Thursday, January 31, 2019

Poetry Friday - Old Book, New Poem

          Tabatha Yeatts-Lonske at The Opposite of Indifference is hosting this week with two poems that are perhaps about escape, but it is up to you about the meaning! Thanks, Tabatha, for the way you make us think when you share, and for hosting.

for an old book of poetry, Gems of Poetry

Page crumbles spill into my hand,
what others held on laps to read.
Attend the poets, accord encores.
When words are read, they live again.

Linda Baie ©
        Crumbling, donated, grabbed by me. We couldn't offer it for sale at the bookstore. It really is falling apart. I have to read it on a sheet of newspaper because of the paper flaking off the pages. Here's the book, full of some surprises and some expected, like Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, Shakespeare and a couple from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the few women poets. Published in 1896. I found a re-pub online by someone that said it was important to save. Within the pages are some clippings, a couple of leaves, and very few margin notes, which surprised me. The poems are for adults, focusing some on nature but many are somber, focusing on life, but including quite a bit about death. It's a fascinating look at the choices of an anthologist of that time.  Here are some pictures and one poem I liked that holds a nice thought I believe, there's always tomorrow.

I love seeing Mae's and Alice's Names.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

NF Picture Books - Beginning 2019

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 discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they continue to be available for kids. 

       I hope your favorites received some accolades Monday at the ALA awards. It was certainly exciting to see the announcements. I've read and reviewed some, but not all. Here's the link to the full list if you're interested! 

        Now it's time to begin the 2019 journey of more fabulous non-fiction picture books, showing how-tos and lives, history and nature's mysteries with intriguing text and pictures. These authors and illustrators create images not soon forgotten when they tell their tales!
      I'm not sure that I should be sharing much about this book. I grew up with the beginnings of rock 'n roll, had a husband who managed rock radio stations, so I know something of these roots and continued on with my kids listening to hip-hop, but I really don't know much about rap, only a few names and a few raps. In this new book, Carole Boston Weatherford tells a rhyming history with two lines on each fabulous double-page spread, from the long-ago beginnings to today. 
      The roots of this musical wonder begin with folktales, street rhymes and spirituals, the book showing Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar in clouds with a teen and his t-shirt that says "It was All A Dream", an homage to Dr. Martin Luther King. One review states these are also "the signature words of Notorious B.I.G." It also pays homage to the influence of James Brown in a page spread that shows his energy beautifully. You can almost hear him singing! Graffiti and break-dancing mix in, too, in the splashy art by Frank Morrison. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

It's Monday - Awards Day & More

           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. 

           Wow, as I post this, it's nearly time for the live broadcast of the 2019 ALA rewards! Did your favorite titles receive a medal?   

          I've read some wonderful books this week, books showing people's kindnesses and strength, things that help make all of our lives better.

            Meet Caleb and big brother Bobby Gene, two brothers who love having adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town. He wants more and more, and a new "older" Styx Malone, a neighbor on the other side of the woods, seems well able to take him there. He promises the brothers that together, the three of them can pull off the Great Escalator Trade–exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dream, a moped. The boys are eleven and ten, and in today's world, at least in the city, it's hard to imagine the freedom they do have. But they are African-American, their dad wants to keep them safely staying in their ordinary small-town world. Caleb, especially, has other grander ideas. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. Kekla Magoon knows her characters, shows us readers hints that make the story more complex than can be imagined. Caleb tells the story and early in the beginning adventure thinks: "I had more questions for Styx. A hundred more. A thousand more. All the questions that the world might answer between the time a person is ten and the time he becomes sixteen." Styx has secrets–secrets so big they could ruin everything. 
And so the tension rises, though the reader is given a break now and then to take a deep breath. Styx at one point shows the boys how to slow down, to feel the summer. Caleb closes his eyes and thinks, "The moment felt like Saturday, like summer heat, like adventure. It felt as big as the sky above us and as firm as the ground beneath. It felt like the soft swish of corn tassels and being one step closer to an impossible dream." One feels the allure Styx offers and the yearning for anything but ordinary. That's what Styx show these young boys, although what happens is not what Caleb imagines will happen, but perhaps something better. It's a wonderful story of friendship, loyalty and some heartache mixed in, too.

