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Women’s History Month

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KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month begins March 1st!

Active only during Women’s History Month,  the annual blog celebration features readers, commenters, and contributors working together to create a dynamic resource of thoughtful and thought-provoking essays, commentaries, and book reviews. Each post is related to children’s literature and women’s history. This year marks the blog’s fifth birthday! 😀

The blog is a great resource for finding new books (especially nonfiction!) and useful links. Previous contributors include Jen Bryant, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Donna Jo Napoli, and Betsy Bird.  Contributors for 2015 include Emily Arnold McCully (Queen of the Diamond), Misty Copeland (Firebird), Michaela McColl (The Revelation of Louisa May), and more.

The complete 2015 lineup may be found on the site’s sidebar.  You can sign up to follow the blog, or receive it via email. Visit the site at http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com to see “following” options, an archive of past contributions, and links to educational resources.  It’s suitable for parents and teachers, too.

The official Women’s HistoryMonth theme for 2015, is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.”

Please join us, beginning March 1, at KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month!

Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month

Questions regarding KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month can be directed to its co-organizers: Margo Tanenbaum, of The Fourth Musketeer and Lisa Taylor of Shelf-employed.

KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month blog design by Rebekah Louise Designs.

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Feathers: Not Just for Flying

I had the great honor and opportunity to serve again as a second round judge on the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book award panel for the Cybils Awards.  If you’re not familiar with the Cybils awards, they are the Children and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards.

Our judging panel chose the following as the 2014 Cybils Award winner for best Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book:

Congratulations to Melissa Stewart,  Sarah S. Brannen, and Charlesbridge

The judging panel’s description:

Using child-friendly similes, Feathers shows that there is both beauty and purpose in nature and that, although we do not fly, we have many things in common with birds, such as the need to be safe, attractive, industrious, communicative, and well-fed. The simple, large text is suitable for reading to very young children, while the inset boxes contain more details for school-aged kids. The scrapbook-style watercolor illustrations show each feather at life size, and provide a nice jumping-off point for individual projects. Science, art, and prose work together to make this the perfect book to share with budding young artists, painters, naturalists, and scientists, and it will be appreciated by parents, teachers, and kids.

Melissa Stewart’s website offers teaching resources and activities to go along with Feathers.
Be sure to check out all of the Cybils award winning books (and apps!) at [http://www.cybils.com/2015/02/the-2014-cybils-awards.html ]
See all of my news and reviews at Shelf-employed.
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Copyright © 2015 L. Taylor [Shelf-employed]. All Rights Reserved.

Raindrops Roll

Raindrops Roll 

by April Pulley Sayre

Beach Lane Books, 2015

Raindrops-Roll
A beautifully photographed, poetic look at rain – what it does and where it lands and how we see it. Simple, gorgeous science,

It thuds.
Makes mud.
It fills.
It spills.

Today at Shelf-employed, I’m featuring a Picture Book Roundup including Raindrops Roll and other new favorites.  Please stop by.  You can follow me @shelfemployed on Twitter.

Copyright © 2015 L. Taylor All Rights Reserved.

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Monday Morning Miscellany

Some news to start your week:

The Cybils Awards have entered Round 2. The first round panelists did a great job in winnowing the field down to the seven finalists listed below for Nonfiction in Early and Middle Grades. A winner will be announced on February 14, 2015.  I can’t discuss deliberations (I’m a Round 2 judge), but you are free to comment on your favorites. 🙂

 

  • Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman
  • Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cat by Sy Montgomery
  • Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
  • Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns
  • Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
  • The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
  • When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. Johnson
In December, the Great Websites for Kids Committee announced the newest sites to be added. (Press release here)
If you’ve never taken advantage of this great resource, I urge you to check out Great Websites for Kids at http://gws.ala.org/.
The site is continually updated with new sites added and outdated sites deleted. Suggestions and comments are always welcome.

And last but not least,

This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month celebration.  Each year, fellow librarian, Margo Tanenbaum and I, gather writers, illustrators, librarians and bloggers to highlight, celebrate, and raise awareness of great books for young people that focus on women’s history.  This year’s celebration kicks off  March 1. Please, stay in touch with us and support the inclusion of women’s history in books for young readers! Please, follow our blog, KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month, and you can also find us on Twitter @kidlitwhm, Facebook, and Pinterest.
   Have a great week!  Let it start with a reminder from MLKDay.gov,

“Life’s most persistent question is: What are you doing for others?” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

See this and all of my posts at Shelf-employed, or follow me on Twitter@shelfemployed.

