Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Justice Pon Di Road by Aliona Gibson

Title: Justice pon di Road

Author: Aliona L. Gibson

Illustrator: Andy Chou

Publisher: Self-Published

Topic: Jamaica people and culture, Multicultural,

Age: 5-8

Opening: Justice is on his way to Jamaica, a beautiful tropical island in the Caribbean.

Summary: A young boy and his mother experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Jamaican culture on a morning walk.

Resources: The author adds a glossary of Jamaican words, Facts about Jamaica, a list of famous and notable Jamaicans including national heroes.

My Review:

Readers are invited to experience Jamaica with Justice and his mother as they take a walk "pon di road," which means 'on the road' in Jamaican.

I enjoyed the descriptive imagery used in the story, it brought to memory my own visit to Jamaica many, many years ago. I was older than Justice granted, but, I loved my visit just the same. Just like in the story, the Jamaican people are very warm and friendly.

I loved the language, Patois (patwa) which the author uses in the book for many of the common day-to-day words, like greetings, foods and more. I could almost here the Jamaican tongue as I read the words :)

We are also introduced to local culture and child-upbringing in Jamaica, like keeping children out of the rain, protecting them from all types of dangers (sun, sticks, dangerous busy roads, etc.,) and the various types of local food and drinks.

This is a really wonderful multicultural book and I enjoyed reading it and re-visiting Jamaica through Justice's and his mother's eyes.

Visit the author's website to learn more about Aliona Gibson and to buy the book!  Also, visit the book's Facebook page to show your support!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Althea Gibson

In 1957, Althea Gibson was the first African-American to play in and win Wimbledon and the United States national tennis championship. She won both tournaments twice, in 1957 and 1958. In all, Gibson won 56 tournaments, including five Grand Slam singles events.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: The Granddaughter Necklace by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Title: The Granddaughter Necklace

Author: Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, January 1, 2013

Topics: Family history, Heirlooms, Families - Mothers & Daughters

Age: 4-8

Opening: Once there was a girl named Frances, who took a boat across the sea. Her mother gave her a glittering necklace that would belong to me someday.

Summary: A mother shares with her daughter stories of the generations of women in their family as each individual has passed along the tales and a glittering necklace to her own daughter.

Heirlooms and family stories: Do you have an heirloom in your family? What is the story behind it?
Family Tree. Draw a family tree or visit this site for fun family tree building activities.
Make a pendant or heirloom together as a family if you don't have one already. Make sure to leave an account of why the pendant is special.

What I liked about the book:
Simple. Elegant. Poetic. Sharon, the narrator of the story, tells how a special heirloom, a beautiful necklace made out of crystal beads, was passed down through the women in her family on special occasions. She begins with how her mother got the necklace then moves back in her family history to her grandmother, great grandmother, great-great grandmother, all the way back five generations of women who wore the necklace. Then she tells how she got the necklace and how she will give the necklace to her own daughter. This is a heart-warming tale of love, family and gifts, passed down from one generation to another. I was moved by the author's note at the end of the story of how she came to learn about her Irish and African ancestry.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Freedom Song: The Story of Henry "Box" Brown by Sally M. Walker

Title: Freedom Song: the Story of Henry "Box" Brown

Author: Sally M. Walker

Illustrator: Sean Qualls

Publisher: HarperCollins, January 3, 2012

Topics: People & Cultures: African-American, Biography of Henry "Box" Brown, Slavery, Black History, Underground Railroad, Determination and Perseverance

Ages: 4-8

Opening: When Henry Brown came into this world, his family sang.

Summary: Henry “Box” Brown was a slave in the 1800’s on a plantation near Richmond, Va. Song was an important part of his life and he sang for all aspects of it. When Henry’s wife and children were sold to another master, Henry’s song stopped. And in the silence, he thought of an ingenious way to escape slavery and find freedom.

While not related to this book directly, Virginia Memory has an excellent Lesson Plan for the study of Henry "Box" Brown. What to know more about the underground railroad? Check out this website for a guided tour.

