Monday, July 31, 2023

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!

Thanks to Charlesbridge for this copy,
out mid-July!

          This is a tale like no other you might read in a while. An 11-year-old boy, Dawz, lives in a town named Morsh, one with a tourism reputation for once having been home to monsters. The creatures are a constant reminder to Dawz of his monster-obsessed mother who left him. He and his younger sister, Jayla, are adopted by the mother's brother, whom they call Pop. Dawz and his friend, Atlas, love baking and continually try new ideas to prepare for the annual baking competition, wanting a win, like Pop in his younger years. The story becomes much more when Dawz discovers a monster with gray fur and purple scales in his bedroom closet whose name is Mim. The adventure begins with his terrible scream as Mim escapes into the unknown, wondering how she will manage. Though it seems they hate each other, both are struggling with changes. Dawz doesn't want anyone to think he's weird. (Who else has found a monster in their closet?) And Mim is growing larger, wondering about this new world she's found "outside". Deep layers of self-examination happen as the chapters alternate between the thoughts and adventures of both Dawz and Mim. And, I enjoyed the support of others, especially Pop, but also Atlas' mother, little sister Jayla, a pest-control guy, and a policewoman. It's intriguing to imagine oneself in this story and I imagine middle-grade readers will enjoy the same, but different, worlds of Monster and Boy.

         This sweet story is a debut picture book by a Facebook friend, Ellen Ramsay. We see Bear listening to young Ellen read book after book and he loves them all. The problem is he really, really wants a book of his own! With Ellen's help and a few disguises, they try to find just the book he wants, a raspberry-red one, but in school, the library, and a bookstore, they're discovered, "No bears allowed!" How Bear does get his book and with Ellen's kind help makes a lovely ending, showing both a great idea by Ellen and a kind friend who won't give up for Bear. On every page, MacKenzie Haley's colorful illustrations beautifully show author Ellen's story of friendship and the happiness shared because of their love for books. She gives some chuckles, too, with Bear in his disguises. What a fun and loving book for young readers!

         The Skull is an old Tyrolean folktale that Jon Klassen read while visiting an Alaskan library for a presentation. If it seems a bit scary even from the cover, it is, and somewhat scary to see this young girl, Otilla, running away from home through dark and cold woods. However, Otilla, while taking charge of her life, one might say, by leaving home, appears to be unafraid and as readers will discover, she's both unafraid even of a skull, but kind. Klassen's dark and brooding illustrations are like many he's done but feel just right for this "dark and brooding" story. I imagine it could be kept for Halloween but there are surprises in it that I never imagined and think others won't either. They'll simply like it and want to re-read and look again.  It is NOT just another scary story and will inspire questions. Wait till you find out what Klassen writes in his author's note! 

for adults

         From Madeline Martin, who gave readers the fascinating tale, "The Last Bookshop in London", comes another from World War II, about two different women who end up connected through a fight for a mother and her child who are desperate to escape to America. One is in the resistance in Lyons, France, helping to publish clandestine newspapers that help fight the Nazis; the other is recruited from the Library of Congress, sent to Lisbon, Portugal, a neutral country, to aid in gathering news (like the papers from Lyons) then sending to the Allies to aid in the fight. Each of their co-workers and family members play important parts in their lives (and in this story) in a tale filled with courageous acts, terrifying scenes, and historical information important to the Allied victory. Madeline Martin's research gives another peek at the myriad of people's actions that are less known from that time, but so important in that war. I enjoyed it very much.

Now reading: The Tryout: A Graphic Novel, Christina Soontornvat

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Poetry Friday - It's Scary!


          It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Jan Godown Annino HERE at her blog, Bookseedstudio for hosting.  Don't miss the poems she's sharing from several anthologies, including one of her own and a poem by Buffy Silverman about marvelous fireflies! 

