Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic - 100 Years Later - A Few Choice Books

     The Titanic began her maiden voyage from Southampton, England headed for New York City, New York, on Wednesday, 10 April 1912.  Captain Edward J. Smith commanded the Titanic, the largest passenger ship of the day.  The ship was luxuriously equipped and deemed "virtually unsinkable".  The Titanic was so spectacular and awesome that passengers had to be ferried to board the ship.  After the iceberg's blow, 1,512 of the 2,240 passengers perished.  And we've been haunted by it every since...

     My students have developed a curiosity of late because of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic... still one of the world's most significant maritime disasters.  There's intrigue and wonder in the air.  All these years later and the mystery still lingers. 
     100 years and "Titanic" is still on our hearts and minds!  Many people picture Debbie Reynolds "bellying up to the bar" when they think of Titanic, she was, after all, the famous "Molly Brown" for quite some time.  Of course, there are the characters in the current running of the 3D John Cameron movie complete with the diamond.  And check out the History Channel a great collection of clips and stories.  100 years and there's still this need to be connected to the disaster that wasn't supposed to happen, whether in fact or fiction.
     Here's a collection of a few gems that you and/or your students might enjoy:  

1) Gordon Korman's "Titanic" trilogy.  My students love this collection of stories about Paddy, Daniel, Sophie, and Julian... woven together with facts and details of the ship.  These books are always in the hands of my 4th graders.  

2)  Leave it to Deborah Hopkinson to weave together the stories of Titanic survivors with such spellbinding details that you can't put the book down.  Throughout this book, I was gripped... another winner from one of my favorite authors!

3)  "Titanic in Photographs" is a wonderful collection of actual photographs that provides extraordinary visual images of the Titanic.  A superb collaboration. 

4)  "Last Dinner on the Titanic" is interesting.  The elegance and grandeur of the Titanic is captured via a glimpse of the food passengers ate on the voyage.  It's filled with quotes, drawings, and photographs.  And, who's not a "foodie?" 

5)  No Titanic list is complete without "Polar: The TItanic Bear!"  My 4th graders are all sharing this book right now, passing it from book bag to book bag.  They love this endearing story 

6)  "Music Aboard The Titanic" provides a little background music.  At the turn of the century, songs like "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," "The Blue Danube," and "Nearer My God to Thee."  Typical music of the period.    

7)  Joan Blos captures Margaret Tobin Brown's life in simple verse.  It's a simple, yet detailed look at the lady we call "unsinkable."  A lovely picture book about Molly Brown (who was never really called Molly).

8)  Of course there has to be a "Newfie" story related to the Titanic.  Rigel's mystery was published in 1912 a few short months after the disaster.  Newfoundlands are known for saving lives and although this is considered a "legend," I like to think that perhaps it's true!

9)  Another close look at Margaret Brown's life (beyond just the Titanic).  This is a book about her strength as a woman in the early twentieth-century.  It's full of letters, photographs, and newspaper clippings.  A great resource.

10)  "The Watch That Ends the Night" is another brilliant Allan Wolf book sharing the voices of 24 voices... including the ship's rats, the look outs, Molly Brown, etc.  It's an exceptional book.  

11)  "Explore Titanic" is interactive and includes the kinds of details that young readers love... scale drawings, photographs, etc.

12) "Heroes of the Titanic" is one of my favorite books.  It's a bit difficult to find, but it's worth it.  I think it would serve as perfect mentor text for a nonfiction study.  The short pieces of text are well-written and the pictures and illustrations are perfect.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Georgia Heard has hit the mark...


Wonderful lines.
Small moments.
Hearts awakening.
Looking Toward Home.

Everyday life, everyday experience.
Words falling, falling down the page.
Climbing inside, mapping hearts and lives.
Looking for poetry, simple things.

For the good... the good of all things.
Writing songs and stories of life.
Places known.
Places yet to discover. 
Hidden places.

The Writer.
The Collector.
P. Allen, April 2012

Georgia Heard should change her name to Georgia Word.  Why?  Because whether hearing her speak or reading her books, her words resonate like precious gifts through our hearts and minds.  I've known Georgia for many years and each time I hear her, I feel like I've been bestowed with something precious... something as special as... well, as sea glass!  And, if you've heard Ms. Word's story of sea glass you'll know what I mean... finding beauty in simple things.
I couldn't wait to get a copy of The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems (illustrated by Antoine Guillopee`) a grand collection of poetry from her favorite friends (poets) who have written an intriguing collection of poetry created out of extraordinary words and phrases found in the most ordinary places.  From detergent boxes to Facebook pages, she's nudged poets to search for poems... which can't help but nudge us (and our students) to write... to be on the lookout.  Lost within the bits and pieces of your life are also words to be found.  And Ms. Word Heard has once again mesmerized me with this collection.  Together with some of our favorite writers, she's moved us to look at poetry in another "ordinary" place (it inspired me to write the opening poem on this blog using HER words).

This is a book that needs to be read and reread.  It's a process that's worth introducing to even our youngest writers.  It's a new spin on "line lift" that can take all writers on a new journey.  It might take some encouragement, but I can see the spirit of this book moving through the toolboxes and notebooks of writers everywhere!  Give it a go...

Thank you Georgia... for keeping us true to our words!