Monday, August 31, 2020

It's Monday - Loving These 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    

        Still wishing all of you educators good days and having fun and staying safe!

I have a giveaway post HERE today!

            Thanks to Netflix, I've read this verse novel by award-winning novelist Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five that follows the tragic result of one night Amal Shahid, sixteen and an artist and a poet, but seen in a different and biased way because he is black. This night, a fight over boundaries that have appeared because of gentrification becomes Amal's tragedy. His time in a juvenile detention center even though innocent is shouted and cursed, cried and whispered by him through poignant words written by Zoboi and Salaam. 
Consider the months lived recently and then read Amal's words with empathy if you want to know his truth. In part:
"On the day of my
I forget
my school ID
my top three
my class schedule"

The book comes out tomorrow! Don't miss it!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for these books!

first published in the U.K.

          Out in a week, the first book in a two-book series, young middle-schooler Jake Green finds himself in a land of the dead where he learns perhaps too much about the undone, specters and poltergeists, and other haunting people he didn't know existed. There is even an Ambassador at the Embassy of the Dead and a secretary named Maureen. The real adventure happens when Jake takes a shortcut down a dark alley and is handed a box because he said the wrong thing, well, the wrong thing because it threw him into an adventure he struggled to believe he was in! He ends up with a deadly gang, the young Cora with her hockey stick forever trapped in a trophy until Jake let her out, and the Undertaker Stiffkey who turns out to be wiser than Jake first imagined. It's a survival story that Jake manages because he's supposed to be going on a school overnight. He texts a best friend that he is absent because he's sick and his mom and dad that all is okay. 
            Jake turns out to be unusual as Stiffkey and Cora soon learn. He can see them! It's a race to put back a severed finger that is in that box. Creepy, yes, but actually an adventure that does not stop one's racing heart as crazy things happen around every corner. There is the fun part that, because jake's father has given him a few driving lessons, he manages to escape from his home by driving away in his father's camper. (Ghosts don't drive.) And the most fun is watching Jake keep going and never stop no matter how spooky things get. Will Mabbit manages to carry the action on and on. Here's an example from the end of one chapter: "And that's when things really got exciting." I enjoyed this tale thoroughly.

A Giveaway for Learning!


Thanks to Candlewick Press for this giveaway opportunity! My granddaughters chose to do some specific studies early in the summer with me and the eleven-year-old chose to examine urban archaeology, specifically the layers of history in Denver and in Paris. It was a fascinating time for me, too, and I wish we had had this marvelous book for her to use in her research. Nevertheless, I have shared it with her and she loves it!

Cities in Layers - Six Famous Cities through time, by Philip Steele showcases those cities from their origins to today.  Rome is the oldest; New York the youngest, but each have their histories made fascinating as Steele shares three double-page spreads from the beginning, a middle time, and today. There is also an introduction to each city that includes where it is in the world, famous residents, and a summary of the time of each. For instance, Paris Today, Paris in 1793, and Paris 1380. Each has a 'cut-out' to peek through showing one thing that has stayed throughout the years. With AndrĂ©s Lozano's highly detailed illustrations and a key at the bottom of landmarks shown, I imagine poring over every page for a long time, making notes, then researching for further information.  

One example of the city pages - Paris Today

The introduction explains "What is a city?" including those beginnings and then changes made with innovations like "water and drains" and "roads and rails". Then, before the city studies, there is a timeline of all cities placed together giving the highlights of each history. Finally, the city studies themselves. so much information given in an easy-to-access way. 

To enter the giveaway, comment with a favorite landmark of the city of your choice. It can be contemporary or from long ago. I will draw from this list next Sunday and announce the winner on Monday!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Poetry Friday - Making Something

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi Mordhorst here at My Juicy Little Universe!  She's taking us back a few years to another school start which I'm guessing many of us remember and with sadness. Thanks for hosting, Heidi! I hope your pre-K adventures have gone well this starting of the year!  
      And best wishes to all the rest of you starting, too, online or in school, sending someone to school, managing someone at home! Our stay-at-home summer ends as I wonder what's next?


