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.

The Apartheid of Children’s Literature – an article by author Christopher Myers.

The Apartheid of Children’s Literature – an article by author Christopher Myers.

The gentrification and apartheid of children’s literature are concepts I mull over often. My third graders are currently working on Compare and Contrast Essays, using Christopher Myer’s Wings, and Lesa Cline-Ransome’s Before There Was Mozart. So this article is close to my heart as well as my profession. The link above takes you to his article, featured in today’s New York Times.

Wings. Written and Illustrated by Christopher Myers

Wings. Written and Illustrated by Christopher Myers

Before There was Mozart. By Lesa and James Ransome. 2011

Before There was Mozart. By Lesa and James Ransome. 2011

BHM Children’s Read Alouds: Day 6: When the Beat was Born

February 6 – When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc & The Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill. Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. Genre: Non-fiction. Biography. Biography: – Clive Campbell a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc. Historical Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day. Geographical Relevance: 1. Bronx, NYC. 2. Jamaica Authenticity: Author, Laban Hill, includes historical data, timeline, and an extensive Author’s Note, in the back of the book, that include’s stories of his younger years exploring the Bronx and other boroughs of NYC.  Hill has a reputation of doing extensive research on his subjects before he writes about them. This book is no exception to that.

Roaring Brook Press. 2013.

Roaring Brook Press. 2013.

Author - Laban Carrick Hill

Author – Laban Carrick Hill

Illustrator: Theodore Taylor III

Illustrator: Theodore Taylor III

BHM Children’s Read Alouds: Day 4: Joseph Boulogne

February 4 – Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George by Lesa Cline – Ransome. Illustrated by James E. Ransome.

Genre: Non-Fiction. Biography

Biography: Joseph Boulogne – knight (chevalier), fencer, composer, violinist, royal music instructor, Colonel in French Revolution, abolitionist. 1739 – 1799.

Historical Time Period: Mid-late 1700’s.

Geographical Relevance: 1. Guadeloupe Islands in the West Indies. 2. Paris, France. 3. Senegal.

Authenticity: The author, Lesa Cline-Ransome, and the illustrator, James E. Ransome, are wife and husband. Lesa was an avid writer while attending the Pratt Institute in New York, a professional marketing-writer, and developed a love of picture books during her graduate program in Education. Her husband first encouraged her to put her skills and knowledge into picture book form, and from there she would research the history of her subjects while her young children napped. James’ illustrations, also researched, make for a complete story. What is rare and wonderful to see, in major publishing houses, is the author and illustrator creating the book together. Ideas are in agreement – facilitating the book’s authenticity.

Before There was Mozart. By Lesa and James Ransome. 2011

Before There was Mozart. By Lesa and James Ransome. 2011

Right: Author Lesa Cline-Ransome. Left: Illustrator James E. Ransome. (photo courtesy of Chronogram Magazine)

Right: Author Lesa Cline-Ransome. Left: Illustrator James E. Ransome.
(photo courtesy of Chronogram Magazine)

I hadn’t heard of this book, or the author, before I saw it in the window of The Book Rack in Arlington, MA., a little over a month ago. This book is rare in quality. The story is unique and has many layers: A boy, who’s mother was a first-generation slave captured from Senegal, yet was never a slave himself, because his father, the plantation Master, honored his son as his son. The father also acknowledged the mother. Joseph continually experienced both oppression and privilege throughout his life, making for a very dynamic position and perspective in the world. I recommend this book for all ages, although grade K2 and grade 1 will need some mindful scaffolding beforehand.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

‘Tis the Season with Lucille Clifton and Patricia Polacco

Recommended holiday reads:

1. Everett Anderon’s Christmas Coming by Lucille Clifton. Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. Published by Henry Holt and Co. 1993. An owlet book. We read this book in the classroom, this past Friday before vacation.

ImageNow, this book is out of print, and selling for a small fortune on the Amazon market. I bought it for about $3.00, including shipping, this summer….because I KNEW the price would sky rocket, because that’s what’s been happening of late with invaluable picture books..(that’s what I’ve been trying to tell ya’ll). Anyways, if you nag the sellers on Amazon, the price should drop.

For example, back in February of 2012, I bought bell hooks’ out of print picture book, Skin Again, for $6.00 off of Amazon.Then, this past summer, I had a house flood, and the precious book was nearly destroyed. When I searched Amazon, and elsewhere online, for a replacement, the prices ranged from $65.00-$900. Hmmph. The sums of those hefty prices were not being pocketed by Ms. hooks, I can assure you that. Just another case of literature gentrification. I see it often in the #kidlit world. Anyhoo, I nagged every single dealer of Skin Again on Amazon, and stated that I wouldn’t pay more than $19.00 for it. All dealers refused to lower the price claiming they go by rankings blah dee blah. I began following the sales of it online. I also removed my praising blog posts of bell hooks’ picture books, in order to depopularize the book, as I had been the only blogger of hooks’ works for children, in the last year. The price finally dropped to the teens in November, and I bought a used copy for $18.00, from one of the sellers who originally listed it for $65.00.

So, I don’t recommend paying outlandish prices for necessary children’s literature. If the money was going into the hands of people in the community, then fine. I’d pay the small fortune. But it’s not, so I won’t. I just wait for sales to go down. GIVE US BACK OUR LITERATURE, I say.

ImageI prefer the vintage illustrations, by Evaline Ness, in the original 1971 publication of Clifton’s Everett Anderson’s Christmas Coming.  Take an inside look below:Image

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2. Three Wishes by Lucille Clifton. Illustrations by Michael Hays, Delacorte, 1992. It’s a New Year’s tale about friendship, loyalty, and faith. I plan to read this story in the classroom, on January 3rd, when the students return.

