Patrica Vecchione’s, Revenge and Forgiveness An Anthology of Poems, is geared toward a young adult and oReview pertains to the hardcover 2004 edition.
Patrica Vecchione’s, Revenge and Forgiveness An Anthology of Poems, is geared toward a young adult and older audience. Inspired by the events of 9/11 Vecchione (as noted on the back of the book) wanted to create something tangible, to help frame who we are as a country and individuals in light of the horrific events that terrorists brought in our lives. She felt these poems would help illuminate the dark feelings we have. She asks, “Can beauty be made out of ugliness and fear? Can it rise from the ashes?” The theme is how individuals deal with anger and grief when dealing with painful situations: revenge or forgiveness?
Interestingly, the poems about revenge took up at least 60 pages of the book. Poems dealing with forgiveness comprised only 12. Vecchione included authors from different time periods: Shakespeare, Frost, Dickinson, Gaius Valerius Catulus as well as contemporary poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Diane Thiel. The subjects of the poems include marital relationships, war, terrorism, friends, slavery, and god. Francisco X. Alarcon’s poem Prayer was thought provoking. “ I want a god as my accomplice who spends nights in houses of ill repute and gets up late on Saturdays….. a god who spits blood from tuberculosis and doesn’t even have enough for car fare.” Other poems such as A Curse On A Thief are lighthearted and resembled Irish curses.
I am not a lover of poetry. I just don’t seem to “get it” but find myself at a time in my life when I strive to be more forgiving of others. So I found the title and theme of this book interesting. I would have liked to see more poems about forgiveness included or at least an equal distribution. However the author’s inclusion of biographical notes with comments from some of the authors on why they wrote the poems was a welcome addition.
Novelist Plus suggests a grade level of 6th -12th grade. I feel in order to be truly understood and appreciated an older audience of 9th grade to adult is more appropriate. For example, the poems Why People Murder and A Note From a Loving Wife deal with martial relationships and might not be understood by younger readers. High school students might enjoy reading these poems to see how others dealt with anger and grief. Poems selected by the instructor could be used for discussion groups about how the students feel in similar painful situations and how would they deal with them: revenge or forgiveness? Additionally students might discuss what is meant by the phrase, “There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness” (Josh Billings). Writing lessons would include writing their own poems about revenge and forgiveness. ...more
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, what an intriguing title! Joyce Sidman’s poetry and Rick Allen’s illustrations capture the reader’s attenDark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, what an intriguing title! Joyce Sidman’s poetry and Rick Allen’s illustrations capture the reader’s attention from the front cover and every page there after. As the title indicates each poem eloquently describes the nocturnal creatures we daytime creatures don’t often pay attention to (snail, owl, eft and even a tree).
Sidman chose her words wisely to convey the beauty of the night. The twelve poems starting with sunset and ending with sunrise are written in various poetry forms, some in rhyming couplets and others in free verse.
“The night’s a sea of dappled dark, the night’s a feast of sound and spark, the night’s a wild, enchanted park. Welcome to the night!”
The poetry is written on the left page of this landscape-style book. Illustrations are wisely placed on the right page along with additional interesting information about that creature. I especially enjoyed Night-Spider’s Advice. Sidman captured the voice of the wise orb spider, “Use what you have. Rest when you need to. Dawn will come soon enough. Someone has to remake the world each night. It might as well be you.” I learned from the additional information that most orb spiders eat their damaged webs. There is a helpful glossary of terms at the end of the book. It is clear how this book won the ALA Notable Book for 2011. However, I feel there should be an author’s note that gives additional information about what poetic form each poem is. I feel this was a missed opportunity to inform readers new to poetry with her beautiful examples.
Allen’s gouache illustrations are so well drawn the reader can almost feel the texture of the owl’s fur or the bark of the trees. Each illustration was colorful but set in heavy dark trimmed outline contrasting the dappled blue night.
Novelist Plus suggests a Lexile reading rate of 1020 (6th grade) and a grade level of K-3rd grade. The classroom uses of this text are numerous. It could be read aloud to younger children and the term nocturnal discussed. In addition, the habitat of the creatures discussed can be drawn as a response to reading. Students could use this text as a culminating study of poetry forms. After reading each poem aloud a discussion of it’s form can be discussed and the class as a whole can determine what form it portrays. Additional lessons can be found on the author’s webpage http://www.joycesidman.com/darkempero...