          It's the end of the month and time for the challenge by the #PoetrySisters, hashtag #poetrypals: "If you’d like to write with us next month, we’re writing monotetras (never heard of ’em). You can post yours on your blog on July 28, or on social media using #PoetryPals, or in the comments on one of the Poetry Sisters’ blogs. All are welcome!"

         Well, I've been watching the weather news all week. The high nineties here in Denver is usual for us in July but what isn't usual are the records being broken in Florida, Arizona, parts of Texas, and more. It's especially hard to read that the ocean water temp reached 100 and a bit over. Some say that's how they set their hot tubs! Eureka!

           Thus, I'm worried and attempted a poem about Climate Change and the need for other change, not next year, but now! You can read this article from CNN or this one from the University of South Florida to discover what is being done now to help save ocean reefs and the creatures who live in them!

   pay attention, 

                      a monotetra


anemones are now distraught

they know the water’s all too hot

our weather is a boiling pot

we were not taught, we were not taught


‘twas years ago, climes told us more

to look for hurt, things to restore

but Exxon and others before

portrayed as lore, portrayed as lore


now we have disasters to meet

a dome o’er all we must defeat

be resolved to lessen the heat

corals entreat, corals entreat


                                  Linda Baie ©

Monday, July 24, 2023

It's Monday - Books Loved Last Week!


    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!

Hercules Beal and his brother, Achilles have been thrown into a time they never wished for. Their parents are killed in a car crash. Achilles has been traveling the world writing for National Geographic and must come home to be a parent, and to run the Beal Brothers Farm and Nursery, a business of many generations, neither job he chose. But he did choose to enroll his about-to-be seventh-grade brother, Hercules, in a nearby private school, the Cape Cod Academy for Environment Science. There, among the animals and plants that fill up this intriguing school is a homeroom teacher like no other, the former military Lieutenant Colonel Hupfer. This teacher gives each student in the class a year-long assignment and Hercules is baffled. What in the world did he really know of the ancient Hercules' labours? Hupfer says he didn't care, that that was the assignment, to learn about each one and connect it to Hercules' life today. 
         Schmidt lets us know Hercules and begin to love him right away because Hercules is telling his own story of that year, the time including a special friend, Mindy the dog, that just appeared, and then there was the Pirate Cat, dear friend Elly, Viola, the brother's girlfriend who surely was a vampire, and the neighbors up and down the Cape. We meet and begin to love each one for Schmidt's beautifully subtle way of bringing their own unique qualities into the story. Hercules' voice and response is often close to sarcasm, yet as a reader, I began to wait for his eyebrow-raising "Oh boy Oh boy" when events became a little nerve-wracking, at least in his eyes. He was quieter and thoughtful in many parts, the ones readers will cherish, the ones when he connects with the ancients. Schmidt again has given us readers an unforgettable story. Though Hercules continues to say he's no hero, I think he is!

      This picture book is a connection with our lives, one that you may also see as a companion to Schmidt's The Labors of Hercules Beal. With gorgeous illustrations, even on the end covers, by Beth Krommes, poetry phrases tell the tale of all life turning into branches, including flora and fauna, weather-related like lightning, furrows made down hills from water running, human arms and legs, and the systems inside. We are all branches and Joyce explains the ways they work in varied parts of our lives. "Branches . . . Grow" (tree limbs, branches, roots)! Each part will inspire a conversation, and each illustrated example is labeled. There is further information at the back. It's brief and inspiring, and makes me wonder how much more there is to see!
Based on the life of Brother Martin de Porres who lived in Peru. There are tales of his goodness helping others, and his ability to help those in need, whether sick or hungry. This one tells of the problem in the priory with the mice. They had been getting along until one greedy mouse moved in and began making great holes in the wheels of cheese. They got a cat! What happens to save them isn't their ability to also thrive on bits of clothing but a kind man who seemed always to find a way to compromise. The illustrations illuminate the story so beautifully, done in muted tones by noted illustrator Kestutis Kasparavicius of Lithuania. (He is still working, and has art for sale if you search!) 

