Monday, November 30, 2020

It's Monday - Sharing Gift Books & 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!

Thanks to everyone for sharing so many great books that I put on my list, read and enjoy! I hope you are continuing to be well and managing these challenging days.  

           I want to share an old book, Apt. 3 by Ezra Jack Keats, a brief story of two boys who discover a neighbor they "know about" but don't know. Keats is a favorite for his beautiful stories and lovely illustrations. About empathy, some neighborhoods, kids watching out for each other. Find it and see what you think!

      When many things in the world are changing, it's good to know what things will not change. When Bea's parents told her they were divorcing, they gave her a journal where they wrote some of those things and she added her own ideas to the list as days passed. This twelve-year-old Bea lets us see her thoughts and her worries, the times she has struggled, and the times happiness reigns. 
       I suspect this book is going to be one for parents and kids to read together, to savor the wise words of characters in the story.  Each character, even ones with small parts to play have layers of importance, for the story and for us to see the growth intertwined with all the others. To paraphrase Rebecca Stead's words, they have the blessing of being exactly who they are. I've read that many of you loved this book and I did, too!

            It's good to learn about celebrating other special holidays from those who are not going to be celebrating Christmas. Sometimes children do not realize others have unique holidays and traditions. Hanukkah is coming soon, too, just like Christmas. Over the years, my class had a special visitor, a parent (who kept coming to visit even when his daughters grew older and out of the class) who came in to read Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, cook latkes with us and tell stories of his childhood. It is a favorite memory from those years.

           Now, if I was teaching, I would add this new book by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Galia Bernstein. The Eight Knights of Hanukkah is a new tale of these knights' journey sent off to save the last night of Hanukkah. A scary dragon has been roaming the countryside creating havoc with the party preparations. Lady Sadie called them together "to fix things with some deeds of awesome kindness and stupendous bravery." And they do! They fix a ruined dreidel, peel potatoes, gather apples, bake Hanukkah donuts (sufganiyot) and find that dragon! With smiles and generosity, the knights show through their deeds that they understand what Hanukkah is all about! 
           There is a brief author's note at the back with some explanations of the "whys" of the tradition. Watercolor illustrations with black outlining have just the right whimsical touch in this "knights" adventure. Endpapers display a map of the land where they ventured!

            Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following books, a few special gifts for kids of all ages!

        As you will guess, this story by Tracey Corderoy is written after the favorite "Twas The Night Before Christmas". This time, Mouse wishes upon the star at the top of the Christmas tree. But before he even thinks more about that wish, "out on the lawn/there arose such a clatter" and it's Santa! Thus begins Mouse's fun and sweet adventure on this special Christmas Eve night with Santa, filled with snowy and sparkly illustrations by Sarah Massini, including a gorgeous double-page spread of Santa and those reindeer and lots of happy pictures of this 'new' helper. There's another happy ending, too, this time for Mouse!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday Reading - Special Books Again

      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!

Thanks to everyone for sharing so many great books that I put on my list, read and enjoy! I hope you are continuing to be well and managing these challenging days. For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, wishing you a good one even if it differs from the past.

This was really a wonderful book to read about the life (up to age 17) of Muhammad Ali. Kwame Alexander and James Patterson combine prose and poetry to tell this story of who, in early life, was Cassius Clay. From Louisville, Kentucky, readers meet neighbors and friends, his dear loyal younger brother, and the rest of his family. The wisdom he learned, the love in this close family are shown as the strongest support of Ali. He struggled in school, met racism, but was single-minded when it came to his training. He began that training at age twelve. Beautiful depictions of Ali and some action scenes are captured by Dawud Anyabwile. Ali's verbal talents come through in the poetry. There is one story where Cassius was facing not graduating, but his language arts teacher said she would allow him to give a speech instead. He passed and graduated. "He was a world-class talker." One quote near the end showed what a special boy, then man, he was. When he was older, after a historic fight, a reporter asked what he wanted to be remembered for. He answered with a recipe that is the way I wish everyone could read, so instead of typing it, I took a photo.

            I am old enough to remember watching a couple of his fights with my whole family gathered. Yes, it was the time when we did that, gathering for one huge TV show! He was amazing. And I remember him lighting the torch in Atlanta in 2010, clearly showing he was shaking with Parkinson's, clearly showing the incredible person he was, who rarely gave up because he was "the greatest". 
       I enjoyed reading this book about Cassius Clay very much!

