Monday, November 30, 2009

Nonfiction Monday - Dinosaurs ROAR, Butterflies SOAR!

Dinosaurs ROAR, Butterflies SOAR!, written and illustrated by Bob Barner, offers a look at prehistoric life both large and small, as well as the role that butterflies played in fostering the growth of flowering plants. Written on two levels to engage a variety of readers, you'll first find simple text describing the basic action.
"Flowering plants made more air for dinosaurs to breathe and huge amounts of food for them to eat."
This text is set in a larger font and displayed more prominently on the page. This text is accompanied by more detailed informational text, found near the bottom of each page spread and set in a smaller font.
Dinosaurs were accidental farmers that helped plants grow. As they walked, their feet opened the soil, and their droppings fertilized seeds that grew into new plants.
Each turn of the page reveals energetic and bold illustrations covering a double-page spread. The first spread, packed with dinosaurs, gives way to a page filled with butterflies and flowers. Each paper collage is filled with bright colors, textures, and fine details, like those found on the butterfly wings.

While simplified for the youngest readers, the text is still highly informative. Here are some things readers will learn.
  • Butterflies spread pollen, which helped flowering plants flourish.
  • Widespread availability of flowering plants meant more food for herbivores, and likewise, more food for carnivores. (For older students there's a great food chain lesson here!)
  • While a catastrophic event caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, butterflies and other smaller animals lived.
  • Today more than 18,000 types of butterflies are known.
The book ends with an easy-to-read timeline (great for young readers just becoming familiar with this concept) and a final spread of interesting facts about plants, caterpillars, insects, and more.

Barner doesn't gloss over the fact that there is still much we don't know about dinosaurs and other animals that lived in prehistoric times, butterflies included. He reminds readers that "As with dinosaurs, no one knows the colors of these ancient creatures." He ends on the enticing notion that "Many plant, butterfly, and dinosaur secrets remain hidden in fossils and rocks waiting to be found, maybe by you." Wouldn't that be amazing?

Dinosaurs ROAR, Butterflies SOAR! is a wonderful blend of art and science. For dinosaur lovers, as well as kids interested in butterflies, this book is a winner. Barner's book will make a great addition to all those units on butterfly life cycles. Introducing a bit of butterfly history will be a wonderful way to round out the study of these amazing creatures. Download the teacher's guide for some additional ideas for using the book in the classroom. Highly recommended.

Book: Dinosaurs ROAR, Butterflies SOAR!
Author/Illustrator: Bob Barner
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: April, 2009
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-3
ISBN: 978-0811856638
Source of Book: Personal copy.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Hosting this week is Robin Gaphni at The Booknosher. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Just Let Them Read

In an article entitled What Really Kindles My Fire For Reading, Keir Graff makes this statement.
I have screen fatigue. I have gadget fatigue, too, and key, button, mouse, and scroll-wheel fatigue. When I open the covers of a book, my soul sighs in relief.
My soul sighs in relief. Amen to that.

Perhaps most enlightening thought in this article is the last sentence.
Let people read on paper, on screens; let them listen; let them have the words made into holograms and take virtual baths in them—just let them read.
I'll say it again--Amen.

It's a short article, but it packs a punch. Do stop by and check out What Really Kindles My Fire For Reading.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Poetic Bestiary

I've been reading a lot of books about magical and mythical creatures as of late, so I thought it might be fun to write some poems about these creatures. Not sure what to write about? Check out a few of these links.
So, what kind of creature will you write about? Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Poetry Stretch Results - Hay(na)ku

The challenge this week was to write in the form of hay(na)ku. Here are the results.
Jane Yolen left this poem in the comments.
    The Widow Speaks

    Come back.
    I miss you.

    One-way conversations
    Satisfy no one.

    You cannot
    Come to me,

    Must go
    Underground to you.

    Gray stone
    Beckons to me,

    Words written
    On its surface

    Printed invitation.
    Here’s my RSVP.

    Will not
    Be too long.

    © 2009 Jane Yolen, all rights reserved.
Heidi Mordhorst of my juicy little universe left this poem in the comments.
    morning Tricia
    I finally Stretch!

    trying hay(na)ku
    must make lunches

    soy sauce
    storebought chocolate pudding
Diane Mayr of Random Noodling left this poem in the comments.
    sits waiting
    frozen solid, wrapped

    plastic. Innards
    removed except for

    gizzard, and
    heart soon to

    additions to
    gravy, stuffing, or

    for the
    dog's thanksgiving treat.

    ask: what
    would the Pilgrims

    about our
    idea of thanks?
Kate Coombs of Book Aunt left this poem in the comments.
    leaf, shaken
    by windy envy.

    bird, rewriting
    a November sky.

    sound, alarm
    clock prodding me.

    good morning
    in the mirror.

    pillow, making
    half a bed.

    lunch beside
    the front door.

    bowl, one
    spoon and cup.

    I forget
    lonely, but then

    days it
    eats me up.

    --Kate Coombs (Book Aunt), 2009
Kelly Polark left this poem in the comments.
    Time to
    Stuff the turkey.

    Time to
    Stuff the human.

    Time to
    Start your diet!

    --Kelly Polark, 2009
Easter of Owl in the Library shares a poem entitled Married to the Military.

Carol Weis left this poem in the comments.
    Stirs Up Memories

    miss Mom
    as the holidays

    upon us.
    The thought of

    easy laugh
    and the sweet

    she wore
    stirs up memories.

    can smell
    her creamed onions

    through the
    house as I

    the skins
    of those small

    elliptic beauties
    ready to drop

    into a pot
    that she once

    knowing full
    well her redolent

    will infuse
    this reminiscent dish.

