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.

 

Salty summer with Langston Hughes & Ashley Bryan

Poetry Friday’s weekend picnic is collected by Tabatha!!!

Today, my little corner of the blogosphere
washes ashore with
a picture book poetry collection and artwork
that may make you sail fast,
to the nearest beach.

On a recent humid, landlocked night at the library,
I hooked into the splashy, floaty cover of SAIL AWAY.

This bounty is a group of poems by Langston Hughes,
with art
from puppet maker, painter, creative wizard,
Ashley Bryan.

SAIL AWAY  cover artwork  c. Ashley Bryan,  poems c. Langston Hughes

SAIL AWAY
cover artwork
c. Ashley Bryan,
poems c. Langston Hughes


Many readers know that Mr. Bryan is a long-time,
year-round dweller of an island off the coast of Maine.
His artwork collage compositions for this collection
are rolling, liquid beauties.
(A surprise on the endpapers reflects his love of his Mother, is all I will say about his process for this book.)

Not many of us – me included – are familiar
with the years that the late, great, Mr. Hughes
labored as a seaman.
This book tells us that his appreciation of the
salt life stems from jobs he landed on ships and boats
in Europe and Africa.

Long Trip
by Langston Hughes

“…We dip and dive,
Rise and roll,
Hide and are hidden
On the sea….”

lines from “Long Trip”
c.Langston Hughes

My first editor in the news bureau where I worked
upon college graduation was also a licensed
U.S. Coast Guard Captain.
Capt. Mike, who was as gentle a wordsmith
& boatsmith as you could find, would
understand those lines.

The seas become inscrutably flat at
times, which is how our family likes it
when we pop up a big umbrella at the shore.
But who knows what flat water covers?

Sea Calm
by Langston Hughes

“How still
How strangely still
The water is today.
It is not good
For water
To be so still that way.”
c.Langston Hughes

I hope you can ship off to your favorite pond, lake,
creek, river, bay, ocean, or backyard kiddie pool,
with Capt. Hughes & Capt. Bryan.
I’d like to give a basket of tumbled-in-surf, St. George
Island, Florida, shells to the brilliant publishing team that
hauled this catch ashore for the world to sing.

For more on Ashley Bryan, I found an important
interview from The Horn Book, with details about
SAIL AWAY.
http://www.hbook.com/2015/08/talks-with-roger/ashley-bryan-talks-with-roger/#_

Of the many online resources about Langston Hughes, I think this
one from Howard University Library is especially wonderful.
http://www.howard.edu/library/reference/guides/hughes/

And I hope you swim back here, likely sometime
in August, after this blog returns from break.

Oyster Boat c. JanGodownAnnino

Oyster Boat c. JanGodownAnnino

A visit with Irene Latham

Happy summer! The very helpful Diane is herding haiku folks &
other poetry people into the weekly partee known as Poetry Friday.

A visit with Irene Latham

I have twice bumped into Alabama-based author
Irene Latham.
We exchanged grins at a cozy SCBWI Southern
Breeze workshop. Then months later, we appreciated
the airy space of The Bookshelf, a friendly emporium
in a Georgia village.

Irene Latham P.B. Shelf (with approving elephant) The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA  c. 2016 JanGodownAnnino

Irene Latham P.B. Shelf (with approving elephant) The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA
c. 2016 JanGodownAnnino

All my moments with this often-traveling, award-winning poet,
novelist & picture book author give me the feeling that
I want to be a calmer & kinder person & a much more
creative writer. No wonder I’m craving an Irene Latham fix. 

I left a trail of peanuts, in hopes of enticing this
elephant-loving woman into the Bookseedstudio studio.
The snacks worked. We are today’s exclusive site for,
A visit with Irene Latham.

Q.  
Peanuts or popcorn?

I can’t pick… enjoy them both! Especially if there’s
chocolate involved…

Q.  
 Book wrangling. Keep them in a tall, narrow bookcase? A
short, fold-up bookstair? Alphabetized by author?  How do
you tame your home/office library?

