Thursday, February 25, 2021

Poetry Friday - Birthday Special

   Karen Edmisten hosts our Poetry Friday today HERE at her blog, also sharing about birthdays!  Thank you, Karen! 


 At this time of year, those born under the sign of Pisces are reigning, celebrating birthdays, so many that it's hard to keep up! I won't list them, but I imagine as you read through the Poetry Friday posts today, you will find quite a few writing about or reflecting upon their special days.

                 Just adding a note! It is NOT my birthday. I'm only celebrating for so many who do have them during this month and into March - those Pisces!

           I've discovered many birthday poems in my Google search, chose one from Lucille Clifton for this celebration. With brief words, a little humor, and some serious thought, the poem is my wish for all the birthday people. I suspect this year those celebrating and all the rest of us are indeed "aching" to know what our future will bring. Happy Birthday to Each One of You!

This is my piece of 'tuxedo cake', wish I could share some with all of you!
I didn't make it, but have discovered it at my grocery! And I managed to
find one birthday candle!

birth-Day by Lucille Clifton

today we are possible.

the morning, green and laundry-sweet,

opens itself and we enter

blind and mewling.

everything waits for us:

the snow kingdom

sparkling and silent

in its glacial cap,

the rest is HERE.

Monday, February 22, 2021

It's Monday - Great Reading 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! 

      If you have been faced with terrible extreme weather and no heat, I hope things are better for you! Every week seems to bring new challenges to overcome. The weather itself seems to be better but I know the challenges for repair remain. 

        It's been a long time since I read a book in about a day and since I cried more than once while reading. The evacuee stories of World War II fascinate me, from the heartbreak of giving up your children for their safety plus there are the stories of those sending their children from the German-occupied countries totally to the unknown.
         There are stories of those who welcomed them and those who were not so welcoming and this is one of them, reminding me of other poignant books I've loved like The War That Saved My Life and its sequel by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian. It is 1940 and William, 12, Edmund, 11, and Anna, 9, aren't terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has taken care of them since their parents died. But the children do need a guardian, thus their solicitor sends them off to the country as evacuees, hoping to find a permanent family they can love. 
           The ups and downs of these times like children who must go to school in the summer, to give their new families a break, the villages who did offer to take so many in, sometimes revealing themselves to be the kind or the cruel. The nuances of Kate Rebus's descriptions of these characters show such empathy, layers of knowing not everyone is exactly what one assumes. And one might look behind the obvious to see that each person may have some needs (like love) as much as these children do.
            Like me, you won't be able to stop reading, to discover what indeed might happen to these three very different, but loyal to each other, children. The writing holds a British flavor and the story is filled with good books, the ones the children read during the story. There's a list at the end! Kate's writing feels formal in a delightful kind of way. Describing the children finally in a very warm bed, she writes: "There they lay, mismatched cutlery in a drawer". I did love the story!
           I feel pretty lucky that I managed to get this new and wonderful book from my library so fast! It cannot be renewed so that means others want it, too, lots of holds! It's hard to know how to review this poignant, middle-grade book about a young Indian girl, Reha, who tells her own story. How much should I share? Rajani LaRocca has crafted a growing-up story of a girl torn between two cultures, her American one, and all the family her parents left behind in India to come to America. She wants to be like her friends; her mother and father feel too strict and want her only to follow what seems to her like old-country rules. The first person structure shows the feelings right up front, from feelings about good friends and who they are, feelings about boys and what her parents want, perhaps above all, love for her parents despite the conflict. Weaving a story with all those parts mirrors teen lives everywhere and adding to the mix of being "different" becomes a story readers will love, saying, "Yes, that's me!" There is more to the plot I won't reveal, but it is special.                                                        

Thanks to Candlewick Press for these next two special books for young readers!

         A story told by Hope Lim shows a young girl riding to school with her dad, gleefully shouting "Caw, caw". She is a bird every day, gleeful in the beautiful scenery illustrated by Hyewon Yum. Riding by the ocean, waving and smiling to others, this girl continues every day until she sees an older woman walking, unsmiling, carrying a bag. The girl stops her smiles and caws and waves and this continues every day when the old woman appears. What happens when they're late one day shows that everything is not always what we think. The surprising ending is a happy one when the little girl and this older woman discover they have a mutual love. This can be a good conversation with young readers for so many misunderstandings.

