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

DSCN0042_3

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.

00000001

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/

The “p” in April is for ?

The P in April is for ?

We played a game in our family that involved verses.

When I was six, seven, eight, my Aunt Florence if she was visiting,

but more often my mother, would point to me.

Then began the count, out loud: “ 1, 2, 3….

By 10, I had to start saying a nursery rhyme or poem.

I never saw a purple cow

I never hope to see one…

Then it would be my turn to point to one of them and count,

“1,2, 3…”

O captain, my captain…”

Woodman spare that tree…”

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea…” 

That Edward Lear ditty would be recited by Aunt Florence, who would give her other kidney in transplant to a cat if it would have prolonged the pampered life she provided her felines.

It would seem silly to the sisters, Florence, Marian and Lilly, to create only one month for poetry, when limericks, light verse & poetry, including patriotic ballads, filled a walloping large part of their world.

Today it might take a college poetry class to inveigle a young person to memorize a poem. But the gals finished their high school learning that poetry is meant to be heard. They carried their memorized recitations, declamations & elocutions with them, & shared them as portable nourishment all their days.

With the memories of those performances as part of my literary legacy, I was thrilled this month to visit a public school & find that a first grade teacher I’ve always suspected of being wildly creative, intends to lead her class in learning by heart one poem ( Shel Silverstein’s -“Sick.”) Not only will her wiggly ones be challenged to recite it, but they will also be asked to create their own list poem about sick days they have experienced & to create other responses.  If there is a National Poetry Foundation or Library of Congress poetry honor for school teachers, I want to nominate her.

Also in this poetry month I was surprised to hear writer Laura Lascarso asking me for a poem as we chatted together at our downtown spring festival.

I expected to send her one on a Florida topic that is to be published later this year in a small journal. But instead I found that the hard-worked farm across the road from me in my child years before Florida, sprang to mind. I wrote a new poem thinking of that farm; the result, not light verse, is “April is Open.” I invite you to read it and please leave a word or two about it on Laura’s site.

I started poetry month with the gift of a how-to book intended for younger writers, WRITE A POEM, by JoAnn Early Macken.

I wish Aunt Florence were around to appreciate like I do, the  lines:

Scratchy cat

looking for a rat

leaps to the window

Acrobat!

I thank JoAnn Early Macken for this guide, which brings with it a plan, tools and model poems that are sure to lure words out of little ones and into the lines of poems . She shares with us that her verse above originally was this:

Scratchy cat

in the window sat

wearing a hat

looking for rats

and then she is patient in illuminating the substance of how & why the revised lines sound better. When I am done devouring her guide (I’ve read it once & I like to read books three times through if they are the kind to inhale,) I think WRITE A POEM is headed over to a certain first grade poetry palace.

Question answer: Although the P in April is for poetry, it is also for performance.

gratitude for my latitude

With the wee drop in temperatures in North Florida,  I sense a tempo  leap.

And so matching that, I am almost completed with revising a chapter book.

On a new project, I touch the word count bar to see how far a new story character and I journeyed in one day. I read a mistake.

It can’t be 2,600 words. My legs were stiff when i pushed away from the keyboard for the last time yesterday. So they also say it is true.

If you wonder about working with the community that is National Novel Writing Month, which helps develop dreams of story creation, it’s not too late for 2012. And anyone can use the group’s model to make a better month for you, your personal NaNoWriMo.

From the Dublin, Ireland, Library

I met up with a NaNoWriMo crew at a kick-off party. The construction paper origami guide given to each hopeful creator observes me now on my desk.  When I want to stray,  origami bunny is a tangible reminder of the 1,000 words a day I want.

Thank you to our thoughtful  NaNoWriMo folks.

OTHER GUIDES

For this nation’s month of Thanksgiving, I fill  with gratitude to live so well in this FL latitude.

Hurricane Sandy raked over the New Jersey beach, Seaside Heights, where years back I regularly rolled down dunes and got sick stuffing my mouth with a bag of salt water taffy. Dear family members are still without power at the CT shore – it may be a week or longer, but they are safe & nestled with another family member. Family members living near  Narragansett, RI are also fine. Extra thanks given with the turkey, in November 2012.

