|It’s Monday What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys|
|Nonfiction Monday is hosted by The Nonfiction Detectives|
Baseball season is in full swing, and my beloved Boston Red Sox are finally back to themselves, and playing well again. Spring would not be Spring without the opening of the new season, and the delicious (yes, also frustrating and panic inducing) thrill of a whole new season of baseball to look forward to. So, with baseball on my mind, I was so pleased to discover Douglas Florian’s book of poetry dedicated to the sport I love: Poem Runs: Baseball Paintings and Poems.
From the first poem, “Warm Up,” to the last, “The Season is Over” – Florian’s book is a trek around the baseball diamond, with stops along the way to pay homage to each position. Florian’s witty paintings fairly leap off the page, their exaggerations calling attention to the physicality of baseball. One of my favorite poems from this collection is “Pitcher”, which begins:
I’m the curve-ball creator,
The man on the mound.
The great devastator,
where fastballs are found.
The energetic pace of each poem, and the specificity of verbs (something I’ve been spending all year emphasizing with my sixth graders) makes each poem so much fun to read. I think my kid will enjoy this book as much as I did!
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Charles Dickens, who was born on the 7th. of February, 1812. While I was in London over Spring Break, I noticed exhibitions all over the place; I had planned to – visit the Dickens Museum , thinking that it would have some fabulous exhibition, but discovered that it was CLOSED until December of this year….which seemed to me to be rather bad timing in this anniversary year.
However, I just discovered a new picture book about Charles Dickens (published last year, I believe), which would be great fun for my students to read, Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom’s Charles Dickens: Scenes From an Extraordinary Life
There is a wonderful YouTube video tour through this richly illustrated book, which captures the interesting format: pastel illustrations, paintings, and graphic novel-like panels along with snippets from Dickens’ own letters, journals, conversations and quotes to set each phase of his early life and then each of his novels in historical context. Here, for instance, is Dickens describing the experience of creating a character in what was to be Oliver Twist :
I wrote busily and rapidly at my desk, suddenly jumping up from my chair and rushing to a mirror in which I could see the reflection of some extraordinary facial contortions I was making. I then returned to my desk, wrote furiously for a few moments…and then my facial pantomime was resumed. I also began talking rapidly in a low voice. I threw myself completely into the character I was creating; I had not only lost sight of my surroundings, but had actually become in action, as in imagination, the creature of my pen.
And voila! the coming into being of that dastardly villain – Bill Sikes, himself. There is so much to appreciate in this book – we learn about Dickens, his times, his London, his books. I love the comic-book panels which summarize just enough of each book – each of which ends with a version of: if you want to know what happens next in this exciting story, read the book!