Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Reader. Reader Love Book.

If you've ever been around little guys and gals learning to talk you know various parts of speech are frequently missing from their phrases and sentences.  Their triumphant grins when a person, a place, a thing or an idea are properly expressed are so uplifting, it wouldn't be right to point out the missing words.  It's the same for persons of any age who are attempting to learn a second language; go with the basics first.

Let's step back in time, way back in time, to a portion of the Stone Age.  Let's imagine a story about a boy and his pet...woolly mammoth.  (You're smiling already, aren't you?) This ORQ. (he cave boy.) (Boyds Mills Press, an imprint of Highlights) written by David Elliott with illustrations by Lori Nichols proves that some things rarely change over the course of tens of thousands of years.  Some things remain the same.

This Orq.
He live in cave.
He carry club.
He cave boy.

Orq has adopted a baby woolly mammoth.  He has named him Woma.  The two are inseparable.

Problems begin to arise when Woma starts to grow in size.  To complicate the situation Orq's mom does not like certain physical characteristics and habits of the woolly mammoth.  He, like some other pets, leaves hairy messes, is rather whiffy and deposits piles of poo inside the rocky residence.

Woma is banished from the cave but Orq's abundant affection for his friend helps him come up with a surefire plan.  He is going to teach him to do three things guaranteed to have his mother loving the woolly mammoth as much as he does.  Oops!  Oh! No! Yikes!  Woma is still not setting one furry foot in the cave.

An imaginary hunting expedition turns frighteningly real one day.  Cave boy is looking pretty tasty to a ferocious feline. Huge love turns the tide and a mom's thinking.


David Elliott's word choices for this story are splendid.  The spare text conveys his understanding of what his intended audience needs to know.  His repeated use of

Orq loves Woma.

is the key to binding pieces of the narrative together and of endearing readers to his characters.  It also acts, with alterations, to define the feelings of Woma and Orq's mom at pivotal points.


When you first hold this book in your hands the tactile experience starts with the matte finished dust jacket and book case.  Unfolding the two you see Woma stretched out, eyes alight with attention, gently holding a truly contented Orq on one tusk.  Squawking away are the three baby bird characters around the ISBN in the lower left back corner.  The matching opening and closing endpapers showcase Orq's boyhood toys, artistic tools and found treasures; a bird feather, a stony bear, woolly mammoth and sabertooth tiger, assorted writing utensils and a tricycle.  The first two double-page spreads, the title page, verso and beginning text, introduce Orq and his surroundings along with the whimsical mother bird, blue with darker stripes and a bushy red top.

Lori Nichols' illustrations rendered in #4 pencil on Strathmore drawing paper and colorized digitally elevate the humor and love in this story with her extra detailed touches.  Each time the word love is used the color of the text reflects the character.  Three roughly drawn red hearts ascend from the head of the person showing their devotion.

To visualize Woma growing bigger and bigger and bigger he has been placed next to a tree. Along with his growth is the making of bird nest, the babies with open beaks and mama bird, arms on hips in disgust when the hole in the tree is covered.  That final illustration of these three is one of my favorites.  Orq loving Woma, hugging his trunk, both their eyes closed, and completely oblivious of the mama bird's dilemma, is funny and touching.


This book, This ORQ. (he cave boy.), written by David Elliott with illustrations by Lori Nichols begs to be read aloud.  Listeners will be chiming in with the refrain immediately.  I'd be willing to bet you will have plenty of boys and girls speaking Orq for many days later.  Readers of any age will readily identify with the love between a pet and their human.  A huge plus goes to Elliott and Nichols for the pictured two word twist at the end.

For more information about David Elliott and Lori Nichols please follow the links to their websites embedded in their names.  If you follow this link you will be taken to an interview of Lori Nichols at KidLit411.  I am grinning ear to ear from discovering there is to be a sequel to this title.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Place For Everyone

The beauty of the house is order.
The blessing of the house is contentment.
The glory of the house is hospitality.

This portion of a very old poem written beneath a picture one of my colleagues, an art teacher, made for me when I moved into my current home is framed and hanging in my kitchen.  The drawing is of a small colorful cottage with a tall pine tree growing next to it; a quirky quaint abode set in a northern Michigan forest.  The first line always makes me smile; a justification for my tendency toward neatness.   A home for me is a sanctuary, a place to find serenity when needed, but also a place for conversation, laughter and shared meals with cherished friends which speaks to the second and third lines.

