Monday, September 27, 2021

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! 

               Somehow this book, out the end of September, feels a challenge to review because I don't want to take away any of your excitement of discovery as you read this newest incredible tale by Kate Dicamillo with just-right illustrations by Sophie Blackall. Would you mind if I told you it is a medieval tale, with the mystery of powerful, greedy kings (and an even greedier counselor)? Would you like that one of the intriguing characters is a straight-arrow goat? She always does the right thing and has the head to help her do that. Another is a monk who continues to do good despite memories of his father deeming him a coward. Also, you'll meet a young boy, all alone, grieving his murdered parents but as willing to be helpful, especially for Beatryce, as a hero can be. There is still another king, one who long ago threw his crown in the water and walked out. And, of course, there is Beatryce and her story of a mermaid. You may find that she is not the only star in this book, yet love for her shines throughout, from me, too. It's a lovely and loving tale.
         Thanks to Candlewick Press for this advanced copy!

        When my daughter was young, she was convinced all her special stuffed animals got together at night and played. She would have loved this new 'first' book in a series about toys that can be borrowed at a library. Ivy, the main character, used to be the librarian Anne's special doll growing up. When Anne found Ivy who had been stored in a box, she took her to be with those others at the library. Ivy definitely would rather have gone home to be Anne's best friend again, but as she gets to know the other toys, each with their own personalities, and then she gets "borrowed", adventure awaits. It's quite a fun 'pretend' story, lovingly told by Cynthia Lord and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin.     
            Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy!

from my #MustReadin2021 list
          Eleven-year-old Mary Lambert tells this story, written by Ann Clare LaZotte, herself deaf. LaZotte came by this path as she followed the history of a community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 1800s where both the deaf and hearing community signed. It simply was the way to communicate. It was easy to forget who was deaf and who could hear. The many layers LaZotte includes in Mary's story feel like many lives today, too. There is grief for her brother who died while saving her as they walked together one day. There are tensions among the people who are English, Black, Irish, and Wampanoag. Mary struggles to understand that others do not see them all as equal citizens. And she learns how others in the outside world feel about those who are deaf when a young scientist arrives with his own ideas of why there are so many deaf people who live on this island. LaZotte includes some of those early, and incorrect, theories and the kidnapping of a subject, Mary herself, raises the tension very high. It's quite amazing to think that a child can be taken by ship and sailed days away, this time to Boston, to be locked away for research. Every day thereafter felt a need to hold my breath.  It seems important to share that this story gave me new knowledge about the lives of deaf people. There is also an afterword full of information that connects to the novel, like the various kinds of sign language. It's a wonderful book!
                 FYI - This is the winner of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Poetry Friday - With #PoetryPals, gratitude

         Thanks to Laura Purdie Salas who hosts this Poetry Friday, at her blog HERE.  She shares some fabulous tankas about autumn for the #PoetryPals challenge. Laura also has a new book coming out: If You Want To Knit Some Mittens! You can see the trailer HERE! My granddaughter Imogene is an active ten-year-old, always taking extra time to climb, jump, and run. But she also knits. This book is on its way to her!
        A little celebration! I'm excited to return to the Cybils Award work this year as a Round Two Poetry Judge! What a pleasure it will be to work with a grand group reading and discussing poetry! The members of both Rounds can be found HERE. And then click on "Cybils" at the top to look around to view the posts of judges for all the other categories! There is also a call toward the top for the "Idea Boards", a place for suggestions. Nominations begin October 1st. 

It's the last Friday in September. I'm wishing happy times for autumn days to all of you! And, I've taken the #PoetryPals challenge, which Tanita Davis explains like this: 
          You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of September! We’re writing tanka in response to a poem we love from the Poetry Friday universe. Choose to respond to an original poem of any sort, from anyone who participates in Poetry Fridays – give us a link to the original poem, then go tanka-trading away, and make something tanka-true and new. Are you thinking of a poem you love? Good! There’s still time to play with your 5-7-5 creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on September 24th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

         First, I want to say that every Friday, everyone's posts bring joy. It's a big task to choose a favorite. Yet, I was watching last week especially and adored Michelle Kogan's post, and painting, because it celebrated fall, a season favorite. Thus, this is my poem for Michelle, in response to her post HERE with a rondelet! Thank you, Michelle!

it’s freely given

that palette from her garden,

transplanted to mine 

painted perfection escorts

an autumn-driven word song


                   Linda Baie ©


Monday, September 20, 2021

It's Monday! Books to Discover!

