Monday, January 30, 2017

Slicing Into Connections

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
         I share more on Facebook and here on my blog about my granddaughters, Ingrid, almost 8, and Imogene, 5 and 1/5 than I do about my grandson, almost 16. First of all, he lives in Texas, and second, he's almost 16! He does call occasionally and sometimes when my son calls, Carter will say hi and talk a bit. But he is not the little boy I used to have visit so often, and take places. He has his life to live like all young teens. I miss him and love when he visits. Since Carter and his family moved to another state about 5 years ago, I've sent him a postcard every week, one way to let him know I'm thinking of him, and hoping his life is going great! That's one way to make connections.
         Carter is interested in photography, and the large part of his Christmas gift this year was a new lens for his camera. I'm writing this intro because while I don't have as much interaction with Carter as I used to, he knows how much I love him, and enjoy being with him when I can. So, a day or so ago I received a photo from Carter. During the holidays, he did tell me that he would send some of his pictures! Connections aren't always like others, but they are there just the same. Carter knows how much I love birds. And a picture really can say a thousand words.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Monday Reading

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.  
Tweet with  #IMWAYR

    I managed to finish the book for my book group, another from my #MustReadIn2017 list, and some lovely picture books. 

Now: I have an arc of a book whose publication is in mid-February, Isaac The Alchemist by Mary Losure, non-fiction story of Isaac Newton's growing up. It's terrific!

Next: The Newbery honor book I haven't read: The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, written by Adam Gidwitz and illustrated by Hatem Aly. I imagine I found it so quickly from the library before the awards happened! Lucky me! 
         I loved hearing about all the awards, was excited for some, disappointed that a few favorites were not mentioned. 

I haven't read "A Man Called Ove", maybe soon, but it has been interesting how others kept telling me they were disappointed in this book after reading Backman's first. I had no comparison, but did struggle for a while because I am a grandmother, though maybe not so crazy as Granny who is Elsa's grandmother in this story. And I do have an "almost eight" year old granddaughter whom I often compared to Elsa. Elsa, a gifted "almost" eight year old, has to face quite a lot of problems in this book. Granny has died and left her a series of letters that set her on an adventure like no other, into a land of fantastical tales that were created long before Elsa was around, but that is one more tale to be told. Sometimes I was so exasperated by the actions by Elsa, and wondered if it was reasonable for an "almost" eight year old to sneak out of her apartment to do the things she did. After knowing that some kinds of super-heroes were indeed watching out for her, I settled in and loved how Backman slowly revealed the stories of all the characters. Elsa had quite a lonely and frightening path to follow, but she wasn't always alone, for which I was thankful to discover. There is a quote that encompasses the flavor of this story, that thread that holds on to Elsa tightly: "And Maud bakes cookies, because when the darkness is too heavy to bear and too many things have been broken in too many ways to ever be fixed again, Maud doesn't know what weapon to use if one can't use dreams." Perhaps those who haven't enjoyed this do not realize how complex lives can be, and how hidden the stories. And perhaps looking again at someone is the greater lesson? I loved it.

              Imagine if your summer excitement is having your 12th birthday on the 4th of July, and the delicious anticipation of another wonderful party at the town pool with friends, popsicles, and cake. Then imagine if that was the summer of 1964 when everything changed. The pool closed, old friends betrayed, and new friends were going to mean trouble. This is the summer Gloriana June Hemphill is about to experience. It isn't all bad, but Glory first grieved for the old times of fun with her friend, Frankie and her old sister, Jesslyn, now interested in boys more than games with Glory. Augusta Scattergood tells just enough of this time of unrest when African Americans wanted equal rights and FreedomRiders moved into towns to help make changes. Not everyone is happy about the changes, but Glory and her sister soon find they have their father, a minister's support, and MissBloom, the librarian stands strong too. Glory's decisions create tense moments, but she manages to figure out what's important in a realistic way. After reading, kids will want to explore this historical time more. It's a good beginning story with strong characters and an exciting plot.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Poetry Friday- Inspired by Ferocious Women

        Poetry Friday is hosted by Carol Varsalona today at Beyond Literacy Link! Thanks, Carol! I'm sure it will be a wonderful time with you!

Donna Smith of Mainely Write has lately issued a challenge to take lines offered by numerous "ferocious" women and craft them into a poem. You can find her challenge here. It wasn't easy! Here are the lines and their makers!

