Monday, May 20, 2019

It's Monday - Beautiful Books Again!

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'll need to skip next Monday, am leaving this Wednesday to travel to my grandson's high school graduation. It is an exciting time for our family! I'll read on the plane, but suspect that's about it! Here are the books I've read this past week!

          Anytime there is a book with a quest, I'm in. (I re-read The Hobbit once in a while!) Yes, I finished this one and now how long might be the wait for the next adventure for brave, growing-up and now adventurous Byx and her companions, humans Khara and Renzo, catlike felivet Gambler, and the small and mighty Tobble? They have continued their journey to find the traveling island of Tarok, hoping to find more dairnes, saving Byx from being the last one of her species. The plot expands into political strife and danger in the land with the reigning dictator, the Murdano, gearing up to fight the other vicious Kazar Sg’drit, enslaving species to build his army. Connections to today's political challenges including war, prejudices of 'other', and human trafficking may go unnoticed by children, but not by adult readers. Khara is rising as a leader in the coming war and her companions, including Byx, will face the battle with her. Now we must wait for number three! Katherine Applegate's imagined world in this series is extraordinary! 

        Oh, wow, this is a gorgeous book, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline and a story full of nostalgia by Michelle Houts. Some years ago, a young boy spends the summer with his grandmother at her cottage by the sea. He finds what he learns is a piece of sea glass, smoothed by its tumbling in the ocean from, perhaps, years ago. Grandmother tells that each piece is connected by a story, one we may never know, but it has one. She gives him his grandfather's magnifying glass to look at his found treasures more closely. Turning the page, Houts imagines the story in the boy's dream, illustrated in muted black and white by Ibatoulline, a beautiful time travel transition to a ship’s christening and a schooner tossed in a tempest’s fury. Sadly, the boy drops the magnifying glass which breaks and he tosses the pieces into the sea. The story moves on to present day and a young girl also discovering sea glass, a particularly special piece that "might" be part of that same glass. Houts shares the story which feels real, but no matter real or not, looking for sea glass and imagining its story will make the adventure (if you can ever have one) a wonderful thing. 
          There is a brief author's note that speaks of the time in the past when many dumped all their trash in the ocean and the change today to be more environmentally conscious. Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy.

         First time published in the U.S., this is sure to be a favorite for young dinosaur lovers! Jason Cockcroft tells and illustrates this new book with a twist. What if you received an enormous package in the mail one day and in it was an egg that soon hatched a dinosaur? It is a sweet one, but huge (of course), and this young boy needs to learn how to manage some "huge" challenges. He must fix breakfast for his new pet (It is not picky, will eat anything.); how to teach it to share, especially at the playground; and, worse of all but funny, too, how to clean up the enormous piles of poop. Cockcroft's illustrations show a lively, but positive outlook for this new adventure in bright and colorful pages. (The other pet, the dog, adds humor, too.) He ends the story with a sleepy, lovable pet and a happy little boy. Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Poetry Friday - Sinking In

It's Poetry Friday, this day hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. She's sharing some marvelous "pi-ku" written by her students in response to a nature trip. 

            Our cold, rainy, snowy few days last week appears to have released the spring magic that is GREEN. I sink into its richness, took one picture that shows some of what I see. Oh, yes, other colors are emerging, but first, GREEN is the star of this spring production.




 Linda Baie ©

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Fill Varied Needs

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

      It's a new poetry book, a new non-fiction picture book, and a new science book. For young students starting to study animal behavior and for older ones who need mentor texts that show how to write poetry while including the factual information, this, a book out recently, fits the description beautifully. 
       Susannah Buhrman-Deever writes varied poems in the voices of eleven pairs of animals, sometimes in two voices, sometimes single ones, often with sounds, which appear to be a large part of these animals' survival. In a brief introduction, she emphasizes the top priority, "to survive and raise young". Each creature's words show the way they fight to keep safe, or attack to have a meal. In some, it's poison, and others use sound to escape. Amazing to learn, but a 'Big Dipper Firefly is poisonous, but when lured to the Female Pennsylvania Firefly by her flash, she attacks and eats him in order to "get those chemicals for themselves". Things are not always what is expected!

         Femme Fatale
              My treasure?
              A light in the dark.
              I seek you,
              for love.
              I am hungry.

        Text boxes add to the poems and illustrations with information about the animals, and clever gatefolds in some spreads allow Kitchen’s illustrations to fill the scene before opening to read the poems and explanation.  
        Here is a sample of a double page spread, showing the realistic and gorgeous watercolor and gouache illustrations by Bert Kitchen. At night and in the day, in varied settings of field and woods, he adds his magic to Susannah's poetry and to the magic of animals' lives who use intriguing ways to survive.

         It would be fun for students to list all the different methods used for protection, like movement, voice, creating a certain sound, camouflage, and more! It's a terrific book for learning the mysteries of nature. There is an extensive bibliography added at the end.

Monday, May 13, 2019

It's Monday - New Books To Enjoy

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 marked this as an adult book, too, because every adult should read it, should begin to understand, if you do not already, how many children have to survive every single day. This story tells of the main hero, 7th grade Zoey and the secondary one, a teacher. It's heartbreakingly realistic. We read of too many stories in life where a single parent, mostly moms, have to make tough and frightening choices, but they do for the love of their children and hopefully for themselves, too. It's fitting that I finished it on Mother's Day. It is Zoey's story, growing up too fast, but stepping up to help her own mom and a friend take steps to save both families. I'm hoping Ann Braden's story will touch and offer hope to many.
        Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following books, out just this month of May! This first one is appropriate for young adults and adults. The rest of the books will be great for younger readers.

        I've read both fiction and non-fiction books about war, some recently about World War I, the war called "The Great War" and the one supposed to last only a few months. This new story created by Pierre-Jacques Ober with illustrations by Jules Ober, his wife, and Felicity Coonan is told mostly in first person by the good son Pierre, one who wished to fight for his country (France), one who gave his life for his country, but not in the way you may first think. 
       Ober tells us that this story is of a war "fought by little men, like Pierre. In the afterword, he shares his family's French military tradition but turned to philosophy instead. Although he grew up hearing their stories and played his own war games with little soldiers, he did not become a soldier. The photographs that tell Pierre's story include staged miniatures of soldiers and some country people set in various backdrops, like fields of snow or flowers, through windows, in marching formation. It appears that some digital overlays are made, like what appears to be a French call to arms. Back matter photos, some way to see just how tiny the figures are (one is below). The ability to show expressions in both body and face is impressive.

        The story's timing revolves around the time of that first Christmas, one written about in other books, the ceasefire for the one Holy Day. Pierre has gone home for two days to see his mother at Christmas to be "the good son", without permission. He returned, "to remain a good soldier". An especially poignant scene at first has Pierre telling of them marching all over the countryside, saying "It was beautiful." and showing fields with red flowers. A few pages later, they meet the enemy for the first time, also in a field showing a few of those flowers, but this time with bodies lying on the ground. Pierre says, "It was terrible."

        The message to those who may have experiences of war or have read books and stories will not be new, but the pictures here in this particular story show some of the worst a battlefield can be, some of the feelings felt by Pierre and others who want to do right, yet don't understand being "caught up in a big mess".  I wonder how many who are fighting today would agree? 


             Ted Kooser, former Poet Laureate, offers us a reminder of looking at the world through different glasses, as the story begins with Mr. Posey down in the dumps one morning. He looks out the window at his young neighbor, Andy, lively and full of energy, and wishes for a change from the dullness in his life. He decides he may need a trip to the Cheer Up Thrift Shop, smelling like 'rose petals in old shoes' to see what's available. With Andy tagging along, they both have an unexpected adventure. Choosing different glasses takes them into fantastic worlds, the ocean deep, the night sky filled with stars, a whirling world that makes him dizzy. Imaginative illustrations packed with details by Daniel Duncan create Mr. Posey's experiences with delight. One can look at the details early on and see that Mr. Posey definitely is not seeing well: the bathroom trash overflows and the flowers in a vase droop. Brown-tones reflect his feelings. The surprise ending is fun and one I was not expecting at all.  

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Poetry Friday - Summer Tunes

Liz Steinglass hosts this Poetry Friday, celebrating and sharing some poems in the process of the writing of her poetry book, out very soon. It's SoccerVerse! Congratulations, Liz, and thanks for hosting!

