By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Poetry is all around us and is fun to read aloud and share with children of all ages. Poetry builds literacy skills with its figurative language, different forms and structures as well as its rhythm and rhyme. This past year I had the honor of serving on the NCTE Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels Committee. I read over 300 titles—individual poems, anthologies, narrative poems, biographical poems and verse novels. The committee discussed the differences between poetry and prose and then chose 30 titles that reflected the Notable Poetry Books Criteria. This WOW Dozen focuses on some of the books that were considered but did not make the 2022 NCTE Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels list. Nevertheless, children and adolescents will still enjoy hearing or reading them. Why not bring poetry to life in your classroom by sharing more of it in March, April for National Poetry Month and every day? Continue reading
Liana, age 14, introduces life in Cuba during the summer of 1991 and el período especial en tiempos de paz, which seems to Liana to be a governmental euphemism for hunger. Risking punishment, she’s chosen not to attend mandatory “volunteer” farm labor. Amado, age 15, likewise stays home. Both spend their days wandering to avoid camp and find food. The Singing Dog, age unknown, brings Liana and Amado together to help them discover sources to quench their hunger, to alleviate their isolation and to pursue a peace. Continue reading
Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA
When I was fourteen, I loved poetry. I always loved it, having grown up on a steady diet of recited nursery rhymes and children’s poetry like A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. But something happened in junior high school: The anthology, Sounds and Silences: Poetry for Now, edited by Richard Peck. I loved that it included song lyrics by Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen and The Beatles–verses I recognized. What I really loved about this book was that it was my introduction to writers who shaped and continue to shape how I think about the world, my life and the lives around me. “The Rebel” by Mari E. Evans was practically an anthem for the duration of my adolescence. Langston Hughes, e e cummings, Dylan Thomas, this book was my introduction to modern poetry. But, most importantly, it was my introduction to Gwendolyn Brooks. Continue reading
This month we examined four books that portray the theme of Sense of Place. A sense of home or belonging is incredibly valuable to humans. The books selected for this month highlight characters who discover that special sense of place, or must leave their longtime place and find a new one. Our final book for the month of August is Forest World.
This year, the Tucson Festival of Books celebrates its 10th anniversary. In a short period of time, the festival rose to become the third largest book festival in the U.S. drawing crowds in excess of 130,000. Each year the festival hosts 60-70 authors and illustrators of books for children and adolescents. This month My Take/Your Take features four books by this year’s festival authors to provide a personal take, starting with Jean and Holly on Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael López.
The colorful picturebook, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle with illustrations by Mike Curato, is set in modern day Cuba. It focuses on a family celebration and how Cuban resourcefulness keeps American cars from the 1950s running. A boy narrates the trip his family takes from the country to Havana in their precious old car, Cara Cara, a 1954 Chevy. Before they can take off, Papa and his son have to fix the car. They try and try to fix the silly noises. “The rattling parts have ben fixed with wire, tape and mixed-up scraps of dented metal.” Finally, “Cara Cara once again begins to sound like a chattering hen!” Continue reading
For this final conversation around “Rethinking conceptual otherness in history: Exploring untold histories in the U.S. and global communities,” Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung give their takes on Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle. They began the discussion with A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxua and Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner.
by Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán & Richelle Jurasek
This week we continue our focus on Afro-Caribbean influences in Latino children’s literature but also start addressing Indigenous perspectives. Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal, another historical fiction novel by Cuban-American author Margarita Engle, offers a window into the experiences of Caribbean islander workers but also into the experiences of indigenous communities Continue reading
by Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán & Amy Olson
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, by Margarita Engle (2006)
Last week, we started featuring and commenting on literature that represents the experiences of Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean communities Continue reading