Spine Poems: An Eclectic Collection of Found Verse by Annette Dauphin Simon
Oh, how fun and beautiful this book is! Annette Dauphin Simon has created found poems from book spines stacked one on top of the next. They are silly —
Almost Missed You
The Watermelon Seed
The Art of the Commonplace
Tiny Beautiful Things
and sweet —
A Walk in the Woods
Dad by My Side
Above Us the Milky Way
Tender is the Night
Each page has quotes that speak to the poem’s theme or information about topics it touches upon. Imagine my pleasure and surprise when I found my very own book, May B., included! Annette will stop by the blog later this year to discuss Spine Poems. Be sure not to miss it.
Wayward Creatures by Dayna Lorentz
Seventh-grader Gabe Meyer is in a rough patch. Things have been tense at home since his dad lost his job, and his friends, Owen and Leo, don’t have time for him anymore. One afternoon Owen and Leo invite Gabe to hang out, but their new friend, Taylor, makes Gabe feel like an outsider. Gabe does something impulsive and stupid in an attempt to win back his friends: he steals some fireworks from a convenience store and sets them off with the boys in a nearby park. A fire starts and the others scatter, leaving Gabe to deal with the consequences.
Nearby, in the woods, Rill, a young coyote, is fed up with her pack. She’s tired of looking out for her younger siblings. Her parents don’t appreciate her. She runs away just before a fire roars through, permanently separating her from her family.
This beautiful book about restoration really digs deep into the feelings of a young person (and coyote!) dealing with the consequences of poor decisions and coming to terms with those choices, the power of community, and the bonds formed between two unlikely friends. I can’t say it any better than Kirkus did in a starred review: “As a story about community, healing, and family—both human and animal—this is one of the best.” Winner of the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award.
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb
Oh, wow. I was so hooked on this book! It opens with a theft of a Stradivarius violin owned by up and coming soloist Ray McMillian. Ray is a young black man and recent college graduate who is weeks away from the Tchaikovsky Competition — a international event held every four years and the world’s most prestigious classical music competition.
The story is mainly told through flashbacks which build to that opening scene.
In high school, Ray plays a violin he’s rented from his school. There are few black kids in his community who play classical music, and Ray experiences discrimination from a spectrum of people young and old. His mother doesn’t support his music, but his Grandma Nora does. She tells Ray the story of her own grandfather, Leon Marks, a talented musician born enslaved who was given a violin. Grandma Nora gives Ray the instrument, a beat up old thing, a few years before she dies. It’s only when an appraiser looks at it later that Ray learns it’s worth millions.
Who stole the violin? Is it someone in Ray’s family who thinks Ray should have sold the instrument and split the profits between them? Is it someone from the Marks family, the descendants of the plantation owner who gave the violin to Ray’s great-great-great grandfather?
I absolutely loved Ray and his courage and passion. And his Grandma Nora and Dr. Janice Stevens, his teacher, mentor, and friend. I loved this glimpse of the music world, especially the joy Ray found in his music. The author’s note starts with “music is for everyone” and goes onto explain that author Brendan Slocumb is a black violinist, too, and that many of the ugly situations Ray faced are stories from Brendan’s own life.
Such a wonderful, rich story! Be sure to hunt down a copy.
What have you been reading lately?
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