books that SPRING off the shelves

from the May issue of Wonderwise:

Happy May Day!
I hope this finds you beginning to gather the flowers and sharing them with each other. We're lucky to have loads of camas popping up in our yard (and our share of dandelions, too, much to the delight of Zeal) and all the fun and joy that comes from new growth and spring blooming that happens to a child's mind and body too.

This month, I started back speaking after taking a nice long break after Anjali was born. How exhilarating! So if your organization is looking for a speaker, I have a few months before we head to Hawaii and would be happy to oblige. :)

But, on to the good stuff...
In this issue of Wonderwise, I would like to celebrate some of the wonderful new books sprouting on the market this spring. I've included some of our new favorites and their accompanying reviews.

In addition, at the end of this issue, you'll find "How to Climb a Tree", excerpted from Child of Wonder, and a sneak peek of a piece about cooking tools that will be featured on the Savvy Source.

Happy Wondering!

Birds on a Wire: A Renga 'Round Town by J. Patrick Lewis and Paul B. Janeczko
In the Japanese verse form called renga, a cousin to the haiku, two or more poets take turns, each playing off the previous verse so that the narrative is propelled in constantly new and surprising directions. Lewis and Janeczko, both accomplished youth poets, prove just how compelling this form can be, switching voices gracefully and leaping from concrete imagery that works in concert with the artwork to verses that carry more abstract ideas that will fire imaginations. But the poetry is just half of the attraction here. Mirroring the verse form, each of Lippincott’s two-page spreads offers visual clues as to what the next will hold as well as echoes of the previous one, linking the images together as a sort of meditative meander about a timeless town. The vantage point sweeps and soars, providing no end of captivating details and surprise glimpses into people’s lives, community stories, and natural dramas that fade as soon as they arise. This lovely picture book is an impeccable synthesis of text and image, each simultaneously playing off the other in ways insightful and visceral. A book that demands and rewards multiple readings, viewings, and contemplations.

All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant
If you don't already know Cynthia Rylant as an author, get thyself to a library quick. Favorites of hers include: When I Was Young in the Mountains, The Old Woman Who Named Things, The Wonderful Happens, and many others. And now, Cynthia brings us a new wonder: All in a Day.

"This lovely book illuminates all the possibilities a day offers—the opportunities and chances that won’t ever come again—and also delivers a gentle message of good stewardship of our planet. Newbery Medal winner Cynthia Rylant’s poetic text, alongside Nikki McClure’s stunning, meticulously crafted cut-paper art, makes this picture book not only timeless but appealing to all ages, from one to one hundred."

The North Star by Peter Reynolds
And speaking of great, prolific authors, you must check out the new one by Peter Reynolds (a perpetual favorite of mine), The North Star.
Here's what Jane Goodall has to say about it:

"Everyone will fall in love with The North Star, as I have. It is an inspired fable about our journey through life...and the pleasures to conform that are exerted on dreams when they run counter to the expectations to society. It is a book for those who know, or will eventually realize that what they are doing is not what, in their heart of hearts, they want to do. It is for parents and other educators who seek to develop the unique potential they see in every child. And, with its utterly magical illustrations, it will enthrall the children too. If only every individual could find and follow his or her own star and be encouraged to do so. How different the world would be. The North Star moves us in that direction." -- Dr. Jane Goodall, Scientific Director The Jane Goodall Institute

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
"In this childlike fantasy, a boy finds an airplane and takes it out for a ride—to the moon, where it runs out of fuel. Just as his flashlight grows dim, a spaceship crashes, and a Martian climbs out. Initially, each fears the other, but they quickly become fast friends. Soon they’re carrying out a splendid plan to repair their spacecraft and get back to their homes. Children who know Jeffers’ Lost and Found (2006) and How to Catch a Star (2004) may recognize the distinctive figure of the boy, with his large head, sticklike legs, and striped shirt, and catch other visual references to the earlier books. Economy of line in both text and pictures combine with Jeffers’ flair for storytelling to create plenty of fine, original scenes. The deadpan text is well matched by the slightly quirky pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, which make great use of color and composition on the large, double-page spreads. An imaginative space adventure for young children. Preschool-Grade 1."

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
"One boy's quest for a greener world... one garden at a time.

While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.

This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book. "

The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz
"Babba Zarrah lives in a tiny village in the snow-covered mountains. The children love to visit her. They settle down on her big, old story blanket and listen to her imaginative tales. One day Babba Zarrah notices that Nikolai needs new socks, but she has no yarn. Every question has an answer, Babba Zarrah tells herself, I just have to find it. After the children leave, she unravels part of her story blanket and knits him some nice warm socks.

Not long after that, the postman is surprised to find a scarf wrapped around his mailbag. The grocer mysteriously receives a shawl to keep her warm. On the woodpile outside the school is a pair of mittens for the schoolmaster. Meanwhile, the story blanket is getting smaller and smaller. When the villagers discover Babba Zarrah s secret, they decide to give her a surprise of her own. "

How to Climb a Tree, excerpted from Child of Wonder
It is has been said that those who dwell in the beauty of the trees, will never grow weary to the mysteries of life.

In the book Little Bear’s Friend by Else Homelund Minarek, the story begins with Little Bear climbing a tree. During Little Bear’s journey to the top of that tree, he encounters a few challenges, a little bit of fear, unsurpassable views, perspective, confidence, and eventually, as the title suggests, a new friend.

Many adults hold onto a memory about climbing trees, either with childhood friends or on solo retreats into the sky to look down on the world. As Richard Louv points out in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, many children today are not getting this valuable motor skill and confidence building opportunity. A recent study conducted in Sweden showed that children who not only played outside, but played in natural settings (not just outdoors on play equipment) played more creatively.

Climbing trees offers many opportunities for children to not just develop physically, but also mentally. With every step, children who climb are playing a game of vertical chess, if you will, that has them strategizing, developing mental agility as they make spilt second decisions, and learning psychological balance.
As you begin your tree climbing adventures, keep the following in mind:

click here to read the rest of How to Climb a Tree at the Savvy Source

click here to see Child of Wonder (and search inside or read reviews) on Amazon

The Tools to Kitchen Creativity
Cooking with a child is another wonderful way to connect: with each other, the world, and our unique creative selves. It allows us to explore natural materials, mimic real scientists, and learn ways to approach future problems. As children play with recipes and ingredients, they ask questions and make discoveries that will lead to a greater understanding of their world. So with an eye towards encouraging our kids to really get cookin’, here are a few wonder-filled tools that help can us cook up some good old-fashioned curiosity and creative fun together.

Read the rest of this article this coming week on the Savvy Source. I'll announce its publication with a link to the article on my blog.

click here to go to my blog The Wondershop

Have a wonderful May filled with wonder!