Monday, June 3, 2024

It's Monday - More for your TBR lists!


        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'll be off to Texas and visiting my son and family next week. It'll be hot, though we're heating up in Denver, too, but lots of fun! Happy June reading, everyone!

         Maybe there's more than one ghost in Violet Hart's life. Her life feels like it's continuing to change. Now she's starting middle school, and one long-time friend thinks adding more friends to the usual circle is important. Now, Violet's growing family, with her mother and her stepfather having a new baby who's growing older, and her older sister has no interest in Violet anymore at all, also means life is different. The family finds an old house whose space seems just right, and they're moving! Violet's room, rejected by her sister, is an attic room with old wallpaper crawling with vines and flowers. After the move, Violet begins a sickness that no one seems to understand, even her long-time pediatrician. Her long-time friends think she's pretending, and her parents try to help, but it is a mystery. Some nights hold nightmares in that old house and things move in Violet's room that even her cat seems to see! It's a complicated story that made me sympathize with Violet but, like others, lost in wondering how she was going to get help. "Not Quite A Ghost" is a apt title, and giving a voice to the house itself adds to the many layers in this poignant story. Readers will experience a range of emotions when reading, in particular when reading of Violet's challenges. 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

         A young girl and her mother move to a new place. The girl is shy and feels perfectly satisfied playing alone and has no interest in meeting new friends. She even becomes tearful when taken to storytime at the library. Then she meets Millie, a young rescue dog, friendly and fun! When this girl sees Millie's excitement meeting anyone and everyone, she notices, and finally finds the courage to greet a young girl who may become a friend. Lauren Castillo tells a story for those who might feel the same way, or those who see others like this and don't understand. Everyone will learn! The illustrations by Castillo are always sweetly drawn, showing her stories with heart and understanding for young readers. 
        Bonus! Just yesterday, The Children's Book Review shared Just Like Millie, too. You can find a special interview with Lauren Castillo in this post

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

       Timothy Basil Ering, illustrator of Kate Dicamillo's Tale of Despereaux, wrote this story of Earnest Sandpiper, the day Earnest and his siblings are set to fly for the first time. Off they go, well, the siblings, just not Earnest. It looks very far off the dune and down to the shore. His wings are too heavy. He just can't! Mama draws a heart in the sand and gives Ernest some love and support, and she, too, flies away with the others. Then, Ernest sees a balloon, one with a smile and a heart like his mother drew! He's curious and follows it, drifting in the water, but "Oh, no." the trailing string wraps around one leg. What happens next depends on the family love and Ernest's courage. Illustrations are gorgeous as can be seen from the cover. They pull one into the new adventure of someone that needs a little nudge, from outside and inside! 
      Ering adds his own note at the back about these popular helium balloons when let free in the wild and their danger, even when finally deflated. 

       Two boys build together, and their creations become more and more complicated. The question is will they last? It's an adventure that ends with an answer that will bring a smile to all, what really will be important to last! Amazing, full-to-the-brim illustrations by Dan Santat bring Minh LĂȘ's meaning-filled story to life with a roar!

   What's Next? Reading The Misfits: A Royal Conundrum and the last of the Don Winslow trilogy, City in Ruins

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Poetry Friday - Body Parts - Unseen, but Felt


created by Linda Mitchell

It's Poetry Friday, and Janice Scully, is hosting HERE on her blog, Salt City Verse.  Her post today celebrate's Carol Labuzzetta's new poetry anthology and showcases some wonderful nature poems from it! In a bit of a chuckle, Janice also writes about patience and, yes, impatiens! Thanks for hosting us, Janice! 

The challenge here at the end of May from the #PoetrySisters: "In May we’re writing in the style of Lucille Clifton and are writing poem about body parts ala "Homage to My Hips." Are you in? Good! You have a month to craft your creation and share it on May 31st in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems!" 

       Whew, like Lucille Clifton! That's my first thought. But I read many poems by her and wondered what and where I could find my words. Then May happened. Here's what I have, no picture, only reflecting. I've had three friends pass away this May, full of sadness for their families and for me, too. I am grateful beyond measure to have known each one and had many joyful times with each, though it has been a bit overwhelming to know each one is gone and to find ways to think of the loss. I have written of what has been a special  "body part" during this month.

This Body Part, My Heart


Despair stays wrapped 

and stored away

at the bottom of my heart.

Sometimes it startles me

by mingling with joy and gratitude.

I know my life is more than 

a box of despair.

Yet it appears

because I care.


