Monday, November 29, 2021

It's Monday - Books Enjoyed!

   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 all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and found some special time with family and friends, and with books! Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate.

Thanks to Candlewick Press 
for this copy!
          Could this be Katherine Paterson's last book? She muses about that in her Acknowledgements. She is in her eighties! She was raised by Christian missionaries and was born in China. She considered China her home and lived there until the Japanese invasion during World War II. Off and on through the years, she's known to introduce religious themes and tough ones like the death of a child. Perhaps her most famous was written years ago. Bridge to Terabithia stood out for its sadness and approach to tough things for a child.
               This special story by Katherine Paterson is about Birdie, a ten-year-old really named Elizabeth, but her Daddy called her Birdie. Paterson gives her the task of telling her story, the year her Daddy had to return to Iraq, which meant they had to move in with her Gran, his mother, and Birdie's stuck in what seems like a big closet, or so she tells. Like the verse novel I shared a week ago, this book shows how much a child thinks about things, is influenced by adults, and how many worries and tough events they will not tell! Even Birdie, who is religious, loves Jesus, lies to get out of "telling". This time she's made a bargain with God to keep her Daddy safe. When that "promise" Birdie has made is broken, quite a lot falls apart. It's a serious book that includes other bullies at the new school, a girl classmate bully with secrets of her own, and some really caring adults, thank goodness. It's not long and tense moments certainly kept me reading! 

Thanks to Candlewick Press
for this copy!
             This is the first US edition by Helen Peters and fortunately, Jasmine Green and her animal adoption talents (and love) are back. She and her friend Tom have discovered that Mr. Hudson, a neighbor, is leaving his home to move to an assisted living facility and has arranged for his beloved donkey Mistletoe to go to a shelter, but far away. Noone will see Mistletoe again! The argument is that she already has too many adoptees and it's too expensive to care for an old donkey. Jasmine won't quit wishing and the annual Christmas play just could be a big help. I've read a few in the past and they bring readers into some adventures, farm life, and kids who do get into trouble but are also kind and thoughtful, and often the trouble is brought by sheer enthusiasm for fun! Ellie Snowdon illustrates a few of the chapters. This, and others, are terrific chapter books for younger readers.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Poetry Friday - Praising Autumn with #PoetryPals

Ruth Hersey  at There Is No Such Thing As A Godforsaken Town hosts this Poetry Friday after our Thanksgiving Day HERE. Hope everyone had the day they had planned. Small or large, it is a day to take some time to be grateful. Ruth lives in the country of Haiti, has written her daily November "Gratitu" and a lovely ode to autumn. It's a unique look from a country that holds few seasonal changes, but lately, some terrible political ones. Thank you, Ruth, for your heartfelt post.

       It is the end of the month, often the time for #PoetryPals to offer a challenge. You can read Tanita's explanation HERE, to write an ode to autumn. I did some research yet returned to advice from Billy Collins that Tanita shared. I just wrote about autumn a couple of weeks ago HERE, but that was a bit tongue-in-cheek for Ted Kooser. This time, I attempted to follow Billy's rules. Thanks for the challenge, #PoetryPals. Our leaves are all nearly down; trees are stark against the sky. But it means I can see more stars!

Wishing each of you a lovely beginning to December!

To Autumn


If I were to write an autumn ode,

list minute parts which I adore,

spring might cry “Foul! I've also glowed.”

And I’d reply, “Please, don’t be sore.


You’ll have a turn from Eliot’s reply

but now, I write of wealth in rainbows,

artists’ palettes drip down like sighs

as trees prepare their encore show.”


I praise the scene of autumn’s court,

sweater-snug under blue-bright sky,

a panoply of feuille morte*.    

It tells how best to say goodbye.


                                      Linda Baie © 


*(a brownish orange that is deeper and slightly redder than leather, yellower and deeper than spice, and yellower and deeper than gold pheasant. — called also autumn leaf, dead leaf, foliage brown, leather lake, oakleaf brown, philamot, withered leaf.)

