Thursday, October 31, 2019


Unsplash photo by Benjamin Lizardo


It's hot.
It's dry.
A spark:
a fire.

A flame
a burn
a blaze:
a pyre.

It threatens,
gets hotter.

The only thing
it fears

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

I'm in under the wire for Rebecca Herzog's challenge on Today's Little Ditty to write a poem about what a monster fears.

As the rain pours (and belts and BUCKETS) down here in Ohio, my heart has been heavy watching the news of Southern California going up in flames.

Tabatha has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Typewriter Rodeo

A couple of weeks ago, Liz Garton Scanlon alerted me that the Austin-based on-demand poetry writing group known as Typewriter Rodeo would be in Dublin, sponsored by the Dublin Arts Council.

We found out the hard way that you couldn't just turn into the Dublin Arts Center to attend this event. We had to park all the way down the road and around the corner at Scioto High School and we couldn't even make a left turn out of the DAC to head directly to Scioto. We had to turn right, go through Old Dublin (good excuse to oggle the new library), go around the monster roundabout, and then, once we got to Scioto, take a shuttle bus back to the DAC...which seemed a little ridiculous since there were about 5 other people at the event.

Fewer people gave us more time to get our poem written (I gave Sean the topic of "roundabout" in honor of all it took to get there), chat with the poets, and admire their manual clackity-clack typewriters.

I also bought a copy of their book, which I am anxious to dig into, once the must-reads are all read (with my two new crystal-clear eyeballs and my coolio reading glasses).

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2018

Karen Edmisten has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Blog With the Shockingly Clever Title. I'm sure there will be lots of must-reads there, too.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Day After Cataract Surgery

Unsplash photo by Janelle Hayes

yes, I see the hawk
there, on the power line
feathers fluttering

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Not just the hawk, but the FEATHERS! My new right lens is nothing less than a miracle. Next Wednesday, my left eye joins the party. I am truly seeing the world anew. It's flat-out amazing.

Jama has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Welcome, Liesl Shurtliff!

Liesl Shurtliff is a favorite author here at A Year of Reading. Franki has reviewed Rump, Jack, and Grump. Liesl has a new series, Time Castaways, and the second book has its book birthday on Tuesday!

by Liesl Shurtliff
Katherine Tegen Books, September 17, 2019

by Liesl Shurtliff
Katherine Tegen Books, October 15, 2019

Liesl has graciously shared her thoughts on The Importance of Reading Wisely. We couldn't agree more!

The Importance of Reading Widely
By Liesl Shurtliff

“You are what you read.” It’s a sentiment many people have tossed around over the years, right along with “You are what you eat.” And if both of these things are true then I challenge anyone to define who I am. I read too widely, and I eat absolutely everything. I’m a person with many tastes and interests. I think we all should be.

I see many initiatives to get people to read more, and I like them, but what I’d liked to see a little more of is encouragement for people to read more widely, move outside their comfort zones, pick up a book you wouldn’t normally choose. Here are my suggestions:

Read both fiction and non-fiction

Statistics show that women tend to read more fiction, and men gravitate toward non-fiction. This is fascinating to me, and I could delve into all kind of psychoanalytic theories about why this is and what it means, but that would be (mostly) beside the point of the post. Suffice it to say, I think we should tip the scales in both cases. Men should read more fiction. Women should read more non-fiction. Both are good for you.

I personally used to think non-fiction was code for BORING. I’ve since learned that non-fiction can be some of the most engrossing books out there. It’s one thing to get lost in a good story. It’s another to get lost in a good story that is completely REAL. Malcolm Gladwell, Erik Larson, and Elizabeth Gilbert have been a few of my favorites.

Read outside your usual genre.

Whenever someone asks what genre is my favorite I say “Good writing.” Perhaps the definition of what makes a good book is subjective, but I’ve found my own tastes have become more refined the more widely I read. Yes, I read a lot of fantasy as that is what I write, but I’ve read plenty of poorly written fantasy, and I’ve found that it helps my own writing to read a wide variety of genres and styles. I feel like I’m in a rut when I read too much of one genre. It can start to feel stale and boring, sort of like eating only one kind of food. No matter how good those tacos are, eventually I’m going to want some salad. Mix up your reading diet with a mixture of genres.

Read books and authors outside your own race, culture, religion, country, experience and world view.

Reading has been touted as an activity that develops empathy, but for whom are we developing empathy? People like us? People whose experience and world view is not so different from our own? That will not develop empathy, only self-assurance. Challenge yourself and your world view. Pick up a book that makes you a little uncomfortable. Or a lot. And please, read books written by authors who are intimately acquainted with the experience being written about (aka #OwnVoices.) It matters.

Read children’s books!

Okay, I am slightly biased here, seeing as I’m a children’s book author, but please believe me when I say there is some incredibly good literature being produced in the children’s book world. Don’t stick your nose up at it. Pick up a picture book, a middle-grade or young adult novel, or a graphic novel, and remember what it was like to be a kid. Or pick up a book you remember reading and loving as a kid and see what you think of it now. I’ve done this and usually find I love it just as much, even though I’m reading it with a completely different perspective. It’s a nostalgic experience.

Reading is good. Reading a lot is better. Reading widely is best, just like eating a varied diet. Take stock of your reading choices. See if you can mix things up every now and then.   Get recommendations for friends or co-workers. If there’s one thing I know it’s that people love to talk about what they’re reading. And if they don’t read, well then, we should all be ready to share our own reading recommendations and feed the famished. Best to have a variety on hand.

Liesl Shurtliff is the New York Times bestselling author of the (Fairly) True Tales series and the Time Castaways trilogy. The second book is available October 15th! Her books have been named to over two dozen state award lists and have won many awards including a Children’s Book Award from the International Literacy Association. Liesl lives in Chicago with her husband and four children. @lieslshurtliff

Thanks for visiting, Liesl! We can't wait to read your new series!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Poetry Friday -- My Nose Takes a Walk in Fall

My Nose Takes a Walk in Fall

dust of acorns, crushed
summer-gone spicy gardens
skunk musk, just a waft

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

I got the best gift in the mail yesterday! Along with two books that will inspire my writing, there was a box of "matchsticks" to Spark Creativity. I pulled one out: "Take a walk, tuning in carefully to everything you smell," and found this poem! So much fun! I can't wait to try more of them. Thank you, Brenda!!

Catherine, at Reading to the Core, has the Poetry Friday roundup this week and a post full of gratitude.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Poetry Friday

Loss is a Non-Negotiable Miracle

The cold front came through last night
scrubbing the sky of humidity
polishing Orion, the Pleiades, and Cassiopeia
to a glittering shine.
Loss is a non-negotiable miracle.

My hair, both parents,
a purse left in a shopping cart,
occasionally my temper,
frequently the punchline of a joke.
Loss is indeed non-negotiable
but the part about miracles is sometimes murky.

We read the news of the day
and non-negotiable seems more like
brutally inevitable
or else crushingly destructive
with a side of mercilessly inescapable
and miracles are nowhere to be found.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019 (flash draft)

My new set of Metaphor Dice (Erudite Expansion) have been waiting on my desk for a month, patiently watching me clear hurdle after hurdle, with no time or brain space left over for them. I cleared a huge hurdle last night -- my first night of parent conferences. Eleven down, fifteen to go, but the prep for all is complete.

It's been unseasonably record-breakingly HOT this past week, but the weather from Colorado and Montana finally arrived. The relief is palpably miraculous. On the other hand, the daily news seems like it can't get any worse, and then it does. As I look back on my draft, I'm not sure I like how it slides from such joy into such deep despair. Perhaps I need to flip the first and last stanzas, so that the flow is from broad, generalized angst, to specific, local joy. What do you think?

Cheriee is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Library Matters. I'll do my best to visit posts, but now that the parent conference hurdle is cleared, the 150 picture books that have been accumulating in my living room need to be read this weekend!

Happy Friday! Happy Poetry!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Poetry Friday

via Unsplash

In praise of joe
by Marge Piercy

I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—

but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,

I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.

Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.

Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed

but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.

You waken in me the gift of speech when I
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.

I'm a tea drinker, but except for that small detail and the fact that I've not written multiple books (yet), this poem rings fairly true. There's a steaming cuppa sitting beside me as I write.

Here's to all the things that gut us out of bed and waken in us the gift of speech, including Poetry Friday! Carol, at Beyond LiteracyLink, has the roundup this week.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond

As I continue to build my nonfiction area of the classroom library,  I am thrilled when I find a picture book that I know will be perfect for middle grade students. Since I always seem to have students who like birds and birdwatching I have a Birds basket in the nonfiction section of the library. Many years it is a favorite go-to basket. I love finding new books to add to this basket.   I was thrilled to get a copy of Bird Count from Peachtree Publishers.

Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond and illustrated by Stephanie Fizzier Coleman will be released next week and I couldn't be more excited to share this book with my students. This book is a fictional narrative about a girl who participates in the Audubon Bird Count each year.  (I first learned about this bird count in Loree Griffin Burns' Citizen Scientists book.) I love being able to pair some nonfiction books with a fiction book that shares information about an annual citizen science project.

The story takes us through the full day of the Christmas Bird Count with Ava, her mother and their team leader.  We learn a bit about the bird count on each page through the dialogue and the illustrations.  We learn a bit about birds, the rules of the count, and more. And on each page, we see Ava's tally of the birds they've seen so far. 

The book has some great features.  At the end of the story, readers can learn more about the birds that Ava sees during the day of the bird count.  The author's note gives us a bit more information about The Christmas Bird Count and the connection the author has to this event.

Below is a book trailer about the book.

This book seems great for all ages!  

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Live Writing


Boom boom boom.
Buzz buzz buzz.
The drums on the playground
are filled with wasps.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

blue sky, puffy clouds
buildings keep people apart
the bridge will connect

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Good thing I'm writing live with my students or I wouldn't be writing at all! Life has been more than a little busy.

I love to start our writing workshop with some short-form poetry -- 15 Words or Less and Haiku. Each student gets a blank Google Slideshow through Google Classroom. For their poetic inspiration,  I share a set of photos taken around the school (plus a few, like the one above, of the Columbus skyline, that I have taken). This way, we can also talk about choosing media that has been labeled for reuse. 

Here's another random haiku, just for fun:

Linda B. has the Poetry Friday Roundup at TeacherDance this week. She's got a SUPER EXCITING cover reveal of a book I. Must. Own.

Friday, September 06, 2019

This Happened

Oh, the joys of a book award committee.

The stacks on the left are August books that still need to be read/reviewed, and the tower of 4 boxes and a package came yesterday.

No Poetry Friday for me this week! Probably not next week either -- I'll be teaching fly fishing at Ohio's Casting for Recovery retreat.

Happy reading to me! Happy Poetry to you!

(Updated to add today's shipments: 4 more boxes and 2 more packages! Eek!)

Monday, September 02, 2019

Grandparents' Day is September 8

Grandparents' Day is September 8 this year. Here are some picture books, many of which are #ownvoicees, that explore the relationship of children and their grandparents.

Our Favorite Day 
by Joowon Oh
Candlewick Press, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

An #ownvoices book with gorgeous paper collage illustrations. Thursdays are Papa's favorite day because he gets to spend time with his granddaughter.

Ojiichan's Gift 
by Chieri Uegaki
illustrated by Genevieve Simms
KidsCan Press, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

Every summer when she visits Japan, Mayumi and her grandfather care for the rock garden he built for her when she was born. What will become of the rock garden and their time together when Ojiichan has to go into the nursing home? Another #ownvoices story of the connection between a grandfather and granddaughter.

My Grandma and Me
by Mina Javaherbin
illustrated by Lindsey Yankey
Candlewick Press, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

This is an autobiographical story of growing up in Iran and all the things a little girl does with her grandmother who lives with her family.

Grandpa's Top Threes
by Wendy Meddour
illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
Candlewick Press, September 3, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

When Grandpa stops talking to him, Henry persists and finds a way to keep their bond -- by asking Grandpa for his Top Threes. At the end of the book, perceptive readers will learn why Grandpa had turned inward and have an even greater appreciation for Henry.

Stolen Words
by Melanie Florence
illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Second Story Press, 2017
review copy from the library

Like Henry, in GRANDPA'S TOP THREES, the granddaughter in this #ownvoices story helps her grandfather heal by giving him back the Cree language (in a book from her school) that was stolen from him when he was taken from his family to live in a residential school.

Grandpa Cacao
by Elizabeth Zunon
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019

Based on her childhood in the Ivory Coast, West Africa, this book is the author's love letter to a grandfather she never knew (and a fabulous connection to our 5th grade social studies if you trace the story of chocolate back even further to the Maya and Inca people in Latin America).

Around the Table That Grandad Built
by Melanie Heuiser Hill
illustrated by Jaime Kim
Candlewick Press, September 10, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

A fun, cumulative story the celebrates the gifts that remain when our loved ones are gone.

