Monday, February 29, 2016

SOLC # 1 of 31 - The Little Things

SOLC #1/31 - Beginnings of Another Adventure
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day One of Thirty-One of my sixth Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb. It is an enormous undertaking to manage this challenge along with work and family, too. I appreciate the time each one of you take to help make this month a success. There are some who have been writing with me all these years. I look forward to seeing them, and meeting some new slicers, too.

       Best wishes to everyone for writing each day, taking precious time to do something for yourself, to become a writer, or to continue the journey you've already begun. 

From Charles Dickens' Great Expectations: "It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."

Stacey Shubitz shared a post some time ago that I wrote earlier this year considering the "ordinary". You can find it here. In it I questioned the aspect of our culture that seems to expect more than the ordinary, not accepting the ordinary. Yet, I feel that the ordinary is something to savor, something to appreciate, our daily lives continuing on with family and friends, indoors and out. I changed my header for this challenge, emphasizing the ordinary. To me, it IS the little things.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's Monday - Books To Savor

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.   

       It's been a good week of reading. I finished Red by Liesl Shurtliff and started Home of The Brave by Katherine Applegate, strongly suggested by Ramona, a good friend and reader. And I'm nearly finished with Isabel Allende's The Japanese Lover, enjoying this adult book very much.
        Here's my review on Goodreads of a poetry book you need to know about, out for the last election, and so wonderful for this year, too. The Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for An Election Year by Janet Wong is filled with poems you can use to teach history, to discuss current events, to enjoy the entertainment value of them, too. 
Thanks to NetGalley for this advance copy of Red- out in April!

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood - Liesl Shurtliff

         I couldn’t help but think of the word “family reunion” as I read this new tale by Liesl Shurtliff. There are new things to learn about Red Riding Hood, but there also are reminders of her past adventures with Rump, good memories touched on. Red has inherited the strength of magic from her Granny, but early in the book we learn that Red stays away from it because of disasters that happened in her young life. Once she tried a small spell or two, which never worked, and one nearly became the end of Granny.  To Red’s dismay, one day she arrives to find Granny in bed, very ill, and sends Red off to find the ingredients for a strong medicine.  The ingredients are not all found, and Red’s path turns to a new idea: she begins to look for the spells that would mean eternal life so that Granny would never die. This leads to an adventure with dwarves, being followed by a wolf and a hunter, and conflicting experiences with a beast. There is also a new unwanted companion, the familiar one with blonde curls, Goldie. Goldie’s on a search too, and that porridge-loving girl we all love is both an irritant and a help to Red. Does this sound complicated? It is, wonderfully. I was surprised whenever I rounded a corner with Red, worried when she was in danger, commiserated with her feelings, admired her courage and rooted for her success. I loved every bit.

Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail - 
Ranger in Time: Danger In Ancient Rome
Kate Messner, illustrations by Kelley McMorris

          I have to admit I’ve never read any of Kate Messner’s Ranger In Time stories, and I won these two. Now I’m hooked. For time travel books for middle grade readers, these are terrific. Kate Messner moves the stories from today’s Ranger and family, into meeting the new setting with realistic people that need Ranger’s help. Adventures in time travel often show someone who is pulled back in time in order to save someone’s life, and Ranger makes a different kind of hero (dog, not human), but quite a wonderful one.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Celebrating Some Personal Things

              I'm celebrating each Saturday or Sunday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build

            I love reading your celebrations, too. 

         Today: loving this quote on my desk: "Barn burnt. Now I can see the moon."

          I attended a potluck luncheon with my bookstore group last Sunday. It's the annual meeting to visit, and I enjoyed meeting many of the volunteers that mostly I'll only connect to through e-mail. I'm celebrating kindness and niceness today. The person who welcomed me and trained me, then has given much support since he is the one I'm replacing as the volunteer coordinator. During this transition with new learning, and a myriad of names that have no faces, a varied schedule, I have been so grateful for his timely, and humorous, answers. He's made the complexities navigable. Whew!          

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Poetry Friday - Reflection

            Liz Steinglass hosts our final Poetry Friday of February. I know some of you are ready to say goodbye. It's been crazy weather in various parts of the country. Liz and all the  links can be found here.

           I've written many poems this month, mostly for Laura Shovan's birthday challenge. It's my fourth year, and I think it's rather like heavy lifting, somehow preparing for a big race. It's also fun, and fabulous to see everyone else's poems, their creative spunk at throwing words down, this time from picture prompts.  I don't know if you could say they're great, but these two I'm sharing were the most fun to write. Be sure to visit Laura's blog till the 29th (an extra day this year) to read the remaining poems. Here are yesterday's! And today for Poetry Friday, Michael Ratcliffe is hosting here!