        Heidi has my thanks for her inspirational #magazineticpoetry she shared on twitter. I took her idea and added some sketching, too and have enjoyed it thoroughly, trying hard to find the time to look for words and one #everyday thing while I #makesomething. She says it was my idea but all I did was send a little box of words. Isn't this the most fun piggy-backing! 

         As for the poem, this really is the cup I reach for every single Sunday. Traditions are nice, even the small ones.

Monday, August 24, 2020

It's Monday! More Great Books to Share

              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    

        I have been thinking of all the schools starting whether online or on-site, hoping all is going well. My granddaughters begin today.  My grandson, in his second year of college, has started with differing classes: online, hybrid, and in the classroom.

           When I share a book I've read, I often wonder how much to tell. When I love it, I want readers to experience every bit as "new", not remember what I wrote. Laura's and Saadia's collaboration on this story of two sixth-graders, Sara and Elizabeth, new to their middle school, both from families where parts of their families are immigrants is terrific. They've written alternating chapters letting the girls, who mirror similar experiences to those authors, tell the story. 
        It's complex to show the learning experience for the girls, their friends and other classmates, their families and some educators, too but it's all in this story! At the forefront are the girls and their struggles beginning school with old friends who are changing and leaving old friends from former schools. They are also part of families with older and younger brothers who are sometimes a pain to live with and with parents who are struggling with personal problems, too. Focusing on a cooking club that Sara's mother, a Pakistani immigrant who runs her own catering service, Sara and Elizabeth meet. Elizabeth's mother, a British immigrant, and a convert to her father's Judaism has lived in the US for years but still has not completed her citizenship. The moms will connect in another layer of the story. The cooking, and food shared from both cultures, weaves the story together. One recipe special to the story is given at the end!
         Family and school life feel very real to me as these two girls' stories are told.  Laura and Saadia don't hesitate in the stories to show that feelings of love can remain sturdy despite challenges within the family and that friendships take time, hard work and a willingness to listen to one another to make them work well. 
          I imagine this book can show many students a way to "be" when friendships feel so hard. Young middle school kids have a lot to ponder and learn as they grow up. This story will be a big help! It's a special book!

          Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following terrific books, all for younger readers!

         No, it really is NOT an alphabet book, but it is an ABC story about a bear who tries very hard to excuse something readers figure out quickly. He ate the cake! Eoin McLaughlin shares his journey from accusing the dog on the D page who whimpers "No!" that some big guy always watches what he does. That bear you see on the cover also accuses the pig, in front of the Queen (the Q page). Poor Pig is banished to page 27, Oh no! I can hear those reading this story shouting that they know who really did it, and it is laughable to watch Bear's expressions as he moves along through the neighborhood. The fun is made even more so by Marc Boutavant's bright and bold colorful illustrations. Hilarity rules in this tale.

         At this time without all children returning to school, Jancee Dunn tells a funny tale about stuffed animals escaping from children's backpacks and creating havoc in school, led by someone's sweet teddy bear. They play "Pizza Fling" in the cafeteria, blew bubbles through musical instruments in the band room, and invaded the teacher's lounge! Scott Nash shows well the Principal's consternation in bright and bold illustrations of the havoc that occurs. Readers will laugh at the antics and love the ending when the Teddy even wins over the Principal. It's a book for a nice laugh about an imagined day at school.