        Rachel Stubbs creates her own loving story of all the things a grandfather can give his grandchild, including a red hat. Using a limited color palette, illustrations show the delight of a loving relationship and all those things that happen or are coming, and with that red hat. Grandpa seems to be telling the story, sharing that the hat can "keep you warm and dry" while showing the two out in the rain and avoiding puddles. In a humorous double-page spread in another storm, "help you stand out in a crowd" as everything is grey and bleak, that red hat is the only brightness! It "covers fears" shows the hat as a tent, with the two shadows sharing what must be a serious talk. Grandpa wishes the best of life in so many things to his grandchild, including one red hat! It's a really loving story!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Poetry Friday - Our Year of Giving

  Ruth hosts our Poetry Friday today HERE at her blog, There is no such thing as a God-Forsaken Town.  Thank you, Ruth!  


It's Random Act of Kindness week and you can find out more about it HERE. There's a poster you can download and a coloring page along with many ideas. I did this with students in my teaching years, printed out some pages upon which they could thank someone after "catching" them doing a "RAK". 

There is much need in our world now. I'm sure you all know this. It's almost the one-year anniversary since our pandemic lockdown. Things are a little better in the cases, but still not much better for those who are unemployed, needing money for rent, food, broadband access. Now, this week, the extreme weather in the south has added to the burden for millions. I do donate to as many organizations as I can but try also to do the little things that I hope at least give some smiles. This week, with our own below zero temps, I remembered something I did years ago, to create an ice lantern. All you need is a bucket, a slim cup and something to hold it in the water until freezing. Set outside and let the temperature do the rest! “ Be the light that helps others see.” Anonymous 

         A favorite poet wrote this a few years ago. I've shared it personally more than once, hope it speaks to you all during this special week.

When Giving is All We Have

                            Alberto Rios

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us. 
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it –

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

find the rest HERE

Monday, February 15, 2021

Monday Reading Shared - New! New! New!

         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 hope you are having a nice long weekend despite the weather. It looks as if Mother Nature is letting us know she is still here! 

Thrill Seekers is the first book
in the new Women of Power series: 
Bold Books to inspire Bold Moves

         I am fortunate to have been connected with Ann McCallum Staats through a friend and received an e-arc of this book coming March 2nd, very soon! You can visit Ann on her web page HERE to view all her books. I haven't read many, but enjoyed Women Heroes of the US Army, one that celebrates women of that part of our history.
         This newest book by Ann celebrates women today as you can see from the title. They are making history right now! I was amazed and constantly in awe as I read through Ann's stories of each of these women. I've ordered a copy for myself so I can pass it on to my granddaughters who are both athletic and will love reading of girls who've grown to women as they achieve in sports what few others have done.
          Ann divides the fifteen into five parts: "Maximum Sky", "Extreme Ocean", "Radical Rides", Epic Ice and Snow", and "Adrenaline Earth". Each one digs deep into the lives, from first childhood adventuring through discovering their passion (and talent) which lies in the path of achievement through hard work and persistence. Each time I also enjoyed seeing the help given along the journey from family, friends, and coaches. 
          It's not easy to explain just how much Ann has included in these stories. Within each one, there is the focus on the one woman, the 'thrill-seeker', but along with the sport that woman is learning about and practicing and achieving, Ann also includes the facts "behind" it. For example, Melanie Curtis started with skydiving. She was familiar with it because her father ran a drop zone ("a designated place where divers land"), yet she hadn't really decided to do a first jump until she was eighteen. In this piece, added to Melanie's journey to one of the women who gathered other women to break the world record for the largest female VES formation, are facts about safety, a piece about "Parachuting Pioneers", "How a Parachute Works", and "Different Dives". The combination of each woman's history and of the sport itself creates a fascinating story every time! 
           Notes I made as I read: There is good advice in every chapter, like "Competition is as much a mental game as it was about performing well physically." from Julia Marino in "The Art of Snowboarding". In Lizzie Armanto's experience of snowboarding, she shows how to push away negative thoughts when thinking about a challenge: "Am I making it bigger and harder than it is?" 
           Ann inspires with her own words in the Introduction: "What do you long to do? Three, two, one! Go for it!"
          You will find an Afterword, Acknowledgments, and Endnotes at the back.

