Thursday, October 22, 2020

Poetry Friday - Knowing Others

       Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup hosts Poetry Friday today. with yummy cider and apple cider donuts plus a poem that makes one yearn for autumn and write poems! Thanks, Jama!

      Thinking of this particular autumn into winter, the need to pay attention to others and their "inside" from the "outside" as well as I can. Many needs have emerged during these weeks and months of the pandemic. I believe my need to be especially perceptive of others who may be hiding their feelings. I've resurrected an old poem I wrote when I was then thinking of my middle school students who are often reluctant to tell what's really going on. It fits everyone, don't you think?
             I'm hosting next week for #PoetryFriday, no matter what, we'll do some Halloween celebrating! Please, VOTE! 


             What Can You Know?

 

Inside, at 60 beats a minute, 

my heart stays resting,

accumulating layers

of life on the outside.

These layers, like tree rings,

remain hidden inside,

show only a peek to the outside

of the sometimes sweet

and occasionally bitter

when we add a pinch of salt

and then a lot of sugar.

Now inside, my heart is racing

but you might not know

until I tell you, on the outside.

                                 Linda Baie ©




photo credit: adam_moralee age rings via photopin (license)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Monday Reading - More Wonderful Books

  Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and 

  
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!

     Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 

Wishing you all a good week ahead! 

          Yes, I managed to finish it, but it took a week because I kept re-reading different parts; I wanted to remember every single thing. Then I went back to browse through Dear Martin, wanting to remember more of Justice and Quan together. I can't tell all the story. You don't want to miss this, the thoughts of both, but this time particularly the inside/outside cries for help from Quan, cries for someone to "see" him and to "love" him. This is one that can break your heart from both sadness and relief from breath-holding. How can it be that a youngster is held in a juvenile correction facility for two years without a trial? It's a tragedy that must be addressed! Nic Stone writes in her afterword that much of Quan's story is true. Nic Stone interviewed many juveniles in prisons and used their experiences to help her write. 
Other characters are there, too, with their own poignant stories. It's a story I hope lands in classes and school libraries everywhere.


Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

         Sweet Gustavo, yes, he's shy, lived unseen in his world, even for a ghost! Flavia Z. Drago shares this sweet story for young readers about someone who is terrified to make friends, never "dared to speak to any of the other monsters". Her words tell it plainly but her illustrations show his fear with creativity. Gustavo remains close but he's disguised as a balloon, sneaks into a painting, or in a clothesline sheet, and is not seen! His true love is named Alma, an invisible girl who wears glasses. A Mexican feel is noticeable in the art like the colorful papel picado banners and skulls tucked in everywhere. In some good self-pushing, Gustavo decides he must be brave, so decides to invite everyone to a violin concert, his favorite thing. What happened after that made Gustavo glow and will make readers "glow" too, with lots of smiles.  (When they are there, I always check out the endpapers to see what has been done. This time, the opening shows Gustavo in a strip of pictures like one from a photobooth. You can imagine what the back shows - a happy GROUP with Gustavo!

Thanks to NetGalley for this book!

        Based on his own son and experiences through that young son's life, Michael Waters tells a family story of Jeremiah and his persistent questioning about the shootings, particularly of young black boys but also including that of five police officers. Jeremiah is waiting for his hair to grow so he can have locks and there's a chuckle when he gains permission plus later comparing it to the patience people must have when working for equal rights. As he grows, more tragic shootings happen and the phrase, "That doesn't make sense" repeats. Beautiful black boys like Jeremiah fight for better, shown in "also beautiful" illustrations by Keisha Morris. There are two pages of activities for extending the learning at the back. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Poetry Friday - State of Mind


     Poetry Friday is hosted by Janice Scully here at Salt City Verse! Thanks for hosting, Janice!  

These next weeks are going to be challenging, I imagine, for each of us. Best wishes in doing what you can to be kind to yourself and others. And VOTE!
         I am feeling like I am at a crossroads. Perhaps it's because my birthday was Monday; probably it's because seven and a half months of tension that includes worry about the losses from the pandemic for everyone and now the incredible election chaos. One needs to be strong to face these next weeks and I want to be, especially for my grandchildren. This poem comes from those thoughts.

