Monday, September 28, 2020

It's Monday! Books for All Readers

 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




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




        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!

 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.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Poetry Friday - Free for Play

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine here at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme! Thanks, Matt for hosting and for celebrating those beautiful poems and poets in Lee's new Night Wishes!  

      I am thinking of all of you with the terrible fires and now flooding in our country, plus educators working so hard to do well for your students. It's a challenging time and I am hoping for better in less than two months!

          I moved into my 'now' home in 2012 and while I love the inside, the real reason that cinched my decision is this 100 years plus cottonwood in my side yard and all the trees surrounding me in the green space plus the library that is a block away. Those of you on social media with me probably recognize the tree because I really believe I might take more pictures of it than most anything, except for the grandchildren! Well, every few years, I need to have the arborists out, to check the tree's health and to trim some of the branches, those dead or dying and those hanging a little too low over the house. Yes, I have a motive for telling you this. The people who do this are wonderful and Tuesday, my yard and the outer garden one was covered with tree debris. They cleaned it up beautifully. But I am used to picking up sticks from this and other trees anyway and there were a few left. I started thinking about all the times my children and my grandchildren have played with sticks. I even remember a few times so long ago creating a structure with large sticks, then filling it up with snow for a snowball fight. They, thus my tree, is a treasure for more than one reason.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Non-Fiction Books - Learn About People & Things

   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 books!

           Learning about one's DNA seems more popular today thanks to businesses like and so much talk about where one is from. This is one gorgeous book, just perfect for beginning to know about DNA. Nicola Davies revolves her explanation of DNA around different things growing, thus the title. As she explains, all things grow and in vastly different ways because of their environment. I loved seeing the words about bristlecone pines that live in harsh mountain conditions. I've seen some of these trees which grow high in our Colorado Mountains. They adapt and take "forty years to grow the size of a pencil. They can live for more than 4,000 years." Change in growing means seeds do not get bigger, they grow (change) into plants. 
            The book includes the spiraling ladder of DNA with its thousands of steps, uses the term "code of instructions" that creates all living things, and creates their differences. 

        The explanation of DNA is clearly worded and illustrated. Emily Sutton has created pictures of so many examples of living things as Nicola explains the way DNA works. For example, a family with mom and dad and five children are shown on a picnic, all similar but not exact copies because "the exact mixture of instructions that you get from your biological parents" is not the same for each child, unless you're an identical twin!  The double-page spread of many living things is special to see and to read that while we are all so different, we do share some parts of our genetic code.  

            There is an Afterword with a specific explanation of how a human grows, from one tiny cells but with growth, all kinds of cells begin to form, in fact, 200 different kinds! It's a gorgeous book that will add to a fascinating explanation of what DNA is and how it works.

           This unique biography of these Zhou Brothers, world-renowned contemporary artists,  is written by Amy Alznauer but it is unique in that the Zhou Brothers themselves illustrated it. The tale is told that first there was one brother, then a few years later, another arrived. They had good times together but argued, too. They lived with their grandmother, Po Po who had a bookstore and taught them the beauty of knowledge that comes from books. She also told the ancient legend of paintings that flew through the air, landing on high mountain cliffs, free!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Reading - 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! 

I shared a special poetry book last Friday by Irene Latham, This Poem Is A Nest, wonderful for a new poetry challenge with students!

                 The conflict between the Poles and the Ukranians, then before and during World War II with German and the Soviet Union makes an intense story by Amanda McCrina, showing one main character through some of the beginning experiences in 1941 alternating with the other character's life in 1944 toward the ending of the war. It's complicated and full of the tragic losses of every side. I was occasionally confused because of the myriad of people within the stories but began to mark the alternating chapters of both those young men and I researched some other background of these specific conflicts that had long been occurring even before WWII. 
                 What happens to every character, but especially to those profiled, Aleksey and Tolya, will make you wonder who is the good side and who is the traitor, thus the title? It's a serious and well-done historical novel. 

