Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beauty, Art and Diversity in Picture Books

I love my Saturday mornings...right before my dance classes, I get to enjoy a stack of picture books, my cup of coffee and dive into new books. Then I get to decide which ones make the cut for a review and which ones don't. Today's choices of books celebrate something beautiful like dance, courage, culture and friendship.

In Firebird, ballerina Misty Copeland encourages all dancers everywhere to take their dancing skills to new heights. Through perseverance and practice, she spreads her voice to all dancers that they will too become a "swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure."
The words are elegant as you picture  ballet moves will be. The illustrations are down by award-winning artist Christopher Myers. The pictures are vibrant as Misty's choice of words. I must admit that I like the book but I'm more in love with the story behind the picture book. Ballerina Misty Copeland's passion is giving back and that is why she enjoy mentoring children. She has worked with many organizations supporting this passion. It is no wonder she will write a book for ballet dancers everywhere.


Viva Friday by Yuyi Morales

This book celebrates one of my favorite artists of all time: Frida Khalo. But first I need to say this: if you are looking for a book that shares more in detail Frida's life then this is not the book you are looking for. What this book does so well is this: celebrate Frida's colorful world by projecting that same life of color onto the pages of this book. The book is a celebration of her life through amazing illustrations, details and the colors that could only began to explain Friday's complex life. I can picture children spreading their fingers through the pictures because they are just simply beautifully.


The next two books are great examples of the powerful wordless picture books. Last summer, I taught a class for classroom teachers on supporting English language learners. I shared the powerful of using wordless picture books as a way for children to share their knowledge and understanding of stories by using picture support. My friend Franki recommended this book to me and I loved it. Here I Am by Patti Kim is a powerful story as the author shares her own journey as an immigrant to the USA. Leaving home, having a hard time adapting and always missing that part of you that you left behind are all part of the process as you adapt to the new country. The author gets that. She has done it herself and understand the struggles. But the reader is in charge of telling and interpreting the story as he or she wishes. Sonia Sanchez did a fantastic job drawing great pictures to match the journey. 


Last but not least...this book. Oh, I loved this one! The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee is another wonderful new wordless picture book! I don't like sharing too much when it comes to wordless picture books because that's the whole point of the book: that the reader gets highly engaged in creating the story. But here's what I say: the unlike friendship will get to you. It will. Trust me on this one. I can't wait to hear a child tell me this story. I wonder what words will he or she use to describe certain scenes. Oh, the possibilities! 
Enjoy it friends! Great books everywhere!








Sunday, September 21, 2014

One of those perfect Sundays...

Yes, and by that I mean perfect in the little things that makes us happy, like picking up a perfect pile of picture books from the library and loving each one of them. Or like meeting up with great friends for brunch and talk about our love for the profession, our lives, and connecting in ways that you know it's just special. So perfect in those little things. 

Now, by a perfect pile of picture books I mean these books that I know are a must read for this fall. 

Forget Me Not by Nancy Van Laan is one of those books we all needed it at one point...either for a loved one, a student, a situation. The story is told from the little girl's point of view whose childhood is changing when she realizes that her grandma is not the same person she used to be. Having a loved one fighting Alzheimer's disease is definitely painful but this story reminds us that love is always there despite the seasons changing. 


Flashlight by Lizi Boyd is a fun book that young readers will appreciate. In this wordless picture book, the young boy discovers his surroundings as he goes through the night with one tool and one tool only: a flashlight. 

Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato is a book I've seen my friends reading it and loving it. So I couldn't wait to read it. The glossy pages, the adorable illustrations and the beautiful story about friendship  makes it a great Sunday morning read. That's all I will say. :-)
From the author of the beloved book Press Here, comes the next book which is as fun as the first. In Mix It Up by Herve Tullet, the reader has a chance to watch magic appear on each page as they interact with paintings. Little ones and not-so little ones will sure love this book!



Jen Bryant's brilliant words and Melissa Sweet's amazing art work makes this book a winning one in so many different levels. I wish there was a biography written like this when I was a child. The book The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus takes us on the life of Roget who was filled with lists, words, reading and a fascinating mind. The amount of words on each page is not overwhelming so the readers can take the time to enjoy the illustrations. I can't wait to share this book with friends and students!

