Module 9: Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word

imagesRaczka B. (2011). Lemonade: And other poems squeezed from a single word. New York, NY: Roaring Book Press. 

Summary: Raczka takes single words and turns them into poetry, some of which are riddles and puzzles. He takes poetry and turns it into a game. For example, Raczka will take the word lemonade and form a poem using only the letters from lemonade. Or from the word pepperoni: one pie / no pepper / no onion.

Impressions: Children, I believe would find this highly acclaimed poetry book fun. Afterall, it attempts to take a so-called boring subject and make it fun. As a child, I enjoyed puzzles like this and would sit for hours trying to solve them. When I read this book, all I could think of was a mind-numbing game of Boggle (how many words can I find) or the game of how many words can be formed from this one word. The book honestly was irritating for my 28-year old self (I have little patience anymore). I don’t have time for the weird spacing. I’m anal retentive and like things orderly and organized. It’s cute, clever, but for me, definitely not something I can get with.

Review: “Raczka credits Andrew Russ for inspiring him to try his hand at creating poems by rearranging the letters of a single word. The letters that make up each word in the 22 selections are placed directly under the matching letters of the original word, which is used as the poem’s title. The resulting odd spacing of letters and words adds an element of puzzlement to the deciphering of some words and requires a certain facility with the English language, along with the capability for recognizing words whose letters are placed horizontally, vertically or diagonally; backwards or forwards; separated by one space or six, or an entire line with no punctuation included. Each poem is printed on the verso of the following page with words in correct order. A clever, catchy, and challenging collection.”

Scheps, S. (2011, May). [Review of the book Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, by B. Raczka]. School Library Journal, 57(5), p. 137.

Library Uses: I appreciate the value of the book and what it is trying to do and I can definitely see how it could be used to promote poetry awareness. During national poetry month, this book could be used to inspire kids to create similar poetry.

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Module 8: Mystery at the Club Sandwich

138096Cushman, D. (2004). Mystery at the club sandwich. New York, NY: Clarion Books.

Summary: Nick Trunk is a private eye who works for peanuts. He’s put on a case by Maggie Trouble, who works for Lola Gale, a singer at the Club Sandwich. Lola has lost her lucky marbles. Nick has to follow the clues, which consist of an ostrich feather and expensive peanut butter in the form of a smudge on the door and an empty jar, and interview the suspects, which include a mediocre magician, the chef, and Maggie. After spending an evening at the pier watching fisherman do what they do best, Nick solves the case by rounding up all the suspects into one room.

Impressions: As soon as the clues were given, it was easy to determine who the criminal was but Cushman tries to throw you off by throwing in some red herrings. The book was illustrated in black and white to fit the PI theme and was difficult to not read with that soft PI voice from the movies. I think children would find the book entertaining and have fun guessing who the real thief is.

Review: “Black and white illustrations give this mystery just the perfect setting, as Nick tries to solve who stole singer Lola’s marbles at the Club Sandwich. This elephant gumshoe is sure peanut butter and ostrich feathers are the clues he needs as he narrows down his list of suspects. Nick, of course, just works for peanuts. Full of puns that both students and adults will enjoy, teachers will find this a great book to share with students when working with a list of clues to solve a problem. It would be interesting to have students track who they think is guilty of the crime and see if they change their minds as the story progresses. The 1940s era illustrations give the reader the feeling of an old time detective story. Add it all up and this case is closed and this book is recommended.”

Manczuk, S. (2005, January). [Review of the book Mystery at the Club Sandwich, by D. Cushman]. Library Media Connection23(2), p. 71.

 

Library Uses: A mystery library program could be held – a whodunit of sorts, started off with this book – mix between “who took the cookie from the cookie jar” and “Clue” by adding clues in the library and having the children look for the clues and identifying the culprit.

Module 7: Chameleon, Chameleon


51L8Kdr+qSLCowley, J & Bishop, N. (2005). Chameleon, chameleon. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Summary: A chameleon discovers his tree no longer serves him as it is out of food, so he travels through the jungle in search of a new tree that will provide a tasty bite to eat. Along the way he meets several harmless reptiles and amphibians and one dangerous insect. At last, he arrives at a new tree and makes an unexpected friend.