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Monday Reading - Praise for Being Outside

  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 very Happy Thanksgiving. 

It's interesting how things work out. Each of these books have an outdoorsy vibe, in varying ways of course, yet nature plays a part in each.

       I reviewed Kat Apel's Bully on the Bus, a verse novel for younger readers, so good for kids, teachers and parents! last Friday for Poetry Friday. You can read the review here!

Thanks, Candlewick Press,
for this copy.

           This published last month, a long awaited sequel to Ghetto Cowboy, which I'm sorry to say I have not read. There were references to that story in this book, yet it felt as if it would not be confusing. Those who have read the earlier one will love learning more about Cole's new choice, to stay in Philly with his father and the horse he saved earlier, Boo. His mother lives in Detroit. This feels like a good story for middle-grade readers.Its numerous layers include learning to get along with his dad, Harper, after years of being apart. He must get a job if he's really going to live there and the one his dad gives him is one where Dad owes a debt. Cole ends up working as a stable hand in a wealthy military school, one where those cadets treat him as a servant and unworthy of any kindness. 

         However, one of them happens to be a girl, yes, a black girl, Ruthie, who is as good with horses as Cole. Only, she plays polo! The story is surrounded by polo in various ways, and I also learned that not only at the wealthy academy, but there are city horses and woods in Philadelphia with riding paths, the ones Cole and horse Boo know so well. Conflicts mount as Cole's cousin, an 'underneath' nice guy mixes things up as he tries to keep in touch and give Cole money because he's 'dealer. Deep conversations among them all, an interesting sub-story about the ghetto cowboys, a sadness of the needs in the neighborhood and the principal of Cole's high school who keeps improving it makes, as written earlier, a complex story of Cole and the choices he is led to. And, of course, there are lots of polo descriptions, too!

        As this was an ARC, I didn't see Jesse Joshua Watson's final illustrations, but the black and white ones were great, enough to give a glimpse of these kids.


        Kids will love the whimsey in the sixteen steps Laura Purdie Salas describes in her new wonderful book. That little girl on the cover will show you the way. She's stopped at the farmer's market to pick up some apples with her dad, and there's a sheep for sale! Have you ever brought a sheep home with your child? Probably not, but it seems they do have a barn and there happens to be a pig and a chicken in there, too, as they wait through the winter until. . . It's shearing time! In brief text with brightly colored illustrations by Angela Matteson, readers learn all the steps from wool to using a natural dye, this time marigolds, to knitting, YES!, some beautiful mittens, as Laura writes, "Hold the golden sun in your hands." (I bought this for my young granddaughter, now ten, who has been knitting for a few years and loves the book.) It's lots of fun, will be an inspiration, too, to dig deeper into the 'how-to' of each step, from sheep to knitting!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Poetry Friday - One Book for All


Carol Varsalona is "Bedecked in Autumn  HERE at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link!  Hers is our celebration of these autumn months, beginning tints, fully painted, now the goodbye. It's nearly time. Our leaves have had their heyday dancing around, some gymnasts, others ballet artists, floating oh, so gracefully down. They now lie quietly on my garden beds. Thanks, Carol, and to all those in Carol's new Gallery who shared their own bounty!

         As for bounty! Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am certainly thankful for each of you! 

        The NAGC (gifted organization) was here in Denver this past weekend. Myra Garces-Bascal of Gathering Books was here and we had lunch together, met IN PERSON after about ten years of blogging together. It was a delight! What a pleasure to meet when you only know them online! Thanks to Myra for connecting!

Alen Ištoković, CC BY 3.0
 via Wikimedia Commons
          As I travel around in the city (at certain times), I see school buses full of kids, or empty because they've made it to school or home. Now, after reading Kat Apel's Bully on the Bus, I wonder if there is another child that can not wait to get off, because they, too, have bully problems.

