Thursday, June 28, 2018

Poetry Friday State of Mind

       This final Poetry Friday of June is hosted by Denver friend Carol Wilcox at her blog, Carol's Corner. She's introducing a new poet and sharing some wonderful poems that offer good ways to live one's life. Thanks, Carol!

"In a day and age when all manner of things are believed against contrary evidence - hey, why not believe there's a little good in everyone. ~ Robert Brault

          I am writing. I am calling. I want everyone to have a seat at the table. And I am trying to find good things to appreciate in life. It has been a tough week, again. I suspect I should be used to it, but I'm not. Here are two poems I've written this week, the second adapted to the season from another poem, whose author is anonymous. You will understand my various states of mind when you read. 

news floods the airwaves
the only water in sight —
barren days
Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

        State of Mind

For the books I read,
the fireflies' glow,
the picnics in the nearby park,
the home to which I go,
the lamps I light late summer’s eve,
the quiet wind sigh of the leaves,
the shout of children in evening’s glow, 
this is the summer
that I know.
Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

   Enjoy your Independence Day with all that it means to us here in the United States!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Non-Fiction - Gifts from "Other"

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!  
         These times are challenging beliefs, and I wonder how many people could benefit from reading the myriad of picture book biographies of those they might know little about, people that often are considered not to be included in the mainstream of the U.S. Here are two recent books out in the past two months, about one immigrant and one Native American who both contributed so very much to our country.

          I've known something of Irving Berlin's life before, that he wrote Alexander's Ragtime Band, White Christmas and God Bless America, but Nancy Churnin has managed to write of his life from his poor beginnings as an immigrant in NYC to his extraordinary successes as a composer in a way to introduce him to young children, or those readers who want to read a short biography as a start to research. He came from Russia, in a poor family when his father died when Irving was twelve, he had to quit school to try to find ways to earn pennies to help. He loved music and singing so much that when one time he felt so full with music, he burst into song. People liked that and threw pennies. He was excited, soon was noticed by a restaurant owner who hired him as a singing waiter. The story really is a "rags to riches" tale. With a friend, he wrote his first song and they sold it for 37 cents! Irving never had formal music training, used a "transposing" machine eventually to write his compositions. The book shares a few songs I didn't know he wrote, like the score of Annie Get Your Gun that has "There's No Business Like Show Business", and a most famous one is "White Christmas. There are many others.
          There is an author's note and a timeline added in the backmatter.

       Joseph Bruchac's books have taught me much about Native Americans, and I am glad to share this new picture book that will be a marvelous introduction to Chester Nez for younger readers. Bruchac has previously written a book about this same topic for middle-grade readers and up. 
        Like so many Native Americans, Chester Nez left his home, his reservation to attend boarding school where he was forced to abandon his heritage and language in order to integrate with the white culture and to learn English. He refused to give up! Years later, that decision turned out to be a good one, for Chester and other Navajo men like him were recruited by the US Marines to use their native language to create an unbreakable military code. That language they were told to forget was needed to fight the war, and it worked! 
        Many full-page illustrations include Chester's early and close connection to home and family, shown in Amini-Holmes’ textured art, both emotional and sometimes seeming other-worldly, with a touching double-spread showing his feelings when he returned home from the terrible experiences in the war.
        The backmatter includes a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

It's Monday - The Wow of Stories

          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.  

         Thanks to Candlewick Press for the Arc of The Button War by Avi, out June 12th.

          These boys in a small town in Poland already occupied by Russians learn the harsh realities of following a leader they cannot refuse as war nears even their remote village. The main character Patryk is only twelve and hangs out with six others, one of whom reveals a glimpse of his terrible anger one time as they “played” in the forest. Patryk finds a button which competitive Jurek wants, who nearly clubs him with a tree limb to get it. After he sees it, Patryk knows he should fight back more, but the pull of the group keeps him doing things he knows are wrong and dangerous. 
         It’s hard to believe, but these villagers live so remotely, they have just heard of aeroplanes, have never seen one, until that “clap clap” noise rises over the village and bombs the school. They all survive, but their hated schoolmaster and one young boy do not. That horror begins the realization that the outside world, the war, and the Germans will come to them whether they want them or not. They begin the “button war”, the game to see who can get the “best” button from a soldier’s uniform. The tension does not leave the story as the group surges on, even after one is beaten while trying to steal one from a soldier who lives in his home. The “pull” of Jurek’s dares and the idea of winning won’t allow Patryk to stop, with terrible consequences. The surrounding story of war shows effects on many. Their beloved forest is burned to prevent hiding out. The invading Germans commandeer homes, and some decide to leave for other places to live. The village no longer feels like home but a sad part of the war.
          The story centers on Patryk’s thoughts, who knows his actions will have consequences yet is unable to pull away. I imagine reading this with students and holding important conversations about group influences and consequences. Avi has written an upper middle-grade novel that fascinates through its setting and the underlying questions of morality.