    © Carol Weis. All rights reserved.
Julie Larios of The Drift Record left this poem in the comments.
    leaves falling,
    nine hang on,

    winds blowing -
    going, going, gone.

    to Heaven.
    Six to sea.

    says Four,
    please marry me.

    leaf babies
    in a swirl,

    Leaf Boys,
    one Leaf Girl.
Susan Taylor Brown left several poems in the comments.
    jangled leash calls
    snoring dog


    grandmother's rosewater perfume
    calls back


    gather happily
    but not mine

    pretend invisibility
    breaking grandma's heart
Linda of Write Time left this poem in the comments.
    An Invitation

    now grown-
    far from home.

    this holiday
    with their in-laws.

    our first
    year without them.

    be fun-
    trying something new.

    for two-
    How about it?

    and me-
    dinner by candlelight?
Stephanie Parsley of sparble shares a poem entitled For Alfred, Visiting From My Daughter's Junior High Science Lab.

Harriet of spynotes left this poem in the comments.

 [a hay(na)ku]

    I had
    three small things:

    white horse
    with silver wings

    fit in
    my small palm,

    tiny green
    beetle who buzzed,

    a pebble
    from the river.

    kept them
    in my pocket,

    them between
    hands and thighs,

    the beetle
    spread its wings.

    there were
    only two things.

    pebble slipped
    somewhere toward home.

    clicked against
    the pavement, vanished.

    the horse
    with silver wings,

    lies in
    my pocket still –

    I think,
    it always will –

    remind me
    of possible flight,

    remind me
    of possible loss,

    remind me
    to hold to

    true thing
    to carry around,

    horse with
    two silver wings,

    a hand
    to hold them.
I tried hard to write about Thanksgiving this week, but sometimes you have to go where the words lead you.
is bringing
my father back

that’s exactly
what I want

more day
alone with him

his strong
hands at work

to strains
of Dixieland jazz

working together
side by side

is filling
the enormous hole

my heart
and our family
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll add it to the list.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Magic

I'm well into making some magic of my own today, so I thought I would share this poem.
Thanksgiving Magic
by Rowena Bastin Bennett

Thanksgiving Day I like to see
Our cook perform her witchery.
She turns a pumpkin into pie
As easily as you or I
Can wave a hand or wink an eye.

Read the poem in its entirety.
Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Books for Elementary Social Studies - History

This is the last week my preservice teachers will be posting social studies book reviews at Open Wide, Look Inside. This time around they focused on US and Virginia history. You'll find books about Lewis and Clark, Jamestown, the Civil War, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, some independent dames, and more.

If you want to check out titles and topics you may have missed, follow these links.
This is our last set of reviews for the semester, so please stop by and check out this last installment. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nonfiction Monday - What's Under There?

I taught an environmental education workshop this weekend in which one of our outdoor activities was to turn over rotting logs in the forest to see what we could find. It was great, dirty fun. Here are the books I like to match with this activity to get kids thinking about what they'll find when they turn over logs and rocks.

What's Under the Log?, written and illustrated by Anne Hunter - This little gem fits nicely in your hands and begins by asking the question in the title. Hunter then introduces readers to ten animals living beneath the log. The book ends with a short description of a tree's life cycle, reminding us that a rotting log not only provides a home for many creatures, but also returns important nutrients to the soil as it decays.

A Log's Life, written by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Robin Brickman - An oak tree in the forest provides a home for many creatures. When the tree is felled during a storm it becomes a giant log and serves as a home for a whole host of new creatures. This one follows the log through several seasons until the rotting log becomes a mound of rich soil, and the perfect place for an acorn to take root and grow. (Take a closer look inside this book.)

Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs and Other Ughs, written by Anthony Fredericks and illustrated by Jennfier DiRubbio - A Sharing Nature With Children book, this one uses the form of "The House that Jack Built" to examine seven different animals that just might live under a rock near you. In the Field Notes readers will find additional information on earthworms, ants, spiders, beetles, field crickets, millipedes and slugs.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Hosting this week is Diane Chen at Practically Paradise. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Hay(na)ku

I've found another new form that I would like to try this week. It's called hay(na)ku and was created in 2003 by poet Eileen Tabios. Here are the guidelines.

Hay(na)ku is a 3-line poem of six words with one word in the first line, two words in the second, and three in the third. There are no other rules and no restrictions on number of syllables or rhyme.

Need some examples? You can find some Hay(na)ku poetry contest winners at the Hay(na)ku Poetry blog. There is also a thoughtful essay about the form at Dragoncave.

As you'll see from the examples, some folks create poems comprised of several hay(na)ku strung together. So, what kind of hay(na)ku will you write? Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

McSweeney's, Twilight, and a Bit of Wuthering Heights

You know I love me some McSweeney's. Take a look at Catherine and Heathcliff Audition for Twilight. I dare you not to laugh.

Poetry Friday - Hand Shadows

The poetry stretch this week was to write about games of childhood. One of my favorite things to do was make shadows on the wall, though I was never very good at it. Here is a wonderful poem about just such a pastime.

Hand Shadows
by Mary Cornish

My father put his hands in the white light
of the lantern, and his palms became a horse
that flicked its ears and bucked; an alligator
feigning sleep along the canvas wall leapt up

Read the poem in its entirety.

The round up is being hosted by Julie Larios over at The Drift Record. Do stop by and take in the wonderful poetry being shared. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quick Hits - Some Posts of Interest

I'm way behind on my blog reading. I haven't read a single post in the Winter Blog Blast Tour (WBBT for short) yet! But, I am saving those for the weekend, when my computer and I shall be united for too long to mention. Until then, here are two short posts that caught my eye.

John Green - On Liking Twilight

Roger Sutton - One Question or Two?

Poetry Stretch Results - Childhood Games

The challenge this week was to write a poem about a childhood game or pastime. Here are the results.
Jane Yolen left this poem in the comments.

    I was no Jill at Jacks,
    tumbling gracelessly down a hill.
    Instead I swiped the little iron-legged tokens
    with a quick hand, snagged the ball,
    was on to the next round with hardly a wasted motion.
    Champion of my camp, of my elementary school,
    I privileged jacks over real boys,
    keeping my winning streak going
    until my first kiss the summer I was thirteen.
    The next time I played jacks
    was with my own children
    who could sit on the floor with an ease
    I scarcely remembered.
    The last time was at a conference,
    with two women friends,
    one of whom brought her own jacks and ball
    in a velvet drawstring bag.
    We sat on the hotel floor
    watched over by conference attendees.
    They cheered us equally.
    But two of us lost.
    We lost big.
    Never play pool with anyone
    who owns his own cue stick, Daddy had warned.
    It’s true in jacks as well.

