Thursday, March 23, 2023

Poetry Friday - Inspiration

          At Imagine The PossibilitiesPoetry Friday is with Rose Cappelli HERE, sharing a poetry springtime post. The three wonderful poems she shared might make you impatient! Thanks, Rose, for hosting! 

        I've spent a fair amount of time in both Taos and Santa Fe in New Mexico. I've vacationed there, traveled with students there, and spent time at the Taos Pueblo. One visit in all those years, I discovered Nancy Wood, who wrote poetry and prose, married numerous times, and led an intriguing life in both New Mexico and Colorado, among other places. You can read her bio here if you are interested. 

        We are stretching toward April, poetry month, so I'd like to share one of Nancy's poems, one that is inspiring to me. I hope it will be for you, too!

The Old Man Born of Dreams
                                       by Nancy Wood

You must not be afraid to travel
       where there are no roads.
You must not give in to the darkness
       when there is no sign of light.
You must not be afraid to grow wings
       when you are tired of the ground.
                         read the rest here

This is a favorite book of mine by Nancy Wood, but there are numerous others you may enjoy!

Have a terrific weekend!

Monday, March 20, 2023

It's A Special Monday - Sharing A New Book You NEED


    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 Spring, everyone!

     I'm excited and pleased to have an advance copy of Jessica Whipple's debut picture book, illustrated by Nicole Wong. It arrives on April 18th! Also, to let you know, Jessica has a second book on its way, titled I Think I Think A Lot, arriving in August. Congratulations for both, Jessica!

       This first book coming, however, is one to savor and to consider for use with one's own children or in the classroom. I wish it had been available when I taught because during the school year, students and I examined the differences between needs and wants. We examined them from the views of not only humans, but also animals, even inanimate objects, sometimes seriously, other times with humor, i.e, does a certain chair really need a pad, or is the hard seat enough? 

       In Jessica's story, a young girl examines the concept of happiness and when one believes the feeling of "enough" brings it. It's a quiet book that sneaks up on you. Word by word, paragraph by paragraph, readers will watch, and listen along with this girl who is also watching and listening. 
       Wandering through the book, Nicole Wong's lovely, captivating illustrations include all kinds of kids in various situations, at school, at lunch, in a library, and on the playground. A favorite is a double spread in a rainstorm, filled with colorful umbrellas and that young girl using her backpack as a shelter–enough? She couldn't find her umbrella!  Each illustration helps Jessica's story show how the questions feel real to kids.  I am imagining the questions: When do I get another turn, another shirt, or a new book? Someone has three friends and I only have one. Is that okay?
        Peer pressure to have more and better is a challenge for many, even adults. Jessica writes that more "can be loud and pushy" and enough is a whisper.  The comparison and the illustration that shows a child struggling with a tight sweater says "The first time you try on Enough, it can feel like a sweater that’s a bit too small." This idea shown feels so appropriate.
       However, it isn't always the same. Sometimes one can have enough and it can also be shared as a page shows the girl offering half a sandwich to a friend. And enough can feel just right because it can stretch. Remember that sweater? Readers will see this girl making decisions about wants and needs, what truly is enough for her, to bring happiness and satisfaction. 

       I hope you will be able to find this book and enjoy it yourself and with others. It may lead to new ways of thinking about life, those needs and wants, and when one can be satisfied with what "is". 


      Thanks again, Jessica, for the ability to share and to read your thoughtful book!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Poetry Friday - Springing Into Poems - review

  At Small Reads for Brighter Days, Poetry Friday is with Laura Purdie Salas HERE. She is one busy poet recently with three books out recently, prepping for a book launch party, and getting ready for poetry month! Congrats on those books and thanks, Laura, for hosting! 

        Spring will be official this coming Monday. I'm waiting for rain, more sprouts, less snow, and cold. It was 72 Wednesday and we woke up to 29 and snow Thursday. And, many of you are thinking ahead to April, Poetry Month, right? Perhaps you have a project already, like Laura, or maybe you need inspiration. The young boy in the book I'm sharing today by Katey Howes, illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee demonstrates beautifully to poets that it does happen, that tiny seed, just needs a push, rain maybe, but courage is included, too. 

