Monday, June 27, 2022

Monday Reading - Fun Books 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! 

        Every week finds us railing at the news, worrying each morning what will we discover that has happened now. I did manage some reading this week, but less than usual, unless you'd like a share of all the news articles? In better news, the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup last night. The city will be crazy this week! 

   
     For young middle-grade readers, it's a fun adventure with two young nobles, Thomas and Emily, who are discovering all sorts of things about their kingdom and their mother when they visit the workroom of the scribes. Meg, the main scribe, used to be friends with their mother, the lady of the castle but an event happened that changed that friendship. Thomas and Emily argue a lot but they continue to work together to solve what's becoming a bigger and bigger challenge to discover if what Meg tells is really true. Was there really a dragon in the castle? Knights, elves,  and the ways of castle-living make a funny story
       Clever illustrations by the author, Annette LeBlanc Cate add to the adventure, too.
Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!


      
It's another book discovered at the used bookstore where I work from a favorite author. My own children and I loved Burningham's "Mr. Gumpy's Outing" and now here is Courtney, a dog new to the kids in this book that surprises in many ways. He can cook, juggle, and even saves the baby from a fire. He leaves suddenly, but the question remains, is he very far away?
        Poor Dat, who came over by boat, then by plane, now he's on a school bus and the beginning of his brain swirling because all anyone who's talking to him only speaks "gibberish". His expressions illustrated by Young Vo, who also writes the story, show the emotions wonderfully. Just look at that cover. It's hard to imagine what a challenge Dat and other immigrant children face when they cannot understand a thing and must go by what they "see" nearly all of the time. In the book, Vo shows Dat only in color with a variety of kids and adults surrounding him, fairly goofy looking, until, until, one child begins to help. It's something for everyone, kids and adults, to learn and see, that one can help, starting with a few words, like this young girl in the book. It's a book that full of sympathy for someone living in a new world. (Young Vo says that he learned to draw before he could write!)


         Explaining how gender identity works is not easy but this book whose author's daughter told her at five she wasn't the gender everyone thought she was will help children see themselves along with adults, too, who needed it long ago and also need to learn. Theresa Thorn explains in various ways while Noah Grigni, who is trans, illustrates in subtle ways, just as children, and adults, look and live. There is added help and explanations along with the author's and illustrator's notes in the back. 


         Jacqueline Woodson's new book, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, is glorious! I didn't grow up in a city, but even in my small town, when school ended and summer began, as Woodson writes, "and the whole wide world/felt like it belonged to us." Don't miss this book. It will make you smile!

Next: The Patron Thief of Bread - Lindsey Eager


Thursday, June 23, 2022

It's Friday, Time for a Poem

  

  Poetry Friday is with Catherine Flynn, who's hosting HERE at Reading to the Core.  Go visit to read her abecedarian recipe for teaching. Thanks for hosting, Catherine! 
















Don’t Call It a Loss

 

Wednesday morning became a poem.

Trinkets have over-stayed for grandchildren

now no longer playing with trinkets.

Granddaughters are on a trip.

“I have the day free,” I said to myself.

"I’ll do my walking early,

then get to the task".

I brought all the dishes and baskets

to the kitchen to search for

throwaways. I know the memories

will stay, but 

mystery game pieces,

tiny cars,

plastic spiders,

pretty rocks,

worn plastic people

had to go.

Rocks remain but

now garden strewn.

Here were small bead bracelets 

plastic coins,

two metallic pieces engraved

with ‘love’ and ‘joy’,

plus

pieces of jewelry 

all with a goal

to sparkle a collage –

never made.

I found one mystery,

A tiny red foam ball.

I had no idea why it was kept,

Then I saw the slit.

It was a clown nose,

worn by my young daughter

on Halloween.

I’ll demonstrate

on a beloved sloth

who lives here for the girls

to play again.

Stoic she is,

like this day

when I’m patiently perusing

my memories

And giving my goodbyes.

 

Linda Baie ©





Monday, June 20, 2022

It's Monday - Don't Miss These!

         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! 

        It's a long list this week because I had to skip last week. Hope you will find a book that will make you happy!
 
        I'm featuring this new book, One Hundred Percent Me, by Renee Macalino Rutledge.