    ©2009 Jane Yolen, all rights reserved
Amy Ludwig Vanderwater left this poem in the comments.
    Ouija Board

    My hands hover over
    hoping for hints.

    Who will I love someday?

    I close my eyes.
    I hold my breath.

    What will the Ouija say?

    my future is told.

    her secrets unfold.

    For me to make true.
    For me to blame.

    Ouija board –


    Or game?

    Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, 2009
Easter of Owl in the Library shares two poems this week.

Carol Weis left two poems in the comments.

    hopping around
    how many times
    can I go-go?

    hopping around
    zillions of times
    on my pogo.



    One potato
    two potato
    three potato four
    rang around our yard
    on chilly
    autumn days
    in our northern
    Jersey neighborhood.

    Fists held tight
    we’d huddle in a circle
    ready-or-not to play
    the next round of
    hide and seek
    all wondering
    who would
    be IT.

    Tapping fist to
    chin and other
    eager fists
    it turned out
    the potato
    for sure.
Janet of Across the Page shares a poem entitled Boggle Dreams.

Harriet of spynotes left this poem in the comments.

    Skit skat
    One foot, four;
    Jump rope,
    Turn twice,
    Holler for more!

    Double Dutch,
    Never such,
    Ever such rhyme;
    One foot,
    Two foot,
    Four feet time.

    Hold hands,
    Back to back,
    Shake it sweet;
    Whip round,
    Skip down,
    Don’t miss a beat!

    The rope goes round --
    Faster, that
    Whirring sound

    Touch down
    Turn around
    Back against the wall
    Oh, no!
    Caught a toe
    Trip then fall

    Jump rope stall.

    Get up
    Dust off
    That’s how you learn
    Once more
    Jump back
    One more turn

    Turn once
    Turn twice
    Count each leap
    Skip day
    Skip night
    Skip in your sleep

    Skit skat
    One foot, three
    Inside a
    Jump rope’s
    The place for me.
Jone of Deo Writer shares a rictameter about hopscotch.
I wrote several poems, one about playing in the dirt and mud, another about climbing trees, and this one.
That old rope wore my hands bare
but I couldn’t stay away

It traveled high over the corn field
and came back to the edge of the road

Swinging was as good as flying

As I got older, I swung upside down
rope twined around my legs—over, under, between

Swinging was my dare
my truth was freedom in the air
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll add it to the list.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gifts for the Readers and Writers in Your Life - Part One

It's about time for me to begin searching the nooks and crannies of my house for the holiday gifts I've been buying throughout the year. I still have a few folks left, but my recent online searches have me convinced that it will be easy to please the readers and writers in my life. Here are some of the things I've come across that may make my gift list this year.

New York Review Watch - The band may be plastic, but who could snub a watch with the Bard on its face? This one features a caricature by David Levine.

Writer's Pencils - Alright, I know a lot of folks write on the computer, but there are a few dinosaurs like me who write and revise on actual paper. These pencils are inscribed with quotations by O. Henry, Ring Lardner, Confucius, Beatrix Potter, and Charles Baudelaire on the craft of writing.

How to Write a Story Necklace - Hanging from a silver chain is an antique typewriter with the beginning of a story about a curious penguin. If necklaces aren't your thing, there's always the option of a brooch.

Great Poets Coffee Mug - Enjoy a cup of joe, tea, or whatever your poison accompanied by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes.

Women Writers Umbrella - Forget about that plain black umbrella--think how stylish you'll look with Austen, Plath, Dickinson, Hurston, Woolf, Alcott, Shelley, and Bronte keeping you dry.

In My Book Greeting Cards/Bookmarks - I first saw these in the gift shop of the Library of Congress and fell in love. I'm particularly fond of "In my book, you're a mystery," which features an image of Stonehenge.

A Reader's Diary - Maybe I'm just getting old, but these days I need to write down the titles of the books I've read (though the really amazing ones stand out), as well as the ones I want to read. This terrific little pocket diary is just the thing to keep book lovers organized.

Dark and Stormy Night Board Game - Bring this to your next book club meeting and have a little fun when the discussion winds down. The object of the game is to correctly guess the title or author of eight books after hearing only the opening lines.

Raval Page Flags - My books are littered with with Post-It™ notes and loose sheets of paper where I've tried to mark important passages. For the reader in your life who must mark everything, these page flags are just the ticket.

Journals Galore - I'll admit it. I'm a journal junkie. The writer in your life may just harbor this secret passion as well. Some of my favorites include Scintillating Observations, Nepalese Traveler's Journal, The Big Empty Sky, Giraffe Journal, Chapter Books (Set of 3), and Recycled 3-Pack Notebooks.

The Book Lover's Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature, and the Passages That Feature Them - Good food and good books--need I say more?

Okay, I'm done procrastinating for a while. I'll be back with some more ideas in the next week or so. Until then, feel free to share some of your own ideas. I'd love to hear them. And if you have time, you may want to check out last year's list of gift ideas.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Books for Elementary Social Studies - Civics

If you haven't been to Open Wide, Look Inside lately, you're really missing something. In the last few weeks my students have been highlighting books for use in teaching a variety of social studies topics. This week they're focused on civics. You'll find books on patriotism, symbols of America, government, democracy, as well as biographies of figures who have made a difference in the life of our growing nation.

If you want to check out book suggestions for other topics you may have missed, follow these links.
Each entry includes a brief summary of the book, curriculum connections, links for some supporting resources, and general information about the book. If you are looking for some ideas for homeschooling or classroom social studies, do take a look. You won't be disappointed.

Nonfiction Monday - How To Build Your Own Country

I've been holding on to this book for a while, but since I'm teaching a class tonight on how to teach civics in the elementary classroom, today is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on it.

As a child I had dreams about having my own room. I didn't have to wait long, because my sister went off to college when I was 9, but before that time there were many days when I longed to draw a chalk line down the center of the room to mark off my space, my territory. If you ever shared a room with a sibling, you know what I'm talking about. For any kid who wants to take the notion of having his/her own territory to the extreme, How To Build Your Own Country will show him/her just how to do it.

