Monday, July 15, 2024

It's Monday, Time to Share Good 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!   I'm going on a family vacation soon and need to take a break, but will certainly keep reading! Hope each of you is doing great!

        This must be the week for "blue" books, except for the adult one. Enjoy!

 I've read other fiction books that relate the top-secret work at Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire) England, like The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. However, I had no idea of the background of its beginnings and the extraordinary details as shown in this new non-fiction book by Denise Fleming. As told in the book flap, World War II raged, and a telegram was sent to thousands of young women throughout the British Isles. It read, "You are to report to Station X, Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire in four days time." When many arrived, they had no idea who had recommended them, what kind of work they would be doing, and why they were chosen. Until about thirty years later, most would never know all that went on during that time, only the one part they did!
        Fleming follows ten specific girls as they arrive, find challenges in their billets and in their work, some working in codes and ciphers, some working with the later "bombe" machines, and well into the war, the newly created "colossus" machines. Each one is young, twenty or younger. One is a debutante who took the invitation as a chance to skip her debutante coming out! One young woman, through constant work beside another worker, a man, eventually married him, though each never revealed all of their secret work. The workers may have become good friends but were never to know what the "friend" did in the huts. There are amazing moments, like when Churchill suddenly appeared walking from the nearby cliffs. Something was happening! While focusing on one girl, Denise stops periodically to show the readers exactly how one of the tasks works. For example, if you were a code and cipher breaker, how to decipher a message. And she adds practice! I enjoyed trying and know that young and older readers will, too!

       The book is tension-filled as the workers rushed as quickly as possible to solve messages and to help those in power improve their plans of attack when learning about the enemies' plans, right up to Hitler's orders! Although all were proud to be helpful, they often realized that any attack, even successful, meant lives lost. Parts of the London Blitz felt especially sad to read about.  Many photos are added within the text that illuminate the telling.

        A thoughtful author's note, a brief bio, and an extended bibliography and index are added at the back. It's a great book that fills in details for me about this place that was set up for secrecy to help many in World War II. And, both this place and the book succeeded masterfully! 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for my copy!

        First published by Walker Books Australia in 2023. Raewyn Caisley tells a story of a young girl who (sometimes) feels a little different because she likes things that others don't always enjoy. For example, she loves making pointy hats from CONES for her dolls and stuffies, while two of her buddies prefer just pretending with her dolls. If only some friends liked PARALLEL lines, CYLINDERS, AND TESSELATIONS! Maddie just wished she had a friend who also loved math things. She really loved learning music (because of the half notes, etc.). Then one day there was a new girl at school, Priya. Soon, she, her mother, Maddie, and Maddie's father went to an extraordinary place together: an observatory! They learned quite a lot about the stars, and Maddie dreamed of "counting them"! In our world, all kinds of kids (people) are good at different things and love different things. They travel and live in different places. But they shouldn't feel strange about it, just love it all the more! Gabriel Evans helps tell the tale with lovely color and pen and ink illustrations. It's a good book to share with kids who might also love sharing that they need a friend who has the same passion. The book will bring up helpful conversations with children! 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for my copy!

       You must know Nikki McClure's usual and gorgeous, cut-paper art! Here it is from her, but in a long and artfully-written author's note, Nikki explains her process when she had to figure out how to illustrate Rachel Carson's forgotten, (and in a long process, the entire text was finally found) words about clouds. Orion Magazine wrote to Nikki to ask if she was willing to illustrate some words by Carson. Nikki, without reading them, said, "Yes."  And here is that final book, years in the making, ready for every cloud lover to allow Rachel Carson to teach them more and for Nikki McClure to show that teaching. Some words I loved: "They are the writing of the wind on the sky." And, "Without clouds and rain, the continents would have remained barren and uninhabited, and perhaps life would never have evolved beyond the fishes." There is so much more to revel in and to learn. Nikki has included people, animals, machines and of course, clouds!  

