Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #494: Fable

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The Time Keeper

When the Time Keeper
saw her daughter’s hourglass,
its sand falling faster than her own,
she tipped it on its side–
stopping growth & change.
Though her child would live forever,
there would be no learning anything new,
even as this child who would be forever young
would see all those she had known as a little girl
grow old & go before her,
until there were none left,
& her memories of them would fade completely.
When the Time Keeper understood this,
she,
in a last, unselfish act,
turned her daughter’s hourglass the opposite way it had been,
just as the last grain filtered through her own,
& the daughter,
who became the Time Saver–
for she no longer tracked time
but made the time one had stretch–
lived out the years that had been allotted to her mother.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 494

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Book Review: Dreamers

Dreamers

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019 

This is a case where the author’s personal story was more compelling than the one she wrote.  As for the illustrations, there is something very spiritual and surreal about them–the kinaesthetics reminded me of the frescoes of Michelangelo, the angles and bold color scheme, of Picasso.  However, I didn’t understand the significance of the skirt made of colorful feathers that seemed to defy gravity, the meaning of the people with the protests signs, or the symbolism of the eyeball in the strawberry.  It is a rare talent to be able to tell stories with words and pictures, but Morales should just stick with drawing because this was a poem trying to be a story.

The author’s love of libraries was evident–including the names/book covers of her favorite books was a stroke was perfect.  The magic of libraries seemed to be the major theme of the story rather than the angst of resettling in a foreign country in which there is a language barrier. 

There was no juxtaposition between the author’s birth country and her adopted one; a little compare and contrast (like she did in the back of the book), as well as a more narrative storytelling style, would’ve added much more context to the pictures. 

In short, the story did not do the pictures justice. 

Morales was spot-on in making the point that when you are able to communicate in the primary language of the country you are living in, you can make your voice heard.  People just won’t listen (they won’t take the time to) if they don’t understand you. That is why literacy–not just in speaking but in reading and writing–is so important.  As for the Spanish words scattered in random places, I wish the definitions had been included. Having to look them up separately (or on my phone while reading) would’ve disrupted the flow of the story.

I’m glad the author made a distinction about what the word “dreamer” meant to her, though because of how the word is used today, I would’ve probably used another title. 

The “extras” were better than the story, such as the list of other books the author found inspiring, as well as how she did the art (sometimes, the process is more interesting than the product).  However, her immigration story was the only part of this book that I found interesting; I thought it wonderful that she included actual names. What a delight that would be to be one of the people mentioned as having made such a difference in someone’s life.  I can only imagine how hard it is coming to a country where you don’t know the language (the language you are working hard to learn) and how relieving it would be to know that you had a friend you could trust–a friend who knew that language who could not only help you learn it but a friend who would watch out for you.

Ultimately, this story did not hold my daughter’s attention; so many children’s books are written only for the adults who choose to read to their children.  This, to me, was one of them.

Btw, I think if you’re going to give a book less than three stars, it would be nice if you would at least tell the author why in a civil way.  Otherwise, it comes across as mean-spirited.

Suggested activity:  Find a wall-sized world map, and, using pins (or tiny stickers), start pinning locations where the books you’re reading are published.  (The Fox on the Swing– earlier in this summer reading challenge–was published in Lithuania.)  Let your child pick a place; just fill your map with pins.  

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39651067-dreamers

#Micropoetry Monday: The Lighter Side

samuel-67197_1920

Although a mismatched pair of socks,
Lefty & Righty still served a dual purpose:
to keep their contents warm—
in winter & in summer,
in smelly times & in freshly-laundered times,
in plush times & in threadbare times—
for as long as they remained un-holey.

For the brunette bombshell
known as Buxom Brown,
Jenna & Barbara Bush
lived in 2 different zip codes,
but when Bux got her reduction,
all that double-duty heavy lifting
was behind her,
for this girl’s 2 best assets
were now known as Jen & Barb.

Sox the Cat & Shooz the Dog–
named for what they unraveled or chewed up–
sold for pennies on the pound.
When they crossed piddle & poo paths
with Cashmere the Cat & Jimmy Choo the Dog,
they were reviled for their generic breeding.
But Sox & Shooz were major leaguers,
for by their names alone,
they represented EveryCat & EveryDog.
So this ragtag duo got together
with all the other neighborhood pets & strays,
& the candy asses of Cashmere & Choo
were kicked to the curb
where the garbage can diet was the only thing
on the menu.

Book Review: Drawn Together

Drawn

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019 

This book’s heart was in the right place, but I don’t particularly enjoy picture books unless the illustrations are simple (usually board books).  The ad-libbing I had to do at the beginning was too much work for a bedtime story.  

However, I liked the idea of this book–of an Americanized grandson and his traditional grandfather communicating through art, though I wondered why the grandson never tries to learn his grandfather’s first (and seemingly only) language (which I’m assuming is Vietnamese as that is the author’s ethnicity), just as I wondered why the grandfather hasn’t tried to learn any English.  Wouldn’t it make sense to at least try to learn some rudimentary language that is prevalent in your country of residence? I would’ve much preferred to see grandfather and -son at least struggle to understand one another via the spoken word rather than just accept that they will never be able to communicate in any other way except through art; even then, they can’t have a conversation about what they’ve created–proof that a picture does not equal 1000 words.

The art is well-done (the picture of the grandfather and son hugging strummed my heartstrings), even if it isn’t my style (I’m not into dragons and superheroes).  I appreciate Mr. Santat’s art the way I appreciate Shakespeare, opera, and Andy Warhol; such takes an incredible amount of talent and skill to draw with such precision and infusion of color–it just wasn’t for me. 

With books like these, I wonder why the author should get top billing over the illustrator–the illustrator carried this story.  There’s only 102 words in the book.  

Suggested activity:  Art was my favorite class in elementary school; I try to pass that love down to my daughter by showing her that art is fun–by doing it with her.  For a child who prefers music to art (like mine), you have to think outside the crayon box. A blog I have found extremely useful for affordable art ideas is The Artful Parent:  https://artfulparent.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34791219-drawn-together

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Drawing from the well

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Just as we all have histories (or herstories), we have geographies. Think of every place you have ever lived, and write a story, using the location as the main character (or omniscient narrator).

I grew up in a modern-day, Tennessee Williams play. Draw upon your background, for no one can tell it like you can. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/11/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-7-theme-simmer-down/

We are all the product of our existences, experiences, and memories—we all have something to offer. https://sarahleastories.com/2016/03/01/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-342-theme-blank-ways-to-blank/

Just as some remember where they were during historical events, for me, every memorable book I’ve read (good and not so good) has a memory attached to it. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/02/20/influences-on-my-early-writing/

Great writers practice the art of self reflection.  
https://sarahleastories.com/2014/09/28/the-benefits-of-college-in-my-thirties/

Our life is a timeline. If you have a tough time filling in the gaps, write about the dots. https://sarahleastories.com/2016/02/04/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-339-theme-anticipation/

How did you meet those who became significant characters in the play that is your life? https://sarahleastories.com/2015/12/04/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-330-theme-shopping/

The dust of time and even the subtle shifts of our perceptions can alter our memories.  Play around with different accounts from siblings, friends, et cetera. 
https://sarahleastories.com/2015/08/06/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-317-theme-remember/

Sift through old correspondence. You might find a “found poem” or a lost memory. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/01/28/childhood-memories-pen-pals/

The best thing about writing what you know is that the research is already in your head. http://www.bryndonovan.com/2016/07/05/100-prompts-for-writing-about-yourself/

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

It was Tradition vs. Truth
when it came to the Mormons
discussing the Catholics,
who seemed to be their biggest competition
when it came to procreation
& pomp & circumstance
& the rigid dogma that went far beyond
asking Jesus into your heart,
which I found strange,
as the mind was the control-center
of our actions–
intentional & autonomic;
our heart,
we simply followed.

Was it considered child sacrifice
to give up potential children
for the sake of love?
If so, David had done so–
he’d let his line die
so that with Mother,
he would truly live.

Just as God had no history,
for He had no beginning & no end,
so David had always seemed…
until I learned his past,
& the secrets thereof,
so that his flesh became more real
& beautiful
than it had ever been,
for, as the Mormons believed,
what was a spirit without a body?

The Mormons didn’t necessarily rewrite history
but rather,
they ignored it,
employing apologists for those who could not ignore
the Church’s past.
It had taken years of refining
to produce a religion
that exemplified Fifties-type family values.

I had told that the good feelings I was feeling
were the Holy Spirit.
It was almost New-Agey–
all this talk of feelings–
with no respect to logic or reason.
I began not to question things
but question me.

Book Review: King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth

Kayla

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019 

This was a nice book but nothing special.  I like that it’s trying to get kids into mysteries, using their problem solving, critical thinking, and powers of deduction/process of elimination skills.  I also liked that it showed that if you want to solve a mystery, you have to “write stuff down”; Kayla and her friend Mason not only write down what they know but what they don’t know (an interesting concept).  However, if the solve had been more interesting than simply a case of overlooking something, I would’ve liked it a bit better.  

The story was told from the dog’s point-of-view, which was a good call; a children’s book should rarely be told from the parent’s point-of-view.  

But the idea of a communal/classroom tooth pillow seems rather unsanitary–is this a thing now?  

I didn’t like that this was divided into chapters because this is the kind of story that needs to be read in one sitting.  Use a bookmark if you want a stopping point. Teaching a child to use a bookmark (rather than folding down the corner of a page or turning the book over so that it puts pressure on the spine) is a good habit to instill early on.  Whenever I’m reviewing an adult book, I have multiple bookmarks handy, so I can refer back to certain passages.

The Case of the Lost Tooth is a paint-by-the-numbers book where the dots all look the same.  Kayla needed a more interesting personality, though King is all dog.  Captain Cat Obvious needed a bigger role, for he could’ve added a bit of spice to this overly sweet book.  The tooth fairy could’ve also joined in the search but maybe kids–just like with Santa Claus–aren’t supposed to see the tooth fairy.  However, the note under Kayla’s pillow was a nice touch.  

Using the dog’s best sleuthing tool–his nose–King and Kayla solved this non-mystery.  The moral of the story? Dig a little deeper–literally.

The illustrations were somewhat eighties (i.e. reminiscent of my childhood).  The lack of background/negative space made it very readable, though ultimately, the visuals fell flat, and the story wasn’t compelling enough to make me want to read the other installments.  This was too long for a read-aloud, but short and simple enough for early readers–a book my child would have to choose on her own for me to pick it up again.

Suggested activity:  There are lots of children’s books that talk about the tooth fairy.  However, if your child is old enough, you can also talk about how dogs help humans solve mysteries (e.g. find missing children–I would not get into finding corpses), help the blind navigate a seeing world, etc.   Here is a good listicle outlining all the ways dogs improve the lives of humans. https://www.petfriendly.ca/articles/how-dogs-help-people.php

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36928748-king-kayla-and-the-case-of-the-lost-tooth