Archive for June 2nd, 2014


Head over to Teach Mentor Texts with Jen Vincent to read more reviews from the Kidlitosphere.

I made a commitment to myself and ultimately to my students to read middle grade novels this summer. I want to channel Donalyn Miller and become a Wild reader. I am reading her second book Reading in the Wild. This is what she says about her own reading life.

I cannot imagine a day without reading in it. I am a better teacher because I read. I pass books into my students’ hands and talk with them about what they read. I model what a reading life looks like and show my students how reading enriches my life and can enrich theirs, too. –Donalyn Miller, Reading in the Wild

The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle: I first met Margarita when she was featured on Caroline Starr Rose’s blog and had a bookmark giveaway. Shortly after, I received a sweet email from her asking the names of my students and sent us all a personally signed bookmark. I felt guilty, thought, because I had not read any of her books. Now I am remedying that. The Lightning Dreamer is a verse novel in the voice of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, known as Tula. Interspersed are verses from her dedicated brother and cook, her disappointed and misguided mother, and the nuns who value her independent spirit. I am intrigued that a novel written in so few words can carry along a plot and work deeply on theme. The Lightning Dreamer was full of heart and soul. It is this heart and soul that makes you feel how Gertrudis felt and come to truly understand the oppression of women and the world of slavery in Cuba in the early 1800s.

Here is a recent interview with Margarita Engle on Author Turf.

Click image for Margarita Engle's website

Click image for Margarita Engle’s website

Renee LaTulippe of No Water River featured selections from the novel. No Water River continues to be a wealth of poetry goodness.

Link to Irene Latham's blog site: Live Your Poem

Link to Irene Latham’s blog site: Live Your Poem

The Sky Between Us by Irene Latham: Irene generously contacted me to trade poetry books. I was so honored that she would want to do this. She is another wonderful cyberfriend. The connections I have made through joining this kidlit blogging world are amazingly generous and supportive.

The Sky Between Us is a collection of poems that began as a manuscript for young readers inspired by the National Park Systems Historic Places collection. From there it grew into an adult collection of Irene’s perspective on her One Little Word for 2013, “sky.” This is a collection I will share with my middle grade students. The poems are written in short free verse stanzas often using enjambment to lead the reader through the words like a canoe on a winding river.

Irene has a gift for language that makes her words roll over your tongue and into your mind where you breathe out, “Ah!” Her observance of nature resonates with me and leads me to a deeper understanding of the world and creation. I will visit her poems again and again.


The sky between us
is stippled, layered,

anything but blue.
It storms memory

and sweeps clean–

it cannot rain

It swells, tatters,
its routing broken

by days or decades.
We steeple through,

eyes on whatever
happens next: awed

by every flash
and rumble,

monarch’s migration
to their gloryland

and by the swallows
that winter over.

We share the same moon,
we light each other’s

dream of morning.

–Irene Latham, all rights reserved.

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