What I like about the book:
How far would you go to escape brutality, humiliation, cruelty and suffering? What would you do to be free?  I am in awe of the courage and daring plan Henry "Box" Brown used to escape slavery. This book is an excellent additional reading when studying slavery, the underground railroad and freedom stories. Even though most of the book details his journey to freedom as an adult, it is told in a voice that children will appreciate and follow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Knockin' On Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates

Title: Knockin' on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates

Author: Lynne Barasch

Illustrator: Lynne Barasch

Publisher: Lee & Low, (reprint edition) September 1, 2012

Topics: People and Cultures: African-American, Biography - Clayton 'Peg Leg' Bates, People with Disabilities, Tap Dancing, Overcoming Adversities, Discrimination

Age: 7 - 10

Opening: Back in 1912 in South Carolina, when Clayton was just five years old, he danced every chance he got.

Summary: Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates was one of the legendary tap dancers of the twentieth century. As a young boy, Clayton loved to dance, but when he lost his left leg in a factory accident at the age of twelve, no one thought he would ever walk again, let alone dance. But he proved that his peg leg could tap just as good as any!

Find a teacher's guide for the book at the publisher's website.

What I like about the book:
 I love a book that teaches me something for the first time! I have never heard of Peg Leg Bates before until I read "Knockin' on Wood." I was moved by his extraordinary will to live life to the fullest and go after his dream. His determination helped him turn his misfortune into triumph, setting an example for those who may or may not be dealing with a disability.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Title: Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; First Edition, August 8, 2006

Topic: People & Cultures: Harriet Tubman, African-American History, Biography of Harriet Tubman, Slavery, Underground Railroad, Faith & Spirituality

Age: 5-8

Opening: On a summer's night, Harriet gazes at the sky and talks to God.

Summary: Carol Boston Weatherford poetically describes Harriet Tubman's spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her North to freedom on that very first trip to escape slavery. Tubman, courageous and compassionate, and deeply religious, would take 19 subsequent trips back South, never being caught, but none as profound as this first.

Wild Geese Guides has a lesson plan to go with the book.
Teaching Books has three lesson plans to go with the book. (two of them are pdf's)

What I like about the book:
At one point in our lives, we have all read the story of Harriet Tubman. I have read many books dedicated to the courage and dedication of this African-American heroine. But I have never read it the way this author tells her story. I learned that Harriet Tubman was often afflicted with seizures and black outs due to a traumatic head injury caused by her slave master. She also had visions and dreams that she attributed to God since she was a religious woman. In "Moses," the author beautifully captures that faithful relationship between Harriet Tubman and God as she seeks freedom first for herself and then her family. Throughout the book, there is this constant spiritual connection, dialog between them from the beginning to the end.  The illustrations were equally thoughtful and compelling.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: These Hands by Margaret H. Mason

Title: These Hands

Author: Margaret H. Mason

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, March 7, 2011

Topics: People and Cultures: African-Americans, African-American History: Civil Rights, Families: Grandfathers & Grandsons

Age: 4-8

Opening: Look at these hands, Joseph. Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat? Well, I can still help a young fellow learn to tie his shoes - yes, I can.

Summary: An African-American man tells his grandson about a time when, despite all the wonderful things his hands could do, they could not touch bread at the Wonder factory. Based on stories of bakery union workers.

Find a lesson plan to go with the book here.
Have child(ren) cut out an outline of their hand. Let them discuss what they can do with their hands. What can they not do with their hands. Let them trace the hands of different people (of different ages) in their family and discuss what they can and cannot do with their hands.

Why I like the book:
This is story is more than a historical reference of a time when blacks could not prepare the bread for the Wonder factory. It is also a story of appreciation and one generation passing on a legacy to the next. Joseph's grandfather does that by passing on his knowledge, his talents and his family history. I love his gentle nature in teaching his grandson and how Joseph is proud to show what he has learned from his grandfather.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bully by Patricia Polacco

Title: Bully

Author: Patricia Polacco

Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons,

Age: 7 and up

Topic: Friendship, Cyberbullying, Bullies, Popularity, Schools

Opening: It was the first day at my new school.