And here are my two favorites:

A Picture Can Bring Many Thoughts

This snowy space lures like icing on a cake,
but don’t suggest it may be sweet.
I feel it only in my imagination,
a dream-whipped cold-
more than sunshine cold for skiing
or snow drift cold for red cheeks and snowball fights,
and snow-fluff cold for making angels.
This cold freezes eyes open, nostrils shut;
teardrops form frozen waterfalls on the eyelids.
This cold makes the news.

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

One Amazing Non-Fiction Picture Book

         Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, I started reading more non-fiction picture books, and found they taught me as well as entertained me. Hope you will find some good books for yourself as you read my post and others.  

Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People - S. D. Nelson

          Here is a non-fiction book that would be a beautiful read aloud. I don't think you need to be studying Native Americans in order to read it, but middle grate students and up need to know this information, and to discuss different parts more deeply.  Nelson has Sitting Bull tell his story and that of his people. With photos accompanied by the stylistic paintings of events on ledger paper, slowly we hear, we examine, and we are saddened by these stories, never told in the history books most of us grew up with.
           The ledger paper comes from the Natives being given old ledger books to draw upon when they were in jail.  You might remember a book published some years ago titled The Ledger Book of Thomas Blue Eagle by Gay Matthaei, Jewel Grutman, and Adam Cvijanovic, or here is a link to works shown at the Smithsonian's National History Museum. This book also gives a brief explanation of ledger art at the back.
             Because I recently read the middle grade book In The Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III, I especially enjoyed learning even more about this time, the beginnings of the white man's movement across the west, tearing into Indian territory and making it their own. Crazy Horse is part of Sitting Bull's story, as is Chief Red Cloud and others. Each page includes a quote in bold letters, photos presented like postcards, the story and the art. The ending shows the final blow because the white men were so scared that Sitting Bull would begin another uprising that they sent forty soldiers to arrest him. There was a skirmish, and he and his son Crow Foot fell dead. The quote: "He should have been buried in the old way--on a scaffold, safe from hungry wolves, in that high place reaching up to the stars at night." (Flying Cloud) No one knows where Sitting Bull was buried. 

       The opening endpaper shows a map of the area of this story, and the back end paper is another ledger drawing depicting a Sioux chasing a Bluecoat (one of the cavalry). The story, the pictures, the art made me want to look again and again. S.D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Tribe in the Dakotas and has written numerous other picture books of Native American stories.
        Nelson has added an annotated timeline at the back, a lengthy author's note,  a bibliography, endnotes, image credits and an index. It is a thorough work that could be a base mentor text for a lengthy unit of study.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Backseat Slice

      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today.  It's the final Tuesday slice before next Tuesday, the MARCH SLICE OF LIFE CHALLENGE. Are you ready? Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  

     Those of you who read my slices know that I have favorite topics. Family, teaching, writing, and nature take most of the room. Those are the topics that fill up my life, so they are the slices of the cake, or pie, however you imagine slices. 
      Here's a backseat slice, and those of you who have children or grandchildren, or other children who sometimes ride in the back of your car will understand. You will have similar moments. I've even written a poem about it, and that might be another post. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

It's Monday - New Books!


         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.   

         I added many books to my list of those to find from the #NFPB10for10 last Friday, did you? What a fun day to read everyone's favorite ten non-fiction picture books!

Here are the rest of the Cybils poetry finalists. I reviewed a few earlier in the year, but couldn't post these until the winner was announced. If you want to read the full review, click on the titles.

House Arrest - K.A. Holt

Full Cicada Moon - Marilyn Hilton

Paper Hearts - Meg Wiviott

National Geographic bookof Nature Poetry: more than 200 poems with photographs that float, zoom, and bloom! - edited by J. Patrick Lewis

And here again are all the Cybils winners.

Here's some of what I read last week. I've been reading a lot of books to the granddaughters, too, but will review a few of the favorites over the next weeks. I did read Bloom by Doreen Cronin, will review later. It's good!

Four new books from 2016!

Surf's Up - Kwame Alexander and Daniel Mayares
              Dude and Bro are headed to the beach, but Bro continues to settle in to read his book. He can't pull himself away from Moby Dick. Dude thinks books are boring, and cannot understand the delay. It's a celebration of reading and the illustrations show some of the excitement of Moby Dick while the spare text keeps the argument going. You'll like how it all turns out, and they do get to the beach, too!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Celebrating Numbers

              I'm celebrating each Saturday or Sunday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build

            And I love reading your celebrations, too. 

I'm celebrating by the numbers today! Seven celebrations, all worth remembering. “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” ~ George Eliot 

One haircut

Two times at the bookstore
Three times with the grand-girls
Four new books arrived
Five blog posts  
Six poems 
Seven days of exercise

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#NF10for10 - Time For Longer Wish Lists

Hurrah, it's #NF10for10 2016. Here's how you do it, according to Mandi Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to Mandi and Cathy Mere at  Reflect and Refine: Building A Learning Community hosting at a Google site. I'm looking forward to reading everyone's posts!