I have books in every room of the house — but I try really
hard to keep only the books to which I have strong attachments.
(Books are meant to be read, not collecting dust on a shelf!) I don’t
do alphabetical, though it sure would make things easier to find! I
tend to group according to emotional impact. I do have several
bookshelves devoted to only children’s literature.

Q.  
Background sounds. What is your writing zone playlist?
Is silence when you write, golden?

Silence is my sound of choice. Or birdsong.

Q.  
We are visiting Birmingham, your town. 
What are 3 places you’d take us to?

Vulcan at night,
Johnny’s in Homewood for the best
upscale meat-n-three you will ever eat,
and Reed Books.
And then there’s the Civil Rights Museum, Railroad Park,
Birmingham Museum of Art, the Botanical Gardens,
our fabulous zoo… 

Q.  
Please finish the sentence. A map is…

. . . unnecessary.
Let the journey guide you, not the map! (I actually love maps
and am learning some of the best things ever are found when
you put the map away.)

Q.  
If your name weren’t Irene, it would be…

. . . Hannah. (I am named after my great-grandmother,
Hannah Irene.)

Q.  
If writing weren’t your work, it would be… ?

My husband and I love to travel and love to EAT, so
maybe together we’d host a TV travel show? 
 
Q.  
What should children’s writers ask
themselves when they start a new project? 

Am I having fun? Am I delighted?
Does this story fill me with wonder and joy?

Irene Latham with young friends, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA

Irene Latham with young friends, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA

Appreciations
to Irene for these fun thoughts. You can glean a fine dollop of
poem-making tips & shake paws with the elephant-loving
Irene Latham at these fresh & delicious 2016 events: 

Alabama Writers Conclave (Birmingham, AL) – July 15-17
Mississippi Book Festival (Jackson, MS) – August 20 
Poetry Camp (Bellingham, WA) – October 1
SCBWI Writing & Illustrating for Kids (Birmingham, AL) – October 8
Louisiana Book Festival (Baton Rouge, LA) – October 29
NCTE (Atlanta, GA) – November 17-20

ALSO
you will not want to miss, coming to a bookshelf near you
(sooner or later) this hard-working poet’s way with words in:
IT’S NOT BLACK AND WHITE
(poetry picture book, co-authored with Charles Waters)
FRANK AND MISS FANCY
(historical fiction picture book)
POP, BAM, BOOM!
(poetry picture book)
THE OCTOPUS POSTCARDS
(nonfiction picture book)

FOR
more juicy details visit www.irenelatham.com

AND
if you have’t already, read these Irene Latham books
find them fast:
FRESH DELICIOUS
DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST
WHEN SHE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA<
/>

LEAVING GEE’S BEND
DON’T FEED THE BOY


THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS
THE SKY BETWEEN US
WHAT CAME BEFORE <
/>

Here is a little Irene Lantham poem-in-progress,
about Irene,
but certainly not BY Irene.

Brave Irene

Deep down in
another writer’s desk
dwelled fusty words,
not the best.

Irene swatted the dull things
away. She clapped her paws:
“Walloping crisp verbs,
come in and play.”

A calvacade of tight terms
appeared:
crack
creak

gulp
flick
shine
peel

hammer
squabble
gobble
burble

leap
convene
squint
grimace

Multitudinous words danced
in the now-lively place.
Appreciations extended!
Violets in a vase.

“Tut, tut,” Irene said,
“Good words always lived here.
You just had to banish
that writerly fear.”

-jga

Highlights of Working at Writer’s Wonderland – 2

Favorites from the Workshop – The Work at The Novel-in-Verse Workshop
by Jan Annino

(Seekers of the POETRY FRIDAY round-up, of which this article is a part, are collected by Jone at CHECK IT OUT. https://maclibrary.wordpress.com/)

To cope from withdrawal symptoms
following a Highlights Foundation Workshop
last month, I’m writing about my favorites
from the experience.
In the last post I listed High Five
Favorites from The Tour of The Office.

Favorites from the Workshop – The Work

Work!
A lot of it.
In an ardent
doodle, doodle, idea, idea, scribble, scribble,
sense.

