Browsing articles from "November, 2012"
Nov 26, 2012
Taylor Cheney

Featuring SC Children’s Literature – “P is for Palmetto”

With only 26 letters in the English alphabet, it is difficult to highlight all of  South Carolina’s symbolic staples. However,  author Carol Crane manages to pinpoint the state’s flora, fauna, and fascinating culture in these short boundaries in P is for Palmetto: A South Carolina Alphabet. 

Crane cleverly presents a new identity that relates to the history of the Palmetto State with each letter. In doing so, Crane travels all over the state, ranging from Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand (for G) to the Upcountry (for U) while also providing a brief insight to its significance. As if the intricate watercolor illustrations don’t do enough (done by Mary Whyte) the book’s pages read like postcards – something you would want to share with a friend to show  South Carolina’s lush history and landscape. “P is for Palmetto, our official state tree,” she writes, “It’s also a symbol on our flag, respected by you and me.”

In addition to P is for Palmetto, Crane is also the author of 21 other children’s stories, including P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet  and S is for Sunshine: A Florida Alphabet.  The book is contagiously fun to read, especially for young readers who will be anxious to learn what the next letter will represent (if they are not too distracted by the beautiful artwork). In addition, the story also leaves the reader with ‘A Path Full of Facts’ with questions and answers about South Carolina that you can learn throughout the book.

Crane’s work has the ability to function as both a favorite bedtime story and a descriptive (and more entertaining) history book. In fact, it may even teach a thing or two to a parent or teacher reading this!

Nov 14, 2012
Taylor Cheney

Featuring SC Children’s Literature – “Hair Dance!”

by Taylor Cheney 

Growing up, young girls are programmed to desire any type of hair they don’t already possess – literally, any. No matter how straight, free from frizz, or glossy a girl’s hair is, she will always convince herself that the curly, wavier, more voluminous roots would look better atop her little head. Nonetheless, there are numerous ways to surrender to this childish appetite, but Dinah Johnson suggests otherwise.

In her children’s book, Hair Dance!, Johnson writes passages teaching young girls, specifically African American, to embrace their beauty and their hair. Her book flawlessly includes brief and encouraging messages to growing women, complete with actual photographs taken by the illustrator, Kelly Johnson (no relation), of young girls and their different approaches to their favorite hair style. The short narration perfectly describes how deeply hair is interwoven within a girl’s personality,which at a young age, is one of the most important things to learn.

Johnson, an English professor at the University of South Carolina, gives descriptions of the various hair styles which have become so innately enveloped into their society. Johnson writes “strong hair growing into dreadlocks (caring hands make them love locks)” or to let one’s roots take their own form in their “nature hair, real hair, flower power strong hair.”

At the end of the book, Johnson leaves a powerful writer’s note  explaining that “our culture values beauty and improvisation in every realm of life, and hair is no exception.” She encourages everyone to “work with it, play with it, style it, and treasure it as the Art that it is.”

Hair Dance! is one of the rare stories that teaches women of any race, ethnicity, age, to know who you are and revel in it –  there’s more to life than just lather, rinse, repeat.



Nov 5, 2012
Curtis Rogers

World’s Largest Youth Poetry & Art Contest Announced

River of Words (ROW), the world’s largest youth poetry and art competition, is accepting submissions to its 18th annual environmental poetry and art contest, sponsored in affiliation with The Library of Congress Center for the Book. Young people in kindergarten through twelfth grade, from anywhere in the world, are invited to explore and interpret their own home grounds by creating poetry and/or art about the places they live. Students may enter on their own or under the tutelage of a teacher or youth leader, as part of a group. The contest is free to enter and entry forms may be downloaded from the organization’s website at

Grand Prize winners (eight in all), plus the ROW/KSOE Teacher of the Year will win a trip to the 2013 River of Words Youth Creativity Awards in San Francisco. The ceremony, emceed by ROW co-founders Robert Hass and Pamela Michael, will be held on April 21 at the San Francisco Public Library. Winners and finalists will have their work published in a widely-distributed anthology, River of Words: The Natural World as Viewed by Young People. In addition, an East Coast award ceremony, also emceed by Hass and Michael, will be held at The Library of Congress on May 7th .

The contest accepts poetry in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL). Entries in other languages will be considered if they are submitted with an English translation. Students may enter as many times as they wish. Entries from the US must be postmarked by December 1, 2012. Foreign entries must be received by February 1, 2013. Winners will be announced in March.

WHAT:        River of Words Youth Poetry & Art Contest
WHO:          Children and youth in kindergarten through 12th grade (5-19)
WHEN:       US entries must be postmarked by Dec. 1, 2012, Foreign entries must be received by Feb. 1, 2013
WHERE:     Mail to River of Words, PO Box 5060, Moraga, CA 94575 USA

Winners and finalists will be selected by the following judges:

Poetry:                                             Robert Hass & Pamela Michael
Spanish Language Poetry:         Dr. Raina Léon
ASL Poetry:                                    Ella Lenz & Susan Rutherford
Art:                                                   John Muir Laws

Students in some areas may also win recognition at the state or regional level. River of Words has coordinators in almost thirty states, many of which provide additional instructional materials and teacher training. Some states also mount state ceremonies and publish state River of Words anthologies.

River of Words is a project of the Center for Environmental Literacy in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California. The Center promotes education initiatives that integrate nature and the arts into K-12 classrooms. The ROW Project inspires children and youth to translate their observations about their local watersheds and environment into creative expressions in poems and paintings. It also trains educators around the world in how to incorporate nature exploration, science and the arts into their work with young people.

Nov 5, 2012
Taylor Cheney

Featuring SC Children’s Literature – “Turtle Summer: A Journal for my Daughter”

by Taylor Cheney

Mary Alice Monroe, a New York Times bestselling author, is known for using the picturesque Lowcountry landscape as the backdrop to many of her adult novels, such as The Beach House and The Butterfly’s Daughter. In Turtle Summer, Monroe broadens her audience  in this non-fiction children’s narrative about her findings along the seashore and the work she puts in to conserve the life of baby sea turtles.

Addressed to her daughter, her story is comprised in a “home-y” scrapbook format with a series of actual photographs  taken by the illustrator of marine life and of the author, her family, and fellow conservationists doing what they can to preserve the native species. The book combines an instructing narrative, reporting their progress in protecting turtle nests – “marking it with an orange sign saying that it is protected by federal law” –  and  a maternal voice that she affectionately directs to her daughter – “You said the turtle tracks look like tire tracks!”. Turtle Summer is reminiscent of Turtle Tracks by Sally Harman Plowden in that they both blend an informative tone about the  habitat of our coastline while still maintaining a fluid and humble story line.

In addition, Monroe provides a plethora of facts regarding loggerhead turtles, ways to identify nests, and how to make your own nature scrapbook. I think this book would be a perfect companion to an avid summer camp-er, or a way to educate your daughter, son, niece, nephew, student, brother, or sister if you’re fortunate enough to get out to any seaside.