      Using growing a seed as a metaphor, a young boy starts out into the world, giving encouragement as raindrops touch something inside. Roots grow but first, he must overcome the fear of what others might think if he allows it to grow, he must accept, then celebrate, the words. With the gorgeous, almost beaming, illustrations by Heather Brockman Lee, and nearly all double-spreads, Katey Howe's brief rhymes are there to give hope to every writer of poetry. 

        Here's one sample toward the beginning:

Some of Katey's inspiring words:
                                  "They build a foundation
                                 connect, and grow strong
                                 in soil rich with memory,
                                           simile, song."

      The book certainly inspires me, hope this glimpse will give you a boost, too. It would be fun to share with a class, I'm sure.

     If you haven't seen it yet, here's a PDF of the Poetry month poster. You can request a free copy at Academy of American Poets here!

Happy Writing!

Monday, March 13, 2023

It's Monday! Need a New Great Book?


    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! 

Finally, I read the first "Witch Boy" graphic novel, a great story that highlights those who take different paths in spite of others who fight against them. Aster's family is filled with those who have magic but boys can only be shapeshifters; girls can only be witches. Aster's spying on the witch girls and learning their secrets despite getting caught and also teased, he finally finds one friend, Charlie, a girl from the other side of town, the side without magic. Pushing on together, they take on big trouble. It's an exciting tale that kept me reading and rooting for these two friends who would not give in to pressure in order to be who they wished to be. I'll be looking for the next adventure!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

        Matt Tavares discovered the history behind this new graphic novel when reading Phillip Hoose's book We Were There, Too! Young People in U.S. History. It's based on the story of Judi Warren and the winning girls' basketball team of Warsaw High School, their first girls' team! The fictional Judi in the story is a cheerleader, along with her friend, Stacey. As they prep to go to a game at school, it's clear that Stacey is excited, already shaking her pompom while Judi has to pull away from shooting baskets at her home, not smiling at all. 
         Tavares' early frames set up the story well and then skips to the girls' senior year. Oh my goodness! The announcement is made that there is going to be a girls' team! Wending through that year, filled with both excitement and quite a lot of seeing that change is needed at this time when schools and other organizations need to step up for equality. It is the year Title IX is passed! First, the coach happens also to be the art teacher and is late to the tryouts, held in a nearby elementary school, is late to the practices, and says a few words about the school thinking it should be a volunteer position. That was straightened out but a lot of other things were not. Practicing off-site and late in the day, no uniforms, and no transportation to away games are a few examples. 
         These girls, like so many earlier and since that time, love the sport, showed persistence and finally joy in their accomplishments on and off the court. Tavares' graphic work will fill readers up with the story of accomplishment, joy, and frustration in this story of girls who never wished only to stay on the sidelines but to run mid-court, heft a basket into nets, dribble down and around their opponents. 
          I played even earlier than this time when the school only played intramurally and only half-court. Girls evidently weren't thought to be strong to play full court. My team did win one tournament in junior high. We were the Sinkers!
          I loved the book and love that it brought back some wonderful memories!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

         How tough it is to be "different"! Tacko Fall, born in Dakar, tells his story with Justin Hayes in this amazing, inspirational story. He was taller than everyone in his early classes, teased and called names often. His grandmother told him there were more important things in the world than others' words. They were to be ignored because he had lofty goals ahead! He first saw basketball with her and later a friend got a basketball. That's when it all started, noticed by a coaching group, starting training. He had the chance to go to high school in America, then college, the big start, but it was sad not to see his family for seven years! Reggie Brown's illustrations shows it all, the triumphs and the challenges, and a lot of grit! For young athletes or those who have goals in other areas and need a boost, this will show a journey they might see ahead and know that others have done it and succeeded! 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

It's Poetry Friday - Sharing An Old "Maybe Ghost" Story

          Poetry Friday is with Heidi HERE at My Juicy Little Universe. She's reveling in March with odes to March from a few poets you will recognize, celebrating her birthday, and sharing some of her own poems of reflection in this wild and crazy life. Thanks, Heidi, for hosting! 

