Monthly Archives: March 2016

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Story of Moose

51vdxeKM7CL._AA160_

Title: The Story of Moose: How a Big Dog on a Little Island Found Love…After Nearly 5 Years in a Shelter
 

Written By: Laurie Damron

Illustrated By: Photographs

Publisher/date: Self-published (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform), 28 February 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: Dogs, Animal Shelters, Hope, Perseverance, Community

Opening: “I am Moose. I was brought to the Animal Care Center (ACC) in February 2011 when I was found running with the head of a pack of 1000 runners getting ready for the Islands’ annual ‘8 Tuff Miles’ road race. We put me in a kennel hoping to find my owner. My owner never came for me.”

Brief Synopsis: This is the true story of Moose, who spent almost 5 years in a no-kill animal shelter in St. John, US Virgin Islands, and of the efforts of ACC staff and friends, staff of Last Hope K9 Rescue in Boston, and the community of Moose lovers to find Moose a home.

Links to Resources:

  • Visit a local no-kill animal shelter;
  • The ACC participates in voluntourism – providing volunteer opportunities for tourists visiting St. John – if traveling, check to determine if there is a shelter where you can walk dogs or pet kittens or donate items or if there are other community organizations or schools that can use your help or donations (gently used books are often most welcome in more remote destinations, for instance).
  • Discuss with older children what it means to support a Cause: how would they work together to promote and achieve something important to them.

Why I Like this Book: I know this is a true story, because I have met, and walked with, Moose. When his Facebook page was first promoted, I followed and shared the posts often. I didn’t choose The Story of Moose as a Perfect Picture Book just because I already knew the story, however. Told from Moose’s perspective, this story highlights the power of community and an important lesson for children of all ages to persevere, work together and never give up hope: “Everyone can make a difference.”

This book is available for purchase on Amazon.com. All proceeds benefit ACC and Last Hope K9Rescue. Moose’s family has continued his Facebook page, now called Moose Found a Family – The Next Chapter.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Two Parrots

Happy Norouz! Norouz, also spelled Nowruz or Norooz, is Persian New Year and will start this year on Sunday, 20 March 2016. Who knew? Sadly, I had never heard of this holiday until recently, even though I know several people of Iranian descent. To make up for lost time, I chose the book below:

 

9780735841710_p0_v3_s118x184Title: Two Parrots
By: Rashin, inspired by a Tale from Rumi

Publisher/date: NorthSouth Books, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: Freedom, Persian folktale, parrots

Opening: “Once upon a time, in Persia, there was a merchant who travelled the world for his business. On one of his journeys to India, he received a beautiful parrot as a gift from a friend.”

Brief Synopsis: A merchant showers his beloved parrot with everything, including a gilded cage. A clever trick teaches the merchant that all the riches in the world, without freedom, cannot bring happiness.

Links to Resources: Older children can find out more about the setting of the story, Persia, or modern-day Iran.

Find out more about Norouz at Asia Society Kids. Families can compare the rituals of this Persian celebration with those of other Spring holidays, such as Easter and Passover.

Try preparing Nowruz dishes, like those found in Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year (Mage Publishers, 2008).

Try coloring parrots, the featured bird of this story, or try coloring in the very detailed, multi-layered style used by Rashin. See more of her work at rashinart.com

Try making a Persian carpet, like the ones shown in Two Parrots.

Why I Like this Book: Like many of us of a certain age born and educated in the US, I know almost nothing about the history and culture of Persia, now encompassed primarily by Iran. So I was thrilled to stumble upon the words of Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, generally known as Rumi (1207-1273), a 13th century Persian poet, theologian and Sufi mystic, in a picture book illustrated by an artist from Iran. The illustrations are lively and colourful, a perfect complement to this delightful story with an important lesson that without freedom there is no happiness.

 

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

 

Fifty Precious Words: The Best Nest

My friend, Vivian Kirkfield is welcoming spring and celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a new contest, Fifty Precious Words: Write a story in 50 words or less for kids ages 12 or under. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious, and the title doesn’t count toward the word count (Whew!). You can find the contest details here at Vivian’s blog, as well as other entries listed in the comments.

“Quite the challenge,” thought I! So I decided to kick it up a notch. Vivian’s contest happens to coincide with ReFoReMo (Reading for Research Month, for those “not in the know”), where I discovered some all-dialogue mentor texts. Now, those who have read my scribblings know that I am not one to dispense with the setting, background, and anything else I can throw in to “set the stage.” But ReFoReMo is all about reading new types of stories and thinking about how we can adopt techniques to strengthen and grow as writers. So, what better time to try an all-dialogue story! Without further ado, my springy entry follows:

The Best Nest

A prize!

For the best nest!

I’ll try.

Me, too.

Perfect spot.