Written by Valerie Wyatt and illustrated by Fred Rix, How to Build Your Own Country is a step-by-step guide to building a country from scratch. Here's how it begins.
Suppose you stumble across a chunk of land that no one owns. You could take it over and declare it a brand new country. Your own personal country! The Kingdom of Jason! The Federal Republic of Katie! Even if it were only the size of a bathmat, it would be yours, all yours!

If you think that's highly unlikely, you're right. Unlikely, but not impossible.
What follows are three chapters that guide readers through the country building process. Wyatt uses the micronation of Bathmatia (a hypothetical country founded in a bathroom) to illustrate each point, as well as information about countries currently in existence. The book is chock-full of facts relating to topics in geography, economics, and history. However, they're so creatively woven into the text that kids won't feel like they've picked up a textbook when they crack this one open. You'll be more likely to hear kids sharing interesting tidbits with their friends. Here's an example from a sidebar entitled "One Dog, One Vote."
Duncan M. MacDonald cast his vote in a 2006 election in the United States. There was only one problem: Duncan is a dog. He was registered as a voter over the phone (his owner took the call) and received an absentee ballot in the mail. (Absentee ballots are used by voters who can't vote in person at election time.) Duncan marked his choice with a paw print, and then his owner, Jane Balogh, mailed in the ballot. Ms. Balogh was trying to make the point that it's too easy to get registered to vote because she was concerned about voter fraud. For doing so, she was convicted of making a false statement to a public official.
The first chapter, entitled "Stake Out Your Identity," details naming your country, finding a population, designing a flag and choosing a motto, and writing a national anthem. In addition to helpful hints for completing each task, readers will find some handy-dandy activities along the way, like the U-Name-It matching column for folks stumped for a name, or the Mad-Lib™ style fill-in-the-blanks for writing a national anthem.

Chapter two, entitled "Run the Country," explains setting up a government (autocracy, oligarchy, theocracy, single-party government, and democracy are all described), holding elections, writing a constitution, making the laws, serving your citizens, making money, and taking a holiday. Here's how this chapter begins.
Running a country is a bit like having a pet fish. You have to take care of the fish or bad things will happen (to the fish). Actually, looking after a population is a lot more work than that because your citizens won't be satisfied with just food and clean water. They will expect big things, such as a justice system, a government and an economy, and smaller things, such as roads, schools and hospitals. These are the necessities that will help them lead healthy and prosperous lives. And if your citizens are healthy and prosperous, your country will be, too.
The last chapter, entitled "Meet the Neighbors," highlights the fact that we all live in "one big world, and sometimes we need to work together on issues like peace and global warming and disaster relief." What follows is an introduction to some of our neighbors (big and small, old and new, rich and poor, etc.), international organizations, and talk of keeping the peace.

While there is no bibliography at the end of the book, there is a helpful glossary and an extensive index. Remember how I said that the book covered a range of topics in social studies? Here alone is what you'll find if you explore the index listings for the letter R.
  • refugees
  • religions
  • representative government
  • representatives
  • revolutions
  • rights, citizens
  • rights, human
  • Russia
The writing in the book is engaging and often playful (jokes and puns abound), but always straightforward and clear. Topics are broken down into easily digestible chunks so that the text never gets overwhelming for readers. The cartoon illustrations are quirky, colorful and fun, adding to the playfulness of the text. (Take a look at these spreads from the book.)

Part of the CitizenKid collection (a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens), How to Build Your Own Country will make a fine addition to school and classroom libraries. For teachers who want to help kids better understand issues related to government, this book will serve as a useful guide to setting up a micronation in the classroom. You can even download some helpful learning resource materials to help with this endeavor. Just don't say I didn't warn you if your class decides to annex the cafeteria and demands its users pay taxes!

How To Build Your Own Country
Author: Valerie Wyatt
Fred Rix
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: August, 2009
Pages: 40 pages
Grades: 3-6
ISBN: 978-1554533107
Source of Book: Review copy received from Raab Associates.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Hosting this week is Tina Nichols Coury at Tales from the Rushmore Kid. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Childhood Games

While playing some games with my son this weekend I had a chance to reflect on some of the games I played as a child, as well as some of the ways I amused myself when there were no friends to play with me. I was fond of Pick-Up Sticks, Tiddlywinks, and Jacks. I coveted my brother's Battling Tops and my sister's Mystery Date. When I was outside I loved hopscotch, my pogo stick, jumping rope, and blowing bubbles.

I'm sure if I set my mind to it, I could come up with other games I enjoyed, and I'll bet you can too. So, your challenge this week is to write about a favorite game or pastime from childhood. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

*Image courtesy of:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poetry Friday - Sifting in the Afternoon

Today I'm sharing a poem from the November issue of Poetry magazine.
Sifting in the Afternoon
by Malachi Black

Some people might describe this room as spare:
a bedside table and an ashtray and an antique

chair; a mattress and a coffee mug;
an unwashed cotton blanket and a rug

my mother used to own. I used to have
a phone. I used to have another

Read the poem in its entirety.
The round up is being hosted by Greg K. at Gotta Book. Do stop by and take in all the great poetry being shared. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday all!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poetry Stretch Results - Rictameter

The challenge this week was to write in the form of rictameter, and unrhymed, 9-line poem with a syllable count of 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2 in which the first and last lines are the same. Here are the results.
Jane Yolen left this poem in the comments.
    I am trying
    a brand new form of poem.
    It is known as rictameter.
    Who is it makes up these poetry forms?
    Some clown with a post box in Maine?
    Or was it just someone
    who had a dream

    © 2009 Jane Yolen
Kate Coombs of Book Aunt shares a poem entitled Snail.

    hauls his round brown
    caravan behind one
    smooth trotless horse up and down small
    country roads. When he's gone, so is the green
    laundry from the garden's clothesline.
    Festooned in lettuce, he
    rides on--bold-eyed

    --Kate Coombs (Book Aunt), 2009
Laura Purdie Salas shares a poem entitled Bear Attack.