         I've sent a postcard every week to my grandson for a lot of years since he and his family moved out of state. I was going through my stash and found a really old one, perhaps bought in an antique store which I do sometimes. There is a story behind the one shown here. History has its way of pulling us in, wondering. . . I suppose one could say this story "blew" my way! Happy March and wishing you all one filled with stories in the wind!


nature spots problems

I'm wishing for her patience –

not always her fix 

          Linda Baie © 

       In Jamestown Island, Virginia, in the late 1600s, a young wealthy girl, Sarah Harrison, was betrothed to an appropriate suitor. However, she refused to marry, had instead met and fallen in love with an older man (who by the way turned out to be the founder of William and Mary College). Her parents hated this new man and were embarrassed, thus fought the marriage, but Sarah was determined. The parents and one sister journeyed to find a lawyer to make an annulment of the marriage but were struck by lightning in a sudden storm and perished. Later in life, Sarah and her husband, James Blair, died and were buried on the island.

     Through the years, one can see in the picture that a sycamore tree grew between their graves, pushing them away from each other, thus the story of "the mother-in-law" tree and James Blair's mother-in-law who didn't stop hating the marriage even after death. 


            The whole story can be found here! Nature may have been on the side of the mother-in-law and perhaps nature was trying to help since Sarah got her way in life, and now it's the mother-in-law's turn? As in some stories, my imagination runs wild.


Monday, March 6, 2023

Monday Reading - Much to Love Here


    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 a beautiful story by Cori Doerrfeld (The Rabbit Listened) about young Finn who's feeling very low, so low her grandfather found her in bed covered up with her quilt. He persuades her to go walking and begins to talk 
softly about all the things in the forest that lie "Beneath": there are tree roots, small animals tunneling, a bird on a nest, with eggs beneath, and stating it's the same beneath when people look different. Doerrfeld's illustrations fill the pages with trees, plants, animals, and people as the thoughtful grandpa walks along looking, imagining what is hidden "Beneath". It includes something important personally, too, inside one's heart. It would be so nice to read this with family or young students to discover a list of what they might imagine "Beneath". The endpapers are covered with that quilt!

         The chapter book by James Howe was a favorite of my daughter in early grade school. Now Howe has collaborated with Andrew Donkin and illustrator Stephen Gilpin to tell it again. It is a hilarious story as long as you're ready to meet a late-night reading cat, Chester; a rather skeptical dog, Harold; and the newest pet, a rabbit, who sleeps all day but makes vegetables white at night. He's been named "Bunnicula"! The Monroe family, Mr. and Mrs., Toby and Pete, have their parts in the story but they never really know what's going on behind their backs or when they sleep. Harold knows nearly all or can guess what Chester, a very determined cat, is up to. Harold tells this fantastic and silly story. I hope kids will meet them all and love the story as my daughter did years ago.

        I do know the heartbreak of Emmett Till's end of life but I did not know about his mother and her life from before Emmett's death and then after, especially after. I didn't know she had moved north for a better life, away from Jim Crow laws. And I didn't know that Emmett loved open spaces so moved south to be with family members in the rural south. One week and one day after he left, he went missing. The book by Angela Joy tells all that of Emmett's life, and his death, which became the next time his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley showed courage. Earlier she did not stop studying in spite of teasing by boys and sometimes teachers and became the first African American to graduate at the top of her class. Emmett's death pushed her to become a force in the Civil Rights Movement, working with the NAACP, she traveled to rallies, speaking out, for her people and for Emmett. Illustrations are of cut paper in various somber tones.  In the final spread lies a representation of the National Museum of African American History with twenty names of others who have been victims of race hatred in times most recently like Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. And since that page was finalized, there have been more! 
        Added information in the back adds to the detail of the Mamie Till-Mobley's story, too. All this book adds to our history with somber clarity. 

