Thursday, January 26, 2023

Poetry Friday - Final Words from a Leaf

            Poetry Friday is with Jan Godown Annino HERE at her website, Bookseed Studio.  In this wintry January, at least here in Denver, Jan brings garden delights in the name of Sharon Lovejoy. Don't miss her loving post! Thanks, Jan!

       Tanita Davis, who has a new book out, BTW, wrote this for her #PoetryPals as our prompt for this final Friday of January: Here’s the scoop for January: This month, we’re writing a CASCADE poem. The Cascade form takes every line from the first stanza of your poem and TRANSFORMS those lines into the final lines of each stanza thereafter. (The link helpfully creates a little form that shows you how easy this might be.) Beyond that, there are no additional rules. Long or short, free verse, sonnet, or sestina, find a way in which you can incorporate some inkling of the idea (or word) transformation as you write. You have a month to craft your creation and box it up on January 27th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

        Tanita's new book is titled Figure It Out, Henri Weldon.

        Another #PoetryPal, Laura Purdie Salas, has three books coming out this spring. You can find out about them here! And if you look further on her blog, you will see her review of Tanita's book! 

        One more #PoetryPal also has a new book out, Lola's Light, by Liz Garton Scanlan. If I've missed any of you, let me know! 

                              Congratulations to all!

     I haven't written for the prompts from #PoetryPals for a while and this one intrigued me. But, as I imagine many of you experience, I splashed around for a topic, and searched old poems that I thought might spark a theme, but didn't find one. Then, as our weather has been consistently giving us snow, I found inspiration. Here's the photo from outside on my patio and the poem. I didn't exactly follow the exact words for the "last line" expectation but considered it's the thought that counted, right? 

                       A Leaf’s Goodbye


I flew here from a maple tree, up there on the hill.

A woman took a pic of me, she saw me in the snow.

She wanted to remember me, a flourishing that didn’t last.

I’m glad to be a memory, like others in her past.


Photos give a taste of days that happened years ago.

The older ones are grainy, the new ones clear and bright.

No matter which, a life’s been lived, photos echo well.

Just like the maple tree I left, up there on the hill.


As I recall, the first of life for me was palest green.

Humans called me “budding”, a joyous circumstance.

I managed then, as days ticked by, to advertise a spring.

Another pic was taken, no snow on anything.


When humans grow, you need to know that they’re not like us buds.

They’re really slow, yet attention’s paid, and changes do occur.

From babyhood to young adults, parents revel every day,

Keeping their cache of memories, ‘cause budding does not stay.


A year has passed, the last I knew, found lying in the snow;

sun and shadow form a place, with nowhere else to fly.

Some years pass by, lives meander on, but to a leaf like me

Memory comes from spring to fall, on my dear old maple tree.


Linda Baie ©


Monday, January 23, 2023

Monday Reading - Fun to Share


    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 been snowy and cold all week with more to come. Hope all of you are doing great this beginning of 2023! 

       Most any age will enjoy this jam-packed book about all things concrete, from the earliest makers to the Romans, on to today's engineering marvels. Did you know that cement is different from concrete? Did you know the Romans had an original recipe for concrete? Imagine how they constructed the Colosseum, then the Pantheon! And then, it was lost. Years and years later, a man in need of the secret of a lighthouse that would not keep burning down, John Smeaton, perfected a new recipe. Larissa Theule packs a treasure of information in this history, including the important use of stone, too. She entertains readers with both text and speech bubbles, cleverly illustrated by Steve Light. Real people are depicted in a somewhat humorous fashion. Then there are skyscrapers and dams and gorgeous creations like the Sydney Opera House plus an intriguing art installation in a desert. Theule adds a bibliography at the back. It's a fantastic book for all but especially those budding engineers who ask "How?" 
Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

        As Penguin Random House tells us:  "Inspired by Dadaism’s rejection of reason and rational thinking, and in cahoots with Blanche Fisher Wright’s The Real Mother Goose, this anthology of absurdity unravels the fabric of classic nursery rhymes and stitches them back together (or not quite together) in every clever way possible." 
       I say you have to read it to believe it. Jon Scieszka's books never fail to be entertaining and educational in that he calls out the usual to be the "unusual" and with illustrator Julie Rothman partnering in his mash-ups, readers will see a new way to imagine rhymes like "Humpty Dumpty", "Old Mother Hubbard", and "Jack Be Nimble" in book reports, in news reports, secret codes, even translations into other languages! The most fun is that there is a lot of back matter showing off the "how you, too, can do it" part. That includes Esperanto, pig Latin, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and more! For middle grades and up, I see kids who want to break away from the usual loving this book, a new way to kick out the old! 
         Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