Kelly Polark left this poem in the comments.
    Is so cool. He
    Showers us with vibrant
    Colors. Our children race and jump
    In the pile the size of a Volkswagen.
    We sip cider while we watch the
    Breeze scatter leaves on the
    Yard yet again.

    ---Kelly Polark, 2009
Carol Weis left this poem in the comments.
    Mind fog
    Creeps shamelessly
    Blurs judgment inside brain
    Key decisions lost in its midst
    Bleary vacillations picking up speed
    Yearning for sun to blaze away
    Thick overhanging clouds
    Obscuring view
    Mind fog

    © Carol Weis, all rights reserved
Harriet of spynotes left this poem in the comments.
    Over the hill,
    Past the long-necked horses,
    Thumping the fence with a fat stick
    Just for the wooden sound of it,
    I wade into the grass
    To hush my feet
Andy of Life Allegorical shares two rictameters at her web site. She also left this poem in the comments.
    moon is slouching
    lazily in the sky.
    Her belly is too full to rise
    just yet, so she lounges right above the
    horizon, peers over the broad
    shoulders of farm workers,
    and inspects the
Easter of Owl in the Library shares a poem about gifted kids.

Julie Larios of The Drift Record shares a poem entitled Late Night Thoughts.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater left this poem in the comments.
    A cat
    comes to a door
    looking for food and drink.
    He finds this. And he finds children
    kissing him before they even name him.
    Small hands remind him how to purr.
    Soft laughter fills the porch.
    This home needed
    a cat.
Andi of a wrung sponge shares a poem entitled Swine Flu with Asthma.

Bec of Re: Becca plays along for the first time and shares a poem about Scotland, complete with pictures. Welcome!

Mary Lee of A Year of Reading shares a rictameter that serves as a clever review of two books.

Jone of Deo Writer shares a rictameter in honor of Friday the 13th.

Denise Doyen left this poem in the comments.
    Writing rictameter
    Peters out my inner reas’ning,
    ‘Til my poetary clockworks slip gear,
    Catch, and whirr, then keep on ticking,
    Picking out syllables
    Like live lobsters.
I agree with many of the writers this week who said that this form was particularly difficult to work within. I found it darn hard to make the first and last lines work seamlessly. Here are two of my drafts.
drop among fall
leaves, littering the ground
with jauntily capped messengers.
Securing fertile ground is a challenge
when pestered and sequestered by
bushy-tailed tree climbers,
gathering up


number seven,
four-leaf clovers, horseshoes
crickets, ladybugs, dragonflies
rainbows, falling stars, wishing wells, coins in
a fountain—not superstitions,
but dreams. Make one big wish.
Maybe you’ll get
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll it to the results.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Appreciation - Books That Highlight Those Who Serve

Today is Veterans Day. First called Armistice Day, this holiday falls on the day when the Germans and Allies agreed to end the first world war on November 11, 1918. Though originally established in 1919 to honor Americans who served in World War I, the name was changed after World War II and the day expanded to honor veterans of all wars in which the United States has fought. On this day and every other day of the year I am extremely grateful for all those who have served and currently serve us and our nation today with courage, honor, and sacrifice.

Here are a few books I've read recently that highlight the lives of soldiers (no matter when, where or whom they serve) and their families. These titles can help us to see more clearly what their service truly means.

America at War, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is a collection of 54 poems by more than 40 poets. Divided into sections, each war is preceded by an introductory page that contains the name of the war and the dates it was fought, a quote about the war, and a brief summary of the conflict. (Read my review.)

Flygirl, written by Sherri Smith - Ida Mae is a young, light-skinned woman of color who wants desperately to fly. When she reads about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, she decides to keep her identity a secret and "pass" as white. The story of the choices Ida Mae makes to follow her dream provides an account of her training and describes the challenges and risks of being a WASP.

Mare's War, written by Tanita Davis - Alternating between present and past, the story of Marey Lee Boylen's service in the African American unit of the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) unfolds against the backdrop of a roadtrip with her bickering granddaughters. Mare's story is told as she experienced life in the 40's, and as such is filled details about day-to-day life during the war, the humiliations of segregation (even in the army), and the role of WACs in World War II.

Operation YES, written by Sara Lewis Holmes - While ostensibly about the kids taught by Miss Loupe in Room 208 of Young Oaks Elementary School, the story as a whole is set against the backdrop of life in the military during a time of war. When the entire class rallies around a project that unites activism, art, and the town around the base, readers learn what it means to be part of the military family.

Sunrise Over Fallujah, written by Walter Dean Myers - Eighteen year old Robin "Birdy" Perry, an African American born and raised in Harlem, is sent to Iraq at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The emotional story of Birdy's service in a Civilian Affairs unit is an unflinching look at the life of a soldier deployed during a time of war.

Truce, written by Jim Murphy - This is the story of an event during World War I that I've been hearing about since childhood. Murphy deftly weaves a nonfiction narrative about the war in all its ugliness that still manages to find a bit of humanity in the chaos. (Check out the November 2009 Notes From The Horn Book for some insights from the author.)

What other recent titles highlight those who serve? Please share, as I'd love to know what you've been reading.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Debut Picture Book Cover - I'm In!

Over at 100 Scope Notes you'll find directions for creating your own picture book cover. Here's what you do.
  1. Go to The Name Generator and click GENERATE NEW NAME. The name that appears is your author name.
  2. Go to Picture Book Title Generator and click CREATE TITLE! This is the title of your picture book.
  3. Go to FlickrCC and type the last word from your title into the search box followed by the word “drawing”. Click FIND. The first suitable image is your cover.
  4. Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Gettin’ creative is encouraged.
  5. Post it to your site along with this text.
  6. Go to 100 Scope Notes to see the gallery of covers!
And here's my cover ...
Image courtesy of

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rictameter

I'm writing sonnets right now and seem to be forever tapping out meter and stresses, so this week I've picked a form that requires some syllable counting. Rictameter is a nine line, unrhymed poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2.

You can learn more about this form and read some examples at the group site Rictameter.

