Monday, May 20, 2024

Monday Reading - A Few Books to 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!

      Byron Graves is Ojibwa, was born and raised on the Red Lake Reservation. There, like the main character, Tre, of Rez Ball, he played high school basketball. Here in his debut novel, he weaves a sophomore boy's life in and out of his dreams of playing on the Red Lake Warriors varsity team, then winning the first state championship ever by a reservation team, then, on to the NBA! His goals are made harder, sometimes he thinks unattainable because his father also was a Rez star, and his brother, a star last year, died in a car crash on winter roads. Now, Tre has to overcome those reputations, too! The story includes a longtime friend who is beginning a documentary of Tre's b-ball beginnings, a new girl at school who looks at things a bit differently, helpful and causing a collision with those friends at times. Complicating it all is the racism the team meets constantly from teams outside, something readers all need to realize has happened often all their past, and today as well. It's a special story focusing on one kid who tries really, really hard to do the right thing always. I loved this many-layered story!
         FYI - This is a young adult novel that contains strong language and party drinking.
         In addition, this was fun to read because it's basketball tournament season. I learned about some of the moves players use!

          In the final anthology created by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins, he left readers with lots of love by finding a few poems he must have loved and asking some poets to write about certain animals/pets. Fourteen poets, including Lois Lowry, Charles Ghigna, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich, write about beloved pets, and one of the "almost pets" that was let go, a box turtle. Lita Judge brings more love to accompany the words in her sweet illustrations. Did you have one of the small furry pets, a hamster, a guinea pig, or a gerbil. They're here, too, along with dogs and rabbits and cats. The poems will bring laughter with the memories along with a bit of sadness when they remind of pets one had years ago. And, you may be inspired to bless your own, dear pets by writing a poem about them!

        Dulce's abuela is coming to visit from Peru! Hooray! And she's bringing maletas full of surprises, ones that Dulce cannot seem to get enough of, like "Candies in crinkly wrappers" and "blankets softer than cotton balls". Many memories are made during this time, like hearing stories and learning new recipes, but Abuela soon must prepare to leave. Dulce is so sad but figures out a way to fill a few of those maletas for her cousins back in Peru whom she wishes to meet, maybe soon? It's a lovely grandmother story with loads of happy details shown by illustrator Juana Medina. I liked that Spanish words are sprinkled throughout as Natalia Sylvester tells this family story of visits from far away. 

       Do I get to write, "sweetest book" for this one, too? Yes! Older Cecil seems sad and when a young neighbor sings, dances, but loses something from her pocket, a watch, she asks if he could fix it. He says he will try and thus begins a story that makes Cecil and a whole neighborhood of people happy as time goes by. Cecil realizes he had forgotten how much he liked to fix things! Casey W. Robinson grows the story to include a lot of smiles and fixing, with a happy ending readers will applaud. The illustrations by Nancy Whitesides fill the pages with soft, beautiful watercolors of smiling people and pets, a sign that reads "Cecil's Repair Shop", "Small Things Mended", and another sign toward the end that will mend a lot of hearts, too! Here's a glimpse of the opening endpapers!

an older book found at the bookstore

        It's wonderful to discover another book illustrated by Brian Pinkney! Kim L. Siegelson tells the loving but heartbreaking Gullah tale evidently found told in a variety of places on shores in the south. Young Mentu, island-born, lives with his grandmother, Twi, born in Africa, bringing all her knowledge of songs and drums and basket-weaving with her, then teaching Mentu, especially drumming. A slave ship arrives on shore with Igbo people in chains beating out the rhythm of the home they wish to return to. Twi is called to join them, those who refuse to move on shore, but they, and Twi, instead choose the waters of Teakettle Creek. Young Mentu must say goodbye. There is more of what Mentu learns from Twi, and he carries on, "strong-strong", along with all his beloved grandmother taught him. The book states, "Islanders call that place Ibo's Landing." They never fished again, fearful of pulling up chains sunk in the mud. 
        The author's note shares that many communities tell this tale that has been passed down from generation to generation. The note about Brian Pinkney tells that he used some of his own private drum collection as models for the drums depicted in his gorgeous illustrations. He, too, is a drummer!

         This is a quick shout-out for another book by Eric Carle. It's in his 'What's Your Favorite' series, including favorite animals, bugs, and food! If you love illustrators, fourteen have responded with double-page art and a brief explanation or memory of the color. It's lovely, as you might guess, to SEE! There are brief paragraphs about each at the back, too! 

What's Next? The Women - Kristin Hannah and Not Quite A Ghost - Anne Ursu

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Poetry Friday - Busy Bees Answer Linda M.


created by Linda Mitchell

It's Poetry Friday, and Patricia Franz is hosting HERE on her blog, Reverie. She's been planting tree seedlings in a nearby national forest, and luckily for us, she recorded their message! Thanks for hosting us, Patricia!