Before I scoot away during the rest of these 30 days, I share titles of good books for younger readers, about American indian/Native American topics.

November is the month more than any other, when we celebrate this continent’s First Peoples.

Beyond  the high quality of these picture books they share an additional crucial element. I hope you can discern it through my mention of them here.  You may also want to visit the Oyate and American Indians in Children’s Literature resources, for insights that deepen our connection to this month. Thank you.

JINGLE DANCER by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)

THE STAR PEOPLE b;y S.D. Nelson (Standing Rock Sioux)

SQUANTO’s JOURNEY, THE CIRCLE OF THANKS, THE FIRST STRAWBERRIES, THE EARTH UNDER SKY BEAR’S FEET by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)

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.

photo post June 2011

A whirlwind visit of wonder and wonderful connections to South Florida – recently concluded.

My hubby received an award for his juvenile justice work. I luxuriated in visits with gal pals I rarely see, including our daughter’s godmother/my dear college roommate & my great newsroom pal who has raised her family in Russia & Kenya & California, but is rarely in here in FLA, her homestate.

Our family walked the beaches.

And found evidence of ocean stalking.

For my biologist pals – This is a rare beaked whale, found on my dawn walk at the same time the turtle patrol came upon it. The study of this creature will help marine mammal specialists understand this deep-ocean dweller. They usually feed in ocean canyons and are little-researched.  The folo- up news from Hubbs/SeaWorld & others onsite is that the animal died of some natural cause(s). It then became a portable cafeteria, in the circle of life as it drifted inshore.

Florida has an extensive system of lifeguarded beaches; please swim in lifeguarded places ya’ll.

POSTSCRIPT: regarding interest in  more images.

I took two additional views & they are gruesome.

Here is a link to a report in local news

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/jun/09/rare-beaked-whale-carcass-found-on-fort-pierce/

shrimp 101

Shrimp

I can barely remember that I once wouldn’t eat shrimp.

But  I am also someone who once, wouldn’t eat tiramasu.  Now I relish shrimp, especially like this:

Yum in the making.

We are enjoying local, fresh-caught seafood at Stinky’s, Barnacle Bill’s & other reliable kitchens, such as our own (above) unless we retrieve solid, gulf oil disaster/BP/Deep Horizion -related reasons, not to.

Back to SHRIMP.

Cruising by today is the newest book from Jack Rudloe & Anne Rudloe, Florida scientists & writers & genuine personalities on the ecological battlefront in North Florida, who have been married to each other umpteen years & certainly enough that their youngest son is now running things at the famous Panacea institution that I think must have invented touch tanks, Gulf Specimen Laboratory.

http://www.gulfspecimen.org/

In response to their new book SHRIMP: The Endless Quest for Pink Gold, Florida writers besides myself agree this deserves your attention.

Randy White,  a Gannett colleague of mine eons back at the The News-Depressed (Fort Myers News Press) who now serves shrimp in his own island restaurant that has grown from his appealing Doc Ford character in umpteen popular mystery books, blurbs thusly:

“Jack and Ann Rudloe aren’t just Florida literary treasures, they are national treasures. Their most recent work – Shrimp- is among their best – and that is very good, indeed!” RANDY WAYNE WHITE

And  from pink crustacean expert J. Buffett:

” Most humans are said to be composed 90% of water, but for those of us who grew up on the Gulf of Mexico, I think that other 10% must be shrimp. The Rudloes leave the Living Dock behind for a voyage to the land of Pink Crustaceans, and I for one am happy to be aboard for that voyage.”  JIMMY BUFFETT

The Rudloes travel around the world touring shrimp farms. After reading this report,  you understand that imported shrimp isn’t something you want to consume. It’s not only about the dubious quality of the food, but about the destruction of wetlands, to create the shrimp farms around the world.

As biologists, the Rudloes let us in on all things shrimp. They take us aboard a shrimp boat to see how the gems are collected.