       Summer's coming and the kids at Wolf Creek Middle School have actually been given an assignment for the summer: to add to the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project. Nora Tucker is looking forward to practicing her journalism skills while doing that assignment, imagining she will be reporting about hot summer days with popsicles and swims at the creek. But even before school's out, two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison. Nothing is going to be the same. Things become more and more complicated when a new girl moves to town just a few weeks before the end and she's black. She's also a fast runner, the other thing Nora is good at. As said, it's complicated. 
        Through text messages, letters, poems, news stories and comics, Kate Messner has created a story that I found hard to put down, wanting to turn to the next page to see how the members of this community, including Nora, her family and friends, reacted to what becomes a lockdown. This time of no playing outside during the hunt for the escapees created some scares and made a few people act differently than Nora expected. It made me wonder how communities everywhere might react to this kind of situation? I enjoyed it very much.

       Yes, it's as wonderful as many are sharing. We're using more words than Minh Lê and Dan Santat did so we can share this new, marvelous story. A young boy is dropped off at his grandfather's home and he does not like it. With a glum face, he enters and the two try to watch some TV, not understanding each other's language as well as each other's likes and dislikes. It's a dilemma that is also shown in the different meals each eats for dinner. Finally, connections are made through the boy taking out his sketchbook and drawing what to me is a hero (with a wand!). Grandfather's face lights up and off they go, drawing together. That's all I'll tell. You'll need to find the book and read what happened next! Filled with color and extraordinary action, it's a book for all to help consider how we see others, without really looking, or perhaps how by really looking.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Poetry Friday - Swap Fun

           Poetry Friday is over at Michelle Kogan's site, here! with a beautiful introduction to Margaret Simon's book just out three days ago, Bayou Song. Margaret blogs at Reflections on The Teche. Thanks, Michelle!

          I have only words of appreciation: to Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference for the idea of poetry swapping, to all the poets (of which there are many) who continue to send what I think of as "slow-mail smiles", small packages arriving in one's mail with wonderful words. 
            This time, my swap begins with a lovely poem with a special collaged frame from Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise. It feels just right to start the summer with a poem about a poet, doesn't it? Thanks, Linda!

Here's the text:

A poet

The poet doesn't invent. He listens.
                                            ~Jean Cocteau

A poet listens with all the
senses —tree, moon, flower, child, dance. An artist 
in a playground--each morning, recess. She doesn’t
simply write words…she can invent
nuances of knowing. She
begins a poem and even the pen listens.

Happy Summer, Everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Two Poets Who Loved Nature

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!  
           Both the following books fill with words, in the stories and the illustrations! I am reminded of part of the poem "Eating Poetry" by Mark Strand, 

"Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.  The rest is here!

       I enjoyed the way Natalie S. Bober chooses Lesley, the oldest child of Robert Frost, to tell this story about their lives and about the life of her father. It begins with their arrival in NYC after spending over two years in England. Frost has been writing, has published two books in England, but that day he discovered that a U.S. publisher has bought his books, and they would pay him, too. He did not get paid in Europe and now he's making money as a poet! Leslie’s story is sprinkled throughout with her father’s words, when he went out into the fields, when he took the children out and taught them the names of all the flowers, when he told them about metaphor: “To think the country and not know/The hillside on the day the sun lets go/Ten million silver lizards out of snow!”  
      An author’s note, special quotations, and numerous poems are shared at the back. Illustrations are filled with details of happy times mostly out of doors. It’s a wonderful introduction to this favorite poet. 

           I recently discovered this older picture book about Pablo Neruda and beautifully illustrated with Julie Paschkis' illustrations. She has embedded his words into every possible aspect of the pages while Monica Brown writes of his love of so many things, the sea, rocks, children's play. She writes "above all things and above all words, Pablo Neruda loved people. He joined in with others fighting for justice for workers "who struggled for freedom".  Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. In the author's note, Monica Brown shares that after Neruda's death in 1973, his poet friend Yevgeny Yevtushenko, wrote: 
                              . . . he carries his poetry to the people
                              as simply and calmly
                              as a loaf of bread." 

Monday, June 18, 2018

It's Monday - Reading Recap

          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.  
Goodreads Link
Goodreads Link

           I skipped last week because I had family visiting. It was a fast visit, but oh, such fun! Here are two adult books I read and links to my reviews on Goodreads.

7 of 34 #MustReadIn2018
            The friendships hold the story together as only John Green's stories do and the thoughts of sixteen-year-old Aza continue to challenge her abilities to keep those friendships. Aza never meant to reunite with Davis Pickett, a friend from elementary school. And he's a friend who's wealthy but whose father is on the run from the law. And there's a hundred-thousand-dollar reward to any help that can be used to catch him. Daisy is up for the search and soon realizes that Aza and Davis like each other, a lot. It's complicated, mostly because of Aza's struggles with thoughts of certain things that will kill her, germs from others that will swim inside until it's too late. She cannot stop them. When we hear others share worries, we say things like "think of something else". Or try to use our words to show intellectually how the worry is not possible, even silly. From the book: "Thoughts are just a different kind of bacteria, colonizing you." It is hard to imagine how Aza felt and the story helped me understand, will help others, too, and I hope will help those who have similar life challenges. Some parts are heartbreaking; others made me smile at the empathy shown within the friendships. Great book, as so many have shared.

          All the books I'm sharing including the above are books that examine challenges that happen in children's lives. There is some hope in each, yet there is also sadness. I think each one will be valuable to share with students and teachers who know their classes well can make that decision. 
            Brown-toned illustrations denote sadness, and at first, I thought this was about some kind of abuse. In a way it is, but it shows the good and bad of the father in the son’s eyes, who tells this story. As it meanders through his thoughts, the mother’s sadness is evident, too. The boy says fog clouds her eyes. But there are some parts of happiness, the mother hugging when a scary thunderstorm happens, the father and son wiggling ears together. And then there is the end when the reader realizes that this is visiting day and the father is in prison. It's a book for everyone who may have a child with the same experiences and for others who need to know how it feels.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Finding The Words I Need

         Poetry Friday is hosted by Karen Edmisten this week, at her blog of the same name! Thanks, Karen! And thanks for sharing the wonderful poems of love!

       For more than a year much of the news has been bleak. For over a year, nearly every day there is still another event that for me and some people in the U.S., even the world, has produced outrage. It's been a tough time and continues to be.

       I discovered this book from someone's recommendation although I don't remember who so I can say thanks. It's been a delight to read the poems within, so many celebrate life while others decry situations. It is worth reading bit by bit, poem by poem, re-reading favorites you've bookmarked.

         I was delighted seeing the numerous poets, poems and some quotes included, like  "Praise The Mutilated World" by Adam Zagajewski, also known as the 9-11 poet, translated by Clare Cavanagh, "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold, "Good Bones" by Maggie Smith, "Refugees" by Brian Bilston and "Barter" by Sara Teasdale, a most favorite of mine. Life does have loveliness to sell!
        I know you'll recognize "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye, "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry and "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou. If you cannot find the book, enjoy these words I've shared. We can stand on and with them, can we not? 

       Here is one more favorite that speaks loud to me at this time in our history:


Ella Wheeler Wilcox

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.
Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.
          And toward the end of the book: 
"There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in." 
Leonard Cohen

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Celebrating Goodness in The Week

      Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share. I want to celebrate what you can do with children, in this case, my grandchildren. Recently, a friend told me that she flew out of state to spend time with a grandchild so his parents could take a short trip. All he was willing to do was play with his Ipad or watch TV. She was quite upset, wondered why they didn't just hire a sitter since he was not interested in going anywhere, playing anything, reading books together, etc. My own granddaughters do play with different apps and they do watch TV, but mostly they "play" with toys, or imagine different scenarios in that kind of "play", or when something comes along that grabs their interest, they create, too. 
        I shared the following review earlier this week and had already read the book to my youngest granddaughter who will be in first grade. The girls spent part of yesterday and overnight till after lunch today with me. First, scooters around the neighborhood, then after dinner, this is what we did, after playing numerous games of Uno. 

      My review: I wanted to be sure to share this wonderful older book (1955) from Beatrice Schenk de Regniers and terrific Maurice Sendak. I can imagine kids taking off with their own ideas after reading this. These two ask the questions, then act out the silly answers, and in rhyme, too. What can you do with a shoe? "You can put it on your ear/on your beery-leery ear; You can put it on your ear, tra-la./Or wear it on your head/Or butter it like bread/Or use apple jam instead, ha ha." They move on to say this is nonsense and put the shoe in its proper place. There is more: what can you do with a chair, a hat, a broom and on. It is hilarious and my youngest granddaughter and I laughed and laughed. I hope you can find it and use it to find more items to brainstorm lists of "what can you do with a . . .! 


Scootering around the Block 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

#PoetryFriday - Wings & Things

photo-Linda Baie
Poetry Friday is at Whispers from the Ridge with Kiesha Shepard this week and she has a beautiful poem that invites us all to step inside to sing along her "Summer Song"! Be sure to visit to read everyone's poetry offerings!
        My youngest granddaughter Imogene's kindergarten class studied insects all year and I shared David Harrison's new poetry book, Crawly School for Bugs: Poems to Drive You Buggy a few months ago in this post

       Now I've discovered Carol Murray's Cricket In The Thicket: Poems About Bugs, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I just had a bit of time to share it with Imi's teacher and copy a couple of poems for the class, wish it had been around all year. Imi came home talking often about insect parts, knew them all, and the differences among the sexes, the work they did, and on. I was impressed, as I am by the creative way Carol has integrated what's fact with clever wordplay in her poems. Melissa Sweet's mixed-media style adds to the invitation of the book to smile and learn and enjoy these animals some think are scary!
         Twenty-seven different insects float, sit, fly and crawl along the pages while basking in the poems written about them. The gorgeous dragonfly becomes a "mini-glider in the sky" while those wonders of playthings, Roly-Polys, "lodge in camouflage,/all rolled up in a ball,/but a gentle nudge will make them budge,/and then they start to crawl." Also called "pill bugs", the book tells "they are actually crustaceans, like shrimp and crayfish, and have seven pairs of legs." 
        A favorite double page shows a caterpillar, the larva of the monarch butterfly, munching on milkweed, poisonous to birds, those pretty green pods seen in the wild. The page includes a cocoon above, then butterflies flying away into the air on the right. Lucky they are! Carol writes, "Most usually, I'm hidden/when attackers choose to dine,/and birds don't like my milkweed taste. How very, very fine!" 
         Insects on the "to-be-avoided" list of many are included, too, like ticks and mosquitos, cockroaches and termites. Carol acknowledges the harm they do in the poems but also includes quite amazing information as in Par-tick-u-lar-ly Awesome: "No wonder that the tiny tick/seems so abundant, often thick./The female lays (now here's the scoop)/five thousand eggs--in one fell swoop." 
        I've only shared a few examples from the wide variety of insects in the book. Those beloved are there, too, the honeybee and the firefly, along with the title crickets plus grasshoppers and praying mantises. Melissa Sweet's art enhances every page, adding to parts of her collages snippets of print that have words concerning insects. It's a wonder of a book that will excite anyone who wonders about those flitting, crawling animals that are now showing themselves this spring. Here are two pages I loved and learned from. 
      Extraordinary adaptations show off throughout the book, like this spotted water beetle who have a way to breathe underwater by carrying air beneath their wings. Carol Murray has cleverly adapted her poem to a television show you may recognize in her title, "Water Beetles Got Talent" and in the words: "I creep and crawl and glide the sky,/I'm begging for your vote./I've got a lot of talent,/I can flip--and fly--and float!"

       There is additional information about each of the twenty-seven in the backmatter. I imagine that any classroom would love to use this as a mentor text for non-fiction research and writing poems. It's a terrific new poetry book.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Books - A Favorite Thing

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 have read Biblioburro by Jeannette Winter, Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston, My Librarian Is A Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs, and now, this marvelous one about the woman who created the first bookmobile in the U.S.