      Sanae Ishida writes the story of Young Sashiko who struggles with her very big feelings, yet when she learns about sashiko, the Japanese practice from where she got her name, she finds a way to clear the tangled emotions. Stitching the knots in her stomach or the tangles deep down in her heart helped to mend, just as the fisherman of long ago mended the tears in their clothes. The art of sashiko came from when those workers fished for long days, and the wind, water, and fish scales pulled at the clothes and tore them. They had to mend them and soon those menders began to make designs which solved the problem and made the clothes beautiful. 
      In this story, as Sashiko makes her own stitches, she feels better and braver and page by page, Sanae Ishida's illustrations fill out her story, just as the sewing creates the designs, piece by piece and page by beautiful page. 

      It's a special story of an art I've never known about. Ishida offers two pages at the back explaining how to do the indigo dyeing for those who changed this needed skill into a form of creativity. There are named patterns, too! 

adult book

          This is quite a thriller. Earlier I enjoyed S.A. Cosby's other books, like Blacktop Wasteland, but this time, I nearly stopped because it's even more violent than the others. Yet, there was something, a bit of sympathy that I felt for the two main characters that kept me going. They are two ex-cons, Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee, Ike who has fought and worked tirelessly to create a good business since his time in prison ended; and Buddy Lee, who really is trailer trash, lying low and drinking his way to his end. Sadly, they find common ground when their gay, and married, sons are murdered. They loved them but were not good fathers to them, never finding ways to understand their choices. Now, Ike and Buddy Lee are filled with regret and begin to work harder than the police to find the killer and show love, even when it feels too late. Despite the violence, I found that these two characters became interesting, in their thoughts of their sons' choices, their memories of so many lost times when anger won over emotions. Reading Cosby's words that show how someone changes their minds about their previous actions feels important. Physical violence lurks near the surface of these two men, yet there is a part of each revealed that readers will admire, their ability to change and show love. It's a thoughtful book that includes the challenges for many concerning new life choices. 

Next: The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman by Jennifer Choldenko

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Poetry Friday - Holding Good Things Close


created by Linda Mitchell

          It's Poetry Friday, and Robyn Hood-Black is hosting HERE on her blog, Life On The Deckle Edge. Thanks for hosting, Robyn! Wishing you a wonderful day with all your company!

         The world whirls and I'm getting dizzy! Are you? I am trying to find good news, yet lately, it hasn't been easy. I imagine each of you knows this poem by William Stafford, a favorite I used to send my students off with good wishes at the end of the year, a favorite I keep near. I've shared it in recent years and may share it again! 

         How did he know we needed to celebrate a moment that we can find and hold closely? If you know it, remind yourselves how special it is. If you don't, enjoy it this first time and keep it close!

       I'm taking the rest of the month off, needing some prep for a coming family trip toward the end of July, back to Costa Rica, where will hold those days very close indeed!

You Reading This, Be Ready

                              by William Stafford

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

     read the rest HERE

Monday, July 8, 2024

Monday Reading Share - Books 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!   

Thanks to Candlewick Press 
for my copy!
         I've read quite a few 'time travel' books through my reading years but never have I had such an unbelievable and mind-blowing view of what can be if only we imagine as Kekla Magoon does in this new book. Meet Delilah Peteharrington, eleven, who enters an adventure full of puzzle pieces that are slowly revealed to her when she visits The Secret Library. She's been having some struggles with her mother, who spends so much time running the family business that she has little time for Delilah, who is called Dally. Dally wants more adventure instead of the after-school economic tutor her mother insists she has. After all, the business has made them wealthy, and someday Dally will need to be ready to take over. Imagine living in a mansion and eating alone, having one's own suite of rooms, and most of the time, now that her beloved grandfather has died, doing everything alone. She also misses her father, long dead from an accident.
         Dally remembers a packet of information Grandpa left that should not be opened until she's twenty-one. But Dally sneaks into his room and breaks into the safe to find it. She receives a map that smart Dally figures out leads to "a field"? As she walks into that field, a building appears, the Secret Library. It offers the adventure that Dally wanted,  both frightening and surprising moments, too, which will cause readers to read faster. They'll want to know what next secret Dally has discovered. And, like me, they'll never guess the amazing ending. Shh! Don't tell if you already know! It's a new and fabulous tale from Kekla Magoon!

