Thursday, February 14, 2019

Poetry Friday - Mixing It Up

             Jone MacCullough hosts Poetry Friday today at Check It Out. And she is celebrating with a Cybils Party. Congratulations to the Cybils winners announced here yesterday! And hope each of you enjoyed a sweet Valentine's Day, too. I enjoyed being a second round judge for poetry, but what a hard task to choose among the seven marvelous finalists. You can find all the finalists' lists here! If ever you need a new book to read, as Joan's blog title aptly tells, "Check It Out"!

                It has been a busy week. I worked at the bookstore today, a lovely day to be there because of Valentine's Day. There were lots of customers and along with helping them find books to love, we gave out chocolate and bookmarks for the children (or maybe adults) to color.

          But I am so distracted by the current political state, I was not sure what to share today. I found a poem I wrote two years ago and considering it, I suppose I felt similarly, though I did not know then how challenging these past months would be. The fall elections helped. I am still hopeful. 


I feel the need for a narrative tale,
hard porcelain words, but a sweeter scale - 
no more need to rewrite the tweets
with pseudo illusory echoing beats.
We will continue a skeptic’s cry,
that will not fade in the bye and bye.
The only tears for a twisted mind
will slip down cheeks of a human kind
to rue artifacts of yesterday
that acquired a tarnish we’ll clean away.
But do not plug all past mid-deeds,
or rearrange tales with a goal to please.
Cylinders will spiral; it’s called evolution -
the intent to flourish, in our Constitution.   
      Linda Baie (c) All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Help Us Know!

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 are more and more available today for children, really for every reader!

Tomorrow, Valentine's Day, the Cybils Awards will be announced. I am one of the Poetry Judges, am excited to see all the winners!
            African Americans have had to fight for their freedoms all the years since they arrived here as slaves. Every time I read another book, even in recent time periods, I am saddened and angry by the stories that kept our citizens from full lives. Just imagine if it were different, how much richer everyone's lives would have been or would be if every person could be in the world adding their expertise without fighting for it.
             Here in these picture books are two more stories of those we would not have heard without wonderful authors and illustrators telling about past lives that need to be known.

            The name Walter Dean Myers caught my eye on this book on the shelf at the library. It was published in 2008 and Myers died in 2014. We readers are fortunate he gave us many a wonderful story, fiction and non, including this one. Here, he introduces the extraordinary Ida B. Wells. who as teacher, writer, leader worked her entire life to better the lives of African Americans. She was consulted by Susan B. Anthony, lead an African-American women's group in the women's march at Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. She was one of the organizers of a group that eventually became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples.

              Ida was born three years before the Emancipation Proclamation, still grew up in a poor black family, but did get to go to school. The book says her mother also went with her for a while in order to learn to read the Bible. By the age of sixteen, her parents and one sibling had died of yellow fever and she took on the raising of her family, taking the teacher's test and traveling six miles on a mule to teach. That was her beginning, but realizing the harm done to her people, she began to protest, to call for more action, especially against lynchings. She wrote a book titled The Red Record for which Frederick Douglas wrote the introduction. 

            Is this enough to show that history books could have written about this amazing woman long ago? We should know about her life! She never stopped writing, protesting and pioneering for equal rights. Thanks to Walter Dean Myers for the writing and Bonnie Christensen for the gorgeous watercolor paintings. There is a timeline at the back and a double-page spread of important quotes by Ida B. Wells, like "I'd rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it has done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I have said." She died in 1931 at the age of 68 and there is a postage stamp created in her honor.