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The original Three Wishes was illustrated by Stephanie Douglas, published by Viking (New York, NY) 1976.

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4. The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco

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5. Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco

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I realize that I didn’t get into much, or any, description of what these beloved holiday stories entail. However, if you appreciate the authors I’ve chosen, and are moved by the illustrations, and can google a summary of the books, then I say that you’re in good shape to go discover more about these books on your own.

Happy 2014, everyone! Love greatly and read fervently.

– The Picture Book Pusher

K2 Read Alouds: Week 10: Eboné Tales

Week of November 18-22.

Monday

We had a field trip to the Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday. One of our activities was to paint a mural on recycled paper, using bits of nature  to paint our strokes rather than bristled brushes. There was a book on a bench. So I read it to the children while they created our mural. The book was The Color Box by Dayle Ann Dodds. Illustrated by Giles Laroche.

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Tuesday

Eboné tale, The Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton. Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon. The children asked if we could act out this story sometime. So I’ll have to fit it into the curriculum at some point, to appease the budding actors.

The Girl Who Spun Gold By Virginia Hamilton

The Girl Who Spun Gold
By Virginia Hamilton

Illustration by Leo & Diane Dillon for Virginia Hamilton's The Girl Who Spun Gold

Illustration by Leo & Diane Dillon for Virginia Hamilton’s The Girl Who Spun Gold

Wednesday

The Science teacher read the students a story, but I don’t know which one. Though, I’m sure it was awesome because our Science teacher is pretty awesome.

 Thursday and Friday

Eboné tale, Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

We’ve begun creating miniature furniture for Hewitt, in the classroom. The kids have begun learning to sew as well. Thus far, the protagonist, Hewitt, has three hand-sewn pillows to rest his petite head on beds of plastic crate pieces and feathers. Photos to come.

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In the Listening Center

I picked up Nikki Giovanni’s Hip Hop Speaks to Children book & CD, for a steal at Rodney’s Used Bookstore in Cambridge.

hiphopcoverThanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

K2 Read Alouds: Week 6: Confrontation & Conflict Resolution

School week of: October 14 – October 18.

I introduce the concept of ‘Confrontation’ to Kindergarteners, lovingly and mindfully, with intention to: embrace truth, construct discourse, and build resiliency – in that order. The overall goal is to educate and empower my students.

(This is a late post. It’s been sitting in ‘Drafts’, due to minor edits being needed that I did not edit until now.)

Monday:

Nationally recognized holiday. No school. Ironically public libraries are closed this day also. No schools. No libraries. What does this American custom say about our values exactly?

Tuesday

I was going to read Encounter by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by David Shannon.

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Well-established children’s author, Jane Yolen, wrote outside her usual genres with the making of Encounter. It is meant to be historical fiction. It is meant to be told from the view point of a young Taino boy who is from the Taino tribe who were the first to suffer an encounter with spaniard, Christopher Columbus. When I first read this story, a couple years back, I fell in love with it. I actually recommended it in an earlier blog post, from a year ago.

However, as I’ve matured as an educator and picture book connoisseur, I’ve been inclined to doubt the book’s authenticity. My own inclinations turned out to be true – the book is not as authentic as it portrays to be.

I was puzzled that the author seemed to have absolutely no connection to the people whom she wrote about in Encounter. So I did what I do with all children’s books that are written about native peoples by non-native people – I researched their research. Usually, in the first few pages of a book, an author will include their resources, and tribal affiliated validators. I affirmed my suspicions thrice. Once, via this online article. Second, from author Jane Yolen’s actual bio regarding her reasons for writing Encounter; her reasons didn’t impress me. Then, there is this quite controversial youtube clip of it, in which the maker of the Youtube book trailer, states that the Taino people are extinct. Which is not true. All the comments are filled with people asking her to not ad-lib Jane Yolen’s words by stating that the Taino people are extinct. However, she keeps it up for the advertising benefit, which she states in one of the comments. I’m not adding the link here. That same video is actually recommended on author Jane Yolen’s website. Yeah, so no. I’m not reading it to my students. I’ll figure out another way to educate my students from a native perspective. I discovered a great blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, by University of Illinois professor of American Indian Studies, Debbie Reese. She even wrote a post that discredits Yolen’s Encounter, as an inaccurate account of the Taino.

Instead, I read Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks. This classic is chalk full of teachable moments relating to conflict resolution.

Fox in Socks By Dr. Seuss

Fox in Socks
By Dr. Seuss

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From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

Wednesday and Thursday

Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger. Illustrated by Michael Hays.

Abiyoyo  By Pete Seeger Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

Abiyoyo
By Pete Seeger
Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

Vocabulary: ‘ostracized’.   Class discussion: ‘How to believe in yourself and your community even when they don’t believe in you.’

Abiyoyo was also available in the Listening Center for students to enjoy on CD.

Friday

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Caroline Binch.

Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman Illustrated by Caroline Binch

Amazing Grace
By Mary Hoffman
Illustrated by Caroline Binch.
Published by Dial. 1991

"You can't be Peter - that's a boys name." But Grace kept her hand up. "You can't be Peter Pan,"  whispered Natalie. "He isn't black." But Grace kept her hand up.

“You can’t be Peter – that’s a boys name.” But Grace kept her hand up. “You can’t be Peter Pan,” whispered Natalie.
“He isn’t black.” But Grace kept her hand up.

I do have to ad lib here and there, in Amazing Grace, in order for it to be as loving and mindful a book as my students need it to be. Yet, there are many many children’s books that I ad lib, so this book is not unlike most in it’s need for adliberature. Usually, my ad libbing is centered around adjectives. There’s just never enough adjectives, or the right adjectives, in a story.

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher.