My Feet Are Laughing

My name is Rhythm. The dictionary says that Rhythm is a regular repeated sound or movement. Rhythms can be found in every bit of life. In music, in poetry, in every breath that you take. My Mom Person says Rhythm is the perfect name for me. I love to sing and dance and spread the Rhythms of Joy.

IMG_3726I have come across a lovely book that is all about Rhythm.

IMG_1516My Feet Are Laughing
by Lissette Norman
pictures by Frank Morrison
published by Farrar Straus Giroux in 2006

The title itself is Rhythm to my ears! Laughing feet! Can’t you just picture it?! Feet making a Rhythm all their own?!

This is a book of poetry. Sixteen poems that give voice to the Rhythm of a young girl’s life. A Dominican American girl living in Harlem. Some of the poems are rhyming poems, some are not. But each one has a special Rhythm that flows through the words.

The first poem is called Too Much. Sadie, the young girl with the laughing feet, tells how her Aunt says that little girls should be seen and not heard, so she’s not allowed to join in when the women folk get together to laugh and tell stories. But she knows that one day they’ll want to hear her stories because she just has too much to say.

IMG_1519And she has plenty to say in these sixteen poems! About laughing feet, and little sisters who ask too many questions. About Grandmothers in Heaven and moving to Grandmother’s house with a backyard. About Mami and Pop who don’t live together anymore but are still friends. About her hair that she doesn’t want corralled because she’s afraid it won’t be able to sing. About Love – all kinds of Love. About being afraid of the dark. About being a poet – “the coolest job in the world.” About giggle jars where you store your giggles. And about dancing the merengue with Mami and little sister, Julie.

Mr Morrison’s artwork is full of Rhythm, too! You can see Sadie’s feet laughing and her hair singing! The pictures themselves are singing and dancing right off the page. Perfect for Ms Norman’s lyrical words!

I am submitting this review to The Bookshelf Gargoyle’s Small Fry Safari Readers Challenge. You can find out more about this challenge by visiting the Gargoyle’s website HERE. There are eight different categories to be fulfilled. I am entering this book in Category # 5 — A book with something that comes in pairs in the title.

For your dancing and listening pleasure, I present the “Merengue Dancing Dog!”
I DARE you not to have Laughing Feet after watching this!

Now go forth with LAUGHTER!
Your dancing friend
Rhythm
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A Poke in the I

My good buddy, Bruce the Bookshelf Gargoyle posed a reading challenge at the beginning of this year. He calls it the Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge. You can find out more about it HERE on his blog. There are eight categories to this challenge. I have only completed THREE of these quests! So I need to get on the ball! (I would love to do that, if I could only find it!!)

So, without further ado, I present to you a most fabulous book that I would like to serve up for category #8. A book with some form of wordplay in the title.

IMG_1404A Poke in the I
a collection of concrete poems
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
illustrated by Chris Raschka
published by Candlewick Press in 2005

This is a book that we found at my favorite shopping spot – Half-Price Books. And the book is signed by the “selector” Mr Janeczko!!!! Can you imagine giving up a fine book that has been signed by the author!!! Crazy! It is signed “To Jack and Jessie – Keep reading. Paul B Janeczko.” At least I think that is what it says. His writing is a little hard to decipher. Poor Jack and Jessie. I wonder if they themselves gave up this book or if they know what became of it. I wonder about these kinds of things.

Copy of IMG950653But on to the book!! A book of concrete poems!!! I find these types of poems most fascinating!! I have written about other concrete poem books HERE and HERE. This book is particularly fine because it is illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Mr Raschka. His quirky style is well suited for these types of poems. Concrete poems are “a selection of words arranged into a particular shape.”  They are “visual poetry.” Hence the title of this book – A Poke in the I!

IMG_1406The book contains a feast of 30 concrete poems from a number of clever poets. The book begins with a note from the editor that explains what a concrete poem is. At the end of the book there is a section that tells where all the poems came from originally and some little bits about Mr Janeczko and Mr Raschka.

This is a most fabulously unique experience of a book and I’ll stick all four feet in the air for a waving High Sixteen!! Go check it out!

You can visit Mr Janeczko’s website HERE.

Mr Raschka on illustrating Rhythmic books –
http://www.teachingbooks.net/author_collection.cgi?id=39

And Mr Janeczko with A Poke In the I

Now you may go forth and create!
But don’t poke yourself in the I!!
Your library friend
Rhythm
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Mother Goose

We are at the end of April and poetry month and I thought I would close out the month with some really fine poetry. Short and sweet verses that are Rhythmic and thought provoking. Clever and full of magical imagery. It’s what poetry is all about —

IMG_5897Mother Goose is the quintessential poet. Her poems have it all – humor, tragedy, drama. They are loved far and wide by young and old alike. Mother Goose has been interpreted in countless ways over the ages. But by far the most fabulous representation of Mother Goose poetry comes from Mr William Wegman and his weimaraners.

I present to you –

Mother Goose
by William Wegman
published by Hyperion Books for Children in 1996

The Cast of Characters includes Batty, Chundo, Crooky, and Chip. And Buster as Old Mother Hubbard’s pup.

The book includes 19 classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes in astonishing vignettes. You won’t believe your eyes!!

IMG_5903Jack Sprat could eat no fat and his wife could eat no lean — had Electra wanting to eat the book!

William Wegman is an extraordinary creative genius. You can find out all about him at his website HERE. And HERE.
There is an interesting article about him at the Guardian HERE.

I have talked about some of his other works before — The Night Before Christmas HERE.
William Wegman’s ABC HERE.
One of his movies – The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold HERE.
And Flo and Wendell HERE.

I leave you with a performance of the ever popular Rub a Dub Dub – Three Men in a Tub

I wish for you a poetic week!
Your friend in the library
Rhythm
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The Hound Dog’s Haiku

I understand that April is National Poetry Month. I don’t know a lot about poetry. I like to listen to the Rhythm of a good poem. Poetry sounds nice to my ears. I try to get my reading buddies to read poetry to me, but I’m not always successful. When I was the official Library Dog at school I seemed to have better luck steering kids to poetry books. I even had some kids writing poems about me!

IMG_1934Here are a couple that came my way —

Rhythm
Golden fur everywhere
On the ground
or floating around.
She is sweet
She is furry.
She likes to sleep and sit.
Rhythm is who she is.

The Dog Called Rhythm
Hairy, sweet, yellow
She snores, rolls, chews all around
Rhythm is her name.

Now those are unbelievably lovely poems!! But I also have an unbelievably fantastic book for you as well! After all, this IS Perfect Picture Book Friday!

IMG_5701The Hound Dog’s Haiku
and Other Poems for Dog Lovers

by Michael J. Rosen
illustrated by Mary Azarian
Published by Candlewick Press in 2011

Theme – poetry, dogs

This is a book of Haiku poems about dogs. There are 20 dog breeds represented here. Each with an incredible wood block portrait done by Mary Azarian. Ms Azarian can create magic with a block of wood. The poem for the Labrador Retriever is –

the first duck splash-lands
speck in the iced pond’s lone eye
soon … the chase restarts

IMG_5705At the end of the book are several pages with notes about each of the breeds described in the poems. It is a book for dog lovers and lovers of poetry alike.

Of course if you are going to read a book of Haiku with your little people, then you must have them create their own Haiku!

You can read about Haiku at Poets.org HERE.
You might also visit the Haiku Society website HERE.

You might want to let your little people try their hand at print making –
Try this link from Pinterest
Or HERE for some more printmaking

And if your are really ambitious here is a video of REAL wood block art making –

And after all of that, you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog for a list of Perfect Picture Books and some great resources to go with!

Happy Rhyming!
Your friend
Rhythm

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A House is a House for Me

Most people and critters have some kind of house that protects them from the elements and may provide comfort or storage area or a place to raise young ones.

IMG_4976I live in a people house. A house that was built for humans. But My People have made room for me and Walker inside their house. When I was a pup, I had a different house inside the people house. I slept in a crate that was just for me. It was a safe, cozy little house. It was a place where my gorilla waited for me and my warm blanket. It was a place that I could go to be alone if I wanted. Walker still sleeps in his own crate. He likes it there a lot.

Most dogs that I know have these same living arrangements, but I hear of dogs who sleep outside in a dog house. The kids I visit at school always want to know about my living and sleeping arrangements. When they see the Mom Person without me, they worry about where I am and whether I’m inside or outside.

Houses are an interesting concept for me. I like my house a lot, but I sometimes wonder about other houses and how they came to be. We have just built a new house for our chickens and a lot of planning went into this building. The goats and Buddy, the pony share a house. I always wonder where the raccoons and skunks and foxes live that I smell in the woods.

I have a book that addresses this issue —

IMG_4970A House is a House for Me
written by Mary Ann Hoberman
illustrated by Betty Fraser
published by Viking in 1978

Theme — housing, animal dwellings, nature, environment

Suitable for 3 and up

It begins —

“A hill is a house for an ant, an ant.
A hive is a house for a bee.
A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse
And a house is a house for me!”

This is a fun, fun book told in sing-song rhyme about houses. Houses of all kinds. From the ant and the bee to farm animals and a dog in a dog house. From fish in the sea to a snail in its shell to a duchess in her castle. Then on to a garage for a car and a pod for a pea!! What can you think of that has a house? That’s the big question! And one that this book begs you to ponder! It’s a book full of wonder! A book that encourages you to wonder about the world around you that is OUR home.

IMG_4975The illustrations are fabulous. Each page is chock full of details to wander through as you wonder. This is a book that will have you meandering through it time and time again.

This is a book to spur the imagination. What kind of house could your kids build at home themselves – one just for them? I know at our house there have been houses made from giant boxes, tents made from sheets, and forts made from tree branches.

IMG_4973Take your kids on a walk through the yard or the woods. What kind of houses can they find? Birds’ nests? Spider webs? Holes in the ground? A shell that might house a snail? or a nut? An endlessness of possibilities!!

Enchanted Learning has a great site with all kinds of classroom activities about dwellings of all kinds. Lots of fun stuff can also be found on Pinterest

To encourage kids to think about the world we live in and how to take care of it, visit the USDA website and find out about Woodsy Owl.

For more fabulous picture books and accompanying resources visit Susanna Hill and her list of Perfect Picture Books!

Now because it’s Library Lovers Month, I would like to direct you to a library program in India called APNE Library that is spreading the joy of reading across the Himalayas. You can find out all about it HERE.

And here is a video of a group from APNE Library performing A House is a House for Me

What kind of house do you live in?
Your library friend
Rhythm
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What’s in a Name?

Gargoyle Bruce, the famous Bookshelf Gargoyle, has posed a reading challenge for 2014 — The Small Fry Safari Readers Challenge. I am offering up my second entry for this challenge — Category #4A book with someone’s name in the title.

We recently had a SERENDIPITOUS visit to my favorite book store, Half-Price Books and found TWO fabulous books with TWO fabulous NAMES! So, I have TWO books to offer up! Double Duty for this one.

First up!

IMG_4966Sweethearts of Rhythm, The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World

Written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Published by Dial Books in 2009

This is a most fabulous book!!! Not just because it’s about Rhythm (ME!) It’s fabulous because it is!! It’s about an all-girl jazz band put together in the 1940s during the war years. From the dustjacket – “They dared to be an interracial group despite the cruelties of Jim Crow laws, and they dared to assert their talents although they were women in a “man’s” profession. The story is told through the voices of the instruments. In verse.

“I led the band in an artillery
of wittlily syncopated quarter notes,
or with the buttery longing her strong lips drew from me
until a warbling April morning filled my throat!”

Heart thumping. And the artwork is mesmerizing. Mr Pinkney lets you feel the RHYTHM on every page. Magic.

IMG_4968At the back of the book is a chronological history of the Sweethearts of Rhythm. In 1909 Laurence C. Jones founded the Piney Woods Country Life School in Piney Woods, Mississippi for poor and orphaned African American children. In 1937 he organized an all-girl band of students from the school. The band included a Chinese saxophonist, a Hawaiian trumpeter, and a Mexican clarinetest along with all the African American musicians, so he called the band the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. They started touring to raise money for the school.

There is also a “note” from the author and one from the artist. Both give some background about the birth of this book. And a bibliography for further research.

I am in love with this book! It is a magical journey — and my feet can’t be still. Dancing to the RHYTHM!

Whew! Now onto my Second selection for the NAME category —

IMG_4963You Are My Cupcake (Cupcake is my good buddie and the star of Cupcake Speaks)

This is a little board book done by Joyce Wan.

Published by Scholastic Cartwheel Books in 2011.

It is a cute menu of endearments often spoken to small ones and dogs and loved ones. As in “you are my cupcake!” And “my mushy little sweet pea.” That’s what my Mom Person calls me a lot – Sweet Pea. Not mushy though. Maybe she will add mushy to it now after reading this book. It is a cute book with big bold words and pictures. Pastel colors with sprinkles on top!

IMG_4965Ms Wan has a great website where you can see more of her work – including cards and books and fun stuff!

So there you have it folks! Two for the price of one – going on safari! Be sure and mosey on over to Bruce’s Shelf and see what other safari titles you might find.

And for your listening enjoyment, here’s a taste of those Sweethearts of Rhythm

I wish you a day of song and dance and plenty of sweet treats!
Your dancing friend
Rhythm

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Every Day is Christmas

I mentioned before that this was a week filled with Celebratory Joy. I talked about my birthday, but we had Christmas parties as well! All the classes at school had parties with silly games and lots of sugary stuff that I wasn’t allowed to share. I did get some french fries from the cafeteria though!

There was a Christmas party with the Guide Dog Puppy raiser group in Dallas. We get to celebrate with them because we (me and Walker) are Career Changed dogs. That means that we were once upon a time guide dog pups in training, but didn’t become working guide dogs. We had other jobs in store for us. This party was much more fun because lots of doggy friends were there and the whole place was filled with doggyness!! As in treats for us!

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My book choice today is Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas by Ray Bradbury. Illustrated by Louise Reinoehl Max. Published by Gibbs Smith in 1997.

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This book is a lovely poem about dogs and the Joy that we find in each and every day! It is a top notch little book of dog philosophy. The pictures by Ms Max are spot on – full of joyful exuberance. Check it out!

And a little gift from me to you — A Merry Texas Christmas wish!

Joyful wishes –
Rhythm

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Gone Fishing

We had a pretty good rain recently that put some water back in our river. Hallelujah!! So the Mom Person decided we should go down and do a little fishing. Fishing?!

This is my idea of Fishing —

CIMG7125This is the Mom Person’s idea of Fishing —

IMG_3571Now tell me — does that look like fun?!

We didn’t catch any fish. We saw some fish. And a crawdad. And some raccoon tracks. We did not catch any fish. So we went back to the house to read some books about catching fish. The Mom Person’s answer to every problem.

IMG_3576Gone Fishing, a Novel in Verse is an excellent book by Tamera Will Wissinger and illustrated with much whimsy by Matthew Cordell. It was published in 2013 by Houghton Mifflin.

Ms Wissinger “was inspired to write this novel in verse, her first book, after writing ‘Night Crawlers,’ a poem that stemmed from childhood memories of night crawler hunting with her mom and dad before fishing trips.” This is a thoroughly FUN book! It is a collection of poems that fit together one right after another to tell a story about a young lad, Sam, who is sooooooooo looking forward to going fishing tomorrow with JUST his DAD. But then his little sister Lucy wants to come too! And Dad lets her!! Sam goes through a lot of frustration and anger at first, but then discovers that sisters aren’t all that bad. A great book about sibling rivalry and finding a common bond.

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At the back of the book is The Poet’s Tackle Box with lots of information about writing poetry. An excellent resource!

I love this book!!

The next book we read was a shorter, more flamboyant book – Fishing in the Air. This one is by one of my all time favorite authors, Sharon Creech, who wrote Love That Dog. And Fishing in the Air is illustrated by another favorite – Chris Raschka who did The Daisy Books and several cool Jazz books. Fishing in the Air is another tale of boy and Dad going fishing. No sister this time. They dig up worms and pack two poles and a sack of sandwiches. And Dad says “We’re going on a journey. To a secret place. We’ll catch the air! We’ll catch a breeze!” This is a story about the magical world all around us. Where street lamps become moons and trees become soldiers and birds become singing angels. The boy and his Dad fish in the clear, cool river and talk about when the Dad was a boy. This is a magical book with magical pictures and a clear, cool river. Ahhhhhhh!

