Monday, June 5, 2023

Monday Reading - Read These Books!


It's Monday - Book Love 


    Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow!

           Sara Pennypacker (remember the Pax stories?), with the help of a few illustrations by Matthew Cordell, has written a story for readers like no other about Leeva, a girl who seems to have been raised by parents who don't parent. In all actuality, Leeva, from a very young age, has been given an employee handbook of expectations. She does it all, cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, but the most asked of her is to stay out of their way. Oh, and to do a few math problems for her father some mornings. It is shocking to read in the story's beginning until Leeva draws strength enough to ask the question, "What are people for?" You see, she has never been to school, has never been out of the house, until, until, she must. And that is when she sneaks through the high hedge and discovers the library, discovers the librarians, also cookies and hugs and so much more. But it takes a while for those. Along the way, she also makes two other friends and learns that she actually can help them, too. Pennypacker's mixed-up world shows how kindness and accepting the unusual make life better. It's a surprise when it's nearly taken away but an equal surprise how Leeva responds. I loved every part, a new kind of world that became endearing in many ways.

         My neighbor just got their first 'family' dog, what is called a "Bernie-doodle" which is thousands of years from the first ones, per a timeline and story of dogs from Lita Judge. It's a special history for those who love dogs and those who wonder how the wolf which still survives became an important part of our lives. Whether a beloved pet, that "best friend" from the title, a rescue dog, or an explosive-sniffing or disease-sniffing animal, Lita Judge takes us along on this amazing journey of a pet we just might take for granted, but should not. There's a dog at my airport that greets passengers, welcoming and often assuaging human nerves as they head out. One text keeps the story going while an added piece relates more facts. "Dogs have a sense of smell between 10,000 and 100,000 times greater than that of humans." 
         Illustrations just make one smile at so, so many different dogs throughout their illustrious history. Lita adds an Author's Note that includes ways to help dogs, a double-page spread of a few varied dog breeds, another with short bios of famous dogs, a timeline, and sources. It is a terrific book!

    Thanks to Charlesbridge for these next two books!

                   For young readers who may not know one way that scientists learn about birds, this time, night birds, specifically saw-whet owls who are migrating south for the winter.  It's termed "catch and release". Young Sova is excited and is finally old enough to accompany her mother on this scientific journey. They arrive, put on headlamps, and go to check what is called a 'mist-net', a light net that will be able to catch any owl flying through. No owls are found at the first check so they go to the nearby sanctuary cabin where they will wait some time, then return to check again. The excitement lowers a bit and Sova learns that waiting, then waiting more, takes a lot of patience. They are eventually rewarded as the story moves along and as Susan Edwards Richmond shares some of the processes that will happen "if" they catch an owl, like measuring and weighing, and banding. The creative way of storytelling while taking readers on a research trip is a wonderful intro to this process. Maribel Lechuga's illustrations show the night in its mysteries beautifully, even adding a special page of Sova's pretending to fly with the owl. There is more information about owls and banding and lists for further reading at the back.

          It feels as if everyone loves glitter or at least things that gleam and shine, on cards and decorations, on eyeshadow and clothing. What's a favorite for you?
         Chris Barton writes all about glitter in this book and Chasya Prabhat follows along with intriguing and various ways to illustrate. Who knew there was so much to learn, like who invented it, the materials used to make it, how to save materials used by changing glitter to square pieces, and more? One area shows the fascination with glittery looks that trace back to ancient times, that derived from certain insects. And there evidently were some places that fussed with the name. It was NOT always "glitter". Most of all, there is one part that explains how some glitter is bad for our environment. There is much more info in the backmatter, including a very glittery back page! Imagine reading with students in a class and then, glitter art! It's an entertaining and informative book!    

For Adults: 

It's a crime story against the backdrop of the city of Boston's school busing battles of the 1970s, also a story of city neighborhoods where you may have lived down the street from other family members all your life, as do others, in your neighborhood and in theirs and in the next neighborhood over. Yes, you stick together no matter what you see happen, unless it happens to someone in another neighborhood and that becomes a different story, or does it? Mary Pat Fennessy's story shows, just as authors are supposed to show, that no matter the hurt and violence, the alluding to some happy moments, and the tragic days that Mary Pat lives, she learns. She figures out that what she has believed all her life isn't true, and secrets have hidden right there, in plain sight, if she had only paid attention or wanted to pay attention. Lehane's descriptions are often deeply brutal and just as often feel heartfelt, like the humans in his story, like all humans.