          I've wanted to read Kat's book ever since my younger granddaughter started riding a bus to school this year. She's ten and has loved it. I'm glad for her. 

          But, Kat knows that is not always true for some, like the young boy Leroy in her book. Leroy loves school, being part of the "Superkids" in Mrs. Wilson's class. He looks forward to each day there, but NOT getting there via bus. It appears that this bus brings a varied group from a neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of kids because Leroy's bully is DJ, a high school girl. Her hair is often a different color but her attitude stays the same, nasty! From my adult perspective, it feels as if she's in a bad place, too. Picking on a young kid through insults, bad rhymes, and actually poking feels quite desperate for a high school kid. Older sister Ruby, fifth grade, tries to help but she's young, too. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

It's Monday! For Young and Old

    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 finally finished Colson Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle. Whew, what a book. My review is here on Goodreads.
       The NAGC (gifted organization) was here in Denver this past weekend. Myra Garces-Bascal of Gathering Books was here and we had lunch together, met IN PERSON after about ten years of blogging together. It was a delight! What a pleasure to meet when you only know them online! Thanks to Myra for connecting!

 It was hard to read this knowing it is the last book published by Gary Paulsen when he was alive. I've seen that one more will be coming in 2022. I imagine older children will enjoy it and even young teens who might be having some disconnect with their parents. Almost thirteen Carl is fed up with his dad's constant living off the grid. There's little cash in hand, they grow their own food, dumpster dive for the chickens and pigs, and barter at garage sales for most everything. That includes a fab (per Dad) group of pink overalls for Carl, first needing a hot wash for a little shrinking! I think you get the picture! They live in an old trailer by a river, awash with mud, and drive a '51 Chevy pickup. Carl just wants to be 'Lookatable', especially for a girl at school named Peggy. He finds a pet pamphlet with some ways to train a puppy, giving some great ideas (he thinks) that may help to train his dad. With some help from best friend Pooder and no help from their pit bull Carol, Carl gives it his best try. There are some lessons to be learned by everyone and Gary Paulsen leaves us with some love and learning, just like all his stories. I will miss them!

Thanks, Candlewick Press 
for this copy!
  Every illustration by Angela Brooksbank fills up with swirling clouds and stars and a smiling moon while Atinuke's poetic song full of love sings this sweet baby to sleep. It's a gift to give to new babies you know or one you already have in your home! Gorgeous!

Tracey Baptiste delights in her debut picture book telling of young Naya who goes looking for a Jumbie, even though her mother says there's no such thing. It is explained, that like in other cultures, Jumbies are known to be used to keep children inside after dark, saying a Jumbie will get them if they stay out. She also explained that there are many kinds of Jumbies and some, certainly, are helpful. Naya goes looking. You'll see what amazing creatures she discovers when turning the beautiful 'night' pages illustrated by Amber Ren. There are friendly monsters from Caribbean folklore and other 'expected' creatures from the night. For example, from the book: "Lagahoo" have thick fur and sharp teeth and chains around their necks. . . You can find more here! It was lots of fun reading this with my young granddaughter who's ten. Some may say it's for younger children but she enjoyed it very much.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Poetry Friday - DST Wake-Up


Thanks to Matt Forrest Esenwine for hosting today at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme,  HERE!  He's celebrating a one-year anniversary of a book of ocean poetry written and gathered by his "Writer's Loft" group and sharing one of his poems! Be sure to check out this book for future gift-giving!

         Nearly always I go to bed and usually read some of an adult novel. All the other times, I read poetry and books for kids to review on Mondays. This week, when some were celebrating gaining an hour when saying goodbye to Daylight Savings Time, I did gain one, but it was in the morning, in the dark, waking up my usual time, about six. Only, sad to say, it was really five - right?

