Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Non Fiction Picture Book Challenge - Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix


Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more nonfiction.

illustrated by Man One

This is another great title from the Readers to Eaters publishing company. They seem to focus on books about slow and local whole foods. Chef Roy Choi is a wonderful biography. First off, the endpapers are decorated with ramen!! Awesome. The book shows a bit of his early life like how food was very important in his family when he grew up. There were even meals that they created together as they interacted with one another. We learn about Sohn-maash or the "flavors in our fingertips." It reminds me of how my grandmother baked things with love. There were other Korean words and phrases explained in the book.
 
Roy Choi had an indirect path to food trucks, but his experiences helped prepare him for that type of work. I love that the book shares some of his Korean heritage, but also shows how things from his community also blended with that to create something wonderful and new. 

Speaking of blending, the art is a mix also. Since this is a book about street food, they invited a street artist to illustrate the book. The art has a graffiti look to it at times and shouts city. 

This would be a great book to use when talking about persistence or that failure doesn't mean everything is over. It's great for teaching resilience too. One of the pages is talking about his career as a fancy chef. "Roy was a success--until he wasn't." That was when he got the nudge to open a taco truck which ultimately was a more fulfilling job for him. 

Since our community is seeing an uptick in food trucks, this is a book I am happy to have around. It has many great things going for it. It would also work well paired with the middle grade fiction book Stef Soto, Taco Queen which centers around a family who owns a taco truck. It's a lovely book that like Chef Roy, features a comittment to food and community. I haven't read it yet, but there is also a fun looking picture book called Food Trucks! by Mark Todd I might have to get.

Roy maintains a Twitter account so you can find out what he is up to. He has expanded way beyond one simple food truck at this point.

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on Blogs: 
Celebrate!

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Creekfinding: A True Story

Last Week in Books:

My favorite picture book this week was Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner. It's another great nonfiction nature book that is engaging and informative. I also really enjoyed The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. I had looked forward to this book after interviewing the author for Rich in Color. The story is rich and lovely in so many ways. Braiding Sweetgrass was phenomenal. I loved this nonfiction book that shares about science and nature from a Native perspective. Young Frank Architect is cute. Pete with No Pants was amusing, but just okay for me. I don't often read celebrity books, but I grabbed The Adventures of Abdi by Madonna because I am interviewing an author on Rich in Color whose name is Abdi. He happens to be a Madonna fan so he mentioned the book in a video he made with Epic Reads. It's not geographically specific, but is said to be far away. It's a fantastical tale of a boy and a jeweler and a king. It wasn't outright horrible, but I wouldn't likely buy it.

The Coming Week:
I'm reading The Star-Touched Queen right now and had to pause my audio book due to scratches on the 5th CD. Ack! I may get back to it someday in print instead. I'm not sure what I will tackle next, but I'm sure to pack as many books in as possible in these last few weeks before school begins. Have a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 388/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 172/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 103/125
#MustReadin2017 - 20/24

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Celebrate!


Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

This weekend it is difficult to celebrate. The events in Charlottesville remind us all that there is a lot of hate in our country even though we often don't acknowledge it. The White supremacists who were protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue were not chanting anything loving or up-lifting. If there is anything to celebrate, it is that there are also people in our country who speak out and want to disrupt this kind of thinking.

Yesterday the Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) group in our area organized and held signs along one of our major streets. The signs said things like "Hate has no home here," "We stand against White supremacy," "Reclaim humanity" and "No hate." There were a few jeers and shouts, but it was encouraging to hear more cheers and many honks and see lots of thumbs ups. Tonight there will be a candlelight service down by the river. People are finding ways to show we value everyone and to stand up against this injustice and evil. Yes, I said evil.
Some people are saying this is not their America, but I am sorry to say it is. This is exactly the America we have right now and it won't change until we face that. I watched I Am Not Your Negro last night. James Baldwin had so many wise words to say about race. One thing stood out to me in relation to this weekend. He said, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." This is the America we have and saying it isn't won't change a thing. I want to be a part of that change.

There shouldn't be families mourning this weekend because a city has decided to remove a statue honoring Lee. Heather Heyer was run down and killed by a White supremacist. Her FB photo says, "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention." Today I celebrate those who are paying attention and will act because they care about others. I have a voice in my community and with my family and I plan to use it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2017



Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more nonfiction.

Last month I was part of a class through Earth Partnership called Indigenous Arts and Sciences. I wrote about it here.  An important focus of that class was restoration of land and water so I was really excited to come across the book Creekfinding: A True Story written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Claudia McGehee. Creekfinding is the true story of Michael Osterholm and his restoration of Brook Creek in the middle of Iowa farmland. He purchased a farm and found out where the creek used to be. He then had a dream to restore the land to what it had once been. In the note at the end his words are recorded, "I hope kids will remember from this story that we can change the world by acting on our dreams."

The illustrations are beautiful woodcut prints and really support the story well. They help it feel close to nature. Also, sometimes the text is woven into the illustrations for readers to find.

I love that the book starts with an excavator. That will really pull in readers who like big machinery. The first page says, "Sometimes excavators help find lost creeks. How do they do that?" The text often encourages readers to wonder about things. The content is awesome, but the way it is delivered makes the book really powerful. The book really pushes readers to think about what happened and how it happened. I don't think readers can remain passive while reading this story.

I'm excited to share Creekfinding with students and teachers. I have been planning to teach about ecological restoration this year and this book is pretty much perfect for that. It will pair well with a few other books I had in mind also.


Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal


Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Betsy Bowen


by Henry Cole

One final book isn't a picture book, but is a fabulous look at restoring the human relationship with the natural world. I'm reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and am absolutely loving it. I am recommending it to all the adults I come into contact with lately. It's lovely and all kinds of educational.
Written by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Sunday, August 6, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on Blogs:



by Leah Henderson

This Week in Books:

I've read a lot of picture books lately and have been enjoying them. Lucía is fabulous. I also really liked The One Day House and Creekfinding. My two middle grade reads were excellent too - Clayton Byrd Goes Underground and Stef Soto, Taco Queen.

The Coming Week:
I'm reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kemmerer and am loving it. She shares some wonderful wisdom. I'm looking forward to starting The Library of Fates this week. I'm not sure what else will fall into my hands. Have a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 382/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 171/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 101/125
#MustReadin2017 - 20/24

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Busy Builders Kits



Airport Author: Timothy Knapman
Fire Station Author: Chris Oxlade
Construction Site Author: Katherine Sully
Illustrator: Carles Ballesteros
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Review copies: Full kits provided by publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Airport Summary:  Pack your bags and get ready for an exciting flight to a faraway destination in Busy Builders: Airport. This three-dimensional interactive kit takes young children behind the scenes at a busy airport, allowing them to see how all the flights and passengers move smoothly through the terminal. The fact book introduces kids to the various procedures at an airport—from check-in to arrival—using cute illustrations and simple text. The box folds out to form an airport terminal, and the included model pieces for the runway, air-control tower, airplane, and baggage carts provide hours of interactive entertainment.

Includes:
32-page fact book
3-D airport terminal
48 model pieces


Review: The book is highly visual and includes brief blurbs to explain most things in the pictures. Children will likely bounce through the book reading the parts that interest them most. It follows the chronological procedures passengers experience. The book isn't telling a story exactly, but lays out information in a logical way.  It also includes the instructions for putting together the model pieces. The kit makes it interactive and a ton of fun. I'm looking forward to having all three kits available in a table in my library. Students will definitely enjoy putting things together. 

I tried all three kits and found all three books to be chock full of information. They are bright, colorful, and engaging. The kits are really fun to put together, but may be challenging for tiny fingers. Some guidance may be required for the very young, but the pictures are pretty easy to understand even if children can't read all of the instructions. One of the kits did give me some difficulty because the cuts in the cardboard were not lined up with the pictures, but the other two were fine. A couple of the pieces tore as I tried to fit them together so these aren't meant to be put together and taken apart hundreds of times. The cardboard will stand up to gentle play, but I am not expecting these to last a long time since I have over 500 students.

Recommendation: These are great kits for the little builders in your life. The kits are engaging and are challenging enough to keep anyone occupied for quite some time. The books add some interesting information and will likely last longer than the rest of the kit. I'm excited to share them with students this fall. They will be great to use during our community and transportation units.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review: Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!/Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés!

Title: Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!/Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés!
Author: Larissa M. Mercado-López
Illustrator: Alex Pardo DeLange
Publisher: Piñata Books
Pages: 32
Review copy: Final copy from publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: In this bilingual picture book, a young boy discovers that he can be a hero even though he doesn't have magical powers.

Review: Esteban has become disenchanted with his cape. He has consistently worn it all over the place, but he isn't able to leap over tall buildings or do any of the amazing things superheroes can do. He even decides maybe he should just sell his cape, but he wears it one last time. This time, he is able to do a super thing. 

I appreciate that the story shows how everyday actions can still be super. We are all able to do helpful things. The illustrations are cute and cheerful. I think this would be great to read along with superhero books. I read another book last week that would also pair well with it - Super Manny Stands Up! It also features a caped hero showing everyday heroics. It would also go well with Nana in the City which has a cape that inspires courage.

