Thursday, August 29, 2019

Poetry Friday - Reflecting in August

            I've changed my Poetry Friday badge to a picture of a small plant in the alley outside the used bookstore where I volunteer. In the news, the word "survival" serves as fitting for much that is happening. Survival as an asylum seeker, survival as a refugee, survival of the Amazon, survival of essential institutions in the U.S. democracy, and this week, survival of a hurricane! My poem is brief, wishing and hoping for this plant, a tiny survivor, as metaphor for the rest of the world.

         Thanks to Kat Appel from across the water in Queensland for hosting. Today, she's sharing two verse novels that sound quite wonderful and some grand news about a new picture book from her in the making! Congratulations, Kat!

        a skinny

Sometimes in need - 
will I ever learn?

Linda Baie ©

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Non-fiction Picture Books Celebrate Important 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, 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!

      I bought this when it was published and still haven't shared it. For every child who slept after being read Goodnight Moon or The Runaway Bunny, or learned from Red Light, Green Light and celebrated with The Summer Noisy Book. And, for me as a teacher who read The Important Thing often to my middle-grade students to help them make personal choices, this is a book of forty-two pages honoring Margaret Wise Brown who lived to be forty-two. You will gather other memories as you read this, hopefully with a child, too. She wrote over 100 books, a myriad of chances for favorite stories. It's strange and quirky and the important thing is that Mac Barnett wrote it and Sarah Jacoby illustrated it. You'll know what I mean when you read it.

       In lovely and poetic language, apt for Maya Angelou, Bethany Hegedus shares an overview of Maya's life, from the time she was sent to her grandmother's home in Stamps, Arkansas with her older brother at the age of three to the publishing of her final memoir a year before her death. Angelou's life was filled with heartbreak and success. I learned a lot from this picture book, did not know that Maya Angelou was a dancer, a performer, later a director. I did not know that she escaped to Ghana when there was a threat to her son during the Civil Rights era, aligning herself with Malcolm X, soon assassinated. She lived in turmoil but was surrounded by love at her grandparent's home and later through those with whom she worked and lived. Although in Stamps, she saw terrible discrimination, she learned to "Rise", to overcome and continue to learn, to write, to dance. The book really is an overview and though reviews say it's for seven to ten, it feels to me that most readers will need background help in some that the book contains. 

       The illustrations fill the pages with words swirling around Maya each step of her life, rising into success and acknowledgment for her talents. There is a detailed timeline given at the end plus further resources.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday Reading - Wonderful Shares

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. It's been a nice break and I really haven't read much except one adult book. These I read early in the month. As you read, you'll know that I enjoyed them all.

         I enjoyed this second book, though there were lots of repeats in order to bring anyone who hadn't read the first book into the story. The tension continues, the plans continue to help everyone survive, but evil is there, those who are not interested in anything but destroying.
          I read book number three with trepidation, wanting it to be as good as the first two, wanting Eric Walters to wrap up this amazing story in a satisfactory way. He did more than that. I liked number three very much. I became wrapped up in this sixteen-year-old Adam's world, one that he certainly had no wish for, but one where he stood up for good, remained true to his beliefs and fought hard for them, was hurt by them, yet did not waver. I don't know how a teacher could have students read all three, but know that they would bring discussions like no other. What would they do in these situations? How would they react? I taught middle school-aged kids for a long time and often felt helpless knowing they were so capable yet our world today does not often ask real tasks of them. I know they could do more if only given the challenge. It's a terrific trilogy that I enjoyed very much.

          As you see, from "We Need Diverse Books", a new collection that is easy to imagine readers loving, hopefully, teachers reading it aloud so that every single student can learn so many ways that acts of kindness can occur. Each story has its own magic, sometimes fantastical, often realistic, but always satisfying. I am grateful to this organization that is giving us ALL the faces of our students and to the writers who brought life to some of them.

           Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following picture books. 

         First published in the UK, out this month in the US comes a series of trickster tales from Mulla Nasruddin, a 'trickster' beloved by Muslims all over the world. He is wise, a fool, sometimes an iman, a teacher or a judge and when you read stories about him, you will understand why you both laugh and learn. I loved reading these by Sean Taylor aloud to my granddaughters to see how they would react and they loved them. Shirin Adl's collaged illustrations sometimes are set against painted backdrops, and the differing depictions of Nasruddin are creative and varied. They're also filled with details like the double-page spread of the market. 
The stories are brief, just right for beginning a school day with a smile and a brief discussion. What do they mean? Often, Nasrudden caps the tales with answers, yet other times, he allows the reader to do the solving.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Poetry Friday - Grateful Words

         It is a particularly special Poetry Friday today, a celebration, a remembrance for Lee Bennett Hopkins. Noted for his support of many children's poets through publishing 120 anthologies and support of their writing. The words will live on, as memories of Lee will.            
         Thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm for hosting. 
         Tag with #DearOneLBH 

I chose a line from a poem in the anthology Small Talk, A Book of Short Poems, published 1995.

