Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Reading Winners

          Visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.  
           I'm devoting a post to a new poetry book for a blog tour HERE!

           I did finish A Train In Winter by Caroline Moorehead, a deeply researched history of 230 French women eventually sent to Auschwitz, of their close friendship, the terrible time there, the heartwarming acts that helped them. You can read more of my review on Goodreads.

       A white sharecropper's son, Little Charlie Bobo, finds himself caught on a mission to pay a debt to the plantation owner on whose land his family farms. He's already known as a smart and sensitive boy through earlier scenes, so the tension mounts as Charlie becomes more and more entangled in the overseer, Cap'n Jack's scheme to catch a family of escaped slaves. The story deepens as Charlie, who tells the story, reveals more and more how much he hates what is happening, but feels trapped. Christopher Paul Curtis tells still another story of slaves escaped and free and their passion to keep their children free. The story, told during a two-month period in 1858, is based on a true story about the time of the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 and involves those across the border in Canada who come to any black person's aid when fleeing. It's told in the southern dialect of the time and uses some offensive words like 'darkie', though authentic. Though a book full of tense scenes, Curtis knows how also to give some relief. There are some endearing and humorous times, too. Charlie is a character that will be remembered, and students can benefit from good conversations about the story.

         Beautiful message, comforting and brief. All of us are stronger together! You have to read it to experience the strength of the illustrations and the few words. My youngest granddaughter and I spent a lot of time looking at all the people Carin Berger showed. 

Monday Reading - New Poetry - Blog Tour

          Visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what everyone is reading and sharing. 

     “If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It's a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it's a lot more fun.” 
― Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Margaret Simon, blogging at Reflections on The Teche, a poet friend I hope to meet someday, has recently published a poetry book that sings of her home in the Bayou Teche. It echoes the mantra of Richard Louv above, celebrating nature and inspiring everyone to get out there to see, feel, hear, taste and smell nature!

          I have a few friends who are prepping for a school start in a few weeks. Yes, it's nearly August and some schools begin earlier than can be imagined! This time, I am almost the final part of a blog tour for a marvelous new book that's just right for summer-into-autumn experiences, poetry beginnings, and being inspired by nature wherever one happens to live. Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape offers adults and children, teachers and students a mentor text to wander through, learn of this new environment, then to sketch and craft personal poems from the ideas included.

         What's inside: 
Gorgeous illuminating photographs by Henry Cancienne

Margaret's introductions of different things in the Bayou like Spanish moss, eagles, great blue herons, and alligators, followed by her poems beautifully illustrated by Anna Cantrell. 

Double-page spreads with brief support, lined and blank ones for writing one's own poem and on the right side, room to sketch.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Poetry Friday - Homecoming

            Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core hosts this final Poetry Friday in July. The cicadas have arrived here in Denver already. Can autumn already be on its way? Catherine is prepping for autumn by sharing the new poetry book, Great Friends, by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, poems for reading during morning announcements in school. And she's giving away three copies! Thanks, Catherine!
        The last time I posted on Friday was when I was anticipating our family trip to Costa Rica. We have gone; we have returned. The trip was wonderful. I shared many pictures on Instagram and Facebook, but won't do a travel slideshow here, promise. I did seem to lean to water and sunset pics along with family, no surprise when the ocean is near. Here is one response after return.

the view from our house
beautiful art on one building, color reigns
This Place Came Home With Me

I brought the gritty sand that clings -
rough to the hand while sweeping 
out the luggage -
and one olive shell tumbling ’cross the floor.

In the evening quiet,
I hear the ocean’s roar,
and the pool’s splash,
smile at being paid in sand dollars.

The squirrels in my trees
turn into monkeys, 
staring, stretching for higher branches.

Inside my eyelids, colors pass,
bright, bold art - 
sky and people created.

I packed the hugs, too,
top pocket of my bag,
brimful when arriving home.

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

      I would have brought the lovely people we met, but they wanted to stay! They will star in another poem, I think.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Non-Fiction Stories of Courage

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!  
          People young and old find courage when needed. Here are two books that show stories of courage.

