The blog has been busy with poems this week, as I continue to attempt the National Poetry Writing Month Challenge. If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Karen Benke’s Rip the Page!, a inspirational creative writing guide, just comment on the Juxtaposition poem inspired by one of her exercises. I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday.
I picked up Heidi Heilig’s Girl from Everywhere on a lark and then couldn’t put it down, though it was not technically part of my reading plans for last week. I appreciated the page-turney, twisty plot as well as the often very beautiful prose. Setting is really well-developed–especially the time-traveling pirate ship itself and the Hawaiian Islands, where they are moored for much of the novel. Heilig creates an interesting world with sharply-drawn, believable characters. I very rarely finish a fantasy series, but I am committed to starting Book 2 this week.
I’ve been interested in learning more about the Reggio approach to schooling since I read The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching. Julianne Wurm’s Working in the Reggio Way is a reasonable introduction to Reggio for American teachers. It blends a description of the Reggio values and beliefs with a personal account of Wurm’s early years working at a Reggio school and with reflective questions designed to help American teachers figure out how to apply Reggio principles in their very different classroom settings.
Most of all, I was struck by how gentle and humane this approach to education is, how it focuses on the whole child in the context of his or her whole life and world, how it honors the child and the mind. In a Reggio school, four year olds are considered experts in how to manage their own time and how to decide one what projects to pursue. And they absolutely rise to the challenge. The purpose of learning should be to make amazing discoveries about ourselves, each other, our worlds, and the Reggio approach seems ideally suited to this.
The book did have one flaw that I find nearly unforgivable: no bibliography! Wurm cited several texts that I was interested in reading, but I’m going to have to construct the bibliography myself.
Brendan Wenzel’s Hello Hello shows just how much can be conveyed through simple repetitive text and large animal eyes. Wonderful animal illustrations throughout, very appealing language, and a thoughtful note at the end pointing out that most of the animals depicted in the book are threatened in some way. A guide at the very end identifies each animal (such a variety!) and its status.
Very funny title by Elise Broach about a little boy who’s desperate for a pet–and gets one–only to decide that his new pet also needs a new pet. And that pet’s new pet needs a new pet. And so on. Well worth a read–and probably a read aloud.
Julie Kim’s art in Where’s Halmoni? is dazzling, but I’ll be honest: the story had me confused just about from page one. I’d turn a page, be totally confused by the new scene, characters, and plot, rub the pages between my fingers to see if I’d accidentally skipped one, realize I hadn’t, then try to orient myself. It was a strange reading experience. I appreciated what Kim is doing here–weaving various Korean folklore stories into an adventurous tale with modern children at the center. But…. it didn’t quite work for me.
I recently went around house and office collecting books I’ve started but haven’t finished and the pile was preciously high, so my goal over the next two weeks is to try to finish some of those books I’ve already started. Sometimes my serial book starting gets a little out of hand….
I am also continuing to work on many poetry titles–both collections of poems and poetry writing guides–to support my current writing challenge.
And can I just say what a wonderful pleasure it was to write this blog post IN PROSE? If nothing else, writing poetry has taught me that I really, really love using lots of words instead of just a few.
What will you be reading this week?