Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scholastic 2017 Reading BINGO

I'm taking a break from all the poetry posts (though I have a couple more I'm still mulling over!) to share one more 2017 reading challenge I found. I'm super late to the party here, but when I took a look at Scholastic's 2017 Reading BINGO, I knew it was too fun to pass up. I know I'm supposed to be limiting my challenges this year, but I'm failing pretty miserably at my Sherlock Holmes challenge, so I'm thinking I'll go ahead and replace it with this one :)

I heard about this challenge on the most recent episode of the Books Between Podcast. This is a recently discovered podcast I really love all about middle grade books. The host Corrina Allen presented this as a summer reading idea, but the challenge itself is actually running all year. The idea is to read children's and young adult books that fit the categories and fill in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally to get a BINGO. Of course, you can get more than one BINGO or even go for a full card which would be 49 books total. (And having worked in therapeutic recreation at a nursing home in the past, my brain can't help recalling all the other BINGO's one can get -- the letters T, H, L, X, large round robin, small round robin... OK, I'll stop now!)

I've been crossing off some squares with books I've already read since January, but there's still plenty of reading left to do (and I may have missed a few!) Picture books certainly work for this challenge (there's a Caldecott category and a bunch of the other award categories have picture book winners), but I'm trying not to rely on them too heavily. The only category I'm totally stumped on is A book about someone that is your age. Hmmm. Not sure what to do about that one exactly. Maybe I could read an adult book for that one? But then again, ages are not often stated after the teen years, so that could still be tough! I could flip my age and read a book with a 13 year old instead of a 31 year old? Or just call it a no-go? I'll have to see what I can come up with. Though I do wonder what the Scholastic folks are doing for this one, because the (adult) writer of the post is definitely participating!

Anyone want to join me?

Download the BINGO card PDF here!
More info about the challenge here!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Review: Eat This Poem

Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry by Nicole Gulotta

Publisher: Roost Books
Date: April 2017
Format: paperback
How did I get this book? free from publisher via my work for Eat Your Books
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

What a unique concept! There is plenty of poetry about food and there are even more cookbooks out in the world, but I've never seen a book quite like this one. It blends poetry, stories, and recipes in such a beautiful way. Nicole has a pretty extensive background in poetry and I really appreciated her insights and discussion of each poem, as well as her personal stories that thread throughout the book. I read this one with pencil in hand and did a whole lot of underlining -- there were just so many little nuggets of wisdom, I couldn't help myself!

I know I will be revisiting this slim volume again and again -- and hopefully I will be cooking or baking out of soon, too. Admittedly, I haven't made any of the recipes yet, but so many sound delicious without being overly complicated -- or as my mom likes to say "fiddledy." Some are certainly special occasion dishes, but there seems to be a nice balance of those and more everyday type recipes. A few I have my eye on:

Cornmeal Waffles
Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes 
Simple Corn Soup 
Almond Poppy Seed Scones (excerpt + recipe!) 
Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread 
Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies 
Strawberry Birthday Cake 
Roasted Carrots with Sweet Tahini Sauce 
Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas (excerpt + recipe!) 
Mushroom Pizza with Taleggio and Thyme
Risotto with Asparagus, Peas, and Basil Pesto

This book focuses on nourishment -- of body, mind, and soul -- and I think Nicole really succeeds in reminding us that the ordinary and everyday experiences of eating -- and reading -- are important and can be more meaningful if we allow them to be. With a toddler underfoot, most days that seems an impossible bar to reach, but this approach to cooking, eating, and living, doesn't seem to really be about perfection, but presence. And I think that is something I am capable of improving upon, if only I slow down every once in a while to remember! Making room in my day for some decent meals and restful reading time (of poetry and other forms) seems a worthwhile endeavor.

A lot of people think poetry is not for them, and that's OK. I'm not the reading police and I am the last person to judge the literary merit of other people's reading choices. But if you don't pick up poetry because you think it's always esoteric or inaccessible, I think books like this one really help show that doesn't always have to be the case. Even the poems I struggled with a bit on my first time through, I was able to read again with new eyes after reading Nicole's commentary.

BONUS: As a parent, I really, really love the poem Make the Ordinary Come Alive that Nicole recently shared on her blog. (I'm new to the Eat This Poem blog, but already a fan!)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Some Non-Intimidating Poetry Recommendations

At the end of April, I shared some poetry books I'm in the midst of reading in honor of National Poetry Month. April is long over, but I still have lots more poetry to share! So I thought today I would gather together some collections and novels-in-verse I've already read and would recommend. I'm still pretty new to poetry and think all of these are accessible even if you don't normally read or enjoy poetry. I am certainly no aficionado, but I'm learning as I go and finding that "children's" poetry is a great place to start!

Shel Silverstein is a fairly obvious choice. These poems are mostly silly and just plain fun to read, though if I recall correctly, there are a few more serious ones included as well.

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Poetry for the littlest ones! I've enjoyed reading these collections with my son. Little Poems for Tiny Ears is aimed the youngest, but the others could be staples on our shelves for quite some time yet.

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, edited by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Marc Brown
Mother Goose, illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Little Poems for Tiny Ears, by Lin Oliver; illustrated by Tomie dePaola

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A beautifully illustrated out-of-print children's poetry collection I borrowed from the library. It's really lovely if you can find it!

First Poems of Childhood, illustrated by Tasha Tudor

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The title says it all -- I loved this collection!

BookSpeak! Poems About Books, by Laura Purdie Salas; illustrated by Josée Bisaillon

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I wouldn't call myself a particular fan of dragons, but this was such a fun collection! Looking forward to reading it many more times with my son.

The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Peter Sís

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These are picture book editions of single poems that we enjoyed during winter/Christmastime.

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem, by Maya Angelou; illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost; illustrated by Susan Jeffers

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Nikki Grimes is a new favorite author/poet of mine. I loved all three of these and am delighted to know there are plenty more backlist titles of hers to explore. Words with Wings and Garvey's Choice are middle grade novels-in-verse and One Last Word is a poetry collection featuring classic Harlem Renaissance poetry and Nikki's original poetry side by side. She uses a really interesting (and difficult!) poetry technique to tie the old and the new poems together. Just fascinating!

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Two excellent novels-in-verse and a memoir-in verse (Brown Girl Dreaming). FYI: To Stay Alive is about the Donner Party, so you may want to proceed with caution, though it is very well done and doesn't sensationalize the story.

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
To Stay Alive, by Skila Brown

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A thought-provoking YA poetry collection based on classic fairy tales that looks at young women, society, expectations, and more. It's been a while since I read this one and I'd like to revisit it. Read an excerpt to get a bit of a feel for it.

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I'd love to hear your poetry recommendations -- from picture books to classics or anything in between!