               Dear Linda Mitchell, not only giving us a PF star, but last week she posted her wondrous poetry clunker challenge. I chose what has become the title to my poem response.  

My photo, taken in September, 2022. Busy!

            I did some research, buzzed around some sites myself, and the preparation seems fierce! Here's what I wrote, still messy but hope you understand that in Autumn, bees are BUSY! I learned a lot and had fun, too. Thanks, Linda! 

What is Autumn to the Bee?


Billy Bee says to me, 

his sidekick, Clare, 

"Tell Freddie over there,

'Beware, Autumn’s coming.”

Get out the crew!

You know what to do:

find the late flowers,

work as many hours

as you are able.

Busy buzzy bees,

no time off for you!

Work together,

that’s our label.

Assess the hive.

Is there room for all

to keep us alive

cause winter’s after fall?

Does anyone know

of a place we can grow?

Use the waggle dance, y’all.

Take the message far.

We’ll soon be inside,

waving wings, warming all,

especially our queen,

still laying the eggs

and many appear!

But first, buzz around

if there’s space to be found,

to prep a new place.

Time brings a race

before winter’s affair.

Freddie, beware!'"


Linda Baie ©

Monday, May 13, 2024

Monday Reading - Two Books, Great Reads!



        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 had a very busy week but have two brand new books to share! 

           Jennifer Nielsen's bases this story on the extraordinary real-life story of Polish teenager Lidia Zakrzewski, receiver of the Polish Cross of Valour. This tale of the war in Warsaw begins when twelve-year-old Polish-born Lidia rushes outside to see planes flying over, planes with the Nazi cross on each wing. Nielsen show the father leaving to take a military position because he was an officer in World War I. Soon they learn he has been captured by the Russians. Yes, they were on the other side of Poland, also fighting to invade. Remember, Poland was the first country that Hitler invaded, and soon surrendered. This is a tale of citizens in an occupied country, and like many who were fairly wealthy, Lydia's family soon had to give up their home to Nazis moving in. They moved to a small apartment in a poor neighborhood, in fact, next to the soon-to-be erected Warsaw ghetto, for the Jewish population! It's a complicated story of surviving, and performing dangerous acts while frightened, but doing them anyway because they are needed. It's a story of wanting to follow her brave older brother in the resistance but at first, she is too young. She is a pianist, but must leave the piano behind when they move. Schools were closed but Lidia defied the law and went to an secret school, punishable by arrest and taken as a POW if caught.
        Nielsen takes us on this courageous journey of this life, and as it unfolds, the wonder of the brave people who never stopped fighting, resisting, even in the circumstances of extreme hunger and watching friends and countrymen die and/or betray is a story to know and to understand that humans often do what might be thought to be impossible. And they survive and conquer!  Lydia did many, many courageous and dangerous deeds, and lived a long life, continuing her piano playing and achieving a PhD, married and had three sons, immigrated to America. It's a new and inspiring story from Jennifer Nielsen. 

        Laura Purdie Salas is known for her books of poetry, often based on science, sometimes a story but in verse, and more! This time, it's all about shapes, allowing each one to apply for a new position, "Keeper of the Treasure" at the Valley View Library. As each shape moves along to get to the interview, Line included, they shout a few barbs, like "Why are you so plain?" but Line just keeps going. When presenting, the shapes each share how it suits the new job "perfectly". For example, Rectangle states: "I  am PERFECTLY  sturdy.  I am buildings and books and boxes. I  will hide the  Treasure inside." Others show similar traits, but only Line "shows" it can "Lead the Way". You'll need to read this celebration of those who are thoughtful, resilient, and who appreciate uniqueness. It's enhanced by Alice Caldarella's lively and colorful illustrations full of emotions in shapes!
        Thanks to Laura and NetGalley for my advance copy!

Still Reading: I started Rez Ball by Byron Graves last week, but when I found Uprising just in at my library, I grabbed it, then couldn't put it down! I've read more of Rez Ball and like it, but Uprising took center stage! After it, I also found Anne Ursu's new book, Not Quite A Ghost, too. Reviews say great things and I've loved her other work. 

Happy Reading Everyone!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Poetry Friday - For Moms and Memories


created by Linda Mitchell

It's Poetry Friday, and Linda Mitchell is hosting HERE on her blog, where it's time for "clunkers"! Be sure to visit to see what that means!   


           Almost Mother's Day, I'm honoring those in my life: my mother, my grandmothers (I had three!), aunts and great-aunts, sister-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, many, many friends who gave me support as a mother, and as a woman. In the recent weeks, two of my longtime woman friends have passed. I am so sad to say goodbye, but grateful that we were special friends in different parts of our lives, as mothers, as colleagues, as women. I know that this Mother's Day will be sad for their children and loving family, yet memories help us remember what wonderful mothers they were. Here's one evening in my mind from long ago. 