       Mary Lemist Titcomb was born in 1852, fortunate enough to have parents who allowed her to continue her education, and the story tells that as her brothers began leaving for careers like medicine, Mary wanted to do something, too. Few careers were open to women at that time other than nursing or teaching. Fortunately, the field of librarianship was just emerging and Mary was excited about the idea of working with books and sharing them with others. There was no formal way to become educated in this new career, so Mary moved to Concord, Massachusetts and began working there as an unpaid intern. She never stopped fulfilling her passion for the library. The book is detailed, including numerous photos and documents about Mary's career. She moved from place to place, never failing to succeed in improving what libraries meant, to her and to her patrons!
          Mary ended her career as the head of a brand new library in Washington County, Maryland, a mostly rural county. Some did not like that a "newcomer" was hired. Some thought it silly to even open a library. Rural people didn't have time to read! When it opened, crowds arrived and never stopped. Mary seemed to have found a real home.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

It's Monday - Terrific Books To Share

          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.  
          First, a link you might know, but wanted to share in case you missed it. Here's a great list of "15 picture books to help you raise kind, tolerant kids" from

        This just out May 22nd. I didn't read it fast, found it fascinating, sad, filled with the main character Noah's thoughts, that soon-graduated boy who has been breaking swim-competition records, is being scouted by colleges, suddenly has a back injury. Hm-m, is there more to know? And would teens reading this understand what's really going on? I bet many will and then pass this on as a terrific book! 
       Adam Silvera, in part of his review, writes: "A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us." And it is about friends, and what happens when we think they've abandoned us. And it's about a couple of betrayals, between friends and by one acquaintance. Noah has these "strange fascinations" that become all too fantastic and true, but maybe not. Finally, they change into a few real answers that have been sought by him, knowing he's moving into his own adult life, saying: "I'm beginning to suspect a plot wherein my Strange Fascinations have been conspiring together to remind me that this world is both very real and full of very real magic." 

         How can I know that many teens will like this? I only hope that those who will find a kinship with Noah will read it and re-read it again. There are good things here in this story. Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC.

        In his refugee camp, the biggest thing Joseph wants to do is ride the one bike in the camp. But it is too big. He learns to repair it, then waits to grow so he can ride! Each time he sees the bike, the owner tells him "Tomorrow. Hey!" Then he moves to America, and among all the new, interesting and sometimes scary things, there is a girl whose hair goes "whoosh" who rides a red bike, one that is just Joseph's size! The events after that will fill your heart. Illustrations are black-outlined and full of feelings and color.
       Back and forth mother and daughter go, the mother is willing to work hard picking coffee beans at ten cents a pound so that her daughter can go beyond the mountains and see the world, go to school. The daughter is torn by her decision to leave, seeing her mother's hands "coarsened and scratched." She says "I will stay with you." Later, "Your back, Mama. I can see, How it bends and stoops in pain. . . I will stay with you." Then, Mama tells how she is bound to the village, implying lack of education. Finally, "I will come home to you, by and by." With these brief words between two who love each other, the story shows beautifully the poignant parting, the sacrifice made. I read it to my young granddaughters and they understood and realized that others lead very different lives than they do. The full-page illustrations are wonderful, filled with the present heartbreak, poignant in that final double spread of the two hands pulling apart.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Celebrating Good Things Always

      Celebrating today with Ruth Ayres and others who share.  

"It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life."  Tolkien

           This week filled up fast, and I was busy with gardening, the bookstore, writing, servicing the car, LIFE! I am wishing for a "do nothing" day as Sam described, probably where I'll read all day! Some of my "do nothing" days also mean work in the garden, a pleasure in the time spent in all that beauty. This week, the swallowtails arrived and I happened to be out to see them.  

       This was the girls' final week of school so I had both of them on Tuesday. First, we visited our favorite Indie, The Tattered Cover, to choose books to give their teachers and to browse and discover new ones we'd also like to read. And then we just came back home to sign the books and to read some of the library books I already have, to play. Here's one book to love that I shared last Monday. Author Kyle Lukoff takes a step further in describing those collective animal names of which we are fond. I love ravens and crows, so this page is a favorite. Illustrations by Natalie Nelson are wonderful.

           I worked all day at the bookstore Thursday. We have a new and large donation from a young man who was told to clean out his room! He had so many fantasy books, Harry Potter to Redwall to Riordan's books and on. We are grateful! And we're starting a June sale of half price in Children's books, ready for Summer reading! Here's a small taste!