What kind of rictameter will you write? Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Poetry Stretch Results - What Isn't There

The challenge this week was to write a poem about something that is described by virtue of what isn't there. Here are the results.
Elaine of Wild Rose Reader shares three poems this week.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater left this poem in the comments.
    Dogless House

    No one waiting by my door.
    No lickingwigglingwags galore.
    No one barking anymore.
    I’m going home.
    What for?
Easter of Owl in the Library shares a poem entitled Stepmother. Welcome!

Julie Larios of The Drift Record left this poem in the comments.
    Going Back to Bed After Getting Up on the Wrong Side of It

    Done un-.
    Plus non-.
    Difference in-.
    Citement ex-.
    Mood nix.
Jane Yolen left this poem in the comments.
    My Late Husband

    The door creaks open.
    It’s only air.
    I hear your laugh.
    You are not there.
    I know you’re ashes
    Without a body,
    Heart, or sound.
    I know you’re gone.
    I watched you die.
    Yet still you’re here.
    I wonder why.
    I do not scream
    Or shed a tear
    Because I want you
    and here.

    © 2009 Jane Yolen, all rights reserved
Tiel Aisha Ansari of Knocking From Inside shares a poem entitled Full Moon and Fog.

Carol Weis left this poem in the comments.

    It’s gone, that vestige of my
    daughter’s youth, strapped to the
    back of a pickup and ripped away, now
    sprawling recklessly in a neighbor’s back
    yard. Little did they know, late last night
    I seized one final frolic, climbed aboard the
    rusty relic that lazed for years on my front lawn
    and before I knew what happened my nighty took
    flight. I whipped that baby off my menopausal bod
    and bounced, naked as a newborn, on that tarnished
    trampoline, soaring like the titmouse that nests ‘neath
    my porch, while a lecherous moon leered through limbs
    of lanky oaks, surely amused by this midnight trollop.

    I watched my neighbors grapple with it the next day
    cart it across the grass, reckoning how in the heck
    they’d get it home, while I sat and smirked
    knowing full well, how I had romped
    with this ol’ codger, the night before.

    © Carol Weis, all rights reserved
Diane Mayr of Random Noodling shares a lovely little concrete poem.

Kate Coombs of Book Aunt left this poem in the comments.
    No Tree

    No tree, no branch,
    no children swinging
    into space and back.

    No clean cotton socks,
    no grumpy cactus prickle,
    no slime of stately snails.

    No runner's rhythmic breath,
    no ragged shout of wind,
    no tinkling unseen bells.

    No warm embrace of bread scent,
    no ripeness of spring earth,
    no sour murk of skunk.

    No ageless taste of sea salt,
    no apple's autumn crunch,
    no sweet melt of ice cream.

    No one.

    Yet, painted
    in stolen sunlight
    and its own wealth
    of shadows, none
    has more fair a face
    than Moon.
Susan Taylor Brown of Susan Writes left this poem in the comments.
    The Father Who Never Was

    No large hand
    to wipe my tears
    protecting me
    from all my fears

    No shoulders
    to ride so high
    to watch parades
    as they goes by

    No trike training
    or driver's ed
    No late night talks
    while mom's in bed.

    No homework help
    with science class
    No begging me
    to cut the grass

    No boyfriend inspection
    No first car selection

    No father daughter wedding dance
    Not even just a single chance
    to see my father smile and say
    yes, you're mine, in every way.
Harriet of spynotes left this poem in the comments.
    Tyler Elm

    No Tree, there is.
    Only tree space,
    The absence of branch and leaf
    A swing-sized hole,
    The memory of standing on a wooden seat
    And the photo to prove it;
    The snowmen built in a storm,
    Under its sheltering limbs,
    And the storm that made No Tree
    No Tree.

    No Tree, there is
    Only shadow,
    A hundred years solid
    And now a ghost
    An apparition in an old film
    With the movie star beneath
    On the old familiar swing.
    Even now, it creaks
    But there is no swing,
    No shadow.
    Only the opposite of what once stood
    And sheltered
    And held up.
    Only No Tree.
Tess of Written for Children shares The Little Sadness Poem.

Jone of Deo Writer shares a poem entitled Missing the Huntress.
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll add it to the list.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Three Years and Counting - Happy Birthdy TMRE!

It's hard to believe, but The Miss Rumphius Effect is three years old today. I started blogging in November of 2006 because I wanted to launch a practicum blog with my students during the spring of 2007. Before I asked them to do this, I was convinced I needed to model the practice myself. I'm not particularly proud of those first few posts, as they aren't really focused, but it didn't take me long to find my footing. Three years later, I'm still reading, still writing, and so very blessed by all the friends I've made in this amazing community.

In the spirit of celebration, grab yourself a cupcake and dive into a few of my favorite posts from the last year.
  • Things I've Done - Okay, this has nothing to do with books, it's just a list of 100 things with highlights for those I've actually done. Here's the funny thing about reading this list now. I noticed that 80 (Published a book) is not highlighted. I guess I decided my dissertation didn't count.
  • Gifts for Readers and Writers - I love buying gifts for others, and this list I put together last winter still offers many great ideas for the readers and writers in your life.
  • Why I Love Opening a Book - The title says it all. And yes, I did love the book.
  • Old, New and Everything In Between - What Should Children Read? - This question gets asked and answered a lot in the kidlitosphere. Here's my take on it.
  • Low-Brow Topics That Make For High-Brow Reading - This thematic book list is by far the most frequented on the blog. It features the word poop 13 times. Need I say more?
  • How Do I Love Thee Letter D? - Another post about me (vanity, I know), with every entry related to the letter d.
  • Poetry Makers Series - There's absolutely no way I could pick a favorite poet from this bunch, so you'll just have to peruse the interviews for yourself. Can I just say how awesome all these folks are?
Thanks for sticking with me all this time. I hope to see you back here again very soon.

