Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Play - My Slice With Mice

Join us on Tuesdays with the Two Writing Teachers and others who post. 

             Happy Halloween!  "There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch." ~Robert Brault

    Play In Three Acts - My Slice With Mice
    or - Please do not think of Beatrix Potter

    Act I - Scene I - (evening) - Sitting with feet propped up, dressed cozy for bed, writing. A mouse runs across the floor. Eek!
                 I get up, quietly go to the laundry room where I keep "stuff", like mousetraps. I have only one, and it will have to suffice tonight.

                 Scene II - (morning) - I rise early, tiptoe down past the office, then to the kitchen (coffee first). I've placed the trap behind a wire wastebasket in my office against a wall. (wall recommended on Google) There is no mouse, and the cheese is gone. I carefully pick up the set trap, and get out the peanut butter after once again consulting Google.

    Sunday, October 29, 2017

    It's Monday - Some Scares!

                  Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love! Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki who share so much from their own reading lives and support this meme, too.
             Happy Halloween tomorrow!

             While wishing some of these things would never have happened to young Clayton Byrd, I know that life is complicated, hope that middle-grade children will take away some life learning from this book. Rita Williams-Garcia gave me a lot of learning, too, about blues and hip-hop swirling in and out, up and down Clayton’s life. The sweetest relationship with his grandpa begins the story, and we learn that Clayton is sneaking away with his grandpa, Cool Papa, to play the blues harp (harmonica) with the Blues Men in Washington Square. Cool Papa’s been playing and being loved for his blues guitar playing for a lot of years, and he's been teaching Clayton, whose biggest wish is to have a solo. Not only will he not get the solo, but he also loses Cool Papa too, who dies one night in his sleep. There is a journey with lots of hurt in this story, hitting back, running away, not giving up, then “maybe” giving up, but “staying cool” as Clayton had learned to be.  The blues music he loves fills the book with a bit of hip-hop jumping into his adventure when he chooses another path after Cool Papa dies. Then, he learns some things as he goes, but it doesn’t turn out as wished except for one good thing. I imagine this book should be read by many kids and their teachers, too. There is a nice author’s letter at the end.

    Thursday, October 26, 2017

    Halloween's Not The Only Scare

              Thanks, Brenda Harsham at Friendly Fairy Tales for hosting this Poetry Friday, the 'spookiest' one all year! Visit Brenda to read her poem about an unknown creature, at least what it is not. See if you can identify it yourself. 

           From Michelle H. Barnes at Today's Little Ditty: Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Carrie's DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child. This may be the longest I've ever gone to write for one of Michelle's guest's challenges. I have been busy, but usually that doesn't keep me from being inspired.         
            This time, I've dug into the memories for a spooky childhood tale, and nothing came to me, until this week. I do have worries, but few really scare me. Here's that one thing I finally remembered. My father was killed in World War II, my mother remarried and I had a wonderful step-father. My contact with my father's family became a summer visit for a couple of weeks or more. I've written about that time in other ways, love my memories of the visits. Those grandparents ran a self-sustaining farm. They grew most all their own food, kept horses, sheep, cattle, including dairy cows, chickens, geese, numerous cats and dogs. They didn't have hot water or an indoor toilet until I was in my teens. I loved every minute of my time there, except for one scary thing.

    I Just Can’t

    I'm ten years old, 
    love the daily summer pleasures
    on my grandparents’ farm - 
    reading from old Saturday Evening Posts
    on the south porch swing on hot afternoons,
    evening ride with Grandpa to bring in the cattle,
    watching the sunset alongside their easy ambling,
    dew-washed feet in the early morning garden,
    choosing the noon dinner with Grandma,
    long-sleeved shirt on for blackberry picking,
    gathering eggs,
    I could not find the courage
    to evade the pecks, to feel that warmth
    Grandma told me was so dear.
    Hens cackled when I entered their house,
    flapped wings, feeling my fear.
    They never allowed my invasion,

    and I never invaded.
    Linda Baie (c)All rights reserved

    photo credit: frankieleon How are your investments going? via photopin (license)

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017

    Two Amazing Books About Animals

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!
          I have a second post and giveaway today, a YA spooky book that will please those who love creepy books.
    While at the Highlights Poetry Retreat, I had time to read this book, a beautiful non-fiction picture book. It follows a year in a red fox's life, and this one happens to be named Vixen. The reader observes her finding food in all the seasons, hunting and digging, escaping enemies, finding a mate and raising her new kits.  At the end, Vixen and her mate know it's time to say goodbye to the adolescent kits, off to live their own secret lives. Illustrations by Kate Garchinsky show well the beauty of a fox's habitat, and Lawrence Pringle includes interesting facts as he tells this story of a red fox's year.  The book also includes back matter with added information, a glossary, and further resources. 

             I've had this book on hold from the library for a while, and finally, it arrived. What a gorgeous, fascinating, and beautiful picture book Katherine Roy has created. She states that her fascination with elephants began with a stuffed one in her earliest years, and continued. She's researched and spent time on safari through several African countries (there's a map), consulted countless resources, including those interested in saving this species, and illustrated the book with both scientific diagrams (like the 'many-tooled trunk) and poignant 'family' pictures of a herd and a baby growing up. What did I love especially: learning how a 200-pound baby's legs and feet are prepared for it to talk within an hour of birth. And, how the trunk may be "the most versatile animal appendage in the world." Eventually this "six foot long, 300 pound nose" will help an elephant bathe, communicate, dig, pick up things like a fork or a pincer, and act as a snorkel. Roy's way of showing the written text is diverse. The page about the way an elephant uses its extraordinary ability to interpret different smell, filled with color swirls. Amazing!
             Roy organizes the story from birth on, sharing the ways a baby elephant must learn in order to survive, like standing, eating, staying cool and communicating. Sounds like humans, yes, a little bit, perhaps also because elephants are one of the special species that travel in families, caring for each other and their young. Roy arranges the pages with long prose segments explaining the each "how-to" in the learnng of baby elephants. In between, she writes shorter parts that explain that particular behavior in elephant actions, usually with gorgeous illustrations. The sight in one spread shows a large group of elephants, marching on, looking for food and water. And another wonderful "look" at the baby is its first visit to a water hole, splashing and, yes, smiling!

    Additional resources are found at the back of the bus, including a wonderful author's note. It is a book to savor!

    Blog Tour & Giveaway- Ready for Halloween!

              I'm excited to share about a book in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Michael Okon, which is recently out on a perfect day: Friday, October 13th!  Michael sent more than a book, a spooky backpack just right for Halloween trick or treating. Here's a pic! There is more to win as shown in the giveaway picture below!

               One additional creation included was the front page of a newspaper that featured highlights of the story. Wouldn't it be fun for students to create something like this for the books they're reading, too?

               This book cries to be read on a 'dark and stormy night' and by young teens and up. With some science fiction, eerily familiar politics and quite gory details, it became a fast read for me. The tension rose page by page until it was hard to stop.  Senior Wyatt Baldwin takes a lead role in the story, along with his brother and stepfather, who have a  relationship that can only be termed "bearable". The parents have divorced and the boys' father has left them penniless and stayed out of touch, too. Wyatt's friends argue often about the most superior monster, but he would prefer hearing the voice of a girl named Jade. Sadly, she's dating a big guy, the quarterback named Nolan, and Wyatt yearns from afar.

    Monday, October 23, 2017

    Finding Stories - Connecting

    Join us on Tuesdays with the Two Writing Teachers and others who post. 
                Brief, hopefully a story to consider in contrast with your own lives. I enjoy talking with people, learning as much about them as I can when we have even a brief encounter. I had a wonderful time at the poetry retreat last week at Highlights with time to visit with others in the group as enjoyable as the work on poetry was.
                Yesterday I posted this picture on FB, with these words: 
      "There is joy found when leaves fall. Now I can see more of the sunset!"  
      And I was reminded of the quote which I have on my refrigerator. 

             You know that I focus on the good things in my life, and that was brought into a new focus last week from my Uber driver to the airport. This driver was a young man with an accent, and I discovered he had immigrated from Togo (east of Ghana) three years ago. He came alone, misses his family, but told me things were going well. And then he said that he was lucky to get my call for a ride. He came from work and was nearby, so could pick me up fast. And he did. He had just finished his night shift at a nearby factory, told me that he worked as long in the morning as he was called for more rides, then slept a few hours in the afternoon, then back to work. He felt lucky. We had a nice conversation on the way, about Denver and the mountains. Enough of a slice to remember, right?

      Sunday, October 22, 2017

      Books To Crow About

                    Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love! Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki who share so much from their own reading lives and support this meme, too.
                 I skipped last week to go on a poetry retreat! Before and since, I've finished quite a few wonderful picture books and a couple of chapter books, still no #MustReadIn2017. I need to get going!

      adult book - 

      While on my flights, I read this on my kindle. It was an interesting memoir about a couple who decided they wanted more than their big house and good jobs. They sold everything and took off to travel, everywhere! Two older friends, a couple, gave them a sum of money in a yellow envelope to give away whenever they felt it best. That is the story of personal insights, of their discoveries in their relationship, their discoveries about others. I enjoyed it and it helped me do my own personal reflection.

      chapter book - Thanks to Candlewick for the ARC!

                There haven’t been many books I’ve read recently whose end brought tears. This is one. I took a long time reading it. It’s long and I’ve had other commitments that kept my time for reading brief. But it certainly isn’t because of the story, which is wonderful. There is a girl, Rose, smart and talented in math and in playing the Bach Suites on the cello. She’s only twelve, but already tall enough that everyone thinks she’s an adult. Why not? She’s tall and acts like an adult too. She’s responsible, does everything a “right” way, practices and practices as she must for a coming important competition. She’s a bit snooty, makes quite a bit of fun of Jane, a neighbor girl who’s constantly asking Rose to start tap dancing class with her. She has to share a special library copy of Charlotte’s Web with Jane, an affront according to Rose. And when walking to the library with Gram, she also has to be confronted with Jane’s older twin brothers, Jesse and James (another story) who hoot and tease and just bother! And then there’s Rose’s own twin, Thomas, much shorter and at least not as smart at academics, although he shows quite a lot of talent in other ways.
                  It’s complicated, really complicated. What Melanie Heuiser Hill is so good at is complications. There is the accident with Rose’s hand, and the pumpkin seed for growing giant pumpkins sent by a friend of the neighbor, Mr. Pickering. There is that seed growing, and the slow growth of knowing the other neighbors helping, the problem with the library book and Rose needing to simply have fun “doing things badly.” The development of the characters along with Rose is admirable, and oh, so enjoyable. In some books, it feels as if I hurry along to find what the main character is doing or saying. In this one, I want to know more about each character, for each is interesting and not always predictable. And that’s the best thing. Melanie Heuiser Hill surprises and pleases all the way to the last page, when I teared up probably because I had to say goodbye, but also because I loved my time spent with this book! Oh, and there’s more than Bach; there’s Tom Petty and “Free Fallin’”. Want more? Read the book!

      picture books -

               A found and never-published text from Margaret Wise Brown, a new book to treasure.  Good morning comes with greeting the sun, the milkman, and paperboy in their early tasks, a Mama bunny with her first cup of coffee. The day begins and one sees a wealth of activities, children playing, people working. When the moon comes up, it’s time for nighttime activities, and so heartwarming to see all readying for sleep, the bees resting in beds, some being read to. Loren Long’s imaginative art creates a warm feeling on every page. 
            Only the musical (and plaintive) words of the title are sung by a little girl, guiding the beautiful illustrations by Jaime Kim to create a yearning, searching, wishing story of a little girl who only wants to be heard, to have a friend. I suspect various interpretations can be made, but that’s the wonder of the book. It’s there to offer hope for whatever is needed.

      Saturday, October 21, 2017

      October Celebrations

           Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others today. Come visit to see how wonderful it is to celebrate all the delights in one's life! 

      I haven't posted since the last day of September, and October, thus far, has filled with beautiful things. I celebrated another birthday, am beginning a new year of my life with gratitude for each day that brings fun and inspiration, new experiences and quiet days at home.  Wishing this autumn is a wonderful one for you! Here's a lovely poem by Joseph Bruchac I recently discovered, shared by Pomelo Books: "How The Birds Got Their Colors." 

      A painted lady migration invaded Denver.
      It was hard to stop taking pics!

      I kept the girls for a weekend while
      their parents flew off to celebrate
      their anniversary.

      Friday, October 20, 2017

      Highlights Beginnings

                 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day In the Life hosts today with a wealth of wonderful advice from Naomi Shihab Nye. Thanks for those words, Leigh Anne. It is a lovely welcome home from my Highlights poetry workshop. wanting to keep that poetry wonder I experienced all week.

                 Yes, I'm home after a long day traveling and will share more from this fabulous week with new and old friends, and leaders Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. The suitcase is unpacked, the books and journals piled on the table, laundry started, grocery list made. Now, time to write! 


      Inside or outside, paths invite me-
      to amble in the forest’s wild
      or ramble in the world of words.
      Take the words and change them
      into what they tell you is a poem.
      The forest quiets my heart;
      the poem makes my heart beat faster.

      Linda Baie ©All rights reserved