Trading his poems for circus tickets, Poems as ticket to university education, Poems as true as love and as dangerous as truth…
Abandoned by his parents as a young boy, celebrated for his poetry as a young teen, exiled from his homeland of Nicaragua as a young man, Ruben Dario moved from traditional poetic forms to creating his own and spreading Modernism throughout Central and South America.
As a storytelling poet of mestizo heritage, Dario blended Spanish and indio tales with those learned from books and travel, showcasing the world’s wideness in the decades prior to World War I rather than merely his own emotions.
Margarita Engle (Jazz Owls recommended here, Lion Islandhere & Mountain Doghere) brings us another biography in verse, echoing the styles which Dario embraced during different stages of his life.
“Poets must speak, no matter the punishment. We are observers with musical voices, testifying in the courtrooms of nature and human life.” – Disappointment (page 70)
How is your true voice testifying to the truth you see? **kmm
Book info: With a Star In My Hand: Ruben Dario, Poetry Hero / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books, 2020. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
This week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC are disappearance tales, one a mystery, the other filled with researched facts, both great for summer reading with your ears!
Download before Wednesday 19 June 2019 for free by clicking on the title and following the simple instructions. You have these free AudioSYNC titles as long as you keep them on your device.
You can also check them out from your local library or buy through an indie bookstore – explore all the audiobook titles available so you can read while you ride, run, walk, or work – please stay aware of your surroundings!
The science of chewing, swallowing, digesting, and eliminating what we eat mixes with stories of exorcists, pet-food taste-testing labs, mad scientists, and terrorists in this well-researched and humorous look at food, nutrition, and our alimentary canals from one end to the other.
Today is Free Comic Book Day, so find your nearest participating comics store here and get there fast, before the excellent selection of free comic books runs out!
It’s also Star Wars Day – a good opportunity to point you to another volume in Ian Doescher’s Shakespearean retellings of the Star Wars movies… read ye now the Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge (movie episode three).
Yes, our valiant Chewbacca appears in this volume (farewell too soon, actor Peter Mayhew), as do many characters good and evil from the episodes in this series before and after this one:
And as I wrote in 2015:
Why speak just now of this most-worthy tome,
Why note it not upon its natal day?
Mark well today’s harmonious date, kind one,
And may the Force be with us all, I pray!
Book info: William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge (Star Wars Part the Third) / Ian Doescher. Quirk Books, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
This graphic novel traces the shortened life of son, friend, musician, bicycle messenger, history scholar Alfonso and the stories of other African Americans killed by police brutality.
Robinson and Jennings’ black and white illustrations expand the #blacklivesmatter narrative written by Tony Medina, whose poems are recited at the Poetry Protest that Alfonso can see and hear as his ghost drifts from the train to his neighborhood and back…
Check out Medina’s article describing how he created this non-stereotypical Puerto Rican Black teen who loves his community’s history so deeply – why should a such a talented young man be dead?
Where is justice? How can everyday people stop the violence? **kmm
My Book Talk: Buying his first suit shouldn’t get him shot, shouldn’t keep him from seeing Dad finally home from prison with his name cleared, shouldn’t stop him from trying out for ‘Hip-Hop Hamlet’ at his arts high school in NYC, shouldn’t prevent him from telling bestie Danetta how he really feels about her…
On a subway train filled with ghosts of other African Americans wrongly killed, Alfonso learns more than his history studies revealed – about injustice, unfair treatment, deliberate abuse and prejudice – but dead is dead…
The Black-Puerto Rican young man’s family, friends, and community rally for justice and the prosecution of the police officer who shot Alfonso dead in this too-real #blacklivesmatter graphic novel.
Looking forward to a new year, looking back over the past – writers and artists do this, too!
You’ll recognize so many of your favorite authors and illustrators of works for kids and young adults in the “About the Author” section at the publisher’s webpage for this book!
So think about the stories you wrote in earlier years, the comic strips you drew, the plays that you put on for your family, the news reports that you made as a kid.
A new year, new opportunities, what will you begin? **kmm
Book info: Our Story Begins: Children’s Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids / edited by Elissa Brent Weissman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: “When did you start drawing? When did you know that you wanted to write books?” These frequent questions from young readers are answered by 25 of our favorite authors and illustrators – with examples of their very early works – in this anthology which will inspire a new generation of creators.
A grade-school photo from each author and illustrator begins their chapter which includes reproductions of their childhood stories or drawings in crayon, pencil, pen, or typing.
There’s a photo of author Elissa Brent Weissman as a kid with Gordon Korman at his book signing, then turn to Korman’s chapter to read his fifth-grade speech “How to Handle Your Parents”.
Kwame Alexander’s mom still has his first-ever poem (to her on Mother’s Day) framed in her living room. Thanhha Lai and her family fled Vietnam during her childhood, but she can still recite the story-poem “A Bird in a Cage” that she told her mother over and over.
Illustrators’ talents as kids ranged from polished (Grace Lin) to rudimentary (Jarrett J. Krosoczka – graphic novels), and several authors say that they copied their favorite writers’ styles in early stories – all continued to work at their craft and work to be published.
It was the best vacation their family ever had,
Charlie loved the dolphins, Martin loved the sea…
Just have to go back, recapture the good times!
Most middle grade guys wouldn’t voluntarily take their very individual younger brother on a very long train trip, but Martin isn’t most guys: his extremely different brother has been his annoyance and best friend since Charlie’s premature birth ten years ago.
So if Charlie would be happiest seeing the dolphins again at the seacoast hundreds of miles away, then that’s what Martin will do! No need to involve ever-sad Mum and always-working Dad – not the same since that vacation…
Us or UK cover – which do you prefer for this journey saga?
Book info: Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home / Mark Lowery. Yellow Jacket Books (Bonnier), 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Getting back to the Cornwall seaside town where they saw the dolphins will make Charlie so happy that 13-year-old Martin takes all his savings, puts their favorite Christmas cookie tin in his pack, and heads to the train station with his neurologically special little brother – later, they’ll update their parents…
If the Dolphinwatch app is correct, they can get to the coast just in time…
As long as the railway police don’t stop them, like Mum and Dad would have if Martin had told them his plans…
Will the Angry Girl they meet on the third train (or maybe fourth) help them or not?
What if they run out of money on the way or Charlie has another asthma attack?
Can Martin really pull this off for his best-bud, pain-in-the-youknowwhat, dolphin-obsessed little brother?
Each chapter begins with the distance traveled (mostly in the right direction) and one of Martin’s poems as the two brothers traverse England on this singular journey.
Free poems while you wait!
Click-clack of manual typewriter keys,
Insights on paper, to keep.
No surprise that Typewriter Rodeo began at an Austin, Texas craft fair in 2013 – four writers creating immediate poetry on portable (and not-so-portable) old typewriters.
This new book collects photos of some poems (which are handed over to their requestors) and the stories behind their creation, from “It’s Valentine’s Weekend…” by Kari Anne for a loved, lost, then refound couple in Austin to “Jeannie” by Sean in honor of a roller-skating, table-waiting cafe owner in Maine.
Yes, the quartet will lug their manual typewriters to your event, far or near, to bring instant poetry on whatever subject they are asked!
What would you request at the Typewriter Rodeo?
Book info: Typewriter Rodeo: Real People, Real Stories, Custom Poems / Jodi Egerton, David Fruchter, Kari Ann Holt, Sean Petrie. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2018. [project website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Book info: A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food / Eric-Shabazz Larkin. Readers to Eaters, 2014. [author site] [book Facebook page] [publisher site] Review copy, cover image, and page images courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Slippery noodles in rhythm and rhyme, dreams of bread and my own cooking show fill this book of fun food poems.
Why did the chef send a moose that I didn’t order?
What did the corn say to the cob?
Where does food grow? Where did my pet cabbage go?
Readers will enjoy sampling these “choice words” about all stages of food – fancy or plain, appetizer to dessert – with doodled-up photos to match.
Songs for freedom,
words as power –
freedom from Spain, from slavery?
Did you know about Chinese immigrants who fled to Cuba, escaping racist attacks in America? They struggled for freedom from unfair indenture alongside enslaved Africans during the days when Cuba sought its independence from Spain – so many stories forgotten, lost, found, retold.
Could you leave your homeland for safety, then leave again?
Book info: Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: At the confluence of Cuban, Chinese, and African cultures, poetic voices of three young people tell the stories of arrival and broken promises, despair and hope, love and the future during their island home’s early years as a nation.
To learn the proper Spanish that his Chinese mother never knew, Antonio’s African father sends him to school in La Habana city.
As he runs errands within the Chinese community for wealthy men displaced from California by anti-Asian prejudice in the post-Gold Rush years, the 12 year old meets twin sister and brother Fan and Wing.
Antonio hears stories of unfairness and change, falls in love with words, wonders if they have true power.
Fan runs away from the sugarcane fields, from forced marriage – to sing and write songs and sing true.
Wing remembers being forced from their California home, wants to help the rebels in Cuba’s mountains.
Months roll into years as the three young people help hide escaped slaves, read letters of protest sent to China and Madrid, long for power over their own lives.
Lyrically, poetically, alternating voices relate the struggles of indentured Chinese workers and enslaved African people fighting for their freedom in the 1870s as Cuba strives for independence from Spain.
If you want your funny bone tickled, your visual imagination charmed, and that soft part of your heart bumped a bit, this is the poetry book for you!
Happy book birthday to I’m No Good at Rhyming!
Hope to see more versified silliness (with a bit of seriousness) from debut poet (longtime TV writer) Chris Harris (who is pretty good at rhyming after all) and well-known illustrator Lane Smith (he wrote It’s a Book; he draws humorous pictures; he argues with the author!) in the future.
Which style of poetry is your favorite?
Book info: I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Adults / by Chris Harris; illustrated by Lane Smith. Little, Brown: 2017. [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Lengthy poems, short poems, serious ones, and silly ones (lots of silly ones) fill this collection aimed at kids and grownups so they can read and smile together.
Enjoy the wise words in “The Valleys Shape the Mountains”, good advice in “Just Be Yourself”, and utter(ed) nonsense in “Yes Means No and No Means Yes…”
Illustrations by Lane Smith add to the fun of “Alphabet Book (by the laziest artist in the world)” and sideways-across-the-pages short verse about “The Hungry Giraffe”
You should never laugh at a hungry giraffe;
It takes him so long to swallow,
He may have eaten yesterday —
But he won’t feel full till tomallow. (pp. 44-45)
Debut author Harris may claim that he’s “no good at rhyming” but readers won’t believe it, just as they won’t believe how many poems he can make from one entitled “The Door” or the way that “L-O-V-E” winds up spelled in its poem or why some page numbers are missing in this fun volume (even “without William Shakespeare”) as the author and illustrator banter throughout.
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