Twigs,
grass,
wad of wool.
Set!

Perfect spot.

Mud,
spit,
dab of grass.
Set!

Two judges.

Dashing duo.

Tweeting about my nest.

Singing about mine.

Ruby Robin chooses my nest.

Sheila Swallow picks mine.

TIE!

Best Nests!imgresimgres

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Imani’s Music

I happened upon this Perfect Picture Book recently in my local library. Based on the cover and title, I thought it was solely about music. But it is so much more and is a story that will stay with me – I hope you agree.

 

9780689822544_p0_v1_s192x300Title: Imani’s Music
 

Written By: Sheron Williams

 

Illustrated By: Jude Daly

Publisher/date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster, 2002)

Suitable for Ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: Slavery, origin myth, music, crickets, ancestors, storytelling

Opening: “Born during the planting season of eighteen nine and aught, my grandfather W.D. was a man of the ‘Used-to-Be’ who resided in the ‘Here-and-Now’ ‘cause time and living life had dragged him there. He was hailed in five counties as a storyteller that could wrestle a tale to the ground. He danced on the path ‘tween the ‘Used-to-Be,’ the ‘Here-and-Now,’ and the ‘What’s-Gon’-Come.’ Shoot, it was folks like him that fed the path and kept it alive.”

Brief Synopsis: The narrator’s grandfather relates the story of Imani, a grasshopper, and how Imani brought music to the world in Africa and across the oceans in a slave ship, to the slaves in America.

Links to Resources: Make music in traditional ways, either by whistling through blades of grass or flutes fashioned from reeds, or drumming on hollowed tree stumps or even pots and pans.

Make and play your own musical instruments.

Tell the story of a journey you or an ancestor has taken. Or ask older relatives about journeys they have taken.

PBS.org has a list of child-friendly books exploring slavery.

Why I Like this Book: This story-within-a-story weaves together two narratives: the experience of enslavement and the origin of music, both told by the narrator’s grandfather, W.D., a master storyteller.

Imani’s Music has a much higher word-count than the norm in picture books today, and the title character, Imani, isn’t even introduced until page 5. But I believe that the addition of a storyteller serves an important purpose: it helps distance the listener from what, arguably, is one of the most difficult topics to explain to young children, slavery. Weaving the story of Imani, a music-loving grasshopper who accompanies his enslaved friend to the new world, into the narrative allows the listener to focus on the beautiful music from Africa that survives and evolves in the new world, bringing hope, solace and a glimmer of goodness into that world.

I’d only recommend this book for older children, despite the distance Sheron Williams builds into the story. Imani, like his friend and fellow captives, is torn from his beloved Africa and family. He bewails the helplessness he feels, unable to provide food or water to so many or even let the folks back home know where their loved ones disappeared. The images of hopeless captives is heart-wrenching, with only a cricket’s sad tunes to console them.

The voices of the young narrator, Grandfather W.D., and the other characters come through so clearly in Imani’s Music. Descriptions such as W.D. “could step over the river of time like it was a rain-puddle pond”, or a “wallop of tune fell on Imani, and the world soaked up the rest like a sponge” drew me into the narrative, as did South African artist Jude Daly’s illustrations. I really felt like I entered another time and place – the “Used-to-Be”.

 

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Beyond the Pond

As the days lengthen, as buds and tiny shoots appear, and as a greater variety of birds visit the feeder each day, the urge to wander, to explore outside, returns. What better way to embrace the spirit of adventure and exploration than through this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

 

9780062364272_p0_v1_s192x300Title: Beyond the Pond
 

Written & Illustrated By: Joseph Kuefler

Publisher/date: Balzer + Bray, 2015

 

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Exploration, nature, imagination, adventure

Opening: “Just behind an ordinary house filled with too little fun, Ernest D. had decided today would be the day that he’d explore the depths of his pond.”

Brief Synopsis: A young boy, Ernest D. is bored with his ordinary, too little fun house, so he decides to explore the depths of the pond. He discovers a different, exciting world on the other end. But when he returns home, will he view it the same as when he left?

Links to Resources: Children of all ages love to explore! But what do you need to explore?

Discuss and assemble the tools necessary for an exploration of the back garden, the local park, a body of water, or even the basement or attic of your own home.

Try a scavenger hunt.

Older children in warmer climates could don a mask and explore the bottom of a local pond, stream, or bay.

Why I Like this Book: In this debut picture book, Joseph Kuefler combines words and pictures to describe a perfect day out for any would-be explorer. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Ernest D. leaves his everyday, ho-hum backyard and enters a big, raucous, colourful world. As in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna (Harper Collins, 2009), the doorway to this other world is through Ernest D.’s pond. I especially love that the adventures begin, and end, where all the best ones do: at home (which may just be a little less ordinary than we thought!).

 

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!