The Earth Book

The Earth Book
by Jonathon Litton (Author) and Thomas Hegbrook (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Explore the incredible place we call home! Marvel at the physical planet, travel back in time to primordial Earth, explore all branches of the tree of life, discover habitats from oceans to deserts, learn how the weather works and take a tour of the human planet from the Maasai steppe to Manhattan.

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Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

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Are You An Echo? Discovering the beauty of Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko (ages 7-12)

Empathy — it’s a vital quality to develop for all of us. How do we reach outside of ourselves to imagine being in someone else’s shoes? Misuzu Kaneko’s beautiful poetry is a shining example of how poetry can help us stop for a moment and think about the world from a different point of view.

Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
Poetry by Misuzu Kaneko
Narrative by David Jacobson
Translation and editorial contributions by Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi
Illustrations by Toshikado Hajiri
Chin Music Press, 2016
Amazon / Your local library
ages 7-12

This striking collaboration shares the story of how Misuzu Kaneko’s poetry came to be discovered long after her death; moreover, it brings her poems to an English-speaking audience for the first time. In 1966, a young Japanese poet discovered a poem that struck him with its empathy and simplicity, yet he could find no other poems by this author — who was she? Did she write other poems?

BIG CATCH
— by Misuzu Kaneko

At sunrise, glorious sunrise
it’s a big catch!
A big catch of sardines!

On the beach, it’s like a festival
but in the sea, they will hold funerals
for the tens of thousands dead.

Linger for a moment on this poem, and ask young readers to think about this poet’s message. Why would the fish hold funerals? How does this shift readers’ thinking?

Although Setsuo Yazaki began searching in 1966, it wasn’t until 1982 that the curious poet uncovered more of Misuzu’s poetry. Her brother still had her diaries, which contained the only copies of her poems that still remained. Finally, Setsuo began to discover more about Misuzu’s life.

Read more about this unique blend of history, poetry and biography see the full review at Great Kid Books.

Copyright ©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Feel the Beat (In The Poem)

This week at Wrapped in Foil blog we have another new picture book for National Poetry Month, Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Kristi Valiant.

feel-the-beat

You can tell from the title right off the bat this is going to be a fun and upbeat book. Who doesn’t like to dance? But Feel the Beat is also full of surprises.

First of all, we expect poems to have a distinct rhythm. Prolific author Marilyn Singer takes things a step further and incorporates the beats of the particular dance she is highlighting into the poem about it.

The second surprise:  The copy I found at the library has a CD in the back with the poems read by the author. They are set to appropriate music for each dance. What a treasure!

The illustrations are fabulous. They are so energetic that they bounce off the page. Each captures the flavor of the dance it portrays without being too busy or visually overwhelming.

Do you want to use the book to teach about different cultures? There are historical and cultural notes about each dance in the back matter.

In conclusion, you’ll want to pick up Feel The Beat for Poetry Month and then enjoy it throughout the year.

Where Do Rivers Go, Momma?

Where Do Rivers Go, Momma?
by Catherine Weyerhaeuser (Author / Illustrator)

Booktalk: Catherine Weyerhaeuser combines her talents as a geologist, educator, and illustrator to describe how water moves around the Earth.

Snippet:
Why are some places so wet and other places so dry, Momma?

Mountains can cause rain to fall in one place and not another. Warm, moist air that blows off an ocean onto a mountain range will cool as it moves up the mountain’s slope. As the air cools, the water vapor changes to water droplets, and it will rain and snow on the ocean side of the peak. Very little moisture is left by the time the air reaches the other side.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Stand Up and Sing!

Today at Wrapped in Foil blog we are highlighting the children’s picture book biography Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Adam Gustavson.

stand-up-and-sing

Why read about Pete Seeger? First of all, he was a popular musician. Many people have heard — or even sung — Pete Seeger’s folk songs.  In addition he was a social activist, invested in making a difference. For example, Seeger joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during protests in Alabama. It was a time when simply performing on the same stage with African American singer Paul Robeson made him a target of violence. By taking chances, however, he helped make changes.

It is clear author Susanna Reich is passionate about her subject. She explains her feelings of personal connection in the “Author’s Note” in the back matter. She lives in the Hudson Valley near where Pete Seeger lived and attended many of Seeger’s concerts. Although she’s a big fan, when she started writing this book she probably had no idea how timely it would be.

Stand Up and Sing! is a rousing tribute to a popular folk singer. It is sure to appeal to young musicians and history buffs, alike. Time to sing its praises.

For related activity suggestions and more information, be sure to visit Wrapped in Foil.

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz


Borns29102851tein, Michael and Holinstat, Debbie Bornstein. Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz

March 7th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline


Michael Bornstein was born in 1940, just when things were starting to get bad for Jewish residents in Poland. His family saw horrible things happen in their town, and various family members reacted in different ways. An aunt and uncle left their daughter at a convent, hoping that she would escape notice there. Michael, his mother, father, brother, and grandmother ended up at a work camp where they were treated fairly well, but when it closed, they were sent to Auschwitz. There, Michael managed to survive through a combination of determination (his mother made him hide in the women’s barracks so she could watch out for him) and luck (he was in the infirmary when inmates were sent on a death march). His father and brother were killed, and his mother sent to work at another factory, so when the camps were liberated, he and his grandmother made their way back to their hometown, only to find their home occupied by someone else. They lived in an abandoned chicken coop even though some relatives managed to survive and make it back to their farm. Eventually, Michael’s mother returned, and took him to the United States. 


This was a particularly helpful book for understanding the scope of what families went through. While every story is different, Bornstein’s contains a variety of elements that are common. It’s helpful to see what life was like for the family before and after the war. I particularly enjoyed reading about how all of this information came together through Bornstein’s research, and the story is told in an interesting way. 


I always think I have enough books about World War II, but when a particularly good one comes along, it’s great to see. The best part of this was perhaps the sense of optimism that pervades the book. Yes, horrible things happened, but sometimes the key to surviving is to hope for the best.


This trailer is a good introduction to the book. 

See more Middle Grade book reviews at Ms. Yingling Reads.