Recommendation: This is a sweet story that would work well with preschool and kindergarten age students - especially if they have access to capes to wear.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: One Shadow on the Wall

Title: One Shadow on the Wall
Author: Leah Henderson
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 438
Genre: Contemporary
Review Copy: Final copy via publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father.

Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined.

With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?


Review: Mor and his family completely stole my heart. Mor hears his father and sees his mother after they have died. He knows his parents would want the children to stay together so he's determined to do that at any cost. He tries. Oh, how he tries, but the responsibilities are tough. He learns so many things the hard way. Something will go right and then two things will go wrong. It is hard to see him face so many disappointments, but readers will be cheering him on all the way through. 

The gang is on his trail and brings about many of Mor's difficulties. They also offer safety and protection though. Henderson does a particularly good job of showing how children and teens can get caught up in such a situation. The gang members are individuals and have stories. They have their reasons for having joined and readers see that gang activity may not be as clear-cut as one would imagine. I think there are gang members who never believed they would have anything to do with a gang and yet there they are.

It may not look like it on the surface, but this is a survival story. Mor has a loving community, but he does isolate himself with the secrets he is holding. There are many strong and caring adults that help Mor and his sisters. I appreciated seeing the way they looked out for the children. One in particular is an elder fisherman named Demba. Many of the children make fun of him and believe he is crazy. Mor spends a lot of time with Demba and learns that Demba's differences are not what they appear. 

Recommendation: This is a fabulous book that may cause a little heartache, but it's also heartwarming. Mor's persistence and hope are lovely to behold. It's a little long for a middle grade novel, but it moves quickly and is well worth the time. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on Blogs:
I've been busy. Really busy. Astoundingly busy. Family, ALA, NerdcampMI, travel, and more have been filling my days - more about that here. So, blogging hasn't really been happening with any consistency for the past month. Here are a few posts I managed to publish:


by Kelly DiPucchio illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

 by Melissa Stewart illustrated by Steve Jenkins
by Juan J. Guerra

Review: Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds


This Week in Books:

  
These are three books that were on display at the Earth Partnership Institute I attended last week. Gathering Moss is a great look at moss. For real. I didn't know there was so much to learn from moss. It's some pretty dense science along with memoir type reflections. Plant a Pocket of Prairie is a look at what is in a Minnesota prairie which would work well for any planting we might do of indigenous plants here in WI. On Meadowview Street is another lovely picture book encouraging children to be involved in ecological restoration.
I finished listening to The Reader on my way to and from my training. I enjoyed it as an audiobook, but I'm not sure if I would have liked it as well otherwise. I found it had some slow parts where I may have given up were I not trapped in a car. It was generally a fun fantasy focused on a secret magic book that people are willing to die for and kill for.
 

Be the Change is a great reminder of how we can affect those around us in a positive or negative way. Bronze and Sunflower (middle grade chapter book) is a beautiful story of family love. Wolves cracked me up. It's one with a surprise ending. Maybe not for your young and tenderhearted readers. Shark Lady is another awesome book by Jess Keating. It's great to learn about the woman who learned so much about sharks, but it's also fun to learn interesting facts about sharks. Strong is the New Pretty is a nice photo essay featuring strong girls doing what they do best. One Shadow on the Wall (MG chapter book) is a fantastic story of resilience and family love.

We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation was an interesting look at how our country seems to be becoming more and more segregated over time. There was a lot to think about here. Chang does have hope for change so it is a tough read, but still leaves you believing things won't always be this way. This was one of my #MustReadin2017 books.

The Coming Week:
I started reading the middle grade novel Stef Soto, Taco Queen and am loving it. I have another book checked out from my #MustReadin2017 shelf so will try to get to that. Otherwise, I have a huge summer pile from the library and I'm not sure which ones will come next. Have a great week filled with wonderful books!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 356/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 162/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 97/125
#MustReadin2017 - 20/24

Celebrating Indigenous Arts and Sciences & Earth Partnership


Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

 


This week I participated in an Earth Partnership Institute. The title was Ho-Chunk Indigenous Arts and Sciences and it focused on habitat restoration using indigenous plants and the teaching had a Ho-Chunk perspective.

We spent a lot of time learning outside and I loved hearing from many different people throughout the week. We started with the names of indigenous plants. We came up with some of our own since we didn't know the scientific names. Our teacher, Cheryl, shared this quote from the book Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer: "It is a sign of respect to call a being by its name, and a sign of disrespect to ignore it. Words and names are the ways we humans build relationship, not only with each other, but also with plants." We named our particular flower Daisy's Breath. I loved a few of the other names like Dinosaur Daisy and Tickle Finger.


