Thank you, teachers

We are getting ready to send our oldest to kindergarten in the fall. In our part of North Carolina, there is LOTS of school choice–magnet schools, charter schools, lots of homeschooling co-ops. We have chosen to send our son to our neighborhood school. I plan to write a little more about this decision in the near future, but in further celebration of National Poetry Month, here’s a poem. I think I read it as a kid, probably in one of the school newsletters that went home every month. It’s a little campy, and certainly idealistic, but that’s part of the point. I really believe public education can be a great thing, but if you don’t go in with a helping of idealism about your school (the school your kids are attending), you aren’t going to be as invested in making reality approach that ideal. I don’t know that it has a title (I found 3-4 in the 3-4 different places that I found the poem on the web), but it has been attributed to Ray A. Lingenfelter, who, according to this source, was an elementary school principal:

I dreamed I stood in a studio
And watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used was a young child’s mind
And they fashioned it with care.

One was a teacher;
the tools she used were books and music and art;
One was a parent with a guiding hand and a gentle loving heart.

And when at last their work was done
They were pround of what they had wrought
For the things they had worked into the child
Could never be sold or bought.

And each agreed she would have failed
If she had worked alone
For behind the parent stood the school,
and behind the teacher stood the home.

P.S. Happy birthday, Jenny (one of my favorite teachers)!

Out of the dark

Phew. My online class is done as of tonight (although will thankfully be open for another month to save resources!), our last two rounds of visitors have come and gone, our weekend birthday party was a success, and the arm hurt last week did not require a cast. Hopefully this means blogging will become a regular activity again. To celebrate, here are some of the great book resources I learned about from the class, Bilingual Storytimes, offered by Library Juice Academy:

The Bilingual Book of Rhymes, Songs, Stories, and Fingerplays/El Libro Bilingue de Rimas, Canciones, Cuentos y JuegosThe Bilingual Book of Rhymes, Songs, Stories, and Fingerplays/El Libro Bilingue de Rimas, Canciones, Cuentos y Juegos by Pam Schiller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great resource for bilingual story times–especially helpful in simply providing a large number of songs, rhymes, short stories, etc. to incorporate. The only critique I have is that it seems to be almost entirely English rhymes that are then translated into Spanish. Still extremely helpful.

No voy a dormir = I'm Not Going To SleepNo voy a dormir = I’m Not Going To Sleep by Christiane Gribel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super cute book about a little girl who’s NOT going to go to sleep. Many of the pages are wordless, and the picture shifts between looking at the little girl and seeing through her eyes.

Uno, Dos, Tres: One, Two, ThreeUno, Dos, Tres: One, Two, Three by Pat Mora

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute, short counting book that also has a narrative: two little girls are getting ready to celebrate their Mamá’s birthday. In English, with Spanish number words. Illustrated by Barbara Lavallee, who’s well known for Mama, Do You Love Me?.

I Love Saturdays y DomingosI Love Saturdays y Domingos by Alma Flor Ada

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A little girl tells about how she spends time with both her Grandma and Grandpa, and her Abuelito y Abuelita, in both English and Spanish. Ends with a fun birthday surprise!

Mama Goose: A Latino Nursery TreasuryMama Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury by F. Isabel Campoy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lovely treasury of songs and rhymes–a nice compliment to Schiller, Lara-Alecio, and Irby’s Bilingual Book of Rhymes, Songs, Stories, and Fingerplays because it’s a selection of Spanish rhymes that have been translated into English instead of vice versa.
Pio Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery RhymesPio Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes by Alma Flor Ada

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great selection of Spanish rhymes.



Las nanas de abuelita / Grandmother's Nursery RhymesLas nanas de abuelita / Grandmother’s Nursery Rhymes by Elivia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another selection of Spanish rhymes; this one was particularly neat for the word and sound play (and the explanations for English speakers!) that it included.

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Library Books Enjoyed 4/18/13–Grown-up Edition

This has been a crazy week–mostly fun, with visitors in town, but today included a spill that may be more serious enough to need a cast. I’m also cutting time short on work for my current online class, about holding bilingual storytimes.

All this is to say, this post is late, but enjoy anyway. These are books I read/am reading for me–one is a kid’s chapter book (probably good for late elementary/middle school) and the other a knitting book–instead of with my kids.
Flyte (Septimus Heap, #2)Flyte by Angie Sage

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyed just as much as I remember enjoying the first Septimus Heap book. I like how some loose ends from the previous book come back and are tied up, and I can see other storylines waiting to be expanded in the next book.

Knitting in Plain EnglishKnitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t actually finished this yet, but I returned it to the library for now (and may buy my own copy), so it’s as good as anytime to review. I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this book, especially since the front advertises it as “the only knitting book you’ll ever need.” However, I really enjoyed it. I found Ms. Righetti to be funny and enjoyable to read, and I also found all the chapters I did read to be helpful to me as a still-beginner knitter. I went to both this book and my standard go-to reference, The Knitting Answer Book for a couple recent problems, and they were both helpful in complimentary ways. Knitting in Plain English has the additional benefit of being fun to read for its own sake.

