Thursday, September 28, 2023

Poetry Friday - Starting Early!


          It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Jama Rattigan HERE at her blog, Jama's Alphabet Soup, for hosting. She's invited us to quite a night on the town. There are sweets like Pumpkin whoopee pies and poems that will uplift, and in quite a way you may not have imagined. 

          The Poetry Sisters said this for their end-of-month challenge: Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of September! "Here’s the scoop: We’re writing a Diminishing — OR a Culminating Verse – Wikipedia calls them “pruning poems.” The last word in each line loses a letter from the end, yet remains a word – for instance, sticky becomes tick-y, and then icky. This will force you to use all your wiles, and will also force us to produce some pretty short poems. Are you in? Good! The Poetry Sisters are continuing to throw our 2023 theme of TRANSFORMATION into the mix. If you’re still game, you have a month to craft your creation and share it on September 29th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals."

          Halloween décor has been popping up for much of September. People do not seem able to wait until October. Perhaps they enjoy being frightened, or eating a lot of candy, saying it’s for the holiday celebration? I’m not sure about the reason, but decorated front lawns are everywhere! Thus, when I searched for words that fit these expectations, plus with Halloween in the mix, I found one word that fit, at least to me. I guess I cheated a little bit, but I couldn't relinquish the rhyme! 

This is a favorite scene, so far. As in the past, they'll add more!

I love the scare

When with utmost care

I lift the mask, shout “You are . . .



Linda Baie ©

Monday, September 25, 2023

It's Monday - Recent Books I 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!  Happy fall! 

        Olivia's seventh grade year has begun in a Boston school, probably the same old thing, until new girl Eden arrives. They say it's not love at first sight but their friendship grows quickly because Olivia has started a poetry club and Eden joins. One never knows what goes on with kids' home lives and both of these girls, though quickly friends, then moving into a closer loving relationship, have troubled homes. They each continue a relationship during the after-school time and through texts, and readers soon realize they hide home life from everyone. Like everyone, both make mistakes. Olivia insults Eden and the sweet relationship ends. The story, and the poetry, fills up with their feelings, while Eden is included in another group called the "Crash", pushing her to party and play the games often played, like spin the bottle. Poems by Olivia are set on the left; those by Eden are on the right. Soon, with huge regrets, Olivia creates the idea of a poetry night with her poetry group, hoping to write a poem of apology for Eden, to fix the damage done. The joys and worries come through with heartfelt emotion, so much that one wishes to step in to help them and others in the background. From Eden: "I try to own the chaos,/and not let it own me." Kate Fussner's verse novel, her debut, feels as if many middle-grade readers will hold tight to the story as they live their own fears and triumphs, and learn that sometimes words can show both regret and love, and can help their growing up. 

         Yes, I know it's still September, but this book is so popular at my library I had to return it faster than usual! Bruce, again, remains grumpy, and not even a tiny part of his heart holds Halloween traditions close. This time, the gang at Soggy Hollow tries something new, giving a performance of the "Legend of Soggy Hollow" and Bruce is in it, well, not always happily. This could be read anytime one wants lots of giggles, mostly at Bruce, and a surprise mystery at the end from Ryan T. Higgins makes a super way to celebrate Halloween and stories about Bruce!

       As a grandmother, this story glows, and I wish I had done something similar. Long ago, eight years old, Maude buried a red tin box under a favorite dogwood tree. And then she grew and grew, but that is not the rest of the story. That happens after her own daughter, then granddaughter, Eve, is born, and grows to about the age of eight. There is a feeling that brings them both to drive and drive to see, to find that red tin box. With Even Turk's full-page muted paintings enhancing Matthew Burgess' beautiful story of a loving secret kept for many years, the story will fill your heart and, perhaps, inspire you to find your own tin box. (I have returned to see a maple tree that I climbed and sat under when I was a child. And I have sat under it with my granddaughters, telling them of all the fun I had sitting up in that tree and reading, so long ago.)

        Two groups, gathering in the dark, one in the sky, witches? The other watching birds and flying kites in the sky. Hoefler tells the story with the two voices while Luyken's illustrations bring the story from the darkness into a satisfying "light in the dark". It's lovely to "see" and celebrate the images, with lots of silhouettes, as they first appear mysterious with only a hint of truth. Then as the story unfolds, readers will begin to understand this message of belonging. I love that the book is published horizontally. This will make a terrific discussion after a read-aloud!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Poetry Friday - Worker Pay


          It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Carol Varsalona HERE at her blog, Beyond Literacy Link, for hosting. She has captured "summer's end" in lyrical poetry accompanied by her own summer memory photos. I'm seeing (already!) a few witches and ghosts around the neighborhood. It seems some are absolutely ready for this ending! 

        I was out sweeping my patio of the leaves fallen already, really just to be outside on a lovely day, two days until fall. In hiding lay a tiny, lovely surprise! It felt like a last goodbye, as Carol writes, "summer's end".

     Wishing you this kind of autumn's beginning: "It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it."

                                             Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Monday, September 18, 2023

It's Monday - Sharing Some Great Reads!


        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 feel so busy and finally finished David Grann's The Wager. You may know his work from Killers of The Flower Moon which is terrific, as is The Wager, and I was totally amazed at the endurance of these seamen. 
        FYI - I shared my review of Irene Latham's new picture book, The Museum on the Moon last Poetry Friday here! It's a terrific book!

       "Astounding" may not be enough to begin a response to David Grann's newest adventure in story-telling. "Comprehensive" comes to mind, too, as Grann takes us on this harrowing journey of the HMS Wager, in 1740, with other vessels from Great Britain on a trek to capture gold. They must venture around Cape Horn, a journey told in excruciating detail of the sea weather battled, the lives lost, even before they wrecked. The descriptions of diseases encountered add to the sorrow for men who so wished for acclaim, for honor in the completion of their goals, only to then be stranded as this ship broke onto rocks by an island that offered little sustenance for survival. This part, Grann shows, is only the beginning for those who sought to survive. That some did, and those kept journals of their days, gives authenticity to this tale that makes one want to grimace (and perhaps understand) at their decision-making in numerous ways. The intense detail shows the extraordinary effort of Grann's research as blow-by-blow, readers learn of the characters, the weather, and the sea as a foe like no other. It took me longer to read because I also was mesmerized by the detailed notes and bibliography. On a personal note, I have sailed on a three-masted schooner and though my voyages were calm adventures, I did know the flavor of the ship, the sailing terms, the feeling of the ocean swells when way out to sea. I'm glad to have had the experience when reading this awesome tale.

Thanks to Charlesbridge for this copy!

          Astrid Kamalyan celebrates her childhood memories by sharing an
Armenian tradition by letting readers spend time with a family on rug-washing day. Little Tato grabs a cherry plum and rushes off to join everyone as Bábo, her grandmother, directs them to wash those rugs! There are delightfully joyous scenes of children scrubbing and playing in soap bubbles, guided by happy Bábo, along with hilarious ones when the chickens get loose! And Astrid includes other cultural traditions like an apricot pie at the end. Information about the Armenian carpet-weaving tradition is also added along with some words in the Artsakh dialect are interspersed in the text with a glossary at the end. What a heart-warming book that will delight and inspire readers to share other family traditions, new or old. 

Thanks to Charlesbridge for this copy!

       It's a board book showing three children picking apples, and then they notice there are three colors, so they sort them, each taking a color. But wait! There are a few apples that are all three colors! What to do? It teaches sorting, comparing, and contrasting along with problem-solving.  plus a few tips for teachers or parents are at the back. This is one of six of the story-telling math series both written and illustrated by Grace. It seems very inviting!

he notes tell this is the first of four books for young readers yet I wonder how interesting it would be for all ages to read and see the worry of young Koo who already sees problems in the world and then also takes in, as always, Stillwater's wisdom. They travel through the day, first at home, Koo cleaning up his room, then feeding and brushing their cat, and finally making a cake for new neighbors. Koo only is told later in the day that small acts of kindness are part of saving the world which he really wants to do. When one sees the actions that happen in Stillwater's and Koo's day, it is possible to see that their world has indeed been made better. Jon J. Muth gives hope for our world in his stories, through his calming, clear words and beautiful illustrations. He offers an author's note sensitive to children's needs which is an important part of the book, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Poetry Friday - More Lunar Love


          It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Rose Cappelli HERE at her blog, ImagineThePossibilities, for hosting.  She's written a wonderful reverso where she considers the love, or not, of fall! Be sure you check it out!

        Irene's newest book, The Museum on the Moon (Hooray!), with Myriam Wares illustrating is one I've been waiting for what seems like the lo-o-ongest time! And it is finally in my hands! Many reviewed it last week and their words were great to read bit by bit, but made me want the book even more. I am old enough to remember President John F. Kennedy's words in his speech challenging Americans in space exploration on September 12, 1962: "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because it is easy, but because it is hard." We did!
       The Museum on the Moon creates an enticing beginning, starting with parts of the historical Apollo program. Irene welcomes us readers ('Earthlings!' all) to imagine a trip to a museum, this time to the moon! After her invitation, she writes of that first trip, only seven years after Kennedy's words, and Armstrong's footprints, 

                 "with no wind, no rain,
                   there's no way to erase"

                  "forever in space"

          Irene's poems take us on through history, poems in rhyme, poems in free verse, but accompanied by brief paragraphs of explanation of those "next steps" in our moon history and full-page illustrations by Myriam Wares. They include a Golden Shovel, an acrostic, and a ghazal, among other forms. Myriam's mostly black and white paintings, splashed sometimes with stars, often the museum artifact adding color to a bleak landscape give the feelings that do not surprise, showing the vastness of the moonscape. Examples of poems include the flags placed by those who were there, a picture of a family of one astronaut who stepped on the moon, a plaque commemorating one mission, and "two round bits of metal" in honor of two Soviet Cosmonauts who perished. 

           A poem titled "Old Glory" commemorating the American flags there ends with the following solemn, heartfelt  words:

                                 "Now, time-tattered,

                                 some fibers may be lost –
                                 but pride soars."

           More information can be found at the back, adding to the inspiration found in this poetic visit. There is a timeline with additional notes, some links to explore, and a few explanations of poetry forms that were used. 
           I imagine that some young readers will read a poem and say to themselves, "I want to know more about that." There is a poem titled "Gravity", a new activity I didn't know about on the Apollo 15 mission where the Commander tested Galileo's theory of gravity by dropping a feather and a hammer. After the beginning, Irene's words are:

                            "and now we know it's true
                              because it was on TV for all to see:
          against that starry backdrop, the poems' words themselves also drop. It's marvelous to "see".

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Poetry Friday - Holding Summer

          It's Poetry Friday! Thanks, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater HERE at her blog, The Poem Farm, for hosting. She's welcoming the new school year with an invitation you will want to accept! 

          One of my favorite books that I re-read is Ray Branbury's Dandelion Wine, from which comes "Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip, for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.” 

           My family didn't have the pleasure of going to the beach this summer but we will again, I am sure. Meanwhile, the memories flow.

Playa Tivives, Costa Rica - 2022



Patiently, words - liquid and flowing, 

astonishing, alarming on occasion – 

wait for writers to arrange them with a pen.

First, this day,

they take a sip of summer, 

smile with the sunset, 

stay close to siblings,

watch cousins race to the water, 

skip and splash, back again

to munch and grin,

Leaning on moms and dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents.


Linda Baie © 

Monday, September 4, 2023

Monday Reading - All New Books 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! I hope everyone has had a nice Labor Day Weekend including today, too! 

Thanks to Charlesbridge for
this copy, published tomorrow!

           Traci Sorell and Charles Waters' book collaboration packs many issues into one school year, one eighth-grade honors English classroom, and a teacher who wishes to challenge her students. The focus is on six students, ones we have the pleasure of getting to know well. We feel their resentment and passion, the backgrounds that fuel the feelings between the wish to cling to tradition and the school mascot, and the hurt that continues because of that same mascot. The six students, all with differing beliefs and backgrounds are Callie (Indigenous), Sean (White-Irish), Teassa (White), Luis (Hispanic), Priya (Indian), and Franklin (African American).         
          Friendships grow and begin and they are also lost and broken as change happens through learning facts, considering opinions that were previously unknown, and through listening to others. Traci and Charles, through a free-verse format that allows readers to read each character's thoughts, show the students' clearly honest opinions. Subtly, through a phrase or word, readers can catch that change is happening. For example, this is from the student, Franklin: "I still love sports and banger sneakers,/ yet I can feel myself changing./And that's not such a bad thing, is it?" 
         Not everyone changes, nor does everyone change quickly. Some stay loyal to their original beliefs. After all, the mascot has been Rye High School's mascot for generations! But there at the end, while satisfaction for some reigns, Traci and Charles sneak in to have some small hint that the holdout, hmmm, might not stay clinging anymore.
        There are added resources at the back including a few pages of Cherokee and Salvadoran words translated that are found in the text. It will be a terrific book to read with a group or to read aloud to a class. I imagine terrific discussions where learning happens! 

         Linda Ashman crafts mask poems about each "winner" of the stinkiest, the "strongest bite", the "tallest", and on. Poems are enticing with the illustrations by Aparna Varma giving a 'hint' of the winner, then on the next page, the full picture of the animal with a paragraph all about it. There is lots of information at the back, too, including about endangered species, what mask poems are, and Recommended Reading. If one wants to learn about spectacular animals, this is an adventurous way to begin!