         Based on the real teddy bear now in the Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel. It was taken care of and it took care of Fred Lessing as a boy escaping the Nazis. This was first published in 2016, now translated by Annette Appel and written by Iris Argaman, with illustrations by Avi Ofer. Bear tells the story of him and Fred whose family eventually escaped from Delft, Holland to Amsterdam. Eventually, Fred was then left with a stranger and did survive with his teddy bear! All the family also survived and moved to America. There is an epilogue that tells about the museum asking if Bear is willing to be part of their stories and a final letter from Bear, sharing his gratitude for Fred's continuing love and care. Fred's bear story's illustrations appear wispy and muted, showing the life lived then meant fear and uncertainty. It's a special story that brings the Holocaust to life in a story for ten and up.
         Personal note! I still have my teddy bear that was a gift from my father who was shot down in the Philippines during World War II when I was two. I took it to college, too!

        Fortunately for all of us, Philip Stead has brought Charlotte Zolotow's "In My Garden" (1960) back for everyone who has cherished their gardens and nature during this Pandemic year, now stretching into winter. As we read this young girl's favorites from her garden (and from her life) during each season, I imagine each one of us can add our own, from last spring, into summer's joys, to autumn's fabulous days. A black cat follows along with the girl as she shares her favorites of the seasons. Stead's illustrations feel comfortable in their muted tones and his lovely dedication is perfect where he shares that he's collected children's picture books since he was nineteen, Zolotow's among the favorites found.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Poetry Friday - Come Take A Trip To The Sea!


Well, It's 2020, isn't it? I'm happy to host and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, however you land! Link up below!

 Matt Forrest Esenwine sent me an email announcement of a new anthology of poetry, Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children from The Writer’s Loft. Several anthologies have come out recently and this one focuses on, as you see from the cover, the ocean. Those children who know it well will find old friends and those who would love an ocean trip will find a glimpse of what might be! It seems perfect for holiday gift-giving to a variety of readers - parents, librarians, teachers, and certainly children.

             Amanda Smith shares all about the book's creation here at 24 Carrot Writing!


Now. no longer traveling far
so take a book trip as you are.
You'll learn to splash along with me. 
with authors' poems from the salty sea.
                                            L Baie

        It's seventy pages of ocean knowledge packed into all kinds of poem styles, poems of creatures who depend on others, like remora and sharks, and those who swim and live above, like manatees. Matt writes about a boat "Unmoored", another way to "see" the "sea" that children might not think about if they've never visited. I've always been fascinated by lighthouses, stayed in one on the California coast years ago, trying to imagine what it is like to live and work in one. Heidi E.Y. Stemple writes "Boston Light", a beautiful, eerie poem about a lighthouse and Bridget Wixted writes "Lighthouse", offering a second idea of these special sites. The variety of things experienced during this trip to the ocean will make you sigh with the words and say "wow" about the illustrations, each one by a different artist. Here are two favorites, the first with Matt's poem and the second about a favorite of mine, manatees!  


         At the end lies a number of ideas that add to the learning "inside" the poems. There is a list of things that will take the reader back to search for things, like eleven crabs, five boats, and one dog, yes, a dog! (I had to return and look, too!) They also offer a challenge to find the different types of poems included, as well as a terrific list of ways to "Become an Ocean Protector". Not only is this an anthology of beautiful poetry about the ocean, but one that adds to the learning by inspiring action. 
          Thanks for the opportunity to share this, Matt!

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Monday, November 16, 2020

Monday Reading - New Books to Enjoy

     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!

Thanks to everyone for sharing so many great books that I put on my list, read and enjoy! I hope you are continuing to be well and manage these challenging days.


             I also read and enjoyed Saadia Faruqi's book written with Laura Shovan this year, A Place at The Table. Thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this latest one. Saadia is from Karachi, Pakistan originally and while she writes here about two young girls, she also says in her author's note that this is a love letter to Karachi, too. This backdrop of the story gives a loving glimpse of this ancient city, now modern in some ways, still carrying its history, too. 
            It's a middle-grade novel first starting with disgusted eleven-year-old Mimi, not happy at all about spending her summer with grandparents she barely knows. She begins by starting a new journal writing to her father about the time there, the father who left her and her mother when she was five. The cook's daughter, the same age, is hoping for entry into a private school, not wishing at all to remain her father's assistant for the rest of her life. Her family is very poor, however, and she keeps this goal a secret, wondering if she will ever get the chance for better.
            At first, the girls are wary of each other. How in this world can a rich American girl ever have anything in common with a poor Pakistani? But they do find each other in ways you might not imagine, but will love the intertwining story, mixed in with both families' troubles and the change that happens when secrets are revealed. Learning how friendships work and how families can love no matter the circumstance means a great story for kids to read and connect with personally. I enjoyed it very much!

         Time to thank Josh Funk for his latest two books! 

