Monday, August 30, 2021

Monday Recap - Books To Know

   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! 
        My #MustReadin2021 post is HERE. If you want to add your own, go HERE to Cheriee's call for updates!
        Our world had many sadnesses this past week. I hope each of you is all right, if you had the challenge of Hurricane Ida, that it wasn't too bad for you. Best wishes for our days going in better ways. My two granddaughters started school last week and both had marvelous beginning days. I am grateful to all who worked so hard to make it happen.

             Seventeen writers offer their own celebration of joy in the lives of black boys. The editor, Kwame Mbalia underpins the idea with a three-part story, beginning, middle, and end. It passes on the idea of collecting joy from an elder to a young boy, poignant and though including some magic, seemed very real as well. Other stories also include some magic, but also realistic moments in music, skateboarding, embracing one's sexuality, celebrating family love. There is one story-in-verse where the author, Dean Atta, offers a challenge prompt. Jerry Craft creates his story as we expect, in graphic style, with much joy! Language in each brought joy to me. Wishing all readers the same! I imagine so many loving this book and hope so many teachers choose to read it aloud, one joyful story at a time!

          Gene Luen Yang gives us a great tale and adds his own connections in the backmatter. It's 1946 and a family moves from Chinatown to Downtown Metropolis. Dr. Lee joins the city's health department, unbeknownst to him a sinister plot waits there. Meanwhile, the two kids, Roberta and Tommy are excited to be nearer to their superhero, Superman. Along with Lois Lane and Clark Kent playing their usual roles, Lois is ever-eager to find the truth and Clark seems always to miss the big story, it's terrific to see Roberta Lee take a starring role in the discovery of the real secrets. Her brother helps with his superpower arm until he breaks it. He helps another kid whose uncle forces a choice between good and evil. Meanwhile, it's time to learn about the beginning of the Ku Klux Klan and the struggle of Superman to embrace ALL his superpowers. Intriguing text with Luen's own "powerful" illustrations makes it a great background historical story. One will want to believe Superman must be out there somewhere!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Poetry Friday - With #PoetryPeeps

             Thanks to Elisabeth Norton who is hosting this Poetry Friday, at her blog, Unexpected Intersections here.  Elisabeth has written to the #PoetryPeeps challenge, explained below, about a favorite Alpine creature that I love, too, here in the Rockies! 

          I recently read Mary Lee's post where she reminded us of the #PoetryPeeps challenge for this last Friday in August. You can find another description HERE on Tanita's post.  Essentially, the challenge is to write after the style of Jane Yolen’s eight-line, unrhymed poem, “What the Bear Knows,” a poem written in honor of her 400th book, Bear Outside.   

          I wrote more than one of these. It was intriguing to pare down thoughts of what one thing "knows" into eight lines. Because I have loved celebrating "Poem in Your Pocket" day in the past while teaching and now at the bookstore, I choose to share this one. 

         Thanks for the challenge, #PoetryPeeps!

What A Pocket Knows


a keycard for a getaway

a lacy hanky’s good to pack

the ID card tucks in to go

a chunky bar’s a welcome snack

I hold a dollar bill, or two

and quarters for the fare

a poem stays in readiness

the one thing meant to share

                            Linda Baie © 

#MustReadin2021 Update - 3rd Quarter

linkup is HERE at Cheriee's blog!

Thanks for hosting this time, Cheriee!

            I used to have many books on my lists and rarely finished them. This year I chose twelve books, one to read each month. And I'm on track! I have read eight books with four to go, each one worth considering if you haven't already read it!

            I'm so impressed with Cheriee's post. She keeps track of varying lists, not only chapter books! Be sure that you read her post, along with others who share, to add many, many books you MUST READ!

        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? Here we are 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've completed 212 books so far this year. You can find all the books on Goodreads!

Happy Reading Everyone!

Books Finished:

With The Fire on High - Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo

Echo Mountain - Lauren Wolk

The Black Friend - Frederick Joseph

Prairie Lotus - Linda Sue Park

We Dream of Space - Erin Entrada Kelly

Coop Knows The Scoop - Taryn Souders

Superman Smashes the Klan - Gene Luen Yang

Monday, August 23, 2021

It's Monday - So Many 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! 
       I wrote about Billy Collins's latest poetry collection, Whale Day, last Friday.


         I've read some fabulous books this year & in past years but it has been rare to mark so many passages that I loved with sticky notes and to have tears in more than a few places. That happened while reading Jeff Zentner's new book, In The Wild Light. There have lately been other touching books about small towns in the south. Zentner brings the poignant need, the pain, and the hidden layers to his story with so much tension I worried constantly about Cash Pruitt, an almost-junior kid who mows lawns for any money he can earn, who has lost his mother at 13 to opioid addiction, is taken in by his Mamaw and Papaw. The love he receives from them permeates the story which Zentner lets Cash tell with courage and honesty and always pain. He watches out for his one friend, a young woman named Delaney whose life is filled with saving her mother from dying, also from addiction. Her persistence in learning everything about everything brings her to a special discovery and attention worldwide, a breakthrough, a new strain of penicillin. It also brings her to a full-ride scholarship to an eastern prep school. She tells them she will only go if her friend Cash gets an invite, too. Cash waffles between his love of his home, nature, the nearby river, and his need to take care of Delaney. 
       Thus begins the story of this boy who goes away from home, leaving Papaw who suffers from emphysema, taking a new step into whatever his life could be. There is the element of new friends, not perfect, but along with Delaney, part of Cash's story as he tries so hard to do what is right, for everyone. He needs a language class and signs up for Introduction to Poetry, another wonder of a layer in this journey with the introduction of a teacher who sees beyond Cash's self-deprecation, encourages the poetry when Cash tells about the first class: "She explains we'll be analyzing poems to understand how poetic language functions, to understand metaphor and subtext. I have a vision of myself taking apart my Chevy engine with Papaw, but instead of setting out combustion-blackened pistons and connecting rods on a greasy tarp, we'll be laying out words and phrases." And with poetry, they do so much more.
        There is sweetness found from the new friends as page by page Zentner deepens their relationships and small alarming moments with Cash's roommate, a spoiled jerk. But that is only a tiny part of the story. Cash and his love and loyalty to family, to home, is the story. Poetry inside Cash and slowly outside is an added prize. Upon reading his first book of poems: "Something happens. A slow daybreak inside me, the first rays of a new sun peeking over the gray horizon." Much later in a poetry reading, Cash says "Listening to her read feels like standing in the river–any moment you could be swept away." And from a poem by Cash: "Why is feeling so terrifying/that we try to stop it?/Feeling is a thing that's ours only."
         My hope is that many young adults have the pleasure to read this book and connect with the feelings shown, learn from them, and choose to find a book of poetry. It is a special, special story.

           Thanks to Candlewick Press for this new early chapter book by Chitra Soundar, out mid-September with the 1st US edition.
           The emotions are familiar and some traditions from Indian culture differ, but it all ends with a loving welcome to a new baby. Sona and her best friend, Elephant, have quite a few conversations about this new baby. I enjoyed that Soundar let the stuffie, Elephant, talk. It didn't seem like pretend at all! After the baby comes home and Sona tiptoes in to see it, she falls in love. Back in her room, Elephant says, "Tell me about the baby again." And she does! One chapter's title reads "Sharing is Caring" but young Sona does NOT care, does NOT want a new baby in the house. And she doesn't want to share a baby dress that had been hers! She wants to remain the baby. 
          Jen Khatun's illustrations bring the family surrounding Sona to life in pencil sketches. Three generations live together except for one grandmother, mother Amma's mother. I loved that certain important phrases were included, like at the end of this "caring" chapter, Sona gets excited because Appa (her dad) has invited her to suggest a name for the new baby. He says "Iyalvadhu karvel", is their family motto. "Always help as best you can." The ending includes an important and special naming ceremony. As the story rises to this end, readers will love the importance placed on the choice of names, and perhaps they'll wonder about their own? Sona finally knows being a "big sister" is a new best thing. There is a brief glossary at the end that gives some new words to learn, too! For a short book, this story is full of new things for kids unfamiliar with this culture and the usual things in every family, busy-ness with a new baby and children wondering how things will change.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Poetry Friday - Do You Call Reading Poems Conversations?

            Thanks to Carol Labuzzetta who is hosting this Poetry Friday, at her blog, here.  It's The Apples in My Orchard where today Carol shares some great exercises with her middle-school students, "I am" poems. And one of them is by Billy Collins! 

In these days filled with turmoil, poetry helps me take a break and this time, have a nice talk with Billy Collins. Wishing you all some of these breaks, too.  

               Then, if you are able, find a way to help somewhere!

           I love having a conversation with Billy Collins. I've spent weeks (months?) talking with him. This latest book came out nearly a year ago and I don't remember when I bought it, or when I started reading. Here are a few parts that I enjoyed. Although I can't share all of a poem, I hope you find the book and love your own talks with Billy.

He begins with "The Function of Poetry" where after a morning full of errands (as we have on some days), he looks out his kitchen window and writes "I realized/that the function of poetry is to remind me/ that there is much more to life/ than what I am usually doing/when I'm not reading or writing poetry."

In "And It's Raining Outside, Which Always Adds", he writes of a transistor radio he bought in a junk shop "run by a man as tall as a grandfather clock".

And in "The Emperor of Ice Cubes", he speaks of throwing an ice cube at some sandpipers on a Florida beach. One, the first to get to it, rebuffs the others when Billy muses: "Imagine–a bird missing the cold/while pecking at an ice cube/as it melted in the Florida sand."

Of course, there are more marvelous words and new looks at things from Billy Collins.  These are tiny crumbs, whispers really, from my own favorites. 

The title poem, "Whale Day" begins "Today I was awakened by strong coffee/and the awareness that the earth is busy with whales/even though we can't see any."

         If you can't find this book, HERE is the Billy Collins page at the Poetry Foundation, about him and with lots of poems ready to read and love.


Monday, August 16, 2021

Monday Reading - 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! 
       The Paralympics begins on August 24th! I hope you know that Michele Knott's daughter, Keegan will be there competing! Best of wishes to her! 

a #MustReadin2021

        Cooper Goodman (he prefers Coop), in seventh grade with his friends, twins Justice and Liberty, lives with his mom and grandpa in Windy Bottom, Georgia, where he and his mom moved after his father died. All seems very regular middle-school stuff. These kids help out at his mom's cafe and bookstore and Gramps works there, too. At least, it's regular until a body is found buried when the old playground was dug up to make way for a new one. Many interesting characters, as in all small towns, gossip at the cafe/bookstore and other places like the barbershop, too. Coop's grandpa ends up arrested because the body is his wife, who supposedly left him years ago. Coop's anguish and mistrust of a grandpa who had been dearly loved causes him to begin his own investigation with the friends helping. It's a tangled mess that's a fun mystery I finally figured out only about the time Coop and friends did. It feels to me that lots of kids this age would enjoy the layers of relationships as well as this mystery. Small towns hardly ever have such excitement!

From my library:

            With mostly 'tongue in cheek' humor, this book tells a lot about ten-line June beetles and other insects during the fun story! If you, like one granddaughter, love reading about all kinds of insects, this is one to add to the pile! Ashley Spires lets Burt tell all!

        I cannot pass by any picture book with a sloth character. J.C. McKee's funny story surprises in many ways, especially at the end! The expressive faces of these characters will make readers smile all the way through. Sloth, after seeing the cake, says there should be a party, then asks "Who would you invite?" A slew of characters is imagined and rejected. You'll need to laugh out loud at the answers and the ending! 

            Anuska Allepuz manages to tell and illustrate a tale of a group of Walloos who seem to live happily on a rocky island. It's a family where each has a purpose. For example, Big Walloo liked "to build things, especially boats" and Spotty Walloo "loved to make fresh, fragrant salads and soups."  With enjoyable pictures wrapping around the text, life happens and the Walloos are surprised at a revelation but adapt in a most creative way. If I sound mysterious, it's perhaps because it is a story with mysteries, would be a fun read-aloud to see how children guess as pages turn?
    Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy! First published in the US - 2021.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Poetry Friday - Used Bookstore

           Thanks to Christie Wyman who is hosting this Poetry Friday, at her blog, Wondering and Wanderinghere. Take a look at "Community Poem Part 2 when you visit, full of all the ways poetry "is"! 

A small peek!
         Many poetry books are donated at the used bookstore where I work. I wish I could make them available to each of you! I do bring some home to read but there are too, too many for me to bring them all.

         However, sometimes when I glance through one, a poem grabs me, and that's what happened this past week when my noiseless entourage by Charles Simic came through in a bag of donations. Inside, among many others loved, is a poem about a Used Bookstore. I can't find it online but will share a few lines & use it as a mentor text for my own poem about MY bookstore.