Copyright © 2015 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

The Port Chicago 50

Although this book has been covered here before by Liz Parrott,

it’s worth mentioning one final time before we turn the page to 2015.

9781596437968.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, andthe Fight for Civil Rights, by Steve Sheinkin. (Roaring Brook, 2014)

The Port Chicago 50, as they became known, were a group of African American Navy sailors assigned to load munitions at Port Chicago in California, during WWII. The sailors’ work detail options were limited; the Navy was segregated and they were not permitted to fight at sea. The sailors worked around the clock, racing to load ammunition on ships headed to battle in the Pacific. They had little training and were pressured to load the dangerous cargo as quickly as possible.

After an explosion at the port killed 320 men, injured many others, and obliterated the docks and ships anchored there, many men initially refused to continue working under the same dangerous conditions. In the end, fifty men disobeyed the order to return to work. They were tried for mutiny in a case with far-reaching implications. There was more at stake than the Naval careers of fifty sailors. At issue were the Navy’s (and the country’s) policy of segregation, and the racist treatment of the Black sailors. Years before the Civil Rights movement began, the case of the Port Chicago 50 drew the attention of the NAACP, a young Thurgood Marshall, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Through the words of the young sailors, the reader of The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights relives a slice of history as a Black sailor in 1944.

Steven Sheinkin combines excellently researched source materials, a little-known, compelling story, and an accessible writing style to craft another nonfiction gem.

Read an excerpt of The Port Chicago 50 here.

Contains:

  • Table of Contents
  • Source Notes
  • List of Works Cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Picture Credits
  • Index

See this and all of my reviews at Shelf-employed, or follow me on Twitter @shelfemployed.

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

Gus & Me

Richards, Keith. 2014. Gus & Me: The Story of my Granddad and my First Guitar. Hachette Audio.

Keith Richards, the rough-edged, raspy-voiced, Rolling Stones guitarist, is hardly the man that comes to mind for a picture book writer and narrator, but then again, who better to tell the story of his first guitar?

Richards wins the listener over immediately with his folksy, working class Estuary English accent (think dropped h’s and “intrusive” r’s) and unmistakable fondness for his topics – his first guitar and his beloved Granddad, Gus. It was the musically talented Gus who introduced a young Keith Richards to the guitar, teaching him how to ‘old it, and suggesting the classical Malagueña(r) as the pinnacle of guitar mastery.

I have yet to see the print version of this story, but I don’t believe it could surpass the audio book.  A story with music at its heart needs music to be understood. Richards plays bits from Malagueña in appropriate spots throughout the story, and during a visit to a music shop in London, we hear Steve Jordan on drums.  Once, the listener even hears a little chuckle – not musical, but surprisingly sincere.  Richards collaborated with other authors, but this is obviously his story, and he delights in telling it.

(Run time: about 7 minutes)

My review of Gus & Me for AudioFile Magazine appears here with a small excerpt.  Take a listen!

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed. Or follow me on Twitter @shelfemployed

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

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Brown Girl Dreaming

Woodson, Jacqueline. 2014. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Penguin.

Despite the title, Brown Girl Dreaming is most certainly not just a book for brown girls or girls.  Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir-in-verse relates her journey to discover her passion for writing. Her story is framed by her large, loving family within the confines of the turbulent Civil Rights Era.

Sometimes a book is so well-received, so popular, that it seems that enough has been said (and said well); anything else would just be noise. Rather than add another Brown Girl Dreaming review to the hundreds of glowing ones already in print and cyberspace, I offer you links to other sites, interviews and reviews related to Brown Girl Dreaming.  And, I’ll pose a question on memoirs in children’s literature.

First, the links:

And now something to ponder:

As a librarian who often helps students in choosing books for school assignments, I have written many times about the dreaded biography assignment – excessive page requirements,  narrow specifications, etc.

Obviously, a best choice for a children’s book is one written by a noted children’s author. Sadly, many (by no means all!) biographies are formula-driven, series-type books that are not nearly as engaging as ones written by the best authors.  Rare is the author of young people’s literature who writes an autobiography for children as Ms. Woodson has done.  When such books exist, they are usually memoirs focusing only on the author’s childhood years.  This is perfectly appropriate because the reader can relate to that specified period of a person’s lifetime.  Jon Sciezska wrote one of my favorite memoirs for children, Knucklehead, and Gary Paulsen’s, How Angel Peterson Got his Name also comes to mind as a stellar example.  These books, however, don’t often fit the formula required to answer common student assignment questions, i.e., birth, schooling, employment, marriages, accomplishments, children, death. Students are reluctant to choose a book that will leave them with a blank space(s) on an assignment.

