Monday, June 17, 2024

It's Monday - Books I Loved


        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'm back from a lovely visit with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson where we saw Yo Yo Ma in concert! It was very special! 

         If you like thrillers, I've finished the third in Don Winslow's trilogy, a saga of the illusive and conflicted Danny Ryan, coming from the mob back east and settling in Las Vegas. The outcome will both dismay and thrill readers and those close to Winslow.  It's been quite a journey Winslow took us on, from 2022 to 2024. I imagine he might be sad it's complete. Yet, as Dr. Seuss wrote, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

     It took a while for me to get into this. It felt rather repetitive and I was confused about the characters, who was who, etc. But as it kept going and becoming more intriguing, I started to like the attitude of Olive Cobin Zang, the main young one who's found herself dropped off at a new school, like no other, while her parents go on still another business trip. As the story deepens, Olive ends up in a small (secret) group set to solve some mysteries. Each group member has unique qualities, but they learn as a team and to "work" as a team, despite some who are a bit more negative than others. The story, and the mystery of "Who stole the jewels?" deepens and becomes more exciting, not too scary, but just intriguing enough for middle readers. Dan Santat adds just the right amount of illustration to heighten the excitement. Seeing kids do some dangerous things will entertain the readers! It's a satisfying and surprise ending I didn't imagine at all, too!


Thanks to Charlesbridge for the following two special picture books!

           I've heard of 'stickball' but not this particular game important to the Cherokee nation. Traci Sorell tells the story of a challenge of a young boy, Vann, who loves playing but isn't so great at it! He soon learns that he can contribute to the game, with teamwork! For readers' knowledge, Sorell also includes that only boys use the sticks and play against girls, who are able to use their hands! The object is to throw the ball at a "fish" (a wooden carving nailed to a post). Cherokee words are sprinkled throughout with a glossary, real photos of the playing, and added info about stickball and language at the back. In his debut picture book, Joseph Erb's colorful and exciting illustrations help feel as if you're right there in the excitement of a stickball game!   

          Leslie Stall Widener shares a memorable tale of a connection few people know. During the Irish potato famine, the Choctaw Nation, Navajo Nation, and Hopi Nation heard of the horrific time there, gathered what they could, and sent $170. to help. A few generations later, in 2017, Irish people built a sculpture (see the cover) to memorialize that connection. Then, in 2020, Irish people remembered the Nations' generosity so long ago, and sent millions to help the Native Americans, so ravaged by Covid, and in dire need of help. This is a simple way to tell what the story is about, but it is poetically told by Widener with picturesque illustrations that bring the story to life. There is added information at the back, including a timeline, author's and illustrator's notes, a glossary of Irish and Choctaw vocabulary included, and a list for further exploration. It's wonderful to have what seems to be a little-known story told so poignantly. 

            This new book by Michelle Schaub, illustrated beautifully by Anne Lambelet is a fabulous, poetic journey of trees throughout our country. Fourteen trees, well-known and perhaps not known by everyone, are highlighted by Schaub, with a poem and added information about the tree, covering history, geography, and nature. One is the Boston Liberty tree, where the "Sons of Liberty" posted protests about high taxes. ,  Each poem is written in a different form, and those forms and their 'how-to' are shown also on the inside covers.  There is added information at the back about tree road trips, doing one's own planting, and many acknowledgements from extensive research. Michelle ends with a personal poem, the first verse of which makes this a very personal book: My Landmark Tree (quatrain) begins with 
                                           "Don't need to travel far
                                            to find my favorite tree.
                                            It stands outside my window
                                            and watches over me."

       For tree-loving people and to cause others to consider loving trees, this one will inspire. Do you have a favorite tree story? Can you share in the comments? I have a few, but the most recent is a cottonwood, outside my window, at what became my new home that is estimated to be over 100 years old. 

Now reading: the new Lois Lowry book, Tree. Table. Book. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Poetry Friday - Celebrating Fathers

created by Linda Mitchell

It's Poetry Friday, and Denise Krebs is hosting HERE on her blog, Dare to Care. Visit Denise to learn about a new form, "the sacred seven" and then read the thoughtful poem she crafted in that form! Thanks for hosting, Denise! 

There are several themes to choose at this time in June. It's ALMOST the first day of summer, next Wednesday is Juneteenth, and Sunday is Father's Day. Today, I'm giving a shout to all the fathers, real or otherwise, in my life. 
         Many of you know that my father was killed in action in World War II. He was a pilot and his plane was shot down in Leyte Gulf, the Philippines, never recovered. I was two. My mother and I were already living with her parents, dear grandparents whose home became my home until later when my mother re-married. My father's parents were dear to me, too, and I spent a month there every summer from the time I was about eight. And, my step-father's mother became a third dear grandmother. His father was already gone when they married.

There's no date on this old picture, just a note on the back that
says "a splendid couple"! These are my maternal grandparents, Sarah Ann Morris
(from whom my daughter received her name) and James Hardy Coleman.

           With my own fathers and grandfathers, watching my late husband become a most wonderful father, and now watching my son, son-in-law, and brother as great fathers, I know how special that role in a child's life can be, starting with my own life. My mother's father, "Pop" to me, the first "dad" in my memory, was a farmer, feed store owner, and full of wise support to me all my years until he passed. He is who taught me that all people deserve respect and love. I never heard him say anything bad about anyone. He and I spoke on the phone often when I moved further away. The poem that fits, the poem that is him is this one. In my own memories, I see the washing up with that grainy bar, while I waited to be with Pop at the end of the day. I wonder if any of you connect with Lava soap in your memories!
         I am aware that Father's Day may be a sad one for some, am hopeful that you will find a way to honor fathers, whether in your lives directly or by only seeing them in your daily lives. 

         David Allan Evans was the poet laureate of the state of South Dakota from 2002 to 2014. The poem can also be found in Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual.


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!