          Hands Around The Library tells an inspiring true story of demonstrators standing up for the love of a library. 
          In January 2011, during the unrest on a Friday when thousands were demonstrating for better lives, this moment captured the hearts of people all over the world. When there was a threat of vandalism, thousands of Egypt's students, library workers, and demonstrators surrounded the great Library of Alexandria and joined hands, forming a human chain to protect the building. They chanted "We love you, Egypt!" as they stood together for the freedom the library represented. Some of these in the group were NOT friends, yet that love for this building that housed BOOKS was something they all agreed to cherish, and protect. 
       There are real photos of the human chain at the back, along with added information and sources. Susan L. Roth's stunning collages bring this story to vivid life. The book will be a wonderful addition to classrooms and/or school libraries. 

          The Promise shares both a heartbreaking story when one sees how people, this time children, were treated in the concentration camps, but it’s also a heartwarming true story of how one promise to stay together was made by two sisters and carried out in the face of terrible danger. Before their parents were taken away, they gave the eldest, Toby, three gold coins hidden in a shoe paste tin.  And, they asked them to promise to stay together always. In Auschwitz, those who fell ill and could not stand for roll call were often taken away, never seen again. This time, when Rachel became sick and was taken, Toby did what she knew she had to do, she used those coins to bribe a guard in order to enter the sick barracks and find Rachel. It also includes a small part about others who were with these two. The story is based on a true story, written by Pnina Bat Zvi, Rachel’s daughter and Margie Wolfe, Toby’s daughter. There is powerful truth in the illustrations by Isabelle Cardinal, who uses human faces in her digital collages. It’s a book for older kids, one that can be part of any study of the Holocaust. There is further information in the backmatter.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday - Sharing Favorites

          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.  
           My family's trip to Costa Rica was marvelous, but also a week filled and little time for reading. Here is what I completed, mostly before I left. 

            Thanks to Candlewick Press for this ARC! I do know that the definition of ‘turnkey’ is ‘a keeper of the keys’ and this time, Allison Rushby has written an exciting story of those whose job is to ensure that all souls buried in the cemetery stay at rest. Flossie Birdwhistle is the Turnkey at London’s Highgate Cemetery. She, who died at twelve, is quite young to be one, but each Turnkey also has an advisor and Flossie’s is Hazel, the fox. Plus, she has a number of friends who are Turnkeys at other cemeteries, and are helpful and kind. This adventure means she needs all the help she can find!
            Flossie’s work is made especially difficult by World War II. The time of the London Blitz is one filled with danger, and often Flossie is found at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral watching and worrying. When Flossie encounters the ghost of a German soldier carrying a mysterious object that seems to exist in both the living and spirit worlds, she becomes suspicious — what is the officer up to? Before long, Flossie uncovers a sinister plot that could destroy not only her cemetery but also her beloved country. She asks for help from ghostly friends. 
           The story includes all the usual ups and downs, showing especially Flossie’s thoughtful ways as well as her sorrow to have first lost her father, whose ghost, too, is involved in the story. Flossie also finds the courage to act in spite of the limitations of those in the spirit world. Pairing a ghostly world with its possibilities and restrictions and this time in history when many fought hard to save their countries creates lots of interest for further learning. Each page made me want to discover more! 
         There are some details of the death and destruction by the bombing, so the story is possibly best for ten years and up. 

         Reading this caught me trying hard to understand how it can be for the powerful social hierarchy in Pakistan to be so cruel. Amal, a Pakistani girl loves learning and going to school, is smart and dreaming of a future different from those in her village. Her thoughtless remarks to the local wealthy landowner are taken as disrespectful (though I can hear readers everywhere shouting “No!”). Sadly, she lands in the contemporary practice of indentured servitude because she’s embarrassed this man in front of others and her father also owes him money, like so many others in the village. This is not unlike the “company store” that’s written about in mining towns here in the U.S. as far as the power held because of debt.
            Amal’s time as a servant itself shows her complex emotions as she learns and sympathizes with the stories of those other servants and even of the mistress whom she serves. Saeed does not stay with only a few stories, but through description shows a culture with rules that are not to be broken, in relationships, about gender, and the responsibilities of the eldest in a family. The power of education underlies the story as Amal uses what she has already learned to make change. Her small and large acts of resistance are to be celebrated as her story and that of others emerges. This will be an important book to share and discuss with middle school kids.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Poetry Friday - Anticipation

           Poetry Friday, with Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children this week! She, with Janet Wong, are celebrating a new poetry book for school leaders, helping them greet the day. It's Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud and it, like all the other books from Sylvia and Janet, is filled with poets you know and their poems this time for the best greetings to the day. Thanks, Sylvia for hosting, and both of you for this new book.

           My family and I leave for Costa Rica on Saturday! I'll try to visit as many posts as possible but may not make it to all this time.        
          Here's a poem of anticipation.

Mapping Vacation

I consider the photos
with inviting ocean blues, 
Note the azure view! --
a roadmap to the days away
chooses me,
echoing sea waves of the past,
chasing a burst of family time
signaling days called slow.

It’s nearly time to go.
Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Monday Reading - Favorites!

          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.  

           Middle-Grade books are not always my favorites. I realize their simple plots are necessary for younger readers, but while I enjoy many, I prefer older YA novels. This time, however, I knew that Laura Shovan's new book, just out, would be good. Her first novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, is marvelous and so creative. So now, Takedown, about wrestling? I have a nephew who wrestled and while I liked watching and rooting for him, it isn't a favorite sport. 
           From the first two chapters, I'm captured by the lives of Mikayla (Mickey) and Lev, two opposites, two who will be thrown together by their love of wrestling. Both are hanging out in their lives at the beginning of middle school; both are pre-teens. And the friendships each thought were set in cement begin to crumble. This pre-puberty time means change, and it's no different for these two. For most of the book, wrestling on a more competitive "travel" team fills each of their lives, along with family and school and friendships. Inside, Mikayla wishes her father would pay more attention to her own wrestling as he does for her two older brothers' wrestling. Inside, Lev wishes his older sister would pay more attention to him as she used to do. 
          These are only two of the troubles these two young middle-schoolers face. Mickey stays strong in her quest to be a great wrestler, but it's a fight often with unhappy consequences because she's a girl. Lev's nerves continue to be an inner struggle so he finds that writing and doodling in a notebook helps. His poetry is important, though he hesitates to share.
           Laura beautifully lets Lev and Mickey share their thoughts in alternating chapters, each time making me want to find out more. What will Mickey do when she discovers her best friend Kenna wants to quit wrestling and move on to other fun in school, and with other friends? "Kenna studies my face. Now she has this secret life with a vocabulary I know nothing about. Until middle school started, we were always together. How different could we be after just a few weeks? A lot. I tell myself." What will Lev do when he discovers Mickey, a girl, is going to be his practice partner? "I follow Mickey to the gym. "My sister says you're thinking about quitting."/"What do you care?"/"You're good," I tell her. "For a first-year Gladiator, you're really good." Laura manages to help us find sympathy for both and to root for them as they navigate their lives that aren't so simple anymore.
           The basic plot is there, making us readers ask what will happen to both these young people who are growing up and finding that what used to be isn't necessarily going to stay. These people in the lives of Lev and Mikayla are regular people who struggle in their own lives. From old friends to beloved family members, we come to care for them, too, and that makes a marvelous story of a few months in the lives of two middle schoolers. I'm very glad that Laura wrote about wrestling, and Lev and Mikayla, too!

          It seems that all the books I'm writing about today share a common thread, the way we look at things, the way we think about ourselves and about others, those like us and those who are not like us, except perhaps inside where the feelings lie.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Poetry Friday - Swap Goodness

          Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Thanks, Tricia!

          As I wrote last month, it's quite a wonderful thing to find poetry gifts in one's mailbox, thanks to Tabatha Yeatts, whose idea this was several years ago. Today I'm sharing my swap "wonder" from Brenda Harsham who blogs at Friendly Fairy Tales, and who seemed to know exactly what I love. Here's a picture I took just this week, then the lovely illustrated poems sent by Brenda. She also included a marvelous journal "with" sticky notes, a pen, a quote magnet, and some ladybug magnets. Wow!

          THANKS, BRENDA!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Non-fiction Picture Books Celebrate

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!  