          Ernest Everett Just died ten years after Ida B. Wells at the age of 58. His story is similar in some ways in that he fought injustices to African Americans through his work. He refused to give in to what people (especially in the U.S.) thought he should be doing, instead was determined to see science through his own observations, fighting against other well-known white scientists, working hard to prove his discoveries. He saw the whole, where others saw only parts. And he noticed details others failed to see. With fabulous illustrations by Luisa Uribe showing what he did throughout his life and what he saw, this is the story of his life of persistence and accomplishments. His discoveries about the cell in the 1930s continue to be important even in today's science. The book shows his childhood working hard in his studies, his fierce determination to keep going. I enjoyed that Melina Mangal included explanations of his ground-breaking work in showing how cells directed their own development, a controversial idea at that time. Eventually, he moved to France which gave more freedom in his work, but was caught when the Nazis invaded. He managed to get free, moved back to the U.S., but died within the year. It is another life story I am glad to know. 

There is quite a bit of backmatter added: an author's note, more about Ernest Everett Just's science, an illustrator's note, a timeline, glossary, and source notes. Also, there are two great photos of Mr. Just.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Reading - Past and Today

 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. 

          Just-out books to love and a few others, one old one in honor of John Burningham who just passed away last month!

        "You can't split love." is my favorite quote shared by Nisha, whose diary I read, whose life in these few months of the Partition, when India split in 1947, and part became Pakistan, Muslims, and Hindus (among others) became enemies when in Nisha's brief experience (she is only twelve) they lived together in peace. In the larger picture, India's independence from Great Britain laid some of the groundwork for hatred. It is Nisha who cannot understand why people must be enemies, why she must leave her beloved home, and their beloved servant, Kazi. Building the characters, including Nisha's mother who died at her and her twin, Amil's birth, made me want to read on, learning more and more of this family who inhabits this powerful story by Veera Hiranandani. Each one unique in their life approach, but each strong, so strong in their love for each other. That helped their survival in the worst of times, the escape to where now they must go, to India. I would wish almost that Nisha could have remained an innocent child, griping a bit about family members, worried about friends at school and why she was so shy. Yet her words showed a twelve-year-old who must navigate the family problems with her father, between her father and brother, and her epiphany after terrible experiences that some things are now important to her that were not before. It's both a beautiful and heartbreaking book. 

        Thanks to Candlewick for this advanced copy. First published in Great Britain, the book comes out Tuesday here in the U.S.!  A young girl feels like she's always in the shadow of her older sister, who keeps being "a star". That older one wins a costume competition, found Mom's lost wedding ring, and knitted a scarf "without holes", yes, "a star"! Taken by the hand outside, Grandfather notices the younger girl's sadness and gives her a science lesson starting with that very first star, leading to all the wonderful things in the world, ALL made of stardust, including her. There is an upbeat and sweet ending, but the additional star magic to me lies in Briony May Smith's beautiful illustrations. Realistic scenes, from the family scenes to imaginary visits to the ocean, mountains, and forest with Grandfather. Yes, all is Stardust! Here's one example.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

#NF10for10 - Favorites

Hurrah, it's #NF10for10 2019 (non-fiction picture books). Add your link here with Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to Mandy's partner, Cathy Mere, who tells "how" here at  Reflect and Refine: Building A Learning Community.  Julie Balen at Connecting to Learn is also part of this fabulous book-sharing! Thank you, Mandy, Cathy and Julie!

In the past:

2013    2014    2015    2016    2017    2018

               Like last year, I'm linking each to my Goodreads review, so if you want to know details, you can take a look. You may know most, but I hope you'll find at least one or two that becomes a "must read"! I've chosen favorite books that have lingered in my mind, although there are many more. Each one is about a person, some known, some I was thrilled finally to learn about. And each one is given center stage so marvelously by the authors and illustrators! 

               Here are my favorites this year.

The Iridescence of Birds - Patricia MacLachlan and Hadley Hooper
         It’s a lovely basic introduction for younger children to Matisse’s life.

Separate Is Never Equal - Duncan Tonatiuh

          Well before the Civil Rights Act, Sylvia Mendez and her family fought a years long battle to get her children into the schools where everyone went instead of those “for Mexicans” which were nearly falling down, without playgrounds, not to the standards of those built for white children.