          Bear loves jumping and playing in the autumn leaves and when Mama says it's time to go to sleep (hibernate), she's disappointed. Upon awakening, he wonders where all the leaves went. Cute and inviting illustrations by Andres Landazabal aid Karen Lynn Williams' story which shows readers what happens in a forest that helps all living things, from under that blanket of leaves, including the work of trees and their roots, animals like worms and moles who have dug tunnels through the dead leaves and soil. "The forest does its work" in various ways, shown in the book as Bear asks questions and Mama adds to the explanation. It's a great beginning look at decomposition for the youngest learners.
          Thanks to Charlesbridge for this copy, out August 15th, in a few weeks!

         This is Lynnor Bontigao's debut picture book as an author and illustrator! Young Nora goes to visit her grandmother every summer and this time, she's old enough to help with more orders from customers! She measures beans and rice, cleans, and fills bags with treats. The story is filled with the sights and sounds of Bontigao's native homeland in the Philippines, shown in full lovely color in the illustrations. The market is a very busy place with grandma's Sari-Sari store in the midst of it all. During a heat wave, few customers show up, and Nora worries that she won't be able to help anymore, until, hooray! she notices the mango tree's fruit is ripe. She knows they will be just perfect for making "ice candy"! I imagine readers will guess what happens next and the recipe is given at the back!  
         Thanks to Candlewick for this copy!

for adults

         As you know, 
I work at a used bookstore and loved connecting with Bythell's experiences, his opinions, the store's needs for help, railing about Amazon's business policies, and his interactions with those seeking to sell their own collections. His store is in Scotland, a place named Wigtown. 

Now Reading: from Charlesbridge, Monster vs. Boy by Karen Crossing, also have started The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Poetry Friday - Poetry Swap Gratitude


          It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Margaret Simon HERE at her blog, Reflections on the Teche for hosting.  Be sure you read Margaret's Ode today of a sweet strawberry gift! 

           The long, hot days of summer bring a certain languor. Often it feels as if there is little to do but sit still and hope for a breeze. Tabatha Yeatts-Lonske's loving idea for Poetry Swaps, summer and winter, bring joyful surprises in the mail, bring a kind of energy that's been lacking. This time, I had the pleasure of receiving special mail from Tabatha herself! Here, a lovely note, some cute stickers, a quote I've placed at my workspace, and a poem about kindness. 



Thanks so much, Tabatha!

I sigh and smile,

                read Thoreau,

                feeling blessed,

                ponder kindnesses

                we often miss:

                a smile and wave

                across the street,

                someone who stops

                to let me pet their dog,

                and someone –

                that poet across the miles –

                who writes a poem for me.


Linda Baie ©

Monday, July 10, 2023

It's Monday - Books Loved This Week


    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!

          This new book by Chris Baron is marketed for ages 10-14 yet I believe adults and young adults can benefit by reading it as well, for both personal reasons and to learn from a story (a character) they may recognize. A young middle-grader, Sasha, is struggling in school with anxiety issues. He loses his best friend, ends up being bullied by that friend in the friend's new group, and strikes out with his only weapon, a textbook, causing a serious injury. That doesn't end well for Sasha at school and with classmates. He is anxious and trying hard with help from a therapist to overcome what he calls "the gray". Chris Baron's words show the feeling so well that I wanted to read faster to be sure Sasha would work it all out.
          As people who have anxiety issues, I imagine they will recognize some of the descriptions and perhaps want to add more of their own personal ones. Sasha has an aunt who lives in a remote area, in a cabin in the woods near a small town. His therapist and parents believe it would be helpful for him to go there for the summer, to be away from the constant video game-playing that makes him feel safe, in his room, on the computer, with one friend. He hates going, and doesn't feel comfortable without that lifeline online! But he goes, and that is the real story that Chris Baron shows readers so well. 
       Sasha has more challenges and meets some who are also bullies, and some who slowly become friends. There are heartfelt scenes and those that bring anxious moments. Aunt Ruthie's brief words and good food are part of it, as is a pond with frogs, a large stone, and most of all, for readers, really listening to Sasha's thoughts. He shows us through his descriptions how 'The Gray" works within him. some reasons why, sometimes it's rather sly. Hasn't everyone experienced a moment where some event triggers an emotion and we wonder "Where did that come from?" There are many layers of growing up in Baron's story and it's one that should not be missed! 

