Monday, September 20, 2021

It's Monday! Books to Discover!

     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! Happy Reading! 

               When you meet this Robber Girl, you wonder how she ended up with that other 'robber', Gentleman Jack, but her angry thoughts sharing her amazing tale soon tell us much, so much that we readers know we're in for quite an extraordinary place and time created by Franny Billingsley. When Gentleman Jack is arrested, the judge takes the girl to his home, much to the dismay of his wife who continues to grieve for their dead children, lost to smallpox. The girl has an "affliction" that keeps her from talking unless asked a question although, in her mind, she talks, or is yelled at, by her dagger. The judge sends her to school, a terrible experience, which the dagger says is a "taming thing" and this girl is wild, in speech, in general knowledge, but not in her ways of taking care of herself. A dollhouse built by the judge plays a fantastic role in making change, along with the judge's caring treatment. The town itself seems old, is built around a celestial goddess, Blue Roses, and plays a part in the girl's change from wild to one who discovers her truth. I am imagining that the continual thoughts of the girl that tell the story are reminiscent of childhood thoughts themselves. Although fantastical in this story, children do keep secrets in their thoughts, often not quite real as well. 

         In India, this time the city of Chennai, young boy Kabir is released into the world because the powers say he's been in prison with his mom too long. If they cannot find a family member, he'll go to an orphanage. Before this happens, no matter the terrible prison circumstances, readers meet Kabir's dear mother who is in prison accused of theft and given no chance to defend herself and the rest of the cellmates, Kabir's family who cares for him, including the most wonderful jail teacher. Then, thrust out into the world, taken by a fraud who claims he's an uncle, Kabir takes his first chance to escape. Whew, a huge chance, but it turns out he is rescued by Rani, another kid on the street, a Roma girl a little older and with her friend, Jay, the parrot. Kabir stumbles a lot but Rani teaches him well. they become a sweet twosome, seems like a brother and sister always helping each other. The rest of their adventure together is for you readers to discover. It's not always easy, but Kabir tells the truth of the way things are and their lives do change in amazing ways. I read this all in one day, could not stop hanging on to Kabir's life with the hope he had never given up. Padma Venkatraman shares a poignant story every middle-grade child needs to know in order to understand they can be strong, too!


             I had never read the name Daphne Caruanna Galizia until I read this great story about her by her friend, Gattaldo who both wrote and illustrated it. She was born and grew up in Malta, inspired by a great-great-great-great grandfather who fought and kept Napoleon from occupying the country. She loved to read, and ask questions to find the truth. As an adult she began to write and share her findings, even early on was arrested for protesting. She eventually began to write for a national newspaper, uncovering wrongdoing. She married and had a family, but did not stop her passion for the truth. The joy and the sorrow shown in the illustrations empower the story. Galizia was "hassled in the streets, they called her a witch" and more. She did not stop until a bomb exploded under her car. She has left a legacy that inspired people all over the world to speak out, to "make our world a better place". A brief bio and an author's note adds to her story at the back. Here is one more story of a newsmaker who is an inspiration to know.
        Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy, published in 2021! It was first published by Otter-Barry Bks - UK - 2020

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Poetry Friday - Bye Bye Summer

         Thanks to Denise Krebs who hosts this Poetry Friday, at her blog, Dare to Care here. From her post, you'll learn a new word and a spectacular way of looking at Galapagos tortoises. Be sure to check it out!
          I joined a blog tour last Monday to share Nancy Tupper Ling and June Cotter's new anthology, For Every Little Thing, poems and prayers to celebrate the day, illustrated by Helen Cann. You can find my post here! It's quite a wonderful book for reading aloud with special someones.

     This Poetry Friday I'm sharing a poem I wrote a year or so ago for Buffy Silverman for a poem swap. Although we all know this summer was fraught with sadness, with conflict, I continue to adore the "other" good things.

Blowing Out The Summer Candles  


I’ve cartwheeled my way through the summer

eaten melons and berries off vines,

          splashed in neighborhood lakes, 

          and cooled off sipping shakes.

This summer is working out fine.


The watermelon’s ready for picking,

My peach tree leans low with its pearls.

          In the mornings I played,

          napped with afternoon shade.

This summer’s an agreeable whirl.


I know that it can’t last forever-

to laze in the blaze of the sun.

         Lemonade has been iced; 

         one more week will suffice.

