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Tag Archives | Linda Sue Park

Bee-bim Bop

I’ve been on the sto­ry­time cir­cuit this last month as I have a new pic­ture book of my very own. Read­ers of this col­umn know how much I adore sto­ry­time, so wher­ev­er I’ve gone to read my book, I’ve asked if I can do a whole sto­ry­time, the bet­ter to read oth­er pic­ture books, as well. Usu­al­ly the reg­u­lar belea­guered sto­ry­time read­ers are hap­py to have this hap­pen.

So I’ve set up a lit­tle sto­ry­time that cen­ters loose­ly around the themes of food, fam­i­ly, food, com­mu­ni­ty, food, fun, food…. What can I say? I love read­ing and writ­ing about food, so this is an easy sto­ry­time for me to put togeth­er!

I’ve had great fun, in par­tic­u­lar, read­ing Lin­da Sue Park’s Bee-bim Bop! It’s a made-for-sto­ry­time-read because it has that mag­i­cal refrain “Bee-bim Bop” on near­ly every page. So fun to say! Even the youngest among us can join in for Bee-bim Bop! I hard­ly have to cue them….

Almost time for sup­per

Rush­ing to the store

Mama buys the gro­ceries—

More, Mama, more!

 

Hur­ry, Mama, hur­ry

Got­ta shop shop shop!

Hun­gry hun­gry hun­gry

For some BEE-BIM BOP! 

The plot is sim­ple: a lit­tle girl and her Mama are mak­ing din­ner. They’re mak­ing the tra­di­tion­al Kore­an dish bibim­bap (var­i­ous­ly Eng­lish-ised as bee-bim-bap, bi-bim-bop, etc.) There are eggs to stir fry and flip high…rice to boil…garlic and green onion and skin­ny meat strips to chop…spinach, sprouts and car­rots to slice. There’s a detailed recipe in the back of the book — all sim­ple steps, many quite kid-friend­ly.

Bowls go on the table

Big ones striped in blue

I help set the glass­es out

Spoons and chop­sticks too.  

The illus­tra­tions by Ho Baek Lee match the ener­getic rhythm of get­ting sup­per on the table — three gen­er­a­tions and a dog dance around each oth­er get­ting every­thing togeth­er. Then they gath­er around the table, paus­ing for a qui­et moment of thanks. And then they make the bee-bim bop!

Bee-bim means “mixed up” and bop is the Kore­an word for rice. Each one makes their own bowl with rice in the mid­dle, and all the top­pings that have been pre­pared — a lit­tle meat, lots of veg­gies, an egg, and spicy kim­chi, too — on top. Every­thing is stirred togeth­er and a deli­cious col­or­ful meal results.

When I read this book I always ask, “Who here has eat­en bee-bim bop?” If it’s a younger group (under three) they all eager­ly raise their hands.  Such won­der­ful­ly open palettes — espe­cial­ly since many of their par­ents haven’t tried it! Tod­dlers seek­ing out new foods and fla­vors! Ter­rif­ic! This is what hap­pens when you take your kids to sto­ry­time, my friends!

At the last sto­ry­time I did, a lit­tle boy turned the ques­tion on me: “Do you like bee-bim bop?” he asked, giv­ing the bop extra empha­sis, and bop­ping my knee as he said it. I had to admit I’d not tried it, though I was sure I’d like it because I like all the things in it…. He all but rolled his eyes. It was obvi­ous I lost a lit­tle cred­i­bil­i­ty with him.

I thought about mak­ing it from the recipe in the book, but my hus­band and I decid­ed we would go to a good Kore­an place known for its authen­tic­i­ty for our first go around. It was deli­cious, just as I knew it would be. I hope to recre­ate it in my own kitchen this week.

Hur­ry, fam­i­ly, hur­ry

Got­ta hop hop hop

Dinner’s on the table

And it’s BEE-BIM BOP!

 

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Read-Alouds That Leave a Lasting Imprint

The gift of a favorite teacher read­ing aloud an unfor­get­table book is an expe­ri­ence like­ly to leave a last­ing imprint on a student’s heart. For me, it was Ramona the Pest, intro­duced by my sec­ond-grade teacher. I’ll always remem­ber Tam­my Burns, the girl in my class who had beau­ti­ful ringlets just like Ramona’s class­mate Susan. And just like Ramona, I was always tempt­ed to give those curls a good tug to see if they would go “boing.” I was enchant­ed by Ramona, and want­ed to be just as feisty and bold. She quick­ly became my first “best book friend” and her clas­sic series would make me the vora­cious read­er I am today.

Dur­ing my three decades as a teacher, I have savored many chap­ter book read-alouds with my stu­dents in upper ele­men­tary class­rooms. And like teach­ers every­where, it is my great­est wish to make a last­ing impact on stu­dents. I believe shar­ing the very best of mid­dle grade lit­er­a­ture is a sure-fire approach to achiev­ing this goal. The gems on my list of must-have titles pos­sess tremen­dous poten­tial for enter­ing and remain­ing in the hearts of teach­ers and stu­dents alike.

Sahara Special  

Sahara Spe­cial
writ­ten by Esme Raji Codell 
Dis­ney-Hype­r­i­on, 2004

Puz­zling, Time Trav­el and World Explor­ing, Mad Sci­ence, Read Aloud, Read Togeth­er, Read Alone, Art of Lan­guage. Not your typ­i­cal 5th grade dai­ly sched­ule, but it is what Sahara gets with Madame Poiti­er, aka, Miss Pointy. Labeled as an under­achiev­er who actu­al­ly has seri­ous writ­ing tal­ent that she keeps hid­den, Sahara has opt­ed out of spe­cial edu­ca­tion class­es and is instead repeat­ing 5th grade. With help from her eccen­tric teacher, she final­ly finds the kind of sup­port and encour­age­ment that might help her over­come her fears, accept her­self and embrace her gifts. Share this book to build empa­thy and bring humor to your read aloud.

Resources

Home of the Brave  

Home of the Brave
writ­ten by Kather­ine Apple­gate
Square Fish, 2008

A beau­ti­ful sto­ry of one boy’s strug­gle to adapt to a new life in Min­neso­ta. Far from his home­land of Sudan and the school expe­ri­ence he had at a refugee camp, this exquis­ite book is a per­fect choice to pro­mote win­dows and mir­rors with stu­dents. Writ­ten in free verse, read­ers will be drawn to Kek and his desire to adapt to the frigid Min­neso­ta win­ter and life in Amer­i­ca. He is deter­mined to learn of his mother’s fate as he remains hope­ful despite his old­er brother’s pes­simism. Applegate’s descrip­tive writ­ing, rich with idioms, brings atten­tion to what it’s like to try to make sense of a new sur­round­ing and strange lan­guage. Share this book to raise aware­ness of and appre­ci­a­tion for the refugee expe­ri­ence, mak­ing new friends and hang­ing onto hope when you have lit­tle else.

