Sunday, August 10, 2014

PB 10 for 10 - Memories as Precious as Gold!

This is my second year to participate in #pb10for10.  You can join the fun by leaving a link at Cathy Mere's or Mandy Robek's August 10 for 10 Picture Book Event.  I retired at the end of June and many of my favorite picture books are still in boxes in the garage.  That's okay - there will be plenty of rainy, gray days perfect for sorting through my teaching stuff because right now I'm busy savoring summer.

I looked through my bookshelves (which I recently purged in order to make room for the books I moved home from school) and chose 33 titles I love.  I looked at them in search of a theme.  Bear books?  (Not quite enough.)  Maybe books with animals as main characters?  As I looked at the books I pulled, I knew that I had to find my books in the garage.  I managed to locate two boxes, stowed away under a table and at the bottom of the stack.  I ended up with a mix of books from home and books from school and my theme - memories, specifically memories that are triggered when I pick up certain books.

1.  Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox,
      illustrated by Julie Vivas
"What's a memory?" he asked.
"Something as precious as gold, young man, something as precious as gold."

Join me for a stroll through some of my favorite picture books linked to memories as precious as gold.

2.  My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb
My mother taught in a one-room schoolhouse during World War II with a wartime teaching certificate.  The area was populated by extended family, and some of my cousin's parents were taught by my mom during the war.  Like Miss Arizona, "... she taught students about words and numbers and the faraway places they would visit someday."
3.  Crow Call by Lois Lowry, illustrated by     Bagram Ibatoulline
When World War II ended, my oldest sister, age 4, was introduced to her daddy who had been gone for three years, including being MIA in a prisoner of war camp for five months.  She did not know this stranger who re-entered the life that she shared with her mom and grandparents.  She was too young to remember her daddy, and may have felt as cautious as Lois Lowry did in Crow Call, "I sit shyly in the front seat of the car next to the stranger who is my father."  This was a great book to use with sixth graders as we explored personal narratives.

4.  The Birthday Moon by Lois Duncan,
pictures by Susan Davis
This imaginative book, describing the possible uses of the moon as a gift, was a favorite of my daughter.  I needed a birthday book for PB 10 for 10 because today is my dad's birthday.  He loved giving gifts, and birthdays were always special days.  This is a fun book to use with students as they think of ways they might use the moon if it were given to them as a gift.  It would be fun to provide a typed copy of the words of the book and ask older students to determine the rhyme scheme of this book.
5.  Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
I shared this book with the grandchildren after my mother's funeral.  Each of them took the time to draw a picture of Grandma and share a special memory.  Like the animals in the story who were sad when Badger died, the grandchildren discovered that "Whenever Badger's (Grandma's) name was mentioned, someone remembered another story that made them all smile."  Whether it was turtle pancakes or marshmallows for breakfast, each grandchild had special memories of time spent with Grandma.

6.  My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray, illustrated by Raul Colon
I use this book each spring to introduce the project that students create for a parent or guardian using words and memories.  In this book the girl and her mother dance through the seasons. Students are encouraged to brainstorm memories that might be associated with seasons or special celebrations.  Each season is filled with wonderfully descriptive words.  It's fun to pay attention to the words the author chooses to hyphenate and her technique for placing adjectives after the nouns they modify (notice the drinks she describes to accompany the activities of each season).   My mama didn't have a dancing heart, but she had a singing soul.  I hear echoes of her enthusiasm for life in these words:
"Bless the world
it feels like
a tip-tapping
kind of day.
Let's celebrate!"
These words also bring to mind Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres, an opportunity for bloggers to remember events from the past week worth celebrating.

7.  Good Morning, Baby Bear by Eric Hill
This was a favorite of my children, so well-loved that several pages were torn and are now taped together. We loved the simple illustrations from the first words of the book "Wake up, Baby Bear," to the closing words "Have a nice day!" as Baby Bear heads out to play.

8.  Time for Bed, Sleepyheads by Normand and Sandra Chartier
This was a first birthday book for my daughter from Uncle Karl and Aunt Kathy.  This Golden Book, published in 1983, features mommies and daddies all over the neighborhood calling their children in from play.  Each two page spread features a different animal family engaged in bedtime routines.  My favorite pages and lines:
"In the Bear Family's cozy den, Mama Bear leads her cubs in their bedtime prayers.
Then the little bears give their mother lots of good-night hugs and kisses and shuffle off to bed."
And the closing pages:  "Now all is quiet.  Stars twinkle in the night sky.  Moonlight shines on every housetop.  Sleepyheads all over the neighborhood are snug in their beds at last.  Sh-h-h-h-h-h-h."

9.  The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg
This picture book was inscribed by Steven Kellogg for my son's 5th birthday when I took a summer reading workshop.  This fall is my son's 30th birthday.  We never tired of this story and the problem-solving librarian, Miss Severs, who comes to the aid of Louis and his friend, Alphonse.
I recently purchased a 25th Anniversary Edition of the book because someday my son will claim his copy.  In the note from the author, Steven Kellog notes that the revised and re-illustrated anniversary edition includes "...nuances of character, sequence, and plot..." that were not explored in the original version and " pictures..." made possible by full-color printing not available in 1977.   It would be fun to let students compare and contrast the two versions of the book.  I'm still partial to the 1977 version, but someday it will go to my son's home.  Maybe I should start perusing used bookstores so I can puchase a 1977 version of my own.

10.  All the Places to Love by Patricial MacLachlan, paintings by Mike Wimmer
Perhaps it's my farming background, but I love this homage to the land provided by Patricia MacLachlan in this tender tale of a family.  Each person in the family describes the place he or she loves best.  As the book closes, the boy takes his younger sister by the hand as he recites these words, "All the places to love are here, I'll tell her, no matter where you may live."  This book is a perfect prompt to encourage students to write about the places they love. 

Hopefully, there is a picture book or two that is new for you in this group of memory-inducing titles selected from my rather large collection of picture books.  Now that my post is finally finished, I'm free to explore your posts.  PB 10 for 10 is definitely a day to celebrate!


  1. Oh, Ramona, I love this. I know most, but not all, thank goodness. Thank you for sharing so much about each, and what you liked about them, too. I will keep this handy! Great to share with teachers for different kinds of workshop, maybe art too?

  2. What beautiful choices Ramona - thank you for sharing your list!

  3. Ramona,
    This seems a perfect list for someone who is retiring. You've managed to pull together several ideas for writing from this collection. I couldn't help but think how useful this might be to do with young writers. The memories triggered from these books can now be turned into beautiful stories.

    It sounds like you have stacks of books to weed through. As you know, so do I. I'll consider this a good problem. Right now, they rest quietly in our basement.

    I'm so glad you joined the conversation.

  4. I love your theme here, and the first book on your list is one of my all-time favorites.