Thanks to Candlewick Press 
for my copy!
Maisy leads the way to show the youngest readers all about bees, in a fun and colorful "Explore and Learn" board book. It's those 5 W's and H about bees: Who they Are, What they need (and love), Where they can be found,  How they help, Who helps them, How they work in and out of their hives. For a basic book for young readers, it's packed with infomration and quite appealing in its presentation! 

     Mahalo to Kaylin Melia George for this story poem, answering the question "What did HULA teach her?" in various parts as a young girl watches the history through the absolutely gorgeous paintings by Mae Waite. There are several amazing double-page spreads that show so much detail from the story. Kaylin also adds a pronunciation guide and a glossary at the back of the book. Here's one brief example: "From her perch in the clouds,/she watched all that had been,/while the islands exhaled–/breathing out, breathing in." 

           Because of Katey Howe's sad and sudden passing, it took me a few weeks to get this book because of many holds at the library. It is certainly one that shouldn't be missed. Among all the arts, she, with lustrous, almost seemed to be woven illustrations by Dinara Mirtalipova, offers poems that show the history of weaving in our world. From the perspective of a young girl, we learn about weaving throughout history, and it connects us to all parts of that world's history. She includes eight examples of weaving history throughout the world. 
           The back matter includes nonfiction content on the history of weaving and how weaving works, as well as an Author's and Illustrator's Note.

a re-read

       Yes, it's an older book. If you haven't read it, or re-read it lately, maybe it's time. It's alarming to read about just one family, one girl, to see what happens to them during the Holocaust. They are not Jewish, but German, living as best they can, often hungry, and then a young Jewish son from a connection years ago arrives at their doorstep. What happens then fills their lives, and us readers, too.

What's Next: The Enigma Girls, Candice Fleming

Monday, July 1, 2024

It's Monday - Sharing More Great 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!  I have some new books to share today! They are good!

Thanks to Charlesbridge for my copy!
      When I received this debut book by Jeff Schill, I was drawn to what seemed like a unique and fun story. It promised a different perspective on kids who had to shoulder adult responsibilities due to the loss of both parents. And it certainly delivered on that front, but it was so much more than I expected! The story opens with a tale from a magazine called "Gunslinger Magazine", a humorous western shoot-out set in Destiny, Colorado, by an author named The Kid. This unexpected twist in the plot had me hooked from the start! 

        Then it moves to tell about Henry, fourteen, the oldest of four boys and starts by showing them all digging their father's grave way up a hill by their mom's. As they dig, he begins to figure out the duties each one will carry according to their innate skills. They certainly want very few people in town to know what's happened for fear they'll be separated and sent to other states. 
        Keeping on brings readers to a publishing house in Philly, and in a prison break-out in Arkansas, we meet a bad guy named Snake-Eye Sam. That is when I started to ask, "Wait! What?" And, I returned to re-read some of the first parts, realizing this was such an intriguing plot with varied parts, and that I could not wait to read more and more. The characters, good and bad, filled me up with smiles for the good ones, laughter at the goofy ones, and sadness for the mean ones because even they had started rough and because of that, stayed mean! The layers of each, even for the sheriff who didn't do much but had a good heart, keep piling on. Jeff Schill's descriptions simply make one want to know more and more! The language is old Western, just right if people need to share with someone and read it aloud together. Where else could you say, "You got any of those outlaw magazines in this here ring-ding store?" or "Ain't no one catch us in them hills." or "I ain't looking for no trouble." 
       It's a terrific book, one not to be missed! One last great part is that the inside of the cover unfolds to make a tall poster of THE KID! 

the inside of the cover,

        I'd like to thank Publisher's Weekly for their "Grab-A-Galley" contest, in which I received an e-galley of this book. It debuts today! 