Resources

Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane  

The Mirac­u­lous Jour­ney of Edward Tulane
writ­ten by Kate DiCamil­lo
Can­dlewick Press, 2006

This fan­tas­ti­cal adven­ture fea­tures a stuck up, ego­cen­tric chi­na rab­bit who is trans­formed through repeat­ed episodes of loss and love as his sto­ry spans decades. Although at first meet­ing, he is a heart­less char­ac­ter, Edward’s jour­ney is about recap­tur­ing his humil­i­ty and dis­cov­er­ing the true pow­er of love. It all begins with a fall over­board and con­tin­ues through a series of res­cues and aban­don­ments. Edward and his read­ers will face a wide range of emo­tions as the tale unfolds across unex­pect­ed set­tings with a unique ensem­ble of sup­port­ing cast mem­bers. Share this sto­ry to explore mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives and oppor­tu­ni­ties for engag­ing in char­ac­ter analy­sis. 

Resources

The War That Saved My Life

 

The War That Saved My Life
writ­ten by Kim­ber­ly Brubak­er Bradley
Dial Books, 2015

Win­ner of numer­ous awards, includ­ing a New­bery Hon­or, this unfor­get­table WWII saga tells the sto­ry of Ada, a bright but severe­ly neglect­ed nine-year-old girl, liv­ing in Lon­don. Born with a club foot and unable to walk due to lack of treat­ment, Ada has been locked in her cru­el mother’s shab­by sec­ond sto­ry flat her entire life. When the city’s chil­dren are evac­u­at­ed to the coun­try­side as Hitler’s bombs begin to fall, Ada fol­lows her younger broth­er and grasps her only chance to escape her dis­mal exis­tence. TWTSML is the kind of read aloud that cap­tures the lis­ten­er and holds on tight. Share this his­tor­i­cal fic­tion title to offer stu­dents com­pelling insight into the lives, strug­gles and hard-won vic­to­ries of two resilient chil­dren and the woman who res­cues them.

Resources

Out of My Mind  

Out of My Mind
writ­ten by Sharon Drap­er
Run­ning Press Kids, 2010

Fifth grade, spelling extra­or­di­naire Melody pos­sess­es a pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ry and is like­ly the bright­est stu­dent in the entire school. She is fun­ny, feisty and fierce. Yet no one knows any of these things about her because she is trapped and unable to demon­strate any of her tal­ents or traits. Born with cere­bral pal­sy, Melody yearns for the abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate and expe­ri­ence friend­ships like oth­er kids her age. The arrival of “Elvi­ra” trans­forms Melody’s life and the world around her. Share this book to delve into the dif­fi­cult yet nec­es­sary top­ic of bias towards oth­ers who are dif­fer­ent­ly-abled.

Resources

The One and Only Ivan  

The One and Only Ivan
writ­ten by Kather­ine Apple­gate
Harper­Collins, 2012

The poignant, inspired by true events, sto­ry of the shop­ping mall goril­la, Ivan. A beau­ti­ful blend of friend­ship and faith, art and humor, is sprin­kled through­out the pages of this endear­ing tale. A favorite New­bery Medal win­ner, Ivan has found a home in the hearts of read­ers in thou­sands of class­rooms. A gen­tle giant, Ivan learns about the essence of life from inside his glass walls dur­ing his 27 years of cap­tiv­i­ty. He finds strength, courage and love among his small but mighty group of mall friends; Julia, the mall custodian’s daugh­ter, Bob, the spir­it­ed dog, Stel­la, the wise, old­er ele­phant and Ruby, the new­ly arrived baby ele­phant. Share this book to inte­grate fan­ta­sy fic­tion and non-fic­tion accounts of the incred­i­ble sto­ry of Ivan, encour­ag­ing research and ani­mal rights advo­ca­cy.

Resources

A Long Walk to Water  

A Long Walk to Water 
writ­ten by Lin­da Sue Park
Clar­i­on Books, 2010

Anoth­er book based on a true sto­ry, this heart-rend­ing sto­ry of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” presents the par­al­lel sto­ries of two unfor­get­table chil­dren. Alter­nat­ing the third per­son nar­ra­tives, Park shares the dif­fi­cult sto­ries of Sal­va, a Din­ka boy escap­ing the hor­rors of the Sudanese civ­il war in 1985 and that of Nya, a mem­ber of the Nuer tribe, who devotes the major­i­ty of her time to retriev­ing water for her fam­i­ly in 2008. While both trag­ic and uplift­ing, share this book to raise aware­ness of the strug­gle for sur­vival due to war and lack of basic nat­ur­al resources such as water.  

Resources

Hello, Universe  

Hel­lo, Uni­verse
writ­ten by Erin Entra­da Kel­ly
Green­wil­low Books, 2017

Hel­lo Uni­verse by Erin Entra­da Kel­ly

The 2018 win­ner of the New­bery Award, this enchant­i­ng sto­ry is sure to become an all-time favorite. The sto­ry of sur­vival in both small and very big ways is woven togeth­er from the very dif­fer­ent life expe­ri­ences of four mis­fits – a bul­ly, a psy­chic, a deaf girl and a shy but kind boy. The uni­verse works in mys­te­ri­ous and some­times epic ways as this charm­ing tale of friend­ship and courage will attest. Share this book to launch a unit about fam­i­ly sto­ries, under­stand­ing and stand­ing up to bul­ly­ing, how var­i­ous cul­tures are rep­re­sent­ed in lit­er­a­ture or the idea of fate ver­sus free will.

Resources

Ms. Bixby's Last Day  

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
writ­ten by John David Ander­son
Walden Pond Press, 2016

Three sixth grade boys with noth­ing much in com­mon oth­er than a shared out­cast sta­tus and an affin­i­ty for their beloved Mrs. B, hatch a plan to deliv­er “the per­fect last day”.  As teach­ers go, Ms. Bix­by is “one of the good ones”, a teacher who under­stands the impor­tance of rela­tion­ships, respect and rec­og­niz­ing spe­cial qual­i­ties in each and every stu­dent. When she sud­den­ly takes a med­ical leave to deal with a seri­ous ill­ness, the boys embark on a com­i­cal and at times heart­break­ing quest to see her at least one more time.  Filled with a per­fect mix of hard truths and much need­ed humor, this adven­ture will keep lis­ten­ers beg­ging for just one more page. Share this book as a per­fect end-of-the-year selec­tion that leads to an emo­tion­al and mem­o­rable con­clu­sion!

Resources

 

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Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park

Lin­da Sue Park

Melanie Heuis­er Hill recent­ly inter­viewed Lin­da Sue Park, curi­ous about her dai­ly work habits as a writer, and how Lin­da Sue bal­ances life and work.

Do you have spe­cif­ic writ­ing goals that you for­mu­late and work toward — a cer­tain num­ber of words/pages a day, a draft fin­ished by a cer­tain date, revi­sion done in x num­ber of weeks etc.?

Yes. First, I write in scenes (as opposed to chap­ters), and my goal is to write 500 words per day of that par­tic­u­lar scene. What I write can be and usu­al­ly is absolute­ly awful — the aim is the quan­ti­ty, not qual­i­ty!

I begin my writ­ing day by revis­ing the pre­vi­ous day’s 500, which is actu­al­ly the main task in terms of the time it takes me. I then fin­ish by writ­ing anoth­er 500 crap­py words.

But I don’t have a long-term goal oth­er than the dai­ly one: a nov­el takes as long as it takes. This means that I pre­fer to write my books on spec, with­out a con­tract. Con­tracts stip­u­late dead­lines! I’ve had to work with a dead­line as well, for some of my books. I don’t mind a dead­line for cer­tain tasks like copy­edit­ing or proof­read­ing, but I hate hav­ing one for a first draft.