           Used Bookstore - Simic

Lovers hold hands in never-opened novels.

The page with a recipe for cucumber soup is missing.

A dead man writes of his happy childhood on a farm,

of writing in a balloon over Lake Erie.

                   two other verses complete his poem

            This 50-Year-Old Bookstore

Started by a group of women declaring that

more books were needed in the neighborhood.

They rented a room in the library and started

offering books at two dollars per, one for kids' books.

It grows into its own musty place, a bakery before, now housing sweet words

instead of pastries and cakes. Here's a display within a glass case,

no longer keeping flies away, but luring another kind of taste. 

Kids' books sit low, a tangle of board books and early readers

while a gang of mature stories keeps an ABC order until browsers

break up the group, take home some Cleary, DiCamillo, and Riordans.

The stories remain loved even with worn bindings.

Wander up steep stairs to the mysteries, many spilling off shelves

into a bounty of boxes. Mystery readers love them, yet keep

only long enough to read them, then trade for more.

Visitors who know the store stride to favorite sections.

They may wish a new (used) fiction to meet new people

or a memoir of a hero that inspires living one's life for good. 

All for the coming trip, beach reads, or for a bedroom nook!

Different kinds of pain keep the health and religion shelves rather empty.   

Yet, sometimes a new donation appears to mean someone has found remedies 

and wants to pass them along.

Can you tell my imagination jogs along with the books, watching which leave 

quickly and which ones cry out for only a peek? 

"Open me!" is on the binding if only you look close enough. 

 Linda Baie ©

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

PB 10 for 10 - Favorites This Year-Sofar!


         It's the twelfth year of PictureBook10for10 (#PB10for10) where many share ten picture books that are Must-HavesCathy Mere of Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning host this wonderful tradition.  Thank you Mandy and Cathy for continuing this special tradition! Go HERE for the post at Cathy's blog!

          And, best wishes to all for starting this school year. However you are beginning, I hope you enjoy being with your students and stay safe and well. I guess, like last year, the challenges remain.

Here are my previous posts for 

  2011     2012     2013     2014     2015    2016     2017     2018   2019    2020

It's hard to believe how many years have passed since Cathy and Mandy started this special tradition!

Here are my favorite books so far from this year of 2021! There are many kinds of stories, as you will see! Here are ones that I hope you can use in your classrooms, your lives. I've given a hint of my reviews and a link to each one on Goodreads.

Review HERE

            In every family, it seems that children can be embarrassed for something or other by their parents. When one is an immigrant, their ways can be part of bigger things that are "different". 

Review HERE

With few words, but powerful ones in a third-person perspective ("The path wished it was shorter."), Muon Thi Van shares a refugee's journey, escape on a boat to a new home. 

Review HERE

It's the delight I imagined, five children live in a 'ramble-shamble' house and do the necessary chores and other things they love like reading together just because that's what their life is like.

Review HERE

           It's a 
heartfelt story written by Brooke Smith who explains at the end she saw that certain words from nature, like 'minnows' and 'mint' and 'monarch' had been struck from The Oxford Junior Dictionary as being less relevant for children today. Thus, this Grandma Mimi and her granddaughter go on a journey to find and become "keepers" of the list. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Monday Reading - Lots of Great Reading

 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! 
      The #PB10for10 is tomorrow, hosted by Cathy Mere & Mandy Robek! Try to make it if you can! Go to this post from Cathy for all the info!

           I'm happy to write that Katherine Applegate's stories are always terrific and I loved this new one. It was a gift to have the advanced copy from Net Galley! 
           Dear Willowdeen, about to turn eleven, has had tragedy in her life; wildfires took her home, parents, and brother. Luckily she was taken in and nursed back to health by two women in the small town where they live, Perchance. She is a lover of nature and wanders the woods, especially the blue willow trees, for glimpses of the most unlovable creatures there, the screechers. Loud with note-worthy scents, they have had bounties put on them, something Willowdeen hates and eventually fights. A surprise meeting with a young boy named Connor who creates a gift for Willowdeen's birthday becomes the magic she uses to figure out why no Hummingbears have returned to Perchance. Those special creatures are an annual fair's tourist draw for people's livelihood for the rest of the year. The town's fires and drought, the possibility of no fair creates a problem for all to solve, yet this "youngster's" voice, so little heard before, speaks up to help. She struggles to find answers, something to admire for that quest. Learning about friendship and love also adds to Willowdeen's journey in poignant scenes. For those who love the earth and need to continue learning about it in order to better keep it safe, this is a book that will inspire all to pay attention. 