Forget Everything - Almost

These challenging days,
don't tell anybody,
I'm "almost" forgetting every single month behind me,
the way it was:
the startling whispers,
the "everything is gonna be alright",
that word we fear to hear again,
"lockdown", the angry arguments
for truth.

I will remember
the daughter who brought groceries,
small visits (like vitamins),
the son's phone calls,
making believe he was cross-town,
hugs
that 
finally
came from granddaughters,
customers 
who 
rushed  
to the bookstore opening –
out of books
eager for book talk,
the silly smile drawn
on the Starbucks cup,
a text from a neighbor,
so many deviled eggs.

I will not forget walks in
     winter's snowy whispers
     spring bees buzzing
     summer's magpie chatter
     fall trees' defiant goodbyes.

I won't forget 
the name of this poem.

Linda Baie ©


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Non-Fiction Picture Books Share Memories

  

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy -- hashtag #nfpb2020! Thanks to her hosting and sharing.  
       From others, too, who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following fabulous book!



          I've lived on a lake but in a neighborhood. And my family used to have a cabin in the woods but by a stream instead of a lake. That cabin was built by a park ranger and his family one summer. They had it for fourteen years, then my family bought it from them, and now we have sold it to a new family. Three owners make its history of changes and abandonment, then fun and good times back again. 
           My life stories make Thomas Harding's history of The House by the Lake so very poignant. His own great-grandfather, described as "a kind doctor and his cheery wife" are the ones who built the house, wanting a place away from "the busy city". That city was Berlin, Germany, and as is said, the rest is history. In his forward, Thomas Harding discovers through his search that the history of this same house was on the "frontlines of history".
            First published in the U.S. last month, Harding has researched and told this story again, this time in brief, poetic and poignant words. He traces the story from the impact of the Nazis in World War II to the way the house later ended up near the Berlin Wall when no one sailed across the lake. Finally, the wall came down and with it, freedom for the house that was then reconstructed so a family could again stay there and sail across the lake and build sandcastles by the shore. Britta Teckentrup’s beautiful, collaged illustrations appear muted, not quite gone but over-taken by shadows of years passing. 



         There is an afterword that tells more of each of the five owners, including the restoration of the house by Thomas Harding and the community. It has been renamed the Alexander Haus and reopened as a center for education and reconciliation.

        An interesting article in The Guardian can be found here, showing one picture of Harding in the actual house and sharing a bit more about its history. Harding wrote a memoir of the same title in 2015 about this house.

        It's a special book, may begin someone's interest in researching their own homes or apartments.

Monday, October 12, 2020

It's Monday - Loving Halloween books, History, and More!

 Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!

     Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 
  
      Still wishing all of you educators good days with your students! I admire you very much! I ended up talking with a teacher (a stranger) at the grocery last week who told me everything she was doing from morning till night for her students, her teaching. She was so tired, but still, more concerned about her students. 

        Here are two books I loved this week from my regular reading. 

         Sometimes one expects middle-grade books to be fairly simple, but this debut book by Ernesto Cisneros is anything but simple. I am so glad to see his respect for middle-schoolers, that they do ponder important parts of their lives, they do make good decisions, and they are quite capable of doing great things! Efrén Nava's Amá is his Superwoman - or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. The story centers around Efrén but entrenches deeply with his family of mother, father, and two younger siblings. He lives in Highland, California in a one-room apartment with mattresses on the floor, a tiny kitchen, and a whole lot of love. His parents are both undocumented, and the tension arrives at the beginning when they all go on lockdown as a helicopter whirrs overhead. The story intensifies when his mother is deported and Efrén must take over most of the sibling caretaking while his father works two jobs. Little money along with few hours of sleep makes school a challenge for the usual super-student Efrén, along with keeping everything a big secret. Other school challenges with friends and a trip across the border to save his mother made me admire this young boy, but also angry that it should not be like this for children. Despite these huge events, Cisneros keeps Efrén the sweetest boy ever with his family and trying hard to do right by his friends. I love that there are numerous Spanish phrases throughout and a glossary at the back that helped when I couldn't figure out a word. This book is definitely a "soper" story!


