[review + giveaway] Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk by Jorge Argueta

In October 2018, the night before a caravan of fellow citizens planned to leave San Salvador for the United States, eminent author, poet, and humanitarian Jorge Argueta spoke with many of them who had gathered at the Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo, a large public square in the city.

As someone who had fled El Salvador over 35 years ago, Argueta understood only too well why they had chosen to risk their lives and that of their children to undertake the arduous 2,500-mile journey. He listened to their stories, offered encouragement and support, and was no doubt profoundly moved by the hope they carried in their hearts: hope for a safe haven from gang violence, hope to escape the demoralizing cycle of poverty, hope for a chance to rebuild their lives with honest work, hope for better futures for their children, hope for kindness and compassion from the strangers they would meet along the way.

Inspired by these conversations, Argueta wrote a verse novel told in the voice of Misael Ramírez, a young asylum seeker who joined the caravan with his parents and brother Martín.

Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk (Groundwood Books, 2019), is a realistic, heart-wrenching account of the physical and emotional hardships families like Misael’s endured as they left El Salvador with nothing more than a jacket and a small backpack of hopes and dreams to face the unknown.

 

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[juicy review] How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander and Melissa Sweet

 

For hungry minds, there’s nothing like feasting on a good book, from that delicious anticipation of first cracking open the cover, to devouring each and every word, to basking in the afterglow of a story well told.

In How to Read a Book (HarperCollins, 2019), Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet celebrate books with a tantalizing banquet of juicy words and captivating art, illuminating the sensory, intuitive, and wildly imaginative aspects of the reading experience.

In this lyrical ode, which began as a World Read Aloud Day poem and later appeared on a National Poetry Month poster, Alexander employs an extended food metaphor to mouthwatering effect. Reading a book, he suggests, is like consuming luscious, ripe fruit — something to savor with full presence of heart and mind.

 

 

First, plant yourself beneath a tree or (if you prefer) sit on a stoop like Langston Hughes:

Once you’re comfy,
peel its gentle skin,
like you would
a clementine.

The color of
sunrise,

The scent of morning
air
and sweet
butterfly kisses.

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[review + giveaway] Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections by Michelle Schaub and Carmen Saldaña

I literally squealed with happiness when I first heard about and then finally read Michelle Schaub and Carmen Saldaña’s new poetry picture book, Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections (Charlesbridge, 2019).

As some of you may have guessed, “Collector” is my middle name. I’m what you’d call a born collector — it’s part of my DNA. It began with Japanese rice candy sponge animals, Crackerjack toys and Golden books during childhood, and has continued throughout my life: character wristwatches, hearts, rubber stamps, stationery, fountain pens, finger puppets, salt and pepper shakers, pigs (a passing phase), tea and tea paraphernalia, Coach leather bags, doll furniture, music in various formats, Beatrix Potter everything.

And then, of course, my most enduring obsessions: foodie picture books, poetry, literary cookbooks, china and crockery (mostly English), and teddy bears (especially Paddington!). Indeed, we had to move into a larger house just to accommodate the bears. 😀

In Finding Treasure, a delightful story told in 18 fetching poems, our young narrator is feeling a little panicky about a school assignment:

 

My teacher gave us homework
that has me quite perplexed.
He asked us all to bring to class
something we collect.

 

All her classmates have things to share — marbles, arrowheads, teddy bears — but the girl doesn’t have a collection, so she studies the collections of family and friends for ideas and inspiration.

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[review + giveaway] Wild in the Streets: 20 Poems of City Animals by Marilyn Singer and Gordy Wright

Imagine visiting New Delhi and seeing dozens of rhesus monkeys scampering down the street, climbing atop walls and buildings, even having them steal your food. People who live there are used to such monkey business, which is especially problematic when the animals break into and destroy homes and offices.

Monkeys are considered sacred in India, so it’s illegal to kill them. Though rhesus macaques have traditionally been cared for in temples around the country, many have been displaced due to a variety of factors. Today, there are an estimated 30,000 rhesus macaques running wild in New Delhi, and persistent efforts to chase them away remain futile.