          One more time Josh Funk has brought in his storyteller to give us readers a version of Little Red Riding Hood. Even the title says it's not, but everyone in the story tries hard to follow the original story. However, the wolf is sick (just like Grandma) so Captain Hook takes the wolf's place and tries hard to be scary and to follow the storyline. Even as Little Blue (yes, something happened to the red cape) tries to follow along, other things disrupt like that pirate says he did NOT agree to any people-eatin'! Like the previous ones, this is full of giggles and surprises from the story and from Edwardian Taylor's sneaky illustrations. I saw a few other recognizable story characters in the background like that bored rabbit waiting, waiting for the turtle plodding uphill. 
           I love reading this myself and to my grandchildren, am very glad I won it from Laura Mossa at Beagles and Books! Thanks again, Laura!

         Patience and Fortitude, ready for their nightly prowl, find that the beloved children's library they visit often, is gone! Off to find it, they first visit Times Square with lights blazing for Harry Potter, Frog and Toad, and Annie. Those are plays, no books. And in Funk's usual special poetic quatrains and Stevie Lewis's nighttime NYC illustrations, readers are taken on their own prowls searching. Central Park, the Highline Canal, and some of the local branch libraries are only a few places that are fun to see and visit, however, the lost books are not there! If you don't know the latest NYC library news, you'll learn about it now. The newly renovated library is now across the street and Patience and Fortitude at last found their beloved books. There is an added note at the back that explains all the sites visited for those who do not know New York City very well. The opening endcover by Lewis show the dismayed lions with only a few books, but the back ones are filled with Fortitude and Patience relaxing with their found books! Throughout the story, you will recognize some special favorites on various shelves. A new adventure that will be fun to add to other books about libraries.

                  Perfect to read aloud, wonderful for discussion and prediction, thanks to Candlewick Press for these next two books!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Poetry Friday - Looking Up

Robyn Hood Black, of haiku fame, hosts our Poetry Friday today at Life on The Deckle Edge! with so many special ideas for holiday gifts and a special poem from Hop To It, the new poetry anthology by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, by Margaret Simon. In it, you will find so many Poetry Friday friends! Thanks, dear friend, for hosting!

Though our worries do not seem to be over, I had quite a wonderful LAST Saturday, did you?

           A new "old" book was donated to the used bookstore where I volunteer. It is FILLED to the brim with poems, essays, long passages from plays, speeches, aphorisms. Aptly named, this Treasury of the Familiar, 1942 has reminded me of poems I remember reading years ago or poems read to me as a child. I searched for something apt for today's chaos but chose instead a moon poem I didn't remember at all by Walter de la Mare titled "Silver". It was a wonderful sight to see that blue moon last month and now this morning, a "silver" sliver of it has returned. Dependable moon, how I love you!

        The book's owner trimmed these and tucked them inside the pages of the book.

Here is the full page with the poem, and a taste of other things, too! Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Monday Reading - Books for Your List, Again!

     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!

Thanks to everyone for sharing so many great books that I put on my list, read and enjoy!

It has been quite a week in our history, hasn't it? No matter how you feel, I hope everyone can find ways to work together for a better world, especially including help to lessen the challenges of the pandemic! Some of these following books include inspirational stories of people who have stepped forward to fill needs they see. We can do that, too!

From My Library!

           Badger loves certain things, especially rocks. He is single-minded and likes his life of "doing important rock work". He lives in a brownstone freely given to him by his Aunt Lula, because he didn't make much money and had no place to live. He spends much of his time in his "rock room". At least, that is what his days used to be until Skunk showed up. He had been offered a room and a home by Aunt Lula, unbeknownst to Badger. Well, Badger had received a few letters from her yet they went unread (important rock work). Skunk moves in and upends up a lot of "things" like noticing that a room full of boxes means they need to be flattened and the room made comfy, then it can become his bedroom with a moon straying into the window. He saved some of the boxes for the chickens. Chickens? Yes, chickens play a large part in this story, too, much to Badger's dismay. The story becomes a big adventure with Badger making decisions he will regret and decisions that please.  The introspection by him and by Skunk, also are important to consider. If you're in a pickle of a relationship, best to really look at your days and how you discover they could be! I love the way Amy Timberlake incorporates animal "ways": "But being a badger, he tip-clawed to the kitchen for a wary peek." You will grow to love these two characters and learn quite a lot about geology and chickens and maybe yourself! And, Jon Klassen adds his special muted and sentimental illustrations.  

         Thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for this copy! Karen Rostoker-Gruber adapts a Yiddish folktale, It Could Be Worse with a lesson learned by a farmer after asking advice from a wise woman in town. Oh my, his household is SO crowded. With eight children, what is he to do? This wise woman shares to invite all his ducks into his home, then other animals, including the horses! Oh my, again, he is never sure of that advice but follows it. Can you guess what happens? It may be wise words we all might take notice of in our lives: "be sure you are grateful for what you already have!" Karen Rostoker-Gruber's illustrations mimic old-time pictures, busy and colorful. What fun it would be to read this aloud to a group of young readers! 

           Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following three special picture books!
         Aw, a boy's older sister tells him all about winter, how to look for signs it is on its way like days getting shorter, leaves dropping, then cold! Although those things do happen, he finds many things to love like sledding, cozying with family on the sofa, and making snow angels. When they ice skate, it is so much fun. Winter does not become the sad season the sister describes. In a story of brief words where watercolor illustrations show those seasonal changes along with the brother's delight. despite his sister's gloomy forecast. It will be lots of fun reading aloud with a group talking about points of view of course!

         Until I read this beautiful story by Susan Goldman Rubin of Mary Seacole, a nurse who served on the front lines of the Crimean War, among many other ways she served, I had never heard of her. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1805, learned about nursing from her mother who prepared herbs to help sick people. She decided she wanted to help others with natural remedies, kindness, and good food. She first practiced on her dolls as a young girl! 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Poetry Friday - Trees Write

                Susan at Soul Blossom Living hosts us today. Thanks, Susan!

          As this tiny blossom above shows, there's always hope for goodness, right? I've been writing for myself and with Bridget's Magee's online poetry group and it's been wonderful to have someone who is "expecting" something from me and to "expect" a poem from someone else! Before it started, I had been messing around with etherees. Here is the definition I work from: "Similar to the Cinquain and the Rictameter, the Etheree is a ten-line form ascending in syllable count for ten unrhymed lines. It's attributed to an American poet, Etheree Taylor Armstrong of Arkansas. An Etheree should focus on one idea or subject."

           I wrote a double one and shared it at the end of September here!

       Now it is this week of November's beginning and I owe a new poem to another person, but first, I owe this one for this time in our country's life, for hope and well-being wishes to all of us.


  leaf drops;

  a maple

  skids underneath

  a yellow aspen.

  Sweetgum’s orange joins in.

  Odd that a green leaf appears,

  lands the middle – spring memory

  refuses to be one left alone.  

  They create a wreath of us, together.  

       Linda Baie ©

Monday, November 2, 2020

It's Monday - More New Books to Enjoy!

    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! And, VOTE if you haven't yet! It's going to be a wild week!

        Thanks to Candlewick Press for all the books I'm sharing today.

            From the author of A Wish In The Dark, Christina Soontornvat who has family in Thailand happened to be visiting there when the Wild Boars went missing. She never stopped following their journey and knew she had to write this book!

           From the beginning exciting trip to a cave promised by Coach Ek to the incredible end, Christina Soontornvat takes us on this journey with emotion and clear explanations of the challenges, including a broad swath of volunteers wanting to help in any way possible. Many stepped in, figured out what was needed and acted, helped, went without sleep or payment. The heroes number in the thousands and the boys were saved! I learned a lot from this emotional telling, the science of the water in the Thai mountains, what and how sumps work, the super pumps that farmers there really use to water their fields, thus using them to help in a different way in the rescue. Also included were the cave divers and their expertise, a group I knew nothing about. They were the final rescuers, taking on a risk even they had not taken before. The kindnesses do not stop! It was also wonderful to hear about the boys and their coach, the strength of brotherhood they brought to achieve survival before they were first found and after. The reading was high drama consistently and the ending "after" is to be appreciated. I guess we all lived through this rescue via television or the internet, but to read the minute details of those days makes an adventurous story to absorb and appreciate the time and research from Christina Soontornvat. 

        This is the final book of Victoria Bond's trilogy about Zora Neale Hurston's family and hometown of Eatonville, which is the first incorporated black township in America. I've enjoyed each one, the books unfolding as Victoria Bond used facts from Hurston's life to weave a dramatic story for middle-grade readers. This finale shows Zora's family and Eatonville itself immersed in a frightening upheaval that includes a lynch mob pursuing a fugitive, a grave robber, and Zora's own family sorrows that show reasons she finally left to pursue her own dreams. Her best friend Carrie again tells the tale filled with lives of so long ago with numerous interesting characters, old-time medicine and politics, some explanations of voodoo and zombie-ism at that time, and the challenges for black people even in a place created to be safe. A quote I loved that fits this tale, but our lives, too: "The world is covered in dull and sharp points alike." It begins Chapter Six and when you read the book, be sure to read the whole paragraph it started! There is a brief biography explaining some of the truths woven into the story. Terrific final book!

        Smriti Prasadam-Halls' poetic rhyme offers courage and hope as a young girls and her fox companion travels through storms and dark yet find some friends who give them hope along the way. Finally, the day and a hope-filled future arrive: "Rain before rainbows, clouds before sun,/night before daybreak–a new day's begun. David Litchfield's illustrations feel poetic, too, filling the pages with the emotions expressed as the girl travels from dark to light. It's a beautiful book that will encourage discussion of the metaphor and its meaning personally.