        I enjoy every April when poets come together to write for Irene Latham's Progressive Poem. You can see the latest and those of past years here. And this April, Donna Smith beautifully set the poem to music, sang and played it for us on her ukelele. And I loved the latest poem because I love summer, too, and enjoyed everyone's words of summer as intros to the lines.
         And then came SUMMER! I try hard not to take home very many books from the used bookstore where I volunteer. I help with donations on Thursday and sometimes a book appears that feels like one that's meant for me. This is one, nearly thirty years old, filled with essays and poems of summer memories, attitudes, even regrets. It is divided into three sections: The Door to Summer, When Time Was Here and Between Wild and Sheltered. Calvin Trillin writes about chiggers; Daniel Okrent shares his baseball passions in the summer at Cooley Lake (a summer retreat), and Louise Erdrich tells how her family begins summer in the winter. Each entry makes me want summer more, my beach trip, a trip to visit my brother and other relations, lazier days outside. 

        Among other poems in the book, I'm sharing this Summer Morning by Charles Simic. You can listen to him reading it here

I love to stay in bed
All morning,
Covers thrown off, naked,
Eyes closed, listening.

Outside they are opening
Their primers
In the little school
Of the cornfield.

There’s a smell of damp hay,
Of horses, laziness,
Summer sky and eternal life.

I know all the dark places
Where the sun hasn’t reached yet,

And see all the poem here.

       There is much to love and to choose from. Early in the book, Elizabeth Hardwick writes "The congratulation of summer is that it can make the homely and humble if not exactly beautiful, beautifully acceptable. Such brightness at midday and then the benign pastels, blues and lavenders of the summer sky. Much may wither and exhaust, but so great is the glow and greater the freedom of the season that every extreme will be accommodated."

She ends with "Summer, the season of crops. The concreteness of it. Not as perfumed and delicate and sudden as spring and not as triste as autumn. Yet, for the enjoyment of summer's pleasures, for the beach, the crowded airplane to Venice, most of us consent to work all year long."

         Summer's coming. . .

        I do love Liz's challenge last week at Michelle's Today's Little Ditty and had a poem I wrote to it, shared Thursday. So, I couldn't resist one more, Liz and Michelle, about summer!

Instructions for Summer

Blast me with your beautiful extremes:
daylight till near bedtime,
frightening thunderstorms,
a cold Independence Day.
I’ll still love you.
Paste memories in my mind:
carny tilt-a-whirls,
State Fair lambs and blue ribbons,
ice cream truck melodies.
I will remember.
Grow grand gardens for cellar jars:
tomatoes and green beans,
cucumbers and carrots,
but avoid too much zucchini.
I will love them and share.
Prepare me for autumn:
turn pumpkins orange,
drop a leaf or two,
plan with the birds.
Even ending, I’ll love you.

Linda Baie ©

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Book Wednesday - She Would Not Stop!

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!
         When I read books like this, I am always sad that the rules of societies and expectations of certain groups, long ago and today as well, keep children from learning, studying their passions, even going to school for education! 

              It's the true story of eighteenth-century mathematician Sophie Germain, who solved the unsolvable to achieve her dream. And no matter the restraints, from young Sophie to adult, she kept working to solve problems. Cheryl Bardoe's story emphasized the subtitle's theme, "nothing stopped Sophie" as she creates a story of a young French girl who was restrained in her study of math and confined in her home for some years because it was the time of the French Revolution, a dangerous time to be out. 
          Sophie's parents took away her candles to keep her from studying math. She did not stop! A professor discovered that the "brilliant" homework sent to him by a supposed male came from a female. Still, nothing stopped Sophie. She tackled a math problem to find a formula that would predict patterns of vibrations for a reward from the Academy of Sciences, was the only entry. She did not win, but tried again, then again, and finally she figured it out. There was only one entry again and it came from a woman! Bardoe writes that "her equation was as precise and eloquent as a poem."
           It's an inspiring text, another "she persisted" story, written with celebration of the life of this young girl growing into a woman who devoted her life to mathematics. Bardoe's author's note discusses her research including the challenges of conflicting stories, how many details to include to show the struggles for Sophie in following this passion because she was a woman. Barbara McClintock shares her background as an 'abysmal math student', wondering how she could possibly illustrate the pages for a famous mathematician. Because there was the content thread of allusions to vibrations, she chose to swirl numbers and equations around Sophie, and I also loved seeing math equations on buildings, the background of "math homework" accompanied by the homework mail flying off to the teacher. The vision to me meant Sophie's life, from early childhood, "whirled" with mathematics. 
The page spread showing men's response when Sophie won the prize.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Monday Reading - Wow! 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 reviewed A Suitcase of Seaweed by Janet Wong last Poetry Friday here. It is a wonderful new poetry book for all ages, but teachers especially will love sharing and using it in their classrooms.
       If you want a book to help with empathy for the lives that some immigrants live, this book by Mariana Llanos is one to add to your collection. Out only last month, thanks to Penny Candy books for this story, one of the immigrants who had to return to their home country. This particular time they moved into a grandmother's small home. It is heart-breaking to read and see. Grandmother shares what she has, but it is little. The children are American, the story told by Luca, a young boy, who shows his sadness through the book. He will miss his friends, asks where will they sleep? He laments" "But I can't even speak Spanish! How will I make friends?" The illustrations by Anna Lopez Real focus most on Luca and his loving parents using muted colors. One additional wonderful thing about this story is that it's bilingual, giving many a chance to experience the story without a struggle in the language.