               Everyone will probably say how hard this is to choose. There are favorite books in every category I can imagine. I could share books about animals or nature, inspiring people, people from history, diverse books about people, on and on. In past years, I have chosen a topic, but this time I’m going to share my recent top favorites, not always the latest, no matter the category, but adding in that these authors have published other wonderful books, too. If you like this book, there will be more to find! I'm also linking each to my Goodreads review, so if you want to know details, you can take a look. You may know most, but I hope you'll find at least one or two that looks like a "must read"!

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus - Jen Bryant and Melissa Stewart
          for knowledge and for enjoyment of something that has been presented so beautifully

Big Red Kangaroo - Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne
                  for a good story with information embedded

Singing My Ditty for Poetry Friday

       Poetry Friday is hosted by Donna Smith, at Mainely Write, a clever poet and long-time blogging friend. I hope you join her today to see all the poetry love shared. Donna shares a beautiful poem today titled "Halfway To Somewhere", exactly where we all appear to be. It's wonderful! Thanks for all, Donna.
       I am filled up with poetry this month, writing a poem each day for Laura Shovan's birthday challenge has been delightful. Go here for Laura's explanation of the challenge. With Laura, Diane Mayr, Heidi Mordhorst, Rosemary Marotta and Jone McCullough leading, I also recently finished the poetry judging for the Cybils award. Our winner was announced on Valentine's Day:
           I love visiting and reading the challenges by Michelle Barnes at Today's Little Ditty. This month her guest is David L. Harrison, under whose guidance I've had the honor and pleasure of taking a workshop at the Highlights Foundation.  You can find all the instructions for his challenge here, but the main part is to write a poem using the word "ditty". It's a fun word, and pays brilliant attention to Michelle's blog, doesn't it?  Be sure to visit Michelle to see everyone's responses.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More Non-Fiction Wonder

         Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, I started reading more non-fiction picture books, and found they taught me as well as entertained me. Hope you will find some good books for yourself as you read my post and others.  

          Did you know #nf10for10 hosted by Mandi Robek and Cathy Mere is this coming Friday? Are you getting your lists ready? Here is Mandi's post with directions.

         Come read to discover everyone's recent nonfiction picture books.
       Tweet - #NFPB16

         One thrill this week was finding Pink Is For Blobfish by Jess Keating, with illustrations by David DeGrand. So many have been shouting good things about it, and now I know why. The book makes me want to know more, and that's the best thing about non-fiction picture books.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cousin Connections

      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today.  It's always good to read what everyone shares.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb. I wonder if you're getting ready for the March challenge, making lists of topics, looking for inspiration every day?  My inspiration today came from a phone call from my brother, and a few pictures posted in a private FB site we cousins have.

         Nearly all my extended family lives in Missouri. I am fortunate to be able to visit at least once a year, and when my children were young, we returned every Christmas and in the summer too. I wanted my kids to know the family more than just a few day visit.  It isn't the same as living down the street or next door to grandparents, aunts and uncles, but we did have wonderful times together then. 
          Until middle school I lived in a small town, with those close relatives. And that included "cousins". There were eleven of us cousins, one is now out of touch and far away, and one passed away long ago as a young woman. We all miss her still. But the others, except for me, the "outlier" live in Missouri, some to the east, some to the west, and some in the middle. I am in touch with them all, and they have started to get together for an evening once a month, with or without spouses. Last Friday was the first regular time, sitting for hours at a restaurant, reminiscing, telling stories, laughing. I know because my brother called to tell me all about it. I'm going to try to be there sometime, haven't seen some in a long time. I was the oldest, then came six others close to the same age, then, in the year I was married, two more. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Monday-Awards & More

         Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.   

  Yesterday, on Valentine's Day, a special day for many loving reasons,  the winners of the 2015 Cybils Awards were announced. You can find all the winners here.
          I'm proud to have participated in this final judging round for poetry, and excited to share our choice this year. It wasn't easy; the finalists sent to us are all marvelous and enjoyable books. I enjoyed working with the other judges in our group, Diane Mayr, Laura Shovan, Heidi Mordhorst Rosemary Marotta, and our facilitator, Jone McCullough.

The poetry winner this year is:

Flutter & Hum / Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poems de Animales by Julie Paschkis  

             I read quite a bit this week, and loved them all. For those of you who have urged me to read Rooftoppers and The Wolf Wilder, I thank you. They are wonderful stories.