Students’ interested in the poetry and science facts might also enjoy, Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems also by Sidman but illustrated by Beckie Prange. ...more
Heroes often intrigue me, especially when they can be viewed as a role model of overcoming adversity and returning to fight for the rights of others iHeroes often intrigue me, especially when they can be viewed as a role model of overcoming adversity and returning to fight for the rights of others in their culture. Gina Capaldi wrote about such a hero in her book; A Boy Named Beckoning; The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero. “Wassaja” (Montezuma’s Yawapati name which means “beckoning”) was ripped from his family when Pima Indians destroyed his village at the age of five. Wassaja would have been sold into slavery if it weren’t for an Italian immigrant named, Carlo Gentile. Gentile, a photographer, was traveling through the southwest looking for “adventure, art and gold”. He bought Wassaja for 30 silver dollars. Being a devout Christian, Gentile baptizes Wassaja and changes his name to Carlos after himself and Montezuma after the ancient ruins near the land Wassaji grew up on. The two traveled across America, taking pictures and experiencing what the American landscape had to offer. Unfortunately, after settling in Chicago Gentile’s art studio burns to the ground and along with it his fortune. He is forced to leave Carlos with a preacher’s family while he earns more money. During his time with the preacher’s family Carlos excels academically. He finishes high school at an early age and graduates from the University of Chicago at seventeen. After five years he graduates from the Chicago Medical College and becomes a doctor. He is “beckoned” to help Native Americans forced to leave their land and relocate to reservations where he finds them living in squalor and fear without hope of a better life. Montezuma fights for the rights of Native American people until his death of tuberculosis in 1923 (one year before Native Americans win the right to citizenship).
Capaldi’s beautiful gouache illustrations across both landscape pages add to the emotion of the story but the photographs (some actually taken by Gentile) add to the authenticity of this true retelling. The author’s prologue and note at the end give additional information. I did enjoy this book and feel the story is well worth sharing with students. However, Debbie Reese who writes the American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) blog that analyses representations of Native Americans in literature feels that Capaldi misrepresents Montezuma and Native Americans in her text. She feels the author uses an authentic picture showing a Native American boy in jeans but Capaldi’s painted illustration depicts Native Americans with bare feet and wearing breechcloths. Furthermore, she feels Capaldi takes too much liberty in interpreting Montezuma’s letters when gathering information for the book.
Booklist places this text as 2-3rd grade and I agree. Lessons should include a discussion bout the misrepresentations Ms. Reese brings to light in her blog found at http://americanindiansinchildrenslite...
This text would also be a good mentor text for children 5th grade and up when discussion the use of multiple medias as Capaldi did when she used real photographs mixed with drawings. The photographs were a visual documentation of Montezuma during the period of time discussed chronologically. The paintings depicted significant episodes in Montezuma’s life and represented the action described in the text. Older children can use this format to write their own life stories using the multimedia format used in Capaldi’s book as a guide. ...more
Kathleen Krull’s, Marie Curie, #4 of the Giants of Science Series, (illustrated by Boris Kulikov) is an interesting read for middle grade children looKathleen Krull’s, Marie Curie, #4 of the Giants of Science Series, (illustrated by Boris Kulikov) is an interesting read for middle grade children looking for a biography of a women who changed the world or just inspired by science. Krull writes about Curies’ accomplishments (including two Nobel Prizes) and her struggles as she chronicles her life from early in childhood to her eventual death from radiation poisoning, Born in Poland in a time when girls were not encouraged to enter the study of sciences Marie Curie stood out as a genius. But in these times one could have the intellect but also needed persistence and determination to make a mark in the “old boys club” of scientists. Her shear determination (inherited from her mother) and gifted intellect for chemistry and physics (from her father) made her a force to be reckoned with. Raised in a family that expected greatness (the better the children did the more their mother loved them) Curie overcame set backs and public scandal by burying herself in science. Her ability to channel her efforts in times of depression and personal strife would later benefited humanity with the discovery of the two elements, radium and polonium. Curie had numerous other contributions to humanity including the use of radiation to treat cancer; portable x-ray machine used in World War 1 and most importantly the research that led future scientists to the knowledge of the structures of cells.