Thanks to Barry Wittenstein for this copy in exchange for an honest review. It's published tomorrow!

        Read this book to inspire your children or your students to become interested in history, tracing their homes, or in this case, the proprietors of a local "corner store". Read this book with them and have them research their own personal history of a local store, or of their home. Of course, it would be great if they lived in a place that has been around for a long time, but choosing a favorite building visited in a nearby town or city will work, too.

        Barry Wittenstein has created his own fictional history in Oscar's American Dream of a city corner location that changes with the times, a parallel journey of the highlights of the twentieth century. Oskar Nowicki, soon to become "Oscar" came to Ellis Island with only a cardboard suitcase and "a skinny roll of money", ready to make his dream a reality. In 1899, he opened his barbershop, celebrating the new century coming with his Grand Opening. He gave some free haircuts and lemon drops to all the children. Later, he found work that paid better, and that corner store became full of women, suffragettes, too, moving on toward the 1920s, two sisters getting rich selling flapper fashions. "The good times were here to stay–" 

         You older readers may guess what's coming, the Great Depression. Those sisters lost everything and their store became a soup kitchen for all in need. Years continue to pass as Barry tells this building's story with numerous details added in illustrations from Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell: flappers trying on the latest, the dark times of the Depression, the variety of people sitting together for their free meals, a World War II recruitment office, and on.


                                                    The soup kitchen illustration!



                 

            

                                       

                     This corner store has become a memory during the century for hundreds of peopleI imagine a great cloud floating above that store with people, friends, and family, talking together: "Do you remember when you found green banana cakes from Moises at the corner bodega, or when you bought your first television there? Remember when it burned, then Annie & Danny reconstructed it and opened the first coffee shop? Remember Candy's? 

           Sometimes these places create a bond among us. Sometimes for kids, they are places they could first go alone, for young marrieds, a first big purchase; for company, a welcome meeting place. Curiosity about the history in a favorite building makes life interesting and someday, when you meet old friends, you'll be able to say, "Remember when. . ."

          Wishing you all your own connections, and memories, of a building. And I hope you can read this book with kids to inspire them that the places they visit have histories they will enjoy knowing. 

     



            I am sad that Halloween will look different this year but continue to depend on my granddaughters' excitement about home decorating, reading scary books, and their own costumes although they will only be going out in their block which is having its own celebration. 
            However, the most fun in October is reading Halloween books. Here are a few new ones and one old favorite we get out every year.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Poetry Friday - Out My Window

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Bridget Magee here at Wee Words for Wee Ones! She's offering smiles for us today along with a prompt and a poem about her favorite color, orange. And it's not political! Thanks for hosting, Bridget!  


These next weeks are going to be challenging, I imagine, for each of us. Best wishes in doing what you can to be kind to yourself and others. And VOTE!

I'm keeping my eyes on the important parts of life, out in nature this time of year is a blessing. Autumn is a falling inspiration! I found this in one of my notebooks and really do not know if I wrote it or I copied it from one of you! Nevertheless, I love its truth!



Out My Window  

 

windy days 

co-star with leaves –

dancing

swirls

around-the-corner

music –

melancholy

whirls

magical movies –

flirting

twirls

 

Linda Baie ©





Monday, October 5, 2020

Monday Reading - All New and Wonderful

Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!

     Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 
  

            My post that shares Irene Latham's new poetry book, This Poem Is A Nest, is shared today on a blog tour. The book came out on September 29th. You can find my post here with a list of others who are on the tour.

      Still wishing all of you educators good days with your students! I admire you very much!