Need more inspiration? HERE is a video of Ann herself skydiving!
           This will be great to read aloud at least some of the chapters to show the excitement in every sport, the challenges and the rewards! After conversations, let the kids read more themselves. If you have a class, you'll need more than one copy!
            Thank you, Ann, for this special new book!

         It was snowy and very cold over the weekend so I read and read. Lucky me! Don't miss this 3rd book in Gary Schmidt's trilogy! Set in 1968, the thread of Vietnam war protests escalates as Meryl Lee Kowalski loses her best friend and is sent to the coast of Maine to an elite girls' school to begin 8th grade, held in what she calls "the blank" of grief. She faces snobby girls and teachers who cling to what's always been. As I read the beginning, I felt terrible for her, alone, parents seeming unable to help so send her away. At the same time, I met Matt Coffin, same age, but on the run in a frightening way as it is revealed, he had been caught up in a group led by the criminal Leonidas Shug, whose gang had killed Matt's sweet best friend, Georgie. He's escaping, maybe.
         Setting up the alternate stories that bring good people helping into the story creates an emotional read as both Meryl and Matt need to escape again and again: Meryl questioning teachers then getting in trouble, Matt learning that there really isn't any place permanently called home. Literature keeps its thread, too, as Schmidt always does, this time The Wizard of Oz and Oliver Twist are part of the weft added so beautifully in this story. Beloved characters we meet also add to the weaving from the wise Dr. MacKnockater to the lobster boat Captain Hurd and Athletic Coach Rowlandson, plus those who help Matt on the run, and all those girls who reveal some traits that I suspect they didn't know they had! There is an added bonus of those political times, a visit from Vice-President Agnew that turns into some furor and fun in the midst of the story.
       Oh, it is a marvelous book that offers a range of emotions, a tension on the loom that never loosens, but there is always hope, too. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Poetry Friday - Love Is In The Air

    Molly Hogan hosts our Poetry Friday today HERE at her blog, Nix The Comfort Zone. Do not miss reading her "Artist's Prayer" of gratitude for her "small cup of life". Thank you, Molly! It is beautiful!


 My most recent found heart rock!

          I am writing a poem every day in February with the group celebrating Laura Shovan's birthday. This is the ninth year! Each day one of us offers a prompt and everyone responds with a poem. This year, Laura has chosen the theme of the "body". Each day the prompts shared have been amazingly thought-provoking but the poems are written even more so. It's a joy to read others' words full of heartfelt feelings. Today, I'm sharing my response to Marilyn Garcia's prompt, My Skin, a song by Lizzo. You can watch it HERE. There's little better on Valentine's Day than to celebrate one's skin and everyone else's, too! Here is what I wrote:

How To Be In Our World


Go out into the world

some afternoon to find 

ways to honor the skin

of others, the dark and light,

the in-between. Go! Mutter

into the wind, “I like my skin,

and yours, and yours and yours!” 

Go home to think

how the blessed bounty of humans

needs noticing, then a listening

to all who live around us.

Spread out your feelings

in the grass; one by one

remember ‘who’ and ‘how’

and ‘why’. 

Let them stay awhile,

as you feel the stretch

of  ‘when’ and ‘where’ they rooted,

‘what’ it means to you now.

Can you celebrate? Not yet,

but a soft tug means you’re no longer

an old fool.


Linda Baie ©


The whole world
   loves a lover
So they say—I hope
        it’s true,
‘Cause then the world’s
     in love with me
‘Cause I’m in love
           with you.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Monday Reading - More Books 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! 


           How much can I tell of a book that ends a series, is an advanced copy, won't be there until May? Like the first two, there is plenty to love about the growth and strength of Anaya, Petra, and Seth and Oppel's ability to create complexity in both old and new characters immediately. You will enjoy those new characters and the return of others. The edginess of nearly every scene, like in the first two books, will keep you nervous, wanting to read on, yet worried about what that might mean. You might need to walk around a little bit before you read on! I enjoyed it very much, am sad to see The Overthrow end. Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC.

           I just got this book from my library, then discovered that Kate Messner is reading it aloud here on YouTube! Enjoy! 
            Mama Sloth is so sweetly patient, offering small bits of advice to dear Sloth as they move slowly (and quietly) to bedtime. Listening to trees go "Shush - rush, Shush - rush" helps, but wrapping up worries and sending them away makes a very sleepy Sloth. Valentina Toro's fully illustrated "night-time" pages also help create a relaxed and soothing atmosphere. I love this Mama and her child at bedtime.


          And, after many holds, I finally have Carole Lindstrom's Caldecott-winning We Are Water Protectors. And I found Carole reading this aloud here! The sadness of the text, but the call for all of us to become Water Protectors is strong, and with the extraordinary beauty of Michaela Goade's illustrations, it's easy to see why it earned the highest honor of a Caldecott. There is added information about the background of water protectors, a glossary, and an illustrator's note at the back. Both these notes from the creators will add to the story, will invite your return to the book to understand more from Lindstrom's words and Goade's art.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Poetry Friday - Simply Watch

Jone Rush MacCulloch hosts our Poetry Friday today HERE at her blog with a fabulous "poetree" of all those lovely postcards many of us have been sharing. Thanks to Jone!


      I'm letting you know I shared Naomi Shihab Nye's Castaway on my Monday post earlier this week. It is another treasure from Naomi.

       I've been writing poems with a group hosted by Bridget Magee these recent months and enjoying sending a poem and receiving feedback, then getting one from someone else and giving them feedback. Here is one I've shared and one I was glad to hear from others about. 

       They haven't all been etherees, but I enjoy working with this form's constraints.

My cat Macavity from long ago!

take a word like . . .




bowl of cream

swish, swishing tail

a loving brush-by

evening quiet tip-toe

his tinkling bell announces

a leaping to the window sash

meow and meow at the winging by

imagining the catch he never had


Linda Baie ©  


Wishing you all a Happy February!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Monday - Special Reading Shared

       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! 


            Sometimes we may believe our actions are limited during the constant "staying at home" during this pandemic, but reading this new book by Naomi Shihab Nye shows actions that can happen every time we do go out, and sometimes when we're in. Writing poems is an added experience if you wish to write about your experiences and at the end, Naomi offers lots of ideas and advice for doing that, too!
            In five different sections termed "routes", Naomi reflects on, yes, trash, that seen or picked up during her sojourns outside, and those trips take her, and us readers, all over the world.  A poem by Kamilah Aisha Moon prefaces Nye's introduction writing about taking out the trash and a 'thank you "to those doing this grueling, necessary work." Nye offers memories and advice, sadness when she spies bags thrown into rose bushes, tiny words with admonitions hurled at us. In "Trash Talk" from Route 1: Sweepings, "Let's just throw it away./We can get a new one." And in Route 3: Odds & Ends, a poem titled "Mysteries of Humankind" begins with "One rotten white sock/at Alma's front gate–/we need to talk to Alma."  There are poems and poems and poems, for laughing and crying, but especially for considering one's life and what is being "Cast Away'! I loved every bit and won't forget to take care of what is in my own trash!

Two memoirs, both lovely in very different ways.

       In simple illustrated panels that become more sophisticated as Sylvie Kantorovitz shows her own growing up years, readers see one thread, the early, then later challenges of pleasing her mother who is not often happy with anything. The mother wants Sylvie only to be the best at everything, to make choices that would gain a rich husband, to stop wanting to do art, which will never earn much of anything. Sylvie was born in Morocco in the sixties and as a young child moved to France and lived on the property of an all-boys' school where her father was principal. Her mother seemed angry and sad all the time, perhaps because her husband was really "only" a principal, not a rich man at all. With three siblings, Sylvie shows the love she has for them and as she grows up, her thoughts about art, friendships, a bit of romance, and the hard time at school in math and physics she was made to take. 
        I imagine readers will connect with Sylvie's continuing mixed-up thoughts as she tries hard to figure out what to do with her life. I loved that she shows herself in art slightly more detailed and sophisticated as she grows up! I read only an advanced copy of this story so did not see the color added in the final book. 
        Thanks to Walker Books US, a division of Candlewick Press for the copy!