first published by Walker Books-Australia
            In watercolor, gouache and pencil, Gabriel Evans tells this story of two great pals. Endpapers show "snapshots" from the story of two great friends, Ollie and Augustus. Ollie, a wee boy, and Augustus, a large dog, have lots of fun together. They paint and bike ride, climb trees and collect sticks. The days are full of activities, but soon changing. Ollie is going to school! He is worried about Augustus being lonely so advertises for a dog to keep company with Augustus. With great humor, Evans shows that it doesn't work out so well. But we then get an inside look at what Augustus does all day without Ollie, a lot of fun. But, they're both happy to be together at the end of the day. I imagine lots o discussion could happy with this read-aloud, about trust that friendships last, that those going or waiting can still have a good time. Sweet story!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Poetry Friday - A Lament and A Hope

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Ramona Behnke here at Pleasures from the Page!  It's a "significant week" for her in all kinds of ways and she shares it with us! Be sure to read and enjoy her words and all the beautiful links! Thanks for hosting, Ramona!

      I visit a local coffee shop often and on a recent day I pondered the way visiting has changed. I used to browse their small shelf offerings of cups and water bottles just to see if one wanted me to take it home, although I really don't need another. Then I thought of the grocery, a few other shops I now go to, socially distancing with mask on. More thoughts, some sadness, and a wish led to this poem. I realized this is not our only change these past months, but the one that "touched" me this time.

A Yearning Takes Its Place

In these days,
yes, those of our pandemic,
It’s taken me some time
to follow the ‘no touching’ rule.
I want to pick up the cups
at the corner coffee shop
the ones with the cute sayings
like “Happiness is a Cup of Coffee
& A Good Book”
or inspirational: 
“Be strong
Be Brave
Be Fearless.
You are never alone.”
I want to feel the weight in my hands,
how the handle fits my fingers.

At the grocery,
I want to caress the can of pinto beans
to check the sodium content,
then grab the mac ‘n cheese box
for the number of servings.

Inside my indie bookshop,
I want to bring out that book
with the blue cover
on the memoir shelf,
open it to read some of the words.
I want to browse new poetry 
by a favored author.
No, I can’t and finally,
finally, I know it.

But also finally,
I am in a place where
I can be with my family,
and hug them roundly.
I'm grateful for that.
It will change again when
the grandchildren return to school.
I know others whose family,
far away, or safe in senior homes,
have even more need than I.
We will follow the rules
until finally, hopefully,
We all again can handle, poke, hold,
press, stroke, and touch
anything, anyone desires.

Linda Baie © All Rights

byronv2 Browsing the Street Market 023 via photopin (license)

Monday, August 17, 2020

Monday Reading - Last Week - NEW Books to Love

              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    

        Sending my best wishes to all of you teachers who are starting or have started your school year! 

           In celebrating six women from history who loved math and used it to pursue passions like astronomy and hospital care, the oceans and statistics, Jeannine Atkins offers stories in verse about their lives, including the challenging paths each traveled because they were female.  Caroline Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet and have it named after her and the first to receive a gold medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. It was more than a century, however, that Vera Rubin, another whose story is told by Jeannine, was awarded the second medal. Thus lies the stories of girls loving math, but expected to stay with housework, marriage, and motherhood, not to carry on their research into questions that arise from their curiosity, whether through microscopes or by tending to war-wounded soldiers. I enjoyed the poetic words as the stories unfolded. Caroline Herschel's brother took her in as his assistant in his "celestial" research. (She also felt beholden to do the housework!) As he began to teach her more mathematics, Jeannine writes: "William begins where many teachers end, pushing so she's caught in thickets and thorns." These girls, then women, worked hard to understand those 'thickets', often going without notice, often having men put their own bylines on articles published. Perhaps you will remember Katherine Johnson's story from the book Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly? In part of her story, we read of her preparing charts "for meetings that women aren't allowed to attend". 
            Many moments show the persistence of the women in this book, the hurdles and the accomplishments of leaping over them. Although some things have changed, roads are often still rocky. Look at the news and the talk about Kamala Harris being only the third woman nominated for vice-president as if it's a milestone to be celebrated. In one way it is, yet after reading this book, I wonder why hurdles continue to be placed on so many paths for woman. It's a great book for young girls to know what's gone before, who they might count on for their own push to follow their passions. Sometimes it will only be themselves!
            More information is added at the back about each woman along with a brief author's note. I would place this in the hands of every middle-grade reader, believe it would bring great conversation if used as a read-aloud. It's a terrific book!