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Natasha Trethewey

For those of you who don’t know it, April is National Poetry Month. I have always liked poetry in theory–and there are many poems that I truly enjoy, but I often overlook poetry for fiction when choosing something to read.

Last summer, a couple incidents inspired me to read more poetry. One of the incidents was hearing an interview on NPR with Natasha Trethewey, who had just been named our newest poet laureate. I thought she sounded interesting and I liked how she wrote many poems about both her mother’s experiences and her own, being a mixed-race child growing up in the South. I checked her (then) most-recent collection, Native Guard, from the library, and was floored. I later bought a copy of the collection and have also read her collection Thrall, which was published this past fall.

To read and hear some of Trethewey’s poetry, check out this page at the Poetry Foundation website:

This page also has some links to articles and the NPR interview:

I haven’t found a (legitimately posted) version of her poem that first took my breath away, “Genus Narcissus” (in Native Guard). I can’t in good conscious post the whole thing here, but here is a short excerpt:

Childish vanity. I must have seen in them
some measure of myself–the slender stems,
each blossom a head lifted up

From “Genus Narcissus” by Natasha Trethewey

To hear the whole story (and this poem does have a story), get your hands on the book!

Mourn together

Certainly, we are all mourning for those affected by the bombings in Boston this evening. My brother-in-law reminded many today of others who are mourning:

As Christians, we are called to mourn with all who are mourning; as citizens of the US, we bear some responsibility for this bombing.

Let us all mourn together.

**Update 4/19/13**

I learned later the next evening that this is an 11 year old story. So much for my source-checking librarian skills. However, the thought still stands. While I, with many others, wait impatiently to hear the resolution of today’s stand-off in Boston, I also want to be aware of many brothers and sisters around the world who have cause to mourn as well.

Anna Karenina

One of my goals/ideas for this blog is to report on larger projects in my life: reading, knitting, writing, cooking. My current large reading project is Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I’ve wanted to read this (or, more accurately, have read this) for quite awhile. I really like lists (that’s probably an understatement), and one list-related book I enjoyed is The Top Ten, edited by J. Peder Zane. Basically, Zane wrote to over 100 authors to ask them for what they thought were the top ten works of literature. Anna Karenina came out on top of all the books recommended by all the authors, so it seems like one I should read. What finally got me to start, though, is the new movie with Keira Knightley. I want to see the movie, but I’m not going to rent it until I finish the book!

To make the task a little easier, I was able to download an audio version from NCLive. I love listening to books, and when I think to get out my iPod, it makes chores like dishes and folding laundry go faster (the latter especially when one is not permitted to watch TV for the week!). I’m about 20 chapters into the second part (I think there are 8 parts) and enjoying it so far–it has a good, not overdramatic narrator, and the chapters themselves are short enough that it’s easy to stop and start. I’ve also bought the book for my Kindle (albeit a different translation), so I can check details and get my bearings when need be.

Some initial reactions:

  • I know about the tragic ending (if you don’t, you won’t want to read my future AK posts), so I was impressed by the foreshadowing of it in the first part.
  • I mostly like/feel sympathetic toward Anna, but occasionally her personality seems to change abruptly. I guess this can be true of us when we aren’t making our best decisions, but I’m not yet sure that I buy her being in love with Vronsky.
  • I don’t like Vronsky or find him at all sympathetic, but ironically, I fall under Oblonsky’s charm just like all the characters do–I find this to be part of Tolstoy’s skill!

Updates to follow as I progress through the book.

Library Books Enjoyed: 4/10/13

If You're Happy And You Know It: Jungle EditionIf You’re Happy And You Know It: Jungle Edition by James Warhola

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A basic take-off of the “If You’re Happy and You Know it Song.” What my family particularly enjoyed is the story around the words–two kids go to a jungle-themed playground and the animals on the playground equipment come to life one at a time. Of course, the mother in the story does not notice. The body of the book just has the first line of each verse (and we didn’t actually sing it most of the time), but complete song lyrics are included in the back. Besides the fun additions to the familiar song (i.e. “laugh out loud” with the hyena or “jump up high” with a frog), my kids liked looking at the pictures carefully on rereads to figure out which animal was going to come to life next.

On the Go With Pirate Pete and Pirate JoeOn the Go With Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe by A.E. Cannon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute, three story tale of two pirate friends. I am not overwhelmed by the current pirate craze, but I can get on board with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe. In the first story, they realize that they don’t want to steal, so they buy their seafood instead. In the second story, they want to buy a ship until both of them realize that they are afraid of water and sharks–so they buy a black van instead. In the final story, they find just the right parrot to join their pirate crew. My kids love it. It’s a little longer than an average picture book, but with the nicely divided stories, we can read just one at a time.

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