I Miss My Grandpa
by Jin Xiaojing
Little, Brown and Company, September 3, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

The little girl's grandfather died before she was born, but she still misses him. Her grandmother helps her to see her grandfather's facial features and character traits in her living relatives, and the girl realizes that her and her family. The text is translated into Mandarin Chinese on the final endpapers.

The Immortal Jellyfish
by Sang Miao
Flying Eye Books, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

A boy's grandfather begins a conversation about immortality, but then dies before he and the boy can explore the idea further. In a dream, the boy's grandfather takes him on a grand adventure in which they explore reincarnation.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Play

©Amy LV, 2011

Today many (all?) of the classrooms at my school are participating in a Global School Play Day. It's very simple, but most every simple thing turns out to be incredibly powerful. Here are the rules:
  • No Screens: Students are encouraged to bring toys, but electronic toys or any devices with screens should be avoided.
  • No Structure: Adults should not attempt to organize or structure student play in any way.
  • Stay Out of the Way: Adults should let students manage their own play and should not interfere except in situations where someone could get hurt or fired.
Because we're doing this so early in the year, I will be explicit about this being a time when the class, who named themselves Ohahna (the Hawaiian word for family is ohana), can become even more of a family by making sure every member of our family is included and welcomed. We will learn so much about each other, about ourselves, and about our community. I can't wait!

Kathryn Apel has the Poetry Friday roundup this week. Looking ahead, please note that Cheriee and Carol V. have switched roundup weeks (September 27 and October 4).  Our sidebar is updated, as is the schedule at KidLitosphere Central.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Spencer's New Pet

Spencer's New Pet
by Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August 27, 2019
review copy compliments of the publisher

You will love this book.

Start with the dust jacket (front, back, and brilliantly written blurb on the front flap), then check out the covers. They are the best kind, with a simple drawing that connects across the spine.

Notice the old-time cinematic look with the countdown to the title page. The story is told in three parts, and the tension and drama build until...SURPRISE!

After you recover from the surprise, you will want to go back and reread the whole book, looking for clues and foreshadowing all the way through. Now look back at the covers. Who IS Spencer?

Have fun watching readers' faces when you share this book. I wish I could see yours. You'll love it!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Inspiration

Because #DearOneLBH was such an inspiration to so many:

From the blog Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.

Amy LV has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Moon

The 50th anniversary of the first moon landing has come and gone, but these books need a belated spotlight.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca
Review copy compliments of Richard Jackson Books, 2019

The Kirkus review for this revised 2019 edition:
“A fresh, expanded edition of Floca’s top-drawer tribute to the first moon landing, which won a Sibert honor in 2010. New here is an early nod to the “thousands of people” who worked behind the scenes to make the mission a success... and a much-enlarged account of Apollo 11’s return flight to Earth. Both include new art: For the first, a set of vignettes clearly depicts women and people of color playing prominent roles (including a recognizable Katherine Johnson), and for the second, the 2009 original’s two pages grow to eight, climaxed by a close-up of the command module Columbia’s furious, fiery re-entry. The narrative... remains as stately and dramatic as ever.... Minor changes in other illustrations and added or clarified details in the text add further life and luster to a soaring commemoration of our space program’s most spectacular achievement. This is the rare revised edition that adds enough new material to demand purchase. Still essential reading, more so than ever for being broader in scope and more balanced of presentation than the original.”
I can't wait to share the story of how Brian Floca revised this book to be more inclusive!

Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon
by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Peachtree Publishing Company, 2018

This gorgeously illustrated nonfiction long-form picture-book-in-verse begins with the dream of space travel and the loss of President John F. Kennedy. Then comes Apollo 1 and the loss of the first three Apollo astronauts. Apollo 2 is grounded and plans for Apollo 3 cancelled. Apollos 4-6 are unmanned and have mixed successes. Apollo 7 takes men into space successfully. Apollo 8 flies around to the far side of the moon and back. Apollo 9 astronauts are the first to walk in space. Apollo 10 scouts a landing spot on the moon. Finally, Apollo 11 achieves the dream of men on the moon.

At the end of each chapter is more information about each of the astronauts and photographs from the mission.

This would make a fabulous read aloud (text in verse AND nonfiction) and pairs nicely with Moonshot.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Dog Man

Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls
by Dav Pilkey

(My review from GoodReads)

Yes, yes I did. I made my students wait for this book until I had a chance to read it. Because I know after we start passing it from reader to reader I might not see it again until November. And I'm just going to say to the graphic novel haters and those who can't stand the fact that their kids/students read Dog Man books over and over one. Better yet, read the whole series. These books are so good that they are WORTH reading again and again!