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I love this book, too!!

I hope that you will visit the author and illustrator websites by clicking on their names above. I think that you will find yourself entertained.

And here is a little video of Mr Raschka in his studio – enjoy!

I wish you Joyful days of fishing for magic in the clear, cool river —

Rhythm

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East Texas Book Fest

We had a big, big, busy weekend! Whew! The life of a working dog! We went on a bit of a road trip to Tyler, Texas, about 3 hours from our home in Glen Rose. Because —- we were participating in

The East Texas Book Fest!!

img436This was our first experience with a book festival. And it was an experience for sure! There were 65 authors there sharing their books and their writing journeys. There were library people and storytellers and newspaper people and photographers and kids!! — Lots of kids! and one other dog! Elvis. A gentlemanly Golden Retriever who also visits libraries.

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I painted our table cover! The illustrator of my book, Paul Howell, joined us for the day. He drew lots of pictures while sitting at our table.

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I got to help out at storytelling time. They had the best pillows. It was just like being at school.

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We provided some coloring pages for the kids, and another author provided tiaras! That’s my buddy Makenna with the big smile! She shared her tiara.

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But then we met Mamma Nellie who gave me my own tiara! Mamma Nellie’s daughter, Annette Bridges wrote a pretty funny book called The Gospel According to Mamma. Those two together are a pretty crazy pair! You can find out more about Ms Bridges and her books at her website here.

We got to meet lots of authors with some very interesting stories. Writers are really nice folks! And they like to talk a lot!

We met some newspaper folks, too. Ms Vanessa Pearson was quite interested in Paul’s story and wrote an article that was in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Sunday!

We sold quite a few of my books. And the Mom Person purchased several books from other folks. Lots of books changing hands. One book that the Mom Person particularly fell in love with is put out by the Stephen F. Austin University Press. The book is a visual interpretation of a Wallace Stevens poem called Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. It is “imaged” by Corinne Jones and is a stunning book. A simple “culmination of sensation.”

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You might notice some of my drool on the cover. It’s that luscious! The SFA Press table had some really fine books that the Mom Person was drooling over. I had to pull her away from there!

We also met Elvis, as I mentioned. At the end of the day we were two tired pups!!

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For your listening pleasure — Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

All in all, it was a very fine day! I hope you had a fine weekend as well!
Happy trails to you all!
Rhythm

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Bark!!

I don’t bark. Not usually anyway. I tend to sing alot. I have found that that translates into more treats than does barking. But lately my singer isn’t working quite right and it comes out as a bark. It’s embarrassing.

But this really has nothing to do with today’s post. Today’s post is about a BOOK.

bark

The book is titled BARK and the detention boys read it to us this evening. It was “stress reduction” evening for the boys. I think that this is the same thing as recess at school. Some of the boys took turns reading this book to us. Some of them brushed us. Some played dominoes or cards. It was a pleasant evening.

Anyway, back to the book! Bark is subtitled Selected Poems About Dogs. It was compiled and illustrated by Ferris Cook who has a very good eye for dogs. It was published by Little, Brown and Company in 2000.

The book contains 26 poems from all sorts of poets — Dorothy Parker, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, John Updike, Louise Gluck, Ogden Nash, William Wordsworth and some others that I am not familiar with. Like Marck Beggs. I like his name.

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Some are very short — like this one from Robert Frost —
The Span of Life
The old dog barks backward without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

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Or this one by Langston Hughes

Poor Rover
Rover was in clover
With a bone
On the front lawn —
But Rover’s fun was over
When his bone
Was gone.
Poor Rover!

Some of the poems are quite long. The poem by Marck Beggs is titled Kilty Sue and is a sort of long poem about an overprotective border collie.

The boys all liked the poems a lot. It’s kind of funny and cool to hear these “gangster” boys reading dog poems. I’m hoping maybe it will inspire them to write some.

And tomorrow we are heading back to West for a visit. I’m hoping we get to hang out in the library. We’ll see when we get there. I’m noticing on Facebook that a lot of dogs and cats are being reunited with their families! So there should be some happy kids in West.

I’ll keep you posted. Be sure and say your prayers today and remember the folks in West.