Summary: Sixth-grade friends Lyla and Jamie, both new to their school, stand up for each other when a clique of popular girls bullies them online.

Facts about Bullying. How to identify a bully activity at Learning to Give
Top tips for kids. More tips at Teaching Tolerance.
Our Stories Count has some excellent classroom activities to get discussions and conversations going about bullying.

What I like about the book:
Lyla moves to a new home and is nervous about her first day at her new school. When she is there, she meets another student, Jamie who is also new. They become friends. When Lyla becomes friends with 3 of the popular girls in school, she begins to learn that they are not her real friend when they make her leave her friend Jamie and begin to make fun of him on facebook. When Lyla finally decides to stand up for Jamie, her "friends" turn on her. Lyla soon is faced with a bombardment of cyber bullying, threats and finally she is accused of cheating. Bullying has become a huge problem in our schools. The end results of such bullying has taken lives of innocent children. The last page provides a thought provoking question to the reader, What would you do?  It is time we start at an early age teaching children what a bully is, how to protect themselves from bullies and how to stand up for others who are bullied.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Blackout by John Rocco

Title: Blackout

Author: John Rocco

Illustrator: John Rocco

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, May 24, 2011

Age: 4-8

Topic: Family life, City life, Electricity, Power Outage

Opening: It started as a normal summer night.

Summary: A family enjoys spending time with their neighbors and looking at the stars during a blackout on a hot summer night in the city.

So, what would you do if your power went out? Make a Plan with your family, make sure you have some basic items (flash lights/candles, extra batteries, and know where they are) and fun activities to keep everyone busy and happy. Some activities can include: star gazing, story circle, charades, songs, board games, card games, bbq, and so much more.
Here is a fun Haiku activity to go with the book.

What I liked about the book:
EVERYTHING! This book took  me back to my childhood when I lived seven miles from the nearest - not city- but town. The starry night was our television, we sat around a fire stove to keep warm and pop popcorn, my mom was the best story-teller I have ever known, and it was simply an amazing time spent together as a family. I really miss those times and this book brought it all back to me. In this story, a little boy wants to play a board game but everyone is too busy doing their own thing. So, he eventually sits in front of the tv and plays a video game until the power goes out. At first he is afraid until his mother comes and soon the family is out and about exploring the night as the city party's under the beautiful starry night sky. When the lights do come back on, everything seems to go back to normal only it doesn't for this family. They turn off their lights and sit down as a family and continues to play a board game together by candle light. Parents, don't wait till a blackout to have a family night. One day a week, turn off your electronics, turn off the lights, unplug the phones and be a family. And if you can get your block or neighborhood to join the fun, that is even better! :) 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Windows with Birds by Karen Ritz

Title: Window with Birds

Author: Karen Ritz

Illustrator: Karen Ritz

Publisher: Boyds Mills Press, March 1, 2010

Age: 5 -7

Topic: Animals, Adapting to change, Moving

Opening: This was the house that had windows with birds.

Summary: A cat adjusts to a new home in an apartment, high above the ground after living in a house.

Resources: Tips on how to help pets adjust to a new home. Tips for children who are moving to a new home.

Why I like this book: This story is told from the cat's perspective. The cat loves his house and the boy that takes care of him. But when the boy suddenly takes him to a new home, the cat is distraught and hides from the boy and wails for his old home, his old hiding places and the birds in his window. It is only after some time has passed that the cat finds a way to love his new home when he sees birds flying outside his window, and new places to hide. This book is a great way to help children with change, especially to a new home. It also helps children become aware how this change can affect their pets and how they can help their pets adjust to a new home.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Black History Month: Picture Book Pick: Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons

Hardcover Picture Book
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Illustrated by Daniel Minter

Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. But after it’s announced in church that the marriages of former slaves will be registered, she hears more about why it matters so much. For her mama and papa, who could be sold away at a master's whim and whose union had no legal protection, jumping the broom was a way to show their commitment to being husband and wife. Now, as the whole family travels to the courthouse dressed in their best, Ellen carries the broom with them. With love, ingenuity and pride, she finds a way to celebrate her parents' right to be legally married and remember their past.

