Thursday, December 28, 2023

Poetry Friday - Secret Knowledge - An Elfchen


            It's Poetry Friday, and Michelle Kogan is hosting HERE on her blog, this final Poetry Friday of 2023, with a variety of elfchens for us all to enjoy!

            Time to turn the calendar pages, make your resolutions, and remember Rainer Rilke's words: "Now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been." Wishing each of you a Happy 2024! 

            The Poetry Sisters, hashtag #PoetrySisters, challenged us to write an elfchen this December's end. You can read how Tanita S. Davis writes about it here on last month's post.  I brainstormed a few topic ideas, but a store visit brought me to my poem. I was taking time choosing some items and overheard a young child saying "Please, please, let me." His mother shushed him and quietly answered , "Maybe." I looked up and they had the biggest, secret smile!

Secret Knowledge



asking permission

know parent’s answer,  

“not right now,” means


        Linda Baie ©

photo attribution - Free Stock photos by Vecteezy


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Poetry Friday - Thoughts of Others


            It's Poetry Friday, and Jone Rush McCullough is hosting HERE on her blog, sharing a beautiful, heart-warming poem plus adventures out in the world. Thanks for hosting this holiday season, Jone! And, Happy Solstice to all!

           It's nearly Christmas, and I don't exactly have a holiday poem, but I do have one that's touched me because of all the news of people in dire need, for shelter, for food and water, for saving their lives. You all have seen the news, too. This time, Elizabeth Coatsworth writes about cats. When I researched it, I found this copy of a community newspaper with the poem. And there, I discovered that she was married to Henry Beston, a favorite writer, whose book, The Outermost House, is one I re-read. It's a dream book of mine of living on a beach. So this discovery was a lovely one, in addition to reading more about this couple. I hope you enjoy the poem for the sympathy shone and the connections I made.

Wishing you all a loving, Happy Holiday!

Monday, December 18, 2023

It's Monday - Last Books of the Year!


        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 will be my final post until the new year. This year, Christmas celebrations stretch from Christmas Day until early January because of various family plans. I wish each of you a lovely holiday along with a very happy start to 2024. 

         I thought this was such fun that I wrote a poem as a response! 
         The book made me do it! Hilarious antics, made even better by Andrea Tsurumi's art!
          My Review
Here are things about monsters
who give kids a fright,
also things on the pages
that’ll last for the ages –
at least till tomorrow night.
Just follow the page numbers,
they add to the theme
of silly, yet wise,
a dreamy surprise.
No matter the goofy,
I like that it’s spoofy
and a poet’s extreme
that may make you scream
with laughter!

Don't miss this one!

Thanks to Candlewick Press
for this copy!

        If you want to read a short picture book that lays out the history of racism after the Civil War, read this book. Although Black people were freed, Jim Crow laws set in place in southern states kept them segregated and left out of many, many things. This particular story of MacNolia Cox's journey and the Scripps National Spelling Bee makes one's heart hurt. It starts with her journey but continues on until finally, in the early 1960's, local spelling bees opened to African Americans. Weatherford tells of MacNolia, who went to the National Bee and was well supported by her community, yet she had to stay with a Black doctor because the hotel that housed the other "white" contestants didn't allow Blacks. They also couldn't use the elevator at the banquet but climbed the stairs and were seated at a separate table. And there is more. Can you spell O-U-T-R-A=G=E=D?  I wrote that because on each page, Weatherford ends with a word that encapsulates the content of that page in a question, as I did. It's a clever way to knit the theme. Frank Morrison's paintings fill every page with gorgeous illustrations of the action described. There is an epilogue and a selected bibliography at the back. 

Thanks to Candlewick Press
for this copy!

           Every beloved character is in this 'extra-long' new Mercy Watson tale, and there are some new ones, too! Mercy, as the title says, has gone missing and Deckawoo Drive is all a flutter about finding her. As DiCamillo writes: "What had started as a pebble of worry was turning into a boulder of despair." Some are sobbing, the kids are trying to be very helpful, and a new, "maybe?", detective is in on the game, or trying to be. Kate Dicamillo and Chris Van Dusen show the usual expressions either in words or art and envelop the story both in our expectations of the characters that readers know, plus make us laugh at some new ones. For example, a detective who hasn't really had a case actually becomes dependent on a pigeon's help. As the story moves along, butter becomes even more important, it and its smell. Yes, "butter"! You'll find out when you read it and smile all the way through!
            Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Poetry Friday - Those Years Gone By

            It's Poetry Friday, and Janice is hosting HERE on her blog, Salt City Verse! Thanks for hosting this holiday season, Janice!