I wonder what teachers, other librarians and parents think about this. Must the biography assignment be a traditional biography, or can a memoir (be it in verse, prose, or graphic format) be just as acceptable?  I hate to see students turn away from a great book because it doesn’t fit the mold.  If we want students to be critical thinkers, it’s time to think outside the box and make room for a more varied, more diverse selection of books.

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See this and all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

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Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15. What a great time to celebrate the life and work of Mexican-American painter, George Mendoza.  

Powers, J.L. 2014. Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza. Cynthiana, KY: Purple House Press.

As a child, George Mendoza began seeing brilliantly-colored lights, shapes and squiggles, eventually losing most of his sight except his peripheral vision and the ever-present colors.  Unable to play basketball or other do other things he wanted, George took up running. He excelled in the sport and competed twice in the Olympics for the Disabled.  In the back of his mind, however, he’d kept a long-ago word advice from his youth.

One day, a flyer arrived in the mail,
advertising a contest for blind artists.
George remembered the priest, who told him,
“You should paint what you see.”

 

George started to paint,
just like the priest told him to do.

And so began the painting career of George Mendoza.

The text appears in a plain, small font on white pages, accompanied by simple blank ink drawings, often highlighted with colors from Mendoza’s paintings.  Each facing page contains a full-bleed image of one of Mendoza’s paintings.

Biographical information, photos of Mr. Mendoza, and painting titles are included in the book’s back matter.

The joyful, riotous colors of Mendoza’s paintings will certainly appeal to children, as will his story of perseverance and purpose.  Enjoy!

You can see photos from Mendoza’s “Colors of the Wind” exhibit at the Ellen Noel Art Museum here.  The exhibit is listed with the Smithsonian Affiliate Exhibition Exchange.

My copy of the book was provided by the author.

You can see all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

Hope for Winter

Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, & Isabella Hatkoff.  (Scholastic, 2014)9780545686693_xlg

Anyone who has seen the movie, Dolphin Tale, knows the story of Winter, the rescued dolphin fitted with a prosthetic tail.  Now, in the book Hope for Winter (and in the upcoming Dolphin Tale 2 movie), people will learn of Hope, another bottlenose dolphin rescued in circumstances remarkably similar to those of Winter’s and destined to bring them together.

In simple language, this paperback picture book tells the story of Hope’s rescue and new life at the aquarium,

     When the cast and crew finished filming Dolphin Tale, they threw a party at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  They were happily celebrating, when they received an urgent call —a baby dolphin was on her way to the aquarium.  She was very sick and might not survive the trip.  A group of veterinarians, dolphin trainers, and volunteers left the party and started getting prepared.  When the baby dolphin arrived, it was clear that every minute counted.

Back matter includes several pages of information on Clearwater Marine Aquarium, two pages of “Amazing similarities between Winter and Hope,” and “Dolphin Facts.”

Fans of the original movie, animal enthusiasts, and teachers should love this one.

 

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed. Or follow me on Twitter @shelfemployed

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

Above the Dreamless Dead

Although this is not an anthology for children, it should be of interest to teens and teachers.  It could be particularly useful in meeting Common Core State Standards by combining art, poetry, history, and nonfiction.

Duffy, Chris, ed. 2014. Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics. New York: First Second.
(Advance Reader Copy)

Jacket

Above the Dreamless Dead is an illustrated anthology of poetry by English soldier poets, who served in WWI. They are known collectively as the “Trench Poets.”

Poems by famous writers such as Wilfred Owen and Rudyard Kipling are illustrated by equally talented comic artists, including Hannah Berry and George Pratt. The comic-style renderings (most spanning many pages), offer complementary interpretations of these century-old poems. The benefit of hindsight and perspective give the artists a broader angle in which to work. The result is a very personal, haunting, and moving look at The Great War.

above the dreamless dead

This is the “case” for Above the Dreamless Dead. This, and many other interior photos at 00:01 First Second.

 

Look for Above the Dreamless Dead in September, 2014.

French soldiers of the 87th Regiment, 6th Division, at Côte 304, (Hill 304), northwest of Verdun, 1916. [Public Domain image]

 (Thanks to First Second, who provided this review copy at my request.)

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed. Or follow me on Twitter @shelfemployed

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.