           It is not easy to describe this new book by Marla Frazee except to write "One must see and read and savor every word that is illustrated with wonder and joy! Don't miss this one and don't miss gifting it for all kinds of celebrations, from birth to a "birth-day" for someone older-from 10 to 100, graduation and wedding wishes, too! 

Monday, February 27, 2023

It's Monday - Books to Find!


    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! 

        As another review says: Meet Odder, the Queen of Play. Based on the true story of a Monterey Bay Aquarium program that pairs orphaned otter pups with surrogate mothers, Katherine Applegate tells the story in free verse of a feisty, curious, and ever-moving sea otter. There is fun when Odder plays with his friend Kairi, sadness when one day his mother doesn't return from looking for food, and there is terror when Odder and Kairi are attacked by a hungry great white shark.
         It's interesting to read of Odder's rescue to see how the people there teach otter pups in order to return them to the wild, and then those aquarium scientists figure out that they can teach rescued adults who can no longer be returned to the wild to raise other rescued pups. Applegate includes many true things in this fictional tale, for us to learn more about otters and how humans can help and to learn the need to protect otters along with other endangered species in the world. There's lots of back matter with information for further learning. In addition, there are sketches by Charles Santoso scattered throughout the book. 
       Amazing fact from one page: Otters have 
                                                     "the warmest fur on earth–
                                                     up to a million hairs per square inch.
                                                     But it's the air bubbles
                                                     otters add that keep them
                                                     perfectly, impossibly
                                                     warm and dry."

      I enjoyed this book and liked hearing about the importance of otters, a keystone species. Young readers who love animals will find it both informative and adventurous. 
      I want to add that I kayaked with students on one trip to California and had the pleasure of observing otters in their habitat. We studied other sea creatures at the aquarium, too.  
         I am reminded of this Dickinson quote when I read about a young girl's marvelous adventure with a book: "There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away." It is newly out and a marvelous picture book by Kate Messner and Grace Lin, with gorgeous and imaginative illustrations by Grace Lin as she adjusts the palette depending on the place. This young girl, weary of winter cold, says, "I wish I were someplace that wasn't so frozen and gray!" A book nearby flopped open; the invitation from those colorful birds (on the cover) to a place "alive with colors" was discovered as she begins reading. The girl stepped right in! Stepping into a book brings adventures to many places and this book by Lin and Messner differs only in that it is both an adventure and an example of what books really do! I was lucky to get the book from my library just as it came out. It'll be a special one to read with young readers and discuss their adventures, too! 

       In this follow-up to All Because You Matter, Tami Charles writes the story as a celebration of Black people's impact throughout history, highlighting people like Dr. King and Marian Anderson, foods, and places. Bryan Collier's beautiful illustrations creatively embed the history they want to emphasize while also celebrating a young girl's possibilities as she travels throughout. "You are brilliant, extraordinary, far-beyond-ordinary, the very best of who we are." He uses row houses as a timeline of the lives lived and celebrated. It's a glorious and poetic telling with some explanation at the back and notes from both Charles and Collier.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Poetry Friday - Winter Visits

         Poetry Friday is with Tabatha HERE at The Opposite of Indifference.  She's offering some things that aren't pleasant but also finding ways to fight back, to resist. And that is in finding joy. Be sure to take a look. It feels important! Thanks, Tabatha, for hosting! 

          Our weather people shared that nearly all our winter storms happen on Wednesdays. Yes, we had another one this past Wednesday, less snow here than the mountains and many others had, but as I write Thursday morning, it's minus one degree. I'm sitting at the desk where I can look out to my backyard and the outer green space, the bird feeder closer in. There were visitors!


Sunny Winter Visitor


What a strange and silly crow

to make yourself at home like that

without a chance to grab a snack.