           For any child who has to see her Mom go away for a while, but specifically for those military kids whose parents are in the military, Sarah Hovorka lets a young girl, also named Sarah, tell the story. Young Sarah is excited in the beginning because she finally gets to see her Mom at Boot Camp graduation. But first, her mom's group comes marching by, and her mom can't even look and smile at her! It's a sensitive look at those kids and the challenge to keep the loving connections between them and their parents, this time, a mom. She brings Sarah and her brother a pair of military boots, but it's hard for Sarah to like them. She just wants her mom! This 'camouflage' may have more than one meaning here as young Sarah tries to show she's proud of her mom, yet in one scene, she says she misses cooking with her. Elif Balta Parks' illustrations are softly rendered, subtly "camouflaged"! 
       The back matter shares that this is based on Sarah Hovorka's life and shows a glimpse and tribute to her mom. She has also added tips for helping in the separations that occur. There are author and illustrator bios, too! It's a great book for those who live these experiences or shows a side of life some may not understand.  

       It's another wonderful book by Traci Sorell with gorgeous illustrations by Michaela Goade that make one laugh at all the love and laughter when a family leaves the city to move, home! That's home to trees to climb, a tire swing, and a creek that one can hear, which also has a crawdad. It's also home to a huge table of food to enjoy and family to visit. The young girl telling about her move keeps a journal, and Michaela Goade adds a marvelous double-page spread created there of the journey, showing home is in the Cherokee Nation. One final line: "No more faraway family." It's a lovely story of a journey I imagine many would love to make!

           Alyssa Reynoso-Morris tells all about 
plátanos, when to harvest, what time to eat, and what time to let them rest until very ripe to create a new kind of dish. The text intermixes English with Spanish, and there is a glossary at the back, if needed, along with yummy recipes! I found it easy to understand what was being said. For example, when learning about this history, Abuela says, "Plátanos son la comida of our ancestors." Young Esme and a younger sister learn all about them from their abuela, the stories from the past, and that they weren't allowed to read or write so had to memorize all the ways to prepare plátanos. Esme asks the questions as she, too, learns, and with her little sister, gets to love the tasting! I learned more ways to prepare plátanos, too, and Mariyah Rahman's illustrations fill up the book in beautiful scenes that show the LOVE that this special fruit brings. Hurrah for plátanos!

Next: The Secret Library by Kekla Magoon

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Poetry Friday - Wabi Sabi - My Broom


created by Linda Mitchell

It's Poetry Friday, and Tricia Stohr-Hunt is hosting HERE on her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect. Thanks for hosting, Tricia! 

           I've read a book that discusses Wabi-Sabi and have that special picture book of the same name. If you don't know it, here's a picture. The way some discuss the concept seems like an un-definition, a feeling, a 'thing', that is impermanent, something that is not necessarily thought to be beautiful, yet has beauty. I am not an expert, but trying out the feeling this time for the challenge by the Poetry Sisters, here at the end of June! 

          This month, the Poetry Sisters have given us this challenge: In June, we’re writing poems about Wabi-Sabi, with Wabi-sabi as the title. In Andrew Juniper's book Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence, wabi sabi is defined this way. 

Wabi-sabi is an aesthetic that finds beauty in things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Taken from the Japanese words wabi, which translates to less is more, and sabi, which means attentive melancholy, wabi-sabi refers to an awareness of the transient nature of earthly things and a corresponding pleasure in the things that bear the mark of this impermanence.

             In his book Wabi-Sabi Simple, Richard Powell described wabi-sabi as a philosophy that acknowledges a lifestyle that appreciates and accepts three simple truths: "Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect." Will you write with us? Good! You have a month to craft your creation and share it in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems!  

          I'm unsure if it's okay to share a picture, too, but I have!

Wabi Sabi

My beloved broom

sweeps away

leaves blown onto the porch,

offers time 

      for thoughts of the day,

      the week,

      sometimes even a life.

It brings a sweet swish of a sound–

my background music.


Linda Baie ©

          Thank you, Poetry Sisters, it was satisfying to write about my broom. I am a sweeper at heart!