When I look at this it reminds me of the needed balance in my daily life as well as in my home.  Julia's House for Lost Creatures (First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press) written and illustrated by graphic novelist Ben Hatke is his first picture book.  Julia learns the fine line between too quiet and chaos can be crossed quickly.

Julia's house came to town and settled by the sea.

This first sentence is a clear indication of the fantastical events to come.  It's not typical for houses to come to town; people yes but houses not so much.  Cozy as could be in her favorite chair by the fire that evening, Julia realizes the proverbial pin could be heard if dropped.  The absence of sound is glaring.

Hurrying toward her workshop, she creates a sign to hang outside the front door.  It announces the purpose of her house.  Julia's House for Lost Creatures is an open invitation.  The first arrival is Patched Up Kitty with the singular gift of walking up walls.

All too soon a rather loud banging heralds the next resident, a mournful troll.  Within a handful of moments all kinds of sounds at the door proclaim the presence of all kinds of beings from legend and lore.   Needless to say Julia is definitely surprised.  Ever the gracious hostess they keep her busy. But... 

The din is deafening.  The mess is mounting.  With a shout of 

"EVERYBODY STOP!"

Julia disappears into her workshop for hours and hours.

Emerging with a second sign, an inside sign, order is restored.  (My Mom of many hands make light work fame would have loved this.)  Tucked into bed that night sweet dreams are eluding Julia.  Something is still not right.  It's off to the workshop again.  A final sign and her waiting rewarded, peace is present once again.


An unseen narrator hooks readers from the beginning with the unorthodox appearance by the shore of Julia and her house.  Ben Hatke keeps us engaged with her request for residents, their variety and their disorderly conduct.  His descriptions of peculiar personalities and distinct antics keep readers turning pages in anticipation of...What could possibly happen next?  Julia's inventiveness in solving her predicaments through her creative signage is brilliant.  

As soon as you see the book's dust jacket, you know these lost creatures are not going to be from field and forest.  You also understand by Julia's expression and stance, she enjoys life with intention.  On the back, the troll with the toothy grin playing with Julia's antique record player supplies a huge hint.  Opening and closing endpapers in a dusty green feature an outline of a curling dragon's tail, tiny details from the story appearing on top.

On the initial title page Julia's first visitor is quietly sleeping beneath the title.  A significant, splendid two-page illustration, across the verso, dedication and formal title page depicts exactly how Julia's house moves from place to place.  I like to think of it as a nod to Native American folklore and beliefs as to where our planet resides.  

Ben Hatke alternates his illustration size, perspective and placement to set the pace for his story.  His mastery as a graphic novelist (Zita the Spacegirl trilogy) is evident in his visuals saying more than the text, extending our comprehension of the tale.  For example, accompanying the first words he has five separate elements.  Julia's house comes to a standstill, she runs down the steps, mailbox with post in her hands, raises it over her head, plops it into the ground and leans against it staring out to sea.  Single smaller pictures framed by white space work very well throughout the remaining pages.

The extra details, some I discovered on second and third readings, are a request for readers to become involved in Julia's adventure.  Her work apron, pink high-top sneakers, wavy red hair and energy create an immediate bond.  The bird perched on the trolls head later becomes a companion for the mermaid's rubber ducky.  I'm still wondering about the connection between one of the items on Julia's fireplace mantel and the final twist at the end.

The living room scenes at the beginning and the end are two of my favorite illustrations.  In the first we are given insight into Julia and those things of importance to her.  In the second, less of the room is seen but we still realize the same sense of calm, even though it's been altered by the numerous new residents.


Every reader is going to wish they could live in Julia's House for Lost Creatures.  Ben Hatke has written and illustrated a picture book brimming with magical what-ifs.  I think it would be great fun to think about other guests in this house, what their favorite things to do might be and what tasks they might be assigned.  I would plan on having extra copies in your collections.  This title is going to be a hit with readers. (It's a huge hit with me!)

To discover more information about Ben Hatke and his work follow the link embedded in his name to his website.  This link takes you to an interview of Ben Hatke conducted by teacher librarian Matthew C. Winner at his popular podcast Let's Get Busy.  Author and blogger at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Julie Danielson, reviews this title and showcases lots of artwork for this book.

