Monday, February 24, 2020

It's Monday - All Kinds of Favorite Books!

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites.  Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
          Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 

Special Announcement!
             I shared a new poetry book by David L. Harrison and Stephanie Laberis last Wednesday. After Dark publishes on February 25th and is a wonderful book about animals and their lives at night. I hosted a giveaway, too, and am happy to announce that Midway Mo won a copy. Please send your address via email. CONGRATULATIONS! And thanks to Boyds Mills and Kane for the giveaway copy!

                    Genesis Begins Again, a Newbery Honor book, with Scary Stories of Young Foxes, shows a young thirteen-year-old driven by a list given to her in fifth grade: "100 Reasons Why We Hate Genesis." She's added to that list, and the first time we meet her, she must sit on her sofa outside her home because all the family's things are in the front lawn. They've been evicted! Genesis tells her thinking, her story, in a heartbreaking gush of words, from this situation to a new one, a home her father seems magically to acquire in a mostly white suburb. How she navigates her life there and with the friends made and lost while trying to save her family in crisis felt like a rollercoaster of emotions that is her life. I wonder how very many young people see themselves in at least some part of Genesis' story? My hope is that they do and that it gives them hope or a way to understand that life for others is not so easy. It's a special story.

            Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following three picture books, out this month!

            When my daughter was very young and her older brother came in from play one day, told us he had seen the first dandelion, she cried and said she wanted her own "dandy lion". After all these years, perhaps Yoko Tanaka has made her wish come true! In dreaming-along pictures, he tells the tale about a special spring flower getting its wish. It goes on a magical trip to faraway places, ending in the very place it was meant to be. Finding the path to being who you are is a message for everyone. It's a beautiful book to experience.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Poetry Friday - Wishing

        It's Poetry Friday, third week of February, here with Cheriee Weichel at Library Matters. She's introducing a favorite poet, Avis Harley from Vancouver. You'll find a lot to learn and enjoy from Cheriee as she shares about Avis and her work. Thanks for that, Cheriee, and for hosting!

        I'm teaming up with Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference and others to write and bring attention to election/balloting issues this election year. In the 2018 election, I helped drive people to their polling places when needed, hoping to do that and more as the election nears. 
          Too many intimations of voter intimidation have been documented in these recent years and too many discoveries of hacked machines have caused alarm. Most, but not all states have been acting, as shown in this article, from The National Conference of State Legislatures. It is one that gives information from all the states as to what has been, by law, decided for the use of paper ballots.  I hope you find it useful.
Muddy Tech Trail  

Yes, I have my ballot.
And yesterday dropped it in.
I hope it will be counted.
I'm wishing for a win.
But with the news reported
of mysteries and hacks.
I'm also counting on the truth
that America has our backs.
The truth is that I'm troubled
as never before I've been
that people in our country
ensure that we ALL win!

 Linda Baie ©

photo credit: gameraboy "Patriotism" - The Hope of a Nation Poster Series, Works Progress Administration, 1937 via photopin (license)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

NF Picture Books Reveal the Night - Blog Tour & Giveaway

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


                  I'm on a blog tour today, excited to share a new book of poetry written by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis that is out February 25th. It's After Dark, poems about nocturnal animals. And, you have a chance to win a copy of this book!

           Vincent Van Gogh said, "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day."  For this book, David has written twenty-two poems about animals who live and ensure their survival in the night and Stephanie Laberis shows their unique hues and markings in her own "richly colored" illustrations. When you read and see examples below, I imagine you will say that Van Gogh is right.

            Sometimes, I sit outside (longer in summer) to see if I can be still enough to spot a creature moving nearby, to hear an animal's cry. Most often I see a rabbit hopping, stopping for nibbles. Sometimes I hear owls, and one very surprising time, I saw a coyote walking down the street, readying itself for night work. Here is one view from my porch. We humans can't see much, but many animals can and need to.

        I don't fool myself, however. I know that other creatures are out there, living their night lives, just as David shows us through his poems, as Stephanie has illustrated those words. In this book, they've offered a peek at the magic "After Dark". As I read the poems, I imagine sharing them with students, excited that David cleverly includes so much of each animal's behavior in his words, including clues in the titles. For example, the very first one, "The Rehearsal" includes the behavior of grey wolf adults who hunt for food to feed young pups, keep them safe for now as they grow. I.E., they rehearse!
                   "For now, 
                     play tag,
                     pretend grr,
                     pounce ferociously
                     on your siblings."
Stephanie creates three scenes from the comprehensive poem with a double-page spread, a wolf howling at the moon, allowing the moon to light up the entire two pages; the wolf mom nursing her pups; and the pups themselves playing in the night. Here are those pups and the poem:

        This opening poem's delight sets the stage for more questions, this time about wolves, but also a wonder about what's next, what else can be discovered in the night? If only for a time, we can explore the night through David's and Stephanie's "night eyes"!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday Reading - Books Loved This Week

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites.  Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
          Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 

       It was a very busy week and I'm sharing fewer books than usual, but each one is a gem! Happy Reading!

