Hello, it’s almost Hanukkah

(A weekly Friday roundup of doings in the children’s literature world that centers on poetry is provided by the delightful
BUFFY’s BLOG.)

Today I share lines from the poetry of Karen Hesse in
THE STONE LAMP, which features the artwork
of Brian Pinkney.

Third Night,
Third Light

by Karen Hesse

Venice, Italy 1546

. . .

Mother makes ready the lamp,
though she dare not place it in the tall window.
The stone lamp is not our most beautiful.
But it is our oldest and dearest, a present from Uncle Diogo,
dear uncle Diogo, who always smelled of honeyed lemons.
.
. .

Outside, the call of geese.
I glimpse a flutter of white
and for a moment I see
angels gliding past our widow,
the light from our room glazing their wings.

© Karen Hesse

This excerpt above is from the poem-story of Reyna, age 15, one of eight child characters, ages eight through 16, Karen Hesse creates to tell of the endurance of Jewish families through history.

Reyna’s story is for all. Adults, surely, and let’s say, students
ages 9 and up, maybe younger, depending upon the family & the school.

The full title is THE STONE LAMP, Eight Stories of Hanukkah Through History.

I feel when you locate it at your library, you will want this collection for your school or home library,
The free verse poems are offset with a page of history, for each period of time reflected.

Because the artist for this project is Brian Pinkney,
you also know that the illustrations are museum quality. If you are
seeking to add one in-depth, beautiful, illustrated resource about
the enduring love of family, and the resilience of a celebration of
freedom of religion against indescribable hardship, this can be it.

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Each of eight poem stories, beginning in 1190 at the time of
the Christian war against the Muslims to retake Jerusalem,
and completing the circle with a night after Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated in Tel Aviv in 1995,
reflects a child’s beloved moment with Family and with
the treasured Hanukkah lamp.

I have become educated in a way I already should have been
by now, from this richly researched and exquisitely illustrated journey among Hanukkah ceremonies that span the centuries.

THE STONE LAMP pulls me in with a similar luminous effect
as I feel from the poems in AMONG ANGELS, by Jane Yolen and
Nancy Willard, (illustrations by S. Saelig Gallagher.)
AMONG ANGELS is not about the Holocaust or Hanukkah; it shares
meditations between friends, one Jewish and one Christian writer
(but O, like Karen Hesse, what masterful writers we know they are) about angels.

Your titles?

This Monday, Dec. 7, the second night of Hanukkah
2015(and also, we know, Pearl Harbor Day), I plan to post a sweet Hanukkah
book-video for young readers.
I’ll also share two other young-reader Hanukkah picture book titles that
I felt fortunate to carry home this week from the library.

It would be nice to have more titles, so if you can recommend Hanukkah picture books,
now or next week, I will want to light a candle to celebrate you!

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Green Poetry

Kermit’s green is a color that surrounds us here in North Florida so you would think it is hard to miss. But guess what – don’t we all experience how that which is familiar, can become less special?

But, Ho! Visitors from the parched West arrive. And they play in our nature’s backyard. And so we play, too. And it’s like feeling the world anew with the sensory overload of a healthy toddler.

“Green! It’s so green here,” they marvel, these green-seeking, water-wanting folks. And they are right, thank them. Through their eyes my hubby & I see our gorgeous green world, again. And in celebration, I’m sharing the color green from three poets writing for children.

 

THE GREAT BIG GREEN by Peggy Gifford, with illustrations from my friend Lisa Desimini, is the newest book.

 

“The thing is,

the thing is green.

And the green is,

the green is green.

And by green I mean

real

mean

I mean

dragon green

anaconda green

electric-eel green

green-iguanas-in-the-sun green.”

c. 2014 Peggy Gifford

c. Lisa Desimini and Peggy Gifford

c. Lisa Desimini and Peggy Gifford

 

 

I like the way Peggy dips into the hues and presents  tints of greens not always covered in books about colors for children. The surprise riddle that runs through this picture book is fun to test whether you & the kiddos can solve this one. I think you will!