I obtained an ARC of Julia's House for Lost Creatures from my favorite independent bookstore, McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan.  Please visit your nearest independent bookstore to get your copy.  If your public library does not have it on order, submit a request.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Connection,Curation, Connection #9

Last week's Connection, Curation, Connection #8 can be accessed by following this link.  More than three years ago I began to list and talk about resources, book trailer links and fun tweets I discovered on Twitter specifically for persons in my PLN who either were not on Twitter or who might have missed something exciting during the week.  The first post had only four items in it.  Over the course of those years it evolved into Twitterville Talk numbering one hundred forty-four weeks of curation and sharing.  In March of this year due to personal commitments beyond my control Twitterville Talk went on hiatus.  In June I brought it back in another form using Storify to create weekly collections.

The number of views have gradually been dropping either because more people are on Twitter seeing the tweets or the interest is not there.  For these reasons plus additional demands on my time, this will be the last Connection, Curation, Connection.  It has been a pleasure gathering tweets for all of you each week since June of 2011.  Have a great week.  Remember to take time for reading.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A City, A Cape And Courage

We usually associate certain places with specific people and memorable events.  Growing up in a small community outside a state capital, despite growth and new construction, those connections remain strong for me decades later.  What is strange and a little disconcerting is to see people who have lived in one place for as long as you can remember, happily residing in an entirely different environment.

If we enjoy the relative quiet of the countryside, it's an adjustment to become accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a large city.  Nana In The City (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company) written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo is about a first visit to the city for a little boy.  What's even more unbelievable to him is that his nana is living here now.

I went to stay with Nana at her new apartment in the city.

Right away the grandson makes two thoughts very clear to readers.  He loves his grandmother but not so much the city.  There is too much activity in the city.  There is too much noise in the city.  There is too much frightening stuff in the city.

After a subway ride and walking down the streets surrounded by tall buildings, the boy is certain this cannot possibly be a good home for his nana.  Regardless of her assurances, he struggles with sleep his first night there.  When he finally drifts off, Nana begins working on her special gift.

Waking up in the morning, Nana presents the boy with a snazzy knitted red cape tying it on over his pajamas.  Later wearing it on their stroll, his perspective of the city is transformed.  In the activity, noise and frightening stuff, he sees people enjoying their favorite things in the park, playing and dancing to music and an act of kindness erases fear.  Is there magic in the cape?  Of course there is!  The best magic of all...love freely given and received.


The text, like the cape worn by the grandson, wraps itself around the reader casting a spell of warmth and inspiring courage.  Lauren Castillo uses what I like to call the timeless storytelling technique of three; guiding readers into a story, reinforcing their connection and releasing them with something new and wonderful.  Busy, loud and scary are noticed by the grandson immediately as he tells his tale.  Nana changes those three words to reflect her appreciation of the city; looking for the positive.  The gift of the cape gives the boy the courage necessary to see his surroundings with the same eyes as his grandmother.


A glowing color palette (look at all the gold, orange and red) on the matching dust jacket and book case is a visible sign of the affection filling this book.  On the back Lauren Castillo has a circular image of the boy running, cape flying behind him, as his nana follows.  The color from the boy's jacket and shoes provides a solid background on the opening and closing endpapers.  Nana's two cats bookend a special ball of yarn on the title page.  A glorious image of the bridge, river and city spans across the verso and dedication pages.

Rendered in watercolor Castillo, whether the illustration extends edge to edge on two pages, a single page or as a circular image on a single page, masterfully uses white space either as a separate element or to frame others.  The characters of Nana and her grandson are utterly charming in their features, body movements, clothing and accessories (Nana has green reading glasses but red sunglasses).  Heavier black lines draw our attention to what Lauren Castillo wants us to notice.  There is a softness to her pictures placed on the matte-finished paper.

One of my favorite two-page illustrations (I have many) is of Nana and her grandson at the kitchen table in the evening.  One cat (white) is resting on the windowsill with the darkened city in the background; the other (black) is playing with a ball of yarn on the table.  Nana is pouring milk into a red cup from a red pitcher for herself as the boy holds his red cup between his hands.  A plate of cookies is between them.  Xena's favorite illustration is of the boy and Nana on a city street, stopping to pet one of five dogs being walked.


