Thursday, November 29, 2018

Poetry Friday - Edward Hopper

           It's time again for Poetry Friday. Thanks for hosting, Carol Wilcox, a few blocks north of me, at Carol's Corner! Don't miss her post, a wonderful one about verse novels. 

          I am fortunate to have the time to work at the used bookstore where I volunteer. If you already don't know, it's a store that's been running for nearly fifty years, a non-profit 501 (c) 4, first started by a small group of women who thought the community should have a bookstore! One also can become a member, though it's not necessary, and as a member, one receives credits, for the fee per year and for books donated. Thus, I find a lot of books that one could say are 'free'. Recently a book about Edward Hopper was donated and I snapped it up, am enjoying reading about his life, learning about his career from beginning to the end. Its copyright is 1983. I have written a few poems using Hopper's paintings. Each one inspires a story, doesn't it?  Now inspired by the book and one of Hopper's favorites, Here's one of my poems.

after Edward Hopper’s Gas

My Uncle Bill walked into the picture,
shutting down the tanks
of his gas station
at the edge of town,
closing at dusk,
homebound for supper.

What only I can see 

is the fireworks stand
at the back,
knocked together wood planks,
red, white and blue bunting
draping the table's front. 
Sometimes I got to help,
my life's favorite paycheck –

You also cannot know

he retired when the big stations
took over, 
in the big towns,
with the big prices.

That's when everyone

in this small town
had to drive twelve miles,
no longer could say
"fill 'er up",
but had to pump the gas themselves,
while missing my Uncle Bill.

Linda Baie (c) All Right Reserved

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Books - Stories We Never Knew

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

             I've had this book for a while, just had not read it yet, but now, wow! It is the 2019 Orbus Pictus Award Winner, announced this past week at the NCTE convention.

       I am not a big football fan, have never heard of Ernie Barnes the NFL player but I now know I've seen the paintings of Ernie Barnes, the artist, possibly because of seeing art with a student years ago, who wanted to paint sports heroes. I am no longer sure of the name, but I remember the brilliant full-of-action work of Ernie's paintings. Now I know some of his story, too, from this book by Sandra Neil Wallace.

       Ernie Barnes grew up in North Carolina, loved to draw, and even drew in the mud when he was young. He carried a sketchbook everywhere. In his home in the segregated south, no one told him how to make a living as an artist, but a note at the back said a weight-lifting coach discovered him and made him an athlete.  He became a football star, earned scholarships to college, eventually ending in the NFL.

       One review says that his "work has influenced a generation of painters and illustrators and can be found in museums and collections, such as the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the California African American Museum."

       One thing I loved in this story is that Ernie's parents, while in the south kept from many public places like art museums, knew that the arts were important and that Ernie wanted to be an artist. His mother took him to work with her some days so he could see the art in the home of a wealthy lawyer where she worked. There are others who gave him courage to continue doing art like his art teacher, even a coach who kept fining him when caught sketching during football games (thus he kept going anyway)! 

       In the final game of 1964, a rainy clash, Ernie was newly inspired when the field turned to mud. "Painting mud." He finally decided to give up football and quit. It was a courageous act which left him broke until he presented himself to a meeting of the team owners, asking them to hire him as the official artist of the American Football League. His brilliant idea worked; he was soon exhibiting and selling his work in New York galleries, the success achieved from those early days of drawing in mud.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Monday Reading - Special Books

          Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who post their favorites.
          I had the great fortune of reading two marvelous chapter books this week, two you shouldn't miss.

Thanks very much to Candlewick Press for the ARC of this book, out early in November.

         I taught thirteen-year-olds, connected to this strong voice of Jimmy immediately and certainly understood his need to go hide out in a bathroom stall at the funeral home (which he did several times). This is a wake for his cousin, a cousin that pretty much made his life miserable every time they were together. Now Jimmy's mother says he has to give a brief eulogy at the funeral tomorrow. Can things get any worse? He also is stuffed into last year's dress pants because there was no time to get new ones. Arranged by chapters that are titled/words from Jimmy to show coming advice, like "Family member will be the first ones to make you feel out of place" and "You'll be surprised at who shows up", I had a tough time putting this one down. 
         Jimmy can't find one thing good that Patrick, his cousin, did or one memory that didn't end in ruin. Each chapter returns to those memories. It is painful to read about out-of-control Patrick and also out-of-control parents along with a few other adults. One continual light is Patrick's sister, Sophia, deaf, the one person who seemed to understand Patrick and certainly loved him. As the memories and the coming speech compound Jimmy's worries, he also tries to understand what really does happen at wakes, and while some parts are sad, other people show their true forms no matter the tragic circumstances. At the funeral, faced with this challenge, words come out that makes everyone gasp: "Patrick was kind of an asshole." You'll need to read this book to find out the rest of his words and what he shared he learned, something for us all. 
          Adam P. Schmitt's first novel is a poignant story that perhaps all parents and teachers should read to learn if they've been missing something in children in their lives.