          I know that all of us, in one way or another, have been told that we look just like our mother (or father, grandmother, Aunt Barbara, Uncle Sy, etc.) It became amusing at times, for me with a stepfather, to hear people say I looked just like him. Slowly, as I grew older, I began to realize I was me, and it was a compliment, nothing more. 
            In our increasingly multi-cultural world, it possibly happens more often in others' experiences. Renee's story about a young girl with a Puerto Rican dad and a Filipina mom shows her puzzling out what all the speculation means to her. She asks her parents, "Do you think I look exactly like you?"  Their loving answer is "You look like yourself." In the travel across the city in public transportation a stranger's question, "Where are you from?" becomes something to ponder when that stranger persists with "I mean, where is your family from?" The young girl knows a final right answer, after saying they're from New York, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, and the Philippines, she continues with these words, "I'm from Oakland, and I'm one hundred percent me." This continues with visits to other family members and questions easy to answer now that this young one knows the beautiful and heartfelt words to answer: "Mama's eyes and Papi's  eyes make my eyes one hundred percent mine." 
         As the trip through family visits, school, and a playground, up in a tree with children from many places, (a beautiful double-page spread), this young one learns about ancestors and other kinds of connections, all mixed together, confirming them, but remaining herself,  will always be "one hundred percent me"!


         Anita Prades, from Brazil, illustrates the story beautifully with the softest of colors. This is her first international experience. Renee writes in an author's note that her story comes from her own growing up and from that of her children, too. It's a book to enjoy and to ponder with a group of children, or perhaps only your own. 
         Thanks to Bloom Books for Children, an imprint of Ulysses Press for this copy!


              from Goodreads: "
When 11-year-old Ellis Earl Brown learns that a famous United States senator might be coming to Mississippi, he can’t believe it. After all, why would a fancy man from Washington D.C. come all the way to the Delta just to see how poor folks lived?"
           One reads on various social media posts that people praise some people by saying a phrase like "Be like _______, not like _________." Mostly each one is a news star, a politician, one who has done some good deed. This time, I'd like to tell everyone to read Linda Williams Jackson's book, The Lucky Ones, then  "Be like Ellis Earl Brown!" This story takes place in 1967, centering on Ellis Earl's family, from eleven and sometimes fifteen people (mostly kids from the very young to teens) with one mom, living in a shack. It has no running water, no toilet, no electricity. mattresses everywhere. There is always a food shortage. Sadly, I need to say that now, fifty-five years later, Mississippi still has the highest poverty rate among all the states. That feels like a crime to me. 
             When you read this story about Ellis Earl, you feel the love, no matter the little fights, among the family members. You see the heartfelt help given by a teacher who picks up some to take to school and brings food to feed his students at lunch! And you hear the hope in Ellis Earl's words who tells his story, wanting never to miss school, coveting the books his teacher lends him, including Dahl's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, where hope for that "Golden Ticket" feels very real to Ellis Earl. It's quite a story, giving me a bit of heartbreak, too, for the family but also for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, that "fancy man from Washington" who aims to help, but I know he didn't make it. I do wonder how this would be as a read-aloud? Would it help students know that the very real need shown in the book still exists and they can help, as Ellis Earl aims to do, too?
                Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

       Goodale shows the ways of memories in brief words and lovely illustrations, bright, some faded. Here we are at Grandma's but "also" a memory of other times emerges. From grandmother to daughter to granddaughter, what become memories are lived and then stay. "Today my mama is coming down the hill, coming to find me. And also she is remembering. . ."   This would be a special book to share and use as a mentor text, for you, for a class!




Thursday, June 16, 2022

It's Poetry Friday - Keeping June

 

  Poetry Friday is with Michelle Kogan, who's hosting HERE. Be sure to visit to read her loving poem to her dad and listen to some fabulous music!

         I've been blessed to have many fathers in my life, from grandfathers to a father who died too young in World War II, then a step-father who filled big shoes with love! My dear husband was the sweetest dad, and today, my brother, nephews, my son, and my son-in-law are those I know are loving fathers. Happy Father's Day -- for special memories and for making more!





a haibun

       According to Merriam-Webster, a few synonyms of "keeping" are "custodianship", "guardianship", and "safekeeping".  I then ponder "keeping house", "taking good care", all I imagine and smile about when I think of "keeping June". This year, despite the drought we fight in Colorado, watering the garden and sunny days have brought gorgeous blooms everywhere. I suspect July will bring even hotter days, and flowers will tire, hence my wish for a slightly different definition of "keeping". I don't want to say goodbye! 

June premieres

a garden theater–

evening primrose

 

Linda Baie © 




Thursday, June 9, 2022

Poetry Friday - Overheard In My Garden

 

  Poetry Friday is with Buffy Silverman, whose blog is HERE. Be sure to visit to read her delightful poem about the beautiful but tricky lady slippers! 













           It's been a very late spring this year for us in Denver. I have peony memories of cutting bunches to take to the cemetery for Memorial Day. A week has passed, and finally, there is one bloom! My imagination flies!











     Peony Whispers

 

“Hang in there,” shouted the roots.

“We’re closer,” sighed the leaves.

“It’s only a sprinkle of snow,” shivered the stems.

“The sun will come out tomorrow,” sang them all.