Nana In The City written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo is in a word...marvelous.  It could be a cozy one-on-one bedtime story or as a read aloud to a group sparking conversations about grandparents and being brave.  I'm pretty sure every single reader has a special article of clothing they feel is magical.  I can already hear the stories being exchanged.  Be sure to share this as often as possible.  It's a classic gem.

For more information about Lauren Castillo and her work please follow the link embedded in her name to access her website.  This link takes you to a recent interview at Publishers Weekly.  There are numerous illustrations for this title and The Troublemaker at a Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog post by Julie Danielson.  Teacher librarian extraordinaire, John Schumacher, interviews Lauren Castillo at Watch. Connect. Read.


Enjoy the extra artwork Lauren Castillo shared with her followers on Twitter.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Rock...Or Not

When you live in an area with lakes carved out by glaciers, it's a given the contents of the shore line will extend into the surrounding land no matter how many decades have passed since development by humans began.  Barely an inch beneath the lawn on my property is nothing but gravel and sand.  My gardens flourish because I have dug out the original soil replacing it with bags and bags and bags of organic dirt and peat.

During this summer's months men from the city (our township electricity is supplied by the city) have been digging up lawns replacing electrical lines with newer versions.  They have unearthed geological treasures of all shapes and sizes.  Day after day when walking Xena, a particular rock on the shoulder of the road has caught my eye.

After reading Oliver and His Egg (Disney Hyperion Books) written and illustrated by Paul Schmid, I decided to go back and claim it as my own.  It fits in my hand, nearly perfectly round and warmed by the sun.  Like Oliver I can't stop thinking.

When Oliver found his egg...


In his mind's eye, Oliver sees his egg cracking open.  This is no ordinary egg.  Popping from the two halves is a spotted creature meant to be his friend.

Together they share journeys; traveling to parts unknown.  Like the Vikings of old an island is discovered.  Floating in space wearing astronaut gear, the Earth a distance ball, Oliver and his companion hear a call.  It's Oliver's name being shouted by a little girl.

She understandably wants to know why Oliver is sitting on a... rock.  Holding the rock Oliver looks; his inventiveness shifting.  For a little guy he has big, big ideas.


Spare text, only fifty-two words thoughtfully selected and placed, a few on a page, asks readers to slow down and think along with Oliver.  Paul Schmid wants us reflect about the role of imagination in directing our actions.  He wants us to ponder our place with people realizing even the slightest change in our thoughts can make a difference benefiting us and others.

When opening the dust jacket the lavender background spreads across the left and right sides.  Oliver is sitting on the head of his friend whose tail curls around to the back.  Placed on top of the tail is his rock.  The peach from the jacket covers the book case with loosely but easily identified dinosaurs sketched in a lighter shade.  White eggs on teal decorate both the opening and closing endpapers.

With the first page turn Paul Schmid gives readers glimpses of events to come, showing Oliver, with other children on a playground, riding a bouncing dinosaur when he first spies his egg.  With those introductory five words Oliver's fantasy is pictured on a pale green background surrounded by a liberal amount of white space.  He is looking at a rock; his mind sees a cracked egg with a tiny dinosaur peeking out.

As dreams of their adventures together expand so does the size of the hue of green and the imaginary friend.  To accentuate Oliver's joyful turn of thinking Schmid designs a four page fold-out sure to illicit exclamations.  With a pastel palette and simple lines on characters' faces denoting emotion, Schmid endears readers to his story.

One of my favorite illustrations is when Oliver and his polka-dotted dinosaur are on the island.  Oliver has removed his Viking helmet placing it on the beach.  He is holding a stick roasting two marshmallows over a crackling fire as his friend, resting, closely watches.


I simply can't look at the cover of Oliver and His Egg written and illustrated by Paul Schmid without smiling.  Oliver, his dinosaur and his other playmates are adorable with a capital A.  Schmid's mastery of words opening the narrative door for a higher illustrative impact strikes a chord in his readers' collective hearts.  Huge hugs to Oliver in his latest title.