Poetry Friday - Gabardine

I read this one and couldn't help but think of my Dad, the men who sit in the park, and those who gather daily for coffee and conversation at the local pharmacy lunch counter.
by Ted Kooser

To sit in sunlight with other old men,
none with his legs crossed, our feet in loose shoes
hot and flat on the earth, hands curled in our laps

Read the poem in it's entirety.
The round up is being hosted by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. Do stop by and take in all the great poetry being shared this week. Happy poetry Friday all!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Books for Elementary Social Studies - Geography

Last week my preservice teachers posted their reviews of books for teaching economics in the elementary classroom. This week they've focused on geography. I'm amazed at the number of wonderful selections they have, including nonfiction, poetry, and some very creative picture book suggestions. Head on over to Open Wide, Look Inside this week to see what they're sharing.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Books for Elementary Social Studies - Economics

Last week my students returned to the task of reading and reviewing books for the elementary classroom, this time with an eye for the social studies. This first time around they tackled economics. You'll find books on trade, barter, wants and needs, money and more. Head on over to Open Wide, Look Inside and see what they're sharing.

On Poetry and Meeting Jane

Yup. That's me sitting next to the inimitable Jane Yolen. Without completely gushing and getting all fan-girly, let me tell you that she is a lovely, lovely woman. After having her drop by to stretch with us so often, I was thrilled to finally meet her.

Okay, bear with me for a sidebar, just for a moment.
I know you've heard this before, but I work at an amazing institution. Two years ago I had the pleasure of dining with John Green and hearing him speak. He was brought to Richmond to deliver the Cathleen Mallaney Trees Lecture. Two weeks ago I lunched with Tobin Anderson and heard him speak as part of the All Henrico Reads event. Last night I had the great pleasure of dining with Jane Yolen before she delivered this year's Cathleen Mallaney Trees Lecture. The list of artists this university brings to campus is quite simply, fabulous. It is one of the best things about living and working in an academic setting. I have opportunities to see, hear and meet so many talented people that I would otherwise know only through their work.

Alright, back to Jane Yolen. First, I should tell you that we I walked to the room where we would eat dinner with some colleagues. We made some general introductions and carried on a bit of small talk. After a few minutes I gathered up the courage to reintroduce myself as Miss Rumphius. At that point I felt like I was meeting an old friend. How is it possible that this crazy thing called blogging (or social networking, whichever you prefer) allows us to feel this way?

Later in the evening, Jane gave a talk in which she focused on poetry. After beginning with a poem and an apology, she described an article published in The Atlantic Monthly on the state of poetry saying that author basically slammed the writing of poetry for children and implied that it's second-rate. I found the article, entitled Can Poetry Matter, and it isn't pretty. Here's what the author said.
And a few loners, like X. J. Kennedy and John Updike, turn their genius to the critically disreputable demimonde of light verse and children's poetry.
It is the phrase "critically disreputable demimonde of light verse and children's poetry" that Jane spent the evening carefully refuting with readings of poetry and the close examination of how much work goes into the crafting of a poem.

In addition to reading her own work, Jane read the poems of Emily Dickinson, Pat Lewis, Lilian Moore, Lord Alfred Tennyson, and David McCord. She talked of poets writing with hope (hope for the right words, hope to finish), of poets as code masters, of poems as attempts to get at the truth, and more. She described the rhythm in poems, and how reading them aloud pulls you in, pulls you forward, and then sometimes stops you in your tracks. She described metaphors as being childlike without being childish. We heard many poems she has yet to have published--animal epitaphs, sonnets on Emily Dickinson's life, a poem inspired by and about Chagall, the text of a picture book in verse, and more.

By all accounts it was a lovely evening. I can't think of better way to spend my time than to hear someone who's published more than 70 books of poetry read and talk about the craft. My thanks to Jane for once again providing me with real inspiration and a gentle nudge to keep writing.

BTW, Jane gently ribbed me about loving Pat Lewis more than her. Wherever did she get such an idea?! Let me hereby decree that I do NOT have favorites in the world of children's poetry--I love you both! And you sit at the top of a rather long list of wonderful poets, many of whom I was honored to interview this year.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Best Books in Science - Finalists Announced for 2010 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize

The finalists for the 2010 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books have been announced. This prize "celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults."

Children's Science Picture Book

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life
written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illustrated by Molly Bang
(Visit Molly Bang's web site for more information.)

written and illustrated by Jason Chin
(See the review at Seven Imp and check out the book's web site.)

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
written and illustrated by Brian Floca
(Read my review.)

What Bluebirds Do
written and photographed by Pamela Kirby
(Read my review.)

Middle Grades Science Book
Mission Control, This is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon
written by Andrew Chaikin and illustrated by Alan Bean

Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past
written by James M. Deem

Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet
written by Alexandra Siy

Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From
written by Catherine Thimmesh

The Frog Scientist
written by Pamela S. Turner, with photographs by Andy Comins
Young Adult Science Book
Invisible Kingdom: From the Tips of Our Fingers to the Tops of Our Trash, Inside the Curious World of Microbes
written by Idah Ben-Barak

Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day
written by Peter J. Bentley

The Survivor's Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life
written by Ben Sherwood

Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
written by Seth Shostak, with a foreword by Frank Drake
Hands-on Science Book
Sadly, the judges and editors are choosing not to award a prize in the hands-on category this year, feeling that there were no hands-on science books that met the high standards of the SB&F Prize. Instead of honoring a single book, they will be giving a lifetime achievement award to a hands-on science book author for "their significant and lasting contribution to children's and a young adult science books." The recipient of that award will be announced in early January.
There are many terrific titles here, along with a few I haven't seen. (The Frog Scientist has been on my TBR for too long now!) While waiting for the winners to be announced, I'll be reading through these and making my best guess about the outcome. Won't you join me?

Another Reason I Love Weekly Events

Why do I participate in kidlitosphere events like Nonfiction Monday and Poetry Friday? Well, in part because I love nonfiction and poetry, and in part because I know I'll have a post topic on those days. After blogging for nearly three years (yup, check that blogoversary counter on the right - just a few more days!), I sometimes need a bit of help in deciding what to write about. However, one of the biggest reasons I not only participate, but visit the other blogs is because I find NEW-TO-ME, AWESOME blogs.