           A few poems from Ted Kooser's Sure Signs was all I could manage at bedtime and an early one at that. He took me to First Snow when "The winter night curls round the legs of the trees", to August where "The cicada shell/clings to a day in the past", and he showed How To Make Rhubarb Wine where after all the instructions, one should "Take time each day to think about it." He helped me sleep with Year's End (where we are now) when he writes "Now the seasons are closing their files/on each of us".  Find this book, or another by this poet and enjoy! 

   A Paean for Ted Kooser

It will be a wind-driven night

to read with Ted again.

I'm watching leaves cluster 

upon the deck table,

not sharing the chairs

with anyone but themselves.

Yet, they do not linger.

They spiral and spin up

onto the last green plant,

the fence, the screen door,

scratching to be in

because it's cold

and windy

and they're already 

done with autumn.

         Linda Baie ©

Monday, November 8, 2021

Monday Reading - More & More Special Books

     Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and 

Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading! 
        Hope everyone made it through Daylight Savings Time. It's been so warm in Denver that it felt like early October instead of November! Have a lovely week ahead!

          It's a tween romance, at least according to twelve-year-old Peyton (with her own 'boyfriend list") whose summer appeared to be lost when her best friend leaves to spend the summer helping a family member with young kids. However, she both becomes a heroine and a detective after rescuing a hit-and-run victim who she hopes will be her summer boyfriend. She and that best friend had planned to have their first one this summer. After that rescue, as Jennifer Richard Jacobson lets Peyton tell her story, things turn from romance to mystery. She lives in Mussel Cove, a coastal Maine town, and makes quite a few assumptions as days pass. Her search shows changes in her ideas of how to live her life, the one she wants to live perfectly. She even has numerous quotes on her bedroom wall that guide her. There are family conflicts from a parents' divorce, a grandmother who was thought loving, but realized she was also rather controlling.   It's a mixed-up world for Peyton with no one perfect answer. At one point, toward the end, readers might learn from her own summer's "education". It feels authentic to read from this tween's POV. How do they grow up? By experiencing love and loss, just what happened to Peyton. 
Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

         Three kids and one dad, AND "The Longest Storm" made for a very long, often uncomfortable time. They couldn't go outside. They were stuck with each other! Arguments raged, quarrels over the smallest things. Then one night, big crash of lightning, and everyone was caught in the dark, until they gathered. Somehow it all changed after that. There was comfort and finally, light, finally, the storm ended. Vaccarino tells it like it is. Stuck inside, we can tire of each other, but in a calamity, there is a time for being grateful that we have each other. With illustrations that also show the stories' emotions, Dan Vaccarino offers a chance for a new outlook on family time and what's important. Fun story!

             It feels like people wait and wait for a new book by the Fan Brothers. They do not disappoint with stories you want to read more than once and turn the pages slo-o-owly in order to catch all the interesting details. This time, something (according to the insects on the ground) did fall from the sky. They marvel over it. Some guess it's a comet from the sky; the walking stick "was happy to find something even stranger than himself in the garden." "The dung beetle tried to roll it, but it was too heavy." Everyone thought it was the most amazing thing. Spider took a step further and the next morning claimed it was his. See, it sits in his web! With some help, he opens Wonderville for all to come to view this thing. He charges one leaf and as more come, he raises his prices. Perhaps it's a fable that will bring much discussion about the spider's actions. You will be happily surprised at his change of heart. The Fan Brothers bring another tale to us readers, perhaps they call it a Wonderville for us?

         I wait for any book by Sergio Ruzzier, always fun to read for younger readers. This time in the morning, Fish tells his mom that he's bored. He has nothing to do. Everything is 'dark and cold and boring". All of a sudden. . . Fish discovers Sun, a new friend. They play a few games together, like hide 'n seek. The day becomes delightful, until. . . I guess you and the readers know what happens and the readers will love it. 
        As you see at the top of the cover, this is part of the "I Can Read! Comics" with three levels. At the front, there is a page titled "Cartooning Basics" explaining panels, gutters, and tiers. It adds how the word balloons work and more. It's a helpful addition for comic readers and perhaps those who want to try to draw their own. This story with simple illustrations and brief text will make a great storytime.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

#PoetryFriday - October's End


Thanks to Mary Lee Hahn for hosting today at her blog, A(nother) Year of Reading HERE! Using math can be tricky when writing poetry, but Mary Lee shares a beauty of a memory from a recent trip, in percentages! Be sure to visit and read and enjoy 100%!