         Sixth-grader Bryan tells us what's going on in his thoughts and mostly he seems as if he really knows how he wants to be, but in his neighborhood, there's so much drama. It's on street corners where men hang out, one of whom is his father. That group has Bryan's back, but it can become really mixed up because if his dad gets in a fight, maybe because of his son, he might go right back to jail. He's on probation. Then there's Mike, a year older, someone Bryan's mother thinks can be a good friend, like a brother, to Bryan. He and Mike both love superhero comics and drawing and video gaming. It's a good time until Mike brings in a few more things that are fun, but not what Bryan, inside, knows he should be doing. It's a mixed-up world in this black neighborhood, making this young man "tight" and worried about so many things, pleasing his friends and his family, but often the actions to please contradict each other. I imagine kids will find some of themselves in Bryan and others Torrey Maldonado writes about. Adults will learn, too, that telling a kid to do better is not an easy thing to do at all. Great story! 

Thanks to Charlesbridge for the following beautiful picture books!

          So little traveling is happening during these Pandemic months, but this book will offer an experience for everyone. You'll either say you love that place and have been there, or you know of it and wish you could be there, maybe right now! Wendell Minor's paintings fit Katherine Lee Bates' lines in the song beautifully. For instance, on the wonder of space travel, her words are "O beautiful for patriot dream" showing a space shuttle take-off and with "That sees beyond the years", an eagle flying. Many other pages of this beautiful country create a celebration of the land with thoughtfulness and pride. The backmatter tells more about Bates and the interesting story of the music score itself. Then, they add the song's page as it first appeared in church hymnals and a sample of it in Bates' own handwriting. Added are brief paragraphs of each page's location and finally a map of those locations in America. This could spark a beautiful study of our country, perhaps having students share their own photos of places near and far!
          I also want to share the title page also because of the recent turmoil over the USPS. Wendell writes that this mailbox is in the town where he lives.

         Stephanie Fizer Coleman's brightly colored illustrations accompany Teresa Bateman's poetic story of a class going on probably their favorite field trip, to a pumpkin farm! In these times full of wishes that there could be a happy day like this, it's fun to see the kids scatter to choose exactly which pumpkin is a favorite, "This one, that one–which to pick?" Pick they do, load them up, say goodby to the cows and pigs and travel back to school. That is certainly not all the story. A jolt in the bus, bins fly open and pumpkins roll out, unbeknownst to all. Heavy disappointment follows at school, but there is a surprise, the enormous one tied on top has made it and everyone decides to share. In the meantime, those "Runaway Pumpkins" have been found by neighbors. The nicest thing happens as a surprise to the students! In different forms--pie, cookies, even fries! Bonus! There is a recipe at the back for pumpkin cookies with caramel frosting.

          Travel the world with Constance Van Haven as she shares about the "blues" in nature, identifying some well-known or not so well-known beauties. Some seem to have adapted to certain things in the environment and even at certain times like the American black bear "which can be black, brown, cinnamon, blond, white, and yes, even blue." Others are blue when underwater like the amazing blue whale. She includes more than animals, like the big bluestem grass, and gives information about their environmental challenges. Alan Marks gorgeous paintings bring the blue in all its variations in double-page illustrations and I especially love his design of the endpapers. Backmatter adds a brief glossary, many more facts, and a bibliography. It's a gorgeous book to inspire more exploration of nature's wonders. 