          Thanks to Edelweiss, I had the pleasure of reading Jerry Craft's new book, the "next" story after New Kid, about Drew, best friend Jordan, white rich friend Liam, and all the other kids with them in their eighth-grade year at the elite school they call RAD (Riverdale Academy Day school). They aren't "new kids" anymore yet still find they don't know each other very well, and each struggle with the age-old question of who they are and accepting self, something most new teens (later too) agonize over. Through various scenes at school and outside of school, examining how they are treating each other, how the old history of neighborhood friends is hard on Drew. He has a new flattop haircut (see the cover) that gets touched without permission by a few girls who really do like him, but. . .  Jordan hasn't grown very much and still doesn't have that "boy-stink" he thinks everyone else has, plus he loves drawing and still has to decide whether to transfer to an art school in high school. Liam in his huge home, with pool and maid and driver, doesn't see his father very much and his mother is portrayed as a little out of touch. As you see from the cover of Drew juggling several artifacts. All middle-schoolers, juggle their lives as they grow up. That also includes family, included in the boys' lives as an important part of their support. Craft heightens the tension a few times that made me as a reader turn the pages fast, like one frightening scene where Jordan's dad is driving him somewhere and he's pulled over by the police. Diversity is something the mostly-white school is shown to be of concern, creating some serious moments and some decisions that feel uncomfortable especially for those of color. They are all learning, but it is messy.
            Craft has Jordan create cartoon "intermissions" once in a while, talking about race and class, emotions from his and friend perspectives. The chapter title pages themselves are wonderful predictions of what's coming, all different, but some cleverly parody other popular graphic works for readers like Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants - The Adventures of Captain Undertones - now in fool color - Chapter 11.  As you read my review, I hope you realize how much I enjoyed this advanced copy, will be sure to purchase for my granddaughter, sixth grade! It's terrific!

             
Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

           There is a lake here in Colorado where a small town was flooded in order to create the lake. This is a story for October, for Halloween sharing! As the blurb states, all that can be seen of the flooded village of Spetzia is the clock tower, but sometimes with the right light, one can see the streets and buildings of the old village. Some whisper that this lake is haunted, but along the shore, Jacob and his father live together and make their living as fishermen. Ellen meets Jacob at the market and over time she spends time helping with the fish, cooking for them, going to market. They fall in love but Jacob is older and says they must wait a while before marriage. What comes later as he is lured underwater by a beautiful specter is a tale to be read by candlelight and one that might make you shiver! Illustrations by P.J. Lynch are gorgeous, sometimes shadowy, often full of emotion, bring the story to life. It's quite an intriguing story.

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

             Wow! Twenty-five years later, Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram (Guess How Much I Love You) have reunited to create a new and special book for the youngest readers. Little Nutbrown Hare wants to play because Big Nutbrown Hare is busy, and he does. He finds another in a puddle, realizes it is the same 'me'. Then sees a second 'me' in his shadow, and the same recognition happens. But then, a white rabbit appears and after a first meeting, they play and play. The possible "what's next?" will give time for wondering and some predictions with smiles for the happy ending. Finding a friend is a great thing! The softly-colored illustrations are lovely and certainly recognizable from the early, loved book.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Poetry Friday - Where Poetry Invites Us to Travel


     Poetry Friday is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts here at The Opposite of Indifference!  This Friday, Tabatha has a surprise for everyone. Be sure to read her post, then check out everyone else's Friday poetry sharing. Thanks, Tabatha for hosting and for always giving us beautiful words to ponder!

      Remember that I work at an all-volunteer-run used bookstore, ever a pleasure! Often a book comes along that I enjoy, and here is one. I don't bring them all home. Yikes! My shelves are full already. But I took a picture of the cover and a poem I thought you would enjoy, with illustration! I am so grateful for all those workers in our world this pandemic year who are helping us live our lives as best we can, who often are taking risks, and who are often in need, too. 




               THE UMBRELLA REPAIR MAN

In the rainy season
                                 the streets and alleys are very damp.
During the weather of genial sunbeams
No one remembers          This thin, raw-boned engineer.

In charge of the bent parabolas of umbrella tops,
The most primitive type of thin-shelled construction,
Using the cohesive force of particle for particle,
He perfects the form of tension.

