Monday, May 29, 2023

It's Monday - Book 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!

          I placed this in the 'adult' category, too, hoping that many adults will read this heartfelt story of young Will Chambers, along with children or alone. Jarrett Lerner slams us into Will's story starting with a word, one word, yelled by another at Will in fourth grade, a word that colors his life for three years, and he says, a few more months, too. The struggles in his life because of the feelings ignited by that one word will touch everyone, whether it's past memories or current events happening right now, the journey is one that made me worry about Will's, and others', ability to survive. The moments of hope are short-lived until they aren't by the blessing of an interaction with another boy. Will's story has all the emotions, perhaps will be a mirror for many kids who can recognize the "work in progress" they are living. Don't miss reading Will's story!

     Cori Doerrfeld (A Rabbit Listened) shows us in her story that earning to look for the positive is a great way to be. Cooper, on the bicycle, hurries to get ready to welcome new neighbors in the village. As he moves along, He is excited and prepares a "welcome wagon" but as others join him along the way, he realizes that others are not so excited. Bobbi the bunny asks: "What if they don't want to meet us? What if we don't get along?" Cooper smiles and says, "Just come with me and see!" All along the path, other animals voice worries which Cooper continues to answer with positive words. 
      What a terrific way to show varied thoughts about something, or someone, new. And the best way to handle it. Full-page illustrations of all the residents and activities of Cubby Hill, adding more as Cooper moves along, create a delightful story of looking for the positive in something new instead of finding things to worry about.  

         Cooking up a great story with all the smells and trickery is something Bridget Magee does so well when she tells Antonio's story. Actually, Antonio tells his story; Bridget is the expert director. Oh, Antonio loves the sizzle of the skillet! He says "I'm perfect. . . Let the good times roll!" What he doesn't understand is when he hears the word "bite", but escape happens, at least for a while! Imagine reading this and choosing still another item, food, or something else, and telling that story. Bridget uses real photos accompanied by text and speech bubbles with great pizzazz to tell Antonio's story. It holds lots of emotion with thoughts of "Oh, no!" and "What will happen next?" all for a meatball Great fun!            

       Nearly thirty years ago, Ruby Bridges walked into her new school. She was escorted by U.S. Marshals, entered the school, and was the only one in her first-grade class. No other black children had been ordered to go there; the other three ordered to a white school attended a different one. Robert Coles tells the story, including the kindness of the teacher along with the courage of Ruby. It seems like the thing that gave her strength was a prayer, to pray for God to forgive those people who say bad things. "They don't know what they're doing." Beautiful illustrations show resolute and calm Ruby walking through an angry mob all those days!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

It's Poetry Friday - About Memorial Day


             It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Patricia Franz at Reverie here, for hosting. She and her husband are celebrating a special wedding anniversary and she celebrates with a beautiful cento. 

The #poetrypals are writing ghazals today yet I chose to write about Memorial Day, a day important to me this time. But I did write a ghazal in April for poetry month if you'd like to see it! You can find it here! It certainly wasn't an easy form so I'm really looking forward to these newly crafted ones, imagining they will be terrific.

          Memorial Day is special to me. My father died in World War II, was a pilot shot down in the Pacific theater, never found. Other family members were in combat during that war and those since. Thankfully all survived. Every year, the memories return when I see the iris blooming and the peonies popping up. Those were the flowers we took to the cemetery, for remembrance of those we held in our hearts always. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

It's Monday - Old Favorites and Special New Ones!


    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!

Thanks to Candlewick Press
for this copy!

          I've loved M.T. Anderson's books every time there's another. This one is another new world to sit back, read, and wonder at the adventure, wonder at Anderson's imaginative world-building that includes magic, but also family love and challenges, friendships that strengthen with challenges, no matter the diversity, and the true love from a dog. In this plot, a global plague is keeping Clay, his younger and older sister, and the parents at home. They're pretty tired of each other and yearn for, well, the usual lives they had been living. When a mysterious dog appears, Clay names him Elphinore and the magic begins. They live in the woods and paths Elphinore shows Clay are ones he never had seen before, villages he didn't know existed, along with "Owl-Heads", a clan with strict rules Clay and his new friend break, out of want and need. Intriguing creatures come into Clay's world just as it seemed he needed them, most especially, a sweet and loving dog. It's a terrific book, just out last month.