For more information on Paul Schmid and his work please follow the link embedded in his name to access his website.  Here is a link to my review of Oliver and His Alligator.  In May of this year teacher librarian wonder, John Schumacher, interviewed Paul Schmid on his blog Watch. Connect. Read. Paul Schmid has a board on Pinterest for his books.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Snug As Can Be

The sight of them holds so much promise.  They swoop, glide and soar from place to place looking for materials unique to their practical plan.  It's spring in northern Michigan.  Our state birds have returned building nests in which their distinctive blue eggs will hatch.  This year as mentioned in an earlier post my new planting of ivy was home to a family of robins for many weeks.

 Due to an experience similar to mine, author Jennifer Ward began to investigate about avian architects.  In her most recent title, Mama Built a Little Nest (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division) with illustrations by Steve Jenkins, she offers readers a spirited but informative glimpse at birds and their creative engineering (or not) used in nest building.  Fourteen designs destined to house eggs and their newly hatched inhabitants will increase our appreciation for our feathered friends around the world.

Mama built a little nest
inside a sturdy trunk.
She used her beak to tap-tap-tap
the perfect place to bunk.


As a team woodpecker parents carve a hole in a tree.  A trap used by one insect to snare others is needed to fashion a flexible home for some of our smallest winged wonders.  There are lazy or wily, depending on your point of view, birds that lay their eggs in other birds' nests.  Obviously parenting is not their forte.

Papa's feet fold around a single egg.  Scuffed in sky high stone protection is provided.  A creature of cactus creates not one, not two, but three or more nests hoping to attract a female companion.  Those not used serve an ingenious purpose.

Hanging homes, underground abodes, and floating rafts for one serve their babies well.  Walking along a shore line who can say whether its rocks or eggs.  Oh, they are such clever beings.

Body fluids, body waste and mounds of mud shape residences. Nests larger around than some readers are tall would make the best kind of tree houses.  These special resting places are incredible to behold; essential to survival.


On the left hand side of each two pages dedicated to a single bird, Jennifer Ward has written a four line poem; sometimes a single sentence, sometimes two or three.  The second and fourth lines rhyme calling readers' attention to a special characteristic about a specialized spot for eggs and the young.  Expanding on the original thought she provides more details on the right; intriguing items to further our understanding.


Luminous white is the background for the precise collage illustrations of Steve Jenkins.  Piece by piece, layer by layer, he builds two-page masterpieces.  The skillful layout and design seen on the matching dust jacket and book case are found throughout the book.  Identical opening and closing endpapers are green on green feathers carefully patterned from left to right.

Red feathers on the crests of pileated woodpeckers, slender beaks on hummingbirds, texture on rocky crags, spines and bright flowers on cactus, or eyes looking out, above, down or at you alive with inquiry are a part of each visual.  The perspectives selected by Jenkins draw your eyes into each illustration.  It's as if you are looking through the zoom lens of a camera revealing every intricate aspect.

One of my favorite pictures is toward the end where Steve Jenkins alters his background to match the shift in author Jennifer Ward's words.  Without giving away too much, it, as do her words, exudes warmth and a blend of the natural world with humans.  It makes a wonderful connection.


Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward with illustrations by Steve Jenkins is an outstanding introduction to this topic sure to encourage readers to take notice of the world around them.  The combination of rhythmic poetry, fascinating information and stunning illustrations makes this a must-have title in any collection.  There is an author's note and resources for further learning and exploration at the end.  I would pair this with Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LaBlanc Cate and Feathers Not Just For Flying by Melissa Stewart with illustrations by Sarah S. Brannen.

For more information on the additional works of Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins please follow the links to their respective websites embedded in their names.  By following this link to the publisher's website you can view pages from the book.  Author and blogger at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Julie Danielson, offers additional images in a post.


Every week my knowledge base gets broader and deeper through participation in the 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy.  Enjoy the other titles posted by bloggers linked to her web page.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Listen And Learn

It's hard not to think about what-ifs sometimes.  What if I was not on social media?  What if I was not a friend with a particular person?  What if I had not checked posts on a specific day?  The facts are I am on social media, friends with a special author and I did read my feed on August 10, 2014.  Based on three sentences written and shared, I went to my bookshelves remembering a title I had purchased.  As soon as I opened the book, my known world slipped away.

Newbery Honor winning author, Margarita Engle presents readers with a remarkable piece of historical fiction in one of her 2014 titles.  Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) spans the years 1906 to 1914 in the country of Panama.  The past is speaking to us and we need to listen.