Impressions: I laughed throughout this entire book. Bishop’s way of capturing this chameleon’s personality paired with Cowley’s short sentences had me almost in tears as I read it.

Review:

“The Blue Ribbon-winning duo of Cowley and Bishop (see Red-Eyed Tree Frog, BCCB 3/99) returns to their format of gleaming photographs and brief lines of text to chronicle the slow progress of a chameleon from one tree to another in search of food. The sentences are vigorous phrases (“What’s this?/ A scorpion!/ Watch out, chameleon!/ The scorpion’s stinger/ is poisonous”) presented in large font for easy reading; they occasionally trail across multiple pages, matching the action of the photographs and forming a narrative that develops the primary chameleon into a sympathetic character. In luminous stills that capture the journey moment by moment, two startlingly hideous geckos, a garish tree frog, a tiny chameleon, and a hostile scorpion disturb the main character’s equanimity as his telescopic eyes swivel to evaluate all potential threats. The reptilian traveler is shown in postures that point up the drama of his expedition (his refined tiptoeing past a scorpion is choice), creating by their visual continuity a sense of movement usually found in film. An impressive series of photos show the chameleon using its powerful tongue to snatch a caterpillar off a distant branch, then chewing and gulping its prey before being menaced by a defensive female chameleon. Youthful nature buffs will be entranced by the vivid photography, enticed into reading by the attractive brevity of the energetic text, and intrigued by the surprising facts about chameleons and the photographer’s methodology related in the informational pages at the end of the book.”

Card, T. (2005, April). [Review of the book Chameleon, Chameleon, by J. Cowley & N. Bishop]. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 58(8), p. 332.

Library Uses: This book could be read before an library petting zoo. I have worked in several libraries where reptiles were brought during summer reading.

Module 6: Pink and Say

51Xh9z+IgELPalacco, P. (1994). Pink and say. New York, NY: Babushka Inc.

Summary: Pink and Say tells the story of a generational family tale of Sheldon Russell Curtis, or Say, and his friend Pinkus, or Pink. Sheldon was white solider in the Union Army who was left for dead following a battle.
Two days after being injured, he was was found in a field with an injured leg by Pink, an African American Union soldier. Pink dragged Say all the way to his mother’s house where he and his mother nursed him back to health.

While in Pink’s and his mothers’ house, Sheldon discovered he did not want to return to war and confided a dark secret. Meanwhile, Pink confirms that he and Say must return to war.

As Pink and Say are preparing to leave, marauders arrive at Pink’s house. His mother hides the boys under the floor while she steps outside to shoo them away. Under the floor, the boys here a single gun shot. When they reappear, they find Pink’s mother’s lifeless body.

After burying her, they set out to return to the Union Army, however, they were captured by the Confederate Army. Pink was hanged while Say was eventually released.

Impressions: I did not expect this book to as depressing as it was even though my undergraduate thesis dealt with slavery and race relations in the Antebellum South. I suppose I expected something more hopeful for children. With that said, I appreciate the honesty. It is always refreshing to read Historical Fiction with rich characters and when I find outliers, such as Pink and Say, it is even more intriguing.

What is incredibly fascinating about this story is that it is a family tale. This is not a story that Polacco pulled from her imagination; her family has passed it down for generations and it is now her story to pass down.

Finally, Polacco’s illustrations are beautiful. Each character is colored in a way that they come to life – such as their rosy cheeks or red knuckles and Polacco has a way of emphasizing the important part of the story within the illustrations, such as when Pink and Say let go one last time. In this illustration, the reader clearly sees the grasp Pink and Say have on one another while two  men attempt to pull Say away.

Review: “Gr 2-5-This poignant picture book tells of an interracial friendship that develops during the Civil War. Sheldon, a young white soldier nicknamed Say, is left for dead in a pasture in Georgia and found by Pinkus, or Pink, an AfricanAmerican Union soldier who carries him to his mother’s home. Pink’s mother nurses the stranger back to health and comforts him with words of compassion. The brutality of the war comes to life as the woman is shot by marauders, and the two boys are captured by Confederate soldiers and sent to the infamous Andersonville prison. Say lives to tell his tale to his grandchildren but Pink is hanged shortly after imprisonment. The translation of this moving story is excellent and as faithful as possible without the colloquialisms that permeate the original. The sensitively rendered full-page illustrations work especially well with the text.”