His fuming pipe bowl            burns time
Which, borne by natural currents,
                                                           coils away and vanishes,
His bygone, rose-colored youth (like the tattered slogan)
Is already hanging in ruins from the ramshackle wall.

The umbrella repair man
Harbor's no rancor or bitterness,
With the toil of his two hands      he earns his recompense.
Only the cats and dogs        these unassuming animals,
These alone are his true friends.

                                Chen Min Hwa


Monday, September 28, 2020

It's Monday! Books for All Readers


Visit
 Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
     Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 
  
            Still wishing all of you educators good days - having fun and staying safe! 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

           The magical story Hayley Chewins has created twists and turns while slowly bringing light to a terrifying challenge that Mayhap Ballastian must unravel. Something was always strange when her parents brought her and her sisters to Straygarden Place, a house surrounded by tall silver grass and floating trees. The father and mother are scientists and intrigued enough to want to study the flora and fauna. They do find that when they sign papers to live there, they are told they will need to give up something. As it happens, that is all we know of the parents because the tale begins after they mysteriously disappear, only leaving a note that says "Wait for us. Sleep darkly." The house itself takes care of Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine, the three sisters, but when Winnow, the oldest at 14, does go outside (breaking the rules), everything is left to Mayhap, twelve, to save her sister. She persists and discovers secrets that are heartbreaking. There is at last relief and good surprises at the end. Figuring out that love and kindness help solve frightening problems creates an underlying theme. Those who love mystery and unimaginable magic where anything can be taken will love this story. 

           
            From the creators of the wonderful Crown: An Ode To The Fresh Cut is a celebration, but not just any kind, this is one of all those "good" things a boy believes he is, that he can be. Derrick Barnes lets him tell it all himself in first person. This black boy is energetic, creative, "a coooooool breeze". When he falls, he gets up and sometimes he's afraid because he's misunderstood and called what he is not. Be sure you discover all the things that he is because those many things are very special. Gordon C. James's paintings fill the pages with action and the boy with family and friends and so many smiles. The endpapers are filled, too, with those smiling faces. It is a wonderful book to be shared with children in your lives whether teacher, parent or grandparent!

           It's difficult to imagine any art project more fun this fall than to get this book, read and enjoy it, then create your own rainbow wish! Eighteen artists have shared their own and I noticed quite a few wishing for activities with friends! With the virus restrictions and the hope to stay safe and well, it means very little or no time with a group. Brian Biggs writes "My rainbow is playing ball with everyone." He shows a group of very happy children, and a ball! Laura Vaccaro Seeger writes "We will hold hands as we walk and talk and listen and be . . .  together." She created a collage of whirling colors and many hands. I didn't choose favorites but only samples. Each one will make you smile.

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following books!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Poetry Friday - An End & A Beginning


     Poetry Friday is hosted by Jone Rush MacCulloch here at her new, beautiful website!  Thanks, Jone for hosting and for offering a prompt last week to write for National Math Storytelling Day or #NationalBRAVEDay, both September 25th.

      So much is going on, the news seems to flip-flop from chaos to loss to prime-time "he-said, she-said". It is challenging to keep up. I am reminded of My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, though I know he did not mean it in the way it's now happening!
     The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrown us all into mourning and a call for resignations along with new Converse or Nike shoes! Have you seen these? Unfortunately, they are only a creation of someone so far. The companies have not yet responded.



           I am writing postcards and calling, donating, will be helping to get out the vote! And I have written for Jone's prompt in a way. I hope "counting syllables" works for the math. I've been writing etherees, the explanation of these found here! And I've written a double one for today, about our Pandemic life, being brave enough to let nature win some days.