Here's today's find and it's a treasure.
Playing By the Book - Launched in July of 2009, this is a blog about "kids’ activities based on our favourite children’s books." The author reviews the books she reads with her daughters and then shows readers all the fun, creative things the books inspire them to do. Check out some of these ideas inspired by books.
There is so much to explore here. Do take some time to visit. I know you'll be inspired by these amazing projects.

Monday Poetry Stretch - What Isn't There

I've been reading seasonal poems as of late and was so struck by this poem that it gave me the idea for today's stretch.
by Thomas Hood

     No sun—no moon!
     No morn—no noon!
No dawn—no dusk—no proper time of day—
     No sky—no earthly view—
     No distance looking blue—
No road—no street—no "t'other side this way"—
     No end to any Row—
     No indications where the Crescents go—
     No top to any steeple—
No recognitions of familiar people—
     No courtesies for showing 'em—
     No knowing 'em!
No traveling at all—no locomotion—
No inkling of the way—no notion—
     "No go" by land or ocean—
     No mail—no post—
     No news from any foreign coast—
No Park, no Ring, no afternoon gentility—
     No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
  No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
  No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds—
Since my poems often try to capture what I see and hear, smell and touch, I thought it might be interesting to write a poem about something that describes it by virtue of what isn't there.

So, there's your challenge for the week. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Nonfiction Monday - Nic Bishop Marsupials

I never tire of good books about animals. I am particularly fond of those that focus on narrow themes, like a single physical feature (such as Sneed Collard's Teeth), animal communication (such as Steve Jenkins' Slap, Squeak and Scatter : How Animals Communicate, or a particular group of animals. Many of Nic Bishop's books fit into this last category. Following on the success of his books on Spiders (a Sibert honor book in 2008), Frogs (the Cybils nonfiction picture book winner for 2008), and Butterflies and Moths, Bishop has turned his attention to Marsupials.

While the photographs are sure to draw readers in (they are amazing!), the text will engage them even more with its strange and wonderful collection of facts about this fascinating group of mammals. By definition, mammals are warm-blooded animals covered with fur that produce milk for their young. Marsupials are a special group of mammals identified by the presence of a pouch. While most folks can identify the kangaroo, koala, and opossum as members of this group, these animals represent just a fraction of all the marsupials scientists recognize today.

Here's how the book begins.
Most people know about lions, zebras, monkeys, and bears, but what about bettongs and bilbies? Or potoroos and pademelons? Dibblers and dunnarts?

These animals live on the continent of Australia, along with kangaroos, koalas, wombats, and a whole crew of amazing creatures. And it's not only their names that are neat. Each mother raises her babies inside a furry pouch, or pocket on her belly. this special pouch is called a marsupium, and these animals are called marsupials.
Bishop leads readers through the world of marsupials, first introducing them to the ways in which marsupials raise their young. From here he introduces readers to the members of the marsupial family that live outside Australia. The Virginia opossum is described in some detail, from where it lives to how it defends itself. While the Virginia opossum is the only marsupial in the United States, there are approximately 90 different types of opossums living in Central and South America. Who knew?!

What I found interesting about this fact was this bit that followed.
Most of these small opossums do not have pouches. Babies have to cling to their mother's belly instead, which can be tricky.
Huh? Young readers might not pick up on this, but it jumped out at me right away. Here's where I wanted a bit more information from Bishop. If marsupials are generally characterized by a pouch, how can an animal without a pouch fit into this group? Perhaps it's not the pouch at all, but the highly underdeveloped state the young are born in. I'm not sure what the answer is, but now I need to know.

After leaving the Americas behind, Bishop takes readers to Australia and New Guinea, "the absolute best places to see marsupials," and the place where more than 220 types of marsupials are found. He begins with kangaroos and moves on to wallabies (small kangaroos) and tree kangaroos. It's hard to imagine a kangaroo climbing a tree, but there are almost ten types of kangaroos specially adapted to life in the trees.

Bettongs and potoroos come next, the tiniest relatives of the kangaroos and among the rarest of the "hopping marsupials." Then come the koalas. I knew that koalas ate eucalyptus leaves, but what I didn't know was that eucalyptus leaves are so poisonous that eating them would kill most mammals. Bishop mentions that koalas are full of surprises and shares many of their more intriguing characteristics. Here's one of them.
Another surprise is that a koala's pouch faces backward toward its hind legs.
How cool is that?! Instead of opening at the top, near the mothers head, a koala's pouch opens at the bottom! And it's not only koalas with such a pouch--wombats have them too. Since wombats live in a burrow this makes perfect sense, and serves the important function of keeping dirt out of the pouch.

My favorite marsupial was the bilby. Here's how Bishop describes it.
At first, the bilby looks like a mix-and-match puzzle. It has the ears of a rabbit, the legs of a kangaroo, the body of an aardvark, and the silky soft fur of a chinchilla.
The book wraps up with a look at carnivorous marsupials, of which there are about fifty kinds. While you may have heard of the Tasmanian devil, you may not know of creatures like dibblers, dunnarts, mulgaras, ningauis, quolls, and numbats.

Bishop devotes the final two pages to describing his work in Australia trying to capture these animals on film. Since many marsupials are nocturnal, this proved to be quite challenging indeed. Also included is an extensive index and a brief glossary.

I found one weakness in the book that had more to do with design than with the actual writing. A number of the pages in the book are dark with dark text. For example, p. 8 is about the Virginia opossum. The page is dark purple with black text. One important sentence is rendered in a font that is both larger and a different color (pink!), so it stands out and is easy to read. The rest of the page is difficult to read unless you are in bright light or hold the book at just the right angle. While the dark pages with light text pose no problem, this dark text on a dark background seems a terrible design choice. Unfortunately, this occurs several times throughout the book.

Despite this complaint, I found this text to be a highly informative, well-written and gorgeously photographed book. My animal lover latched onto this one and wouldn't let go, crazy about the photos and the litany of new and interesting facts presented. Recommended.

Nic Bishop Marsupials
Author/Illustrator: Nic Bishop
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September, 2009
Pages: 48 pages
Grades: 3-8
ISBN: 978-0439877589
Source of Book: Personal copy.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Hosting this week is Anamaria at the blog books together. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.