Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sneaking In A Celebration

  Celebrating with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and linking with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for helping us celebrate together!  

      Among all the wonderfully usual, but very good things in my life, like museums and ice cream with the granddaughters, this week I celebrate two special things, both connected. One is the used bookstore where I am the volunteer coordinator. I haven't shared an Instagram pic all week because it has been closed for the past eight days. This old building with crannies and creaks needed a facelift, and while the plan was for many fewer days in which to be done, it is looking more wonderful each time I go in. The background is off-white, and all the accent colors are a bright, kind of ship's blue. I'm celebrating the volunteers, including me, today, because this non-profit store, in business for over forty years, is run entirely by volunteers. And during this past week, different volunteers have arrived to dust down the books and shelves, clean  the broad surfaces and the floors, re-label areas, and unpack those books that had to be entirely removed. We still aren't finished, but almost, and it is with a thankful heart, that I applaud those volunteers. I'll share more pics next week when it's really complete. 

All these shelves were emptied in order to paint them
a beautiful blue.

The view from the front window. All around the
window and its shelf, also blue.
        As for volunteers, I, and many others in all the categories, have been reading in every spare moment for the first round of Cybils' judging. It is a joy to read and celebrate all the gorgeous words. But it does take time, and focus, and a lot of love, I think. I celebrate poetry and other books, the writers, and this time the readers, too. As you've seen me share before, if you'd like to check the Cybils' lists in all the categories here. There have been numerous lists shared recently of the best of 2016, and the Nerdy Award nominations are happening right now! Go here! Guess what, all those are volunteers too, who are working hard to bring you grand literature for reading and sharing. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Poetry Friday - Surprise Mail

        Thanks to Bridget Magee at Wee Words for Wee Ones for hosting this first December Poetry Friday.  The only snow I've seen lately is that on my PF tag. Wishing!
         An FYI to all you poets with poems in One Minute Till Bedtime. My granddaughter just chose it to purchase at her school's book fair to give to her class! We've enjoyed reading it together, she spotted it (the book fair is at a bookstore), and that was the choice!
          I also want to say how much I am enjoying reading the fabulous poetry books that I'm reading for Round One of the Cybil's Poetry awards. We are fortunate to have such treasures available to us this year. Over and over again I say "Wow!"

         Today I'm sharing my last summer swap. It was a lovely surprise from Jone MacCulloch who blogs as a librarian and writer at Check It Out, and with a focus on photography at  Deo Writer. This package was a wonderful one that appeared in my mailbox to help me celebrate our beautiful autumn! It held a bounty of poetry and pictures!

           First, there is Jone's lovely book of poetry, haiga written to accompany her own gorgeous photographs.Among those pages sits a favorite flower of mine, the bleeding heart, and Jone's words that accompany it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Non-Fiction Teaches

              Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, those who link up share fabulous non-fiction picture books. I am grateful for all that I've learned through reading non-fiction picture books. 

      Need book ideas? Check out the following wonderful books!

       In the midst of reading all the poetry for Cybils Awards, I managed to finish this wonderful non-fiction story of the main characters who surprised everyone in their secret plans to kill Hitler.  This will be a great introduction to the way Hitler increased his power, slowly creating more laws against those he deemed not worthy of the Aryan standard, which he created as well. The focus is on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a son of a prominent German family who felt left out when his brothers and sisters found their own respected passions and careers. He had no idea what was meant for him. He was thoughtful, quiet, and lonely. But then he found that his faith invited his questioning and he became a pastor. And eventually, he became a pacifist, working hard against the war that he saw about to happen.  
        Bonhoeffer worked hard, even against his own superiors, to end Hitler's hate-filled agenda, but was denied again and again. At the end, he turned to the only answer he and his secret cohorts believed would work. Hitler must be assassinated! The intrigue and introduction year by year of the atrocities, the deniers, and the supporter is fascinating. Dietrich is a religious figure whose writings are still read and respected today, something I didn't know. This is another part of the story of Hitler and those who fought against him that will add to students' and others' knowledge. Great book!
        FYI-There are additional pages of back matter: a timeline, endnotes, and additional resources!

         I also want to share a few books I received thanks to the generosity of Candlewick Press. These seem destined to be marvelous gifts for just the right person!

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Couple of Nice Days

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
        For those who celebrated, hoping your family was fun, and your feast a feast, no matter what you served.
        I am still sad and worried about the election result, am reading and doing what I think I can to keep things I believe are important for all Americans.  I've signed petitions, sent messages, donated to certain groups. There is so much to take in, and much to be sure I'm aware of. 

       And, I continue to live my life, work at the bookstore, have lovely times with family, including the grand-girls. Ingrid spent two days last week with me and I helped her shop for family members. She was given a certain amount of money and had to plan well to be able to afford gifts for each person. I shopped too and had Ingrid help me choose some of my gifts also. We had an early treat at Starbucks, and late lunch, then went home to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening wrapping. It was a joy of a day. The next day we woke to light snow, stayed home and I helped Ingrid write some poetry and create some turkey place cards for our Thanksgiving. Among all the other things I do to create a good life, I will always put the grandchildren first. FYI, after these two days, Ingrid and I picked up Imogene from school and spent the rest of the day playing and going out for dinner. And, one evening last week I had a good phone call from Carter. It was a nice 'grandchild' week!

At the store Anthropologie

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Some Favorite Books

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up. I'm still reading for the Cybils poetry, round one. I didn't post last week, but today will share some books of those I read that I enjoyed very much.  They're about surviving, wishing a better life, kindness, empathy and celebrating, all important things to us, right?

           A local drug gang threatens a 12-year-old boy and his 15-year-old cousin who are forced to flee their Guatemalan village and seek refuge in the United States. The Alphas murder his cousin Miguel for refusing to join, and Jaime Rivera receives an ultimatum: join the Alphas or else suffer the same fate. Ángela, Miguel’s older sister, also falls prey to the violent gang’s demands. There are horrors on this journey, and the first one to me is the fact that they must leave home, the only place and people they know. Diaz has kept some of the terrible scenes less vivid, perhaps for the middle grades, but imagining this journey taken by young kids is hard to do. 
            I liked that the story, told in third person, involves other kids met along the way, their stories and heartbreak, and mostly their kindnesses even while surviving. There are a few others at some "safe" houses, like a Padre in a broken-down church, a woman far into the desert who chooses to help, but most of the time there is hunger and thirst, and terror. Jaime's story is also deepened by his talent as an artist. His sketchbook, the valued possession, takes his thoughts back to family, to Miguel whom he feels is watching over them, and to making a little money in order to survive. Angela takes the role of mother or leader until she is injured, and then Jaime must take charge. Their changes through the trip mirror thoughts of children at first, but sadly one soon realizes they are growing up in order to survive and cross that border. An author's note about her own immigrant background, a glossary, and further resources add to the importance of this story.