          I hope all is well with each of you, especially with the news that lately has not been good. I remember Margaret Mead's quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  Keep going and doing!

My 'grown-up' tree!

        As we near Christmas, I turn to so many memories,  
 not especially about the holidays but about my family 
 and the stories from them. I am older now and try to  
 share some with my children and my grandchildren, 
 yet sometimes I feel those stories drifting away. If you 
 haven't lived them, it's more challenging to keep them. 
 Here's a piece I wrote with a haiku end; 
 perhaps it is a haibun?

Places of My Mind


           I hear the family’s tales and feel a pull to list them and write them down.  They are who I am, the child of my mother, my aunt, my uncle—stories, stories.  Down the streets we travel, relishing, embellishing.  Here is the old firehouse, where baby Linda, spoiled by the nanny, sounded the alarm, made firemen come—a story forever.


            Here is the corner, the Huff house.  I know it well yet have never entered.  It’s mother’s childhood story of loss in the Depression.  Two families split the house down the middle to save illusions, to eat more than potatoes, to avoid worse.


            Here is the grove on the farm—Pilot Grove—a guide to the place, announcing endings for some, beginnings for my family.  It became a town! My great, great grandfather moved here from Virginia, to prove the land, and perhaps himself.


            Over the hill is the farmyard, only known in spring because the daffodils still bloom.  It’s where Uncle Billy stepped on the nail.  Tetanus (lockjaw!) meant high fever, dark rooms, and children hidden away to mend or die.  He lived—lucky for me—to teach me how to fish.  There, the barn foundation.  Grandmother’s horse Lady took her oats there—Grandmother made the town talk, no sidesaddle for her! When Mother took her first ride, her only ride, the ‘falling’ ride, she rose with dangling arm. Parents were grim with worry over the pain and the expense.


            Now, back into town, see the front porch of the white house on Main Street.  At four: “Linda, Linda, don’t play with that jar.”  Broken, cut wrist, blood down the front of a newly ironed, starched, white pinafore.  But also see the maple tree in the back, now reaching old age—branches holding dreams of a young girl, wondering who she will become.


           It was a joyful ride to someone’s farm with my grandfather, year after year, driving his flatbed truck, others following, to find the town's perfect Christmas tree. One time it was my first time. I was finally old enough!


            I know many stories of this beginning place of my life, and I am the only one left to understand, to know which streets, and which houses hold them.  Who are-were-the Huff’s, the Brownfield’s, the Babbitt’s?  If I don’t list them, who?  If I don’t remember, where will the stories go?



where daffodils grow –

there, stories stay


Linda Baie ©

Monday, December 11, 2023

Monday - Celebrations Bring Smiles


        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! 

       Last Thursday was near 70 degrees, then Friday, it snowed, just in time for the December holidays and playtime OUTSIDE! 
         Thanks to Candlewick Press for the following holiday books!

        A young one and a friend are outside doing everything one can imagine, and Leslie Patricelli shows the delight of snow time, from getting dressed to finally going back inside to warm up in a bath.  It's all in rhyme for these little ones, "Fluffy soft like a bed. First we climb, then we sled." is one example from lying in the snow (moms, too, and a cat!) then up, up, up a hill, gliding so fast, mouths open (see that cover)! From start to finish, it's a happy romp, all the things everyone loves, not just the younger ones! The final two pages show 'more winter things'! It's such a happy book, and I love that the moms are there having all that fun, too!

     Hurrah, it's winter, or maybe it's also something else? A puppy greets the snow with joy until other things interrupt. Blinking lights, ribbons, gingerbread men, and someone in a red suit make a mixed world for this young pup. Helen Yoon has created a smile on every page for young readers while trying to answer the question! The question could be asked of every reader. What is winter? 