        When I traveled to NYC with students a few years ago, each student researched important places we would visit and gave a talk about that place before we traveled. Thus, I know this story of the Roeblings, the tragedy of the early death of the father and the later debilitation of the son, thus his wife, Emily, took over the day to day management of this great bridge building. In graphic style, the amazing story is now told by Peter J. Tomasi, illustrated with great emotion by Sara Duvall. It's an adventure, even more so to me that it occurred, the bridge completed, in the nineteenth century. I enjoyed understanding more about the problems, the sad deaths because of the deep work constructing the caissons. It was called 'caisson disease' then, but today we know it was the 'bends'. There was corruption, caught thankfully by Washington Roebling's faithful assistants. There was outrage that a woman was directing the later construction, Emily Washington, beloved and faithful wife, taking over when Washington was incapacitated. And finally, there was joy, the bridge was completed. I walked that bridge, spent most of a day there with students, reading more, sketching, taking pictures. It is a wonder, New York City and Brooklyn's wonder, as is this new graphic story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

NF Picture Books Reveal Hidden Talents

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 discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they continue to be available for kids. 

      Thanks to Penny Candy Books for the copy of this biography by Jan Wahl, illustrated by Morgana Wallace. This is the first of a series of biographies about women in history, will be out February 5th.

         This short chapter book shares the life of Hedwig Kiesler (Hedy LaMarr) who was born at the beginning of World War I, from the age of four when, though most in Austria lived in poverty, nearly everyone could afford a movie. It shows her curiosity even then as she asked how projectors put that picture on the screen. That is the interesting thread throughout her life, that curious mind trying to understand how things worked, and at times trying to fix them. She defied stereotypes and rebelled when told she couldn't do something. 

         Full page illustrations for each chapter show Hedy growing up, show still other examples of her attempts to understand how something works. She received a watch for a birthday gift, wanted to take it apart to understand the spinning of those tiny wheels. A favorite illustration shows the public part of her life as a movie star and the private part as an inventor. This text also tells of some other inventions. 

       She did begin acting early, then married and her husband wanted her to quit, also refused to allow her a room for tinkering. Hedy realized it was too much like a prison, sneaked out on a bicycle, took a train to London. The story of how she got to Hollywood, how she got her name and how she invented something that is still being used in our technology today is fascinating. Those who loved her as a movie star, until now, have rarely known this full story of a beautiful actress with a brilliant mind who often asked "How" something worked. It's a book that will spark further interest in this long ago actress as well as inspire readers to continue with their passions. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Slicing for A Friend

        I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's been almost exactly a year since I posted here. I have years of fond memories on this site, have shared hilarity, experiences, and sadness here. I've made friends and sometimes met those friends in person! I've written in March with students and then after retirement, without, a kind of mourning to know that my teaching days had ended. I'm still reading and reviewing, sharing on Mondays and Wednesdays, and writing poetry as well as reading it, sharing that on Fridays. 
         This post is a return, perhaps not every Tuesday, but I have received several "asks" from a long-time slicer friend, Terje Akke, whom I'm sure you know, who blogs at Just For A Month. This is for my over-the-ocean friend.

          I've become quite immersed in a few things this year that take more time than I ever imagined: 
          Politics! Since the 2016 election, I have become involved more than ever before, writing letters, calling, donating where I can. I won't make this a huge diatribe in this post, but I am alarmed at the happenings in the past two years, and won't stop trying to make things better. 
         A Used Bookstore! I've been a customer at this bookstore for years, drove into the city from my home in the suburbs to visit it. I moved to my new home six years ago last December. Hard to believe it's been that long. A few years ago, after I retired from teaching middle school at an independent school for gifted children, I volunteered at the store. It is a non-profit, kind of like a coop, and run entirely by volunteers. We have a couple who are managers, but they too are volunteers! Super, right? Well, more and more time committed, and now I am on the board and the volunteer coordinator. Kind of like having another class, ha! I love working with all these people and each is as individual as my students were. It's lots of fun and oh my, the books! I try hard not to bring home some every week, but it is a challenge. I work a shift regularly, too, and love interacting with customers, helping them if they want it, but many, including the kids, just want to browse. I'm also in charge of the children's sections and that is a love that doesn't stop.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday - Reading Fun

           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 guess everyone will know the ALA reward results by the end of Monday next week. It is exciting to imagine what might wear those medals!
As we take this day to remember the important life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I hope we all remember his words:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Let us step up and use our words for good as he did!