     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! 

               When you meet this Robber Girl, you wonder how she ended up with that other 'robber', Gentleman Jack, but her angry thoughts sharing her amazing tale soon tell us much, so much that we readers know we're in for quite an extraordinary place and time created by Franny Billingsley. When Gentleman Jack is arrested, the judge takes the girl to his home, much to the dismay of his wife who continues to grieve for their dead children, lost to smallpox. The girl has an "affliction" that keeps her from talking unless asked a question although, in her mind, she talks, or is yelled at, by her dagger. The judge sends her to school, a terrible experience, which the dagger says is a "taming thing" and this girl is wild, in speech, in general knowledge, but not in her ways of taking care of herself. A dollhouse built by the judge plays a fantastic role in making change, along with the judge's caring treatment. The town itself seems old, is built around a celestial goddess, Blue Roses, and plays a part in the girl's change from wild to one who discovers her truth. I am imagining that the continual thoughts of the girl that tell the story are reminiscent of childhood thoughts themselves. Although fantastical in this story, children do keep secrets in their thoughts, often not quite real as well. 

         In India, this time the city of Chennai, young boy Kabir is released into the world because the powers say he's been in prison with his mom too long. If they cannot find a family member, he'll go to an orphanage. Before this happens, no matter the terrible prison circumstances, readers meet Kabir's dear mother who is in prison accused of theft and given no chance to defend herself and the rest of the cellmates, Kabir's family who cares for him, including the most wonderful jail teacher. Then, thrust out into the world, taken by a fraud who claims he's an uncle, Kabir takes his first chance to escape. Whew, a huge chance, but it turns out he is rescued by Rani, another kid on the street, a Roma girl a little older and with her friend, Jay, the parrot. Kabir stumbles a lot but Rani teaches him well. they become a sweet twosome, seems like a brother and sister always helping each other. The rest of their adventure together is for you readers to discover. It's not always easy, but Kabir tells the truth of the way things are and their lives do change in amazing ways. I read this all in one day, could not stop hanging on to Kabir's life with the hope he had never given up. Padma Venkatraman shares a poignant story every middle-grade child needs to know in order to understand they can be strong, too!


             I had never read the name Daphne Caruanna Galizia until I read this great story about her by her friend, Gattaldo who both wrote and illustrated it. She was born and grew up in Malta, inspired by a great-great-great-great grandfather who fought and kept Napoleon from occupying the country. She loved to read, and ask questions to find the truth. As an adult she began to write and share her findings, even early on was arrested for protesting. She eventually began to write for a national newspaper, uncovering wrongdoing. She married and had a family, but did not stop her passion for the truth. The joy and the sorrow shown in the illustrations empower the story. Galizia was "hassled in the streets, they called her a witch" and more. She did not stop until a bomb exploded under her car. She has left a legacy that inspired people all over the world to speak out, to "make our world a better place". A brief bio and an author's note adds to her story at the back. Here is one more story of a newsmaker who is an inspiration to know.
        Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy, published in 2021! It was first published by Otter-Barry Bks - UK - 2020

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Poetry Friday - Bye Bye Summer

         Thanks to Denise Krebs who hosts this Poetry Friday, at her blog, Dare to Care here. From her post, you'll learn a new word and a spectacular way of looking at Galapagos tortoises. Be sure to check it out!
          I joined a blog tour last Monday to share Nancy Tupper Ling and June Cotter's new anthology, For Every Little Thing, poems and prayers to celebrate the day, illustrated by Helen Cann. You can find my post here! It's quite a wonderful book for reading aloud with special someones.

     This Poetry Friday I'm sharing a poem I wrote a year or so ago for Buffy Silverman for a poem swap. Although we all know this summer was fraught with sadness, with conflict, I continue to adore the "other" good things.

Blowing Out The Summer Candles  


I’ve cartwheeled my way through the summer

eaten melons and berries off vines,

          splashed in neighborhood lakes, 

          and cooled off sipping shakes.

This summer is working out fine.


The watermelon’s ready for picking,

My peach tree leans low with its pearls.

          In the mornings I played,

          napped with afternoon shade.

This summer’s an agreeable whirl.


I know that it can’t last forever-

to laze in the blaze of the sun.

         Lemonade has been iced; 

         one more week will suffice.

Sigh, summer is leaving. ‘Twas fun.


                 Linda Baie ©

And now – Welcome Autumn!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Monday Reading - Books to Adore

    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! 
       Wishing you all a lovely day today!

Last Poetry Friday, I reviewed Poem in My Pocket, a new picture book by Chris Tougas and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. 
         And today, I have a second post, am on a blog tour for a new anthology, poetry gathered by Nancy Tupper Ling: For Every Little Thing. Be sure to visit to discover all about this special, special book.


           In spite of so much science that I really didn't understand (but some I worked out and actually did a bit of research in order to understand!), I enjoyed this new space adventure by Andy Weir. I liked the back and forth parts from earth to space voyage, ever curious just how a junior high science teacher ended up in a crew of three highly-regarded science and space experts. However, he became an accomplished problem-solver, for which all us readers are grateful. I loved the characterizations of those who gathered to solve this new and imaginable problem, but most of all I began to Love Ryland Grace and his "buddy", Rocky, an alien from the planet Erid. 

       One quote: "It's good for the species," I say. "A self-sacrifice instinct makes the species as a whole more likely to continue."
          "Not all Eridians willing to die for others."
           I chuckle. "Not all humans either."
           "You and me are good people," Rocky says.
           "Yeah," I smile. "I suppose we are."

Like all good books, I was sorry to see it end.

              We hear, fast, all the usual noises, but do we miss the other sounds when we don't focus and LISTEN? Brief and thoughtful text by Gabi Snyder and marvelous city scenes outside and in (like at a library story-telling) by Stephanie Graegin show us the tinier things we may be missing, like the "slap-slap-slap of shoes against pavement" and "the wind through trees". Included is a scene of hearing "words of joy" and also of bullying and the sound of "words that sting", then "A sob, a sigh, or even silence." One part I love in every "city" picture book is the peek inside all the windows of the buildings. Graegin's illustrations show many and they're special. Snyder adds a page explaining different ways of listening at the back, something else to note when conversing about this book and "listening". 

         Vibrant, happy illustrations as you see from the cover help young Lucia take us readers on a tour of her home. With a mixture of Spanish and English, she shows all the things she loves, all the things that happen in her home. If you don't speak Spanish, Laurenne Sala uses the context and Zara Hoang's illustrations to help with the meaning. Company like friends and family come to what she calls the "magic puerta" where every time she opens it, "someone always comes in". It will be lots of fun to read to a class, helping some to learn some Spanish, OR, perhaps some will be excited to read some of their native language. 
Bienvenidos to Lucía’s home!
           Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy.

            There is a celebration that's only for you, as Mary Lynn Ray so beautifully tells it in this new book with swirling, color-rich illustrations by Cindy Derby. A favorite part is a double-page spread filled with what "might" happen "Because wherever you go, your birthday goes with you." Yes, there's cake and a special page about wishes and a part about waking up, "wondering what will happen." Mary Lynn writes that's the first present: "you get to wonder". It's a lovely book, a gift you may want to get for that next person with a birthday? Or, to read with a class? 
                      Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy.

Next? Still reading The Robber Girl by Franny Billingsley, dense and mysterious. I hope to be finished soon!

Blog Tour - Nothing More Fun Than A Group Celebration

       I imagine many of you have sweet memories of evening reading. It's nearly time for bed but first, it's time to read, or tell, favorite stories. Along with a voice from someone loved, that voice might also bring a song memory. However, the evening isn't always the time we read. A quiet moment can be found anytime to stop, to read words that remind us what a wonder of a world we live in. Nancy Tupper Ling's new anthology will help do just that!

         I asked Nancy if a past memory, perhaps as a young child, motivated her to begin gathering these lovely poems so that others, family members or teachers, could share with their young ones how special the world they live in is? She answered with words and a poem! 

        One poem entitled “Tonight . . . “ from our For Every Little Thing collection was inspired by a beautiful day our family spent in San Francisco. This city is where my husband grew up and where most of his family still lives, so we visit often. When my daughter, Elizabeth, was about six years old, we walked down Lombard, the famously crooked street, and eventually ended up by The Marina, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. We had just experienced a quintessential San Francisco day. 

