Poetry Friday: Poetry on Transit

Imagine if you will a rainy day in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Is it the 20th consecutive day of rain, or the 21st? You’ve completely lost count.

It’s a weekday afternoon and you’re crammed cheek to jowl with countless other soggy, steaming Vancouverites on a rush hour train out of town. You’ve got a wet wool coat pressed into your nose, and a sharp umbrella poking into your leg.

You have seen better days.

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Bored and frustrated, you look up, and slipped in between the adds for laundry detergent and upcoming films you spot it. A poem. It’s short – only a few lines long, but as you read it you suddenly find yourself transported. You’re not a sad, soggy sardine, but a captivated poetry reader, swept away by words. The feeling only last a moment, but it’s enough to make the miserable commute just that bit more bearable.

Since 1996, the Poetry in Transit program has placed poems by B.C. poets on trains and buses across the Lower Mainland. Each year, 16 poems are selected and placed on cards where commuters would otherwise see advertisements.

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The project, developed by the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia and Translink, helps draw attention to the rich, diverse B.C. poetry scene, while connecting local residents and visitors with inspiring, engaging poetry.

What I find so fantastic about the Poetry in Transit program is that it helps makes poetry accessible, breaking down barriers and challenging assumptions and stereotypes. Poetry isn’t a rarefied pursuit, accessible only to the elite. Poetry is by and for everyone, and should be accessible to everyone, wherever they live and whatever they do. Placing poetry in prominent places not only helps normalise poetry, but also helps reinforce the feeling that poetic expression is valid and important.

So, thank you Poetry in Transit for filling our everyday lives with poetry, and here’s to twenty more years of celebrating B.C. poets!

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The Bedtime Book Tag

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The weather is crummy and I just want to curl up in a bed with a book, so what better time to attempt….

THE BEDTIME BOOK TAG

(original can be  found here!)

1. What book kept you up all night reading?

World War Z by Max Brooks – I was pretty solidly addicted to this book from the moment I cracked it open. I love nonfiction, and this gripping novel reads like the best narrative nonfiction. It’s a pretty ridiculous story, but written in a way that makes it feel terrifyingly real. Highly, highly recommended – it’s “missed my bus stop again” good.

2. What book made you scared to go to sleep?

See above. Holy smokes – some of the scenes in World War Z felt so real they had me thinking about them long after I’d turned off the lights. What would I have done in a similar situation? How would I react if I was faced with a zombie hoard? How long would I survive the zombie apocalypse??!

3. What book almost put you to sleep?

Divergent. I tried, I really did. But apparently I’m officially too old for this “I’m just a normal, average, super hot, chosen-one teenage girl who has to save the world from the mean and nasty grownups” shtick.
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4. What book has you tossing and turning in anticipation of its release?

I can’t really say there are any books that have me tossing and turning in anticipation. I don’t tend to read new releases, so any series I start typically wrapped up a decade or so ago. 😉

5. What book has your dream boyfriend/girlfriend?

Oh, but there are so many! There’s Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, John Thornton of North and South, and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables, (what can I say, I’m Canadian), just to name a few.
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6. What book world would be your worst nightmare to live in?

 World War Z. Shudder….
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7. What book has a nightmarish cliffhanger?

Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting GoGAH, SO INTENSE!!! Thankfully I started reading the Chaos Walking trilogy several years after its release, so I didn’t have to suffer from the cliffhanger for long.

8. What book cover reminds you of night time?

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel. Just look at how cozy and ready for bed Owl looks – he’s got his pyjamas on, with a candle in one hand and a book in the other, ready to get snuggled up in bed with a story. What could be more bedtime-appropriate than that?
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9. What book have you actually dreamed about?

Those World War Z nightmares weren’t enough? I don’t often remember my dreams, but I’m sure there must’ve been books in there somewhere, since I always read before turning out the lights.

10. What book monster would you not want to find under your bed?

The wasps from Kenneth Oppel’s middle grade novel The Nest. This gothic tale is assuredly not for those with an aversion to insects…*shudder*….

If you would like to do this tag on your own blog, consider yourself tagged!

Now if you’ll excuse me….*yawn*….I think I need to take a nap. All this talk about beds has got me pretty sleepy…

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Top Ten Tuesday – Halloween Picture Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the bookishly inclined team over at The Broke and the Bookish.

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This week’s theme is a Halloween-freebie, so I’ve decided to share ten of my favourite picture books for Halloween picture books!

Go Away Big Green Monster – A perfect monster book for your littlest patrons. Even timid children will enjoy shouting out “go away!” as you disassemble the big green monster.