Rooftoppers - Katherine Rundell, with illustrations by Terry Fan
          Many have urged me to read this book, and somehow I put it off until this past week. What a pleasure, what a sweet adventure. It’s so creative in its characterization. Like Sophie, the main character, some parts of the book made me want to sit on my hands to be sure I was not going to jump out of my seat. A ship sinks, and a one-year-old baby is found sitting alone in a cello case, in the middle of the English Channel. The man who lifted the baby out of the water was a fellow passenger, and as the book says, “noticed that it was a girl, with hair the color of lightning, and the smile of a shy person.” This was Sophie, and Charles, who became her caregiver. He had not raised a child before, and as she grew, some things became unusual, like Sophie breaking plates (no reason given) so they ate on books. And other things became wonderful, like the utter trust and love they had for each other, often shown in action (Charles gave her twelve leather-bound classic books on her twelfth birthday and they ate ice cream in the rain from the outside box of a four-horse carriage). Unfortunately, a Miss Eliot from the National Childcare Agency kept interrupting their lives with frequent visits to see if Charles was doing a good job. The story shared that she had “an expression like a damp sock.” And sadly, she was not only going to disrupt their lives, but recommend that Sophie be taken away to live in an orphanage, so she can learn about the proper way of buttons and to wear skirts, and on. That’s where the story becomes even more wonderful. There are more adventures, other good-to-know characters and hair-raising risks for Sophie and Charles. If you’ve missed this book as I have, please find and read it soon! There is so much I haven't written because I want you to discover those parts yourself.

You will see that not only did I finally read The Rooftoppers, I fairly raced through this latest one by Katherine Rundell. Oh, wow, it is marvelous.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weekly Goodness

              I'm celebrating each Saturday or Sunday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. Come join in to share your own special celebrations.

So good because. . .

        I wrote a poem every day for Laura Shovan's birthday challenge!  Some days, eek, my mind was the blank slate like the page in my notebook. But, finally, after reading an old poetry book, I managed some ideas. They aren't all good, but I'm proud of a few!

        I finished a story/poem for Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny Contest, am pleased the way it came out. I've worked on it daily, bits and pieces, for several weeks. 

         My usual Imogene visit happened on Wednesday, and we visited a park a little further away, but marvelous with a playground, a stream and a pond, SPACE! We also stopped by the library on the way home so that Imi could choose a few books herself. She found a very cute book by Lois Ehlert, Holey Moley, a mole underground and all the others under there with it. What attracted her to this one? I'm guessing bright colors and inside, a hole in the page!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Poetry Friday-Love Is In The Air

           Poetry Friday is hosted by Kimberley Moran at her blog, Written Reflections. This time, Kimberley shares her newfound love of hummingbirds and a beautiful book of poems that follow their life cycle. Be sure to visit to take a peek.  I imagine there'll be a more love shared today, two days before Valentine's Day. 

I've had fun this week writing for Laura Shovan's birthday challenge to found objects, and entered Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny story contest. Over a hundred have entered. Wow! And it was fun to give it a go. I wrote a poem/story you can read in yesterday's post

I'm sharing a favorite love poem from Chaucer today. Enjoy!  

            How to Write a Love Letter

            Don’t write too neat, and use a little guile—
            Let tear stains blot your words once in a while
            But if you find a word you think is clever,
            Use it but once, don’t harp on it forever!
            For though a harper were the best alive,
            And had the best harp in the world to play,
            And played it best with all his fingers five,
            If he but touched one string or sang one lay,
            However sharp his nails were filed away,
            His music would but make men dull and sad,
            And only when he stopped would they be glad.
                        --Geoffrey Chaucer in ‘Troilus and Cressida’

The Valentiny Compromise

            Here's my entry for The Valentiny Contest  by Susanna Leonard Hill. You can read all the entries here at Susanna's post for the contest, so, so many wonderful ones!

A Valentiny Compromise

Bear and Bee were enemies,
but both were fond of sweets.
Bee helped create the honey
Bear dearly loved to eat.

(This is a honey of a fable.)

Bee grumped about this crime
that hungry Bear would take
the dripping, nectarous delight
that Bee herself would make.

(No amity available.)

Bee buzzed from bloom to hive,
doing her furtive best
to keep the humming low,
befuddling Bear in his quest.

(Bee was, it seems, unstoppable.)

Still as she frowned and flew,
Bee began to vacillate.
She noticed fresh green leaves  
were all that Bunny ate.

(Bee thought it was remarkable.)

And buzzing Bee saw also
the love Bear had for flowers.
He sniffed among the blooms,
took naps in them for hours.

(Perhaps beliefs are breakable.)

At last Bee understood,
thought it would be a pleasure
for each to take a part
of every garden’s treasure.

(Good thinking made her capable.)

Valentines spread love around
and share sweets all the day.
Smiling Bee proved willing to
give some honey away.

(Show kindness when you’re able.)

Bee buzzed around and round the Bear
sending clues of love that’s sweet,
led hungry Bear to an abandoned hive
for a tasty Valentiny treat.

(Be sure ALL come to your table.)

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved