Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Daniel Pinkwater - Another Great Title

Daniel Pinkwater.  Who doesn't love Daniel Pinkwater?  
     I use his book The Big Orange Splot often to remind teachers that creativity matters, that being yourself matters... and to relax! (Thanks to my friend, Lori, for telling me about it).
     I love The Hoboken Chicken Emergency because it makes me laugh!  I've seen 4th graders read it with the strangest look on their faces.
     I think of I am the Dog every time I sit and wonder what Timber is trying to tell me.  It makes me almost want to try kibble!
     I was a Second-Grade Werewolf makes me wish my name was Lawrence Talbot.  It makes me smile.
     I think of William every time I'm at the dentist because I think it would be so cool to pick up radio signals in my tooth ala Fat Men From Space.  It's a favorite read aloud.
     I laugh when I read The Ratatouille Weight Loss Plan and ponder when I read his tribute to Jean Shepherd (author of A Christmas Story).
     I haven't read all of his works, but he's one gifted writer.

I just received a copy of Bear in Love published by Candlewick Press.  I love Bear.  Who else finds joy in a carrot, or two, or three?  Daniel Pinkwater captures the burgeoning friendship between a bunny and a bear with such simplicity and humor.  The last line "And the two of them sat side by side in the clearing, singing songs as the sun went down," is brilliant.  This book would be a perfect read aloud for young readers.  You could use it during a study of inferring at any age.  You could use it as a mentor text with young writers.  Or you could just spend some time basking in the Pinkwater gift...

Thank you to Candlewick Press for the Advanced Copy

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weaving the Rainbow

Ran across this gem by George Ella Lyon not long ago.  She's a poet's poet.  If you haven't read her poem, "Where I'm From," you should.  You can hear her read it aloud by clicking here.  My wife, Susan, first introduced me to Ms. Lyon and I've been hooked ever since.
    Weaving the Rainbow is a wonderful book.  The lyrical words are illustrated beautifully by Stephanie Anderson (check out her work called The Wonder of Books).
     What struck me most about this book is how much it reminded me of my sister, Doris.  Her husband, Curtis, and their daughters raised sheep.  Each year they would shear, collect, and send the wool off to Baron Woolen Mills (which closed in 1998).  Then some lucky family members would be surprised with soft woolen blankets.  We still use one each winter to warm our bed and remind us of the love of that dear family!  That's what a "connection" does; takes you to another time or place just for an instant and then draws you back into the text seamlessly.
     George Ella Lyon's poetic book captures the year long cycle of raising sheep for the beauty of their wool - from pasture to weaving.  This is a book that's meant to be read aloud.  There's a charm to Ms. Lyon's words and she captures the life of an artist with a sense of grace and peacefulness.  It's going in my "at-home" collection, but I can't wait to share it with my students.  She truly is a weaver of words.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fantastic Flying Books

I love this book.  It fascinates me.  It piques my curiosity.  It makes me wonder.  It makes me ponder.  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (click to see more) is brilliant!  It's charming.  (As is the Academy Award winning film.)
     When you read a book that opens like this...

Morris Lessmore loved words.
He loved stories.
He loved books.

His life was a book of his own writing, one orderly page
after another.  He would open it every morning and write
of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew
and everything that he hoped for.

     When I read it to my students last week (as part of our study of how "Wise Readers Monitor for Meaning"), we all decided that those very words were worth tucking into our hearts and minds... to make them available when we need inspiration as readers and writers.  My friend, Linda, summed it up this way, "I think the 'wow' was... Everyone's story matters.  Just sayin'!"  She right.
     Read the book to your students.  Then if you have a chance, buy the short film on iTunes.  Watch it.  Show it to your students.  Then ask them, "So what do you think?"  You'll be amazed by their answers!  William Joyce more than deserved the accolades and awards for this brilliant piece of work.  One of my students say, "It's really about heaven, I think... it's about growing old and letting go..."  Story matters.
     This is a run, don't walk, kind of book!  This is a get-to-your-favorite-independent-bookstore-and-buy-it kind of book!  This is a book that should be in your classroom and on your coffee table.  It's generational.  It's a metaphor for life--especially if you love books, love reading, love words.  Thank you, William Joyce, for sharing your brilliance.

And so our story ends as it began...
...with the opening of a book!