Appreciations

November evokes warm good feelings and smiles. It’s my anniversary month with my hubby who made my heart melt because he was game enough to put on a silly wig and dress up with me for Halloween with friends who also did the favor of dressing up & reciting original scary tales or poems or reading favorite traditional spoofy pieces. It carried me into November the way I like it to be – a full month of giving thanks, not just on the significant Nov 27.

For several years, where I’m a volunteer picture book reader in a school I love, I’ve shared poems that are written about thanks and thanks-giving,  from authors of First Peoples/Native American/American Indian heritage.

Some of the resources I turn to are:

THE CIRCLE OF THANKS: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving told by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) with pictures by Murv Jacobs

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THE EARTH UNDER SKY BEAR’S FEET: Native American Poems of the Land, collected and told by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki), and illustrated by Thomas Locker

ENDURING WISDOM, Sayings from Native Americans, selected by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, with paintings by Snythia Saint James.

Each is beautifully illustrated and look like jewels, sitting open on the top of a child-height bookcase.

Additionally Joseph Bruchac features original poems at his site. Further, I find materials that expand on the topic, from these four resources, previously mentioned on this Bookseedstudio site.

Many poems for children speak to a keen awareness of animals, trees and plants, land, or the Earth itself, rivers, lakes and sky, particularly during what Joseph Bruchac calls, “the living night.”

Because we are anticipating the homecoming of our daughter for Thanksgiving, which she hasn’t been able to celebrate with us for many years, I especially relate to these lines, from THE CIRCLE OF THANKS:

“As I play my drum

I look around me

and I see my people.

And my people are dancing

in a circle about me

and my people, they are beautiful.”

(Micmac, Northeast Coast)

copyright Joseph Bruchac

I am thankful for poets, for teachers, for the children’s literature community, for Poetry Friday creators, and for every breath I take. And of course, for my Family.

 

 

SUGAR HILL

When I made a trip from Florida to visit a newsgal pal, Deborah, who lived in New York City in the 1980s, one day I arranged to ride a bus to one of the city’s most fascinating neighborhoods, Harlem.

Harlem is connected to Florida in many ways but especially because Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Augusta Savage and other talented cultural icons we share about with our kiddos in school, home & at the library, went from Florida to NYC & then onward in their great careers.

At that time, the only place

for them to be

in NYC

was Harlem.

Our Harlem tour was mighty fine. I have news of a new tour, with these introductory words by poet Carole Boston Weatherford:

                                                Sugar Hill Sugar Hill

                                                Where life is sweet

                                               And the neighbors smile

                                                   At all they greet!

The is from a rhyming tribute to a part of Harlem, Sugar Hill elegantly portrayed in images by artist R. Gregory Christie.

Both the poet and illustrator have earned a block full of children’s literature awards.  Not only have I given some of their books as gifts, but I was also fortunate to hear Ms. Weatherford read her poetry once.

If you are like me, you’ll want to read more of the rhymes. Until you can find this brand new picture book, here are some of Christie sketches for SUGAR HILL, HARLEM’S HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD, through the courtesy of the artist and, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  Hope you book your tour.

The mystery is history

The mystery is history

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About now in the school year a search is on.

Students round up a few likely suspects:

http://www.floridamemory.com/onlineclassroom/history_fair/#bet

They probe into their past. And they

create a short script, or construct a table display

or write an essay about the object of their attention.

If they are passionate and well-informed and are favored

by the local, regional and state judges, they find

themselves in our nation’s capital for the National

History Day Fair.

A shake of the dance rattle  (traditional turtle shell or

modern day metal can) please, as I mention with

pride that this time around Betty Mae Tiger Jumper,

is highlighted as a worthy subject.

She receives a fine digital shout out directed at students: http://www.floridamemory.com/onlineclassroom/history_fair/

http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n93123557.html

Will students look closer at the woman who authorized me to

tell her story to younger readers?

Because she wrestled alligators, she grabs attention. For grade school

age,  a creative collaboration produced the gold medal, Florida Book

Awards title, She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper.

It features a letter to readers from her son, Moses Jumper, Jr. and illustrations from Lisa Desimini, with  my text vetted by

the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

What pulls middle grade students in is that Betty Mae began

kindergarten at middle school age.

High school researchers may want to explore death threats

she survived, her election as the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s

first woman leader, her role in forming a four-tribe coalition

to speak with one voice. her appointment to a presidential

commission.

The 2014 national theme on rights and responsibilities is a smooth fit

for this trailblazer.

Brava! Betty Mae Tiger Jumper. Added to a list of

non-Native men and women who our nation’s students have presented

on, since at least 1974.