                  For young readers, Hollis Kurman has written a counting book with diverse and cutest children showing the great needs of immigrant children. Its brief text accompanied by Barroux's illustrations showing relief, first with being grateful for things like "two hands" for help from a boat and "four beds" that give a safe place to sleep. As time passes, one can almost hear the children laughing, talking, playing until "ten friends making us happy!" I would imagine this can be used with other books about immigrants to be sure everyone understands that there are a variety of experiences when immigrating and this is only one. 

Next: Still reading Alpha Maniacs, by Paul Fleischman and Melissa Sweet! Just started A Place at The Table by Laura Shovan and Saadia Faruqi.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Poetry Friday - Long Time Connecting

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Molly Hogan here at Nix The Comfort Zone! She's lamenting the splintering of Maine's one area code in a new poem form and sharing a special swap from Tabatha. Thanks for hosting, Molly!

     Four years ago on Poetry Friday here I took Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's challenge on Michelle Heidenrich Barnes' Today's Little Ditty to write about small things. I wrote the following poem for my granddaughter Ingrid, then seven, who noticed and was sad that a wire wastebasket in my office seemed lonely, never used for its intended goal, to fill with trash!

The Lonely Wastebasket
A woeful wire wastebasket
sits lonely by my desk,
dejected and rejected.
Waiting for work.

Crumpled scraps of abandoned words
find home with another group nearby.
In the kitchen, 
a charming red metal can  
holds a colorful collage of trash,
ripe for making assorted acquaintances.
Linda Baie ©All Rights  

        Now Ingrid is eleven and while we now spend time together most every week, the pandemic first lessened some of the time and we began sharing poems back and forth via text or email. This past Wednesday as I was spending the day with her sister Imogene, Ingrid sent us both a poem. She still remembers!


How is the lonely wastebasket
sitting over there?
Tell Imogene to treat
him well and with lots of care.
Fill up his bucket with love
How is the lonely wastebasket
sitting over there?
Ingrid Krahling ©

Monday, August 10, 2020

It's #PB10for10 - Books Showing Kindness

         It's the tenth year of 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 Mandy's blog this year, HERE. Thank you Mandy and Cathy for continuing this special tradition! 
          And, best wishes to all for starting this school year. However you are beginning, I hope you enjoy being with your students and stay safe and well.
Here are my previous posts for 

  2011     2012     2013     2014     2015    2016     2017     2018 and 2019

My favorite books mostly from this past year and a few older give us ways to share about taking care of others and self! There are many kinds of actions! Here are favorites that I hope you can use in your classrooms, your lives. I've given a hint of my reviews and a link to each one on Goodreads.

Antonio wants someone to read a book with him. He moves around the neighborhood but everyone is TOO busy. One "extra" person listening to Antonio is an older blind man from the neighborhood sitting outside in a folding chair. He shares his own secret with Antonio, that few people have time for him either, invites Antonio for a chat and a story. It's a warm story that gives a fine opportunity for people to talk about including everyone.

Read more here!

A young child is on the way--somewhere. At first, I thought she might be homeless, but she is dressed too well. The cover itself opens the story. Where is that child, "small" on a bus, going? In his nearly wordless picture book, Smith used the outlining of black, effective here because it feels cold and unpleasant, and that day with the child moving in the city, we know something is wrong! When you read it, you will be immersed in the questions, and finally, you will discover exactly who is "small in the city." This traveler has taken time to rescue someone.

Read more here!

Many have written during this pandemic time that nature helps children (and adults) feel better. will help to introduce the healing idea of being present. One of my favorite parts says: There's a quiet place/in my head like an egg hidden/ in a nest. A place/I go when the world is loud./A moss-green forest with birds."

Read more here!

Being kind, listening well, how to treat oneself and others are the threads that tie it together. The whimsey of the simple sketches, mostly black and white, but sometimes gorgeous color and a tiny note from Mackesy works beautifully.

Read more here

Words by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini create a book for every.single.age. As it says on the cover there are poems, quotes, and anecdotes from A to Z. This will be a beautiful addition to every classroom/household! 

Read more here!