         That’s when Elizabeth said the words that lead to my poem’s creation. “Mama,” she said. “Tonight I will dream of the purple flowers, the ones that made you smile today. They’ll dance overhead. Their blossoms looked like fingers waving to the people. And I will dream that an orange fox sits beside me.” 

         Her words struck me then (enough to write the poem), but I also kept them close when creating FOR EVERY LITTLE THING with June! For a young child to treasure such specific things that happened in her day…so much so that she planned her nighttime dreams around them, that is the type of gratitude we hope this anthology fosters. Both a spontaneous and a planned gratitude are what we envisioned for our young readers. Let’s not pass by these simple gifts that we’re given daily. Let’s stop, breath, observe, and perchance dream. 

        It's exciting to share a new book and even more exciting to share one that fits my idea of a special pleasure, reading to children. I've read to all ages because I'm a teacher. I love when I finish and more than one child asks to borrow the book. Then, of course, we have to make a list to take turns. Also wonderful are the times I've read to my own children, and now grandchildren. Sharing books through a read-aloud means creating unique and special memories. 

         June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling have gathered, as the cover says, "poems and prayers to celebrate the day" into this new anthology, For Every Little Thing. In our recent months of challenges, there may be times when children hear the bad news and need reminding that there are many things to appreciate every single day! 

         The contents divide into seven parts such as "The World Around Us", "Night", and "Family and Friends". From the first to the last, sixty-six poems and prayers take readers traveling through the day from morning wake-up to evening goodnight. These poets bring the wondrous world to us through all their words.

 In "Waking Up Prayer", Susan J. Erickson writes "I like to wake up when the snow falls against my window/like confetti from an angel's party". I imagine rushing for the book to re-read that poem at first snow. 

In "Simple Graces", Jill Noblit MacGregor writes "Simple graces are everywhere, under rocks and in the air–/in crashing waves and tall, tall trees, simple graces for all to see." and readers search for their unique "simple graces".

In "Great Owl of Dreams", Maura D. Shaw asks an owl: "Bring me the dream in your mother beak."

And after sleep comes, Suzanne Wiggins Bunch ends her poem "Sea of Dreams" with "Waves of dreams that build and billow/return me to my comfy pillow./And though I've traveled wide and deep, I did it/while I was asleep." 

Along with wondrous words, reading aloud a book with illustrations brings more to appreciate, in this book when viewing sumptuous and varied creations by Helen Cann that accompany the poems. Small things, skyscapes, imaginary and joyful scenes, night and morning scenes brighten the pages. You will love them as you read.

It's a book to cherish for oneself, for a gift, for young and old. Thanks, Nancy and June for bringing this anthology to us all!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

#Poetry Friday - Another Pocket Post

         Thanks to Tricia Stohr Hunt who hosts this Poetry Friday, at her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect here. Today she's sharing a poignant poem by Barbara Crooker. 

          Two weeks ago I shared a poem written for a #Poetry Peeps challenge to write "What A _______ Knows." I wrote about a pocket, connecting to "Poetry In Your Pocket" day. You can read it here. Then, loving the serendipity, this book below became available from my library. It's a terrific rhyming story by Chris Tougas about a girl who had a poem in her pocket. Alas, the pocket got a rip and, as she tells: "Rhymes tumbled down my leg/and trickled from my hip."

        I'm guessing you might imagine where this is going, and it does follow that poetic word path delightfully. With creative illustrations by Josée Bisaillon that show the wind flinging words all over the place, readers will want to commiserate with that girl who's lost the "poem" in her pocket. Like dandelion seeds, they blow, so very much that even the letters are mixed on one page. There is "culod", "seewp", and "urellmba". Oh my! 
       In a clever, puntastic way, Chris, with Josée's artistic neighborhood scenes, manages to add in a few more extras. A Diner becomes "Diner-mite!"; and a chicken in the yard turns into "poultry in motion". On a second page, a drink stand sells "Lemon Squeeze" and words blow in to create "Squeeze the Day". You'll need to find the book to read what happens when a thunderstorm rolls in. Nature helps! 
      At the very end, Chris Tougas adds a page of special words to search for in the story and a small piece about "Poem in My Pocket Day."