Click Clack Boo – A Tricky Treat – Those crazy farm animals from Click Clack Moo are back, and this time they’re planning a sneaky surprise for Halloween-hating Farmer Brown.

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Creepy Carrots – Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. He eats them all day every day. But what happens when the carrots have had enough…..?

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? – Fall is all about pumpkins, and this great picture book, with its diverse cast of characters, introduces STEM themes in a fun fall way.

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Pumpkin Trouble – Trust Jan Thomas to create a silly, simple pumpkin story that will have kids in stitches!

Where’s My Mummy? – This little baby mummy loves playing hide-and-seek, but who will comfort baby mummy when the deep dark woods spook him? Mommy mummy, of course!

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Ghosts in the House! – I love Kazuno Kohara’s minimalist illustrations in this sweet and spooky story of a little girl and her haunted house.

Mouse’s First Halloween – A sweet, not-scary story perfect for the littlest ghouls and goblins.

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Pumpkin Eye – A poetic Halloween celebration that’s a little bit spooky, but not too scary.

Peek-A-Boooo! – A fun lift-the-flap book that’s perfect for babies and toddlers.

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Have a spooktacular Halloween, everyone!

IMWAYR – October 24, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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I love babytimes.

I love toddler times.

I love family storytimes.

But preschool storytimes must just be my very favourite storytimes of all.

Shh…don’t tell the other storytimes!

I’ve been covering for a colleague’s preschool storytimes for the past few weeks, and it’s been an eye-opening experience. I’ve worked predominantly with babies and toddlers for the past two years of story times, and preschoolers are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. They’re bright, curious, engaged and oh so very chatty, making them a whole lot of fun to work with.

A lot of the stories I shared with my preschoolers this week have been old favourites, but I have discovered a couple of new-to-me favourites as well!

The Watermelon Seed

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A little crocodile loves watermelon more than anything else in the world. But when he accidentally swallows a watermelon seeds, he becomes convinced that it’s going to grow and grow in his tummy and turn him into a watermelon! He eventually burps out the seed (my preschoolers’ favourite part of the story), and all is well. A silly little story with limited text and fun illustrations that are sure to make kids giggle.

Rex Wrecks It

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This is a fantastic story for sharing at a preschool or daycare because it centres on learning to play respectfully and to empathize with others. Rex is a little dinosaur who loves to wreck things, much to the dismay of the other little critters in his preschool. How will they ever learn to get along? This is another very simple story with limited text, but it’s great for starting conversations with children about respecting the needs and feelings of others, as well as inferring those needs through observation and conversation.  

And just look at those critters! There’s a robot, a monster, and a unicorn rabbit – something for just about every preschooler! 😉

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Stop Snoring, Bernard!

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Bernard the otter loves his life in the zoo. He loves playtime, mealtime, and most of all naptime! But when his loud snoring upsets his fellow otters, Bernard sets off to find a place where he can sleep without disturbing anyone. Having grown up with a dad whose snores register on local seismographs (hi, dad!), I can’t help but sympathize with poor old Grumpy Giles, the otter who finally snaps and sends Bernard packing. Can you spot Grumpy Giles?

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There’s a great repetitive refrain – stop snoring, Bernard! – that kids will love chanting along with, and the illustrations! Oh, the illustrations!! Zacharia OHora has a distinct, immediately identifiable illustration style that brings so much heart and charm to the story. The little otters are absolutely adorable, and my preschoolers just couldn’t get enough of them!

So many fun new favourites!

Have a great week, everybody!

Poetry Friday: My Village – Rhymes from Around the World

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My Village: Rhymes from Around the World

As any children’s librarian or early literacy specialist will tell you, nursery rhymes can play an incredibly powerful role in the development of early literacy skills in young children:

There’s a reason we learn nursery rhymes as young children. They help us develop an ear for our language. Rhyme and rhythm highlight the sounds and syllables in words. And understanding sounds and syllables helps kids learn to read! – Reading Rockets

My Village collects, translates and illustrates twenty-two nursery rhymes from around the world to create a beautiful, diverse celebration poetry for young children. Countries represented in this collection include China, Norway, Jamaica, Fiji, Iran, Germany and more, for an inspiring glimpse into childhood traditions from cultures near and far.

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As former children’s laureate and beloved writer Michael Rosen explains in his introduction;

What this leaves us with is the rhymes itself…they are full of verbal fun and absurdity which matches the impossible deeds we often read about. If we learn them when we’re very young, they can become our companions for life.