 Friends Laura Shovan and Michael Rothenberg, had a final special visit together in January 2020. Like all of us, they didn't know that the usual way of living would change like no other time in their lives very soon.  Both were grieving losses and in need of support. You can read more about that in Laura's Author's note but it serves as their stepping stone into this special collaboration. Michael was starting some art therapy and sent Laura a funny picture of a monster; Laura responded with a poem. 
           Life is marvelous when one is able to see children running, jumping, tumbling, and laughing with friends or even alone. Yet, as adults, we all must know there are monsters of emotions including laughter but also beyond the laughter, sometimes strange bursts of crying happen, and sometimes angry words. Laura's poems and Michael's drawings, whimsical though they seem, show a down-deep look and acceptance of what is. There's "Bubblegum Head" that seems very "out there", saying rude things, sometimes what all of us want to shout, like "Flooey! Bagookie!" and "Carrumple! Dipthingle!" (There's more!) And also found in the pages is a monster who yearns for the "Green Cave" where "Sometimes I get so mad, the feelings can't stay inside./Before I know what I'm doing, my feet run for the back door." (There's more!) Poems about crying and laughing, monsters who are houses, and go out walking and play hopscotch all make one smile and whisper to oneself, "That's right. I know about that." Sixteen poems fill up the world with Laura's and Michael's monsters.
              Having worked and written with middle-school students for years, I know that drawing monsters and writing personal poems about the drawings, perhaps trading the art, would be a terrific thing to do. 

Thanks to Charlesbridge
for this copy!

          I have this book, too, just out a couple of weeks ago, about still another monster, well, from the title, evidently "Not A Monster", by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez, filled with the description of how they live their life on gorgeous double-page spreads by Laura González. It is a salamander, an asolotl, but onw that will never lose its gills or fins. Glaudia includes Spanish words as readers watch the growing from egg to full-grown, hiding from a predator and explains the Aztec origin myth of this unusual amphibian. It is endangered in its native waters and some clean-up of the story is shown, too. There is more information added in the backmatter, an intriguing, compelling story of one animal among many we do not want to lose!

A couple of pictures of the axolotl

Thursday, May 18, 2023

It's Poetry Friday, And "Spring-ish"

             It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Janice Scully at Salt City Verse here, for hosting, where she's sharing a post titled "Clouds, Rain, and Thunder". We may have been having similar thoughts!

          In most of May, our weather, and over the continent, has been what might be called very moody. It is not gradually moved into spring, but dipping up and down, near 80 Wednesday, then dipping down to low forties overnight. Last week we had a freeze warning and there is one for last night in the northeast as the northwest is breaking records with high temperatures.

Instead of 'fire and ice', it's 'flowers and ice'!




My fire’s lit this frosty night;

it wasn’t planned for May.

Jack didn’t check the calendar;

he’s been at work all day.


There he sneaks behind a tree

to find a place to sleep,

no fall leaves to snug himself,

just seedlings take a peek.


Giving plants a frosty tip;

I spied him launch a chill.

The radiators whistle tunes–

worlds divided by a windowsill.


                             Linda Baie ©


Monday, May 15, 2023

It's Monday - Wonderful Books - Don't Miss


    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!
            I suspect all adults should be reading this, too, especially because if you don't know how middle kids are, you should. And if you don't understand the racism Jordan and his friends fight against daily, you should. Finally, after teaching middle school kids for many years, you adults should read to see how smart, yet vulnerable, and tender, yet hardheaded already by eighth grade. Here are all the kids around Jordan, despised and loved, on their way out the middle school door but first, the school trip. This one is to Paris where they learn to push others to do the right thing, or else! Like the first two, Jerry Craft has Jordan giving some tips about life. On this Mother's Day, one early one is "My Mom's Tips for Being Safe "NOT Shaking", super for celebrating his mom. One theme throughout the book is teasing others, enough for a lifetime of worry. Jordan shows his advice in "Samira's Guide to Insulting People (And Having Them Stay Your Friend)." It may be something for all ages to understand. Teachers on the trip are vulnerable, too. You may find yourself remembering if you've taken kids on trips, or if you had some sad times in eighth grade. Number three, hoping not the last, and perhaps we'll see these wonderful and thoughtful kids in high school? Thanks for another special book, Jerry Craft! I cannot understand why anyone would think this book should be banned and not read widely!

            It's a marvelous introduction and explanation of how rainforests work, what happens to fruit seeds, why animals aren't easily seen, and much, much more. Black and white artwork by Vicky White punctuates the questions that Martin Jenkins asks as readers travel one a rainforest. This time it's the ecosystem of Malaysia's Taman Negara. While traveling, gorgeous full-color, double-page spreads made me go "Wow!" and imagine the sounds of insects and birds especially. Some animals seen are ants and elephants, leopards and hornbills, gibbons, and bats. There is a small quiz at the back showing small pics of animals that may have been missed and a list of further places to learn more. If you want to start a study of this ecosystem, start with this book!
          Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