        I've loved Neal Shusterman's books before and loved this one, too, written with his son, Jarrod, although this time I liked it a bit less and possibly because it was too real, too close to home. I live in Colorado where we often wish for moisture. 
       This time the setting is a drought in southern California and the plot involves a group of teens who end up at the forefront of the struggle because, through events beyond their control, their parents cannot. There is what is called a "Tap-Out" when one day, turning the tap for a drink, nothing comes out. The entire water supply runs "Dry"!
        The stage is set, the players involve 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, whose parents disappear because there is a possibility of getting water from the new ocean machines. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, well-prepared, but their protected home is not so safe when desperate neighbors come to call in a group (a mob)? Kelton has assumed leadership here when he sees the need also to help Alyssa and Garrett. 
        Kelton leads Alyssa and Garrett to find their parents, end up in a heart-stopping situation, is saved by a street teen who joins the group. One more new teen joins in later on this dangerous trek to safety and water (Kelton's family's 'bug-out', a hide-out in the mountains). The book is interrupted once in a while by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot while tension rises with some in the group wanting the power, and some wishing they were anywhere else, but have nowhere to go. A range of experiences with other people who are surviving and take chances in very different ways occurs, too, sometimes with alarming consequences. Descriptions of those near to becoming "water zombies" horrify, and acts of kindness feel very good indeed. It feels very close to our future in some areas. Great book, but often scary. First one in my #mustreadin2019 list!

          Thanks to Candlewick, I had fun reading this book out this month! Main characters Prince Veera and his companion, Suku, a farmer's son who won a contest to become educated at the palace, are center stage in these delightful 'trickster' tales from India. They sometimes take over Veera's father, King Bheema's court where they hear complaints from the commoners and try to solve the problems and/or conflicts. And at other times they discover problems out in the market, even helping Suku's Aunt Chandra. The different problems will be fun to read aloud to see if students can figure out how to solve them as Prince Veera and Suku do. And the cultural names and experiences with new foods and ways of living add to the interest. I enjoyed the stories. Originally published as two smaller books, now out in this one collection.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poetry Friday - for Mary Oliver

          Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting this week! Thank you, Tricia for the loving words from you for Mary Oliver!

        Today I heard the sad news of the passing of Mary Oliver. Through many years she taught me to look out at nature in new ways, her words a mentor for me while trying to pass her lessons on to students, too, as we traveled to wonderful places together and to teach myself new ways to see. I do have many favorite poems, but marked one passage a couple of years ago to remember, in prose, from her 2016 book, Upstream. It feels apt to share it with all of you this day.

    After observations by her pond of a fox feeding on an old frozen raccoon: 

     "And now my old dog is dead, and another I had after him, and my parents are dead, and that first world, that old house, is sold and lost, and the books I gathered there lost, or sold--but more books bought, and in another place, board by board and stone by stone, like a house, a true life built, and all because I was steadfast about one or two things: loving foxes, and poems, the blank piece of paper, and my own energy--and mostly the shimmering shoulders of the world that shrug carelessly over the fate of any individual that they may, the better, keep the Niles and the Amazons slowing.
      And that I did not give to anyone the responsibility for my life. It is mine. I made it. And can do what I want to with it. Live it. Give it back, someday, without bitterness, to the wild and weedy dunes." (p. 21,22)
      Thinking of Mary Oliver as I took an evening walk this Thursday, grateful for the gifts she gave to the world from her life .

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

NF Pic Book Wednesday - Amazing Women

            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, discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they continue to be available for kids. 

   I'm celebrating my 1800th post!

"All things are vital to the universe...
all are equal...and at once...different.'
          Gwen Frostic, Beyond Time

           Each of the following books (the first two out this month!) are worth reading in order to celebrate the lives shared. These women's stories exemplify the above quote from one of those women. Each one is unique, follows passions without giving up. They are full of inspiration either together or apart, know their strengths and pursued all possibilities to succeed. The illustrators show the passage of years, the ups and downs with interesting and beautiful choices of setting that include the characters' supporters, naysayers and experiences.

         Janet Collins loved to dance, was rejected more than once because of the color of her skin, but she always pursued a path and succeeded every time. Told in verse, with an author's note, source notes, and an additional websites list.

         Considered part non-fiction and part historical fiction in order to create a story, Mary was a real person, a former slave who went west to make a new life. She tried out for the job of stagecoach driver when everyone thought it was only a man's job and certainly not a job for a former slave. She succeeded, and she began in her sixties! There is an author's note explaining the research and the story's creation.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Monday Reading - Fun Picture 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'm reading Dry by Neal Shusterman and it is long! But I've enjoyed it so far! And still reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Other than that, here are a few picture books I liked this week--one brand new, some old and worth knowing. I'm also still reading for the Cybil's poetry judging so my reading life is varied and full!