Colmant-Donabedian, T. (1998, February). [Review of the book Pink and Say, by P. Polacco]. School Library Journal, 44(2), p. 132.


“Polacco relates a true incident from her family’s history in this powerful story set during the Civil War. Fifteen-year-old Sheldon “Say” Curtis has been wounded and left for dead by his fellow white Union soldiers. Pinkus “Pink” Aylee, a 15-year-old African American Union soldier, finds Say and carries him home to his mother, Moe Moe Bay. Pink and his mother nurse Say back to health, and the two boys forge a strong bond of friendship, even though Pink plans to return to his military unit. Before they can leave, marauders kill Moe Moe Bay. Pink and Say are captured soon after and taken to Andersonville prison, where Pink is hanged within hours of his arrival. Say survives to tell the story and pass it on through generations. Polacco’s artwork shows dramatic perspectives and faces full of emotion. As the friends are wrenched apart in prison, they are able to clasp hands for a moment as Pink says, “Let me touch the hand that touched Mr. Lincoln, Say, just one last time.” This picture book is a departure for Polacco in terms of content and audience, but the familial ties still remain.”

Johnson, N.J. & Giorgis, C. (2005, September). [Review of the book Pink and Say, by P. Polacco]. Booklinks, 15(1), p. 55.

Library Uses: The book is a realistic look at the grey area that certainly existed during a time that is often thought of as black and white. Pink and Say shows readers a stone that is often unturned.

One suggested activity would be to read this book to tweens and follow it with a guest speaker, such as a historian or a professor, who can verify some of the information in the book and give more historical information about the Civil War and the relationships between African Americans and white soldiers.

Module 2: Not in Room 204

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Riggs, S. (2007). Not in room 204. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.

Summary:
Mrs. Salvador has plenty of rules for her classroom: turn in quality work, no fighting, keep a tidy work space, be polite… Regina Lillian Hadwig, a quiet but excellent student, is very appreciative of Mrs. Salvador’s rules. Mrs. Salvador asks her about her quietness; Regina confirms that she is quiet at home and begins to think about a secret she keeps from her mother. In February, Mrs. Salvador discusses stranger danger and inappropriate touching by others with her class. She tells her students that if any of her students are ever touched where they shouldn’t be touched, they could tell her and she would know what to do. The next day, Regina comes in early to tell Mrs. Salvador that she has been touched somewhere she should not have been.

Impressions: I cannot say that I have read a picture book that handles, or even discusses, sexual abuse so carefully and in a manner that children will understand. I did not expect this topic from the title but I am certainly glad that I read it. As a mother I am happy to see to know it exists, happy to know that it can assist me in having these conversations with my children easier. In, general, I was impressed with the content over everything else. The illustrations did not particularly do much for me, though.

Review: “Gr. 1-3. It is regrettable that there is a need for books for young children dealing with the topic of sexual abuse, but this straightforward story effectively fits the bill. Young Regina likes her new teacher Mrs. Salvador very much, and as the school year progresses trust builds between them. When Mrs. Salvador says during a Stranger Danger unit that if someone is touching a student in an inappropriate way, she knows ‘exactly what to do to help,’ Regina finds the courage to tell Mrs. Salvador about things her father does that ‘not even her mother knew.’ Zollars’ bright, graphic illustrations help keep the story reassuring and upbeat without diminishing the importance of the topic. A note at the beginning stresses the need to broach the subject of sexual abuse with children and gives guidance for helping to prevent it.”

Tillotson, L. (2008, January). [Review of the book Not in Room 204, by S. Riggs]. Book Links17(3), p. 19.

Library Uses: Sexual abuse is a topic that is typically swept under the rug and as a result, I don’t expect many parents or children to be inquiring about it. However, I can see educational professionals, such as teachers, requesting books on the topic. Having this information handy for when professionals or teachers want to talk about stranger danger is ideal. Additionally, it is a great addition to library displays during child abuse prevention week that typically only feature non-fiction books. If I were a school librarian, or even planning to become one, I would certainly recommend teachers to read it for themselves.