       You must experience this book and Jonathan Auxier's note at the end, but wait to read that 'after' you read the story. The writing is beautiful and all I'm going to do is share a few quotes. It's a wonder of a book! You can also see a bit more from Auxier at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, some additional words about the writing and some sketches he made.

     "And even though they had eaten nothing, the girl still ended her day with a belly full of story--which sticks to the ribs even better than mutton."

      "Nan and Charlie stayed in the room all through the afternoon and into the night.
Just being quiet and things like that."

      "'So what if you are a monster?' She squeezed his hand. 'I wouldn't have it any other way.'"

        And here are four picture books I also enjoyed thoroughly.

        Thanks also to Candlewick Press for this sweet Christmas picture book from Michael Morpurgo and Kerry Hyndman that may connect with all of us with longing for home. This robin, brave and persistent, hears a calling that he cannot resist. Traveling over mountains and sea, in snowstorms and escaping hawks, Kerry Hydman's illustrations show the struggles of this bird, the sweeping and harsh terrain surrounding the flight along with other flocks he later joined, to return home. The ending is deliciously wonderful as he finds "her" and his home, welcomed by the people who live there, eating their Christmas bird cake. The story does have a happy ending and reminds me of the movie several years ago titled "Winged Migration", showing the struggles and the success of birds flying their long journey to HOME. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Poetry Friday - Evening Theater

          It's been a poetry week filled with great words from NCTE (from afar for me), and lots of food, poetry there, too! Our host this week is Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. She's back with a fun post of all her special adventures at NCTE here. It includes a little bit about Irene's and Charles Waters' book Can I Touch Your Hair?, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko earning a Charlotte Huck honor. Congratulations all! And thanks for hosting, Irene!               
                 Find all the poetry goodness at Irene's post today here with a sneak peek at Laura Purdie Salas' new poetry book and a giveaway!

         We've had unusually warm weather this week, 50's or 60's every day, but still cool at night. That warmth means the kids are out playing all over the neighborhood, trying to get in as much "outside" time as possible, considering night comes at five. I've shared before that my mail comes very late so that usually means walking down to the bank of boxes near dark, and often, it still isn't there, but I like the final short walk and the "evening theater". Thus Monday evening inspired this. 

last sky pink,
basketball’s sweet swish,
Mom calls “Supper!”

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

Ta Da!           Last week I hosted and posted a giveaway of this new book for bedtime by Rosemary Wells and a signed print from it! Here are the pictures of the pot of names, and the winners I drew. Thanks to everyone who shared a favorite bedtime book or lullaby. I learned some new ones from you!

Congratulations Robyn Hood Black and Diane Mayr! 

If you message or email me your addresses, I'll send one prize and the other will be sent by Candlewick.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Monday Books - People Everywhere (& horses!)

          Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who post their favorites.

Thanks to Candlewick for a copy of this book by Robert Sabuda, a pop-up artist extraordinaire. If you have some child who adores pop-ups, this is a marvelous one showing 10 different horses and what they are doing on the farm: running, jumping, bucking, drinking, grazing, pulling, playing, sharing, resting. For little ones, there are extra things to look for on each page, plus the surprise pop-up. 

Two examples!

          It's quite wonderful that we have authors and illustrators telling about people in the world we may never have heard much about, perhaps a little in passing. These following books celebrate adults and children we need to know. I am thankful to be able to read about their lives.

             In a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, Wab Kinew writes of native figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington. He's done it in a rap song, with this message used as a refrain as each person takes his or her place in the book: "We are people who matter, yes, it's true; now let's show the world what people who matter can do."  The illustrated paintings by Joe Morse also celebrate these people page by wonderful page. It includes figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not- so-widely recognized. The brief bios inspire and additional information and portraits are included in the back.

