Monday, December 4, 2023

It's Monday! - Don't Miss Books!


        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!  We had a bit of snow yesterday, but the mountains got a lot. Skiers will be happy! I'm glad to share some 'snowy' books plus a few more!

      It's snowing as I write this, but only flurries, nothing like the snowstorm that has closed the library early, forcing Hubert Cumberbund to go home. He needs a shortcut and chooses to go by way of The Hollow, scary though it is. Soon, a lady fox holds out her hand to lead the way through the challenging and frightening mountains. Hillenbrand's illustrations include a map of Hubert's countryside, but his imagination also shows what "might" be monsters in this hollow. Readers will shiver as they watch the travelers cross a crevasse, then see what frights live in those snowy woods. A double gatefold includes more of this huge storm. The book also holds some mystery at the end that might make readers return to the beginning in case they missed something. Breathtaking illustrations with brief text will allow imaginations to run wild! It's a great story perfect to read together one wintry night!

            Bob Raczka's books delight, no matter what he's writing about. This time he says it's his first one about math. Yes, it's also about snow, a "flurry" of snow, in rhyme, and showing with accumulating fun, how exponents work! From "two flakes" to a wintery snowstorm of 16,384 flakes, he shows the flakes' growth and Bryony Clarkson illustrates the power as the storm grows! Note: she tells how she did it in the author's note! And, the lovely endpapers are filled with birds, in snow, of course. It's terrific!

        I've always loved Jonah Winter's books and this time when I started reading, I thought the story was of an eccentric mountain hermit, living most of his life near Crested Butte, Colorado, even though the sub-title says "A True Story". He traveled there one summer as a student researcher, and after the summer went back home, per Winter's note at the back. He found that he missed the solitude and returned, This isn't a made-up story, but about the real man, billy barr (he chose no caps) who stayed, eventually out of boredom began collecting information about snow totals, when animals arrived in the spring, and so on. His sharing to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory made them realize how valuable the data he had collected for years was. This was all in notebooks, all because billy needed something to do. He had been there five decades, continues to collect information, now lives in a house he built, powered by solar. You can find out about him by researching "billy barr" living in the ghost town of Gothic, Colorado. The illustrations show the mountain beauty, billy's isolation, and the animals that do appear, and they focus on the changes as years pass by. It's a fascinating, beautifully presented story! Here are two examples!

       Wouldn't it be fabulous if every classroom had this book in 2024? Award-winning     
       Winsome Bingham and E.B. Lewis have written a story close to my memories, a story of a grandmother and her granddaughter going for "the walk", a mystery to the young one at first. They step outside and begin. The granddaughter remains curious as different people join them while they walk. And as those people join in, some historical references are included. The illustrations by E.B. White show people who are wonderfully vibrant, happy, and smiling. They are going to the young girl's school, their polling place. They're "walking" to vote! It's a terrific "exclamation" of the importance of voting and voting rights.

       Thanks to Deborah Hopkinson, readers can learn about The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt and signed on December 10, 1948. It was the first time that countries agreed on a comprehensive statement of inalienable human rights. This book by Hopkinson is adapted for children and illustrated by Kate Gardiner with people and children in scenes of family, community, and really all the world highlighting various rights for everyone. And it all starts at home, with family and then the human family. Divided into the parts titled "Me", "My School and Community", "My Country and World", it will inspire lots of important conversations.

Still Reading! Continuing Demon Copperhead - Kingsolver and put Alebrijes by Donna Barber Higuera aside for a while. I'm a Cybils Poetry judge, 2nd round, and starting to read some poetry books, this time, it's My Head Has A Bellyache by Chris Harris, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Poetry Friday - My Small Poem

            It's Poetry Friday, and Anastasia Suen is hosting HERE at her blog. She's been writing what she calls "small poems" recently. I wonder what's in her pocket this week?
            Thanks for hosting, Anastasia!  

              Wishing all a December full of good celebrations, however you choose to celebrate. I hope our world will find a way toward peace this month, and bring blessings to all who are struggling. 

             I chose a small poem today!





Every Corner

Extra Merrily



   Linda Baie ©


Monday, November 27, 2023

It's Monday - New Books Celebrate The Moon


        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!  

         As I wrote a bit over a month ago, my family and I traveled to Santa Fe to see the annular eclipse. It was amazing, like the complete solar eclipse I saw when we traveled to Missouri in 2017. You may have read how much I love moon books, have done moon journaling and studying with students when I taught. One big gift to me recently was that I won five books connected to the moon in a giveaway by Melissa Stewart. Hoorah! I've read and reviewed two and given the link to those reviews on Goodreads. Here are the other three with those read a month or so ago at the end!
         And tonight is the full Beaver moon! 

       Thank You, Moon: Celebrating Nature's Nightlight by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Jessica Lanan

                Melissa Stewart's books amaze me with the subtle way she uses information to create a beautifully lyrical story and at the same time, tells readers so much about her topic. This time, with luminous illustrations by Jessica Lanan ( also author and illustrator of Jumper: A Day in the Life of a Backyard Jumping Spider), Stewart shares some animals that are only "safe" in moonlight, like gazelles, because it's too bright for lions to sneak up on them, or that bright nightlight also helps baby sea turtles find the path to the sea. If it's a night that shows only a sliver of a moon, the lesser light helps lions get closer to their prey. a meal needed. Each page is a double-page spread, introducing the information about numerous living things, whether in bright moonlight or much less light, all need the moon. Ten living things, including a tree, are included and more information is added at the back, along with a source list and books for further reading. It's enticing to read and learn that our moon is important in a variety of ways. 

                A Few Beautiful Minutes: Experiencing A Solar Eclipse by Kate Allen Fox, illustrated by Khoa Lee

        All over the world, Kate Allen Fox tells us in beautifully lyrical language of children waiting, preparing, ready to be awe-struck for "A Few Beautiful Minutes". Khoa Lee illustrates the excitement in her gorgeous full-page illustrations, including the animals' behavior as the sky darkens and stars twinkle. I've seen one. Birds really do fly in for 'night' as the sun disappears. The story shows the excitement and includes  children using sun viewers, too. There is further explanation of a solar eclipse at the end plus how to make a sun viewer and a list of further resources. It's a lovely book about this phenomenon that doesn't happen very often. 
        You can find more information at NASA here. The next solar eclipse is April 8, 2024!

Full Moon Pups  by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Chuck Groenink

              In an imaginary, poetic song by Liz Garton Scanlon, a litter of wolf pups is welcomed. Over the month's moon cycle, Liz manages to include numerous things about the pups' growth, from blind and cuddled next to their mother for food to a move with all the pack helping to get them to safer, higher ground because of heavy rains. They soon become curious about the world they're now seeing, "as they tussle, tumble, hide." Liz's words alongside Groenink's luminous, night illustrations bring the exciting world of "Full Moon Pups" to readers just as the world also comes to the pups. Liz adds a bit more in her author's note, and the way a lunar month works is added as well. The book will add to a beginning moon study or easily inspire one. Terrific book!

The Museum on the Moon: The Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface by Irene Latham, illustrated by Myriam Wares        Goodreads review HERE.

Night Owl Night by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
              Goodreads review HERE.

Still readingContinuing Demon Copperhead - Kingsolver and now Alebrijes by Donna Barber Higuera, who also wrote The Last Cuentista

Have a great week ahead!

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Poetry Friday - Good Things Outside


            It's Poetry Friday, and Ruth Bowen Hersey is hosting HERE at her blog, There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town with a post that welcomes goodness this day after Thanksgiving, in America. She's written an ode to taxonomy and the good news from those who observe, organize, identify.  Ruth is now living in Kampala, Uganda, though I began to know and love her posts and poetry when she and her family lived in Haiti.  

              Also, it's the end of the month and the #PoetryPals have challenged us to write in the style of Valerie Worth. After re-reading some of her books I have, I am feeling very challenged. They are so good! Ruth also asked us last week to write about something good. I tried to connect the two, and use the Poetry Sisters' challenge also to include transformation as a theme. Thus, finding 'goodness' outside is what I do nearly every day. I walk, I venture down the block to get my mail. I travel to a nearby lake to watch the water birds. And, I note change. My continuing theme is #getoutside! 

The upper left photo was taken during the annular eclipse in Santa Fe.
The others are from my own home.


Get Outside


Shadows make their way

across my day,

art created 

minute by minute,

slipping across the grass, 

partnering with the sun.

They nap

as clouds roll by.


when sun’s up again, 

they refresh with the warmth 

of brick walls,

cement slabs,

patio stones.

Late day lines lengthen,

linger into dusk.

Sometimes they achieve

an eclipse masterpiece.

            Linda Baie ©

Monday, November 20, 2023

It's Monday! - New Books to Be Thankful For


        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!  FYI, I shared a review of this new book by Rhiann0n Giddens for Poetry Friday here last week if you'd like to read more about it. 

        I have the pleasure of sharing two books by Michael Panzer, who's creating some lovely stories for his grandchildren and for other young readers, too! He's a debut picture book writer who wrote this for me about part of his process: "Rather than hoping (and praying) for inspiration, I recognized that an engaging narrative could emerge from the ordinary things that might otherwise be overlooked if you weren't paying attention. I began to see the mundane details of my own experiences as creative kernels that could blossom into something special –"

      And these two "new" books are special for young readers! Thanks to Michael for my copies!

           Josie, Johnnie and Rosie and the Ocean Rescue is about three close friends. Josie's happiness through having special unicorn twins in her life is evident as we can see the excitement while they chatter and decide to have a day at the beach together. At the beach, during a blanket spread out for a picnic, Josie sees some fish in the water, in distress, caught by a net! The action begins with that rescue, and the next observation, "Oh, no!" the ocean is full of trash! Thus begins a group that cares enough to help with others joining in. 
          As the story moves along, Michael's words and Brooke Beaver's colorful and detailed illustrations will support a conversation about small actions making big effects. There may have already been some things that have happened in the past for examples? Perhaps if with your own children or with students, a parent or teacher can have some ideas ready for action? 
          My only wish for a change is that ideas for local or national organizations could have been added in an "If you want to help?" list at the back. However, the story will inspire for everyone to go on a search! 

          The TaekwonderoosRescue at Rattling Ridge, Michael's most recent book, finds a group like no other, three eastern gray kangaroos from Australia, all masters of taekwondo, yes, really! It's a fun concept to learn of these new characters (we all know kangaroos kick, right?), each one a pro but with varied positive characteristics to celebrate. For example, early in the story, shown in colorful illustrations by Lora Look , the three practice their moves; they kick, they spin, they jump! And, they're enjoying the performance in a beautiful scene of the grassy plains and nearby Rattling Ridge as the background, with the trio's joyful emotions at the fore. Suddenly, they're interrupted by a far-off cry, a tiny "joey" (a young kangaroo) is stuck high on a cliff. The story begins here with each of the Taekwonderoos showing his or her special power. As you might imagine, each one contributes to the rescue as in any other event or project, whether emergency or event-planning. The 'powers' are sometimes an exaggeration but it feels like the story can help emphasize how much each person's talents add to success in any event. It'll start a talk about past experiences, or one about some event about to happen. I'd enjoy reading this to a young group that is about to have a new adventure, asking what's needed and who will do it, or who will support each? 

          Michael's stories entertain through colorful illustrations with fun characters whose actions inspire new conversations. I am reminded of the quote by Helen Keller: "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." 
          Both books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.

       This is Kelly Baptist's first verse novel although she's written three other chapter  books and one picture book. If you need to go inside the heads of two tweens, Ebony and De'Kari (goes by Flow), this verse novel feels so real, you'll want to hug each one and help them feel better every day. Feelings fly, really over an accident, but each one is sure the other one is in the wrong. In those minutes, the stage is set, and these kids get a ten-day suspension which is how the book is organized, day by day! It's a novel-in-verse telling us readers how it goes, with each kid taking turns telling what's going on, their thoughts and feelings right there for us to listen and try to understand! There's also an interesting anecdote by Kelly Baptist in the author's note about starting the writing and what happened soon after.
        Ten days is a long time without school helping to order their lives, though both gripe quite a lot about it and it seems they do pretty well, despite the griping. This time, while the fight was bad and the suspension worse, all the challenges in their homes means the suspension won't be even a tiny bit of fun. They'll first need to explain the "why" to their families and friends. Both are in single parent homes, with siblings and sometimes other family members to deal with, also to help and to love. There's insight into each family member, some trouble, and some fun, like most families, and also an underlying challenge of finances, not quite enough sometimes. 
        Eb's and Flow's personalities feel real, the worry about friends, finding something one wants to do in the future but knowing it may be impossible, plus there lies within the story an underlying love for family though the outside actions don't always show it. Eb and Flow might find that out along with a few other things felt by both. I enjoyed their story very much.

          I loved these stories, yes, more than one story is shared in Kate DiCamillo's new book, The Puppets of Spelhorst, A Normandy Tale. There are the puppet's stories, together and apart, intertwining with others like the two young girls whose Uncle brings them the puppets in a trunk labeled "Spelhorst" and their maid, Jane Twiddum. A teacher is in there and some early characters who also play a part in the puppets' journey. I don't usually refer to other books in reviews but this time, I am reminded of Deborah Wiles' book Each Little Bird That Sings. That title brings the thought of what Kate DiCamillo does so beautifully, makes every character add to the weft of the story. If only in a brief scene, she lets her characters "sing" as they play their scenes. Boosting the enjoyment of this new book are Julie Worsted's illustrations, enhancing readers' imaginations with her own artistic work. I imagine this will become a favorite read aloud in many classrooms or groups.
         Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy. The book published about five weeks ago.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Now Reading: Continuing Demon Copperhead - Kingsolver and starting Alebrijes by Donna Barber Higuera, who also wrote The Last Cuentista.