MATEO from the island of Cuba
JOB HUNT
Fear is a fierce wind
that sends me reeling
down to the seashore,
where I beg for work,
any work at all,
any escape 
to carry me far
from my father's
furious fists.

Fourteen years old, strong for his size, willing to tell a number of lies to leave, Mateo, believing the propaganda about working conditions and wages paid to diggers of the Panama Canal, finds himself on a steamship bound to that very place.  Plagued by hunger, the humiliation of segregation by skin color, travel by railroad flatcars and living in boxcars, he realizes he is trapped by a mistaken decision.  The only brightness shining in what is and will become a bleak existence is Anita, a local girl, a seller of native herbs and plants. 

As Mateo moves tracks daily, deeper and deeper into the Serpent Cut, another voice is heard.  Henry, from the island of Jamaica is a digger.  Instead of twelve to a boxcar, eighty of his comrades live together in one room.  At lunch break each day he sees how the Americans eat in comfort under a tent, the medium-dark workers sit on the train tracks and he and other diggers must stand with no place to rest.  

Pay days come; restless workers wander around in Silver Town made of mud, loneliness, anger and not much else.  Draw to a boxing ring by the ghosts of his past, Mateo find himself the loser in a fight with Henry.  The two now know one another.  They meet in the ring on a regular basis, strangers battling with fists for no apparent reason.


A landslide, an arrest, and a visit from President Roosevelt, define shifted loyalties.  The agony is lessened by another speaker, the voice of Augusto from the island of Puerto Rico, educated in the United States, working as a geologist on this mammoth endeavor.  Augusto sees Mateo's special gift, giving him at least one day a week to hope. 

Official visitors, official changes, jungle living, the suffering brought by fever and freedom found alter all their lives.  Chapter after chapter we readers are drawn further into this huge undertaking filled with choices and consequences.  Nothing remains the same then or now; especially for us having read these pages.


As a novel in verse, Margarita Engle is able to create intimate portraits of Mateo, Anita, Henry, Augusto and even Old Maria.  Usually one or two pages long, their voices, thoughts, are realistic portrayals based upon her research.  We build in our minds an understanding of their physical and emotional statuses throughout the narrative.  

Interspersed among their chapters are placed real persons, John Stevens, Theodore Roosevelt, George Goethals, Jackson Smith, Gertrude Becks and Harry Franck creating a more intense authenticity.  Margarita Engle sets aside pages, in eight different sections, for flora and fauna from the rain forest, the howler monkeys, glass frogs, a Blue Morpho butterfly, the trees and many others. They each reflect upon (or shout out) the impact of the Canal on their habitat. This technique of adding historical figures and allowing those with no voice to speak gives readers a more complete picture of all the aspects of the building of the Panama Canal during these eight years.

Very early in my reading of this book, I began marking passages until my copy soon had what I call the "porcupine look" from so many added sticky notes.  Here are a few of those many marked words.

Hunger at sea for three days
feels like a knife in the flesh---
twisted blade, rusty metal,
the piercing tip of a long
sharp-edged
dagger
called regret.  ...

...My hands feel like scorpion claws,
clamped on to a hard hard shovel all day,
then curled into fists at night.

At dawn, the steaming labor trains
deliver us by the thousands, down into
that snake pit where we dig
until my muscles feel
as weak as water
and my backbone
is like shattered glass. ...

THE TREES
WILDERNESS
We are fewer
than before,

but each of us
is just as alive
as ever,

our leaves
hungry for sunlight,
our roots thirsty
for rain,

our fruit and seeds carried far
by flying birds and roaming animals
so that young trees can spout and grow,
our shared forest once again spreading
like music.


Highly recommended for upper middle school on up, Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal written by Margarita Engle is beautiful in its sadness, truth and hope.  Your understanding of the impact of this cut through a country on the place and people there, and those brought from afar, will be long remembered.  Margarita Engle gives depth and breadth to these events changing every reader.  

To learn more about Margarita Engle please visit her website by following the link embedded in her name.  This link takes you to a recent interview at Watch. Connect. Read., a blog hosted by the talented teacher librarian, John Schumacher.  UPDATE:  Here is a link to an amazing guide at the Poetry for Children website.