently as the 1990s. She was born in 1926 and died in 1999.

You might suspect the author is a music teacher but at the University of Florida College of Law, she is Dr. Katheryn Russell-Brown, professor of law and
director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations.

I know you’ll want to learn more about the author of LITTLE MELBA and HER BIG TROMBONE (Lee & Low Books) so let me bring her onstage.

Favorite music to listen to.
I’m a rhythm & blues girl, with particular affection for 1970s r & b. My list of favorite bands and singers is long. Let’s see, I love Earth Wind & Fire, the Isley Brothers, the O’Jays, the Spinners, James Brown, the Emotions, the Whispers, Maze, Stevie Wonder, Heatwave, the Commodores, Rufus, Kool & the Gang, the Jackson 5, Deniece Williams, the Dramatics…. I could go on for pages, there were so many amazing groups of musicians.

Author you’d like to meet.
Hands down, Toni Morrison. She writes with a twinkle in her eye. She is a masterful writer. Her fiction has received lots of attention but she also wields a mighty pen when writing non-fiction (“Birth of a Nation ‘Hood) and she’s written children’s books to boot (my kids love “The Big Box”).

What fact about Melba Doretta Liston amazes you the most?
Her incredible intellect and perseverance.

How did you learn about Melba Liston?
I heard a wonderful NPR radio broadcast in 2010 called, “Melba Liston: Bones of an Arranger,” narrated by Nancy Wilson.

Some favorite children’s movies.
I have two favorites. “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (the original with Gene Wilder) is one. It was absolutely magical. I saw it at the MacArthur/Broadway Mall in Oakland in 1971, when it first came out. The movie house was packed with kids who had been dropped off by their parents.

I also love “The Wiz” (1978). The music, the acting, and the production were fantastic. I’m thrilled that it will be back on Broadway next year. I’m taking my kids!

Future projects.
I have a few more stories up my sleeve. Please stay tuned!


Thank you, Katheryn.
It will be a pleasure to listen & stay tuned for more of your books.
Here is a website about LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE
https://www.leeandlow.com/books/2854
Here is a website about Katheryn Russell-Brown
http://krbrown.net/CHILDRENS.html

Those of us who are filling our book baskets with titles to read
this school year will want to add in LITTLE MELBA, which is a Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book, illustrated by Frank Morrison. It fits several good connections including stories on

high-achieving girls & women

African-American role models

musical instrumentals, jazz & orchestras

Here are two websites about children’s books on girls & women
Amelia Bloomer List/ALA
https://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/

KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month (article by Katheryn Russell-Brown,
which includes a link to a video of a grown up Melba, performing)

http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com/2015/03/little-melba-and-her-big-trombone.html

Here are two websites about books on African-American topics
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
http://www.ala.org/emiert/cskbookawards
The Brown Bookshelf
http://thebrownbookshelf.com/about/

Here is a website about children’s books on music

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/childrens-music

I hope your school year sings.