Please visit Kelly's website for more information, resources and activities to go with the book

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Harriet Tubman

NAME: Harriet Tubman

Birth Name: Araminta Harriet Ross
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist
BIRTH DATE: c. 1820

DEATH DATE: March 10, 1913
PLACE OF BIRTH: Dorchester County, Maryland
PLACE OF DEATH: Auburn, New York 

Best Known For

Harriet Tubman escaped slavery to become a leading abolitionist. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad.
This US postage stamp was issued Feb 1, 1978 in honor of Black Heritage Month
"Harriet Tubman." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 02:14

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Benjamin Banneker

Name: Benjamin Banneker

Occupation: Astronomer

Education: Self taught

Birth Date: November 09, 1731

Death Date: October 25, 1806

Place of Birth: Ellicott's Mills, Maryland

Place of Death: Baltimore, Maryland

Best Known For
Benjamin Banneker was a largely self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs, inventor and writer. In 1753, Banneker completed the construction of his own clock, which kept time until his death.
This US postage stamp was issued Feb 15,1980 in honor of Black Heritage Month.
"Benjamin Banneker." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 01:56

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reccomended Picture Book: Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education

Title: Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education

Author: Elizabeth Suneby

Illustrator: Suana Verelst

Publisher: Kids Can Press, September 1, 2013

Age: 8 - 12

Topics: People and Places: Afghanistan, Girl's Education, Hope

Opening: My cousins and I raced down the road to see what the excitement was about. Men and women were gathering around an empty lot in our village.

Summary: Razia dreams of getting an education, but in her small village in Afghanistan, girls haven't been allowed to attend school for many years. When a new girls' school opens in the village, a determined Razia must convince her father and oldest brother that educating her would be best for her, their family and their community.

Resources: Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation has standardized curricular to go along with the book as well as a fact sheet. The book also includes some classroom activities as well as a glossary.

Why I like this Book:  Razia's Ray of Hope is a heart-wrenching yet empowering story of a young girl's courage to go after her dream of getting an education, a dream many young children in developed countries take for granted. It is based on the true stories of the students of the Zabuli Education Center for Girls just outside of Kabul, founded by Razia Jan, a CNN hero, who also appears in the story. The illustrations are beautiful and share insights into another country and culture a world away from us. This book belongs in every home and library.

Black History Month: Celebrates Ida B. Wells

NAME: Ida B. Wells                      

OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Journalist                            

BIRTH DATE: July 16, 1862                                

DEATH DATE: March 25, 1931                      

EDUCATION: Rust University, Fisk University

PLACE OF BIRTH: Holly Springs, Mississippi                           

PLACE OF DEATH: Chicago, Illinois
"Ida B. Wells." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 02:15

This US postage stamp was issued Feb 1, 1990 in honor of Black Heritage Month.

Best Known For

Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s.   This US postage stamp was issued in Feb 1, 1990 in honor of Black Heritage 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Carter G. Woodson

NAME: Carter G. Woodson

OCCUPATION: Historian     

BIRTH DATE: December 19, 1875     
DEATH DATE: April 03, 1950
EDUCATION: Harvard University     
PLACE OF BIRTH: New Canton, Virginia
PLACE OF DEATH: Suitland-Silver Hill, Maryland
     Best Known For

Carter G. Woodson was an African-American writer and historian known as the "Father of Black History Month." He penned the influential book The Mis-Education of the Negro.

This US postage stamp was issued Feb 1, 1984 in honor of Black Heritage Month

"Carter Godwin Woodson." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 02:04

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Feburary is Black History Month!

Black History Month Facts:

Who: Dr. Carter G. Woodson was the first to initiate the study of black history in schools, colleges and universities as well as the celebration of African-Americans in US history.
When: In 1926, Dr. Woodson launched Negro History Week in the second week of February. He chose that week because it marked the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Why: Dr. Woodson saw throughout his own studies that African-American people were written out of the history books and when they were in the books, it reflected poorly on them. He wanted to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.
To Celebrate......
..... this month, we will feature notable figures in history, picture books, art, activities, poems, historical facts and more.