[review] A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada by Jorge Argueta and Elizabeth Gómez

Art by Elizabeth Gómez

 

SOUP OF STARS

Many nights
we would go to bed
without eating

We would look up
at the stars —
the stars were our soup

 

I first became acquainted with Jorge Argueta’s work through his delectable cooking poem books (Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup, Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding, Guacamole, Tamalitos, Salsa). Of course it felt like he had written these books just for me — how could I resist the playful language, mouthwatering imagery, and charming magical realism? Each poem, a spirited, sensory feast with a lasting, distinctive flavor, made me hunger for more.

 

Jorge is one of the original Alphabet Soup Poetry hotTEAS!

 

Two years ago, I discovered another dimension of Jorge’s brilliance when he wrote about the heart-wrenching plight of Central American migrant families in Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds (Groundwood Books, 2016). Winner of the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, these poems express the child immigrant’s point of view and show how an arduous journey marked by danger and uncertainty is also a testament to courage, hope, resilience, and optimism.

 

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[spooky review + giveaway] Monster School by Kate Coombs and Lee Gatlin

Twilight’s here.
The death bell rings.
Everyone knows what
the death bell brings . . .

It’s time for class. You’re in the place
where goblins wail and zombies drool.

 

Welcome, you’re just in time.

Monster School is in session — come right in and meet the gang!

These just might be the scariest, spookiest students ever — a class where nobody blinks twice about the odd hairy eyeball on the floor or having a teacher who’s a screaming banshee.

Strangely enough, when you read about them, these spirited scholars seem to feel freakishly familiar. 🙂

In her newest children’s book Monster School (Chronicle Books, 2018), poetry wizard Kate Coombs has conjured up 18 fangtastic poems just perfect for some Halloweenish fun. Illustrated by Georgia cartoonist Lee Gatlin (who professes to love drawing monsters most of all), this cauldron of creepiness will cast you under its spell and tickle your skeletal funny bone.

Written in a variety of poetic forms, the mostly rhyming poems introduce us to some very interesting pupils, two weird teachers, and one voracious class pet.

Take “Fernanda Kabul” (please) — she has a way of instilling dread at the mere mention of her name. Part brat, part bully, and a vengeful liar, this “terrible, heartless” dressed-all-in-black “princess of hex” thrives on terrorizing her classmates:

One time Josh was laughing at something I said
and she thought he was laughing at her.
By the time she was finished he wasn’t a kid:
He was three inches long. He was covered with fur.

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[review + giveaway] Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora and Raul Colón

If ever there was a book that wholly lived up to the promise of its title, Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora and Raul Colón (Lee and Low, 2018) is certainly it.

Every bit of this ebullient fourteen poem collection is pure, unabashed, glorious, spirit-lifting joy. Celebrating the rewards and pleasures of reading and sharing good books, as well as exercising one’s creative muscle to write original poems, it’s the perfect way to get kids excited about the wonder, beauty, and infinite possibilities of words.

Bookworms, word collectors, library lovers, literacy advocates, and budding poets will find much to love in Mora’s lyrical, open-hearted poems and Colón’s stunning, beautifully rendered illustrations. This is the third collaboration by this esteemed, multi-award winning Latinx team (Tomás and the Library Lady, Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart), and they’re in perfect sync here.

I confess Mora had me with her opening poem — a simple declaration of how vital and nourishing books can be:

BOOKS AND ME

We belong
together,
books and me,
like toast and jelly
o queso y tortillas.
Delicious! ¡Delicioso!
Like flowers and bees,
birds and trees,
books and me.

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[review + giveaway] Dreaming of You by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Aaron DeWitt

Put on your onesie and grab your favorite stuffie. You’re just in time to cuddle up with a sweet and soothing new bedtime picture book!

In lyrical rhyming verse, Dreaming of You by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Aaron DeWitt (Boyds Mills Press, 2018) helps us imagine what some of our favorite animals might dream about at night.

Tonight may you dream sweet animal dreams.
Tonight may your dreams all run free.

Tonight may you dream of what animals dream.
When they sleep, what do animals see?

While kittens dream of lapping fresh milk, chipmunks dream of digging deep burrows, fishes of tasting new plants, horses of wild, windy rides, and bunnies of napping in thickets.

VanDerwater includes ten different animals in all, featured in well crafted ballad quatrains with abcb end rhymes and the same repetitive word pattern in the first three lines — a perfect lullaby, calming and incantatory as it lulls the reader to slumberland:

Turtles are dreaming of cool, muddy beds.
Turtles are dreaming of learning to run.
Turtles are dreaming of basking with you
on a rock in a river in hot summer sun.

Kids will love all the charming details and activities, while observing the animals in their natural habitats. Best part is discovering that all their animal friends are ultimately dreaming about them!

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[author chat + giveaway] A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet by Astronaut Clayton Anderson and Scott Brundage

#56 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Clayton Anderson in the Destiny module of the International Space Station

 

“T minus 10, 9, 8, 7, main engine start, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and LIFT OFF!”

B is for Blastoff, a powerful thing!
When those engines are fired, it’ll make your ears ring.
There is smoke — and vibration — as we launch into space.
And we do it with flair, with excitement and grace!

 

On June 8, 2007, Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson launched to the International Space Station aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. As Expedition 15 Flight Engineer and Science Officer aboard the ISS for five months, he performed three space walks. He returned to the ISS in 2010 on a resupply mission, and in 2013 retired from NASA after 30 years of service — 15 as an engineer and 15 as an astronaut.

These days, Clay is an author, motivational speaker, and part-time Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University. In March 2018 he published his first children’s book, A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet, illustrated by Scott Brundage (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018).

In this entertaining and informative picture book, we are invited to fly with Clay on a fun, out-of-this-world A to Z tour that draws on his wealth of firsthand knowledge and unique insight.

From Astronaut and Blast-off, to Galaxy and Meteors, right through to Rendezvous and Zulu time, the short lively poems paired with fascinating info sidebars will appeal to spaceniks and science buffs of all ages, stirring their wanderlust and inspiring them to dig a little deeper.

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