What's Next:  The Remarkable Rescue at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, illustrations by Doug Salati. Also, Goodnight, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea, an adult novel set in WWII.

Friday, June 2, 2023

It's Poetry Friday - The Bouncing Ball


             It's Poetry Friday! Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect here, for hosting. She's sharing a poignant poem about moving, this time from her office of many years, brimful of memories! I imagine many will connect. Thank you, Tricia!

       Most of you will understand that this all came from my heart. You may know my grandson graduated last December from the University of Kentucky. What a special long weekend that was. Then, this week, Wednesday and Thursday, Grand-girls Imogene and Ingrid, graduated from fifth grade and eighth grade, off to middle school and high school! 

The Bouncing Ball Keeps Bouncing


there comes a line one crosses

or perhaps it is a bouncing ball

when one is a parent

from the sitting up without falling clown-like to the side

to the time the baby awakened,

and you went in to pick her up from her nap

and she stood, leaning over rattling the rail,

smiling big-time saying Out, Out!

you know the rest

down the steps and 'round the block

to a friend’s house

down the steps and into the car

off to kindergarten

up the steps and on the bus

bouncing off to middle school then high school

flying off to college

all mushed together like a layer cake

that icing in between so sweet

you keep tasting it

but sometimes, after a while,

the cake itself feels dry in one’s mouth

and you must wash it down with

water and more water

until you aren’t choking anymore

but only cherishing

the icing


Linda Baie (c) 

Also, I want to give a special shout-out to Laura Purdie Salas and Laura Shovan for their poetry books published recently. You can find my reviews on my blog or Goodreads, links under the book covers below. Congratulations, Laura and Laura!

Monday, May 29, 2023

It's Monday - Book Love


    Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow!

          I placed this in the 'adult' category, too, hoping that many adults will read this heartfelt story of young Will Chambers, along with children or alone. Jarrett Lerner slams us into Will's story starting with a word, one word, yelled by another at Will in fourth grade, a word that colors his life for three years, and he says, a few more months, too. The struggles in his life because of the feelings ignited by that one word will touch everyone, whether it's past memories or current events happening right now, the journey is one that made me worry about Will's, and others', ability to survive. The moments of hope are short-lived until they aren't by the blessing of an interaction with another boy. Will's story has all the emotions, perhaps will be a mirror for many kids who can recognize the "work in progress" they are living. Don't miss reading Will's story!

     Cori Doerrfeld (A Rabbit Listened) shows us in her story that earning to look for the positive is a great way to be. Cooper, on the bicycle, hurries to get ready to welcome new neighbors in the village. As he moves along, He is excited and prepares a "welcome wagon" but as others join him along the way, he realizes that others are not so excited. Bobbi the bunny asks: "What if they don't want to meet us? What if we don't get along?" Cooper smiles and says, "Just come with me and see!" All along the path, other animals voice worries which Cooper continues to answer with positive words. 
      What a terrific way to show varied thoughts about something, or someone, new. And the best way to handle it. Full-page illustrations of all the residents and activities of Cubby Hill, adding more as Cooper moves along, create a delightful story of looking for the positive in something new instead of finding things to worry about.  

         Cooking up a great story with all the smells and trickery is something Bridget Magee does so well when she tells Antonio's story. Actually, Antonio tells his story; Bridget is the expert director. Oh, Antonio loves the sizzle of the skillet! He says "I'm perfect. . . Let the good times roll!" What he doesn't understand is when he hears the word "bite", but escape happens, at least for a while! Imagine reading this and choosing still another item, food, or something else, and telling that story. Bridget uses real photos accompanied by text and speech bubbles with great pizzazz to tell Antonio's story. It holds lots of emotion with thoughts of "Oh, no!" and "What will happen next?" all for a meatball Great fun!            