Sigh, summer is leaving. ‘Twas fun.


                 Linda Baie ©

And now – Welcome Autumn!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Monday Reading - Books to Adore

    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! Happy Reading! 
       Wishing you all a lovely day today!

Last Poetry Friday, I reviewed Poem in My Pocket, a new picture book by Chris Tougas and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. 
         And today, I have a second post, am on a blog tour for a new anthology, poetry gathered by Nancy Tupper Ling: For Every Little Thing. Be sure to visit to discover all about this special, special book.


           In spite of so much science that I really didn't understand (but some I worked out and actually did a bit of research in order to understand!), I enjoyed this new space adventure by Andy Weir. I liked the back and forth parts from earth to space voyage, ever curious just how a junior high science teacher ended up in a crew of three highly-regarded science and space experts. However, he became an accomplished problem-solver, for which all us readers are grateful. I loved the characterizations of those who gathered to solve this new and imaginable problem, but most of all I began to Love Ryland Grace and his "buddy", Rocky, an alien from the planet Erid. 

       One quote: "It's good for the species," I say. "A self-sacrifice instinct makes the species as a whole more likely to continue."
          "Not all Eridians willing to die for others."
           I chuckle. "Not all humans either."
           "You and me are good people," Rocky says.
           "Yeah," I smile. "I suppose we are."

Like all good books, I was sorry to see it end.

              We hear, fast, all the usual noises, but do we miss the other sounds when we don't focus and LISTEN? Brief and thoughtful text by Gabi Snyder and marvelous city scenes outside and in (like at a library story-telling) by Stephanie Graegin show us the tinier things we may be missing, like the "slap-slap-slap of shoes against pavement" and "the wind through trees". Included is a scene of hearing "words of joy" and also of bullying and the sound of "words that sting", then "A sob, a sigh, or even silence." One part I love in every "city" picture book is the peek inside all the windows of the buildings. Graegin's illustrations show many and they're special. Snyder adds a page explaining different ways of listening at the back, something else to note when conversing about this book and "listening". 

         Vibrant, happy illustrations as you see from the cover help young Lucia take us readers on a tour of her home. With a mixture of Spanish and English, she shows all the things she loves, all the things that happen in her home. If you don't speak Spanish, Laurenne Sala uses the context and Zara Hoang's illustrations to help with the meaning. Company like friends and family come to what she calls the "magic puerta" where every time she opens it, "someone always comes in". It will be lots of fun to read to a class, helping some to learn some Spanish, OR, perhaps some will be excited to read some of their native language. 
Bienvenidos to Lucía’s home!
           Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy.

            There is a celebration that's only for you, as Mary Lynn Ray so beautifully tells it in this new book with swirling, color-rich illustrations by Cindy Derby. A favorite part is a double-page spread filled with what "might" happen "Because wherever you go, your birthday goes with you." Yes, there's cake and a special page about wishes and a part about waking up, "wondering what will happen." Mary Lynn writes that's the first present: "you get to wonder". It's a lovely book, a gift you may want to get for that next person with a birthday? Or, to read with a class? 
                      Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy.

Next? Still reading The Robber Girl by Franny Billingsley, dense and mysterious. I hope to be finished soon!

Blog Tour - Nothing More Fun Than A Group Celebration

       I imagine many of you have sweet memories of evening reading. It's nearly time for bed but first, it's time to read, or tell, favorite stories. Along with a voice from someone loved, that voice might also bring a song memory. However, the evening isn't always the time we read. A quiet moment can be found anytime to stop, to read words that remind us what a wonder of a world we live in. Nancy Tupper Ling's new anthology will help do just that!

         I asked Nancy if a past memory, perhaps as a young child, motivated her to begin gathering these lovely poems so that others, family members or teachers, could share with their young ones how special the world they live in is? She answered with words and a poem! 

        One poem entitled “Tonight . . . “ from our For Every Little Thing collection was inspired by a beautiful day our family spent in San Francisco. This city is where my husband grew up and where most of his family still lives, so we visit often. When my daughter, Elizabeth, was about six years old, we walked down Lombard, the famously crooked street, and eventually ended up by The Marina, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. We had just experienced a quintessential San Francisco day. 

         That’s when Elizabeth said the words that lead to my poem’s creation. “Mama,” she said. “Tonight I will dream of the purple flowers, the ones that made you smile today. They’ll dance overhead. Their blossoms looked like fingers waving to the people. And I will dream that an orange fox sits beside me.” 

