Thursday, May 30, 2019

Poetry Friday - Naomi Shihab Nye In My Life

           Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading hosting this Friday, her first I believe, of summer break. Thanks, Mary Lee! Enjoy your summer fun!

                 A month ago, Tabatha invited us to join her for a Poetry Friday full of poetry by Naomi Shihab Nye or inspired by her. Not long after, Nye was honored as the new Young People's Poetry Laureate. It is wonderful that we will hear from her all the year ahead, as will teachers all over the country, and now our celebration today from those who are taking this challenge.
            I taught all the years in an independent school for gifted children. My love and commitment was for middle-school-aged children, often having students for three years, but always for two. The final years I spent with all ages as the literacy coach. I loved teaching but realized that many of my students had few opportunities to know about other lives in our country, our world. Naomi Shihab Nye entered my life when I discovered two of her anthologies, This Same Sky and the flag of childhood, poems from the middle east. I no longer have the first one as I passed it on to a young teacher whom I mentored; both  brought lives from others into my students' lives. For that, and so many more books from Naomi Shihab Nye, I am grateful.

       One poem I have used since discovering it is from the book Come With Me, Poems for a Journey, illustrated by Dan Vaccarino. I often had students write oral histories and poems from their discoveries of new lives different from theirs and sometimes a childhood memory. This poem was a start.

Tío Pete

He was old as a basket
and he carried more
than a basket carries.

Where he was going
tasted green and sweet
as the inside of a melon
that sleeps for days
in the sun.

His pants were gray flannel,
and his sturdy heart a stem.
He remembered when the streets
were made of bricks.

For you he brought the fruit of papaya,
the yellow bell of the tree.
For you he brought a worn leash
to link you to your little dog.
No more little dogs for him.

He was old as a basket
and he carried the days
before you were born.

So you opened
     your door
with a hundred
happy arms.

He sat in a chair
          and made

      a different



       One final book I would recommend is Salting the Ocean, 100 poems by young poets. This book is filled with unknown child poets from the years of Naomi's school visits, one I used often to show how wonderful it is to write one's own story in poetry. In her forward, these words inspire: "You are making a map of the days you live."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Non-Fiction Links to Fiction

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 two books celebrate water, one is full of the facts in a quick and fun look at all the places it can be found. The other, though an imagined story, fills us with smiles, too, with just one thing, a puddle, and that delight found where one can SPLASH!

               Antoinette Portis choose few, but perfect, words to show all kinds of ways to discover water with one young girl, Zoe, telling this tale of water. Simply brushed shades of blues and greens with white bring water right into the picture! Beginning with a faucet, "Hey water! I know you! You're all around." and experiencing the actions as water sprays up in a sprinkler, down in a shower, gurgles in a stream. Pictures focus on the water feature with the word (like 'stream' or 'fog') incorporated into the illustrations with just-right additions, like people and trees by a stream, a whale in the ocean, and lest we forget, a dewdrop on a blade of grass. The double-page spread describing fog is lovely to see, "You drift in the air and hide/the world." It's a poetic way to show water's omnipresence, including ice and snow! There are three added pages of information that explain "water forms", "the water cycle", and "conserving water". It's a terrific book for the jumping off of a study of water.

          With only a focus on one puddle, this time on a school playground, a large one surrounded by smaller 'sisters and brothers, so dainty and sweet,/so shallow'. Soon gone by 'sudden sunshine', this puddle also worries about more rain, a poodle "piddle" in the puddle, and a shoe with two toes showing. More experiences include a duck, being alone, and the final reflection, a surprise. Richard Jackson's words bounce through in quick time as Chris Raschka's illustrations fill the page with color and the slightly distorted view a puddle gives. It's a clever and imaginative book that will be fun to include in a study of water or after a rainstorm, plus considering different perspectives.

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."