Telephone by Mac Barnett and Illustrated by Jen Corace reminds us how much fun is to play that childhood game of passing messages to friends but as each message is passed on, it changes every time. Will the original message be delivered? This book is Fun Guaranteed. 

These books were a perfect way to spend time after brunch with great friends who love words, books, teaching, reading and food as much as I do. Have a wonderful week!



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Franki!!!! #IFNOTFORFRANKI

What an honor is to celebrate a dear friend Birthday today. Happy Birthday Franki! You are a blessings in so many ways and you have touched our lives in countless and quiet ways. Please take it all in today because we are showering you with love today. Love that you planted in our lives and today we get to say thank you and hopefully we will all be able to pay it forward someday.

If not for Franki...

I would simply have not met so many of my dear Dublin friends. It all started when my blog was born in 2008 when this blog was born. I was so excited when I received a comment in my blog that said, "Are you in Columbus, OH? No way! We should meet." Does this sound like Franki making her magic right there or what? The thing is I didn't know then how this comment will create a chain of wonderful effects that would lead me to some amazing experiences. First, Franki and other Dublin friends where all cyber friends....blogger friends...until we all decide to meet months later at Cover to Cover. I put faces to names, voices to friends and ever since then we all stay connected. All because of Franki.


If not for Franki,
I would have not met the fabulous Brenda Power. The thing is Franki sees things way before other people do. Franki believed in me from the beginning and through her encouragement and questions, she pushes my thinking above and beyond. I get emotional as I type these words because I'm so blessed to have people in my life like Franki who believes unconditionally. I can't help but think of my students and wish that each one of them have someone in their lives that BELIEVES in them.

If not for Franki,
I would have missed some amazing professional development. I would have not gone to NCTE or All Write. She is the master at PD and networking. She may not even realize it that she is doing it. But Franki my dear....you are. And because of you, our network of people stretches from north to south, east to west.

If not for Franki,
I would have not made the amazing friends at The Literacy Connection. It all started as an invitation from Franki and the rest of the group to talk to them about the needs in PD when teaching ELLs. Ever since that Saturday morning conversation at a French Bakery, we have all been connected since then.

If not for Franki,
I would not understand the power of always, always being a learner. I always considered myself a learner, but meeting Franki and being a witness to her constant search for understanding and learning is just beyond inspiring.

Franki, today it's YOUR birthday and we are all here to say THANK YOU! Your birthday is a celebration in all of our lives, especially in mine. You make me feel like I have a family when mine is a thousand miles away. Thanks for being part of my life here in the States. Thanks for being YOU.




Monday, March 31, 2014

Slice of Life: Day 31 Reflecting

First of all, thank to the amazing team at Two Writing Teachers for the amazing challenge and invitation to all of us bloggers and writers. March came with all its strength and we accepted their invitation to write every day during the month of March. I wrote for 28 days out of the 31. I consider that success since boy oh boy...there are days that you just can't fit everything. And that is OK.
So what did I learn in all this process?

I was reminded...

how important it is to make time for writing

how much I enjoy the opportunity to reflect aloud

that we all need feedback to grow. It's so important to comment on people's blog

how much I respect all these bloggers even if we never met, I feel close to so many

I discovered...

many wonderful blogs and bloggers

great books (and the pile keeps growing)

many of my friends outside of education were reading my blog ( since many of the topics was not related to Education)

I loved

the sense of writing community established

the sense of belonging

the partnership and collaboration


As the Slice of Life challenge comes to the end, other beginnings start opening up.  In the meantime, we savor each other's words one more day. Happy Slicing!






Sunday, March 30, 2014

Slice of Life Day 30 Sweet Spring Break

I'm loving so many things about this Spring Break. Slowing down time always has such a renewing effect on all of us especially because as teachers we know we are going to need a lot of energy the next couple of months.

This Spring break I loved...
  • Spending  endless hours on the couch reading


  • taking random naps


  • Working out & dancing (always)


  • Catching up with friends outside the work place

  • Discovering an International Market that has great goodies from around the world!


  • Spending time with some fabulous people (big and small)



  • Enjoying one or too many cups of coffee at my neighborhood coffee shop




  • Watching snow fall one more time. *sigh*

  • Discovering amazing places around Columbus like...