This is just one of the interesting scenarios described in Marilyn Singer’s new poetry picture book, Wild in the Streets: 20 Poems of City Animals (words & pictures, 2019). Illustrated by British artist Gordy Wright, this unique collection introduces readers to creatures around the world who have adapted well to urban life, citing why they may have left their natural habitats.

 

 

We meet each animal through a poem and nonfiction note, sometimes hearing their voices and candid observations about being city dwellers.

From the monkeys saying, “Give us/give us/what we want, what we need;” to the wily Chicago coyotes demanding the kind of respect afforded their domestic canine cousins, “We came on foot,/crossing dangerous terrains . . . give us welcome to rid you of your mice and rats;” to the wild boars in Berlin expressing their gratitude, “Thanks for knocking down that wall./Thanks for your delicious corn./We declare a free-for-all;” we can better appreciate their amazing ability to trade “forests, caves, prairies, rocks,” for “bridges, rooftops, city blocks” — and thrive!

Using a variety of poetic forms, including haiku, villanelle, acrostic, sonnet, free verse, and her famous reverso, Marilyn captures the essence of each animal’s reality, sometimes creating an emotional context or painting a striking lyrical image. We can easily picture beautiful monarch butterflies traveling long distances “across wild mountains, tame gardens, familiar parks and distant plains.”

 

 

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Starting things off with the sumptuous work of Florida-based artist, illustrator, author and teacher Carla Golembe. I love how she describes what she does and why she does it:

We live on an increasingly small planet in dangerous times. The state of our world is impossible to ignore. As humans we straddle the river of our potential with one foot on each bank. Our capacity for love and compassion is equaled by our ability to turn our backs on one another and by the biases and hatreds that people have harbored since the beginning of time.

And yet I continue to paint beauty, joy, connection and harmony. My paintings are human and universal, multicultural and cross cultural. My intention is to create a visual haven that encourages viewers to enter my domain, dwell in beauty, rejoice in color and breathe. The figures emanate wonder and mystery. The work is evocative rather than descriptive. My interest as an artist lies in expressing how something feels rather than what it looks like. As my subject matter expands to include both my inner vision and the outer world. I find myself painting about inclusiveness and caring for the earth. I am painting hope. This is my authentic personal expression and my purpose as a painter. The world of my paintings is not “realism” but perhaps it’s “magic realism”. It’s the reality of what makes my life worth living, what makes us human and what I want to bring into the world.

She so beautifully states why art is more important than ever in a troubled and endangered world. We’re thankful for the haven of beauty and hope Carla creates with her work. Her distinctive style — lush, color-saturated and passionate, also speaks to the power of female spirituality.

For more, visit Carla’s official website and her shop at Fine Art America, where you can purchase prints and posters, as well as totes, t-shirts, pillows, greeting cards, etc.

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2. New Poetry Book Alert! Just released June 4, 2019, is Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer by Elizabeth Steinglass and Edson Ikê (Wordsong, 2019).

The perfect gift for young soccer fans, this picture book features twenty-two imaginative poems that capture all aspects of the world’s most popular sport.

From the coach who inspires players to fly like the wind, to the shin guard that begs to be donned, to soccer dreams that fill the night, Soccerverse celebrates soccer. Featuring a diverse cast of girls and boys, the poems in this collection cover winning, losing, teamwork, friendships, skills, good sportsmanship, and, most of all, love for the game. Elizabeth Steinglass cleverly incorporates thirteen different poetic forms throughout the book, defining each in a note at the end, and Edson Ikê’s bold artwork is as creative as the poems are surprising.

We are thrilled that Poetry Friday friend Elizabeth Steinglass has just published her first poetry picture book. She has certainly scored big with her clever, charming, and positively delightful poems. She once played soccer herself, and has two sons who are obsessed with the game. Suffice to say, soccer is a big part of their lives, so Elizabeth has every reason to celebrate the world’s most popular sport.

Find out more about Elizabeth and Soccerverse in this excellent Today’s Little Ditty Spotlight On Interview, and don’t miss Elizabeth’s TLD Classroom Connections post. Sample poems included in both. 🙂

Congratulations to Elizabeth and Edson!

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