Perhaps you’re perched to have a word

with me, with other smaller birds

to let them know, however cold,

you’ll caw and caw to make them bold.

Then they will know that seeds are near,

their tiny flutters welcome here.


Linda Baie © 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Monday Reading - A Great Week for Reading


    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 could tell you the plot; praise the characters, good-hearted and cruel; show some of the magical pieces that touch crows and books, ogres and dragons, orphans and one blind dog, but I just want to write, "Read this book!" Kelly Barnhill has created an amazing story that gives big hugs, makes one shiver, then cry. I also want to write that she wrote the beginnings of this during the early rumors of a mysterious disease "rampaging in countries far, far away." There are glimmers within some pages of that time for all of us. Here is part of one paragraph from the book that speaks of the mayor as the townspeople were mourning big fires in their town: "How they needed him then! How they depended on him. He told them then that he, alone, would fix it, and what a thrill it was–a deep and profound thrill–to see in the shine of their faces and the glaze of their eyes that they utterly believed him." Then, a little later: They were all just so easy to convince." It was a National Book Award finalist. I highly recommend it.

Winning a Caldecott Honor

         Michaela Goade, a member of the Tlingit people, writes of the connections we have with nature. This story centers on picking berries "on an island at the edge of a wide, wild sea". She begins with a memory of time with her grandmother and all the ways they sing their thanks as the berries sing to them - eight kinds of berries are mentioned, and different songs are sung. "We take care of the land." Grandma says. "As the land takes care of us," the young girl Michaela replies. Gunalchéesh is found throughout - giving thanks. With dream-like illustrations showing the blessings of nature and a wonderful two-page note from Michaela, it's a book to love and to learn from. She won the Caldecott Medal last year for We Are Water Protectors.

It's the Caldecott winner!

         On a hot, hot day in the city, an older woman and her dog wend their way along the streets with lots of people (and dogs) and lots of heat! Doug Salati's illustrations fill the pages with details, buildings, storefronts, and a dog getting sadder and hotter by the block. In brief lyrical text, the story shows it all, until, until, this "hot dog" refuses to move one more step. His loving owner knows just what to do, hops a taxi, then the subway, to the beach! It's a sweet book that will be a great read-aloud, leaving those listening and looking to wonder what in the world, the dog's world, that is, will happen next? 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

      This book by science writer Cara Giaimo is encyclopedic in its presentation with lots of backmatter including source notes, notes for further exploration, a bibliography, and an index. There are the usual, though deeper explanations, of dogs, what they can do, and exactly how their noses work. Also included are the unusual, like ferrets, certain fish species, and a chapter from part of the title, "Dynamite Dolphins". Cartoons, photographs, and highlighted boxes of information fill the inviting pages plus there are activities connected to each topic. I imagine weeks of study beginning with the book's topics, and hopefully, the studies will give students or those taking on their own individual work opportunities to be out in nature observing, too. Ethical questions are examined including the use of animals, especially in dangerous situations. 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

       I have seen news of Tammy Duckworth in recent years but knew very little about her growing up, her time in Southeast Asia because her father worked for the UN. After being fired, he moved his family to Hawaii and they struggled financially. Christina Soontornvat tells how sometimes Tammy was the only family member making money, by selling flowers on the street. She knew she wanted to do good in the world, just didn't know how, until she joined ROTC during her college years. Her story of the battles she later fought as a pilot during the Iraqi war, and the battles she fought when she lost both her legs, wondering what was going to happen. It's an inspiring story told with Dow Phumiruk's beautiful illustrations all through Tammy's years, as a Congresswoman fighting for what she knew was for people's good. There is a timeline and a list of her areas of service at the back. There is a timeline and a list of her areas of service at the back. It can be a special book in a collection of biographies that inspire today, right now. Senator Duckworth continues to work for the people's good.