       Found at the used bookstore where I volunteer, a book by Joseph Bruchac from years ago that feels like a great fit for reading to a middle-grade or upper-elementary class. It brings in a contemporary story of a young Native American boy whose family has moved to Brooklyn for his mother's work. He is the only one like him and is teased with native stereotypes constantly. Weaving in the truth about his heritage with help from his father, readers are led to wonder if he can find the courage to find peace with his classmates instead of fighting them. Danny's ironworker father visits Danny's class to tell stories of his people's history and heroes which help a lot. It's a short novella that I'm happy to have found.
       Like all of the Steads' tales, this is beautiful to see and special to read. Three animals, a mule,
a milk cow, and a miniature horse, stand at a barn door waiting for the sun. They eventually realize that the faithful sun is late, not rising as it should have. Readers know those animals must be hungry! They go to ask Barn Owl what they should do and he sends them off on a journey to places they have not been before, to the edge of the world! Owl tells them to take Rooster along, and the magic, along with some fun questions about dreaming, happen along the way. What fun it will be to read with young children! It was fun for me, too! 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Poetry Friday - January Gratitude

           Poetry Friday is with Marci Flinchum Atkins HERE.  Be sure to see the books she's recommending that connect with her own interesting book for children, Wait, Rest, Pause, all about dormancy! Thanks, Marci!

       January welcomes a new year and in my part of the world, also means winter and of course, snow. We just had our snowiest storm in January since the nineties on Wednesday. I cleaned off the bird feeding station and my car (no garage), shook evergreen tree branches, and shoveled around the car (off-street parking). I love being outdoors but it was a lot to do! 

       There is a person, a Jennifer Thomas, on Twitter who shares words she discovers and loves. The recent one I read was mufflements. She writes that "it’s an old Lancashire word for thick, insulating clothes that keep the warmth in and the cold out." I thought you might like it, too!  

You knew there was a "but", didn't you? But, in January, thanks to Jone Rush MacCulloch, who has a new website here, for starting a marvelous tradition a few years ago of people sending postcards with beautiful words to others to welcome the new year. I was happiest this week getting my mail because instead of the continuing junk and pleas for donations, I received four cards from Jone, Mary Lee, Carol L., and Marcie, our host today. It's a lovely thing to receive "smiles" in the post box! Thanks to these four poets for them! Each seems to mirror Mary Oliver's words: “Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.” 

I will remember:                         out of tree crumbs

                                                        live curious, each day a wonder -


                                                        create with peace

                                                                     after Carol, Jone, Marci, and Mary Lee

Monday, January 16, 2023

It's Monday - Add These to Your TBR Lists

    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! 

  Remember Two Truths and a FIB, a poetry anthology edited and compiled by Bridget Magee. I'm shamelessly sharing again because it is such fun, and my poems are in it! I'm nearly through it all, 29 poets and 30 topics, including 32 poetic forms, a special book for the classroom and writing inspiration!  

      It is often interesting what authors create from their imagination. This time Jasmine Warga allows a rover, Resilience, Res for short, to tell its own story. She challenges us to imagine ourselves that a rover, really a computer, to learn and grow, then begin to question, eventually to imagine, human qualities, right? The adventure begins with Res' relationship with two "hazmats" as it calls them, Rania and Xander, NASA scientists, who are creating the code to prep Res for a trip to Mars. There is also another rover named Journey, kind of a thorn in Res' side who keeps chiding him for using words only humans should, like "worry" and "hope". The teasing "Beeps and Boops" from Journey gets Res upset yet he holds on to his new beliefs. Once in a while, Rania's daughter, Sophie, begins to write letters to Res. They occur once in a while to advance the story. 
        Days and months, then years pass, and finally Res, with a companion, "Fly", a drone, get going, to Mars! The trip and time on Mars itself is exciting, dangerous, and nerve-wracking. Another computer, Guardian, is a satellite guide, taking the place of a skeptical Journey, but as readers will see, human emotions sneak into all the thoughts and conversation. Res cannot ask questions of his humans, a constant frustration. What you will love is the change that happens through all the years and the emotions that do occur, yes, even in rovers!
       The story divides into parts, like "Launch" and "Roving" and the intros show illuminating illustrations by Matt Rockefeller. There is an author's note, acknowledgments, and one page of sites for learning more. It's a special book!

        Bryan Collier writes a story that he says he wrote during the Pandemic lockdown, using his children as models. This story shows how a young boy finds hope from the words and actions he has been given every day by his father and mother. Even in the darkness, someone can leave an opening for a rainbow to come in, this time, for this boy, it is music. With Collier's beautiful collage and watercolor illustrations, one can imagine the uplifting melody.  