The Crest GastroPub : 2855 Indianola Ave. Columbus 


Native Cold Pressed : Raw & Organic Juice 771-A N. High St. Columbus



Phatt Taco: Address: 50 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215


C'est Si Bon Cafe: Address: 2258 E Main St, Columbus, OH 43209


  • Cooking at Home is always a favorite! 




  •  Attending Film Columbus where short films (all done here in Ohio) where shared with the public. 



  •  Going to my favorite coffee place: Mission Coffee in the Short North. Best coffees and amazing atmosphere




  • Enjoying the time to read, reflect and write....write and write. 


  • Celebrating my bestie's birthday! Happy birthday to one of the most loyal person I know!



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Slice of Life Day 29: Sharing my Books for the Soul Challenge

One of new things I'm trying this year as a reader is to become more intentional about reading for my soul. Let me explain. I LOVE reading professional books. I honestly can say that I enjoy learning from others and in our field of education, there are a lot of great thinking and learning! I also LOVE reading children's literature. I love finding great books for the kids and being able to match my young readers with their book of interest. Now, having said that, I have not make time for any other kind of reading genres until the summer comes and then I stretch and expand my choices. However, I feel that as a person who is always looking to live a more balanced life, I need more than my summer reading. So I made a commitment to myself as a reader that I'll choose ONE book per month that has nothing do with teaching and all to do with my own personal growth. I like to call these kinds of books: books for the soul.
In January I read the Law of Divine Compensation by Mariane Williamson. I don't have enough words to describe this book. It helped me understand so many things from understanding what we ask for, letting go of fear, trusting and overcoming obstacles. I read it slowly (as in it took me a while to finish) because there is a lot to process. This is another reason why choosing just one book for the soul per month allows me to dig really deep into subjects that matter to me.

In February, I read Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. I felt like I had a person who understood me as I read this book. The author and her family lived overseas for several years and then when they came back to the United States, they came back with a different perspective and outlook in life. They came back changed. Changes are a blessing but also a struggle especially if you feel like you are running against the current. I felt understood when I read this book and also optimistic as people like myself who travel a lot is always looking for understanding and remaining curious yet balanced. 


For March, my book of choice was The Big Picture by Tony Horton. Some of you know that I completed the P90X challenge for the 1st time!!! I was really excited because I have started the program so many times and never crossed the finish line until now. I got to say  I admire Tony Horton because he truly understands fitness in a way that few people do. His understandings of how our body and  muscles work lead him to create a fitness program that is amazing and produces results. I'm not just talking losing weight but becoming strong. In this book, Tony goes over his 11 rules that apply not only to fitness but to life in general. These are his philosophies and the "why" behind what he does. I've learned so much about him and as much as I hated him while I was doing some of these intense workout, I got to say: the man knows and understands. 

I feel like my Monthly Book for the Soul is helping me stay grounded and balanced. I'm not waiting until the summer to do all these readings. Honestly I never had the time to apply what I've learned because I was absorbing too much in such a short time. I feel optimistic about my goal as a reader for this year. I already feel great because I'm processing things slowly and let it sit with me for a while before I attempt changes or challenges. What about you? What are some of the challenges you face as a reader? What are you actions plans? Again, all it matters is the journey. That's what lead us to growth. 



Friday, March 28, 2014

Slice of Life Poem Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems




I'm so excited about this book in so many levels. First of all, I love J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. And the fact that both of them combined their mad talents to create this book is just such a gift to all of us. First of all, if you think only boys will go crazy for this book? My friend, you are wrong. Yes. Boys will LOVE LOVE LOVE it. But so will girls. This book is for everyone. This will be a fantastic read aloud but you can't miss the pictures done by Jeremy Holmes. It completes the book in a fabulous way. The first poem you will find is a Bookmobile Poem. Seriously? How amazing is this? I dream of owning one. But this bookmobile is so special especially because it's the Gingerbread Man the one who is driving it. And among the many books, you'll find The Wizard of Oz. Classic. 

There are car poems for everyone: The Paper Car, 23rd Century Motors, Hot Dog Car and The Egg Car of course. One of my faves?  High-Heel Car. 

High Heel Car

There was an old woman 
who lived in high heels
She loved one so much
that she gave it three wheels. 

That's how the size-84
shoe-car was born
She wins every footrace, 
Then honks her shoeborn. 

Is there a new poetry book out there that you love? So many books, so little time.