Thursday, December 31, 2020

Poetry Friday - Hello/Goodbye


 Ruth hosts our Poetry Friday today at her blog, There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Thanks to Ruth, we can all enter the new year in grand celebration, of Naomi Shihab's wise words, "so little is a stone" and Jane Kenyon's bringing of happiness, no matter the drought of it, of Haiti's celebration with pumpkin soup, so much to smile over. 

         My neighborhood is celebrating the new year together through lighting luminaries this year at twilight on Friday. It's a lovely way for us to be together without "being together".

         I wrote a really long poem about this past year, the first of a new decade, one we all were excited to welcome. The year wasn't quite what we expected and my poem turned out rather bleak. Like the year, however, there were things to smile about as well as frown. I cut it down to what I want to remember. What would you put into such a poem?

Quotes I lived by:

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar Wilde

"Let's just muddle through today. That's what I say. We can't take care of tomorrow until it gets here."  Elizabeth George

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot

The Way We Were


January – welcome new decade,

delicious tastes ahead

February - sweet candy hearts

say “sweet love” and (not-to-be) “hug me”

March - blew in with ballast:

news that lied, “over by Easter”

April – Easter echoed: no church, 

no gatherings, no Peeps

May – mighty wifi went viral, 

mortarboards flung on Zoom (sometimes at Zoom)

June – tiny openings, disinfectants reigned,

sunshine brought vitamin D enthusiasts

July – no travel, no beach, continued “Nays”

forest fires - “Yeas”, breaths-challenged tragedies

August – disgusting decisions: schools opened;

no, they didn’t; yes, they did. . .no

September – trees falter, desk orders rise,

#amwalking hashtags and leaf poems burgeon

October – outside beauty, inside birthday

ending with Halloween’s silent doorbells

November – election delight, but waiting, waiting

Thanksgiving smaller, gratitude for wellness bigger

December – No carols sung in Malls, USPS tries,

mask-ful Christmas, 

                         No matter! Bells may now be rung.

                                                   Linda Baie ©

Wishing the Happiest of the New Year to you and yours!

photo credit: Paul-W 2020-12-19 Luminaria in the neighborhood (154) via photopin (license)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Poetry Friday - Christmas Day


            Irene Latham hosts our Poetry Friday today at her blog, Live Your Poem HERE with some special advice, "How to Make Merry". Thanks very much, Irene!

         I did celebrate Christmas outside with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson last Saturday. It was wonderful to see and talk with them, but it was also all too brief. I certainly hope 2021 will be different. Today, I'm off to my daughter's house here in town and will celebrate with her, my son-in-law, and the two granddaughters. We will have fun, certainly, but a sadness lingers, too.

           Wishing everyone a special holiday, today for a Merry Christmas. Hanukkah is over and I hope your celebrations were special. Kwanzaa begins Saturday and ends on January 1st. Whatever your special days, may you find peace and joy!

     This used to be my "kitchen tree', but no 
room there now, so on a living room shelf.
Imogene created a star for its top!


        I shared this story years ago and want everyone to know it, thus posting again. A few years ago, a friend who always sends poems in her cards sent the poem BC:AD by UA Fanthorpe. At that time, I did not know this poet or the poem, but it made me want to know more. Fanthorpe has an amazing gift of word knowledge, paring down to what must be written, and then no more, what all poets attempt with varied success. I love the different paths she takes by looking at known topics as new ones. 
        You can find three of her poems with two others that Fanthorpe wrote about  
 Christmas here: "The Reindeer Report", "What The Donkey Saw", and "Not the Millennium". In 2002, the poet’s Christmas poems that she wrote and sent to friends for many years were collected into one volume,  Christmas Poems.      

           Several people have set this poem to music, too, easily found by a Google search.  
Happy Holidays everyone!

This is the beginning:
by UA Fanthorpe:

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

           This was the moment when nothing 
           Happened. Only dull peace 
           Sprawled boringly over the earth. 

Find the rest here!

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Last Monday of 2020 - Special Books

     Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and 

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

          I read a lot of picture books last week to try to meet my goal on Goodreads and I'm close! Clearly, I have not read as much this year, or I could say I've read a lot, but it's also included many magazines, about politics, short fiction, etc. - not books!
            This will be my last post before the new year. I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday. No matter the way you celebrate, may it be joyful! I am grateful for your support this year and your inspiration that made my book lists grow, but with the happiest of reading.

          First - among many, sharing these older and favorite Christmas books. 

        I just ran out of time to read a chapter book this week, but I'm taking time to choose what's next of a stack of special middle grade and young adult ones that are waiting. That's my Christmas gift to me! Here are some picture books I loved this week.

              I cannot really know what a black child feels about his life, but I can try through reading words like the heartfelt/heart-rending ones in this poem by Zetta Elliott. Opening with these words where hiding is "a space deep down inside of me /where all my feelings hide", we are invited to experience the deep emotions of "joy" when skateboarding, but then comes "sorrow" as another police shooting occurs in his community. The seasons arc over his life as well, from the summer fun, the fall into winter including "fear" and "anger", ending with some resolution in "pride" and "peace". The fabulous debut of illustrator Noa Denmon shows all the power, and beauty, of this child's emotions in his life. On some pages, there are people in the background, showing his "pride" of those, his people, who came before. I recognize a few, but not all, and wish there was a page naming them. I enjoyed the mix of hues, the change of designs that Denmon used, to good effect when weaving the poem's lines on each page. Sometimes there are double-page scenes; other times, there are comic-book cells. It's a book to remember, one to help black children understand the emotions that have taken a toll generation after generation.
      One small mystery, the cat that appears on most pages. From a few scenes, I guess it belongs to this boy, but I don't know. It is something I noticed.

         It's a darling cat whose antics are shown in alphabetical rhymes by Cylin Busby, filled with bookstore details by Charles Santoso. I work at a used bookstore, but it is volunteer-run only, thus no one person who comes in every day to take care of a cat. It is tempting anyway to have such a multi-personality cat in the store. Cylin Busby writes he's "Intelligent" and "Quick", "Thirsty", "Gorgeous", yet also "Humble". Aside from the many, many books on shelves, Santosa shows a diverse group of adults and children interacting with the cat along with hilarious antics of this sweet "Bookstore Cat". What a fun book!

           You can see it's a sunset with the rising moon, thus bedtime for one young girl, that one in red you see in that window on the cover. She shares her questions as she wanders. What's above and below? She discovers that her ceiling is someone else's floor, her floor is another one's ceiling. And she says it's okay. Page after page fill up with more detailed views of the building's interior, fascinating details by this author/illustrator Kasya Denisevich every time I turn the page. Also, each page has what appears to be her red stuffy.  While the girl is preparing for bed, we realize that many others are doing their evening things. She's wondering and next morning, meets one of those neighbors, another girl. As they walk off to school, she wonders what her classmates are like. A story that might inspire some other child's wondering about their own neighbors will be great to read to a class.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

#PoetryFriday - Celebrating the Light


            Michelle Kogan, artist and poet, hosts our Poetry Friday today at her blog HERE. She welcomes us with stardust and a beautiful painting of friends in space, among the stars. And, alongside a poem of hope, she shares space bookmarks from her Etsy store. Thanks very much, Michelle!

          I get to love on my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson for a brief time Saturday to exchange gifts and SEE them for real! They live in Texas and are here for a few days of skiing, but sadly, we've decided not to be together like all our years before. We'll bundle up and stay outside. I'm happy to get together this brief while and hope they have a special time on the mountain! We have a condo near one of the resorts, where they're staying. 

Wishing everyone a special holiday, no matter how you're celebrating! May you have some sweet moments while ending this year. Nice memories can be made any hour, any day. 

         Monday, December 21st, the winter solstice arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. For many, it's a time to enjoy winter evenings inside, reading special books to loved ones at bedtime, or reading for oneself.

        Here is Susan Cooper's The Shortest Day, with a poem written long ago, now gorgeously illustrated by Carson Ellis.

          In her afterword, Susan Cooper writes of the long - ancient to today - celebrations that happen at the winter solstice, welcoming the sun after the longest night. She wrote this poem that is so beautifully illustrated by Carson Ellis for a group called Revels that celebrates the solstice with performances in various places. Ellis introduces the sun as a male figure with a sun's head. In the story, it both appears, disappears, and in the grand "re-entry", returns. On that final page, Ellis shows it filling the page in a landscape of snowy hills with children like those seen on the cover showing their excitement! There are few words and they are surrounded by all kinds of people 'reveling', bringing back the sun, "And everywhere down the centuries." In a somber double-page spread, Ellis shows the sky darkening, the sun nearly set while people gather wood as ravens watch. The book is history and poetry combined plus a celebration itself of people's ways of living life as best they know at the time.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

  • And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
  • And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
  • Came people singing, dancing,
  • To drive the dark away.
  • They lighted candles in the winter trees;
  • They hung their homes with evergreen;
  • They burned beseeching fires all night long
  • To keep the year alive.
  •               Find the rest here!
Discover more about the collaboration between Cooper and Ellis here from NPR.

 Happy Solstice Everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2020

It's Monday! Don't Miss These Books!

    Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and 

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

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 am grateful to Cheriee Weichel for sharing about Bloom. Thank you! I don't know how I missed it earlier, but I got it at my favorite Indie and have now read it, now need number two -- fast! I read and loved Oppel's Nest, actually found it somewhat creepier than this Bloom. However, this new book, a series, will make you look at spring plants in quite a different way, I suspect. Three young adults are linked in various ways, adults actually listen to them, parents as well, and everyone shows thoughtful, caring ways. And it all has to do with aliens. In some action-packed scenes, I felt a little squirmy, imagining how things could BE if some of this was true. You must notice I'm not sharing very much. I want you to read this book if you're a big fan of science fiction for the middle grades and I don't want to give anything away.

          Gorgeous cut-paper collage makes this new book "sing" along with poetry in what is a new adaptation of the Ila-speaking people of Zambia. Ashley Bryan says that the scissors shown in the endpapers were his mother's, what he now uses. How all birds have a "touch" of black after envying the most beautiful (in their eyes) - Blackbird! This would be awesome to read aloud with a group and help them learn the words, at least some of them: "Blackbird stirred with a stick in his wing and said: "We'll see the difference a touch of black can make. But remember, whatever I do, I'll be me and you'll be you." It's also a celebration of "Black is beautiful".
          This was published in 2003 but it still took me a long time to get it from the library because of so many holds. 

          Finally, I have this poignant, uplifting, wordless story of Thao Lam and her family fleeing Viet Nam in the midst of the terrible war's aftermath when the Viet Cong took charge. The extraordinary papercraft from Thao Lam lies in a series of frames, leaning on the story told by her mother of the ants that saved them, the ants that survived the attacks from the gulls, terrible storms, and terrifying waves, in a paper boat. These are Lam's people (she was two), fleeing in metaphoric paper boats, many surviving the journey only to arrive in the refugee camps. Those camps, too, were lessons in survival, yet finally, they settle as refugees in a city, an image showing a table laden with food, and one ant. You'll need to read more about these ants in Thao Lam's letter explaining the connection told by her mother. Everyone needs to read this story, then also remember those still trying so hard to better their lives in camps all over the world, including the United States.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Poetry Friday - What It Is


            Buffy Silverman, of the gorgeous nature photos, hosts our Poetry Friday today at her blog HERE.  She has special guests today and a giveaway!

         I hope every one of you is doing well, staying safe, and wish you some jolly times the rest of the year!

Word Hungry

I collect snippets of conversation

in a few places:


the grocery, 

where there are couples standing close,

speaking softly through their masks,

Will it be chicken or steak tonight, honey?

Please wrap up that stretch of salmon.

Do we need more potatoes?

Pull your mask up!


the bookstore, 

where I hold casual conversations

Have you read. . .? 

Yes, I loved, and also. . .!

Thanks, have a nice day,


With my grown son and daughter on the phone:

about their health, about their children, their jobs –

piecemealed into fractured days 

of the pandemic. 

They are not alone

but when we speak, 

words are shadowed by the virus news:

its latest victims,

When is the vaccine coming? 

Where do you get tested?


Politics drifts in, but not often.

So little cushions alarming numbers.

We try to speak about Christmas, 

yet do not settle on a plan.


There are no words to share that mean disappointment.

And I try to remember: 

“What did we talk about 


             Linda Baie ©

photo credit: Victor Wong (sfe-co2) The Hong Kong Food Market's Fresh Fruits and Vegetables department via photopin (license)

Monday, December 7, 2020

It's Monday - More Reading That I Loved

      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.  

         Thanks to Walker Books, US, a division of Candlewick Press, I had the pleasure of reading this tech adventure, based on the podcast The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel! What could possibly go wrong when Mars has his close, close friends-like-family who will do anything to help him find his close friend Aurora, then another, Jonas? Well, quite a few things, including finally questioning the honesty of detention teacher Mr. Q. It all comes down to who will get into the elite school run by Oliver Pruitt, whose Podcast is followed by millions of kids. "To the stars", he says. Mars' group follows through all sorts of alarming mishaps, each using their special powers. It's quite a group that kids will see in themselves, perhaps, smiling and nervous, but never faltering. Sheela Chari includes texts and bits of podcasts along with regular text that make this story even more fun. There are more than a few hints that this may not be the last we'll read about Mars Patel and his friends!

               One sad thing about this book about Jacob Riis is that need of the homeless and those in poverty is still here, more so exacerbated by the pandemic and the ineffective way it has been handled by the U.S. administration. He worked so hard himself and accomplished much over a hundred years ago, would be saddened to learn that so many problems are still not solved. I've visited the Tenement Museum in NYC and seen some of his photographs, chilling to believe that thirteen people including a week-old baby lived in one room! Alexis O'Neill has written Jacob's story from his beginnings as a twelve-year-old, to his work at many jobs at fifteen when he moved to Copenhagen, then his move to NYC at twenty-one. Ending up as a newspaper reporter, he spent hours visiting the slums, writing article after article about the terrible conditions. Nothing worked to change things until he discovered the power of the camera. Lots of added information with some of his photos are at the back. The powerful and poignant illustrations by Gary Kelley help tell this inspirational tale of one man who never stopped caring and trying to help those in need. 

          It's interesting to share this next new book by Chris Raschka, also about a city, but this time a happy city of apartments, people hanging out windows, two young girls in particular. And lots of birds, too! In brief rhyming text with Raschka's ever-whimsical splashes of color in his illustrations, two friends find each other, at last!

          Thanks also to Candlewick Press for the following three books, gifts for a variety of children.

         Gorgeous double-page spreads by Galen Frazer using a starry background of the universe (and beyond) teach readers about spaceflight. The beginning pages wow, showing a dad and two kids in silhouette looking at the universe (the Milky Way highlighted), explaining how we are all made of stars. Andrew Radar's explanations are brief and clear, giving a beginning knowledge that will inspire more and more research. He includes familiar concepts like "gravity", the "solar system", and "earth and moon" that are beautifully highlighted with Frazer illustrations. Many more concepts include "How Rocket Engines Work", "Going to the Moon", "Exploring Mars" along with further information about Jupiter and Saturn. New concepts are also discussed with an added glossary in the backmatter. This special book will tickle everyone's space curiosity, child to adult!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Poetry Friday -How We Can Be


            Mary Lee Hahn, our "manager", hosts our Poetry Friday today at A Year of Reading. And she is sharing a cover reveal of a book on its way to us in the new year! You must visit to see about this book and who wrote it, who designed the cover. Thanks, Mary Lee!

           I have a number of poems collected that center on what feels important in life. William Stafford often writes about those parts of life. These poems, among many others, are what has sustained me this year of "new challenges". I grabbed a folder of those poems and chose this one by William Stafford. When I searched for it, I discovered that Mary Lee shared it back in 2016 HERE, and I love the serendipity that on her hosting day I chose this very poem. Now we can again take solace in the message to find our own "Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven". 

                             Everyone needs a sofa in their office, right?

Any Morning
by William Stafford

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.