             Kate Messner never fails to write stories I love. They are complex and joyful, entertaining and heartbreaking, like life! Chirp, in its many layers, celebrates that complexity by sharing a tale of one young girl, supported by mothers, female entrepreneurs, friends, and a grandmother who won't quit living her dream. Sometimes I do not want to tell the plot because I really want readers to experience the book without me telling them what it's about. So, only a brief few words about Chirp. I'd prefer you read it yourself!

         It's a mystery how Messner knits all the pieces together, but I'm so happy she does. Here are the parts needed in all of our lives: friends helping friends and family supporting each other. A varied group of friendly, cool, not cool, crooked, clever and joyful characters makes a wonderful book. "But nobody else got to say who she was going to be. Mia would decide that herself."

          It's hard to wait, especially when it's ALMOST TIME for the sap to run and for the loose tooth to come out! Day by day, Ethan has to eat his pancakes, his cereal, cornbread, too, without syrup. Night by night, Ethan waits for some light to show that days were longer. And one time, he notices he has a loose tooth. Dad says it will fall out before long. Gary Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney (the pseudonym of Gary Schmidt's late wife) show the s.l.o.w trail that waiting takes when one waits for something very special, maple syrup and a tooth out! G. Brian Karas' illustrations show those ups and downs of a young boy waiting and his father's understanding. It's a sweet book!

          I read this on Valentine's Day, a love story to be sure to remember for next year. Here are poetic words and gorgeous ocean scenes by Anna Pignataro, an Australian writer and illustrator, out in the U.S. this past month. A whale sings as it swims through ocean creatures and plants, warming everyone's hearts, but his own. In the book, Pignataro writes: "weaving a path of starlight/into the seagrass taller than a forest." And, "Whale thought how quiet the sea could be at times . . . and how there was no song big enough to fill his empty heart." When he sighs, the grateful ocean responds by carrying his wish to the perfect place.

Now Reading/What's Next: I am still reading When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald an especially wonderful story, but fraught with tension. I'll start Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (Newbery Honor) soon.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Poetry Friday - Hearts Are Everywhere

 Happy Valentine's Day and welcome to Poetry Friday to celebrate our sweetest day where, yes, hearts are everywhere, even in Peeps. I find them all over my home and am happy to share some old-fashioned Valentines given to my mother-in-law years ago. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Non Fiction Picture Books Take Us Outdoors

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

        We had snow in Denver last night. It was very cold, but when I woke up, the sun was out and sparkles were everywhere. As I stood and watched for a while, two chickadees were busy at a large cottonwood in my garden. It is old with deep grooves in the bark and that is where they were, digging into the grooves -finding breakfast! I've read that they hide seeds in those grooves and return on cold winter days to eat.
          I tell this story because Marcie Flinchum Atkins includes the chickadee in her book explaining 'dormancy' in nature, how plants and animals enter it, using the minimum of energy to survive. This isn't always in the winter months. For some, like the crocodile, just a cold spell can make them "pause" and burrow into the mud until it warms up again.
           Atkins has created a book that feels poetic, celebrating the evolutionary characteristics of animals and plants when they go dormant. She uses that word "pause" to great effect in varied situations. She asks readers to imagine being that creature, then tells what "you" would do. For example, she writes "If you were a dormant chickadee on a cold winter night, you would . . . cool down/slow your heart/save energy. For just a few hours, you would pause." She continues with the next step, in case of the chickadee, it would wake up and fly. 
            I enjoyed that included are a variety of living things like trees, ladybugs, Arctic ground squirrels and alligators. Each one differs in its surviving action. Some go into this "pause" for only a few hours, like the chickadee, and others rest for a whole season, like trees. Also, various awakenings are explained, as in leaves unfurling on trees or ladybugs which "wiggle awake, feast, flit away."
            Back matter explains the different terms of dormancy: diapase, hibernation, torpor, brumation, and estivation. One interesting fact included here is that some scientists use the word "torpor" for bears in winter instead of "hibernation". 
            Each part, whether going into dormancy or coming out, is illustrated with beautiful close-up photos. There is further reading which includes books and websites and photo acknowledgments. Because Atkins mentions Laura Purdie Salas' poetry book Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready for Winter, here is my review which I also shared on Kidlit Frenzy.
             Wait, Rest, PAUSE - dormancy in nature is a book that adds an extra for learning about changes in the environment that cause changes in animal and plant behavior, showing it is not only "hibernation", but more complex and varied in nature. It's a terrific book!

