Monday, April 27, 2009

The Beauty of April

Time sure flies when you're having fun. We're enjoying the last week of April, the warmer weather, the rain showers, and looking back on all the fun we've had this month.

This past weekend we celebrated the 40th birthday of our friend The Very Hungry Caterpillar with a very special birthday party storytime. Margaret and Miss Ellen led us all in a celebration of caterpillar!
(and SPEAKING of caterpillars, have you seen ours yet? They're here in the children's room, eating and doing their caterpillar thing. Keep checking in on their progress, until our butterfly release picnic Wednesday, May 27 at noon and Saturday, May 30 at noon.

Earlier this month, we had the privilege of listening to stories from different cultures around the world, told by renowned storyteller Linda Gorham. Linda's way is to encourage lots of audience participation, so we really got into the performance with our minds, bodies, and voices!

And we loved seeing our regular storytime goers, including this little one who had a lot of fun at Miss Ellen's Wednesday "Quack-ternoon":

ALSO! We've been celebrating National Poetry Month. We hope you had a chance to read some poems, and maybe even write some poems. We've got many varied poetry books here in the library (all year round!). And you still have time to check out our community poetry display, featuring poems from many River Forest school children.

Monday, April 20, 2009

About a Book - The Surrender Tree

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom, by Margarita Engle

Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist Margarita Engle describes this book as a "history in verse." The story takes place during in Cuba during the nation's struggle for independence in the second half of the 19th century.

The main character is based on a real historical figure - legendary healer Rosario Castellanos Castellanos (known as Rosa la Bayamesa). Rosa is a freed slave - although not recognized as free by the Spanish government, and so she is persecuted as a runaway. She hides out in a cave in the forest, using her knowledge of traditional medicine to heal injured rebels, runaway slaves, and Spanish soldiers alike. She does not turn anyone away.

The story is told in short poems from different perspectives including that of Rosa, her husband Jose, her young apprentice Sylvia, a slave catcher nicknamed Lieutenant Death, and others. The Surrender Tree is a beautiful book. The characters are compelling and the descriptions of Cuba's natural landscape, and its flora and fauna, are full of wonder. There are very real and desperate injustices remembered in this story, but the depiction of such heroes as Rosa la Bayamesa leaves the reader hopeful.

This winner of the Pura Belpre Award and Newbery Honor Award is highly recommended!