There’s a beautiful variety of subjects and styles in this collection, but there are a few common themes that appear again and again – family, friends, food, games and animals. Through these poems we’re reminded of the common bonds that connect us all, regardless of our culture, language or home country.

Beyond supporting early literacy, nursery rhymes are a timeless means of transmitting cultural knowledge across generations:

Nursery rhymes preserve a culture that spans generations, providing something in common among parents, grandparents and kids—and also between people who do not know each other. Seth Lerer, Humanities Professor at the University of California San Diego and expert in the history of children’s literature, says that reading nursery rhymes to kids is, in part, “to participate in a long tradition … it’s a shared ritual, there’s almost a religious quality to it.” – PBS Parents

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Mique Moriuchi‘s beautiful, rustic papercut collage illustrations add a childlike warmth and wonder to the little poems. Each spread brims with colour,  joy and life, as happy children share their poems and their culture.

Seeing as my blog is called Raincity Librarian, and I do live in the rainy, rainy Pacific Northwest, I simply couldn’t resist sharing this Norwegian poem:

Rain, rain,

Pattering touch,

Rain, rain,

Clattering rain.

Rain, rain,

Little or much,

Rain, rain,

Welcome its touch.

I do wish the language of each poem was identified – you can probably safely assume that the poem from Germany is in German, but what about the poem from India? There are thousands of different languages spoken across the subcontinent. This goes for the poem from Australia as well – the original is presumably in an aboriginal language, but I’m sure there is more than one language/dialect spoken in the country. There is an acknowledgements section at the back of the book, but it would be interesting to know a little bit more about each poem – where it comes from, how old it is thought to be, and perhaps whether it is typically sung or spoken.

Still, this is a wonderful collection of children’s poetry from around the world, and joyfully introduces readers to rhymes as familiar to children in other countries as “Twinkle twinkle little star” is to the children in my story time programs. Take a trip around the world through poetry!

Versatile Blogger Award

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A gigantic thank you to Holly @ Nut Free Nerd for nominating me for a Versatile Blogger Award! I’ll be honest, I’ve never been nominated for a blogging award before, so I feel like I’ve finally joined the ranks of the cool kids.

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RULES

  • Show the award on your blog
  • Thank the person that has nominated you
  • Share 7 different facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 blogs of your choice
  • Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

FUN FACTS

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So there you have it – seven fun facts about me! As for nominees, I’ll be honest, I don’t really have 15 bloggers to nominate (I’m pretty new to the book blogging community), so I’m tagging anyone who reads this post and is interested in sharing seven facts about themselves! If you do decide to do the award, please let me know so I can come and learn more about you!

Nonfiction Wednesday – Snowflake Bentley

The Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge is a celebration of children’s informational texts hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. 

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Snowflake Bentley

From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.

As any kindergartener will tell you, people are like snowflakes – each one is unique. It was through the pioneering work of the pioneering photographer and self-taught scientist Wilson Bentley that the intricate beauty of snowflake crystals was first revealed and captured for posterity.

I was first introduced to the wonderful Mr. Wilson Bentley through one of my favourite adult nonfiction titles, Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich. Though he only plays a small role in the book, Bentley’s dogged pursuit of his passion for snowflakes fascinated me. I’ve always been inspired of people who possess the courage and the determination to follow their dreams, regardless of the roadblocks life places in their path, and Snowflake Bentley was certainly one of those individuals.

Born in 1865 in rural Vermont and largely self-educated, Bentley grew up fascinated by the “small miracles” of snowflakes. His supportive parents spent much of their life savings on a camera for their son for his 17th birthday, and ignited in him a life-long passion for highly detailed photography. Bentley made history in 1885 by becoming the first person to photograph a single ice crystal. Still, for all his accomplishments, Bentley never achieved fame or fortune – he contributed thousands of photographs to scientific journals and books and even penned several essays on the subject of snow crystals, but remained a Vermont farmer until his death in 1931.

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Snowflake Bentley is a biography on two levels, with a simpler primary text that’s supplemented by additional information in sidebars. This allows the book to be used with audiences of different ages, broadening its appeal. The format can be a bit confusing at times, but it doesn’t detract too significantly from the story. The woodcut illustrations beautifully capture the spirit of the story, and earned a Caldecott Medal.

Bentley’s fascinating life story is of perseverance, self-belief, hard work, passion and a deep appreciation for the small miracles that make our world such a breathtakingly beautiful place. Inspiring and timeless, it once again proves the incredible power of the picture book biography to bring to life historical figures who perhaps might not be as well known, but whose stories deserve to be celebrated and shared.