August 31, 2007

Poetry Friday - Strong Winds

This week marked the second anniversary of Katrina. Living without power for almost two weeks before this disastrous event would have seemed intolerable. However, our home was blessed to receive no physical damage; so no power was a small price to pay. Reading sustained my family. I brought out books of all descriptions, and we read and shared books. Several weeks ago I wrote that books could contain memories. Books can also provide comfort as they did for my family during Katrina.

To commemorate a strong wind:

Christina Georgina Rossetti’s

"Who Has Seen The Wind?"

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

A New Treasury of Children’s Poetry: Old Favorites and New Discoveries
Selected and Introduced by Joanna Cole

In my book . . . Leaves trembled and trees bowed down, but new leaves came and trees now stand sentinel straight. Lessons have been learned from this strong wind. Books have recorded them. May such a memory never have a companion.

August 30, 2007

Strong Women

On my mind this week are two strong women of American History. I get lost in cyberspace quite often, but two of my regular stops on the kidslitblogosphere caused me to ponder these two women: Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. One of the blogs discussed the author’s regret that though there are quite a few strong female protagonists in children’s lit recently, the characters have personality traits she can’t admire. They are too sarcastic to one another. They snipe at one another. I have been so thrilled that books are being published with strong girl characters that I haven’t really examined this trend. And I am now having to reexamine my opinions about this, more thoughts to come. However, I have always been drawn to books with independent, strong willed girls: Jo in Little Women and, my all time favorite, Nancy Drew.

Eleanor Roosevelt is on my mind because of a newspaper article commemorating the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United states giving women in America the right to vote. Eleanor Roosevelt supported a woman’s right to do many things thought unladylike including driving a car and flying in an airplane. We take so many things for granted today. But it really was not so long ago that a woman driving a car was a scandalous thing! Which brings me to Russell Freedman’s fabulous Newbery Honor Book Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery.

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery
Russell Freedman
Newbery Honor

New York: Clarion Books, 1993

Born on October 11, 1884 to a somewhat affluent family, Eleanor was shy and always sought to please those around her. By the age of 10, Eleanor and her brother Hall were orphaned and living with their maternal grandmother. When Eleanor was 15, her grandmother fulfilled Eleanor’s mother’s wish and sent Eleanor to an exclusive London girls’ finishing school. There the shy wallflower blossomed into a school leader and an excellent scholar. Eleanor was described as “beloved by everybody” and she called her time at Allenswood “the happiest of my life.” She arrived feeling “lost and lonely . . . shy, awkward, starved for love and approval” but left in “triumph.” Her growth in self assurance continued when she returned home where she renewed an acquaintance with her distant cousin Franklin. Their friendship became love, and they were married March 17, 1905. The bride was escorted by her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt!

As a wife and mother, Eleanor found happiness; but she continued her pursuit of personal growth, becoming more and more independent. She joined the League of Women Voters, taught classes in literature, drama, and American history at a private girls’ school in Manhattan; and when Franklin entered politics as governor of New York and later as the four term president of the United States, Eleanor herself became a powerful political figure. When Franklin was stricken with infantile paralysis, Eleanor became his eyes, traveling all around not only the United States but also around the world.

Eleanor was a First Lady of Firsts. She gave the first ever press conference given on the record by a First Lady. She held regular press conferences for women reporters only. She refused a limousine and bought herself a blue roadster which she drove herself. She flew in airplanes - all over the world, “serving as her husband’s personal investigative reporter and gathering material for her columns, articles, radio talks, and books.” During WWII, Eleanor visited American troops traveling “23,000 miles in a cramped, unheated, four-engined bomber.” She comforted the soldiers in hospitals. After Franklin’s death, Eleanor was asked to serve as a delegate to the first meeting of the United Nations General Council and was elected chair of the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission. She met the leaders of the world including Khrushchev. Eleanor never allowed herself to slow down. “ ‘Life has got to be lived - that’s all there is to it,’ she said.”

What an example to follow. Eleanor never sniped! She paved the way for the independent woman of today who can do anything she sets her mind to do. Freedman’s book is well written, well researched, and well packed with photographs of Eleanor’s life which give a fascinating glimpse of a changing American culture; and it is well worth reading the life of this amazing woman.

In my book . . . Long may we women drive! I became too long winded in my admiration of this woman. I tend to gush in my enthusiasm. We don’t have to agree with everything that Eleanor Roosevelt believed, but we have to admire a woman who could stand up to the secret service and drive her own car!

August 24, 2007

Poetry Friday - Scholars

For all those whose year runs from August to May - that school thing!

Walter de la Mare’s

Logic does well at school;
And Reason answers every question right;
Poll-parrot Memory unwinds her spool;
And Copy-cat keeps Teacher well in sight:

The Heart’s a truant; nothing does by rule;
Safe in its wisdom, is taken for a fool;
Nods through the morning on the dunce’s stool;
And wakes to dream all night.
The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry
Edited by Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair


From The Real Mother Goose
A diller, a dollar, a ten o’clock scholar!
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o’clock,
But now you come at noon.
I googled “A diller a dollar” and found the fascinating web site of the V & A Museum of Childhood. Included in the information about this rhyme is the fact that The Oxford Dictionary Of Nursery Rhymes by Iona and Peter Opie states that a “diller, a dollar” may refer to dilly-dally. I also learned on this site that traditional English school bells rang at 9:00 o’clock. For us 8:00 o’clockers, that extra hour would be heavenly!