"tickle finger"
We heard from experts like Woody White during the week. Learn more about him here. He shared his concern for our food supply and ways to get back to cultural/spiritual indigenous roots. He is concerned about losing the herbal and farming knowledge. He has tried to learn the teaching stories to pass them on to others. He explained that food itself is medicine. He said, "Restoration for us culturally is to learn from elders how to make the best food possible." He recommended these resources: The Decolonizing Diet Project and The Resilient Gardener

We also learned about tribal sovereignty from several people (the inherent right to self-rule was the way David O'Connor explained it). The Ho-Chunk have four branches of government: legislative, judicial, executive and a general council. A chief is someone who serves. It seems that it is more servant leadership than a power thing. In addition, we learned about Ho-Chunk kinship connections. 
One activity I enjoyed a lot was our single spot moments. We picked a spot to go to outside and returned to the same spot throughout the week. We usually had time to reflect and respond to our learning or we were reflecting on the nature around us.

We had an amazing plant walk with Kjetil Garvin. We saw sheep's ear, yarrow, woodsorrel, hazelnuts, goldenrod, St. John's Wort, bush clover, blackberries, hawkweed, lion's foot, sweet clover and sweet fern.


 
 
 

It was wonderful to meet these and many more plants during the week. The second day, we started to learn about the critters around us and how watersheds work. Ona Garvin shared about the Ho-Chunk language specifically in relation to water. She explained, "Water is sacred. our people were always near water ways." Nee is the word for water. Nee shonok is the word for river. Tee is the word for lake. Madison is called teejope or four lakes. Necedah means yellow water (the yellow river flows through town) and Nekoosa means swift water.


She said, Water is the lifeblood that shapes everything we see. Ona Garvin encouraged us to teach students environmental stewardship. Also, to speak up and encourage them to speak up.

We did a watershed/waterdrop activity and then we tromped out into the marsh and took samples of the water to look at the life we could find.

Tadpole
Mandibles and head of Giant Water Bug

We used digital technology to compare a forest and a prairie ecosystem. I enjoyed getting to look closely at so many things out in nature.


 

Another Ho-Chunk elder, Gordon Thunder, came to speak to us. He told us we are here to experience creation for the creator. He spoke much of respect for others and creation. He instructed us to, "Go where there are people saying nice things. Give the creator good experiences." We are to treat people and things with honor and respect. "Everything has a purpose even if it is bothersome." I came away with the word respect ringing in my ears.

On the third day, we met at Cex Haci. Former Ho-Chunk president Jon Greendeer spoke to us about Ho-Chunk language and culture. He explained that the Ho-Chunk are the people of the sacred voice. They have been and are survivalists. They have lived through much and are still here. They are not past tense even though media imagery would have you think so. It's damaging to students. There are 11 federally recognized tribes in WI and one, the Brothertown, who are continuously trying to get that status. The Ho-Chunk are not hierarchical, but rather have a social structure within a clan system. He shared many powerful stories about Ho-Chunk history, but also about his life. 

We spent a good portion of the day outside at the site learning about soil, slope and garden design.


 

The fourth day began with a morning thought from Marie Lewis who recently became a Ho-Chunk Clan Mother. We then heard about Ho-Chunk Resilience in the face of intergenerational and historical trauma from Barbara Blackdeer-Mackenzie. Her affirmation was, "We survive. We are alive. We strive, and We thrive." One resource she shared that was helpful is a map by Zoltan Grossman that shows the removals and returns of the Ho-Chunk. She recommended we take advantage of the SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity training if possible. She also encouraged us to give students chances to fail and bounce back - to learn that failures are not the end. We need to teach them coping skills.


Our next guest was David O'Connor. He began by speaking about Native imagery and the damage it does. He emphasized that teaching about culture is not the same as teaching culturally. To do that, we need to be student specific. We need know our students. He used a definition of culture I liked - culture is relationship and meaning.

We went to the bison paddock in the afternoon to learn a bit more about plants and the insects of the prairie. It was fun to swing the net around and catch little critters. We caught a grasshopper and a bunch of beetle types.



 

In the evenings, we had free time. I was able to spend time with some of the other participants at dinner, go on runs (once along the Wisconsin River), enjoy the outdoors, and read. One night, I found some awesome spiders on the bridge in Nekoosah.






For the final day, we were at Cex Haci again. There we worked on our own plans, but also did some of the site preparation for their pollinator garden they will plant later. Our artist was a lovely person. She was in the same group as I was and I was fortunate to meet her.




The week was full of learning about life, culture, connection, respect, water, plants, nature, and more. I hope to bring back some of this learning and the activities we did so my students and the staff at our school can also share in the learning.