Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This "frabjous" Book

art by Sarah S. Brannen
          Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!

         Sometimes books are so good that I just want to tell readers to go find and experience this book all by yourself. It is terrific! But I will share a bit. It is a picture book that tells about some main parts of Lewis Carroll's life. The subtitle is key, "A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice". Begin with the endpapers, blue words on blue background, Lewis Carroll's word gifts: gimble and gyre, callooh! callay!, snicker-snack and curiouser and curiouser, and more. (Spell check is going wild!) 
        The book opens before the title page with the final two verses of the poem "Solitude" by Carroll which can be found here. It ends "To be once more a little child/For one bright summer-day." Kathleen Krull writes Carroll's story in prose form, injecting his own words in delightful fashion. For example, even at the beginning, she tells of his joy when leading adventures with his brothers and sisters, "'galumphing'" along the leafy wonderland of the English countryside. Their 'burbles' of delight would brighten the 'tulgey' wood around them." There is also a part about riding in a boat with Alice and others, with Carroll beginning a story about a young girl named Alice who fell down a rabbit hole. And it is a wonder to see how Júlia Sardà illustrates that pack of cards, the "lobster quadrille", and the "Mad Tea Party". Her art fills the pages with whimsey and color. There is a double-page spread of the beginning of Alice In Wonderland with hints of all the incredible adventures to come.

         Lewis Carroll was one of eleven children and the book states he was the oldest, though I found in other research links that state he was the third oldest. I found conflict among several sources. Kathleen Krull does include a source list, an additional note, and a marvelous glossary of all the words included in the text with their definitions and possible origins/backgrounds. They are color-coded according to the text origin. One example: "'Snark'" is "an imaginary animal, perhaps combining 'snail' and 'shark'. Carroll always claimed he had no clear idea what it was."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My Experience Broadens My Knowledge

       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
         I had cataract surgery last Thursday. I've put it off for over a year but knew it was worsening and I had to do it. I was scared but I did it and now I'm so pleased. Each day, and now today, it's totally better. I took a drive last night and can see everything without that funny ring around the lights! My insurance paid for nearly all of it and my doctor had a coupon that limited the after-care meds to sixty dollars. 
        I tell you this because my mind before and after has been questioning and researching. What if my doctor did not work hard to help patients with the price of the meds? I was told that this one bottle of drops would have been more than three hundred dollars! And I have three different prescriptions for drops! I have been watching the news and interviews from people who are paying so much for medical care because they don't have insurance. I am alarmed by those who believe that the Affordable Care Act, or something similar, is not what our country needs. 
          And then I discovered this site! There are others, too. The highlighted words are: "Of the more than 39 million people worldwide suffering from unnecessary blindness, more than half are due to cataract - which can be surgically treated. Most of these people live in the developing world, where poor nutrition and limited access to eye care can mean a life limited by needless blindness."  This article tells of a doctor who's restored the sight of thousands of people across Europe and Asia.  Here is a link to an organization that helps people in the U.S. who do not have the coverage for this surgery. Yes, the U.S. has people who need the surgery and cannot afford it, too. 
         I guess readers can call this a Public Service Announcement. I am grateful for my experience, but want everyone with a need to have it, too! 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Monday Books to Celebrate

        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 with us by taking time to support this meme!

       I have some nice books to share, including one more from #MustReadIn2018 list!

       It is fiction but based on true stories of woman spies in the world wars supported by extended research by the author. And it is one that’s both hard to read and equally hard to put down. Swinging back and forth between a woman spy in World War I and a woman searching for a cousin survivor (she hopes) in World War II, Kate Quinn makes it very hard to switch at the end of each section. She is an expert at leaving one clinging to the cliff and at wrapping up storylines with perfection.
       From my #MustReadIn2018 list!           
          Things don’t always turn out the way one dreams but sometimes the way they turn out are wonderful anyway. There is a girl named Crow and the man who found her named Osh. And there’s Miss Maggie, and though they don’t live together, they are a family strong as any you might know. I will also remember Mouse, the cat who’s part of this family, who turns up at just the right moment like good cats do. Perhaps this is Crow’s story, a baby sent out in a skiff and found across the sea. Yet, it is everyone’s story who searches for who they really are.
        It seems lucky for a baby to survive a voyage alone in a leaky boat, but she did. No one knows from where she floated. As Crow gets older and in the story she is now twelve, she begins to notice things and to ferret out the mystery that was her beginnings. There are both bad people and good people in the story, just enough to make one shiver with fright or with a smile. Lauren Wolk’s beautiful and clever language made me smile more than once. There are books that Crow says “rang bells in her heart”. There is life’s advice that Osh tells Crow: “an island is one thing when a man has a boat, quite another when he doesn’t.” And there are “pocket lunches” which is food enough to fit in one’s pockets. Like so many who have already read this book, I adored it, am sorry I have finished it.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Celebrating Courage

      Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share. 

           It was a bookish kind of week. Actually, I guess most are! I helped a friend choose many used books at the bookstore to finish decorating her house for listing on a 'vacation' site. It was fun! We chose books that might be interesting for someone from out of town, short stories that they might enjoy reading just one, and some 'just right' picture books for kids visiting, too. The grand girls came on Tuesday together and we made a first stop at the library to choose a few books they wanted. Imogene found two books she already knew from school: Here Comes Teacher Cat and Niko Draws A Feeling. Ingrid is very into graphic novels and found a short one she had time to read in the brief time they were with me: The Amazing Crafty Cat, full of ideas for projects! I always celebrate books!

          But today, I'm celebrating courage. I had cataract surgery Thursday morning. My daughter took me and spent the rest of the day and night, and I had the first post-op Friday am. Perhaps I've never admitted it, but I don't like being ill at all. Yes, I do all the required appointments, but I've put this off for a couple of years. It still wasn't very bad, I could have waited again, yet I knew it was a needed thing and the doctor said it would be better earlier. So I gritted my teeth and planned it. And it's over, and I'm celebrating. I have some things to do this week like drops, etc. I will have more post-op appointments. It is already improving. I'm elated that it's behind me instead of in front of me. Whew! Celebrating feels very good indeed! 
No matter when I'm always imagining. I
don't know what this machine is for, but
took a picture because it reminded me
of R2D2, thought it might just wake
up and start beeping at me!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Books about Habitats, large to small

art by Sarah S. Brannen
          Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!

         It's a marvelous, though sometimes sad, thing to explore our Earth. I'm sharing three books today that do that in special ways. I'd also like to share a blog I've been following from The Nature Conservancy. Here's a link to the Cool Green Blog, this link has The Ultimate Winter Wildlife Guide!
        The following books begin with a talk from Mother Earth herself, then tell why she could be called "Mother Ocean", and finally, the ways that the circles of life can change, this time for the better!

        Earth tells her tale in this "nature autobiography" with facts and humor. Among other names, she says you can call her "Planet Awesome" She considers the planets her siblings, Pluto, yes! Pluto, is now a family pet and the Milky Way, billions of cousins. This clever use of a family analogy will help kids remember. The moon is her best friend and there is a "life" timeline of all those billions of years. Other real facts but with a side of humor are tales as a baby when she was a 'hot mess' and that cold and rainy period after her favorite time with the dinosaurs. Some added information is at the back, with sources. Cartoon-like art by David Litchfield shows just what the brief text explains. If you want an introduction to the basics of Earth's life, this book will be terrific. It's clever, cute and full of facts!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

It's Monday!

        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 with us by taking time to support this meme!

       Last week was warm, then yesterday we had more snow in one day than we've had in over a year, 5 or 6 inches! It was a lovely day to be home and for skiers up in the mountains, but perhaps not for those who had to work. Nevertheless, it is needed!  Happy Reading!
          It’s so hard to move, hard for everyone but especially kids who have to change schools. This time, it’s Lily and her sister who must face that first day at a “new” school. Neither feels very good, but their mom just thinks it’s first-day nerves. Sadly, it isn’t, so Lily spends the first recess with new kids and then throws up playing four square, some on Darby’s shoes, a girl that might have been a new friend.
           As the year moves on, Lily does become friends with Darby who lives on the other side of the lake where Lily has moved, but when Darby’s long-time friend Jill moves back from London, the days take on new flavors. Jill takes on her old role as the boss and getting the others in a lot of trouble. There are ghosts, name-calling, a nice teacher and a not-so-nice recess lady, and strains of friendships we adults may not always realize happens. Some fun comic illustrations (supposedly done by Lily, budding artist) add to the fun, ghost stories surrounding the lake and Darby’s house (being written down by her dad), and lots and lots of frogs add to the storyline. One thing I enjoyed was seeing the parent attitudes, some looser than others, but often with a humorous slant. Lily was talking to her mother about how much she hates this new place. Her mother claimed a wider perspective and said she knew things would get better. Lily thinks, “I don’t know why Mom thinks that I don’t have perspective. I learned it in art.” Another great thing is when Lily finally decides to make decisions for herself and even helps Darby make changes, too. It felt as if anyone reading it could gain from “her” perspective!  
          Often, making friends doesn't take long but learning to keep them while not agreeing on everything they want to do is a challenge. It’s also not easy to speak up when one just wants to crawl into a shell. With Lily’s strong first-person 
voice, Leslie Patricelli has written a book that will connect with young readers and work well as a read aloud. The story is for older elementary, maybe third through fifth.  Thanks to Candlewick Press for the arc!

 I wanted to share this wonderful and brief poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston before January ends. We have begun the year and this is a lovely picture book that celebrates all the months. Will Hillenbrand fills the pages with one highlight of the month, like a box kite in March, picnics in July.

Celebrating Three New Things

      Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share. 

         I'm sure that many of you are not ready to celebrate snow (or more snow) but today I woke to our first big snow of all the winter! It's been a strange winter, was 70 degrees last Thursday. Mostly I've been wearing light coats! It is a wonderful thing to have this moisture, and it's supposed to snow all day! 
       Saturday was a warmer day and two things filled my heart. He's off to finish his senior year at Swarthmore but emailed to say he wanted to have some time together before leaving. This is a former student with whom I keep in touch. We had a couple of hours to talk about what he's doing, thinking, what his plans for the rest of the year are and possibly future, too. We exchanged new ideas and book titles along with old memories. It's a beautiful memory added!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Nature's Poetry Friday

            Kay McGriff at Journey Through The Pages hosts Poetry Friday this week! Among other wonderful poems, she's sharing a blessing for writers!

      One could be negative and say I'm stuck, or one could be positive and say I'm on a roll. Saturday and Tuesday I posted about the daily walks I've been taking and I shared pictures of my discoveries. Wednesday I shared a non-fiction picture book about the painstaking work done by a scientist in the field, this time, a "new" island off the coast of Antarctica. Time, curiosity, imagination all play a role in my quest, along with a love of nature.

       Then, after a couple of days of clearing shelves and rearranging my office, I found an old article I had saved from the New York Times, "Finding Zen in a Patch of Nature". It feels like a small extra "push" to keep going, see what more I can find and learn! 
        From this article: "You can live a perfectly happy life having never heard of Shakespeare, but your life is in some ways a little diminished because there's such beauty there. And I think the same is true of nature. Much of it is useless to us, and that's O.K. It's not true that every species that goes extinct is like another rivet off the plane and the plane's going to crash. We lost the passenger pigeon and the U.S. economy did not tank. But we lost the passenger pigeon and we lost some of this remarkable music made out of atoms and DNA."

"The Earth has its music for those who will listen."  George Santayana
on my walk to the library

Winter’s List

shadow tableaus

sunshine days
winding paths
wandering ways

patterned rocks
fallen cones
birds in flight
flutter zones

bits of snow
lots of freeze
grass rustles
in the breeze

rusty leaf
loss of fall
acorn stash
squirrel’s mall

rotting log
insects wait
hidden lives

time to see
outdoor fair
wonders wait
in open air

 Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Living Space, New Discoveries

art by Sarah S. Brannen
          Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  
From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!

                I don't remember who shared this book recently but I'm grateful I read the post, then ordered it immediately from my library. It is so interesting, a wonderful story of NEW earth, a new habitat to study. Thank you!

        Loree Griffin Burns begins the story with a young child reading with his mother. Immediately intriguing, the reader is not introduced to the volcanic eruption that spawned this new island near Iceland, but to the scientist/child who became an expert on it, especially about its insects. His name is Erling Ólafsson and when he was fourteen, a volcano nearby erupted and an island emerged. That island is eventually named Surtsey. Burns explains the background of the name and also shares that she will include Icelandic names and their pronunciations occasionally. Surtsey comes from the volcano's name, Surtur, the Icelandic God of Fire, thus "Surtur's Island". 

What I liked: 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Daily Slice Search

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


        I wrote about this same topic last Saturday, celebrating my daily walks. Yesterday was a grey day, full of snow in the morning and bitter cold. Luckily the sun did appear and my daughter and granddaughters came to spend the afternoon, just hanging out and visiting. It was a sunny day after all.
        This morning, still cold but I was determined to get out and continue my walks exploring the various parks within my neighborhood. There are many and this time, a short drive brought me to Crescent Park, a bigger park with a hill built in that I hadn't walked up yet. I make it a goal to look for beauty and surprise, and if I take the time to "look long" (see poem by John Moffat here) I do find something to love. This morning, I found, sometimes in my imagination!

a gathering

a place to sit

Monday, January 15, 2018

It's Monday - More Great Books in January

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 with us by taking time to support this meme!

 In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, to work to continue to realize his dream, here are two recent important books:
        I read Citizen by Claudia Rankine and discussed it with my book club this past week.

    I want to be sure you know about this brief and wonderful story in verse which I reviewed for Poetry Friday here.

Here's what I've been reading, new and older, all terrific!
first #MustReadIn2018 

           Just as many have written, Tumble & Blue is a delightful story. All based on a mysterious legend including families near the Okefenokee Swamp. This one includes a red moon rising and a golden gator who will grant good luck to the brave soul who faces him. Unfortunately, two different families are represented and the end result is disaster but not for all. Some are blessed, some cursed!                                                  Eventually, it's up to two young people, Tumble & Blue, who must solve the questions that fate has handed down to their families from many years past. They have good intentions, and become friends with ups and downs, too, yet there are moments when I wanted to applaud and moments I wanted to send them strength. They are brave, make mistakes, and perhaps will become good examples to kids who read this adventure.

           A young boy loves the sparkle and shine his older sister gets to wear, in clothing, in nail polish, and in a bracelet from a grandmother. She doesn’t like it, thinks boys should not wear such things. They’re only for girls! As the story goes, the family is supportive and finally, the sister is too when she sticks up for her brother who wears a shimmery skirt on a library trip and gets teased. It may be an opening to talk about differences and choices. The story is rather matter-of-fact and is improved by the sweet illustrations.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nature's Invitations

       Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share. 

          I walk most every day. There are so many parks nearby to choose from, so usually I choose one and explore it all week. Some are near, but others I drive to, and then park in a different spot from which to walk. I feel lucky that our city has so many. I don't feel comfortable going alone to a foothill, edge-of-forest area because of the coyotes, but these inner parks are beautiful, too. Here are some celebrations for this week. 
foamy water in the spillway from the stream


seed pods 

sun on the ice

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Poetry Friday - Learning About Others

   At Bookseed Studio, Jan Godown Annino welcomes everyone to Poetry Friday. She's sharing a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday will be celebrated this coming Monday.  Thanks for hosting, Jan! 

         There have been a few times recently when I am sad to be no longer teaching, no longer able to share beautiful writing with my students. This is one time when I will have to settle for sharing with former colleagues, telling them that they must get this book in order to talk about feelings of friendship and race. Many of my students, pre and early teens, wrote about self, and those who stare. Here is part of one poem:

         Your face holds no expression.
          You stare out, blank eyes.
          If only we knew when
          your throbbing heart
          bleeds, dances, or breaks.

          You allow us to see nothing.
          I wish it was different.

Irene and Charles tell a story with poetry in their new book, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, of a boy’s and a girl’s inner feelings, about self, feelings about each other, universal kid concerns and deeper racial questions. Through sharing parts of those feelings, about what might be termed “safe” subjects, these two kids learn about each other, learn that they have a few common likes and dislikes. Maybe they can even be friends?  It is a good path but doesn’t start well. Irene and Charles (the authors use their own names as they tell the story) are forced to work together on a Poem Project: As partners are chosen, Irene thinks: “you-never-know-what/he’s-going-to-say Charles/is the only one left.”  And Charles: “She hardly says anything. Plus, she’s white.”

I read the book to my granddaughters this week. They are Ingrid, eight and Imogene, six. Imogene is perhaps too young for all the poems but when we came to the poems about hair, her response was that everyone should know not to touch anyone without permission, and Ingrid, with hair like Irene, “long and straight--/a curtain I can hide/behind “ laughed and said, “that’s true, I can.”  Charles’ words showed how angry he felt when someone patted his head, said “It feels like a sponge.”  Then, Charles patted that person’s head, said back, “Your hair feels like a mop.” The girls laughed, said, "That’s good, he took up for himself. He didn't stay quiet.” Some might say this book is only for older kids, wa-ay older, yet the girls took what connected to them at this time, and will understand and think about more as they re-read it.