          It's a great discovery of an older book about the moon, a fantastical journey that a boy takes with his friend, the moon. Be sure to bring your imagination when you read this poetic text with exquisite illustrations when you read this book. There is good information that's true added at the back!

      Each page is a wonderful illustration of a 'witness' tree, some of which have now gone through sad events, and some remain. The opposite page shows a small illustration of one of the events that the tree witnessed. I imagine you've heard of the Callery pear tree which survived after the World Trade Center fell on September 11. Others are older history, like Major Oak, which was the 'rumored hideout of Robin Hood' in Sherwood Forest, and in the 5th Century, Siddhartha "gained enlightenment after meditating for seven days beneath the Bodhi Tree". There are a few trees also noted in the opening covers, then in Ryan G. Van Cleave's note at the back, he tells of visiting a 4,800-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine called Methuselah. There is added info in the backmatter. It's a very special book! It would be awesome to find trees in one's own area to discover their stories and what they have witnessed! 

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Poetry Friday - My Clunker


          It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Marcie Flinchum Atkins HERE at her blog for hosting. Marcie always shares the most beautiful blossom pictures with a haiku, this time about roadside chicory. Be sure you take a look at her post and also discover all about The Sealey Challenge that she is taking on in August. Perhaps it'll be something to interest you, too! 

          Two weeks ago, here, Linda Michell hosted Poetry Friday and reminded us about her annual "clunker" challenge. I saved the list, and have had a lot of fun imagining a connection with each one. But the one that spoke loudly to me and what I wrote is below. The picture is of my youngest grandchild, Imogene, on a walk long ago. She'll be twelve this month! I have been thinking of all my grandchildren and those of others too as the changes in our laws have astounded and worried me. It feels as if we're returning to my own young days. Yes, I'm that old! Thus, Linda's words, "Catch a falling/Word hold/Onto it." brought me to my poem below. Thanks, Linda!


Monday, July 3, 2023

It's Monday - Two Different Tales


    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!
    Wishing you all a grand Independence Day, however you celebrate or if you do! Also, remember there's a full, super moon tonight!

             Two sycamore seeds, Louise and Merwin, go on a journey when their own mother tree releases them as a fire in their forest nears. Like all of Brian Selznick's books, you need to read and "see" this story he has created with a love of our earth and years of learning. After taking us on this trip, added information about his own creation story of the book is something you'll also want to know. "Once upon a time, there were two little seeds in a very old forest. Their mama said she would give them roots and wings--roots so they'd always have a home, and wings so they would be brave enough to find it." Selznick seems to be wishing this for all of our children, for all of our earth.

          My father was killed in action during the final battles to free the Philippines toward the end of World War II. He was a pilot and his plane was lost during those battles and never recovered. When I saw this book by Deborah Hopkinson, I wanted to know more details about the story of that area being overtaken so early by the Japanese, what happened in the Bataan Death March, why did it take so long for the US to return, and what about the POWs who were there most of the war, IF they manage to stay alive? Hopkinson well researches this with a specific focus on some survivors who have written their stories about that time. There are photos and timelines, links for learning more throughout the text, and resource lists. She also includes later events concerning this amazing feat carried out by Americans and Filipinos to rescue the prisoners, fearing that soon they would be massacred since the U.S. had returned to retake the Philipines. I also liked hearing how much the Filipinos helped in any way they could, even though their country had been taken and they had suffered much. Now I know so much more about why my father gave his life so others could live. It's quite an amazing story of the courage of people to fight for good.

Now Reading: Chris Baron's The Gray