Breakthrough moments
bubbled up,
so I chucked swaths of lines,
retooled others in light of
directions newly imagined.
Terrific progress.

Mornings I awoke to birdsong.
First light filtered in from a wood,
across a red clover field where
a red tractor sat.
A breeze tickled delicate white curtains
against honey blond, paneled, cabin walls.

Each of the perfect-weather mornings,
I grabbed my journal/notebook that wears
an embossed mantra,
“A moment of gratitude makes a difference in attitude.”
It arrived home juicy with impressions,
characters, thoughts, titles, snatches of
dialogue & questions.

I tugged myself away from the cabin’s
spell & went outside early.
Plump robins worked to make a nest
in a beam of my front porch.
Writers also saw Baltimore orioles.
I stopped in my path for the flight
of an indigo bunting.
Bluebirds visited me uncountable times.
And more delight –
chipmunks wove in an out of slate walls near the 5,200 square
foot airy conference center fittingly known as The Barn.

copyright 2016 Joanne R. Fritz, all rights  reserved

copyright 2016
Joanne R. Fritz, all rights
reserved


More Work
Each morning top-drawer authors,
Kathryn Erskine and Alma Fullerton,
guided us with pithy & lively lectures & writing prompts.
They are each of them such
physical presenters, it felt at times as if we
watched theater.
We listened to a potent talk &
enjoyed many conversations with
visiting author Padma Venkatraman,
(A Time to Dance, Island’s End, Climbing the Stairs.)

Afternoons offered time for one-on-one
meetings with the mentors.
Plus, individual writing marathons inside.
Or out, with assistance from previously noted
chipmunks and avians.
Writers found the creek at the bottom of the hill.
It reflected a clearness that guided
thoughts & work.

copyright,  Kathryn Erskine,  all right reserved

copyright,
Kathryn Erskine,
all right reserved


<

By 4 we collected in the living room of The Barn
in a daily group critique
for the brave. Everyone felt brave,
drawn out by the nurturing faculty.
We appreciated the Floyd Cooper art on the walls &
the big sofas holding red pillows emblazoned with the
distinctive H for Highlights, logo.

The nights were usually free for reading,
writing, or discussion. I felt fortunate that an
insightful librarian, also working on historical fiction
like me, asked to share evening work time in The Barn.
Another night we were gifted with visits from City
Folk, an accomplished agent & an esteemed editor.
Such insights, we gleaned. Such access, we appreciated.

Favorite Words of Wisdom
Katherine Erskine, whose books include Mockingbird, Quaking,
The Badger Knight, plus the forthcoming, Mama Africa:

All of your stories will make wonderful books.

Imagine an elaborate line-up of dominoes that you will be setting off, in touching
the first one. Each domino must connect. Each scene must connect with the next.

Keep in mind who is the antagonist. Who is the battle against.

Alma Fullerton, whose books include In The Garage, Libertad, Burn
& the forthcoming, 50 Lashes:

Don’t sacrifice story for poetic form.

My first draft is basically barfing on the paper.

The evil person can be even nastier if we don’t see him/him from
his point of view, but when we view that antagonist from the outside.

Bonus Staff
The kind & funny chef staff (hello there, Marcia,
Amanda, Megan, Derrick & a spot-on walk-on, Kent!) matched
the quality of the story-crafting faculty. And their treats are
missed (hello there, toasted kale appetizer, mushroom loaf,
stuffed peppers, cream of squash soup, rhubarb crunch,
grilled asparagus, local cheeses, et. al!)

In Summary
Pages were required with the application;
this varies workshop to workshop. We 12 brought
library or teaching or children’s bookselling or publishing
tales with us. Students traveled from as far as Idaho, and as
next-door as N.J. and PA.
We grew close to each other, in sharing about our novel-in-verse
(one biography-in-verse) projects.
I’m anticipating news in the months ahead about terrific progress.
I’ve already brought fresh work to an at-home writing partner
at the library last night.

To Be Continued
How cool it is to be collected in an online group by our
spiffy librarian techie, my sharp critique partner
that night, to continue the journey begun at Highlights.
Appreciations to all.
With extra thanks to Kathryn Erskine & Joanne Fritz for
sharing the photos for this article. My 125 images
I took in the 5 days didn’t make it home, but
that’s another Story.