Buffy Silverman: "ferocious women who never bring you coffee" - refrigerator magnetic poetry
  1. Donna Smith: "always leave a wild song" - refrigerator magnetic poetry
  2. Linda Baie: "dreaming women do art in poetry" - from her pile of poetry blocks
  3. Buffy Silverman: "where wizards and wolves rush by in a blur of green and gold and gray" - patched together from Kate Dicamillo's Where Are You Going Baby Lincoln
  4. Kay McGriff: "ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good onesfrom Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five
  5. Linda Mitchell: "waking the world to a new day"
  6. Margaret Simon: "steam that climbs like smoke from a fire" - this was in the comments the first week, and I'm not sure if it is a comment or a line... but I'm using it! 
  7. Carol Varsalona: "fearless women reach out, connect, and find joy in life's intertwined moments" - Connecting the word "fearless" that April had used last week.
  8. Tabatha Yeatts: "little chest to put the Alive in" - Emily Dickinson
  9. Joy Acey: "wear loose clothing and a smile" - from a thought and some connections
  10. Jan Godown Annino:  "I feel like there should be more stories out there for girls, and I try to tell them" - a quote from Hope Larson from the book COMICS CONFIDENTIAL
  11. Mary Lee Hahn: "ferocious women do not exaggerate" - from Mary Oliver's UPSTREAM on page 109, "I do not exaggerate."
  12. Brenda Harsham: "make a ferocious dinner that eats masks, drips truth and saves softness for dessert"
  13. Keri Lewis: "radical at their core" from her husband's magazine, "Guns & Ammo"
  14. Kiesha Shepard: "ferocious women would rather drink the wind" - a line from Mary Oliver's (Why I Wake Early) titled "The Arrowhead"
  15. Diane Mayr: "out of endurance, exaltation" - a line from the poem "Monadnock" by Robert Francis.

Family and The Poets Inside The Poem

Found Definition In My Poet’s Dictionary

Ferocious women who never bring you coffee
always leave a wild song
where wizards and wolves rush by
in a blur of green and gold and gray.
If waking the world to a new day,
ferocious women do not exaggerate,
they are fearless women who reach out,
and find joy in life's intertwined moments.
They create steam that climbs like smoke from a fire
then ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.
They feel like there should be more stories out there for girls,
and try to tell them.
Ferocious women use a little chest to put the Alive in,
wear loose clothing and a smile.
They’re dreaming women who do art in poetry
Radical at their core, they make a ferocious dinner
that eats masks, drips truth and saves softness for dessert.
Those ferocious women would rather drink the wind
          out of endurance,

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Non-Fiction Older and Newer

              I continue to be grateful to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy.  I have learned much from her and those who link up to share fabulous non-fiction picture books.  

        Happy Reading! The ALA award have happened. 
     Although I've enjoyed many this year,  Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet is still my favorite, and it was not honored. 
        The following books received the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:

“March: Book Three,” written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, is the Sibert Award winner

Four Sibert Honor Books were named:
“Giant Squid,” written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

“Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story,” written by Caren Stelson 
“Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II,” written by Albert Marrin“We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler,” written by Russell Freedman 

          It’s wonderful when someone takes a small piece of someone’s life and makes it bigger than life, probably because of who the person became later. This is a story by Jabari Asim, that many have praised because it shows the seeds of the best traits of John Lewis.  There was hard work to be done on his farm in South Carolina, and John was in charge of the chickens, all sixty! He appears to be their ally, sharing advice to praise the day, saving one from a fall in a well, telling others about the lessons of the Bible. He wanted to be a preacher like the one he listened to every Sunday, and he practiced with those chickens. He shared the Beatitudes with them to help them live better: “Blessed are the peacemakers” he’d say when they fought over their meal. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”  were the words for a hen who would not share. John grew up with lessons to tell others, and lessons to live by. And it started with his thoughts when caring for his flock, this time of chickens. E.B. White helps infuse the love and kindness in this story with his gorgeous paintings. My favorite line when John argued with a trader so he could keep his hens: “John learned to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

       I'm not surprised that I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I've loved Woodpecker Wham! and Eat Like A Bear from April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins in the past, and now find this book wonderful to see, and to learn from. The rhymes are simple but give good information: "Tail umbrella./Tail as flag./Tail as balance,/zig and zag!" Jenkins' collage pictures amaze with their detail. Because trees play such an important part in squirrels' lives, I loved that he included so many kinds of trees in the illustrations. The leaf shapes themselves could be used for an identification lesson. There is great back matter telling about the different kinds of squirrels, what habitats they prefer and how they live in them. There's even a part of what people can do to help squirrels, plant trees! A bibliography is included. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Life Changes

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
         It's an interesting thought to write that I am living my usual slices of life kind of the same as I used to do months ago. I write and read, I have family visit, I visit family. The grand-girls come to stay a few times a week. I cook, I clean and grocery shop. I talk on the phone with my son and family. I walk to find pleasures in the out-of-doors: nature, outdoor art, people walking dogs, shadows, sky. 
       Now, however,  included in my life's slices are the politics of our country, an overwhelming and continuing challenge. I don't always want to write my slices of life about the latest crazy outrage, but it is changing my life. I continue to sign petitions, donate what money I can, call my congressional reps, and read, read, read. It's only day four!

          I am proud of the millions of women who marched to protest our newly inaugurated president's actions. I stayed at my daughter's with the grand-girls to let her go with her friends. Some of the time we spoke of women's lives as they used to be, and how through protests, their lives improved. And it was hard, and they did not quit. But the girls are only five and seven, and while I know what I wish for them, right now I want to offer the tools that will help them grow strong, not the information that will confuse. 
         Those tools: 
             Talk about being smart, not always about being pretty.
             Find and share books that show strong, interesting, creative and persistent girls and women.
             Talk about behavior that matters: telling the truth, standing up for those who need it, speaking up with opinions about right and wrong, learning how to do things.

         There is much to do. I had a lovely walk today, I picked up both girls and took them to their home, stayed until their mom came from work, and we had dinner together. My son-in-law is at the Sundance Film Festival with his colleagues. He is a film editor, and his company has three films being featured there this year.  Hence the need to help my daughter a little bit with the girls. 
            Life continues, except for that over-riding nag: read more, do more, don't stop!

The next march is April 15th!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Monday - Exciting Day!

 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.  
Tweet with  #IMWAYR

     It's a challenge to know what to write in this post because by the time morning is here, the ALA award announcements will have begun. Those calls may be being made right now as I write late Sunday. 

      You can find all the winners HERE!

      So many strands weave together into a perfect and magical story. It has mystery, sorrow, and a great lot of wonderful characters. I'm hoping we might see Luna and all the others again. 

      Congratulations to Kelly Barnhill! This is the 2017 Newbery Winner!
       It's not easy to describe this book first published in Denmark. The illustrations are gorgeous and warm, mixed media filled pages of the sweetest story of four children saying goodbye to their grandmother. The night before she dies, the children's visitor is Death, who teaches them that hand in hand with grief stands joy, and with sorrow stands delight. All comprise parts of our lives. If you need to talk to anyone about saying goodbye to a loved one, this may be a book that will help. It does help to "cry, heart, but never break.'                         
         Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States:

       “Cry, Heart, But Never Break” is the 2017 Batchelder Award winner.

Celebrating This Day

    Celebrating with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and linking with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for helping us celebrate together!  

  It has been a weekend full of busy, and I'm late to share celebrations, finally found a minute to read Ruth's post about true love, and laughed. I do clean my house and keep things fairly straight, promise. My car is a different case. I don't clean it very often, and in the past in my haste to get to work, I would often eat an apple on the way. I appreciate apples a lot, and do believe "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". 
    On one of my shelves sits a dried apple core, found by my husband and wrapped up as a gift years ago. He often would clean out my car for me because he knew how much I disliked doing it. This time, under a seat, as he explained, he found a quite dried core. He often gave me funny gifts, and this is one special one I've kept. True love, as Ruth wrote so eloquently, is to be celebrated every time we can. 
     It is those small things given freely that make our lives worth traveling.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Poetry Friday - A Culmination

        Violet Nesdoly at her blog, Violet Nesdoly/Poems is our host today, sharing a reminder of the good ways we might be in order to take care of our lives. Thanks, Violet.

  taking a pause this day: writing instead of watching

It’s certainly winter.
Winter sits right there on the wall calendar-
It sits outside, too. I see it through the window,
that snow spurt of flakes  
that snarls the morning traffic.

It diminishes by nine,
clouds drift east, sunshine takes over.
It’s January, yet the mercury climbs
to fifty, no sixty, maybe sixty-five?
I’m being teased by weather gods,
a January trick.
Sweeping outside, I stoop along the walks
to check the beds.
It’s tempting to imagine a bit of green.
Of course, that would be the second trick!

It’s really winter;
I need to wait a little longer
for spring.
Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved