Monday, January 18, 2021

Monday Reading - Stories to Love

    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 finished a second book on my "Must Read" list and, yes, it was wonderful.

 






          I imagine most everyone shared, or written, glowing reviews of Lauren Wolk's book as I will, too, after reading this book full to the brim of a family who has lost everything, so much that they ended up on part of Echo Mountain, living in a tent through months of hard weather while they built a cabin for shelter. As they worked, then moved into the new home, the mother and older daughter show they surely mourned what was lost, but as readers discover, this is the younger daughter Ellie's story, a twelve-year-old who loved learning from her father, things like starting a fire with flint and steel, how to catch fish. She was flourishing in nature. One quote I noted gave me a smile at her happiness: "Took Maisie her breakfast and sang her a song I made up on the spot, full of barn cats and field mice and goldenrod bowed down with yellow." 
         Sadly, Ellie, that sunny girl didn't stay because of a terrible accident when her father felled a tree and ended in a coma. Yet, she finds the strength to keep on, finding new purpose in the woman called "a hag" who lives at the top of the mountain and a boy, Larkin, who has been leaving secret carved gifts in various places she visits. Ellie is determined to be who she wants to be and keeps in hurt from her family as she uncovers more mysteries, stories I certainly didn't see coming. The many-layered characters reminded me that until we really know a person, we don't know the challenges they have or are facing. Ellie and all the others in her life are people worth knowing, people one would love to have in their lives.





            I've had several "night" explorations in the past, like studying the moon and going on a "moonwalk", but sadly have never had a "Moth Ball" as described by Loree Griffin Burns. With photos by Ellen Harasimowicz of kids studying moths, preparing for a Moth Ball, Burns has created an experience like few others in a book! She includes the facts about moths, best ways to encourage many to come to the "ball", tools to use and recipes for luring. Added are an author's note, a photographer's note, a glossary and extra resources. It is an extraordinary resource for studying moths, even if you cannot get outdoors to see them in the wild.

         The following two books published just this month! Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copies!


         
One never needs words when beautiful comic-style cells written, then illustrated by JonArno Lawson and Qin Leng can create a story as lovely, distressing, and sad in part, too. A little girl and her grandparent certainly need some help with their General Store. They have one apartment for the help and they make themselves put it up for rent, and then, finally, a young couple demonstrates what work, creativity, and friendliness can fix. The whole world turns and smiles! It is a fabulous new wordless picture book.    

            Dimitri is a happy young boy just starting pre-school. He loves ants and a tree with heart-shaped leaves, also the class guinea pig and the paintbrushes in art, and he tells them that. On his first day, he tells everyone at school that he loves them, but they seem not to know how to act and mostly run away. On the second day, he tells his mother he doesn't want to go back because no one told him they loved him. Mom explains about the many ways people show their love, a good lesson for us all! Shearring's illustrations are sweetly child-like, showing the exuberant emotions of children in a colorful palette. This will be a special book to discuss all kinds of ways people show their love, including not shying away from those three words, "I love you." Both the author and illustrator live in England. This is the first U.S. edition. 

And one more picture book you might want to check out:

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Poetry Friday - Another Chilling Week

Margaret Simon hosts our Poetry Friday today at her blog, Reflections On The Teche!  She's sharing beautiful "nestlings" written herself and her students. Thanks, Margaret!

 

        I received more wonderful postcard messages this week and I will share them next time. Thanks ahead of time to Kimberly Hutmacher, Jone Rush MacCulloch, Michelle Kogan, and Diane Mayr. 

        Yet this week brought angst and (thank goodness) some relief. I am ready for new days with some good news. It's not easy trying to be positive. In other times of great turmoil, I find I cling to one thing, action as best I can help. I follow Tolkien's words he gave to Gandalf, who then gave them to Frodo: "I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decideAll we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

         And thus I make those decisions. Best wishes to all of you, however you are managing these past weeks, months, of our lives, of our country's life.

Here is my response late on Wednesday, January 13th, to those who help and those who threaten our nation. 



 woe the afterthought
instead of calling "enough" –
demanding comity
                     Linda Baie ©


Monday, January 11, 2021

Monday Sharing - Terrific 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 finished the first book on my "Must Read" list and now am embarrassed that I ignored With the Fire on High for so long. 

Happy New Year! Here we go. . . Best wishes for a super year everyone!




          I'm not sure why I waited so long to read this? I loved 'The Poet X', so there is no real reason except other books got in the way. Elizabeth Acevedo managed to keep the "tension fire" on high on every page, showing the many layers of a young girl named Emoni Santiago who also in the four years we learned about, she also managed her many-layered life as Nena (by her abuela), Mommy (by her toddler born when she was fourteen), and Santi (by a new friend). Other numerous characters are fully drawn, reminding me of the quote, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always." Slowly and lovingly, those battles are revealed, creating a group of people one wants to know better. Acevedo does allow peeks, and digs deep into the main ones, helping us to love each one of them, Emoni most of all. Early in the book, one of her thoughts is one you might want to know: "And that if everything else goes wrong, a little squeeze of lime and a bottle of hot sauce ain't never hurt nobody." Loving are the many food connections, listening to more of Emoni's love when she boils of pot of water "with the fire on high" and readies herself for what delicious thing might appear in her life next. It isn't all fun and she has those dark moments, but keeps going as us readers, and her family and friends, cheer for her. Thanks to Elizabeth Acevedo for this treasure of a girl and her story.
       
          This is a re-read, twice! It came through as a donation to the bookstore where I volunteer and I thought I'd read it again. It's good and well worth a look, for younger mid-grade readers who might like a look at another epidemic long ago. My full review is HERE on Goodreads.



         Wordless, coming via New Zealand, then Peru, Issa Watanabe offers a poignant story of immigrants using a group of anthropomorphic animals carrying just the clothes on their backs and a few other belongings. Shown, like the cover, in a stark background, they travel over rocky terrain and eventually climb into a boat, traveling in a stormy ocean which eventually falls apart and most manage to make the shore. Apart from the group is another traveler, death, moving with and sometimes flying with a blue ibis. I researched and could find no special meaning of a blue ibis, although in some places, a white ibis for some can mean danger and optimism. Not everyone survives the journey. One thing that struck me is that the array of animals were different, but Watanabe showed different ones caring for differing young ones. That felt important to notice. I also noticed the determined togetherness on every page. It's a powerful book that would be good to share and discuss with upper middle grade and up.
          


           Here is a gorgeous book by Katy S. Duffield that focuses on one environmental threat to so many different animals, freedom of movement through loss of habitat. With gorgeous mixed-media illustrations by Mike Orodán showing the new pathways (crossings) when animals have only dangerous ways to cross, Duffield explains when new areas have expanded people's thruways, many animals suffer. For example, squirrel gliders in Australia travel from one place to another to eat and breed. A very busy highway made that journey hazardous, so rope bridges have been created above this freeway in more than one place to keep those squirrels safe. High ropes for tiny monkeys in Costa Rica, highway underpasses in Montana for bears and their cubs, and similar underpasses for blue penguins in New Zealand are a few other examples. Additional information is added in the back matter. For a way to show students one more way, of the many, to help animals thrive, this is a great book! 

 
What's Next: As promised, Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk! And I may find time to read the next Kenneth Oppel, Hatch!

          Wishing everyone a good reading week and some peace in your world!






Thursday, January 7, 2021

Poetry Friday - A Hug In My Mailbox


 Sylvia Vardell hosts our Poetry Friday today at her blog, Poetry for Children, with a long and marvelous list of all the poetry coming in 2021. Thanks, Sylvia!

Thanks, Sylvia!

         Well, It is a week, isn't it? No matter how you believe, the events of this week will forever stay in our minds. Blessings for our country to keep its firm beliefs going forward and to heal quickly, with all of our help. We must keep fighting for what's right!

Here's a quote that feels special for gratitude to Jone Rush MacCulloch and her yearly idea to send postcards to a group. We sign up and she coordinates the lists. 

         "To Send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart."  Phyllis Theroux

Thank you to Linda Mitchell, Mary Lee Hahn, and Carol Varsalona for the wonderful mail, pictures, postcards, bookmarks, and of course, poetry, that I've found in my mailbox so far!


upon the lake

silverdrops dance

as a new year arises

breathe in

winter's freshness

exhale earth's frostbitten bite

                      Carol Varsalona


recently minted

shiny coin of here and now

ready to be spent

                      Mary Lee Hahn


     Year of the Ox

Monday, Ox delivers brush and brooms

       to sweep old year away

Tuesday, Ox brings uncles, aunties

      hong bao and rice cakes

Wednesday, Ox shies at red banners

      good luck poems they swish and sway

Thursday, Ox shakes golden bells

      hoping kitchen god will stay

Friday, Ox eats and rests contentedly

      firecrackers pop –

      wishing 新年快乐                                    

      Happy New Year's Day!

                 Linda Mitchell



Monday, January 4, 2021

It's Monday - and a New Year!

      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! 

Leigh-Anne Eck and Cheriee Weichel are now hosting the "MustRead" challenge for 2021 that Carrie Gelson started so long ago. If you are interested, go here! See my list above! Or the post yesterday.

Happy New Year! Here we go. . . Best wishes for a super year everyone!


Two Adult Books 

Good Evening, Mrs. Craven- The Wartime Stories of Molly Panter-Downes.
          I discovered this collection when it was donated to the used bookstore where I volunteer. I know I've read stories by Mollie Panter-Downes in the past because she wrote prolifically for The New Yorker, but this intrigued me because I thought it might have some connection to those responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic. This centers on the experiences in World War II Britain. The stories are dated from October 1939 to December 1944, bookended by two of her well-known Letters from London. I've loved every story, showing the emotions, the inner thoughts of people in crisis, sometimes grandiose, often selfish, lives being lived alone or with others. And I wondered how connected they are to today in 2020, now2021 as all of us live in our own strange new world? Find and read at least one of Panter-Downes' stories. You won't be sorry!


           I finally finished The Rose Code, a complicated and very long book about secrets at Bletchley Park (now a WWII Museum), codebreakers during WWII. It centers on three women, unlikely friends, but changes and betrayals both hurt and cemented the friendships. I won it from Goodreads and it is good, but the holidays took quite a lot of time and my reading detoured to some books below and other reading, like the magazines I hardly ever get to! If you enjoy Kate Quinn's historical fiction, this is another good one!


One lovely picture/short chapter book:


           I've loved Gary Schmidt's books in the past and knew this would be a good one, perhaps for lower-middle grades? It's a lovely, short story of a father and son, Samuel, off into a coming (then arriving) snowstorm to find a milk cow for Samuel's mother who wants it for the new baby. It's a story of how people used trading instead of money to see if what they have can turn into what they need. Starting with a bowie knife, Schmidt slowly shows the wise ways of the father and the sweetness of Samuel as during the trading, a few things come their way that he wishes "just a little bit, it wasn't a brown-eyed cow his mother was wanting." Showing some wishes, but selfless giving, Gary Schmidt and his late wife Elizabeth Stickney (her pen name) weave a sweet tale that turns out just right. You'll see! Eugene Yelchin, writer, and illustrator, paints some lovely full-page illustrations within the pages. I enjoyed this very much.

              Earlier in the year, I shared a picture book by this same couple. It's a lovely story, too! Almost Time, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, is all about the struggles to wait for something good. Clearly, Gary and Elizabeth know about young boys! My review on Goodreads is here

Picture Books:


        I know it's a Christmas book, yet it's also about people, enemies, reaching out with love on a special night. This is a fictional account from a song written by John McCutcheon, the book's author. Beautiful paintings by Henri Sorensen show the surprise, then wonder, and finally heartfelt feelings on a special night in the trenches of World War I. It connects to me today as I wonder how those in conflict here in the U.S. can find common ground? I am hopeful that we can, that we will.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

#MustReadin2021 - Hopeful for Better!

 

          Carrie Gelson at There's a Book for That, started the #MustRead community, and it's been a pleasure and a reminder to check my list to see what I really MUST read before the book, again, slips to the bottom of the ever-growing stack. I am grateful to Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life and Cheriee Weichel at Library Matters who are following Carrie's lead and hosting this year! Thanks so much for doing this, Leigh Anne and Cheriee!

        You can find all the link-ups at Leigh Anne's post - link above

       I didn't finish my list from last year. I've added only one book from it to this year and it is Elizabeth Acevedo's With The Fire on High. And I have chosen to start this year with it. I own all twelve books in this collage below, some I bought, some I won early in the year. I don't know why I've skipped by them, am sure I will love each one! That's the way 2020 seemed to go, aimless scattered reading, sometimes reading three or more books at once, not always finishing them. But it is my goal to read these this year, maybe one a month, maybe more? I already have a second stack of books from the second part of the year that I also want to read, not sharing, but they are there, in my library, waiting! Here we go into a new time, one in which I want to be sure I read more books from diverse authors, one I want to be sure I pick up a book that someone recommends, and one I choose that just seems to fit my life right then. 

         Remember I work at a used bookstore with co-workers and customers also recommending their recent "great reads". My list grows longer there, too, in addition to reading all your posts, and ones on Monday with the #IMWAYR group, on twitter, etc. It's a pleasure that I won't whine about. How could we ever tire of learning about good books?

I love this Anna Quindlen quote: "“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”

Happy Reading Everyone!