Highlights of Working at Writer’s Wonderland – 1

Highlights of Working at a Writer’s Wonderland – The Tour
by Jan Annino

I write this blog article as a coping mechanism
to soothe withdrawal, from leaving
a Writer’s Wonderland.

Last month I attended my first Highlights Foundation
Workshop for Children’s and Illustrators. A two-word
writing results summary is – terrific progress.
I hope the days there aren’t my last visit to the Highlights
nirvana for writers, editors, and illustrators.

Here today, from the recent Highlights Foundation
Workshop for writers of novels-in-verse, are my High Fives
about The Tour. Tomorrow’s blog article is about The Workshop.

The Tour
My High Five Favorites at the Office – The Tour

images-2
Highlights logo is cheerily emblazoned on scattered carpets.

images-1
A giant skull sits in the editor-in-chief’s office (ask about it on
tour.)
images-2
Magazine editors work in an historic downtown former mayor’s home,
a building accented with high ceilings, big, built-in
bookcases, and tall windows.
images-3

Editor name plates are old Scrabble tile holders that display the
wood letters spelling first names. (Hello Joelle, Channing & everyone!)
images-4
All on the magazine staff answer mail from children; every piece of
child mail is answered.

Finally, my heart also melted when I saw that books created by
book friends (Lee Bennett Hopkins, Lisa Desimini, Irene Latham)
are so handy for reference.

Okay, so I gave you one more – that makes six. The Highlights
folks like to overdeliver and I feel we all carried that spirit
away with us.

I hope you can visit this blog again; tomorrow I expect to post High Five Favorites from the Workshop – The Work.

(printablenumbers.org a resource for educators, is much appreciated
for today’s numbers.)

ELF

c. Jan Godown Annino

c. Jan Godown Annino

With the arrival of our gal from Boston,
we here in the little yellow cottage are feeling
much Christmas cheer.

Inspired by J. Patrick Lewis, who created a poetry
form called Careerhyme, I offer, “ELF.”

ELF: A sprite, an industrious assister;
A rare visitor; A child charmer,
Who delivers wishes come true;
A needed part of Holiday frivolity.
I wish one, or a bunch, for you.
– c. Jan Godown Annino

Appreciations not only to JPL, but also to his
colleague David L. Harrison, for his generous blog,
which shares writing prompts + much more.

Do you love Christmas books as much as I do?
This year, the first book I’m reading is the volume of
Father Christmas letters of J.R. R. Tolkein to his children.
Then I will nest in the rest.

I hope your nest is your best!

cedar-key-christmas-tree-inside-0011

How to find a ThankU

courtesy of TEACHING AUTHORS

courtesy of
TEACHING AUTHORS

How to find a ThankU
by Jan Godown Annino

(first- a deertale – follow the blue words for POETRY FRIDAY.)

My heart is wrapped in appreciations.
& I want to share a few of them.

I have seen the eyes-wide
open photographs of Ian, a bursting-new babe in my
Circle of Love world.

ON THE DAY YOU  WERE BORN c. Debra Frasier

ON THE DAY YOU
WERE BORN
c. Debra Frasier

I wake up every morning & am fortunate to see
the smiling face of my handsome husband.

And, this is indulgent, forgive me, but I see
good news for my work.

So I am thinking – THANKU

As you may guess from the inventive name,
a Thanku is a form of Haiku.

I read about it via the Teaching Authors of 2011 –
April, Carmela, Esther, JoAnn, Laura & Mary_Ann_Rodman”
(I hope I’m not forgetting anyone vintage 2011.)

And it was author/teacher Esther Hershenshorn who created the Thanku.

So, a 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables construct is the guide.
An appreciation is given. Like that – a ThankU.

So if you have time to read now, or later, I’m sharing
three. All c. Jan Godown Annino. And ThankU, for visiting
this page.