Mother bird protecting her young (Unsplash)
Ray Hennessy rayhennessy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Evening Sounds Push Back Time 

                (Mother to Mother to Mother)


Dusk murmurs heard next door,

down the street,

across the park:

My neighbor crosses over the driveway

asking ‘how is Sarah getting along?’

(My daughter, due in two months.)

I tell ‘she’s fine, getting a little uncomfortable,

but feels good still.’


Then, I hear my grandmother, Sarah,

call, “Yoo hoo, Mrs. Judy, how are your tomatoes doing?

Mine are not looking so well this year.  Those bugs!”


Later, across the park, it’s “Come home, Charlie, come home.

It’s getting dark out,

time for bath,

time for bed,

time for stories.”



“Linda, Linda, are you up in that tree?  It’s really

too dark for you to be climbing still.  Come on in now.  Is that

Alice with you?  Alice May, you get on home now.  Your momma’ll

be worried to death.”


My husband clinks away the rake, the shovels.

The broom whispers across the porch, my hands

or my mother’s– final work today?


Mom, come in, come in to visit a while.

I hear you sweeping on the porch

at last light,

as I turn the pages of my book.

                                                     Linda Baie ©

Monday, May 6, 2024

Monday Reading! For National Space Day and Beyond!


        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! 

        Last Friday, May 3rd, was National Space Day!  I have some great space books to share, including a fictional one, and one that will make you feel very good about our special earth! 

        If you haven't read anything about this, it's a space book, too! I cannot bring myself to tell you anything, except it's about one young man, fearful of a lot of things including going into middle school, one high school girl, his babysitter and certainly not afraid of much, an older man, caretaker of the apartment complex where the kids live, plus a strange young man who just arrived. It's a heart-in-your-throat story! DON'T MISS READING THIS NEW BOOK BY ERIN ENTRADA KELLY! 

Thanks to June Cotner & Nancy Tupper Ling
for the joy of receiving this copy!

           Considering space, so celebrated when astronauts years ago first saw, then shared that amazing picture of our "blue marble", thus it feels as if I should also highlight and share a book filled with poetry, blessing our Earth in numerous heartfelt poems that celebrate its inhabitants, and finally, share poems to come to its aid. June and Nancy have written the intro, inviting parents and children to both cherish the earth and "become stewards of all its beauty." Separated into five sections, from "Dreams and Prayers for My World" to "Caring for Our World", readers will meet poets new to them and read poems from familiar poets, like Karla Kuskin, Langston Hughes, and Aileen Fisher.    
           I was also excited to read special poems from Charles Ghigna, Matt Forrest Esenwine, and Irene Latham, familiar poets who are publishing today! Charles tells readers to "Think Like A River," Matt's poem is Honeybee, and Irene shares Hymn, about a coyote!         
            Also, a surprise, there are some older familiar rhymes/songs, like "The Johnny Appleseed Grace," which I remember singing at camps long ago. "Oh, the Lord is good to me,/And so I thank the Lord, For giving me the things I need:/The sun, the rain, and the apple seed./Oh, the Lord is good to me." There is a wonderful poem, too, from a ten-year-old young woman from the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. Her first lines: "If I were a bird/I would fly like an eagle/Through the sweet summer sky/All day Long." The book is rich with beautiful words about Earth, and further enriched with the beauty of Keum Jin Song's illustrations! See that gorgeous cover! 
          Note: the "blue marble" photo was taken on December 7, 1972, by astronauts on Apollo 17. You can find out more on Wikimedia here!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for these four space books!

        Dr. Marc J. Kuchner feels like the emcee of a game show, starting off with the question of which might be left standing "in this incredible planetary smackdown"?  It's such a fun idea, makes one want to read fast, though the explanations of what each is, how they change as they move through space, and react with collisions are thorough and wonderfully illustrated by Matt Schu. How much each weighs, or can weigh, how they change temperatures, all about an "Oort Cloud", and the variations of what each one is like are all explained simply and illustrated. In a study of these two fascinating space objects, this will be the book to show so much about them and to inspire more and more questions for further research. It's terrific! 

         It's a fantastic story of the one whom Michael J. Rosen calls "the most vertical woman in the world". Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan has gone the highest and the deepest (in the ocean), setting three world records for her Space Shuttle Missions and ocean diving. She's studied both places and this time she and Michael give a tour about what to do "before" even applying to become a space astronaut and the path to being one 
           Shared first are the mental challenges and then the athletic expectations to becoming a Nasa astronaut. In easy-to-understand explanations, with photos by NASA, and drawings by Michael, readers can begin to understand the incredible journey to becoming ready, to be athletically and mentally fit to become an astronaut, and to do space walks. Susan has done three! The story is illuminated by cartoon drawings and real photos from NASA, clear explanations of equipment, how every part of the spacesuit works, safety rules, and much more! It's quite intriguing to see all that has been invented in order to do all that they do, in space! Those interested in this area will love the book, and be inspired to learn more!