         Ah, the expressions delight, and there's little more challenging (or humorous) than working on a new (and forced) relationship! In few words, like "Cat Dog" then Cat Dog Dog" and other surprises, Nelly Buchet and Andrea Zuill offer a story of a blended family. You'll see some expected scenes and enjoy some big surprises! 

        Inspired from her story on This American Life, a debut picture book by Lydia M. Sigwarth tells of a librarian who helped make what seemed like a home for her during a challenging period in her life when her family lived in various family members' homes as they were homeless themselves. Romina Galotta's illustrations show the reality of being crowded in a basement or not being able to touch anything because it was NOT your own home, along with the pure joy of spreading out at the library and learning about more stories. Sigwarth is now a librarian and re-united with her special librarian, writing this book to her! I remember the bookmobile librarian coming often to the small town where I grew up and bringing books just for me, ones she thought I would love. It's a special memory as this book shows another.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Poetry Friday - Returning With A Dream

          Thanks to Mary Lee Hahn who is hosting this Poetry Friday, at her blog, here.  It's A(another) Year of Reading where she's sharing a poem response using a 'clunker' from Linda Mitchell, turning it into a poignant villanelle, one that will touch us all. Perhaps it's about Mary Lee retiring, turning to her changes, but also about these long months we've lived, also changing in many ways? Thanks for it, Mary Lee, and for hosting!

          I have been to the beach, a special family trip. And I gathered a few poems, too. Here's one!

Dreamy Browsing


on vacation

I dreamed 

about browsing life



I am a bookseller

always scanning shelves


this time, 

beach browsing

daily meant


sand between my toes

lapping water, salty breezes, 

a vendor’s empanada


everyday a grandchild’s laughter

gurgling in the waves


I wanted to buy one day

or two

pack them in the carry-on


I splurged

and bought them all 

              Linda Baie ©

Monday, August 2, 2021

Books Loved in July - It's Monday!

 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'm back from my break, but read quite a few books to share with you & one pic from the beach from my vacation! It was wonderful and all too quickly passed!

           During my vacation, I finished The Forest of Vanishing Stars. This is another wonderfully poignant story from Kristin Harmel about those who took risks and did all possible to escape the terror of the Nazis. This time, it's about one character who knows survival in the forests, who takes a lonely journey growing up but finds family while aiding and teaching others how to survive. 

My review for Harmel's The Book of Lost Names is here on Goodreads.

I try hard not to read others' words about books until I've read them, though I do make my TBR lists from recommendations. I didn't know I would be reading about Gary Paulsen's boyhood in Gone to the Woods and I didn't know that I would become teary from his telling. I've read and often re-read his books, by myself and with my own children, and with students. A very favorite part is the intro to The Winter Room, "Tuning". Now I understand why I loved it so, imagining why it is so critical from Paulsen's point-of-view. It came from a poignant part of his growing up, a connection with a librarian who started him reading, a "Librarian with a smile" who gave him a blank notebook and two yellow, "like gold", pencils. There are terrible things in his childhood with terrible parents, yet the people showing kindnesses, even within the horror of alcoholism and hunger, stood out for him. Paulsen is a writer extraordinaire who has written still another beautiful book. This time, the tale is true.

            Some Picture books that I enjoyed!

         I sneaked a read of this book before I gave it to a granddaughter for her birthday. Lover of all monkeys, she adored it, as I do. A book with Melissa Stewart writing and Steve Jenkins illustrating is one to look forward to. With my granddaughter’s love and her birthday coming, I was thrilled to see this book coming out. In rhyming couplets, Melissa tells the tale of those fourteen monkeys, all sharing habitat in the Peruvian rain forest. Each one is accompanied by brief text with additional information and Jenkins’ realistic and full-color illustrations show off the monkeys in their habitat. Also, there is a rainforest tree infographic with each species that shows the height in the forest where each lives. The text is just enough to whet the appetite for more, which can be found in the back matter. Illustrations add information as Jenkins shows the actions of the monkeys on every page. For instance, Melissa writes of one species: “Squirrel monkeys peep and purr,/as they stroke their babies’ fur.” while Steve shows a parent holding a baby.  It’s a terrific new book!