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all images copyrighted by the author

PLUS – an additional resource from this site (any returning readers, apologies for the previous non-working link) is:

https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/about-this-site-writer/bookseedstudio1/

notes – Mother’s Day Weekend 2012

A very good ‘bye & two hellos

Anne Rudloe/Butterflies On A Sea Wind

Suitably for a memorial,  clouds opened up Sunday May 13 in time for umbrellas to pop like mushrooms, among congregants arriving at church to reflect upon the life of author & scientist Anne Rudloe.  Because she was a Buddhist teacher I wondered if we would find jewel- tone prayer flags & sandalwood incense & perhaps the sound of a delicate small gong?  Instead, lovely hymns & also some Gershwin & The Sound of Music. Many smiles & tears. Loving tributes to her life, where she enriched so many. Departure was in pure sunshine, drops dancing off tree leaves, shimmery glints along the path home. Good wishes to Family &  Gulf Marine Specimen folks.

FAITH RINGGOLD. She stood up the whole hour she spoke. She is 81.

&  FAITH RINGGOLD/c. Jan Godown Annino

After decades of world-wide accolades, she still had to outfox an oily art dealer who intended to keep her Clinton family portrait rather than pass it on as intended. With her husband Birdie helping, she put it directly into grateful hands at the White House. Her sparkling mural mosaics are lesser known than the totemic story quilts that are catalysts for children’s books.

She read from her witty new bullying poetry.  Public school kids in NYC knew her as their art teacher, before she quit to spend time with her other talents. California college students call her professor.Thanks, FSU Fine Arts folks.

ANDREA DAVIS PINKNEY. Wow. Never imagined two years ago when I presented at the library on SIT IN, a Brian Pinkney-illustrated history for young readers of Greensboro, N.C. desegregation by brave students, that the author would be presenting on it herself.

The interactive event that covered many children’s literature titles, found us stretching our credulity to see if we thought our cat lounging at home could talk & narrate a story & also asking ourselves how we would respond to hot coffee & catsup being poured on our heads. A lively & deep talk, all the more special because of the all-ages audience.

Pinkney sets her alarm for 4 a.m. She writes every day.  Thanks, LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library folks.

Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney

March music

March is a month with a perfect (English-language) name. And it carries a perfect theme- Women’s History Month. Either way, March dwells in the world of movin’ on,  heading out.

PLUS, for a good cause you can bid on She Sang Promise, my picture book about Betty Mae Jumper, at the link below.

TWO BOOKS

I think of two important books for young readers,  one about a real girl who is still a girl,  far across the ocean, and one about the girlhood of a real Canadian woman. Two titles about lives where a person’s struggle to gain the right of individual choice, paid off.

As the first story I share opens, NUJOOD ALI  is living a restricted life in Yemen, the land of the Queen of Sheba, as her book relates. This helps set  the exotic scene of men who wear curved daggers in public, while girls and women are expected to remain heavily veiled and to follow all wishes that their father desires. Nujood’s father arranges her marriage. She is beaten and held a prisoner by her husband and in-laws. She is raped by her husband, who has promised not to have intercourse until at least her first period. She is a child, after all. Her  true story is told in matter-of-fact and page-turning fashion, with the help of international journalist Delphine Minoui, in I AM NUJOOD, AGE 10 AND DIVORCED.

For the experience of MARGARET POKIAK-FENTON, travel far north of the United States into the realm of Arctic Canada. Margaret’s childhood shimmers with the love of her family and her community. She is a skillful Inuit child, able to direct her own dog sled across the vast Northwest Territory ice. And like Nujood, she is ten. Her parents make a mistake. They yield to Margaret’s insistence that she be allowed to go with the exotic nuns, who pluck Inuit children from remote villages to educate them far away in harsh boarding schools for native children. Margaret will be gone an entire school year. The humiliations and emotional abuse she experiences, both from the staff and other students, along with her  strong spirit that carries her through, are a journey similar to Nujood’s. Her book is FATTY LEGS. It is illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. And it is expertly told by Christy Jordan-Fenton.

Each of these titles is a noted Amelia Bloomer book, listed by Feminist Task Force of the

Social Responsibilities Round Table , of the American Library Association.

FOUR RESOURCES of DEPTH

KIDLIT Celebrates Women’s History Month. This link connects to a lively post-a-day blog, hosted by two librarians. It only occurs in March. It’s a treasure to bookmark, to pass along & to return to online. I learned about it last year when it debuted. So happy to welcome the KIDLIT team back.

National Women’s History Museum

National Women’s History Project This is the link where my book is part of a fund-raising auction.

National Women’s Hall of Fame

From George W. to Joseph B.