       Richard Turee with Shelly Pollock, tells his own story of his frustration at the constant problem of lions killing his family's cattle. At the age of nine, he was put in charge of the herd. During the years, he was first terrified, then angry, at the lions who wanted his cattle! His people, the Maasai tribe who now mostly live in Kenya and Tanzania, tried everything, and most worked only a while. Lions were smart! Richard was always curious and began learning about electronics, even taking apart his mother's new radio. He did notice that lions were afraid of light but soon learned that the ONE light was something they could avoid. People could not kill the lions because they were a protected species. Richard worked and invented a series of flashing flashlight lights attached to every pole in the cattle enclosure. It worked! He has won numerous awards for his invention, an amazing creation that at that time only cost him ten dollars. The book demonstrates that through persistence, every age is capable of solving important problems. It is illustrated beautifully by Sonia Possentini, showing Richard growing up in his work, persisting in doing his so important job, protecting the family's herd. 
        There are pieces at the back showing the Maasai vocabulary used, a brief history of the Maasai, and further resources.  It's an inspiring story written about a young boy who figured out answers because of his family's dire need. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

#PoetryFriday - Giving A Thought

           Poetry Friday is with Susan at Chicken Spaghetti HERE.  She's sharing a poem with some sage advice! Thanks for hosting, Susan!

             Lots of good things happened in recent weeks. My "whole" family was able to have our Christmas together last Saturday. I am happy to have new volunteers at the used bookstore where I work and was able to get outside walking because the sidewalks are finally becoming clear of ice from the snow a few weeks ago. And, I've read a few good books. However, a couple of sad things have also happened. My daughter has many cats, some feral outside; some inside. One of them was hit in traffic a week ago and died. A volunteer I've recently spent some time with also lost her cat to a sudden illness. I don't have pets anymore but remember with much love a cat I had years ago named Max. Then, on the way home this week, I spied another cat by the side of the street, clearly dead from being hit. I needed to write.

           Someone’s Cat


Someone’s cat was lying on the side

Of the road

On my way to work this morning.

He was curled like his brothers,

Looking comfortable in sleep.

I wondered if someone’s hand

Was missing that soft gray fur,

If someone’s lap was missing his warmth?

I imagine the bowl of cream

Left out


I hear a voice calling for him

Out a back door.

“He’s always been there before.”

But if no one is 




Then I will give a thought to this gray cat,

And grieve for his passing.


                                  Linda Baie ©

Monday, January 9, 2023

It's Monday - Have You Read 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 in my hand, arrived today, after my family left, sad to write. We had a wonderful late Christmas together, so I didn't get to finish a lot this week, but a few I want to recommend, including Two Truths and a FIB, a poetry anthology edited and compiled by Bridget Magee. You can watch the trailer HERE! I am proud to have some poems in this book along with others whose names you will recognize. Many thanks to Bridget for the idea, the opportunity, and all the work in the production! If you've ever played the game, you'll love this 'poetic' addition, perhaps play this kind of Two Truths and a FIB with your students if you teach. In it, you'll find 29 poets, 30 subjects, and 32 poetry forms. 
       I'll post a longer review another time when I've had time to read every little bit!

         I'm about halfway through, have loved the voice of Resilience, "Res", and am excited to discover what's next!

          Rafael L√≥pez' illustrations of bright and colorful scenes showing diverse children all over the world, both sad then finding joy, beautifully show the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in this brief book where those words give hope to young children when they are lonely, in need of a friend, and wondering if life will ever be happy. Where will they find joy? The advice is simple, to open one's eyes and look. Find it in "the soft snuggly feeling of being all wrapped up, cozy in your bed at night." Once you find joy, "your heart always has room for more". The message gives hope and adds the loving idea that when joy is found, it's a good thing to share it, too. The book will be a nice read-aloud, planting a seed for those feeling a little down, someone you may not even know who needs some hope. 

         A gender-affirming book with loving support by first sharing numerous and wonderful photographs of happy kids, young and old, with a brief quote, added from each. For instance, the opening page fills up with nine smiling children saying, "We are kids! Girls, boys, neither, both, or just not sure." Another page says "There are different ways to show and be who you are. It's up to you – how you feel, how you dress, how you act, how you play, learn, and love." It's supportive in varied ways throughout the book and the emphasis is respecting and affirming the children's opinions and feelings. It will be a terrific book to have for a classroom, although I realize there are now some places where this kind of support will be rejected or banned in a school. There is a wealth of information at the back, including a "letter from a Grown-up Trans Girl", pieces from the author and photographer, two pages of links to many helpful sources, and more! 