Dav Pilkey is a superhero. Who else is writing books for reluctant readers that quote Ernest Hemingway (page 50, panels 2 and 3...see the notes in the back of the book). Who else is creating chapter titles with allusions to great literature? (A Farewell to Arms and The Very Hangry Caterpillar were two of my favorites.) Who else is stretching readers with sentences like this tucked in the midst of sight gags, bad puns, and a superhero whose superpower is eating cupcakes: "As the soft, pink dusk of twilight blankets the vigilant soul heeds the sounds of despair...and bravely responds. Masked in the deep shadows of the surrounding sun...and armed only with an unquenchable appetite...for cupcakes." And who else is making important themes so clear: "It's not enough to just BE GOOD. We gotta DO GOOD." "Love is something you DO! Sometimes you gotta DO it first...THEN you feel it!" "And (to paraphrase one of the plot lines), you can look at the world and see mud and weeds and pollution (and all the other problems) and believe that's all there is, or you can look at the world and find all the love and beauty. "This world has a lot of problems...but it could never be a horrible place...because you're in it."

I tagged this book 

Yup. Check out all those tags. The "adhd" tag is kind of a joke. Haven't you noticed the name of the robot? 80-HD? Also, Dog Man undergoes behavior modification therapy in chapter 2 to help him focus. It backfires.

Read this book. Read this series. That is all.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Trees



The hawks are whistling.
Every morning I listen,
wonder, imagine.

The nest, constructed
in a pignut hickory,
is hidden and safe.


Hawks in the city
remind us we are not far
from the wild. Ever.

Are they as aware
of me as I am of them?
I capture moments:

Whistling and screeing,
piercing dives through tree branches,
perching on our fence.


Every hope broken --
hickory falls in the storm.
Hawk home is destroyed.

Morning after. Sun.
Mournful hawks call tree to tree,
"Our babies...lost...gone."

I hear, on day two...
three hawks! Three means one survived!
Next day I see four!


Listen -- can you hear
hawks in your neighborhood trees?
Listen with your heart.

Wonder -- they survive:
paramount in the food chain,
tree top predators.

Imagine -- next year
another nest, another success...
perhaps in your oak.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2012

This "hawku" poem is about hawks. But it couldn't be about hawks if there weren't big trees in our part of the city, as well as plentiful chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, and possums. So much depends on the natural order of food chains and food webs, plants and animals, birds and insects, clean air and clean water. Let's care for and speak for our tiny corners of the planet. In this way, like a quilt, maybe we can keep the whole thing stitched together. Maybe.

Christie has this week's #fortheloveoftrees - themed Poetry Friday roundup at Wondering and Wandering.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Environmental Activism

Here are four picture books that are just right for comparing and contrasting. Pair these with the Global Climate Strike September 20-27 so that your students can write their own version of this story.

The Promise
by Nicola Davies
illustrated by Laura Carlin
Candlewick Press, 2017

The speaker, who lives in "a city that was mean and hard and ugly," snatches an old lady's bag one dark night. Before the old lady lets go of the bag, she makes the speaker promise they will "plant them."

The promise is kept and the city is transformed. Many transformed cities later, the speaker is mugged, another bag of seeds is stolen, and another promise is extracted.

Don't miss the endpapers on this one!

The Last Tree
by Ingrid Chabbert
illustrated by Guridi
English translation by Kids Can Press, 2017

A boy has heard stories from his father about grass and trees, but he lives in a city where neither exist. He and a friend discover the last tree...and then they find out that condominiums will be built where it is growing. They dig the tree up and replant it where it will be safe.

Another book with great endpapers.

The Digger and the Flower
by Joseph Kuefler
Balzer + Bray, 2018

Little Digger watches the big machines doing their big construction work. But when they threaten to destroy the last flower in the city, Little Digger takes action and saves the flower, which thrives and spreads.

The Green Giant
by Katie Cottle
review copy compliments of Pavilion Children's, 2019

A little girl is staying with her grandpa in the country. In the greenhouse next door, she meets the green giant, who has escaped from the grey city. When she has to leave, the giant gives the girl a handful of seeds, which she plants when she returns. The city is transformed. Perhaps the giant will return some day.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Poetry Friday -- In Mourning

photo via Unsplash

From In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

We have had to let go of two more luminaries of poetry this week. I imagine the Poetry Friday roundup will be a somber place as we remember Toni Morrison and Lee Bennett Hopkins. Molly Hogan has the roundup this week at Nix the Comfort Zone. Ironically perfect.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Room on our Rock

Room on our Rock
by Kate and Jol Temple
illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
Kane Miller Books, 2019

This picture book is a reverso, but a story, not a poem. Read it front to back and feel your heart sink. Then read it back to front and feel your heart soar.