Coming Undone

 

days

blossomed

blinking hot

shorts and tees worn

garden obsession

but it really wasn’t –

summer happening, I mean

no baseball games, no summer camp,

undone with no sand between my toes

undone without theater in the park

 

be brave and welcome what’s dependable

curtained days entice sweaters off hooks

trees begin wild goodbye parties

all lean toward one another

compliment new wardrobes

hail other summers’

beloved days

celebrate

autumn

here

        Linda Baie ©




Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Non-Fiction Picture Books Tell About Families

 

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy -- hashtag #nfpb2020! Thanks to her hosting and sharing.  
       From others, too, who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 


           
June Smalls' poetic text accompanies brief explanations of an elephant matriarch's life. Then, enlivened illustrations by Yumi Shimokawara bring multiple expressions of emotion to these amazing creatures. The book shines on the caring and knowledge of these special elephant leaders. I wish there had been added information in the backmatter, at least links to other sources. 
            Readers see the lovely line of elephants on their way, perhaps over fifty miles to find a much-needed water source from a long-ago memory. There is a twilight-colored page showing elephants mourning one of their own, sharing that sometimes they stay for a few days and often return to the site years later "to touch the bones of their lost family member." 




                               










                
          The life of a matriarch dominates the text, but other behaviors are shown, too. Interest in this animal will heighten, having the book as a springboard to further research or one in a series that underscores themes. It is a lovely book.

Monday, September 21, 2020

It's Monday - New Books to Share!


Visit
 Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
     Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 
  
            Still wishing all of you educators good days and having fun and staying safe! 


              It's a companion book to the beautiful story A Wolf Called Wander. This time, Rosanne Parry takes us on a journey with a pod of orcas, centering on the story of Vega, learning to be a wayfinder (for salmon). Someday in the future, she will become the family's matriarch. One can read this book and project oneself into this frightening adventure when, searching for the so-needed salmon, Vega ventures into the wider ocean with her young and smaller brother, Deneb. They are separated from the pod, run into a larger stranger whom Deneb rescues, and who travels with them for a while. They also connect with a larger pod of orcas who do not endanger them, but speak a different language and soon leave them behind. 
            Both are starving and the only knowledge Vega finally follows is that their way back is with the rising sun. Each supports the other with encouraging words. Parry is creating the language so that we humans can understand, but whales do communicate and do help each other and help other humans. Filled with ocean tales of survival, threats to the ecosystem, and knowledge of many other creatures, this is a tale that one doesn't want to stop reading. Lindsay Moore's black and white illustrations fill out the story with breaks of beautiful action. There is a map that shows the setting of this adventure and extra notes about orcas.
Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy!


          For ages 12 and up. Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls. 
            This collection features 49 powerful poems, four of which are tribute poems inspired by the works of Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Phillis Wheatley. It aims to move every listener to reflect, respond—and act. 

           Oh my, Lindsay Currie has written a book that will make you cringe, worry, perhaps even start counting, "One...two...three..." to relieve the stress of a very scary moment or more! She's also able to make you smile at the learning that happens to Claire, who tells her story of the seventh-grade year she never imagined. With a brother a couple of years older (and a jerk), a mom busy with an online baking business, and a dad who writes books about scary Chicago history, she doesn't believe her life could get any worse. Also, her all-time best friend Casley seems to have a new best friend, Emily. However, yes, it does get worse. Her father has recently quit his job to start a tour bus service, a "ghost" tour bus service. And this particular Friday night, Claire has to be the helper because the usual one cannot be there. 
            After that tour, which holds its own weird happenings, finally they arrive home, Casley goes to bed. In the wall behind her head, she awakens with the sounds of "Scritch scratch, Scritch scratch, Scritch scratch." They get louder, she says it must be a mouse, but no, "Mice can't rattle doorknobs." Keeping it all a secret because she does not want to be teased at school, nor want her father getting more interested in some ghost in her room makes Claire's life simply awful, until her brother and Casley figure out she really needs help. And Claire learns that asking for help is a good thing. There's a lot of scary stuff in the story, but even more, there are many good places where everyone can learn about telling the truth about what you need and trusting others, too. I enjoyed it very much, believe it would make a super read-aloud for a young middle-school class or just for parents to read with their children together. 
             I won't give them away, but there are some intriguing surprises within this story, too. I think it will spark further interest in the past.