          I guess I've read numerous books illustrated by John Parra, loved the one about Frida Kahlo, Waiting for the Biblioburro, and Hey, Wall, among others. This is his debut as an author and illustrator, his own story! He grew up with his father who was a landscape contractor and started to help him at age seven. It became his part-time job at thirteen. The story is fictionalized, telling of a young boy named Juanito on his first day with his Papi and Papi's assistant, Javier. They work at various homes all day and while helping, Juanito also takes time to do some sketching. It even shows taking the day's end brush and cut grass collected to the dump, reminding me of going with my own dad to take our trash, a real adventure! It's an encapsulation of one day, those seeds that, after reading John Parra's letter at the back, offer a glimpse of the hard work done by those who do this work and some history of his father. It also shows the inspiration of one boy who sees the beauty of his father's work, loves helping plan the "art" of people's gardens, then goes on to choose his career in illustration and fine art. I enjoyed the book very much.

What's Next: I'll finish The Rover's Story by Jasmine Warga and choose among the "many" books in my stack.  
Happy Reading!


Thursday, January 5, 2023

#Poetry Friday - Reflecting


   Poetry Friday is with Catherine Flynn HERE on her website, Reading to the Core. She's sharing the process and the poem from her group "The Inklings". Be sure to see what Catherine wrote from the challenge Heidi Mordhorst gave them. Thanks for hosting, Catherine! 

               Hooray! Editor Bridget Magee's anthology, Two Truths and A Fib  is now available! I do not have my copy yet, but you can watch the trailer HERE! I am proud to have some poems in this book along with others whose names you will recognize. Many thanks to Bridget for the idea, the opportunity, and for all the work in the production! Watch for Bridget's blog each day where she is posting about an individual poet and their work. 

               I'm kind of cheating this week because I'm sharing a poem I wrote earlier in the week and then shared on FB & Instagram. It was a serendipitous moment. You'll see. Our winter days these recent weeks have been a challenge. I know that others had more snow than we here in Denver but it's been cold and a challenge to walk and avoid slipping. Unlike most of the time here in Denver, the snow has not melted; little has changed since I wrote.

               And, my family's Christmas is not over yet. I had a lovely Christmas Day with my daughter and family, have had lots of work at the bookstore this week, and Friday will be prepping for ALL of the family to be together for a day to celebrate Christmas. My son and family (who couldn't make it December 25th are coming in to stay at our townhouse in the Keystone area, to ski! We'll be together on Saturday. Happy Holiday is something I can say again!

And to all of you, Happy, Happy New Year!


Shivery, shivery, winter's delivery,
trying for cheery, but already weary,
of snowflakes and ice, not always so nice!
                                        Linda Baie ©

Monday, January 2, 2023

It's Monday - Books at Year's End

  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! 

Hi Everyone! 
            The last time I posted was the week after Thanksgiving. Since then: I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to be at my grandson's graduation from the University of Kentucky, had Christmas with my daughter and family, had lots of work at the bookstore, and am prepping for ALL of the family to be together for a day to celebrate Christmas together. My son and family are coming in to stay at our townhouse in the Keystone area, to ski! We'll be together next Saturday. It's been a different December for sure with those changes in events and because of the weather, like the "big" one mid-month. I hope all of you remained safe during that terrible storm. 
            And, Best wishes for a fabulous 2023 full of reading and all the other things that bring you joy!
          Here's a collage of all the books I reviewed on Goodreads since that post. Some are old favorites; some are new! Click on the book titles to read my review on Goodreads.!

Amari and the Great Game

          It took a long time to read this new Amari adventure, not because it wasn't good but because Alston included so many layers in this new world that I was dumbstruck, had to re-read some parts to understand, plus then it was mostly in December which held all the holiday prep plus a trip for special graduation, too little time to settle in just to read! Amari, once again, is seen as a young teen, though very special, wanting to do good, continued to question her actions with her magic, and wanted so much to do things right. With best friends Elsie, then Jayden later, and a surprise friend, Lara, the nemesis in the first book, Amari had a group to lean on and love! The complexity of Alston's world-building is amazing and fun and just plain satisfying. Though it took a while, I am glad to recommend it!

I forgot to include this book in my collage!
Thanks to Candlewick Press for this new story about Tola!

        I've enjoyed the first two books about "Too Small Tola" and this one follows a similar style, a telling of the life of a family of three children, the youngest is Tola, being raised by their Grandmommy in Lagos, Nigeria. They live in a rundown part of the city and clearly are poor. However, Atinuke shows in her fine story-telling that they have something more, love among them so they will do what is needed to help each other (even if they are sad a little about it or irritated, too). Onyinye Iwu's drawings follow along with the story in a way that enhances the important parts. The stories show Tola's thoughts, though sometimes no one else knows them but us, the readers. Each one leads us through Tola's feelings and reasons for her actions as if we are in on a secret that others don't find out until the end, or never! I liked this one, so full of heart, very much.

What's Next - I have so many books in my TBR list, I don't know what I'll choose next. I'll check out the Cybil's finalists' list and the Nerdies award. Perhaps that will help me choose.