Monday, February 10, 2020

It's Monday! Books Loved Last Week

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites.  Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
          Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 

It's an exciting day for posts! I'm sharing two others, one HERE on a blog tour for Sara Pennypacker's new book, Here in the Real World, which is fabulous!

and one HERE  joining Cathy Mere, Mandy Robek, Julie Balen and others for the group sharing favorite non-fiction picture books #nf10for10

            I listened carefully, ready to take notes. Woo hoo, I've read the wonderful New Kid by Jerry Craft, the Newbery winner! Now for the honors, I'd read two of four, lovely books: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga and The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. I had not read this wonderful book above or Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. Williams. I checked my library, both were available, so I'll read Genesis Begins Again soon! I am so grateful for my wonderful library, and of course, authors and illustrators!
            This book, this scary book, for kids and for foxes, is a treasure. Christian McKay Heidicker's early beginning says in the opening: "They wanted a story so scary it would prove their bravery and change them forever. All except the little one, that was. She preferred the sound of her mom's heartbeat." When I read these first pages I knew that I wanted to go along on this journey, however frightening it might be. Their mother forbid her kits from leaving the cozy den to visit the storyteller in Bog Cavern. Seven fox kits waited until she began to snooze, then snuck out into the night. When they arrived, "Roots dripped over its mouth. Fog oozed from its throat." I loved Heidicker's language, both the scary and the loving. And you will, too! Here's the marvelous way he can show beauty as well as terror: "She walked to what looked like a hollow tree trunk and drew out something sharp and hooked--a silver claw that gleamed like moonlight on water."
             In the book, they venture into a den to hear a series of interlocking and terrifying tales. There are eight, the openings on black pages (isn't that great?) each embellished by beautiful illustrations by Junyi Wu. Each story sends one kit fleeing for the home den (just can't listen anymore) until just one remains. It's challenging for me not to tell all the story, filled with warmth and love, evil and destruction, loss and hope. Friendship empowers and there is that as well. It's terrific!

         Through the seasons, Julie Flett tells the story of a family, a mother and her daughter, who move to the country. The young girl says she will miss much of her city life, including a tree outside her window. They travel through some beautiful countryside, arrive at their new home, with two trees and creaky stairs. The field is covered with snowdrops. During the year, a sweet relationship happens between the girl, Katherena who loves to draw and a near neighbor, an older woman named Agnes, who is a potter. Agnes and Katherena become closer and that eases Katherena's sadness in moving. Agnes shares her art and about country life; Katherena teaches her some Cree words. Time passes into beautiful fall then winter and Agnes is not doing well. With Katherena's drawings, she, her mother and Agnes's daughter prepare a surprise for Agnes, covering the walls with them since Agnes is now bedridden and cannot go out. Flett's illustrations add such beauty to this quiet journey of friendship. She is a Cree-M├ętis author and has included a small glossary of Cree words at the front of the story. 

Celebrate #NF10for10

Welcome to my post for the annual #NF10for10 2020. Add your link here with Cathy Mere, at her blog Reflect and Refine. Mandy Robek also hosts with Cathy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning Julie Balen at Connecting to Learn is also part of this fabulous book-sharing! Thank you, Mandy, Cathy and Julie! This is year number eight for this special gathering. 
              Go HERE to add your link or to read all the other posts!

In the past:

2013    2014    2015    2016    2017    2018    2019

               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 have a varied list this year, about people and places, seasons, animals and words. Some are prose, some are poetry, but we learn from each one! It seems this non-fiction picture book world we live in has exploded in recent years. I am grateful, but also sad to limit the books to only a few. I also read books I loved about the first dinosaur, secret soldiers and women's suffrage. Perhaps I'll find them on your lists!

           A Place to Land - Wittenstein and Pinkney     - If you want to visit Dr. King again, this time the night before his "I Have A Dream" speech, and the magic that happened during the speech, this is the book. It makes me wish I had had the joy of being there, too.

        The Women Who Caught The Babies - Greenfield and Minter     - I am grateful for those authors and illustrators who bring stories from the past we never knew. This is a beautiful tribute to those women "who caught the babies".

        Snow Leopard - Anderson and Benson   Here the mysterious snow leopard is brought to us in its elusive beauty, a creature we need to protect.

It's Monday - Blog Tour & Giveaway!