Written in simple narrative style Krull made what could be very abstract scientific information understandable for children 11 and up (as suggested on inner front flap.) School Library Journal Review suggests a grade level of 4th-8th grade. The pencil drawings by Boris Kulikov add dimension to the text but what I found most interesting was the illustration on the cover of the book. The cover illustration depicts a young Curie in her laboratory. There are test tubes and pipettes scattered amongst French landmarks on the table. This was an inviting hook for readers to pick up the book and learn more. There are times when the names of chemicals might be daunting for the lower ability reader and some pre teaching of vocabulary will need to be done. Young girls would benefit from reading such a strong role model as well as children interested in science. Krull did a good job of pointing out the human side of this “giant of science”. Older children could discuss the price she paid as a result of her studies and if they felt the cost was worth the benefit to mankind. Further research into what we learned about being safe in scientific research could also be used as an extension activity. ...more
Richard Peck’s, A Long Way from Chicago is the first book in the trilogy about larger than life character Grandma Dowdel and her grandchildren, Joey aRichard Peck’s, A Long Way from Chicago is the first book in the trilogy about larger than life character Grandma Dowdel and her grandchildren, Joey and Mary Alice. (The second is A Year Down Yonder and the last is A Season Of Gifts.) Joey and Mary Alice are sent from Chicago to spend the summer each year with their Grandma Dowdel in rural Illinois. The book immediately grabs the reader’s attention: “You wouldn’t think we needed to leave Chicago to see a dead body. We were growing up in there back in the bad old days of Al Capone and Bugs Moran.” Grandma Dowdel is not to be outdone by anyone so she offers to hold the viewing of Shotgun Cheatham’s dead body in her parlor. Late that night when the body moves on its own Grandma takes out her shotgun and proceeds to shoot! (Little did the other participants know that it was just the cat causing the chaos.) Each chapter describes another year (during the Great Depression from 1929-1942) of antics their Grandmother subjects them to. From ghosts to outdoing the banker’s wife the reader is sure to enjoy Grandma’s antics.
Peck grew up in Decatur, Illinois and certainly used his experiences to write this historical and hysterical fiction. Written in the point of view of Joey the readers get a glimpse into how Grandma rids the town of bullies and brings down the “society” class a peg or two! This well written book won a Newbery Honor Award. I enjoyed this book but liked A Season of Gifts even more! In A Season of Gifts Joey and Mary Alice are now adults and don’t visit any longer. But when a preacher and his family move next door the antics start all over again. I could relate to the characters more in A Season for Gifts.
Novelist Plus suggests ages 8 and up but to get the full depth of life during this time I would suggest grades 4th and higher. Activities for this age group might include learning about Chicago gangsters and what life was like during this era. The website: http://libraries.risd.org/wallib/alon... has numerous activities relating to the book, include colloquialisms of the time. One example is “she hightailed it out of there.” Another activity would be a reader’s response journal chapter by chapter to share with peers in discussion groups. ...more
Review was completed with the hardcover 2006 edition.
Even the title, Moses; When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom causes the reader to pause aReview was completed with the hardcover 2006 edition.
Even the title, Moses; When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom causes the reader to pause and think of an extraordinary person empowered by his or her belief in God. This historic fictional picture book, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson conveys Harriet Tubman’s struggle to free as many African American slaves as possible. We have read many stories about Harriet Tubman before but this one has a new twist. The author brings to life the incredible faith and trust Harriet had in God to guide her to safety and this story doesn’t disappoint.
The text is lyrical and poetic in third person narrative and dialogue between Harriet and God (in different typeset). “Lord, I’m going to hold steady on to You.” And God whispers back in the breeze, “I’m going to see you through, child.”
It has her conversation with God that brings her to freedom and greatness. She is free but misses her family so she returns to guide them even though she risks once again becoming enslaved. She returns nineteen more times to the south to free more than 300 slaves. The simple text works well with the beautiful illustrations. The reader can see how Nelson would win the Coretta Scott Award. With muted earthy blues and browns Nelson’s illustrations becomes an additional character all on its own.
The age range for this text is 5-8 years (determined on the front flap) and the Lexile level is 660 (according to Novelist Plus). The foreword blurb and author’s note at the end give needed background information for the young reader. This would be an excellent read aloud for K-3. Older children 5th grade and up might be able to write a poem from the point of the view of one of the slaves traveling with Harriet as she brings them to freedom. ...more