Sunday, December 31, 2017

Monday Reading - the new year!

              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 their own reading lives and support this meme, too.

         It's 2018! Happy New Year! And it's my 1600th post! Lots of words have passed through, and books and pictures. It's rather hard for me to believe I've written so many posts. I wrote my #MustReadIn2017 yesterday, didn't really do very well, completed 16 of 26! But, I read more than my Goodreads goal, 364 over a goal of 350! I imagine you will all agree that it's been a fabulous year for children's lit. My new list will have books that just came out, which I have, and still have not read! I'm excited to get started! I also have some of the Cybil's poetry finalists to read or to re-read. You'll find the lists posted this first day of January, 2018! 

      I have a few books to share:

           Ada says toward the end of this book: "Fear and what you did with it were two separate things." Perhaps these wise words can teach all of us? War is a hated thing by everyone in this continuing story of Ada that began with "The War That Saved My Life", but in this story, World War II, horrible as it is, is not the only war Ada is fighting to win. Susan's home has been destroyed and fortunately, though it's not easy, she, Ada and Jamie are allowed to move into the cottage on Lord and Lady Thornton's estate. Luckily, too, Butter the pony gets to live in their stables. Ada's learning, Jamie is happy with chickens and pigs, friendship with Maggie growing, and new challenges appear both when Ruth, a German Jewish girl moves in along with Lady Thornton. Kimberley Bradley has created a story about new ways to make a family when fear and discomfort give way to love and respect. As sad as some parts of our lives are, life can be bearable when family and friends sit right there beside you. I raced through the book, but then held it off for a few hours because I didn't want it to end. 

      It's an older picture book by the fabulous Patrick McDonnell, but I want you to know it if you don't already. I have never read this wonderful fall book and now am happy I did. A little bird appears sad that he's lost and has missed his chance leaving with his flock to fly south for the winter. Mooch the cat, another who proves to be a fine friend, helps the bird on his journey, though Mooch is sad to wave goodbye. It is a simple story that brings deep layers of feelings.
       Another fairy tale brought to us by two great friends, two sheep, who manage to add a third. Unfortunately, this time it's a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and in quite hilarious ways, that turns out to be okay. The relationship isn't always perfect but this time the three work it all out beautifully. With some sarcasm that isn't always understood by young readers (read to my younger kindergarten-age granddaughter), I found it delightful with David Elliott's story-telling and Melissa Sweet's unique illustrations, both always create entertaining picture books! 
         Yes, it's older and yes, Christmas has passed, but I just discovered it at the used bookstore where I work and it is wonderful. With Peter Malone's distinctive illustrations, eye-catching portraits with fascinating details and expressions (in the animals, too), Kevin Crossley-Holland tells the story of Christmas from the POV of all the important players. Mary begins, worried that she and Joseph are 'so far from home' and wonders "Where can I lie down?" The innkeeper shares the ox's stall yet that thoughtful ox says she will be "better off with that silly donkey" who has more straw. There is the star, guiding shepherds and wise men, and angels circle round, too. Herod sneaks in to say he's old to find Jesus, and "rip him away from his mother".  It could be a book for older children and up, and could serve as a mentor text for story-telling from different points-of-view. 

Still Reading:  Both adult books - Badenheim1939 by Aharon Appelfeld, pre-World War II, a town slowly changing to be occupied by Nazis with vacationers ignoring the danger. and have almost finished  The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, a book centered in Paris/Nazi occupation - a good and nerve-wracking story. Next: I'll be reading for the Cybil's poetry and will start Train I Ride by Paul Mosier.

Final #MustReadin2017 Update

       It's been a few years that a group has joined together to choose a list of "MustReads", books that drop to the bottom of the stack for some unknown reasons, books we really want to read! It's a reading challenge led by Carrie Gelson at There is a Book for That. It's both fun and frustrating that new books appear that I want to read first, but the list keeps calling. Everyone chooses their own specific reading goals. I post the list in the top bar of the blog. Most years I add books that again were not read, and then add new ones, too.

         This year I chose twenty-six books and read sixteen of them, enjoyed those I read, will move some to a new list soon! You can access my reviews on Goodreads.
         It's hard to choose favorites because I enjoyed each one of these. I was glad to catch up with Alma Flor Ada's books because she finds wonderful ways to include cultural experiences in her stories that can teach kids about other's lives. I love books that help kids see ways of healing in a tragedy, so thoroughly enjoyed When Friendship Followed Me Home, The Seventh Most Important Thing, and Glory Be. And I love Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and adored the re-telling in a graphic novel. Parched showed frightening circumstances that were overcome and of course, The March Trilogy included those terrible times in the Civil Rights movement. Others not mentioned, awesome too! 

        Thanks to everyone for helping me find good books through your recommendations! Wishing you a Happy New Year of reading!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Looking Behind & Ahead

     Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others today.  It's a good thing to celebrate the pieces of our lives.

      Only two more posts and I will reach 1600 posts, a nice thing to welcome 2018. I have slowed a bit, choosing what feels right each week and much of that has to do with other writing and creating. Connecting to Ruth's words, I realize that there is time to be "steadfast" and also time to "let go". I haven't chosen a One Little Word in a few years, but perhaps it's time to find one that feels good for this coming year.

      Aside from the political news that's kept me reading so I can understand all that's going on, as I browse the photos of 2017, I realize I have much to celebrate. Without a picture by picture, here's a collage of best memories and a brief list. 

  • special moments in nature
  • small things that make me happy
  • many visits to museums with Ingrid and Imogene
  • our visit to Captiva Island
  • the total solar eclipse while visiting. . .
  • my brother and sister-in-law
  • visiting Nathan & Barb who as band parents, feed the band every game
  • visiting Carter, watching him in marching band & at the fair with his photo
  • experiencing one more Highlights poetry workshop
  • our annual family Christmas pic - all on the sofa!
  • the bookstore work is a joy
  • sunsets, lots of sunsets fill me up
        Happy New Year to everyone! From a favorite carol, "May your days be merry and bright!"

Friday, December 29, 2017

Poetry Friday - Leaving the Year

         Thanks to Heidi Mordhorst at A Juicy Little Universe for hosting this final Poetry Friday of 2017, sharing her love of trees. 

          I've been writing all the month to Mary Lee Hahn's challenge of a haiku a day, #haikuforhealing, begun last year after the election. It is a good thing to greet the day, to write words that reflect a small part of this December. I looked through these days, and before even reading Heidi's post, chose a favorite, also connected to trees. I'm lucky to live in an older neighborhood with mature trees, and I look and admire and sometimes imagine them looking like people. And they are the people that always give hugs. 

Here are two: an earlier haiga I wrote this month, and I used a picture taken earlier to write the one for today. 
the trees' conversation,
better than the news

lesson learned,
when looking long,
trees reveal more

       Wishing you and yours a wonderful new year's beginning. From Rilke, my favorite quote: "And now let us welcome the new year—full of things that have never been." 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Poetry Friday - "Family Poems"

Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog is hosting today's Poetry Friday. Thanks, Buffy! Wishing everyone a bit of peace and quiet on this second day of winter. I hope you had a special Solstice celebration, a Happy Hanukkah and will soon enjoy a Merry Christmas.

         I wrote last week about writing for Mary Lee Hahn's #haikuforhealing challenge and today, am inviting anyone to join us if you can. My son and family arrive late Friday night and winter came to us in Colorado with a clichéd vengeance, dropping from 66 degrees Wednesday to snow and 22 on the SolsticeAside from enjoying writing haiku, I've had time to read poetry, too, and discovered this book out this past September. I just shared two other books that are bilingual and trilingual this past Wednesday. Now here is another that will reach many others because it is written in both Spanish and English. 

          Sadly, not too long after this book was almost finished, the poet Francisco X. Alarcón died. He was a renowned poet and educator and a three-time winner of a Pura  Belpré  Author Award Honor for his bilingual Cycle of the Seasons series of poetry for children, among other honors. It is lovely to have this beautiful book of his poems that celebrate the days of the week. 
         I see this as a mentor text to inspire students to write their own poems about the days of the week. It's fun to imagine what they might write! 
In an author's note written before his death, Alarcón says these poems reflect "the multicultural life experiences of many Latino children in the United States today." Other reviews tell that much of his writing is based on his own life, too. He also gives a brief history of the names of the days of the week and how we ended today with our Sunday through Saturday

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Learning About Water

    Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!
       Happy Holidays everyone! See you in 2018!

         I've spoken about working in a used bookstore before. It is a joy to meet so many people who love books and to discover books I hadn't "met" before. One day I had a lovely surprise, a former parent of two students at the school where I taught came in. It was a nice visit and I learned about her daughters, all grown up with careers now. This parent mentioned that one daughter, now Melissa Reyes, had written a picture book. This is that book.
        The story is told in both English and Spanish, the strong voice of Sausal Creek, a waterway in Oakland, California, Melissa shares the story of its importance to the Ohlone tribe, how it was used and cared for. Then came the Spanish searching for gold, more who clogged the creek with waste, who built the town around it, the history to today, and no matter the damage, the creek "still flowed".  Now, today, a group is working hard to restore Sausal Creek to its natural beauty. They're doing things like nurturing seeds from the plants that grew there long ago and caring for the trout that still swim there. In soft watercolors, Robert Trujillo illustrates this history with creative double-pages, sometimes vertical, always focusing the view of this important creek "still flowing". Melissa adds more information in the back matter, "A Brief History of Sausal Creek". Translation is done by Cinthya Muñoz.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Monday Reading Sneaked In!

              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 their own reading lives and support this meme, too.

        Here are more holiday books that I've enjoyed, and a few others. Wishing everyone a Merry holiday wherever you are, whatever your celebrations.

         I'm not sure why I delay reading Kate Messner's books because I always love them. This return to Gianna and Zig and their lives, though a stand-alone novel, is a poignant story of Zig's yearning to reunite with his dad. It is fun to read about the friendship of Zig, Gianna, and Ruby, out garage-sale shopping one day and a woman gives Zig a box full of her late husband's electronics "junk'. Zig loves fixing things, is soon termed "Circuit Man" when he discovers a GPS unit which only needs a little fixing. Then, he and the girls are off geo-caching, soon so meaningful to Zig because he believes caches left by someone called "Senior Searcher" is his father! Through this adventure, Kate Messner expands Zig's story through showing his mother working hard to finish her nursing degree, working at a diner to pay the bills when Zig discovers the money made doesn't stretch far enough and they end up in a homeless shelter. They first spend a few terrible days at the mother's sister who's fighting her own challenges in an abusive husband. Zig's search continues with a few scary moments, and the resolution is both heart-breaking and satisfying. In Kate's hands, each character who even appears briefly, is shown to have a more complex life than one might see on the outside. She manages to show us we all need to find the deeper story. I am reminded of the quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." It's a great book.

          Hoot & Peep stories to me are pure poetry. This time, it’s Peep’s first winter and she has all kinds of questions for her older brother, Hoot. She asks about snow and when “she” will get here, which of course Hoot has to explain that snow is not a “she”, but “a frozen thing that falls from the sky”.  Then, Peep’s questions fly fast, like “Does it scrrinkly scrattle like falling leaves?” Hoot doesn’t answer much because he really can’t remember, but he knows a good place to wait, so they do. Hoot’s sweetest thing is his patience with the questions and that he ties a bright green scarf around Peep’s neck to keep her warm. That small mouse companion who travels right along listening is a fun addition as Hoot and Peep settle in to wait, for SNOW! Lita Judge’s illustrations with Hoot and Peep’s adventure, especially bring smiles when that SNOW arrives. It’s such a happy book!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Celebrating Some Fine Moments

     Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others today.  It's a good thing to celebrate the pieces of our lives.

      Celebrating writing and art and snow!
      Many of you know I'm writing a haiku a day, Mary Lee Hahn's #haikuforhealing challenge started last year in December and now perhaps a tradition. It is one I love. It's that quiet contemplation in the early morning that is so good for waking up. Here's a recent favorite, really a 'haiga' because it's written to an image.

        I shopped in a favorite shopping district last Monday. It happens to be on the street where my husband ran his store, so I've walked this street many times. It holds good memories. My favorite shop is The Artisan Center, not all local, but with all original pieces by artists. The shop and the area are filled with beautiful and whimsical art, one of which is this lion, whose bold, royal look pleases me a lot. 
       Though I do like warm weather, we've gone two months without moisture, so waking to this "coverlet" of snow one morning felt like a big gift. We were in the fifties again today, cold tomorrow, then warm, etc. They say that winter is coming, on Thursday to be exact, and we might have more snow! Happy Holidays to everyone. May your days be bright and if possible, all your gardens be white.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

This Time of Year - Thinking of Trees

      Diane Mayr at Random Noodling hosts us on this Poetry Friday close to Christmas and in the midst of Chanukah. Happy Holidays to all who celebrate! I met Diane at NCTE years ago, but had the pleasure of spending lots more time with her at Highlights this past October!

       I've been writing in one way each day because I've taken the challenge by Mary Lee Hahn to write haiku for the hashtag #haikuforhealing that she began last December after the Presidential election. Some days I've written to a photo, thus a haiga instead. This week I may have broken a rule or more because my response was to three pictures, the three stages of decorating my Christmas tree. 
click to enlarge
enough? more?
 Linda Baie ©All Rights

           My memories around Christmas tree decorating differ. They are funny, adventurous, even old from my childhood. It is one tradition I still keep, but without my husband, somewhat bittersweet. I remember the time we scraped our tree because we drove into the garage (HABIT) forgetting the tree (now trimmed) was on top! I remember wiring a tall tree to the wall because our cat took one look and leaped. There went the tree! I remember going through every ornament and creating a box of "their" ornaments for each of my grown children. 
          And, I remember going in a big flatbed truck into the country with a grandfather and many others to find the best tree to put up for the town where we gathered for a celebration as Santa arrived. The tree was always a large cedar and I was thrilled to go into the woods to search. However, watching the tree come down was a sad time, because the tree would no longer be there to grow. I don't remember if we read other poems too, but that is when my grandfather introduced me to this poem by e.e. cummings. This grandfather went to a local college after high school, one of those small ones where he took further studies. I don't think he graduated, just stopped to help run the family farm. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bios To Celebrate

    Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!
    Three stories that are good to know! from - “Picture books place a human face to historical, political, environmental, and cultural events.” (from Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide: Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms by Marcie Colleen, 2013)

         I've waited a long time for this from my library. Lots of holds means it is much loved. Now I finally get to read and love it, too! "McKinley Morganfield was never good at doing what he was told" begins this fabulous story. In poetic soundbites, Michael Mahin tells the story of the famous Muddy Waters, born in rural Mississippi, his mother left too soon, grandmother raised. His early music was at church, but he also loved the blues, and though his Grandma Della did not ("You can't eat the blues for breakfast."), Muddy found a half-smashed kerosene can, a wheezy accordion and a tired piece of wire. He just had to make music to feel good! Finally, working in the fields in the day and playing at night wasn't enough. He took off for Chicago! A most poignant goodbye is a double-page spread showing this goodbye.

         Muddy kept on, tried to please those who wanted him to play that "regular" blues, but kept returning to the sound of the Mississippi Delta, "the sound Muddy heard in his heart." Muddy has influenced musicians like Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Rolling Stones and countless others according to the Author's Note at the back. "He called up the sticky heat of a summer night, the power of love, and the need for connection in a world that was so good at pulling people apart." It was poetry, like these words by Michael Mahin. Evan Turk's illustrations swirl through the pages like Muddy's music, colorful, graceful, and heartfelt. Mahin has added a brief bibliography and "further listening" at the end.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monday - Some Favorites

              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 their own reading lives and support this meme, too.

       Today, I'm sharing one wonderful n-f book  thanks to Candlewick Press and a few other great picture books!

                Thanks to Candlewick Press for my copy of this book. My first thought after finishing this book refers to the author's note. In it, Sally Walker writes: "History and research are all about making connections. Each time a person discovers the Sultana's story--even though it may be many years after the disaster--a connection is established between that person and the people who were on the boat." To learn about the victims and those who helped in the rescue (sometimes the same people) means here in the 21st Century we readers are offering a thought and sympathy to those who experienced this tragedy. We will remember!
                Sally Walker clearly did extensive research into this disaster of 1865, nearly the end of the Civil War. I learned a lot about the prisons of that time, the terrible conditions (though in the past I have read Andersonville) and at this time the release, what was termed "paroling", of soldiers. She explained the way that steamboats were constructed to be faster and due to new ideas of boilers, but less understanding of how they worked, this steamboat Sultana was doomed. There also were those greedy men in charge who wanted to board as many soldiers as possible, overloading the boat, because they were paid by the government for the numbers carried. Although this did not cause the explosions, it did mean that many, many more were killed because of cramped conditions. 
                Numerous people were followed in the story, from prison to survival or death, in the journey--finally--home from the long years of war an imprisonment. And when Sally found more of the stories of these men, wives and children, she also shared that information. Yes, there were also passengers on board in cabins, families and couples heading north. 
                The book is extensive in the story, written in chapters with pictures and/or maps of the topic or the times. I suspect it would be best for 8th grade and up. It's written in chapters with extensive back matter: author's note, source notes, bibliography, and image credits. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and it made me wonder who will do the research and write the stories of this year's hurricanes or fires, this year's tragedies? 

         Many of you know this story by Mac Barnett, and now I do, too, thanks to Candlewick Press. How can I describe it except to say that the mouse is swallowed by the wolf where it meets someone. That someone generously welcomes the mouse, and the rest of the story is one you'll have to read yourself. Like Sam and Dave Dig A Hole, there are mysteries to solve and when read aloud, those listening often say "Wha..?" In this book too, it happens, but I think it's a more satisfying ending; at least I hope that's what those words mean! Jon Klassen's sketches are always great to show the story. I loved the book!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Good Day Everyday

     Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others today. Thanks for giving yourself to this community, Ruth. It's a good thing to celebrate the pieces of our lives.

      I agree with Ruth, "hope is sensible" and I found another quote that feels good to me at this troubled time in our country. It is anonymous: "When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time." I am thankful and celebrate the good things in my life that help me begin each day with "hope" for more ahead.

Celebrating this week that:
         I'm loving a poetry challenge started last year named #haikuforhealing. Each morning begins with quiet writing time. Holding on to that moment of contemplation is a comforting start to my day.  Here's one for all of us celebrating:
                                               attention paid,
                                               my breathing slows -
                                               then I smile
       I got a perm and I am finally getting used to it. It's great that I no longer need to blowdry my hair.

        Imogene and I visited the Museum of Nature and Science for the first time in a while, and it was just as fun as always. As we leave, Imi has to do a bit more fun with the rear-screen part. Here, she's 'holding' hands with an astronaut.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Making Life Different

           Lisa at Steps and Staircases is hosting today. She shared a unique challenge last week via Mary Lee's post which you can access here! Be sure to stop by to see Lisa's poem and everyone else who shares. Thanks for hosting and for the inspiration, Lisa!

I've had fun writing this past week for Mary Lee's challenge, #Haikuforhealing starting December 1st, mostly posting on FB and twitter. But I did decide to give Lisa's challenge a try, too. Here's what I created! I am not a great artist, yet I enjoy the sketching that I do. And I'm looking forward to seeing how others responded to this challenge. 
When life feels like a bouncing ball
with UPS and DOWNS each day,
Quick! Grab it at its high point
and shoo the DOWNS away!

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved