Rodney’s Bookstore: Books are just the beginning

I visited Rodney’s Bookstore, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last week. Went with a good friend of mine, Aja Jackson, founder of MindUTeach. Whenever I venture to Rodney’s, I never leave empty-handed. They specialize in used books, and their prices are very reasonable. Here’s what I picked up:

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Bed Crumbs: Sweet Dreams and Nightmares by John Kruth. Jackalope Press. 1986.

So Bed Crumbs: Sweet Dreams and Nightmares, by John Kruth, is chalk full of witty and wonderful poems. I saw this book sitting by the register. I opened it up and turned to this poem, that sold me on the purchase:

Lucifer’s Puberty

I’m not sure why

I’m beginning to sprout horns

and unknown alphabets

appear from my pen

~~~

Mama used to call me

her “little angel”

now I put tabasco

on everything”

– Kruth pg. 9

Bed Crumbs by John Kruth

Published by Jackalope Press 1986

I recommend this book for: 7th grade and up.

Retail Paperback: $6.00 Rodney’s: $2.82

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Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 1995

Personally, I’ve never seen a picture book about the United States’ holiday, Juneteenth. The fact that the book is published by one of my most favorite and trusted publishers, Lee & Low, made it an immediate purchase even more so. Out of all the captivating illustrations that artist, Yvonne Buchanan gives us, the illustration below stood out to me the most. Look how fun the kitchen can be! This book should be a staple in all elementary classrooms, in the United States.

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“Cassandra raced into the kitchen, then stopped in her tracks. Dishes lined the countertop. From the looks of the place, her parents had big plans.” – Weatherford. ~ Illustration by Yvonne Buchanan in Juneteenth Jamboree

Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan.

Lee & Low Books, Inc. 1995.

I recommend this for: All ages.

Retail Paperback: $7.95. Rodney’s: $2.82

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Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers. Harper Collins 1993.

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse, by Walter Dean Myers, stole my heart. This collection, of pictures and verse, is a celebration of youth, in times past, in African-American communities. It highlights the joys and beauties, reminding us that not everything was a hardship, in the black communities of the United States. This book scaffolds a sense of thriving and fulfillment; and can contribute to young children’s sense of resiliency. If I still had a Kindergarten classroom, I would keep this book in the Dramatic Play/Housekeeping center. I keep books in all my centers. Here are some excerpts from the book:

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Excerpt from Brown Angels by Walter Dean Myers

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Excerpt from Brown Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers

HarperCollins. 1993.

I recommend this book for: All ages.

Retail Hardcover: ? Rodney’s: $6.00 

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Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song – an autobiography. Photographs by Bill McGuinness. Illustrations by Ashley Bryan. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing 2009.

This book can be used in any age classroom. It is dynamic. I picture high school art classes critiquing Bryan’s many medium’s used in his art. I picture elementary school classrooms engaged in it’s storyline and vibrant images, learning to appreciate art & history. Ashley Bryan is a celebrated artist and picture book illustrator, a three-time Coretta Scott King award winner. He was raised in the Bronx, New York. His parents were from Antigua, British West Indies.

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Excerpt from Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song

Excerpt from Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life's Song. Illustration of Langston Hughes by Ashley Bryan

Excerpt from Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song. Illustration of Langston Hughes by Ashley Bryan

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“I set the sea-glass pieces on tinfoil and connected the pieces with pulp. When the maché dried, I peeled the tinfoil away and the maché held the pieces together. When held to the light, the pieces glowed like stained glass.” – Ashley Bryan.

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“During the Depression, children often made their own toys. They made soap-box wagons with old carriage wheels, scooters with boards and skates. And so did I.”

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“The Ashanti tribe have a saying they use to end their AFrican tales, which is just right for me to close mine with: This is my story. Whether it be bitter or whether it be sweet, take some of it elsewhere and let the rest come back to me.”- Ashley Bryan

Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song. An autobiography.

Photographs by Bill McGuinness. Illustrations by Ashley Bryan.

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 2009.

I recommend this for: All ages.

Retail Hardcover: $18.99. Rodney’s: $6.00

If you use any of the above mentioned books in your classroom, or with your children, please comment below.

Thanks for reading,

The Picture Book Pusher.

Black History Taught in September & The 50th Anniversary of ‘I Have a Dream’

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

As we embark on the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  delivery of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and march again to Washington, on August 24th, 2013, I like to think my young students will be having discussions about these events in their homes, with their families, during these last weeks of summer before the school year.  Goodness knows they’ll be having them with me in the classroom, come September.

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  Schwartz & Wade 2012

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.
Schwartz & Wade 2012

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin by Larry Dane Brimner

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
by Larry Dane Brimner

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco Published by Philomel 1994

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Published by Philomel 1994

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

I, Too, Am America By Langston Hughes Illustrated by Bryan Collier Simon & Schuster 2012

I, Too, Am America
By Langston Hughes
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Simon & Schuster 2012

Ellington Was Not A Street By Ntozake Shange Illustrated by Kadir Nelson Simon & Schuster 2004

Ellington Was Not A Street
By Ntozake Shange
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Simon & Schuster 2004

The 50th anniversary of ‘I Have A Dream’ provides me with a perfect “excuse” to begin our American history lessons in September (through June), rather than the too-easily-embraced-custom of teaching it only from February 1st – 28th. Who can object to my lessons beginning in September? After all, I am a Dreamkeeper, and tomorrow’s march on Washington makes The Civil Rights Movement a current event.  The Civil Rights Movement is now.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher

Ideal Picture Books for the K2 Classroom

So this year, I will be teaching Kindergarten in an Inclusion setting, rather than first grade. I’ve taught K2 before so I’m cool with it. I will miss guiding students in the persuasive essay process though. That’s right, persuasive essays in first grade.

Anyhow, the following picture books will surely be permanent fixtures in our K2 space. They are ideal and hard to come by.

The Sweet and Sour Animal Book By Langston Hughes

The Sweet and Sour Animal Book
By Langston Hughes

The Book of Mean People By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

The Book of Mean People
By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison
Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

Grump Groan Growl By bell hooks Illustrated by Chris Raschka

Grump Groan Growl
By bell hooks
Illustrated by Chris Raschka

Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou Illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
by Maya Angelou
Illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Lil Man Makes a Name for Himself Written & Illustrated by Caleb Neelon Cantab Publishing 2004

Lil Man Makes a Name for Himself
Written & Illustrated by Caleb Neelon
Cantab Publishing 2004

Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah
Illustrated by Frank Morrison

These are some of my faves. Find them where you can.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher

Engineer turned picture book author, Fredrick McKissack, dies at age 73.

Engineer turned picture book author, Fredrick McKissack, dies at age 73.

I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of either Patricia or Fredrick McKissack by name, until I came across several newspaper obituaries, earlier today. Realizing only after that I own and use many of their books in my classroom. Many. Fredrick McKissack was the coauthor, and researcher of over a dozen non-fiction children’s books focused on the history of African-Americans. The above link will take you to the NY Times obituary of Frederick McKissack.

My March Trip to Frugal Book Store in Roxbury. 2013

I’m usually in this store every other month. Many of the picture books that I blog about, I purchased from Frugal Book Store.

“Changing minds one book at a time.” – Frugal Book Store

What I bought – Listed by Publisher:

Jump at the Sun/Disney. New York.

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Be Boy Buzz
Written by bell hooks.
Illustrated by Chris Raschka.
2002
Published for Jump at the Sun
New York

All boy. Big open heart. Sweet mind.

– hooks 2002.

That’s right. I am the last person in the country to buy, from an actual bookstore, a new, hard cover, first-edtion copy of bell hook’s Be Boy Buzz. That may be an exaggeration, but, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, bell hook’s children’s books are no longer in print. The owner of Frugal Book Store went down into the basement to find this for me. They didn’t even have it on the shelves.  Now I don’t have to fret over students eagerly borrowing my paperback edition. Frugal still has multiple copies of the paperback edition for sale, though! No other bookstore does. It’s a miracle to still see hook’s picture books on the shelf for sale still. It’s the way it should be.

The Skin i'm in  by Sharon G. Flake 1998 Published for Jump at the Sun New York

The Skin i’m in
by Sharon G. Flake
1998
Published for Jump at the Sun
New York

Winner of the Coretta Scott King/ John Steptoe New Voices Award. I bought this book for a few reasons: 1. I will buy any book that is an original publication of Jump at the Sun publishers. 2. I’ve been meaning to read Sharon G. Flake’s work. 3. I’m attracted to the plot: biracial teacher, identity issues.

You Don't Even Know Me by Sharon G. Flake 2010 Published for Jump at the Sun New York

You Don’t Even Know Me
by Sharon G. Flake
2010
Published for Jump at the Sun
New York

Now matter what I think I may understand,  I must constantly remind myself that: I know nothing! You Don’t Even Know Me is an obvious need-to-buy. This is the same book, I just learned about a few days ago for the first time, while I was trying to find out why Jump at the Sun publishing imprint no longer exists. This book was on the silhouette website page for Jump at the Sun, that I describe in my previous blog post. And here, Frugal Book Store has it! They are the only book store that I know of to still carry Jump at the Sun books.

Atheneum Books For Young Children: An imprint of Simon &  Schuster. New York

Jenny Reen and the Jack Muh Lantern 1996 Published for Atheneum Books for Young Readers New York

Jenny Reen and the Jack Muh Lantern
1996
Published for Atheneum Books for Young Readers
New York

Once upon a time,…there was a time of great tears…In this hardest of hard times there was still joy because there were children, children with round cheeks and round curls. Such a child was Jenny Reen.

– Smalls 1996

I bought this book because it is written by beloved children’s author Irene Smalls. Smalls, like other cherished children’s book authors, is experiencing THE HAND! Yup. The hand. Publishers who own the rights of many of her books, are no longer publishing them. I’ll write more about this method of oppression in a future blog post. Jenny Reen and the Jack Muh Lantern is one of Smalls’ books that she owns the rights to, and therefore it is alive and printing well! Irene, if you are reading this post, then I’d like to ask you: Can we do lunch? We live in the same city! Wadda yuh say?

Abrams Books for Young Readers. New York

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Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl
By Tonya Bolden
2005
Published for Abrams
New York

This is the true account of Maritcha Rémond Lyons; based off her autobiographical memoirs and scrap books. She was an assistant principal at Public School No. 83 in Brooklyn, New York. She passed away in 1929.  This book has been out for eight years, and I am just learning about it now. And I call myself a progressive teacher. Hmmph!  There’s just so much newly-exposed history. I am eager to uncover it. I owe it to my students. It is their history to know. It is a gem of a book.  The publishers did a fine job of including ample photos of Maritcha’s original journal and scrap book. Looking through it, I am flooded with the same feelings I get when looking through my great grandmother’s scrap book. She too, a New Yorker, Harlem bred.

Random House. New York

Harlem's Little Blackbird Written by Renée Watson Illustrated by Christian Robinson 2012 Published by Random House New York

Harlem’s Little Blackbird
Written by Renée Watson
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
2012
Published by Random House
New York

If my voice can take me around the world, what else can it do?

– Watson 2012.

This story is about Florence Mills. Harlem, bred.

Houghton Mifflin. Boston. New York.

These Hands By Margaret H. Mason Illustrated by Floyd Cooper 2010 Published by Houghton Mifflin Books For Children. Boston. New York

These Hands
By Margaret H. Mason
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
2010
Published by
Houghton Mifflin Books For Children.
Boston. New York

These Hands is the biographical account of Joseph Barnett’s experiences while working in the 1950’s and 60’s, at the Wonder Bread factory. The Wonder Bread Corporation maintained great racial discrimination practices throughout the Civil Rights Movement and beyond.

A & B Publishing Group. Brooklyn, NY.

Nandi's Magic Garden Written by Ron Matthews Illustrated by David Jones (Year ?) A&B Publishers Group Brooklyn

Nandi’s Magic Garden
Written by Ron Matthews
Illustrated by David Jones
(Year ?)
A&B Publishers Group
Brooklyn

Just Us Books. Orange, NJ.

Land of the Four Winds Written by Veronica Freeman Ellis Illustrated by Sylvia Walker 1993 Just Us Books Orange, NJ.

Land of the Four Winds
Written by Veronica Freeman Ellis
Illustrated by Sylvia Walker
1993
Just Us Books
Orange, NJ.

African American Images. Chicago, IL.

Markita Written by Alissa Nash Illustrated by Doby London 1994 Published by African American Images Chicago

Markita
Written by Alissa Nash
Illustrated by Doby London
1994
Published by African American Images
Chicago

The Best Face of All Written by Wilesse A.F. Commissiong Illustrated by Buck Brown 1991 Published by African American Images Chicago

The Best Face of All
Written by Wilesse A.F. Commissiong
Illustrated by Buck Brown
1991
Published by African American Images
Chicago

The trip was well worth it. From their generous teacher discount, to their ever-expanding children’s section, complete with numerous academic and educational toys & activities. Knowledgable and friendly staff.

Also, children get a free book on their birthday!

Frugal Book Store is located:

Inside the Washington Park Mall
306 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Boston, MA 02119

617-541-1722

@FrugalBookstore 

facebook.com/Frugal.Books

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

Take Any Picture Book…

Take any picture book, and upon opening it, ask yourself, “What social concepts is this book imprinting on the mind?”

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Four out of seven of the above titles, I consider too oppressive to use in my elementary classroom.  The other three, I love. I won’t specify which titles, because…to each its own. I’ll give you a clue though. Two of the titles contain very potentially harmful allegories. Those two titles are: The Beeman, published by Barefoot Books, and The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, published by Sandpiper, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Co.

Remember; do not judge a book by its cover.

My purpose is to create a mirror for the reader to see themselves, to create a light for people to see themselves in the characters, pictures, and stories. So they resonate.

–   Award winning author and illustrator, Kadir Nelson, speaking on a panel entitled ‘Why Picture Books Matter’, at  The Boston Book Festival, October 27th, 2012.