Tag Archives: homelessness

Life on the move

24 Sep

 

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Kids shouldn’t have to wish for a toilet, but Felix does. That’s because he and his mom are living in their Westfalia van. They’d had a house, but  due to a series of unfortunate events, they became homeless.

Nielsen does a great job illustrating what it is like to be homeless – how to tay clean, eat, cover-up that you aren’t – in a way that let’s the reader understand how exhausting it can be. I loved Felix’s voice. He felt like an authentic 7th grader and I pictured him in the halls of my middle school, trying to keep everything together. When you pick up the book, keep an eye on Mr. & Mrs. Ahmadi. They are the real heroes of this story.

 

 

Hope on MLK Day

16 Jan

The snow that started falling Tuesday is still here. Four homeless people have died from exposure and last night, over 700 people took advantage of Multnomah County warming centers.

Weather forecasters have promised that today is the day we go above zero and the melting begins. I hope I get to go back to work tomorrow.

Today, I am reading Saving Red by Sonya Sones.

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Publisher’s Summary:  Right before winter break, fourteen-year-old Molly Rosenberg reluctantly volunteers to participate in Santa Monica’s annual homeless count, just to get her school’s community service requirement out of the way. But when she ends up meeting Red, a spirited homeless girl only a few years older than she is, Molly makes it her mission to reunite her with her family in time for Christmas. This turns out to be extremely difficult—because Red refuses to talk about her past. There are things Molly won’t talk about either. Like the awful thing that happened last winter. She may never be ready to talk about that. Not to Red, or to Cristo, the soulful boy she meets while riding the Ferris wheel one afternoon.

When Molly realizes that the friends who Red keeps mentioning are nothing more than voices inside Red’s head, she becomes even more concerned about her well-being. How will Molly keep her safe until she can figure out a way to get Red home? In Sonya Sones’s latest novel, two girls, with much more in common than they realize, give each other a new perspective on the meaning of family, friendship, and forgiveness.

This is a novel in verse so I expect to finish it today. If it seems age appropriate, I might even book talk it tomorrow.

Another snowy day

11 Jan

I started kindergarten in 1969. I have few memories about it, but this I have are very clear. One of those memories is encountering Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day.

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The book spoke to introverted little me, who loved making snow angels.

So, here I am, almost 50 years later, sitting at home after a huge snowfall in Portland, enjoying our 6th snow day of the school year. And I read Andrea Davis Pinkney’s  A Poem for Peter,  which tells the  Ezra Jack Keats biography, focusing on how he created The Snowy Day.

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It is a beautiful, poetic tribute to a man and a book. And the perfect thing to read on this snowy day. Pinkney’s poetry fits Portland today:

But when it snowed,

oh, when it snowed!

Nature’s glittery hand

painted the world’s walls a brighter shade.

She connects snow to equality.

Snow made opportunity and equality

seem right around the corner.

Snow doesn’t know who’s needy or dirty

or greedy or nice.

Snow doesn’t choose where to fall.

Snow doesn’t pick a wealthy man’s doorstep

over a poor lady’s stoop.

That’s Snow’s magic.

Snow is magical and it is especially so for children. I hope kids of all ages  in Portland get out and enjoy the snow today. Play, throw snowballs, make snow angels.

But be a snow angel in another way, if you can. Four homeless people have died of exposure in Portland in the last 10 days. Think about them, too. Act if you can. Donate if you can’t act. But do something to help the homeless feel that the snow brings Magic to them, too.

…and After

7 Sep

Monday, I wrote about Nine, Ten which focused on the days leading up to 9/11. Today’s book, Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes, deals with the aftermath.

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Publisher’s Summary: From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes, a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja can’t help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?

Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren’t alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.

For a small book, this one covers a lot of territory. We have kids with a range of knowledge about 9/11, survivor guilt, community and what it means to be an American.

Deja was a little hard to like at first. She is very defensive, trying not to let people know she lives in a shelter, prickly because so many responsibilities fall on her shoulders. As you to know her,  she becomes more likable and finally you end up rooting for her and her family. I think, too, that this book might make readers curious to fill in gaps in their knowledge about 9/11.

The language in this one is appropriate for 4th & 5th grade readers.

Facing my book fears

28 Aug

Have you ever been afraid to read the next novel by an author after you have discovered that the first one you read is your heart book?

I was given an ARC of Katherine Applegate’s soon to be published Crenshaw at the ALA conference.

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It has been sitting in a box waiting for me to get the courage to read it. You see, The One and Only Ivan  is a heart book. I may or may not have coined that term, but I stole it from the dog world, where a “heart dog” is that once in a lifetime – maybe twice if you’re truly blessed – soul mate dog. So, a heart book is the book that speaks to your soul.

It is a tough act to follow.

I got up the courage to read it yesterday and consumed it in one sitting, it was that good. Although Crenshaw might not make it to heart book status, it is definitely worth reading.

Publisher’s summary: In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.

This is a beautiful book and I think Applegate truly captures the spirit of a fourth grader, and the way they think, in Jackson. If I were teaching 4th grade again, this might have become my new first read aloud.

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