       I wish this was a fairy tale yet know it is not. Little Jay and his friends are happy growing up, wishing it would go faster! They play and laugh and like all kids, have so much fun. And yet, through the book, Alicia D. Williams gives a hint of what's coming in her story. Grandpa tells the kids not to hang out too long in groups of four or more. He says "But some folks might think you're the next troublemaker." The kids are shown by illustrator Briana Mukodiri Uchendu (her picture book debut) in a store perhaps like a 7-11, with a security person watching with a frown. There are other scenes like this, illustrated in shadows with more frowning faces. As Jay grows, it's time for other warnings; he's old enough to drive, and have "The Talk". A double-page spread in darkness shows more than one scene, including a young boy being patted down by a police officer. The sadness appears like the background, always there, never gone, but family expressions show the love that surrounds Jay and reassures him he's done nothing wrong. It's not an easy book and I'd love to see many white people reading it, knowing this is the life led by children of color. We all know the examples, we all see the news every day. Don't miss this book and share it widely!

What's Next? I have a copy of a non-fiction book titled Writing The Land: Foodways and Social Justice, essays about our land, how we think about it, use it, etc. It's edited by Lis McLoughlin.
        And, I have some middle-grade books that I hope to get to, so many! 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Poetry Friday - Snowy Imagining

 Poetry Friday is with Molly Hogan HERE at Nix The Comfort Zone.  Molly's sharing a beautiful poem to praise the beauty of trees in winter. Mine connects trees in another way. What fun to discover that. Thanks, Molly, for hosting! 

             It's another holiday weekend coming. Do you have plans?

This comes from Laura Shovan's birthday month poetry challenge. The prompt was "a gathering". It was bitter cold Wednesday and I sat quite a lot looking out one of my windows, at the snowy cold and birds feeding often throughout the day. No, I didn't write about birds gathering, or people memories either. I also had a view of a corner of my lawn, and the green space outside of it. Imagination took over.

(You can see the younger group behind the big tree from back in 2013. Then, there they are today in 2023!)

Monday, February 13, 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! 

       This is a fictional story of those slaves who escaped and made homes in swampland, based on some truths, though little is really known of the details. Not new to me is the terrifying cruelty, but the love and help given so others may live is an inspiration. Escape to freedom feels like the underlying theme, hence the title. I know people don't give kids enough credit for being the smart, thoughtful, brave, and kind people they can be. In the wilderness of the swampland, Homer and little sister Ada take off for freedom and find a homeland like nothing they had dreamed of: families ready to take them in, new friends ready to guide and help them, and a kind of peace they've never known. Amina Luqman-Dawson's book fills readers with characters one is thrilled to meet who are varied in experience and temperament, too, and with such courage, readers will want to applaud. It's a plot that makes you race on to find out what will happen next, to care so much for the character's safety and welfare. I imagine you know that Amina Luqman-Dawson won the Newbery Medal this year for this, her debut novel. It is marvelous!

         Featuring the newest special book by Anne Wynter (Everybody in The Red Brick Building with Oge Mora) and Daniel Miyares (Big and Small and In-Between with Ryan Higgins), the story is told mostly in verse, showing little Nell growing up with all the family, and with a pecan tree. Told in a truly special style, Anne Wynter goes back to the beginning, as in "Before a grip on a branch/and a fall to the ground. . . Nell picks up a seed." Throughout the illustrations of the story/memory, Daniel Miyares gives a peek at all the things that happen throughout the years as the tree grows and grows–big enough to climb far up to the very top, to gather nuts for a tasty pie, and for families to feast in the shade. 
         Though I never had a pecan tree in my yard, I do have wonderful memories of picking with my father in a large pecan grove near their home. Both Miyares and Wynter share their own memories in their notes at the back.

     In one of his older books, Daniel Miyares creates a new and wonderful look at Langston Hughes' words in a contrasting look at Black lives, how it was and how it can be. Showing these children wishing first, then flying free as birds feels very good indeed! He writes about his reaction to the poem in a special personal note, too. This can be a good conversation about images in poetry and their impact when reading, or in writing. It's one to keep in your poetry collection.