ThankU, Ian

Stretchy legs feel air
Wide eyes seek out shapes of love
Toes say “nibble me”

ThankU, Paolo

Morning wake-up call
Wrinkled faces meet at lips
Doesn’t feel routine

ThankU, Book notes

“Congratulations!”
Unanticipated joy
is the finest kind

Regarding the last ThankU, recent developments
related to a book of mine published back in 2010
are quite fine.

BETTY MAE TIGER JUMPER, first news
In 2016 the trail-blazing BETTY MAE TIGER JUMPER (1923-2001),
the subject of SHE SANG PROMISE, will be celebrated alongside other
great women of achievement. The National Women’s History Project will honor Betty Mae Tiger Jumper’s historic leadership of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

NWHP-carttop
As if that isn’t enough to appreciate…

BETTY MAE TIGER JUMPER, 2nd news
This fall, Betty Mae Tiger Jumper was honored by the Library of
Congress when that same title was featured at the LOC
National Book Festival, as one of 52 Great Reads for Young Readers.

(see poster, below)

Also, Scholastic has brought out SHE SANG PROMISE in a lovely paperbound edition. It’s on sale at a nifty price right now at the Scholastic Teacher Store.

Some of the opening lines in SHE SANG PROMISE are –

Think of the gigantic glades near the end of land
A mama alligator floats babies on her back
And itchy black bear takes a palm tree scratch
Leaving soft fur tufts that swamp mice fetch

© Jan Godown Annino

My November cornucopia is ripe, sweet, spilling.

I am thankful to all helping along this book’s path, especially
the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum & Store (where She Sang Promise is sold online),
the family of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, notably Moses Jumper, Jr. the artist
Lisa Desimini, the editors, especially Jennifer Emmett.

12191003_10153293472581588_4613888682482509910_n

In poetry this week

This seems like a moment to share a collection of
poems by creatives who are deeply connected to places
such as Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Palestine, Syria,
Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Turkey & even as far east
as India.

This volume of adult-written poems for students,
selected by Naomi Shihab Nye, is an original Aladdin Paperback,
offered to classrooms where students ages 8-12 are
expanding their horizons.

With many national flags represented in the collection.
one of the poems I especially return to has this in it –

“ …the ones who raise the flag of childhood high.”

51yYALkEI5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

In this season of anguished refugee news & intense military fighting
around the world, I meditate on the idea that despite everyting that is
rotten among countires on the planet, families are united by the flag of childhood.

Here is more of that poem.

from Letters to Childhood
Mohammed Shehadeh
translator: Aziz Shihab

All the children of the world
in all my abodes
you are the roses in my courtyard,
the green and the fresh,
the sun and the stars,
you are the beautiful hands,
the ones who raise the flag of childhood high.

©Mohammed Shehadeh

Other poems in, THE FLAG OF CHILDHOOD, carry titles such as “Beginning Speech,” “History Class,” “Growing (after Pablo Neruda’s ‘Walking Around’), “Class Pictures,” “I Have No Address,” & “Why Are We in Exile, the Refugees Ask.”

Another poem in this 98-page collection that I return to is, “The Bridge” by Kaissar Afif, who writes, in part – Poetry is a river/ And solitude a bridge

I have appreciated that Naomi Nye collected this group of poems.

poetryfriday180
Also this week, I turned to Worlds, Words & Wings, for a list of books about peace. The link is for middle grade; at the end of the post you can find links for the other school ages.

http://wordsworldandwings.blogspot.com/2009/11/top-ten-books-for-middle-grades-that.html

Also this week–

In some of the English-speaking world, such as Scotland, Ireland & England,
readers & writers celebrated National Poetry Day – October 8, 2015.

Perhaps I tune into it even tho I am on the Florida side of the Big Pond,
because of my good fortune at Hollins University to take one class with an invigorating guest lecturer from Wales via England – Prof. Morag Styles.

For Your Inquiring Mind

What is National Poetry Day, Oct. 8?
http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/national-poetry-day/what-is-national-poetry-day/

Did anything happen in the U.S.?
Student Poet Event Washington D.C
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/08/remarks-first-lady-national-student-poets-ceremony

I had absolutely no role in this but I would like to raise up one student from my state, Chasity Hale, who was honored in a ceremony with President Obama and Mrs. Obama, for her poetry this week! Here is a link to a lovely photograph of the ceremony.
Brava!