When not yet 16, George Washington copied 41 rules of civil behavior, (scroll down if  a list of site topics precede this), at least one of which, I violated Halloween Weekend. After a day that began early I nodded  off at night  during a top-drawer, well-staged & otherwise eye-popping theater performance. I woke quickly so it wasn’t a continuing violation. I offer the ideals our future first President took fountain pen to inkwell for, in hopes they are a timely diversion in this month of  dining & socializing & imbibing for Thanksgiving.    And I am thankful for being directed to them, by The Village Square.  (item #2) Continuing in a spirit of thankfulness I offer a bridge to structured versions of two of my favored anonymous ways of showing thankfulness, and also offer this kind group  , which codify some of the serendipity path- of- life ways to love neighbor, community & World.

ALSO – If you look for children’s books that aren’t of the November turkey- dinner fare variety,  please consider CIRCLE OF THANKS and SQUANTO’s JOURNEY, both from Joseph Bruchac.

Enjoy, be thankful.

hurricane season

WHAT stories for young readers have hurricanes as the backdrop? We can always react to a seasonal interest with out of print books such as Hurricane Luck by Carl Carmer.  A review of the Katrina-inspired A PLACE WHERE HURRICANES HAPPEN, from Renee Watson in 2010, is here.

And thanks to the timely comment (see below) I’m pleased to post a link to a review and comment  on a new hurricane picture book,  A STORM CALLED KATRINA by Myron Uhlberg, with  illustrations by Colin Bootman.

For my current hurricane reading, I am taking cover against predicted rains from Lee, in the classic 1958 non-fiction from the Everglades’ protector, Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

YURACAN is only one word for the worrisome weather.

To fathom hurricanes, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas studied them for three years in league with the (old) Hurricane Research Project of the U.S. Weather Bureau, Miami.

As we seek from a legendary writer who herself was a force of nature, living until 108, her quest resulted in goodness – a 393-page nonfiction literary volume, HURRICANE.   And yes, the view of destruction on the back cover from my own prized volume is a blurry image from Montauk, Long Island.   So this older book has resonance for today, what with the recently departed H. Irene having discombobulated family & friends in New England.

I recommend the Douglas history of these killer cyclones. It is a keen read, especially for those recently/currently acquainted in a personal way with one. Some dear family &  pals went for days – almost a week for one family, without power.  So a history of indoor plumbing & the shower is more appreciated than ever in these times. But that’s another book.

Also, I can’t talk about hurricanes without sending you to read up on book loss at libraries, as a result of Irene. Be generous if you can, starting with information from an alert & talented author, whose pages I traveled to via an indispensible blog at  School Library Journal.

HURRICANE was first published in 1958. Douglas reports on a 1464 hurricane that dealt a coup de grace to Mayans.  She sails on from there, dropping anchor for interesting ports of call such as : “In 1790 on his trip down the Ohio, George Washington noted hurricane damage to the trees between Steubenville, Ohio and Wheeling, West Virginia.”

Her book reminds us/introduces us to Yuracan & other suspected sources of our term, hurricane, including the Indians we know as Caribs, the island dwelling Tainos  and the good people of Central and South America.  Her recounting of the beliefs about the gods of wind and storms fascinates.

Douglas also covers geography of past destruction, including a detailed section & maps of  “Hurricanes, North.” So the possibility of Irene’s interesting path away from Florida and up into the rivers of Vermont may have come as no surprise if we read our history, which of course we do, correct? No, not nearly enough.

from HURRICANE by Marjory Stoneman Douglas "A boat awash at Montauk, Long Island - photographed by The New York Times"

One of my favorite aspects of this book involves the stories of heroes who risk their lives to save people from injury and death as a result of hurricanes.

In looking backward with Douglas, it is clear how today’s forecast information, which, let’s be honest, we take for granted, would have been worshipped, cheered, embraced & yes, well-heeded in times past.

To not follow it today seems without enough regard for the first responders who can risk their lives in hurricane-affiliated rescues. And some of those stressful storm-soaked saves may be unnecessary, if only said stranded residents had heeded warnings.

We know much more about inevitable hurricanes today, than when Douglas wrote beautifully on them with that era’s limited knowledge, some 50 years ago. So this makes me ponder: What makes sense about new construction or rebuilding, in marshes, on riverbanks that flood hugely after strong sustained storms, on our coastal sands,  & in similar zones?

Despite the heft of this book, it is a fast-paced read. Especially in hurricane season, which lasts, I recall, through October.

It was reissued in 1976 and if you are pondering which library near you carries which edition, a fast way to look is with the wonderful World Catalogue  WorldCat http://www.world.cat.org

Full disclosure: Douglas personally charmed my reading club during her long visit with us, captured in a photograph of her on my sofa. I am in touch with most book group pals, but if I haven’t heard from you in ages, please give a shout.  I don’t have a functioning scanner at this moment but do want to get that photo up here. Please check back after the next few hurricanes! I expect to have it posted then.

In the meantime, check with your Red Cross folks, follow the forecasts & take a look at hurricane books.