              Thanks to Walker Books, US, for this Advanced Copy. This was first published in the UK by Firefly Press. 
              It's not a long book and just right for young middle-grade readers ready for a little bit of a scary adventure with all the parts, beginning with Seren, an orphan sent to live with godparents that she's never met. They're wealthy, and the home is in the Wales countryside, huge and gloom-filled. No one, especially that family, is there, and most rooms have the furniture covered with sheets. There is only the stern housekeeper, a groundskeeper, and a boy gardener. And not one person will tell Seren about the boy she has been so happy to meet, the family's young son. Tomas, her age, seems to have disappeared and Seren, clever and spunky, is determined to find out why. There are dark forces involved and magical snow globes, and of course, that clockwork crow, thrust on Seren at the railway station, in pieces and wrapped in newspaper. As soon as she puts the crow together, strange things really begin to happen. Yes, it's an intriguing mystery Seren is not going to hide from. It will be a fun read for kids and maybe a good read-aloud, too! AND - there's a second book adventure on its way!

           It's serendipity, I guess. The following books all have an underlying theme of  love of place, in varied ways sure, but each of us, including those in the animal kingdom, need and love our shelters.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Poetry Friday - Not Spring, But A Nest Is Created

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Kiesha Shepard here at Whispers from the Ridge! Thanks, Kiesha for hosting and for those beautiful poems by Paul Lawrence Dunbar!  

      I'm thrilled to be on the blog tour for this marvelous new book by Irene Latham! Here's the list of all who are sharing!

  And here is my post celebrating This Poem is A Nest!

         Out September 29th, time to pre-order! Thanks to Wordsong for the advanced copy!

            Irene has created a book as robins create their nests. Piece by piece, she's selected only the parts that hold together, that make a home for her hatchlings, 161 poems found as she traveled through the words (her woods?), and so many other places, with one single poem. In the forward, Irene explains the "how" of her "nestling" idea, to find poems within the poem, a personal found or blackout poetry. Her one poem is in four parts, an homage to the four seasons.
          Within the book, there are also sections, each celebrated by full-page beautiful illustrations by Johanna Wright. These sections fly from ones like "time" and "animals among us" to "only human" and the ending "out of time".  Johanna also adds some smaller illustrations here and there on the pages, like with the poem "Middle of the Night Question" showing a young girl in bed with a dream scene showing her with wings above, a small bird playing a guitar. The poems make our imaginations soar but having Johanna illustrate her own thoughts is fun, too. And Irene's poems are tiny glimpses into life, like finding a piece of ribbon in a robin's nest!
           For those who want inspiration or for teachers who love new ideas to offer to their students, this is a place for nesting, adding pieces of wordplay challenge and extraordinary fun for poets. 
           Irene's forward invites us all to start:

What words will call to you?
What worlds are waiting in a poem for you to discover? What ideas are hiding that you—and only you—
will nurture until they’re ready
to fly right out of the nest into a
new poem?

            There are additional detailed tips about building nestlings from a nest at the back and an index. In those tips, one rule is that your new nestling can only use words from the body of the poem and in that order, top to bottom. Thus, it helps that Irene adds to the poems' topic in the titles. Choosing what touches with emotion, a favorite topic, and special-sounds is a highlight of all. I decided to break Irene's rules to see if I could write only from words in her titles. Here's what I "found":

Inside the Titles

middle of the night
before the game
on the prowl
imagination sets in
if you

poem found

         Do I have favorite parts of these pages and poems by Irene? Yes! Am I going to share what they are? No! You need to get this book and celebrate it for its creativity, its newness, its being a "nestling"! Thanks, Irene and Johanna for this special book!

Monday, September 7, 2020

Monday Reading

              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!

         Happy Labor Day! We've broken records recently with high nineties these recent days. Tonight a cold front is barreling in and we're going to have snow by tomorrow! It's the strangest year ever! 
GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!! It's time to share the name of the winner of my giveaway one week ago here! I put some sticky notes in the pot as you see and drew out Shaye from The Miller Memo! Congratulations! Contact me with your information
 so I can share it with the publisher!  Thanks to everyone who entered and to Candlewick Press for allowing me to do it!