Please find Poetry Friday well-schooled by Laura at WRITING THE WORLD FOR KIDS
To be ready for next week, Poetry Friday cultivation on Oct. 16 is in the autumn garden with Amy, at The Poetry Farm

An apple poem by Barbara Juster Esbensen

For more about poetry & young readers,
please see Heidi’s drinkable roundup at
My Juicy Little Universe.

apple star photo/kiwicrate.com

courtesy of kiwicrate

courtesy of kiwicrate

All you living in autumnland, as I write this it is
summer weather here.

And yet at the market the best fresh berries are
gone. Or, they are too far from Florida, for me to be
interested in them.

I was happy to carry home a fruit I haven’t bought
since spring. A reliable crisp round fruit, to slice, with a
sprinkle of cinnamon on it, for a snack & to add to my
cereal – hot or cold.

And I thought of one of my favorite children’s poets,
Barbara Esbensen.

I went looking for her poem about this treat that
tucks a sky surprise inside. I’m sure this teacher and mother,
savored many of them, coming from far north Wisconsin & living there
or in Minnesota.

Discovery
by Barbara Juster Esbensen

Within its polished universe
The apple holds a star,
A secret constellation
To scatter near and far.

©Barbara Juster Esbensen

For the rest of this lovely poem find the first
edition (1964) or the second edition ( 2003) of her seasonal
poems, collected as SWING AROUND THE SUN.
I’m also a fan of the artist Mary GrandPre, so the 2003
edition is handy on my books-to-travel shelves to share in school.
Mary GrandPre’s apple face is all-knowing and kind, even though
it’s about to get eaten.

(My Nikon died & I haven’t aced levitating images from
my new Canon into digital world, so I don’t have a photo of the lovely
apple page in the collection.)

SwingAroundTheSun_2003
Each season’s poems by Barbara Esbensen in
SWING AROUND THE SUN are illustrated by a different artist – Winter,
Stephen Gammell, Spring, Cheng-Khee Chee, summer, Janice Lee Porter
& five luxurious images from Mary GrandPre, for autumn.

I came to Barbara Esbensen’s work in 2007, through her
WHO SHRANK MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE? illustrated by Eric Beddow,
which I found in a Roanoke, Va. bookshop. Many of the poems
in this collection are free verse. And that is the style of
poetry writing she taught to children, so they would be able
to put pencil to paper pouring out vivid imagery & without
the constraint of rhyming.

I am struck by the poet’s artful way of arranging
words. And I like to share with children how she lavished poem
attention on one of my beloved everyday objects, the pencil.

Here, from WHO SHRANK MY GRANDMOTHER’S
HOUSE? are thoughts within another autumnal poem,
by Barbara Esbensen.

Tell Me
by Barbara Esbensen


“Why do you think
the birches
are standing in our yard
in their underwear?”

shrank

If you would like to treat yourself to a visit with
one of our best children’s poets, I’ve collected a few resources.

A CELEBRATION OF BEES, Helping Children to Write Poetry
by Barbara Juster Esbensen, foreword by Lee Bennett Hopkins

The poet shares fabulous works created by her young students,
sometimes in their own printing or cursive & occasionally
with their own art, such as on the cover. It is an uplifting
guide to helping children discover the poetry inside themselves.

A Celebration of Bees, Helping Children to Write Poetry by Barbara Juster Esbensen

A Celebration of Bees, Helping Children to Write Poetry
by Barbara Juster Esbensen

NCTE interview by M.Jean Greenlaw

Article at Bookology, by her husband Tory Esbensen

An homage to this literary artist (1925-1996)

An article by her editor-fan, fellow poet, Lee Bennett Hopkins

And fortunately, a nourishing video recollection by Lee Bennett Hopkins at the generous Renee LaTulippe’s
NO WATER RIVER site.

And remember, the Poetry Friday go-go juice is with Heidi at her tasty site.

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.