Read from the front, one group of seals refuses to let another group onto their rock. Read the other direction, the first group of seals would never turn another group away.

You can see the implications for classroom discussions about current events/immigration policies and about point of view -- the book's subtitle is "There are two sides to every story."

This is an amazing book. I watched a friend read it today. The look on her face when the magic was revealed was priceless. I can't wait for you to read it, too.

A note from the publisher about purchasing this (or any other Kane Miller or Usborne books):

In 2012. our CEO/Company President made the decision that, in order to support independent booksellers and local communities, we would cease the sale of either Kane Miller or Usborne titles to Amazon. Now any of our titles sold on the site are through third-party vendors, charging whatever they wish. 
Our books are available to order from independent bookstores, including Barnes & Nobles and Indiebound. In addition, consumers/educators/schools/libraries may order through any of the 35,000+ nationwide independent sales consultants of our direct sales decision, Usborne Books & More or online at I’m happy to say that sales of our titles have increased dramatically in the years since this decision was made.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Definitos

Unsplash photo by Torsten Dederichs

You Just Don't Get It

Befuddled and muddled
your noggin's confused

puzzled and troubled
you're coming unglued

mixed up and perplexed
you've been aggravated

your head is unscrewed, you're

©Mary Lee Hahn

This poem is a Definito, "a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem." (Hmm...I seem to have missed the bit about "free verse." Oh, well. We'll write off my rhymes as meeting the "wordplay" requirement. What good is a rule if it's not bent now and then?) I chose "addlepated" because it was the word of the day for July 29 on my Merriam Webster dictionary app. And it's fun to say, even if it's NOT fun to feel that way!

Heidi, at my juicy little universe, is the inventor of this form and our Poetry Friday Roundup hostess this week. She and her Sunday Poetry Peeps, the Poetry Swaggers, are playing with this form and Heidi invited me to join in since I tried her 2009 challenge with "Phlebotomist."

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Classroom Resource: Wordless News (and metaphors found in art)

Wordless News. If you don't subscribe and use this resource in your classroom, now's the time to start. Creator Maria Fabrizio has been away for a few months, busy with a newborn and a toddler, but she's back with an image at least once a week.

The images she creates are perfect for "notice and wonder." I noticed that the shadow was actually hands, and I wondered about the lines, but I didn't notice one key thing about the lines until I read the related article. I hadn't heard about this interactive art installation, so when I read the article, I had a huge WOW! moment. I'm saving this one to share with my students even though it will be old news in a couple of weeks. I want to open their eyes/minds to art as a response to current and historical events.

Earlier this week, at the Columbus Museum of Art, I saw this installation and had another WOW! moment:

What looked like a huge barrel balanced on a rope took on layers of deep meaning when I read the explanation outside the room:

We study the indigenous people of the Americas, including the effects of colonialism. So this image will be a great starting point for those studies, and another example of the way art can help us to think about our world.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Poetry Friday -- What We Save

This is a repost from 2008.

My brother and I just spent three days going through the last of the boxes of Mom and Family back home in Colorado. Among other treasures, we found a stack of clippings Mom had pinned on the bulletin board in the kitchen -- pithy quotes, comics, phone numbers...and this poem, printed from the blog eleven years ago.

*        *        *        *        *

This is a chant for the landscape of my growing up years -- the wide, flat, empty, semi-arid short grass prairie of eastern Colorado. The chant is comprised of images, authors, and, in italics, book titles.

The Solace of Open Places

It's Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See it From Here

High, Wide and Lonesome
unbroken sod,
O Pioneers! and
my Uncle Bob.

Great Plains: jackrabbits
antelope and Deere,
wagon ruts, meadowlarks
and tumbleweeds found here.

Kent Haruf, Hal Borland, Ian Frazier,
Gretel Ehrlich, Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner.

A Sense of Place,
Wolf WillowMy Antonia
Nothing To Do But Stay.

Lark buntings, windmills
towering thunderheads,
grasshoppers, feedlots
the family homestead.

Pioneer Women,
amber waves of grain.
Close my eyes, open a book,
can go home again.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2008

Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Reflections on the Teche.