          Anna is on her way from her home in Nigeria to visit Granny Canada for a month! It's a challenge to go so far away from her family, all the parents, baby brothers, aunties and uncles, cousins, and grandparents. It's a vast group she loves being part of. With lots of detail on how she manages, and with a big help from a local friend also traveling, she's off! What a trip from a place that never sees snow to a cold, cold place during Christmas. Her Granny does have warm clothes ready, and Anna learns that Granny's dog does NOT live in a pack and bite but turns out to be a good friend. Among other adventures, Anna also makes new friends, but only after she has to defend herself as Anna, the girl, not just the girl from Africa. For early readers, Atinuke's Books about Anna Hibiscus always entertain and show those reading about her adventures the traits that help her take good care of herself. Canada is very different from Nigeria, yet every page shows Anna an event, working and thinking it all out, then having a great time! It's lots of fun to read and have fun with Anna; there's just enough illustration to help the imagination, too.

           Indeed, kids would love the answer to this question, and now Mac Barnett has offered quite a few, some that just could be correct, like the magic of shrinking himself to make it easy to drop down, or others that couldn't possibly work. He surely couldn't turn himself into fire, could he? Jon Klassen shows all the possibilities in his signature style. This duo has created a new book for reading every Christmas! 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Poetry Friday - It's A Good Question


            It's Poetry Friday, and Patricia is hosting HERE on her blog with loving list of all she wants for Christmas.  

            Thanks for hosting, Patricia! May all your wishes be granted!

            I had something else planned, and then I read this recent book by Neil Gaiman. Along with being an author, he is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. The explanation says he went to social media and asked people to tell him what they need to be warm. Thousands answered. He wrote this poem. Then 12 artists were given a part of the poem to illustrate. Considering our world's heart-breaking conflicts today, the thousands of people at our borders, and refugees in camps all over the world, it's a stunning, heart-rending book. 

           Reading this, and then watching a national news program made it even more poignant, the news showing the needs of people in my own city, state, and country, watching the combat from wars happening right now. Gaiman's words, with twelve artists illustrating a part of his poem, create a compelling message for everyone. People need warmth. They need it in varied ways, a hot potato, a kind word, or waking from burrowing "beneath blankets and comforters". They are in need!  
            Here is one sample page, art by Bagram Ibatoulline.

             And you can listen to Neil Gaiman reading his poem HERE on The Marginalian.

Finallyit brings me to consider Gaiman's question and to ask "What would you answer"?

Monday, December 4, 2023

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


        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!  We had a bit of snow yesterday, but the mountains got a lot. Skiers will be happy! I'm glad to share some 'snowy' books plus a few more!

      It's snowing as I write this, but only flurries, nothing like the snowstorm that has closed the library early, forcing Hubert Cumberbund to go home. He needs a shortcut and chooses to go by way of The Hollow, scary though it is. Soon, a lady fox holds out her hand to lead the way through the challenging and frightening mountains. Hillenbrand's illustrations include a map of Hubert's countryside, but his imagination also shows what "might" be monsters in this hollow. Readers will shiver as they watch the travelers cross a crevasse, then see what frights live in those snowy woods. A double gatefold includes more of this huge storm. The book also holds some mystery at the end that might make readers return to the beginning in case they missed something. Breathtaking illustrations with brief text will allow imaginations to run wild! It's a great story perfect to read together one wintry night!

            Bob Raczka's books delight, no matter what he's writing about. This time he says it's his first one about math. Yes, it's also about snow, a "flurry" of snow, in rhyme, and showing with accumulating fun, how exponents work! From "two flakes" to a wintery snowstorm of 16,384 flakes, he shows the flakes' growth and Bryony Clarkson illustrates the power as the storm grows! Note: she tells how she did it in the author's note! And, the lovely endpapers are filled with birds, in snow, of course. It's terrific!

        I've always loved Jonah Winter's books and this time when I started reading, I thought the story was of an eccentric mountain hermit, living most of his life near Crested Butte, Colorado, even though the sub-title says "A True Story". He traveled there one summer as a student researcher, and after the summer went back home, per Winter's note at the back. He found that he missed the solitude and returned, This isn't a made-up story, but about the real man, billy barr (he chose no caps) who stayed, eventually out of boredom began collecting information about snow totals, when animals arrived in the spring, and so on. His sharing to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory made them realize how valuable the data he had collected for years was. This was all in notebooks, all because billy needed something to do. He had been there five decades, continues to collect information, now lives in a house he built, powered by solar. You can find out about him by researching "billy barr" living in the ghost town of Gothic, Colorado. The illustrations show the mountain beauty, billy's isolation, and the animals that do appear, and they focus on the changes as years pass by. It's a fascinating, beautifully presented story! Here are two examples!