Do these goals fluc­tu­ate or change for trav­el, fam­i­ly, hol­i­days, life’s inter­rup­tions, etc?

When trav­el­ing for work, I try to get at least a lit­tle writ­ing done, espe­cial­ly in air­ports or on flights. When I’m on vaca­tion, I take a break from writ­ing — vaca­tions for me are usu­al­ly a time to wal­low glo­ri­ous­ly in READING.

Like most writ­ers, I’ve always man­aged writ­ing in and around fam­i­ly time. That’s even more true now, because my hus­band and I are care­givers for our two (adorable and bril­liant, of course) grand­chil­dren.

Linda Sue Park and her grandchildren

Lin­da Sue Park and her grand­chil­dren

You pub­lish word counts and brief com­men­tary on writ­ing process on social media with the hash­tags #amwrit­ing and #amjug­gling. Why do you put this out there pub­licly? Do you keep track of these writ­ing word counts else­where, as well?

I began tweet­ing my word counts dur­ing a time when I was feel­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly over­whelmed by dai­ly life (see grand­chil­dren, above), and find­ing it dif­fi­cult to focus on writ­ing. I thought that announc­ing my word count in pub­lic would make me feel account­able. It worked real­ly well to moti­vate me.

To my sur­prise, I began to get respons­es from folks that my word counts and com­ments about jug­gling pri­or­i­ties were inspir­ing to them. So that was anoth­er rea­son to con­tin­ue.

I don’t keep track of the word counts any­where else, although I sup­pose some com­put­er whiz could fig­ure it out from the time and date stamps in the Word file?

How has the jug­gling of life and writ­ing changed over your career? Is it hard­er or eas­i­er now?

Hard­er or eas­i­er, hmmm … That would be a day-to-day answer. Two com­ments: 

1) For me, it’s all about desire and dis­ci­pline. I want to write so bad­ly that I estab­lished the nec­es­sary dis­ci­pline to do so. Some days, it’s hard­er than oth­ers. But the key is that I made writ­ing a HABIT.

When some­thing is a habit, it’s auto­mat­i­cal­ly built in to your day. Exam­ple: You don’t have to think about brush­ing your teeth, right? For me, writ­ing is a habit in exact­ly the same way. It took me months, twen­ty years ago, when my kids were young and I was teach­ing full time, to estab­lish that habit, but it was worth it. Now it’s not an “issue,” or a ques­tion of “find­ing the time.” It’s an auto­mat­ic part of my day.

2) I sit with my lap­top and type. I make up sto­ries. I play with words. For a liv­ing. That makes me one of the luck­i­est peo­ple on the plan­et. I have to admit that inward­ly, I snort and roll my eyes when folks talk about how HARD writ­ing is. Com­pared to what many or most oth­er peo­ple have to do all day long? Please.

Any chance you’d tell us a lit­tle about recent books and what you’re work­ing on now?

I’m delight­ed to have sev­er­al projects in the works. This month, in March, the third book of the Wing & Claw tril­o­gy was pub­lished by Harper­Collins. It’s called Beast of Stone and it’s the con­clu­sion of the adven­tures of Raf­fa, Echo, and their friends. Also in March, Col­by Sharp’s The Cre­ativ­i­ty Project was pub­lished, and I’m proud to have a con­tri­bu­tion in that amaz­ing book.

And I can hard­ly wait for May, for the pub­li­ca­tion of a YA col­lab­o­ra­tive his­tor­i­cal-fic­tion nov­el titled Fatal Throne: The Wives of Hen­ry VIII Tell All. Sev­en authors — one male, six female — each wrote from the points of view of the six queens and Hen­ry him­self. I had so much fun work­ing with the oth­er ter­rif­ic authors and writ­ing Cather­ine Howard’s chap­ter.

My cur­rent work-in-progress is anoth­er his­tor­i­cal fic­tion nov­el that I’m hop­ing to fin­ish in 2018. If you’d like to track my progress, I’m post­ing my word count on Twit­ter @LindaSuePark. 

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Thank you, Lin­da Sue, for tak­ing time from your writ­ing and trav­el­ing to share your thoughts.

Learn more about Lin­da Sue Park.

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Skinny Dip with Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park

Lin­da Sue Park

We inter­viewed Lin­da Sue Park, vet­er­an author and New­bery medal­ist, whose books have inspired chil­dren in many ways, appeal­ing to a wide range of read­ers with books like A Sin­gle Shard, The Mul­ber­ry Project, Keep­ing Score, Yaks Yak, and A Long Walk to Water.

Which celebri­ty, liv­ing or not, do you wish would invite you to a cof­fee shop?

My pater­nal grand­moth­er, whom I nev­er got to meet. How­ev­er, I sus­pect she would­n’t invite me to a cof­fee shop; she’d invite me for naeng-myun instead (Kore­an cold noo­dle soup. Deli­cious.). And I real­ize that she is not a celebri­ty in the con­ven­tion­al sense, but I believe that all brave women should be.

Which book do you find your­self rec­om­mend­ing pas­sion­ate­ly?

Cur­rent­ly: All Amer­i­can Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Bren­dan Kiely

Brendan Kiely, Linda Sue Park, Jason Reynolds

Bren­dan Kiely, Lin­da Sue Park, Jason Reynolds

What’s your favorite late-night snack?

Real­ly good guac with real­ly fresh chips. I will eat mediocre chips if they’re all that’s avail­able. The guac is what mat­ters.

Favorite city to vis­it?

New York!

Most cher­ished child­hood mem­o­ry?

Sat­ur­day morn­ings at the pub­lic library.

First date?

Roller-skat­ing and ice cream, 6th grade, with a boy named Cur­tis. Where is he now?

Xander's Panda Party and Yaks YakIllustrator’s work you most admire?

UNFAIR ques­tion. Reg­is­ter­ing protest by not answer­ing.

No, strike that: I’ll name the illus­tra­tors of my two most recent pic­ture books: Matt Phe­lan (Xander’s Pan­da Par­ty) and Jen­nifer Black Rein­hardt (Yaks Yak). ‘Admire’ is too staid. Their work for my texts THRILLED me.

Tea? Cof­fee? Milk? Soda? What’s your favorite go-to drink?

Tea in the morn­ing, espres­so once or twice a day, swee’ tea when I’m in the South. My go-to is water.

What’s your dream vaca­tion?

Snor­kel­ing, read­ing on a beach, and eat­ing fab­u­lous food, both street and fine din­ing, with fam­i­ly and/or friends, some­where that has live­ly out­door mar­kets.

WormsWhat gives you shiv­ers?

Worms.

Morn­ing per­son? Night per­son?

NIGHT. Morn­ing is a recur­ring insult to the psy­che.

What’s your hid­den tal­ent?

It has fad­ed with time, but I used to be able to iden­ti­fy red M&Ms blind­fold­ed.

Your favorite can­dy as a kid …

As a kid? Why not now? As a kid: Bit O’Honey. As an adult: pecan rolls.

Is Plu­to a plan­et?

Of course not. He’s Popeye’s neme­sis — that big guy, with the arms. 😉

What’s the strangest tourist attrac­tion you’ve vis­it­ed?

The DMZ, bor­der between North and South Korea.