In my book . . . We should strive to be logical and reasonable and memorable students, shouldn’t we? And of course we should never nap in class! But I surely like the idea of a 10:00 o’clock morning bell!

August 22, 2007


The library as an institution has been on my mind. Students attending my elementary school participate in a reading challenge each year. Two of the titles on this year’s list are about libraries: My Librarian Is A Camel by Margriet Ruurs and B is for Bookworm: A Library Alphabet by Anita C. Prieto.

We are a privileged nation on the whole. Access to books is taken for granted by most of us. But in many nations, books are a great luxury and difficult to obtain - not only financially but physically. Camels deliver books to eager readers in Bulla Iftin in Kenya; and in Omkoi of northern Thailand, elephants are the mobile library! (My Librarian Is A Camel)

Public libraries have been important in the United States even before there was a United States. In 1698 the colonists of Charleston, South Carolina passed an act “to secure the Provincial Library of Charleston” allowing townspeople to “have liberty to borrow any book out of the said Provincial Library, giving a receipt.” (B is for Bookworm)

Today is the birthday of Ray Bradbury who is a great supporter of libraries.

In 2000 Bradbury was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Literature Award by the National Book Foundation. In his acceptance speech Bradbury proclaimed:
I never made it to college. I started going to the library when I graduated from high school. I went to the library every day for three of four days a week for ten years and I graduated from the library when I was 28.
And at other events:
There is no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.

Go to the library and take the books off the shelf. You can handle them. You can turn the pages. You can't do that with a computer.
What’s not to love about this man - from a librarian’s point of view of course.

In my book . . . Libraries should be a destination of choice - even if it’s a camel! Turn those pages!

August 17, 2007

Poetry Friday - Robert Frost

Trees seem to be on my mind this week. My favorite trees are the willow and the dogwood, neither of which can I keep alive! In fact I have discovered that my treasured elderly dogwood is dying. Poet Robert Frost wrote about many things in nature including trees.

Some lines from Frost’s

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
. .
He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
. . .
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
. . .
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Frost said about poetry: “Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another.”

In my book . . . A swing in or on or around a tree is a fine thing. Swing away!

Quote and Poem from:
The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry
Edited by Richard Ellmann and Robert O’Clair

August 15, 2007

Word Joy - 2

Yesterday was the first day of attendance for students at my elementary school.

What an exciting time - the great adventure of learning stretching before them - new backpacks, new pencils, new books! So many new books - composition books, workbooks. And in my library, there are boxes of new books!

I love books (another good trait for a librarian). I especially love new books. I love how they feel and smell and look. The boxes in my library held thin books, thick books, tall books, short books - books about eggs, dos, frogs, turtles, dragons, boys and girls, old and young. So many worlds to explore and new ideas to ponder and all in the pages of books.

One of my favorite books is a dictionary. A good dictionary should include at least a brief history of each entry - an explanation of how a word came into existence. In researching the word book, I found that it derives from the Old English work bōk meaning beech probably because ancient Germanic peoples wrote on strips of beech wood. When I looked in my well used dictionary, I found pressed between its pages a leaf picked by son many years ago as we explored our yard, something he loved to do as a toddler. So, books can contain memories, too!

Memories - Word Joy!

In my book - Book leaves form trees - trees of knowledge, trees of memories. Sit beneath them. Climb them! Treasure them! Remember them!

August 10, 2007

Poetry Friday - Father Goose

We are truly experiencing the “dog days of summer” and are in need of some:

It is everything
you think it is.
It is the end
of the tunnel
and the light
up ahead.
It is the sound
of the wind
and the silence
of the night.
It is the sun
and the moon
and the memory.
It is the eye
and the hand
and the mouth.
It is the present
and the future
and the past.
It is here.
It is there.
It is gone.
from A Fury of Motion: Poems for Boys
by Charles Ghigna aka Father Goose

Charles Ghigna has spoken at USM’s Children’s Book Festival several times - a very interesting speaker! He believes that “poems look at the world from the inside out.”

In my book . . . These are definitely days to be looking at the world from the inside! It’s too hot to be out!

August 3, 2007

Poetry Friday - Clouds

Sad to say, summer is drawing to a close - at least on the school calendar. Here in the south, summer on the weather calendar lasts much longer. In honor of lazy, summer days gazing at clouds:
Pat Mora’s “Cloud Dragons”
What do you see
In the clouds so high?
What do you see in the sky?

Oh, I see dragons
That curl their tails
As they go slithering by.

What do you see
In the clouds so high?
What do you see? Tell me, do.

Oh, I see caballitos*
That race the wind
high in the shimmering blue.

*little horses
from Confetti: Poems for Children
Pat Mora promotes “book joy”, connecting all children to books.

In my book . . . Slithering dragons and a shimmering sky equal “word” joy!


In my book . . . Dragons are special. I’ve become fascinated with dragons especially those of Donita K. Paul (The DragonKeeper Chronicles). One of her characters is a librarian , Librettowit - what a great name for a librarian!
Anyplace that has no libraries, no bookstores, no institutions of higher learning is considered uncivilized and wild to our [Librettowit].
from Dragonquest

August 1, 2007

Word Joy 1

I love words - a good thing for a librarian. For the last few days I have been reading around the blog world about the new words accepted for inclusion in the 2007 copyright date of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.

My favorite new word is ginormous, officially defined as “extremely large: humongous”. My favorite user of ginormous is George, host of HGTV’s “What’s With That House?”.

English is a living language. Growing. Changing.

Words come. Words go.

Word Joy!

In my book . . .
A dictionary is a great source for Word Joy!