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Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

The title of this blog is the title of a new book of poetry by Bob Raczka.  It is filled with shaped poetry, meaning the words on the page convey the outline of objects.  But Raczka takes it a step further -- using letter arrangements and shapes in each poem's title, too!  Students will never look at concrete poetry or "word paintings" in the same way again after reading Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems.

The title of this blog could also imply that there will be more than one book of concrete poetry featured in this post.  That's why I made sure to also include the following titles.

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture

Talk Like Shakespeare Day

Saturday, April 23, 2016 is Talk Like Shakespeare Day.  I bet you think I'm going to use this an an excuse to write a blog about reading Shakespeare's classic plays.  Well, I'm not.  I can do better than that, my friends!  I'm going to focus on a new nonfiction book about Shakespeare's effect on our speech.  Then I'm going to throw in a new Where's-Waldo-esque book involving the settings of Shakespeare's work and add a couple new teen novels inspired by the Bard.

  • Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe
    When Jane Sutcliffe sets out to write a book about William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, in her own words, she runs into a problem: Will's words keep popping up all over the place! What's an author to do? After all, Will is responsible for such familiar phrases as "what's done is done" and "too much of a good thing." He even helped turn "household words" into household words. But, Jane embraces her dilemma, writing about Shakespeare, his plays, and his famous phrases with glee. After all, what better words are there to use to write about the greatest writer in the English language than his very own? As readers will discover, "the long and the short of it" is this: Will changed the English language forever.
  • Where's Will?: Find Shakespeare Hidden in His Plays by Anna Claybourne
    J  793.73  CLA
    Spot Will Shakespeare and a selection of colorful characters from ten of his best loved plays! Can you pick out Puck in the magical midsummer night? Will you spy Cecilia hidden in the Forest of Arden? And can you see Shakespeare making a cameo in every scene? First, get to know each play by reading a snappy synopsis of the plot and meeting the main characters. Next, hunt for the characters, who are hidden in the detailed and beautifully illustrated pictures of the plays settings. (art by Tilly)
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
    This recent release reimagines The Winter’s Tale in a contemporary setting with cheerleaders. Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black. In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
  • The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters
    This thrilling reimagining of Hamlet tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten. 1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather. The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
Target Age: 
Katiem's picture

Paper Marbling . . . with Shaving Cream

It's true.  Shawna will help teens (grades 7-12) make beautiful marbleized paper on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.  And the secret ingredient to these colorful masterpieces?  Shaving cream.  Register online or by phone (444-7826).

Want to learn more about the art and history of marbled papers?  Take a look at
this article from Past Is Present: The American Antiquarian Society blog.  It has lots of great information plus some stunning samples of paper marbling.

This month's pair focuses on a very difficult period in America's history.  Fear of Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor prompted the government to relocate Japanese American familites to internment camps.

  • Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban (2016)
    Ten-year-old Manami did not realize how peaceful her family's life on Bainbridge Island was until the day it all changed. It's 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Manami and her family are Japanese American, which means that the government says they must leave their home by the sea and join other Japanese Americans at a prison camp in the desert. Manami is sad to go, but even worse is that they are going to have to give her and her grandfather's dog, Yujiin, to a neighbor to take care of. Manami decides to sneak Yujiin under her coat and gets as far as the mainland before she is caught and forced to abandon Yujiin. She and her grandfather are devastated, but Manami clings to the hope that somehow Yujiin will find his way to the camp and make her family whole again. It isn't until she finds a way to let go of her guilt that Manami can reclaim the piece of herself that she left behind and accept all that has happened to her family.
  • Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp by Michael Cooper (2002)
    J  940.54  COO
    Uses firsthand accounts, oral histories, and essays from school newspapers and yearbooks to tell the story of the Japanese Americans who were sent to live in government-run internments camps during World War II.

It's still April, which means it's still National Poetry Month.  Yes, I've already written three other poetic posts this month.  You're welcome.  Now get ready for the fourth.

The reverso form of poetry was invented when Marilyn Singer wrote a poem that could be read both up and down, so that it would have different meanings in each direction.  Her first two collections of reverso poems, Mirror Mirror and Follow Follow, turns beloved fairytale stories onto their heads . . . with sometimes silly and sometimes profound results.  Her newest book, Echo Echo, features reverso poems about Greek myths.  Explore two sides of the same story.  From Perseus and Medusa to Arachne and Athena, gods and mortals rarely see eye-to-eye.  Echo Echo is gloriously illustrated by Josée Masse.  Feast your eyes on sun-drenched Mediterranean colors, the perfect backdrop to these epic poems.


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