         There is a letter from Eoin Colfer at the beginning explaining a bit about this story and how it is a good thing to try to understand when a child is spending a long time or several long times in the hospital. Chris Judge explains that his story's illustrations come from personal family experiences with illness. All her life, young Erin saw "pictures" in the clouds (I do, too!) and called them her "cloud babies". As a young girl, she became very ill and needed to be in the hospital for a long time. The children's ward actually was fun and all the kids played together and liked Erin's "cloud babies", too. But when she returned to school, she gave them up, deciding they were too babyish. She was sad and felt as if she didn't belong to either group. And, she missed those "cloud babies". What happens next shows a plan that helped Erin, and may help others understand what it's like to feel apart. It's a loving book that shows another point of view that's good to know!
            Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

   Cathy Ballou Mealey tells a story in rhyme showing Roscoe the raccoon prepping a fire and toasting a marshmallow that's just right for making s-mores! Yum! However, then Grizzly Bear comes along, wanting a treat, too. Yum, again! Roscoe might grumble a bit ("Is that for me? asks Grizzly Bear.,  Roscoe shrugs, "Bon Appetit!".)  but he keeps making these camping favorites, and as two bear cubs, then Mama, show up, too, he shares. Illustrations by Ariel Landy show the emotions well as the scene becomes more crowded. Pure satisfaction at the end, maybe especially when Roscoe gets that final treat. "Toasty, creamy, sweet, and gooey. Crispy, crunchy, slightly chewy." It's simply a fun book for reading aloud, perhaps with s'mores?

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Poetry Friday - Kindnesses Noticed


             It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge here, for hosting with lovely wishes for mothers, and a loving haiku after her grandson was born. 

              Last week when I hosted here, I shared a poem about kindness and a second article that was a collective poem by the same author who gathered comments from teens who wanted to share their personal experiences of kindness. So, I asked those here from Poetry Friday friends to write about theirs, too. Here is our own collaboration celebrating the kindnesses we appreciate in our own lives. Our world feels like a great recipe gone wrong these recent months. I am grateful for the special moments shared. 

Thanks to Margaret Simon for permission
to share. Her sharing about this is marked with
an asterisk!
"Beautiful people...
Beautiful place...
Beautiful plants..."

Kindness In Our Lives


       I'm also thankful for the kindness of the strangers that rushed to help you.


The subway riders in DC pushing us forward on a rush hour train to help us get off at our stop (2012) or the student who pressed a penny he saved into my palm telling me that It will help me to "save the world" after a year of hearing my environmental lessons in garden club - never once did I tell the children to "save the world," or just the person who holds the door open for me at the store. All small but important occurrences in my world that gave/give me hope. 


       Suggesting an exercise for a person with a painful foot cramp.


I like to think that kindness eventually wins.


       When a friend buys you dinner and asks -- genuinely -- how the writing is going.


Each summer, I love when my neighbor stops by and surprises me with fresh lettuce and squash from his garden.


       Just yesterday I was struck by the smile from a stranger who held the door for me while I crossed the street. That small act stayed with me all afternoon.


These poems are a balm...the balm I need.


       Kindness is a clerk at Lowe's loading bags of soil into the trunk of her own car to deliver to your school for the butterfly garden. *Kindness is the girl handing you a colorful picture of flowers, a multi-folded notebook page with a poem about kindness, and you don't even teach her. She just notices you in the carpool line and wants to make you smile again. 


When my next-door neighbor comes by with treats to celebrate her holidays. (I love being included in celebrating, even though I am unfamiliar with her holidays.) 


       Kindness is the generosity of fellow writers who help you lift your work to the next level.


Kindness is the friend who sends a poem, a podcast, an article, 
simply saying, "You'll love this," or "This made me think of you."


       I'm thankful for all the kindness that surrounded you in the aftermath of that accident. 


Out of this unfortunate incident, you've chosen to focus on the positive by sharing Lameris's initial poem, and then the collaborative one, a much-needed reminder of the power of small gestures towards our fellow human beings. 


       Today is kindness day at our end-of-school countdown.


When I ask someone to pull up their mask to keep me safe, and they're confused but do it anyway-- because they don't want me to be afraid, because they respect my right to live, because it costs them nothing but means everything to me


       I've been thinking about how complete I feel when I walk by the little free library in the touristy part of town and see that someone has filled it up with lovely volumes. 


When I mentioned our car problems, our daughter whose life is chaotically busy asked if we needed rides anywhere today. Also, when another person at the gym and I both go toward the same machine and then we both gesture to each other to go first. :>)


        Linda, kindness is you sharing these collaborative poems of kindness. It is kind of you to ask us to write a kindness that happened to us. Kindness is Michelle leaving a link so others could read the rest of the first poem you posted in case we couldn't use your link. Our oldest daughter is on a well-deserved beach vacation with her boyfriend and two other friends. Kindness is my daughter taking time to take video and photos of the ocean waves crashing and sharing them with me because she knows how much I love to see and hear ocean waves. Kindness is my cat purring while patiently waiting for me.


Monday, May 8, 2023

It's Monday - Books Loved


    Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow!
     Here are some great and varied books I've read this past week, some brand new, one older one.

       For those of us who have not experienced living in a new country with a new language, Kelly Yang offers a story in which readers "finally see" how it is. Lina Gao steps off the plane in LA, her first time in America and the first time seeing her parents and little sister in five years! Even the beginning scene shows how challenging it's going to be when she's thirsty and stops to buy some water and is asked what kind! She's been living with her dear grandmother in Beijing and has been called "left behind girl" in school. Now, with her family, in a new school, she's laughed at because of her halting English. Through help from teachers, two new special friends, and seeing the grit of her parents who are still struggling to "make it". Yang manages to show the many layers and hidden challenges and hurts in every one of the characters, including Lina who shows that opening a "sliding door" to see the hidden parts of others' lives show us how to "see" everyone. A part about banning books also reveals the varied opinions and an important reason to read this book! There is much to love about and learn in Finally Seen!

       Beautiful and loving words and illustrations that we are all alike, with beating hearts, shared across the world. Happy or sad, we "are". My favorite words: "And then the sun shines us into a brand new day". Julie Fogliano and Catia Chen have created a message that feels like a hug against the darkness. It is wonderful!

       For every April's beginning and all the other parts of the year, Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido with Melissa Sweet create a fabulous book of "instructions" for poem writing. If you want inspiration instead of didactic 'how-tos', reading this offers plenty of it. I read the words, looked long at the pages of Melissa's collages, then started it all over again. Like "How to Read A Book", they've given us the most wonderful "how-to's". Wishing I was still in the classroom but I'll be sure to share with others as much as I can!

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Poetry Friday is Here! Welcome!


Welcome to the first May #PoetryFriday

And, Happy Cinco de Mayo!

photo from Vecteezy

published in 2019
       I've been reading this book on and off for months. I read a few poems and then move to other poetry books I have. I put stickies on the pages of poems I especially love. Recently, while trying to choose what to do for today, I found one of my favorite poems, "Small Kindnesses" by Danusha Laméris, in the New York Times. Note that this poem was published in the Times in September of 2019, only a few months before March, the US month of lockdown.

You can read the beginning here:

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.

                                    and the rest here.

        In that year of 2019, it seems that even then, there was need for all of us to be kind. My car was hit recently by a driver who ran a stop sign, in a rather quiet neighborhood. More than one driver slowed and offered help. Though my son-in-law came fairly fast, I was grateful that even strangers tried to give me comfort.

       And then, in April of 2022,  the times posted still another article saying this: "After more than 1,300 teenagers told us about the small kindnesses they appreciate, the poet Danusha Laméris wove their answers into verse."  You can read that collaborative poem here

           Here are a few of the beginning lines:

"Kindness is neighbors saying “Buenos Dias”

It’s the man in the red shirt helping the woman in the floral blouse cross the street. 

It’s the way my heart sings when I’m smiling at a baby, and their mom notices and lifts up the baby’s sweet little hand and waves it at me.

A friend patiently waiting as you quickly tie your loose shoelaces, while everyone continues walking.

A slight buzz in your jean pockets indicating messages from friends appearing out of the blue, questioning how you might be feeling that day, written in text abbreviations, the shared teenage experience.

Getting woken up at my bus stop."

           As you've already seen from my sharing up above, in what seems like such troubled times, even though we have made it through most of the Pandemic, I thought it would be nice for us to create our own "kindness" collaboration. It was a huge pleasure to create the Progressive poem created first by Irene Latham, then now managed by Margaret Simon. Let's do it again, with non-fiction "small kindnesses".
        If you leave something you notice in your special world, I will collect them and share next week.

          We know how much poetry helps us all in all kinds of ways! I hope you enjoy the words that Danusha Laméris has brought to us today. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Monday, May 1, 2023

It's Monday - Sharing Recent Favorites


    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!
     Sorry that I've not been here for a few weeks. April's Poetry Month writing a daily poem/post has taken a lot of time, then last Monday a driver ran a 4-way stop and hit my car as I drove through. I was nearly through so I am really okay, but the right-rear bumper into the back is not! Now I'm driving a rental and had quite a lot of paperwork and conversations during the week. Everything is covered as that other driver was at fault. Whew!
       So, I'm sharing the numerous picture books I've reviewed on Goodreads with a brief overview and the link to my longer review. I still haven't finished a long chapter book yet, except for one adult book but soon! I'm looking forward to your shared posts, have missed them!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the first four!

A family tradition is to plant a tree for each generation. Now it's Eve's turn. Link

At the same hour, all over the world, things are happening. Included are dangers
to the environment. Gorgeous and full of good information! Link

This tree, over time. Fascinating and detailed time-lapse! Link

Searching for Waldo and more, page by page.
It's a game for one or with a friend! Link

Books from my library

Intriguing history of the ancient codexes,
how "books" have been written far longer
than we imagine.  Link