They discuss these cute carnivores (I misunderstood that shrimp were vegetarian) in all ways – from  their common names (if you only know pink & rock & jumbo shrimp you are in for a surprise: opossum shrimp , coon-striped shrimp, pistol shrimp & more) to their biology & life cycle, to  the precarious status of clean water environments.

With 4,000 shrimp species to cover, it’s a lot of territory but Jack & Ann Rudloe serve SHRIMP,  deliciously,

When I tell you that this book is indexed and expertly sourced, you will see why any marine biology, coastal or seafood enthusiast needs this on the bookshelf.

Enjoy.

ISBN 978.0.13.700972.5

Pearson Education/FT Press

http://www.ftpressscience.com

Who is Oscar Romero…?

Who can possibly know everyone we should know of?

This is a world where we hear  (too much) about Lady Gaga.

The stories of the folks who don’t have their own press machinery may  not find their way into the news cycles.

But never fear, there is a dedicated core of researchers out here who are cruising the museums, looking into the Library of Congress, &  refershing themselves at roadside attractions of the world, in search of  picture book biography subjects.

I continue to present on the life of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, an amazing person born in Florida, who most people don’t know about.

So  I think it’d be fun to begin a list of  lesser-known biography subjects – folks you may want to consider writing about for young readers.

They are excellent exemplars for anyone, especially children.

If you are intent on writing biographries for young readers,  you will arrive at the day that you will be grabbed by the person – or perhaps people –  you want to share with impressionable minds.

That’s how it happened for me.

Today there are four on this list. Check back for more. I’m not claiming these fine folks on this list, so have at ’em!

Possible picture book biography people:

1 OSCAR ROMERO,  El Salvador

2 POLLY PARKER, Florida

3 JOHN RILEY, Florida

4 MELEE, Florida (correct spelling to be updated, an intriguing part of her story)

5 STERLING ELLIOTT – social reformer, bicycle enthusiast of the 1890s, inventor

March on

March

This month begins with too many good ducks in my little world keeping too close company with doctors, medicines, hospitals & various shoulder, foot & ankle restraints & also the medicines for cancers & blood clots & sadly, the rituals of saying so-long to someone you’ve know your entire life.  That’s the lion of March.

Here are some of the lambs.

I learned in these very same days about the kindness of nighttime nurses such as the angel of the 6th floor, Katharine Rose.   And I am reminded how comfortable it is to have a pal who I worked with years back at two newspapers, to have her living right here in town, who can hustle over her perfect, no longer needed,  expensive medical supply store devices in a moment’s notice.     Now I present below another notice, arriving in email the same day as the medical device for a family member.

And honestly as much as I want to frame the notice from Kirkus Reviews (thank you whoever has that opinion of our beloved project about Betty Mae Jumper), it was Janie’s dropping off of the device on our front step at the right moment, that makes me smile most at this moment.

Many, many thanks, Miss Rose, many, many thanks dear Janie & and thank you so very much anonymous writer of the Kirkus Reviews review, for all of your big lifts.


She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper/ National Geographic Children’s Books March 2010/ Jan Godown Annino/Lisa Desimini/Moses Jumper, Jr.

From KIRKUS REVIEWS

Short poetic stanzas join jewel-toned illustrations to sing the
satisfying story of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper. Deep in the Everglades in
the 1920s, Seminole tribal leaders threatened to throw this young
daughter and granddaughter of medicine women into the swamp for the
“bad spirits” of her white father. Her family fled to the Dania
Reservation, where she grew up and acquired the Mission faith she
combined with traditional beliefs.Seeking an education, she left
Florida and became a nurse, but she returned to serve her people. She
returned truants to school and helped set up a tribal council and a
newspaper. Her election to tribal leadership in 1967 was a remarkable
achievement in her male-dominated culture, and she continues to sing
stories of her people today. The design of this attractive,
chronological biography reflects the subject. A column of text on a
natural fabric background accompanies each of Desimini’s paintings;
their rounded shapes and glowing colors reveal interesting details of
Seminole life. A glossary serves as the index to pictures and text.
(afterword from her son, maps, chronology, further facts, author’s
note, bibliography)”