Lisa provides a note about the scanning of her own skin, photos & other materials for the mixed media collages, including green marble from the Emerald Isle, Ireland.

The spectrum of inventive green art & word imagery of THE GREAT BIG GREEN make this a mighty fine addition to any colorful bookshelf for young readers.

 

WELCOME TO THE GREEN HOUSE by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Laura Regan is the first book about the tropical rainforest (as opposed to our U.S. Pacific NW rainforest) that our family spent time with when our college age daughter was a toddler. It’s a challenge to pick just a few lines to share but here goes:

 

“…where the slow, green-coated sloth

and the quick-fingered capuchin

make their slow-quick ways

from room to room

in the green house,

in the dark green,

light green,

bright green,

copper green,

blue green,

ever-new green house.”

c.1993 Jane Yolen

 

My signed copy is on the To Mail shelf, as it was won just this week, here.

But the claimant didn’t have a chance yet to come forward with a postal address so if that continues, I may become fortunate & move it back to my permanent poetry pile.

 

c. Jane Yolen and Laura Regan

c. Jane Yolen and Laura Regan

 

HAILSTONES & HALIBUT BONES by Mary O’Neill with illustrations by John Wallner (Leonard Weisgard created art for the very first edition) is the standard against which I think about books on color for children. We received this modern classic (with a storylife of its own as a multimodal way of sharing color with sightless or low-vision children) as a family gift from writer/editor Susan Cerulean when my hubby & I were new to parenting. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate how this sophisticated yet accessible book would work wonders. It’s a book to have read to you, with your eyes closed, as each color is represented in a Mary O’Neill poem through the feeling it can create.

HAILSTONES & HALIBUT BONES is a deft, deep & delicious collection of poems about colors. I know I haven’t seen every childrens’ book on all the colors, but I’m guessing that if I did, HH&B would sill rank with as my personal best.

 

Here is Mary O’Neill on, “What is Green?”

 

“Green is the grass

And the leaves of trees

Green is the smell

Of a country breeze.

Green is lettuce

And sometimes the sea

When green is a feeling

You pronounce it N.V.

Green is a coolness

You get in the shade

Of the tall old woods

Where the moss is made.”

c. 1961 Mary O’Neill

c. Mary O'Neill and John Wallner

c. Mary O’Neill and John Wallner

 

“Green Poetry” article citation: Bookseedstudio/Jan Godown Annino April 11, 2014

c. all rights reserved

 

Detour for the Sotomayor Kids

DETOUR FOR THE SOTOMAYOR KIDS

It runs in families, como una maldicion

*

The stories of Greek gods and heroes sustained me

that summer and beyond

*

In a room all closed up in glass

 a man stood breaking necks

one after another

and a machine plucked the feathers

*

Junior and I sat on the floor

surrounded by piles of books

like explorers at the base of Everest

 *

The feeling of the poem

came through

clearly

in the music of Abuelita’s voice

and in the look of faraway longing

in the faces of her listeners

 *

…in Abuelita’s

joyful generosity

her passion for life and poetry

her power to heal

*

Such strong women are no rarity in our culture

— found poetry, from MY BELOVED WORLD by Sonia Sotomayor, United States Supreme Court Justice

My favorite October read is about the only Supreme Court Justice who mixed supremely well with both the Fendi women of Italy and, the fiambrera women of Puerto Rico who packed lunchpails, fiambreras, for their families. What made the difference in the lives of Junior, and his big sister, Sonia? They were from the Bronx, once nicknamed Fort Apache, the sidewalks, playgrounds and school yards were so much a war zone during their childhoods.

Attend Dr. Barbara Heusel’s  outstanding book talk. Read the justice’s unflinching autobiography as an outsider at Princeton and Yale and a rookie prosecutor in New York City. Share with  younger readers  her story by Jonah Winter, with artwork from Edel Rodriguez,

DSCN5982

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/

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.

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