   The day before Halloween, before a cold front swooped in, I sat at the table on my patio reading your PF posts, enjoying the marvelous autumn day. I was inspired to write this because unlike the recent couple of weeks when so many leaves fell that I needed to rake every day, this time I watched leaves fall one at a time and not often! It was so still. Be sure to look for the leaf! I will remember this day!

Have a lovely November!

Monday, November 1, 2021

It's Monday! Sharing Special Books

    Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and 

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

          What's happening with my reading? 
                 I have been so busy with a variety of things that I cannot seem to find enough time to really dig into The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer. I like it so far, but I may put it aside to start another. I have loved Eliot Schrefer's books before, but part of this challenge is that this book is (so far) very like Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary, which I enjoyed. I have Gary Paulsen's final book, How to Train Your Dad (though I've read another is coming next year) and Malinda Lo's Last Night at the Telegraph Club which I know some of you adored. I am also reading Colson Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle, a little bit each day. And, there is a small pile of ARCs. Clearly, I have no lack of books! If you'd like, tell me what NOT to miss!

          Here are some picture books I really enjoyed this past week. One moves into history and young adult. All are worth a read!

         I picked up my granddaughters the other day and the youngest, ten, cried when I asked about her day. Things she told did seem hard to take, but everyone, kids, too, must manage stuff as well as they can, try to make changes, not always in themselves, but solving the problems with others, too. It's hard! This young boy starts his day sleeping late, missing his favorite toothpaste because his sister used it to make slime, then at school, forgot to wear his gym uniform, so can't play kickball. There's more and he's feeling a little 'scrunchy'. Aliya King Neil tells about going through such a day so well you want to reach out and give this boy a pat. Emotions shown in Charly Palmer's fabulous paintings bring the story to real life. We've all been there at school, right? Or work, or just life's day-to-day world. I imagine this will bring rich conversation when shared. 

           Perhaps it isn't an easy story to tell, but Kaija Langley makes it seem easy. Langston liked basketball but when his mother took him to see a performance by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, he is in awe. He asks his mother if she thinks he can dance like that, who answers, "You can do whatever you set your mind to doing." Langston begins, practices before his mirror, finally goes to his first ballet class. As they say, and the beautiful realistic illustrations by Keith Mallett show, the rest is history! Others don't think boys dance like that, but Langston does! It's a wonderfully inspiring story for anyone who wants to do something others might want to deny. (It reminds me of the older British movie Billy Elliot. If you haven't seen it, do!)

          Thanks to Candlewick Press for the next two advanced copies, both out in October.  

           I love these stories by Juana Medina, letting young Juana tell about her life in Bogotá, the challenges, the sorpresas, and the successes. I also love that writer Juana includes Spanish words in the text so smoothly that an English speaker can learn a new word, in another language! Young Juana's life with Lucas has been going along happily until those two things happen that make some changes Juana isn't quite sure about. First, she knows that her mother is pregnant and she is not sure about that new thing happening. Second, her mother has signed her up for skating camp. What!!! No friends are there and although Mami tells her she'll make new ones while she learns, it's a worry. More changes happen but with dear Lucas by her side, the love of her Mami and Luis, her stepfather, her abuelos, and her new friends, life turns out to be just right. Juana shares her worries but also how she will learn to figure out things. Juana Medina inserts those double-spread pages that center on one subject that are terrific. One is titled "Babies make everything complicado. EVERYTHING!"