I used the poems often, showing the promise of creative communication in only a few words. Lee’s poem itself is a gem, one I shared often at the school year’s beginning. It is titled “Change”. I appreciate so much that year after year, Lee collected the best poetry (including his own) from wonderful, talented and thoughtful poets and gave his collections to the world, to children.

                After Lee’s poem, Change
When the first petals blow,
I see you flying on with them,
sweeping up words as you say your farewell.
When the first petals blow,
I hear whispers of longing:
“Stay a bit with us; come, sit for a spell.”
When the first petals blow,
I’d spare a moment to thank you
for book after book and smile after smile.
When the first petals blow,
and the leaves swirl around us,
We know we’ve been blessed to have had you this while.
Linda Baie ©

         Here is Lee's poem. Perhaps you'd love sharing it this beginning of the school year!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

It's August - Meaning #PB10for10

      It's PictureBook10for10 (#PB10for10) where many share ten picture books that are Must-HavesCathy Mere of Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning host this wonderful tradition. You can find everyone's posts shared on Cathy's blog this year, HERE.

This is a most fun day of the summer. After teaching, I began volunteering at a used bookstore (run entirely by volunteers) and among other duties, am in charge of our children's section. I also review books for various memes and on Goodreads. My TBR list grows. Thanks, Cathy and Mandy, this is a tradition I look forward to every year! Each year it seems that more marvelous books are published. We are fortunate indeed to have the books available.

Here are my previous posts for   2011     2012     2013     2014     2015    2016     2017     2018

This year I thought I'd see if I could share favorite books for a school year's beginnings, for the themes we think of in a classroom, no matter the age. In reality, each book will serve in varied ways. I taught middle school 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade gifted students and read picture books with them often. I cut most of my Goodreads reviews. If you want to know more please visit Goodreads to see my or other reviews.


In a big city, a little boy, among hundreds of people ignoring it, sees a bird that’s fallen with a broken wing. Nearly wordless, the illustrations beautifully tell the tale of loving parents helping their boy take the bird home to care for it, and with time and hope, helping it to heal, and fly again. This could be discussed as a metaphor for an act of kindness that can happen anywhere if only we notice when it’s needed.

             It’s Pet Club Day, and a young boy takes his good friend and pet, an elephant to participate. Sadly there is a sign on the door: Strictly No Elephants! On the way home, he meets a girl with a pet skunk, but she knows “they” don’t want her and her pet to play either. Fortunately, a new group forms, one that allows anyone in. And this group paints a new sign: All Are Welcome. Conversations about inclusion can happen after reading this book to a young audience, perhaps four to nine years old. It’s a wise little story that shows differences are okay, in kids and in pets! Yoo’s illustrations include all kinds of children too, of different cultures, those who wear glasses, girls and boys who dress in what must be their favorite way of dressing. I enjoyed it very much.


            Every day, nine-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle, a retired teacher who has set up a free lending library next to her apartment building. Yasmin is confused when one day he gives her a book that's an old folktale about a flock of doves trapped in a hunter's net. They realize that if they all flap wings together, they can lift the net and fly away to be safe. She knows Book Uncle often tells her that he selects just the right book for the right time, and when she discovers that he has received written notice that unless he has a special permit, he can no longer lend books, she is devastated. She does learn that her actions can help, especially when she has others working beside her. I like that Uma Krishnaswami has include bits of Yasmin's home life, too, from meals to parent challenges, from learning about apartment neighbors to market stall sellers. It is a story to love about community.


            I re-visit this beautiful book every single year in my classroom as a mentor text for writing. Rylant reminds us of the beauty of November. We noticed the repetition of the phrase "In November", sensory details, and figurative language. Don't miss finding and reading if you haven't already.


              This is a wonderful addition, for creating and for enjoying and writing poetry. Amy defines what a maker is in the first poem, "Maker": he or she "is a tinkerer, a maker will explore./A maker creates/something new/that/never/was/before" and adds many poems about the wide varieties of making like painting, knitting, glitter pictures and creating with clay. Readers can use each page as inspiration OR read the poems and re-visit what is most loved and "make something". 
Will you make "Leaf Pictures" where the "leaves look like stained glass" or bake "Cookies" and "resemble/clouds of flour"? The poem forms vary from rhyme to free-verse, list and shape poems. 
            Amy, too, is a maker but of poems, and this book is her sharing of what can be! Everyone should have a copy, old or young, in school or out. I believe Amy wants us all to MAKE something!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Poetry Friday - Sweet Swapping Helps This Sad Day

It's Poetry Friday, this week hosted by Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone. She's sharing a poem idea, to write from a title that intrigues from another poet. It is interesting to read the original poem and then the direction Molly took from just that title. Thanks for hosting, Molly.

    Thursdays are my regular shift at the bookstore, also the day we weed through the week's donations and then shelve or discover doubles, fix boxes of books to pass on to others. While I do other shelving, I'm in charge of the children's/YA sections. In all the times I've done this, we've never had an anthology donated by Lee Bennett Hopkins. I was thrilled to see it, an older one that I don't have.
       Then in a brief lull, I checked my Facebook page and read the news about Lee's passing. I won't forget that this particular book came this day, and won't forget all the books from Lee I do have and cherished sharing with my students. I have only had a brief connection personally with him, but know many whose hearts are broken tonight and I am so sorry for their and his husband Charles' loss. Luckily for us, he left many, many gifts for us, especially for children.

        Remember when I discovered a wonderful poetry book, though disintegrating, and shared a poem by Celia Thaxter, the poet found because I googled the lines via a nudge from Heidi Mordhorst. From it to again sharing more from research and another poem by her to honor Paul B. Janeczko. I have since read An Island Garden; some write that it's Thaxter's most famous work. Well, many of you may not have remembered, but Tabatha Yeatts did and used lines of poetry by Celia Thaxter to write a poem for me. She has seen me share about our family beach trips every summer and sent this poem hug celebrating that for me. I am so grateful to see that Tabatha and Celia have collaborated so wonderfully! 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Monday - Books Shared

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. 


And Cathy Mere & Mandy Robek remind here that it's nearly time for #PB10for10! Are you getting ready?

Sixth-grader Obe Devlin has a lot of troubles. His beloved family farm has been gone for a while, most of it lost by a great-grandfather who "drank dirt" (you need to read it) and a small, beloved patch with a creek saved by a spunky great-grandmother. That 'patch' is where Obe lives and where, collecting trash that floats down into the creek, he discovers a wonder of a friend, one he is in need of, but this friend is nothing he's ever seen before, a combination of pig, dog, perhaps a peccary. Obe just isn't sure! We do discover other troubles, like his loss of his earlier best friend, gone to be with the crowd now living in the suburban homes built on the Devlin land. Obe tells this story, his problems, and his loves, like having still another friend from the bus named Annie, always with smiles and tissues for his constant nosebleeds. No worries, yes, there are worries. And A.S. King also lets Obe tell what's happening on this land 100 years ago, a perfect connection, but heartbreaking, too. The thread that binds is the environment. To Obe's science teacher, April is Earth Month, not just for one day, and it is she who tells about the need for everyone to do something to save the earth. Obe's love for nature, then for this new creature and his steadfast beliefs that make him stay lonely, showing his commitment to doing the right thing. You will love this character created by A.S. King. She writes that it took her a long time to write about losing a beloved cornfield, "something beautiful and magical replaced with something more convenient". I am so glad that she did.

         This is from my #MustReadin2019 list. Why did I wait so long?

        It's not the greatest dystopian book I've ever read, but it goes quickly and I imagine middle grade/early teens would love it. I'd love to see more character development, but perhaps that will happen in the next books. I am intrigued to think of what would happen if everything went dark, all electricity, all technology, and so on. It's like a sci-fi beach read, good for summer and I will read the next ones!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Poetry Friday - Swapping Surprises

                This week, Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi Mordhorst at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. She's sharing a new poetry form, a 'definito', some examples she wrote and a few others, too. Be sure to check the post out, to discover what you can write next!

         On Wednesday, I shared Laura Purdie Salas' new poetry book, Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle. If you don't know it, take a look, then go find a copy next month! It's a must-have for autumn.
                 Summer swapping, all thanks to Tabatha Yeatts, fills my mailbox with more than ads, more than catalogs, more than things that often land in my recycle bin. Delightful surprises arrive in a "package", rarely found in that box. This time I want to thank Carol Varsalona for the goodies sent from eastern New York to Colorado.

Carol sent things for –

             savoring the thoughtful collection, created from my own Captiva Island photos, packaged in a beautiful envelope. . .

          writing, while loving the driftwood and shell from Carol's own ocean jaunts. . .