         I'm excited to join a blog tour in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and HarperCollins!

             From Sara Pennypacker, writer of the beloved Pax, comes a story of introverted, only-child Ware, whose parents want only for him to have friends, lots of them! They're working double shifts to gain enough money to buy their home so Ware, again, is expected to give up his dreams of a summer on his own and go daily to the 'rec center' where mobs of kids only show Ware how alone he is. Despite his parents' expectations, he likes being alone! But then he spies an abandoned church early one day, and sees a girl doing What??? -- making a garden of papayas. This adventure sometimes seems a bit farfetched, but dreams, even outlandish ones, can become real, and Ware, with new, maybe friend Jolene? and a welcome intruder, bird-lover Ashley, might help Ware be re-born? Ware follows the knight's creed about fighting unfairness and with help from the girls and a few adults that come into his life, too, plus his own self-awareness begins to like who he is, at last! I imagine there will be kids who say, maybe secretly, that's me!

            Thanks to HarperCollins Children's Books for the advanced copy!

Enter for a chance to win a Sara Pennypacker book prize pack!
Five (5) winners receive:
  • A hardcover copy of Here in the Real World
  • A paperback copy of Pax
Giveaway begins January 21, 2019, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends February 21, 2019, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are eighteen years of age or older in their state or territory of residence at the time of entry. Void where prohibited by law.
HarperCollins is responsible for prize fulfillment.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Poetry Friday - Windows

        It's Poetry Friday, first week of February, here with Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids. She has written a love poem I'm sure will be loved! Thanks, Laura!

          I'm hosting next week on Valentine's Day, sweetest day of the year! Be sure you prepare some sugary love!

          I've been reading a book by Billy Collins that came into the bookstore, one I didn't know titled The Trouble with Poetry and other poems. In one poem, "Monday" he begins with 
                 "The birds are in their trees,
                   the toast is in the toaster,
                   and the poets are at their windows."

          Continuing, Billy Collins speaks of others at their work, like "The clerks are at their desks,/the miners are down in their mines,/and the poets are looking out their windows." You can imagine some of the rest, and you can listen to Billy reading it here

           Instead of writing anew, I started reading through some of the poems I've written and realize, in some, though not all, I was looking out my window. Here's a new one, followed by some previously written, "out my window"!

my pine
carries winter's burden-
glad to be limber -

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Non-Fiction Picture Books Tell New Stories

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

          In years past, I've read Karen Cushman's middle-grade Newbery-winning novel titled The Midwife's Apprentice and the wonderful The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas, among others. This picture/poetry book for middle grade/young adult readers by Eloise Greenfield brings readers a brief history of African-American midwives with praise and gratitude for their work. 
         There is an introduction sharing the details of a midwives' work, not just to "catch the babies", but ensure that germs do not get near, along with weighing the babies and recording names, birth date and weight. They also gave advice to the mothers whose baby has just been born. In slavery, these women were those who were too old for fieldwork, "called 'grannies' and addressed as Granny. Today most prefer to be addressed as 'Mrs. or Miss'." In the past they educated each other, passing down the knowledge from Granny to child to grandchild. It wasn't until 1941 that the first midwifery program was opened for black public health nurses, at Tuskegee Institute.
        That is a brief part of the introduction, yet the remainder of the book fills with Eloise Greenfield's poetry in praise of those women, illustrated in fabulous, colorful paintings by Daniel Minter. She writes of the "welcome into the world. . .for loving" while Minter draws babies in the womb swirling around one woman. She writes that even those women were caught and shackled, but brought their knowledge with them across the sea as the younger ones watched and learned: "And so, too, the next generation, and the next, and the next. . ." A favorite of mine is the poem/story of a baby born to freedom in 1863, "think about this new thing circling around them." The thought that this baby has been born in this new time of freedom is to be celebrated, and they do! There, Minter shows a woman surrounded by an ocean with circles widening and a slave ship far in the distance.
          Here's a glimpse of Minter's wonderfully intricate and symbolic art, with a midwife's thoughts written by Greenfield.
a midwife knowing she might be called soon;
"the sky was light enough
for her to see the trees
at the end of the road."

           Greenfield adds more stories, one in the 2000's, but the final story is a tribute to "Miss Rovenia Mayo. She lives over yonder."  That Miss Rovenia is the midwife who "caught" baby Eloise. At the end is a bit more to Eloise's story, with photos of her and her brother and her parents. 
           Credits for photographs and a bibliography are added.

Favorite books by Eloise Greenfield: The Great Migration: Journey to the North, Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir and Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems.

And by Daniel Minter: Ellen's Broom and most recently: Going Down Home With Daddy.