             This is one of my amazing discoveries at the Denver Public Library summer book sale. I try hard to limit myself to one bag. They offer thousands of books, hundreds in the children's section. I weeded through many and found quite a few "wonders". 
             For our Independence Day, this book filled with poetry about all our states is perfect. It is divided into eight sections, each one a geographical grouping from a part of the United States, like The Great Lake States or The Northeast States. Within those groups lies a colorful map showing the states and page (or pages) with small blocks of basic state information, like its birth date, capital, nickname, etc. 
              The glorious part arrives then, the poems. You will recognize names of current/still writing poets, like Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Nikki Giovanni and Lee Bennett Hopkins himself, and then older well-known poets like Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, and Myra Cohn Livingston. Then there are the illustrations where Stephen Alcorn uses broad and powerful strokes of color to accompany the poems and sometimes to surround them with his impressions of grandeur. They are gorgeous, as are the poems. 
              How do choose just one, perhaps only from my birth state, South Carolina and then growing-up state, Missouri and now, Colorado? Or favorite states like Oregon when I visit the ocean.  I will start with "New England Lighthouse" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, a region I have spent little time in, but wish I could. "It's a turret of lanterns;/a castle of lights--/a compass for ships/as they pass/through the night."  From the Great Lakes States, Gary Snyder writes "Pine Tree Tops", kin to my own mountain state of Colorado: "pine tree tops/bend snow-blue, fade/into sky, frost, starlight." In The Plains States, I connect to "Midwest Town" by Ruth de Long Peterson because that's exactly where I grew up "Farther east it wouldn't be on the map--Too small--but here it rates a dot and a name." Near enough to me in Denver to visit often, I found "Santa Fe, New Mexico" by April Halprin Wayland: "to see surprising piles of clouds,/melting, moving/mounds of white ice cream". April continues to write "Look here what I have found/out here/in this gallery."
         Lee Bennett Hopkins celebrates the collection in a lovely introduction, in which he writes: "Our nations is so exciting, so multifaceted, as are poets who hail from every walk of life--who sing of cities where we "sprawl-in, sit-tall-in," areas where "wheat whirls with joyful wind," where a "mail boat chugs to the Cranberry Islands" of Maine."
The Washington D.C. page, just beautiful for today!

          Enjoy your Independence Day wherever and however you can.

Monday, July 2, 2018

It's Monday - Books I Loved

          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.  
           FYI - I just discovered that blogger is no longer telling me about comments that need moderation. I have missed so many comments these past weeks! I'm sorry that I didn't see them & reply to them. Thanks to all who came by!

              I was in college, then grown when the times of the protests against the Vietnam Conflict happened when families split apart throughout this long and politically uncomfortable war. I knew about those fleeing, even remember trying to help a refugee center, but now I know from Bui's memoir, there is so much more to escape for refugees, and then for their children growing up in the midst of two cultures. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is a memoir about Bui's parents search for a better future and a search by her to understand her parents' past, better to understand herself, now a new parent. She documents the story of her family’s escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. It begins with her giving birth, and wondering why her mother cannot stay in the room with her. It then travels to her parents' childhood then marriage and anguish with each other, within the politics of their country. It is a heartbreaking story of sacrifice for children, of courage that is difficult to believe anyone has. Yet Bui's parents did have that courage as so many from other parts of the world do, to save themselves and especially their children. Putting the story into graphic pictures makes it even more startling, but also more memorable. Bui has given us her heart in this book, "her" story.

On my "MustReadIn2018" list!
        Will's brother has been murdered; Will has a gun. All he needs is to go down the elevator floor by floor, out onto the streets with his brother's gun. He has to follow the rules, doesn't he? As he descends, the elevator door opens to reveal someone new who's going to be riding with him, to help him follow those rules, or not. This story shows the dilemma, the challenge, the heartbreaking reality that hangs heavy for Will. Jason Reynolds asks that we come with him into the story. It's an elevator ride that all should remember. "Yeah, but this is ridiculous." I (Will talking)  replied, palms wetting. "Might as well relax," Buck said. "It's a long way down." 

        Translated from the French, winner of the Prix Saint-Exupery, the best-illustrated book of 2004. A young boy dreams of the perfect color blue. He loves to paint and draw and wants to find that blue! Not only does he take off on a fantastic journey, first to his own paintbox, but then to the nearby art museum, and off to the ocean, then South Sea skies, more places than one can imagine! The story holds a surprise and gorgeous pictures of this boy and his search. Jean Fran├žois Dumont fills the endpapers with splotches of blue: indigo, cobalt, lavender, Prussian, glacier, and more!