         Oh, wow, do I love these illustrations like corrugated cardboard reminds of mud. There's the 'No-Go desert under the stretching-out sky" where a sister and her two brothers create a bike, from whatever they can find, "the best thing of all in our village" she tells. The bike and the kids' excitement steal the show on most pages, except when mentioning the 'fed-up mum' (perhaps they used a couple of things of hers for the bike?). Don't miss the author's and illustrator's notes at the end that illuminates their intent. Ms. Clarke writes: "The girl and boys in the story love their patchwork bike just as much as a kid with a brand-new, expensive BMX bike might love theirs--or maybe even more." This an award-winning book out of Australia.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Poetry Friday Is Here - With A Giveaway

Poetry Friday is here! Welcome to all! 

        I have a special giveaway today, a new book for bedtime by Rosemary Wells and a signed print from it! I assume most of you know Rosemary Wells, author of so many sweet books, ones my children grew up with, and now my grandchildren love them, too. We especially love the adventures with Max and Ruby during the holidays. 

      I love this book so much that I wish I could photograph each page to share with you. As evening comes, Rosemary has written a lullaby with what she shows are the seven steps of bedtime: Eat supper, Put away toys, Take a bath, Put on pajamas, Listen to a story, Hear a good-night song, Drift off to sleep. They are not written that way, of course, but shown in the lullaby, a line and a picture at a time. It begins with "The owls and the crickets are singing together", that beloved evening sound welcoming day's end. In rhyming lines, Rosemary shares the happiness of time with dad playing a song on his fiddle: "May the noises of evening be gentle and airy." and with mom reading the bedtime story: "The morning is hiding behind the next cloud." If you are the kind of person who sings, I imagine that anyone reading the story could sing it instead of reading it. With sweet illustrations, the book will soon be a favorite for young children, a snuggly ending to their day.

       The opening immediately brings a smile:

The owls and the crickets are singing together.

The night wind has taken the moon for a ride.
The first rain of summer is bending the heather
as soft as a feather, I hear it outside.

The Print you will receive.

      I will place your names in a basket and draw two! Yes, there are two giveaways. I will send one book and print and the publisher will send the second one, US addresses only, sorry. If you'd like to win the prize, please leave a comment sharing a favorite bedtime lullaby, song or book. I'll announce the winners next week. Happy Thanksgiving to all, however or if you celebrate. I hope it is a restful one as well as tasty!

      A big thank you to Karen Walsh at Candlewick Press for this giveaway opportunity!

      One last thing! I've read this book to the granddaughters. It made me nostalgic to remember all the bedtime books and lullabies I've enjoyed with babies and young children, mine included. A recent quote I found touched me, wondering if it's not only for these sweet bedtime moments but for time with everyone in today's fractured world. By Arnold Bennett, a British Author of the early 20th century: "Ninety percent of the friction of daily life is caused by tone of voice." 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Books Tell Truth

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

I am grateful for Michele Knott who shared this wonderful book earlier HERE! It is still another inspiring biography of this woman named one of "The Most Significant Americans of All Time" by Smithsonian Magazine in 2014, according to the author's note at the back. 

           One year when I taught, my students studied biographies and one assignment was to discover a little-known person in history, research her or him, and create a scrapbook of that life as if they were the persons they chose. One of my students chose Sojourner Truth. Now I wish I had that scrapbook to look at again. Most of what I remember is that she had accomplished so much that took great courage, like walking away as a slave and being helped by some abolitionists. I know that my student would have loved seeing this picture book.
          As the story evolves, the illustrator Daniel Minter chose to create a poetic page in the same style every few pages, serving as a comment on what has occurred or what's to come. It begins with “In Slavery Time, when Hope was a seed waiting to be planted.” 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Monday Reading - Best Reads

          Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who post their favorites.

        Thanks to Candlewick, I've read this latest book by Lindsay Eagar, out in October. I have previously loved Lindsay's Hour of The Bees, then Race To The Bottom of The Sea, all three realistic family stories of girls struggling to overcome personal (inside family) challenges, brushed with the magic of both believers and non-believers. In The Bigfoot Files, there happens to be a television show that follows and documents those thought-to-be-crazed searchers and believers of beings in our world like the Loch Ness Monster, or Bigfoot! Twelve-year-old Miranda Cho had always believed it all, believed her mother's obsession with monsters, her life filled with talk of sightings, overnight camping trips with others using night vision to capture a first look, and stories from her mother she asked for with the words "Tell Me A Monster." At twelve, a skeptical, want-to-prove-it Miranda has emerged, especially when her quirky mother, Kat, embarrasses her before a friend, now lost, and hides unopened bills and notices of foreclosure in a silverware drawer. Her eyerolls and words of disgust say it all. She wants proof like every scientist. Miranda agrees to go on one last creature hunt and plans to prove once and for all that her mother is wrong, wrong, wrong. It's time to grow up and be a real mother. 
        Detail by detail, I felt the sadness and tension of a young girl who really just wanted a mom who remembered to turn in library books, who didn't drive a crazy-looking "Critter Mobile", one who paid the bills. Sadly, she also wants a mom who hadn't driven away her father. Miranda tries so hard to be perfect. She's an A student, she's recently been elected to be Student Council President. And when she needs inner strength, she pulls out one more hair. In this final trip that goes terribly wrong, Miranda learns her mother's own belief, one that it appears Lindsay Eager loves teaching all of us readers, that "some things are true whether you believe them or not." It's a terrific story with love for all kinds of families.
         I also am grateful to have a copy of this wonderful book from Candlewick, just in time for holiday gift-giving, for those you know love poetry, OR a gift for yourself. Publisher at Nosy Crow, Kate Wilson, remembered a book she had as a child filled with poetry, one she still has, from which she loved poetry. She wanted to create a new book filled with poetry too, asked Fiona Waters to select them and Frann Preston-Gannon to illustrate. You can choose to read a poem a day next year, or begin as soon as the book is in your hands. You can find favorite poets, look for new ones, find your birthday poem or your child's. Poets familiar and poets new to me are included. It's a must-see, must-have book for poetry lovers, for a classroom perhaps, for a favorite person. Here's the Thanksgiving page I thought you'd like to see since that holiday is near.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Poetry Friday - Legacy

           Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty has the Poetry Friday Roundup today, a gathering of words that feel good to the soul. Thank you, Michelle!

             I'm been thinking much about women recently, those close in my family and those I know only through well-known, sometimes famous, deeds. And I've been watching campaigns by women all over the U.S. I am proud of all the women who ran in this election and prouder still that so many will be traveling to Washington. It's often a surprise what poetry finds me. I do write every day, not always a poem, but some lines that intrigue me I want to capture. This time, with so many posting #Vote pictures and art on social media with quite a few of them using the suffragettes as inspiration, I've written about mothers and daughters, what links between, what is passed on from one to the other, implicit hopes from elder to youth. Perhaps it's also about our links from woman to woman? It's a sestina, a form I like writing though don't do often.

Sestina Memoir

From the mantle shelf, the book
was brought with a smile by the mother.
She turned then toward her daughter,
inviting her to sit by the fire
and listen to poems of the seasons,
at this time of cold, snow, ice—of winter.

Soon, the words reminded of a long-ago winter
when others sat and marveled over a book,
this book, the only one 'twas valued, about the seasons.
It told of long years' wisdom, that mothers
passed on to their daughters.  The fire
blazed, illuminating the face of the daughter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Books Scream

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

            That name "Assad" continues to be in the news, continues not to have anyone confront him, continues to be supported by Russia. Protests happened years ago and those protesting lost to tanks and bombs and soldiers, and they have continued to have to escape for their safety. This book by Don Brown, like his "Drowned City" about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, is a heartbreaking one, told in frightened pictures, over and over again. Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria. The surprising numbers of fleeing victims have overwhelmed neighboring countries, and chaos has followed. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. By 2017, many want to turn their backs on the victims. The refugees are "the unwanted". I recently read a news article telling of the resentment felt by East Germans from the pressure of over one million refugees arriving in their country. Evidently, those in the East still feel their lives are not as good as those in West Germany.

       A long time ago, an older couple became friends with my parents. They were lovely people and I loved visiting them, ate my first pita bread in their home. I'm sure they have passed on now, but also remember them visiting family in Syria in those years. I know they would be horrified at what has happened to their country. Don Brown shows moments of both horror and hope in this continuing  Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, The Unwanted is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees and a call to action for all those who read.

      Brown has visited refugee camps in Greece and offers short pieces in the backmatter about each one. In addition to his postscript, there are few good things to share. He says there are 5.7 million registered Syrian refugees. In the first three months of this year, 2018, the United States has accepted eleven for resettlement. There are also source notes and a bibliography. The heartbreaking final page is a poem titled "Hope Behind The Shadow of Pain!", showing a young child drawing the word "Hope" on a refugee tent.
       For anyone who wants to read and feel the refugee plight, this book is one to read and share, with friends, with students.