Monthly Archives: April 2018

Write Your Own Haiku for Kids

Write Your Own Haiku for Kids
by Patricia Donegan
Tuttle Publishing, 2017

Filled with haiku, this book introduces the seven keys to writing haiku and, step by step, helps readers identify into words the five senses of their haiku moment.  New writers can review their haiku with a checklist.  The book also covers other forms of haiku, including visual forms and seasonal haiku.  Haibun (stories in haiku), haiga (haiku with drawings) and Renga (linked poetry) are also included, along with activities that can be done with haiku, like making a small book from one sheet of paper.  The book offers readers an immersion into haiku and its many forms, generously sprinkling haiku and writing prompts to assist in learning.  Many haiku are written by other children, to encourage children to plunge into the new poetry form.

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If Wendell Had a Walrus












If Wendell Had a Walrus
by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Matt Phelan
Henry Holt and Company, Books for Young Readers

This story follows Wendell’s imagination on his journey to find a walrus.

Wendell saw a cloud shaped like a walrus and his imagination roamed.  He imagined it was real. He gave it a name, told it jokes, and tried to play his favorite games with it, although he soon learned a walrus wasn’t so good at climbing trees. Wendel imagined he’d have “the most stupendiferous, cosmically colossal best time of their lives.”  When Wendell accepted he didn’t have a walrus, he decided to get one and a new journey began.

If Wendell Had a Walrus easily moves from one idea to another, just like an active, young boy’s imagination does.  A delight to read and re-read.  The words and playful illustrations work so well together, readers will feel like they have their own walrus! It’s the kind of book that inspires a child to imagine their own dreams.  A great adventure for young readers.

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Write to Me, Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind













Write to Me, Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind
by Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Amiko Hirao
Charlesbridge, 2018

A little-known true story of one person’s friendship and generosity and the impact it made to her recipients.

When Japanese citizens were sent to internment camps during World War II, Clara Breed, a librarian, said good bye to her patrons at the train station, where she handed out penny postcards and encouraged the children to write to her. She visited them at their temporary camp in California and sent boxes of books to the children when she could. In time, postcards from the children began arriving.  When the internment camps were closed, a few children returned to Clara’s library.

An Author’s Note tells of how when she moved to a retirement home, she found a box of more than 250 letters and postcards she had received. She was honored in 1991 at a reunion for Japanese Americans who had been imprisoned in Poston, Arizona.  More than seven hundred people gave her a standing ovation.

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Seeing into Tomorrow, Haiku by Richard Wright











Seeing into Tomorrow, Haiku by Richard Wright
Richard Wright, illustrated by Nina Crews
Millbrook Press, 2018

Delightful book. Richard Wright, 1908-1960, wrote hundreds of haiku in his later years and this book features twelve of them. Featuring African-American children it’s a perfect introduction to haiku and the seasons. Nina Crews’ photos capture the images and emotions of the poems.

The haiku explore and encourage deeper associations with typical images seen in each season. “As my delegate, My shadow imitates me…”  How empowering knowing your shadow respects you so much, it imitates and represents you!  Some haiku personify nature, giving children the opportunity to wear another’s shoes and see the world from other perspectives, as in, “The clouds are smiling At a single yellow kite Swaying under them.” These perspectives open reader’s minds to what other things in nature notice their presence, and, they are not alone.

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Hilde Cracks the Case: Hero Dog!

Hilde Cracks the Case: Hero Dog!
by Hilde Lysiak
Scholastic, 2017

Author Hilde Lysiak, a real-life reporter since she was seven, now, at age ten, turns her reporting adventures into early reader chapter books. In real life, local reporters, police and other professionals don’t take her seriously, but her neighbors, who watch her meticulously follow through on clues, do!

In the first of the Hilde Cracks the Case series, Hero Dog!, We follow the adventures of Hilde as she is told of seemingly unrelated actions happening in her neighborhood.  Stolen eggs.  Smashed cupcakes.  Broken plates.  Are they related? Why would anyone do these things? Are there suspects?  Readers follow each clue as it’s discovered and think through the clues to help solve the mystery.  Will Hilde figure out the mystery, and will she get the story out on time?  A riveting read!

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Martin Rising, Requiem for a King 












Martin Rising: Requiem for a King 
Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Scholastic Press, 2018

A collection of brilliant “docu-poems” summarizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s(MLK) birth, life and family, and time up to the weeks and months before his death. The time before his death includes his birthday January 15 through April 4, 1968. The story includes the sanitation worker’s strike in Memphis and its challenges, MLK’s last sermon and his last night. It also includes the half-mast flags, funeral and mourning of a community who had lost their leader. Author Andrea Davis weaves in MLK quotes on love into a valentine poem ending with,

“…folks in Memphis
are down on their knees
proposing to Equality:
Be mine!”

The book introduces readers to acronyms like GOD: Gift of Desperation, their motivation for the strike, and COME: Community on the Move for Equality. She uses Henny Penny, a chicken of “The Sky is Falling” fame, as narrator to illuminate, punctuate and foretell events in the story.

In loose, vibrant colors, Brian Pinkney’s illustrations show the emotions of the events, both emotions displayed and emotions held in by the African-American community during their struggles. A brilliant piece of work on all accounts.

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Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers
by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Sleeping Bear Press, 2008

This creative history-based tale tells the story of Japanese Yuki who must travel 300 miles with her family and one thousand carriers for her father to be with the Shogun. Traveling on foot, this is a long journey.

Yuki does not want to leave home and each day is reminded she is not home by what she sees. The carriers wade across rivers, climb snow covered mountains and pass bays and villages. Yuki and her mother, however, are carried in a palanquin. Yuki’s life is much different from today’s girls. In one way, following rules for a family of her class, she could not be seen and, therefore, could get out of the palanquin and run or walk on her own. But keeping up with her studies was important and she wrote a haiku each day.

We are a dragon
Our one thousand carriers
the dragon’s long tail.

The story is told in a lovely, poetic voice, interspersed with haikus.  Gloria Whelan’s exquisite writing immerses the reader into the time, country and culture.  Yan Nascimbene’s watercolor illustrations the gentle, protected life Yuki lived.

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