Monday, April 25, 2022

Spinning Through the Universe by Helen Frost

Genre: Middle Grade, Poetry, Novel in Verse
Source: I own a copy

Once again another favorite author. Helen Frost writes novels in verse. This is a book of poems from "room 214". This is a book that kids will be able to identify with. Although the teacher and students in this book are fiction, they could be any teacher or any student anywhere. She touches on topics such as; bikes. Jon's bike has gone missing in one poem. He talks about how special it is, noise and all. Then on the next page we read a poem by Andrew who took the bike because he had seen it lying in the rain. He didn't steal it because he wanted it. He took it to fix it up and return to Jon in better condition. There are poems about abuse, families and babies.  These are all topics kids deal with today. Helen's books are a must for all school and classroom libraries. I think the thing I enjoy the most about her books is at the back of each one. She has a section on the forms of poems she used and how to write them. Since reading her books I write more poetry and I have my students write more poetry. This is a must read.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes

Genre: Middle Grade, Poetry
Source: I own this book

I was first introduced to this book through another author. Helen Frost writes books in verse. One of my students asked how in her book "Hidden" she had written an extra message at the end of each line. I asked her and she told me it was through Nikki Grimes and her Golden Shovel Poems that she had copied this method.  She told me I needed to purchase this book, so I did. This is perfect since my students must create a book of their own original poems each year.  One of my requirements is that they must write at least one Golden Shovel Poem. Through her book and the wonderful illustrations we learn about a time in history most students of any color know little about, "The Harlem Renaissance". When she talks about that time int he front of her book we learn that this was a time where art was used to tell what life was like for black through their own perspective.  This isn't a book just for the blacks. This is a book for all races as we all face some of the same obstacles. Through her poetry we learn so much. We also see how some of what we hoped we would leave behind is still with us today.  This is such a wonderful book for so many reason and should be in every classroom.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Dayana, Dax, and the Dancing Dragon

Written by Ballerina Konora and Illustrated by Olha Tkachenko

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Genre: Children's picture book

                This was a mother-daughter collaboration.  The story is beautiful. Dayana  eagerly awaited the arrival of her new brother. She couldn’t wait to dance with him. When he arrived she was disappointed he couldn’t do anything. This didn’t prevent her from loving him and playing with him. One day while dancing for him he rolls onto his back and makes some baby sounds. Kadeena the dancing dragon appears and dances first  with her baby brother then with Dayana.

                Here is what made me love this story. First you have a story filled with love. There is the love of dance, the love shared between  a young girl and her brother, and the love of dance.  On each page you have Ballerina Konora showing the young child how to dance certain steps. Not only does she demonstrate a unique and fun way to do the different movements, but she also uses the dance terminology.  It is a fun interactive book. I know of no mother who has not picked up their child and danced with them. This is fun  to read.

                I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the illustrations. They are fun, bright and colorful. The drawing are realistic enough that older children and adults will love the pictures. They are bright and playful enough for the youngest child.  Overall this is a beautiful book. I look forward to reading the others in this series.