Broth­er and sis­ters or an only child? How did that shape your life?

One of each. I’m the old­est. I don’t think my life has a shape. Or maybe it’s con­stant­ly chang­ing.

The Park family

Best tip for liv­ing a con­tent­ed life?

1) Find a way to do work that you love. 2) When you’ve got the blues, do some­thing for some­one else.

Your hope for the world?

Every child a read­er.

Cavern of SecretsLin­da Sue, thanks for these can­did answers for our Bookol­o­gy read­ers. If they haven’t read all of your pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished books, we encour­age them to have a Lin­da Sue Park read-a-thon. Could you share with us which books comes out next?

I hope you’ll enjoy the sec­ond book in the Claw & Wing series, Cav­ern of Secrets. It fol­lows Book #1, For­est of Won­ders. You’ll find the book in book­stores on March 7, 2017. Raf­fa sets off on a treach­er­ous jour­ney across Obsidia to save his friends and fam­i­ly … and the world!

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Interview with Julie Downing: Illustrating The Firekeeper’s Son

inter­view by Vic­ki Palmquist and Mar­sha Qua­ley

Firekeeper's SonThe illus­tra­tions in The Fire­keep­er’s Son are all dou­ble-page spreads. How did that design deci­sion affect your choic­es and work?

I decid­ed on the for­mat because the land­scape is an impor­tant part of the sto­ry. The orig­i­nal dum­my I made had few­er pages so I split many spreads into small­er images. For­tu­nate­ly, my won­der­ful edi­tor rec­og­nized the prob­lem and allowed me to make the book 40 pages instead of 32, so I could spread the sto­ry over 20 spreads. We both felt the expan­sive dou­ble-page spreads helped make the sto­ry feel big­ger.

My favorite spreads are on pp. 24 – 25 and pp. 30 – 31. Sim­i­lar in palate and sub­ject, one (pp. 30 – 31) is effec­tive­ly a close-up of the oth­er (pp. 24 – 25), and that helps so much to height­en sus­pense at a crit­i­cal moment. Did this image come quick­ly or was it reached slow­ly?

My favorite sequence of spreads is between pp. 24 – 25 and pp. 30 – 31. This is the cli­mac­tic moment in the text, and Lin­da Sue expert­ly builds the cli­max to Sang-hee’s moment of deci­sion. The sequence of images took a long time to get just right (most of my ideas come V E R Y slow­ly) I drew and redrew these 4 spreads many times so I could find just the right way to show how Sang-hee decides to put aside his desire to see sol­diers (as shown in the shad­ow on pp. 24 – 25) to the moment where he lights the fire.

FirekeeperIllustrationThe toy fig­ures Sang-hee plays with are a cru­cial ele­ment in the nar­ra­tive, yet they’re not men­tioned in the text. When and how did they become part of the sto­ry?

As an illus­tra­tor, my job is to bring some­thing new to the text. The text says that Sang-hee loves sol­diers and I want­ed to show his inter­est in a way that young read­ers could under­stand. I watched my own son, who was Sang-hee’s age, when I was illus­trat­ing this book. He spent a lot of his time mak­ing Lego® fig­ures and play­ing with them, so I start­ed won­der­ing what the 17th cen­tu­ry equiv­a­lent was to Lego® and came up with the idea of clay sol­diers.

Sang-hee plays with clay (or mud) sol­diers. Did you find exam­ples of these in your research? How do you go about mak­ing sure those toys were in use dur­ing the time peri­od in which the book is set?

Chil­dren did­n’t have toys in the small Kore­an vil­lages and any that they made would not have sur­vived, how­ev­er I spoke to a cura­tor at the Asian Art Muse­um and he sug­gest­ed that chil­dren might have fash­ioned sim­ple fig­ures out of mud or clay. The actu­al sol­diers were made by my 6‑year-old-son so they looked like some­thing a young boy would make.

Where did you do your research to find the uni­forms Kore­an sol­diers would have worn dur­ing this time peri­od? They seem to have reflec­tive riv­ets on their jack­ets. Is this some­thing you could detect from your research?

I love the research part of the process. San Fran­cis­co has a won­der­ful Asian Art Muse­um and I was able to go behind the scenes and look at some of the sol­diers’ actu­al uni­forms. The muse­um also pro­vid­ed me with tons of visu­al ref­er­ence for all the cos­tumes in the book. The reflec­tion in the riv­ets actu­al­ly rep­re­sents sparks from the 2nd coal. I want­ed to visu­al­ly blend real­i­ty and fan­ta­sy.

Did you use mod­els for the peo­ple in your paint­ings?

I do use mod­els. My son’s best friend posed for Sang-hee, and his moth­er posed as well. I find one of the hard­est parts of paint­ing the illus­tra­tions for a book is mak­ing the char­ac­ters look con­sis­tent. It helps me if I find a real per­son to pose.

Do you remem­ber mak­ing a deci­sion to paint Sang-hee’s imag­ined sol­diers with­in the fire?

The text does say he saw a huge bat­tle in the flames, so I was inspired by the text. One of the things I loved about the sto­ry are the lev­els of com­plex­i­ty, and yet the writ­ing is spare. Lin­da Sue touch­es on so many themes — fam­i­ly, duty, desire — with­in a sim­ple text that I had lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties to expand the sto­ry with the art.

firekeeper_2

You achieve a won­der­ful lumi­nes­cence with your fire. How did you accom­plish this?

I worked with a com­bi­na­tion of water­col­or and liq­uid acrylics. The acrylics are incred­i­bly intense col­ors so I watered them down and paint­ed in dozens of lay­ers. My stu­dio now has a big blue-green stain right near the door, because I pinned the paint­ing to the door, wet them with a spray bot­tle and lit­er­al­ly poured paint over them. All the excess dripped onto the floor. It cre­at­ed a nice wel­come mat!

The col­or palette for the paint­ings is blue, green, and pur­ple, with a beau­ti­ful light suf­fus­ing the land­scape. What led you to decide on that group of col­ors?

I chose the col­ors to con­trast with the warmth of the fire. I usu­al­ly do exten­sive col­or stud­ies so I can work out not only the col­ors in the indi­vid­ual spreads, but also how the col­ors affect the sto­ry arc.

Lotus and the Feather, illus by Julie Downing Disney Hyperion, 2016

Lotus and Feath­er, writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Julie Down­ing, pp. 18 – 19. forth­com­ing from Dis­ney Hype­r­i­on, 2016

Many illus­tra­tors paint in water­col­or, but you’ve added pas­tel crayons. What do you feel this adds to a paint­ing?

I love paint­ing with water­col­or. The trans­paren­cy you can achieve with the medi­um was per­fect for the book. How­ev­er, some­times I want­ed a bet­ter dark, a lighter high­light, or a dif­fer­ent tex­ture, so adding pas­tel and col­ored pen­cil allowed me to do this.

The cov­er is not tak­en from pages already exist­ing in the book. It stands sep­a­rate­ly. What did you feel need­ed to be on the cov­er in order to draw peo­ple into the book?

I find cov­ers to be chal­leng­ing. I want to con­vey a sense of the sto­ry with­out giv­ing any­thing away. The edi­tor and I went back and forth on show­ing sol­diers in the flames because we were wor­ried it might reveal the end­ing. Final­ly, we decid­ed that if they were sub­tle, it just adds to the mys­tery of the sto­ry.