Brick by Brick - Charles R. Smith, Jr. and Floyd Cooper
         The story of the construction of the first White House unfolds with Floyd Cooper's beautiful paintings of the working men, mostly slaves, who built it. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Poetry Friday Love In Many Guises

Laura Purdie Salas hosts today at Writing the World for Kids. Congratulations, Laura for your new book, Snowman - Cold = Puddle, out just this past week! Thanks for hosting! 

And she's created a padlet with an invitation to write your own equation poem! 

       Happy Valentine's Day, a bit early, but it is time for a lotta love leading up to it, too!

I used to have students write love poems before Valentine's Day. They had fun in a variety of ways, writing those poems to people and things, often to their backpacks! Here's one book I used to inspire them, and it's now fun to read to the granddaughters. The older one in fourth grade just told me this week that some classmates giggle as they ask others "Will you be my Valentine?" The love (or 'like') train has started with nine and ten-year-olds!

Here's a favorite love poem:
       One that I often gave students, one that was popular with everyone, because the students were always surprised how modern it seemed, even though written so very long ago.

           This is a small part of Trollius and Cressida, by Geoffrey Chaucer

How To Write A Love Letter 

 Don't write too neat, and use a little guile--
 Let tear stains blot your words once in a while
 But if you find a word you think is clever
 Use it but once, don't harp on it forever!
                           Find the rest here!

This is from clever Marilyn Singer who first asks the question, "Do animals celebrate Valentine's Day?" And she offers proof in her funny, punny rhymes, from fifteen animals like bats and worms, sharks and pigeons! Lee Wildish shares the stage with Marilyn through cute illustrations like the one on this cover.   

some examples


"Nice to meetcha! You smell delish!
Wanna share my water dish?


A sunny day. It's perfect weather
to go outside--and nap together.


I like your tusks, I like your trunk.
I like your size--you're quite a hunk.

Perhaps you'd like to try one. If so, share in the comments! Here's mine.


Hello up there, I bring love and flowers.
How sweet you’re patient, might take a few hours.
            Linda Baie ©

Tuesday, February 5, 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 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, really for everyone. 

        History is made of stories, and sometimes that history is personal, often told instead of printed. That is where this book about a part of Paul Robeson's life lies, in history passed on. This time, the author, Susan Robeson, his granddaughter, grew up hearing about the wonderful man her grandfather was. She certainly knew he was a great singer, learned early how the spirituals that made him famous came from his own father, an escaped slave. But the story that intrigued her was that he, one day, stopped a war. 
         In the late 1930s, Paul Robeson was living in London when war broke out in Spain. He was concerned and gave concerts with the proceeds going to help the victims of the war, especially the children who had lost their homes, were in dire need of food. It kept on, he kept singing, yet it didn't seem enough. He insisted he must go to Spain, to the front. Many thought it too dangerous, but he did go, and his wife with him. He went to the front and sang. On that day, no guns fired, no bombs dropped. He had stopped a war. Sadly, those who were fighting for Spain eventually lost to the general who was siding with Hitler. 
        Museum-like paintings by Rod Brown show this man who seemed larger than life, the scenes, too, enlarge the story with many details. There are the slaves of Robeson's father's time, the spread showing Robeson singing by a river with a riverboat floating by (his most famous song was "Old Man River), and the details of the Valencia oranges looking like "little suns" by the road to the front.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Monday Recap - Don't Miss 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 working to catch up with those books from the awards list that I haven't read. Because of all of you sharing so many you loved, I actually had read quite a few. Some of my favorites did receive some honors and some did not. Nevertheless, I still love each one.

          Five of the seven books I'm sharing today are based on true stories!


Two things: The Cybils' Awards will be announced on Valentine's Day. 

                          Remember that NF10for10 hosted by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek will happen next Sunday, February 10th! It's the seventh year! Here's the link about HOW if you're interested!

My second #MustReadin2019 book read!
           Front Desk tells the story of a young Chinese immigrant, fifth-grader Mia Tang. She inspires as she shows the persistence in doing great work and the courage to make things right for everyone. For a young girl, no matter the conflicts with her mother, it's clear that her parents' values have been passed on to her. She cares about them very much. It won the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature! 
          Mia and her parents thought they had a dream job when they were hired to manage the Calivista Motel. They had been in America a couple of years and spent some of that time living in a car! Now they live in a small room behind the front office. Hired by the rich and cruel Mr. Yao, the family works hours cleaning rooms, fixing problems, and managing the front desk. Mr. Yao continues to take more money from the profits and his son, Jason, seems as mean as his father and bullies Mia at school. Sadly, they have ended up in the same class and are stereotyped because they're the only Chinese kids there. Luckily Mia does meet one friend, Lupe, and both support each other to, as Lupe explains, get off the bad roller coaster (of poverty) and onto the good one. Lupe also explains that being successful in America means having a living room without a bed in it. These girls understand very well the truth of things and want their lives to be different. I also loved the small bits of Chinese culture that were included in the story, like the excitement when something comes up in a lucky number. We do less of that here in the U.S., but I still am superstitious about the number 13, per a grandfather's beliefs. 
         This is Kelly Yang's debut book. When I read her note at the end, I was sad to see that not only was the story a tough one to read about new immigrants here, but much is autobiographical. Mia certainly doesn't give up and as she also supports her new friends, "the weeklies" (those who stay at the motel as their home), she learns just how strong she can be when challenged. She might be scared or sad inside, but she does not quit! There are good and bad people in the story set in the 1990s that include persons of color and those living in poverty. Mia faces extortion, fraud, and racism and tries hard to realize one impossible dream. I can't tell what happens, yet the way Yang shows Mia's learning as she learns to write powerful letters and tell powerful stories is so special and enlightening to see. I imagine other students will love that, too, perhaps especially those who are English language learners. Yang adds alarming information on Chinese immigration to America in an author’s note along with her own personal experiences. It's a terrific book.

       A special story in another culture, told by Margarita Engle, her daughter Nicole Karanjit, and Nicole's husband, Amish who really did survive Nepal's 2015 earthquake and fed their mother's festival feast to a stray dog called Haku, which means 'black'. Among other parts of the tradition, this centers on the action of finding stray dogs to feed them in order to thank rescue dogs for helping find people buried in the earthquake's rubble. Ruth Jeyaveeran's illustrations are beautifully colorful with so many details of children and adults celebrating this festival. It is another festival of light with lanterns lit and fireworks sparkling. What a great story to introduce another culture's ways of being grateful for their lives.

         Sy Montgomery tells the story of Inky from birth to "escape", one based on a real Inky that includes much about octopus lives, how they begin no bigger than a grain of rice, but are sent out into the world to survive by themselves! Those suckers help them feel and taste and are strong enough to pull a clam apart! Inky's story parallels other octopuses in the world of aquariums. They can squeeze into or through amazingly tiny spaces. More is included in an end note with a page of other fascinating facts about octopuses. Amy Schimler-Safford's pages are filled with details, of the ocean creatures Inky encounters and eats or hides from along with the later adventure in an aquarium. I enjoyed it very much, know it would be a great pairing with the recent book by Irene Latham, Love, Agnes.

         Thank you to whoever shared this so I could read it, too. Told by Deborah Mills with Alfredo Alva, whose story it really is, a real-life border crossing with his father at age eight. It's told in Spanish and English, the things you've heard: the father can no longer feed his family and decides to take his oldest to try to get to America. He is betrayed by the Coyote who takes all the money, but does manage to get across and connect with a friend who takes him to the official embassy. Unlike those today, he was fortunate because this was when President Reagan gave amnesty to illegal immigrants, a real path to citizenship. The sadness of what they left, the hardships walking so far, fearful of scorpions and other creatures, and the eventual reunion is there. There is added information at the back and a wonderful photo of the entire Alva family. Everyone needs to read this story, and it will be wonderful for those who've had such experiences to hear and see it. Claudia Navarro shows all shades of this emotional journey in the dark and light colors of her illustrations.