         Her words struck me then (enough to write the poem), but I also kept them close when creating FOR EVERY LITTLE THING with June! For a young child to treasure such specific things that happened in her day…so much so that she planned her nighttime dreams around them, that is the type of gratitude we hope this anthology fosters. Both a spontaneous and a planned gratitude are what we envisioned for our young readers. Let’s not pass by these simple gifts that we’re given daily. Let’s stop, breath, observe, and perchance dream. 

        It's exciting to share a new book and even more exciting to share one that fits my idea of a special pleasure, reading to children. I've read to all ages because I'm a teacher. I love when I finish and more than one child asks to borrow the book. Then, of course, we have to make a list to take turns. Also wonderful are the times I've read to my own children, and now grandchildren. Sharing books through a read-aloud means creating unique and special memories. 

         June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling have gathered, as the cover says, "poems and prayers to celebrate the day" into this new anthology, For Every Little Thing. In our recent months of challenges, there may be times when children hear the bad news and need reminding that there are many things to appreciate every single day! 

         The contents divide into seven parts such as "The World Around Us", "Night", and "Family and Friends". From the first to the last, sixty-six poems and prayers take readers traveling through the day from morning wake-up to evening goodnight. These poets bring the wondrous world to us through all their words.

 In "Waking Up Prayer", Susan J. Erickson writes "I like to wake up when the snow falls against my window/like confetti from an angel's party". I imagine rushing for the book to re-read that poem at first snow. 

In "Simple Graces", Jill Noblit MacGregor writes "Simple graces are everywhere, under rocks and in the air–/in crashing waves and tall, tall trees, simple graces for all to see." and readers search for their unique "simple graces".

In "Great Owl of Dreams", Maura D. Shaw asks an owl: "Bring me the dream in your mother beak."

And after sleep comes, Suzanne Wiggins Bunch ends her poem "Sea of Dreams" with "Waves of dreams that build and billow/return me to my comfy pillow./And though I've traveled wide and deep, I did it/while I was asleep." 

Along with wondrous words, reading aloud a book with illustrations brings more to appreciate, in this book when viewing sumptuous and varied creations by Helen Cann that accompany the poems. Small things, skyscapes, imaginary and joyful scenes, night and morning scenes brighten the pages. You will love them as you read.

It's a book to cherish for oneself, for a gift, for young and old. Thanks, Nancy and June for bringing this anthology to us all!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

#Poetry Friday - Another Pocket Post

         Thanks to Tricia Stohr Hunt who hosts this Poetry Friday, at her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect here. Today she's sharing a poignant poem by Barbara Crooker. 

          Two weeks ago I shared a poem written for a #Poetry Peeps challenge to write "What A _______ Knows." I wrote about a pocket, connecting to "Poetry In Your Pocket" day. You can read it here. Then, loving the serendipity, this book below became available from my library. It's a terrific rhyming story by Chris Tougas about a girl who had a poem in her pocket. Alas, the pocket got a rip and, as she tells: "Rhymes tumbled down my leg/and trickled from my hip."

        I'm guessing you might imagine where this is going, and it does follow that poetic word path delightfully. With creative illustrations by Josée Bisaillon that show the wind flinging words all over the place, readers will want to commiserate with that girl who's lost the "poem" in her pocket. Like dandelion seeds, they blow, so very much that even the letters are mixed on one page. There is "culod", "seewp", and "urellmba". Oh my! 
       In a clever, puntastic way, Chris, with Josée's artistic neighborhood scenes, manages to add in a few more extras. A Diner becomes "Diner-mite!"; and a chicken in the yard turns into "poultry in motion". On a second page, a drink stand sells "Lemon Squeeze" and words blow in to create "Squeeze the Day". You'll need to find the book to read what happens when a thunderstorm rolls in. Nature helps! 
      At the very end, Chris Tougas adds a page of special words to search for in the story and a small piece about "Poem in My Pocket Day."

      On this day before the anniversary of a day like few others in US history, I wondered what I would carry in my pocket to remember. Here is one small poem to honor those lost that day and also in the years since because of their heroic rescue work that day.         

Remembering 9/11

For all the years you’ve missed,

I carry words in my pocket–


Sometimes they are enough.

Other times, 

the entire dictionary

will not suffice.

                     Linda Baie ©