          OUT TODAY! I've never had the exciting experience of going on safari, but one that I have had is to work for one week in my state, SW Colorado, learning about and helping with a bird count of Sandhill Cranes, one experience that still inspires me to help in the area of the plight of cranes on earth, especially those Sandhill Cranes. Thanks to PR by The Book for the copy of this brand new book!
          I connected with this young girl, Kate, an 8-year-old from Austin, Texas, who has written a book with the help of her wildlife guide, Michelle, when she went on safari in Southern African. She, too, was inspired to do more than show concern about those animals who are in danger for various reasons. What an amazing journey she had in Africa, but has continued a second journey to publication, to further her concern through writing.
           From the landing in a small plane and seeing a giraffe and her baby at the end of the runway, to the first trip down dusty, bumpy roads in a 4x4, new learning happens. Kate tells her story, photos included, and on the following page, additional explanation is given by Michelle. For example, the first page shows the lodge where they'll stay and the road they'll travel. In the next page, Michelle explains what is meant by the "African Bush"? Needed topics are covered as the group travels, from what happens at night, animal relationships like between lions and hyenas (not good), and how to tell fresh scat from older (whether an animal is near or far away). As days pass, each day's events make one want to know what else is going to happen. Actual photographs fit the page's text of gorgeous animals like hippos and cheetahs, lions and elephants. 
          The book also shares practical things that young people can do to help protect wild animals. In addition, the work of some international wildlife conservation organizations are introduced, like the Jane Goodall Institute that has the Roots & Shoots Program for youth. The profits from the book sale will be matched and passed on to organizations that fight to protect animals in the wild. If a class or an individual child is interested in beginning a project to help, this is a perfect book to inspire the start.                      
A favorite photo of Kate writing.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Poetry Friday - A Suitcase of Seaweed

        Jama Rattigan, at Jama's Alphabet Soup, hosts this first Friday in May, filling us with flowers! Thanks, Jama!

I will take a break, sometime, but in my planning for this day, I didn't realize I would be so inspired by Janet Wong's new (old) book, A Suitcase of Seaweed & more
       In the beginning, Janet asks: If you were asked to divide your identity into three parts, what would you say? Mom-Dad-You? Child-Friend-Student? Serious-Silly-Silent? How would you like to be seen?
        In this, not really old, but beautifully revised poetry book, Janet has divided it into three parts, the three parts of herself: Korean, Chinese, and American. Each part shares poems accompanied by backstories. And each of those ends with a question for response. Whether I responded in my head, or like today, in poetry, I was inspired. I tried hard to answer Janet's questions and this time, chose cheritas as the form. 

  Janet writes about her parents meeting during the Korean war, father American with his 'crooked smile', mother Korean with her 'long braid', falling in love. She asked if we the readers knew how our parents met.

       My mother's brother introduced my parents when she first went off to college. 

once on a college campus

there was that pretty girl, 
that handsome boy

war was coming, married in May
in one year, he’s off to pilot training, off to war
she’s back home with baby me

             They only had a few years together, sporadic because of the war. My father was shot down in the Pacific Ocean near Leyte in the Philippines. The plane was never recovered.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Tell Stories

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!
         These following books show the human persistence to learn more in order to answer questions about the world.

       Sophia Gholz tells that on one island home, Jadav Payeng was upset when he saw snakes who had died because their habitat was destroyed. He spoke with relatives who, according to this story, gave him a way to start, twenty bamboo shoots. He began, he devised a way to keep them watered, and they grew. That was not the end. He did not give up when more water was needed. He realized that the land needed feeding and he carried "cow dung, earthworms, termites, and angry red ants that bit him on his journey to their new home." It made a difference to nurture the land. More seeds were planted and more grew.
        Over the years his few bamboo plants grew into a 1300 acre forest, an inspiring story of what one person can accomplish, one step, one seed, and later, animals, one at a time. Gorgeous paintings by Kayla Harren help tell Jadav's story, from youth to adulthood, from barren land to lush forest.
        The back matter shares that it wasn't until 2008 that the forest was discovered by a group of local authorities tracking elephants. Since then, he's been recognized worldwide. Added is an author's note and directions "To Plant A Forest of Your Own."

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

NPM19 - #30 - Wending My Way To May

   My kind of goodbye. . .

Tabatha Yeatts has created a link to poems teachers and librarians can print for poetry month, titled "Poetry in The Halls". I'm grateful to be one of the poets!

Jama Rattigan has a post HERE with many poets' goals for April.

The Progressive Poem schedule can be found on the right. And you must check out the final post HERE by Donna Smith. She has created out of the words already written and she has set the poem to song, singing along with her ukelele! It's wonderful!



Wending My Way To May

After 29 days,
I think I’ve digested
a wordy routine.
I crunched granola before sun up,
walked through my tree-strewn streets
at sunrise,
nature’s wake-up writing call,
tweeting with the birds,
and entered that dusky dawn.
Time for coffee;
time to open the laptop.
Who had already posted?
Is mine ready?
Do a final check - enough, 
it has to be enough.
Yes! I wrote another day,
now time to read THE line from
Irene’s Progressive Poem,
THE next act of Amy’s story,
Ruth’s tabs, Cheriee’s stories,
Irene’s and Diane’s ekphrastic responses:
two for breakfast, the rest mid-morning,
others throughout the day,
(Margaret, Carol, Mary Lee, and on).
The week whips by - 
readers on Monday, Jama on Tuesday,
Alyson on Wednesday,
Poetry Friday!
Life’s blurry between words.
Grand-girls two days, bookstore two days,
settle into other chores:
dust, vacuum, read (review), 
phone calls? neighbor visits?
Scraps saved for the compost pile,
porch swept, groceries. . .
No time to be down in the dumps.
I was a teacher once, I know the drill.
 I taught poetry, too. I’m grateful my advice
to students helped me every day. 
to paper, 

Linda Baie ©

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monday Reading - Sharing Great 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. 

       If you are interested, I'm writing a poem a day for poetry month, posting a second post on the days that I share reviews. It's nearly the end!

               Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following three wonderful books!

            In addition to Paul B. Janeczko's love of poetry and teaching poetry, he also was highly interested in the secrets of World War II. Earlier, he published 'Top Secret' about codes and ciphers and more recently, 'Double Cross', deception techniques in war. This time, the focus lies on the Twenty-Third Special Troops whose complex and challenging goal was to create camouflage in various areas, sound and sight. Sadly, Janeczko passed away earlier this year, and I am grateful for everything he has written for his readers. Thanks to Candlewick Press for this Advanced Copy, full of details and a celebration of the innovative work done by these smart soldiers. They were sworn to secrecy for fifty years and only recently has the story become de-classified and able to be told. Extensive source notes are given at the back. This will be a terrific book for those interested in the details of this secret war against the Nazis. 
       A boy from New York and a girl from Mexico City are sad as they tell of the things they will miss when they move to the new city their parents have told them about. The girl to New York City, the boy to Mexico City - trading places! In the same brief text (it will be a surprise when reading aloud) the special things and places emerge. One example is: "But what if there is nowhere for me to play in my new city?" shows the boy ice-skating at Central Park and the girl riding her bicycle at Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Forest). Watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil set the stage for more, and begin to show the similarities of the new homes for each. There is also a page for noisy traffic and one for homelessness. 
        The backmatter gives information on both the landmarks the children visit—such as Lincoln Center, Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the Museo Nacional de Antropolog√≠a—and the cultures and issues that surround them. It would be fun also to see a more contemporary book similar to this between city and rural living.
         When it's a wordless picture book, it's time to choose just how much to tell and how much to keep secret. I was fooled by this deception more than once as to my imagined "inside" and/or "outside". The illustrations dare the reader to do just that: What is inside? What is outside? Anne-Margot Ramstein and Mattias Aregui have created an amazing book!