              I'm also celebrating. I have one more post and that will be my 1800th! It feels as if the time has gone quickly, but then when I look back at March, 2011, that also seems a long time ago. For a few years, I also kept a blog with my class, but have now deleted it, saving a few posts only. I imagine I've written more than 2000 altogether. If you've just started, keep going. It becomes a diary of at least part of one's life. Some of you started before I did and I congratulate you for keeping on, despite your busy lives. Most of you are still in education and are marvelous mentors for students.

         Enjoy these gems!

        What if you were a child, a young boy, and loved elephants more than anything? You loved to draw them and talk about them. You loved their "hosepipe trunks and their flap-flap ears, their tree-stump feet and their swish-swish tails." But, but, you've never ever seen a real elephant. This is a story about that boy, Frank, and his adventure with Miss Fancy,  one elephant who spent some years in Avondale Park in Birmingham, Alabama. He is that boy who lived only two blocks from the park and helped collect pennies with other schoolchildren so the city could raise the money to buy Miss Fancy from a circus. 
            Wrapping her poignant story with some truth, this brand new wonderful book from Irene Latham shows the sad history of segregation years ago and the ingenuity of a young boy who only wanted to touch Miss Fancy. Finally, Frank got to see her when she came by train, but when the crowd arrived, with Miss Fancy, he walked with her all the way until he couldn't anymore. The sign said "No Colored Allowed". What if you were that boy, heartbroken? There is a reward for being that boy, and I hope you can read Irene's story in order to discover it. John Holyfield encompasses the words with his gorgeous realistic illustrations, filling the pages with color and emotion and detail of this community, its people and a special elephant. Irene adds an informative author's note about the story, the history and adds a real photo of Miss Fancy! The book will be a great start for children beginning to know the history of segregation. 

           Forty years old, a Caldecott honor. I've missed it all these years, and for those who love the music, those who wish every child yearning to play could, this is the book. Perhaps, according to the description, it could be the story of any young musician growing up in the twenties. With fabulous black and white, art deco illustrations, zigging and zagging like jazz itself, another Isadora book to love.

          "No matter how steep or tough the climb, a friend is worth it every time!" That's the mantra for this book, a cheerful 'let me help' book with a surprise you'll love at the end. Brian Lies tells the simple cumulative story and illustrates with joy, even in a snowstorm. How can one resist a duck with a stocking cap and a chipmunk named Izzy with a striped scarf? 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Poetry Friday - Search & Find

Poetry Friday's host this week is the busy Kat Apel from Australia, sharing her poem-a-day she's named 'Insta-poetry', filling us up with summer, yes, summer! That's what's happening Downunder as many of us shiver. Thanks, Kat for the beauty shared!

        I've been struggling lately finding some kind of goal for writing poems. I've begun a new journal, have delved into favorite quotes and pictures and though I enjoyed creating the beginning pages and sketching, too, I still did not find much to write about. I'm in the midst of reading for the Cybil's poetry award, and perhaps that's part of it, so filled with beautiful poetry that I think somehow it's all been written! Anyway, here's what I did for this day, a bit about looking and some about finding.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

NF Picture Book Revitalized In 2018

            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, discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they continue to be available for kids.

       I enjoyed this book, the background of the 'girls' and finales of the inventions, but didn't understand that while first published in 2000, it has been revised and refreshed in the illustrations. 
      Here, from Hornbook:
          “This updated version of Thimmesh’s collection of profiles of female inventors (fifteen in all) eliminates three outdated chapters and spotlights seven new inventions created since the original’s 2000 publication (Trisha Prabhu’s antibullying ReThink app; Alissa Chavez’s “Hot Seat” sensor to protect kids from being forgotten in hot cars). Today’s readers will find a laudable increase in the subjects’ diversity as well as a more contemporary focus. The many “personal interviews…employ[ing] a conversational tone” noted in the original Horn Book review (rev. May/June 2000) remain, as does the emphasis on “accomplishments over personality.” Sweet has added vibrant collages to the new chapters as well as to some of the old ones. The refreshed design also includes additions to the timeline of women’s inventions. A resource as informative as it is empowering.
          It's an inspiring look at women's little known or recognized role with inventions in various areas like science, household and outer space needs, as well as products that help keep people safe. Toward the end, the stories are about young students who found an interest and continued with it far beyond a science fair or classroom project. Some still wait for their "product" to enter the marketplace! 
         It's a terrific book of stories for older elementary students and up where readers will learn the innovative role women have played throughout history, despite the earlier way they were dismissed as incapable. (Some earlier in history could not even hold a patent!) Here, curiosity did NOT kill the cat, but made many lives better in a number of ways. Things invented included in our lives today that we take for granted are the Apgar score, windshield wipers, Kevlar, Snuglies, Scotchguard, flat-bottomed paper bags and there is hope for the future through an invented process that helps farmers in times of drought. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

First Reading of the New Year

           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. 

            Happy New Year! Whatever you did, wherever you are, I hope you had the happiest of holidays. It feels as if I haven't read as much as I thought I would this week, but I am reading several long books and beginning to read (& re-read) some of the Cybils Poetry Finalists. You can find all the finalist lists here!

         A broad range of feelings seem to be what Katherine Applegate excels in when writing her stories and Endling: The Last is no different. You'll feel joy and sorrow, anxiety and relief poured into this book. This time she has crafted a whole new world for us filled with fascinating new creatures, complex human interactions, and more than one hero. Shadows of Tolkien tales are here with the Endling making a decision that pushes her life into one she never imagined, a tragedy that sparks a needed quest, and a band of unlikely characters to love as they battle other beings one learns to hate. There are environmental considerations along with an underlying thread of the corruptive search for power. The next in the series, Endling #2: The First, arrives in May, can't wait!

        Finding friends who love the same thing you do can be challenging and when it's something strange, like collecting words, it's harder. This time, Ebenezer sticks to his love and it becomes even more fun when new classmate shows up who writes stories and often needs a "best" word for them. Perfect match, something everything wishes for, right? 
         This was a lovely find at my bookstore, first published last year in Canada, translated from German. The illustrations are simple and wonderfully detailed, showing this sad rhino, "beautiful as a mountain". Other animals greet him happily, but he is sad. His horn is crooked (the story shares it was an accident) and he wishes to be free like a snowflake. (Here is a 'grass is greener' tale.) What the other animals do to help is supportive and sweet. For example: "We need you." chirps a tiny little bird, "to land on, to rest on." I loved the story. It will make a great conversation to discuss how to help a friend who's feeling a bit sad. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Poetry Friday - Endings Mean Beginnings

           Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children hosts this first Poetry Friday of 2019. Thanks, Sylvia and Happy New Year everyone!

    I shared a wonderful non-fiction poetry picture this past Wednesday here I want to be sure you know. You'll find a lot of entertainment and education into this small, but mighty, book. Please bookmark the title for future reference.
            And, congratulations to all the finalists of the Cybil's Awards, announced this past Tuesday, January 1st! That link is here. The Poetry finalists:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Mary's Monster by Lita Judge
In the Past by David Elliott
H is for Haiku by Sydell Rosenberg
Can I Touch Your Hair? By Irene Latham & Charles Waters
Traveling the Blue Road edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins 

        I hope that no one is too tired to read one more haiku for our small group's #haikuforhope this past December. Writing daily, attempting to discover special images, to observe something and try to capture it creates an awareness of a new way of thinking. I enjoy the challenge, certainly am not Issa, but the writing is a pleasure. In the final week of the year with company surrounding, too, I still found a few moments that I'm glad will be in my files.
       Thanks also for the inspiration from everyone who wrote: Mary Lee Hahn, Catherine Flynn, Heidi Mordhorst, Linda Mitchell, Margaret Simon, Kevin Hodgson, Julieanne Harmatz, Michelle Kogan, Carol Varsalona, Molly Hogan, and Jean LaTourette. 

       I was inspired today to write again. Here is one picture; there are many others.

all of December
we wrote and hoped–
smiling today

Linda Baie ©

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Teach and Entertain

           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, discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! It's the start of a new challenge and a new image for inspiration. 

               This first book of 2019 I want to share fits all the year, for those who want to know what's going on under that layer of leaves left on the garden, that "needed" layer. Animals are very busy underneath, and Leslie Bulion has written a new poetry book that tells all, at least quite enough to begin an interest in Leaf Litter Critters. Poetry, graphic art, added informative paragraphs create interesting pages every time they are turned.