               Linda Baie ©

Monday, May 27, 2024

Monday Reading - For All Ages!


        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 lived through this, at home, as a high school teen, then watching from college, the terrible news coming back from Vietnam, the loss of one close friend, what my stepfather and uncles who had served in WWII and the rest of the family and friends said, then argued about. Yet, Kristin Hannah brings the story of the women who also were there, women we didn't talk about. All the way through, she tells us about their own terror, this time especially about the nurses, with one focus, Frances, "Frankie," McGrath, and her life there, after graduating from nursing school and enlisting because her wonderful older brother, Lynley, had gone to that war and been killed, no body returned, only an empty casket to bury. 
      Frankie and two friends served in hospital units together, came home one by one, and when needed by another, each one went to support. Sometimes, learning of the crazy times of horror, the upending times of grief and betrayal, it felt like a soap opera. But isn't life a soap opera, and this particular time also, like other wars, meant death along with unimaginable betrayals. More has happened, and continues to occur as we readers all know, but perhaps it's time to read this book and see the parallels of our own time today, the different responses, the lies, still happening. It's good to know the history that Kristin Hannah told so well, but sad to acknowledge parallels. 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for my copy!

       Jarvis tells a great story for young ones.  At bedtime, they can watch the bedtime of two friends, Lion, who needs a story first, and Penguin, who'd love to get right to sleep. Penguin drifts off into dreams full of candy treats but wakes fast when Lion starts drumming (see the cover!). How they figure out a compromise makes a calm, sleepy-time story. Bob Shea's illustrations are just right for young ones, lots of color and big expressions of feelings from both Penguin, yawn, and Lion, bright-eyed! 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for my copy!

         Well, I wish I had this long ago when I was a first-grade teacher! David LaRochelle takes us on the adventure of "Go and Get", and with Rex, a dog! Young Jack and Jill are there, too, and when asked to bring back something that begins with a certain letter, they race off to do just that. For example, the letter F is asked for. Jack brings a frog, Jill brings a fish, and Rex brings . . . a duck! He's told, sorry, duck does not begin with F, Rex; however, Rex replies with that duck is his FRIEND! Hoorah, Friend does begin with F. Running and racing with vehicles, or cycling, Mike Wohnoutka illustrates this fun game with great enthusiasm, and smiles all around! LaRochelle's answers also add more words for the special letter. It's a great "game" of a book!

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Poetry Friday - A Joy in My Hands!


created by Linda Mitchell

It's Poetry Friday, and Michelle Kogan, artiste extraordinaire, is hosting HERE on her blog, More Art 4 All.  There, among all the other poets, Michelle has created a May Birthday celebration of other poets who have their birthdays this month! It's Michelle's birthday in May, too! It's a delight to read all the nature poems! Thanks for hosting us, Michelle!

     Every day for a while, I've read a few poems, savored them and the photos, read again, and felt as if I'd taken a walk. I am a walker in my neighborhood and at a nearby lake with all kinds of wonders to see and experience. A daily mantra, no matter the weather, is #getoutside. This is a post to honor Carol Labuzzetta for her courage to #getinside the minds of poets, gather the flowers of ekphrastic poetry, and publish an anthology. It's for us, and considering what's inside, it's for everyone! 
    Carol has especially made it so accessible for teachers to share about this kind of poetry with their students. She has added about ekphrastic poetry, including the kinds of poetry forms one can use, in an informative section at the back. It's all ready for them, and happily, for us, too! If you need a walk out into nature, take one by reading Picture Perfect Poetry! Thank you for it all, Carol, for your dream come true and for all the work you accomplished!
    I won't pick a favorite. Each poem is a delightful look at parts of the outdoors. Sometimes, I connected completely, and other times I found new ways of seeing. Thanks to the other twenty-four poets whose poems brought me joy! 

       I am thrilled to have two poems included. Both connect to nature, but the one I'm sharing today is not only about being outside, but a memory of my husband and I outside, hiking the trails in the Rockies. We had a small cabin in those woods, stayed there as much as we could, hiked and climbed up and down. Sometimes, we took a tent and stayed in a few favorite places just for a different view. 

Melancholy Air


These boots that

laced up the memories

of kinship with mountain trails,

and those who hiked

along with me,

sit idly waiting

for those feet to fill them

one more time.


Linda Baie ©

         Wishing everyone a nice Memorial Day weekend, giving our respect to those who gave their lives for our country. My father is one of those who died in World War II. He was a pilot whose plane was shot down in the Leyte Gulf, Philippines. 

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.