      On this day before the anniversary of a day like few others in US history, I wondered what I would carry in my pocket to remember. Here is one small poem to honor those lost that day and also in the years since because of their heroic rescue work that day.         

Remembering 9/11

For all the years you’ve missed,

I carry words in my pocket–


Sometimes they are enough.

Other times, 

the entire dictionary

will not suffice.

                     Linda Baie ©

Monday, September 6, 2021

Monday Reading - Books Bring Variety

   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! 
       Wishing you all a lovely day today

      From the team that created the March books, nearly complete before Senator John Lewis died, is Book One of his story. It's sad to write that some of the pages chronicling 1964 and 1965 could be events that happened in the years from then all the way to 2020 and 2021. The illustrated text managed to show well the emotions of the moments, the conflicts among those who were all fighting for the same thing, equal rights. The backmatter is extensive, including small bios of each person named in the story, notes for the pages, sources, notes from the artists, acknowledgments, a beautiful portrait of Lewis, and a letter about him from Andrew Aydin. I enjoyed every part very much. 

        In this time of much sadness in the world, from war-torn countries to hurricanes, flooding, and forest fires, it is a wonder to read a story of hope and survival after a time nearly 20 years ago that clutched our hearts with grief. Sean Rubin dedicates this book to everyone lost on September 11, 2001 and to those who "picked up the pieces, planted a forest, and built a new city"–especially his cousin Stephen who was a safety inspector at the site. Sean both wrote and illustrated the book and allows this Callery Pear tree tell its story. It was the only tree in the twin towers' courtyard, gave shade and a place for birds to rest and nest. It was damaged and found in the rubble days later after the attack. But it was sent to a nursery in the Bronx where it lived, grew leaves, and flourished. It holds a special spot now among 400 trees in the new 9/11 memorial. The illustrations are beautifully rendered as this story of hope is told. In the opening, a poem by E.B. White holds the title line, "This Very Tree". You can read a talk with Sean Rubin on the SLJ blog post HERE, which includes the poem.

        In the authors' notes at the beginning, Karen Lynn Williams writes of the cheetah's awesome attributes, tells of the Shabelle River in Somalia, named after the cheetah, which is "Shabelle" in the Somali language. Khadra, a Somali refuge speaks of the terrible loss of her country and listening to many tales told by her father as well as his descriptions of this beautiful land. We readers can see and admire Julia Cairns' illustrations as this tale is told of a boy wanting to become a man. His desire feels heartfelt as he navigates the expectations of his culture, all wrapped together with that cheetah! 

          Alan Lightman's first book for children, with Olga Pastuchiv, was inspired by his own granddaughter's visit to Maine. He tells of young girl Ada who has the biggest pleasure visiting her grandparents, Ama and Poobah, on an island in Maine. There are so many things to do at the edge of the sea, like kayaking and building a fairy house with bits collected. However, what she's really excited about is seeing the stars. She lives in the city where those bright lights keep the stars from showing up. It's a lively and loving story with these three, illustrated in watercolor by Susanna Chapman who incorporates real Hubble Space Telescope pictures of galaxies into her art. (I want to visit, too!)
             Thanks to MIT Kids Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press for this copy.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Poetry Friday - Remembering

         Thanks to Heidi Mordhorst who is hosting this Poetry Friday, at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe here. with her favorite typo! (Go visit to find out what!)  


I wrote a long text intro

separated by the happy

and the sad, all memories

of September, all the years

gone, 2021 to be lived

and again, remembered.

Then, I mixed it and 

poured it out condensed.

Twenty years ago:

first grandchild,

daughter’s wedding planned,

class trip to Costa Rica,

slammed into 9/11.

That day of school remembered

with heartbreak, with students

who didn't need that worry?

For me, a dear Grandma’s birthday.

I remember, I remember,

and now all will remember this September

ending the war whose seeds sprouted

that September.

This Saturday, eight years ago,

my husband died,

a sunny day readying for fall

but he couldn’t stay.

Now I sing an old song

“Try To Remember”

with somber shades

overlaid by sweet memories.

We can’t forget.

We don’t want to remember,

yet still do

When life was slow and oh, so mellow."
Linda Baie ©

Thanks to Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt for a special song, "Try to Remember"!  You can listen to the song HERE.

I feel a need to write that I am aware that life is not always great for everyone no matter the year, but for me in many early years, good memories.