Thanks to Candlewick 
Press for this copy!
             Those who love words will appreciate this small history of idiosyncratic people in the past who have dissected, persuaded others to take up a cause, created a book without the letter e, and computer-analyzed the Federalist Papers, etc. Twenty-six people of years ago are profiled by Paul Fleischman in two to three-page biographies, illustrated by Melissa Sweet in her color-filled collages that show off these little-known lovers of words! I took a few weeks reading and digesting this book, mostly new information to me. It reminded me of when I would browse encyclopedias and discover something entirely new and quite fascinating. One example reminded me of a visit with my students to the Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts where among other things, we learned of linguist Jesse Little Doe Baird, whose work revived the Wôpanâôt8âôk language of her ancestors. There is much to learn in this book for older readers and lovers of words!
              Added at the end, first is a terrific page by Melissa with a collage of "hello" and "goodbye" in varied languages, then source notes and additional articles about each person included. 

            You can read a special interview with Phoebe Wahl HERE at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
             Leo and his dad live in this creaky old blue house. They aren't rich and sometimes when the heat doesn't work, they bundle up and dance to keep warm. They also heat the oven and make a pie! A little worry creeps in when builders around them are tearing down other houses and finally they get the notice. They must move out because their beloved home is being torn down, too. In beautiful colored collage pages, Phoebe shares this story, based on her own life experience, says "her" blue house looks just the same as in the book. To read of a loving family that faces moving and to learn that while grief is there, things that move with them are also things that make a home special seems perfect for our days today. Many children may be moving because of virus challenges, including evictions. This story will bring some hope.
             Phoebe offers an extra look at neighborhood changes with the endpapers, the front depicting the original neighborhood and the back showing the changing landscape. 

          Carrie Finison's debut poetic picture book will cause everyone to make a run to the nearest doughnut shop for at least a dozen of those special tasty treats! And that's what LouAnn, the bear is anticipating as she readies for winter hibernation, a wonderfully tasty plate of doughnuts! In clever couplets, the tale begins with the mixing and cooking when Ding Dong! the bell rings and it's Woodrow, the beaver, asking if the bear has enough to share. "Sure, says Lou Ann, and pulls up a chair." Thus begins this yummy and sweet cumulative tale of a bear generous for a long while, but sometimes, lesson learned, enough is enough! Quite a few animal pals come by to snack and although they share in LouAnn's bounty, they also are thoughtful and return later to make amends. Cute animal expressions and a colorful array of doughnuts in illustrations by Brianne Farley complete the story well. She adds endcovers from beginning to end that are delightful celebrations of doughnuts and the delight of eating them!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Poetry Friday - That Pandemic Summer

     Poetry Friday is hosted by Carol Varsalona here at Beyond Literacy Link with a beautiful array of responses to this past pandemic summer! Thanks, Carol!  


        After helping my two granddaughters starting only online and with my grandson at college with online, hybrid, and one in class, I am amazed at the variety of tasks teachers and administrators must do to make it all work. A nephew is beginning his first job as a principal this year. Yikes! What challenges he has faced and is facing! Best wishes to every single one of you this beginning of a year like no other.

A few weeks ago, Carol asked us to share an image poem on the topic, Summer 2020 in the Midst of Quarantine Life. My summer has been filled at home, at the grocery, with my in-town family, and at the used bookstore where I volunteer. I've worked hard to stay safe, spent long hours in at-home tasks like reading, drawing, and writing, and of course, the usual cleaning and cooking. I watch the political news, am writing postcards and letters to urge those in power to ACT, hope I can help a few campaigns as we move closer to the election. I am fine and am grateful for that. While I have embraced this summer as I am able, I know that it has not been easy for many, hoping that better times will come.
            I watch other news about things like weather around the globe. love looking up, have a couple of favorite spots to see the wide view of the Rockies' front range, lucky at times to see Pikes Peak down south.  I imagine I've posted more sky pics than anything else. This summer, however, I've both watched and smelled the sky. There are now five wildfires going in the Colorado Rockies, one of which recently passed the all-time record which happened in 2002 and nearly burned our cabin. This time it has burned 139,000 acres, perhaps more by the time this posts. I know the fires in California are more by far and have taken so many peoples' homes. Our fires have destroyed many fewer buildings, but the habitat of thousands of animals and some of those animals themselves are gone. 
           Thus, my #Summer2020intheMidstofQuarantineLife has revolved around the sky!