“Wait a bit longer,” cautioned the bud.

“I’m preparing to open.”

“The rain helped us,” said the roots,

almost there.”

“It’s time,” trilled the stems.

“We’re ready,” called the buds.

“At last!” answered the bloom.

"Welcome!" shouted the columbines.

“Thank you,” whispered the gardener. 

 

Linda Baie ©

 

Monday, June 6, 2022

It's Monday - More Terrific Books to Love

 

        Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! 
 
       For Poetry Friday, I shared a wonderful and poetic picture book by Liz Garton Scanlon, Would You Come Too? Find it here!



      I enjoyed the first book about this Peach family, those ups and downs from losing their mother to the challenge of running a food truck. Now they are back facing a new challenge, renovating Aunt Lucinda's old mansion for their home and for starting a bed and breakfast! Whew! I like that Erin Soderberg Downing digs deep again into the family's personalities. Knowing each one's strengths and challenges means readers might find themselves or at least see that no matter the quirks, everyone can contribute to goals. Many adults believe that children are not capable of doing much and this book plus the first one show even the young ones mastering new things, creating new ideas, and adding to the family's goals with heart and expertise. Sometimes they work together for everyone's good. This time there are a few secrets kept, but it all works, just "peachy"! You will love the surprises in this old house, too. I liked "The Peach Pit" very much.

       Folktales make a new world when reading aloud, talking about the truth inside along with the wisdom and the humor. This one from West Africa does all of that as young boy Anansi learns more about his namesake who happens to be a trickster. How does that Golden Pot make the magic? Selasi adds more about the story and translates some of the delectable dishes that filled that pot. Tinuke Fabborun's illustrations create the colorful world of Anansi, both at home and while he visits his Nana at the beach. What a fun book this is!
       On their way to a violin recital, a young girl, visually impaired, shows "her" city of so many sounds: "hasty honks, impatient beeps, distant chimes" and more. Full-page collaged illustrations by Ashley Barron show how full a city can be while the girl and her father walk together. It can be an inspiration for children to listen to sounds at home, on their own way around their neighborhoods, or at their schools. It's lovely. 
       Once again a story is told about a little-known woman scientist, Anna Atkins. She was an English botanist and photographer, often considered the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. Fiona Robinson starts the book by showing Anna's father teaching her from a very young age to identify plants and insects and to draw what she finds! He also begins teaching her their Latin names. Anna's life spanned from 1799 to 1871. During that time, girls were not usually educated but Anna's father was determined that she become as educated as possible. They work together gathering specimens and gathering information about them for years. Later in her life, she and her father hear of a new invention, photography, and she receives her first camera from him. She is believed to be the first woman to take a photograph.
       You may not realize the reason for Robinson's alluring, blue illustrations until she explains the later discovery and Anna's use of cyanotypes, an extraordinary invention that helps her begin to create a book of her seaweed collection of thousands. Anna's sex kept her from being included in The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge but her father passed on as many papers and information he could to her. Later, Anna was given membership in the Royal Botanic Society, one of the few institutions to admit women.
Anna did publish beautiful books with that cyanotype invention, and there is an additional author's note that tells more about her published works. The blue illustrations beautifully bring readers into this spectacular story.
 

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Poetry Friday - Nature's Nurture

 

  Poetry Friday is with Karen Edmisten, whose blog HERE, is named after her but with the sub-title, "The Blog With the Shockingly Clever Title" always makes me smile! Thanks, Karen, smiles are always welcome!   

     Another long week, just as I wrote two weeks ago. Sometimes we need a break from the news, where we see every day something to take in, wondering how to help, how to press for better. I do want to find answers for helping but taking time to enjoy beauty outside and books inside gives me the energy to find those answers. 






         One recent book I adore is Would You Come Too? by Poetry Friday pal, Liz Garton Scanlon. Although the book appears to invite children out to play in nature, the wonder of it is that she's showing how they would "be" IF they were the animals they will meet.  Of course, those animals come, too! In the briefest of poetic lines, Liz shows us how with the help of colorful joy in Diana Sudyka's illustrations.

 
    One double-page spread shows a tree with birds in flight, and children planting:


               If we were birds, we'd eat berries
               and scatter the seed sweet and bright

And the next double-page:
               If we were seeds, we'd be hopeful,
               reaching for water and light."

          I love the idea of children running with abandon out in a wood, have my own special memories of our family's cabin in the woods as my children grew up. I've had the pleasure of seeing my middle-grade students playing hide 'n seek in snowy woods, shouting with laughter as they dive into snowdrifts to hide. Experiences outside stay with us, don't they?

A favorite page might become your favorite, too, when you see it, those magical shadows of children "boundless and wild and free".


















Thanks to Liz, readers can have a getaway from her book!