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Interview with Linda Sue Park: Writing The Firekeeper’s Son

Firekeeper's SonHow do you begin the research for a sto­ry set long ago?

I go to the library. I live in New York state, which has a won­der­ful inter­li­brary loan sys­tem. My local library can get me books from any­where in the state. Many of my sources have come from the East Asian col­lec­tions of uni­ver­si­ty libraries.

The Firekeeper’s Son is set, accord­ing to the Library of Con­gress data on the copy­right page, in the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry. Did you choose that time because you could ver­i­fy the fires were in use as a sig­nal sys­tem (as men­tioned in your author’s note)? Because it was a time of peace, which was cru­cial to Sang-hee’s long­ing to see sol­diers?

Both. I read about the sig­nal sys­tem in a traveler’s account of 19th cen­tu­ry Korea, and I also chose that time frame because there was no war.

bk_Park_stripThis pic­ture book was pub­lished after you’d writ­ten four nov­els. How much par­ing down of the sto­ry and text did you have to do from the first draft?

Actu­al­ly, I start­ed my writ­ing life as a poet. I’ve writ­ten poet­ry since I was a child, and pub­lished poet­ry as an adult long before I became a fic­tion writer. Good pic­ture-book text is a kissin’ cousin of poet­ry. So when I wrote the book, it felt like ‘com­ing home’ to me.

I did end up cut­ting words from the orig­i­nal draft; I can’t recall the exact num­ber, but it wasn’t dras­tic. As I implied above, I approached the man­u­script wear­ing my ‘poet­ry’ hat, not my ‘nov­el’ one!

How did you decide on the crit­i­cal ele­ment of ten­sion with­in the book?

In every sto­ry I write, the char­ac­ter has to face a prob­lem, make a deci­sion, and act on that deci­sion. Pic­ture books that tell sto­ries aren’t exempt from this struc­ture. So I knew I want­ed to put Sang-hee in a posi­tion where he would have to make a dif­fi­cult deci­sion: one where he would have to choose between his own desires and what he knew was the right thing to do. Even quite young chil­dren face this kind of dilem­ma in their own lives — I know I’m not sup­posed to throw this valu­able break­able fig­urine but I real­ly real­ly want to — so I was con­fi­dent that it would work in a pic­ture book.

You have trav­eled to Korea sev­er­al times. Do you feel that Julie Down­ing, your illus­tra­tor, cap­tured the land that you know?

Korea has of course changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly in many ways since the 19th cen­tu­ry, espe­cial­ly in the cities. I haven’t been able to vis­it the coun­try­side as much as I would like. But the moun­tains and the sea are for­ev­er — at least I hope so — and I think Julie did a ter­rif­ic job there. I also love her depic­tion of Sang-hee’s vil­lage.

FirekeeperIllustrationThe toy fig­ures Sang-hee plays with are a cru­cial ele­ment in the nar­ra­tive, yet they’re not men­tioned in the text. When and how did they become part of the sto­ry?

I was absolute­ly delight­ed to see the toy fig­ures in the illus­tra­tions. They were entire­ly Julie’s idea, and a per­fect way to show Sang-hee’s keen inter­est in sol­diers. I love how she brought her own vision to the sto­ry. That sort of detail is what makes a pic­ture book a true col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Why was it impor­tant to you to tell this sto­ry?

I think many of us feel that his­to­ry is some­thing that hap­pens out­side of our own expe­ri­ences — to famous peo­ple, as a result of momen­tous or tur­bu­lent events. But his­to­ry is hap­pen­ing all around us, all the time, and each one of us is par­tic­i­pat­ing, even if we don’t think we are! In all my his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, includ­ing this book, I want to explore how ordi­nary peo­ple are part of shap­ing his­to­ry. And of course I’m always inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about Korea, where my fam­i­ly comes from. For me, writ­ing is a way of learn­ing.

[Park_Lin­da-Sue]

 

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From the Editor

by Mar­sha Qua­ley

ph_redbirdHere in the upper Mid­west most of us are wait­ing for the oth­er shoe to drop. We’ve had a hint of win­ter, and we all sus­pect the real thing will arrive soon.  Mean­while, the land­scape is brown, with the occa­sion­al flash of col­or from hol­i­day trim­mings, birds, blaze orange out­er­wear. 

The Nation­al Book Awards were bestowed last month at what’s prob­a­bly the fan­ci­est book event in the U.S.  While the book award sea­son is now on hold until Jan­u­ary, the end of year “best” or “best bets for gifts” list­ing is in full swing. These com­mer­cial lists have a lot in com­mon with those announced in con­junc­tion with an award: They’re all about the new books.

From its incep­tion, Bookol­o­gy has not been about new books. Yes, a num­ber of our Book­storm™ books have been new releas­es, but month-to-month we aim our focus on and use our plat­form to her­ald the vast cat­a­logue of books pub­lished in pre­vi­ous years.  The per­fect book to place in the hand of a young read­er might not be the one gen­er­at­ing all the cur­rent buzz, and that’s why so many titles in our columns and ‘storms and Quirky Book lists have a few miles on them and deserve to be talked about once again.

Firekeeper's SonOur Book­storm™ book this month is The Firekeeper’s Son by New­bery medal­ist Lin­da Sue Park. A pic­ture book set in 19th cen­tu­ry Korea, it’s the sto­ry of a boy who is sud­den­ly swept away from play­time with his toy sol­diers and chal­lenged to “step up” when his father is injured.

We’ll have inter­views with both Lin­da Sue Park and, lat­er this month, the illus­tra­tor, Julie Down­ing. Also com­ing soon: a Quirky list and an end-of-year slide show hon­or­ing the children’s book cre­ators who have died this year. And of course we’ll have the usu­al columns from the bookol­o­gists and authors who show up reg­u­lar­ly in Bookol­o­gy. Today: author Eliz­a­beth Fixmer shares how children’s books deep­ened her work as a psy­chother­a­pist.

Thanks for vis­it­ing Bookol­o­gy.

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Bookstorm™: Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Untamed Bookstorm

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallThis month, we are pleased to fea­ture Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, writ­ten by Ani­ta Sil­vey, with pho­tographs and book designed by the incred­i­ble team at Nation­al Geo­graph­ic. This book is not only fas­ci­nat­ing to read, it’s a beau­ti­ful read­ing expe­ri­ence as well.

It’s not often that a book offers us a glimpse into the child­hood of a woman who has fol­lowed a brave, and car­ing, career path, but also fol­lows her through more than 50 years in that cho­sen pro­fes­sion, describ­ing her work, dis­cov­er­ies, and her pas­sion for the mam­mals with whom she works. I learned so much I did­n’t know about Dr. Goodall and her chim­panzees, Africa, field work, and how one moves peo­ple to sup­port one’s cause.

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book. For Untamed, you’ll find books for a vari­ety of tastes and inter­ests. The book will be com­fort­ably read by ages 9 through adult. We’ve includ­ed fic­tion and non­fic­tion, pic­ture books, mid­dle grade books, and books adults will find inter­est­ing. A num­ber of the books are by Dr. Jane Goodall her­self — she’s a pro­lif­ic writer. We’ve also includ­ed books about teach­ing sci­ence, as well as videos, and arti­cles acces­si­ble on the inter­net.

Jane Goodall and Her Research. From Me … Jane, the pic­ture by Patrick McDon­nell about Jane Goodal­l’s child­hood, to Jane Goodall: the Woman Who Rede­fined Man by Dale Peter­son, there are a num­ber of acces­si­ble books for every type of read­er.

Pri­mate Research. We’ve includ­ed non­fic­tion books such as Pamela S. Turn­er’s Goril­la Doc­tors and Jim Otta­viani and Maris Wick­’s Pri­mates, a graph­ic nov­el about the three women who devot­ed so much of their loves to study­ing pri­mates: Jane Goodall, Dian Fos­sey, and Biruté Galdikas.

Chim­panzees. Dr. Goodal­l’s research is specif­i­cal­ly about chim­panzees so com­pan­ion books such as Michele Colon’s Ter­mites on a Stick and Dr. Goodal­l’s Chim­panzees I Love: Sav­ing Their World and Ours are sug­gest­ed.

Fic­tion. Many excel­lent nov­els have been writ­ten about pri­mates and Africa and con­ser­va­tion, rang­ing from real­ism to sci­ence fic­tion and a nov­el based on a true sto­ry. Among our list, you’ll find Lin­da Sue Park’s A Long to Water and Eva by Peter Dick­in­son and The One and Only Ivan by Kather­ine Apple­gate.

World-Chang­ing Women and Women Sci­en­tists. Here you’ll find pic­ture book biogra­phies, longer non­fic­tion books, and col­lec­tions of short biogra­phies such as Girls Think of Every­thing by Cather­ine Thimmesh, Silk & Ven­om by Kathryn Lasky, and Rad Amer­i­can Women: A to Z by Kate Schatz.

Africa. The titles about, or set on, this con­ti­nent are numer­ous. Learn­ing About Africa by Robin Koontz pro­vides a use­ful and cur­rent intro­duc­tion to the con­ti­nent. We also looked for books by authors who were born in or lived for a while in an African coun­try; Next Stop — Zanz­ibar! by Niki Daly and Mag­ic Gourd by Coret­ta Scott King Hon­oree Baba Wague Diakiteare are includ­ed in this sec­tion.

Ani­mal Friend­ships. Chil­dren and adults alike crave these sto­ries about unlike­ly friend­ships between ani­mals who don’t nor­mal­ly hang around togeth­er. From Cather­ine Thimmesh’s Friends: True Sto­ries of Extra­or­di­nary Ani­mal Friend­ships to Mar­i­on Dane Bauer’s A Mama for Owen, you’ll be charmed by these books.

Ani­mals In Dan­ger of Extinc­tion. We’ve includ­ed only two books in this cat­e­go­ry but both of them should be stars in your book­talks. Count­ing Lions by Katie Cot­ton, illus­trat­ed by Stephen Wal­ton, is a stun­ning book — do find it! Dr. Goodall con­tributes a mov­ing book, Hope for Ani­mals and Their World: How Endan­gered Species Are Being Res­cued from the Brink.

Teach­ing Sci­ence. If you’re work­ing with young chil­dren in grades K through 2, you’ll want Per­fect Pairs by Melis­sa Stew­art and Nan­cy Ches­ley. For old­er stu­dents in grades 3 through 6, Pic­ture-Per­fect Sci­ence Lessons will inspire you.

Let us know how you are mak­ing use of this Book­storm™. Share your ideas and any oth­er books you’d add to this Book­storm™.

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Bookstorm™: Bulldozer’s Big Day

Bookstorm-Bulldozer-Visual_655

written by Candace Fleming  illustrated by Eric Rohmann  Atheneum, 2015

writ­ten by Can­dace Flem­ing 
illus­trat­ed by Eric Rohmann 
Atheneum, 2015

It’s Bulldozer’s big day — his birth­day! But around the con­struc­tion site, it seems like every­one is too busy to remem­ber. Bull­doz­er wheels around ask­ing his truck friends if they know what day it is, but they each only say it’s a work day. They go on scoop­ing, sift­ing, stir­ring, fill­ing, and lift­ing, and lit­tle Bull­doz­er grows more and more glum. But when the whis­tle blows at the end of the busy day, Bull­doz­er dis­cov­ers a con­struc­tion site sur­prise, espe­cial­ly for him!

An ide­al book for a read-aloud to that child sit­ting by you or to a class­room full of chil­dren or to a sto­ry­time group gath­ered togeth­er, Bull­doz­er’s Big Day is fun to read because of all the ono­matopoeia and the won­der­ful sur­prise end­ing.

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book. For Bull­doz­er’s Big Day, you’ll find books for a vari­ety of tastes and inter­ests. The book will be com­fort­ably read to ages 3 through 7. We’ve includ­ed pic­ture books, non­fic­tion, videos, web­sites, and des­ti­na­tions that com­ple­ment the book, all encour­ag­ing ear­ly lit­er­a­cy.

Build­ing Projects. There have been many fine books pub­lished about design­ing and con­struct­ing hous­es, cities, and dreams. We share a few books to encour­age and inspire your young dream­ers.

Con­struc­tion Equip­ment. Who can resist lis­ten­ing to and watch­ing the large vari­ety of vehi­cles used on a con­struc­tion project? You’ll find both books and links to videos.

Birth­day Par­ties. This is the oth­er large theme in Bull­doz­er’s Big Day and we sug­gest books such as Xan­der’s Pan­da Par­ty that offer oth­er approach­es to talk­ing about birth­days.

Dirt, Soil, Earth. STEM dis­cus­sions can be a part of ear­ly lit­er­a­cy, too. Get ready to dish the dirt! 

Lone­li­ness. Much like Bull­doz­er, chil­dren (and adults) can feel let down, ignored, left out … and books are a good way to start the dis­cus­sion about resilien­cy and cop­ing with these feel­ings.

Sur­pris­es. If you work with chil­dren, or have chil­dren of your own, you know how tricky sur­pris­es and expec­ta­tions can be. We’ve includ­ed books such as Wait­ing by Kevin Henkes and Han­da’s Sur­prise by Eileen Browne.

Friend­ship. An ever-pop­u­lar theme in chil­dren’s books, we’ve select­ed a few of the very best, includ­ing A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by the Steads.

Let us know how you are mak­ing use of this Book­storm™. Share your ideas and any oth­er books you’d add to this Book­storm™.

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Creating a Classroom Community with 31 Letters

by Mau­r­na Rome

Long gone are the days of “Don’t do this or that or the oth­er thing” lists of class­room rules. At least I hope they are long gone… The influ­ence of “respon­sive class­room,” greater aware­ness of the pow­er of being pos­i­tive and much research on effec­tive class­room man­age­ment have ush­ered in a new approach to estab­lish­ing expec­ta­tions in our schools. Most edu­ca­tors know that in order to learn, there has to be order in the court. Most edu­ca­tors know that “buy in” from the kids is the short­est route to arrive at the des­ti­na­tion. Most edu­ca­tors know that it is a worth­while invest­ment of time and ener­gy to lay a sol­id foun­da­tion at the start of each school year that incud­es dis­cus­sion about goals, hopes and dreams (see First Six Weeks of School, Respon­sive Class­room). 

Yet after 24 years (this year marks the begin­ning of my 25th !) I have just recent­ly real­ized how much eas­i­er it will be to estab­lish and rein­force the shared class­room agree­ments we will be cre­at­ing using some of my favorite lit­er­ary trea­sures. My vision includes a fair amount of “guid­ed dis­cov­ery,” AKA, I know what I want the out­come to be but I want the kids to feel like they have come up with it on their own. Here’s my plan…

The 31 let­ters are scram­bled on the wall. This invi­ta­tion is post­ed above.

  Dear Stu­dents,

   Please think about the kind of class­room where cool kids make

   awe­some things hap­pen every day. A place where we are all mak­ing   

   our hopes and dreams come true. The type of envi­ron­ment where  

   learn­ing and look­ing out for each oth­er are the name of the game.

   Using the 31 let­ters below, can you help build the 9 words that will

   guide us as shared agree­ments on this won­der­ful jour­ney togeth­er?   

   Thanks!  Mrs. Rome

Rome_31Letters
My hope is that my stu­dents will think, dis­cuss and work togeth­er to take 31 let­ters and turn them into our class­room creed con­tain­ing just nine words. Nine pow­er­ful words that when com­bined become five sim­ple and short, yet pow­er­ful sen­tences. Just 31 let­ters that will guide us all year long as we design and nav­i­gate the roadmap to suc­cess in our 4th/5th grade Human­i­ties class­room.

Be safe. Be kind. Work hard. Have fun. Grow.

These nine pow­er­ful words encom­pass all that I hope to accom­plish with each one of my 50 schol­ars in the com­ing year. I am con­vinced that this mantra is some­thing we can all agree on. Bring­ing these words to life, mak­ing them a part of our dai­ly actions and most impor­tant­ly, what we feel com­pelled to do in our hearts, is anoth­er order of busi­ness. A tall order of busi­ness. Yet this IS my busi­ness… to keep kids safe, to help them be kind and devel­op a strong work eth­ic, to expe­ri­ence joy as often as pos­si­ble, and always, to cul­ti­vate their tal­ents so they can grow and devel­op.

ph_NineWords
As is most often the case, when I find myself search­ing for wis­dom from a reli­able friend, I turn to the vast col­lec­tion of books in our class­room library. As I begin my 25th year as an edu­ca­tor, I mar­vel at just how impor­tant my books and the lessons they pro­vide are. Allow me to share how my trea­sures — pic­ture books and chap­ter books — will pave the way to cre­at­ing our class­room com­mu­ni­ty in Room 123.

I will begin by shar­ing some of my favorite pic­ture books, sto­ries that can be shared in the first week or two of the new school year to help us estab­lish the impor­tance of our 31 let­ters. I don’t hes­i­tate to read aloud these books that are usu­al­ly reserved for the younger crowd, because I know that the big kids ben­e­fit from pic­ture books just as much. The insights and dis­cus­sions that come from these ter­rif­ic titles help my stu­dents learn more about how our shared agree­ments will sup­port our learn­ing. The chap­ter books will unfold over days, weeks, months, yet again, the sto­ries will illus­trate how those 31 let­ters take our fic­tion­al friends through many life lessons.

At this very moment, edu­ca­tors all across the coun­try are care­ful­ly plan­ning or pre­sent­ing lessons that are designed to pro­mote enthu­si­asm for read­ing. At the same time, those ded­i­cat­ed indi­vid­u­als are work­ing on build­ing a pos­i­tive class­room com­mu­ni­ty. Most edu­ca­tors know that the right book in the hands of the right kid can make an enor­mous dif­fer­ence. Some of us even believe books have the abil­i­ty to changes lives. I am grate­ful to know, love, and share these books with my col­leagues.

Rome_stripBe Safe

The Huge Bag of Wor­ries by Vir­ginia Iron­side

The War That Saved My Life by Kim­ber­ly Brubak­er Bradley

Be Kind

Each Kind­ness by Jacque­line Wood­son

The One and Only Ivan by Kather­ine Apple­gate

Work Hard

Amaz­ing Grace by Mary Hoff­man and Thank You Mr. Falk­er by Patri­cia Polac­co

Long Walk to Water by Lin­da Sue Park

Have Fun

Wum­bers (or any­thing by Amy Krause Rosen­thal)

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Christo­pher Graben­stein

Grow

Beau­ti­ful Oops by Bar­ney Saltzberg and Beau­ti­ful Hands by Kathryn Oto­shi

Won­der by RJ Pala­cio

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Summer School

by Mau­r­na Rome

photo salt flats

Mau­r­na, read­ing at the salt flats in Argenti­na

The bumper stick­er reads: “Three rea­sons to be a teacher; June, July and August.” This may be true for some, but it was nev­er my mantra, at least until this sum­mer. This sum­mer I decid­ed to par­tic­i­pate in sum­mer school and what a good deci­sion that was! My class of “sum­mer kids” includ­ed the most diverse, inter­est­ing bunch of char­ac­ters I have ever expe­ri­enced in my 25 years of teach­ing. And best of all, rather than being con­fined to one class­room for the entire stint, our lessons took place in a vari­ety of loca­tions includ­ing Lon­don, New York, and New Orleans. If you’re think­ing this was one of those online “vir­tu­al” schools, think again. It wasn’t. I had the plea­sure of cre­at­ing this sum­mer school expe­ri­ence that was like none oth­er. I hand picked most of the kids and the places to which we trav­elled. I know it sounds too good to be true in many ways and, although it wasn’t always easy, it has been one of the most reward­ing sum­mers of my career.

Let me tell you a bit about the kids… Trust me, learn­ing about the his­to­ries of kids who have dealt with some unimag­in­able hard­ships at a very young age can pull might­i­ly on your heart­strings and make you lose sleep. My “sum­mer kids” have had to nav­i­gate some seri­ous chal­lenges. Ada was born with a phys­i­cal impair­ment that could’ve been treat­ed at birth yet her abu­sive moth­er chose to keep her locked in their apart­ment, away from oth­er kids. Her lan­guage devel­op­ment was severe­ly impact­ed by this neglect yet she final­ly

photo bookstore

Vis­it­ing a book­store in Argenti­na.

learned to read at the age of 9, thanks to her fos­ter mom. Albie is one of the kind­est, most hard-work­ing, sin­cere boys I have ever met. Although his par­ents try to be sup­port­ive, they are extreme­ly frus­trat­ed with low aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment and the fact that they were asked to remove him from his high­ly regard­ed pri­vate school. And then there’s Rose. A very high poten­tial girl with autism who lives with her emo­tion­al­ly dis­tant father and a dog she loves dear­ly. Rose has fre­quent melt­downs in class and has been known to throw things, scream and make it dif­fi­cult for oth­ers in the class­room to learn. Armani is a sassy, brave young lady who sur­vived Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na and has had to grow up fast as she helped her fam­i­ly pick up the pieces after they lost every­thing. Final­ly, there is Robert, a very lone­ly, trou­bled boy being raised by his grand­moth­er. He yearns to find out more about his moth­er who died when he was a baby. These incred­i­ble “sum­mer kids” are just a few of the 20 or so who have filled my days with wor­ry, sad­ness, inspi­ra­tion and joy. Many of my “sum­mer kids” have been teased and tor­ment­ed by peers. Not all of them have endured such trau­ma, but they all have a sto­ry to tell. My time with these “sum­mer kids” has taught me much about the pow­er of friend­ship, per­se­ver­ance and hope.

Meeting Caldecott award winning author, Dan Santat at the ILA Convention.

Meet­ing Calde­cott award win­ning author, Dan San­tat at the ILA Con­ven­tion.

One of my stu­dents had a real gift for mak­ing up rhymes. Con­sid­er this gem:

Home is a place to get out of the rain

It cra­dles the hurt and mends the pain
And no one cares about your name

Or the height of your head
Or the size of your brain

Anoth­er quote worth pon­der­ing came from the moth­er of one of my “sum­mer kids”:

If you have to tell lies, or you think you have to, to keep your­self safe — I don’t think that makes you a liar. Liars tell lies when they don’t need to, to make them­selves look spe­cial or impor­tant.

And imag­ine how tak­en I was with this thought for the day, shared by that same young man who was removed from his pres­ti­gious school for not being smart enough:

You couldn’t get where you were going with­out know­ing where you’d been. And you couldn’t be any­where at all with­out hav­ing been almost there for a while.

I love my “sum­mer kids” and the time we spent togeth­er but I have a con­fes­sion to make. The truth is, I did not receive a pay­check for any of the hours I devot­ed to sum­mer school. That may seem absurd, yet I would do it all over again in a heart­beat. What I got out of the expe­ri­ence was worth much more. There is no deny­ing how real and full of grit my “sum­mer kids” lives are. There is also no doubt that I learned some tremen­dous lessons from this group. But, you see, my “sum­mer kids” came to me from the books I savored through­out sev­er­al weeks of trav­el­ling and time with fam­i­ly and friends. While I was swept up in the worlds in which they live, they accom­pa­nied me on my sum­mer Rome_SummerKidsadven­tures, from Salta, Argenti­na to St. Louis, MO. And just like every eager learn­er who greets me at the start of a new school year, their chal­lenges and tri­umphs become mine and their sto­ries will remain in my heart for­ev­er.

I’ll bring these “sum­mer kids” into our class­room this fall where they’ll join us on our lit­er­a­cy jour­ney in the com­ing year. We’ll all get to know and dis­cuss this bunch of char­ac­ters as I read their books aloud. I am a read­er and it is so impor­tant that my stu­dents learn about my read­ing life as they con­tin­ue to cre­ate their own!

***

Some of the “kids” I spent my sum­mer with:

  • Ada – The War that Saved My Life by Kim­ber­ly Brubak­er Bradley
  • Albie – Absolute­ly Almost by Lisa Graff
  • Rose – Rain, Reign by Ann M. Mar­tin
  • Armani – Upside Down in the Mid­dle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana
  • Robert – Rump by Liesl Shurtliff
  • Jack – Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gan­tos
  • Ellie – 14th Gold­fish by Jen­nifer Holms
  • Lina – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Hyung-pil – Sin­gle Shard by Lin­da Sue Park
  • Dinky – Dinky Hock­er Shoots Smack by M.E. Kerr
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Quirky Book Lists: Go Fly a Kite!

by The Bookol­o­gist

Curious George coverCuri­ous George Flies a Kite

H.A. Rey
HMH Books for Young Read­ers, 1977 (reis­sue of 1958 edi­tion)
Ages 5 – 8

First George is curi­ous about some bun­nies, then about fish­ing, and then about his friend Billy’s kite. All’s well that ends well. Ages 5 – 8.

 


cover imageDays with Frog and Toad

Arnold Lobel
1979 Harper­Collins
Ages 4 – 8

Five sto­ries with the two famous friends, includ­ing “The Kite,” in which Frog’s opti­mism and Toad’s efforts pre­vail over the pre­dic­tions of some nay-say­ing robins. 

 

 


cover imageThe Emper­or and the Kite

Jane Yolen and Ed Young (illus­tra­tor)
Philomel, 1988 (reis­sue)
Ages 4 – 8

Princess Oje­ow Seow is the youngest of the Emperor’s chil­dren, and no one in the fam­i­ly thinks she’s very spe­cial. But when the emper­or is impris­oned in a tow­er, the princess’s kite-build­ing skills prove every­one wrong. 1968 Calde­cott Hon­or book. 


coverimageKite Day

Will Hil­len­brand
Hol­i­day House, 2012
Ages 3 – 7

Bear and Mole decide it’s the per­fect day to fly a kite, but first they have to build one. 


cover imageThe Kite Fight­ers

Lin­da Sue Park
Clar­i­on, 2000
Ages 9 and up.

A sto­ry about three friends in 15th Cen­tu­ry Korea: a boy who builds beau­ti­ful kites; his younger broth­er, who is an expert kite fly­er and kite fight­er; and a boy who is the king of Korea. 

 

 


cover imageKite Fly­ing

Grace Lin
Knopf, 2002
Ages 4 – 8

Every­one has a job to do when a fam­i­ly builds a drag­on kite. Includes cul­tur­al and his­tor­i­cal notes on kites and kite fly­ing. 


cover imageKites for Every­one: How to Make Them and Fly Them

Mar­garet Greger
Dover Pub­li­ca­tions, 2006
Ages 8 and up
Easy-to-fol­low, illus­trat­ed instruc­tions for cre­at­ing and fly­ing more than fifty kites. Includes his­to­ry and sci­ence of kites. 

 

 


bk_KiteTwoNationsThe Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Nia­gara Sus­pen­sion Bridge

Alex­is O’Neill, Ter­ry Widen­er (illus­tra­tor)
Calkins Creek, 2013
Ages 8 – 11

True sto­ry of 16 year-old Homan Walsh, who loved to fly kites and espe­cial­ly loved to fly kites over the mag­nif­i­cent Nia­gara Falls that sep­a­rates New York from Ontario. 


cover imageStuck

Oliv­er Jef­fers
Philomel, 2011
Ages 3 – 7

Floyd’s kite is stuck in a tree! What can he throw that will knock it free? What can he throw that won’t get stuck? 

 

 


 

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Peace

Peace is elu­sive. It is a goal of some peo­ple at some time in some parts of the world. As John Lennon wrote: “Imag­ine no pos­ses­sions / I won­der if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A broth­er­hood of man / Imag­ine all the peo­ple shar­ing all the world …” Is peace pos­si­ble?… more
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Baseball Crazy

Yup. I admit it. I am base­ball crazy. I have been since my mom took me to games at Met­ro­pol­i­tan Sta­di­um in Bloom­ing­ton, Min­neso­ta, to see the new­ly arrived Min­neso­ta Twins. And this year the Twins have out­door base­ball for the first time since 1982. It’s no won­der “base­ball aware­ness” is height­ened at this time of year.… more
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Best Read-Aloud Picture Books

Read­ing out loud is a low-cost, high-pay­back activ­i­ty. It ben­e­fits both the read­er and the lis­ten­er. Life­long bonds are often formed between peo­ple who engage in this activ­i­ty. Make read­ing out loud a can’t-miss half hour in your home, class­room, day­care, place of wor­ship, library, or work­place. The results may sur­prise you. “Best Read Aloud Pic­ture Books, is a new online bib­li­og­ra­phy avail­able from the Cur­ricu­lum Mate­ri­als Cen­ter at Liv­ingston Lord Library, Min­neso­ta State Uni­ver­si­ty Moorhead. … more
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