       Nearly thirty years ago, Ruby Bridges walked into her new school. She was escorted by U.S. Marshals, entered the school, and was the only one in her first-grade class. No other black children had been ordered to go there; the other three ordered to a white school attended a different one. Robert Coles tells the story, including the kindness of the teacher along with the courage of Ruby. It seems like the thing that gave her strength was a prayer, to pray for God to forgive those people who say bad things. "They don't know what they're doing." Beautiful illustrations show resolute and calm Ruby walking through an angry mob all those days!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

It's Poetry Friday - About Memorial Day


             It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Patricia Franz at Reverie here, for hosting. She and her husband are celebrating a special wedding anniversary and she celebrates with a beautiful cento. 

The #poetrypals are writing ghazals today yet I chose to write about Memorial Day, a day important to me this time. But I did write a ghazal in April for poetry month if you'd like to see it! You can find it here! It certainly wasn't an easy form so I'm really looking forward to these newly crafted ones, imagining they will be terrific.

          Memorial Day is special to me. My father died in World War II, was a pilot shot down in the Pacific theater, never found. Other family members were in combat during that war and those since. Thankfully all survived. Every year, the memories return when I see the iris blooming and the peonies popping up. Those were the flowers we took to the cemetery, for remembrance of those we held in our hearts always. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

It's Monday - Old Favorites and Special New Ones!


    Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow!

Thanks to Candlewick Press
for this copy!

          I've loved M.T. Anderson's books every time there's another. This one is another new world to sit back, read, and wonder at the adventure, wonder at Anderson's imaginative world-building that includes magic, but also family love and challenges, friendships that strengthen with challenges, no matter the diversity, and the true love from a dog. In this plot, a global plague is keeping Clay, his younger and older sister, and the parents at home. They're pretty tired of each other and yearn for, well, the usual lives they had been living. When a mysterious dog appears, Clay names him Elphinore and the magic begins. They live in the woods and paths Elphinore shows Clay are ones he never had seen before, villages he didn't know existed, along with "Owl-Heads", a clan with strict rules Clay and his new friend break, out of want and need. Intriguing creatures come into Clay's world just as it seemed he needed them, most especially, a sweet and loving dog. It's a terrific book, just out last month.

 Friends Laura Shovan and Michael Rothenberg, had a final special visit together in January 2020. Like all of us, they didn't know that the usual way of living would change like no other time in their lives very soon.  Both were grieving losses and in need of support. You can read more about that in Laura's Author's note but it serves as their stepping stone into this special collaboration. Michael was starting some art therapy and sent Laura a funny picture of a monster; Laura responded with a poem. 
           Life is marvelous when one is able to see children running, jumping, tumbling, and laughing with friends or even alone. Yet, as adults, we all must know there are monsters of emotions including laughter but also beyond the laughter, sometimes strange bursts of crying happen, and sometimes angry words. Laura's poems and Michael's drawings, whimsical though they seem, show a down-deep look and acceptance of what is. There's "Bubblegum Head" that seems very "out there", saying rude things, sometimes what all of us want to shout, like "Flooey! Bagookie!" and "Carrumple! Dipthingle!" (There's more!) And also found in the pages is a monster who yearns for the "Green Cave" where "Sometimes I get so mad, the feelings can't stay inside./Before I know what I'm doing, my feet run for the back door." (There's more!) Poems about crying and laughing, monsters who are houses, and go out walking and play hopscotch all make one smile and whisper to oneself, "That's right. I know about that." Sixteen poems fill up the world with Laura's and Michael's monsters.
              Having worked and written with middle-school students for years, I know that drawing monsters and writing personal poems about the drawings, perhaps trading the art, would be a terrific thing to do. 

Thanks to Charlesbridge
for this copy!

          I have this book, too, just out a couple of weeks ago, about still another monster, well, from the title, evidently "Not A Monster", by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez, filled with the description of how they live their life on gorgeous double-page spreads by Laura González. It is a salamander, an asolotl, but onw that will never lose its gills or fins. Glaudia includes Spanish words as readers watch the growing from egg to full-grown, hiding from a predator and explains the Aztec origin myth of this unusual amphibian. It is endangered in its native waters and some clean-up of the story is shown, too. There is more information added in the backmatter, an intriguing, compelling story of one animal among many we do not want to lose!

A couple of pictures of the axolotl